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Website Design

How to Design Web Sites for Internet Marketing (part 5)

5. Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization – the spammers love to sell you SEO services for which they promise the holy grail for a mere pittance and a one-time re-write of your website content.

Most often these programs focus on keyword research (the art of finding the most relevant keyword phrases that consumers search for) and directing you to change your meta tag information to include their recommendations.

 

Be wary of the spammers. Google is the undisputed search engine champion with about an 85% share of the market. The following quote is from their website:

Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:

“Dear google.com,

I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”

 

Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.

The truth of the matter is that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ongoing process. It is defined as the process of improving the visibility of your website or specific web pages on search engines by way of natural or organic search results. The holy grail being the free listings that appear above the fold on Google.

Comprehensive SEO should include many types of searches such as text, video, audio, image, news and blog, as well as local searches. In addition to the well know search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others, you should also pay attention to industry specific search engines. The industry specific search engines are often simply directories where you can list your website for free.

The basic premise of SEO is that we think we know how the search engines choose which site to rank higher for a specific topic or keyword phrase. Unfortunately this is a moving target in that each search engine has its’ own algorithm and they change them at will.

To understand how these algorithms are designed it is important to understand the goal of a search engine. Ultimately search engine websites generate revenue by selling advertising and other products based on the amount of traffic that their search engine generates.

If you think about it… your website does the same thing. The more traffic you generate, the more sales you will have. Well… that is true if your website accurately describes what your traffic is looking for. If you draw traffic looking for women’s shoes and you sell camping equipment… the traffic won’t do you much good.

Google wants to draw traffic to their website – so they must provide you with the product you are looking for. In the case of a search engine, the product is a list of sites that provide ,information or products related to your search criteria. If you search for women’s shoes and Google displays a list of sites that provide camping equipment… you probably would find another search engine.

For Google to be successful, their goal is to provide you with the most relevant websites related to your search criteria. The way that they do this is by reviewing the millions of web pages that comprise the Internet and indexing them to match your criteria. At the most basic level they are only going to recommend pages that are actually about women’s shoes if that is what your search phrase was.

In a recent announcement, Google introduce a major change to their algorithm. From an article published on http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-more-high-quality-sites-in.html February 24, 2011 it becomes clear that the content of your website is more important than the keyword phrases loaded up in your meta tags. This is an excerpt from that article:

This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

In fact Google announced on September 29, 2009 – http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html – that they do not use the “keywords” meta tag in their web search rankings.

In spite of Google not using the “keywords” meta tag, keyword research is still a valuable part of SEO. Keyword research, if done properly, will give you an accurate picture of what your customers are searching for. The results of this type of research may help you in choosing what to write about as you fill your website with relevant content.

Another element of search engine optimization is the structure of your website. Making it easy for the search engines to quickly understand the focus of your website goes a long well in helping with your page rankings. Broken links, problematic parameters in URLs, sorting parameters, and more are the bane of search engines.

Optimizing your website for success requires a consistent effort to produce relevant and quality content. Whether you choose to do it yourself or in partnership with TreadStar Communications and Marketing, you need to pay attention to your website if you want it to produce customers for your business.

How to Design Web Sites for Internet Marketing (part 4)

4. Design

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” – Paraphrase of a statement by Plato

True enough… but there is more to beauty than meets the eye. What one person may think of the layout, color selection, graphics, or feel of a website, is often completely opposite of what another thinks.

Design Web Sites that Produce SalesGenerally speaking, web designers typically try to appeal to the customer’s notion of what is beautiful. The theory being that the customer is paying the bill, or at least the one responsible for approving the design so that the designer gets paid. It is easy to see the motivation for these designers.

Unfortunately what the customer likes may not achieve her goals, or coincide with the purpose of her website. Going back to part one of this series you might remember that the purpose of a website is to create a customer. In subsequent chapters you will also learn that the layout and content of a web page can improve your page ranking with the various search engines. While an attractive design is important… page rankings produce more traffic and if your content is appropriate… more customers.

The goal for effective web design is to develop pages that produce results following proven design principles and marketing strategies as well as embracing the evolving technology of the Internet and search engine companies.

Too many fonts, colors that clash, and pages overloaded with miscellaneous content, make it difficult to stay on a page long enough to even see what the page is about. Websites that are cluttered work for known entities such as CNN, The Washington Post, MySpace and others, because they are known entities and visitors have an idea of what to expect. Your business or your website may not be a known entity.

Today the most visited websites on the Internet include Google, facebook, and YouTube. While these companies have the benefit of being “known entities” they have embraced the concept of simple sells. Google is a search engine. You go there to search the Internet and that’s the service they provide. They do offer other services available through their menu system but their pages are clean and easy to navigate. Go to facebook.com and it’s pretty obvious what they want you to do.

A good design will include the following:

  • Simple Navigation – Should be a natural flow of expected links.
  • Company Logo – If you are affiliated with a national company, display their logo.
  • Obvious Call to Action – Don’t make the customer think.
  • Aesthetically Pleasing – Uncluttered and simple.

We live in a busy time of information overload and you won’t have much time to capture the attention of your web visitor. Keep it simple.

“The decision to move forward is determined in the click of the mouse.” – Roy Chilson

How to Design Web Sites for Internet Marketing (part 3)

3. Hosting

So where does your website live? How do your customers find your website? Well… they ask for directions, even the guys. You may not realize that you are asking for directions but when you enter a domain name into a browser (such as Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox) that browser asks one of the largest and most active database systems in use, the Domain Name Server system, for directions.

Internet Hosting with TreadStar CommunicationsThe Domain Name Server system translates domain names into numerical identifiers known as IP addresses. Every device (computers, telephones, etc.) connected to the Internet, requires an IP address and many such devices answer to multiple IP addresses.

Take findmydog.com for example, easy to read and to remember but not very efficient for networking. When you enter findmydog.com into your browser, the Domain Name Server system searches for the IP address where findmydog.com resides and directs your browser to the device or computer associated with that IP address.

Once your browser arrives at the host computer or server, the server software directs you to the domain name (findmydog.com) that you requested. All in the blink of an eye.

So how do you find a home for your website? The first place to look is with the company that develops your website. A full service web development company should be able to provide that service for you on their own servers as we do at TreadStar Communications and Marketing. Some web designers simply design your website and then suggest that you host it with a third party company. The problem with this arrangement is that you have to be concerned with who takes responsibility in the event of a problem. At TreadStar Communications, our full service program means that we take full responsibility. We do not want to have to depend on third party companies any more than is necessary.

Many web hosting companies boast of a gillion gigabits of storage space, twice as much bandwidth, and 14,972 email accounts… all for the low price of $9.95 per month. Yes they will provide you with all of that storage space… if you can use it. In reality, most websites consume a tiny fraction of what these companies offer. Their ads sound fantastic and if you can get a gillion gigabits for $9.95, certainly that’s a better value than half a gillion gigabits at $7.95. The truth is that you will probably never use even 100 gigabits.

At TreadStar Communications and Marketing, our hosting programs are simple. You get access to the storage space, bandwidth, and email accounts that you need. Our hosting fee includes monthly maintenance of your website – including updates to many of the programs and scripts that work together to run your website. Our goal is to make your life simpler so that you can concentrate on running your business.

How to Design Web Sites for Internet Marketing (part 2)

2. Domain Name Selection

Ahhh… to have been on the band wagon early and to have purchased all of that virtual real estate. One wonders how those pioneering speculators fared. The rumors of million dollar deals over cocacola.com (registered in 1994), mcdonalds.com (registered in 1994), and generalmotors.com (registered in 1999), ibm.com (registered in 1986), and more; make us wish that we had thought of it first.

Domain Names that Make a DifferenceLaws have been enacted to prevent what is called cybersquatting. Cybersquatting is defined by a United States federal law as registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with the intent to profit from a trademark belonging to someone else. However this does not prevent individuals, who may not even be aware of the law, from registering such domain names. For example, internationalbusinessmachines.com was registered in 2007 by an individual with a gmail.com email account. The registrant is probably not a representative of IBM. You have to wonder why IBM never registered that domain name.

Saying that all of the good domain names have been taken is like saying all of the good songs have been sung, all of the good books have been written, or all of the good advertising slogans have been used.

Be creative! Think of Google, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Starbucks, Monster, Apple… etc. The bottom line is that your domain name should be easy to remember, easy to spell, and hopefully (but not necessarily) somehow related to you or your business.

Other domain names such as find-my-dog.com are favored by search engines because the search engines treat hyphens as spaces and a person searching for help in finding their dog, might very well enter “find my dog” as a search phrase. Google, and other search engines, might see the domain name “find-my-dog.com” as a perfect match for this search phrase and would probably rank it higher than “findmydog.com” (all things being equal.) However when you want to tell a potential customer what your domain name is, find my dog.com is easier to remember than find hyphen my hyphen dog.com. My advice is to register both domain names and have them point to the same website that should be hosted as find-my-dog.com.

A common mistake for registering this type of domain name is that the business owner is inclined to look at the domain name from his or her perspective. Find Your Dog seems like a logical choice for a business that searches for lost dogs. However, most potential customers would probably search for “find my dog” if they lost their dog. Don’t despair, just register findyourdog.com (if that’s the name of your business) right along with the other two domain names and have them all point to the same website. It can’t hurt to also register find-your-dog.com. The cost of the domain name is cheap at about $10 per year each so the four domain names as illustrated here would cost the business $40 a year… that’s about 10 lattes a year and the cheapest advertising that you will ever find.

Consider spelling… as well as misspelling. Some of us are happy with “sargent” others type in “sargant” and some use “sgt” – if your domain name is sargentcamo.com, you might want to also register sargantcamo.com as well as sgtcamo.com. Many words have common misspellings and many cybersquatters will take advantage of a popular domain name by registering a common misspelling.

How to Design Web Sites for Internet Marketing (part 1)

 

1. Purpose

“The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” – Peter Drucker, 1909-2005

Purpose of a Web Site is to get a Customer

In the beginning, websites were built to establish a “presence.” The technology was new and most of us didn’t have any idea of how it was going to affect our business. Those who climbed on early did so for a variety of reasons and often with the hope that doing so would somehow increase their sales and thus their profitability.

Unfortunately for most that didn’t happen. “presence” websites are nothing more than glorified business cards. If I happen to remember that you gave me a business card, and I can remember where I put it, I might call you, and maybe do business with you. The same holds true of your business website if all you have built is a “presence” website.

If your organization’s purpose is to provide a source of information and you don’t really care if the public finds that information or not, a “presence” website might be for you.

On the other hand if you want to “create a customer” You need to re-think your website. The power of the Internet for business purposes is phenomenal. When I started TreadStar Communications in 1998, I made a prediction that the Internet would be the “industrial revolution” of the 21st century. I believed then and I still believe today that history will look back on this as a time when the average man, a man without money, prospects, or possessions, could make his fortune. You need to look no further than eBay to see that that has already happened. College students have created huge corporations that started in their dorm rooms. Corporations that heretofore would have required tremendous capital, experience, and connections; are popping up everywhere.

“The purpose of a website is to create a customer. “ Roy Chilson

Before you begin to build your website you must articulate the purpose of your website and it should be in line with the purpose of your business.

How to Design Web Sites for Internet Marketing (intro)

Company Website Design and Development

“If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”  – Dr. Abraham Maslow 

TreadStar Communications Design and Marketing

How many ways are there to accomplish any task? If you wanted to dig a hole you could use your hands… a coffee can… a shovel… a backhoe. Sometimes the tools that we use are appropriate and sometimes they are not. As Dr. Maslow has pointed out, people tend to go with what they know. In the constantly changing world of the Internet and Internet marketing, one size does not fit all. 

The success of your company website design and development depends on many factors. This series of posts will elaborate on the philosophy, techniques, and procedures that we follow at TreadStar Communications and Marketing. We have broken down the steps of our company website design and development program to illustrate the importance of each component.

There is a certain logic to the order of presentation but all of the components work together to enhance a company website design and development project.

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