Saturday, March 22, 2008

10 Ways to Make your Website More Popular

Everybody who owns a website wants it to be more popular. From the web design team at the New York Times right down to the small retailer trying to expand into ecommerce, popularity is the key to success. Reading and working with popular websites every day can sometimes feel like living in a bubble where everybody has good search engine rankings and sites are all beautiful so it’s nice sometimes to look at how “normal” websites can improve their popularity.
Invest in a good design

while people like Ling might think design isn’t everything it is one of the key aspects a site can use to build their visitors trust so you need to get it right.
Learn about usabilty –

having the best designed website in the world is useless if normal people can’t use it. Sit behind some of your non internet savvy relatives and friends and watch them navigate your site and make purchases from your store. If they struggle with things you need to improve your usabilty.

Create a useful website I know this might sound simple but having a website isn’t just a way to tell people about your company. If you really want to become popular make sure your website is actually going to be helpful to the people who arrive there. If every visitor who was pleased by your site gave you a link or told one of their friends your traffic would increase to Facebook
levels in months.

Keep it up to date –
if your company can’t be bothered to keep your website updated at least once a year then I probably won’t want to use it. Broken links, outdated news and copyright notices from 2003 are not going to turn me on.
Be topical –
just because you are a retailer it doesn’t mean you can ignore the latest news in your niche. Having a company blog might be a bit beyond most businesses but you should at least have a news section to publish company information and responses to popular stories.
Manage your reputation –

responding to your readers/customers comments is key to establishing your company as one that cares about what people say about you. You could also use the criticism to make your website better.
Learn about the internet –

this might sound simple to some people but trying to explain to a middle aged company directory why they need to worry about buzz marketing is hard enough without them asking questions about what links are and what blogs do. Knowing how ideas spread through forums and blogs is essential for webmasters to understand online marketing.
Be controversial –

having a boring corporate site isn’t always the best way to become popular. Sometimes you need to upset 95% of the world just to get the attention of the other 5%. After all, having 5% of the population loving your site isn’t a bad goal to have.
Be interesting –

sometimes a website can break every rule in the book and still succeed. The one characteristic these sites have is they are interesting. So much content on the web is boring and repeated that having an interesting site is probably the best way to get noticed.
Learn about Google –
ever wondered why some websites rank highly on Google while some languish on page 4? It’s because one of the owners understands how Google works. Spend a few days reading the official guidelines and making sure your site follows all the normal optimisation rules and you might be surprised how much of a difference it can make. Share/Bookmark

Do I Really Need to Perform SEO for My Website?

This question may seem like a no-brainer, but actually, the answer is not necessarily yes in all circumstances. If any of the following examples apply to you’re website, you may not be in need of an search engine optimization campaign right now:
You have a website that you really don’t want strangers to find, such as a training tool for your employees, a classroom tool for your students or some sort of communications platform/blog which is intended for employee’s or family members only.

You already have a website which is ranking well, and you’re fully satisfied with your sales, website conversions, and incoming inquiries, and you don’t want to rock the boat.
You’re in a big hurry—say, you’ll go out of business without a major upswing in revenue in the next couple of months. This is not to say that SEO can’t help you, but good SEO takes time. You may need to focus your energies elsewhere right now.

Your site is going to be completely rebuilt or redesigned in the next couple of months. If that’s the case, be sure to incorporate SEO tactics from the outset. Anybody can have a go at SEO, and i would always encourage you to do some research and try the SEO for your site yourself, but if you really don’t have the time, and want your new website in expert hands, consider hiring an SEO agency to work with your web designer from the outset.

It is a rare site indeed that couldn’t use a little improvement in the SEO department. And, with the importance of SEO on the rise, if you don’t need it today, it’s a good bet you’ll need to brush up your SEO smarts for tomorrow. If you do decide to work on SEO yourself, be sure to checkout my article, Top 10 SEO Myths Explained where I have taken the most prevalent myths that seem to be constantly resurfacing and examined them for you. This is a must read for anyone looking to hire an search engine optimisation firm or someone looking to do SEO for themselves.
via:seoptimize Share/Bookmark

Web Design and SEO: The Eternal Debate

Web design focuses on appearance and aesthetics. SEO focuses on text quality and quantity. Web designers don't really like to clutter their designs with text. They prefer to see the images stand out on their own. SEOs on the other hand don't like images that much. Sure, an image can be optimized for the search engines by adding relevant alt attributes and titles, but this is not enough for a site to be properly optimized. Page copy still plays the most important role in website optimization for SEO.

As a business owner you are caught in the middle of this conflict. For your website to convert you need both design and optimization. There is no middle way. You cannot have a little bit of this and a little bit of that and still be competitive. You cannot have just one of the two either. Without optimization your site is invisible to the search engines, hence to your potential customers. On the other hand, without a good design your site, although not invisible, will get nothing but hits. Web users are picky and if they find nothing of interest on your site they will just surf to the next site.

Having a beautiful website no one can find is like having a store and keeping the doors locked. You know it is there, you've done a great job decorating it, the products are waiting for the customers, yet no one comes in.When you pay for web design don't automatically assume that by paying thousands of dollars on a layout you'll be a hit on the Web. The Web is a highly competitive place. There are already thousands entrepreneurs who, just like you, invest in design and hope to become the new "it." Without online marketing (SEO being an important part of the discipline) all these entrepreneurs will remain in the shadow, with their beautiful websites closed to the world.SEO is the key to that virtual door you need to open for your customers. It is important that you consider this tool when you first conceive your site.

Web design and SEO don't need to be enemies. There are enough professional agencies that employ both web designers and SEOs who work together to develop a good business website, a site that is SEO ready, accessible and readable with any browser. You just need to take your time, research and send a few inquiries. Then choose the company that answers your questions in a timely manner, basically choose the company that proves a clear ability of designing with W3C standards and a clear understanding of the online trends and realities.Then balancing content with visual appearance shouldn't be such a difficult task. Aside graphics and artwork you have to choose proper font types, in a readable size, with colors that harmonize with the layout of the site and so on. If your site is not SEO ready from the first stage of the project you'll face additional costs after you launch. SEO ready means a site that is properly coded (errors in the HTML code might stop some search bots from crawling and indexing your site correctly), with good navigability and good internal linking structure.

On the other hand, SEO and appearance are not the only traits of a good site. Brand conscious companies should look at the broader picture: instead of debating what is better online entrepreneurs should ask themselves what works best to convert visitors into clients.Studies show that an over optimized page might hurt the user-experience of people with disabilities. For example, many SEOs stuff the image alt attributes and their alternative titles with keywords. Blind and other visually impaired people who use screen readers to access the Web and read the pages cannot see the images and, instead of listening to a relevant image description, they'll hear... nonsense.Usability and accessibility are equally important as design and optimization. Strangely enough images are better for usability. They give focus to the design and when properly optimized they provide for less cluttered website content. The problems appear when the images slow down the loading times, but with the use of CSS loading times should not be a big concern.As search engines prefer fast loading sites it is easy top understand why good coding and optimization are so important. Poor coding raises many other problems aside loading times and might increase costs when you need website updates, especially when your website administrator is not the one who created your site.
via: designnewsnext Share/Bookmark

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How to Properly Utilize Headings in SEO

So we all know that the title is the most important single element to optimize on a page, but it’s all to easy to forget the power of headings. Headings are like little titles that can be worked into a site’s content, and while no one heading can affect rankings as much as your title, having several keyword rich headings on your page can be an extremely powerful optimization strategy.

It is important to remember that there are actually six different kinds of headings ranging from H1 to H6. H1 tags have the most effect on your ranking followed by H2, and so on. To turn a piece of text into a heading you simply need to place it between and tags (where * is the heading value of 1 to 6).

The best way to use headings in the optimization of a page is to include a single H1 tag near the top, containing a word or phrase similar to (but not necessarily the same as) your primary keyphrase.
In addition to this, it is a good idea to scatter a few H2 (and possibly H3+) tags throughout the page containing as many of your secondary keywords as possible.
A word of caution, however: it’s not a good idea to overuse headings on any one page as search engines might see this as spam. In the vast majority of cases, you should be using only one H1 tag per page, and include at least two paragraphs of content for every H2 tag.

Overall, heading optimization is just a matter of common sense. Just write a good page of content, then spread a few relevant, keyword rich heading tags throughout your page, and your search engine ranking should be affected for the better. (via:seomix) Share/Bookmark

The Truth About Meta Tags and SEO

The meta description and keywords tags are often seen as some of the most basic ways to optimize. But are they so basic as to be obsolete?

The short answer is that meta tags are no longer a requirement, and serve very little practical purpose in SEO. This is because they serve absolutely no role whatsoever in the ranking algorithms of Google or MSN, and play a very small part in the algorithm used by Yahoo.
This does not mean, however, that adding meta tags is completely useless. Even though it doesn’t count towards ranking, Google sometimes shows it to users on SERPs (search engine result pages).

Meta keywords are, if nothing else, a good organizational tool. I for one am a great believer in the value of sketching out lists of keywords and keyphrases that you want to optimize for, and keeping track of them on a page-by-page basis. So what better place to put them than on the page itself? This is an especially handy touch for plain HTML sites with no database, where you have to edit each page individually.
Despite the fact that meta tags are virtually obsolete for ranking, there is no doubt that they still have a few useful side benefits. Whether it is worth it to add these tags needs to be decided on a site-by-site basis, and largely depends on the amount of time involved.
As long as you use them in moderation, meta tags won’t damage your rankings. They won’t help them either, however, so if you are adding them to beef up your keyword density, you will almost certainly be disappointed. Share/Bookmark