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Blue Ocean’s Best of 2015 Blog Posts

Holy moly! 2015 is coming to a wrap and it’s been a busy one for us designing websites, graphics, logos and all our other many shenanigans. We love sharing what we know to help small business owners, freelancers and whoever else may benefit from our knowledge – flourish and succeed from our knowledge in their own endeavors.

Sharing means caring and well, we care. It’s always interesting to go through our analytics to see what blog posts perform well and what it is our readers want to learn about. That being said, it appears that SEO is still a huge draw for people looking to improve their website and move it on up in search rankings. Also, it appears that attaching modern day hero figures to blog post titles aids in keeping people interested as well.

Here’s a roundup of our top 5 performing blog posts for yet another wonderful year:

1. Local SEO: Optimizing Your Website for Local Search

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This article gives you the nitty gritty details on how to ensure that your website shows up in local search results. With the number of “near me” searches increasing exponentially each year, local SEO is huge for business owners looking to advertise to potential customers in their area.  It’s a must read.

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May The Design Force Be With You

The Force is awakening with the 7th installment of Star Wars set to hit theatres this Friday and how better to celebrate the return of the Jedis than to learn a few design principles from the epic films.

The folks at Venngage have created a wonderful infographic using stills from the Star Wars films to illustrate essential design principles in practice. From depth, to contrast, negative space, perspective, symmetry, directional cues and repetition, these design principles guide the way for stellar design.

Have a look:

 [Infographic] Design with the Force - 7 Star Wars Design PrinciplesInfographic by Venngage.


Website Do’s and Don’ts

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Your website represents your business online and your homepage is much like a welcome mat, greeting people when they first enter. You want them to stay and not turn away because they’re put off by something. Much of this has to do with your website’s design, the user’s experience of your site and of course, what your website has to say.

Here are a few best practice tips to keep your visitors on your website rather than having them looking elsewhere:

Do Keep It Simple

Simplicity is an art form. Steve Jobs noted that “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” We get that building a website is exciting, you want to promote your business and show off all the things that you can do. But TOO much, TOO soon, can be TOO overwhelming for a website visitor and send them looking elsewhere.

Think about the simplicity of Google’s user interface, it’s a single box that you type a question into. It’s not complicated. It knows what it is intending to do – which is answer a question for you. Granted your site might not be as simple as a search engine (which isn’t simple at all actually) but you want to pare down all the unnecessary items that can get in the way of your user’s experience.

Read more: Website Do’s and Don’ts

5 Marketing Lessons to Learn from James Bond

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Like the suave James Bond himself you can woo your potential customers by adopting a few of his tried and true techniques. We’re not talking about taking them back to your hotel room or anything like that – that’s another article altogether. Instead, we’re talking about making your brand embody the strength, confidence, self-control and charm of 007. Here is how you can employ some MI6 agent-like techniques yourself to skyrocket your marketing endeavors:

Finish What You Start

When Bond is on a mission, he doesn’t cop out mid way because it’s too hard. The man doesn’t even appear to get tired. His fierce determination is admirable and what is needed to get the job done. For marketers, you can’t throw in the towel because a campaign failed or you have yet to see a return on your SEO endeavors. It takes time and it takes effort.

Everyone is capable of starting something but few see things through to the end. Bond however, he’s a closer. When things fail to go as planned Bond finds creative and innovative ways to meet and master the challenges at hand. It’s up to you to strategize and do, and when things don’t work, to rework your strategy so that your marketing operations do become a success.

Read more: 5 Marketing Lessons to Learn from James Bond

Create Product Descriptions For Your Ecommerce Website that Sell

253A SKU and a picture just aren’t going to cut it in this day and age. With people taking to their desktops and mobile devices to shop for the things that they need on the go, e-Commerce websites have to step up to the plate and play the game better than their opponents if they want to land the sale. The competition is fierce and getting that leg up is important.

One strategy for doing this is by adding product descriptions that speak to your consumer, selling them on the benefits of the product and telling them exactly why they must buy it now. But what this means is that you actually have to add a product description! Too often people rely on the manufacturer’s descriptions which gets cut and pasted around the web on other sites selling the same thing. By crafting your own product descriptions, you not only have the ability to target your ideal customer but you also boost your SEO efforts in the process.

Here are a few tips to help you write distinctive product descriptions that sell:

Write something

First and foremost, write something. Despite the fact that manufacturers supply product descriptions that include product numbers, sizes , colors, etc. most e-commerce companies only post that info and fail to add any words of their own. You want to distinguish yourself from the competition by adding your own spin to the product description. Change the wording so it speaks to your customer…

Read more: Create Product Descriptions For Your Ecommerce Website that Sell

Local SEO: Optimizing Your Website for Local Search

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Local SEO is all about effectively promoting your services to your local customers. It’s a matter of honing in your marketing strategy to target potential buyers in your area and optimizing your website to ensure that when someone is looking for your local business, they find you.

Here are a few tips to help you optimize your website for local search: 

A Mobile Friendly Website

First and foremost, you want to ensure that your website is mobile friendly. We live in a cross-screen world with mobile searches happening constantly. According to a study conducted by Nielsen and Google Canada, 80% of mobile searches happened even with a computer available. We are turning to our phones because it is faster and more convenient. With 78% of searches occurring in a store – you want your website to be readily accessible online, especially when people are grabbing their cell phones to look you up on the go.  

Use Keywords Strategically

Think like a customer in this case. What words would your ideal customer type into Google or Bing to find you? Those are the words you want to be using throughout your website’s copy. While you want to sprinkle your site’s content with the keywords that are relevant to your business and its location, you don’t want to douse your copy with them. Search algorithms are smart enough to detect when content is saturated in keywords and consider the stuff spam. So don’t be the guy who’s a “Calgary plumber, specializing in Calgary plumbing services, throughout Calgary and area.” It’s too much. Write for people, NOT for search engines.

Read more: Local SEO: Optimizing Your Website for Local Search

The Insider’s Guide to Preparing for a Website Design

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If this is your first stab at creating a website for your business, you’re in luck. As a busy Calgary website design company we’ve got a ton of experience guiding individuals through the web design process. 

You’ll want to do your homework when hiring a web design firm and you’ll also want to prepare some things to present to whoever it is you trust to build your site.

Here are 10 things we suggest you have ready for your web team:

1.  A List of Pages

You’ll want to have a list of the pages you would like to have on your website. This is often referred to as the site map. It’s the architecture in which your website will be laid out, a skeleton of what the site’s content will look like. Even if things change at the advice of your team, by outlining the pages you think your site should have, you open the discussion for what you hope your website will be and how it will function.

2. Examples of Websites You Like

Consolidate a list of websites that you admire the look and feel of. This is extremely helpful for your designer. Think about what fonts and colors you like. Find examples of page layouts that you love. Spend some time perusing the web checking sites both in and out of your industry. Take note of any special features or tools that you’d like to incorporate in your own website. This will help your designer immensely.   

Read more: The Insider’s Guide to Preparing for a Website Design

Nerd Out with Playing Cards That Teach You How to Code

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Up the ante in your card games and incorporate coding languages into the mix.

The designers behind code:deck have created playing cards that feature a code snippet describing it in a different programming language. For example, The Jack features JavaScript using a snippet of code to define the card.

Read more: Nerd Out with Playing Cards That Teach You How to Code

3 Tools to Help You Curate Content

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For those of us who are in the business of consolidating content that is relevant to our industry, scanning the web can get tedious. Finding relevant articles to share via our social networks, to curate for our next post or to gather ideas and research from takes a considerable amount of time. As fun as it is to stumble upon a cute cat video or a chubby kid letting loose on the dance floor, it’s still work.  

I do subscribe to a number of email newsletters – I’ll scan through the headlines whilst downing my coffee in the morning. But, the lot of the content I curate comes via sources that streamline the process for me. There are tools! Alas, there are tools that serve as a one-stop shop for my content curation needs on the web.  And well, since sharing means caring, here’s a list of my go-to sites for finding what I need in one spot:

Feedlyfeedly-to-curate-content

Feedly is my loyal, steadfast friend when it comes to finding content on the web. It’s a news aggregator application that runs on multiple browsers and works on mobile devices that run iOS or Android. I have the app on my phone and look to it while I’m waiting in line for a movie, coffee, to renew my vehicle, etc. I also have it on my desktop.

It compiles news feeds from numerous online sources and allows you to categorize blogs you follow according to topic. You can save articles to read later and it also lets you share the articles via Twitter and Facebook directly.

Rather than visiting each individual blog to find a headline that scratches your itch, Feedly lists all the headlines for all the blogs you follow in one spot. It’s amazing really. Check it out. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Read more: 3 Tools to Help You Curate Content