Update This!

There seem to be two types of people in this world – those that want to accomplish as much as possible and those that want to do as many things as possible.

Web design clients that want to do as many things as possible do their own site updates.  Clients that want to accomplish as much as possible let us do their updates so they can be more efficient doing what they are best at.

Now my heart lies with the ones that want to do it themselves – that is my natural instinct.  I like to know everything about everything and control my own destiny (a false feeling, in this case). My head of course lies with the ones who maximize their effectiveness by doing what they do best and letting us do what we do best, for they are the more successful and are far more likely to put themselves in a position to control their own destiny.

If a client wants to do their own updates we have a number of alternatives:

  • Learn Dreamweaver (and maybe Photoshop)
  • Learn Adobe Contribute
  • Select a CMS option (e.g. WordPress, Joomla)
  • Hang out until they realize that they don’t really want to do it themselves

Usually a site will degrade when a client has put themselves in charge of site maintenance. The rub being that although the mechanical process of an update is not that hard to teach or to  master, the skill and talent behind design, choosing colors, spacing, font size, alignment choice, etc., is often inherent in the individual.

That’s why it’s so easy to spot a site constructed with a downloaded template design – the perimeter of the web page looks decent (to varying degrees), but the interior looks horrible – a complete mismatch.  It would be like a fashion consultant choosing your suit (or dress), and then your 8 year old picking out your shirts and ties (or purse, earrings, shoes and belt – as the case may be).

For final proof – just start taking a closer look at all of the eNewsletters you get. These are often template based with the sender doing their own content – usually not a really pretty picture.

So decide – where is your time best spent – working on your business or working on your website.

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Ma Bell and SEO

What’s worse than overcharging for SEO – undercharging for SEO.

I just received an email blast from my phone service provider – AT&T.  It caught my eye because two of the three calls to action were for SEO. Now I don’t know about you, but it’s always a tough choice for me to decide between my cable provider and my phone company as to who gets my SEO business, so I decided to have a closer look at their offer.

I was actually a little surprised at the content after clicking on the links – although pretty basic, much of the infomation hit the mark reasonably well (see links below if you want to check them out).

Well, I got ready to shutter the windows and bring in my shingle – their Enhanced Marketer plan is $10 per month and their Premier Marketer plan comes in at a jaw-dropping $15 per month.  How can a guy compete with that!

What I object to here is that AT&T really isn’t interested in helping small businesses drive traffic through search.  They use search information as a lead-in to try to sell their more core services. However, in doing so, they imply that you’ll see search results for those kind of dollars – you won’t. You’ll just feel misled by yet another SEO firm.

A large part of our business over at Bastion Internet is Search Engine Optimization.  One of the biggest challenges we have is to estimate the amount of effort and resources it will take to successfully get a website found for the targeted phrases.  Of course, effort and resources are directly linked to price. So – quote too much and you risk never getting the business, quote too little and there becomes a high risk of failure – either for your client or your bottom line.

This market is way too mature and competitive for a low-priced magic bullet to work.

(here are the AT&T links if you’d like to view them)

  • Quiz: SEO for small businesses (link here for the .pdf)
  • Eight SEO mistakes and how to fix them (link here)
  • Leads to a sales pitch for hosting and Internet marketing programs – here.
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Texting My Teen to Avoid the Noise

I was in the garage and needed to tell my teenager that his laundry needed to be transferred from the washer to the dryer.  He was upstairs at the time.  I decided the best way to communicate was a text message.  Was it the most efficient – no.  I could walk through one door and yell up the stairs.  However, it was very effective.  He pays attention to texts and they act as a stimulant for action.

I remember some years ago my job included getting in touch with IT people.  I could phone and leave voicemails and expect a return call in a day or two.  Or, I could send an email (pre-tons-of-spam-days), and expect an answer about 3 minutes after I hit the “send” button.  At that time IT people had started hating the phone (a typical telemarketer tool) and had discovered email. It took me way longer to type up the email then it would have to have a short conversation, however, the results of the email were way more effective.

The key to driving and converting traffic is not efficiency – it’s effectiveness.  I’m not saying to do everything without regard for a streamlined, volume oriented approach.  I am saying make sure your eye is on results and not activity. Additionally, you’ll continually have to update your communication approach in order to separate yourself from the “noise of the day” – a category to which as a parent I’m often classified.

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Is Google Bloatware

We’ve all experienced it.  We find a new piece of software, a new website, or now – a new “app” that we just love.  It’s simple, innovative, and easy to use.  It does exactly what we want – no more, no less.

Then there is the inevitable upgrade or update.  To our surprise we realize that our great piece of software has actually become even better.  It does extra stuff that we like and is still pretty simple  – nice job, developer! Inevitably though, the cycle repeats itself until that bloated feeling takes over.

Google’s two most successful products are Search and Gmail.  Both continue to have more and more features heaped upon them including yesterday’s announcement of Google Instant (likely to be the 2010 equivalent of New Coke).  Now this is good for many of us and great for some of us, but for the Users originally attracted to simplicity – it’s bad.  Google may soon find it’s user base starting to drop (although the overall amount of use may rise as power users typically exploit the new advantages new features provide).

So why does it happen. A number of factors come into play that eventually turn our beloved piece of software (or website, webapp, phone app, etc.) into bloatware:

  • Competition: A competitor comes in and the battle of the checklists begins. You’ve seen the advertisements with a list of features and check marks next to each one for one product and only a few check marks for the competitor.
  • Growth: Companies need to grow or die.  One way to grow is to get your existing users to upgrade. To do this, upgrades need to be available.
  • Squeaky Wheel Customers: A subset of customers keep asking for more – they eventually become the power users
  • Human Nature: The developers just want to keep developing

Is bloatware all bad – no.  While it can be bad for many users who liked the less complicated versions, for power users the additional features can be great. In fact, Google has a ton of ways to refine your search that most people still do not know about.

From a Search advertising perspective, there are definite opportunities:

  • finding the new products that return us to simpler times.
  • finding ways to exploit the “bloatware”. As things become more complex the competitive riffraff are weeded out or don’t look beyond the obvious choices.

Finally, the cycle of bloatware often leads to another marketing favorite – is there a “Google Lite” in our future (for a preview check out www.google.com/palm).

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Blog Reborn

It’s hard to keep a good idea down!  So we’ve breathed new life into Drive It – Convert It!

The Drive It – Convert It! blog was originally hosted at www.bastioninternet.com/blog, and produced a popular podcast series throughout 2006.  We’ve did migrate the podcasts over (they still get lots of downloads), but left the rest.

Drive It – Convert It! will be a place that allows the staff at Bastion Internet to get a little more opinionated and speculative about the way we see the world.  Bastion Internet is where we get the job done, but www.DriveItConvertIt.com is where we talk about how the job gets done; what is fun, frustrating, fascinating, and more about the technology and sociology that we face on a day to day basis.

So stay tuned!  You’ll be happy you did!

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