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How To DO SEO: The Smart & Slick Approach

June 15th, 2022
how to do seo

I’ve recently begun spending more time in SEO forums as I believe it’s necessary to stay abreast of the latest developments in the field. I first started doing SEO 17 years ago, back in 2005. And like many SEOs, back then, I wanted to know the latest strategies for getting to the top of Google. At the time it involved something called PageRank, a now extinct model of determining the value of a web page. That model has now been replaced by the Domain Authority and Page Authority model, which is still used today.

At the time, there was a fad of building word cloud sites, that offered absolutely zero value to the Internet and simply existed to horde PageRank and sell it on. I was late to the party and had just built one of these sites when Google overhauled their algorithm and PageRank became extinct. My efforts were all for nothing. That was the first and last time I tried to exploit Google’s shortcomings.

Today and for the last 16 years, my approach, and our approach as an SEO agency, is quite different:

How We Achieve Long Term, Consistent Search Engine Visibility For Ourselves & Our Clients

We do not try to game Google. Ever. And we never will.

This is key. In fact, the rest of our approach is derived from this immutable fact.

SEO is a long term market positioning and visibility strategy. Long term. And to hire an agency to help you position yourself in a way that will benefit your business is expensive. You’re looking at spending a minimum of 5 figures over six months. After all that, you want the results to last, right? You don’t want to lose your rankings after a few short months. And that is exactly what could happen if your SEO company tries to game Google.

Too many SEO agencies try to game Google. I see their people in forums talking about “what’s working now”. At Smart & Slick we are not interested in the latest techniques and strategies that are working now. That’s because we focus on things that will always work.

You’re probably wondering how we think we can know what will always work. Great question. Here’s how:

We keep Google’s end goal in mind

Google’s mission is “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Let’s think about what that means for a moment. That means Google wants the end user to find whatever they were looking for. Google wants their end user to get what they want. If the user is looking to buy something, Google wants them to find a product to buy. If the end user just wanted information, Google wants their user to find that information.

And despite being hands down the most advanced search engine in the world, Google still hasn’t achieved this perfectly. Perhaps it never will. But one thing I can say for sure is it will continue to improve. So it pays dividends as an SEO agency to keep that in mind and keep our goal in line with theirs: to provide to the Internet the most relevant web page for the search result we’re trying to rank for. If we do that, Google will help us because we are helping Google.

This is the distinction between our approach and that of many SEO agencies. Any agency interested in “what’s working now” and “how to rank after the latest Google core update” is missing the big picture. That kind of short termist thinking will never prevail in the long run.

They’re definitely not working with Google’s end goal in mind. They’re ultimately trying to exploit a loophole in whatever Google’s current algorithm is. In other words, they are trying to, in a sense, get the better of Google. This is a hopelessly ridiculous stance to take because Google is an extremely clever technology and all loopholes are ultimately temporary. Any that exist today, will not exist at some point in the future. That is why the “what’s working now” agencies will never get long term consistent rankings and will always be chasing their tails after an update.

Meanwhile, we work WITH Google, rather than trying to exploit loopholes.

Our approach to SEO provides long term consistent visibility in organic search

While other SEO agencies scrap around following an update of Google’s algorithm, we rarely see any major fall in rankings. Our clients continue to experience long term consistent search engine rankings.

If you’d like us to rank your website and help more customers find you, talk to us today.

Do you need a website in 2022?

June 6th, 2022
MacBook Pro showing vegetable dish

It’s 2022. Social media is everywhere. Do you still need a website? Is it not possible run your entire business with just an instagram profile or a Facebook page? Or what about having an app instead?

In this blog, I’ll give you the Smart & Slick take on this question as of 2022.

Do you need a website? It depends. But more than likely, yes. Here’s why.

Despite a proliferation of social media platforms, your website remains the only piece of digital real estate you have full and complete control over. Social media networks can change their rules whenever they want and control what you can and cannot do on their network. This very important distinction between your own website and any other type of digital property available. This impacts a bunch of other aspects of your business including branding, SEO and even potentially your funnel and business model.

Your Own Website Makes For Better SEO…

SEO, short for search engine optimisation, is the process of making a webpage that Google (and other search engines) will like, and therefore rank prominently in their search results. There are two distinct sides to SEO – on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation.

On-page optimisation involves putting certain bits of code in certain places on the page, in certain tags, in such a way that Google’s algorithm will understand what the web page is about and therefore rank it for relevant search terms. If you use a social media platform – or for that matter, even a platform that allows you to build a website – you will probably have limited control over what code you can put where. You will always have an SEO advantage if you have full control over the coding of your pages.

do you need a website in 2022

To a lesser extent, off-page optimisation is also impacted. Because, do you really want to build links to a web page that you do not really own? It’s not something we’d want to do or ever recommend. What if Elon Musk does buy Twitter and decides to make changes to the platform? There’s probably going to be little you can do about it.

… And Better Branding

Again, it boils down to the same thing – when it’s your website, you have complete creative control over the content, and therefore the website design. So you can brand it any way you want. A social media platform will give you limited branding power, but the overall profile has to look like part of Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.

… And Your Business Model

A good business model is all about ownership. Do you own your customer list? On a social media platform, the answer is ‘not really’. The social media platforms are very careful to make sure that they give you some marketing power, but you still need them in order to contact the customers they help you find.

With your own website, you can have your own bespoke marketing funnel and database, and thus you own your customer list. That makes your business much more secure.

A New Way To Make Money From Your Blog

May 20th, 2022
person using MacBook Pro and holding cappuccino

Even in the days of YouTube, TikTok and all the other examples of new media, blogging and content based websites are still enormous and it is estimated that between 4.4 and 7 million new blog posts are posted online every single day.

The traditional income generation strategies for blogs have centred around traffic redirection. It works as follows: bloggers publish contextual ads on their websites and, when readers click them, they are redirected to the advertiser’s website. The most popular such program is Google Adsense but there are others, though the best ones have minimum traffic thresholds just to let a website join. To make a respectable income using this strategy requires a huge amount of web traffic.

So what should you do if your blog isn’t receiving massive amounts of traffic?

A good strategy to focus on is to leverage the digital property itself – ie. the web page – rather than the reader. The web page exists as soon as it is published and will continue to exist until you take it off the Internet. If the content is of good solid quality and the blog is generally well maintained, the web page itself has a value and this can be leveraged via programs like the Smart & Slick Content Partners Program.

Here’s how it works:

You publish content on your blog (either provided by Smart & Slick, or written by you to the specifications of a provided brief), and you get paid just for posting it. How much you get paid depends on lots of factors about your blog itself, relating to how long it’s been online, how well established it is etc. But the pay can range from a few pounds up to hundreds of pounds per blog post.

Of course ideally, you should be using multiple strategies to generate an income from your blog, but having been essentially paid to publish a page is definitely one of the better methods because it’s entirely front-loaded.

And of course, even if publishing content isn’t your main line of business, we recommend every website to have a blog because Google loves frequently updated websites. So this becomes a legitimate additional revenue stream for almost any business in existence today.

Why Using WordPress For Everything Is A Bad Idea

April 2nd, 2022
white and blue printer paper

WordPress is the most popular web framework in use today. It is believed that a staggering 45% of the entire Internet runs on WordPress. And that’s because what started out as a blogging software has been expanded and extended by the open source community and plugin library for hundreds and hundreds of different use cases.

We have built dozens of WordPress websites and can make WordPress do pretty much anything. And it’s a very common request from clients and prospective clients to create a some form of website or web-app using WordPress. Many business owners and entrepreneurs request this because they cannot code themselves and don’t want the bother of having a website or web-app that they cannot maintain themselves. Makes sense on the surface. But in our opinion, using WordPress for literally every use case may be theoretically possible, but is not a good idea.

Here’s why:

Plugin Conflicts

Non-tech-savvy business owners and entrepreneurs rely heavily on WordPress’s extensive plugin library to get web-app-like functionality without paying a lot. However, it is not uncommon for plugins to conflict with one another, producing unpredictable results. This can cause havoc with development because if the website or we-app relies heavily on a particular plugin to achieve a particular business objective, it will then become necessary to work around whatever problem has been created by the plugin-conflict. This will make scaling difficult, if not impossible.

What if Development Stops?

Relying on free plugins, on the surface, seems great! You can potentially achieve a huge amount of functionality for almost no cost. But, what if one or more of the plugins your website – and therefore you business – depends on, stops being developed? Where will you be?

It Breaks The ‘No Black Boxes’ Rule

Somebody in your business – either yourself or a member of staff or an outside contractor – should understand and be responsible for everything your business relies upon in order to work. A plugin might work. But if nobody understands exactly how, then when things go wrong, there’s going to be a problem.

When we build tech to achieve a business goal for you, we understand and guarantee our work.

4 Reasons Why Outsourcing Web Design to India (Or Any Other Foreign Country) Probably Isn’t Wise

December 9th, 2021
white and brown printed paper

As a UK based web design company, we occasionally get the question, “Why should I hire you when I can outsource to India and get it cheaper?”

And yes, the question-poser is not wrong – you could outsource your web design to India or Pakistan or Romania, Ukraine, even Russia, and get it cheaper. But in our experience – and we have done it in the past – that is about the only pro of outsourcing abroad.

As you’ll see in the rest of this article, there are a number of reasons why outsourcing your web development abroad is probably not a good idea.

Is It A Like For Like Service? Probably Not.

For starters, you really need to ask yourself if it’s the same service you’re going to get from abroad that you’d get from a UK company like us. We take the time to really understand your business in order to provide you with the best digital solutions that are going to make a serious difference to your business. Most foreign contractors won’t do this – they’ll deliver the fastest version they can of whatever specs you write in the brief you give them. If you forget anything, it’s usually tough. And you’ll be charged extra.

We don’t see your website or app as a job. We see it as the beginning of a relationship in which our expertise in the digital arena can help and serve your business in the long term.

That’s why we start with a consultation with a single objective: Understand your business or goal. Understand what you’re trying to achieve. And then bring to the table everything we know to help you get there.

No protection under British Law

When you outsource a job abroad, you usually have no protection under British law. If the job is bad, there’s pretty much nowhere to go and nothing you can do. You have to start over and spend more money. It’s circumstances like this that quickly make the seemingly cheap option of outsourcing abroad, potentially very expensive.

When you enter into a contract with a UK based web development agency like us, you are protected under British law in the event that things are not to your liking. Of course, if you deal with us, we’re confident you’ll be very impressed and pleased with the work we do.

As an extension to that, it isn’t just British contract law that protects you – suppose you have a great idea for a website or app and nothin like it currently exists. Things like non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality agreements will be too expensive to enforce in another country. On the other hand, when you’re dealing with a UK based company, it all comes as standard.

We’ve heard horror stories where, in search of cheap services, entrepreneurs have sent ideas abroad to have them coded up, only to then have the foreign coder go dark and basically run away with the money and the idea.

When You Consider The Service We Provide, We’re Actually Very Competitively Priced

I speak now only about Smart & Slick. When you think about everything we offer, we are actually very competitively priced. Sure, you could hire somebody in India and give yourself the job of managing them. But it’s all work. And if you’re the kind of client that we serve best, you’re already busy enough and don’t need extra jobs like this. You just want the job done right by a company who know what they’re doing and will take the time to understand your needs, and then apply common sense when necessary.

Support Your Home Country

Isn’t this a good enough reason? Why send your money abroad when you can help support a company in your own country – even if it isn’t us! But obviously, we hope it is.

Why They Don’t Buy: The 4 Reasons Prospects Don’t Become Customers

November 3rd, 2021
empty brown theater chairs

I feel very fortunate to work with and around so many entrepreneurial people. I love ideas. And I love it when people try to realise theirs. But there’s one question I hear over and over again in one form or another and it’s this: “Why don’t people buy from me?”

In this post, I’m going to explore the 4 biggest reasons why people won’t buy from you and perhaps more importantly, what you should do about it.

They don’t really want it

I thought I’d start with this one because it is by far the most common reason. People don’t buy things they don’t want. Many a first-time entrepreneur has tried to sell their fairly niche product or service to friends and family that just aren’t that way inclined. This is painful to watch and painful to do.

For the longest time, I thought that if I said the right things, I could get anybody to buy more product. While I had no evidence at all of this, the belief persisted for many years. But the truth is, if they don’t really want it, they won’t buy it.

Sometimes, it’s not so obvious. There may be people who claim they want something because they like the idea of it. But when it comes down to making the commitment and paying the money and signing the contract, you start to see that they’re not really that into it.

This type of problem is internal to the customer. There isn’t much you can do about it. Once you establish that they don’t really want what you’re selling, the best thing you can do is stop marketing to them because you’re wasting precious time and resources in doing so.

They don’t believe in it

Sometimes people really do want something but they don’t believe it will work. They have reservations about the product itself and it’s ability to solve their problem.

To help prospects believe in your product or service, you need to sell it to them. Point out all the reasons why they will be better off with your product or service than they are without it. Point out why it will make their lives better.

If it’s some sort of product or service that may seem outrageous to some, you may need to educate your prospects on exactly how and why it works.

This is all marketing and branding. If you’re meeting customers online, it all starts with professional web design and copywriting.

They don’t believe in themselves

In this case, the potential customer doesn’t think the product or service will work for them. They have some sort of a problem seeing how their problem could ever be solved.

This comes down to low self esteem. And there are things you can do over time to build your prospects’ confidence in themselves.

This type of problem usually occurs with services and info products. Say, something like a personal training program. Motivational webinars and such will likely become a big part of your marketing. In order from prospects to buy your personal training program, they have to believe they can get the body they want.

They don’t think it’s worth it

They may want it and believe the product or service will solve their problem, but when it comes to the price, they don’t think it’s worth it. Which is another way of saying the problem they have isn’t big enough to them to warrant paying so much money to solve.

Blogging For Business: How We Do It

October 15th, 2021
person using laptop computer beside aloe vera

Blogging may be thought of as old-school now. In a world where it’s probably easier (for many people) to make a video than it is to write an article, I could forgive you for thinking that blogging is dead in 2021. If you thought that, though, you would in fact be wrong. And I can prove it.

While YouTube is undeniably a great way to speak to your market, blogging is still effective. Since starting Smart And Slick, we’ve aimed to post on the blog at least once every couple of days. In this article, I’m going to explain the strategy that has proved successful.

How Will The Reader Find The Article?

There are really only two major ways that a reader can find a blog article. They either search for something on Google and find it because it’s in the first 3 results, or they click a link from a social media platform. While there will be a minority of readers that find a blog article some other way, those two avenues account for more than 99% of readers.

So, I start with how I expect a particular article to be found. If I expect it to be found via Google, I need to optimise the article for a keyword phrase. And I pretty much title the article with the exact search phrase I’m aiming for. This gives it a good chance of ranking for that search term.

If I’m aiming to get clicks from social media, I need to fashion a title that creates intrigue and curiosity. I need to give social media users a reason to click my link. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll try and do both.

Write An Article People Want To Read

I’m not content with just getting the reader on to the page. Yes, I already have some wins if I can do that. I already have them in my Facebook Pixel audience and I can, at a price, reconnect with them or at least try. However, I could achieve that with cheap and annoying click bait. I hold myself to a higher standard than that. (I wish everybody else did, too.)

I try to write an article that people will actually want to read. This again starts with research and finishes with writing prose that flows (and rhymes!)

But the bottom line is this: I need to give the reader what I promised in the article title. And I also need to solve whatever problem they’re having, or show them how to get some of the way there. (It depends what the problem is.)

Make It Look Pretty With A Picture

Google likes a page to have an image. Images also help in social media shares because it’s easier to attract attention with an image that it is with a headline. So you’ll want to add a picture. And to avoid any expensive legal proceedings, you’ll want to use royalty-free images from a site like Unsplash (other free image sites are available). Handily, if you’re blogging on WordPress, there’s a plugin called Instant Images that can add images directly from the Unsplash database into your WordPress media library.

Be Consistent

Finally, do the above steps regularly. At least once a week and maybe more often than that depending on your niche. Research (in 2021) shows that Google rewards websites that frequently add new content with high search engine rankings. So there are some very good reasons to blog.

And if writing isn’t your think and you don’t like the idea of having to write an article every week, get in touch. We’re happy to help.

How To Soft Sell With Social Media

August 26th, 2021
assorted-color social media signage

Social media is just another way of gaining visibility by getting attention. In this regard, it is no different from using PR to get featured in print media, radio or television, or from doing traditional advertising. It’s just another way of getting attention.

And, like PR, it is a very soft sell. If you post a link to your sales page every day or even every few days, you are very unlikely to sell anything unless there’s a limited time offer associated with it.

Social media is a way of making yourself and your business known to people who might need it at some point in the future. It’s also a way of adding some personality to your brand.

So, if you can’t post offers every day, what should you post instead?

Forget about selling products and services to your followers and focus on selling yourself or your business or brand. Remember, selling your product requires you to first sell yourself.

Focus on adding value to your followers’ lives. There are two very consistent ways of doing this: help them out for free, or make them laugh. Our feeds try to do a bit of both.

Help Your Followers Out

Post useful content that might help them with their struggle. And do it for free.

This may sound like a huge amount of work to not make direct sales from. If you’re not a natural writer, writing a 500-1000 word article every day, or even once a week may seem like a daunting task.

You could outsource this to a company like us. We’ll do it for you.

Or you can post content from other blogs and websites (although not competing brands).

The most important thing with social media is post consistently.

Make Them Laugh

Humour is powerful.

It is psychologically impossible for people to dislike you if you make them laugh. Internet humour can be weird, but in 2021, it has the advantage of being a multimedia art form.

Video clips, memes, and straight up written word are all ways of producing humorous content and making your followers laugh.

This might sound like even harder work than writing helpful articles. And yes, comedy is a skillset but incidentally one that we possess. We can create humorous content for you and post it to your feeds on a regular basis.

Engage Your Audience

Both of the above strategies are likely to help engage other social media users. When they comment on your posts or respond to your tweets, answer them – write back. This is what adds ‘humanness’ to the technology. This is what will make them trust you even more. Because behind your branding, there are real people.

Is Social Media Marketing Right For Your Business?

I would not recommend spending money on social media marketing if you’re not yet profitable. It’s a soft sell and can take a while for you to see any serious business growth as a result of it.

But if your business is already making money and a couple of hundred pounds a month doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s definitely something to consider.

How To Become Famous

August 25th, 2021
the famous coca cola logo

I think it’s important that we begin by defining what we mean by famous. Because, let’s be honest, nowadays there are levels.

So for the purposes of this article I’m going to define fame as ‘people knowing who you are and what you do’. Because that’s really what is valuable to a business. You want your market to think of you, or your business or brand when they have a problem that you can solve. Ideally, you want them to skip the part where they go and research solutions to their problem, and just think of you and come straight to you.

Additional fame – Kim Kardashian style – is not particularly useful outside of certain niches in the entertainment industry. But to be honest, the strategies are the same.

crying Marilyn Monroe graffiti

So, from this point forward, within this article, I’m going to stop talking about fame and instead refer to it as brand visibility. That way, it is less likely to conjure up images of red carpets and celebrity after-parties and we can focus on the real nuts and bolts of achieving the goal in question rather than getting sidetracked by shiny things.

Why Would Anybody Want To Be Famous?

The greatest benefit of fame is market positioning. It benefits a business, brand or individual to be famous when it means that the market knows what that person, business or brand does. The market could be just a particular industry, or it could be the people who live in a particular area, or it could be the entire general population of a country or even the world. Which will depend on the brand and product in question.

This applies to everything. Even professional entertainers. If I see that, for example, David Mitchell (my favourite comedian) is on a panel show (because I flicked onto Dave), I’m more likely to leave it on because I know what David Mitchell is like. I know that he fairly consistently makes me laugh. And I therefore know that I’m more likely to enjoy this particular episode of the panel show more than another episode where David Mitchell isn’t on the panel.

So yes, he’s a real person, but he’s also a brand name. And the words ‘David Mitchell’ make a promise to an audience about humour, and specifically a particular type of humour. Likewise, every musician and band has their own sound. If I’m aware of what they do – e.g. play alternative rock songs – I know whether their music is to my taste.

Being famous does not result in everybody loving you or your business. How can it? There are very few things that are universally loved. What it does result is in everybody having an opinion. And that’s how it should be. Because for everybody to have an opinion, it’s necessary for everybody to know what your business or brand does.

The negative consequence of this is that some people are not as well informed as others, and it may lead some people to have very strong opinions about a person, business or brand that are based on partial or incomplete facts. This is why it is often not as simple as just getting famous – once a brand is created, it must be maintained.

How We Create Fame

In a nutshell, advertising and marketing over a long period will result in ‘fame’, perhaps not nationally, but at least in your local area. Though, if you wanted to take your brand to a national level, the rules are the same.

Identify Markets

First, we identify the markets of a particular brand. Who will want this brand’s products or services? Where are these people? What media do they engage with? Where do they go? What do they spend their time doing?

Choosing The Right Channels For The Brand

We choose the right channels for the brand. Which media and marketing channels will be the most effective at successfully reaching them?

And there are many to choose from:

YouTube marketing, traditional publicity, social media, event sponsorships, and on and on.

Creating Specific Marketing Messages

We are bombarded with information all day long, every single day of their lives. Because of this, we all have mind filters which basically stop a lot of the information at the door – it never gets a go at being processed by our conscious minds or understood.

One of the best ways to bypass this problem is to create very specific marketing messages that are potent, short and easily digestible: bits of information the mind can very easily understand. Information like this is more easily accepted by our minds because it doesn’t take work to understand and immediately makes sense.

The most important part of our campaign to make a business or brand famous is to come up with these messages. What do we want people to remember about our client’s business or brand?

Create Content

Now, we set about generating content for the various channels we’ve chosen. This is the most labour intensive part of the campaign. Depending on the client, the business or brand and the length of the campaign, we could conceivable spend weeks or months creating content.

creating content

Positioning Your Marketing Assets

Parallel to those efforts, we also make moves to position your marketing assets where they will be seen by people you can help or who might like your products or services.

We build you a website and then get your website to the top of Google, such that people whose problems you can help solve, will find you when they look.

Done properly, those people whose problems you can solve will suddenly feel like your business or brand is everywhere.

Want to make your business or brand famous?

Now that you can see how it works and the possibilities it opens up, if you’re interested making your business or brand famous, get in touch and let’s discuss it!

Websites vs Web Apps: What’s The Difference?

June 1st, 2021
person holding black and white ceramic mug

When clients come to us saying they need a website, quite often they’re actually talking about a web app. So we thought it would be a good idea to write a blog post explaining the differences between web apps and websites. So here we go.

What is a website?

In nerdy techy terms, a website doesn’t have much of a ‘backend’ beyond basic CRUD (create, read, update, delete) capabilities. What this means in plain English is that, from the user’s perspective, what we refer to as a website is basically static. User interactivity is at a minimum.

Brochure website

A brochure website is graphic design, text and images. When we build these websites, most of our time is spent creating beautiful and attractive designs. It’s all about look and feel. And then, if you have us write the copy as well, it’s about saying the right things. Because there’s nothing else after that.

Blog

A blog is in much the same category as a brochure website. The main difference between a brochure website and a blog is that a blog is updated far more regularly than a brochure website. Of course many brochure websites also have a blog section – it’s advisable to have one because otherwise a website can go without being updated for months or years which Google doesn’t really like.

While a blog does have a backend – somewhere the blog owner can do to write new posts and publish them – it’s only basic CRUD functionality and nothing more. So while it uses many of the same technologies as a web app, it’s so basic that it still falls into the category of website (by our definition).

All news outlets fall into this category.

What is a web app?

Web apps have a much more extensive backend. This means the website can ‘think’ and do things. So a shopping cart is a standard type of web app. While you may think an online store is simple because you use them a lot, there are actually a lot of steps that need to happen in order for you to order your new items.

E-commerce store

We have CRUD functionality here because the owner can add new products to their store, along with images and other marketing assets that are supposed to help them communicate to their customers and thus sell the products. But a shopping cart must also add up prices, check the items are currently in stock, reach an order total, connect to a payment gateway, put the order through to fulfilment and send any necessary emails to the customer to let them know what’s going on. That’s quite a lot! And it’s definitely a lot more than a static web page.

If you then want to start helping the e-commerce platform learn about individual customer buying habits, we start to introduce algorithms and it all goes another level up!

Hotel & Theatre Booking Websites

These websites need to do a lot of the same logistics that e-commerce stores need, while also applying dynamic pricing algorithms to available seats and properties. This would be a massive amount of work if it had to be done manually.

What Does A Website Cost?

Websites can cost from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds depending on the quality you’re looking for. At Smart & Slick, we are definitely not the cheapest for web design, but we believe that the service and quality of our work is well worth the price.

A brochure website can be created from scratch in 3-5 days normally.

What Does A Web App Cost?

Web apps vary widely in complexity and because of that, costs can be anything from a few hundred pounds up to tens of thousands of pounds depending on your requirements.

An e-commerce store can be created in a few weeks. Other, more bespoke web apps can take several months. This is a conversation.

WordPress Security Basics

May 28th, 2021
flat screen monitor

WordPress is one of the most widely used CMS’s available today and it is believed that 45% of the websites on the Internet are now, “proudly powered by WordPress“. We build LOTS of WordPress themes for all kinds of websites. It’s probably the most common type of project we work on. WordPress is very, very popular.

The downside of this popularity is that it becomes a massive target to hackers – and they regularly succeed because webmasters don’t always maintain good cyber security practises. In this article, I want to talk about how to keep your WordPress powered website secure.

Plugins You Need

One of the best things about WordPress is the plugin library that allows you to add additional functionality to the WordPress core. They have plugins for everything. And you should definitely use some of them to keep your WordPress website secure.

WordFence

WordFence is a very good security plugin. It will do things like check your install for injected code, compare plugins to the repository versions and much more to prevent any devious people trying to infiltrate your website. It’s well worth using.

Delete Unused Themes

Delete any themes you are not using. Even though this code is not in use by your website, theme code can still be used by hackers to get into your website.

Keep Your Username A Secret

This is not as easy as you think. Unfortunately, when you set up a WordPress blog, your author archive is located at a URL which contains your username. Because of this, even if you don’t go with the obvious ‘admin’ as your username, it’s pretty easy for anybody to see what your username is just by clicking the link to your author archive that usually hyperlinks from the by line of every blog article.

Make Your Display Name Different To Your Username

In the users tab, you can set your public display name. This is the name to whom blog articles will be credited in the by line. Make this different to your username. Never use admin.

Delete The Link To Your Author Archive

This is an option that makes sense if you are the only author on your blog. If you are the only person who writes articles on your blog, you don’t even need an author archive because it’s the same as the post loop. By deleting the link, it’s not so easy for people to find your username, which is half the battle when trying to hack you.

How To Get Views on YouTube

May 24th, 2021
Youtube application screengrab

YouTube has two major metrics of success: subscribers and view minutes. I’ve covered how to get more YouTube subscribers before, so in this article, we’re discussing how to get more views on YouTube.

Make Videos People Want To Watch

It all starts here. Rule one of all of marketing: there needs to be a demand for the product or service. If there isn’t, it doesn’t matter how much marketing you do or how well you do it.

When we create YouTube videos for our clients, the first stage is to research what our client’s market is interested in and what they want to watch. Then we create those videos.

Make Videos People Watch

Making videos people want to watch pertains mostly to the subject matter. In other words – what does the market in question want to know?

Making videos that people watch pertains more to taking the subject matter established, and then presenting it in a video in a way that grabs viewer attention and holds that attention.

While many still talk about how many views a video has achieved, that’s nowhere near as important in 2021 as the number of minutes a video has been viewed or.

Thus, it logically follows that videos that viewers watch all the way to the end are better than videos that get abandoned after a few seconds. YouTube will internally promote videos that get more view minutes because YouTube’s goal is to keep their users watching YouTube for as long as possible.

Rank Videos In Search

YouTube is owned by Google. Google is a search engine. Our next step towards getting thousands of YouTube views on the videos we’ve made is to get them to rank in Google and YouTube search. Naturally, videos that rank better will get more views.

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We’re used this formula to achieve tens of thousands of genuine video views for our clients.

Interested in using YouTube to market your business? Get in touch today.

Selling Is Easy When You Get These Three Things Right

April 26th, 2021
two people shaking hands

If you are struggling to sell your products and services, I’m willing to bet I know why. It’s one or more of three things. I’ve been there myself countless times in the past. Spending weeks developing a product or a website only to receive very little interest from the world.

Over many years, I came to the realisation that when a product or service will not sell, the problem is almost always one of the following:

Company Reputation

Do people like and trust the company? If they’re going to do business with the company, they need to trust it and believe that it will treat them well and deliver on its promises to them.

Companies spend a lot of money on branding and PR to maintain a positive image in the minds of their target market, but for a fledgling startup this reputation is going to born mostly out of your website design and online reputation.

4 Ways To Build Company Reputation

  • Encourage your customers to tweet a testimonial if they are pleased with your service.
  • Encourage your customers to write an online review on TrustPilot or reviews.io if they are pleased with your service
  • Invest in professional web design
  • Invest in PR campaigns
  • Invest in SEO – people still attribute status to the websites that appear at the top of Google

Website

Your website is very likely to be the first direct contact a new prospect has with your company. That means the prospect is going to judge your company and your product by your website. Website design is mission critical to most businesses.

Does it look professional? Does it give the impression that the company can be trusted? Does it give the impression that the product or service will be of good quality? The potential customer will make all these decisions and more based on your website.

Product/Service

Is the product or service something that a substantial number of people actually want and are willing to pay for? It’s surprising how many entrepreneurs create products and services that nobody really wants. Either they don’t solve a problem or they don’t solve a sufficiently big problem that people will pay to have solved. I’ve done it myself.

Often, those who try to take hobbies and turn them into business ventures can be guilty of this. They just want people to buy their hobby and little or no thought is spent pondering what problem your ‘service’ actually solves for the buyer.

When taking a product to market, it’s better to start from the other side of the table and try to identify a problem that a substantial number of people have and then propose a solution. Once you are confident your product or service solves a genuine problem, selling it is, in large part, about convincing people that your product or service will deliver on its promise to make their lives easier.

How To Use The Media To Increase Your Brand Visibility

April 20th, 2021
Business newspaper article

Newspapers, magazines and other print media outlets may have transitioned from the news stand to the Internet, but print media is still a highly consumed format. In this article I’m going to briefly explain how almost any business, organisation or individual can leverage print media to increase the visibility of their brand.

Every day millions of people browse the Internet to read news and related topical content from digital media outlets ranging from local and national newspapers to magazine websites and blogs (like this one!) and every day those websites need to post new stories and articles. By continuously publishing new content, these websites keep their audiences coming back for more. And it’s because their audiences come back again and again that makes these websites a highly suitable place for them to come across new brands like yours.

When we put together PR campaigns for our clients, our objective is to get our client’s brands featured in various print media outlets on a regular basis. This way, their audiences are exposed to the brand over and over again over a period of weeks or months and it goes from being something they’ve never heard of, to something they feel relatively familiar with and might even take some initiative to explore further, if they think the brand might help make their life better.

Many digital media outlets command huge readerships which means that even seemingly small wins can multiply in value quite quickly and it is very possible to go from unknown to locally famous within 6 months.

For personal brands, this can lead on to other opportunities including radio and television appearances.

Want Your Business To Appear In The Media?

At Smart & Slick we help our clients to increase their brand visibility by leveraging the media. If you’d like to learn more about how this can benefit your business or brand, talk to us today and we’d be happy to advise.

Search Engine Optimisation: Who Needs It And Who Doesn’t?

April 19th, 2021
monitor screengrab

While it may sound like one, this is not a rhetorical question. SEO is a visibility strategy much the same as billboard advertising or door-to-door flyers or any number of other methods of letting the general public know you exist and what you offer.

Search engine optimisation is the process of getting search engines to rank a website strongly so that it appears in search results when people search for keyword terms related to whatever the business in question is.

For example, if you are a carpenter in Hull making bespoke furniture, you might want to rank for the term “bespoke furniture” or “carpenter in Hull”.

But does every business need SEO? At Smart & Slick, we are not in the business of selling anybody a product or service that we do not genuinely believe will benefit their business. And the answer to this question is no. SEO is not for everybody because it will not benefit everybody.

Our carpenter in Hull. We’ll call him Hal. Now, Hal from Hull might be selling all types of furniture: bed frames, drawers, wardrobes, dining tables – literally anything they have at Ikea.

Now, if I want bespoke furniture, there is no brand name or organisation that instantly comes to mind. Ikea is not bespoke. Sliderobes might come to mind if I wanted wardrobes, but apart from that, I’ve got nothing. That is why I am likely to go to Google and search for “bespoke cabinet”.

Now, if Hal from Hull has a search engine optimised website, he might come up in the Google results for that search term and I might find him that way. And if his website is good and his marketing says all the right things and Hal can convince me that he can give me what I want, I might place an order.

Hal from Hull would clearly benefit from an SEO campaign because his business stands to benefit considerably if his website ranks for all of these terms relating to bespoke furniture: “cabinet”, “bed frame”, “wardrobe” and on and on and on.

But now let’s look at a different type of business.

Across the country in London, there’s Larry in London. Larry is a comedian. Now, Larry’s core business model is to sell tickets to public shows in theatres and comedy clubs. But it is highly unlikely that his customers are going to go online and search “comedy show” in order to find him. They’re far more likely to have been initially introduced to Larry by a method other than a Google search.

As such, Larry is probably not going to benefit much from an SEO campaign, except maybe for ranking #1 for his own name. But that’s likely to happen organically and is so easy that we don’t even really consider it to be SEO.

So while Hal from Hull would be well advised to invest his marketing budget into an SEO campaign, Larry from London would be much better off spending his marketing budget on YouTube marketing, social media and general brand building activities.

How Does A Search Engine Work?

April 14th, 2021
smartphone showing Google site

Search engines have been around since the early 90s. But how does a search engine work? Organising the Internet and helping people find what they are looking for has been seen as a useful and helpful thing to do since the dawn of the Internet. And the day after the search engine was invented, SEO was invented!

But when I go to gatherings (not in the past year!) and wind up inevitably talking about what I do, there seems to be a general misconception about how search engines work. And I can’t seem to get through a dinner party or social gathering without explaining to somebody how search engines work.

So many people seem to think that search results are ranked by which gets the most hits. The technological implications of this don’t seem to be considered, nor does the flaw of feedback loop: the #1 ranked site for any search term always gets the most hits (approximately 70%), thus once a site gets that spot, it could never be outranked if hits was all it took to keep the position.

In a nutshell, search engines, including Google, work by counting links. Every time a web page publishes a hyperlink (like this) to another web page, search engines count that as a vote from the linker for the linkee. A vote for what exactly? A vote that the linkee page is relevant and useful for whatever anchor text the link uses. So the link in this paragraph is helping the target page rank for the term “like this”.

That is a very simplified nut shell, but that is basically how a search engine works. Of course, the above explanation quickly produces lots of questions:

Are all links treated equally? Are all pages treated equally? Is it simply volume of links that wins? Does linking to a page with the same anchor text over and over again look suspicious?

Each search engine will answer these and many dozens of other questions in different ways. And that is why the search results for the same search query on different search engines can be wildly different.

Search algorithms change regularly in response to new forces on the Internet. For example, when social media became a dominant thing, Google started using social signals as part of their ranking algorithm.

Additionally, ranking algorithms have become all the more complex as they aim to generate relevant results to search queries despite webmasters employing SEO companies to try and essentially game their way to the top.

SEO – search engine optimisation – is a perfectly legal and ethical practise of doing things, both on your website and off your website, to make Google rank it highly for the keyword terms you want.

How To Make Google Love Your Website

April 13th, 2021
Google logo

Google search can provide your website – and therefore your business – with a never-ending supply of traffic. And some of those visitors will become paying customers. What do you have to do to receiving this never-ending supply of Google traffic? Very simply… make Google love your website.

But how? Well that, unfortunately, is not as simple. In fact, depending on your industry and niche it can be quite complicated. At it’s core, Google works like any other search engine. However, Google has become the market leader in the search engine space because it uses a far more advanced algorithm to generate relevant search results.

At Smart & Slick, our team have been ranking websites in Google for more than 15 years. After that long, we know what makes Google love a website and reward it with strong search rankings, as well as the things that Google will penalise a website for.

I thought today I’d explain some of the elements that make Google love a website.

HTML Tags

Back in the early days of the Internet, life was easy. You could just tell a search engine what a website was about using a few html tags and there wasn’t much more to it. Write some relevant words in your title tag, your H1 tag and your meta description and you were away.

Today, it’s not so simple. The title tag in the page head and the H1 tag at the top of the body remain vitally important.

Your title tag is the bit you see in Google search results in blue and underlined. Google takes this information from whatever is between your title tags in the header of a web page. (See our article: The Basic Anatomy of a Web Page if this is all gobbldigook.)

The H1 tag is less obvious to see. Thanks to CSS, it can appear on a web page any way the web designer desires, or even not at all. But within the code, whatever text is between the H1 tags carries importance.

But the meta description is basically useless as a ranking signal. That doesn’t mean don’t use one though. It might not help a web page get ranked, but it can help to influence a user to click.

On-Page Content

Above and beyond your Title and H1 tags, you’re going to want to give some attention to the actual text content on a web page. Google will consider which words repeat the most times on a page as a means of trying to figure out what the page is really about. But there’s a balance: repeat words too often and you’ll be penalised, but don’t repeat them enough and you won’t rank as well as you could.

You’ll want to make sure your text is at least 500 words long and your page includes at least one image too.

Links Between Pages

The way you link between pages internally (e.g. from one page of your website to another page of your website) can impact on how your website ranks.

External Link Profile

The biggest factor affecting how your website will rank is your external link profile – that is, the number of third party websites that link to pages within your website, and how they do so.

As an SEO company, this is what we spend most of our time helping clients with. This is the hardest part because you’ll never have 100% control over it.

Want it done for you?

All sound too technical and time consuming? Just want the job done? Prefer to spend your own time actually running your business?

We can help. Get in touch and we’d be happy to discuss your SEO needs with you and come up with a plan of action to help you reach your goals.

The Basic Anatomy of a Web Page

April 12th, 2021
lines of HTML codes

In 2021, web pages can be very complex things. A modern web page is a synergy of multiple programming languages including but not limited to HTML, CSS and Javascript. Any website owner – and therefore any business owner – should know the basic anatomy of a web page. It’s important. Even if you don’t manage your own website or do your own web design. It’s part of our no black boxes philosophy.

So in today’s blog I’m going to explain the basics of web page anatomy.

Every web page on the entire internet is, at it’s core, a basic html frame:

<html>

<head>
<title></title>
head tags go here
</head>

<body>

everything that appears to the user within the browser goes here

</body>

</html>

The above code is an extremely simplified version of any web page you’ve ever viewed.

A html tag starts with a < and ends with a >. An opening tag is exactly that, as shown on line 1 of the above code. A closing tag starts with </ and ends with > as seen on the last line of the above code.

There are four sets of HTML tags in the above code.

The first is the <html> and </html> which is the first and last lines of the document.

The second set of html tags are the head tags. Everything between <head> and </head>. This is where stylesheet links, font imports and meta tags go. The title tag should always be at the top of the head and therefore on the line directly underneath <head>. The title tag is what Google and other search engines use as the name of the page (the bit in blue that you click on in search results) when your page appears in search results.

Below the head, we have the body, which starts with <body> and ends with </body>. Everything between these tags will appear to the user in the browser and form to content of the web page, unless told not to by a CSS command.

And that’s it – a very basic web page.

Need a website?

If you need a website of for your business, brand or organisation, talk to us today to see how we can help.

How To Sell (According To The Wolf of Wall Street)

April 9th, 2021
low-angle photography of man in the middle of buidligns

Lately, I’ve fallen in love with Audible. I have always enjoyed reading and really believe in the power of books. But in recent years, I often don’t have the time to dedicate an hour a day to reading a book. Audiobooks, on the other hand, are fantastic. I can listen while I drive or while I work.

I like to try and keep abreast of books in the business and marketing space and The Way of The Wolf, owing to the hit movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” has gotten a lot of attention.

In the book, Jordan Belfort explains his selling system. He calls it the straight line system. And it is the process of turning prospects into buyers.

I wanted to talk about one specific aspect of that system in this post. And it’s something Jordan calls The Three Tens.

There are three aspects of a sales situation that the prospect must rate as 10/10 if there is to be any hope of them buying from you.

The three aspects are:

  1. You (the sales person)
  2. The company
  3. The product

In face-to-face sales, the sales person needs to be trustworthy and genuine. They need to look smart. And they need to conduct themselves well.

The company needs to have a good reputation. The prospect needs to believe that the company is a reputable company to deal with.

The product needs to solve the customer’s problem. They need to believe that the product will make their life better.

Let’s translate this into the digital realm.

In online sales, your website represents two out of three of those aspects. The sales person is the sales page and the website design and branding represents the company itself.

This is exactly why going cheap on web design is false economy. Your website is literally everything (except your product). You need high quality web design. Everybody does. And the higher the price of your products, the higher quality web design you need.

Because web design is the key to having your prospects believe in you. Good graphic design equals trustworthy company. It may sound weird and unlikely when put like that, but essentially, that’s the situation.

At Smart & Slick, we can’t help with your product – unless it’s an app – but we can help with everything else. We can provide you with high quality web design and branding, and we can also provide you with sales copy that sells.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you sell more online, get in touch and we’d be happy to help.

Bye for now 🙂

How Do Search Engines Work?

April 7th, 2021
Google logo neon light signage

Search engines have one objective: to organise the Internet. They help people search the billions of web pages out there for pages that are relevant to whatever the user is looking for.

But how do they do that?

21st century search engines are complex. They use all sorts of signals and complex algorithms to decide which pages are relevant to any given search term – even to the point of offering up different results depending on the device you conduct your search from (mobile search results can be different to laptop search results). But it all started much more simply…

A simple search engine works by counting links. It counts the number of links from 3rd party websites, which link to a particular website in question. Of course, it does this for all websites, so what it actually does is build a map of all the hyperlinks between all the pages on the observable Internet.

It then looks at details like the anchor text of all the links linking to a particular page, the title tag of that page, the heading tags in the page and the amount of text and frequency of any reoccuring words or phrases within that page. And of course, once again, it does this for every single page.

Based on this information it decides according to it’s algorithm, how relevant every particular web page is for whatever search query the user types in. And then it generates search results giving you, in descending order, the top 1000 pages relevant to your search query.

And that’s a simple search engine!

Advanced search engines like Google use all sorts of signals above and beyond this basic bedrock to decide the order of relevance of pages on the Internet for any given search term.

Businesses, brands and organisations that would benefit from being one of the websites a search engine refers users to for a particular search term spend a considerable amount of money on hiring SEO specialists to audit their website and link profile in order to increase their chances of being ranked well and getting that traffic.

SEO is a perfectly legal and ethical practise – though there are plenty of people who try to cut corners. Cutting corners never works in the long term because Google is constantly improving itself and if the Google engineers find a loophole in their system, they’re sure to patch it up soon and if you spent resources on exploiting that loophole, even if you’re successful, your success will be short-lived.

If you think your business or brand could use more search engine visibility, get in touch and we’ll discuss how we can help.

Should You Hire A Marketing Agency?

April 3rd, 2021
marketing agency

There is a very prevalent school of thought within entrepreneurship and among small business owners that the lone wolf entrepreneur or small business owner should do everything themselves. From servicing customers to marketing to graphic design, building and managing the website, the lot! And, of course, it works for some people.

However, I’ve often found that when I get to know these people better, other parts of their life are struggling and it becomes clear what has happened.

At Smart & Slick, we follow a philosophy from the world of software development. It’s called…

The Single Responsibility Principle

The philosophy goes like this: each and every part of a program should have one job and only one job. This makes it easier to solve problems when there is a malfunction. It means that replacing that one part of the program will not affect anything else. So fixing one problem will not create another problem.

I’ve come to believe this is a very useful philosophy outside of software engineering. It applies to business too, but sounds like this…

You Cannot Do Everything Yourself…

And nor should you! Part of being a business owner and leader is knowing that you aren’t fantastic at everything. And to try to learn everything is going to spread you very thin. There are also going to be jobs you just don’t like doing and make you feel uneasy, a feeling you’ll take home with you and will play on your mind and seep into other parts of your life.

But there’s a solution…

…So Don’t Try!

Decide what your job within your business is. All other demands of the business should be delegated to other people and organisations. Get an accountant, hire a digital agency to take care of your digital infrastructure, hire a marketing agency to take care of your marketing. Empty your plate as much as possible.

This will have a number of effects: You’ll be much more focussed and high performing in the role you’ve given yourself. You’ll also be more relaxed generally and able to give some energy to other parts of your life.

Question From Potential Client: “If you’re so good at ranking in Google, how come when I search for web design in my location, your site isn’t where I end up?”

March 31st, 2021
SEO question

This is a common and perfectly valid question. It seems logical that if we are as good at search engine optimisation as we say we are, then SmartAndSlick.com should rank for web design in every location, right?

SEO is an interestingly paradoxical service to offer. The fact that you may not have found this page by having Google refer you to it from a search result (which is pretty unlikely for this page, by the way) may be suggestive that we’re all talk and no results.

But there is in fact, a really good reason why you didn’t find us on Google…

We do not intend you do. We haven’t really tried to rank yet for those search terms.

Let me explain…

The thing about SEO is that, of all the possible marketing strategies out there, SEO is one of the longer term strategies. It doesn’t pay off over night. Thus, for a young business like us, SEO is not the best way to spend our time or money.

As well as being a long term strategy, the exact road map to a #1 ranking in Google for any search term or keyword phrase is never known. As we get closer to the number 1 spot, the competition tends to get increasingly fierce. So while Google still displays a list of 10 search results for any search term, the distance between being 5th and being 4th may be much greater than the distance was between 6th and 5th. This makes SEO a little bit speculative which again means that it’s not where we recommend startups focus their attention and resources.

One day, we will rank for web design and our other services in almost every location in Britain. For now, we’re doing far better by targeting long tail keyword phrases with our blog articles. Yes, it’s more labour intensive, but the point is that it works.

Do I Need A Website In 2021?

March 30th, 2021
website

The advent of Web 2.0 gave publishing capabilities to those Internet users who could previously only consume. Because little or no coding or web design skills were required in order to actually put something on the Internet, putting things online was no longer just for nerds.

If you want to publish articles, sign up at Medium.com. If you want to sell, go to eBay or uDemy or Kajabi, or – I’m going to show my age – ClickBank.

So there seems to be a growing school of thought, particularly among under 25s, that having your own website is old-school and unnecessary.

I don’t think so. You may think that as a web designer, I would say that, but that’s not really true. I am a purveyor of tech solutions. And if it’s not websites it will be something else and I’d better start learning that. But the truth is, I don’t think the website will ever really stop being a useful thing.

When smartphones first became a thing, the App Store and Google Play were big for a while. And they still have their place. The tech media were asking the question of whether apps would replace websites. They didn’t.

Besides from which (nerdy insider information) a lot of apps just access the website that they are the app of via an API feed, so the app cannot exist without the original website anyway.

Apps have their place and there are equally very good reasons why many businesses might want apps. But think about it – when you want to find out about something, do you really want to go to the trouble of downloading an app in order just to learn about the thing? I’d rather not. What does everybody do? They Google it. And google search results are full of web pages.

So what then, about web 2.0 properties that you can publish on but don’t actually belong to you?

I’d say they’re a great starting point for the non-tech savvy, if they don’t want to spend money on a website. In the proof of concept stage of a venture, it makes sense to do everything as cheaply as possible.

But as you progress, there is major value in having the central HQ of your brand or business on a web property that you, as the entrepreneur, fully control. And having your own website is the only way you can guarantee that.

All of the Web 2.0 properties from social networks to blogging platforms to eCommerce platforms, have rules. There are things they allow their user bases to do and things those users have no control over. Additionally, changes and new rules come into force regularly.

I wouldn’t want my business to be completely at the mercy of a billion dollar company whose best interests will not always align with mine. Sure, there may be a period of time when I get more business from Instagram or Clubhouse than from my website for a while, but these relationships tend to last for as long as that’s the case. If it ever stops being the case, I’m going to want my website to still be there to fall back on.

Need a website?

Talk to us today.

Small Business Accounting Software

March 27th, 2021
accounting software

Accounting is a core part of running a small business. So naturally, small business accounting software is one of those things that every business needs. There are hundreds of accounting programs out there which will give you as a small business owner plenty of choice and opportunity to find a package you’re comfortable with.

Accounting Software For Startups

To be honest, in the very early stages of a company, Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice and GoogleDocs all provide the basic functionality required to keep a track of your spending and calculate profit and loss. They may not be the software products that come to mind when you think of accounting software, but they are a perfectly good solution to the problem because one of them you possibly already have (Excel), and the other two are freely available.

QuickBooks

Currently the favourite amongst accountants, QuickBooks has spent a huge amount of money on making itself known in recent years. It offers a much smoother user experience than the free solutions I’ve mentioned above. Using your smartphone, you can photograph a receipt or invoice and the software will enter the data into your accounts. This is just one of the possible advantages specialist accounting software can offer over programs designed for broader use. Of course, digital voodoo like that doesn’t come for free: Like most software nowadays, it runs a software-as-a-service business model, with a subscription starting at £6 a month.

Accountz

Accountz is a UK based software company specialising in accounting software for home and business. Because of the entry-level nature of some of their products, it’s ideal for entrepreneurs for whom maths and accounting isn’t exactly their strong point. Accountz has focused on making accounting accessible to those who don’t know the lingo.

How To Get YouTube Subscribers

March 24th, 2021
youtube

Web video is the world’s most accessible medium. And YouTube is the current dominant platform for web video. Put those two facts together: Success on YouTube is worth the cost. It is one of the only media channels that we recommend to every single organisation we work with, regardless of their age or maturity. Whether you are a one day old startup or a ten year old company, YouTube can benefit you. In this article, we discuss how to get youtube subscribers.

I was a little surprised when I did the research for this article. A lot of the search data suggests there are quite a few people out there looking for ways to get more YouTube subscribers with cheats and hacks. So, if that’s you, I have to tell you that I really wouldn’t advise it.

How We Get YouTube Subscribers Organically

There really is no need to cheat or hack YouTube. We build audiences and subscriber bases for businesses and brands using a simple white hat formula.

Professional Channel Branding

We make you look like you deserve to be taken seriously. Branding 101. By creating or commissioning professional graphics to use as your YouTube cover art and your profile picture, we immediately improve the first impression you have on YouTube users who are new to your channel. Regardless of your video content, one of the first things anybody is going to see when they visit your channel is your artwork. And they judge you on it.

Do The Research

We figure out what it is your particular market or demographic wants to watch. We have a process for doing this consistently.

Post Videos Regularly

This is the bit people find most difficult when they try to do it themselves alongside every other thing they have to do in their business. YouTube is extremely content hungry. And their algorithms reward accounts and channels that post regularly. This has also been shown consistently to be a creator behaviour that encourages new people to subscribe to your channel.

We Don’t Stop

This may sound obvious, but the truth is that most people do. Of course, if you’re on a contract with us, we will stop if you terminate the contract. But otherwise, we keep making videos and the snowball continues to grow in size.

How To Market Yourself: Be Seen As An Authority In Your Industry in 5 Seconds

March 16th, 2021

Whether you’re an author, an accountant, a consultant, an entertainer or anything else, marketing yourself is necessary. It has to be done. And your success in your career will, in part, be connected to how well you market yourself. In this article, I’m going to explain how we, at Smart And Slick, help to market people and businesses in many fields and industries from entertainment, to professional services.

8 Essential Elements For Creating Authority Status In Seconds

In the 21st century, your website is your store front. It’s the first marketing asset most people who are interested in your products or services will see. And we have a formula for positioning our clients to be industry authorities and even celebrities. And we can do it in 5 seconds.

How?

Because 5 seconds is the length of time it takes the average website visitor to absorb the content of the first fold of a website. (The first fold is the part of the home page that somebody sees when they load the page, without scrolling.

1. Being The Top Result On Google For Your Name

Most people nowadays will not type your website address into their browser address bar. They’ll just type your name into Google. And being the top result for that search is the first unconscious but very powerful status indicator that helps build your prospect’s view of you.

Unless you have a very common name, or share your name with a famous namesake, this usually isn’t all that difficult to achieve and can be done with a little SEO. (Check out “How To Get To The Top Of Google” for more info.

2. Clean & Professional Graphic Design

Graphic design is a language. It’s a form of communication. Colours, shapes and fonts rapidly communicate things in milliseconds that would take pages if you had to do it in words: Things like mood, style and vibe. Professional website is the first and most important step in shaking off any sense your prospects might get that you are, or look like, an amateur. In a nutshell, good graphic design says “this person is a pro” and poor graphic design says “this person is an amateur”.

3. Professional Photography

If you’re creating a personal brand, your first fold needs to feature a picture of you – probably a big one. There is no way to cut costs on this. If you don’t get professional photos taken, you will look like an amateur. Photographers have lots of specialist equipment to create images that are evenly lit and look great on your website. And amateur photos are the easy for anybody to spot.

We have partnered with photographers all over the country, to make this a seamless part of our service.

4. Presstimonials & Media Logos

Nothing blasts your status into the stratosphere quite like quotes from media outlets and the logos of media outlets you’ve been featured in. Of course, you do have to be featured in the media outlets first, but our Communications Department can help you with that.

When your website features a few of these, it’s basically impossible for anybody to see you as an amateur. You instantly become the real deal. And of course, the more famous the media brand, the higher your status will become.

5. Author Of, or Star Of

If you’re a consultant or offer some form of professional service, you can gain massive authority by writing the book on the subject. So an accountant might write a book about tax, or personal finance. A pharmacist could write about healthy living. A personal trainer can write a book about exercise (there are thousands). The only people who we don’t recommend to write teaching books are entertainers. Somehow a singer who writes a book about singing has reduced their status, not increased it.

But of course entertainers can be the star of their show or Netflix special or whatever. And musicians can have their music on Spotify.

6. Social Media Follow Counts

These are not nearly as popular as they used to be, mainly because it’s now fairly well known that you can buy followers or subscribers on any social media platform. Under no circumstances do we at Smart And Slick recommend that as a strategy, but either way it makes this easy to fake. However, if you have genuine followers or subscribers, particularly on a platform like YouTube, it could be worth finding space on your website’s first fold to brag about it.

7. Navigation Links

Now we’re getting into subtle territory, but don’t let that convince you that this is any less powerful than some of the other stuff we’ve covered. For most sites, these are more suited to being footer links than main navigation links, but the presence of website sections such as a “Press Office” and a section for “Investors”, if it’s applicable, are both strong indications that you’re not messing about. Of course, you will have to then create respectable pages for each section, but that doesn’t have to be difficult.

8. What Your Contact Page Says

For personal brands, #6 might not be so applicable. So instead, you can make up for it with a professional contact page.

On your contact page, list all the various reasons people might want to contact you and have different contact info for each one.

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So that’s it. Our celebrity building checklist. The combined power of all of these techniques and strategies will create unparalleled status and authority no matter what industry that are applied in.

And when you have the kind of status we’re talking about here, you’ll attract all kinds of opportunities. You’ll more than likely start getting offered public speaking opportunities, media appearances, and you’ll be able to command higher prices.

If you’d like a professional job, get in touch and we’d be happy to assist you.

How To Write A Press Release That Gets Picked Up

March 12th, 2021

A press release is the document format for communicating with media outlets. Media outlets want stories. All day, every day. Or let me put it another way: Media outlets need stories. They deal in stories. And they’ll make you, your brand or your organisation as famous as you want to be, is you can give them good stories.

But the stories have to be good. If you keep sending crap to media outlets, they may blacklist you, so it’s important to do it right. At Smart And Slick PR, we help people in many industries to build their brands and bump their profiles using PR, among other techniques and strategies. In this article, we’re going to discuss how to write a press release, but specifically how to write a press release that results in media coverage.

The Format Of A Press Release

Before I talk about stories, I feel quite a few people will have found this page because they want to know the format for writing a press release. So I’ll cover that first.

The Headline

The most important part of the press release. When you send your press release, in today’s world more than likely as an e-mail, the headline is the first thing journalists will see. And if it isn’t incredibly good, it’s the only thing they’ll ever see. The purpose of the headline is to grab the journalist’s attention and make them curious – so curious that they have to read the body of the press release.

The Body

At the top of the body, you need to specify a time qualifier. If your story is for right now, that would be “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”. If it’s for some time after now, “FOR RELEASE ON OR AFTER [INSERT DATE]”. This tells journalists when they can publish or feature your story.

The body of a press release should be just three paragraphs. In the first paragraph, explain the story in one or two lines at the most. What has happened? What is going to happen? Paragraph 2 starts with a quote and an elaboration. Paragraph 3 can include another quote and more elaboration. Do not exceed three paragraphs.

The Footer

At the bottom of the press release you need to list your contact details, as follows:

FOR MORE INFORMATION, OR TO BOOK AN INTERVIEW CALL [NAME HERE] on [MOBILE NUMBER].

Stories That Get Picked Up

Now that you know how to format a press release, let’s talk about the real crux of this business – crafting stories that get picked up. This is where the skills and experience of a PR agency like Smart And Slick PR can really help. But if you’re not ready for that yet, I’ll give you a couple of pointers to get you started.

There are two parts to getting a story picked up. The first is writing a good story. The second is pitching it to a media outlet to whom it is highly relevant. They are as important as each other. A bad story will not be picked up by anyone. But you could write a really good story and it still won’t get picked up if you send it to a media outlet to whom it is not relevant. For example, the Yorkshire Post is hardly likely to pick up a story about something that happened in Wales unless the story somehow has links to Yorkshire. I’m sure you get the idea.

Now let’s talk about stories.

It’s important to note here that while we’re writing stories, we are also writing a press release, so they story MUST be based in truth. We cannot lie. So the trick is to wrap reality in a story type that works. Let me show you what I mean. I’ll share a couple of common story types with you.

Everybody Loves An Underdog

The “underdog triumphs” story has been massively commercially successful in Hollywood for decades. People love to see and hear about an underdog winning. It’s very inspirational. You’ve probably seen the movie “Rocky“. Rocky is an underdog triumphs story.

“David Beats Golliath”

“Third Division Team Beats Premiere League Champions”

New Kid On The Block

Any startup in any industry could use this. It’s an announcement that your startup exists and is going to somehow change the industry you’re in.

“The Revolutionary New Gadget That Will Change Life Forever”

I’m sure you get the idea.

Campaigns Are Better Than One-Offs

Press releases are best used as units in a campaign. One press release may well get you featured in the media – it could even get you featured in a number of different publications within days of each other. But publicity as a strategy takes time. Consistent regular exposure is what, over a period of months or years, creates fame. And publicity campaigns require a lot more planning and consideration than a single press release does.

Need Professionals?

If you like the sound of being regularly featured in the media but writing isn’t your strong point or you just don’t have the time for all this, Smart And Slick PR would be happy to help. Get in touch today to see how we can help your business get known.

How To Write A Web Design Brief

March 11th, 2021

So you’re ready to hire an agency like Smart And Slick to create a new website for your organisation or to make changes to an existing online presence. Fantastic! But in order to ensure that you get what you want and that the project is completed on time and on budget, we need to learn to communicate with each other.

Web design is a very specialised and therefore jargon-rich discipline. So it can often be difficult for clients to accurately explain what they want to the design team. This is where the web design brief comes in.

We’re not saying that this is the way every company asks for a web design brief, but this is the method we currently use, that works for us.

User Stories: How To Communicate What The Website Needs To DO

If a website needs to have any functionality, above and beyond the end-user (probably your customers and staff) being able to read text from pages, you need to explain who needs to be able to do what. We do this with user stories.

A user story is a 3 line description that explains what each end user type needs to be able to achieve with the website.

For example:

As a customer,

I want to login to my account

So that I can add products to my cart

Do you get the idea? The first line establishes who the end-user is in this particular story, the second line simply states what the user wants to be able to do, and the final line explains why the user needs that capability.

You can write as many user stories as you need to in order to record all the different functionalities a website needs to have.

Another example:

As the owner,

I want to receive an SMS message when somebody places an order

So that I can dispatch orders quickly and reduce delivery time.

These simple three line user stories help keep the design brief as simple as it can be while giving us a format in which it’s difficult for us to miss anything out when we build the project. We simply run through the web design brief and tick them off as we build the functionalities.

How To Communicate What A Website Has To Look Like

If there are particular features you want but you don’t know the technical name for them, it’s easy enough just to describe them as best you can, and send us links to sites that already have that feature. Then, we’ll run through practical considerations in a consultation meeting.

How To Get To The Top of Google

March 10th, 2021

The million pound question. At least it can be. Having your website rank on page 1 of Google for regularly searched keyword terms is so important that an entire industry has grown up around it: SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimisation and, here at Smart And Slick, we’re obsessed with it.

SEO campaigns are hard work and only pay off long term. For this reason, we do not recommend that early stage startups and unprofitable businesses invest money into SEO. It takes too long to yield a return. However, companies and organisations that are making money and aim to still exist more than two years from now should definitely think about it.

An SEO campaign has three steps.

The Plan

Before we go into the nuts and bolts of what exactly an SEO campaign entails, we need to figure out what we want to achieve. Yes, we want to get our client’s website to the top of Google – but which pages and for what keyword phrases?

So we start by looking at search trend data and figuring out which keyword phrases and search query strings we want to target, and which specific web pages we want to rank for each of those phrases or terms.

This step involves using data to inform strategy and is essential to using an SEO budget efficiently.

On Page SEO

How well Google ranks your web pages for particular keyword phrases is impacted in part by the composition of the web page in question. For example, this page is optimised for the phrase “How To Get To The Top of Google“. And in all likelihood, you probably found this page because you googled that phrase.

In order for that to work, certain words have to appear in certain places in the web page code. If they’re not there, it’s highly unlikely the page will rank. And that goes for any page, trying to rank for any keyword phrase.

So every campaign starts with an on-page SEO audit, in which we make sure all the right things are in all the right places to maximise the chances of getting the results we want.

This is really the easy bit because we have full control over the content of the web page itself. So next, we move on to the hard part…

Off Page SEO

The other major factor involved in getting to the top of Google is a web page’s backlink profile. In a nutshell, that’s the number of other websites that link to the web page in question. That includes both web pages within the website of which that particular web page is a part, and third party websites as well.

We spend a huge amount of time and resources on generating backlinks to various pages on our clients’ websites in order that they rank well for the keyword phrases they want to rank for.

This is definitely the longest part of the process and can go on for many months, depending on the website in question and the target keyword phrase in question.

How Long Does It Take?

The thing about getting to the top of Google is that Google isn’t particularly forthcoming with information. To get to the top for any particular search term, all you need to do, in theory, is to beat whoever is currently at the #1 spot for that term. And that’s true. But the problem is that until we try, we cannot know how competitive a particular search term is or what the relative distances are between the existing ranked pages.

From personal experience, we may have an idea of how difficult it will be to rank a website for a particular term, but we rarely make promises about results.

Want Your Site To Get To The Top Of Google?

If you want to see your website ranked at #1 in Google, get in touch today to see how Smart And Slick SEO can help you do that.

YouTube Marketing: Why You Need It

March 9th, 2021

YouTube has a bit of a reputation for being for young people. Young people regularly watch YouTube for education and entertainment on a daily basis. We’ve all heard about so-called “YouTube stars”.

What may surprise you is that YouTube has 2 billion users worldwide, of all ages, and is so big that you don’t even notice it. Most people watch YouTube without even knowing it. If you’re watching a video online, the chances are good that you’re watching it on YouTube.

With a 2 billion strong audience, your business or brand needs to be there too. It’s one of the very few media channels we recommend to EVERY business or brand that we work with.

But what if you don’t know how? Or don’t know what to do? Or don’t know what you should be saying or doing in your videos? Our YouTube channel management service may be for you.

Grow Your Audience Fast

We recommend YouTube because there are people there. Literally billions of them. Which means all you need to do is say something worth saying and you’ll get an audience very quickly. We’re talking literally tens of thousands of views.

Build Your Brand

Because many people watch YouTube every day, the platform affords you an opportunity that was previously only afforded to major television stars: you can become a household name, simply by regularly uploading YouTube videos. This creates trust unlike any other media channel.

The Snowball Just Keeps Rolling

Once we upload your videos and correctly optimise them, they keep delivering traffic day after day after day. That snowball just keeps on rolling.

Want To Get Your YouTube Channel Started?

If you’re ready to really make an impact, get in touch to see how we can help you grow your YouTube Channel.

How Much Does A Website Cost?

March 8th, 2021

At Smart And Slick, we build a lot of websites. When people enquire about commissioning us to build a website for their cause, or partnering with to build and then maintain a website for them, the question of cost is always something that comes up.

But, you see, there are many different kinds of websites and how much a website costs will depend very much on what the client needs that website to do.

I suppose we could draw a parallel with cars. How much does a car cost? It’s a very, very wide range. From an entry level vehicle like a VW Up, which, according to recent advertising, can be yours for £8,000, all the way up to a Ferrari, which, I believe, can cost more than the average UK home.

Likewise, whether you know much about web design and development or not, I’m sure that purely as an Internet user, you can appreciate that there’s a massive difference between a website like Booking.com, and, well, this very page.

I feel that what people really want to know is what THEIR vision of a website will cost.

And that depends on the answers to a number of questions:

What do you need the website to do?

Is it simply an online brochure? Do you need it to process payments? Do you need it to “think”? Do you need it to do complex calculations?

Are there existing technologies it needs to be able to talk to?

If it’s not a new build, are there things that you don’t want to change, that have to continue to work with the things you do want to change?

Who is your market?

What do the people you sell to expect to see? How tech savvy are they? Your website forms part of your user and customer experience. As such, it is vitally important to keep your customers happy and comfortable.

What are you selling?

It’s likely that the look of your website needs to communicate certain things about the products or services that you offer. As such, what you sell impacts on design decisions.

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All of these questions impact the amount of work and expertise involved in creating your website and subsequently hosting it.

If you’re looking for a new website, why not get in touch with us and we’d be happy to assist you.

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March 8th, 2021

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