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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  • Outdated information or events that have passed scream site neglect.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.

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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.( http://www.bing.com/docs/submit.aspx )

 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. ( http://www.homesteadconnection.com/Tutorials.html )

Page Rank – What it takes

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Google’s explanation (definition) of their Page Rank system:

  • PageRank Technology: PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results.PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value. We have always taken a pragmatic approach to help improve search quality and create useful products, and our technology uses the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page’s importance.
  • The PR of a page is important, but it is only one of many factors that determines how a page ranks in searches.

    • The period of time that a domain has been indexed can be a big factor in rankings. New domains need time for Search Engines to classify them as viable.  Six months to a year is the accepted time frame for this to take place.
    • Add links on a regular basis. Incoming links at this time remain important with both Google and MSN in determining page rank. Develop a link building program using directory submittals and quality reciprocal links. Reciprocals are not as heavily rated as good one way links but they do count as long as they are relevant to your site’s content and come from quality sites that are also relevant in subject matter.
    • If you choose to do reciprocal linking, vary your anchor text routinely. Search engines can determine patterns in links that have anchor text using identical terms. These may be judged as coming from possible link farms.
    • Do not totally exclude outbound links from your site. Major search engines expect to see some outbound linking to quality sites. If they do not find these expected links after indexing several times they can view the site itself as not particularly important and your rankings can be negatively affected. Do some out linking to provide valuable resources for visitors.
    • Alt Text on images. Some major search engines utilize alt text as a rating factor. Use key words/phrases that are appropriate for the image and page content.
    • All pages need content. Do not depend on images to sell your site/product/service to either people or search engines. This approach can result in fewer site visitors than if real information were provided up front. Search Engines also require information to create custom search engine results. 
    • Add new content – Search engines expect quality sites to be updated.
      Websites should be updated at least every six months but your important pages can really benefit by updating every month if possible. This provides returning visitors something new and SEs will tend to visit your site more often if they find frequent updates.

    These are some circumstances that can affect page rank and every item except domain age can be controlled by the webmaster.

    To have a website achieve page rank and do well in searches requires work, research and keeping up to date on changes in search engine requirements.