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Friday, 7 November 2014

Why Hire A Professional Web Designer For Your Poject?

Is DIY worth it or is it simply false economy?


These days there are quite a few so-called do-it-yourself website design products out there. It can be tempting to go for this option, thinking to yourself….aha this will save me money. But think about it…how many well-meaning DIY jobs – in all areas of life – end up being ridiculously time consuming (and time is money right?), only (let’s be frank) to end up looking like a rather amateur job?

In my years of professional website design, some of the site builder jobs I’ve been asked to step in and rescue from self-destruct could have been something my kids brought home from a project at school. The rest simply looked mediocre, or the client had made a real mess of the back end.

Most people want to impress and draw in potential customers. And possibly the single most important reason for having a website is to represent yourself, your business or project, in a way that makes people feel confident in your abilities in your area or profession. How many websites have you ever been on, and left pretty much straight away, because the look and feel just didn’t make you feel comfortable and at ease?

Running into a lack of expertise

How often have you seen online products boasting they are ‘easy to use’, ‘no expertise needed’, ‘easily customise your design’ – only to find that after a short time you’re sitting there scratching your head, calling customer support, or googling frantically in forums for the answer to yet another thing that has gone wrong, or won’t do what it’s supposed to?

80% of people who begin their own website design call a professional to finish the job, and it usually ends up taking the professional longer than it would if they’d started from scratch.

Part of being a design expert is having a professional eye. Understanding the psychology of visual design and what makes a good layout, a look and feel that makes visitors want to read more, and stay on your page. An amateur built site will always look amateur, and will convey to the public (unconsciously) the idea that the services you are offering are also amateur.

A good professional site, on the other hand, looks professional, and gives the impression your service will be also professional. This inspires confidence in your customers.

Some limitations of DIY site builders

With web development, it is important to think and plan long term, and to make decisions that leave you with choices and avenues for growth as far as possible.

One major obstacle to using most site builders, is that they are incredibly limited. Most are not even housed on a proper web hosting package. This seriously curtails your potential for expansion and computability with other services. Because they don't come with the ability to download your files. you won't be able to take your website to another provider.

In other words, you are tied to the company's site builder. If you need to add elements the site builder doesn't feature, if there comes a time when you want your website redesigned by an expert, or you want to incorporate advanced and effective SEO, then it will need to be rebuilt from scratch anyway.

The truth is that website design is not easy, beyond something very basic and simplistic. If that is adequate for your needs,  then great. But if you want flexibility, advanced functionality, a professional look and feel. and are serious about ranking in Google, then forget it.

I rest my case!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Why Does A Website Need Off Page SEO & Link Building?

Now that you have a lovely new website...what is next?


Ok....so your web designer has done all that yummy on page SEO thingy stuff with your best keywords, and you’re ready to go online! But now what? Will your optimised website now miraculously and instantaneously shoot to the top of Google search without a helping hand? The short answer is probably not, unless your chosen keyword phrases are something like “hammocks for reindeer Lincolnshire” or “custard houses in Slough”….in other words obscure phrases or industries without any competition.

So no…what needs to happen next is some form of off page SEO and link building.

Many people are under the misapprehension that simply having their website online will be enough. But just imagine for a second how many similar businesses or projects are out there in your local or national area, with websites competing for the top page slots on search engines! The work that your SEO web designer does next, just needs to be that bit better (and that bit more) than your top ten competitors are doing, in order to out rank them and appear on the first page of Google. It can sometimes be quite a feat, but it can be done!

If you’re wondering what the heck off page SEO and link building are exactly, you’re not alone…it is a mystery to most lay people, and takes experience and know-how from a professional, especially as Google’s ranking criteria (called algorithms) are constantly updating and evolving. What in the past may have boosted a website may now even demote it. Anyway…I hope I can demystify the process a little, so you can at least make sense of what it’s all about.

What is link building and why is it important?

Simply put, Google and other search engines are looking at certain things when deciding whether a website should rank highly in their results for specific keywords and phrases. These things are: relevance, trust, popularity and authority. And while your website should ideally build all these things over time anyway (reflected in the quality of your content) there is so much competition online, that SEO is nearly always needed to help that process along. And of course…most of your competitors are using SEO too!

The more popular and relevant your website shows signs of being, the more Google values it, and the higher it will rank. The criteria Google uses to measure popularity and relevance is, in broad terms, the number and quality of other websites referring to your website by linking to yours, and the number and quality of people talking about and sharing your website among the many social sites. Achieving this through off page SEO involves creating quality links and social signals to your site from other reputable sources (also known as back links). We call this strategic link building, and, as I said - it has to be done in a particular way to be successful.

An experienced SEO consultant will know how to build these links from the right places, at the right pace, and in the right combination and configurations to get results.

Things to bear in mind…

Link building efforts must be consistent. This is the most important thing, and I can’t stress it enough. Giving up on an SEO campaign before results are showing is one of the most common mistakes people make in my experience. Most SEO consultants suggest working on a project for a minimum of 4-6 months. Many links don’t even get picked up by Google’s radar for as long as 4 months...it can take a while before a site's pages are fully updated by Google’s search index. In my experience, a minimum 6 month time frame for the initial campaign gives a good solid SEO foundation, with mostly top up work required after that point to maintain rankings.

To look natural to Google, link building must be carried out slowly and steadily. Sudden or sporadic volumes of links, and unnatural spikes in traffic, all risk being penalised by Google.

The same thing applies to acquiring links from dodgy sources and sites that claim to boost your SEO with a gazillion of this, that or the other. These should be avoided like the plague. There is no quick, big and cheap SEO fix, and anyone claiming to provide this is a fraud and may damage your rankings to the point where recovery is long, slow and potentially expensive.

All web pages are rated in terms of Page Rank or PR, starting from N/A (when a site has no recognised weight or gravity), then ranging from PR0 through to highly authoritative sites with PR10. An unnatural percentage or distribution of links from pages with a certain PR might also seem suspicious to Google. For example if your back links are either from all high PR or all low PR pages…so it’s best if your links come from pages with a variety of PR.

The good quality SEO link types we build, typically include high PR/DA guest posts, niche blog commenting, local citations, directory submissions, high PR profile creation, web 2.0 properties, social bookmarking, social syndication, press release distribution, social media, video creation and distribution, article writing, infographic and document distribution, business associations, and industry related promotions. In addition, many of Google’s own products can be used to raise your profile and tie that in with search engine activity.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Which Social Media To Use For Business: Whys & Hows...

Wondering which social media for business?


It might seem to some of us that social media and sharing have taken over the universe! Every website you go on has a bunch of buttons marked share, while Facebook, Twitter and Google icons are everywhere. Is this just a craze, or a genuinely useful and viable strategy for getting your project or website out there? Well, you’re about to find out just how useful social media can be, how to use it, and some great social media campaign ideas. Social Media is about engagement. It’s about building a relationship with your target audience, with the goal in mind that the people you’re interacting with will eventually become loyal customers. People who interact with you via Social Media will come to love your brand, love what you stand for, and most importantly - recommend you to others.

So why is social media good for business? 

Social media is the way in which people network with each other online, exchange information and ideas, or sell products and services. If you run a small business, you definitely need to be looking at ways to expand and reach as many people as possible. Thanks to the advent of social networking technology, you can now widen your scope by starting to look at which social media to use for your business.

Is social media good for your business regardless of what products or services you offer? Well the simple answer is yes it is, and you do not have to be a whizz kid to learn how to represent and market your business on social media platforms. It is very easy, can be fun and entertaining…and the results are measurable.

For all social media networks, you will have to create an account (for login and access). This is free. Give the account your name, or that of your business, and wherever possible always put your main SEO keywords in the name / title of your social page. So for example, if you are a hairdresser in a particular area of London specialising in women’s styles, your profile name should include your location, business type and specialism, using words and phrases you might expect visitors to use when searching for you online. In our example it might be “Wendy’s Women’s Hairdresser Islington North London”.

The type of thing you post on your social media profiles will vary according to your customers’ interests, but you should always post engaging content that visitors will want to follow and read for genuine information or entertainment. Also, mentioning your local area in posts is good for local SEO.

Social media campaign ideas: how do businesses use social media?

For almost all networks, similar social media campaign ideas apply. Here are some suggestions of the type of posts you need to be creating on a regular basis:

Fun and informative
- Demonstrations (your own or share other peoples’)
- Pros and cons lists
- Share videos of interest or make your own
- Share websites, web pages and blog posts
-   Top tips and “how tos”
- Interesting factoids and inspirational quotes
- Industry related cartoons and funnies
- Inspirational postcards
- Photographs (both your own and other peoples’)
- Useful advice or guidance
- Competitions and promos

Local and company news
- Local events happening soon
- Local charities or businesses that are worth supporting
- Recent local news stories
- Recent jobs completed
–          A good testimonial
- New staff you would like to welcome to the team
- Staff nights out or major events happening in staff lives
- Recent successes / targets reached
 - Anyone within the business who deserves congratulating
- A significant milestone within your business
- Secured a new client
- Any new services
- Show casing new products

Industry related news (keep visitors up to date and current)
- Changes within the industry proposed / approved that could affect customers
- Any industry related events
- Industry related trends
- Industry related facts and stats: “did you know ... ?”
- Changes to legislation
- Industry related research
- Commenting on current legislation
- Has any aspect of the industry been in the news
- Has there been anything on tv about your industry
- Anything in the news which might be of interest to your target market

What is the best social media for business?

Not every network is going to be the most suited to your particular area or industry. There are a lot of them, but here are four of the most popular and useful ones:

Google+ (read Google plus)

This is great for just about any business. The main thing about a well SEO optimised local targeted Google + page is that it can feature in Google search results. A Google business page is a must for anyone serious about being found online! Your business page itself can shoot to the top of the search listings if you do it right. Another awesome thing about Google + is that you can have customers review your services and post them on your page. The number of reviews and stars you have will appear in any search results too.

Build a great Google + page by posting helpful and educative information about your products and services, or simply sharing something fun or exciting. You can post and share with the public, or with people in certain designated “circles” if you want to target a specific group of people interested in a particular service or offer.

Facebook

Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform., with more than a billion users across the world. You will need to create a “fan page” or “business page” and you can give it a name that uses your best SEO keywords. Use your logo or a picture of your product on your profile to help your brand grow.

After populating the page with a selection of posts to get it started, you will have to promote it, collecting people that have opted to get your posts on their news feed by “liking” the page. When they think something you have posted is good, they can comment on it, share with their friends who in turn share with their friends, and ideally the sharing goes on and on.

Facebook allows every user to have 5000 friends! Once you’ve created your fan page, invite all your friends to like it. Then engage them by posting regular awesome and engaging stuff about your business, products or services. Keep updating your page with fresh content all the time, and monitor the communication between yourself and your fans.

The kind of activity you can do that is specific to Facebook (in addition to the list above) includes:
Adding new photo albums
Mentioning other Facebook users in your posts
Posting links to other pages
 • Commenting on other companies walls & posts
Sharing other users’ content on your timeline

Pinterest

Pinterest is great for people who run a “visual” business. You can upload, save, sort, and manage images (called pins), as collections known as pinboards. If for example you are a hairdresser, a fashion designer, landscape gardener or a cake making and decoration business, you can use Pinterest to get your creations seen by the public. Pinterest is free to use and you can post as many pictures as you like.

To use Pinterest for business, create different Pinterest boards with educational, fun and inspiring information for your customers. Using Group Boards, find pinners who have huge followings to reach more people with your own pinned content.

Twitter

Twitter is great for anyone who is launching a new business or product. It is the best way of passing on information in short, focused posts (tweets) to people who are following you. You can participate in real-time events and conversations, and receive instant feedback about your services or products. Twitter allows you to announce upcoming events and promotions, coupon codes etc, post photos, post updates and thoughts, and be generally sociable all in the space of 140 maximum characters per tweet.

Branding is very important when using twitter for business. It is very focused… you can target with precision to connect with the right people. Businesses can enhance their online brand personality, by the content they engage people with, and by the way they make use of visuals such as logos and placing a message or picture on their page background. A great use for twitter is to answer any questions customers may have.

Be a proactive communicator by doing the following Twitter specific things (in addition to the list above):
Mentioning other tweeters
Retweeting interesting people
Replying to tweets
Following new people
Posting links to interesting web content that your target audience may find useful
Useing hastags (#) to identify what your tweet is about

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a network especially dedicated to members’ professional identity. Most businesses need to hire a professional to help with something at some point (for example, you may need to hire a bookkeeper or web designer), and the best social media network to look for professionals that have been recommended by other professionals you are connected with is LinkedIn. With millions of members, you can be sure of finding someone suitable for the task from your area, and you can see their CV online.

Once you are a member, you can start connecting with other professionals in your circle of friends and acquaintances, endorse people for skills and be endorsed yourself. You can expand your pool of connections to people who are connected to your own connections, or connect to businesses who might want your services in the future. It really is the ultimate trust and recommendation based platform, where you can network, hire and get hired yourself. The main purpose of LinkedIn is to build contacts.

You can create a LinkedIn company page for your business. Note that you have to create a profile on LinkedIn and then as you complete your CV, your company page will be linked to it.

The activity you need to be including on LinkedIn includes:
Connecting with people who are either: in your industry, a potential business lead or a generally a good contact.
Updating your profile on a regular basis.
 • Endorsing other members.

So there you go!

Friday, 1 August 2014

How Would You Define Content Management System?

What is a CMS Website?


Loads of clients ask this question. They’ve heard the term, and have an idea what it might mean, but are looking for a clearer picture. I’ve been prodding around my brain cells, and trying to think of a way to define content management system (or CMS for short) so that it can be understood by complete newbies to website stuff.

Basically, a CMS website is a site that uses a system (a type of software) that allows users with little or no knowledge of web code or programming, to update their own website content once their web designer has build their site. A website CMS allows you to edit, modify, delete, organize, and publish (make available for the public) content on your website. This is done online – on a normal web browser like Chrome or Explorer - from a central, (mostly) easy to use panel. And by “content”, I mean text, blog posts, images, videos etc. on your web pages.

So what does using a CMS website entail?

I’m not going to lie to you and pretend that using a CMS is a walk in the park for newbies, although for someone dedicated, and determined to manage their own content, it needn’t be rocket science either. There are varying degrees of difficulty, depending on which CMS is used, and how deep you want to get into it. If you want a minimal learning curve, your website designer can set the content management system up that way. If you really want to get your hands dirty under the hood, there are some great video and written tutorials out there for the most popular systems.

A sophisticated content management system will allow multiple users to access the website and modify its contents. The website administrator can create multiple accounts for users. This can be useful if you and a friend or colleague were co-writing a blog, and want to have separate credits for your posts.

Most common types of web content management systems

There are scores of web content management systems out there. So let’s keep it simple for you, and look at just three examples of content management systems that cover all bases…ones that we recommend to our own clients:

WordPress

This is very a popular software, although it is not the easiest to use. While it started life as a blogging platform, it has now become a fully-fledged content management system. This means that it is possible to build a complete website on Wordpress, and it has an absolute ton of great add on features (known as plug ins) that allow a whole heap of extra things function wise. Wordpress websites are built around a “theme” (a template design that creates the overall look and functionality of your website). And with thousands of themes available, you really are spoilt for choice. Some themes are free, and some template must be paid for.

Wordpress is built with PHP (a programming language), HTML (a coding language), and SQL (a data organization language). It uses a “database” (a type of filing system type storage on your server) where important parts of the website’s content and information is kept. Using WordPress requires some training first, although this can be at the most basic level or at a more intensive level.

Pulse CMS

By definition, this is the simplest application of a content management system. It is targeted for use on small websites, allowing fast updating, publishing and modification of content. There is a self managed blog option, photo gallery option and of course regular page content editing. Of all the CMS available, it is by far the simplest to use.

Pulse CMS “modules” can be integrated into a regular website. This means that say for example all your pages are basically going to remain the same except perhaps a particular section like an events diary, then the CMS can be added to that specific area of the website. All these things can be easily updated by you once your web designer has set it up.

There is a small charge for a Pulse CMS lifetime license, but it can allow you to add content to your website in a matter of minutes.  Unlike WordPress, no database is needed since it uses flat files. The learning curve is a no brainer, although some understanding of basic HTML code is desirable and easy to grasp.

OpenCart 

This software is for eCommerce (shopping) websites. It is straightforward to use, free and has many great features. Of all the eCommerce systems around today, OpenCart is the most user-friendly, easy to set up and run. It doesn’t require a huge amount of training, although there is a learning curve. Being open-source (free and community based), it is backed by a huge online following, meaning that support is easy to access when needed from fellow users. There are also lots of add on features (known as extensions) that add various extra functionality.

Once your web designer has installed the software and created a database on your server, built you a custom designed store front, and set up things like payments, shipping and all the other behind the scenes structures, you can easily add and edit products, categories, descriptions and images to your store.

Advantages of content management system

What are the advantages of content management system? The chief benefit is that you can save money, since you don’t have to go running to your web designer to carry out every little update to the text and images of your website for you.

The user-friendly dashboards are full of features and are fairly easy to learn how to use.

CMS support groups online are plentiful, and there are millions of resources like this article, to teach you everything you need to know.

CMS sites are the best option if you update your site quite often.

A dedicated CMS module at the very least, means you can run a daily or weekly blog unassisted, from anywhere.

Disadvantages of content management system

By now you have a pretty good set of answers to our original question what is a cms system, and have a fair idea of the pros, so let’s have a quick look at the cons of using this type of system.

Here are a few:

Some CMS may need a license, plug in updates and software upgrades. This can be a bit daunting (and annoying), so ask your website designer to help you out if necessary.

Most content management systems require more storage space and/or features on your hosting than a very basic website.

Some server upgrades or changes can cause the CMS to fail. In addition, some software upgrades and plug in/extension updates can cause function anomalies or faults due to compatibility issues, which must be checked thoroughly first.

Migrating a site from one server, web host or domain to another can sometimes be very difficult.

Some coding ability may be needed for certain upgrades.

These disadvantages don’t much apply to Pulse CMS (although it does need a license), so if you just want to edit basic content it is probably the safest bet in that respect. But having said that…literally millions of websites use Wordpress and OpenCart, so don’t be put off…especially if you have a reliable, competent website designer behind you!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

What Are Web Hosting Services And Domain Hosting?

What is a web host exactly?


So your web designer has quoted you an affordable price to build your website. You’re really happy, and are eager for her to get started. Then she mentions something that you weren’t necessarily expecting…something called web and domain hosting services. And it is going to entail your designer paying a regular fee on your behalf to a web host. Although this is something your web designer can sort out for you, (so there’s no need to worry on that score), you might have been wondering: What is a website host, do I need this service, and what am I paying for?

The answer is a bit techy, but I’ll keep the answer as simple as I can.

When a website designer makes your web pages, these are basically made up of files and folders similar to the ones you have on your own computer, except they contain special web code. They need to be stored somewhere central, and then transmitted to the world wide web. A web hosting service provides that storage (on something called a server), and makes your website available to be seen by the general public.

So in answer to our question “What is a web host”…it is a company that provides this server space for a website. On top of this, the web hosting provider also offers domain hosting services for your web domain.

First though… what is a web domain?

A web domain is the identity of your website online. In effect it is your web territory, your own unique domain over which you preside. By getting a unique web domain name for your project or business, you create a new online identity that is yours and yours alone. As an example, if you were launching a website on weight loss, you might want a domain name like weightloss.com. Bear in mind though that you can only use it if it is available. A lot of them have already been taken by other people, so you may have to be creative, choosing weightlosstoday.com or whatever. That is why you (or your web designer) will have to find out if your domain idea can be registered before you can start using it, by checking with the hosting company.

On your journey to finding out what is a website domain, there are a few things you should know about domain extensions: These are the ending part like .com or .co.uk. Each country has its own set of letters at the end. There are a few types of domain extension, which are useful for different purposes. These days there are several weird and wonderful extensions, such as .mobi and .info, neither of which are much used or respected. There were even recently introduced some new type of extensions like .photography and .tattoo (although, how popular these will prove to be, remains to be seen).

Generally speaking though, if your website is intended for a global audience, then choose .com (if you are any kind of information site or a business) or .org (if you are a charity or other organisation such as a choir). If, on the other hand, if your website is intended for a UK audience, then choose .co.uk or .org.uk (using the same criteria as above).

What is the difference between hosting and web domain hosting?

By now, if you have read this far, you will have realised that the generic term “hosting” usually applies to web hosting, to the provision of server space for web pages. So it might be a bit confusing to be told that domain names also need their own hosting!

So exactly what is domain hosting? Simply put, domain hosting is the storing or housing of your domain (weightlossguru.com). Both services are provided by a web hosting company, and both must be paid for quarterly or yearly to keep a website online.

These two often get confused with each other, so I hope I’ve made things a bit more clear! Many beginners find themselves in a pickle because this hosting business seems so confusing and looks daunting.

Of course…if you’re lucky enough to have a website designer who deals with all that on your behalf, it does makes the whole thing more manageable. But it is good to know what they are talking about when they mention hosting costs…and to get a sense of what it is you are paying for too!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Ever Wondered What Makes A Good Website Design?


Things to ponder on before launching in


Let’s face it…most people know a good website design when they see it. There’s an inexplicable sense of wow, and something about it just clicks. Everything is easy to read, easy on the eye, easy to find and somehow it just looks good. We want to stay and browse…we feel comfortable!

But what is it that sets a particular home page apart from the competition? We all wonder about the answer to that question when starting on the road to getting our own website built for us. We want our site to stand shoulder to shoulder with other amazing website designs, and yet, when asked by our web designer to outline the look and feel (or even come up with colour ideas), it's somehow astoundingly difficult. We stall on filling in that project planner or specs questionnaire. So what is it that professional web designers do that the rest of us find so hard to even contemplate?

The key to good design websites is pretty straightforward when you know how: you just need to understand the common rules of effective design and consistently follow them. First of all, get clear on the objective of the website, and come up with the best functionality and visuals to achieve that aim. The layout must be intuitive and key things should stand out.

There are several aspects to be considered when contemplating how to make a successful website, such as: What sort of demographic are you appealing to? What kind of images and graphics will most enhance the content? Which pages will go in your navigation menu? There are plenty of good website design examples out there, but let’s first look at some of the most basic design rules.

Let's start with the visuals

1) Keep things free of clutter. Excessive text (words and selling points) crammed together all seeking attention just comes across as annoying or messy. Separate out the text into short paragraphs to make it simple to read. Adding white space between text and images makes a good impression. White space creates order and reduces stress. It makes the content that much easier to engage with. Using bite sized chunks of info rather than reams in huge blocks of text also makes the reader feel less overwhelmed. Bullet points are great too. This makes the site look clean and well thought out. And don’t cram each page with multiple topics that scroll down and down…keep each page very specific and create a new page for each individual niche focal point. Again, this uses the concept that bite sized chunks make the visitor consumes more.

2) Select your colours with care. Be bold by all means, but not overly bright, and only use strong colours as accents. Colours should be a combination of complementary colours, so use a colour chart or colour picker to help. There’s nothing worse than arriving on a website where you have to squint to read the words, so make sure your background and text colour combination won’t have a weird effect on the eyes. To be honest, however much you might imagine something unique would be cool, black and dark grey text on a white or neutral background is the safest bet. Save your colourful text to accentuate paragraph headings.

3) A few things to guard against. There are website elements that some people think will be great but are in fact hideous! If you’re aiming to create one of the world’s most amazing website designs then avoid the following like the plague…

* Music that comes on automatically. Sounds like a cool idea but never is…people like to choose what they hear and will leave straight away;

* Videos that start automatically are not a great idea either. A well placed video above the fold will draw visitors to find out more, but let them press play;

* Slideshows that go fast. Or slides in the banner area at all. I’m very skeptical about moving slideshows unless used sparingly and with care;

* Animated graphics the jump around on the page distracting visitors from your main objective and driving them nuts. It will drive them away.

So give a lot of thought to first impressions. You need to ask yourself what is the thing your visitors will think in the initial split second after landing on your home page. Does it seem professional? Does your website look like it will be easy to find key information or not?

And what about functionality?

1) Finding your way around. Potential clients need to be able to quickly find what they need. So having a clear navigation menu in a prominent place is important to start with. Then make sure your menu tabs have names that are short and to the point…so it’s easy to understand what the page the link leads to is about.

2) Key features and info. These are best placed “above the fold” (on the top part of the web page that is visible without having to scroll down), and your most immediately relevant, eye catching, attention grabbing features on the home page…make visitors sit up and take notice, then make them want to explore!

3) Call to action. Adding a call to action button, feature or link about halfway down the home page is a good idea. These buttons, text or graphics tell the people to "do" something. That might be “read more”, “click here to get a free sample”, “subscribe to our newsletter”, “enter our online shop” or “request a quote”. Link the call to action to the relevant page on the website.

All these factors combined make for good design websites! If you are thinking about design and what info to give your website designer, consider all aspects of functionality and visuals before filling in your specs questionnaire or project planner form…and get planning!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Website Keywords… Whatever Is All The Fuss About?


What are keywords exactly?


So you’ve heard about keywords and how important they are….but perhaps you’re not completely sure what they are? Well let’s look at an example that will begin to form a definition of keywords. Let’s say you have a physiotherapy practice in Central London. You want people who are looking for your services to find you on the web when they type something into the search box of Google, or other search engines like Bing. Popular typed in phrases might include ‘physiotherapist Central London’, ‘physiotherapy in Central London’, ‘physiotherapists in the Central London area’, ‘sports massage Central London’, ‘physiotherapy practice Central London’, ‘help for back pain Central London’ – then these are the type of words and phrases that might become your keywords.

Keywords for website SEO purposes are something quite particular. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking a keyword must simply be a single word like ‘physiotherapy’ or ‘massage’. However the term ‘keyword’ includes both single words, and phrases that have between 2 and 10 words in them. And, if you think about it, when you’re searching for something online, how often have you typed in a single word? I wager it’s not often. You’re probably more likely to type in a location along with some relevant words when searching for something in a particular geographical area. And you’re likely to have frequently typed in a whole bunch of related ungrammatical word strings, or typed in a question, when looking for information on a particular topic.

So why are these business keywords so important?

The simplistic answer is that your SEO website designer needs to input data into special places in the website’s code that Google inspects when filtering through the millions of websites online. This (and having your keywords in the web page text) is how Google finds the most relevant pages for the visitor in the search results list. This special code must contain the best SEO keywords for your project. The practice is called ‘on page search engine optimization’.

The most crucial thing to realize, is that finding the best keywords is the first and most important thing that needs to be done, preferably even before writing the content of your site. Professional research will need to be done that finds the best website keywords in relation to how many businesses are competing to appear high up in search results for. Your website designer will also recommend that you build the content (text and headings) of your website, around the keywords they suggest.

Your website designer will have access to special tools and software that will look through a list of things people are actually typing into Google in real life. They will use their eye as well as cutting edge software and other techniques to assess things like how many people are searching for those particular keywords and phrases (search volume) and how many other websites are using those keywords. The rule of thumb is that you don’t have to be the best, you just have to be better than your competitors and use your keywords in a more efficiently optimized way than they do.

Monday, 30 June 2014

What Is Website Content And Why Is It Important Now?

How writing content for a website can help you


One of the things Google loves most is quality content. Hmm….so what exactly do I mean... and what is content? Well, basically, content is the text (and images) on your website pages, and on associated pages such as a blog. Google has made some changes recently. And while everyone seems to be talking about content since this latest Google update….the really savvy website owners are getting out their notepads and starting to scribble down quality articles. Of course you don’t need to write the content yourself if you are busy…simply outsource it to a gifted wordsmith (such as myself and my team) who can write great SEO optimized articles for you!

Writing copy for websites isn't as simple as it used to be. In previous years – in fact for the biggest part of internet history – websites could become quite successful and get to the top pages of Google simply by stuffing in a shed load of any-old-badly written-boring-crappy-content. I’m sure most of us have had the misfortune to have sat there in dismay….searching for something interesting and useful, but finding yet another page of drivel that was slapped in to pad out an advert filled site.

Google will love you more

In order to compete with other businesses in your field or local area, it simply isn’t enough any more to rely on sparse content on your site. What you need to be doing is writing content for seo, but more importantly writing for your audience! The more Google can see on your website that makes you an interesting read and an authority in your topic, the more it will favour your website by ranking it higher in search results. Quality content shows Google that your website truly is relevant to the topic being searched by your potential visitors.

So by now I hope you have a good idea of the answer to the question "what is content writing?" But another reason for having a lot of good content associated with your site, is that the more text you’ve got, the more opportunities there are for putting your keywords and phrases into the text and headings. It also offers more opportunity to include a broader spectrum of keywords.

Content and its relationship with keywords

For example if you’re a decorator, you might have a home page, and probably a page with all your services. And if you think about it, your home page and your services page will both cover your whole range of services, making it difficult for Google to hone in on the SEO of any one particular set of keywords. In other words, your pages are generic. Your home page would then be best suited to a selection of keywords containing searches for decorators generally.

Realistically, people are also typing in all sorts of weird and wonderful keywords related to, say, wallpaper hanging, so having a specific wallpaper hanging services page would mean that you can optimize that page for all the best competition keywords for wallpaper hanging services in your local area. Then you might want to get even more specific and have some pages on a blog dedicated to tips and hints articles about (among other things) wallpapering – such as “how to choose the right wallpaper for your colour scheme”, “how much wallpaper will I need to buy”, or even “the history of wallpaper”.

All of these niche pages are simply a way of building Google’s trust in your expertise (as well as your customers’ confidence in you), and is showing Google a lot of relevant pages, text and keywords on your website in the decorating industry. This makes you attractive to the Google software that crawls and indexes your website. I will cover  tips on article writing in another post.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

It Sounds Daft, But How Do People Find My Website?

Well.... how do people find your website?


So you have a beautiful shiny new website – you’re really pleased with it -- but the burning question nagging at the back of your mind is “how on earth will it be found?” That is a very good question! Because apart from word-of-mouth, and maybe advertising in the local newspaper or giving out business cards – it’s not immediately obvious exactly how people are going to find your website.

The most popular way to find a website is by using search engine. In fact, 90% of people looking for websites will type something into Google or other search engine such as Yahoo or Bing. But without what is known as search engine optimization (or SEO for short), your lovely website may well remain forever floating aimlessly in the black hole of internet obscurity, never being found by people searching on Google. An experienced SEO expert can lift your website from the depths of page 8,953, up the rankings, so that potential customers will actually find you when they search.

As a rule, when someone types in a word or phrase, a search engine will sift through the millions of pages it has listed that match that topic, and deliver the results nearest the top that have been optimized in the best way to match the relevance of that topic.

Real world marketing versus search engines

Of course, there are quite a few real world physical ways that your website can become known about, but the fact remains that only 10% of people looking for a website will use methods other than search engines. I’m sure you’re well aware of the ridiculous cost of advertising in newspapers etc, and let’s face it, once your advert expires, you’re going to have to shell out more to keep relisting it, just to keep in the public eye.

The difference between found on Google and having your website address seen on, for example, a business card or leaflet, is that people can instantly interact with your business. They can even bookmark your website to view again later.

So what is website optimization in practice?

Website designers doing SEO will use a variety of techniques and code that they build right into the foundation of the website itself. These protocols are collectively known as “on page SEO” and are best carried out before the website is launched. It is important to understand that these techniques revolve around specific key words and phrases that people might type into Google related to your topic or local service. These keywords are chosen very carefully, and a good SEO practitioner will use expert methods to choose them wisely.

Finding the beast keywords means analyzing the competition from other businesses and websites in your field. Once the website itself is optimized and launched on the internet, the real fun begins…building up in a host of diverse ways, over a number of months, the popularity and reputation of your website: “off page SEO”. This takes a lot of time and hard work, but must be done expertly so as to keep within Google’s guidelines and be effective.

Remember that a prospective customer will probably only look at the first page or two of search results. So it does matter where your website appears in the search engine ranking. The aim of effective SEO is to ensure the best chance of getting to these much sought after top pages of Google.




ABOUT MOUNTAIN LION DESIGN

Our dedicated, creative SEO and web design team is headed up by Helen Martin.
We are based in London and cover the whole of the UK and beyond.
The aim of these articles is to help clients understand the techy ins and outs.
We are committed to doing that in a straightforward, jargon free zone!