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 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
Category Archives: Search Engine Optimization
This 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…
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.
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.
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.
- Does the site have informative content? A bunch of links and ads are not informative content.
- 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?
- Does the site employ black hat techniques?
- 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.
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.
As many of you know we offer a free directory to users of the Homestead – Intuit web site program. The Homestead Connection Directory was developed to give Site Builder and Store Front users a way to add a non-reciprocal, inbound link to their sites as well as giving them web exposure. We’ve gained some insight into how many people, who submit to more stringent directories, probably aren’t getting in or if they are, their listings probably aren’t doing them much good.
Using the Homestead Connection Directory (HCD) as an example, there is a link to the Guidelines as well as a FAQ page in the navigation menu. When you submit to any directory you’ll find a similar page(s) that list the requirements. That page isn’t there to just take up space … it lists the rules, requirements, limitations and so forth that the directory requires in order for your site to be accepted. READ THE TERMS AND COMPLY or you will most likely not find your site listed in that directory.
Again using the HCD as an example, one of the terms is that the Description not be any longer than 200 characters, including spaces. This is repeated on the form used to submit the site. Yet time and again we receive submissions that are in the 400-500 range. We’ve been lenient and allowed a bit of overage and sometimes we even re-do the listing in order to meet the requirement. 9.5 out of 10 directories will simply toss the submission.
The flip side of this is the listing that comprises only a few words. Ex: Dog Breeders or Houses remodeled. It’s a big world out there and there are many dozens of dog breeders and home remodel companies. Make that description work for you and make the visitor want to click on your link. List the area you are in. The search engines pick up on localities so this is especially important for those who serve a limited area.
Your Description should include your main keyword/phrase and it should make sense to the human reader. Many directories specify not to use exclamation points, sales hype, all capital letters, etc. Be sure you comply if you are serious about getting your site listed.
There is usually a character limitation for the Title as well specific criteria for the content of the Title. This is usually the domain name of the site ( not the URL). Sometimes you’re allowed to use the actual page name if you are submitting to an internal page.
Contact information is another area that often lacks enough information. Utilize the maximum amount of information allowed. Show that you are a legitimate business by including a phone number, city and state, contact person’s name (even just a first name is better than nothing), if your business is a brick and mortar store include the physical address and an email address.
Remember that directory listings can play an important part in your overall SEO. Make sure to read and follow the instructions for each directory you submit to in order to get listed and be sure that you give viewers enough information to make them want to visit your site.
SEO Building Blocks 2010 is now available. The up-to-date 50+ page ebook written expressly for users of the Intuit – Homestead SiteBuilder program explains the process of Search Engine Optimization and addresses the things that make optimization for Homestead sites different. Expanded information on page design and an updated web site design guide are included in the book.
Learn search engine optimization with easy to understand examples, visual guides and explanations that show you how to make your site stand out for the Search Engines and increase visitor appeal – both of which add up to more visits and more sales!
Written by Homestead users for Homestead users.
Visit SEO Building Blocks
You know how sometimes things just gnaw at you and even though you try to shrug them off they seem to constantly rear their heads and demand attention? This particular issue has gnawed long enough and its time to get it out there.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery … but when it comes to claiming it as your own that’s a whole new ball game and when you do a lousy job of it that’s even worse. The real kicker though is charging people for so-called expertise taken from someone else, edited just enough to maybe avoid copyright infringement and then presented as your own in an amateurish manner.
So what, you ask, is this all about? A couple of years ago this person showed up on the HC Forum asking for help. He knew nothing about search engine optimization and had a site that was very poorly designed (and unfortunately it was a site he was designing for some unsuspecting soul). Judy and I gave this fellow a ton of help and he purchased our book, SEO Building Blocks™. The next thing we knew he began promoting himself as an SEO expert (remember, this is the guy who just a couple years ago didn’t even know how to spell SEO and you definitely DO NOT become expert in SEO in a couple of years) and selling information via videos (very poorly done and lacking in good/correct info.) and documents. Pity the person who purchases as they are not going to be getting expert advise, rather they will get info harvested from another source – in trying to escape copyright infringement he did a lousy job so the ‘expert advise’ is outdated and often incorrect. He has even gone so far as to incorporate the term Building Blocks into his content. Obviously integrity and honesty aren’t words in his vocabulary.
So buyer beware, if you are an Intuit – Homestead user and need some help with SEO, make sure that the source you purchase from is legit and truly knows the ins and outs of search engine optimization. Make sure that the seller is providing you good, quality, up-to-date information that will help you succeed on the WWW.
We have over 25 years of combined experience in design and SEO and the Site Builder program. And, ‘We wrote the book on SEO for Intuit – Homestead sites’®. If you want the ‘real deal’ visit us at SEO Building Blocks for information on the ebook that can truly offer you insight into search engine requirements and help with optimizing your website.
Thanks for letting us get this off our chests!
S & J