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design & marketing blog

Straightforward design, marketing, and technical advice for making your marketing communications more effective.

Make Sure Your Website Content is Legitimate

April 28th, 2011

In February, Google made a significant change to its search algorithm in order to penalize and weed out shady SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing, content copying, etc. The Google change has actually forced some companies who practiced such tactics to layoff significant portions of their workforce because their Google search engine result listings dropped so severely. Take a look at this brief article from Website Magazine to read more: Crop Devastation – Google’s Farmer Update Retools Rankings.

As we’ve preached for years, your overall strategy should be to write Website content for your users, not  just to bait Google with keywords. Even if this tactic works for a brief time, in the long run this strategy will be detrimental to your online presence as has been demonstrated by Google over the last few months.

Search engine optimization is still a legitimate and very important component of your online strategy. It just has to be implemented correctly and with correct expectations need to be set for the client by a legitimate SEO firm (which can be hard to find). There is no shortcut or get rich quick scheme with SEO regardless of all the many claims of so-called SEO professionals who fill our in-boxes with their spam. As I’ve observed before, if these people are really so good at SEO why don’t they impart their skills on their own Website and reap the benefit instead of sending out spam?

To get started down the right path simply write your Website content and messaging solely for the benefit or your prospects and customers; in other words with true unique value. With that done then hire a legitimate SEO firm and copywriter to insure that your content is in line with your target keyword market which may require some slight adjustments to your copy.

There is a lot more to a long term SEO strategy but the above will give any Website a great foundation and insure that they are positioned for a successful future.

Redirecting Users From Links to Old Webpages

January 16th, 2011

Have you just deployed a new Website that includes a significantly different site structure, file names, and/or file extensions?  There are a few basic “housekeeping” tasks that should be performed to insure that indexed pages (in the case of search engines) and bookmarked pages (in the case of users) will not be returned with “Page not found” errors.

301 Redirect

The digital Change of Address Notification

301 redirects are  the best method for telling the world that a previous web page name and/or extension have been replaced by a different page. Think of a 301 redirect like digital equivalent of forwarding your USPS mail when moving to a new physical address.  It instantly forwards an old URL to the newer replacement URL. With a 301 redirect, the server is configured so that when a search engine or user follows a link they have previously bookmarked, the server recognizes that URL as an old page and automatically redirects the user to the new page.  For example we have the following URL set to redirect using this method: http://risingline.com/creative_samples.htm (notice the URL of the actual page you end up on is completely different).

301 Redirets are also useful for creating more descriptive and memorable URLs in marketing campaigns. For example, we found ourselves directing people to a particular page on our Website quite often during phone conversations.  Rather than having to relay the page name with its dash and “.php” extension we just created a shorter 301 redirect; so now we just have to say or type “http://risingline.com/why” instead of  “http://risingline.com/web-sites.php“. This URL is much more effective and memorable for verbal and written communication yet allows us to retain our file name “web-sites” which is more desirable for SEO purposes.

Google Can Index Flash – But Use With Caution

November 15th, 2010

Google and index FlashGoogle’s ability to “see” text content and links within Flash sites has dramatically improved as a recent post on Google’s Webmaster blog highlights. It used to be that any content and links embedded within Flash were like black holes in terms of visibility and accessibility to Google. However, starting a couple years ago, Google has developed the ability to overcome this limitation and it can now index and follow buttons, menus and hyperlinks coded within Flash.

This is definitely good news, but it’s not a green light to go out and develop you entire Website in Flash. In fact, our strategy for utilizing Flash within Websites has not changed from when it was not viewable at all by Google . . . we  never create a self contained Flash Website but rather use Flash selectively as an option for dynamic content to be embedded within a rich HTML Website framework. This helps insure a  optimal environment for Website performance, accessibility, usability and SEO.

Use Flash with Caution

One of the biggest caveats for using  Flash at all is the hatred that Steve Jobs seems to have for the medium. He is adamant about keeping Flash from working at on the iPhone and IPad which as you know have significant and rapidly growing market share within a high-value demographic. In fact, he personally posted a manifesto against the use of Flash on the Apple Website which is oddly captivating to read.

There are other good reasons for limiting the use of Flash within a Website as well which go beyond the scope of this post. As Website Magazine states in a November 12th article on this same topic:

Flash remains a problematic medium at best for publishing content online. The lack of unique URLs, page titles, link anchor texts and content hierarchy are only some of the common issues and factors that make Flash content far more difficult to classify and work with for search engine optimziers. Compare this with HTML content and it’s obvious that the two cannot compete on a level playing ground.

Conclusion

Regardless of what Steve Jobs might think, there is not one stock answer to the question of whether and to what degree Flash should be utilized on your Website . . . that answer will ultimately depend on a number of factors unique to your situation including the specific functions, goals and user profile of your Website and the alternate options available for dynamic functionality. The most important thing is to work with an informed and objective Web development firm (hey, that sounds like us!) to get a clear and objective picture of the pros and cons of Flash vis-à-vis your specific situation and goals.

Sage SEO Advice

September 22nd, 2010

I want to direct your attention to a recent blog post by Glenn Murray, IMHO one of the most accomplished and credible SEO copywriters out there. Glenn underscores vital SEO points we’re always preaching, namely:

  • You’ve got to post legitimate content that’s of real value to your target market.
  • You must be authentic and honest.
  • Your real audiences are your clients and prospects. Write content for them, not Google.
  • Success takes time.
  • Trying to cheat the system is ultimately detrimental to the success of your business.

I do recommend you read his whole post, but if you choose not to, here is my favorite quote:

“[SEO is] about working hard to write something truly link-worthy, then letting people know about it, so they can choose to link to it if they like it. It’s not about making Google believe your site is more popular than it actually is, it’s about actually making your site more popular.”

For the millionth time . . . there are no tricks or shortcuts to SEO and there are many scammers out there trying to convince you otherwise. As Forest Gump might say, “If it seems to be good to be true, you must of heard it from an SEO company.”

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