Monthly Archives: March 2012
I am frequently asked by clients whether the should be ‘on’ Facebook or Tweeting away on Twitter and there is no easy answer to that question. The answer will largely depend on the type of business your are running and what point you are with your Internet presence. So, if you are a local plumber with an existing website, should you be Tweeting every day to inform people of your movements? Probably not, because the time invested in Tweeting is unlikely to produce a return on your investment (time). Facebook? Possibly – more and more people are searching for services on Facebook, but remember, the search results are powered by Bing, so if you are listed on Bing already, then in some respects you already have a Facebook presence.
Blogging however is different. I have become a great fan of blogging, because there are many blogs out there providing useful helps and tips and most importantly, the content tends to be kept fresh and up to date. The search engines love well constructed and frequently updated blogs.
So lets go back to our local plumber. He runs a blog on helpful tips and tricks for DIY enthusiasts. It is updated a couple of times a week and the content is unique and of interest to anyone doing a makeover of their house or even more major work. The search engines love this type of content and it is well indexed. Will this generate leads for his business – most certainly. And how will it affect his website? That will depend on how the blog has been integrated to the site, but generally the search engines love content to be updated regularly and will rank the website higher.
I’m keeping an open mind on Twitter. Facebook – I’m pretty much converted as long as you can see a return on the time you are putting into it. Blogs – I am now a fan – BUT – if you do start blogging – don’t stop! The search engines hate that.
So to blog or not to blog? I’d say a resounding yes – but if you do start and you are a client of mine – then expect to be nagged if you stop blogging for too long
For more than half a century they lived separate and vastly different lives. This is the story of two sisters with contrasting childhoods and opportunities, unaware of each other’s existence, caught in the ‘tangled web’ of their mother’s secrets and deceptions.
You can read more about their story and forthcoming book at the blog I have just completed for Helen and Jenny and they will be updating this themselves as their story unfolds.
I’m often asked if having a links page on a website assists with search engine rankings. Well, the simple answer is no, but more on that later. What does help of course is having a lot of good quality inbound links.
They remain one of the most important factors in your Google rankings. But it is not just a question if having other sites link back to you. Ideally, the link back to your site should contain text that has relevant keywords. So for instance, any links back to my website I try not to just have as www.arcray.net, but rather have the link from the words ‘website designer’.
The best links are of course the ones that come back to your site from well written ‘natural’ content. So for instance, if someone at the BBC wrote an article about website designers and included a link from that phrase back to my website, I would be very happy indeed, because it would be regarded as a high quality link to my site.
This doesn’t mean to say that adding your links to the numerous business directories doesn’t help. It certainly does, but where possible, linking back from natural content wins every time and is worth it’s weight in gold in terms of improving your search rankings.
So what are ‘splash screens’ and why are they hated so much?
On the Web, a splash screen or splash page is a page of a web site that acts as a front page prior to displaying the home page. Designers may use splash pages:
- to direct users to the appropriate website for their country or language preference
- to direct users to a low-bandwidth site or one more accessible to disabled users
- as an additional form of advertising
- to restrict access to content such as alcohol advertising or sales, or gambling
- as an aesthetic complement to the main page
They’re are condemned, not just by me, but by all the usability studies that have ever been done since the dawn of the Internet. When faced with a splash page the first reaction of users is to click the skip button and to move onto the main website. Or worse, to just hit the back button in the browser and go back to the search results.
Are there any good splash screens that serve to enhance the users experience? Well occasionally you might find a hotel using a large image of the resort location as a splash screen. Within a few seconds that can answer several questions about the location of the hotel e.g. is it near the beach, surrounded by high rise buildings etc.
But bad experiences with many previous splash screens usually mean the user will dismiss the entry page or indeed the entire website. The reality of life is that users will spend the majority of the time on other peoples websites and that cumulative effect soon adds up.
Splash screens – you need a VERY good reason to have one.
It has been very well proven that interruption makes us feel that things are taking longer. Why oh why do e-commerce site owners keep interrupting me when I wish to buy something quickly and be gone. I am of course talking about the annoying habit of forcing me to CREATE AN ACCOUNT!
Many tests have shown that if a person is interrupted it has two effects – one – they get frustrated – two – it makes them feel that the task is taking longer than necessary.
So why do online retailers force me to create an account. It interrupts the buying process. It reduces their conversion rate.
Removing a compulsory sign-in procedure at the online checkout can increase sales significantly.
It has been a while since I wrote anything on the e-commerce front, but one fact still remains clear, most websites do not have a problem getting traffic through, but statistically, only around 3% of visitors to an e-commerce site actually convert. That is a pretty horrendous ratio when you think about it.
In the early days, there was a famous site called boo.com. It used all the latest technology that could be mustered, the most brilliant designers and they added every gadget they could think of to the site. The result – a site so slow that the very process of finding the product you wanted took around 20 mins by the time you have downloaded the assorted software needed to make the site run. The ultimate result – many millions of pounds down the drain because they had forgotten the most important rule – keep it simple! Needless to say, that’s exactly what Amazon did and they have now taken over the world in terms of e-commerce.
So businesses are driving customers to their sites, but forgetting that that is the easy bit. Once they are at the site, it is conversions that count, so if users can’t find your products and ‘check out’ quickly – every pound you have spent getting them to the site has been wasted.
Companies can lose perspective when it comes to advertising. They can become too focused on the sexiness of advertising, and thereby not focus on conversions.
“Originality – the most dangerous word in the lexicon of advertising” – David Ogilvy (Advertising executive, 1911-1999)
Originality can kill your response AND your conversions.
Unless you are have an interest in History, it is likely that when you search the web that you want the most recent information. It is certainly frustrating when searching for holiday offers to be presented with out of date results. In essence, you’ll want search results that are relevant and recent.
Anyone searching for the term Olympics is probably mostly interested in this years at Olympics in London (£11 billion and counting – ouch – but that is another story).
What Google search does is use something called its freshness algorithm which is designed to give you the most up to date and relevant results without specifying a year. Try it – it works.
Of course information change is now so fast paced that events of even an our ago appearing on a blog somewhere can already be out of date, so the algorithm has to figure out if the results appearing on a blog (or news website for instance) a week ago are still recent and relevant. Quite clever stuff really, because it is much more complex than just reading dates on the website.
The freshness algorithm forms part of the Google caffeine indexing system that was completed in 2010 and allows Google to index the web on an absolutely massive scale incredibly quickly to give the most up to date results possible.
Searching the web is now such an enormous part of our lives that we take all of this for granted, but the reality is that it takes great deal of clever maths and an enormous amount of computer processing power to produce a page of search results that are relevant.
And if you want to now how much processing power it takes to power all of this – well – google now is the largest owner of computers in the world and has the largest utility bill on the planet. No wonder the are investing in alternative energy sources!
Having a diverses client base means that when I need work doing for myself (or even a holiday!) I can usually find someone on my client base to do the job. Just wanted to write a recommendation for South East Fencing who have done a great job on a much needed replacement for the garden fencing in Tunbridge Wells that was long overdue. A great job from Stuart and his team, especially as the weather was pretty rough over the two days they worked on the job. Looks like we will be seeing less of the neighbours dog in our garden now that our fence no longer has dog sized holes in it!
Full time position.
You need to be good with Photoshop, Dreamweaver.
Designing tickets and flyers will be bulk of the work, but updating websites using Dreamweaver will be a part of the job.
Please email CV with examples of work to firstname.lastname@example.org