Archive for March, 2011

HIT Web Design Closes Down Amid Complaints, Systemtek Offering Free Transfer Service

March 16, 2011 By: admin Category: News

Logo for Hit Web DesignIt’s not every day that the closing down of a web design company makes headlines, but the case of HIT Web Design involved the stranding of both thousands of customers and hundreds of employees—including some waiting on substantial backpay.

Until fairly recently, Provo, Utah-based HIT ranked as high as No. 22 on the Inc. 500, which indexes fast-growing private companies. The company’s success could largely be attributed to a marketing strategy that involved offering impossibly inexpensive web design packages that would later “hit” contracted clients with large and largely inescapable additional fees, all buried in the terms of service.

Some were not surprised to hear of HIT’s liquidation. Particularly in the last year, the company’s reputation has been Snapshot of Newscapriddled with complaints, with almost 1000 grievances filed at the Utah Better Business Bureau; that said, it is unclear whether customer dissatisfaction directly contributed to HIT’s shutting down. Regardless, reports indicate that the stranded web design customers have been relegated to hosting company Fibernet, which has posted a Q&A (with contact information) for these transferred clients.

In light of this situation, if you are a former HIT Web Design customer, Systemtek is now offering to transfer your website to another hosting provider at no charge. Please give us a call at (630)701-6163 or contact us through our website if you have any questions.

Presenting: The Design for a New Hair Care Website

March 15, 2011 By: admin Category: Recent Projects

We are proud to announce the new website design for Syntonics International, Ltd., which specializes in hair care products that use natural organic ingredients and renewable formulas.

Some of the items that they offer include conditioning “relaxers” for hair, a variety of therapeutic shampoos and conditioners, a line of anti-thinning products, and even a section for styling.

Syntonics logo

The homepage design includes a central image that features some of the company’s main products on a backdrop of botanical leaves and an appealing hair model picture. The products, broken down into four different pages, are listed on a banner. Within these pages, visitors can view each product with its ingredients, images, and detailed features.

Finally, the website design contains some other great features including a store listing, a submission form for stylists to register to receive more information, and also a shopping cart function.

Systemtek has more new website designs coming soon; we hope you will visit again soon!

The Tricky Terrain of Search Engine Optimization

March 03, 2011 By: admin Category: News

In the last few weeks, several large corporations—J.C. Penney, Forbes, and Overstock.com—have discovered that when it comes to trying to improve your website’s search engine ranking, Google has an astute sense for sniffing out what it qualifies as “cheating.” They’ve also found out that Google has a pretty mean bite when it comes to penalizing these cheating strategies, and it usually comes in the form of a significantly lowered page ranking.

The unintended benefit that the rest of us have received from these big-corp crackdowns is a solid lesson in how not to improve your website’s ranking on sites like Google and Bing, which is normally a both legitimate and encouraged practice also known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Better yet, each of these companies provoked Google’s wrath in a somewhat different way; that is, Google confronted each for using one or more distinct strategies to artificially boost their website ranking.

J. C. Penney

The case of J. C. Penney was prominently documented by The New York Times, which explained that for a number of J C Penneymonths (including the most recent holiday season), a link scheme involving thousands of bogus links pointing to the J. C. Penney website successfully boosted the retailer’s web search rankings for a wide range of terms, such as “bedding,” “dresses,” “area rugs,” or even “Samsonite carry on luggage.”

Links from other websites are one way for Google to measure how popular your website is, but those links should come from legitimate web pages—and they weren’t. While the J. C. Penney spokesperson denied authorization or involvement of this search scheme, the company became subject to “corrective action” from Google as a result. Within days, the retailer’s website sunk from No. 1 in search results for terms like “living room furniture” to being buried at No. 68.

J. C. Penney quickly fired its search engine consulting firm, SearchDex, and is back to slowly repairing its search rapport using legitimate methods, also known as “organic” or “white-hat” SEO.

Forbes

Publishing and media company Forbes was caught doing a related but somewhat different Google-wrong last week, when the search engine giant found a section of their website containing links to other websites that most likely Forbespurchased the space in order to boost their search ranking (this is all understandably confusing). This practice, also called “link spamming,” essentially capitalizes on the fact that being linked to by a big website like Forbes boosts the search reputation of your website, which is kind of an inverse of the J. C. Penney case.

Selling links is definitely a Google no-no (though none of these “black-hat” SEO techniques are actually illegal), and accordingly, Forbes was the recipient of some “corrective action.”

Overstock.com Inc.

Our final example is that of online retailer Overstock.com Inc., which encouraged university and college websOverstockites to post specific links to Overstock pages that advertised a special discount for faculty and student users. Much like how links from large websites are more valuable than those from small ones, .edu links are also extra effective, and this program managed to very effectively boost Overstock’s search results for phrases like “vacuum cleaners” and “laptop computers.” Needless to say, this is no longer the case (go ahead and give it a try); Overstock’s rankings have been quietly knocked down.

What We Can Learn From All This

Our goal in this article is not to suggest that one should not try to boost your website’s rankings with Google—by no means! Rather, each of these corporations was reprimanded for misappropriating the system that search engines have in place in order to help users find what they’re looking for. If you can boost your website for search terms such that this is the case, then Google is more than happy to legitimately increase your rankings for those keywords. It’s that simple.

Of course, there a lot of specific ways in which website owners can help search engines “read” or index their websites. For example, being linked to from other sites is wonderfully beneficial foWhite Hat SEOr search ranking if it is done right, through the creation of quality content (such as through a blog), and by helping the world know that that content exists (e.g. using social media or a newsletter). Google calls this organic link building.

Interestingly enough, Google is often portrayed as a cryptic entity that declines to comment on the fundamentals of how its search engine works. However, it actually provides a variety of tools to help webmasters understand how best to cooperate with Google search, such as the SEO Starter Guide that they offer. Some of the recommended practices are really simple, such as offering quality content, promotions, and services.  By consistently treating your website as a long-term investment, putting time and thought into creating excellent content, you can personally make your website shine more among readers and search engines alike.

Others are more complex, and require a little bit of techie know-how, whether it’s effective meta work, optimizing Google Searchimages and site structure, or making sure you know how to deal with site crawling “robots.” For example, simply by converting embedded flash links to plain text links, you can make it much easier for Google to navigate your website and understand what kind of information you have to share with the world. Don’t get caught with “black-hat” SEO techniques, or in any of those other artificial link schemes. Let the cautionary tales of the last few weeks show that when it comes to search, short-term gain doesn’t pay.

Systemtek Technologies is your personal source for tech news and web development advice. If you think you might be interested in learning more about good Search Engine Optimization and how we can use “white-hat” techniques to benefit your website’s search rankings, don’t hesitate to contact us and see what our team of professionals can do for you.