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August 19, 2014

What businesses can do to optimize their websites

Read a transcript of an interview with Andy Greider of Linked Insight where Jackson Powell from Little Red Truck Idea Co. talks about some DIY tactics to optimize your website.

Andy: Hello and welcome to Ask The Expert, a LinkedInSite and Marketing production. I'm Andy Greider and each episode we interview another expert in their field, to help you expand your personal network and grow your business.

Join us now and add another expert to your network this week.

Andy: Hi there this is Andy Greider with Ask The Expert, and we have with us Jackson Powell today with Little Red Truck. Very very excited to have with us Jackson thank you for taking time out of your schedule to be here, and looking forward to talking about web design today.

Jackson: Woah, thanks Andy, I'm excited too. Let's jump in.

Andy: Yeah, absolutely, I know a lot of designers out there have background in either just design, or they have background in print, or they have background in web design or things like that. One of the things I love about you is the myriad of things you've done throughout your career that get you to where you are. So before we talk about web design, let's talk about why someone wants to listen to Jackson Powell about web design. What is it that you bring to the table that's a little different and a little about your background.

Jackson: Well thanks that's very kind. So I studied Art History and Graphic Design at the University of Maryland, and I was able to focus on the Italian Renaissance and able to study Art History and Art in Florence, Italy, which was pretty amazing. After my undergrad I went to study computer animation at the Vancouver Film School.

Andy: Excellent. And you've worked for various design firms and marketing firms as well as owning your own design firm today correct?

Jackson: Yeah, that's right, so I got my feet wet in print, at a few print shops, learned about inks, papers, printing techniques, varnishes. Then at advertising agencies in interactive as well as print, got exposure and experiences in both of those.

Andy: And these days you own Little Red Truck, which is a full service design studio and branding juggernaut, so, it's always exciting, today we're going to take one aspect of that we're going to talk a little bit about web design and discuss some things that businesses can do to help build their websites, with tips that you can start on today, and I guess there are really two sides to this, is that right Jackson?

Jackson: That's right, there are two sides. There's the design led thinking, strategy, and then there's the technical execution.

Andy: I guess let's start with the technical stuff and I know you and I have talked before about some tools you can use and there's just an amazing amount of stuff out there. Do you want to start with some things people can do that help them out to get their website ready that are technical, again DIY do-it-yourselfer types of things?

Jackson: Sure, sure, definitely the first thing you want to do is turn on analytics. If you don't have analytics currently being collected on your site, do that, so there's a free service called Google Analytics which is powerful and robust. It's great, free being the keyword. You'll get a snippet you put on your site and you'll start to collect data. It's great.

Andy: Excellent. Now I know there are ways to go look at keywords, there are ways to look at SEO tools as well, can you talk a little bit about keywords first?

Jackson: Sure, keywords are the backbone of search engine optimization. The algorithms are changing, Google changes their algorithm constantly, but keywords are still relevant, and still important. The way to figure out which words people are using to find your product or service. The way to do that there are a lot of keyword tools. Google Adwords has a keyword planner that's associated with Google Adwords. It lets you search on keywords [in Google's database], it's really targeted towards figuring out keywords for adwords. You can use that data if your looking for it, not so much the keyword [search volume] but the ratio of search volume amongst a number of related keywords. It's a comparison exercise that's true for most every keyword tool whether it's a paid tool like Trellian's Keyword Discovery or WordTracker which is a paid tool. You're really looking at what are people searching for, for your product or service, and just comparing by creating a spreadsheet to look at all the numbers to see which words have the highest volume and the lowest competition.

Andy: Awesome. I know there's a lot of things that people are looking at nowadays that allow them to do different sorts of tracking or different sorts of optimization of their pages. Are there any tools you have for optimizing your pages for SEO?

Jackson: Great question. Start with Google again, they're Google for a reason. They have a tool called Google Webmaster. Once you verify you own the site, they will give you great information on your site. Things like keywords people are using to find your site which is a great nugget. Any errors they have when they crawl your site and you'll be able to see and jump on those right away. That's a great tool. As well as WooRank, which is a paid tool that has a free hook to get you in there they let you enter one website and they'll generate a report for SEO tactics that you want to look at.

Andy: I was going to say that WooRank gets a lot of reviews and is certainly a huge nugget for anybody listening in because, while it is a paid tool, at least for the upper end of it it is, it certainly is something that again, gets you moving in the right direction. Now, all these things that you're mentioning Jackson are all on the technical side of things, and they're great for behind the scenes upgrades, they're great for people to do on their own and get started on their own, but let's talk a little bit about the design side because that's something that is not as easy for a lot of people. There's not a lot of plugin tools for design for people. They're are some general rules for design though and I know you know a lot of those, could you share a few of them with our listeners?

Jackson: Sure, I'd be happy to. I mentioned I was trained at art school, taught the principles of design, those rules being shape, line, color, form, and others. Apart from that, I would say, to me, and to us at Little Red Truck, design with a purpose. To start out, figure out what are the objectives of the website, or the campaign, or the page. From there you branch out, or hone in on what the messaging should be. Once you have a firm idea of the objectives of the site, the page, and the messaging, you start to work on strategy and you hand that off to someone like myself or take a stab at it, and start to ideate, go through some ideation, creative ways to present that vision, strategy. The best design for me comes from when I have a clear understanding of the problem I'm trying to solve.

Andy: Excellent, I think that's top notch advice, is knowing the problem your trying to solve, who your audience is and what they're looking for before you actually start to design. Obviously not all that many people are going to design their own site as far as building their own graphics and building their own look and feel, and template for the site. There are a lot of great templates out there these days, but for someone that wants something custom and wants to go to somebody who's as qualified as you are, again one of the reasons we asked you on here to Ask The Expert is because of your background. If somebody wants to reach out and touch base with you Jackson what's the best way for them to do that?

Jackson: Thanks, the best way is our website, we have a contact form on the website, which is You could go on Skype and search for Jackson Powell or Little Red Truck Idea Co.

Andy: What's your main phone number Jackson?

Jackson: Sure, that'd be 650-731-0070.

Andy: Excellent. Jackson thanks so much for taking the time today, it's always a pleasure to talk to you,  your a fountain of knowledge when it comes to web design, design in general, marketing, and branding, and thank you very much for taking the time to be on the show.

Jackson: You're welcome, thank you for having me.

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