Thursday, April 25, 2013

Content, Content, Content: The Key to SEO

This blog is part three of a series. In our prior posts, we introduced a simple method for inexperienced website owners to manage the process of building and optimizing a website. An easy way to think about building a successful, fully-optimized website is to consider the following tasks, and who might perform them:

1. Website Design
2. Website Development
3. Content Creation
4. Conversion

Today we will speak about content creation. You can design and develop the most beautiful and highly functional website, but you will not attract the potential customers you deserve if you do not provide relevant, insightful, and original content. Content can refer to the images and videos on your site, but intriguing, well-written text is the cornerstone of a fully-optimized website--and the best way to attract a devoted audience. For search engine optimization (SEO), specifically, quality text is king.

A search engine like Google's job is to deliver the most relevant results for each user's search. Google is always hungry for new, exciting, and informative content. For this reason, Google rigorously investigates the content, and especially the text, of all websites. The following example proves the importance of high-quality text...

Summer is just around the corner, and shoppers are beginning to think about bathing suits. Let's assume you're a fit man who has decided to try a short swimsuit for the first time. Of course, you'll want to browse possible shopping options, but like most Google users, you'll also want to learn about short swimsuits. Can a man actually wear a short swimsuit without looking foolish? What colors? And how short can he go?

Using Google, you would probably search the most simple, specific term: short swimsuits.

Follow the link, and you will see that Google's first page results include mostly shopping options, but the sixth option is actually a literary article about swimsuits (written by Stepman PC's very own copy writer, Seth Pollins!)

Why, amidst all the shopping options, would Google include a literary article on short swimsuits? Because Google is smart! Google knows that people do not merely want to shop--people want to learn, and make informed decisions before buying items like short swimsuits. An informative article about short swimsuits might be exactly what a shopper is looking for. The key is well-written text--and it doesn't hurt that article includes a few pictures of men in short bathing suits!

Stepman PC's very own copywriter, Seth Pollins, wearing a short swimsuit

So what can you, the new website owner, do to make sure your website includes the best content?

First, remember: unique content is the most important part of organic SEO. Unfortunately, sometimes SEO companies copy information from other websites. If the information on your website is the same as other Internet sources, you might be added to a search engine’s black list. Additionally, sometimes SEO companies say that they can optimize your website for specific keywords. Often these companies charge one price for two keywords and another price for, say, five keywords. Don’t let them fool you. Organically optimized websites appear on the first page results based on high quality writing--not keywords. If your website is optimized only for only two, or even five, keywords, you will never receive the traffic you deserve, and you will lose potential customers.

Today's number one lesson: make sure you create high-quality, original content. If you are not the best writer, you might want to hire a professional. And if you hire an SEO specialist, make sure they use the best professional copywriters.

Quality content creation is the third step to a fully-optimized website that will attract the customers you deserve! Check back next week for our final part of the series: Conversion.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Website Development: The Perfect Job For Spock!

Last week we introduced a simple method for inexperienced website owners to manage the process of building and optimizing a website. An easy way to think about building a successful, fully-optimized website is to consider the following important tasks, and who might perform them:

1. Website Design
2. Website Development
3. Content Creation
4. Conversion

To build an effective, fully-optimized website, you'll need the help of experienced professionals to perform each of these tasks. But, as we noted last week, not all website design and development professionals actually understand what they are doing! So after you learn about these tasks (hopefully why you're reading this blog!), it is essential that you, the new website owner, hire the right people, and guide the work.

Remember: Knowledge is power! If you missed last week's post, you might want learn about Website Design, and the differences between design and development, before moving onto this week's topic: Website Development.

After your hire a professional website designer to create a visually-appealing website, you will need to hire a developer to make the website work for both users and search engines like Google. Unfortunately, since these tasks are so different, and require different parts of the brain, you will rarely find a professional who can perform both with the talent and energy you require.

Those with a dominant right-brain are often more intuitive and creative. Since website design is about the appearance and feeling of your website, the best designers are often right-brained. Those with a dominant left-brain, on the other hand, are often more logical. Naturally, since website development is about the technical aspects of the website--the inner workings behind the beautiful appearance--left-brained people are often the best developers.

Spock: the ultimate left-brained character, and a potentially great website developer!

After the designer performs his work, the developer takes control of the site and codes each page. The developer makes sure the website is browser-compatible and that the website loads quickly and efficiently. The developer must not make any mistakes, or the website will not work at all!

At this point, though, the web developer has to develop the site based on the web designer's work. Remember: if you're guiding this process, you already made sure that the designer created a site that can be easily optimized! In certain cases, a website will not be able to optimized because the designer included unworkable elements.Web crawlers, for example, cannot index Flash technology.

Whoa! Did that last sentence seem a little too technological? Well, this is the way a developer will talk to you about your website. Of course, you should learn a little about these technical elements of development, but more importantly, when searching for a developer, make sure he/she can explain the technical elements to you in simple language.

Unfortunately, many web developers simply do not know what they're talking about--especially in terms of website optimization. Many developers only know how to make a site work for browsers. But a bad developer's mistakes might prevent most search engines from crawling your website. As a result, your website will not be added to the various search engine's databases--not because the site is in violation of search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines, but because search engines have no access to the website.

For this reason, make sure you learn a little about development and hire only the most intelligent, logical website developer--someone like Spock!

Quality website development is the second step to a fully-optimized website that will attract the customers you deserve! Check back next week for part three: Content Creation.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Building a Website? Read This First!

Website optimization can be defined as a collection of different techniques applied to different elements of a website to increase search engine ranking. For an experienced search engine optimization (SEO) specialist, organic website optimization means optimizing each of these different elements. For a website owner inexperienced with SEO, however, optimization might simply mean any technique that will help his/her business succeed online. (This is exactly how search engines like Google prefer to define optimization).

So, if you are a potential website owner inexperienced with SEO, what can you do to ensure that your website is optimized for search engines?

To build an effective website, you'll need the help of a few experienced professionals. But here's a little secret: not all website design and development professionals actually understand what they are doing. They might be able to design or develop a workable, even beautiful, site--but if the site not optimized for search engines, and does not attract visitors, it is nothing more than a high-priced business card. In other words, it is money wasted! For this reason, it is essential that you, the new website owner, guide the work so that website optimization is taken into account from the very beginning.

An easy way to think about building a successful, fully-optimized website is to think about the following important tasks, and who might perform them:

1. Website Design
2. Website Development
3. Content Creation
4. Conversion

In the next weeks, we will detail each of these tasks, as well as how to choose the best person for the task. Today we will begin with Website Design.

First, people often confuse the role of website design and website development. Before we talk about website design, it can be helpful to look at website development as the “back-of-the-house” programming of a website—how each page is coded and how the various pages interact with each other.

Website design covers the “front-of-the-house” appearance and usability of a website. In order to make sure your website can be optimized, you should choose a website designer who can not only build a beautiful website, but one that is very easy to navigate.

The easy-to-navigate element is an example of a crucial design element. Many designers can build beautiful websites, but, as we said above, a beautiful website is pointless unless it can actually attract visitors. Of course, your visitors will appreciate the fact that your website is easy to navigate, but more importantly, perhaps, search engines like Google pay special attention to design elements like ease of navigation when ranking websites.

A poorly-designed website might not even be capable of being "crawled" by the major search engines. In this worse case scenario, the search engines will not even add your website to their database--and your customers will have no way to find you!

Quality website design is the first step to a fully-optimized website that will attract the customers you deserve! Check back next week for part two: Website Development.