Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the page content Category

Secrets of Writing a Business Website Homepage

There’s a terrific article in a recent newsletter of the Entireweb search engine. It clearly covers many of the worst mistakes people make when writing their website home pages. I recommend it for anyone who has a business website, and particularly to any of our SEO clients.

Brief Excerpt

As you’ve probably noticed, a good website has multiple pages. You should have special web pages for special topics: an “about us” page for company information, a products and services catalog, the president’s blog, etc.

When you advertise or send out links to your site, you should link directly to the most appropriate page, rather than just the homepage.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you don’t need a homepage, just that you don’t need it to do every single thing you want your website to accomplish.

Write Your Web Content for Lower Literacy Users

Jacob Nielson, the famous usability expert, recently did an experiment that shows web content designed for lower literacy users helps higher literacy users, too. Apparently 30% of web users are “low-literacy” users; these are people who can read, but who have difficulty doing so. This is not a function of intelligence; many people with dyslexia are highly intelligent.

Nielsen says “The most notable difference between lower- and higher-literacy users is that lower-literacy users can’t understand a text by glancing at it. They must read word for word and often spend considerable time trying to understand multi-syllabic words.”

His article covers the characteristics of  low-literacy users, how to improve usability for low literacy users, how large the low-literacy population is, and who should care about low-literacy users.

I found fascinating his study that shows improving usability for low-literacy users significantly helps higher-literacy users as well, at the 5% level of significance.

I recommend his article.

Keyword Rich Text – Not Keyword Stuffing!

In the August 3 edition of the High Rankings Newsletter, noted SEO expert Jill Whalen writes the following:

… you’ve probably heard me say a million times “Make sure to have great keyword-rich content.”

… Does keyword-rich content mean you should find every available spot on your page to stuff your keywords? Of course not! In fact, if you are even using the word “stuff” in the same sentence as “keywords,” it’s most likely not something you want to do. Writing keyword-rich content has nothing to do with stuffing. (We save all our stuffing for Thanksgiving, thank you very much!) To me, it’s common sense that it’s a bad idea to stick keyword phrases everywhere and anywhere. But unless I specifically point out the exact places on a page where you might want to put them (and might not), some people will never quite get it.

Unfortunately, even when I do spell it out, like in my Nitty-Gritty Guide there will always be people who will take my suggestions further than they should. They have not learned the most important rule in professional search engine optimization, i.e., always put your site users before the search engines in anything that you do for your website.

The sad (and kinda scary) thing is that even professional SEO companies don’t always get this. I’ve had 2 or 3 emails just this week from people who hired various SEO companies to do work for them, only to have the company make recommendations that actually made the pages of their website *worse* than they were before they hired the company. Not necessarily worse for the search engines, but most definitely worse for the site visitors. In this day and age, it’s hard for me to fathom that an SEO company would still be telling their clients, “You have to do this for the search engines, even though we realize it makes your site look dumb.”

No, you absolutely do not!

There is no SEO technique that you should have to do on your site that will make your site icky for your visitors. Don’t believe it for a second. There may certainly be some trade-offs that your SEO may suggest to you, but you should be able to pick and choose the ones that will work for your site and still get the results you are hoping for.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

Spammy Web Hosting Companies

When you choose a web hosting company, you don’t expect that they are going to change your web pages. You also don’t expect that they change your web pages for their own benefit. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what some web hosts seem to do.

What do these web hosts do to your web pages?

These web hosting companies change your web pages when a search engine spider requests them. For example, if Googlebot visits your web pages, the web host will return a different web page than the web page that is returned when a normal web surfer visits your web pages (a technique with the name cloaking).

The changed web pages contain links to the web host web site so that the link popularity of the web host site is improved. In addition, the web host creates new page and complete sub directories full of links on your web site.
Note that these changed URLs and the new pages cannot be seen by you. The URLs are not static and you cannot see them with your FTP client. Only search engine spiders can see the changed web pages because the web host intercepts the requests and dynamically creates the pages.

Some hosts also seem to add links to some of their clients on your web pages. They do this to artificially improve the link popularity of their clients’ sites. If you see any Secret backdoor to Google offers from your web host without further details, you should be skeptical. If a web host changes the web sites of other people, it is likely that they will also change your web site.

How can you find out if your web host changes your web pages?

Go to Google, search for your domain name and click on the “Cached” link next to the results. You’ll see the web page that Google has indexed there. If the web page in the Google page has links to other web pages that you don’t know, chances are that your web host has changed your pages. In that case, you should contact your web host or Google so that the problem can be solved.

Web hosting companies with ethical business standards don’t use these techniques. If you find out that your web host changes your pages, you should consider a new hosting company.

Tip / Warning:
If Google finds out that your web site uses cloaking, you will get into trouble, even if the cloaking has been done by your web host and not by you.