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Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

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301 redirects are  the best method for telling the world that a previous web page name and/or extension have been replaced by a different page.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.

Action Item: Utilize LinkedIn’s New Company Pages

November 10th, 2010

LinkedIn announced a few days ago the launch of  Company Pages. While it might seem that LinkedIn is a bit late to the business page concept (in comparison to Facebook) their Company Pages offer superior a superior technical solution with better usability. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn’s user base of 80 million are potentially higher prospects if your company markets primarily B2B. Even if you market to consumers, you definitely should establish a LinkedIn Company page to increase your overall social media footprint and take advantage of the other unique social networking benefits LinkedIn offers such as job posting and recruitment.

No matter what, if you’re a business owner you need to set up your company page immediately. If you need help, let us know.

One thing I appreciate is the superior usability as compared to Facebook. Facebook business pages are a mess from an administrative standpoint . . . it never seems completely clear if one is posting to a personal profile or a business page and when on a business page navigation links are intertwined with your personal profile. LinkedIn’s page administration seems to be thought out much better.  Also, in comparison with Facebook, there is opportunity to present much more information about your company and its services including graphic banner ads and keywords about your services which are beneficial from an SEO standpoint.

I’ve just started on our page but feel free to check out the Risingline Linked In Company Page and tell me your thoughts.

Another good reason to get rid of IE 6

October 13th, 2010

The article referenced below provides another compelling reason why you should keep all the Web browsers in your company upgraded to the most recent version of Web browser.

BBC: Two million US PCs recruited to botnets
The US leads the world in numbers of Windows PCs that are part of botnets, reveals a report. More than 2.2 million US PCs were found to be part of botnets, networks of hijacked home computers, in the first six months of 2010, it said. [read full article]

See also these prior blog posts of ours:

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