Fancy vs Functional Sites for Business

A web designer and web marketer are two different jobs.

One job involves creating a unique branded experience that makes the client look great online. While the other is responsible for taking that wonderful looking site and making it work as a marketing tool.

I’ve seen some amazing looking sites that do absolutely nothing for the client.

That’s because the sizzle of a sexy site has an instant appeal to folks who don’t know any better.

An analogy I often make is that if you put a lawnmower engine in a Ferarri, it may look good, but it just won’t cut it – literally and metaphorically.

Let me be clear – a great web designer is an amazing resource, and everyone should be lucky enough to have access to at least one.

But problems arise when a business, assumes that a web designer is also a great marketing resource.

If you are looking to save money on your site by hiring a designer – without a marketing person to assist with the functionality – find out:

  • What they know about search engine optimization
  • Will they do keyword research to help you create quality content Google will love?
  • Do they take care of proper page title tags and descriptions?
  • Will they set up your Google Analytics?
  • Will they create a proper site map and make sure you have an webmasters account with Google and Bing?
  • Are they including privacy statements and copyrights?
  • Are they blocking your content with a flash/splash pages?
  • Will they create a mobile version that works with iOS, Blackberry and Android devices?
  • Will they help you connect your RSS feeds to automatically update your various social media accounts?

All of these are important factors in building a successful online brand. Don’t get suckered into fancy, when functional is what you really need to market yourself more effectively and drive sales.

It’s time to app-ify your content

Imagine a world where there are less than a million websites, and the internet is easily categorized by the type of content each site covered.

That would put most of us in a pretty sweet spot.

Alas, the internet has billions of sites. So good luck with that.

But there is a world out there that most of us don’t dare go near it because the costs seem prohibative. Of course I’m talking about mobile apps.

Recently launched a service that turns any WordPress blog into an app for the Android, Blackberry and Playbook.

Combined these app stores have less than 500,000 apps.

That sounds like a lot. But imagine if there were only 500,000 websites to choose from. And a good chunk of them only made fart sounds.

There are currently 1.8 billion smartphones floating around, and by 2014 Pew Research predicts web traffic from mobile devices will overtake desktops.

So this if there was ever a right time to get into this space, it’s yesterday. But if you want to take advantage of this exploding opportunity you can still get in on the action.

Here are a few tips that I’ve come up with.

Choose a name for your app that is keyword rich and descriptive. Nobody cares about your company, they care about what your app will do for them. If you are an expert in management and team development – don’t have the same name for your app as your URL or company name. Give it something snappy like The Management Toolbox.

My app is called Web Marketing Tips (and it’s available on the Android store here). The description is about what the app will do – which is provide tips and articles like this one to help small businesses market themselves more effectively online.

  • If you’re a realtor in New York, call your app New York Real Estate. You can use the app to showcase articles or new listings in the market.
  • If you’re a retailer, use your app to focus on new products or discount coupons.
  • If you’re a recruiter in Edmonton, call your app the Edmonton Job Board and have all your positions pushing out.

For your description, use the Google Keyword Tool to find words folks might search for.

An unintended consequence of having an app like this, is the focus it brings to your writing. If somebody downloads an app they don’t want it to be overly promotional – which far too many blogs tend to be. This is your opportunity to break open a completely new channel to market your expertise by creating quality content for millions of people around the world.

Once you’ve created your apps, submit them to the Android Market and Blackberry App World.


Using online videos as search engine marketing promos

Videos. Videos. Videos. If the internet was a town, videos would be the talk of it.

I’ll confess, I don’t spend a lot of time on YouTube – except for when I need to get a quick walk through on some gadget I can’t figure out *cough* *cough* BlackBerry Playbook.

But I am always telling my clients that they need more videos.

Of course the question I get back is “why?”

The simple reason – and the reason for most of the things I recommend – is search engine success.

Increasingly if you type a search phrase into Google, you’ll get videos on the results page.

If you’re a professional speaker, actor, pilates instructor etc., it’s a great way to get yourself onto the first page.

Of course just making a video won’t automatically bring you to the top of the results page. You also need to optimize the title, description and tags to fight your way to the top.

Do do this, Google gives you a neat little keyword tool.

Use this to find keywords that have low competition and high search rates.

Let’s say you’re a professional speaker.

That’s a very specific phrase with some very high competition. But Google gives you suggestions around that term, along with how often they are searched and how competitive they are. By doing a simple search by competiviness, you’ll quickly find some words and phrases for your video titles, descriptions and tags.


From that list I pulled:

  • an inspirational speech
  • motivational speeches
  • national speakers
  • find a speaker
  • motivational leaders

Title: An inspirational Speech for America

Description: Aidan Crawford is one of the most sought after national speakers. His speeches are both motivational and inspirational . If you are looking to find a speaker, Aidan Crawford is one of the most sought after leaders in the business.

Tags: motivational speeches, inspirational speech, nationals speakers, find a speaker, motivational leaders

You can use this same formula for any business video.

Bonus tip: While you’re logged into your YouTube account, go to Settings>>Sharing and connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts. This will then send out your YouTube videos automatically to these social media outlets as they are posted.

Extra bonus tip: Connect your Youtube feed to Linkedin.

To create an RSS feed from your YouTube channel, it’s pretty straight forward.  just take the following URL:

and replace the ”yourchannelname” with your YouTube channel name.

Very simple stuff. Good luck!

Is your site mobile-ready?

Where do you do most of your surfing?

Three years ago I would have said my computer.

But the iPhone changed my internet life along with the world of mobile computing.

Now I can check emails and keep on top of news and events anywhere I can get a connection.

Information is now more mobile than it’s ever been.

So why are most websites only optimized to run on PCs?

Phones and tablets made to run on RIM, Apple and Android devices have changed things.

This afternoon when I log off to pick up my kids, I’ll shut down the laptop for the evening.

But I won’t turn off my phone, and the iPad will be sitting next to me ready to dole out useful IMDB tidbits on whatever b-list actor I can’t place from Law and Order.

This is just a long winded way to say that if you have a site that doesn’t run properly on the iPhone or iPad, you’ve lost me (and millions of other potential visitors) for the night. And if it doesn’t run on the Blackberry, you can count my wife and her friends out as well.

Now don’t start sweating. I’m in the same boat as you. My site isn’t built for mobile devices.

But today I did discover a little tool to make it a bit more mobile friendly.

This free service will turn your blog into a native Blackberry App. It took less than 40 minutes for me to set up and it works great. If you happen to be on your Blackberry, download my app here.

I had a back and forth with a guy from the company today on Linkedin and he told me that there are plans afoot to expand this little offering to iOS and Android devices in the near future.

Obviously, when everyone has this installed on their site, you’re going to have a hell of a time competing against every blogger on the planet.

So I’m going to recommend you set this up now and get the word out to your database.

Because this is one instance, where being first could really make a difference.