• Search Engine Optimization or Pay Per Click

    Search Engine Optimization or Pay Per Click?

    I am often asked by clients if Search Engine Optimization is better for advertising their businesses than pay per click, and the answer depends entirely upon what your business goals are. Are your products or services new and exclusive within the marketplace? Is specialized knowledge required to use the product or service? Does your business have a good reputation? These and other questions must be answered before it can be reliably determined whether Search Engine Optimization or Pay Per Click is best for your business.

    So, let us begin by considering the differences between Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click.

    Search Engine Optimization -vs- Pay Per Click

    Search Engine Optimization isn’t just the process of implementing Google, Bing, and Yahoo best practices to ensure that it ranks high within the organic search results for particular keywords and keyword phrases. It is also necessary to be recognized by the top 3 search engines as being an authority on the subject matter encompassed by your website and the pages therein. The big 3 are also concerned about how visitors interact with your website. Which includes important details like how long they stay on your website, whether they return to your website, and more than 200 other variables for each search engine algorithm.

    Conversely, Pay Per Click advertising is comprised entirely of paid ad space that exists quite obviously outside of the organic listings presented on Search Results Pages. However, Pay Per Click advertising requires, even more, keyword research than SEO. Primarily because clients are paying for and expecting clicks that don’t just bring visitors but that create conversions. So the keywords and keyword phrases targeted by the Pay Per Click campaign absolutely must be highly targeted to people that are actively searching for a product or service with an immediate purchase in mind.

    Search Engine Optimization or Pay Per Click, THAT is the question…

    As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Pay Per Click and Search Engine Optimization are two completely different creatures used for two completely different end games. Search Engine Optimization is for the long term. It is all about helping the search engines to present your listing only when it is the very best result to be shown for a given search by a particular searcher within a particular search area. SEO is also meant to promote you, your business and your website to the various search engines as the very best authority on the subject of whatever products or services you provide.

    Pay Per Click on the other hand is best used to create momentum for a new brand, a new product, a new service. To get your links and your message immediately out in front of those most likely to be looking to buy your product or service right now. This builds your brand BEFORE you have a reputation and before you have standing with the search engines as an authority on the products or services you offer. Pay Per Click is for the business that has no market share but needs to grab it quickly or face the very real possibility of going out of business quickly.

    The challenge of Pay Per Click is significant. Many search engine users don’t even look at the paid ad spaces. They ignore them as if they weren’t even there. This means that if you are going to use Pay Per Click advertising, then you need to be able to grab the searcher’s attention within about a 10-millisecond timeframe while their eyes are scanning over the paid ad space on their way to the organic listing that they are really interested in. It means that your PPC ad absolutely MUST be at the top or it might as well not be there.

    This is accomplished in a number of ways. But it requires a coordinated SEO between the landing page for the ad and the wording of the ad itself and even the images used. All of this is this is being considered when the search engine’s algorithms are deciding where to place your ads in the ad space the same way they determine the organic listings. Relevance.

    The long-term strategy is the best, least expensive, most reliable means of getting high-quality traffic to your website. Traffic that already has enough trust in you and your products or services to have clicked on you first and all of that means Search Engine Optimization.

    While Search Engine Optimization isn’t free, it doesn’t require the additional cost of a monthly advertising budget. It is a long-term process though and as such it requires a dedicated budget for at least 12 months of managed Search Engine Optimization and monitoring of the all pages within the website and all links, posts, and images within each page.

    Search Engine Optimization Mythology

    As mentioned above, Pay Per Click has its place in the process of marketing new products and services. As it does in building brand awareness for startup businesses. The ROI on Pay Per Click campaigns can be quite impressive. Particularly when you put the emphasis on researching your keywords and keyword phrases. And carefully crafting your landing pages to reflect that research rather than throwing the most money at the search engines. Because the search engines are qualifying the relevance of the advertisers just as much as the organic listings. The top spot isn’t guaranteed to the highest paying advertiser. It is just as likely to go to the lowest paying advertiser if that advertiser’s keyword research and landing page relevance to the search terms in question is a better fit than the highest paying advertiser for the same keywords.

    The Bottom Line… What does it all mean, REALLY?

    As to whether Search Engine Optimization or Pay Per Click is better, well, it depends…

    The bottom line is that regardless of how long you have been in business or how small your budget is. You can compete directly with the big corporations and their deep pockets. Just find the right business to manage either your SEO or your PPC, or both. The right business is the one with the skill and determination to achieve the research that provides results. Results provide the competitive edge you need to take market share from businesses with budgets intended to keep it.

    Pay Per Click is the quick fix for traffic and conversions. Search Engine Optimization is the long-term solution to consistent traffic and sales. As is often the case, both will be necessary. SEO for your continued growth of traffic and conversions. Pay Per Click to promote awareness of new product lines, services offerings, and locations.

    Ultimately, good SEO improves the effectiveness of good Pay Per Click. Both can get you to the top of the first search results page. But they differ in the money and time required to achieve the top spot and keep it. Choose your SEO and PPC consultant with great care and consideration. It is a decision that will have a profound effect on your future successes or the lack thereof.

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  • Who Owns YOUR Brand?

    We all know the joke about assumptions and yet making them seems to be a natural part of our decision-making process. Which is in keeping with the theory that all decisions are primarily emotional ones! For example, as business owners (and people), we assume that once we pay for something, it belongs to us completely. Despite all of the examples to the contrary such as property taxes, eminent domain, and intellectual property laws, we still hold on to these simple and honest understandings of fairness, ethics, and morality.

    The answer to this question, however, is not found in the law so much as it is found in the individual with whom you are doing business. Any business that is creating intellectual property, whether it is photographers or graphic designers or software hackers or anything else that falls into this category of products or services, can use the law to great effect when their primary goal is digging as deeply into your pockets as they possibly can. However, they can only do this if you don’t ask the right questions and get EVERYTHING agreed upon in writing before commissioning or paying for any work. You see, the law is very clear on this issue. If I take a photograph or design a graphic or write a blog or an article, I own that material and the copyright to it, PERIOD!

    Having been in the business for a quarter of a century, I have seen and heard about some very terrible things that have been done to clients in the name of unbridled profits. I have seen business owners commission websites and product photos and logos and graphic art, thinking that they own these works only to be threatened with lawsuits (or even sued) for using what they believed they had already paid for. Unfortunately, they did not know to ask very direct questions about ownership of the intellectual property upon completion of the project.

    If a photographer takes pictures of your products so that you can sell them online, you may, of course, use them for the website as you originally expressed this intent to the photographer, however, in most cases the photographer retains ownership and can charge you more if you decide to use those same photos in a print publication or on your social media channels. The same is true for graphic design and digital art, and even website designs. If you go to many photographers or designers after the fact and request a simple copyright transfer letter, they will likely charge you a whole lot more for the document than you paid for commissioning the work in the first place.

    At Sewell Consulting, when the project is complete, the client owns the final draft that they have approved. Whether it is a logo, graphic, written content, video content, a website or anything else! I don’t make claims against products that have been commissioned and paid for by my clients. While I have rarely been asked about ownership of the copyright, when I have been asked for a copyright transfer letter, my only condition has been that I retain free use of the product as an example of my work in any medium at my disposal, including books, magazines, and online.

    So if you are hiring somebody to design anything for you in the digital realm, then you have to have a conversation about copyright and ownership and you need to get the agreement in writing before you pay for anything. Without this discussion and the written agreements about ownership of completed material, you may well end up paying good money, essentially to hand over control of your brand to somebody else.

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  • A (Very Brief) Introduction to Logo Design

    I start the process of designing your logo by learning as much as I can about you, the owner and your business and the products or services you provide. The history of your business plays a very important role in determining many aspects of the design options I will consider or recommend. The reason is simple. The best logos are designed to not only be beautiful and impactful, they are also designed to be enduring.

    How To Design for Longevity
    The most important thing to avoid when considering designs that will stand the test of time is to strictly ignore whatever the current logo fad is. A well-considered logo will be designed to reflect the core values of both you as the owner and the core competencies of the business itself as an entity unto itself. If you are the owner of a new or fledgling business, then be prepared to answer some serious questions such as where you see yourself and your business going over the next 5, 10 and even 20 years. More than any other design process, the one I use to create a timeless, beautiful and powerful logo for you will absolutely require us to be partners through every stage of the process.

    While some aspects of the design process are simpler than your business history, they still influence the ultimate design dramatically. Aspects such as the type of industry and which designs have historically worked best for your business niche. What design styles are being employed by your competitors so that we can consider a style and quality for your logo to distinguish your business from the competition and allow your business to stand out from the crowd, no matter how large the crowd you’re in happens to be.

    How to design for Acceptance
    Of primary importance in designing an appealing logo is to consider your audience and it’s expectations. This is simpler than it sounds and revolves around the demographics that best describe your typical customer. Age groupings, social status, education levels, and other such information can be compiled to tell us with extraordinary accuracy exactly which designs and color schemes will appeal to those most likely to be your current and future clients.

    What kinds of logos are there
    There are three basic types of logos, however, when considering combinations thereof you see that there are actually 5 distinct logo variations to consider.

    1.) Wordmarks
    This type of logo is exactly what it sounds like. It is the name of the business used as the most identifying characteristic of the brand as a whole. Several examples of wordmarks are Google©, Yahoo© and Coca-Cola©. Not only are these the actual names of the businesses but they are used as logos with a standard recognizable font and color scheme. Almost 40% of the world’s most recognizable brands use wordmarks as their logos.

    2.) Lettermarks
    As the name implies, these logos consist of letters alone and most often reflect the Initial letter of each word in the business name, such as IBM©. The lettermark exemplifies the simplicity most often sought out as the hallmark of the best logos by designers in general. For businesses with longer names or names that are difficult to understand or say, the lettermark is preferred over the wordmark. Where the business name is difficult for one reason or another, the lettermark can act as a mnemonic, helping you to remember a name or a meaning that you might otherwise forget almost as soon as you hear it or read it.

    3.) Brandmarks
    These are one of the more easily recognizable and memorable of the logotypes. A simple graphic that represents your company without the use of words or even letters is uniquely suited for international corporations that want to promote brand recognition without the worry of how best to maintain a recognizable and consistent logo across borders and thousands of languages throughout the world. Unfortunately, by itself, a symbol does not promote brand awareness for startups and young companies the same way that letters and words can. At least, not without a tremendous expenditure of time, effort, and money to create the connection between a chosen symbol and your company name. Only about 5% or 6% of the world’s most successful companies employ a symbol alone to represent their brand globally. Which strongly indicates the resources and influence required to make such a logo successful.

    4.) Combination Marks
    Such marks incorporate both graphics and words to create an unmistakable link between the graphic and the meaning of the words. A good example of this is the Burger King© logo. Because these marks combine an image and a business name they are generally much easier to have trademarked. However, the combination fo words and graphics can dramatically increase the complexity of the finished design and require more time and consideration. An added bonus to employing a combination mark is that you essentially have two distinct components to your logo that can eventually be presented individually to the same effect. Such as the Pizza Hut© logo which incorporates the company name and the graphic. Once this logo was well established the company began using the graphic by itself in situations where space or other design issues were a concern.

    5.) Emblems
    These logos encapsulate the company name inside of a graphic. An example of this would be the Ford© or the Starbucks Coffee© logos. Emblems are very versatile and provide countless variations of shapes and sizes. However, they generally cannot be split into their constituent parts without losing much of what made them uniquely identifiable with the brand. While emblems tend to be as remarkable as they are memorable, the fact that the lettering must be able to fit inside the graphic can create problems for legibility when the size of the logo must be decreased and or the logo must be printed.

    In closing, let me just point out that while knowledge, skill and experience are important factors in succeeding at any project, you don’t necessarily have to hire or wait until you can afford to hire a professional. Start the creative process today by considering the information you have learned here and by performing a Google search of logo images to start putting together the makings of what will ultimately be a cornerstone to your marketing and advertising and the foundation of your brand’s image.

    Here is the link to a Google image search of thousands of logos.
    https://goo.gl/kGskUY

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  • 8 (Free) Professional Web Design Tools!

    I know that many of you out there would like to be able to at least try to do some of your own work. A lot of what professionals do would not be possible without having the right tools available. Most of us that are considered professionals within the design and coding professions have spent years searching out and trying different tools before adopting the best one for each task as our mainstay. The tools I am presenting here are tools that I actually use on a regular basis to achieve professional results. Some of them may be familiar to you while others are probably not.


     

    GNU Image Manipulation Program
    8 Free Professional Web Design Tools! - GIMP

    GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program and it is an open source graphic editor that is every bit as powerful as Photoshop, albeit, not so refined, polished and automated. Which is to say you can do pretty much anything using GIMP as you can using Adobe’s Photoshop but without spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year for the capability. As GIMP is every bit as capable as Photoshop, you should be prepared to spend some time learning how to use it to good effect. There are an incredible number of GIMP tutorials on Youtube that can help you learn the basics as well as walk you through very specific projects using advanced functions which would otherwise be beyond your skill level. This is how you can quickly become every bit as capable as a pro. The more projects you do, the more quickly you will learn.

    The Following is the description of GIMP from GIMP.org.

    GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows and other operating systems. It is completely free software, so you can change its source code and distribute your changes. Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. You can further enhance your productivity with GIMP thanks to many customization options and 3rd party plugins.

     

    FileZilla
    8 Professional Grade Web Design Tools That Are Free! - Filezilla

    FileZilla is a cross-platform FTP client, although they also provide an FTP server by the same name (Windows Only). For those of you not familiar with FTP, it stands for file transfer protocol and it allows you to connect and manipulate files and folders on your web server (or that of your hosting provider) directly. This ability provides significant advantages over only being able to access and design your website though WordPress or some other Content Management System. What happens if you create such stringent security around your WordPress website that you lock yourself out? Well, with FileZilla, you simply connect directly to the server, modify and replace a file or two and you are immediately back in business. This is only one example but the reasons for having a really good and reliable FTP client are endless. Even if you use a content management service, there are countless things you can do through FTP that you simply cannot d with even the best CMS. Furthermore, I have been working with FTP for about 26 years and I have never seen a better FTP client than FileZilla.

    The following is a description about the origins of FileZilla from WikiPedia.org

    FileZilla was started as a computer science class project in the second week of January 2001 by Tim Kosse and two classmates. Before they started to write the code, they discussed under which licence they should release the code. They decided to make FileZilla an open-source project because many FTP clients were already available, and they didn’t think that they would sell a single copy if they made FileZilla commercial.

     

    Screaming Frog SEO Spider
    8 Free Professional Web Design Tools! - Screaming Frog

    Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a program designed to collect and present in a spreadsheet format, all of the information that is relevant to the search engines as they crawl and rank your website. As such, the program and the information it compiles are both of paramount importance to the auditing and analysis of your website where your ranking on the search engines is concerned. Screaming Frog provides a free version that cannot save data or any other information within the program. However, you can save the information to spreadsheets and keep them for comparative analysis or as a record of where your coming from and what you have accomplished. Among the more important types of information you will see at a glance with this tool are the page titles, meta data fields, server response codes, images sizes and locations, etc!

    The following quote is the description of the Screaming Frog application from the Screaming Frog website!

    The SEO Spider is a small desktop program you can install locally on your PC, Mac or Linux machine which spiders websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective.

     

    Audacity
    8 Professional Grade Web Design Tools That Are Free! - Audacity

    Audacity is an audio editing and manipulation program that is completely open source (well maintained & free). It is powerful and functional and so easy to use. If you need to do voice overs or create music or audio notes or improve the sound on old recordings or anything else that involves the management and manipulation of audio recordings then you need Audacity. As with As with other top-shelf GNU’s such as GIMP, there are countless third party add-ons to improve the capabilities and functionality of this program. One thing is absolutely certain though and that is that over the years Audacity has become more and more indispensable to the day-to-day operations here at Sewell Consulting.

    The following information is from Wikipedia

    Audacity is a free open source digital audio editor and recording computer software application, available for Windows, OS X, Linux and other operating systems. Audacity was started in the fall of 1999 by Dominic Mazzoni and Roger Dannenberg at Carnegie Mellon University and was released on May 28, 2000 as version 0.8.

    As of 10 October 2011, it was the 11th most popular download from SourceForge, with 76.5 million downloads. Audacity won the SourceForge 2007 and 2009 Community Choice Award for Best Project for Multimedia. In March 2015 hosting was moved to FossHub and by 4 July 2015 it had exceeded 10 million downloads there.


     

    MAC Apache MySQL PHP Server
    8 Professional Grade Web Design Tools That Are Free! - MAMP

    MAMP is the Mac variant of the Apache, MySQL, PHP server bundle. What it does is truly powerful for the professional web designer. It turns your computer into a web server. Which is to say that it allows you to manipulate and view websites right on your computer and be able to see them exactly as they would appear if accessed from over the internet. But it does so much more than that. It allows you to create and manipulate MySQL databases, which is critical for a whole host of reasons. Not least of which is if you are wanting to perform advanced build or management functions on a WordPress website or a website using one of the other content Management Services.

    WAMP is the Windows variant and there are countless others. You can find a listing of them HERE.


     

    Paparazzi

    8 Professional Grade Web Design Tools That Are Free! - Paparazzi

    Paparazzi is really a very simple program, but what it does is very important. It allows you to take a screen shot of an entire web page no matter the length. It captures it in PNG quality at actual size and so you end up with a high quality image of any website from a perspective you would not otherwise be able to see. I use this to get an overall look of a website. I use it to design websites that look and flow better. I use it to create records of websites I’m working on so that I have the clearest possible example of the state of the website before and after I have performed my work. I even use it in the creative process for designing storyboards and artboards of proposed websites so that clients can see exactly what their website will look like when I’m done. I use this simple tool all the time and it has been invaluable to me and to the overall quality of my work.

    Paparazzi! is a small utility for Mac OS X that makes screenshots of webpages. It’s written in Objective-C using the Cocoa API and the WebKit framework. It was inspired by webkit2png, a commandline tool written by Paul Hammond in pyObjC.

    Paparazzi! 0.6.x requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later (current version: 0.6.7).

    Older versions are available on the downloads page.

    If you find yourself using Paparazzi! often, please remember to donate!
    You can also follow me/yell at me about Paparazzi! on Twitter! (Contains swears and silliness.)


    TextWrangler

    TextWrangler

    Textwrangler

    TextWrangleris a great text editor designed for coding. It is the free version of BBedit, which is a very popular coding solution for those who can afford to buy it ($50).


    Celtx
    8 Professional Grade Web Design Tools That Are Free! - Celtx Shot

    Celtx is a great company that provides solutions for writing and storyboarding movie scripts. Obviously, I don’t write movie scripts, I build awesome websites, but I can use the same tools to flesh out my design concepts and take my planning and creative process way beyond wireframes. Celtx Shot is free for MAC and can be downloaded from the MAC App Store. It is a storyboarding app that complements some of the other products that Celtx charges for. Onother one of their free apps is an online script writing app that helps you to outline your story and better manage your characters and other aspects of writing to scripts.

    If you go to Celtx.com now, you can sign up for a free membership which provides a number of useful tools. The next plan up is only 8 or 9 dollars a month. If you are working on creating a name for yourself in the age of video and want to perfect your art. Start by perfecting your video planning process.

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