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  • Outdated information or events that have passed scream site neglect.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

So you think you’re a website designer …

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You have the Homestead or Intuit software and have decided that it’s so easy to use that you’ll go into the website design business.

Do yourself, or better yet any potential clients, a HUGE favor.  Do something else until you learn the right way to design sites.  Otherwise you are doing the client a disservice and contributing to the bad name that website designers have gotten because of the amateurish attempts of many.

You are not a website designer if:

1. You aren’t aware of page weight, what it is, how to reduce it or even how to check it.
2. Alt text isn’t in your vocabulary.
3. Templates are your mainstay design tool.
4. You use the non-professional elements that just scream ‘Amateur’ or Non-Professional site.
5. You don’t realize that sites render differently in different browsers.
6. You haven’t taken the time to learn SEO (and even worse don’t know what SEO stands for).
7. You kidnap the site and ‘piggyback’ it off your own site. Thus the client doesn’t have access to the stats or the ability to go in and run the site themselves.
8. The link structure is poorly thought out and/or incomplete.
9. Usability also isn’t in your vocabulary.
10. The site isn’t consistent from page to page.
11. You think blinking, scrolling, flashing, jumping things are consistent with good web design.
12. You use “Black Hat” techniques.
13. You don’t understand the difference between java-script and plain text. And worse yet, don’t realize that java-script can have a negative impact on the site.
14. You still aren’t sure exactly what Meta tags are.
15. Page Titles show up as Home, About, etc. in the browser bar.

We are seeing more and more “website designers” asking for a site review on the Forum.  Upon reviewing these sites it becomes instantly clear that they have a long way to go before they should be turned loose on the unsuspecting public as website designers.  Having the ability to easily make sites with Intuit – Homestead software is great and does afford the opportunity to become a designer.  But PLEASE do your homework before you venture out and ruin a client’s potential to have a successful site due to your inability to design a site that offers usability, visitor friendliness and search engine optimization.

We have written two books that can help you successfully start your own web site design business. The first deals with starting a home based design business and the keys to good design. The second is a guide to search engine optimization that is an invaluable resource for anyone, whether a would-be designer or someone who is just building their own site.  Of course we’re interested in selling our product, but the bottom line is that we are more interested in seeing people succeed in their ventures by creating sites that do the job they are intended to do.

Homestead Website Design – The Building Blocks to a Successful Home Based Business

SEO Building Blocks – Search Engine Optimization for the Homestead Website

Books can be purchased separately or as a bundle.  Visit The Learning Center for more information.

Help With SiteBuilder Program for Intuit – Homestead Users

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Build a website and the world will beat a path to your door. It sounds great, but the reality is that unless your site is well designed and optimized for the Search Engines you will probably end up falling through the cracks and have very limited success with your site. For users of the ( Intuit ) Homestead Website software there are a number of ways to get support and help with the program.

The key to developing a web site is planning. A good place to begin is with the free Web Site Design Guide from S&J Enterprises.  With over 20 years of combined experience we are very familiar with the workings of the Site Builder program and how to develop a website that is both user and search engine friendly. The Guide provides helpful ideas and guidelines for designing and optimizing your Homestead website.

Download the free Web Site Design Guide

The Homestead Connection  is another great resource for Homestead users to get help with the program. The website explains how things work with the drag and drop SiteBuilder software.  Examples and tutorials take you through the basics of the program. There are also tips and information as well as links to sites and software that help to enhance your website design.

The Homestead Connection Forum  is a free, moderated Forum for Homestead users to get advice, offer help, receive site reviews, learn about Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) and share in the Homestead Community experience of website building.

If you are an Intuit – Homestead user you can list your website(s) in the free Homestead Connection Directory.  The Directory was created to help webmasters get better exposure with the Search Engines and provide a quality directory for visitors. Your first listing is free and you have the option of adding a second listing or even a business card listing for a nominal fee.

Homestead Design and SEO  is the Blog resource we use to keep Homestead members up-to-date on design and Search Engine Optimization in addition to help with the Homestead program.

SEO Building Blocks E book by S&J Enterprises is a comprehensive guide that explains how to optimize your Homestead web site for the Search Engines. Simple directions and visual aids make it easy to apply   search engine optimization to your website. Examples and explanations show how to give your site more Search Engine and visitor appeal – both of which add up to more visits and more sales! 

The Homestead Website Design  E book was written to give Homestead users a guide to starting a home based web site design business. The book explains the steps necessary for start up, proper design techniques and ways to create an income stream to earn more from your business. Great even for the beginning webmaster who isn’t interested in starting a web design business but who needs help with site design.

Homestead Technology has both phone support  ( 1-800-710-1998 ) and a Help Ticket resource.  The Help Ticket can be accessed by logging into your Homestead account and clicking on Help.

There is a wealth of help for the Homestead user. Between the assistance offered by Homestead and the site building help from actual Homestead users, the Site Builder program is undoubtedly one of the best supported website building programs available.

Keywords – The real start to SEO and a successful website

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Everyone works hard to make their new web sites look pretty, graphics are added, the page is laid out and the text written. When everything is completed thoughts may turn to web site optimization. Optimization should be integrated into the site from the beginning, but better late than never.

Stick in a few key words, make a description and the site is optimized, right? Wrong!

Keywords need to reflect what the site is selling, or providing. These are the essence of the website, but they also need to be the terms that people actually use when searching for a product or service.

These words/phrases should be utilized in every aspect of the website or web page. They should appear in the Meta tags and in the on page copy. Every web page needs to revolve around and focus on the primary keyword or key phrase.

You also need to KNOW EXACTLY what phrases people use to search for similar items. This information is one of the most important things you need for the website to be successful. To determine actual search terms you need to research the keywords that are appropriate for your site. To do this you need to use a keyword tool.

Keyword tool  programs have been around for years. Today most are based on Realtracker’s information.  This company provides a free tool as well as a pay for use program. Personally, I have never been a fan of most of these tools as the results vary and at times are somewhat conflicting.

Google has also provided some information to webmasters who use their adwords keyword tool. It never gave a lot of specific information but it did provide a graph showing usage of terms and some suggestions for other terms that might work. When used in conjunction with one of the other keyword tools it provided a better understanding of the possible key terms being checked.

About 2 months ago Google made a major step in providing the webmaster information….Their Keyword tool  started giving actual search numbers, a graphic representation on monthly cycles and the results can be modified for different criteria.

I have been using this new and improved Google option since it was made available and I am impressed. It is an approximation only but it does provide some real usable information.

Perhaps it is time for you to address the keyword situation and gain focus on your website.

SEO is a combination of many things that need to be built into a website and one of the major factors is utilizing good keywords and phrases.  Use this information to focus your site and use terms that will bring in visitors from actual searches.

Good keyword selection is the first step in gaining visibility in the search engines.

For more information on how to actually use your keywords in the site read the keyword density article.