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Browsing "internet strategy"

Young People Get Their News Online

Mar 14, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   fresh traffic, internet strategy, online marketing  //  Comments Off

Younger people get their news online Research by comScore has revealed that young people are now getting their news from websites rather than buying newspapers.

The study highlights an opportunity for online marketers who are likely to benefit from the increasing number of young people who are using the internet for everyday activities.

“That current generations are growing up getting their news online for free is an indicator that print circulations are likely to continue their decline,” said Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore.

“But the internet represents a significant opportunity to extend – and even improve upon – existing news brands and reach out to new consumers with living, breathing real-time content.”

He added that although the number of people buying print news is declining, it does not reflect a fall in the number of people who are reading about the news, “in fact, just the opposite is true”.

This week, social networking site MySpace signed a deal with Channel 5 to provide its younger members with a regular news bulletin, which can be accessed online.

SEO Tip

Mar 13, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet strategy, seo  //  Comments Off

God grant me the serenity
to accept the SERPs where they are (for now)
Grant me the courage to change the tags that I can,
And the wisdom to update my pages daily.

A search engine optimization tip that I know helps me sometimes through the day.

–N

Local Optimization – Local SEO

Mar 11, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   fresh traffic, internet strategy, search engine optimization, Winnipeg  //  Comments Off

Local search engine optimization is something that every business with a website should take very seriously. Advertising locally can only get you so far, having your website optimized with geo-targeting and proper keywords in mind, you can bring in a lot of traffic that you would otherwise miss.

Using a single keyword phrase in geo-targeted optimization could mean that you lose out on a lot of traffic and potential customers. While it may be the most widely used phrase in terms of your business, bear in mind that not everyone searches the same way. As an example, “local restaurants” may be the most obvious of search terms, but some people will search for those same restaurants as “best eatery” or “local hotspots”, the terms are many; it pays off in the end to remember that.

Local SEO can definitely be focused around a single main search term, but add others throughout the site. This can help boost your ranking on the search engines and you´ll find that your traffic will increase.

–N

SEO When Should You Invest?

Feb 14, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet strategy, search engine optimization, website principles  //  Comments Off

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a necessary part of any website strategy. The potential traffic is simply too big to ignore.

The question isn’t “Should I do SEO?” it’s “When should I do SEO?”

As a site owner, you have to make hard decisions about how to spend your always-not-enough budget and when. In this post, I’m going to talk about some of things your should consider when trying to determine…

When Should I Invest in SEO?

SEO is not direct marketing. Just because you put a dollar in today does not mean you’re going to get a $1.50 out tomorrow.

Fundamentally, natural search optimization is a long-term investment. With the right strategy and the right implementation, I do believe you will get the return on that investment and, possibly, a sustained competitive advantage.

Of course, this presents a problem: you have to spend the money now, but you might not see it for a while.

Fundamentals to Make the Most of SEO

Search engines don’t buy from you, people do. There a few things you need to have in place in any site to make the most of SEO:

Functioning Site – There’s no point in bringing people to your site if it doesn’t work. People don’t like it and neither do the search engines. Getting your site to work properly is as important as getting people there.
Great Product – You can optimize your site till you’re blue in the face, but if you’re product stinks, you’re fighting an uphill battle. They say the quickest way to kill a bad product is to advertise it…
Measurement (Web Analytics) – Spending money without any way to track it is pointless. What’s more, you need analytics in place to help you refine the SEO you do execute.

The Resources You Need to Execute SEO

There are 2 paths to SEO: do-it-yourself or hiring an SEO consultant.

The choice between the two could fill several blog posts. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume you are looking for professional help.

A good organic search optimization agency will:

Do your keyword research
Make recommendations about your platform and information architecture
Address on-page code elements
Conduct a competitive and market analysis
Make specific content recommendations
Build and, possibly, execute a link strategy
You then have to execute that advice you paid so much for.

Oftentimes this is a hurdle for people who buy SEO services. With so many priorities clamoring for your attention, it’s easy to put off.

Don’t.

Make sure your marshal the right people together before the start of the project to convince them of the value of SEO.

Your key people will be:

The Developer – Someone will have to change your code and address server/platform issues. With apologies to the technology folks in the audience, these folks are usually the least inclined to understand the importance of SEO, but they’re absolutely essential to doing it right.

The Creative – Search engines are text readers. You will probably need to get more content onto your sites. This is going to piss of some artist. Best to suck up to them now and get them on your team.

The Copywriter – Somebody has to write all of that new content. What’s more, they have to do so in a search engine friendly way. A new way of writing + new things to write = another team member to persuade.

The Marketer – If this isn’t you, then it’s likely your colleague or boss. The marketer has to ensure everything is on-brand, and that includes the changes to the meta-data and content you’re going to recommend. Figure out the approval process and key concerns early.

Chose: Buy SEO Services or Something Else?
You can buy $25 worth of paid search. You can’t buy $25 worth of SEO.

In reality, you’re going to have some per hour, per project or per month fee to get sound SEO advice customized for your business.

Assuming you’ve addressed the fundamentals mentioned above and can convince the key team members to pitch in, you now have to ask yourself: is this the best time to invest in SEO services?

There are times when SEO is a no-brainer:

Pre-Launch – It is 10 times easier to change things in the design phase than during coding or after launch. What’s more, the education and research will also weave its way into all of your decisions the sooner you learn about SEO.

Starting Paid Search – It makes sense to coordinate paid and organic search marketing. Think about it: do you want to pay for clicks you could get for free? Shouldn’t buy words that will take you months to win?
You’ve Done Everything Else – Well, that just makes logical sense :-)
It’s always better to start SEO sooner rather than later, but there’s often an opportunity cost with that choice. The opportunity you could be giving up is better email marketing, more paid search, affiliate expansion, upgraded user experience, multivariate testing… the list goes on.

You need to ask:

Do I have the cash flow to pay for natural search optimization when it could take 6-9months before I get that money back?
Can I execute the SEO recommendations in a timely fashion?
Are there minor site changes that I could address in 1-3 months that would produce immediate returns across all channels (e.g., shopping cart improvements)?
How much traffic and revenue would I have to generate to make this investment worthwhile?

Conclusion

I’m not trying to scare you away from SEO. It’s totally the opposite–I think SEO is vital and, frankly, amazing. It’s important to have realistic expectations about how and when SEO will pay off.

The point is that there’s a reason many people don’t succeed at SEO–they’re not willing to put in the effort and give it time to succeed.

Understanding what it takes to be prepared for SEO will help you understand when you should invest in it.

Let me turn the question back to you: how/when did you decided to focus on SEO?

Why are SEO Costs so High

Oct 3, 2007   //   by freshtraffic   //   fresh traffic, internet strategy, seo, SEO Expert  //  Comments Off

Good question!

If you approach an SEO company, like ours, for a quote to get your site working for you, you may be slightly taken aback by the costs involved. In many instances, especially where small businesses are concerned, SEO costs can be several times more than the original site development costs. But why?

The short answer is SEO takes time and time costs money.

The long answer? Oh, OK then……

For SEO to be effective your SEO consultant needs to understand your business and your business aims = time
To market your business your SEO needs to understand your market = time
To optimise your site your SEO needs to understand your customers search habits = time
To ensure the search engines can index your website’s content it needs to be structurally sound = time
To give your site credibility your site needs links from other sites = time
To make sure your SEO keeps working your SEO needs to stay ahead of your competitors = time
I could go on but perhaps you can now understand why SEO costs so much. Rates will vary but you will pay perhaps £150 per day at the lower end, £400 in the mid range and £000’s at the high end.

If you hire an mid range SEO firm for say 10 days at about £400 per day, that’s £4000.00. For that money you are getting a dedicated professional. You can hire by the day for as long or as little as you like. But there is an alternative, you could hire a full time employee.

Average fees using a reputable agency? Perhaps 5% of the salary. Expected salary? around the £40k mark. Finders fee = £2000.00. Now the salary, £40k grossed up for employers NI etc will cost you about £44,500.00. All this ignores sick pay, holiday pay, cost of a workstation etc. If you’ve ever worked out the cost of a providing a serviced workspace you’ll know it’s not cheap, let’s call it £300 a month.

That’s £4000 per month, every month of the year (even though your guy will be on holiday for one and half of those). Now you have an insight, extracts from redevo

The Changing SEO Landscape

Sep 26, 2007   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet strategy, online marketing, website principles  //  Comments Off

With the current debate over Links Versus Content, people are once again asking what works to gain the most visitors, the most attention. While creating content is obviously the only way a search engine can find you, creating focused content is even more effective.

What about linking? If content is the bread of the internet, links are the butter. If those links are relevant and natural (or natural looking), the benefits are outstanding. But what if linking is merely the tip of the iceberg? The SEO landscape looks ripe for change, but just as the search engines are evolving at an ever-growing pace, that which is being searched is also evolving–mutating form, function, and execution almost right before our eyes.

There are five major changes on the way in the online world, which quite simply will revise, refine, and revolutionize our understanding and approach to search engine optimization. Actually, what we call SEO will become a subset of the larger world of search engine usability–no longer will SEO be solely the purview of SEO experts. Normal, everyday users will have more of a hand in shaping the way data is found than ever before.

The following five things are due to disrupt and alter the way in which optimization and interaction are applied.

#1. NGT (Next Generation Tagging) – Imagine objects within video and audio able to be organically and dynamically tagged by parsers directly connected to search engines. Imagine products tagged not only by text but by interactive, dynamic multimedia, which is fed and organized through these parsing agents. Utilizing microformats, hybrid peer-to-peer networking, and new content distribution models, the next movement in tagging is full-embedded content awareness.

#2. ACG (Automated Content Generation) – No, I’m not talking about spam generators, though that will remain part of the search engine equation. ACG in this case refers to content that is pushed through the pipes and passageways of feed servers and mashup generators to become reshaped content. Utilizing massive “rainbow” libraries, content can be matched, parsed, and regenerated as entirely new content that is still relevant and highly focused. You think that widgets blog is run by people? It’s not. Not anymore.

#3. The Web Will Be Reviewed – More products and services are being publicly reviewed by users all over the globe. The emphasis on user-submitted reviews will become more important as marketing to individuals becomes more ubiquitous. In Tom Friedman’s The World Is Flat, Globalization 2.0 is where the end user and the front provider share an intimate relationship. Thus, what the end user says about the front provider and its service or product will greatly determine how those services and products are found.

#4. Optimization For Longevity – Social networking sites like Digg and Reddit have fostered the “Get Links Quick” dream of fast and easy exposure, but they don’t encourage long-term optimization. Digg traffic cascades show an extremely low hangtime for traffic spikes, and links are rarely persistent or maintained. Sites that have the most staying power are the ones who will optimize for the long-term. This means looking ahead, spotting trends and changes in the landscape before they happen, and applying that in a sustainable model.

#5. The Semantic Web – As search engines get smarter, the words you type into that search box will actually mean something. Function words will enable engines to read the incoming data in much the same way as a human does, determining not just definition and location, but context and connotation. This means your content generation will need to be even more focused and applicable for human readers–even if some of those human readers are actually human emulators! As the Google guidelines states, don’t build a site for search engines, build it for people.

While all these coming changes are revolutionary in their own way, they don’t change basic tenets of how the web will work. It will still thrive on and be driven by usable content and ideas. This is the web as it should be.

This is the web as it will be.
Guest post by Jeremiah Lewis.

SEO – Six Mistakes You Should Avoid

Sep 24, 2007   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet strategy, seo, seo techniques, website principles  //  Comments Off

For the survival of your blog, website search engine optimization is as important as having a website, especially if you seek targeted traffic from search engines. SEO for me is not simply getting traffic from various sources; it is getting highly targeted traffic. A few mistakes here and there and all your SEO efforts will go down the drain. In fact wrong SEO tactics can sometimes prove costlier than having no SEO strategy. Although there are unlimited things you can do to improve your SEO and unlimited mistakes you can commit in the process, in this blog post I’m going to discuss 6 SEO mistakes you should avoid.

Here they are:

1. Don’t have the same title for every page: If you are a blogger you might not face this problem because most blogging software generates unique page titles (here too you can post blog posts without titles — some people do), but if you run a website make sure all your pages have a unique title. The logic is that every page carries a unique message and the best way to present that message to the outside world is by having a page title that aptly represents the message of your page. On external links people click on your link when they find your page title attractive. People using search engines click your link when they see the title of your link. So have a unique title for every page and make sure the important phrase that represents your page content appears in your title.

2. Don’t spam your pages by stuffing keywords: Your keywords and key phrases are certainly taken into account when search engine algorithms rank your web pages, but it doesn’t mean you insert your keywords everywhere. This will be considered keyword spam and your website runs the risk of getting black listed by all of the major search engines. Your keywords appearing nonsensically in your title, in your description, all over your text and everywhere in your links, is not going to get you anywhere. Even if for a few days you get to the first page of the search result pages your website will be blacklisted the moment it is noticed by someone from the search engine company. Instead, create highly focused, specialized web pages so that they cater to the theme of your keywords. Let your keywords and key expressions appear naturally on your pages. The important thing is not getting ranked higher as soon as possible, what is important is increasing the overall relevancy of your website.

3. Don’t use bells and whistles: The more needless stuff you have on your website, the tougher it is for the search engine crawlers to crawl and index your pages. Run a check on your website and see if there are some JavaScripts, some images and animations, or some CSS definitions that you can get rid of, and if you can, then get rid of them immediately. Make your website as light as possible.

4. Don’t use dynamic URLs: A dynamic URL is something like http://www.yourwebsite.com/index.php?p=345. The search engines simply cannot make sense of them, and even if they can, it takes lots of effort on their part. Instead, use a URL scheme that has your keywords in it. For instance, the URL of this post will probably end up with /6-seo-mistakes-you-should-avoid/. All current content management systems and blog publishing platforms give you the ability to create search engine friendly URLs.

5. Don’t participate in meaningless link-exchange schemes: Inbound links are definitely important for your website or blog, but they should appear on external websites voluntarily and not because you are going to put their link on your website. The entire logic of having inbound links is to convince Google that your blog or website has got content worth linking to and they should be coming from reputed websites. The very fact that the other website is readily exchanging links with you means that it does not get linked to because of its value, and this, consequently, is not going to give you any SEO benefit. In fact exchanging links with disrepute or totally unrelated websites can adversely affect your SEO efforts.

6. Don’t submit to search engines: It’s no use submitting your website to different search engines because the search engines themselves are perpetually crawling the Internet to locate and index new and recently updated pages. It takes its own time for your web pages to start appearing on search engine result pages whether you submit them or don’t submit them. So if you are thinking that by simply submitting your website to “1000s of search engines” your SEO job is over, please do a re-think.

So avoid these mistakes and keep yourself focused. Remember that search engines want to provide the best content available on the Internet to their users so that their users keep coming back to them for their search needs. Create a website or a blog that the search engines will happily present to their users among top results.

The Power of SEO

Sep 5, 2007   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet strategy, seo techniques, website optimization, website principles  //  Comments Off

Optimizing your Web site to take advantage of the power of search engines to put you in front of customers gives you a huge competitive advantage. Even now, only 25 percent of Fortune 100 businesses have completely optimized their sites in this way. If you act now, you’ll have an edge over competitors who haven’t optimized their sites.

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.

Wrong — unless of course your business has a Web site. Search engines like Google and Yahoo troll the Web constantly, categorizing and ranking sites so users can find what they’re looking for.

The Best Exposure Money Can’t Buy
Why should you care? Here are a few reasons:

It’s free.

You don’t have to pay Google, Yahoo and the other search engines to rank your Web site. It’s like a free listing in the yellow pages, except that you get listed in as many categories as apply to you — by product, inventory, service, geography or a dozen other classifications.

Also, it’s a global listing. Imagine paying for an ad in the phone book to cover all that territory.

That doesn’t mean every Web site gets equal treatment. Each search engine uses different methods to rank sites. Understanding how search engines work — and adapting your site accordingly — can move you up in the listings.

Everybody’s looking for something.

Online searching is the third most frequent activity for people who are online — only e-mail and general surfing rank higher. Search engines not only help users find you, they act as virtual tour guides by taking users directly to the page with the information they’re seeking.

People trust search engines.

Studies show that people trust user-based rankings (those based on searches people do on their own initiative) more than paid rankings (those based on clicks on paid ads) by a wide margin — as much as 70 percent. Visitors who come to your Web site through a free search engine listing are more likely to engage in the desired response (make a purchase, request information) than those who come through paid ads.

You can still get in early.

Optimizing your Web site to take advantage of the power of search engines to put you in front of customers gives you a huge competitive advantage. Even now, only 25 percent of Fortune 100 businesses have completely optimized their sites in this way. If you act now, you’ll have an edge over competitors who haven’t optimized their sites.

This advantage won’t be around forever, though. Businesses will get smarter about search engine optimization (or SEO — the art of making sure your Web site stands out in the crowd), so now’s the time to capitalize on it.

The Cat and the Mouse
So how do you go about optimizing your Web site? You probably can’t do it yourself. SEO is just one aspect of search engine marketing (SEM, which also includes such techniques as paying to be listed or to be ranked higher when certain keywords are used).

Search firms are constantly changing their methods to remain competitive among each other, so it takes the expertise of a professional firm specializing in Web services to keep up with them.

However, it’s an investment with a payoff you can’t afford to ignore. SEO is so effective that some companies gain a complete return on their investment in the first month.

Here are four important guidelines that will help ensure potential customers can find you on the Web.

Choose your keywords.

Search engines use keywords and phrases to rank Web sites. You need to define a set of keywords targeted to your audience and based on your business goals, competitive advantages and key messages. Try to think from a user’s perspective: What words and phrases will they use when trying to find you? You may sell hats, but your customers may call them “caps,” “lids” or “fedoras.” Choosing the right keywords is the crucial first step to search engine optimization.

Use those keywords.

Get your keywords into the URLs, page titles and content of your Web pages. There are lots of little tricks to this. For example, the most effective page titles are about 75 characters long and include the most important keywords at the beginning. On each page, keywords and phrases should represent 2 to 3 percent of the total content.

Make links and influence people.

The more links to your site from relevant and trusted sources, the higher you’ll rank with search engines. For example, always list your site with online business directories, even if you think no one will find you through them. Those links may not produce any direct leads, but they could bump you up in the search engine rankings, especially if they are popular or highly visited sources.


Know your audience.

People searching the Internet don’t all use the same search engines. Research shows that older audiences still like AOL, and professional audiences tend to like MSN and Google. Younger audiences often like Yahoo. Only about one third of users use one search engine consistently. Knowing your audience will help your Web services firm decide which search engine to optimize for.

Time, Effort and Money
Those are just a few tips to search engine optimization — there are many, many more. Once your site has been optimized, check to see how you’re doing in the search engine rankings. As time goes by, you’ll need to keep tweaking your Web site to stay on top of the heap. The average user won’t scroll past the first two or three pages of a search listing, so you should aim to be listed on the top one or two pages, typically the top 20 listings in your search category.

It takes time, effort, and money to optimize your Web site for search engines. However, what’s the cost to your company if you don’t optimize? Lost revenue? Decreasing brand awareness? Unlike other investments you might make, it’s easy to measure the results of search engine optimization — more clicks, more visitors and maybe more sales of that new, improved mousetrap

Social Media Marketing

Aug 28, 2007   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet strategy, online marketing, website optimization  //  Comments Off

Today’s high traffic web world can prove to be quite elusive in making your company seen and heard amongst the millions of other sites competing for the same business. People can put anything they want on their websites to drive traffic to them and hopefully catch that client they’ve been waiting for. But have you stopped to think about whether these efforts are really helping you to make an impact to interest viewers, and to ultimately draw them in to spend money with YOU?

Enter Social Media Marketing – one of the newer phases of popular sales methodology being used online. Only problem is that there seems to be no clear cut methodology or systemization to this loosely defined sales tool. It’s like a free-for-all in the web marketing world with every person having a different take on what will and won’t work, what the objective of it is, and how it can maximize your website’s efficiency. So let’s arm you today with a few key points for you to consider for yourself in order to earn your own fair share of the pie in this online arena.

Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing (SMM) combines the goals of internet marketing with social media sites such as MySpace, YouTube, Site Pal, and MyVirtualSalesPerson as well as many others. The SMM goals will be different for every business or organization, however most will involve building ideas or brand awareness, increasing visibility, and possibly selling a product or service. SMM may also include online reputation management.

How you choose to do it is entirely up to you, but here are some general rules that can be of benefit to you when planning your online marketing campaign using Social Media:

Research
You’ve heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again “Do your research!”. To create an effective Social Marketing Campaign, you must first do your research and know your target market. As the owner of your business, you know what you wish to achieve, however, the site viewer is not interested in this in the least. They’re interested in how you can benefit them for the best price. In order words, your site must meet the visitor’s needs first before the owner’s needs. One way of doing this is to provide the most appealing brand you can offer. In order to do this, you must provide your visitors with immediate solutions to their needs, and answers to their questions, and the information they desire.

Customer Experience
Find a way to create a powerful, lasting customer experience. When a potential client visits your site, you have to provide them with enough stimuli in a quick enough time to make that visitor want to stay on your site and not click over to another one pulled up in their keyword search. So, how do you do this, you ask? Perhaps you can use video and sound. The technology exists nowadays to maximize the viewers’ experience. We are a visually stimulated culture, so perhaps put some thought into ways in which the viewer of your site can be ‘caught’, drawn in, and sold on whatever it is you have to offer. Some common ways of achieving this are with authoritative information, entertainment, humor or controversy. But be careful when planning on using audio files and video on your website. If not planned properly, they can be a huge waste of time and money. If they fail to capture the target audience’s attention, you may as well have not invested any of your money in the first place. Be wary of experience overload as you do not want to overstimulate your audience. Too much, and your message is lost. Too little forethought and your messaage doesn’t come through clearly enough to snag the viewer. It’s a balancing act really, so know your audience and what they are looking for. On the plus-side, using video and audio files are an inexpensive way to advertise your product, brand your company, and compete in the online marketplace. Remember that if you are going to use these strategies, your media files must contain information critical for search engines to find, index, and display in search results.

Build Relationships
It’s imperative that you use your Social Marketing Tools to build relationships with your viewers. The bonus of the web is that we can deliver our message informally so that the viewer feels a connection with the company. Rigid professionalism goes out the window in favour of a more comfortable, friendly, person-to-person approach. This lack of formalism breaks down corporate barriers and helps the viewer feel connected to you, your company, and your product. It’s realism in its truest form. So don’t waste your time with vidoes or sound clips that look and sound like they came from the annals of corporate literature. Be down to earth in your message delivery and watch people flock to your site. It gives them something to trust in, something to feel safe with. Why? Because it’s human, it’s real, and they can relate. Allow potential clients to see your integrity. This unique voice is what will set you apart from the many other companies also vying for the same business online.

Networking Quality
Effective Social Networking is about quality, not quantity. Make your web presence count. Do not create a website that overloads visitors with too many experiences or the novelty will wear off and you will be left with a website that does little to attract business and drive sales. Essentially, what I am saying here is do not spread yourself too thin with all of the online social marketing tools that are out there. Choose one or two very powerful tools that will best capture the essence of your message or your business and maximize its potential. Remember, it’s better to be in one great place, rather than in too many so-so places at once. Build your own presence effectively. Too much will be your downfall.

Call to Action
Lastly, use Social Marketing Tools to convey your business’s Call to Action and ask for that ever important Sale. The marketing tools you choose must create a need with potential clients. Show that your company, product, or service solves a problem that they, the viewers, have. Most importantly though, before you use these Social Marketing Tools, realize that you need to anticipate objection before it occurs and provide solutions in innovative ways so that they can’t say no. Use your Social Tools to kindly ask for the Sale. You will be surprised how an effective, well-thought out marketing tool can provide you with the Sales your company is seeking. For example, by using a Virtual Sales Person your company will have the power to influence, motivate, and persuade prospective clients to believe in and buy your call to action. So, you can use Social Marketing Tools as an online employee of sorts, you could say. Let these tools do the work of a salesperson and watch the traffic increase to your site.

In short, Social Media applies to everyone. That’s why businesses should harness the Social Marketing Tools available to them to give their business a competitive edge within the web environment. If you hope to survive in the virtual world of business, you must stand out. So make sure you do your research, employ the tools effectively, don’t overkill them on your site, and always provide quality over quantity. This combination, I believe, will provide your business with the edge it needs to stand above competitors and see a return on your call to Action.

SEO and Web Design – The Eternal Debate

Jul 20, 2007   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet strategy, seo, website principles  //  Comments Off

Having a beautiful website no one can find is like having a store and keeping the doors locked. You know it is there, you’ve done a great job decorating it, the products are waiting for the customers, yet no one comes in.

Web design focuses on appearance and aesthetics. SEO focuses on text quality and quantity. Web designers don’t really like to clutter their designs with text. They prefer to see the images stand out on their own. SEOs on the other hand don’t like images that much. Sure, an image can be optimized for the search engines by adding relevant alt attributes and titles, but this is not enough for a site to be properly optimized. Page copy still plays the most important role in website optimization for Search Engine Optimisation.

As a business owner you are caught in the middle of this conflict. For your website to convert you need both design and optimization. There is no middle way. You cannot have a little bit of this and a little bit of that and still be competitive. You cannot have just one of the two either. Without optimization your site is invisible to the search engines, hence to your potential customers. On the other hand, without a good design your site, although not invisible, will get nothing but hits. Web users are picky and if they find nothing of interest on your site they will just surf to the next site.

When you pay for web design don’t automatically assume that by paying thousands of dollars on a layout you’ll be a hit on the Web. The Web is a highly competitive place. There are already thousands entrepreneurs who, just like you, invest in design and hope to become the new “it.” Without online marketing (SEO being an important part of the discipline) all these entrepreneurs will remain in the shadow, with their beautiful websites closed to the world.

SEO is the key to that virtual door you need to open for your customers. It is important that you consider this tool when you first conceive your site. Web design and SEO don’t need to be enemies. There are enough professional agencies that employ both web designers and SEOs who work together to develop a good business website, a site that is SEO ready, accessible and readable with any browser. You just need to take your time, research and send a few inquiries. Then choose the company that answers your questions in a timely manner, basically choose the company that proves a clear ability of designing with W3C standards and a clear understanding of the online trends and realities.

Then balancing content with visual appearance shouldn’t be such a difficult task. Aside graphics and artwork you have to choose proper font types, in a readable size, with colors that harmonize with the layout of the site and so on. If your site is not SEO ready from the first stage of the project you’ll face additional costs after you launch. SEO ready means a site that is properly coded (errors in the HTML code might stop some search bots from crawling and indexing your site correctly), with good navigability and good internal linking structure.

On the other hand, SEO and appearance are not the only traits of a good site. Brand conscious companies should look at the broader picture: instead of debating what is better online entrepreneurs should ask themselves what works best to convert visitors into clients.

Studies show that an over optimized page might hurt the user-experience of people with disabilities. For example, many SEOs stuff the image alt attributes and their alternative titles with keywords. Blind and other visually impaired people who use screen readers to access the Web and read the pages cannot see the images and, instead of listening to a relevant image description, they’ll hear… nonsense.

Usability and accessibility are equally important as design and optimization. Strangely enough images are better for usability. They give focus to the design and when properly optimized they provide for less cluttered website content. The problems appear when the images slow down the loading times, but with the use of CSS loading times should not be a big concern.

As search engines prefer fast loading sites it is easy top understand why good coding and optimization are so important. Poor coding raises many other problems aside loading times and might increase costs when you need website updates, especially when your website administrator is not the one who created your site.

These were the words from Mihaela Lica.