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Category Archives: Search Engine Optimization

SEO for the Homestead designed website

Be sure you get listed in that Directory

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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.

Sample listing for directory

Sample Listing

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.

Just Released – 2010 edition of SEO Building Blocks

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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

The building blocks of search engine optimization for Intuit - Homestead users


How’s your integrity quotient?

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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

Google – Too much Caffeine?

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Surprise Google did it again! The newest algorithm change Caffeine is here – more or less.

For many this change may be as bad as the infamous Florida update from several years ago. The usual tactic is to put these major changes out in parts and pieces and then do tweaking. This causes flux and chaos for many webmasters and could be what has caused the problems many of us have seen over the past month or two. One day you find yourself on the top of the SERPS and the next day you are no where to be found. If you are one of the lucky people your site may reappear and if not you might start looking for potential problems. Avoid making dramatic changes for awhile as things are not stable and the big G continues to tinker with things.

For more information visit: Spend some time reading the feedback as it might provide insight to what others feel and see.

If your website does not have major problems and has good content that does not remain static, no problems with indexing and has been well optimized you probably have most of the potential issues taken care of.  Some things to look at if you aren’t sure:

  • Most of us do not spend enough time getting inbound links that are and will continue be very important especially to Google.  If you haven’t been adding them start now and keep it up. Do your research and add a couple of new inbound links every month because Google expects links to grow continuously if a site is good.
  • Use anchor text that fits your site (the words that make up the actual link) in your link submissions. Vary the text you submit so that it isn’t identical in every link. This is one of indicators to the Search Engines that the links could be spammy. If you take the time to do link building then do it right and get credit for your effort.
  • Check your site against that of the competition to see where you might improve your Meta tags (title, description, keywords) as well as the page copy itself.

10 Factors that can determine how a site will place in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP):

  1. How well the Meta title, description, and keywords have been optimized.
  2. Be sure you have unique and relevant page copy to adequately define what your site is about to the Search Engines as well as visitors.
  3. Placement of the key words and key points within the content.
  4. The keyword density of the page.
  5. Age of the site.
  6. How much competition there is for the chosen keywords.
  7. The number and quality of inbound links.
  8. Relevancy of content throughout the site.
  9. Internal Links – Links from one page within the site to another page. Or one section of a page to another section on the page.
  10. Updating the site can influence how often the SEs visit.

For more in-depth information on how to optimize your site for the Search Engines we recommend  SEO Building Blocks.

Search Engine and Directory Submittals

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 What is good and what is a waste of time, money and energy when it comes to submitting or resubmitting to the Search Engines and Directories? 

1. Directories are a one time submittal. Do NOT resubmit unless the Directory states you did not follow their instructions and they tossed your submission out. In that case, reread their submission information and then resubmit.

2. Search engine re-submittals are NOT necessary and in some cases can be counter productive. After the initial indexing and listing there is absolutely no reason to resubmit your site to any search engine.

You may read about it being necessary to resubmit to search engines and directories on a monthly basis to rise to the top of the searches or keep the site in the index. This is hogwash. If your website is search engine friendly and has links to it for initial indexing it will stay in the system and be available for searches. As far as gaining ranking by monthly submittals this again is not true. Having a well placed website depends on the site being completely indexed, well optimized with good and ample on page copy and LINKS from quality themed websites.

On occasion it may be necessary to initially submit to MSN’s search spider as this engine has a history of not finding sites in a timely manner. Bing’s submittal is simple just add your url and they will do the rest.( )

 Under normal circumstances most major search engines will find a website without help and seem to prefer to find new sites through  the inbound link process. To ensure all your pages are indexed:

  • Avoid splash/flash entry pages – your main page (Index) needs to offer the search engines links to pages in the site via a navigation.
  • Provide simple text links for the spiders to follow from the index page
  •  Use a site map constructed with simple text links to every page and/or an xml site map that is provided just for the search bots. Information on xml site maps and how to construct simple text links and text based navigation may be found in the Homestead Connection tutorials. ( )

Google making search more interesting

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In March, Google introduced something new into their search algorithm. Their statement in part says, “we are deploying a new technology that can better understand associations and concepts related to your search.” Simply put, semantic search is now a part of Google’s search results. By definition, semantic is the meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or text. Google’s changes will give results that target more queries and provide searchers expanded relevant results.

On page copy (content) is and has always been important for the Homestead webmaster but now it is even more so. The new changes allow a better use of related terms in your  information as the algorithm can understand the association of terms.  This makes search engine optimization (SEO) even more important for webmasters to gain good placement in searches.

The best part of Google’s improvements is how it effects longer queries…Google will be expanding the number of lines in the snippets to provide more information. The results will show the queried words in the context of the page. A search for ‘how to build a Homestead website’ is an example:

Search Results

The words in bold are what Google pulled from the site to match the search. In this example it is a snippet from one of our previous blog posts.

For webmasters who have actually developed good on-page copy this should be a real benefit by presenting your information to more searchers. It will not only provide results for the specific keywords but words that closely relate to those search words. These snippets may come from anywhere on the page.

This change should encourage better writing because the search terms utilized can and will include options beyond specific keywords. Phrases that semantically ‘fit’ may also be included in the results.  This should be a win win situation for both the web searcher and the thoughtful webmaster.

Homestead users should keep in mind that website design and information placement is important in regards to page copy.  As more information is added to a page it is possible for a website to initially overwhelm the reader/searcher with too much information to sort through.

It is wise to keep the top portion (above the fold) simple with emphasis on the main purpose of the site. Additional information can be placed lower on the page. The use of bold type for important information helps the reader to quickly scan to find the meat of the site.  Utilizing lists also helps the viewer to see at a glance what the focus of the site is. Both of these also help with the Search Engines.  By constructing pages in this way the reader can quickly determine important information in the first few paragraphs.  If what they see piques their interest they will continue reading/looking.

As search engines continue to refine their algorithms, on page copy becomes even more important. Webmasters will need to hone their writing skills and think beyond placing emphasis on just a few key words or phrases in order to fully benefit from searches.

Visit Google’s blog for the complete scoop on the New Improvements to Search Results 


Be sure to visit us at the Homestead Connection Forum  for more help and information on making your Homestead site user and search engine friendly.

Homestead user who needs some help? The Homestead Connection  site offers users of the Intuit (Homestead websites) software, tutorials and examples of how to use the SiteBuilder program.

Building Traffic to your Homestead Website

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What are you doing to gain additional visitors to your website?

You may have read somewhere that making posts on forums and blogs will quickly bring you a lot new visitors. Reference has also been made about Craigs list and You Tube as sources for site visitors. 

This type of advice is usually given by people who do not understand the basics of website traffic and marketing and have yet to realize that a gazillion hits does not a successful site make.

The Scoop on Website Visitors
There are several types of visitors to a website, some count and some don’t.
Which type of site user is important to your business or website? Obviously the one who converts, purchases, signs up. But let’s examine these visitors a bit more.

• Focused visitors –  These are people who are actually looking for a product, service or information that your website provides. They will usually find your site from doing a search, finding your listing in a directory or on a links page from a similar website. These are the visitors who are most apt to convert and buy your products or services.

• Casual/Comparison shoppers – This type of visitor is looking for information on something that they are interested in purchasing. They’re looking for information and best price. They may visit  a site several times before committing…if they find a site that provides the information they need, is well done and gives them a feeling of security they can turn into customers.

• Impulse buyers –  These are people who purchase something without having planned to do so. 

• Curious people –  Those who are surfing or reading forums or blogs fall in this category.  They may see a signature line and click it to see what the poster has for a website.  Most, if not all, of the clicks you get from this type of person are useless. People motivated by curiosity produce abysmally low conversion rates for purchasing products or services.  So the work involved in posting to forums or blogs may produce visitors, but not ones who are likely to buy. Worth your time? Probably not.

Craig’s list – If you haven’t used Craig’s list it is free online advertising platform. You register and then choose a city to advertise your product or service in. If done right this option can provide some people focused on what you are promoting.  Casual shoppers may also use Craig’s list to see if there are bargains available in their area.  However, the vast majority will again be just curious about your ad. What you will probably see is lots of hits with some potential benefit if you learn to write good ads and have a good buy on unique products. Flooding a website with Looky-Loos doesn’t mean you will make money.

Blog and forum posting – These are most apt to bring you the Curious segment of shoppers, so again you need to weigh benefit over time involved in keeping up a blog or traveling to various forums to post just for the links.  It certainly is not going to bring in many focused visitors or even casual shoppers…these people don’t go read a blog or a forum to find the product or service they are interested in.
Newsletters can help promote your website and its products. Provide something of real importance to get sign ups. This is your target market, give away tips, and helpful information that will develop a trust relationship. You then add your product promotion for those who are interested. One word of caution, don’t scam the potential user…give them quality information and make sure it is complete, current and accurate.

This website provides a free place to upload videos to entertain, educate and promote.  Unfortunately it is also a source of a lot of information that has been cobbled together into quickie, unprofessional videos promoting everything from SEO to dancing. If you decide to use this method to market your site then make your videos professional. Lack of professionalism is not a problem if  the video is of talking birds or dancing puppies, but it takes time and serious effort to produce a video that is worthwhile.  Will this avenue gain you site visitors and will they convert?  Most people will be looking from curiosity but you may pick up the occasional buyer.

If you are serious about your business then you don’t want hits you want FOCUSED visitors, those who are looking for your products. Hits mean nothing except allowing you to say “I got a gazillion hits on my website”. Hits do not mean money or build a site reputation and success does not come easy or fast.

Visit the Homestead Connection forum to learn more about SEO and building professional looking and useable websites. We provide real tools and tutorials for building your Homestead website.  Free site evaluations, tips and guidance.