Archive for the ‘Web Design’

10 Old SEO Methods You Need to Stop

December 26, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: Greg Habermann, December 26, 2012

old-bad-seo

I’m proud to say that I’ve never been responsible for a site that has been punished by any of the Google Panda/Penguin updates.

I’ve seen my fair share of Google fallout though, usually brought forth by someone after they’ve seen their traffic tank. They don’t know what happened, why, or much less how to fix it.

Truth be told, I’m surprised by how often I’ve been presented with this scenario. Every single time it’s boiled down to using bad SEO or outdated SEO tactics that they consider tried and true but are no longer valid.

As Mark Jackson stated in “7 Habits of Highly Effective SEO“:

While we must be aware, and understand, things like Google Panda/Penguin and other major changes in the algorithms, if we focus on doing “good marketing”, all other things should fall in line, and major algorithm changes shouldn’t be a concern.

And that’s the crux of the issue:

oldseobadmarketing

Here are 10 old SEO methods that I’ve seen come across my desk in the past two weeks and how you can do better.

1. Article Submissions

If the word “Ezine Articles” falls out of your mouth when you start talking about your SEO, you should just stop right there. Even before the Panda update, this really wasn’t the best use of your time and essentially was just a way to get some quick links back to your site.

Get this through your head: link building isn’t easy. It, like all things in optimization, takes time and effort.

Instead of going after easy links, why not work on building relationships with bloggers and work on writing guest posts that can add value to their site and community while benefiting you with exposure to their audience and possibly building a quality reference from an authoritative site.

2. Press Releases Without News

From a conversation I had last week:

“Well if free article submissions aren’t good, maybe I could do a press release instead?”
– “Do you have anything newsworthy?”
“Well, I don’t know but I need to get my name out and it would be a great chance to get some links from the news channels. I was thinking maybe doing 2 a month.”
– “No. Just.. No.”

Here’s the thing, you run a business, and kudos to you. According to Dun and Bradstreet there are an estimated 23 million small businesses in the United States as of 2010. I’m not saying that you’re not doing something that’s newsworthy, but just existing doesn’t qualify you.

Ask any public relations agency and they’ll be quick to tell you that there’s more to PR than just a press release. Kimberly Eberl, President of Motion PR in Chicago states:

Public relations is a conversation between a company and all of its different stakeholders. It encourages company transparency and works to the benefit of all parties. PR is about building awareness and leveraging relationships through various channels and markets.

Kinda sounds like link building, doesn’t it? Press releases for the sake of links alone is probably just as close to a waste of time as article submissions.

Remember, no quick fixes. Do something newsworthy and good. You’ll be helping someone else at that, in turn can help you with effective media relations and the links will follow.

3. Reciprical Linking & Link Exchanges

What is this, 2004? Link exchanges are just another way to try to take the work out of gaining links and earning trust by swapping links with another site.

Can you think of a more easily detectible signal that you could throw at a search engine to let them know you’re trying to get cheap, useless links?

Think of a link as an endorsement of sorts. A link should mostly be used when it makes sense and can help the visitor by pointing them to additional resources or related material.

If someone makes good content then that will help your readers or site visitors, then by all means link to them. That works the other way around too: *hint* *hint*

4. Creating Thin Content

This bad SEO technique just doesn’t want to die. I get it, old habits die hard. But friends, it’s time to move on.

We already know that great content can drive great links. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when looking at your content creation:

  • Are you outsourcing your content writing? If so, who is doing your writing? Is it the person most qualified to build out superb, link worthy content?
  • Who are you writing for and why? Are you writing for search engines or are you writing to build an audience? These shouldn’t be mutually exclusive things, by the way.
  • Do you feel like you’re writing the same thing over and over and over again and you’re so tired of it because there are only so many ways you can write about whatever it is that you sell? You’re likely doing it wrong. Sorry, but it’s the truth. Writing can indeed be tedious but think of the question above. If you can’t stand what your writing, what are the chances that others are going to think it’s great? Will they think it’s great enough to link to?

5. Losing Your Voice Through Automation

I’m not going to dive face first into the automated tools debate that constantly seems to circulate through the social media sphere. A tool to help streamline, disseminate content, and balance time can be just that, a tool.

Tools all have their purpose and can all be useful given the right circumstances. That said, you don’t saw a board with a hammer. Learn your tools. Use them, but use them wisely.

Social media, including your blog, is a way for you to build relationships. It can help you gain and keep customers or open new doors for the future.

Automation is often seen as an easy way out for companies that know they’re supposed to “be social” but they don’t want to be, they just know it’s “important” for some reason.

You’re not fooling anyone. Social media gives you a voice. Trying to take the easy way out is like putting your company on mute.

6. Ignoring Social Signals

Thankfully most blogs and websites nowadays have social sharing buttons of some sort. Unfortunately, many site owners aren’t paying attention to these social signals, what they mean, or their potential.

Let’s turn to Google’s CEO, Larry Page, to help me tell you to stop ignoring this:

In a recent Google earnings call, he was asked, “If you think of the future of Internet search three or four years out, how important will the social signal be and how important (will) personalization be?”

He responded by explaining how he might search for one of his friends who had a common name.

“For the first time, the search box isn’t really searching a string…it’s actually searching for that person that I know. Having real feedback from users…is very useful for search…we have a lot of those signals already, but we can always use more…we can always use better relevance and we can always use more data to generate that.”

7. Implementing Tactics without a Strategy

Truth be told #1-6 above all fit into this but I felt like this should have its own little mention. Why? Because this is a pattern by which a lot of people set out into SEO and it’s why old SEO methods are still being used. It’s also why so many people fail at marketing in general.

I can’t stress this enough: plan out a strategy and work the plan! Test all the time. Rinse. Repeat.

8. Focus on Rankings

I was handed a ranking report by an SEO the other day which they had run for their client of five years. It was 30 pages long and tracked hundreds of keyphrases.

I asked how this correlated to their analytics and how the traffic behaved since the client had felt that their sales were down. The SEO looked at me and said, “Umm. I don’t know if they have analytics on their site. Maybe I looked at it once… I’m not sure. But I’ve run ranking reports for them every month and they like that.”

Wow.

I know how alluring those ranking reports can be. I know you do work, and this is a nice little report that you can show your client or your boss that says “We’re number 1 in Google for ‘Blue Spandex Widgets For Sales in Wichita, KS’!!”

However it’s our job as an SEO to steer the conversation from the old way into a more meaningful one. If we don’t, we’re taking the path of least resistance and we truly aren’t helping ourselves or our clients.

9. Focusing on Google Only

You may have a problem that you’re not aware of yet because maybe everything is going along swimmingly. Go look at your stats, right now. How much of your organic traffic comes from Google? What percentage?

I know you wouldn’t put all of your retirement plan in one stock so why would you put so much at risk in your current life by keeping all your eggs in one basket. Create a diverse traffic portfolio.

Although geared towards the travel industry, I believe everyone who is thinking about this could benefit from reading: Getting Serious about Inbound Marketing

10. Ignoring Design

I have one last bone to pick with something that a lot of people don’t think of when it comes to SEO, but it fits and I’m tired of running into it. You know that website that you have? Oh, you helped design it? Yes, I see how that menu looks all cool. Flash, you don’t say?

Your website can say a lot about you and your brand. I know a lot of people pay a lot of good money for a site, only to have it be ugly as sin, non-functional, or not search engine friendly. This has been going on since I started working online and it’s not bound to stop anytime soon but I’m pleading with you to save yourself the time and money and headache:

The next time you go to build a site, hire a designer. Shop around. But when you find one that’s good, trust in them and their design work. They do this for a living and you don’t.

Guide your designer, but don’t do the designing. You didn’t hire them to just use tools you don’t understand. Allow them the freedom to make something great for you.

At the same time, you should also hire a great SEO. This person will work with the designer and the developer to ensure that what you end up with not only works to your needs but will do everything it needs to do in regards to the search engines as well.

Don’t settle for or ignore your website design. Your customers aren’t.

Advantages of SEO Landing pages for Business Online

December 18, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: Sunny Popli, December 18, 2012

It is an undeniable fact that inbound marketing has played a major role in online businesses for the last few years. To be effective in this strategy, many website owners have realized the need to have properly-designed websites, coupled with effective landing pages. The design of the site must do two things: support lead generation campaigns and help in analyzing the traffic on the site. If the SEO landing pages are created properly, it will be quite easy converting those leads to sales.

What is SEO Landing Pages?

As its name suggests, a SEO landing page is the site page where the traffic lands. It may be a squeeze page, sales page or opt-in page. Whatever it may be, this is the very first page that a visitor will come to. From here, the visitor will be directed to all other pages of the site. The main purpose of creating a landing page is to attract both readers and search engine crawlers.

Advantage of SEO Landing Pages

Generally, lead generation campaigns and other marketing strategies help many businesses bring traffic to their websites. However, it is the SEO landing pages that will determine if the site will be able to convince these customers to stay and eventually purchase your products. Thus, your landing page must be something that will make the potential client want to browse the site.

SEO landing pages are important because they convince the prospective clients to take the necessary action. That action may be making a call, entering an e-mail address, registering for free trial services or going to other pages and making a purchase. In short, it is landing pages that can turn qualified leads into a sale. Without a proper SEO landing page, the entire online business empire can fall.

Tips in Creating SEO Landing Pages

SEO landing pages also play a major role in the success of your inbound marketing strategy. This page must be efficiently developed so you can track your business’ growth.

One way of making your SEO landing pages an effective online marketing tool is by offering some freebies when people sign up for your newsletter or promotional e-mails. Landing pages must also be professionally written – like a sales letter. It is not about the hard sale, it is about convincing customers to provide their information – and that can be just as important as making a sale.

Focus on how you can encourage them to download the free offer. Emphasize they need not pay anything to subscribe to the newsletter. Other than opt-in or squeeze page links and some terms and disclaimers, ensure there are no links on this page.

Understanding the Effectiveness of SEO Landing Pages

SEO landing pages have numerous benefits if done properly. Thus, it is very important that you are able to understand how effective your landing page is so that you can make some adjustments, if necessary. There are two main ways of landing optimization: multivariate testing and split testing.

Multivariate testing is simultaneous testing of different versions of the same element on the web page. This testing optimization is fast and will provide you with optimum landing page in just few days. This test is ideal for large websites.

Split testing is another feasible method of testing optimization for landing pages. In this method, the site owner needs to have two slightly different pages – your original page versus a redesigned page, for instance – tested at the same time. After testing, you will be able to identify which page works best. This may ideal for those with small traffic websites.

Search Engine Optimizations and Landing Pages

Testing how effective your landing pages are to web searchers is also important. Use long tail keywords so your site can jockey for top spots. Keywords must be included in header tags, the title and sprinkled throughout the body of your copy.

This post originally appeared on seo-news.com


Why The Correct Web Design and SEO Are Essential

December 14, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: Liz Leaski, December 14, 2012

There are not many businesses, no matter how large or small, who will not derive a great amount of good, and boost their profits, by having an Internet presence.

The first aspect of appearing online is, of course, having a website designed by a professional web designer. A professional can advise the would-be site owner of the sort of design that would be most suitable for the services or goods that he provides, the budget he envisages, how long it will take to design the site, when it is likely to appear online, etc. etc.

Some people become so enthused when they make the decision to take their business online, they rush headlong into it without considering the best design, the color scheme, the content, the keywords, whether to have images, music, etc.

Another matter that must be taken into account when designing a website is if the company wishes to be seen locally, nationally or internationally – the geographical reference is very important. To have a website designed for a particular local region can be less expensive than if the website needs to be seen on an international level.

The tone must also be correct for the sector the firm belongs to.

If the website is for an undertaker, for instance, the general tone should be serious and somber, but if it is a site designed for a holiday company, a garden center, hotels, etc., the tone should be relaxing, colorful and cheery.

The choice of colors, which in a way is part of tone, must also be absolutely right for the sort of business it relates to. The web design for a formal kind of company such as an accountant, a doctor, a debt help company, a dentist, a cosmetic surgeon , etc. would suit colors such as olive green, cream, chocolate brown, navy blue or similar hues If the web design is for a company specializing in children’s parties, flower shops, magicians, singers, discos, etc. bright, exotic schemes such as bright orange, scarlet, purple and yellow are the order of the day.

After deciding on the tone and color scheme, the correct content is crucial. Content includes all words displayed on the website. When the content is relevant, interesting and describes in a clear and meaningful fashion what goods or services are being provided, more visitors to the site will translate into customers and the profits of the company will grow.

It is incredible how many businesses appear online with content so bad it is impossible to work out exactly what the site is trying to sell.

The essential words on any site are known as keywords and a search engine optimization specialist can optimize these keywords by use of article writing, blogs, press releases, etc. so that they place much higher in the search engines.

This post originally appeared on seo-news.com



7 Small Business SEO Tips

December 06, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: Adam Stetzer, December 6, 2012

Every year SEO gets more complicated as Google rolls out updates and changes the rules. This is especially frustrating for small business owners who don’t have the time or resources to stay current in, what they believe to be, an esoteric and confusing industry.

Here are seven small business SEO tips to help earn more business through traditional organic search rankings.

1. Onsite SEO is Necessary But Not Sufficient

Yes, optimizing title tags, site structure (keep it flat) and load-speed are important. Many experiments have shown these elements are in the Google algorithm.

Don’t obsess. Hire someone to run an assessment and tune up the site; then move-on. Far too many small businesses get stuck at the starting line.

2. Website Content & Experience Are Critical

We have all read that “content is king,” but what does that really mean?

Your website must have engaging content for the end-user. The importance of this can’t be overstated. It will impact time-on-site, conversion and SEO (engaging content is more likely to be shared and linked to).

It is also critical because it orients the small business webmaster towards offering something of value. Thin content leaves a bad footprint, both onsite and offsite.

3. Use Content Marketing to Earn Backlinks

Most small business owners are savvy enough to know that 70 percent of their search engine rankings are the result of backlinks. Being a pragmatic bunch, they then ask “where can I buy some?”

Don’t buy backlinks – it also leaves a bad footprint.

Small business marketers need to earn links, and content marketing is extremely effective for gaining earned links. The trick is in the trade. Something of value must be offered.

Quality content containing humor, information, controversy, politics or training usually brings backlinks – and is definitely considered acceptable SEO.

4. Know Your Backlink Profile

There has been healthy debate recently about the changing role of anchor text in the Google algorithm. Even if the importance is fading, it is clearly still a factor.

Small businesses should know their backlink profiles. A lack of branded anchors and brand mentions is a clear signal of manipulation, and therefore a rank killer.

Healthy businesses market their brands through press releases and are discussed in forums by name. This all leaves a good footprint.

Co-citation is also a sign of a natural backlink profile. Strong companies are mentioned in the same paragraph as other strong brands.

Articles with a single anchored link to a website with low domain authority sticks out like a sore thumb. Google can spot these insubstantial articles and weighs the links accordingly, or worse.

5. Create Buzz Through Community Building

While the term link bait is perhaps overused, it is considered an acceptable activity by Google. This is because the activity is aimed toward creating a positive end-user experience.

Without a community element, link baiting is hard to distinguish from content marketing. Developing a community (best if done onsite) is perhaps the best link bait of all because the community starts to develop the content in ways no SEO consultant could ever think of.

This is truly organic, extremely natural, and helps SEO. Read up on Latent Semantic Indexing if this concept is confusing.

6. Quality Over Quantity

It is tempting to fall for the email solicitations for large quantities of inexpensive links. But we all know where that got JCPenney.

The SEO industry isn’t like the automobile industry, where automation is praised as a gain in efficiency. Automation in SEO is bad because Google says it is. They believe it results in a poorer end-user experience, an argument that has merit.

Small businesses may not like this rule, but they do need to respect it if they want to see increases in rankings.

7. Review the SEO Reports

Small business owners are busy, but that is no excuse for not knowing what the SEO consultant is doing. It’s important to digest the monthly reports for a couple of reasons:

  • The results should be moving in the right direction. Don’t expect miracles, just monthly progress.
  • The monthly reports should demonstrate that the SEO team is executing with a disciplined process. Small business should not foot the bill for experiments. There is enough risk facing small business owners already.

Conclusions

Google is a computer, largely, and needs to be thought of as such. The major elements in the algorithm are fairly well understood.

While it’s true that updates are frequent and the rules of the game do shift, the major elements of onsite SEO and backlinks have been the fuel for better rankings for years. Follow these seven small business SEO tips to earn better rankings and build a community around your brand. And ignore the rest as noise.

This post originally appeared on searchenginewatch.com


How To Create a Great Home Page

December 03, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: Ivana Katz December 3, 2012

Your website’s homepage, also known as the index, front or welcome page is your website’s sales page. You have seven seconds to grab someone’s attention and entice them to read more or take action. Sadly, most people don’t realize the importance of their website’s homepage and forget to include key elements.

1. Features and Benefits

Don’t tell your visitors how great your business is, how you use the latest equipment, greatest techniques and offer the best service. No one will believe you. Make your homepage about what your products/services will do for your customers and how they will benefit. Instead of using the words “we,” use the words “you.” Write your copy as if you were talking to your customer over a cup of coffee.

2. Headlines

You only have a few seconds to get your visitor’s attention, so make sure you include great headlines that will make them want to read more.

3. Avoid Auto Play Music

Under no circumstances should you have music that starts playing as soon as your website loads. Imagine if your potential customer is looking at your website during work hours and suddenly the music starts blaring. They will quickly shut your website down and never come back.

4. Animations

Keep animations to a minimum. No one is going to wait around until your animation loads and they are certainly not going to sit there and watch it for more than a few seconds.

5. Keywords

Ensure you include keywords (words people use to search for your products / services) throughout the copy of the website as well as in the headings, title of your page, in the meta tags — description and keywords.

6. Call to Action

Tell people exactly what you want them to do when they arrive at your website. Do you want them to contact you, download a report or subscribe to your newsletter? Show them where and how.

7. Don’t Try to Sell

Ninety-eight percent of people won’t buy from you the first time they arrive at your website, so rather than trying to sell them anything, provide them with useful information, capture their details and then stay in touch.

8. Search-Engine Friendly

Remember your homepage needs to be not only visitor friendly, but also search-engine friendly and that means including content that is relevant to your website. Search engines can’t index flash animations, so don’t create an all flash website and make sure you have some text on all your pages. Also ensure all graphics have alt tags with the appropriate keywords.

9. Easy Navigation

Make sure your visitors can easily navigate to other parts of your website by including a simple navigation system — either at the top or left-hand side. The navigation bar needs to be on all pages. Remember, not everyone will arrive at your website via your homepage.

10. Credibility

Your website needs to prove to your visitors that you are trustworthy and reliable. This is best done by including testimonials, before and after shots, awards you have won and media articles that have been published about your business.

Although all these don’t need to be included on the homepage, it is a good idea to have a prominent link that takes visitors to pages where these appear.

When people arrive at your homepage, you only have a few seconds to get their attention and show them what your website is all about. Include all these key elements on your page to ensure your visitors stay for long enough to find out what you do and eventually convert into paying customers.

This post originally appeared on seo-news.com


5 SEO Myths You Should Not Buy Into

November 29, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: Ivana Katz November 29, 2012

Search Engines regularly update their algorithms in order to present the most relevant results to their visitors and with each change, SEO professionals grow a few more gray hairs. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the updates, especially since search engines, such as Google keep their ranking methods secret.

In a recent video, Matt Cutts, a senior engineer from Google said that every time someone does a search, Google asks over 200 questions of each page before it presents the results. Of course, the searcher is not aware of this, as it only takes a second or two to get the results.

Since the exact algorithms are not known, there has been much speculation as to what the search engines want.

Myth # 1: Keyword Density Plays a Major Role in Search Engine Ranking

One of the things many SEO experts focus on is keyword density, i.e., how many times a keyword appears on a page. It is a misconception that there is a magic number which will secure a top position for a particular keyword. Cutts dispels this myth by explaining how Google looks at keywords.

When a search engine sees a keyword mentioned for the first time, it gives it some weight. If it appears again, the SE takes notice and says, ‘ok this page is about that particular subject’. But if you keep mentioning the keyword over and over, the benefits are really incremental. In fact, repeat it too much and you are in danger of keyword stuffing or spamming and this could hurt your ranking.

The trick here is to include the keywords, but make sure the copy flows naturally and doesn’t sound awkward or artificial. There is no hard or fast rule for keyword density … it varies by area/subject and by what other sites rank for it.

Myth # 2: Using Article Marketing for Link Building

A very popular way of building backlinks has been publishing articles with the website URL link at the bottom of the article. Some believe that if an article gets published on many websites, the links from the resource box count each time. Cutts, however, warns against this belief. He says that lots of people produce low quality articles, which are stuffed with keywords and get them published on article directories and low quality websites. Since those sites generally have a low PR rank and have duplicate content, this is not a good way to build links. Instead, Cutts suggests publishing great original content and letting people link to it naturally.

Myth #3: Meta Keywords are Used by Google

Many people still believe that Google uses Meta keywords in their ranking. Cutts has confirmed that Google no longer uses Meta keywords. It does, however, use Meta description and title.

Myth # 4: AdWords Customers Get Special Treatment in Google Organic Search Results

Another common misconception among webmasters has been that if you run AdWord campaigns, this will improve your organic search results. The truth is they are two separate things and one does not affect the other. If you do experience better organic ranking after running Google AdWords, it may be that there is more traffic flowing to your website as a result of the advertising campaign and more people are linking to your content or talking about it on Social Media. However, Google does not rank your website better simply because you are using their paid AdWords service.

Myth # 5: Google is Only Interested in Quantity of Backlinks

When it became common knowledge that Google ranked websites higher if they had more incoming links, many webmasters focused on getting as many backlinks as they could. Many link farms were created and the quantity of backlinks became the main aim of many people. However, Google has put a stop to that and announced that yes backlinks are important in rankings, however, they need to be from high quality websites and they must be relevant. If you have a website about shoes, getting a link from a website that sells cars is virtually useless. So it is far more important to focus on quality than quantity.

Whether you are a SEO professional or a site owner wanting to rank higher in search engines, it’s important to remember two things have remained constant over the years. Search engines favor websites that have:

1. Relevant and original content that is regularly updated
2. Quality backlinks pointing to the website

So if you focus on these key points, you should be fine going forward. Don’t sweat the small stuff such as keyword density. Instead, provide useful information for your readers and the rest will fall into place.

This post originally appeared on seo-news.com


SEO & Website Redesign Without Losing Sleep

November 05, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: Josh McCoy, November 4, 2012

Redesigns can make an ugly site pretty, but they can also make a high traffic site invisible. Keep these tips and no-nos in mind and you can keep yourself out of the CEO’s office.

SEO Redesign: Teamwork First

It should go without saying, but SEOs, developers and designers must work together cohesively during the site redesign process.

Too often, companies look to refresh the look of their site, and in the end, destroy their search engine presence. How? This can come from a myriad of reasons from coding errors, SEO unfriendly design practices, to even more disastrous practices (e.g., content duplication, URL rewriting without redirection, information architecture changes away from search engine friendly techniques).

Starting the redesign process with a collaborative call between the SEO team, designer, developer, and company decision maker(s) is always the best first step.

Often there are two attitudes present. Either, “We are redesigning our site and are not open to your ideas…but don’t let us do anything wrong,” or the other attitude (and my favorite), “Let’s work together to achieve a refreshed look and functionality and instill any missing SEO opportunities if possible.”

To satisfy both scenarios, your information delivery as the SEO should be to inform designers and developers of the mistakes you shouldn’t make and also to announce to all parties what SEO revisions should be made to the site along with what search engines have recently been paying attention to.

Page Load Time

A site redesign gives you the opportunity to re-code, condense externally referenced files, and achieve faster load times.

Don’t let the designer use the word “Flash” during your call(s). In an attempt to make a new site look pretty, the reliance on multimedia usage can have a negative effect on site speed. Ignoring this is bad, as Google has stated in the last year that site speed is a ranking consideration – also, slower sites annoy users.

Content Duplication

Ensure that your development environment or beta sections of the site are excluded from search engine’s view. Relaunching your site when these elements have been indexed by the engines means your cool new site is a duplicate and you will be in a mad dash trying to redirect the development environment that was leaked. Also, make sure there are no live copies on other servers that have visibility with the search engines.

Another form of content duplication is the creation of new URLs without properly redirecting old URLs via a 301 permanent redirect. This will leave search engines wondering which page should be ranked.

It’s also worth mentioning that 301s are a must and that 302 temporary redirects should not be used. Make it commonplace in the redesign process that no one used the word delete in reference to site content. You should never delete any pages, these should be permanently redirected to the most relevant launching page.

Content Restrictions

It’s important before you throw the site to the web that you make sure that you have identified what pages shouldn’t be crawled.

Are there new parts of the site that shouldn’t be seen by search engines, login pages, etc.? Does the new site utilize dynamic URL creation or parameters that will need to be restricted?

Inversely, what pages might be restricted that shouldn’t be? Is there a folder in the robots.txt file that is inaccurately excluding pages that should be visible? Have meta robots tags been placed on pages that shouldn’t have been tags?

Tracking

Make sure that your analytical tracking code is placed back in the page source before the site goes live. Additionally, any conversion pages should have the appropriate conversion tracking code appended. Nothing makes an SEO want to cry like lost data.

Information Architecture

A redesign is the perfect time to rethink the direction of the site. Go beyond the need for a refreshed look and analyze the hierarchy of your content. Google is looking at this so be sure there is a clear view of the overall site theme as well as sub-themes flowing into the site through an appropriate folder structure.

URL Rewrite

If you’re redesigning and shaking a site down to its core, there’s no better time than now. You have the attention and devotion of the site developer to make your URLs right.

This is a continuation of the Information Architecture revisions. Be mindful of folder structure as well as relevant, keyword-rich text usage in page names.

Want to go the extra mile? Have the filename extensions removed so down the road if you redesign the site again and use a different script language you won’t have to do another URL rewrite.

Lastly, make sure all rewritten URLs include a 301 permanent redirect from the old URL to the new URL.

W3C/Section 508/Code Validation

Take advantage of this period to address code issues and how your site adheres to W3C and Section 508 compliance factors. Search engines want to see your excellence here and now is your chance to make their visit successful as well as your human site visitors.

Usability

Can you make the intended funnel of visit shorter or easier? This is great time for you think about what you want visitors to do. You may be able to remove a step in the purchase/goal funnel and increase your site’s convertibility.

Benchmarking

To truly assess the success of the redesign from an SEO and sales standpoint, ensure that you have recorded several site statistics as well as focused monitoring in post-launch. You will be happy you did because it will either be a visible success story or a lifesaver for finding problems once the site launches.

These include:

  • Run a ranking report.
  • Check your pages indexed in Google and Bing.
  • Run a page load time test.
  • Perform a W3C code validation report.
  • Note the bounce rate, time on site, pages per visits, and goal completions. Granted, this can be reviewed in analytics after launch, but be mindful that you should be watching this.
  • Run a site spider crawl of the live site to get a good list of URLs on the current site. You may need this for any clean of missed redirects.
  • Note the average time for Google to download a page and average pages crawled per visit in Google Webmaster tools. Also, “fetch as Googlebot” so you have a previous copy of what Google used to see.

Conclusion

Taking into account all of the mistakes you or the others on the redesign team shouldn’t be making will ultimately leave you much less stressed after the site launches. Meanwhile, minding all the opportunities that a redesign presents from an SEO and usability standpoint can lead to a successful launch and a fruitful post-launch environment.

Now get out there and show them how it’s done!

(source: searchenginewatch.com)

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How Often Do You Optimize?

October 30, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: Jennifer Van Iderstyne, October 30, 2012

When you launch a new site or enter the SEO game for the first time, one of the most obvious first steps is spending some quality time working on on-page optimization. But once you’ve gone through done your work, then what? How often do you optimize, or re-optimize?

The answer to that question is based a fundamental grasp of the nature of real SEO. It’s the difference between understanding that SEO is not a phase, but a lifelong mentality; a permanent filter for looking at a website through the eyes of a search engine.

SEO isn’t a one-shot deal or a quick coat of paint before calling the house ready for occupation. Learning to make your website talk to search engines in the language they understand is a long term science.

When Doing a Redesign

Redesigning or relaunching a website is a pretty distinct milestone in the optimization life of a site. No matter how much work you’ve done on your site up until that point, if you’re going through a redesign, it can be like starting back at square one. Sure you have an idea of what to call your pages and how to structure your navigation. But things are going to change; content needs to be-re-reviewed. Pages need to be reconsidered and URLs may need to be redirected.

It’s not throwing everything out and starting over, but translating the work you’ve done into a redesign means careful consideration. It’s like when you change houses. You go through all the junk you’ve accumulated over the years, keep what you need, toss what you don’t, and upgrade the rest to fit your new lifestyle.

Redesign optimization is sort of the same. There’s a lot you’ll want to keep, need to keep even. But not all of it is going to mesh with the new site. There’s also a lot you’ll want to let go of to try something new. The biggest challenge is to try to make a fairly seamless relaunch that doesn’t cost you a fortune in rankings.

A redesign gives you a chance to start with something bright, shiny, and new, but only if you clean up all of the loose ends from the previous model. That means making sure all internal links are directed to pages that successfully made the move, and that you link directly to the new URLs instead of the old, re-directed URLs. If you’ve consolidated pages and combined topics, you’ll need to make sure you’ve brought over enough content and strategic targeting to make sure that you don’t leave any holes from the change.

When Adding New Content

If you’re adding new content regularly to a site, obviously you’re probably taking considerations with the new pages to set them up with all the right titles and attributes to help them rank. But new content can affect old content too.

So when you add something new, you may want to re-visit existing pages. It’s a good idea to make sure that older pages are linking to some of your newer stuff.

You may also have a new page that is wholly dedicated to a subject that you’ve only broached somewhere in the past. Now with an entire page devoted to the topic, you want to make sure that your pages aren’t competing with each other. If the new content is important you want to check that it isn’t too buried or too far from the home page.

You may also want to add new content to existing folders and areas of the site. If you add a whole ton of new content in one new place and nothing there gets any attention for months after it goes live, it can send negative messages to search engines about the quality of that content. And if your new work never gains any traction it may never serve the purpose you intended.

Adding new content wisely means integrating it into what you already have and infusing your existing site with growth. Basically the idea is to update the entire structure, instead of just adding an addition onto the house.

When Circumstances Change

There are constantly new factors in search to consider. From new updates to your own personal progress. Rankings are gained and lost; links are built and decayed every day. There’s a constant flux. So when the factors around a page or a site change that may mean tweaks to your optimization as well.

If suddenly there is a great phrase that your page has moved into the top 10 for, it may be worth reworking the whole page to continue to build on that upward momentum.

If a previously under-performing page suddenly starts showing up as a popular landing page, first look into why and how you can leverage it even further, but there may be other optimization opportunities that arise. It may be a good time to revisit the usability of that page, the brand message and where else that page links or may drive visitors.

If a piece of content gets picked up by the social media crowd, whether it’s a new piece or an older item catching a second wind, there may be ways of increasing that page’s appeal for sharing even further. The point is, new elements often mean reconsidering old decisions.

When it’s Been a While

In that vein, even if you aren’t actively adding content or expanding the site, if you haven’t thought about “optimizing” your pages in a while, it’s probably time to get back on that.

If you think of on-site optimization as a punch list, you’ll have a list of pages and actions to take with those pages. You start with your high priority items and work your way through to those which seem less pressing. That’s just the nature of prioritization and plowing through a workload, right? Right.

But the thing is, with SEO, your to-do list is never really done. Even if new changes or new pages aren’t being actively added to the list, when you get to the bottom it’s usually about to time to start back at the top. That often means revisiting the pages you worked on 3 months ago, because the circumstances for that page may have changed as a result of your last round of improvements.

  • Is the page performing better or worse?
  • Does it rank for more?
  • Is it ranking better for anything it was before?
  • How are users reacting to the changes?
  • When people enter on these pages are they sticking around, are they looking at more pages on the site?
  • Has there been any change in impressions or clicks for this page?

All of these questions, and the answers you find, will guide you to your next course of action because optimization is never really finished.

If you haven’t touched a page or a part of the site in a little bit, it might just be a good time to go back and see what that page has been up to since you last visited. You may find that there are brand new things to consider and a whole new round of optimization is in order.

An SEO Professional’s Work is Never Done

It all comes back to an idea, a philosophy, that SEO is perpetual. Sure, this makes it hard to move on to new and exciting projects or to break ground. The good news is things can take time in SEO too.

If you actively work to tune up a page today, are you going to see the full results 3 days from now? Probably not. When it comes to processing changes, we’re often better off measuring time with a calendar than a watch. That means there is always time to explore that new linkable asset idea, or to spend some time doing some social networking.

You just have to remember that when you think you’ve done all the optimizing you can, it’s probably time to start checking the stats on the work you did a few months ago. When it comes to touching up your optimization tactics, there’s really no such thing as done, just waiting for more data.

(source: searchenginewatch.com)

Mobile Sites Are A Must For Small Businesses During The Holidays

October 15, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: BusinesNewsDaily, October 15, 2012

With increasing numbers of consumers using mobile devices to make their holiday purchases, smartphones and tablet computers may be elbowing aside elves as Santa’s helpers this year, experts predict. But small businesses remain woefully unprepared to attract and engage these holiday shoppers, several new studies show. They’ve yet to climb aboard the mobile bandwagon.

Last year, consumers spent more than $20.7 billion shopping using mobile devices, according to a report from Javelin Strategy and Research. That figure is sure to swell this year, experts said.

But the vast majority of small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) still do not have mobile-optimized sites to take advantage of this on-the-fly spending spree, a study by SMB DigitalScape shows.

That lack of preparedness can drive customers away. Another study commissioned by Google found that three-quarters of visitors to a mobile-friendly site will return, but 79% of people who find a site difficult to use on their mobile devices will give up and look for another site.

“Every industry study we’re seeing points to a very robust use of smartphones and tablets for holiday shopping this year,” said Ben Seslija, CEO of bMobilized, a New York startup that develops mobile site creation tools. “Most small and medium-sized business owners, especially retailers, are simply unaware that sophisticated turn-key solutions now exist in the marketplace. These new do-it-yourself services eliminate the high cost and technological complexity that have historically prevented SMBs from building mobile sites that look and work great on any device, OS or browser.”

(Source: mashable.com)

Could Improving Your Website’s Design Drive More Sales?

September 27, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By Deb Daufeldt, September 26, 2012

When did you last put yourself in your prospects’ or customers’ shoes and take a good, hard look at your company’s website? Would you feel good about buying your own products and/or services based on the design of your site? Would you be comfortable entering your personal information into the website? Too often we dismiss site design as “good enough,” without realizing just how much money we’re leaving on the table.

The Stanford Web Credibility Project found that 47% of web users base purchase decisions on the look and feel of the website. This implies that nearly half of your customers will buy from you – without necessarily looking elsewhere – as long as your site appears professional and provides essential information clearly and completely.

So how do you make sure your website satisfies that 47% segment? You’ve gone to the effort and expense of getting their eyeballs to your website with advertising and PR strategies. Think about the boost to your bottom line if you suddenly found it much easier to close the deal with almost half your online prospects.

The 8-Second Window

Usability studies indicate that visitors decide whether to stay on a site within eight seconds of viewing the home or landing page. In this brief moment, customers gather a surprisingly broad range of impressions about company size, trustworthiness, product offering, brand, price and much more.

If a site makes them “anxious,” they’re prone to move along to a site that looks more professional and trustworthy – even if it means spending a few more dollars. Think about it: How often have you paid a few extra dollars for an item on a trusted, secure site such as Amazon.com, versus the same item at an unknown, unprofessional-looking site?

Small businesses often underestimate the importance of graphic appeal. Websites with unprofessional graphic design elements abound, yet site owners wonder why so many users abandon their site. And it’s so clear that professional enhancements can pay off in no time. One graphic designer I know recently tackled an e-commerce site. The resulting redesign nearly doubled page views, purchases and time spent on the website.

If you doubt your website’s effectiveness, ask friends or clients to view your site alongside competitor sites. Ask them to search out and buy a particular item. Observe any troubles or frustration. Ask probing, open-ended questions for details about the impression your site creates with users.

Expectations of a Graphic Designer

A skilled graphic designer should be able to:

* Incorporate an attractive color palette that engages your target market and appropriately represents your brand.

* Include attractive photos that – along with informative captions – are large enough to reveal important details.

* Lay out simple and effective navigation that shows visitors what they can expect to find.

* Ensure that key calls to action stand out.

* Optimize graphical elements to load quickly on both PCs and Macs, and with common browsers.

* Make sure users can tell exactly what your company does and what it can offer in eight seconds or less.

Effective graphic design work is too important to leave to an amateur. Hire a web design specialist (print design is a different skill set) to help get your site right. Make sure the person or agency you select truly understands website usability.

Make the investment in solid graphic design assistance – the quick return on that investment may surprise you

(source: seo-news.com)