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Blogging with “OOMPH!”

Google’s Penguin Update: Is It Time to Google-Proof Your Business?

Google Penguin UpdateMuch to the chagrin of many website owners, in April of this year (2012) Google implemented an update of their search engine algorithm that has even Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Experts scratching their heads. The update, which according to Wikipedia, when launched was being referred to by users as “OOPs” and “Titanic”, before oddly being named after a cute little animal, the “Penguin” by Google, has stunned and dismayed website owners (not to mention penguin lovers) around the world. Many sites that have previously enjoyed a spot in the coveted page one positions of Google’s results have now been sent to search engine oblivion, and with them went their traffic and customers. The vast majority of the businesses affected negatively by the Penguin update have seen their revenues fall dramatically, and many business owners are not sure how they can possibly recover.

While these business owners scramble to make changes to their websites trying their best to conquer the dreaded Penguin update, it’s important to remember that Google isn’t trying to give penguins a bad reputation, or ruin poor unsuspecting business owners. In fact, the reason behind this update was to reduce the amount of “webspam.” In other words, it is an effort to do something good by reducing the number of sites listed that use frowned upon techniques to generate their search engine rankings. By attempting to promote high quality content, they inadvertently adversely affected some of the good guys.

But here’s the thing, if you’ve been affected and are now scrambling to make changes to your website to regain your ranking, while you may very well accomplish what you set out to do, who’s to say what the next algorithm update will bring, or even when it will happen? So, instead of toiling away, trying to beat the system, why not come up with some more creative ways of generating traffic? Here are a few ideas to get you started at Google-proofing your business:

  1. Use Social Media. Form relationships with your friends and followers and offer them value in following you. Getting people interested in you through social media is a great way to generate not only traffic to your site, but targeted traffic to your site – which is really the best kind of traffic to have.
  2. Create Press Releases. Launching a new product? Adding a new service? Lowering your prices? Announce it with a press release and publish it via online PR distribution companies. On top of publicizing some great information about your company, this also provides a great way to get out links to your website (in a way Google likes). Even better is the fact that although your site might not rank very well, many of these PR distribution companies are very well positioned in Google, and so too may your release if written well and with appropriate keywords in mind.
  3. Use Your Tribe. Building a list, or “tribe” as it’s being called these days in web speak, is one of the best possible ways to Google proof your business. If you already have a list, that is a list of email addresses generated from your website where people have given you permission, or “opted-in” to receive updates, news, or ezines, then you have a direct line to your target market. If you have a list, you need to start using it, and marketing it. If you don’t have one, then now’s the time to get started!
  4. Start Article Marketing. Like press releases, article marketing is a great way to generate links to your site. It is also a great way to position yourself as an expert in your industry. An article that is well written and distributed to popular and/or niche article banks can produce some great exposure for your business. Very popular websites often gather material for their blogs and ezines from these sites. Getting your article included on one of these sites could generate tons of traffic to your Google deprived website.
  5. Join Stuff. Okay, this sounds a little silly, but if you think about it, joining associations, groups and members only forums related to your industry is a great way to, a) get listed in their directories and get found at a place that people would frequently search for others in your industry and b) mingle with others in your industry to see what they are doing to get noticed.
  6. Get Creative. Who is your target market? Where can they be found? Is there a place that they tend to go online that you could also go and get noticed? Can you create an affiliate or referral program around your product in order to have others promote it for you? Brainstorm some creative marketing ideas and you may be pleasantly surprised what you come up with.

The ideas are endless. If you make use of your imagination and some of these suggestions, you will be ready for whatever fuzzy animal update Google comes up with next.

Our Latest Press Release Announcing the Introduction of Website Payment Plans!!

Web Design Company Introduces Affordable Payment Plans for Websites

Montreal, QC – Oomph Studios Website Design and Branding has just announced that they will begin offering payment plans to web design clients.

Oomph Studios, a Montreal area website design and branding company has just revealed their latest attempt at making getting online more accessible for individuals and businesses. As of June 1st, 2012, the company is introducing payment plans for all of their website design packages.

Kelly Sims, owner of Oomph Studios explained this move, “My reason for doing this is quite simple: With the economy in the shape it’s been in for the past few years, more and more people who can’t find work are opting to become self-employed. Being self-employed myself, I think that this is a fantastic move, but I also know from past experience that start-up companies struggle financially. Offering payment plans so that these businesses have an easier time getting online means that they’ll struggle less while gaining access to a much larger market than they would without a website.”

The company who previously introduced a low-cost, non-custom design service for businesses on a budget is now looking to monthly payments as a way of assisting business owners to get online and get access to more customers. Oomph Studios currently offers packages ranging from fully customized websites, to their affordable, non-custom Website-in-a-Week package. The new payment plans will apply to all Web Design packages and payments will be taken from their client’s credit cards on a monthly basis.

“We will offer 12, 6, and 3 month plans depending on the web design package chosen and the client’s payment preferences of course. I’m really hoping this will encourage businesses looking to get a web presence, or looking to change their current website to take the plunge and know that it can be done painlessly with installments,” Sims explained. “You can buy just about anything with a monthly payment plan these days, so why not websites?”

Oomph Studios provides website and graphic design services to clients worldwide. To learn more about the company, or to view their portfolio, visit their website at http://oomphwebdesign.ca/.

Marketing Visuals: You Really Do Need Them

I had an odd experience the other day that prompted me to do a little research. I joined a group on Facebook and was reading the rules of the group which basically said that members were able to post links to their business’ Facebook pages and websites, but they were not to post photos and in fact, they were to erase the thumbnails that are automatically generated when you post links on Facebook. The reasoning for this according to the site’s admin, is that people would be less likely to click the link if there were photos there distracting them. Being a designer, you can rest assured, I couldn’t disagree more strongly with this assertion, which has absolutely no basis in fact.

 

To see just how wrong this view is one need only look at the latest social media craze, Pinterest. Pinterest is basically an online pin-board; you like an image and you pin it to your board (with credit to the author), which in turn means you’ve shared it with your followers. It’s a great way to share your interests, things that you find cool, or funny and/or your products if you are a business owner. If you haven’t heard what all of the fuss is about, then head over to Pinterest (after you’re finished reading this post of course!) and I dare you not to become addicted. That site alone is a perfect demonstration of the power of using effective good visuals. And, if I’m going to get very picky, I doubt Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg do anything for kicks; when they added automatic thumbnail creation, I’m fairly certain they had good reason for it.

Still not convinced? Fine, here are some hard facts: A study conducted by the Poynter Institute comparing the way that people read news in print and online found that:

  • Alternative story forms (including Q&As, timelines, lists and fact boxes) helped readers remember facts presented to them in a test of six different prototype designs of one story;
  • Alternative story forms also drew a higher amount of visual attention, compared to regular text in print;
  • Short text, especially with visual elements, is accessible and attractive to readers.

The Poynter Institute 

When I design a website I know that certain things will be more visually appealing than others. What is 100% not visually appealing is a website that has a ton of text and no eye candy. People have short attention spans, especially when browsing the web. If they don’t find something visually appealing they are more likely to click away and leave the page, or the site altogether.

A good graphic can provide information quickly and easily and is usually more memorable than mountains of text. They can allow website visitors to see at a glance what your blog post, website, article, etc. is all about. It can grab the reader’s attention, reel them in and entice them to read your content. Without great graphics, the web would be a dreadfully boring, colourless place. Luckily for us, most people see the value fantastic graphics bring to their website and their social media profiles.

If you’d like to learn more about how great marketing visuals can help you keep your website visitors engaged, be sure to pick-up our free 5 day marketing visuals e-course.

Take Control of Your Website!

Take control of your website with WordPressIt wasn’t long ago that when an individual or a business purchased a website, they were at the mercy of their Web Designer or Web Master to make any kind of modifications to it. If that Designer wasn’t an employee, you were either extremely lucky to have a Designer that would respond to your requests quickly, or you had one that took weeks to make even the smallest changes to your site. Back then, if you were in the latter situation, your choices were to either find a new designer, or sit and wait until the changes were made. Today, if you are in such a predicament, there is a third option: Have your site re-designed using the WordPress platform and manage it yourself.

This is not a joke, you can actually manage your website yourself, and by that I mean, that you can change pictures, add text and even add entire pages to your own website and you won’t need to learn any new technical skills to do it. WordPress is an extremely user friendly software that enables even those without the technical knowledge to set a PVR timer to add content to their website.

Back in the day of HTML websites, updates, even seemingly tiny ones, were often tedious for designers and impossible for site owners to accomplish themselves without some technical knowhow. This knowhow usually included knowledge of HTML and CSS, not to mention familiarity with FTP software and the need for often expensive programs such as Adobe Dreamweaver to make these changes. In addition, paying a designer to make changes to a website isn’t cheap, causing some business owners to put off making important updates, or not making them at all. The result of not making these changes or updates is often lost revenue. For example, if your business wants to advertise an annual event, or sale, your website is a wonderful place to publicize it, but if your designer is too busy to get the information on to your site on time, or if you opt not to have him post it to “save” money, your website visitors will be unaware of your sale, or your product launch, or your award, or whatever other piece of information would be useful for them to know and you will likely lose money in the long run.

Today, once your WordPress website is set-up by your designer, she just needs to provide you with the login information for your site and you have total control of its content. If you’re not familiar with WordPress’ Dashboard (admin panel), a simple Google search of “Wordpress Dashboard Tutorial” should result in several brief (and I do mean brief) tutorials that will walk you through updating your site step by step.

Your business should not be at the mercy of your designer. Switching to a website on the WordPress platform will save you money on costly updates and give you back control of your business’ online presence.

Ready, Aim, Design! How to Make Your Site Speak to Your Target Market

Website Design for Target MarketBuilding a website without first deciding who you are building it for is a lot like skeet shooting while blindfolded – you’re not very likely to hit your target. While you may have an impressive looking site, that alone won’t lead you to convert visitors into customers. And while your website text plays a very big role in converting clients, so too does your website’s design. So how do you design a website that appeals to your target audience?

First, there are a few givens when designing a website that sells:

  1. Your most important content should be above the fold. Meaning that your most important message should be visible when you land on the page without having to scroll down or click to another part of the site.  After all first impressions are what either gets someone to stay on your site, or leave it.
  2. Your site should be clean and easy to navigate. When a visitor lands on a website that is so busy and jammed packed with content that they don’t know where to look never mind click, they will often just leave the site rather than waste any time trying to figure out what the site owner has to offer.  On a clean site, your message will be more evident to your visitors, “Join my list and you’ll get an incredible free gift,” “Buy my product and it will change your life,” “Look at these great examples of my work and imagine what I can do for you.”  No matter what the offer, visitors need to know what it is without having to wade through tons of ads and content to get it.

Now that the basics are out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty: how do you design a site that speaks to your target market? The first step in this process is of course, to determine who your target market is. You might already know this information, but if you don’t, just think about what you are offering. Who are the people that will love (or already do love) your product. Are they businesses or individuals, women or men, parents or childless couples, young or old? Then, if your product requires it, go even further, is your target health conscious, animal lovers, introverts, sports fanatics? Think of any other specific categories that might characterize someone buying your product or service. For example, if your business is sells hearing aids, you can assume that your target market is women and men who are seniors, or at least approaching their senior years. This market is quite general, they won’t specifically be into animals or cooking, but we can assume that they are either retired, or approaching retirement and since they are interested in a hearing aid we can assume that they are concerned about their quality of life.

Next, think about the things that your target market would like to see in a website. For example, if your company sells women’s jewelry, you probably don’t want a masculine website with lots of pictures of men. You need a site that a woman in your target market can relate to. Going back to our hearing aid example, since you are catering to both men and women, the site should have a gender neutral look. Your audience is older, so your theme should have a mature, professional look. Since your focus is on seniors who are retired, or are approaching retirement and who are concerned about their quality of life, your images can reflect this by portraying happy seniors living well. Additionally along with being a senior comes a reduction in eyesight. An older audience needs text that doesn’t make their head ache. Sitting white text on a dark background makes a site more difficult to read, as does using small text and cursive fonts.

Put yourself in the shoes of your target market and surf the web. Take notes on elements of websites that you think your audience would like. Get creative and have fun! Before you know it you’ll have a website that converts more visitors into buyers.

Announcing the Oomph Referral Rewards Program!

We have some exciting news to share with you today. Please have a look at our latest press release for the details and then head over to our Rewards page to learn all about our new Rewards Program!

Montreal Area Website Design & Branding Company Launches Referral Rewards Program

Montreal, QC – New Website Design and Branding company offers thanks in the form of referral rewards.

Referral Rewards ProgramOomph Studios, a Canadian Website Design and branding company established in early 2012 has announced the launch of a new referral rewards program. The company intends to compensate individuals and companies who refer others to their services by paying out 10% of the total project cost.

Company owner and self-proclaimed “web design geek” Kelly Sims began the program as a way to show gratitude to clients for their loyalty and is now opening the program to the general public. Sims explained, “Most of our clients come to us by word of mouth. They’ve usually been referred by clients who have previously worked with us. In the past, I’ve offered compensation for referrals by providing discounts on services, but I wanted to offer more, a bigger thank you,” she continued. “We wanted to show our clients how grateful we are for their support and their loyalty, and what better way to say thanks than by sharing in our returns? And then we figured, why stop there? Why not offer rewards to anyone who sends us referrals?”

The program, officially opened to the public on March 17th, offers 10% compensation for any referrals sent to Oomph Studios by participants. The program offers incentives to prospective customers in the form of promotions. Coupon codes and links are sent to program members at the start of each promotion. Members then use these coupons and links to promote the program through their social networks, websites, in person, or any other way they choose.

The company is offering $200 off their standard “Website with Oomph!” package as the current promotion until April 1st 2012 when their next promotion will begin. A program member who refers an individual or company that then purchases a “Website with Oomph!” package using the current promotion, will receive 10% of the service cost – a value of $119.50 for the referral.

“Even if there is no promotion ongoing, or someone is referred and they choose a different service than that being promoted, the referrer will still receive 10% of the project price,” Sims explained. “All referrals for any of Oomph Studio’s services will result in compensation of 10% of the project cost for the referrer as our way of saying thanks.”

Oomph Studios provides website and graphic design services to clients worldwide. More information about the company, or about the Oomph Rewards Program can be found on their website at http://oomphwebdesign.ca/.

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The Mystery Of The Website That Can’t Be Found

Search Engine Optimization for Your WebsiteSo you have a brand spanking new website. It exhibits your company’s professionalism and exceptional skill.  It’s pretty and shiny and everything you hoped it would be, so why aren’t you getting any new customers? It’s a mystery that many website owners are frequently left to contemplate once their website has been designed and published for the world to see.

The answer to the mystery is really actually quite simple. It’s SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION and if your website doesn’t have it, it will quite likely be lost in the great abyss that is the World Wide Web. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO will make your website easier for search engines like Google and Yahoo! to find. If done well, your website will rank better when someone searches for one of your keywords.

Have I lost you yet? This is one of the things that most of my clients find positively mind-numbingly boring, but it’s essential if you want your website to help you increase your bottom line. So, let’s liven things up a little by using an example.  Let’s say you own a Rodeo Clown company called “Foolish Jim’s Rodeo Clown Co.” located in Burlington, Vermont. The first step in optimizing your website would be to determine what words and/or phrases people would use to search for a company like yours on Google, Yahoo! or Bing. These phrases are called “keywords.” I personally don’t have any rodeo clown companies as clients (yet :-)), so I have never done any keyword research on the topic, but there are tools out there to help you choose which are the best keywords for which to optimize your website, such as Google’s keyword tool and Wordtracker. Some keywords that we might come up with for this company could be “Vermont Rodeo Clowns,” or “Burlington Rodeo Cowboys” for example.

Once you have determined which keywords you’d like to optimize for, the next step is on-site search engine optimization. This means that you strategically place these keywords in important places on your website so that the search engines will find your website when they are bringing up results for your keywords.  Some examples of good places to add your keywords are:

  • In your page title
  • In your page headers
  • As “alt” tags in your page images
  • Peppered strategically throughout your website’s text
  • In your meta description – (ask your web designer if you’re not sure how to access this)
  • In your URL

A blog that focuses on your area of expertise is another great way of providing the search engines with fresh content that can be optimized for SEO purposes.

The next phase of SEO is getting your site’s URL out on the worldwide web by creating links to your website from other sites. Some of my favorite ways to do this are:

  • Using Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., etc., etc.)
  • Writing and distributing online articles
  • Writing and distributing online press releases
  • Submitting your company to industry directories
  • Commenting on blogs and or forums that are related to your industry

So there you have it, mystery solved! With a little work on SEO your shiny new website can actually be all that you imagined it would be and do what it was meant to do – bring you business!

Press Release Announcing the Grand opening of Oomph Studios!

Montreal Area Website Design & Branding Company Celebrates Grand Opening

Montreal, QC – Website design and branding company celebrates their launch by offering big discounts to clients.

Oomph Studios, a new Montreal-based Website Design and branding company has announced its grand opening on February 1st. The company is celebrating its launch by offering large discounts on its website design services through the months of February and March.

Although the company itself is new, the businesses’ owner has previously run a successful Virtual Assistance company and has been working on website design since 2007. She had this to say about her business’ transition, “More and more clients were approaching me for design services. I loved being a virtual assistant, but I was becoming increasingly aware that the reason I loved it so much was the fact that I was doing a lot of design work. It became my passion.”

Oomph Studios not only provides website design services, but also offers branding services including the design of logos, pamphlets, and other branding materials. These services are offered through their on-staff graphic designer. “We’re basically a full-service design company. Our very talented graphic designer, Francois Leclerc has been working on projects for my virtual assistance company for years and my clients love his work, so he’s made the transition to Oomph Studios with me,” said Sims on the other design services she offers.

Although the company is based in the Montreal area, they provide services to businesses all over the world. “Coming from a Virtual Assistance background, I’m used to working with people from all over the globe and I’ll continue to do that with my design company,” Sims stated. “There’s no need to be situated close to someone in order to design their website, or logo. The Web has really made the world a smaller place. My process doesn’t change whether someone is located 2 blocks away, or on the other side of the world.”

To celebrate the launch of the company, the business is offering $200 off website design for all websites comprised of 6 or more pages through the months of February and March.

Oomph Studios’ portfolio of work can be found on their website at http://oomphwebdesign.ca/.

My First Blog Post on my First Day of Operating Oomph Studios…

In this, my first blog post on the first day of operating my new business, I’m going to address the question that everyone and their mother has been asking me leading up to the big launch, “Why Oomph Studios?” When I chose this name, I honestly thought it was fairly obvious why I named it as I did, but according to my husband, my colleagues, my family, some friends, and the strange lady making small talk with me at the bank,  the name is not as understandable as I first though.

First, deciding on a business name isn’t an easy thing. There are lots of other businesses out there and often your first choice for a business name is already taken and the URL not available. Luckily for me, that wasn’t the case. My first choice actually was Oomph! (the ‘Studios’ was added later).  I wanted my new businesses name to be punchy (read short) and memorable, both of which are traits that the name Oomph Studios happily possesses, but I also wanted it to reflect what my clients ask me for. So here was my line of thinking: What are the most common things that a client asks me for when I design a website? Are you ready? Here they are, the 3 most common things I hear from clients who have hired me to design their website:

  1. It has to be beautiful
  2. It has to look clean
  3. It has to have….OOMPH!

And voila! There is the reason for my business name. It’s because of my very extraordinary clients requesting outstanding websites with “OOMPH!”  So, on my first blog post on the first day of operating Oomph Studios, I’d like to thank my clients for inspiring me to give my own company “OOMPH!”

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