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Category Archives: Search Engine Optimization

SEO for the Homestead designed website

5 Ways to Lose Visitors

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We all have a mental list of things that bother us about websites; things that send us scrambling to another site.  The web is huge, competition is fierce and the best thing a webmaster webmaster hard at work can do is to adhere to the KISS principle. (KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID). Users of the Intuit-Homestead SiteBuilder program to design sites need an awareness of what does and doesn’t work on the web. Read the rest of this entry

Website Maintenance – Keep It In Good Shape

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Spring is here! It’s a good time to get your Homestead-Intuit website in tip-top condition.

Keep your Homestead-Intuit website in good shape

When was the last time you took a good close look at your website? We make quick changes now and then, but don’t usually pay attention to the big picture. A website can always use a bit of maintenance because errors tend to happen. A website that is error free is not only important for visitor retention, but is part of good search engine optimization as well.

Common Errors:

  • Spelling errors – spell check is great but won’t pick up homonyms (two words pronounced the same, with different meanings); weather/whether, break/brake for example.
  • Alignment errors – a misaligned list can make a site look sloppy and unprofessional
  • Overlaps – the border and bullet elements in SiteBuilder add padding and can throw off the placement of elements. Finding these requires checking the site in different browsers as each browser handles coding a bit differently.
  • Grammatical errors – Poor grammar can reflect negatively on your service or product.
  • Outdated information or events that have passed scream site neglect.
  • Broken links – they happen to the most diligent of webmasters.
  • The dreaded red X – this happens too. An image name is changed or it’s moved from the original location breaking the link to the image/graphic.
  • Stray element boxes should be eliminated. It’s easy to create a text box, get distracted and forget you made one. Using the Select All option will show all the elements on a page – including ones that shouldn’t be there.
  • Check the spelling in your Meta Tags. Page titles, descriptions, and key words often contain errors. Copy and paste them either to Notepad or directly onto the page to check them.

We tend to see what we know/think should be there rather than what actually IS there. If you have a really good friend, willing family member or co-worker who has time on their hands, enlist them to help proof your site. A fresh pair of eyes can help pick out those errors that you might be overlooking. If you don’t have someone who can assist then look at your website in a different way when you proof it.

Proofing Your Site:

  • Start at the back (last page) and work forward.
  • Read from bottom to top.
  • Copy the page content and paste it into notepad or Word and increase the font size.

Keeping your website in good shape will show visitors and the Search Engines that there is webmaster activity on the site making it more credible to both.

Download the free Website Design Guide to refresh your memory on the do’s and don’ts for websites and incorporate necessary changes when you are tuning up your site.

Website navigation – Is yours friendly?

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Is your Homestead site chasing visitors away?

If your navigation isn’t simple and straightforward you could be losing customers. One stat claims that 1/2 of online sales are lost due to the result of  a navigation that is poorly designed. That’s a pretty big number!

Your Home page is THE most important page of your site and it should be listed first in your navigation menu. Visitors look for the Home page link in the regular navigation so placing it elsewhere is a stopper for your potential customer. Every time you interrupt the flow of the visit you distract the visitor from their intended mission and make them focus on something other than finding/buying what they came for.

navigation menu on Homestead site

Can your visitor easily discern where each link in the navigation will take them or did you go with cute and clever link names that make the visitor stop and think about what that link refers to and where it may take them or what information it will yield?

Web users have two things in common:

  • They are totally focused
  • They are impatient

Using what you perceive as clever page names or icons without text  in the menu can be another stopper for the visitor that sends them elsewhere.

Consistency counts. Is your navigation the same throughout your site? It should be in the same location on every page, maintain the same structure, look and feel. Again, you need to make this a smooth, effortless journey, not an Easter egg hunt.

Location, location, location. Where is your navigation? Ideally it should be directly below your Logo/Header or on the left hand side at the top. Placing it anywhere else is going to be a stop and think for your visitor. Don’t neglect your site visitor in the (perceived) interest of aesthetics.

Have they been there, done that?  It is easy for visitors to a site to get confused as to whether or not they’ve already visited a page, this is especially true on larger sites. Using a regular link color and a visited link color, viewers can tell at a glance by the color change if they have seen a particular page.

How many times have you visited a site and had to get out the magnifying glass to read the menu? That menu is the life’s blood of a website yet designers/webmasters often use a tiny font and a light color for the navigation. This doesn’t mean you need to use a size 14 font in bold, black, but it does mean you should be sure the menu is easily read. Not everyone has 20/20 vision.

The success of a website involves many things, some big, some small, but navigation is VERY  BIG. The webmaster who doesn’t follow some basic principles of good design could be chasing customers away.

Happy webbing!

website design word cloud

Lots of Website Visitors – Few Results

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surfing the webThis is something we hear often. I get all these visitors to my site, but they don’t buy or they don’t fill out a form or they don’t do whatever it is that I am hoping they will do when they visit my site. These webmasters have well-optimized sites, all the t’s are crossed and I’s are dotted, they show up well in searches, but still the number of visitors far outweighs the resulting purchases or form filing or whatever action is hoped for.

Granted there can be mechanical or design flaws that might be preventing a visitor from becoming a customer/client, but that would be very obvious when some sales turned to no sales.

So how can it be that so many visit and only a few give us the results we had hoped for? Converting visitors to clients…

Tags can still be considered keyword stuffing

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I’ve been watching with interest the number of SiteBuilder webmasters  who are  using tag clouds or so-called tag lists on their sites.  This started in blogs, you can choose to use a tag cloud that shows up in the sidebar on blogs. Each time you write a post you add tags and the tags then show up in either the list or the cloud. The more often a word is used the bigger the font gets. All of these words in the cloud or list are active links. Click on one and any post that used that particular word or phrase in the tags will be shown.  Interesting concept, but unfortunately the search engines don’t necessarily see it that way. Consider that Google’s blogging platform, E-blogger, doesn’t employ this technique. That should be an immediate heads up for any webmaster or blogger.  Tag clouds can be viewed as keyword spamming

What do the search engines see? A conglomeration of words and links that may or may not have anything to do with each other, In ‘the old days’ this was called keyword stuffing and today, while they may be called tags, the search engines can still view the practice as keyword stuffing.

Webmasters need to employ the same good SEO practices with tags and tag clouds as they do with key words in order to stay in the good graces of the Search Engines.

Google’s guru, Matt Cutts, has a short video about tag clouds that will shed further light on Google’s view of tag clouds.

Google shaking up search results

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Besides the school-yard spitting match going on between Google and Bing (For more on the spitting match just do a search for Google and Bing click fraud – everyone has jumped on that posting bandwagon.), the latest news concerning Google is that they are about to shake up search results in an effort to reduce the incidence of spammy sites coming up prominently in those search results.

Beware! If your Homestead – Intuit site or article or post is essentially duplicate content, either something ‘borrowed’ from another site, or an article you’ve written and submitted on multiple sites you could well wake up to find it non-existent in searches. Sites that are predominantly links with little original or useful content are also apparently on the hit list – FINALLY

I’ve longed for the day when sites that offer visitors little in the way of original content and consist of nothing but links and clickable ads that will bring the site owner in $$$ and webmasters who copy and use other’s work, would end up in the nether-world of the www. Perhaps that day is coming.

Google’s Matt Cutts quoted on his blog, “The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content.”

It’s time to take a good, hard look at your Site Builder website to be sure it is going to stand up to the new search standards.

  1. Does the site have  informative content? A bunch of links and ads are not informative content.
  2. Is it original content? Have you duplicated that content elsewhere? On a blog or in articles posted to different sites? Or perhaps it is content taken from another site?
  3. Does the site employ black hat techniques?
  4. Has the content been written for the human reader or the search engines?  Sites written for search engines tend to lean toward keyword stuffing

Keep an eye on your site placement over the next several weeks. There are no absolutes and nothing to say that the new algorithm won’t make mistakes and drop a good site.  How to request reconsideration of your site.

Search Engines Gone Astray

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Simply having a website  does not guarantee that the world will beat a path to your door (I’m sure I’ve said that before, but it bears repeating!). There are hundreds of millions (billions perhaps) of websites, so competition is fierce to try and place prominently in search engine results. Face it, if you aren’t on at least page 2 of the SERPS chances are good you just aren’t going to get much traffic.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a must if a site is ever going to improve in positioning. There are  many basic components involved in optimizing a site – it can become a full time job and even then you can’t be assured of reaching the top of the heap. And the  Search Engines make it harder all the time. In my opinion, they’ve gone over the edge of what truly constitutes  a  top site.

Things started going downhill when the SE’s began putting importance on the number of  backlinks a site had. Supposedly it meant that the more backlinks a site had, the more visitors found it worthwhile which meant that it was a top notch site. Seriously? Is that really going to determine a quality site? You can buy backlinks so how does that prove the value of a site? And, really? how many webmasters are going to link to 100’s or 1000’s of other sites when it’s  incoming links to their own site that are more valuable and particularly one-way links (non-reciprocal links – meaning they link to you, you don’t link to them) There’s something wrong with this picture.

It proceeded to get more convoluted with the advent of blogs. All of a sudden Blogs were the be all, end all. Everyone needed one and the SE’s began to put blogs on the list of how to improve link juice to your site. As a side note here I have a couple of clients who belong to a blog for a particular profession.  They have begun allowing members to re-post other member’s previous posts.  Why? Well with thousands of people posting about a specific profession I believe they’ve run out of original things to post about so they’re recycling!  Go Green I say. Many blogs have really evolved into semi-websites. There are some awesome blogs out there, but for the most part they are just posts with little value and are merely taking up space – kinda like this one!  🙂

The advent of social media sites was one things really tanked.  Once again the Search Engines went off the mark and began putting emphasis on the nutworking sites as I call them.  Again I can only say SERIOUSLY? Anyone running a business has their hands full already – the last thing they need is to have to belong to a dozen social sites where they have to tweet, or write on a wall or dig something EVERY DAY in order for it to do any good. And guess what happens? The information highway becomes more and more diluted and ridiculous. Tweet this! Many of these  sites have their value for people who have nothing else to do than be social butterflies, some are a great way for families who want to stay in touch, but for the most part they are valueless. Get rid of them? No, because they do serve a purpose for some people. Make them part of SEO juice? NO!

Essentially there are four kinds of websites:

  • Informational sites – sites that provide information about a specific topic or topics. Authority sites, government sites, library sites and so on
  • Sites that offer a  limited variety of products or a service they are selling such as real estate sites, pet sites, etc., but also provide information about the service or the target for their products.
  • E-Commerce sites – These are internet stores that sell products and offer little or no information other than product descriptions
  • Personal and Organization sites – Sites about  family reunions, sports team sites, organizations, and the like

This is where the true value of the internet lies, not in twitting or facebooking or digging or stumbling. While those types of sites may hold interest or entertainment for some, I don’t feel that the Search Engines should be placing any value on whether or not a website is tied to one of these social networking sites.

Webmasters keep your focus and continue to make those websites strong, with good content and useful information. Add pages, update, add the site to directories and keep giving your visitors what they are really searching for.