Blog - Page 23 of 24 - Rock, Paper, Scissors

Posted 13 Jan 2009

Your Web Site Is Like a Car! – Part III

What Type of Web Mechanic Are You?

  • Owner #1: Do you like to tear down the engine and rebuild it instead of doing a standard tune-up?
  • Owner #2: Are you a tinkerer
  • Owner #3: Do you know enough to keep up with standard maintenance, or do you just want to turn the key and know that it works?

A lot like maintaining your car, your level of comfort with the mechanics of your web site is very similar. Owner #1. There are some of you out there who are just happier tearing your web site down and starting over. That is great! Unfortunately many of us, including me, are far from being able to even dream of doing that. If you do this as a hobby, I also think that you should consider web development as a career choice. Good developers are hard to find. Just like with cars, the owner who can tear down the engine and rebuild it is a small group, a very elite group. Owner #2. Then there are the tinkerers. You know who you are. You are very comfortable with doing your own basic maintenance. You make your own text edits and update your graphics and links, however, you leave the heavy duty construction and major overhauls to the professionals. I think a much larger group fall into this category. This is a great benefit to the performance of your web site (car) if you are disciplined enough to make regular updates. Your tinkering brings fresh content to your site and drives you up in the search rankings. It also provides new reasons for your visitors to stop and stay for a while, which is exactly what you want. You maintain peak performance. Owner #3. Here you have the rest of us (this might be the largest of the three groups.) I don't know about you, but when I type my URL in the browser I expect to instantaneously view my web site, complete with updates. Now, I have no idea how to write the code for a site, or make updates, but I do want my site to be killer. Just like owning a car, you don't have to know anything about building it or what goes on under the hood. What you do need to know is when to take your vehicle in for maintenance and you need a good mechanic. Same thing with your web site. You need to have a developer you can trust to keep your site updated and repaired if necessary, and you also need to take the initiative to provide your developer with fresh content on a regular basis. Think of your site content like fuel for your engine. If you don't fill up regularly the site is just not going to run and the least you can do is give it an oil change regularly buy adding some new content even if you don't add pages or features. Bottom line is, even if you are a web site Owner #3 you have to be involved. Next in the series: Your Web Site Is Like a Car – Buying Options. And Do I Really Want a Trailer? How to make your web site work for you.

Posted 19 Nov 2008

Marketing and the 6-letter word … BUDGET

It is no big surprise when I say that this is not the easiest era to be in business. Most people out there are not just earning, they are actually fighting for, every penny on their books. But this is not a bad thing. We are all being ‘highly encouraged’ to make a lot of decisions about the way we do business, who we work with and who we want to work with. We have to take measure of what is important, which in the long run will make our businesses stronger. We are trimming the fat.

The next dilemma that comes with this not so voluntary action is where do you cut and still not cripple what you have. Being in the marketing world, I hear a lot of “they cut my budget in half”, “they laid off my in-house marketing team” or “I am my only resource.” I can tell you that I did not skip any of my business classes in school so I know that this situation really wasn’t covered in the textbooks. We are on our own.

The real question is: What can I do? And I am here to tell you that there is more to be done than you can imagine. It might not be the best situation, but this is a very exciting time to be faced with this dilemma because there are options. And your best tool, and here is the nasty 6-letter word, is knowing and respecting your budget.

2009 is just around the corner; this is the perfect time to sit down and plan your strategy for the next year (hiding your head in the sand is not an option.) Let me tell you, a budget of nothing or next-to-nothing is not going to help. You need to be realistic with yourself and come up with a hard number. You can have a much better conversation, waste less of your time and really get your money’s worth if you can create a marketing budget for yourself.

You might be doing more of your own legwork this coming year, but that also gives you an opportunity to get first-hand experience in what is out there and what can you do to make your business better. This coming year might be harder than others, but you never know what opportunities may appear.

It does not matter if you have $1,000 or $100,000 for 2009, there is a lot you can do with it if you are honest with yourself and think outside the box. If your numbers are drastically lower this year and you need help creating a new plan of attack, you can always set up a Marketing Consultation Meeting with your favorite marketing firm (hint, hint, wink, wink) to brainstorm some new ideas for the coming year.

Posted 13 Nov 2008

@YourBusiness

A lot of businesses are getting themselves on the social networking bandwagon. Even we have a Facebook page. The problem with social networking is that it can get pretty time consuming. It’s like having another web page with its own set of content that needs to be updated frequently. Sure, it serves a purpose, and getting an additional web presence for free is a pretty good deal.

There is, however, the business owner’s need to get the most return for the smallest expenditure of resources.

Have a look at the minimalist social networking app: Twitter. So bare-bones that status updates are limited to 140 characters, twitter nonetheless offers a great deal of user-generated leverage. A twitter profile consists of the following: your user name, your actual name or business name (should you choose to publish it), your geographic location (be as vague or specific as you like), and your website address. The rest of the page is devoted entirely to content. You don’t need to include your age, religion, political alignments, or blood type. Just rich, hearty content. Twitter content is designed to be added from anywhere. Not just from any computer, but even from mobile SMS text messages, hence the 140 character limit.

So let’s say you own some type of business where people like to congregate: a diner for example. A twitter user (let’s call him “Dale”) goes there to lounge around for a little while and decides to tell everyone what great coffee you have. He may tweet “Having coffee at the Double R Diner – darn good cherry pie, too.” Promoting your business online for free, does it get any better? Yes, it does. Because you could have a twitter profile with the user name “DoubleR,” in which case Dale doesn’t tweet “Having coffee at the Double R …”

Instead he tweets “Having coffee at @DoubleR – darn good cherry pie, too.” The “@DoubleR” tells twitter that Dale has made a tweet about another twitter user, and that “@DoubleR” will show up as a link to your profile where people can see the link to your website as well as all the other complimentary tweets from other users. And you don’t necessarily have to tweet yourself (although it’s a lot more fun for other people if you do).  All you need to do is spend about four minutes and six seconds to go to Twitter and set up an account, then let people know you have it.

Posted 20 Sep 2008

Your Web Site Is Like a Car – Keeping Your Site On-Line

Who Is Managing Your Domain Registration? Here is the question of all questions. Do you know who has control of your domain registration? This is very much like that public service announcement that asked, "It's 11:00 PM, do you know where your children are." It seems like a silly question but then again maybe not. Just like a vehicle registration you have a web site domain name registration. Without your car registration and tags you can't drive on the street; without a current domain registration you cannot keep your site on the web. Take charge. Make sure you know who is minding your domain registration. You would be astounded by the number of phone calls we get from terrified individuals who go to their web site only to get the following message: ________________________________________________________________________________________

Not Found

The requested URL was not found on this server. Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request. ________________________________________________________________________________________ Has that ever happened to you? I certainly hope not. It must be a gut wrenching feeling to lose your web site. Here is how to avoid ever seeing that message when you go to your web site. Track down your domain registration. Often time, if your site developer purchased your domain name, they will list themselves as administrative and technical contact. That is not recommended for a several of reasons. When the domain name comes up for renewal the developer alone will be contacted. In this situation you are relying completely on your developer to insure that you maintain your domain name registration. You will receive no notification from the domain registrar that your domain name registration is about to lapse. In an ideal world, the developer will contact you to secure your new domain registration contract. If the developer for some reason does not respond to the domain registration renewal notice you have no idea that your domain is about to expire. If the renewal is not executed your domain name will go back into the database of available domain names. What are the consequences if the registration lapses? In the best case situation all you do is contact the domain registrar, find out your domain name is still available, and renew your contract. This time remember to put yourself down as "administrative contact" at least. Within a short amount of time your site will be back on-line. In the worst case, your domain name becomes available and the web-bots, programmed to hunt down abandon domain names, snatches up your domain name and registers it under their company name. They have now abducted your domain name for either resale or ransom. Yes my friends, RANSOM. Resale is not so bad, it's the ransom situation that will tie you in knots. These domain name kidnappers have scooped up your abandon domain name so that they can see just how much you want it back $$$$$. And at this point you go through an auction process to see if you can bid back your name. Where do you stand if you can't get your domain name back? Your emails are flying through cyberspace with no place to go. Every stick of print material with your domain name is now obsolete. If you have an e-commerce site you are losing business with every tick of the clock. Need I say more? It is a nightmare. One other important note. The domain registrar will contact you by email only. They will only contact you using the email address you register with them. Warning: if you change your email address, before you abandon your old email address, you must contact the domain registrar and go through the process of updating to your new email address. If you don't, the renewal notice will go to your non-functioning email address and ultimately you will never get the renewal notice. We've already covered what happens at that point. Keep your site on-line. Make sure your domain registrar has you listed as a contact. If your registration is in your developers name only, work with them to change the registration to include you as a contact. When you get the domain renew notice, handle it promptly. Don't take any chances you might put your domain name in jeopardy. In part 3 of Your Web Site Is Like Your Car: we will explore just what type of web mechanic are you?

Posted 18 Aug 2008

Lingo

There are days I get pretty fed up with lingo, especially business lingo. And more so internet business lingo and I am even in the industry. There are terms out there like “Web 2.0,” “social networking,” and “user-generated content” that are used freely in marketing and search optimization web sites. There is much pontificating, strategizing and meaty analysis that goes along with these sites. Use of industry lingo is common behavior for people in a specialized fields. It is important for communication to take place between experts – BUT you don’t need the lingo!

So, I’m going to break it down for you: the Internet reached a point a few years ago when there was a large shift in focus – give the users more input over the content of websites. Users are enjoying this new level of participation, that’s why we’ve got Facebook, YouTube, digg, and Flickr, which are all huge sites that you’ve probably read about, or may even use. I have noticed how people think it’s great to talk about these sites in cordial conversations, the news, just about everywhere. But where does all this new impetus leave you and your web site? Most of us are not focused on building the next Facebook

Leaving these behemoths behind for a little while, let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. I want to share something with you. There are three brand new websites each created in under 60 hours during Startup Weekend in Raleigh, and each one of them is a treatise on executing a good idea:

My Fries Suck – Bad restaurant experience? Let them know. Immediately. In about ten seconds you can review an eatery. No need for the cumbersome quantification of stars and a verbose write-up. Just type in where you ate, and click “Good” or “Sucked.” Done.

Bars For Us – It’s a specialized Yellow Pages, only it isn’t awful. Bars for Us catalogs every bar they can find (currently only in the Raleigh area, but with plans for expansion) and provides people with actual informative words about the establishment. Do you like darts, billiards, karaoke, drink specials? Find out what bars cater to your taste. You don’t even have to pay a cover charge to find the perfect spot.

Scavenja – You get a clue. You interpret the clue. Photograph something that you think fits your interpretation. Post the photograph as quickly as you possibly can. The faster you act, the more points you get. If you get the most points, you win the game and a prize furnished by that game’s sponsor. See, it’s advertising, only it’s fun.

So this is all building up to a point, and the point is this: if you are trying to attract people to your site, making it entertaining and useful is the best way to go, and it’s not as hard as you might think. Don’t let industry lingo intimidate you. The strategy to an engaging web site is simple – make it interesting for your visitors. Take these examples as inspiration, and see if you can’t come up with a good idea for your own site.

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