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Profile: Santa Clarita firm Conceptinet helps businesses make, maintain websites to drive sales

Posted: December 25, 2010 10:06 p.m.
Updated: December 26, 2010 10:06 p.m.

Owner Brian Cuda, front, with Conceptinet staff Nicole Celentano, left, and Cherise Cuda discussing options for a client’s website in a recent photo. Conceptinet, a Web-design and website-marketing firm, is based in Santa Clarita.

 

Websites are the modern-day, electronic equivalent of store front window displays for brick-and-mortar businesses. Having an Internet presence today is often as crucial to a company’s success as putting the right products, services and people in place.

Operating all or a portion of one’s business in the virtual-reality world of commerce, however, requires websites that serve as more than pretty window dressing. The sites must drive leads, customers, sales and business to a company.

Conceptinet, a Web-design and website-marketing firm based in Santa Clarita, not only designs a website for a business. It makes it work and pay off.

“The fastest-growing segment of my business is design and implementation, social media, advertising and education,” said Brian Cuda, owner of the Web-design firm.

Showcasing
Offering full-service, customized Web-design, Conceptinet helps catapult many small to medium businesses to achieve Internet recognition and attract clients.

Cuda’s firm ensures that clients appear on page one of the major search engines, and stay there, so that consumers will be more likely to find the company’s website when surfing the Internet.

Meta tags, like keywords, are programmed into websites to help search engines categorize and identify sites suitable to display for a consumer’s search. However, meta elements have significantly less effect on a consumer finding a company’s website today, as search engines become more and more sophisticated.

“Search engines know if you’re tricking (them) by loading the website up with meta tags,” Cuda said. “It’s important to ensure the actual content on a site will land it at the top of a search page.”

To do so, Conceptinet focuses on designing sites that are “content rich,” a term meaning the subject matter on the site is full of content and words that potentially match a person’s search. Enriching the content improves the likelihood that people will find and open a link on a search page to a company’s website.

One of the firm’s many clients, Castaic Lake Water Agency, asked Conceptinet to make upgrades to its site. One of the features Cuda’s firm added was a “water number” quiz for utility customers.

The short water quiz tallies how many gallons of water a consumer uses, on average, based on the answers provided by the customer.

“Most of the websites in our portfolio we built from the ground up,” Cuda said. “Some were designed by outside graphic artists and given to us to program; others we designed and programmed; and others we took over from a previous company.”

Marketing
Conceptinet’s services don’t stop with developing a website. The firm uses analytical information to help a company market itself on the Internet and target customers.

Cuda said his firm builds sites that are industry specific and geographically targeted when necessary. For instance, a local resident shopping online for medical or dental services most often wants to find someone in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“Ten times more people key in the full name ‘Santa Clarita’ when searching for local businesses than they do ‘SCV,’” said Cuda.

Conceptinet uses this kind of information to improve the visibility of a company’s website when consumers are scouring the Internet.

“We began working with a company that distributed cases for military equipment,” Cuda said. “But the company hadn’t been measuring anything.”

Conceptinet was able to tell its customer how many people looked at a page on the company’s website, where in the world people are located who are looking at the site, how many people were looking at the products on the site, whether people clicked on the products to find detailed product information, as well as assess which products more people looked at and which products no one looked at.

Conceptinet used the information to improve the amount of time customers spent on the website and increase the number of sales the distributor made.

The firm also helped the business owner measure the number of people calling in to place orders on products that those people found on his website, by placing a discount offer specific for callers.

Measurements
Conceptinet also provides customers with weekly and quarterly reports so the owner gets a snapshot of their site’s search-engine ranking and business performance.

The reports allow clients to audit their site’s progress by providing a comparison from the previous quarter to the current, letting business owners know if their position is improving or slipping.

Cuda uses the reports to determine what changes should be made on a site to boost performance and attract more customers.

“I review all the reports myself, and if I see any numbers skewed outside of what they should be,” Cuda said. “If I see something, I’ll call the client and make recommendations.”

Full-service
Conceptinet offers a full spectrum of services from project planning, hosting, domain registration, e-mail, design, development, marketing and more, according to Cuda.

The firm also designs e-commerce setups using different payment options, the most common tool being PayPal.

Cuda said products are delivered when promised. The firm returns phone calls and responds to emails within 24 hours. It also makes requested changes to a site quickly, often within hours.

“Many of our clients come to us after receiving poor customer service from their previous Web services provider,” Cuda said. “We feel that we have a responsibility to our clients to do more than just provide Web-related products and services.”

The Web-design firm provides clients with flat-rate proposals so there are no surprise costs. Conceptinet even includes many extras in its website designs such as Web toolbars or “favicons,” short for “favorite icons.”

“We don’t require contracts for our services,” Cuda said.

Conceptinet allows its clients to cancel search engine optimization services at any time, hosting can be paid month-to-month and site maintenance is done on a pay-as-you-go basis.

“When we see an opportunity for improvement or a new technology that may benefit a client, we let them know,” Cuda said.

And unlike many Web designers, Conceptinet has an office where clients can visit, sit down and discuss their needs. The advantage to having a walk-in office location, Cuda said, is the company can show clients what it can offer.

Cuda said his firm has all the tools of the trade available when showing clients website features, samples or concepts.
 Lifelong entrepreneur

Cuda said he began his first business when he was a student at Saugus High School in 1995. He worked for a local Valencia company that needed to place products online from its audio and video catalog. Cuda studied web design so he could build websites where customers could purchase products online.

A lifelong entrepreneur, Cuda began building websites for other local businesses. He also ran a business designing and installing home audio-and-video systems for 12 years for many production companies and custom-home builders. As residential construction came to a halt, Cuda sold his remaining interest in the business.

“I had a passion for technology and skills in Web design,” Cuda said. “So my wife, Cherise, and I decided to start Conceptinet in 2008.”

Conceptinet has developed more than 50 websites in the past two years and hired salesperson Nicole Celentano, to keep up with demand. Brian’s wife, Cherise, handles the accounting and human resources and manages the search-engine-optimization reporting. Brian manages most of the programming, design and business development.

“Even our 6-year-old daughter Amber helps out filing papers, shredding, and bringing laughter to the office,” Cuda said. “We call her the director of creativity.”

Conceptinet is located at 26650 The Old Ranch Road, Suite 150, in Valencia and can be reached at (661) 338-0830. More information can be found at: http://www.conceptinet.com.

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