Monthly Archives: March 2014

What the buzz is SEO?

“You must do SEO on your website” – the normal phrase you hear every time you say website design. If you don’t already know, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process to get more traffic or visits to your website. The reason why it is a process is because it has a lot of things that is required to optimize your site for the search engine.

Here’s a simple explanation: you are looking for a flower shop in your city so you go online search of the web for ‘flower shop Chicago’ (called keywords) and the search engine lists you with the appropriate flower shop details. You mostly don’t go to second or third page and click on the top 3 sites on the list. To make sure you get into the top 3 list when they type those keywords you need to have your site optimized.

But the question is why website design and SEO goes hand in hand. The reason is that there are two breakdowns in SEO: Onpage Optimization and Offpage Optimization. Onpage includes all activities or changes to be done on the website itself and offpage are the activities done outside of page. So, when designing a website if you take SEO into consideration and design it accordingly you will be saving a lot of time and resources.

What are onpage activities?

The onpage activities are a bit on the technical side where you need to select keywords that people search for. Just like the example of ‘flower shop’ your keyword selection should be related to your business. There are lot of rules you need to follow as if you miss out on it you might be penalized. You don’t have to worry about it too much and can let the experts handle it.

The most important and the best practices of SEO Onpage optimization are:

Content with targeted keywords

Content is the key ingredient of the website. You need to have relevant content based on the keywords that have led them to your site. This doesn’t mean you abuse the usage. The content should be targeted to give information to you viewers that result in lead generation or sales. After all that’s the main reason you do SEO.

There are many updates and algorithm Google and other search engine follows that tracks your website authenticity. Knowing the rules to know how to break them doesn’t apply here. The search engine and your target are the same; to give what the user is looking for.

Title Tags

These are page headings and appear in the browser as well as search results. They are also keyword based and should be clear on what your content is about. General practice for using title tags are of 70 characters.

SEO basics

Description Tags

They are an extension to your title tags. They appear in the search listing and gives you a better opportunity to make your customer click your link. A description tag should not exceed 160 characters as they will appear in dots after that.

Header Tags

These are proper html tags that are used to highlight the keywords or the headings. Just like we have a properly structured letter with the Date on the left or right, subject in the middle the header tags serves a similar purpose. They are like H1, H2, H3 etc. tags which shows the main heading and sub headings. One thing to care about using these tags is that you can only have one H1 tag per page.

Anchor text that links between pages

Anchor text also highlights the keywords in between contents. You must have notices Wikipedia does it all the time. When you are going through the articles there are links to different pages when you come across a topic. But with website you can be smart about it and use keywords as anchor text.

Image ALT tags and Filenames

It’s not just the contents that needs managing, even the pictures and files for downloads needs to have proper names and tags. Using these are a good practice and search engine ranks you website well if you follow all the necessary steps.

What are Offpage activities?

Besides, the search engine there are other ways to get more traffic to your site. The offpage activities refer to all the promotion activities done outside your webpage. You can check my article How to get more visitors to your site for more information on Offpage SEO.

Should you or should you not invest in responsive website

The answer is a definite YES!!! The technology keeps changing with the touch screens gets popular, tablets getting smaller and smart phones getting bigger you never know what your audience using to when they visit your site. Instead of designing a site for different screen sizes you can target all devices with one responsive website.

Before the responsive website people had different versions of website and based on the device used the website would appear. The problem with this was that it had to make too many assumptions on the screen size and the device plus you had to compromise on the contents. With the responsive sites you just prioritize and stack them in order. The same set of contents will appear on the site and people would just have to scroll through it.

Top reasons why you should have a responsive design:

Increasing mobile usage

mobile usage

Usage of mobile phones is increasing day by day. People are using mobile while doing other task so it has become a norm. If you are into statistics it’s 20% of the people who are using mobile while other things. Judging from the picture and Einstein’s theory I know you can relate to the picture.

One site many devices

This is the major reason for responsive. You don’t have to worry about which device people are using they get the same contents. Thank god for media queries which made it all possible. Instead of making assumption of the device it can simply scan for screen resolution and fit the website in that resolution.

Search Engine friendly

It has become mandatory for sites to go mobile as search engines rank these sites higher. 20% of the Google searches are on mobile and people access social media sites mainly from mobile than desktops so you can understand the importance of having a responsive site.

Easier to manage

With the responsive site you need to design just one site. Ofcourse best practice is to start from small devices and then move on to big ones. The site becomes more modular and easily adapted to the environment it is in. With this sort of design it is easy to manage the data and you can choose what to show first and highlight the necessary.

Looking at the BIG picture: Why it works and what it takes

Picture speaks a thousand words. While the photographers and content writers can compete over this statement, to me both are like music and dance. With the increase in internet speed and the demand for creative website big images are here to stay.

These days the website homepage is not cluttered and an image with some text are all that is important. Event the ads these days have large picture with less words. The reason is simple, it works. It gets the attention of the viewer and keeps the things hidden so people are interested to know what it is about. But there are certain rules to using them. You cannot keep a picture of a rose in the home page of a Limousine service website just because it’s beautiful. There has to be a meaning and a word that matches it.

Some examples of full size image used in websites.

large image website 2

Large image website

Just by changing the picture it gives a new look and feel for the website and it will not bore your audience.

There is no hard and fast rule that you use image as a background in your homepage, you can also go with graphics illustration and animation. Go with what pleases the eye. I know there’s a lot of talk about being different and about being independent by not following trends but these are something to consider because they work. Just like the white spaces are needed in the writing for people to adjust the eye for reading a picture makes it just as easy for the eye.

Using large images is not an easy task though and it does come with a price.

Concept is everything

Like I said about using a picture of a rose in a limousine service website, the picture you use need to make sense. A car with happy faces makes more sense in this case but it doesn’t come cheap. You need to invest in the pictures more that the content writer. Treat it like the first impression of you. The cost of the photographers and the shoot might cost you but it will be well worth it.

Responsive for compatibility

The picture also needs to be responsive which means it should resize itself when used with different screen size of desktop, laptops or mobiles. Without responsiveness you will lose out a lot in value because you never what device you audiences are using to view your website.

Making the site responsive requires a highly skilled CSS designer and picture slicing. I might be going a bit technical here but you will require the expertise. They carefully design and cut the image to make it look same in all of the devices.

Site performance and speed

As they say the price of beauty is high there is a huge price for it in internet speed and performance of the site. For people viewing the site with slow internet speed it could take a while to load the large image and you can lose out on the purpose and user experience.

However, there is a way to get around these by focusing on the resolution. The designers would need to test those using appropriate resolution and screen sizes in different platforms. There are many tools available for it and it is well worth the trouble.

Sometime the simplest things are the hardest to achieve. You can always work hard but you also need to work smart.