Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the web design Category

Flash Sites: Can They Get Ranked?

How can a web site that’s all done in Flash be optimized so the search engines will rank it?

That’s been a tough one up until now. Generally, the search engines read text. And flash pages are like large pictures that include text. That text is in the picture, though, and the search engines can’t tell if there’s informative text there or a movie of your pet cat. Normally we recommend creating an HTML version of the web site for those without Flash as well as for the search engines.

Now, there’s a pretty cool workaround for optimizing Flash sites from Jonathan Hochman on his web site. It’s technical, so unless you’re a web designer experienced in HTML, it might be a little dense for you. (Actually, to be fair it’ll probably be incomprehensible to you.) But if you’re a skilled webmaster, it provides a technique that should prove to be very valuable.

Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design

The 10 most egregious offenses against users. Web design disasters and HTML horrors are legion, though many usability atrocities are less common than they used to be. This compendium comes from usability expert Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D., a User Advocate and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group which he co-founded with Dr. Donald A. Norman (former VP of research at Apple Computer). Until 1998 he was a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer.

Dr. Nielsen founded the “discount usability engineering” movement for fast and cheap improvements of user interfaces and has invented several usability methods, including heuristic evaluation. He holds 79 United States patents, mainly on ways of making the Internet easier to use.

Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015

On the web site Web Pages That Suck, you can “learn good web design by looking at bad web design”. While some of the examples they provide may be good for an occasional chuckle, the web site really is instructional. The author, Vincent Flanders, says “My goal is to help you design effective and aesthetically pleasing web pages. My method is to show you bad design techniques so you’ll realize what they are and not use them.”

Vincent has compiled a list of web sites that are so bad, he calls them The Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015. Somewhat amusingly, he admits that we haven’t reached 2015 yet, “but it’s human nature to repeat your mistakes over and over. But it’s human nature to repeat your mistakes over and over.”

Real Estate Web Sites From Templates: Can They Get Good Rankings?

A Typical Real Estate Web Site TemplateNoted SEO Expert Jill Whalen recently answered a really good question about real estate template web sites. There are many industries where companies create cookie-cutter web sites for their clients: lawyers, real estate, mortgage companies, and many others. I’ve come across this issue often, and found Jill’s response (as usual) right on.

I have a template real estate site and need serious help driving more traffic. I know that I need “keyword-rich content,” but I’m worried that the template isn’t ever going to do what I want it to. Should I have a custom site done, or can I get high search engine rankings with a template? Real estate is such a competitive online market, that I’m drowning in ridiculously vague keywords as well. Any advice?


Like most questions in SEO these days, the answer of course is a big, fat “It depends.” Not all template sites are created equal, with some being okay and others being much less than okay. Most of the template real estate sites I’ve seen in the past are not very search-engine- (or crawler-) friendly. A good percentage of them simply frame some standard content and listings that are provided by a real estate marketing service.

If I’ve basically just described your real estate template site, then you are correct that adding keyword-rich content probably won’t help you much. You may have a home page that you can create original content on, but the days of simply optimizing a home page and that’s it, are long over. SEO is all about being found for the hundreds of phrases that relate to what your
site and your business offers. Without plenty of original pages full of information, it would be impossible to support all the phrases necessary to bring highly targeted search engine visitors to your site.

If you’re allowed to build new pages outside of your template, that is, if they don’t have to be framed or anything like that, you might be okay. But you’d also have to be able to change and add to your site’s navigation as well. So much of SEO today is in the structure of the site. You need some control over that in order to do well, especially in the highly competitive real estate market. Those that do well with online real estate sites are usually those that have become a true resource for their customers and potential home buyers. Your template site may provide a lot of decent info, but if it’s the same info that 90% of the sites in your area are also using, then it will be fairly useless.

… lots more …

I recommend the full article, which you can find on Jill’s web site here.

First Impressions Count

When people find your web site through search engines, you have to keep them on your site and you need to  convince them. A new study that was recently published in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology shows how important it is to make a good first impression.

The first impression is very important

A new study that has recently been published in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology shows that the snap decisions Internet users make about the quality of a web page have a lasting impact on their opinions.

It is very important that your web pages look good and that they have a trustworthy design.

You have 50 milliseconds

As reported in the BBC News, The study was conducted by Dr. Gitte Lindgaard of Carleton University in Ottawa. Lindgaard and her colleagues showed volunteers briefest glimpses of web pages previously rated as being either easy on the eye or particularly jarring, and asked them to rate the websites on a sliding scale of visual appeal.

Although the images were shown for just 50 milliseconds, the ratings were very similar to the judgments made after a longer examination of a web site.

Psychologists call this the halo effect. If people continue to use a web site that gave a good first impression they “prove” to themselves that they made a good initial decision.

What does this mean to your web site?

It’s crucial that your site makes a good first impression. Otherwise, people might go to the next web site in the search results before finding out that you have something great to offer.

Make your web pages easy to read. Use a clear web site design and make it easy to find out what your web site is about.

Don’t put everything you can on a single page. Focus on a clear message on each and every page and tell your web site visitors what’s in it for them when they visit your site.