Category: Content

10 Common website mistakes to avoid like the plague

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By , 11/27/2011 20:59

According to Netcraft, there are over 266 million websites on the Internet. But there’s a huge difference between a really good website and a really bad one. Where do you sit on the scale? Whether you’re in the planning stages or about due for a review, take a look at our pick of the Top 10 common mistakes to avoid like the plague.

  1. It’s not about you. Your website should be all about your customer – not how great you are and what you do. Talk to them in language they can relate to and engage them to the point you can sell to them. Always write the content with the good old WIIFM principle (What’s in it for me?) or put another way, ‘Why are you telling me this?’
  2. Not capturing visitor details. Let’s face it – it’s hard work getting someone to visit your website, so don’t let them get away! You must have an opt-in on your home page to capture their contact details so you can stay in touch and build a relationship.
  3. Too much flash. Your customers don’t want long load times, search engines don’t like it and neither do smartphones. Use flash moderately on your site or avoid it if you can.
  4. Long gaps between updates. You need to regularly review and update your site to keep the content relevant, fresh and interesting for your customers.
  5. No social media icons. Give customers a way to interact with you and get information on what you’re up to via social media. Make it easy for visitors to ‘like’ you and capture their information so you can grow your database by adding social media icons that are visible on your webiste.
  6. Using stock photos. People do business with people. Your customers want to see who you are and it’s one of the best ways to build trust. Use real photos and be yourself.
  7. Overdesigning and overcrowding. Think Apple – keep it simple and beautiful. The success of your website is in the planning. What will your customer want to use it for? Make it user friendly and easy to navigate.
  8. Assuming your designer knows what you want. Think carefully and take the time to talk to your web designer in detail about what you want your website to do and look like now and in 5 years time. Although changes may occur organically, it’s important to think long term as it can be very costly to keep changing your website.
  9. Not monitoring traffic. It’s key to have a good monitoring program so you can see if your website is actually working. What pages are most visited and how long do they stay? Find out how your website is performing and where you need to improve it.
  10. Lack of a sound strategy and purpose. Why do you have a website? What is its purpose? If it’s not making you money then how are you going to recoup the time and money you have invested? Get clear on your purpose and keep it front of mind with everything you do.

At mySmartWebsite we are here to help small businesses become successful online by providing products and service that make the online experience painless. Feel free to contact us on 1300 652 266 to see how we can help you take your business to the next level.

Five Steps to Better Web Design

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By , 12/06/2010 19:15

Source: Luke Telford | Nett Magazine

Web design is easy to get wrong. If you want your website to capture the attention of visitors, it’s best to take a couple of steps back and gain some perspective on what it’s purpose actually is. It can be very easy to get caught up in the details. Here are some points to consider.

1. Looks are important

You may not like to judge a book by it’s cover, but online, appearance is the most important thing after search placement. If your site doesn’t look right on first impression, visitors won’t stick around long enough to find out if what you’re offering is relevant to their search term. The very fact that Google has recently introduced Instant Preview – a function to allow searchers to vet websites according to a thumbnail of their homepage – is proof of this.

2. Design is about more than just looks

Design doesn’t just refer to the way your homepage looks. It helps to think of your website as a structure, like a building: it’s design is like the architectural blueprints and floor plans of a house. In the same way you need to consider which way the door to each room opens, you need to make sure that each page on your site links to the others in a logical way. This is easier to stay on top of if you remember that less is more with web design. Start with the basics and work your way up.

3. Don’t be too flash

Flash may look great, but it’s not very practical. When people visit your site, they want to be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily; lavish animation just presents another barrier. Richard Graham from My Sydney Detour discovered this the hard way. He went through countless web designers, all of whom tried to make his business’s website look and feel as interactive as possible, at the cost of simple navigation. After taking some sound advice, Graham stripped the gimmick right down to a simple theme, and straightforward navigation. Have a look: it’s clean, simple and effective.

4. Avoid clutter

Don’t have too much on your homepage. Having a cluttered page is going to scare your buyer away. A busy page is like a messy room: uninviting. If there is space for your homepage to breathe, it’s more likely that your visitors will stay for the 3-5 seconds it takes for them to figure out if your business is relevant to them or not. More like this, less like this.

5. Above the fold

As with email newsletters, the most important part of your entire website isn’t just your homepage – it’s the part of it that visitors see as soon as they arrive. The ‘fold' is the cut-off point for their very first look at your homepage, before they start scrolling down and exploring. It’s vital that the information that appears above the fold shows them that they’ve come to the right place. This site is a perfect example.

There's no such thing as 'good enough' in web design. Want to know how to improve your site? Get a free website review from mySmartwebsite

 

 

SEO: What Not To Do

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By , 12/06/2010 19:13
Source: Nett Magazine | Luke Telford

SEO is a race without a finish line. The reason for this is that the search engines are always trying to find ways of making the quality of their search better for users.

This means that many of the SEO tactics used 5 years ago no longer hold any relevance for your content – yet, some SEO professionals continue to pedal them, and charge you for the work. It’s important you’re aware of what’s useful and what isn’t when it comes to results; some of these tricks are simply a waste of time, but others could result in severe penalties from search engines.

Duplicating content

You might be tempted to use a piece of content that ranks well – or an excerpt from it – more than once on your site in order to boost your search results. It’s important not to do this. If you need to restate a point, then make sure you paraphrase, as search engines can tell if you’re duplicating information, and will penalise you for it.

Cloaking

This refers to the practice of presenting search engines with a version of the site that’s different to what the user sees. "Search engines index pages based on their content," explains Tim Barnett, managing partner of 2Binteractive, "but trying to display a lot of good content on a web site can often detract from the aesthetic value of a site, and sometimes the actual content you want to display is different to the keywords you want to target."

Cloaking is a relatively old trick, but is still used by some disreputable SEO professionals to boost search rankings. There are a number of ways it can be done – presenting the search engine’s IP address with a completely different site, or displaying different pages depending on the users/search engine’s web browser ¬– but the principle with each is basically the same.

One easily detectable cloaking method is the use of hidden text: ie positioning keyword-rich text in white against the white background of a page, so that it can be read by a search engine, but not by the user. Cloaking must be avoided at all costs; it is gravely looked down upon by search engines, and can result in your site being ‘black listed’ , and removed from results entirely.

Keyword stuffing

It’s possible to have too many keywords. Search engine algorithms are constantly being developed to be better at figuring out how relevant a piece of content is. Search now looks beyond keywords to figure this out. So, if you fill all your content with as many keywords as you can manage, you not only risk making it less readable and alienating your visitors, you’ll probably also be penalised in the search rankings.

"Using appropriate keywords in content is good, but stuffing with keywords looks manipulative and provides a poor user experience," says Mark Baartse, consulting director of search firm First Rate. “Unfortunately a lot of people still recommend these techniques. If you hear people talking about ‘keyword density’ and ‘latent semantic indexing’, then run away! Good quality content with a natural use of keywords is recommended.”

Gateway pages

This is when a web designer sets up brief, keyword-rich redirect pages in between a link and its destination. "They are often orphan pages (i.e. have no other links to them from within the site navigation etc),’ says Barnett, ‘and are simply used to get people to a website."

"There was a big case a number of years ago when BMW was given some poor SEO advice and had set up a doorway page to their site – it was subsequently banned by Google if nothing else, I think BMW was simply used by Google as a high profile case to say to people “yes we are serious about banning sites who do the wrong thing.”’

While search engine algorithms themselves might not account for these pages in search, if your site were to be reviewed by an actual person from a search company, you’d face penalties as severe as those BMW had to deal with.

Hiding links

A key part of gaining momentum in search is the number of links associated with your site – both to and from it. As with keywords, there are only so many links that you can have on your site before it begins to interfere with how effectively it engages with visitors.

"Google hates nothing more than link dishonesty," says James Richardson of Optimising, "and hiding of links in any way will always result in a significant ranking penalty."

The practice of hiding links is similar to the practice of cloaking text. The links are still on the page, but may have been reduced to a miniscule size or coloured to blend in with the background. Search engine algorithms will pick up on this as a manipulative practice, and will penalise sites that use it.

For specific guidelines on Google search (and a reasonable yardstick for search practices with other engines) have a look at the search company’s webmaster guidelines.

Find out where your website stands in the search engines by ordering a free Search Engine Ranking Report. Stop guessing and start planning.

Image credit: Thinkstock

 

 

Things to Consider Before You Build a Website

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By , 10/22/2010 10:28

Do you currently have a website, blog or online shop?

If you are new to the webs and do not already have a website then we can design you a website from scratch.

If you already have a site, shop, blog or online system then we can take a look at it and work our magic on it. Sometimes it is easier to modify what is already there and other times it is easier or better to rebuild or to give you the required effect or manageability.

What is the purpose of your online presence?

There’s a number of reasons why people want or need a website.

  • Promote YOU or your specialty
  • Promote your BUSINESS or your products
  • Sell your products or services
  • Display your photos, videos or audios
  • Announce new information
  • Keep people updated
  • Share your passion
  • Gather information
  • Whatever (get inventive…)

What style and colour to do want?

Colour, layout an typefaces DO make a difference.

Your target market will often dictate the look. eg: If your target is young skateboarders then dark, grunge look might be the way to go. And if baby clothes are your thing then maybe pastel pinks and blues…

Should your website match your current branding?

ABSOLUTELY!

Do I need pictures, photos or images?

YES. How many and where they are placed are important to attract and guide your visitors eyes on the page. They also conjure up images in their minds rather than pouring over tons or words. Many people are just visual and don;t like reading much.

What about video and audio?

YES again! Some people are just visual. If you want to attract the biggest slice of market then you should include video in your presentation mix.

YouTube is now over 6% of the internet’s traffic. 4 years ago it was only 1%. If you do NOT put video on your ite (can be linked through to your YouTube or other

Do you already have a domain name?

If you do then we can move or manage it. We need to have it “pointed” to our servers for the internet to know where your website resides.

If you don’t yet have any domain names then we can register and manage them for you. Most business will need a few different names to cover their IP (Intellectual Property) product names or brands.

Do you need email with that?

Thanks to McDonald’s that phrase is now famous. But there is more to a website than just web pages. Branding your email to your website is imperative, especially if you are a business.

You should NEVER promote your ISP issued email address (eg. yourname@ispname.com) That’s just dumb. We can look after

Do you need us to supply any images, videos, audios etc?

x

Do you already have your info in a compatible format?

x

How many products or services do you have?

x

How many versions or variables of your products?

x

Are your products physical or virtual?

x

Do you want or need a custom website template?

x

Do you have your own servers?

x

How much storage capacity and bandwidth do you need?

x

Do you want us to keep looking after your site?

x

Do you want us to setup your social media networks?

x

Do you need any training?

x

How fast do you need the work done?

x

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