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Web Design vs. Web Development: Depicting the Practice

Outside the office, it's not uncommon to hear the roles of web designers and web developers used for the same purposes. Sure, the practices of both web design and web development share some overlap in terms of website creation, yet they are both very different.

When it comes to coding a website for proper usability and functionality, web design and development is a cohesive partnership. Some individuals are capable of wearing both hats and can execute tasks from both ends of the spectrum. Yet when certain talents are required, such as technical scripting skills or creative graphic work, the need for a more niche professional is often demanded.

To help clarify the practices of web design and web development, we depict both in greater detail below.

Web Developers: The Architects

In a nutshell, web development encompasses a more technical approach to building a website. This includes an abundance of if then functionality (if the user performs this action, then the website will do that as result.)

For complex websites, this may center on database development and integration, which is mostly back-end focused. An experienced web developer can create the necessary processes and user-functions of a website, and integrate them into the HTML. This may include simple executions like implementing menu drop downs and navigation references, or more complex tasks like on-site search functionality and database integration. Web development, although more technically oriented, is a difficult role to define because it covers such a wide range of aspects.

Just think of web developers as the architects (and builders) of a website, for they plan and organize the overall blueprints of the site and how it interacts with users.

Web Designers: The Artists

Web designers are more focal to the front-end of the website. That is, they are masters of a website's visual appeal. Web design emphasizes the layout, which centers on the use and placement of images, videos, graphics, buttons, call-to-actions, copy, and other forms of content.

Web designers take care of the site's look and feel, and will often take into consideration the user-behaviors that influence conversion optimization. Although web design experts are adept in HTML coding, they also utilize creative tools like Adobe InDesign and Photoshop to produce buttons, graphics, and other visuals. Solid web designers are also proficient in usability testing and know eye-tracking best practices like the back of their hand.

This can be very advantageous for sites looking to split-test multiple design concepts or landing page variations. In many cases, web designers will team up with usability strategists, developers, copywriters, and Internet marketers to ensure projects are completed as desired.

The Agency Duo

Most agencies that build and optimize websites will cover the practices of both web design and development. Whether they have one individual to handle it all or dedicated teams for both, complete website companies will understand the nature of each.

At our Peoria web design company, we offer expertise in web development and design based on the talents of numerous specialists. Our web creation experts work together with our SEO and Internet marketing team to ensure proper elements are in place and SEO friendly standards are met.

This blog post was produced by Tyler Tafelsky, Internet Marketing Manager of OIC Group, Inc.

Why Your Small Business Needs an Optimized Website

Small Business Website OptimizationEvery year the small business landscape is becoming more and more competitive, especially in major metropolitan areas. With commercial interaction becoming even more digital, the need for a website is imperative to stay afloat.

Most small business marketers realize this need and already own a website. Yet, many fail to acknowledge their website's core purpose. Sure there are the essential contact information and core product or service pages, but more often than not, there’s an untapped opportunity.

Some small business websites are simply out-dated and visually appalling to visitors. Most sites could be locally optimized for great search engine visibility (SEO). Depending on the status of your company's website, an optimized website could offer a game changing marketing opportunity.

What's an Optimized Website?

An optimized website addresses two primary aspects:

  • The mark-up language of a site's code
  • The keyword relevancy of a site's content Building a well optimized website involves a wide array of skill-sets.

The website design and development team must build the site so that the back-end code or (mark-up language) is search engine friendly. This typically involves the use of certain technologies as well as coding techniques. As a result, the website will be crawled and indexed more efficiently. The second fulfillment of an optimized website centers on establishing keyword relevancy in the site's content.

Otherwise known as on-page SEO, this is a process that includes researching the right keywords or search phrases, and creatively blending them in the proper places throughout the website. The requires copywriting and strategy web marketing skills. There are many resources on the web for SEO services, and the on-page component is the primary aspect of optimizing a website.

Benefits of an Optimized Website

Having a professionally optimized website can pay major dividends for your small business. A well developed, keyword optimized website can increase your business's chances of being found in the search results, especially if you utilize the link building resources that a website optimization company can offer.

A polished up website can also serve as prime candidate for Pay Per Click advertising. Local PPC for small businesses is a highly effective means for more website traffic. You can also utilize the potential of blogging. By building an on-site blog, you can write and share compelling articles about your company. This can further lead to more inbound web traffic.

In today's digital age, these are some of the most important considerations for small business marketers. The marketing platforms are changing, and only strong local companies are surviving. Whether it's pursuing a new web design for your small business or considering the options for search engine marketing, there's immense potential to grow your web presence.


This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Internet marketing specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+

What Makes a CMS SEO Friendly?

SEO Friendly CMSContent management system (CMS) software has become a highly sought-after solution to build and operate a website. CMS software makes website management both affordable and easy, enabling the most elementary end users to make edits and ongoing updates to a site.

Additionally, web design providers utilize CMS software to seamless build and optimize sites for their clients. The SEO friendliness of the site, however, depends which content management system was used to develop the site. Now more than ever, web design firms are developing sites on a CMS platform. It is thus very important that if you're planning to use a CMS to manage your website, you ensure that the software will suit essential SEO functionality.

Some content management systems offer greater SEO capabilities then others, so you'll want to know what to look for in search engine friendly CMS software. Below we dive into the characteristics of what makes a CMS SEO friendly.

The Roots to Search Engine Friendly Content Management Systems

Page Editing Functionality

With respect to SEO, it is crucial that your CMS has the necessary page editing functionality. That is, you or your SEO provider must be able to write keyword optimized page titles, meta descriptions, and URLs for each page. These elements are essential for on-page optimization are must have's for a SEO-friendly CMS.

Back-End Coding Structure

In addition to these critical functionality features, the back-end HTML coding structure of each page will often depend on the type of CMS software used to build the site. There are a number of content management systems that produce pages with minimal, search engine friendly coding structures. The most common of these CMS platforms are WordPress and Exponent CMS. These are two of the most popular for SEO's and search-focused web designers looking build and optimize a site.

Other SEO Friendly CMS Considerations

Other characteristics that define SEO friendly CMS include:

  • software that generates pages based on CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), as opposed to nestled tables and other cumbersome coding structures
  • a CMS platform that is considered 'developer friendly' in that it offers the capabilities of implementing links, copy, images, videos, and other elements in specific areas throughout a page
  • software that allows users to produce dynamic, keyword friendly URLs
  • platforms that automatically generate XML sitemaps for submission to Google Webmaster Tools (highly ideal for ecommerce SEO)

These are the essentials of search engine friendly content management systems. Whether you're a business looking for a website, or web designer seeking the right CMS to use, these guidelines can help you narrow you search for the right CMS platform that offers optimal SEO friendliness. Learn more about Web design in Peoria IL.


This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Internet marketing specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+

Conversion Optimization and What You Need to Know

Unlike SEO and Pay Per Click advertising that simple direct traffic to a website, conversion optimization goes one step further. Also commonly referred to as conversion rate optimization (for its focus in improving the conversion rate of a website), conversion optimization centers on post-click user activity and behavior. That is, the desired action a user takes after he or she lands on a webpage (primarily from the search engine results.)

So what exactly do you need to know about conversion optimization? A few things.

Conversion optimization is a big deal in today's website marketing arena. The definition of a 'well-optimized website' has evolved into more than just a site that's been strategically infused with keywords. Now, a well-optimized site is one that has a professionally planned conversional funnel, or a pre-meditated path that users will take once they land on a page, in addition to all of the necessary SEO elements involved.

Conversion Optimization is a lot Like SEO

Similarly to SEO, conversion optimization is not a hit-and-run project. Rather, it's ongoing process of testing, evaluating, and fine-tuning. The leaders of the optimization profession will do more than simply tune-up landing pages or implement A/B tests on different webpage variations. True conversion optimizers will roll-up their sleeves and uncover valuable insights based on user behavior. The force behind conversion optimization is information.

Website analytics are the source for such valuable data, and knowing how make sense of key on-site statistics is imperative. Approaches like segmentation analysis and assessing navigation pathways become even more essential. In both conversion optimization and search engine optimization, content reigns king.

Sure, website design and technicalities may seem significant (and they are,) but don't let these aspects overshadow what truly matters - meaningful experiences and valuable propositions. In world of SEO, success in these can earn you links. In conversion optimization, these elements result in paying customers. You dig?

Why Design and Technical Expertise Matter

Conversion optimization demands constant testing of various page concepts. Whether for SEO or PPC optimization, the conversion funnel must be well-planned, constantly analyzed, and respectfully modified.

The elements of a conversion funnel, although still focused on content will often hinge on the help of a creative website designer or code-friendly web developer. Flipping call-to-actions based on eye tracking studies or adding different visuals to a page are just a few examples.

In essence, the advantages of conversion optimization derive from offering something valuable as an incentive to convert. This is why strategic web marketing experience, coupled with creative and technical experience, can make for an effective website optimization team.

If you are search engine marketing efforts are becoming stagnant, perhaps it’s not matter of search engine visibility or getting traffic to your website. Rather, it could be matter of optimizing your website for great conversion potential.


This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Internet marketing specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+

Google's Penguin

Late last month, Google unveiled a massive algorithm change that effected the search engine rankings of many different sites. The change known as "Penguin" targeted sites that were 'over-optimized,' many of these plummeted as a result. In essence, Google has 'reset the deck' in a effort to clean-up its search engine results.

After facing a lot outsider criticism due to the poorness of its search results, the Google set out to do something about it. The primary reason for Google's results being so bad was mostly attributed to relentless SEO practices. Search engine optimizers worked hard to increase the rankings of sites that offered little to no value to Google users, and many of them were successful at getting these sites to ranking highly on competitive search terms.

In short, frustrated search engine users were quick to bounce when they came upon crummy microsite or SEO "doorway page," and their faith in Google's results diminished.

'Over-Optimized' = Unnatural Backlinks

Google's Matt Cutts and his posse of search engine gurus set out to determine why such terrible sites were appearing at the top of the search results. They pinpointed backlinks, namely 'over-optimized' backlinks, to be the culprit.

So what does having 'over-optimized' backlinks mean?

For the past few years, building backlinks to a site was the best way to increase its authority and search engine rankings. In order to attain a high ranking on a certain keyword phrase, the anchor text of its links needed to include the specific keyword target in which the webpage was set to rank for. So for a webpage optimized for "hair loss treatment," the best links for SEO would be those with the anchor text 'hair loss treatment."

Pretty simple concept that worked like a charm. "Penguin" changed all that by taking an in-depth look at the backlink portfolio of websites. Those websites that had an overwhelming amount of backlinks with exact phrase match anchor text (or anchor text that included the entire keyword target for its respective page) were consider "over-optimized." As a result, those websites fell in Google's search results and the rest is history.

How to Pinpoint 'Over-Optimization' and What to do About It

Over-optimization through Penguin's eyes is an evaluation of site's backlink ratio. That ratio looks at the anchor text of each link pointing to a site and weighs which links are keyword optimized and which appear to be natural. Optimized anchor text will include the exact phrase match of a page's keyword targets, where more natural backlinks will simply be the site's name or the URL of the page (such as "" or "Regrow Your Hair" - the name of the site).

To effectively pinpoint just how over-optimized a website is, one must run a backlink scan using a spidering tool such as SEO SpyGlass. Based on report from that scan, the anchor text of the site's backlinks will need to be thoroughly investigated. If it appears that too much over-optimization is presence, one must 'balance the ratio' with more natural backlinks.

So instead of building links with nothing but exact phrase match anchor text, ethical SEO's must diversify their backlink portfolios. Some strategies for backlink diversification include using:

  • variations of anchor text to include only some keywords, rather than always using exact phrase match (also known as "partial linking" in the ecommerce SEO world)
  • a blend of do-follow backlinks and no-follow backlinks (80:20 is a good ration here). Such no-follow backlinks include forum and blog comment links, which are rather easy to build
  • the domain name or URL of the page being linked to * relevant link sources that have similar content that reflects the backlink and its anchor text

Have you been effected by Penguin? Feed us your thoughts in comments section below.


This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Internet marketing specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+

The Facts Behind SEO-Friendly Web Design

Peoria Web DesignIn today's digital marketplace, search engine optimization (SEO) and website design must go respect one another. Many web design companies these days are infusing SEO in the web design process.

However, many website designers fail to understand the significance of SEO while putting together a website, and neglect the SEO-friendly (as well as SEO-Unfriendly) aspects of a website during the design process.

The potential to obtain a top search engine ranking and capture more traffic is much greater with a SEO friendly web design. There are many techniques and technologies that can make a website look attractive, however many of these methods are not friendly with search engines. In essence, visually and aesthetically pleasing design elements my block or slow a search engine spiders, which can kill SEO. If search engine spider cannot access the content of a website easily and efficiently, is unlikely that the website will rank highly in the search engines.

Elements of SEO-Friendly Websites

Respecting the best practices of SEO while designing a website takes into consideration more than just essential content elements and linking. Building a SEO-friendly website needs to factor in the site's architecture, navigation, and back-end coding structure (or HTML). The content of each webpage (both on-page and off-page) is a critical component for search engine optimization.

The off-page SEO elements that are not fully viewable to users on the page (but often portrayed in the search engine results) are the page's title and meta description. These aspects of the site's content should be mentioned in the first few lines of code for each page. The on-page components of a SEO-friendly website need to be content focused. That is, content that can be crawled and indexed, and offers SEO value to a search engine spider. These elements include any parceable text, images (including the image "Alt" tag,) and videos.

Content that does not offer SEO value is flash media, which causes search engine spiders to choke on a page. Although attractive on a webpage, flash animated media is very code-cumbersome and causes the load speed of pages to slow.

CMS Considerations for SEO

For websites built around a content management system (CMS), the product or technology behind the CMS will be ultimate variable for search engine friendliness. The CMS is the general framework for which a website's design is centered upon.

A code-heavy CMS that makes use of nestled tables and other non-SEO friendly design elements will hinder SEO. For this reason, SEO-friendly content management systems have been a primary focus for some CMS product developers. A distinction of a good CMS platform for SEO is how the software generates the code for each page. Strong platforms for SEO will use stylesheets, or CSS, which is typically very spider friendly for crawling and indexing a site. In addition, the content attributes are also major considerations.

Most content management systems will allow users to customize the page title and meta description on each page. But what separates the truly SEO friendly CMS solutions from the pack is the URL. It is not uncommon for most CMS platforms to auto-generate a URL that looks something like Such URLs offer no SEO value. With the right CMS, users can write optimized URLs to include some of the primary keyword targets for that page, such as

Moving Forward

The landscape for Internet marketing firms is filled with SEO & Web design companies that claim they handle both disciplines effectively. If you are moving forward with a website that you want fully optimized for search, be sure to learn as much as you can about the company. Often times a thorough interview with the firm's staff that brings up questions about the variables discussed above will shed light on just how effective the firm actually is. Here at OIC Group, our practices revolve around the marriage of SEO and web design, so much so that we have developed a highly SEO-friendly CMS called Exponent. With this product and our professional expertise in custom website design and SEO Peoria IL, we are able to help clients realize their Internet marketing objectives.


This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Internet marketing specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+

The Dueling Roles of Article Marketing

Exposing articles to the right audience is a highly effective marketing tool. Articles can enlighten, inform, educate, or all of the above. They can also generate popularity in a website for search engine optimization.

In essence, your article marketing strategy can have dueling roles:

  1. market content to a specific audience, capture their interests, and compel the audience to learn more about what you can do for them.
  2. build quality links to your website for organic search engine optimization. In this post, we will depict the two primary purposes of article marketing and how you can go about fulfilling the dueling roles that this practice has to offer.

Content Marketing for Credibility and Conversions

Readers who appreciate a good article will often acknowledge the source and respect the author's authority on the content's subject matter. This can attribute the author as a respectable source for information, consultation, and/or services. Articles enable you to increase awareness of your brand by publishing content to sources where like-minded individuals will find your content, read it, and take action (ideally funneling them to your website or a squeeze page.) In essence, content marketing is the primary channel of inbound marketing.

By writing and submitting articles, blog posts, and videos on relevant sites where your consumers are browsing, you will capture real people and ultimately drive a portion of those people to your website who are looking for more information.

Building links for SEO

The second role of article marketing (or virtually any form of content marketing) is to build links for search engine optimization. Placing links within the body copy of your articles will generate "link popularity" for the webpages you want to get ranked in the search engines.

Over time, your site will find its way onto the search engine results when people are looking for phrases that apply to your business. This may mean that some articles won’t actually be read by that many people, however by publishing these articles in the correct places, the search engines will see them, follow the links within the article’s content to your website, and apply some “link juice” to your site, thereby increasing your ranking on the keyword.

For example, let’s say you publish an article on the "benefits of juice fasting." Within that article, you link a couple phrases such as ‘juice fasting tips’ and ‘juice fasting recipes’ to your website. The search engines first recognize that the article as being about ‘juice fasting.’ They will then see the links in that article pointing to your website and will add ‘points’ to your site for those keywords. So when someone searches the ‘benefits of juice fasting’ or something similar, your site will start showing up in the results. The more articles and content you publish, the more links you can build, and the higher your site will rank on relevant keywords.

The more popular the keywords, the harder it is to rank, but the more traffic you’ll realize in return. A tip to keep in mind is to ensure that article relates to the links in which you build. Like the latter example, the article was about 'juice fasting' and the links were about 'juice fasting,' so contextual relevancy of content to links is spot on. Although these are two different strategies for article marketing, they can be used in unison to achieve optimal success.


This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Internet marketing specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+

The SEO Value of External Blogs

In today's digital age, blogs have become excellent marketing tools. Having a blog for your business can help to increase awareness about your brand or business as well as establish a greater online reputation. However what sparks the interests of many online marketers is the SEO value of building an External blog for their business.

What's an External Blog?

External Blogs for SEOIn essence, an external blog is a dedicated website to publish content. Unlike internal blogs that are a part of business's domain (e.g., an external blog is separate domain outside of the company's website (e.g. So what makes an external blog better than an internal blog? The answer to that question centers on the fundamentals of search engine optimization and SEO link building.

Link Building via Blogging

In SEO, external links (otherwise known as "backlinks") directing to a site are like measures of popularity and website credibility to the search engines. A website with several backlinks pointing to its webpages will typically be considered popular, valuable, and trusted, and thus deserving of a top search engine ranking.

The key to remember is that these links are coming from an external source, ideally via relevant content in a blog post or an article. For this reason, managing your own external blog to feed your money site backlinks is one of the most effective strategies for SEO and website optimization. Building optimized backlinks from your own external business blog is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient methods to generate "link popularity" for search engine optimization.

Best Practices Tips

You may be familiar with some of the Google search engine algorithm updates that have recently occurred. In short, Google has been penalizing websites for "over-optimization." That is, sites that have far too many backlinks with exact keyword matching anchor text. As a result, you will want to build links from you blog carefully and in moderation. As tempting as it may be to use targeted keyword phrases in all of your backlink's anchor text, it is wise to mix it up a bit.

For example: let's say you're optimizing your money site for the keyword phrase "Dallas business lawyer." Instead of linking to your website with that exact phrase each time, try using variations like "business attorney in Dallas" or simply "business lawyers," without the geographic modifier. It is also smart to link to your money site using the URL address of the domain (e.g. - this will make your SEO link building appear as natural as possible, and will help avoid any risk of "over-optimization" penalties from Google.

The last best practices tip when link building from you external blog is to consider the importance of content relevancy (or "contextual" relevancy of the link). This is another important factor that search engines like Google consider while evaluating the quality of your backlinks.

The practice is simple: only build links that are relevant to the surrounding content. Using the latter example, a link with the anchor text "Dallas business lawyer" should be immersed in blog content all about business law. This contextual relevancy is imperative to ensure that your link building and website optimization efforts are sound.

When you begin developing an external blog for your business, remember to build your blog with a purpose. Have goals for your external blog, and continue to keep the content fresh and focused on specific theme or topic. Blog righteously, my friends.


This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Internet marketing & SEO Peoria IL specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+

What Constitutes a

SEO Friendly Shopping Cart for Website OptimizationThere is a lot talk in the ecommerce forums about which shopping cart software platform is the most "SEO friendly." It is a phrase that gets tossed around quite a bit, and depending on who is claiming a shopping cart to be SEO friendly, the definition can mean a lot of things. Here at OIC Group, we have years of experience in developing ecommerce shopping carts, particularly those that need to be compatible with search engine optimization. So in this blog post, we are going to highlight some of the major components that make for a SEO friendly shopping cart.

"Static" Instead of "Dynamic" URLs

One of the most important aspects to a SEO friendly ecommerce site are the URLs of its product pages. A dynamic, non SEO friendly URL might look like In a SEO friendly ecommerce platform, you should be able to edit and choose the URL for your pages. This will allow you to include the page's keyword targets in the URL. So instead of a dynamically generated URL, you can change this to a static, SEO friendly URL like

Title & Meta Tag Control

Another key component that you need complete control over is the page title and meta tags. The title of the webpage is one of the most important contributors to establishing keyword relevancy for SEO. In addition, the meta description holds some importance for SEO, and it is also crucial to blend keywords into the content of the description.

SEO friendly shopping carts will always have editable fields where you can write your own page title, meta description and keywords. There is no right or wrong way in writing these on-page SEO elements, but be sure to know what keywords you are targeting for that page and respectfully include those keywords into these fields.


Optimized Internal Linking Patterns

Unlike external linking, which is commonly referred to as "link building" from external sources to generate website popularity, optimized internal linking is different (and still very important for SEO.) Ensuring that your site has a well-optimized linking pattern between relevant pages can make a significant difference in your rankings Each page of your ecommerce website should be optimized for one or two primary keyword targets. For instance, you want to rank highly for the keyword “product x". In turn, you will to create links on your site that point to to use “product x” in the anchor text or link text.

But you may be asking yourself, "how does this apply to my ecommerce shopping cart software?" Consider the product categories of your ecommerce site. Almost all shopping carts for ecommerce websites will list product categories in either the top or side navigation. It is thus important to ensure that shopping cart software you use makes the links to your product categories in plain text links, and not images or the SEO Unfriendly Javascript. Because the core navigation of links is found on almost all pages of your ecommerce website, this provides quite a bit of link weight to your primary product categories. When the anchor text of these links are all keyword optimized, the results can be very beneficial to increase your rank in the search engines.

XML Sitemap Generation

Generating and submitting the XML sitemap of your ecommerce site will help search engine spiders crawl and index your webpages faster. This is an important component for search engine optimization, for most search engines like Google fully support and emphasize the use XML sitemaps. Some of the most SEO friendly shopping carts will create XML sitemaps automatically as product and category pages get updated. For ecommerce websites, this can be a great features because some online stores have thousands of pages on the website. This is ideal if you provide ecommerce SEO services or simply have an ecommerce website.

Shopping Cart Functionality

The last point to consider when pinpointing an ecommerce shopping cart with SEO in mind is the functionality, especially during the checkout stages. This aspect focuses more upon the consumer behavior and preferences, rather than the mechanics of SEO and spider crawl-ability. In fact, many would consider this to be a facet of conversion optimization or website optimization. While customers are checking out, the last thing you want them to do is bounce, or leave your site due to a cumbersome process. Aligning the stages of the checkout process with respect to the product and customer preferences is essential. Many professionals in the field of website optimization consider this aspect to go beyond SEO, however wasted traffic is as good as no traffic. Ensure that your ecommerce shopping cart software enables you to customize the steps in the checkout process. Only a few SEO friendly shopping carts can handle these capabilities without a developer.


This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Internet marketing specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+


Peoria Web Design Company Offices:
OIC Group, Inc.
Phone: (309) 680-5600

Mailing Address:
PO Box 1111
Peoria, IL 61653