Tag Archives: Web search engine

Functionality – 7 Recommendations (Improve Your Website, Part 2) … Plus Some Jokes

 

website idea 2

Want to make your site all that it can be, and get an edge on life, in the Internet Army? Well, I don’t know that I’d necessarily call owners and operators of websites an army (I think of them as more like an unarmed, disparate, long-distance, open-access, technological social club), but either way, this series has you covered.

Through the series, we want to improve your site in three key ways, as discussed below, so that it “pops” and engages visitors. In so doing, we hope to increase your traffic and earnings. In Part 1, we discussed how to improve your site’s design. Today, in Part 2, we will look at functionality (usability or UX). And finally, we will look at traffic in the final part, Part 3. (Who says three’s a crowd, huh, traffic?)

Let’s look directly at functionality, since that’s our topic today. (Please, all hands down. No bathroom breaks. We can do this.) We are going to look at a couple of interesting sources I haven’t used yet for this blog, BT Marketing Solutions and Pingler. Note that since these sites are both in the general SEO and content marketing field, that is a service we offer here at Superb Internet. We also now serve snow cones out the side window (extra charge for tropical punch flavor, because we’re running out).

BT gives us a broad overview, via these three basics:

  • perspective toward your user
  • all eyes on navigation
  • interaction via forms and error messages.

 

Pingler gets into specific tactics to make your site easier for users, with four specific approaches. The specifics we will cover include the following:

  • widgets (no that’s not a discriminatory slur)
  • social media integration
  • world clock
  • JavaScript

 

Essentially, all these seven tips will make the site easier for your users to get where they want to go. Happy surfers are exponentially more likely to stay, to buy, and to come back often.

But first, ladies and gentleman (and precocious kids?), right before your very eyes, we will look at facts about website conversions never seen before. Knowing these facts will help you keep up with the Joneses, assuming the Joneses know a lot of amazing web conversion trivia. The first fun fact is as follows:

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #4: Did you know … that religious and online conversion are not one and the same? Converting into a buyer does not necessarily mean that the online user gains entry to a pristine afterlife. It’s important, then, not to lead people visiting your site to believe that they’ve just accomplished a spiritual transformation by buying one of your collectible vintage lunchboxes.

Site Functionality: Broad Overview

Everyone knows that “user-friendliness” is crucial to business success. The last thing you want is your visitors to be unsure where on your site they can go to find the information they need so that they can make an informed purchase. Plus, you certainly don’t want them to be unsure how to complete a purchase.  Remember at all times, as we’re reminded by BT, functionality is about interaction. Here are their three core concerns to facilitate that engagement:

  1. Perspective toward the user – BT recommends treating every user – every person who visits your site – as a story, a story about someone wanting something. I’ll extend that metaphor to say that your role with the site is to fulfill the desire of the user as easily as possible, by simplifying and enhancing operability.
  2. Navigating your site – Within the realm of functionality, one of the primary fiefdoms (whatever that is) is navigation. You want to make sure it’s easy for users to move around the site seamlessly. Keep in mind that because of how the search engines work, many people will access your site initially from an internal page (not the homepage). BT recommends adding breadcrumbs so Hansel and Gretel (your user – the wolf is malware) can make their way back home if they get lost.
  3. Forms & error messages – According to BT, make sure you have validation messages tied to any forms. Be specific about any “mistakes”; and make it as easy as possible for your system to perceive data as entered. You want confirmation messages installed, as well as 404 error messages with links to the homepage.

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #5: Did you know … that over 84% of online purchases are made by the owners of the sites themselves? You can’t make this stuff up.

Site Functionality: Specific Tactics

Let’s now move on to some specific alterations and additions to your site to makes it functionality even more memorable than a spring break trip to rural Idaho. Here are three suggestions from Pingler:

  1. Widgets – Widgets are apps you can put on your site that populate certain types of information or allow functionalities your users might appreciate. Make sure your widgets match the tone of your brand. Widgetbox is custom widgets.
  2. Social media integration – Make sure social buttons are easily accessible on your site to enhance engagement of your brand across the web.
  3. World clock – Pingler proposes that sites include a UNIX-based time and date box, which isn’t a bad idea, especially for mobile devices that might require the user to exit the browser to find out if a sale on your site is still active.
  4. JavaScript – This programming language can come in handy when you want a dynamic, active site, rather than a poster. Navigation hand-holding, responsive messages, and other user-friendly elements all become more readily available with JS.

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #6: Did you know … that once, in 2006, a website “got flipped” and was converted by a user (all details available through the DHS)?

Conclusion

Design, see ya. Functionality, you’re toast. Next up: traffic. A final note on functionality before closing off this missive: remember that it is primarily about making things easier for your users. Test-marketing (even if it’s your cousin) can be great to find out what the experience is like when someone visits the site. Hopefully that experience is dumbfounded ecstasy.

by Kent Roberts

SEO Basics, Part 2 of 3: 6 Tips & 2 Mistakes in International SEO … Plus Some Jokes

Image of Google & Yahoo offices in Haifa. Both...

This piece is the second part of a three-part series on search engine optimization (SEO). The first part of this series was on local SEO (a.k.a. “search”), and the next and final part will focus on content marketing – which, alongside conversational marketing (which is really built into good content development anyway), is a major part of any search efforts.

SEO of various types is one of a number of different solutions we offer for website owners and administrators at Superb Internet – alongside hosting, co-location, etc. We offer it because often the people that run websites need help either attaining or sustaining high rankings on Google, Bing, Yandex, et al.

Furthermore, since search and “social” (a.k.a. social media optimization or SMO) are being integrated by Google – via incorporation of its social platform Google+ – businesses will no longer be able to rely simply on one or the other of those elements. Instead, Internet presence will rise or fall based on the success of both of them.

Simply put, the Web is evolving. There is much debate online about what phase of the Internet we are currently operating within. As social sharing became a more prominent aspect of the Internet, the notion of Web 2.0 took hold. There is a good argument that as we transition into stronger interconnection between search and social, and as page rank starts to slip away in favor of author rank (led by Google Author tags identifying individual people responsible for online content), Web 3.0 will be born.

Let’s talk a little bit about how to handle international SEO efforts, taking a look at the other end of the spectrum from the local approach. Many of the same principles apply of course, but different strategies will be helpful if you’re looking for more of a worldwide presence. Keep in mind: English only represents 25% of the Web, and users in non-English countries have higher degrees of trust for content written in their own languages.

In addition to discussing our main topic, I will also continue (from Part 1 of this series) to provide valuable non-traditional ways in which you can pull in the attention of visitors when they first arrive at your site. Here is the third of those Attention Grabbers; then we will get into the international strategies:

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #3: Shoplifting Videos

One thing I’ve found that people always like to see on a website, right when they first arrive, is a six-hour video of top executives of the website pocketing small objects from various convenience stores, pharmacies, and historical museum gift shops. Here are a few important things to include when creating this type of video:

  • It’s good to have an “apprentice” in the video – a small child who is learning the valuable life skill of petty theft from a seasoned shoplifting guru
  • Make sure it’s clear in the video that the star doesn’t need any of what s/he’s taking, and that there is no Robin Hood attitude or high-minded philosophy behind what s/he’s doing; instead, the individual should say repeatedly, “Everyone should do this: it’s exciting, and they have air conditioning in jail”
  • Close with footage of the perpetrator selling the shoplifted merchandise at a pawn shop, then spending the $17 that s/he made on a misguided bet at a greyhound racing track.

6 Tips to Building International SEO

Below are a number of techniques you can use to develop and refine the way that you target international markets. In some ways this is no more complicated than efforts to gain prominence for local searches; however, there are more and less intelligent ways to go about it.

  1. Understanding the Competition: First of all, be thoughtful about what you are trying to do – because the international space is a different sort of competition. You’re going up against established companies in the nation of your focus. Those companies understand the tone of their own culture and the particular needs of its people. It’s a tall order to overcome: not impossible, but familiarity is your primary challenge.
  2. Creation of Country-Specific Websites: A basic question is whether building additional sites is a good idea or not. Now, it could greatly increase your odds to create a new website for each country where you want to increase your business. This will both allow you to choose a country-code TLD (ccTLD) for the nation – such as .uk or .de – and to generate content tailored for that particular audience. You can also then tie those new sites to specific social media. However, managing and maintaining all of these sites is, obviously, a huge project. Typically you want to use the power of one site rather than spreading yourself too thin.
  3. Country-Specific Domains & Backlinks: Google will give you higher relevance for a nation if you tie to a ccTLD and get links from companies and people who use that country as their principal place of business. In essence, you want – as an example – Japanese links to the Japan subdomain or subfolder of your site. If you buy the .jp domain for your site, you can forward it to the Japanese section of your site as well. You can try tools such as Majestic SEO for automated filtering; but developing real strength will require targeted marketing for Japan.
  4. The Dangers of Broken Japanese: We all know how annoying it is to read an article that is difficult to understand because it is written in mangled English. The same is true anywhere. Be sure you have a copywriter who is either an expert native speaker or is extremely well-trained in it as a second language. Before you start to translate, conduct new keyword analysis. People in different countries (including other English-speaking ones) arrange words differently in their searches. Also be sure to add a meta-tag specific to the language being used on each page. Don’t worry too much about English-to-English (such as different usage between US/UK), but do make changes for currency and other usability concerns.
  5. Choose the Right Search Engines: You want to gear your efforts not just toward the correct languages and keywords, but toward the search engines that are most widely used by members of the target nation. Here are the top five worldwide search engines as of February 2013: 1. Google (US); 2. Baidu (China); 3. Yahoo! (US); 4. Yandex (Russia); and, 5. Bing (US). Also, keep in mind that these are general numbers. The top search engine in the Czech Republic is Seznam. The top in South Korea is Naver. Don’t obsess over Google when you’re trying to get customers in countries where Google is not as relevant as another search engine.
  6. Marketing Integration: Create synergy between what you’re already doing in your company and the international marketing campaign you are initiating. What you are essentially getting is leads. Make sure you are as ready as possible to handle those leads as wisely and carefully as possible. You need to think through the entire conversion process rather than just trying to get links and implementing other data-focused efforts: attraction is only the first step.

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #4: Timer Counting Down to “Internet Armageddon”

It is always good to let visitors to your site know that they can always come back for valuable information, such as exactly how much time is left on the Web before Internet Armageddon (IA or Y3K) arrives (in the year 3000) and decimates all websites on the planet. Here are several factors to consider when creating and implementing your timer:

  • It should be at the top of your page: certainly what is currently at the top of your page is not more important than the end of the digital age
  • When visitors click on the timer, they should enter into a video tour of your website’s “Y3K e-bomb shelter”; the shelter should be a virtual reality that is vast, deep, and poorly lit – completely prepared 987 years in advance of IA
  • Include PDFs of pages removed from a post-Internet tract you discovered during your illegal wanderings through the sub-basements of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, provided you took such a journey (no fibbing).

2 Mistakes in Building International SEO

Finally, here are 2 pieces of advice on what NOT to do so you’re less likely to repeat mistakes other businesses have made when attempting to gain international traction.

  1. Nativity Does Not Translate to Skill: Make sure you do not make the mistake of hiring or designating a person to be in charge of an international campaign just because they are from a certain country or are familiar with its culture. Remember that SEO is an expertise in and of itself; excellence in the field generates salaries well into six figures. Don’t expect great results without a reasonable investment in a service such as ours at Superb Internet.
  2. Focus on the Dominant National Language: When you enter a new market, you need to consider which speakers of a language within that country or region are most likely to become your customers. You may also find cases where a nation’s official language is not what’s used most often in the search engines – at least by certain subgroups. Even in the United States, as of 2007, 24 million people speak Spanish “well” or “very well.” India is an international example that’s linguistically complicated. Over 300 languages are still alive throughout the nation, with only 22 of them officially recognized. English is typically used as a language for SEO in India. However, there’ll be less competition targeting to a specific language; just make sure it represents a reasonable target demographic for your business.

Conclusion

In review, there are a number of tested and dependable tactics that can help you succeed in international SEO campaigns. First, understand your competition, and consider the culture and language you are targeting. Build a system of domains and backlinks that are specific to each nation or geographic area you are entering. Speak the language well, use the most popular search engines for the specific country, and build your worldwide marketing efforts into your business as a whole.

Finally, don’t make errors in judgment that could be costly and frustrating. Make sure you don’t hire someone just based on their cultural familiarity or language skills; rather, focus on search engine expertise. Also, don’t oversimplify your approach to countries where multiple languages are spoken.

This piece is the follow-up to my discussion of Local Marketing (Part 1). Next up: A general discussion of Content Marketing (Part 3).

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

SEO Trends for 2013

English: a chart to describe the search engine...
English: a chart to describe the search engine market (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Search engine optimization is a constantly changing field. Looking at the trends that are developing in 2013 gives us a sense of how to reshape our efforts. This is becoming more important all the time, actually, because what’s on the horizon is a major shift in the way search engine rankings are calculated. (Actually all mathematical calculations are getting ready to change. 2012: 4 + 4 = 8. 2013: 4 + 4 = 11 & 6, both/either. 2014: 4 + 4 = 4. 2014: 0 + 1 = 4. The trend is toward all equations resulting in 4, but this year’s gonna be nuts.)

For this article, I drew on ideas presented, primarily, in Search Engine Watch, Website Magazine, SEO Advantage,  and Mint Twist. I also came up with some of my own ideas – shocking! – but much of the grist came from research on those three sites.

SEO & Content Marketing

Initially the Web – which we often forget is still in its youth – was based on text and linking between sites without a great deal of sophistication. Basically the questions were these: do you have certain keywords, and how many links do you have coming in from other websites? It was a much simpler calculation than what we see today, and much easier to game the system, for web developers with bad content to draw in traffic.

People used to get away with a lot – using a font in the same color as the background, for instance, and jamming as many keywords on the page as possible without feeling concerned that visitors to the page might find it annoying and impossible to read. What people have been able to get away with has been reducing all the time as Google has improved its policing of misbehavior.

Content writing became a whole field in the industry. This field emerged because website owners who were used to just throwing a bunch of words and links together now needed to have something real to legitimize linking – they needed information, opinions, and ideas. Content writing, then, was a major improvement over previous efforts because you can no longer get away with a bunch of meaningless words that just happen to relate to a subject.

Recent Google updates – Panda in 2011 and Penguin in 2012 – have majorly impacted the necessity of content that is unique. Plagiarism is no longer tolerated, and content now needs to be of a higher quality – more robust and more heavily reliant on credible sources.

It is no longer considered acceptable to simply find places to pay to link to your site or to write content on a blog network and link it to your site yourself – the idea is generally to get to a more user-friendly Internet composed of a network of high-quality links and information. At present, it is still somewhat of a jumble of high-quality and low-quality without as much demarcation as would be desired when looking for a solution to a problem or even just randomly surfing the web, to know what we’re reading is accurate.

(Sometimes I feel that Shaquille O’Neal is the only one we can trust. Is that guy still alive? I hope so, because I think he may be the only one out there who understands business ethics. He can read, right? I think I saw him with a book one time.)

Personality

Many website cover the same topics. This makes sense, because in the end, there are only so many different topics to cover that are relevant within a certain field. However, covering the same topics means covering a lot of the same language. Finding a different way to approach the same topic becomes a key issue.

What sites are looking for, then, is personality. It’s a differentiating factor so that you and your competitors are not overlapping each other with everything you write. Creativity becomes crucial, finding those niches in the Web that have not yet been filled.  Personality, then, makes us unique and creates content that’s different from the territory that everyone else is covering. In the process, we brand our businesses and separate ourselves from the pack. So, this is not all bad … provided we can partner with the right individuals to do it.

(My quilting group has an expression about this: “When you patch it all together, if it looks completely crazy, that’s because a demon was at the quilting bee, and you have to burn the quilt right away or everyone in the quilting bee will be in imminent danger of dying from the consumption.”)

Google Say, Monkey Do

I don’t care what anyone says. I like being a Google monkey. They train me so that I don’t throw feces at my neighbors. I’ve always felt kind of bad about that – even though it was fulfilling in a way when I made a direct hit, it also felt like I was being irresponsible. Google God did not smite me, and for that I am forever grateful. He just asked me to change.

Google is obviously far from perfect, but it’s too strong a force on the Internet to ignore if we want to succeed without constantly fighting uphill. Google+ and Google Author are two major factors for 2013, and they are linked at the hip. You want to be on Google+ yourself if you’re a writer or produce any content, and you want your business to be on there as well. Look into validation as an author.

Google Author will tie together SEO and social media to make it one system of quality definition. What easier way to define quality than by how engaged users are with the content? Well … the truth is the system will still not be perfect, because probably all we’ll be able to find on Google henceforth is TMZ, that’ll be it. Nonetheless, engagement on social media will be a helpful factor.

(In 2014, Google will start forcing all websites to convert into paparazzi video sharing sites. All other content will be dismissed by the search engine, and no one will be able to find any other search engines, because we will have watched enough paparazzi videos in 2013 that our minds will be a vast grey landscape of nothingness.)

Rich Snippets

What are rich snippets? Well, I’ll tell you one thing: they are certainly snippets. And I’ll tell you another thing: they are certainly not poor. Basically rich snippets are additional info that pulls into your SERP entry.

Though they don’t affect SEO rank, they do affect how often someone clicks through to your site. So then, it’s a factor that affects your SEO success although it does not relate to rank, since what the SEO is trying to achieve (obviously) is not just a certain ranking but the traffic coming into your site.

Examples of rich snippets are prices and reviews of your products and services. (Other examples of rich snippets are links to your sexting images library so that everyone can see what you and your friends’ junk looks like at your own personal treasure chest on JunkTrunk.xxx! Look at all these goodies in this trunk! Somebody call Brad. Brad would love what’s in here.)

Summary

So those are a few basics for SEO trends in 2013: Increasing quality of content, personality and uniqueness as a factor, the relevance of Google Author, and the usage of rich snippets to stand out on SERPs.

If you have any other ideas, please either comment below or contact me on my tin-can phone. As always, ring the bell in the tree house, and I’ll know to pick up my end of the line.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood