Posts Tagged ‘Yahoo’

What golf and websites have in common.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Interactive is the new green.  Every company, corporation, organization, and association that wants to succeed has some sort of presence on the web.  One of my first questions when I am approached to develop a website is “Does you website need to be found?” There is generally very little gray area here.  Businesses either build a website to provide additional information and enhance services for existing clients, a site that isn’t looking to be found, or they build a site expecting to gain new customers, and therefore must be built to be found by people looking for a product or service the business offers.

Development of a website ranges from inexpensive, ‘plug-n-play’ templates to help small businesses gradually enter the interactive world, to very expensive, custom design, programming and advanced website optimization.  What templates don’t provide is the ability to be found.  Being found means using a word or a few words, known as word strings, a website appears on the first few pages.  A great site will be found or ranked on Page One of search engines, and believe me this doesn’t happen by accident and isn’t inexpensive.

This blog was inspired by one of our clients with whom we are entering into our third contractual year. The first year we developed a new look and re-launched their site, but more importantly we focused significant time on the sites foundational navigation and how it could grow.  In the second year we began adding a tremendous amount of content and changing the content on a regular basis so it would always be fresh for returning visitors and appealing to new visitors, encouraging both to return. Nine months after the new launch our client attained the coveted Page One ranking.  Now as we enter year three, our goal for the website will be to continue growing the sites content and to maintain our Page One ranking with Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  Our goal for our client will be to educate them on the importance and cost of maintenance so as not to lose ground, either on what they have built or the investment they have made.

My client contact is an avid golfer so I began thinking about how to relate and compare golfing, an offline personal enjoyment, to his website, an online business necessity. Both are an investment in time and money, and while there are hundreds upon thousands of companies offering web services, so too are there hundreds upon thousands of public, semi-private, and private golf courses around the world.  Public and semi-private courses like The Pebble Beach Links Old Head Golf Course in Cork Country, Ireland, costs $400, and to play Shadow Creek Las Vegas is $500 for eighteen holes. On the other hand a golfer can playRobert Trent Jones for as little as $45. Private clubs, in addition to long wait lists, expect initiation fees like Liberty National for $450,000 or Shinnecock and August National for a mere $75,000 – $100,000; oh yes, and require an invitation to join. No matter the course, the actual ability to gain access to play is again an investment in both time and money. But how does that compare with web development?

The Masters!  Whether or not you are an avid golfer, you have probably heard of this particular golf tournament in Augusta, GA.  It is widely known for its challenging courses as well as for its spectacular landscapes.  Those that qualify to play are among the very few compared to the overall number of golfers worldwide.  Even getting a ticket to watch is quite a privilege.  While visitors expect to see great golf, rarely is there a conversation about the Masters, by those who have attended, that does not include talk about the awe inspiring course, the perfectly manicured greens, and the picturesque flowers.  This type of setting does not happen by accident and is not inexpensive. It is carefully planned, executed, and, just as important, maintained year-round!  There is no time off for the crew after the big event because new changes, planned well in advance of the current year, are being implemented the moment the tournament is over. This dedication and due diligence, day-in-and-day-out, provides the setting for the next year’s jaw dropping event, ready to be enjoyed by players and spectators alike.

A website is no different. Like a golf course, the master landscape must be planned out well in advance. A website must be touched and managed on a daily basis with a definitive purpose so that the content is fresh, and, like a golf course, kept lusciously green, desirable, and sought after by customers and visitors alike; therefore, enthusiasts will spread the word and encourage others to play and/or visit.

Shopping for a website is like buying a vehicle

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

There are so many variables that go into pricing a website and let’s face it web producers all need the same basic information, copy and pictures to develop a design prior to programming; but the difference in producers is their ability to develop a site architectured specifically to gain the widest appeal for the client’s audience.

So what does it cost?  That is the question Blue Olive gets asked on at least a weekly basis and that depends on what you can and will do for yourself, and how much you want done for you.  Here are 10 basic questions to consider and that should be asked/answered to give you an accurate price:

1. Do you want a customized design or will a design template do?

2. Do you already have photography, if not then will you be satisfied with stock photography or will you need a photo shoot?

3. Is the copy already written and grammatically correct, if not will you need a copy writer to research and write your copy from scratch or will you be providing some draft copy for them to re-write?

4. Do you know how many pages you anticipate the finished site to be?

5. How often will the copy and pictures on your site need to be updated? If more than yearly, you may need/want a content management application or are you willing to learn some basic HTML coding?

6. Do you want your site to be found by search engines?  If so you will need to have Meta words and analytics (preferably Google, Yahoo, and Bing) embedded in your source code and will need a monthly budget for optimization updates. You will also need to develop a list of potential keywords words or word strings that people would use to search and find your site?

7. What are the goals for your site? To be an electronic brochure or do you want it to be an interactive experience? Is it to attract new visitors/customers or will it be for existing customers already familiar with your products/services or does it need to attract both? Do you want/expect to be on Page 1 of searches?

8. Will you want to gather visitor contact information so you can reach back with emails later?

9. Will you sell products/services on the site?

10. Do you already own a URL address and where will the site be hosted?

While these aren’t the only questions you will need to answer, they provide a good start in making an educated decision before selecting the best interactive team to meet your web needs.

And, since a blog of mine wouldn’t be finished without an analogy, think about your web budget like shopping for or replacing a vehicle. Why do you need a vehicle? To transport people and cargo from one place to another? Why do you need a website? To transport information about products and services you provide?

While a compact car is less expensive than a transport truck, and a Saturn, Honda, and Toyota are generally less expensive than a Cadillac or a Range Rover, many buyers of web services don’t understand the web end product like they do a vehicle and unfortunately you just can’t make a Schwinn bicycle work when you really need a Cheverolet Suburban.  Think of the frustration you will feel when you can’t transport your kids to school or take your family on vacation.

So, beware… sometimes you get what you pay for, but did you really know what you were buying?

Dr. Google, can you direct me to Main Street?

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Let’s face it, there is no main street on the world wide web.  In offline business you pay top dollar for a good location in an effort that everyday traffic will see your business, remember your business, and will shop with your business when they need or want your product or service. That’s not to say dollars aren’t spent on advertising and marketing, but certainly the cost of a good location and good signage should offer some relief to the marketing budget. 

Offline businesses that opt to own or lease space in a more remote area must spend more dollars in marketing and advertising so potential customers are aware they exist.  It’s truly a trade off.  And while there is no LOCATION advantage on the web, there is an ADDRESS advantage, but let’s face it by now there are NO short, easy, one-word URL names available, unless you want to spend big bucks buying a name from an address name “hi-jacker”.  So what’s a new business (or older, established one that didn’t buy a name years ago) to do? 

They must advertise and market their online business.  Driving potential customers to their online website is where the whole wide world is heading on the World Wide Web.

Page 1 – that’s every client that walks through my doors #1 goal and objective for their website and/or web business.  Getting there is time consuming and staying there is not inexpensive. Currently Google, the #1 search engine of choice as I write this blog,  states plain and clear in their own documentation that it can take anywhere from a year or more to get to Page 1.  Now keep in mind as you are working to get to Page 1 so are hundreds of thousands of other websites; so even when you get there you can’t be complacent.  You must continually work on your site to stay on Page 1.  Why, because Google says so and so do most of the other search engines, like Yahoo, and Bing.  They mostly recognize websites that are well maintained and have “fresh content” – that’s not to say a weed or two (old articles) doesn’t creep into the search, but they generally try to keep Page 1 offerings with the sites they deem are following their rules.

Lots of companies offer assistance for getting and staying on Page 1. Beware!!! Not all companies’ offerings are alike.  Be sure you know what you are buying or better yet, what you want, as services from provider to provider will vary dramatically.  Like … hamburgers. Yes I just said hamburgers.  You can buy a $1.00 hamburger from McDonald’s, a $7.50 hamburger from Chili’s, a $12.00 hamburger from Marriott Hotel & Spa’s restaurant 360, a $30 hamburger in New York City and most of you have a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in your home town or city that will have a great, juicy, delicious burger for around $5.00.  Each burger is palatable and priced right for its intended audience – however they really can’t be compared nor would you expect or demand the Marriott to match McDonald’s price just because they are right down the street from one another or because they are both hamburgers and should therefore be the same no matter who is cooking/serving them.

I like to think of our agency and interactive capabilities as equal to the hole-in-the-wall restaurant.  Most people don’t know we’re here but we have a very tasty product and those that dine with us, are provided a good product they enjoy, they are well taken care of and each meal is cooked to order – and while we aren’t located on Main Street some of our clients are ranked on Page 1.

So why do companies try to compare/judge advertising agencies in that type of side-by-side fashion? All marketing firms aren’t alike like all hamburgers aren’t alike. Bigger isn’t always better & cheaper is never best.