December 2011

What Solas Web Design Can Do For You In 2012

happy 2012

Will 2012 be the year you take your business online or make important efforts to increase the visibility of your company on the web? Partner with Solas Web Design to get the job done right!

2011 has had more than its share of reporting on economic ills, but over the past year, our firm has witnessed first-hand smart, committed small-to-medium business owners profiting from the opportunities that the Internet provides when utilized well.

Whether you are starting from scratch with a brand new business that has something valuable to offer if it can be found by the public, or you need to improve the presentation of your existent company so that it convinces more people to do business with you, 2012 marks our 9th year helping important organizations like yours to achieve their worthy goals! Here’s what we can do for you in the new year:

Hourly Consultation
The ideas are bubbling around in your brain like fizz in a soda, and you need to talk to a professional to get input as to whether you are on the right track. What domain name should you choose? What is a really trustworthy hosting company? What is the most effective, optimized way to organize the text content of your website? What should you write about? Is a 10 page website going to cover it for you and your users, or do you need to have a plan to expand? What local business directories should you be listed in? What are the guidelines for inclusion? Have you taken the right steps or made a costly mistake along the way? How can you gain higher search engine rankings – or should you be more focused on conversions than mere ranking numbers? Need a referral to a specialist in some specific form of search marketing? Who should you trust?

We schedule hourly phone consultation appointments with business owners to discuss and resolve questions just like these. For a modest investment, you have the ears and mind of a pro locked onto your project. If we can’t be of meaningful help, we’ll tell you so, but chances are, our experience will give you the confidence you need that you are making the best possible choices about the presentation of your business on the web. We’d love to consult with you!

Website Audits
It doesn’t matter if you paid pennies or a bundle for your current website: if it’s failing to achieve your goals, something isn’t right. Every year, countless companies end up with poorly designed websites stemming from both cheap build-your-own deals to extravagantly priced marketing firms. Disappointed business owners have asked us to take a look at sites that are costing them $10/month to sites that they made an investment of 20K in for the design. When the designer built without human beings and search engines in mind, the site is slated for failure from the day it’s launched.

If you want to know what’s wrong with your website, we offer a detailed one-time written report that covers your website’s visual design, human usability, on-page SEO and/or local SEO and copywriting. This is not a pre-written report from which we’re cutting and pasting; every report is written from scratch, specifically for the unique client. You come away with an easy-to-understand list of problems and actionable items and suggestions for improvement. Every business owner who has ever requested a website audit performed by us has told as that it was an immense help to them in seeing their site with informed, new eyes. It would be our pleasure to to provide this valuable kind of insight to your company!

Website Design
Organization is everything! The most valuable skill we’ve acquired in nearly a decade of designing websites is the ability to understand and organize all of the relevant data about a client’s business. Everything from content about your goods and services to your contact information must be organized and presented in a way that is easy for people and search engine bots to use and understand.

Human visitors must be inspired with a feeling of trust in your organization and called to the actions that are most vital to your business – whether that means walking in your door, picking up a phone or filling out a form. Simultaneously, search engines must be treated to an organization and presentation of your data in a manner that is easiest for them to crawl and ‘understand’.

Every website designed by Solas Web Design is built on beautiful, logical architecture, includes on-page SEO, makes humans’ paths through the property as simple and engaging as possible and is all wrapped up in a professional, appealing visual design. Take advantage of our skill in this and and the investment you make in having Solas Web Design develop your website will probably be the best thing you ever did for your business. That’s what our clients tell us!

Local SEO
Need more neighbors to find and patronize your local-focused business? We can strengthen the local nature of your website or consult with you about how to do it yourself. We can also get you listed in the major local business indexes such as Google Places, Yahoo! Local, Bing Local and the other directories we believe to be most powerful. Let us explain the guidelines to you for participation in Local Search and help you avoid the traps and pitfalls that await any business owner who doesn’t have all of the information he or she needs about how to run a successful local search marketing campaign.

Over the past 5 years, helping clients with their Local SEO needs has become an increasingly important part of our work and we absolutely love it. Having a headache in Local or don’t know where to begin? Call us!

Copywriting and Editing
You tell us what points need to made on a given page and we write the polished, persuasive, optimized copy that will present your business to the world as a truly professional organization. If writing just isn’t your thing, developing a relationship with a professional copywriter is the answer.

Any company that launches a website has just gone into the publishing business. This means you’ve got to have some kind of content to publish! Let us tell the public why you are the best mechanic in town, the most artistic landscape planner, the greenest restaurant, the most trustworthy attorney.

Already have pages of copy written? A professional edit will tighten your meaning, correct errata, highlight your keywords and strengthen your overall message. We’ve edited everything from business proposals to on-page text to video descriptions. Let us put our gift with words in your hands!

We Can Do It All!
We can consult with you, create your text copy, design your site, optimize it and get it listed locally. This array of diverse services can be combined to create a very powerful presence for your business on the Internet. We couple these technical skills with a talent for listening well to you and understanding the core benefits and heart of your business. We believe in our clients! Believe in our ability to guide you well on the web.

Why Work With Solas Web Design
There’s an old saying that a man is known by the company he keeps. Our professional associations and citations include:

Q&A Forum Local SEO Associate, SEOmoz
Moderator, Cre8asite Forums
Contributing Author, Search Engine Guide
Contributor, David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors Annual Report
Recommended Local SEO Firm, GetListed.org
Cited Source, Search Engine Land
Cited Source, Blumenthals

These sources represent some of the most trusted, most cited and oldest in the industry and our active role in the areas of design, SEO, local SEO and copywriting is your assurance that we will be putting an extremely high level of skill at your service.

Let’s work together to make 2012 rewarding and profitable for your business!
Call us at (707) 981-7943 or contact us via our form.

Happy New Year!

Adding multiple business locations to HotFrog.com

A quick tip for Local SEOs and local business owners today! If your business has more than one physical location, you’ll be adding each location separately to most local business directories. Some, like Google Places, allow you to create a main account and then build out your different listings within that main account. HotFrog.com doesn’t work this way.

Right now, we’re working with a very dynamic law office with 6 different offices in Northern California. I wrote to HotFrog to confirm the way in which we would need to proceed so that we could add more than one location to their index. Here is the response I received from HotFrog:

There are two ways to advertise your 6 offices on Hotfrog.

1. You can create 6 different profiles. You will receive the best SEO results by this and need only one login account to manage all the profiles.

2. You can create one profile and put information of all locations in the business description. Google will still pick up the info but not as strong as 1.

I thought it was worth writing a quick blog post about this because I couldn’t easily find any documentation regarding the correct procedure on the company’s website or on the web at large. My advice would be to go with creating the 6 different profiles. This is time consuming and certainly not as convenient as being able to manage all listing from a single profile, but for now, this is how HotFrog works.

HotFrog is a good directory to list your local business in, and it is one of the directories recommended by David Mihm’sGetListed.org. HotFrog offers you generous room for telling your business’ story and choosing keywords. I find their user interface to be simple to use every time I get a company listed with them. For multiple location businesses, there will be a little more effort involved, but it’s all in a day’s work.

Does your small business serve within its local community? Solas Web Design loves doing Local SEO for companies like yours and we’d love to hear from you!

Getting A Negative Review Removed From Google Places – Your Chances

Google Gone Fishing
Back in October, I wrote a piece at Search Engine Guide covering the issue of the Google Place Page of Max’s Deli in Birmingham, AL being spammed with several pages full of negative reviews. These reviews clearly violated Google’s Review Quality Guidelines in that they had nothing to do with the food or business and everything to do with users’ political opinions regarding immigration laws.

I wrote about this, and so did many bloggers – and the story was covered by TV News, major Internet news sites like the Huffington Post and radio broadcasts. In a word, the story made headlines, and significant attention was drawn to the Google Place Page of the beleaguered business.

2 months later, those reviews – in clear violation of Google’s guidelines – continue to sit from about page 18 onward on the business owner’s Google Place Page.

I have no idea if the business owner took any steps to request removal of the spam reviews, but whether he did or not, the world had a big conversation about the reviews and, as far as I can tell, Google has ‘gone fishing’.

In my work in places like the SEOmoz Q&A forum and elsewhere, I frequently get asked about how a business can have negative or violating Google Places reviews removed. The answer I have to give isn’t very hopeful. If a business’ reviews are so spammy that they are front page news and Google still won’t take them down, your chances of seeing action in the common case of such scenarios as competitive review spam or personal vendettas are simply slim to none, from what I can see.

Review giant, Yelp, frequently draws criticism for its stringent and sometimes confusing policies, but at least Max’s Deli’s profile there is free of spam. Google could certainly take a page from Yelp’s book when it comes to treating reviews in a professional manner.

And business owners stuck with spam will have to take a page from Max’s Deli. As of writing this post, and dating from the time of the controversy, Max has received a couple hundred positive reviews – a triumphant backlash and show of support from the public. Your business may not be able to achieve numbers like that, but if you can bury your negative reviews with several pages of positive ones, your are doing about as much as you can to protect yourself from people who are willing to use Google’s neglect of their review base as an opportunity to be hateful.

As for me, this is my voice calling for Google to uphold their published guidelines and delete those violating reviews off Max’s Deli’s Place Page. Do the right thing, Google.