Filter The NoiseBlog

We blog about design, technology, internet marketing and business on the web. As the name implies, we aim to "filter the noise" and share only the most relevant information. Feel free to chime in anytime with your thoughts and comments. Established 2004 in Colorado Springs, Colorado by HighTouch Web Design and Internet Marketing.

What are Inbound Links and Why they are good for your Search Results

Kim Kolb - Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Inbound links are the unsung hero of successful inbound marketing. They help increase traffic, and improve SEO.

But what is an inbound link? An inbound link is a link from one website to another website. For example, this is an inbound link to Hubspot.com. The inbound description is generally used by the person receiving the link. So HubSpot might say, "I received an inbound link from HighTouch.

So why do you need inbound links? Two reasons. First, it's an opportunity to receive referral traffic from another website. An inbound link from a blog is an avenue for that blog's readers to visit you. But depending on the amount of traffic that blog or website receives, the link may send a low volume of traffic.

So what does a good inbound link look like? Good question! There are three primary qualities that define the quality and strength of an inbound link:

1. Comes from an authoritative website. So, if Hubspot were to link to HighTouch's blog, they would be an authority since Inbound Marketing is what they are all about.

2. Uses anchortext. Anchortext is the text that "holds" the link. For example, you can link to another site by either writing the URL, or using anchortext (www.hubspot.com or Hubspot, respectively).

3. Has descriptive anchortext. The reason we like anchortext in point #2 is because it gives the linker the opportunity to describe the linked-to site in the link itself. This is great for the person who is receiving the link, because now search engines will have more information about his or her site. (For Example if you have a link that goes off the site, you can call it something relative to what you are talking about like, click here for more Website Design and SEO tips, linking Website Design as the anchor text.)

You can see here from the Analytics what the sites are that refer traffic to HighTouch...  Notice Facebook is at the Top, just a plug for Social Media Efforts.

Have you checked your site for Inbound Links lately?  Blogging is a great way to accomplish this as well as commenting on other relevant blogs.

What is your highest referring site?

Website Re-Design: Make sure your Web Designer Sweats the Details

Dave Kolb - Monday, November 08, 2010

Most of our business comes from clients who already have websites and are looking for an upgrade to a modern content management system like Adobe Business Catalyst. That said, I find myself looking at a lot of other web designer's work. What amazes me is the lack of attention to detail in the work.

First, this is not intended to bash other designers and developers. For the most part (and there are definitely exceptions), the code I see is good and the layouts are fine. What's missing is the attention to detail, specifically, the boring stuff!

Details, details, details

Here are some examples of details so-called professional web designers often overlook:

  • Optimizing browser page titles
  • Optimizing page URLs
  • Optimizing H1 tags
  • Using ALT tags for all images
  • Spelling errors (ok, I admit...I'm bad at this one, but I try)
  • Clearly defining "who you are and what you do" IMMEDIATELY on the homepage
  • Linking the logo "back home" (not necessarily a rule, but it's expected by most users)
  • Including COMPLETE contact information (personally, I like to have at least a contact link and phone number on each and every page.
  • Including a tag line near the logo (not required, but helps define "who you are and what you do"
  • Not customizing error pages and messages for when things go wrong. Nothing is more annoying than seeing the "stock" error message.
  • Not having a CLEAR call to action and more importantly, not finishing the job by including a well-written auto-responder (with contact information) and friendly landing page (with possibly some up-sell information). 

I'm sure there are other details I'm forgetting, but these are the obvious ones that should be included in the design and development cycle. I know many designers consider "optimization" as part of SEO, and "usability" as part of strategy...which is just code for additional billable hours down the road.

These details, if addressed during the design and development cycle are much easier to do and should be built into the initial estimate. Cutting corners to force-fit a budget is not worth it in the long run.

Please feel free comment on this, or contact me with questions.

At HighTouch, we sweat the details.

Web Designers and Realtors can learn a lot from each other

Dave Kolb - Wednesday, July 28, 2010
A couple weeks ago I was working out on one of those fancy elliptical machines with a built-in TV. I usually watch ESPN or CNN, but it was a slow news day and I was sick of hearing about the LeBron Decision. Anyway, I surfed on over to HGTV, where I watched an interesting program on how to stage your house to sell it.

Many of their recommendations could be applied to a website re-design:
  1. Consider the curb appeal. You want to make sure your house looks great from the outside. First impressions count. Yard should be mowed, trees trimmed and sidewalks washed. No need to invest in expensive trees, shrubbery, etc.

    Designer's view: Your homepage needs to be clean and inviting. I wouldn't invest in any Flash intros, or fancy animations. People will just walk buy, or ignore them.

  2. Get rid of the clutter and de-personalize. Your house should show like a new home builder's model home. Promote negative space and keep the decorating neutral. Less is more. You want the buyer to focus on the home, not the furniture.

    Designer's view: Whitespace is good and you shouldn't feel compelled to fill all 960 pixels. Most websites have too many distractions and it's hard to simply find a phone number, price, or information about the products or services.
  3. Watch where the eyes go. Walk around your house with a friend or family member and watch where their eyes go. Chances are, they are either going towards something they like, or a flaw they've found.

    Designer's view: Look at your statistics and find out where people are going. If you find they spend a lot of time on the site looking at a lot of pages, chances are—they didn't find what they were looking for. If a lot of your visitors are clicking a conversion button, but not converting—you might have something wrong with your conversion page.
  4. Hire a professional. You're personally invested in your home and it will be very hard to step away and follow simple staging guidelines. You'll also probably spend too much money because you don't know where the deals are and what will get you the most bang for your buck.

    Designer's view: If you are considering building a new website, or are re-designing one, hire a professional. Define your budget up front and find someone to work with who can work within a pre-defined budget. Remember, websites take ongoing maintenance so make sure you budget for that to. Nowadays, a Content Management System, or a Blogging Platform can be implemented so you can do most the maintenance yourself.

Now here's a hint for all the Realtor's out there:

Go look at your website. Is it staged properly? Most Realtor websites I go to are cluttered, unorganized and look like they were designed by SEO Specialists, not Web Designers.

My advise to Realtors is to eat your own dog food. Follow your own advise on staging to get your websites to look and function better.

Please feel free to add comments below:

Customer service: the key to your design business success

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This post is by Adam Broadway of Adobe Business Catalyst.  We were asked to be interviewed to give our story on why we use Business Catalyst and what we could offer other Designers in their success. We loved sharing our story.. I hope you like it as well.

Dave and Kim Kolb share experiences in growing their business, Hightouchweb.com – ideas that could help grow your design business.

After meeting at a resort, falling in love and being laid off at the 2000 tech bubble burst, Dave and Kim decided it was time to build their own Web company.

By combining and complementing their strengths in strategy, design and marketing, HighTouchweb.com was born.

MP3 audio interview of Dave and Kim Kolb, has them candidly sharing:

  1. Finding motivation in each other and maintaining a "CAN DO" attitude, to get through the tough times.
  2. Have fun doing it - Love what you do and "whatever you do", do it well.
  3. Taking time to follow up with every client (Kim sends personal welcome cards to every one of their customers).
  4. Dave shares his feelings on building their own CMS and the pain of using lots of 3rd party open source plug-ins, that didn't always work.

In their words:

  • Keep it simple and excel at the basics.
  • Don't be all things to all people, you'll drive yourself crazy.
  • Know who you are and what you do.

A Business Catalyst feature that benefits their clients:

"We view InContextEditing as the strongest sales tool within the tool set that BC offers. You can take a mere mortal and have them updating their website in no time with little or no training. The power this gives the client is priceless. They feel like they are actually participating."

I hope you enjoy hearing some of their story as much as I did.

Adam :)

Click here for the mp3 interview of Dave and Kim Kolb.

Business Catalyst NOT-SO-SEXY Upgrades

Dave Kolb - Tuesday, June 01, 2010
The feature upgrades and enhancements from Business Catalyst (since the Adobe purchase) have been coming to us at a slow pace. BUT I LIKE IT! The code is cleaner and BETA looks like it means BETA, rather than ALPHA. Most of what's been released lately hasn't been all that sexy, but good none-the-less. I'd like to hear what you think. Please comment below, or contact us.

Here is a summary of the new Business Catalyst features:

Dynamic Menu Toggle
There is now a checkbox at the bottom of each dynamic menu item that lets you choose whether a menu item is displayed live on your site. Very helpful if you simply want to deactivate a menu item temporarily.

Site Search Technology was Upgraded
Both the Site Search (which searches forums, blog posts, web-app items, products etc) and Product Search (which searches products only) have had the technology that powers them upgraded. Search terms are now highlighted and results display much quicker!

DNS Management Tools
Ok, this one is probably the least sexy, but very useful. You now have the ability to manage DNS via your Domain Admin control panel. This is particularly useful if you want to simply setup sub-domains, like: blog.yourdomain.com, or shop.yourdomain.com.

301 Re-Direct Management Control Panel
So you've probably heard how important (especially when migrating a website to a new platform) how important it is to properly use 301 redirects to permanently redirect your old links to their new locations. A lot of companies use Javascript to redirect everything to the homepage. Search engines don't like this and you will inevitably lose all your "link juice" (inbound links from other websites. Again, a HUGE improvement, but not that sexy...I like it!

In-Context Editing (Beta)
Ok, I saved the best for last and this one actually has some sex appeal. In-Context Editing is (if you've ever used it) about the easiest, most intuitive way to edit you web content. The new interface allows you to edit as you navigate through the website. This feature has lowered our on-boarding time on website edits from about 20-30 minutes to less than 5 minutes. I still prefer the "feel" of an admin panel, but our clients (mostly the ones on the lower end of the tech scale), love it. Great job on this one Adobe and BC. Try a Demo of In-Context Editing and let me know what you think.

Who Are You and What Do You Do

Kim Kolb - Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How many times has someone asked you this question, "Who are you and What do you do?" And how many of us can nail the answer each time without causing a blank stare from the person who asked the question?  This should be easy to answer, right?  It is the elevator pitch that every good Speaker tells us we should have. 

Being a Web Design & Inbound Marketing Firm, we tell our clients that "Content" is King.  Even all the expert Bloggers and Social Media Consultants will tell you this.  It is a true and valid fact.  The problem is, is that it is really easy to tell someone that content is King and that you should have no problem coming up with "Who You Are and What You Do, after all it is YOUR story, right?  WRONG!

We recently redesigned our website and going back over all the content we had to "Freshen" up, was a big process.  Oh, I can tell you exactly what we do and who we are, if you are standing in front of me so I can speak to you.  Writing it is a different animal all together.  When we get a new client and tell them that they need to go through their content and get rid of stuff that doesn't matter or outdated and replace it with new, fresh content, it is one of those items that gets put off until the very end.  Or worse... A client has no website and then has to come up with ALL the content for the site.

I have a new appreciation for this process.  It is always easier to tell someone how to do it, but when it comes to actually doing it, that is the problem.  Here are some tips I tell my clients to help in the process:

  • Start with the pages you have or think you want, the Contact Us is a good place to start.  Why?  Because you know the answer!  It is an easy score.  
  • Move onto the About Us page.  Most people can talk about themselves.  Just tell us everything there is to know about you. Then go back and weed out the wordiness and stuff that really isn't important, like the time you were in the Boy Scout's and you actually got the fire started with 2 sticks.
  • If you have a portfolio of projects, this is usually easy, especially if you are showing a picture or even adding a little text about what the project was.
  • If you offer services, this can be a hard or easy page.  Start with what you know and are confident about.  Then fill in the rest
  • The Home Page should be last unless you just have that one down.  The Home Page brings all of what you do and who you are together.  It is the page that needs to be the most captivating and inviting.  You want people to get to this page and say "Wow", I want to know more.  This will probably be the hardest page to complete.
My advice for any page you start, is just puke it out onto the screen and then re-read, fix, and repeat.  Have someone else read it to see if it makes sense. Sometimes we know what we are saying because we actually do the work, but get someone who doesn't and you will have a different perspective.

Hopefully this helps.  I would love to hear other people with their best ways to write content.  Like the saying goes "A Gardner's garden is never green, but the rest of the neighborhood is beautiful."

Adobe's CS5 Launch Video for Business Catalyst

Dave Kolb - Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Here is a preview of Adobe's CS5 launch video for Business Catalyst. Adobe director of product management, Bardia Housman demonstrates this new hosted application for building and managing online businesses.

Great Job Bardia and the Business Catalyst team!

Which Blogging Software to use

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Hello to all my fellow Bloggers.

I come to you today as a community of well knowledge people who want to help. This is one reason I love blogging so much. I love the feedback that people are willing to give. 

So, here is my dilemma. I need a Rockin Blog Software Platform! I hope that by getting your feedback, I will also be able to better serve my clients by being able to provide a case study and a recommendation to them and yes; I will share this with the Blogosphere. 

Here is the scoop. I currently have a CMS that has integrated blogging software. Yeah, that’s the good news. The blogging software DOESN’T talk to any other types of tracking tools or analytics tools. The one tool that truly bums my groove is that I can’t get it to hook into Technorati and the software company doesn’t feel this is a huge issue right now, although the forum on this is huge (which means others out there confirm I am not crazy). I can’t even get it to connect to Google so I can set a goal on how many subscribers I get through my RSS like Avinash Kaushik talked about in the last Webinar with HubSpot's Inbound Marketing University. This is the Bad news. 

So, I come to you for suggestions on blogging software:

  • What is the blogging software you use and why do you like it? 
  • Does it hook into all the cool tools that HubSpot recommends to get found?
    • Technorati 
    • Google Goals 
    • I am sure there are more and please feel free to share 
  • Does it give you complete control over the design of your Blog and if not what kind of limitations does it have (Dave loves to design and have control)? 

Since I am fairly new to blogging, I would appreciate any advise you have. I subscribe to some really cool RSS feeds and I read all the important info, but most of you have been doing this longer and know the tips, tricks on getting found and that is what I want, to get found by more, I am convinced the blogging software has a huge impact on this. 

As a Web Design and Marketing Company, I am starting to think that websites are a dying breed, like outbound marketing. Blogs can accommodate just about anything we need to convey to the world and most times our Blog gets picked up by Google faster than our website. So HubSpot, HATS of to YOU! 

Thanks in advance to all who comment on this Blog! I also hope to make some new friends during this process.

NSA549VW9GZA


Social Networking on the Rise

Kim Kolb - Saturday, November 14, 2009

Web 2.0 is the latest evolution of search engine technology. Today it’s no longer good enough to have a professional-looking webpage and a blog. Successful companies are posting viral videos on Youtube, creating Facebook Fan Pages, Myspace pages, getting followers on Twitter, Connecting with other colleagues on LinkedIn and applying cutting-edge technology to their core business principles. Now business owners big and small are looking to get these services to help them catch up with this ever-evolving phenomenon.

According to a 2009 Deloitte survey, 94% of business executives plan on ramping up their social networking participation over the next 12 months. Additionally, nearly 40% of businesses are hiring full-time professionals at an online marketing company to manage their social networking strategies.

Francois Gossieaux, a senior fellow with the Society of New Communications Research, says there are still “plenty of companies who do not realize the power of communities, and others who have not yet figured out the proper approach for leveraging communities as part of their business.” He adds, “Businesses are truly becoming social again, and companies should look to leverage the collective wisdom of their employees, customers and partners in order to innovate faster, reduce costs and bolster their bottom lines."



A Professional website design on a solid foundation is the first step towards your Online Success.  Your Online presence needs to engage your potential customers by Calls-to-Action and the Remarkable content you display.    

Whether you are one of the companies already on the Web 2.0 wave or just starting out, the rules of Marketing your company have changed.  If you are not capitalizing on the Social Media, Blogs, RSS tools that are available to you, you are missing out. 

Today the success of marketing your company does not rely on the size of your budget rather the time and willingness you have to put into your online marketing presence.  I think some companies would rather throw dollars at the marketing than to put time into it.  I think this is one of those times when we find out who the "Real Players" are.

Thoughts?

The Numbers Don't Lie

Dave Kolb - Friday, April 10, 2009
According to Net Applications

Search Engine Market Share (Full Report)
  1. Google holds 81% of the Search Engine Marketshare
  2. Yahoo has 10%
  3. MSN has 3%
  4. Microsoft Live Search has 3%
  5. AOL has 2%
  6. The rest are irrelevant

Web Browser Market Share (Full Report)
  1. Internet Explorer (all versions) holds 67% (this was a lot lower than I thought)
  2. Firefox has 22%
  3. Safari 8.23%
  4. Google Chrome 1%
  5. The rest are irrelevant

Screen Resolutions (Full Report)
  1. 83% are viewing on screens larger than 1024x768
  2. Only 4% are viewing on 800x600 (Yippie)!
  3. 13% are reporting "other" (iPhones, Net Machines???)

RSS RSS Feed

Recent Posts

Tag Cloud

Tag List

Archive