Archive for October, 2008

Common elements of good websites

October 30, 2008

If your website is missing one of these items this could explain why its not living up to it’s potential.

1. Navigation bars – header/footer. It’s a good idea to have them both just for simplicity. Try to give every incentive for the user to visit another one of your pages and potential use your services.

2. About page – with useful information. Sure you have an about page, but is there anything unique in there which personalizes you or your services? Anyone visiting your about page wants to check up on you and get a better feel for your company. If you provide good info and background that could be enough to seal the deal.

3. Updates. Having the option to subscribe to a newsletter or blog feed keeps your visitors in the loop. This takes the guess work out of the equation and gets new content to your visitors as you produce it.

4. Browser compatibility. Not every visitor is using IE7 (or Firefox, or even Safari). From a visitor’s point of view a web site that does not display properly in the browser “I’m” using never leaves a good impression. It takes a bit more of an effort but I’m the the user visiting from their iPhone will appreciate it.

5. Search. Maybe you haven’t created a page for every topic but you certainly have covered it on a few other pages. Sometimes a search feature will provide the answer for the user who doesn’t fit into the standard category.

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Has Yahoo’s time past?

October 28, 2008

Once a giant in the search engine business Yahoo is now struggling. A failed deal with Microsoft, bungled right from the start. Declining ad revenue. Let’s face it, most advertising money is going to Google. Laying off employees. Even less resources to put towards the search biz. There is no doubt Yahoo is facing some troubles in the days going forward. Should they roll over and give up on the search business?

Perhaps they are wasting their time and resources continuing down the path of search engine relevance. Maybe it’s time to focus on the things that their many users still go to the site for. Focus on what’s working. Yahoo news, email, community. Yahoo is still a great portal for many users. Perhaps focusing on the search segment may cost them a few users who convert to Microsoft. If you’ve been paying any attention to Microsoft (other than the ranting of Steve Ballmer) they’ve been putting a major push for the MSN live network. Making it easier to connect up all of your MSN services with one user id. Perhaps Yahoo needs to focus on integrating all of their services, making the user experience even easier.

Just don’t forget what you do well, and continue to improve upon it.

Attack of the spammers

October 28, 2008

Hopefully your site allows you to make a lot of friends on the net. However you also need to consider that you will make a few enemies along the way. If you manage to piss them off they might hold a personal vendetta against your site. In extreme cases this can cause major disruptions for you and your website.

Comment spam. Flooding your posts with comments with either garbage or viagra ads. Make sure you have a good comment spam program installed.

Probing the defenses. Despite your best efforts you can’t rule out every single security hole. Someone hell bent on bringing your site down could find one and exploit it. Take extra care with the customer data you store.

Email spam. If you have a “contact us” section be prepared to get even more emails. This can cause a few things. The most obvious tons of useless emails which makes finding and replying to the legitimate requests harder. As well the bandwidth usage just clogs up the Internet and might even cost your site a few extra bucks. This could also be tied into DOS (denial of service) attacks.

Take care when making friends and enemies.

Tips from Google

October 20, 2008

Google’s blog covered a few topics when dealing with SEO with regards to linking, content, site architecture. Many of the same old tips have been reinforced. Despite the same old answers coming up it is somewhat comforting to hear it from a Google engineer.

Site content is very important as well as authoritative sites linking to that content. It is unavoidable that spam sites will always link to good content however the driving factor will be the number and quality sites linking to yours. These inbound links will also affect your page rank. Although search engine results should weigh importantly over page rank (don’t worry if you’re only a PR 2).

Blogs: original and innovative stuff will be a bigger hit with your audience as well as with the search engines. Providing useful information within the community and having a great product also helps. Engaging the community is what blogs are all about.

Despite Google’s battle with link buying what they say and what actually happens are 2 different things. It’s no secret Google is waging a battle vs paid linking advertising however those with bigger wallets have still been winning the battle. Most common keyword search terms are littered with link buyers. Hopefully Google has something special up their sleeves to counter massive link buying campaigns.

Is Google to blame for cybersquatters?

October 15, 2008

There’s no doubt there are many cyberquatters out there benefiting from misspelled domain names but should Google be partly to blame? This Wired article raises some interesting issues about Google’s adsense program. Google profits from ads being displayed on those parked domains which also generate hits and revenue for the cybersquatter. Now it just makes sense to continue to buy more variances of popular domain names and put up a fake site littered with Google ads. Can we blame Google for sitting on their hands and doing nothing about it. It’s hard to believe that Google isn’t aware that the problem is rampant. Perhaps Google needs to step up their efforts and ban advertiser accounts when violations are spotted OR perhaps there just needs to be a better forum to voice the concerns OR perhaps Google needs to create an area where the community can identify the offending sites. There are many options but if Google has been doing nothing, they are just as guilty as the guy registering the domain http://www.bankofdamerica.com

Tips for internal links

October 14, 2008

Setting up your internal links will help your external links. It’s going to point new visitors to where you want them to go and help them navigate your site. Make sure you pick the right keywords and titles. Meta descriptions also go a long way. Writing good content will develop page rank which will start bringing traffic to your site. Make sure you don’t duplicate content, this might confuse the googlebot and discount any pages you create. Stay consistent when linking internally. Use nofollow for pages with duplicate content and partner sites that you do not want to pass page rank to.

Take a look at competitor sites, pick out the things you like and incorporate them into your style. Keep your navigation bar clean and limit the number of links. Less choices = simpler navigation.

Yahoo Web Analytics

October 10, 2008

Yahoo is offering a new web analytics tool. Promising “near real-time” data analysis and analytics data in raw form. Google analytics on the other hand takes a few hours for analytic data to accumulate and the data is “translated” into usable information for the user. If you remember last April, Yahoo bought IndexTools, which is now the Yahoo web analytics.

A few more fancy bells and whistles to tempt Google users into switching. I’ll wait until the jury debates the features and renders a verdict.

Self SEO questions to ask yourself

October 8, 2008

Before you decide to go it alone, you need to ask yourself some questions

1. How good is your html?
2. How good is your writing skill?
3. Do you have a plan?
4. Do you have enough time to run your business AND do SEO?
5. Do you have the necessary tools?

If you can answer these questions confidently then you are ready for self SEO. If can’t, then talk to some professionals, get some quotes. You can expect to spend $300 – $1,000 a month on SEO services so don’t be shocked when you some concrete numbers. It can make the difference between a small business and a medium sized business.

Getting on Digg

October 8, 2008

While difficult it can be done. First of all be prepared to invest a lot of time in the community. Build up friendships, make interesting and funny comments, and of course submit good content. If you’re looking for a quick fix SEO solution don’t look to Digg, unless you’re prepared to spend $1,200. The recent clean up that’s happened has removed many of the old users who were perceived to be taking advantage of the situation and profiting. A few tips for submitting articles.

Be descriptive. Choose a good headline. Videos and pictures will more likely get clicked (please no porn). Link to the source article and not a spam blog. Don’t be anti Apple. Let’s face it, most users on Digg are pro-Apple and pro-Steve Jobs. If you have to fake it, do it, or just avoid the topic all together. Most importantly submit/write good content. Even if the community disagrees with you, thoughtful, well written, and fact based articles will win you respect. Good luck.

*also if your article gets dugg, be prepared to have your servers crashed by the Digg effect. Congrats!

Related
Kevin Rose: 8 tips for getting on the front page of Digg

Attention spans getting shorter?

October 7, 2008

YouTube announced a little while ago that they started offering analytics by the second for their content. Actually measuring viewers attention spans by the second. Are we getting to the point where video optimization will be the type of SEO? I sure hope not. I’d like to think that surfers are more web savvy, however there’s no denying that the attention span of the average user has shortened considerably over the past couple of years.

Take for example the recent data from the Biden – Palin debate. Google data shows the spike in search terms as they played out during the debate. I know politics can be boring but do you really need to define the term ‘maverick’? Can you focus for 10 minutes and try to figure out what they are trying to say about your future? Maybe having actors/actresses portray the politicians might hold our interest more readily.

We’re entering a digital age of convergence. All media are coming together and what happens on tv is cross promoted (or taken advantage of) on the Internet. Information is circulating by the second to connected parts of the world. SEO will soon have to look for more creative ways to hold attention spans by the second. Getting customers to your site is half the battle. The next is keeping them interested for more than 30 seconds.