One of the things about being a web designer is that my skillset covers many areas: HTML design, website development, graphic design, blogging, SEO and marketing to name but a few. A discussion on Linked In brought this sharply into focus recently….As a designer, it’s pretty much my job to keep abreast of the latest developments and trends in web design. Accordingly, I have an extensive reading list which I’ve displayed in my sidebar to show you all who I subscribe to and where I get many of my ideas from.
Effective Marketing Strategies
Any SEO expert will tell you that guest blogging or offering freebies is an excellent way of getting positive attention and peer approbation. Indeed, it’s why I subscribe to those blogs. Pictured here is a clickable call to action button, so called because you’re being asked to click on it to be sent to a particular page. In this case, it’s a Linked In discussion about SEO. Anyway, the freebie in question is button-building software, though I used Gimp for this, as usual. The point is, one of the reasons I subscribe to Noupe is for the freebies and to learn things. From a marketing perspective, the short and long-term benefits are all for Noupe because I link to them but they don’t link to me unless I get a post published there. What I get is great reading material and the opportunity to learn new design tricks.
When I get to the stage where I’m offering design tips and tricks, I’ll be able to get the peer approval I want to boost my own credentials. The point of the button? To demonstrate my graphic design skills. Take it if you want it. Just right-click it and save it to your pictures folder, then use it as you see fit.
Social networks and page ranking
The discussion in question is about the value of social networking sites for search engine ranking purposes. Since they have nofollow link attributes, no amount of posting links to your website on social networking or bookmarking sites will raise your page rank, but as I pointed out, that’s not the point of having accounts on Linked In, Twitter and Facebook. The purpose of using social networks is to raise awareness of your goods or services by networking, i.e. talking to people and encouraging them to talk about you.
Here’s the problem: as I pointed out in an earlier post, your website is your shop front. Expecting to float to the top of Google search via a host of backlinks and keywords is not going to work without advertising because your rivals have been doing the same thing and for longer. You might as well do that anyway, and pay for advertising if that’s what you want, but the fact is, people go with what they know, so referrals are where it’s at.
Given that web designers don’t seek out web designers for paid work, you may well wonder why I spend so much time seeking peer approval. Well I have great respect for Jeffrey Zeldman, Ethan Marcotte and Jason Santa Maria, among others, and they are acknowledged to be experts in their field. I follow them on Twitter and read their blogs avidly. Imagine the boost to my reputation if any of them were to recommend a post in my blog or quote me as a source of information. That’s one of the reasons I follow their blogs; I’m hoping to learn enough to be as good as they are. That’s good for impressing high-end clients, but my usual client base of blue-collar tradesmen is unlikely to be able to tell the difference between a browser and a search engine, much less be aware of who the best designers are.
Best marketing practice
All of the following make for best marketing practice:
- Make sure your website is as good as it can be, with an up-to-date design, clear readable text, pictures that aren’t so big they slow page loading down, and code that can be read by most browsers. Do not make or use a Flash-based website or search engines may not index it.
- Set up accounts on the social networking and bookmarking websites, particularly Linked In, Facebook and Twitter. Make as many friends there as possible in order to raise awareness among your friends about your services.
- Sign up to as many directories as possible. Build your profile and post portfolios or galleries for people to see what you can do.
- Blog, blog, blog, blog and blog. See if you can get guest blogging spots on peer blogs. Set up your blogs to post to Twitter and/or FB and the other social networks so you don’t have to do it manually.
- Encourage your friends and related sites to link to your website. This is more to raise awareness than anything else, but it does help SEO.
- Get into online discussions with your peers to share knowledge and experience. Not only does this raise your online profile (forums and popular blogs are particularly good for this), it helps to give you a professional reputation you can build on. If any of you find this helpful, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.