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Westglow Resort & Spa Awards Design Contract to AppNet

westglow resort & spaWestglow Resort & Spa is one of the world’s top ranked destination spas and they announced on September 23rd, 2014 that they have awarded AppNet New Media as their new web design, development and internet marketing contract.

“We are proud to earn their business. We know that they went through a rigorous process to come to the decision to choose AppNet as their new design firm”, states owner Mike Doble. He added, “We know that Westglow is a world-renowned resort & spa and that the owners have specific ideas and needs for their website and we are looking forward to taking their website to another level – one that lives up to the standards that you’ll find when you visit the resort.”

 

Westglow Resort & Spa was awarded the status of “Number 4 Best Destination Spa” on Travel & Leisure’s 2013 World’s Best list and when it came to choosing a firm that would assist them in getting their website to that same level of quality and promotion, they chose AppNet. Westglow is a luxurious, Relais & Chateaux resort & spa that is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina – with spectacular views of the Johns River Gorge and Grandfather Mountain.

Their all-inclusive resort offers spa packages customized to create your spa experience, whether you choose a spa vacation, a weekend getaway or a day retreat. The stunning mountain views, historic mansion and elegant, tranquil landscape make Westglow an ideal spa wedding location. With only nine guestrooms, overnight guests enjoy a serene atmosphere and attentive service. The 42-acre mountain resort is also perfect for a women’s retreat, girlfriend getaway or corporate executive retreat.

Their resort restaurant,  Rowland’s, offers a sublime dining experience. It is open to the public seven nights a week, this premier Blowing Rock restaurant featuring both spa cuisine and an indulgent menu, has earned its reputation as one of the finest restaurants in the High Country. Call  828-295-4463 for reservations.AppNet is proud to be the design and internet marketing firm for Westglow Resort & Spa.

How Can I Get My Website Ranked on Top of Google?

There are ONLY TWO WAYS to maintain Top Rankings on Google

How Can I Get My Website Ranked on Top of Google?I’m going to go against all of the recent marketing trends with today’s post. If you are searching Google for things like:1. I need top search engine rankings.2. How can I get my website ranked at the top of Google?3. I want my website to get top ranking. How do I do that?AND you want to achieve that ranking in a “cheap” or “affordable” way…

AND by “cheap” or “affordable” you mean for a total investment of $300-$500…AND you don’t want to “do it yourself”…then you’re PROBABLY not going to like the rest of what you’re about to read.

IT ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN.

Want to know the truth that most SEO scammers and spammers COUNT ON to be able to deceive you and take your money? At the same time, do you want to know the truth that most people with top ranked websites DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW?

The ONLY way to gain a top ranked website these days is to:

1. Outspend your competition.2. Out work your competition.

Nothing else works and why should it?

 

Let’s Put Things in Proper Perspective

If you’re in business and have ever placed a newspaper or magazine ad, then you already know that if you purchase the back cover of any kind of printed publication that you’ll get more exposure and response than if you place a small, classified ad somewhere in the middle of the publication.

If you’ve ever placed a television ad spot, then you know that your 30 second spot on some local, cable channel at 2pm isn’t going to perform as well as running a 60 second commercial spot during prime time’s The Big Bang Theory on CBS.

So where in the world did you get the idea that things are all that different on the internet?

 

Okay, I’ll Tell You…

…and this next section could be subtitled…

WHO ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE? ME, OR YOUR LYING EYES?

WIX.com. WEEBLY.com. WEB.com. YOLA.com. MOONFRUIT.com

lyingeyesDo those dot coms mean anything to you? If you watch any amount of television and don’t fast-forward over the commercials you’ve probably seen the commercials that WIX runs a number of times every day offering FREE WEBSITES.

How about WORDPRESS, JOOMLA, DRUPAL, COFFEECUP? Have you heard of any of those? All of these tools are FREE as well and with a little time and some patience you can have a very nice looking website up and running.

If you’re a Realtor, according to household real estate names like Zillow, you can have a FREE website running in minutes AND you only pay $10 a month. If you have some products that you want to sale, according to Shopify and many like them, you can have a fully operational eCommerce website for FREE, without ANY setup costs and for only $29 a month (some are less).

By now you can tell that there’s a common thread with all of these offers. You CAN have a FREE website. You CAN. You’ll get no debate here.

AND NOW…THE REST OF THE STORY

Of course I’m stealing this lead in from that wonderful old, radio sage, Paul Harvey.

What ALL of these super-marketing-savvy conglomerates are not telling you is that they know something that YOU probably don’t know. They know that the website that they are giving you FREE – won’t work. Nobody will know that it exists. Nobody will ever see that wonderful, new website of yours without YOU telling them how to go to it.

It WILL show up on Google and Yahoo….around PAGE 103. By the way, FREE WEBSITES are not new. Back in the early 1990s Tripod, Angelfire, FreeServers, FortuneCity, Homestead and others offered free websites AND free hosting.

WHAT IS NEW is that these major players (at least major in that they are spending the most advertising dollars to entice you) are playing against your lack of understanding of WHAT makes for a successful website. One of our clients called me the other day complaining that they had put up an online store on one of these FREE website providers about six months ago. They shared that they had spent DAYS loading up more than 400 products and getting everything looking wonderful. After all those countless hours of getting everything looking great – not one visitor of value had seen the website. Oh they had spammers from the Russian Federation, Ukraine and India emailing them that THEY had found the website. But nobody looking to buy products.

When I explained what was missing, our client felt betrayed and lied to – but they couldn’t be angry when the website didn’t cost them anything. After we spoke a few more minutes she stated, “This is kind of like someone giving you a brand new Ferrari and then not telling you that the only place you can purchase the gas to make it go is from THEM.”

That’s not 100% accurate – but close enough that I’m not going to elaborate on her point.

Earlier this week I met with a potential client from Miami who is in the jewelry industry. Her brick and mortar store is located right next to a famous restaurant on 40th Street in Miami. Partly due to her great location; partly due to her unique product line and partly due to her family name – their jewelry can be seen adorned on such celebrities as Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston, Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade, Mickey Rourke, Beyonce, Billy Ray Cyrus and others.

Despite all of that notoriety and fame – she was frustrated because her website received MAYBE 100 visitors in the last year and a half! She commented about how often she BLOGGED and yet she was so consumed by the THOUGHT that her store website LOOKED great and that it shows all of these superstars wearing their jewelry – that she wasn’t seeing the forest for the trees.

She has had a website since 2009 and in ALL of that time MAYBE 800 people had visited her website. Instead of really addressing the issues as to WHY nobody was going to her website, she decided to build another new website in January of this year – this time using Shopify. She’s spent countless hours getting her product line in the online store. She’s written tons of BLOG articles since January – to the TWELVE people who have visited her website since January.

nogasWhen I SHOWED her these revelations, her only response was to  share the news that she had recently hired a PR firm in Miami (for three months) to help guide her.

Maybe they can help her find another gas pump for that Ferrari.

 So let’s get back to the statement about the only two ways that you can gain top rankings on Google, Yahoo, Bing and the search engines.

1. Outspend your competition.2. Out work your competition.

“Outspending” affords you the option of contracting a SEO-savvy company to write and add in the content pages needed to beat your competition’s rankings. We can setup daily reporting that shows where your website needs help and what kind of content is needed to meet and beat your competition.

“Outworking” simply means that since you’re doing the content writing and work, you’re not having to pay for it.

If you want and need more customers, they are RIGHT THERE on the other end of your keyboard. They are LOOKING for you EVERY SINGLE DAY. If you don’t have a large budget and simply cannot afford the financial investment that it takes to compete with those at the top of all of the searches related to your business – then your only choice is to OUTWORK them.

teachfishAppNet and other companies that operate like we do make our living by building websites and by consulting and teaching many of our clients how to “outwork and/or outsmart their competition”.

It is like that old proverb – “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

WEB DEVELOPMENT ARCHITECTURE LENDS ITSELF TO BETTER FISHING…

It used to be that web design companies HAD to do all of the design, handling of edits, etc. When SEO (search engine optimization) came along it further made it necessary for only a seasoned professional to handle most web page growth, etc.

Now, with CMS (content management systems) that allows most anyone to add, edit and delete any and every page of a website, it is EASIER to build the website that businesses can afford and then teach clients how to use those tools to grow their own websites to a point that it becomes more competitive with those websites ranked at the top.

Perhaps the most significant difference in marketing via the internet and other, more traditional marketing venues is that you CAN effect your own website’s success with a lot of your own sweat-equity. If you are short on budget, you CAN do a lot of the work to grow content yourself. Of course, then you have to ask yourself the following questions:

How much is YOUR time worth?How good are you going to be at it?…and most importantly, WILL YOU DO THE WORK? (Most business owners are too busy to put in the time that is necessary to win rankings.

Most high-quality web development companies will tell you that on an almost daily basis we are confronted with people who are wanting to start an online business, and in so many cases they’ve already heard the “They can get something for nothing” ads. There are so many people who are just getting by financially and they are falling prey to these promotions. Unfortunately, these kinds of things have always been around. However, like everything else these days…because of the internet there are just so many more ways to be scammed.

Once we perform our best “Dr. Phil” impression and bring these people back down to Earth, we are almost always asked a question related to…

 

HOW ARE THEY DOING THAT?

may-news-numberoneThe “THEY” in that question are the people who ARE showing up at the top of Google searches and obviously doing well.

That is one of our most-often-asked queries – “How is this or that company always ranked in the top?” That question is usually followed up with, “How much will this cost?”

Once we share the “HOW” and “HOW MUCH” we usually hear some comments related to, “Well I definitely need to ‘get there’ but what can we do for about ‘half’ that budget?”

It should be simple LOGIC that we can do about one-half of what is needed.

Another response we get is, “Well I had a call from ‘XYZ web design’ where they said that could get me a website for $500.”

MORE LOGIC…

Ask yourself this question – “Does it make any sense whatsoever that you should be able to put up a website that is anywhere from FREE to $500 that will perform as well on Google as a company who spent $10,000 on their website?”

Does it make sense that you should be able to advertise on television and be seen as often as “He went to Jared’s” for $1000 when Jared’s spends MILLIONS?

Of course not.

There are tons of scammers and spammers out there – and a lot of otherwise legitimate companies – who seem to want you to believe that the internet is different. That probably stems from the early days when we all heard the stories of how someone put up a one page website and got rich.

Those days are long gone. You can still “get rich” but not without an investment of time, money or both.

 

So let’s get BACK to the initial question of,”How Can I Get My Website Ranking on Top of Google?”

LEFTHANDEDThe great thing about the internet is that we now have so many tools that we can plug most any website into and give you a pretty decent idea of the worth or value of any website. We can tell you definitively about how much of an investment (time or money) that your competition has in their website.

That IS the secret that the website owners who rank up top DON’T WANT YOU TO LEARN. By measuring your competition, you then can know what to do that is required to meet or beat them.

Then it’s a fairly simple process to compare your website with theirs and then you’ll know how much time and/or money that you have to put in to get yourself on their level.

While there is SOME science to it – it isn’t rocket science.

We were meeting with a group of realtors this past week who made our job rather easy when they first challenged us by stating, “We want to be THE TOP real estate company online for “X”, “Y” and “Z” communities on Google. What is that going to cost?”

All we had to do was SHOW them the following:

“ABC Realty’s” website is a $30,000 website.”DEF Realty’s” website is a $15,000 website.”GHI Realty’s” website is a $12,000 website.”JKL Realty’s” website is a $10,000 website.

We then asked them, “If you’re okay with NOT being in the top four or five, we can strategize less – but if you’re wanting to be in the top four, tell US where you are budget-wise.” In some cities it may only take a $500 website to rank at the top. In competitive areas it can take more.

For example, if you’re a realtor located in Alma, Kansas which has a population of 745 people, you could probably rank NUMBER ONE on Google with a budget of $200-$300 or an investment of about a half days worth of work. However, if you’re a realtor in Miami, Florida where (according to Realtor.com) there are 24,171 real estate agents, you’ll need to be prepared to invest your time and/or money to create a website that will cost you in the ball park of $40K-$50K ANNUALLY to rank up top and get the leads necessary to be a top agent or firm.

THE BEST STRATEGIES are now those that enable you to pay for the website that you NEED TODAY and allot some level of spending (whether monthly or quarterly, etc) that would allow for frequent GROWTH.

GONE ARE THE DAYS where you can put up a website and sit on it for ANY length of time. You’re better off to spend your budget over a period of a YEAR (instead of all at once) because then your results will be more consistent over time.

Any approach that is outside of the realm of outspending or outworking your competition is like chasing after the wind.

 

YOUR MOM AND DAD WERE CORRECT. NULL. NADA. CERO. NIETS. CIPHER. NAUGHT. ZILCH. ZIP. GOOSE EGG…NOTHING – IN LIFE IS FREE.

No matter how small your marketing budget might be – good design and SEO firms can work with you in a fashion that WILL make a difference in increasing your business. Ignoring that your website isn’t generating business for you or putting off doing something about it while others are getting YOUR customers – doesn’t make sense in this competitive marketplace. There are always options and the best time to get started in making a difference is today.

 

 

Spring is here, and those birds better not be the only thing tweeting!

If you are over the ripe old age of … oh, say 28, chances are fair that you don’t “use” much social media. Sure maybe you Facebook but so does your grandmother. After that you wouldn’t much know a tweet from a twerk but I promise you, you are letting a HUGE business opportunity slip right on by so don’t be stubborn and learn to embrace some of those things your kids already know.

 

If you still have no idea what a hashtag is, it is a word or phrase (no spaces) with the # symbol in front of it. … there, your first lesson in tweeting. And what started as way for 16 year old girls to share their sage life experience with the world (or the 63 friends who hung on their every word) has now become a rather powerful tool that you could be using to your advantage AND getting you found much more often in searches! In fact, Google is now showing those hashtags in search results. Test it out. Go to your search bar and type in #Emmys , you will see normal results for the Emmys on the left side where you would expect to see them but the right side of your screen will now be showing social media content that relates to the subject. Not only twitter but blogs as well that people have shared with their Google+ accounts. So, what does that mean for you? Well by this time you should be at least aware that in order to gain ranking you need more content on your website. And while SEO pages or blogs are great, now if you tie those blogs to your social media and share them with the world, you get a nice big BUMP in your exposure as well.

 

Digital Marketing, if done correctly and you USE all the tools at your disposal, can and WILL pay huge dividends as far as getting YOU in front of your customers. So stop fighting it and go ask your 15 year old to show you how this tweeter-gramer thingy works!

No Such Thing as Free Lunch

Get Your Free Website; Step Right Up and Get Your Free Website. REALLY?

This particular post is going to come off more than a little bit like “sour grapes” – but it is what it is. I can imagine a few web developers seeing this pop up on Google and the “blogpshere” at some point and COPYING this link and sending it to their client’s and saying something like. see here…THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE WEBSITE.

Let me tell you that we’re fortunate in that we are blessed to gain a couple of new clients every week – sometimes more. So I guess I’m bitching just to be bitching – or to vent. Let me explain.

We own websites ourselves. We build websites for new clients all of the time – but again, we own websites as well…and WE get the same emails and phone calls that you do. My INBOX is full of proposals where one company or another is totally willing (I am led to believe – out of the goodness of their hearts) to build me a brand new website that will look better than my current one AND RANK BETTER for $299.

Others offer their services 100% FREE. They just want to help me have a nicer, better looking, higher ranked website than my current one – and I guess they have nothing better to do than to do it for nothing.

WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU PEOPLE WHEN I WAS WORKING FOR THAT SCAM, SWAMP-LAND SELLING COMPANY?

Come to think of it, it MUST BE YOU GUYS who are also falling for the email scams where the Prince of USuckerland just died and has some money that he needs to funnel through your wallet and is willing to pay you a million dollars to do so.REALLY, PEOPLE?

 

Okay, let me set the record straight. I’ve never personally worked for a poncy-scheme or paper-only land sales, but you guys just seem to be willing to fall for anything. I was speaking with a long-time hotel-owner client a bit ago. She spent $2400 on a website back in 2010 and it served her well for years. We’ve spoken from time to time about the fact that her website was slowly dropping from those initial rankings. We’ve talked about what was needed to get it more highly ranked and we’ve talked “budget”. Each time, she wanted to think about it- until THE NEXT time it concerned her that she was coming up less and less on Google.

She’s obviously a loyal client as she FINALLY shared this little “pearl” with me. She stated, “Mike, I’ve been with you for a long time and like working with you but I receive emails and calls all the time about building me a brand new website for $400. Why do you tell me it will cost $4000?

I WANTED to be honest with her and answer her in one of these FIRST TWO WAYS…but I opted for the 3rd option below. But go ahead and take a look at my first two options:

OPTION ONE: “The reason that they can quote you $400 is that they are going to take your $400 buck and send about $25 of it to their slave-labor in India or Ukraine to build the site.”
OPTION TWO: “The reason that they can quote you $400 is that they could give a rat’s butt whether your website is a success after they’ve got your $400. I too could give you that $400 website and it will look nice, but go nowhere.”

 Instead, I opted for:

OPTION THREE: “PAM (my client)…use some LOGIC for one second. You’re a business owner. Does it REALLY make sense to you that ANYBODY can build you a TEN PAGE website for you for $400 that will BEAT ALL of the other hotels in your area AND TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, Travelocity.com, Kayak.com? REALLY?”

 

So back to what this BLOG post is all about….

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch

…not in ANY other industry of doing business B2B – and not on the internet either. Herein lies the “rub”. When all of this WWW stuff started; you know, back when old “Al Gore invented it”, things kind of were FREE. I mean you could out up a website (or web page back then) for just about any business and the darn thing would get you all the leads in the world. Stories were floating all over the net in those early days about people getting rich with early dot coms and then EVERYBODY and his brother put up a web page.
 
I OFTEN relate it this way to my own clients:
Once upon a time some brilliant person decided to create a “BOOK” that contained everyone’s phone numbers in it. Not long after, the same brilliant people figured out that it would be very brilliant to do the same thing with the businesses and to paint those pages yellow.
Then they got an even brighter idea. Why not sell some of those businesses PREMIUM AD SPOTS within those yellow pages. The first plumbers, heating and air, car dealerships to DO those ads – ALL got rich quick as the idea caught on.
Fast forward a few years later when nearly EVERY business had a yellow page ad. Guess what happened? The effectiveness of those ads became watered down because there were so many. THEN the only businesses who REALLY benefited from yellow page advertising were the businesses who spent a ton of money on BIGGER ADS.
 
That VERY SAME STORY applies to the internet. When there were fewer businesses with websites – there were more people looking at fewer websites that were available to them. While the number of people USING the internet has skyrocketed – so has the fact that every business worth calling themselves IN BUSINESS – has a website. So the effectiveness of websites have also become watered down.
 
GUESS who NOW gets seen the most? If you’ve been paying attention to the sentiment of this post, you’ll know that the answer is – THE BUSINESSES WHO HAVE THE BIGGEST, BADDEST, BEST websites and NOT some FREE or $400 website.

No different than in ANY other kind of business marketing – you pay for traffic one way or another.

 

SOMEWHERE, SOMEHOW the message started getting around that you can get something for nothing on the internet. NEVER has that been less a truth than now. If anything, it is JUST the opposite. While there may be no more cost-effective means of promoting your business than the internet – there is ALSO NO BETTER place to market your business than on the internet. However, unlike seemingly every Google Ad for web design “out there” you simply can’t get something for nothing.

If our AppNet.com website was one of those FREE or $400 websites, we’d be out of business in a month. While we devote a LOT of our own energies in building tons of content into our ORGANIC rankings – we also are willing to SPEND MONEY with Google to get us even more traffic and leads. We’re willing to devote man-hours to create (hopefully) eye-catching content – and content that will get us found for thousands of searches. You won’t get that with a small, 5-10-15 page website.

 

If you get ONE THING out of this BLOG, Take this to Heart…

You will NEVER get one piece of traffic to your website without paying someone. Your choices of WHO to pay are basically the following:

1. You can build a small website for a nominal fee and then pay GOOGLE for Adwords. Depending on your industry you can expect to pay $50-$100 a day for decent traffic.2. You can pay your web designer to build a bigger, better website than your competition. Typically that’s more of a one time thing and traffic should come. But per page costs can be $100-$200 depending on the design firm. For SEO pages, we tend to charge $175 unless they are bought in quantities. The benefits are long term – instead of daily having to pay you-know-who in Option 1.
3. You can have someone build a smaller, template-style website with CMS capabilities and basically pay YOURSELF to grow that website. You’re doing the work, but it’s a nice way to go if you’re willing to learn how to become a smart SEO person. The question is HOW VALUABLE IS YOUR TIME? If you’re spending all of your daylight create content pages and managing SEO and some measure of a Digital Campaign – I’m betting your own business will suffer to some degree.

 But the bottom line is that you WILL have to pay SOMEONE to get traffic to your website. Rankings don’t come to a small, FREE or cheap website. Rankings are what drives traffic and traffic drives leads and customers.

Unfortunately, many website owners deceive themselves into thinking that you’re not going to pay for organic SEO. The truth is, if you’re paying for traffic, or you’re doing SEO – even if you’re doing it yourself – you pay either way.

Paid traffic comes out of your pocket and goes to the advertisers.

Organic traffic (or “unpaid traffic”) comes out of your time, or your pocket to your SEO provider.

And that’s okay. It’s a cost of doing business.

However, don’t fool yourself. You’re going to pay to play, one way or another.

The good news is that more traffic equals more sales if you have the right system in place.

P.S. – With Google changing their algorithms nearly twice a day, it’s getting tougher than ever before to claim your “free” traffic, and if you don’t have the right information you can do more harm than good to your rankings. Next time, I’m going to write about why you need to change your mindset about paying Google. You pay for newspaper, radio, television and magazine advertising, right? Why not the best outreach of customer base on Earth? More to come on this soon…