Graphic Matter, Inc BLOG

www.graphicmatter.com

Graphic Matter, Inc BLOG - www.graphicmatter.com

Do You Speak SEO?

Search Engine Optimization continues to be a popular topic, so thought it was a good idea to revisit some of the fundamentals. Here are some commonly used SEO terms, their definitions and how they apply to a web page.

SEO-Search Engine Optimization; SEM-Search Engine Marketing

1. Title: official title of the page

The text that appears at the very top of the browser window
Most prominent information displayed in search results

tip: Use a different title on each page, typically a 40-60 character limit
tip: Title should be pleasantly readable, not awkwardely stuffed with keywords

2. HTML Page Name: aka file name

Appears at the end of the website name in the browser window

tip: Use words that related to the content of the page [keywords work well]
tip: Be specific to your company; it’s an opportunity to distinguish from your competition.
[i.e. use “nj-handmade-chocolate-services.html” instead of “services.html”]

3. Meta name “keywords” content: your keywords, phrases, best relevant words

Identifies the relevant keywords, phrases to search engines
Confirms for the search engines that the content of the site is relevant to the search phrase

tip: Include common variations, even common misspellings.

4. Meta name “description” content: describes what page is about

Typically the most prominent text displayed in search engine results

tip: Include search word or phrase most commonly used in content
tip: Use it multiple times, and include common variations, even common misspellings
tip: Should be concise yet pleasantly readable

Client Spotlight: Unette Corporation

Unette Website Refreshed

AFTER: Unette’s website Today

Graphic Matter just completed a sharp new website for Unette Corporation. These images show the dramatic transformation–read on for more project details of what we accomplished and how we did it.


A Typical Story

A leader in the flexible packaging industry since 1955, Unette’s growth as a company had far outpaced its branding and Internet presence. Carol Ann Hark, vice president of Unette, contacted Graphic Matter with specific, yet not unique, objectives for the website project: update the “look”, update the content, clarify the list of services, simplify the navigation and ability to edit content on select pages. These issues are very typical to what many businesses currently experience, and many savvy business owners who entered the Internet marketing arena early are finding it’s time to hit the “refresh” button.

Client-Creative communication is key to an effective design process–and optimal results

Unette supplied sample websites that represented the type of “look” and/or features they wanted. This jumpstarted a visual dialogue with our creative team, and the resulting site is one that will promote Unette’s products and services successfully for the foreseeable future.

Budgeting for the Long Haul

Giving clients the ability to edit content not only helps to keep the site’s content current, but also reduces the overall costs by allowing them to update or add information as often as the need arises.  And every update counts: Search engines LOVE new content; each time Unette updates their site, they also improve their search engine optimization results [SEO].

Removing the cost barrier puts site maintenance in different terms: when the update is desired or needed, not “when the budget allows.” Graphic Matter offers several self-administration options, which can be tailored to meet a variety of business needs.

Unette Corporation website BEFORE update

BEFORE: Unette website. circa 2005

A Happy Ending

The client loves the new site–isn’t that the best measure of project success?

Have you evaluated your Internet presence lately? Is it still an effective marketing tool for your business? Is it non-existent? Graphic Matter’s creative team can address a spectrum of objectives–typical to not-so-typical–to meet our clients’ business needs and budget. Call us—we can answer your questions and point you in the direction towards effective marketing.

 

 

How good is your reputation?

White Hat SEOYou carefully guard your personal and business reputations, but did you know that it’s important to monitor your online reputation as well? Knowing what people are saying about your business gives you the power to capitalize on successes or correct misrepresentations where they crop up.

Black Hat SEOHow do you know what’s being said, and what control can you have?

1. Own all variations of your domain name. Think of the most likely errors [misspelling, plural vs. singular, etc] someone might make when searching for you, and purchase those domains if you can. Also purchase domains for your own name [not your company]. They don’t cost much and it provides peace of mind. Have you ever misspelled a web address and reached an incorrect website — perhaps it belongs to a competing business, or even one that is a bit [eek] awkward?!

2. Set up Google Alerts for your business name and product names. This FREE and easy-to-set-up Google feature will advise you when there is any Internet mention of the terms you have specified, so you can see the good, and even the bad, of what’s being said. You can even have alerts for your competitors and target clients too. Unfortunately you can’t always change what’s out there, but again, knowledge is power.

3. Use only White Hat SEO. There are good SEO practices, and not so good ones. The good kind – White Hat SEO – search engine optimization, search engine marketing, SEO, SEMconsists of the appropriate & ethical embedding of keywords and metadata into your copy and images. Black Hat SEO refers to sites where the SEO techniques are not in compliance with search engines’ guidelines for webmasters [Search Engine Optimization, An Hour a Day. Grappone and Couzin, 2008]. Search engines don’t like Black Hat SEO and you may find your rankings suffer as a result.

Your online reputation will say as much about you as your personal reputation does. Protect it and promote it accordingly. Want to know more about the Do’s and Don’ts of Internet marketing?

Google’s new Instant Preview in search results

Google recently introduced a new Instant Preview feature that seems to have replaced the thumbnail image typically shown in search engine results. This new feature displays a mini snapshot of the actual web page, and highlights the relevant search terms as they appear on the page. Previews allow the searcher to quickly compare results and to choose a page that best matches what they are looking for. [read more]

search engine optimization

Seeing this direct link between your search terms and Google’s search results demonstrates the importance of search engine optimization and the strategic use of “landing pages” throughout your website. How confident are you that your prospects can find you with a Google search? Contact Graphic Matter’s web team to be sure.

Auto-piloting your website

Once your website is up and running, it would be nice to think that it will happily function on autopilot, magically bringing new prospects to your door. It can do that… ALMOST. But just like an airplane’s autopilot function, you first need to set some “coordinates,” so to speak. These tips will help to guide your site to your target audiences.

Fresh content: Web crawlers love fresh content, so add it as often as you can. This can be in the form of company news, blogs posts, photos or video via mobile upload.
Keywords, metadata, SEO, SEM, search engine optimization

Relevant Design: Keep the design of your site current. Design trends, just like clothing trends, become outdated. No one wants to visit a dated site.

Online Community Participation: Is your business suited for a community forum– like a product rating by your customers [think Amazon, Target]? This fresh content will continue to work even when you’re not.

Directory Submissions: Once your site is up and running it’s important to submit it to the major search engine directories to jumpstart it’s online presence. Our team can help.

Email Signatures: Always include your web address in your business email signature. This is a quick & free way to get your web address out to your clients and make it easy for them to access your site. Suggest they bookmark it for future convenience!

Business Cards & Stationery: Your web address should be included on all of your company stationery and marketing collateral. If you don’t promote yourself, who will?

Press Releases: At Graphic Matter, we find that in the days following a press release Google Analytics shows a remarkable increase in traffic to our site. Press releases are a relatively inexpensive promotional tool that is often overlooked in the small-to-midsized business arena. Talk to our marketing professionals to get started!

SEO and PPC: You use words and images to speak to your customers; your website uses them to speak to the search engines – and it’s all going on behind the scenes. For more information about the powerful impact good SEO and can have on your web traffic look at our series of blog posts.

Blogs: Hosting a blog on your site is an easy way to generate fresh content and provides opportunities for new connections with your customer base. Your SEO advantage is super-charged if you host your blog on your custom domain rather than using free hosting by WordPress or blogger.

Newsletters: E-newsletters can carry your marketing message to your entire customer list with just a click. And while your customers are reading the words, the web crawlers are reading the strategically planted keywords and links. Be sure to create links back to your website.

Should you implement ALL of these items? ABSOLUTELY! Call our marketing experts to help you design the best Internet marketing strategy for your business’ needs and budget.

Graphic Matter’s 2010 Year in Review

2010 was a year filled with accomplishments and milestones for Graphic Matter Inc. As we review this list we have compiled, we are again grateful to you, our clients and partners, for your support and confidence.

January 2010 – Launch of Our 2¢, Graphic Matter’s blog, opening a new line of communication and resource for our clients. We covered the topics that our clients asked us about the most – everything from blogs, SEO, branding, and client projects.

February 2010 – Graphic Matter attends WPEO Done Deals and Matchmaker Event in NYC and has matchmaker meetings with various corporations.

March 2010Mitushi Banerjee joins the Graphic Matter team as web designer.

April 2010 – Graphic Matter attends the WPEO Done Deals Challenge Reception in NYC.

June 2010Graphic Matter is awarded 3rd place in the NJ AD Club 42nd Annual Awards for the exercise booklet we designed for the Pink Ribbon Program, Recovery for Breast Cancer Survivors.

June 2010Graphic Matter designs trade show graphics for NTSG, Inc., providing visual impact for their sponsorship booth at WBENC’s Women in Business 2010 Conference, This visually compelling marketing tool is both versatile and portable for use at future events.

June 2010 – Graphic Matter renews WBENC Certification.

July 2010 – Graphic Matter attends New Jersey’s largest industry networking event sponsored by the NJ Marcom Council.

August 2010 – Graphic Matter celebrates our 8th anniversary as a Hillsborough business.

September 2010 – Graphic Matter creates a new business plan for growth in 2011 with the Haufman FastTrac Growth Venture program

October 2010 Graphic Matter wins the WPEO/WBENC Done Deals Partnership Award for securing the most WBE-to-WBE contracts.

November 2010Graphic Matter designs advertisement and accompanying micro-site for Pink Ribbon Program’s Breast Cancer Rehab.org, marking our first ad placement in a national publication [USA Today].

December 2010 – Graphic Matter wraps us another exciting year and prepares for a productive 2011.

Thanks for reading our blog. Let us know what you would like us to discuss in 2011. We look forward to more rewarding project with our clients in 2011!

Implementing and Building Your Brand – Building a Brand Part 6

How Do I Do THAT?

In recent posts, we identified the main challenge to building your brand is to create awareness and recognition of your company and brand, and we broke it down into four areas:

1. Choice of font or typeface

2. Use of Color

3. Logo Design

4. Choosing a Designer

To complete the series, we are offering some ideas about how you can promote your brand consistently with everyday or off-the-shelf items. The most important tip we can give you is to be CONSISTENT about promoting your brand.

OFF-THE-SHELF ITEMS

Many office supply stores stock business supplies and accessories that you can purchase to reinforce your brand. Will you need binders, presentation folders, envelopes, boxes, or labels? See how many of these items you can get that are consistent with the colors that you have chosen for your logo or brand. Since you haven’t invested any money in these types of items at this point, you can adjust your color choices for them as necessary. For example, instead of bright blue, you might need to switch to a light blue or a grayish-blue. Make these decisions early, before you start to accumulate materials. Consider searching online — you might get a wider selection of colors. Companies like Paper Direct and Paper Access specialize in creating pre-printed materials for small business owners.

BUILD THE BRAND

Now that you have selected your basic elements, use them relentlessly. Find every opportunity to reinforce your brand.

When you select checks, include your font, color(s) and logo. Take a look at your email; create a standard signature that incorporates your complete business name, address, phone and Web address in the footer. Use your colors, your font and if you know how, add your logo. Evaluate all of your existing support materials – not just marketing materials. What do your invoices, estimates, and contracts look like? Do they reinforce your brand and the professionalism of your company? Pick up each piece and ask, “Does this help or hinder my brand in the eye of the client?” More importantly, if prospective clients see this support material before they meet you, will it encourage them to contact you or will it send a clear message to go elsewhere?

Thinking about how both prospective and existing clients view your business is very important. You want to make sure when they have a need they think of you first and ask you to help them fill it. By branding your business, and then building your brand, you create brand recognition, which turns into more sales for you!

For more information on how to build your brand, contact Graphic Matter!

How Do I Choose A Logo Designer?

Here is a checklist for you, to help you hire the right designer for your project.

1. Experience:
Ask your designer for samples of other company or product logos they created. It is important to see that the designer can meet a client’s objectives, personal taste and business constraints. Designing a logo as a class project is not the same as meeting the needs, preferences and budget of a paying client.

2. Positive Testimonials:
Ask for testimonials. When speaking to their clients ask about the communication process, how well the designer understood their needs and how they managed the design and edit process. The design process is a translation process, where a client states their requirements verbally and the designer translates these needs into a physical object or symbol.

3. Portfolio:
Good designers have a strong and varied portfolio of work. From the simple to the complex, it should include product and service businesses, conservative and contemporary, premium and discount brands. You can view our portfolio here.

4. Design Process & Professionalism:
When Graphic Matter designs a logo, we follow a process to ensure that we understand and fulfill the client’s needs and requirements. Attention to detail, trustworthiness, strong communication skills, project and time management are all integral components for great customer service. Can your designer accurately estimate the time and cost of your project?

5. Price:
In most cases, you will get what you pay for but don’t take price as the only indication. A designer is a professional who is selling their experience and time. An experienced professional designer, with a strong portfolio is not going to give away their work when they can sell it at fair market value. They need to allow adequate time to do the necessary research and background work to make your logo unique and relevant for your target audience.

6. Customer Service:
Do you know the business behind the website? Can you call or visit the office and meet the designer – if you want to? Do they respond to your emails and calls? How do they present themselves and their ideas? Do they ask you the right questions about your business and objectives? Do they listen to you and understand your change requests? Do they respect your ideas and input? Do you get back what you expect from the designer? When you do get something back  are you “surprised”? Is it a good surprise? It should be!

Graphic Matter can help you to build your brand.

Why not give us a call today?

Building A Brand – Part 4

Does your business need a logo?

One truth in life is that a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to recognizing and remembering a person’s or a company’s name. Have you ever tried to remember a person you met at an event, and then looked for a photo of them to refresh your memory. In the same way, we can recall a business by seeing their logo, store signage or business card.

A logo serves as visual stimulation to our memory, leaving a greater and lengthier impact than words alone do. Logos give brand name recognition and add visual interest to documents, web pages and printed materials.

It is the most direct way to differentiate your business; it’s an “impact” statement without the long-winded description. In a split second, tell your prospect how you are different AND BETTER then all your competitors in the yellow pages or on your google search results.

Does your business need a “professionally designed” logo?

As a graphic design studio, Graphic Matter highly recommends that you use a professional designer to design your logo. There are many reasons for this, far too many to cover in detail in this blog post.

Perhaps you may save money by using a “free” or low cost source, like a student or “crowd sourcing”, but consider what you might be sacrificing in experience and consultative services. At Graphic Matter we have seen many clients who have designed their logos themselves. Unfortunately they used the wrong software and created low-resolution photographic images. Then five years later when they are ready to upgrade their business [and require commercial offset printing or a large format trade show booth] they find they need to completely redesign their logo to translate to this new medium. A poorly designed logo can increase your commercial reproduction costs by 200%. The need to redesign a logo five years after launch can cost you five years of “brand building.”

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Warren Buffet

It’s not just a pretty picture…

Your logo needs to be designed and constructed in a manner that can be used in many media, over many years, and to withstand the copyright and trademark issues that may surface 10 or 20 years after you have launched your brand.

A logo needs to be highly functional. It needs to translate in full-color and grayscale. It needs to function with the production and technical requirements for commercial and digital print, on the Internet, possibly on TV, signage, embroidered on clothing, or embossed on packaging. Your logo must work at small and large scale, from imprinting on pens and yellow page ads to large signage.

While it is easy to get caught up with the aesthetic and philosophical perspective, when designing a logo, a designer’s job is to balance the creative with the practical and technical matters as well. This is not a task that is easily accomplished by the novice.

Your logo is the foundation of your brand – build it right the first time.

A better way to cut cost

If you need to cut corners when launching a business… and you will…do it with your tri-fold brochure or your website, instead of your logo. You will need to revise these in your first year or two anyway. As you refine your messaging and your target markets you will need to revise these marketing tools anyway, so a “prototype” brochure or web site is not a bad idea.

A logo should be built to stand the test of time… and legal… and technical… and production… and changing markets.

Come back and read our next post:  How To Choose A Professional Designer

Does Your Website Need An Alignment?

More specifically, is the content of your site in alignment with your searcher’s keywords? Is there a clear path to your virtual doorstep? The sample below will demonstrate the typical process:

1. Keyword or Phrase Searched: A searcher types in keywords into the search engine [google, msn, aol]. In this example: “iPhone 4G reviews”.

2. Results Listed: The search engine results are listed, showing organic search results and sponsored links. Also know as paid advertising or pay-per-click [ppc], sponsored listings are usually called out by a colored background and the words “sponsored link”, and appear in the main list and in the side columns as well.

3. Keywords Matched: The words that were included in the initial search phrase “iPhone 4G reviews” will be highlighted or bolded in each of the resulting search listings.

Click on one of the top sites listed on the first page and notice the keywords that are organically placed on this page. You can reference the SEO terms we described in our post Finding Hidden Opportunities On Your Website, to help you look for the keywords in each area – page title, file name, metatags, alt tags, etc. Note how many times the keywords you entered appear in each of the components of this page.

When the keywords appear in all of the page components listed above, and the content on that page is relevant to the keyword phrase, then you have organically optimized this page by making all of the components align with this keyword phrase.

This aligned page is known as a “landing page” for that keyword phrase. See our post about landing pages to refresh your memory.

Does this landing page have a “call to action”? Does it ask you to submit your information, or call the office, or to buy now? If so, then it is also a Conversion Page.

We know what you are thinking: What is a Conversion Page? This answer is coming soon in our next post, and may be your “aha” moment that puts all the SEO pieces together for you.

How can you be in that #1 spot in your prospect’s search results? By methodically “aligning” the key messages on your website, from the inside out. Your own [keyword] alignment is just a phone call away!

Finding Hidden Opportunities On Your Website

Have you wondered how search engines pick which sites are displayed in search results? Or more specifically, which text from a site they will display in search results? And these terms that we’ve heard before [page title, metatags & keywords]… what do they mean and how do the puzzle pieces fit together?

[#1] The Page Title is the text that appears at the very top of your browser window [not the URL or address that you type in, above that]. It is the most prominent piece of information displayed in the search results. There is typically a 40-60 character limit to what you can include, and your title should be pleasantly readable, not awkwardly stuffed with keywords.

[#2] The HTML Page Name, aka the File Name, should be comprised of words that actually describe the contents or function of the page. [Hint: keywords work really well]. This is another opportunity to distinguish your company from the competition. Think of how many pages there are out there called “services.html” or “contactus.html” and how you can use the page name to focus on and attract the people looking for your services by being more specific. [example: “nj-graphic-design.html”].

[#3]  There are several types of metatags:

A Meta Description Tag is metadata coded into a web page that describes the content of the page. This text should also be concise, yet pleasantly readable as it may be featured prominently in the results. Meta Keywords Tags are metadata that contain keywords related to the content of the web page. Search engines use these keywords to determine relevance. It is recommended that in addition to your targeted keywords, you include some that are not on your “short list.” Also add your company name and common alternate spellings, regardless of whether they are correct. If people misspell your company name or a product you sell when they type in the search request, you want them to find you anyway.

Metatags are not evident on the web page, but can be seen by selecting “view source” from the browser menu. To maximize your SEO opportunities, each landing page of your site should have a unique metatag description and keywords targeted specifically to the content of that page.

Also coded into a web page, Alt Tags are “alternative” descriptive text coded into an image to describe the image in the event that it cannot be viewed. An example: when a browser is set to display only text, as is common on mobile devices. Alt Tag text may also appear when your cursor hovers over an image, but is typically not seen otherwise.

Did you realize that there is so much happening behind the scenes of your website? And while this data may be “out of sight” to you, search engines and web crawlers are attracted to them like moths are to light. Graphic Matter’s web design team will help you uncover the hidden opportunities on your site. Call us and begin optimizing your site for greater search engine visibility.