5 Cashless Ways to Improve Your Site’s Searchability

8 12 2011

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)It was while responding to a client’s email that I unintentionally wrote today’s blog. So many of my customers want to know what this “SEO” thing is all about. What does it mean? What does it do? How do I use it?

All great questions, because SEO can have a tremendous impact on the success of your business!

“SEO” stands for Search Engine Optimization. It has everything to do with making your website easier to find. When you visit Google or Bing or any other search site and… well… search something, there’s a hierarchy of sorts; the most optimized sites appear first on the list. The further down the list you go, the less likely those sites will be found. It’s like real estate… location is key. Few people have the time or inclination to surf much beyond the first few pages.

SEO is the process of calling the most amount of attention to your site. But in addition to targeting us, SEO “markets” to search engine “bots” (aka “spiders” or “crawlers”). Search bots are actually just software designed to perform repetitive tasks… like using complicated algorithms to determine which websites get listed in what order when someone pulls up a search. Wild, right?

There are a million and one things these search bots “look for” – hence, a million and one ways to optimize your website’s searchability. Several do require a cash outlay, but my focus today is on some of the most powerful SEO available… and happily they’re all free AND things you can feasibly do yourself:

1) UPDATE FREQUENTLY.  A stagnant website goes nowhere fast. Search bots target fresh content, so the more often you update, the better. That is precisely why blogs and RSS feeds are such a great addition to a web site – it’s a continual source of fresh content!

2) MAXIMIZE KEYWORDS.  While adding content to your website and blog, incorporate terms people might use to search for your kind of business. If it makes sense, incorporate them often. Search bots can’t locate what isn’t on your website. However, do NOT go the tacky route – packing your site with nonsensical paragraphs of keywords. You’re better than that, and there are other alternatives.

3) SOCIAL NETWORK LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW.  Have you noticed that, in many cases, when you search a person or business, the first thing that pops up is their Facebook page, Twitter feed or LinkedIn account? There’s a reason for that: Social networking sites are the most frequently updated sites online. People/businesses post new content multiple times a day. A Facebook business page may not be your actual website, but guess what… it’s the perfect place to post frequent link-backs to your website! Exposure is exposure, and it all funnels back into boosting your SEO.

4) LINK!  This one involves some networking. The more sites that legitimately link back to your website, the better your SEO will be. Be sure to put your website on ALL of your social networking pages. Ask your friends and family to link to your site from their own pages and websites. Ask your vendors, sponsors, business partners, chambers and community listing services to do the same. Just remember that association is important – make sure that the sites on which you list YOUR website are ones that you are proud to be associated with!

5) INCREASE TRAFFIC.  Give people a reason to visit your website as often as possible. The more heavily trafficked your site is, the higher you get bumped in search rankings.

DMT Challenge of the Week
Pick a search engine and run some searches for your business using terms you think your customers would use. Where does your business fall on the list? Take a look at the top listings. How are they using blogs, key words, social networking and/or links to their advantage? Choose 3 things that you will do this month to improve your own website’s SEO.

“It is not the job of search engine optimization to make a pig fly. It is the job of the SEO to genetically reengineer the Web site so that it becomes an eagle.”  – Bruce Clay

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

All content on this site is Copyright © DMT Artistry, LLC. All rights reserved.

Time for the Designer to Become the Designee

23 03 2011

Dmtartistry.com is getting a facelift!Over a year ago, I posted a blog entry about remembering to treat yourself as a client first and foremost. How you integrate your products or services into your own life is a direct reflection on how strongly you believe in what you’re selling.

Imagine a Ford salesman tooling around in a Chevy. Or a nutritionist on a first-name basis with the donut shop clerk. It’s like saying – without actually saying – “My product/service isn’t important or valuable enough for me to use in my own life.”

Mm-hm. Well then, it’s obviously not good enough for me either!

And that is why I’m giving my website the facelift it has long deserved. Business has been terrific – thanks to all of my wonderful clients! – so it’s time to spend all spare moments on representing myself with a fresh, new, online image. Here’s what you can expect:

  • http://www.dmtartistry.com will take you to a fun, vibrant and informative website, while http://www.dmtartistry.wordpress.com will continue to be your online marketing tips resource. Each will be easily accessible from the other.
  • Feature clients and client links – they’re the ones who make it possible to do the graphic design that I love to do!
  • Fun graphics that will change frequently to keep the site fresh and exciting
  • DMT Artistry, LLC’s founding purpose and mission
  • Easy access to DMT design samples
  • And, by popular demand, DMT fine arts!

In the meantime, I appreciate your patience, as the DMT Artistry blogsite morphs over the coming days. Your suggestions are always welcome, and your readership is always appreciated!

Stay tuned for next week’s DMT blog post..

“Whatever good things we build end up building us.”  – Jim Rohn

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

Faith Meets Web Design: UU@Home

16 03 2011

UU@HomeAmy Derrick is, among many things, a mother and wife, a writer, a religious educator, a Unitarian Universalist (UU) and a genuinely likable person. Combine all of these elements and you come up with an ideal blogger… which is precisely what Amy has become.

Tapping on day-to-day life experience, Amy captures her journey of faith and family in a warm, witty and interactive series of blog entries. Reading her reflections is like being invited in for a cup of coffee and lively conversation. You enjoy every minute!

Better still, Amy has designed a month-by-month faith development program – UU@Home – that she unveils on a (what else?) month-by-month basis.

All of this warmth and fun and faith was previously parked on a rather sterile, utilitarian blog site. Amy wanted something more welcoming, so she called in DMT Artistry.

The Challenge: UU@Home needed an online home that would capture the personality of its author, the tone of its content and the attention of Unitarian Universalist families everywhere. Additionally, it needed to act as a portfolio of Amy’s writing skills, and a resource for budding UUs.

The Solution: At DMT, we shifted her content from Blogspot to WordPress, to tap into WordPress’ powerful customization capabilities. We gave the template a complete makeover that reflects the crafty, creative, friendly, organic nature of Amy’s blog content. Amy’s logo was turned into a watermark as a “signature” for the end of every blog. Imagery, textures and layers were added. Pages were built. Coffee, a critical UU staple, was integrated into the design…

Success was achieved.

Please swing by UU@Home‘s new online home, and let us know what you think!

UU@Home website design by DMT Artistry, LLC

Bagels & Bites: A Foodie Favorite Gets a Website Makeover

9 02 2011

Ask just about any local and, guaranteed, they’ll have met a friend, cut a business deal, staved off post-exercise hunger, launched their morning or grabbed lunch-on-the-go at Bagels & Bites of Brighton, Michigan.

Talk about a local hot spot. This café/deli has everything a hungry patron could want: fresh, wholesome food; rich, gourmet coffees; and the friendliest staff you’d ever want to meet. And did I mention their bagels? Yum. Just yum.

In short, Bagels & Bites Café and Deli is a business that has built a fanatically devoted fan base (a few pointers on how to do this!) on the sheer excellence of their products and the way they make you feel like you’ve come home.

Bagels & Bites former website - sterile and unwelcomingThe Dilemma – Online / in-store disconnect

Bagels & Bites previous web presence (left) was limited to a bland, rigid website that the owners Roger and Marie Barrow described as “corporate”. It was built from a generic, sterile and unremarkable template – in fact, a polar opposite of the actual Bagels & Bites shop culture. Their website wasn’t the destination spot or online “hug” that it needed to be.

In short, Bagels & Bites website was just itching for a personality infusion.

The DMT Solution – A scrumptious website makeover

Bagels & Bites website

First on the list: scrap the generic, dead-pan template, and build a custom design from scratch. Their website needed to be warm and inviting – like a cup of Bagels & Bites steamy Café Mocha on a shivery, Michigan winter morning. It needed to be lively – like the cheerful banter of the Bagels & Bites staff. It needed to evoke hunger – we wanted stomachs to growl as visitors perused the site. Here’s how we made it happen:

  • Rich, caramely chocolate colors warm the site, while fresh white spaces represent the cleanliness that their customers expect and appreciate.
  • The straight, rigid boxiness of the former site was ditched for an organic,  round-edged design that exudes comfort and bonhomie.
  • A “life-size” background image sets the scene, and makes you feel like you’re actually there!
  • Blocky photos? Forget about it! The photos used in Bagels & Bites new website were designed to look like you can reach in, pluck them off the page and taste them.
  • Personality radiates from the fun graphics, charming verbage and image-rich pages.
  • A bit of HTML cleverness allows the owner to switch up his vast store of wonderful sayings on the Home Page “Chalkboard”.
  • Additionally, every page contains morsels of food to whet the appetite.
  • A blog page gives the owners a chance to keep the website fresh, and to post specials, food photos and other fun tidbits of information.
  • We also optimized their website with keyword integration for more effective searchability.

The Result

Whoa, nelly. We’re accustomed to a positive response, but this one takes the cake for sheer volume of responses! Bagels & Bites enjoyed a positive slew of fan commentary on Facebook, phone calls and emails of congratulations to the Roger and Marie, business to the shop, new customers, and fresh “fans” of the Bagels & Bites Facebook page.

We’d like to add our own accolades here: Congratulations, Bagels & Bites, for a successful launch and a well-earned spotlight on your business. We’ll be by for lunch!

We’d love to design personality-packed marketing materials for your business! Contact us:

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

Tainted by Association – Where to NOT Market Your Business

30 12 2010

Where to NOT Market Your BusinessHow would you feel if your company’s classy online ad was parked beside a gaudy, oversize, credit score advertisement? And if your billboard was posted down an obscure service drive? And what if your half-page print ad shared a magazine page with your top competitor?

“Location, location, location” isn’t just for the real estate market. Where you market is every bit as important as what you’re selling.

When you spend the money to have a truly quality advertisement designed, protect your investment. Research where your ad will be placed and what will surround it. And when these factors are beyond your control (Facebook advertising comes to mind), learn what to expect, so that you can make an informed decision.

Avoid venues where your marketing will be swallowed by an overstuffed, under-viewed heap of advertising.

Check that the “class factor” of any surrounding advertisements is at least equal to your own. Neighboring junk ads taint your company with negative vibes. Oppositely, surrounding top-notch advertising can boost your ad’s “coolness” in readers’ eyes.

Verify that you won’t be competing for attention with similar businesses in your chosen marketing venues or that, at the very least, they’re not placed near your ad.

Ensure that your ad will be set in a location that targets your prime audience. There’s no point advertising nuts and bolts in “Tea Cozy Weekly”. And there’s no point advertising where your message won’t be seen.

It’s lovely when someone gives you the compliment of wishing to link to or advertise your business on their website, but make sure that their website represents you and your company well.

And, of course, the content and quality of your advertisement plays a critical roll in consumer response… but we’ll save that fun for a future post.

Moral of Today’s Story: Scope out advertising real estate before you entrust your company’s image and ad campaign to any particular marketing venue. It will help you turn “tainted by association” into “improved by association”. You’ll look good. They’ll look good. Everybody wins.

Found your venue, but need an ad design to fill it? We’re your company!

DMT Artistry, LLC  |  Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

Living by the Lakes is Looking Good

9 12 2010

Christina Ehli is the type of person you would instantly describe as “genuine”. She’s warm, witty and quick to smile, and carries a work ethic a mile wide.

It’s the sort of personality you’d love to see in any industry, but it just so happens that Christina is in the real estate business.

Christina, along with her husband Jeff, launched Living by the Lakes, a Keller Williams Realty company. Living by the Lakes serves Commerce and a large diameter of surrounding communities in this lake-rich region of Southeast Michigan.

The Challenge
Christina’s existing websites were incomplete and stuck in a rigid “corporate” template. She wanted a site that would generate repeat visitor traffic, be a resource and show some vivacity. Most importantly, she wanted to be able to maintain the website herself.

The DMT Solution
We gave Living by the Lakes a customized, real-estate-specific blogsite. The lake theme is front and center, while rotating graphics and ever-changing blog posts keep the website lively.

Her pages are packed with bonus bytes of helpful information, links and calculators for buyers and sellers alike. Cool home/property search features are an additional resource that bring visitors back again and again.

Best of all, after a couple consultations, Christina was confidently posting and updating on her new blog! (Click the image below to visit her website.)

Living by the Lakes

Want to translate your professional passion into a website that spotlights your company’s “awesomeness”? Contact us today for a complimentary quote on your website design or redesign!

DMT Artistry, LLC  |  Dawn M. Bhajan  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

Simplicity Sells: An Elegant New Website for Greens Consignment

2 07 2010

Bargain hunters, welcome to Paradise!

Greens Consignment is a cornucopia of clean consignment pieces and elegant antiques. A 6,000-square-foot shop houses everything from gently-used furniture and housewares to vintage architecture and collectibles. There’s always something new, and always a good deal to be found.

I’m a customer myself… visiting to feed my salt-and-pepper shaker collecting addiction – er, hobby.

The Challenge: Owner, Donna Melzer, recently relocated Greens Consignment to a roomier store, where her consignment trade is taking off. With questions pouring in about directions, consignment policies and hours, Donna needed an online presence that could act as a customer resource.

The DMT Solution: Greens’ website, therefore, had to be simple and informational… but without forgoing personality! I built up a feminine and elegant, but contemporary and fun web design, playing off of Donna’s favorite color. It’s simple to navigate, and all information is “above the fold”, eliminating the need to scroll. Clean lines and rounded edges make the design both orderly and organic. (Click below to visit their site.)

DMT Website Logo Design for Greens Consignment

DMT Logo Design for Greens Consignment

DMT Website Design for Greens Consignment

DMT Website Design for Greens Consignment

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

When Good Bicycles Go Bad

14 05 2010

Bicycle breakdowns happen. Even the souped-up $15,000 carbon fiber models need a flat tire fix every now and then. But, “who ya gonna call” when your good bike goes bad?

Hometown Bicycles, that’s who.

Across from Island Lake and Kensington parks is a Brighton bicycle repair, sales and parts shop that handles everything from down-to-the-last-nut-and-bolt overhauls to quick safety tune-ups, with incredible speed, knowledge and efficiency.

But perhaps the most noteworthy part of the shop is the owner himself, Shaun Bhajan, and his philosophy of bike business:

“…I’m not in business to buy a yacht or out-renovate my neighbors. Heck, I’d rather just ride my bike. I’m in it because it’s not work… it’s fun, and it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

The Challenge: This element of fun is what’s attracting cyclists from every corner of the county and beyond to support this hometown venture. So how do we translate this into Hometown Bicycle’s online marketing?

The DMT Solution: Simple. Have fun with the design. Have fun with the content. And, above all, involve our customers every step of the way!

Everything from the imagery to the text reflects the spirit, humor, energy and personality that radiates from this cyclists’ paradise.

Below is a screenshot of the Hometown Home Page. Shaun loves the blog format for easy updating and customer interaction via the “comment” links.
Hometown Bicycles LLC of Brighton, MI

The following is a screenshot of our monthly Hometown Newsletter. It’s “A Fun Newsletter”… what more can I say?!
Hometown Bicycles LLC Newsletter

Want to have fun with your marketing? Contact me any time. I love putting “personality” back into tired, unoriginal marketing.  Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  (810) 923-4852  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

Client Spotlight: Shi Lessner Photography

26 04 2010

Allow me to re-introduce you to Livingston County’s networking rock star and gifted photographer, Shirley Lessner, of Shi Lessner Photography.

Shirley had a problem – a website that simply didn’t do her work justice. I offered a solution – www.shilessnerphotography.com revamped.

Working from a Flash template, I customized an online home for her photography, incorporating the logo I designed for her business. Her new site is the picture of elegance, sophistication and simplicity, and allows her the flexibility to easily modify the content to keep its appearance fresh.

Please visit the site (click the link above, or the screenshots below), and let me know what you think!