Articles, Featured, Search Engines, Tips and Tricks »
Now that you’ve got your brand new website, how do people find you? Search engines.
To properly and reliably get your site listed, I’ve compiled the following list of tips to get you started:
- Stay away from the tricks
A lot of web design firms will promise grand things and instant results. The problem? They usually use some sneaky tricks to get you ranked higher. And the problem with these tricks? Search engines eventually catch on, and could even punish your site for using the tricks. Keep it clean, and follow the clear-cut rules for optimization.
- Keep your content fresh
Search engines tend to favor new content. For this reason, I have a blog on this site. For the most part, the information I have here doesn’t change. I may add additional services here and there, but it rarely changes. The easy way to keep things fresh is with a blog. Post articles related to your industry. You get two benefits: Search engines will begin to rank you higher, and your customers will have more reasons to check your site more often.
- Relevant linking
Most search engines calculate part of your website’s rank on the number of incoming and outgoing links. For example, if a highly ranked website, such as CNN.com, linked to an article on your website, your site gains not only instant traffic increases, but a better search ranking. The same goes for the opposite direction. Try your best to link to relevant and highly ranked websites from your own site.
- Optimize your URLs
Take a sample of five websites. Half will probably half URLs in an optimized form, while the other half will not. An optimized URL is one that tells a search engine what to expect at that address. For example, http://www.example.com/?page=29 doesn’t really say much about what will be on “page 29.” On the other hand, http://www.example.com/graphic-design-samples tells quite a bit about what’s on the page. If you don’t maintain your own site, ask your web developer if your URLs are search engine optimized.
To quote Google’s own website, “Google Analytics is the enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. Powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features now let you see and analyze your traffic data in an entirely new way. With Google Analytics, you’re more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites.”
If you’re in the business of knowing your website visitors, I recommend Google Analytics. Whenever I talk to a client who needs statistics on visitors, I tell them about the “marketer’s dream” that is Analytics.
Let’s say you have a 10-page website. Visitors start at the leading page, then you lead them through a series of pages before an eventual call to action, where they are encouraged to buy your product.
What if 95% of your visitors stop at page two? What if they don’t even get that far? To arm yourself with this kind of information, check out Analytics. You’ll be amazed at the type of picture you can create about your visitors: locations, trends, loyalty, time spent on the site, and many, many more metrics.
To see for yourself, follow the directions on Google’s website, and contact your web developer to install the necessary tracking code.
E-mail Marketing, Featured »
I’ve encountered a lot of clients lately that seem to be in an e-mail bind. They all usually rely on an outside contractor to furnish, maintain, and send e-mails to their mailing lists.
Some are good. Others offered e-mail marketing as an “add on,” though they really had no infrastructure to handle it. In these cases, the relatively simple task of creating and sending e-mails to your clients or customers becomes annoyingly complex.
In one instance, a client’s previous web development company had a contract to handle e-mails, but because the size of the mailing had grown beyond their abilities, shortcuts had to be taken to make things run. Mailings had to be sent out in batches: A-G one day, H-M the next day, and so on. Imagine having to send out an important announcement, perhaps about an event cancellation. What good will it be to the last batch of the alphabet when they receive the e-mail a day after the event?
Enter Constant Contact: “With our Email Marketing, you don’t need special technical or design skills to create html emails. If you can cut, paste, point and click, you’re good to go! Start with any of our 400+ professional email templates, then make it your own with your logo, colors, and photos. Use your own imagery to start from scratch, or let us help you get you started with our custom services.”
With a tiered pricing structure, you can find the price that fits for your mailing list size. Plans start at $15/month. Take a look at Constant Contact’s features for a more specific overview.
If you’re looking for the ability to manage your own e-mail marketing with an easy interface, the ability to schedule e-mails, and virtually no limit on the number of e-mails you can send, Constant Contact has my recommendation.
Articles, Featured, Tips and Tricks »
I’m not a big fan of using a computer mouse. Whenever possible, I like to keep both hands on my keyboard. With that in mind, I try to use keyboard shortcuts whenever I can. Below are my most commonly used and under-appreciated shortcuts:
- Alt+Tab – On Windows PCs, holding the Alt key and pressing Tab will cycle through all the open windows on the screen. For even more productivity when you have a lot of windows open, holding Shift+Alt and pressing Tab will cycle through the open windows in the opposite order.
- Pressing Control+ESC or the Windows key (looks like a flag, usually located on the bottom left of the keyboard) will open your Start menu.
- Control+A will select all text. Depending on the application you’re in, the behavior of this one may change. For example, if you are in, for example, My Documents and looking at all your folders and files, pressing Control+A will select all the items within My Documents. If you’re in Microsoft Word, this shortcut will select all the text within the current document
- Alt+F4 will close the currently active program. This has the same basic functionality as clicking the “X” to close the window.
- Shift+Delete will delete a selected file without sending it to the Recycle Bin. Be careful with this one, as the files will be unrecoverable if you delete them using this shortcut.
- Control+F within most programs will open its “Find” window, allowing you to search.
- To disable the “Auto Run” feature of CDs and DVDs, hold the left Shift key while you insert the disc. This will prevent the disc from automatically launching any programs. You generally want to hold the Shift key until you see the disc drive’s activity light stop flashing.