Monday, May 12, 2014

What you need to know beforehand: Websites, SEO & Search Marketing

Confused about the functional roles of website design & development, website maintenance, SEO & search marketing in general? You're not alone. Yet, few budgetary line items have more impact on marketing ROI. For visitors & prospects a website is the company and visa versa: a company is the sum of its Internet marketing. Online exposure in all forms is what defines a B to B company for its customers, prospects, and other business contacts.

So let's manage expectations for both developers and site owners with a review of basic industry questions and definitions. It's a good, self fulfilling prophecy that when all stakeholder start on the same page we've taken the first step toward making practical & cost-effective Internet marketing production and maintenance choices.

What's included in website design? - Website Design encompasses the overall look and feel of a website, from the home page to inside screens. Design is fun, but because all websites are interactive to some degree, web design must also include the site visiter's interface with all aspects of the site, including structure.

So, website design, and user interface design in particular, requires a unique combination of graphic arts creativity, left brain logic, and a grounding in current technologies. Impossible in a single talent? Because devices, technology and standards continue to advance at light speed, interdisciplinary teams are more the norm than an exception.

A website design specification that outlines project scope with clearly defined deliverables will help manage expectations for a new or upgraded website.  Note: even in the design phase, development functionality (discussed below) may be addressed in general sense.

What's included in website development? - Another name for Website Development could be website production because it includes whatever it takes to make the approved website design a functional reality. This phase requires an intense focus on how everything in a website is to work and the information that will be conveyed to site visitors in every screen. This may include:
  • Setting up or migrating Domain Name & hosting account
  • Creating or purchasing illustrations, graphics, professional photography
  • Creating or adapting written content
  • Creating animations, videos & other multi-media
  • Building an Administrator Dashboard
  • Template setup/coding to design specifications
  • Populating new site with content
  • Functionality scripting, coding
  • Integration with CRM & other databases
  • Integration with eCommerce financial systems
  • Beta website functional review, debug, revisions
  • Final website roll-out
Website maintenance - Even a "brochure-ware" website is not a set it and forget it proposition. Not only do freshened websites garner more Search Engine ranking points, but an updated website is a marketing asset. Creating and refreshing content is a big deal.

SEO (search engine optimizing) is the process of optimizing a website so that it may rise to a top result in a Google, Yahoo, Bing search. When querying a search engine both natural (organic) and paid advertising listings are displayed in select areas within 100's or 1,000's of result pages. Search engines have special algorithms to ensure the most meaningful listings for a given search string are given top priority. This applies to both natural and paid listings

Optimizing a website to enhance a website's status in a natural search result is the sole focus of SEO, and requires yet another area of expertise. SEO has evolved from a combination of tricks and value-add practices to solely value-add content and link practices to warrant a priority rank. Today, search engine optimizing a website requires an initial setup with ongoing SEO only required to the extent keyword focus may change.

Search Marketing (or Internet Marketing) is an all-encompassing discipline that includes whatever it takes to promote a website in the context of a marketing search. Traditionally, Search Marketing was more narrowly focused Adword or "click" advertising and SEO efforts. But today, a marketer may use a wide variety of inbound or outbound strategic tools to enhance website and company exposure:
  • Websites
  • Landing Pages
  • SEO
  • Adword or "click" advertising
  • Banner advertising
  • Direct Mailing or ePromotions
  • PR & Content Marketing
  • Analytical Tools
Each of these tools may be employed individually or in some combination in an integrated marketing effort. 

For more information on agency services for website development & hosting call me at 770-664-9322, or visit

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