A Practical Guide to Developing Effective Web Sites: Part II

Web Site Navigation Scheme Links

Your navigation scheme should include a form to sign up for your e-newsletter and free available downloads, or requests for a free report, analysis or consultation. Your pages with regular updates should also include an RSS subscription so that visitors will receive updates either by e-mail or in the RSS feeder when you update your site without having to come back and visit again. RSS feeds, which can include Twitter posts, are another way to regularly update your site.

On-Page Optimization and Keywords

Now that you have your pages chosen, the next step is to develop your content for these pages. As you lay out the content of your pages, be sure to write from the buyer’s perspective and to keep on-page optimization in mind. An important part of this is to use your keywords in the text, photos, video, etc. of the page and to repeat these, without forcing or stuffing the page. Here’s a list of important optimization considerations:

Working with Domains

  • Pick a domain name that has potential keywords in it.
  • Choose to pre-pay your domain for a few years in advance. Genuine sites plan on staying around for a while.

  • If you’re using a shared server, you may want to do a blacklist check. If you have spammers on your server, you share the same IP address with them and so you may be considered a spammer.

  • There are multiple ways to reach your home page; make sure your site is set up to redirect the other ways. For example, yourcompany.com, www.yourcompany.com, yourcompany.com/index.html, www.yourcompany.com/index.html all should redirect to the one you pick. Google considers these to be four separate pages, instead of one.

  • Name your Web pages using keywords, for example, www.yourcompany.com/keyword1-keyword2.html.

  • Never block your domain registration information using a privacy feature. Doing so may cause search engines to consider you a spammer for your anonymity.

Use Proper Programming

  • Use the words “image” or “picture” in your photo alt descriptions and captions. A lot of searches are for a keyword plus one of those words.

  • Make sure you have at least one text-based navigation link to make it easy for search engines to find the other pages of your site. Search engines have trouble following links using JavaScript-based images. These alternate text-based navigations are usually found at the bottom of a site.

  • Stay away from developing websites with Frames because you cannot link to a specific page of the site. Use Flash and Ajax minimally. Search engines cannot read anything inside Flash and cannot see inside the Frames.

  • If you MUST have a splash page with Flash or something of the sort, you also MUST place content and link text below it.

  • If you aren’t too slick with CSS, putting your menu on the right-hand side will ensure spiders will crawl your main content first (after ). Spiders read sites top to bottom, left to right.

  • Get rid of code bloat. JavaScript and CSS code should be moved to separate external files.

  • Make a dynamic XML sitemap to submit to search engines.

  • You should have a customized error page. If a potential customer finds a broken link, they can be supplied with links back to the site.

  • You should have a robots.txt file which is used to restrict search engines from reaching certain parts of your site. It also tells search engines where your dynamic XML sitemap is located.

Displaying Your Content

  • Keep your content text-based as much as possible. Search engines cannot read text that is embedded in an image. If you use images, make sure you assign an alt tag and title tag to each image. An alt tag is seen when the image cannot be displayed. It is also used by the visually impaired.

  • Keep your content changing and fresh. Outdated content will rank lower than more recent content.

  • If your site’s content does not change often, then your site needs a blog. Once you have a blog, it’s important TO BLOG ON IT or you will receive little to no results. Crawlers crawl for content; if your site’s content doesn’t change, the crawler will come back less and less often. Three blogs entries a week is proficient.

  • You should have a good content-to-code ratio. This means, even though you enjoy spinning images, with cool effects, and flashy junk, your content-to-code ratio is poor. A blank white page with optimal content will always do better than code-stuffed junk pages.

  • If you are writing a substantial article, then you are most likely dealing with sub-topics. These sub-topics should be split in to separate pages with their own optimizations.

  • Put high-quality outbound links related to your Web site. This doesn’t mean you should link to your competitor; it means you should link to a site that is within the realm of what your site is about and use the keywords considered by Google for that site. This shows users that you are in good faith and not a spammer. A higher ranking will give you more traffic than outbound links. People leave when they haven’t found what they’re looking for; chances are you’d have lost them anyway.

Using Keywords

  • Pick relevant keywords that potential customers may search for. Try to stay away from very popular keywords. The more competition for a keyword, the harder it is to rank high with it. Try narrowing your keyword phrases by adding a location or town.

  • Use keyword phrases in the content on your pages and in the headings. Repeat keywords throughout the content making some bold or italicized – this tells search engines that these words are more important. Make sure each page has a good amount of content – search engines love a lot of text.

  • Don’t try to cram keywords and pull a fast one on a search engine spider. Programmers are constantly rewriting code to find people who try to abuse the spider, and they will find you eventually. So basically, BE LEGITIMATE – write content for a reader and NOT a spider.

  • Use keyword phrases in the title of each Web page. Each page should have a unique title. Don’t list your company name in your title – most potential customers won’t be searching for you specifically. The words towards the beginning of the title should be the most important.

  • Use the keyword and description meta tags in your site. Each page should have unique keywords and descriptions.

  • It is always best to use keywords in anchor text (links). “SEO tips” is always a better anchor text than “Click here.” Crawlers also consider the surrounding text nearest to the anchor.

  • Give each page a focus on a single keyword phrase. Don’t try to optimize the page for several keywords at once.

  • Rather than repeating the same keyword over and over again, it is best to use the keyword’s synonyms. This keeps your content more interesting for readers, and Google won’t think you’re a keyword abuser.

  • The best places for juicy keywords is the beginning and end of your page. Sometimes that’s not where it “looks” best to viewers; in such cases, it’s optimal to use CSS to place your keywords at the top of the source and not change the visual layout.

Blackhat” Methods

Avoid using these methods to prevent blacklisting by Google and other search engines:

  • Having duplicate websites.

  • Auto-generated content.

  • Repeating the keyword in your content too often.

  • Redirecting the home page.

  • Using small pixel text or hidden text on your pages. For example, white text on white background.

  • Submitting your site to a “link farm.”

  • Cloaking: this means displaying a different version of your web site, depending on the IP address of those accessing it.

  • Registering many domains and interlinking them all.

A Practical Guide to Developing Effective Web Sites: Part I

Deciding to Build a New Web Site

If you are starting a new business or organization, you realize that developing your web site is one of your top priorities. In today’s online world, those organizations that do not have a web site, just don’t seem like legitimate businesses or ones that prospective buyers, clients or supporters have confidence to do business with. Increasingly, as traditional marketing approaches become less effective, perhaps led by the phone book, it has never been more important to concentrate your marketing efforts in your web site and to effectively implement an online communications strategy to build your business.

Planning a New Web Site

Whether you are starting a new business or entity, or asking yourself if it is time to re-design your organization’s site, setting out to design a new site takes considerable planning. Planning ahead will help you develop a site that is both content-rich and one that visitors will engage with. This will help your site generate business leads and sales or supporters for your cause or organization.

Design Your New Web Site with Your Visitors (Prospective Buyers, Supporters, and Clients) in Mind

The first thing you need to do is to set out to design your web site with your prospective buyers, supporters and clients in mind (heretofore referred to as buyers). To do that, you must begin with the following questions: Who are your prospective buyers? What problems do they have? What services or products do you provide that can meet their needs? What demographic groups do they fall into? What types of Web content will they respond to? Once you determine who your buyers are, you can develop specific content to meet their needs.

Consider the way search engines work. They seek to provide the best results for what people are searching for. Because of this, you will likely have a separate web page for each of your different products, etc. and for each type of buyer and their problems. The more specific the content, the better, as your page content seeks to cover niche markets.

What Pages to Include in Your Web Site

When deciding how to organize your site, you will want to consider how to best organize your buyer-specific content with ease of navigation in mind. All sites have a home page. This page is going to be the first page many visitors see, especially when they type your company name into a search engine, enter your URL into a browser, or are referred to your home page from another site. It is important that the home page be attractive and inviting. However, it is even more important that visitors can easily find the information they are looking for and that it addresses their problems. Intuitive organization and useful content are more important than a fancy design or impressive technology. The home page should be a gateway to your prospective buyers. When they visit the site, they should be able to find the content they are looking for and feel that the site addresses their needs. There should be links to address their problems from the buyer’s perspective.

Choosing Content Formats for Your Web Visitors

Because different visitors have different preferences in how they access content or learn about your services, there should be different content formats for different users, including video, audio and multimedia. Specifically, if your site has younger visitors, then they may be more likely to want to watch a video or download and subscribe to a podcast.

Getting Your Visitors to Interact with Your Web Site

Every page should also have an e-mail sign up, as well as a call to action to a free download. You will also want links to your contact page and contact form. Every page should have a different call to action based on the page’s content. You may also want to provide opportunities for visitors to interact with your site, including social media bookmarks and ways to share your content with others, and to include links to your social media sites and a blog. You can include links and badges or banners for people to add to their site. You can provide content for others to use on their sites. You can also ask visitors to rate your page or interact with an online forum. You can even ask them to take action by providing them content and asking them to e-mail an elected official, for instance. The purpose of all this interaction is to gather contact information and to have your visitors promote your site.

Measuring Web Page Effectiveness

One measure of your site’s effectiveness is its “bounce rate.” This is the percentage of visitors that do not go onto a second page on your site and is measured in Google Analytics. Although the bounce rate applies to all the pages in your site, it tells us that the visitor did not find what they were looking for or that the site was not for them. If you paid for the results through ad words, then you lost money. Either way, you lost a prospective customer. Considering that many web site bounce rates are in excess of 50%, you can double your real traffic by making it easier for people to find the content they are looking for or improving the presentation of the information they find to show that your organization can address their problems.

Another measure is the page’s search function. If a visitor uses it, they are saying they can’t find what they are looking for, using your navigation scheme. Monitor these searches and change your content accordingly. You can also use Google Analytics and your Ad Word keyword results to see what people are searching for. This will help you decide the best keywords to use for your site pages.

Guide to the Hamptons Independent Film Festival

The Independent, a free weekly newspaper published specifically for the East End, is placing ads in its 18th Annual Insider’s Guide to the Hamptons Film Festival. The guide, which will be inserted in The Independent’s October 6th issue, will be distributed to festival goers at hundreds of East End locations. The festival attracts an average of 15,000 visitors to the area annually, and remains a highlight of autumn on the East End. Ad rates start at $225.  Contact PRMG for more info.

Community Welcome Packets Greet New Homeowners

John recently moved to a new home with his family. One of the first pieces of mail he received was a Welcome Packet from Community Survey, a corporate outfit with a local franchise in Smithtown. The packet included coupons and gift certificates from a host of local retailers and service providers, as well as a welcome message from Community Survey.

These packets give local business owners a lot of potential to reach new homeowners in their towns. They are entirely affordable for organizations of any size and target a very specific demographic that is generally ready and able to spend a lot of money on things like home improvements. These families are also looking for local businesses to fill their day-to-day needs. Often the first shops and providers a new resident patronizes become the places he or she will frequent over the course of residency.

If you are looking to reach the new families in your town for as little as $25 per month, contact PRMG and we’ll help you get started.

PRMG Announces Launch of New York Lawyer Pages Website

Introducing New York Lawyer Pages

PRMG Announces Launch of New York Lawyer Pages Website

www.nylawyerpages.com

The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) announced it has launched its newest website-based entity, New York Lawyer Pages (www.nylawyerpages.com). The website was created by PRMG, a leading provider of customized marketing solutions for attorneys in New York State. The site provides important resources for the public by allowing them access to a database of attorneys who practice in the field in which they need assistance based on geographic area, read articles about legal issues and even obtain legal forms.

“By concentrating this site only on New York, it will be easier for the public to find the information they are looking for and that the content provided is more pertinent to their legal issue,” said John C. Zaher, President/CEO, The Public Relations and Marketing Group.

For a monthly membership fee, attorneys can list their firm online in order to promote their practice and further increase their exposure. They can submit a listing, summarizing what the firm does and the practice areas in which they concentrate. Their firm can be searchable within the NYLawyerPages website by name of the attorney or firm, practice area, zip code, city or county. All entries will be optimized and indexed by all major search engines. Attorneys can also post any news and accomplishments they may wish prospective clients to know about.

Currently, PRMG is providing free basic listings through March 31, 2011. The Basic Listing includes a listing in the directory under three categories, news and article postings. Attorneys can also be listed in a Featured Listing, which includes a listing in the directory under three categories with precedence over basic listings, news and article postings for a monthly fee of $49.95. The Front Page Spotlight includes an attorney spotlight ad with a link to the entry on the front page and the same features offered as the Featured Listing. Front Page Spotlight ads are $99.95 per month.

In addition, NYLawyerPages allows attorneys to submit articles to the website, which will be filed under various legal categories. The articles are then “tweeted” on NYLawyerPages’ Twitter page (www.twitter.com/nylawyerpages). Attorneys can also link their firm’s website in their articles as a way to generate more traffic and improve optimization of their firm’s website. NYLawyerPages’ “Submitting an Article Guide” provides knowledge of how search engines work and how keywords affect the firm’s ranking. All legal articles will be optimized and indexed by all major search engines daily.

NYLawyerPages also has legal documents that can be downloaded from the site, provided by LegalZoom. Documents are available for those who wish to form a business, protect their intellectual property, plan a will or seek other personal services (power of attorney, small claims, divorce, name change).

For the latest news from the legal world, NYLawyerPages has a Legal News tab which receives RSS feeds of articles from various media sources. There is also a lead generation function in which visitors can fill out a form online to request to be contacted by legal counsel. Prospective clients can request to be contacted by a firm concentrating in their area of need. The firm closest in geography which concentrates in that practice area will receive their request via e-mail.

“We are very pleased to launch NYLawyerPages. The site’s technology and user-friendly interface will help attorneys build their practices not only through its directory, but also by using its content-based optimization tools to drive traffic to their own firm web sites. Over time, we believe that by empowering attorneys and by providing a value-based alternative that is specific to New York State, NYLawyerPages has the potential to rival its leading competitors,” said Mr. Zaher.

For more information, call (631) 207-1057 or visit www.nylawyerpages.com.

Unique Opportunity in Mall Food Courts

Look Media is promoting a new campaign to get your message in front of diners at mall food courts, nationwide.

You can now have your ad created as a table-top,  edge-to-edge sticker to be plastered on every table in the food courts of your local malls and shopping centers.

Cost runs about $55/table/month and tables are available in the following New York malls:

The Source MallTabletop Ads
Smith Haven Mall
Roosevelt Field
Danbury Fair Mall
Willowbrook (NJ)
Freehold Raceway
Bridgewater Commons
Jersey Shore Premium Outlets
Paramus Park
South Street Seaport
Staten Island Mall
Queens Center
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets

If you’re interested in obtaining some more information about this program, contact PRMG.

Long Island Business Journal subscription

Today we were contacted by the Long Island Business Journal to renew our subscription. The sales rep shared some information with me that I thought might interest our readers.

The Journal is now offering a Business discount on its annual subscription. $99 gets you 52 weekly issues plus 4 seasonal issues and entitles you to a 4 week “listing ad” about the size of a business card. Also, the subscription is tax deductible if used for “business purposes.” To take advantage of this offer, call 1-866-913-4691.