Online Reviews

Reputation management has always been part of every business.  Online reviews have changed the playing field.  Instantly any review is live, with many platforms.

Recent statistics tell us 79% of customers trust online reviews.  Despite controversy over their legitimacy online reviews continue to gain momentum.  Consumers’ comfort is being fostered in part by businesses nurturing their online reviews and improving their internet presence.  In turn consumers use reviews as part of the information about your business in making their decision.

New businesses have sprouted offering to sell you reviews, or “Likes” on Facebook.  Yelp takes serious action against business posting fake reviews.  Don’t pay for reviews.

Yelp has broadened its scope to include not only photos, but now videos.  Clients can post a video taken at your business and upload on your listing page.  You can’t remove these.  Business owners need to be aware and perhaps set policies in place as appropriate.  Read more.

Yelp has also opened its reviews to more apps and developers, which means Yelp reviews will be popping up on websites and mobile apps more and more.

If you’re feeling vulnerable take heart – there is plenty to leverage here to promote your business.

Reviews help drive your website.  People talking about your business (reviews, adding photos to your listings) catch search engines’ attention.  It’s a good way to stand out.

Managing your online reviews can be a chore.  Happy customers are wonderful and painless.  Any negative review is where you’ll spend your time.   Unfortunately unscrupulous competitors have taken to leaving negative or false reviews.  Taking a proactive approach keeps maximum control in your hands.  Responding to a negative review lets you send a positive message out to potential clients.  Take advantage of the opportunity to engage with your clients.

With so many platforms meet your clients where they are active:  Facebook, Yelp!, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram…stay connected.

Online Reviews


Building a Stronger Online Presence

Your website is the cornerstone of your marketing.  Keep presenting the fresh face of your business by updating photos. List new products or services; add new staff members photos and bios. Consider adding information pages or a “What’s New” page to show off your latest projects or products. If you’re ready to move beyond your cell phone camera or point and shoot camera give us a call for professional photography.  Time for a major website overhaul?  Redesign your website.

Email continues to shine as a marketing tool.  67% of cell phone users read email on their phone.  Let your website help you collect email addresses, if you’re using an email client (MailChimp, iContact, etc.) add their website widget to your desktop website, mobile site and blog.  Otherwise collect email addresses as you invoice, or have a signup sheet available.  When you’re ready to announce a special you’ll be ready.  I manage email newsletter campaigns as a service.

Social media is the choice many potential clients use to engage with businesses.  Every business needs a Facebook page and Google+ page. Photographers and artists make use of Pinterest, Flickr; home construction or remodeling try Houzz and Pinterest; auto lovers frequent Instagram.   When you’re ready move into video and make use of YouTube, Vimeo and more.  For help read about my Webmaster Services.

63% of cell phone users go online with their phones.  The single biggest impact for your internet presence is a mobile website.  Make it easy for mobile users to receive your message.

Reach people on the platform they choose.

Read more

Directory Listings, Email Campaigns

Embedded YouTube Video on iPad is Low Quality

You’ve just created your marketing video.  Uploading to YouTube is the best solution for adding to your website.  (You will embed your YouTube video.  YouTube provides the tools for doing this.)

YouTube displays on all platforms saving you the time and aggravation of converting your video to multiple formats, then coding your website to handle all the configurations.  It’s a simple solution.  Beyond that YouTube is owned by Google which strengthens your positioning for…search engines.  Add to that you can configure your YouTube account for keywords and general SEO.  All these advantages are significant.

You test your video, on Macs, PCs, cells and then..the iPad.  On every other device you get the typical YouTube box around your video, allowing the user to view from your website, or go to YouTube; change the quality settings up to the maximum resolution you chose when saving your video file.  Everything works as expected and seamlessly.  Every platform except the iPad.   While a box appears around it with what seem to be links, (just as you see on your PC) these are disabled.  You can make the video full screen to the disappointment of seeing it displayed as the lowest resolution.  Given the expectation of iPad’s video display this is shocking when you first discover it.  But there is no way around it.  Even if you code the embedded link with “video quality” to display 720 it will not improve the quality on the iPad.  Speculation is the Apple hates Google…Google hates Apple battle, but no way of confirming this.  Apple never wavered on allowing Flash, it’s doubtful this scenario will change, either.

The workaround?  Provide a direct link to your YouTube video below your video specifically for iPad users.  The issue is delivering your video with options of quality for the user.  Visit my Home page.

web disgner video

Facebook for Businesses

The evolution of Facebook continues to be driven toward profit, now that Facebook is responsible to stock holders. The effects on businesses engaging in social media have moved from a fun and a useful tool to marketing to sluggish.

Large companies like Coca-Cola garnered over 80 million “Likes” to find Facebook didn’t result in a change in sales; it’s just a place for people who already like their product to let them know. But the value has been a way to reach your client base and reach out to them – engage, engage, engage.

But now Facebook has taken aim at organic page reach–resulting in a mere to 1 or 2 percent reach. Page Reach means the percentage of your fans seeing your posts. Nike with 16 million fans will now only reach 160,000. After aggressively marketing to the Facebook crowd, this is a huge hit for Nike. You can read the stats in your Admin panel to find out how many are seeing your posts.

Finding you are no longer reaching the very people who like you brand and want to hear from you is discouraging, but it’s the decision Facebook has made. Facebook has been changing the news feed for some time since it began adding content to your feed you never have “liked”. Now, you will hear more from those you haven’t liked and not all the posts from those you have liked.

For small businesses the value of Facebook – is for appearances and those posts which do get into feeds. Don’t give up. Adjust with the new change. You want to maintain your Facebook page for the future, as it continues to change, but it’s safe, for now, to give it a lower priority.

Website Redesign


If your website is looking a bit tired, but your content hasn’t changed much a website redesign can be the solution for a fresh makeover.





So much has changed with web design presentation in the past few years. There are so many ways to deliver content.  For this website we added a slide show, made the photos much larger, add more breathing room to the design and simplified page graphics and copy.


Posted in Refresh Your Website by Brenda Simon. No Comments

Getty Images Available

A couple of my clients received sobering letters from Getty images to pay for the right to use a photo on their website. One bill was $700.00, the other was $11,000.00. Each client was unaware of the ownership of the photos, which had both been using the images for about 10 years. Getty had calculated this into their “bill”– that’s how intuitive their information is. They have been aggressively pursuing anyone using their images.

The news today Getty is offering 35 million images for use is a stunning surprise. Read more. For those searching for archival photos this will be a big help. As a website owner: read the fine print. Be sure the image is allowed on a commercial website. While Getty is allowing images to be used on blogs and social media, don’t interpret this to mean “any and all uses”. Also be aware Getty can change their mind at any time, and once you are using their image, with their required code intact, they can easily track the image.

Lastly: Getty is not allowing “resizing” of the image, your layout will need to be adjusted to accommodate the image.

This might be the answer for that 1950’s farm tractor photo you’ve been trying to find!

Why should I redesign my website?

Thinking about making a change to your website? Your website is your best marketing tool. Its success relies on the amount of attention you put into it.  Search engines look at how often you update your website.

Websites need to evolve continually. The days of create-it-and-leave-it have passed.  Websites which are stagnant year after year fall behind.  With so many businesses actively attending their websites you don’t want to make the mistake of ignoring yours.

So much has changed in the past 2 years online.  As you surf the net you’ve seen wider websites, interactive slide shows and design changes. Consider a fresh redesign and updating your content.  If you like your current design it can be reworked using newer visual layouts and code.  The client below liked his color theme and banner-it now looks fresh.

Add a slide show, add a blog and write short articles, or update the photos on your website. Now we can use much bigger images.  Don’t ignore the value of your FAQs page-update the questions. Offer the information people need to know when they are ready to hire you. The current thinking is to make changes to your website at least every 2 months.

The internet is so visual don’t take a chance on your website looking out of date and losing business to a competitor. Keeping your website fresh and current sends the message your business is thriving.

Original design.

Original design.

Read the rest of Why should I redesign my website?

Website Slide Show, Gallery


Deciding how to show your products is part of creating your website. Trying to decide the difference and choosing can make your head spin.

A photographer needs his work to be prominent – with the page layout framing his work.  Keeping in mind your website’s performance is critical if you’re looking for organic search engine results. To that end page loading time is a factor. If the slide show or gallery is bloated the website’s performance suffers, and equally important – the user is annoyed.  Here we used a quick loading JavaScript show which allowed more images on the Home page.
JavaScript Slide Show

The Staging category needed the full breadth of the image. While this meant larger files, we reduced the number of images in the slide show to compensate.

Portrait portrait (versus landscape), thus the difference.  Keep in mind the best display for your product.Executive

Presentation can be a fabulous supporting framework for your product.  In this case the whimsical art is beautifully showcased using a book which pages turn.
Book Slide Show, Turn Page

These metal art showpieces measure about 4 inches.  Good clean images from multiple sides are critical for the buyer.  This allows full visual at the user’s leisure.

So many choices. When you find something you like send your web designer the link. Enjoy exploring!

Proofreading Websites

For my clients writing website content is time consuming and usually painful.  So much rests on your website’s accuracy.  Each visitor evaluates your business based on website content.  The visual design and photos are critical to keeping a visitor, but typos can be the deciding point for a user looking to make a purchase of services or products.

Everyone makes typos and spell check has its limits.  Recently a typo got past a team of three.  The result was a kitchen “pantry” became “panty” and a bit embarrassing.  It happens, but a website with multiple typos or poor grammar can be the tipping point for a visitor to decide to leave your website.

An affordable solution is a proofreader.  Services range from simply checking copy for typos or grammar proofing to suggest better sentence structure - choose which services you need.

I am always happy to find a resource I can confidently recommend: Polished Proofs.  Good value for your advertising dollars.  (And yes, she is a client of mine.)


Polished Proofs

Website Marketing 2014

Since the phone directories are all but dead your website is now the cornerstone of all advertising. Everything needs to point to it. Each email should contain an email signature with a link to your website. Print it on your invoices, print ads, coupons and anything you hand out to clients. You can’t overdo driving people to your website.

What can you do to increase your online presence?

If you began your online presence with a ten page website consider expanding. New pages can include detailed information about your services and products. Each page gives the opportunity to drive that page for one keyword – a solid strategy for organic search engine results. The more real estate you use online – the better your website will work for you.

Web design continues to change to reflect trends and follow the internet consortium standards. One of the most obvious visual changes is creating web pages which are far wider than 5 years ago. Widening your website allows more of your message to be seen quicker. Consider reviewing your website for improvement – both design and functionality.

If your website is static (nothing moves) consider adding a slide show. There are so any choices to display your products and services.  More examples: Magnifier (scroll below slide show), Gallery, Online Magazine/Book with page turning.

Create a video; embed it on your website using YouTube as a search engine to get out your message. Videos of past were often slide shows, but today’s user expects a higher quality video with a solid message. One client
added a video and within 2 months had over 400 views. This adds to your advertising plan.

Mobile websites are a necessity. You can’t afford to miss out internet users who actively use phones and/or tablets. There are several ways to approach a mobile website depending on your budget.

Collect email addresses and keep in touch with your clients via email campaigns.

A new year and a fresh plan may be in order.