Thursday, July 31, 2008

How Do I Create a Search Engine Friendly Site?

Good Question!

If you’re going to spend the money to have a website designed for your company’s online brochure or any other purpose, having one that will be seen should be your number one goal. Otherwise you’re just throwing money away.
5 things to avoid:

Flash intros
I love the look of a good flash intro and we still design them for our clients when they ask for them. However, I always advise not to have one if you are looking to optimize your site for search engines. A search engine friendly site has readable text that the search engine crawlers/spiders/robots can read. They cannot read the content in flash. Consider having a flash header or another flash element on your homepage in addition to readable text instead. It will give you better SEO results.

Lacking content
I always say “Content is King” and I mean it. Having plenty of keyword rich content on your site will help you get noticed by the search engines and visitors alike. I always bookmark sites that have a wealth of information useful to my business or me. If you are looking for a minimal design for aesthetic reasons, you may want to rethink it. Quality content will create visitor loyalty.

Outdated content

If you’re going to place a calendar of events on your site, you should be prepared to update it. If you leave old information on there from last year and don’t have anything current, visitors may just close the browser and look elsewhere. In addition, search engines pay attention to continually updated sites. If your website is static and never changing, you’ll be ignored. Try to continually add fresh content for optimal results.

Too many images or animated gifs
I know they look cool and are fun to play with, but honestly, when you go to a site that is flashing and moving everywhere – don’t you feel lost? A little bit of movement works well to draw attention to the areas where you want people to pay attention, but continual movement throughout the entire page can be tiresome to the visitor. Furthermore, the crawlers can’t read the images. Having your sales message in a slick image rather than just plain text might be your desire, but if you’re looking for performance in your website – you’ll want to use actual text.

Generic linking
You should always avoid using “click here” to get your visitor to the next page. The crawlers also see it and give you more weight in the results if you are using proper anchor text in the link. For example, if I want to draw attention to our design page, I might use something like this: Please review the Complete Business Systems website design portfolio to view some samples of our design work.

In addition to the items to avoid, always remember to use your meta tags for title, description and keywords as well as the other SEO tips that I regularly write about. If you need a refresher, have a look through the archives located over on the right hand side of our blog.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ACS Relay for Life, Santa Cruz - CA

On Friday, July 18th - I had the honor of singing our National Anthem to open the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, Santa Cruz.

The event was held at Cabrillo College and began Friday night at 6:00 pm and continued for 24 hours to honor cancer survivors, pay tribute to lives lost, and to raise money to help fight cancer.

By walking around the track for 24 hours, teams of 8-15 people work together to raise money through sponsorship and donations to help in the fight.
The official numbers aren't in on how much money was raised this year for cancer research, but one thing is for sure - our community cares.

I have participated in the event for several years by singing the anthem and my family has had teams in the past. This year KION's Hunter Finnell was the host of the opening ceremonies and I had the pleasure of being introduced to him - he was very charming and put me right at ease. He is also a cancer survivor, having suffered from bone cancer at the age of 18.

It takes almost a year of planning to bring the event together and countless people donate their time and money to make a difference.

This year, as the survivors came around the track for the first lap - I couldn't hold back my tears as I stood alongside other strangers as we clapped for them. It's a very powerful, emotional event where laughter and tears are shared amongst people who care and share one common bond - all of their lives have been touched by cancer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New iPhone 3G...should I get one?

I know what you're thinking...this isn't a small business tip...

Oh yes it is!

Well not really a tip, but more of a call for advice - which will lead to tips from the blog viewers...or at least that's what I'd like to think.

Many of us small business owners have taken to "smartphones" so that we can run about doing our business on the go. I have the Treo, many of my colleagues are using the Blackberry and I have friends and several family members (my nephew works at Apple) who are sporting the iPhone.

I remember when the first one came out - my business partner and I were salivating. We are both in love with our Macs and iPods. The thought of a phone incorporating it all was nirvana. (I'm not even kidding here.) The cost of the phone as you remember was a bit pricey but we didn't care, we wanted that bad boy. We almost paid the penalty on our Verizon plans and went for it. Common sense got a hold of us and we decided we should wait. Apple always comes out with something better.

Sure enough, it's here - the 3g.

I'm on the fence. Should I dump Verizon and go with the iPhone and AT&T? Or should I stay with my current Verizon plan ($165/month) and upgrade to the new Blackberry? What to do???

One thing is for sure, my Treo is done! This is my second one and I have to say, my Treo is a disappointment - I continually miss important messages, sometimes my phone goes straight to VM without even ringing (and no it's not Verizon, because I'll be sitting right next to someone else with the same plan and no problems). It's always been a little glitchy, automatically restarting on its own - not letting me know I have text messages unless I pull out the battery and put it back, (and then they come flooding in). Email downloads stopping and freezing.

Last month we were in Palm Springs and we were heading to a wedding and we got lost. My nephew whipped out his iPhone and GPS and wham we were on track within minutes. My phone...sadly...just a mere disappointment.

I won't bore you with the new features, but instead I'll share this funny sarcastic video with you:

Video tutorial: unlock iphone

I definitely need a smartphone to operate my small business effectively. My clients count on being able to get a hold of me and I take pride in being available for them. What about you? Are you using an iPhone, Blackberry, Treo or another brand for business or personal that you'd like to recommend?

Please post your comments and opinions, and in fact...I'll put up a poll over on the right hand side of the blog. Weigh in, let me know what you think!



Thursday, July 10, 2008

Copywriting for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

So you have your new website design up and running...

You purchased a nice web CMS (Content Management System) to go with it so you can get an upper hand with your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by providing the search engine crawlers with fresh content.


You’re on your way to having a successful website that people will visit without you having to shell out an arm and a leg for PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising.

How can you ensure that your website copy helps with your SEO?

Follow these five tips:

Title Meta Tag: Always place a title tag on the page that describes what the page is about. If you are selling rare tropical fish, your title tag can be:

Your Company | Rare Tropical Fish

Description Meta Tag: Always make sure that you include the description of what your page is about. Your description will be what is shown when someone performs a search using the keywords that your page includes.

Keyword Meta Tag: Many of the search engines still do put weight on the keyword meta tags even though it has been rumored that they no longer place importance on them. Be wise and include them, but don’t overdue it, only include the relevant keywords to the particular page.

Header Tags: Using a header tag, you are telling the search engine crawlers what your page is about. They place weight on these words and you should use them to present your important keywords.

Internal Links: Use your keywords and keyword phrases in the links on your site to other pages on your site. Don’t use “click here” to link to other pages, use “Rare tropical fish” to link to another page on the site.

There are so many things you can do to get noticed and all it takes is a little time and effort. Look through my previous posts for more SEO tips. You can read them by clicking on the archives on the right hand side of the page.

Wishing you the best with you new site –


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

8 Website Essentials

It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on your website design if people aren’t going to see it.

As I’ve said many times before, SEO (search engine optimization) is key to your website success.

Keep the following in mind if you intend to utilize your website to attract more business:

1. SEO. Your website must be able to be crawled by the search engines. If the spiders, robots and crawlers cannot read the content on your page, you are not going to be found. 2 common examples of sites where the content cannot be read are websites created entirely in flash and websites that rely on images in order to create a great “look”. Big name corporations who have the advertising dollars can afford to have an artistic “flashy” website, unless your brand name is known nationwide, don’t risk it.

2. Content is king!
A common mistake many first time website owners make is to use their company name and “welcome” as the site description. “Welcome to My Company!” Refrain from using your site title or company name for your main site description. Search engine crawlers consider your site description in the formula for SEO. You want to have meta tags that convey whatever product or service that you are selling so that when people search for those keywords, they will find your site.

3. Links.
You should include a resource section on your website that links to other websites that are relevant to your industry. You also want to have inbound links coming to your site, these help tremendously with search engine optimization. How can you find how many links you have to your site? You can do a Google search: link: to find out. Remember your search engine results rely on links as part of the algorithm.

4. Anchor text.
Always use proper anchor text in your linking strategies. For example: “click here” simply doesn’t have as much weight as “read our small business tips”. Search engines read those words and they put weight on those links.

5. Articles.
Having articles on your website with your keywords in them can help tremendously to get you noticed by the search engines. Do not stuff your articles with keywords; instead use the proper keyword density for the size of your articles.

6. Blogging.
Blogs are a wonderful way to drive traffic to your site. While your website is your online brochure, your blog is your connection to the public. Blog posts are indexed quickly and a great way to get noticed on the Internet. You can gain a large following by posting helpful tips, links to other resources of interest and interacting with other bloggers.

7. RSS feeds.
RSS feeds are a wonderful way to distribute your site updates as well as contribute to your site by including related industry news on your website.

8. Analytics.
You need to keep track of your website analytics and monitor what is working and what isn’t. Keeping track of whether or not your website is converting visitors into buyers can help you tweak your site to create a working sales funnel. If you are using PPC advertising, you’ll be able to easily assess your ROI. Don’t forget to utilize A/B testing!

Good luck!