6 Tips to Successful Web Development Projects

I’ve seen research that shows that more than 50% of development projects fail. Given the number of projects we inherit from other web developers due to unhappy customers, I would say the figure is at least that high. This doesn’t apply to small websites such as a simple “brochure” site or a WordPress blog. However, when a project becomes more sizeable and has custom programming, it can easily fall apart before it’s done. In the last blog entry, I talked about the primary reasons this occurs. Here I’ll give some tips on how to avoid problems and have a successful outcome.

  1. Make an informed decision regarding the web developer you choose. In addition to reviewing their online portfolio, have them actually show you the back-end of some of the projects they’ve developed. Check their references. Don’t accept references only for clients they’ve worked with in the last year. See if you can talk to some clients they’ve had for several years. Better yet, get a mixture. (more…)

Why Web Development Projects Fail

A story I hear far too often from prospects is that they just fired their previous web developer. You might think I like hearing this because it means our competitors are falling down which is good for us. I actually hate hearing this story. For one, I feel bad for the person standing in front of me who just spent good money and now feels it was a partial or total loss. For another, when web developers leave unhappy customers in their wake, it makes our whole industry look bad. If we’re not careful, the general public perception of web developers will eventually rival that of used car salespeople.

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7 Steps To Better Email Newsletters

If you want your email newsletter to be opened and read, follow these simple tips…

  1. Frequency of Emails. Current trends show that emailing between 1 and 3 times per month is the optimal number. Less than that, and you may lose opportunities. If you email more frequently, you run the risk of annoying your customers and having high unsubscribe rates. Having said this, different businesses will have different optimal emailing frequencies. To discover your optimal frequency, track metrics like click-through rates, bounce rates and unsubscribe and spam complaint rates. Of course you should also look at the results of your campaign in terms of conversion rates for website forms and sales (if you sell online).
  2. Email Subject. The subject of your email can make or break your open rates. A good subject can get as much as 80% of your readers to open it whereas a poor subject can lead to a less than 1% open rate. How do you construct a good subject? Don’t try to sell. Subject lines like “Shop Early and Save 10%” or “Holiday Sales Event” are among the worst performing. On the other hand, subject lines that simply describe the contents of the email, like “<Company> Sales & Marketing Newsletter April 2011”, do the best. This may be counterintuitive, but it’s backed by statistics from some of the largest emailing companies. Read the research on the 20 best and worst performing subject lines. (more…)

False Keyword Ranking in Google

As part of our series on basic search engine optimization (SEO), let’s talk about how to measure your SEO efforts. A key metric is how you rank for each keyword you are targeting. Are you on the first page of search results? Are you in the top 3? Are you moving up in the results over time or are you moving down?

The most basic way to track your ranking is to do a search in Google and then count where you rank. If you are on the first page, you are at least in the top 10. If you are half way down the third page, your ranking is 35. Most people agree that if you aren’t at least on the first page then your ranking is meaningless, however, it still can be useful to see whether your rank is getting better or worse over time.

The problem with this basic way of tracking your ranking is that Google can mislead you terribly due to a new feature called “Personalized Search”. If you find that with little or no SEO effort, you are suddenly ranking #1 for a particular keyword, you may have been fooled by personalized search. Here’s how to figure out what’s going on…

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Analyzing Site Traffic

There are a number of tools you can use to analyze your web site’s traffic but they fall into two primary categories – Web based tools and Server based tools. What’s the difference and how can they affect your sites stats? Read on…

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To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Social Media experts will expound upon the virtues of Twitter in terms of your online marketing strategy. There is no doubt that Twitter can help expose your product or service to thousands of new prospects if you use it right. The question is, will you use it at all?

Let’s discuss the advantages of Twitter to your online marketing efforts and then we’ll talk about reasons NOT to use Twitter.

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Social Media Marketing – LinkedIn

Most articles on social media marketing start with a discussion of FaceBook and Twitter, however, I’m going to start with LinkedIn because I think it’s an often underestimated contributor to social traffic. For many small businesses, if you have a good LinkedIn strategy, it can generate as much traffic as FaceBook. Here’s how…

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The Biggest Lie in SEO

Unfortunately, some SEO consultants are scammers or even worse, flat out liars. Search engine ranking can be so important to a business that some consultants have gone to great lengths, including doing things that are unethical, to get good rankings. A good example of this is using a competitor’s brand name as a target keyword in your site. Others advertise their services by making claims they simply can not back up. As a result, you need to be a savvy consumer when it comes to purchasing SEO services. What is the biggest lie in SEO?

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On-site SEO

The next step in the Basic SEO Plan is to optimize the rest of the pages in your site. Utilizing your target keywords, you want to sprinkle them liberally around your site so that every page in your site contributes SEO value. These are very basic suggestions that virtually all SEO consultants will tell you to do.

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A Basic SEO Plan

There are endless details and nuances to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but here is a basic plan that is easy to follow and WILL produce good results. With SEO, no single trick will guarantee results over time because the landscape is always changing – more pages are constantly being added to Google’s index and Google is regularly tweaking the algorithm they use to rank those pages. Therefore if someone guarantees to get you to #1 in Google, you should be very suspicious. Instead, you should think of SEO like any marketing effort – the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it and you need to do it consistently and over time, not just once. Here’s the outline of the plan…

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