Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the web design Category

SEO Worst Case Scenario: An All-Flash Web Site

All-Flash web site - SEO nightmareThe Toughest SEO Challenge: A 100% Flash site, with all content and navigation contained within a single Flash movie embedded in a single HTML page. (If your website was built with multiple HTML pages with some embedded Flash components, your situation is significantly less difficult.)

Why is this such  problem? A pure Flash site is a major disadvantage for SEO. For one, search engines will see the entire website as a single page. That means that you don’t have the opportunity to optimize different pages for different target keywords. And you also will not gain the inherent SEO advantage that having multiple pages brings to a website: every unique web page has, by default, some degree of search engine status. The single most powerful place for your keywords to appear is in the page title tag. With a single-page web site, you have only a page single title tag to work with — and only 60-80 characters. It’s not easy to fit more than about three keywords into that.

Secondly, outside websites cannot link to interior pages within your site – they are forced to link to your home  page. Some marketers think this is great: your visitors will always be led to your home page and everyone will be subjected to the same “experience” on your site. But you won’t be able to take advantage of “deep links” that can  bring more visitors to your site and improve your search engine rankings. Deep linking is when other websites link to pages within your site other than your home page. For websites with an online shopping component, deep linking is much better than home page linking because users don’t have to navigate (and risk getting lost!) on their way to making a purchase.

Third, and a really significant problem, is that search engines have no clue what your flash “movie” is about. There’s no real text for them to use to identify keywords for indexing your site. All the know is that there’s a movie there.

A Web site called Your SEO Plan provides SEO strategies to deal with these issues, most of which involve significant webmaster effort. It’s far better (and easier) (and cheaper!) to avoid the whole problem from the start.

Top 10 Dumbest Web Site Decisions

Kalena Jordan, a well known Australian SEO expert, wrote a sometimes-amusing article for Site Pro News on the dumbest web site decisions she’s seen. Here’s a quick list, but to get the full effect, both the drama and the humor, see her article. This is in reverse order, a la David Letterman:

10. Misspelling a domain – registering CarTuneCentral.com when the client wanted CartoonCentral.com
9. Letting the domain name expire – a client of mine did this, and had to spend $2,000 to buy it back!
8. Letting the whole world see your site statistics
7. Publishing sensitive company information – like when AOL published information n thousands of their customers
6. Using an insulting 404 error page. That’s what pops up if someone tries to go to a nonexistent page. You don’t want it to say “404 Error. You’ve obviously typed in the wrong URL. Either that or the page you are looking for no longer exists.” – better is to display a little humility, like we employ here.
5. Taking a site offline for maintenance – if your site is down when the search engines check, your rankings will drop!
4. Registering a Dot Biz domain when a Dot Com was available – or a Dot US or a Dot Net
3. Allowing a customer complaint to remain on your site for months
2. Switching your web site off for a 3-week Christmas vacation – Duh!
1. Promoting a domain name you don’t own – she writes “My Alma Mater, the University of Newcastle, have spent thousands of dollars on television advertising here in Australia, marketing their new site for online post-graduate coursework: GradSchool Dot Com. There’s only one problem. The domain for this site is actually Gradschool.com.au. They don’t even own Gradschool.com!”

Make Your Site Search Engine Friendly

search engine friendly web sites rank bestA critical key to good rankings in the search engines is making sure the search engines can easily spider your site and index its content. We wrote about that for Entrepreneur Magazine 2½ years ago, in our article 5 Search Engine Mistakes Not to Make – critical errors that can make your site invisible on the web.

Being search engine friendly is no less important today.
The two most important questions that impact your web site’s spiderability are:
  1. Are all links true hyperlinks that the spiders can follow?
  2. Are all pages on your site reachable within 3 clicks from your home page?

John Buchanan has a worthwhile article on this in Site Pro News.

9 Ways to Improve Bad Website Design

Your website reads well and you’re proud of it, but, you’re waiting for rave reviews but haven’t gotten any. No worries – you’re not alone. Check out some simple ways you can improve your website and get it into better shape courtesy of Site Pro News.

  1. Balance your page between text, white space and graphics.
  2. KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid. Eliminate unnecessary visual distractions.
  3. Fix your fonts. On paper, serif fonts are easier to read, but on a computer monitor, sans serifs are easier. Keep the font size reasonable — between 10 points and 14 points.
  4. Clean up your background. Heavy textures make text hard to read. And makes sure there’s enough contract between the background color and your text.
  5. Graphics – avoid clutter. Use graphics when they serve a real purpose, like illustrating a difficult concept or breaking up dense sections of text.
  6. Make Navigation Intuitive. People look for navigation links across the top and down the left side of the page. And make sure it’s obvious where a navigation link will take someone.
  7. Make your text readable. Aside from font choice, break dense text up into short paragraphs. Use bullets. Don’t mix and match too many fonts. Use headings and sub-heads.
  8. Avoid Scrolling. Vertical scrolling of the page si ok. But don’t have a fixed height box of text with a separate vertical scroll bar. And never, never, never allow horizontal scrolling. Never!
  9. Make it quick. If your web page takes too long to download, people give up on it and go somewhere else.  Eliminating graphic clutter will help a lot here.

5 Reasons To Redesign With CSS

CSS stands for “Cascading Style Sheets” and is a web design technique that minimizes the amount of underlying HTML code on your web page. Your webmaster understands what it is and if you’re not a webmaster, it probably isn’t important that you understand much about it, except to know whether your web site uses it effectively.

From a search engine viewpoint, when you have a high code-to-content ratio, your keyword density (the relative frequency of the  targeted keywords on your page) is diluted by HTML instructions for how tables, fonts, styles and colors should be displayed. With CSS, there are no tables, and most formatting information is contained in one separate style sheet. As a result, search engines see more keywords and less code, and that helps your rankings.

Linda Bustos, Marketing Director for Image X Media, a Vancouver web design and Internet marketing firm, has written an article for Site Pro News on reasons you should consider redesigning your web site (or having it done) to make better use of CSS techniques.

<full article here>