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What is Search Engine Optimization and Why Do I Need It?

web designWeb Design ServicePurchasing web design service is confusing with all of the different buzz words floating around. A service being pushed by many web developers is search engine optimization (SEO). It has become a huge field in the last few years despite the fact that many purchasers of web development services are not clear on what it is or why they need to consider it in the making of their site.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Nearly every internet user finds new web sites using a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, or MSN. You go to their site, type in what you are looking for and usually find it in the top two or three results. What goes on behind the scenes of every internet search involves complex software intelligent enough to figure out which pages are the most relevant to your search. If you are looking to buy a product online, you will search for the product name and typically buy it from a company who comes up near the top of the result list. Search Engine Optimization is the process of figuring out which search phrases, or “key words”, potential customers might use to find what you are offering, and then doing whatever is necessary to move to the top of the search results so that these searchers visit your site.

Figuring out what key words to target is a tricky process. If you run a company that sells candy, your first thought might be to target the key word “candy”. There are a number of problems with targeting such a general word or phrase. If somebody is logging on to the internet to buy candy, they are just as likely to use a search phrase like “chocolate”. The other problem is that if someone searches for “candy”, they might simply be looking for recipes or information. Spending money on search engine optimization which results in visits from recipe seekers will not be beneficial to your company or to the searcher. Luckily, there are many tools available, such as WordTracker, to do proper key word research and determine exactly which phrases are the best to target.

The second part of the search engine optimization process is crafting your site to be near the top of the search results for the phrases you chose. This can be very difficult, as the World Wide Web is full of competing web sites that would like to be higher on the list. There is a wealth of information describing exactly what you can do to have a good shot at being in the top results. I will discuss some of these methods more in depth in future articles. In the meantime, I recommend reading the information at Bruce Clay’s web site. It is the best resource on the internet for good, free information on SEO.

you need S.E.OYou Need Good S.E.OWhy do I need Search Engine Optimization?

If you are going to promote your website through standard advertising (i.e. print, TV, or radio), you might not need to invest very heavily in SEO. Most startup companies do not have the budget to promote their site through those mediums. If that is your situation, doing some careful research about SEO can help you access a form of advertising that is nearly free and reaches millions of people interested in exactly what you have to offer. If you have the budget to pay a professional for this service, make sure to investigate very carefully and get examples of their work. If a company offers you a guaranteed top spot on Google, be weary. True SEO professionals will tell you the truth: that getting a high search ranking for a competitive key word phrase will take months of diligent work and planning, and involves many factors that you cannot control due to competition for the elusive top spot.

When you write the copy for your web site, use language that contains your key words. Try to provide information that your visitors will find useful. People are much more likely to buy a product or service from a company that gives some of its expertise for free. It is also important to continually update the information on your site to keep visitors returning to see what new information is available. Hopefully they will make a purchase along the way. 
 
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5 Valuable Search Engine Optimization Tips

seo contentContent OptimizingSearch engine optimization is THE most cost effective way for a company to market their products and services. Below are 5 extremely valuable search engine optimization tips:

1. Content is Key

Webmasters are extremely concerned with optimizing their code and as a result, they often forget about optimizing the content. As optimization tips go, this is one you should pay close attention to. The first 200 words of your home page should be loaded with keywords, this includes your headline. Some search engines, particularly those that ignore meta tags, will actually use the first few lines of text (including the headline) as your site description.

2. Utilize Static HTML

You don't need a "dynamic" website unless you have dynamic content, such as airline seat availability and pricing which needs to be dynamically published from a database because it constantly changes. You may store your website in a database but you're better off publishing it as a static HTML website. It's cheaper, the pages will download faster, and search engines will find it easier to comprehensively index your website.

The less HTML code you have, the better, as it makes it easier and faster for the search engine to index your page. Aim for a total page weight of 50 KB for any page (that's including graphics). Certainly, anything over 100 KB is going to be slow, and some search engines don't like pages that are over 100 KB.

title tag seoThe Title Tag is Important3. The Title Tag is Critical

The title tag is the single most important piece of content for people who search. Keep it short: Don't have more than 60 characters (with spaces), which is roughly 8-10 words. Lead with the most important careword for that particular page. Always start off with what is specific about the page and move to what is general. Many websites begin their title with their brand or organization name, and then follow with what is unique about the page. (This is a very common mistake, so check out your website.)

4. Optimize Your Images

This is another optimization tip that many people forget about. However, through use of your "alt" image attribute tag, you can slip in an extra keyword phrase or two that describes the picture users are about to see. The text only shows up when the user has turned off the 'view images' option in their browser or the image fails to load. But some search engine robots will pick it up too and the extra keywords could help your ranking. So take a few seconds to implement this optimization tip on your site and you could see improved results soon.

SEO ExpertSEO Professional5. Why You Shouldn't Optimize Your Own Site

While we have given you some basic optimization tips to help you quickly boost your search engine ranking, we still recommend that you hire a Search Engine Optimization professional for the best results. Search engines change their guidelines regularly, making it impossible for any one or two people to stay on top of all the changes while still running their business. What was a great optimization tip yesterday, could get your site blacklisted today. Your SEO professional will watch over your site as if it was our own, ensuring your site is always running in peak form. For example, we predicted many of the guideline changes Google made in November of 2003, saving many of our customers from the massive fall in rankings most experienced.
 
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The Importance Of A Good Header

city skylineCity SkylineFirst impressions are important - when you first see a city you've never been before, what do you notice? That's right, the skyline. Similarly, the first thing you see in the newspaper is the headline, and whenever you think of a TV show, you most likely think of the opening credits.

People tend to assess things based on these first impressions of them. Your website is treated just as anything else people see, they will tend to make a judgment based on the header at the top of your page. If your visitors see a header which has a professional appearance, they will assume that the content of your site is also of high quality.

wildlife website headerWildlife Website HeaderThough it isn't usually a functional part of the site, the header of a web page is one of the most important parts. With a professional and engaging header on a web page, visitors to that site will want to stay, because they will have been assured that if the header is up to a certain level of excellence, then the content they'll read there will be too.

While this may, or may not be true, it is what the reader will assume from seeing a well designed header. This reassurance will benefit you, in that the visitors to your site will not only stay to read your content during that initial visit, but will also return for future visits, and hopefully recommend you to others, and possibly link to you as well.

The header performs two basic functions on your website. It gives the viewer a quick overview of what your website is about, and it also provides an idea of the quality of your site.

Website headersWebsite HeadersEach of these functions are greatly important, but the second may be even more important than the first. There are millions of websites out there, and possibly hundreds or thousands compete with yours. If the style, or make-up of your header gives your website the look that it lacks quality or professionalism, your traffic will go to your competitors instead.

You may not realize exactly what is getting more traffic to your site, and increasing the length of the stays of visitors to your site.

Keeping visitors coming back, and staying on your site longer, is something which you can ascribe to many factors: content, better search engine rankings, new features and the like. However, in many cases it is your header which is doing all of this work: out in the open, yet behind the scenes.

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How important is a responsive website

responsive web designResponsive Web DesignAs more people are beginning to use mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, for every task that used to be only capable on desktop, one thing has become clear: mobile is taking over Internet surfing. And, it's not even just surfing. It's everything from browsing social media outlets, checking emails and doing some online shopping.

Because mobile Internet usage is increasing steadily, it's extremely important that your website is mobile friendly. Usually this isn't a major concern. You have a website designed for desktop users and another site specifically developed for mobile users. But, is it possible to have a site that is equally favorable for both desktop and mobile users?

There actually is a design that can handle both types of users. And it's called responsive web design.

What is responsive design?

A responsive design simply means a website that has been constructed so that all of the content, images and structure of the site remains the same on any device. For example, when a user accesses a site on their desktop, they are getting the full view of the site. But when that same user goes to visit the site from their smartphone or tablet, the site will retract to fit on the smaller screen.

In other words, with a responsive website design, you don't have to have worry about having different websites for various devices or making sure that your site runs properly on a mobile device.

But there are some other really important reasons why you should make the switch to responsive design for your website.

browsing on smartphoneBrowsing On SmartphoneMobile Usage is Increasing.

Take a step into the outside world and you'll definitely notice a lot of people on their mobile phones. In fact, it seems that just about everyone is attached at the hip with their smartphone. For some reason, however, there are many businesses who have not yet picked up on this trend. Maybe they could use the following stats from Smart Insights to convince them how much mobile usage has skyrocketed.

  • More than 20 percent of Google searches are now being performed on some sort of mobile device.
  • In 2012 over half of all local searches were done on a mobile device.
  • 25 percent of Internet users only access the internet via a mobile device in the United States.
  • 25.85 percent of all emails are opened on mobile phones, with another 10.16 percent being opened on tablets.
  • Mobile Internet usage is expected to overtake desktop usage.
  • Out of the 4 billion mobile phones in the world, 1.08 billion are smartphones and 3.05 are SMS enabled.

Recommended By Google

We all know that Google is a really big deal. In fact, the Big G claimed 67 percent search market share in 2013, making it the most popular search engine in the world. So, if Google claims that it prefers responsive web design as the recommended mobile configuration, you better take that as a hint - which was confirmed by Google's Pierre Farr in June 2012.

Search EnginesSearch EnginesBut why does Google prefer responsive design? For starters, it's more efficient for Google to bot crawl the site, and then index and organize all the content that is online. The reason for this is that with responsive design, all sites have just one URL and the same HTML across all devices. When a business has both a mobile site and desktop site, there will be a different URL and different HTML for each. This forces Google to crawl and index multiple versions of the same exact site.

Also, when there is just one website and URL, it's much easier for users to share, engage and interact with the content on that site as compared to a site that has different pages for mobile and desktop users. Google is a fan of that as well. Why? Because what if someone shared a mobile site on a social media outlet and one of their connections viewed that mobile site on their desktop? That viewer would then be viewing a less than optimal site because it was intended for mobile. This makes the user unhappy.

And Google realizes that unhappy people will go elsewhere, meaning that bounce rates increase and the site will not rank on mobile searches. This creates a whole big headache involving Google's external link algorithm and on-page errors. Which in turn, also harms your SEO.
In other words, it's just bad for business for both Google and all of the websites that aren't taking advantage of the benefits of responsive design.

Can Increase Conversion Rates

Besides all of the search benefits, as well as making users happy, responsive design has the ability to increase those coveted conversion rates from all of the mobile users in the world. Why? Well, if a website is not working on mobile or tablet device, users will obviously be unable to convert. And how many people are doing online shopping from a mobile device? There has been research that found 69% of tablet users shopped on their device within the last 30 days.

So, when a user has to do more work than needed to complete a conversion, do you think that they will still convert? It's less likely they will convert. However, there's a little more to it than that. For example, since a responsive website design can adjust to any screen, developers have control on how all of those conversion elements will display on mobile and tablet.

why do you need responsive web designWhy Do You Need Responsive Web DesignFinally, responsive design allows you to do some important high-end heat mapping and A/B testing, which can be done through software like Clicktale or Optimizely. This means that you can segment users by mobile and gain a better picture of how those users are interacting on your site. When you do this, you can discover what sales tactics and marketing strategies are effective, as well as those that are not. When you have this information, you can increase conversion rates.

Social Media Has Gone Mobile

We're guessing that you're involved with inbound marketing. But even if you're not, you still realize how important blogging and social media are in the 21st Century. In fact, if you have not implemented some sort of social media strategy in your marketing campaign, you're missing out on a lot of leads. But, social media has also now gone mobile, which you may have noticed. How important is mobile for social media users? According to a study from ComScore, 55% of social media consumption happens on a mobile device.

This is a really vital stat because what's the point of sharing content on social media if it's not compatible with mobile devices? Again, if a website isn't functioning on a mobile device, users get frustrated and leave. High bounce rates = low conversion rates. And, that puts everyone in a foul mood.

Better User Experience

We've briefly touched on this before, but responsive design gives users a better experience. For example, users don't have to fool around with zooming and shrinking the text or images on screen. Instead, all of the content automatically adjusts to the screen of the device. This makes it easier and more convenient for users to read and navigate on your site.

And, there are stats to further illustrate why the experience of users is so important. According to Google's Think Insights on Mobile, whenever someone arrives on your mobile website and is frustrated, or doesn't see the content that they are searching for immediately, there's a 61 percent chance they will leave and head to another website. However, whenever a user has had a positive experience with your mobile website, that individual will be 67 percent more likely to buy a product or use a service. Furthermore, 48 percent of users stated to Google that when a site doesn't function on their mobile device it makes them feel that the company does not care for their business.

A better user experience also makes it easier to be reached and complain. If people are able to contact you and find a way to complain, you have a much lower probability of them going online through social media and complaining.

Easier to Manage

phone users browsingPhone Users BrowsingGoing back to SEO for a moment, if you have separate desktop and mobile sites, you're going to have to run separate SEO campaigns for each. Wouldn't it just be easier to manage only one SEO campaign and one website? That would make not just your customers happy, but also your team including everyone from developers to content marketing managers. More importantly because you only have one site, responsive design is more cost effective as well

Stay Ahead of Competition

In the business world, you have to stay ahead of the competition. So, if more and more users are using their mobile devices to search and make purchases online, you have to cater to that audience by having a mobile-friendly site. In fact, 85 percent of adults believe that a mobile site must be as good, if not better than, a desktop site.

If that doesn't convince you enough. Around six months ago I redesigned my personal company site to have a responsive design. My mobile conversion (people contacting me) tripled overnight as well as people coming to my site doubled. I've also worked with several clients that have had similar results. Stay ahead of your competition and have a site that stands out. It'll make the difference.

Chances are that your competitors aren't making use of responsive designs, which means that they are losing out on potential customers. And, that is where you can stay ahead and take those customers away.

For more information, or a free quotation, please contact us today

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Why Website Templates Make Being A Webmaster More Efficient

Professional Web DesignerProfessional Web DesignerThe acceptance of website templates as an alternative to website designing can be attributed to the ability of templates in improving the work efficiency of the webmaster. Of course, they also reduce the costs involved in setting up a website.

Website templates have evolved over the years from simple HTML web page templates to the Flash template designs that allow for dynamic and customized websites. Getting a website designed from scratch is an expensive and time-consuming process. Moreover, it is not easy to get the right web designer, very often projects get delayed because of difference in opinion between the web designer and the webmaster and delay usually implies escalating costs. Website templates help to solve this problem by offering a selection of web page designs at a fraction of the cost of a professionally designed web page.

Multimedia Flash and other professionally designed templates enable webmasters to select from millions of permutations and combinations without having to approach a web designer. Inexperienced webmasters benefit more from using website templates as it frees their time and allows them to concentrate on other issues regarding the development of their website. There are many websites that offer templates that can easily be customized to a webmaster’s requirements.

design vs templateProfessional Design vs TemplateArriving at the right website design can speed up the website development process as after freezing the design, adding content to the website is not very time consuming and can be accomplished relatively easily. Website templates allow webmasters to pay more attention to this critical aspect of website development, and thus are more likely to receive traffic from search engines.

Branding And Creative Web DesignBranding and Creative Web DesignAs website templates provide a ready made and consistent design for each page, they help in binding a website together, giving it uniformity and coherence, and in facilitating smooth browsing. Templates are available with editable and uneditable regions, so chances of content getting erased are reduced. An important advantage that website templates offer is the ease with which they can be modified. The HTML and CSS components are not very difficult to master, and once the basic website is in place and online, a webmaster can crystallize his concepts, and customize the website to suit his business needs, by fine tuning the content or adding JavaScript, if required.

Thus, website templates, that cost round $50 - $200, are of great help to webmasters in running the website more efficiently. They also allow the site to generate revenue quickly, by allowing the webmaster to focus on producing content, and implementing marketing activities, such as web page optimization and competitor analysis.

For a free quotation, or to discuss your website needs, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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