How to incorporate User Experience into Web Design and overall SEO Strategy Part 1 | Empathy and SEO Keywords
- Make sure your business name, address, phone number, and website are consistent, on both your website and in local listings. Things that will cause ranking problems include having your business name listed as ABC Services in one place and A.B.C. Services in another, or having your address listed as 1500 West First St. in one place and 1500 W. First Street in another, or having your website address listed as abcservices.com in one place and www.abcservices.com/index.html in another.
- Encourage (but do not incentivize, bribe, or purchase) customers to write reviews about your business on the top local directories and review sites. The more positive reviews you have, the better your business is going to rank.
- Complete each of your local listing profiles as thoroughly as possible. If you are given the option of adding additional information, social network links, photos, and videos, be sure to do so.
- Create listings on Google+ Local, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, and Yelp.
- Search for your business name using Google and then claim and complete profiles for any of the listings that appear on the first couple of search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Use the GetListedresource pages to find the best citations for your business based on industry and city.
Outbound LinkingCertainly one commonly overlooked, and sometimes feared, tactic is hosting external links to relevant websites within your own site’s content. Some SEO's view this as the ultimate sin. You likely know that having authoritative sites that include a link back to your website can help generate traffic, leads, as well as increasing your rankings on SERPs. But you might find your self puzzled considering, "if we’re going back to basics, how exactly would linking out to other websites help?" And with the onslaught of websites that have fallen off the grid post-Google updates (Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird) for suspicion of trying to “game the system” – why on Earth would you want to risk having your website get penalized? Some SEO's here in Chicago have openly claimed that outbound links are a near and dear friend of the internet devil. The answer is very simple: user experience surpasses all other aspects of the algorithms. Search engines want you to provide relevant resources on your website that enhance your visitor’s experiences while surfing the web. Your dynamic content and lists of helpful resources will all add a great deal of value to your website in the eyes of your visitors…and the Googlebots.
Spammy vs. Natural LinksSo, how can you distinguish between “natural” and “spam” external links and why should you care? Well, what's useful and relevant to your website’s categories and topics. For example, if your website is geared towards sports, it would make sense to link out to other authoritative and relevant sport sites and pages that can enhance your visitor’s experience; whereas including a link to a dentist’s office would seem out of place (unless somehow the connection is legitimate). Of course, you also want to protect your visitors from sites that involve online gambling, payday loans, pharmaceuticals, or adult-oriented content. Avoid any links from sites associated with known spam content. Additionally, if you ensure that the keywords associated with the site linking into yours are similar to your own, there will be a greater chance of additional weight being placed on them. External links can also come in several shapes and sizes. Surely one of the more well-known tactics is to develop useful content that contains natural links out to other related sources and websites. Accepting authoritative guest posts is also a way to keep your site updated with unique content. The addition of an authoritative author is that you receive fan traffic from those who are avid readers of the guest author.
They're Still Votes From The InternetObviously, you want quality links coming in, and in doing so, you want votes of approval from the internet as a whole. While yes, Google has clamped down on the weight and power of any specific link, the simple reality is that they aren't currently able to get a good feel for a website's overall impact without using link data. Keep them clean, and Google will reward your SEO effort.
If you're a small business owner, you've likely felt some pains because of the tighter lending regulations from banks. Your advertising budgets are already small or non-existent, making advertising even harder now. Fortunately, digital advertising has some low-cost options, allowing small businesses to be able to expand their limited budgets.
Many small businesses have Facebook and Twitter pages, and maybe a few listings in local directories, but that is the extent of their advertising. This is not for lack of interest, however. In a recent study released by market research firm BIA/Kelsey, 40 percent of small and midsized businesses plans to increase digital spending in the next year.
So how can businesses get the best return on investment from digital, internet and social media advertising methods?
It is understandable that companies do not want to put up the cash for traditional outbound marketing techniques, but there are actually a lot of inexpensive (and free) ways to market a business online that are underutilized. If you want to maximize your online presence, look beyond the typical social networks and directories and make use of these options as well:
Register your company with Google’s Places for Business. It's estimated that 97 percent of consumers decide what local businesses to frequent based on an online search? This free service from Google, Places for Business, literally puts you “on the map” so people can find the products or services you offer on a local level. If you do not have an office that is open to the public, you can choose a service area option during signup and hide your physical address. If you have multiple locations, you will want to sign up separately for each spot. Additionally, you will want to be added to several citation sites, to reinforce the Google Places listing. Ensure that the location, phone, and name of your business are the same on each of these sites. Bet results come from consistency.
Join your local Chamber of Commerce. For a small annual fee, you can take advantage of the many networking opportunities your local Chamber of Commerce provides. This is an excellent way to learn about the ways area laws will affect your business operations and also to rub elbows with potential clients. Usually new members get the chance to promote their business on the Chamber’s website or in its newsletter which could lead to a boost in business.
Seek out barter swaps with other local companies. This can take many different forms depending on the resources that you have available to trade. Consider comparable online banner ads or just simply leaving business cards at each other’s physical locations. You may also want to look into exchanging guest blog posts with other area businesses. By linking to each other, you will build up search engine credibility for people searching businesses in your area. There are really no limits here and business swap ideas are free. Try to find companies that make sense with which to trade – for example, a home inspector may find value in a swap relationship with a local Realtor or property management office.
Make a business video. People love to watch videos online, so why not ride that wave? Make a brief video explaining your services or products and post it several places, including your official website and YouTube. Show your expertise in your field with a video that explains what you do and why you are the best at it. People like to put a face with a business name, especially when it comes to local companies, so give them a reason to pick you over the other options.
Free Marketing Tips Offered Within Our BlogFor the past several months, we have been decisively studying a new wave of marketing methods. We want to share this knowledge with everyone who wants to learn how to upgrade and manage the organic SEO of your own site. These methods are usually free and require little more than an hour a day to improve the quantity and quality of visitors to your sites. We're discovering the importance of a load of critical but unexciting things like:
- Researching your market
- Testing different propositions to suit your chosen market
- Learning how to write compelling copy
- And trying out a range of content to see what works best
Free Optimization WebinarOur business development guy, Christian, recently attended several seminar on web site optimization and wants to share and disseminate the information to all of our associates. We’re following up with our own free webinar to give time to answer our clients and all attendees’ questions. We also commit to analyse a few sample sites submitted in advance of the webinar. This will probably be on Monday September 23rd at around 13.00-15.00 Central time, but I’ll confirm the date & time later. If you would like to attend, watch out for an email from me in the next week or so, and I’ll give you the link. Places are limited to 100, but we may follow up with more over the following weeks, so if you don’t get on, please let me know. Our goal is to share all of our knowledge with the public. The day of paying insane amounts for someone else to monitor and maintain your SEO campaign are definitely not over, but we want to at least show you how to take control of your marketing should you choose to.
For years now, Intuit has been a shining star to many small businesses because of its highly acclaimed TurboTax, Quicken, and Quick-Books software. I myself have been an avid user of their small business tools and have enjoyed the time it saves with handling budgets, bills and payrolls.
Recently, Intuit began a major push for their new website building software and I thought I'd give it a shot. If it's better than Go-Daddy's horrid "Website Tonight" software, that would be a great improvement for businesses beginning a web footprint. I've decided to break down my critique of their builder into three basic categories for this assessment. There are certainly other criteria that could be used, but I would likely write much more than anyone would be willing to read. After discussing the criteria, we will make a founded assessment of the value vs cost of their development price. The three categories we will discuss are for design structure, code development, and what SEO and SEM their builds enable a site with. We'll use a scoring method of 1 to 10 with 1 equaling Go Daddy's Website Tonight and 10 equaling a Free Wordpress Theme.
First of all, their design structure, while a bit cliche, is one of the first autobuilder formats that has some decent design structure to their templates. That being said, these are templates and will not move far. Of the ~2000 templates they have, there are only about 100 that are really going to get peoples attention. Of these 100 templates, take a guess at how many times each one will be recycled continuously across the internet. On the positive side, the builder does allow you to tweak certain aspects and containers of each template to allow for some impression of originality on your site. This will help to an extent, but eventually there will be repition of your site throughout your market and maybe even your direct competitors. While far better than the templates that most autobuilders use, there's still a lot to be desired here.
Some of you familiar with their templates are going to be scratching your heads after seeing a score of 7 on this one. Yes, it may be a little high for legacy HTML, but there is a good reason behind this thought.
They're using Quality CSS and don't have tons of tables being shot out at your browser. If familiar with other autobuilders, you understand that the majority of their build are conducted in long and dirty table design. The CSS in the Intuit sites are actually decent. Anyone hoping to see PHP within their listings, hope you can find one, but after and hour of search and reading "index.html" as many times as I did, it was apparent that there are no PHP driven sites within their selection. This means that there is less functionality available through these sites, but if you're using them, you probably don't even notice. All in all though, the HTML is written well for template use and the CSS is clean enough to earn an 8 in this category.
SEO and SEM
Ok, here is the category that hurts them. While it was hard to find any sites built with this tool(besides spend money and make one), I was able to find a few that we could run through website. grader from Hubspot. The sites saw a "Best Ranking" of 30. At no point in my life has a score of 30 been a passing grade. The same occurred when running it through the tools on SEOmoz(know some of you hate them, but they have easy tools). There's simply no excuse for a website builder that will leave a client with a site of limited ability and still be published mainly through PPC style advertising. If there is any suggestion for Intuit, or specifically people thinking of using there site builder, it would be that there needs to be more focus within the code structure to benefit the customer needs. If you are looking for a website that allows people to find your business and not just a vanity plate to put on a business card, avoid this builder as well.
Final Score= 4.3
While Some of my fellow designers will vehemently disagree with my assessment, I think it's like to be the best summarized review that could be offered. It should be mentioned as well, that this is only a grade of the Starter system, since that's the one being offered for $4.99/month(while the only one with the tools needed for business cost $49.99/month). The problem with the price is the "Bait and Switch". If we look at the pricing table, it becomes apparent that this is not the fantastic deal that they make it out to be in the commercial(imagine that happening). Here are there price columns per service.
As you can see, there's not much you're getting for their advertised $4.99/month or even for their Cadillac Package that could legitimize this site build being used for a long period of time. It is understandable that some businesses must use one of these auto builders to get started, but it should only be a temp fix. These should not be used over six months at max; otherwise, it becomes a money pit instead of a money producer. A quality CMS system built for your business will save you money in the long-run, and will do more for your income as well...