Archive for April 2010
Google announced yesterday that they will now increase their relationship with advertising agencies, they realise these companies play a critical role in the continued success of google so now making it easier for agencies to work with them, and on top of this making it much easier for companies to search google certified partners.
The current Google Advertising Professionals program will be replaced with the new Google Adwords Certification Program, google announced that the new program will provide agencies and their employees a much more up-to date detailed training resources including the latest tools and best practices for Adwords account management.
However the exams will be more challenging for agencies to become approved, which is also a good thing in my opinion, at least then you are confident the chosen agency has heightened knowledge of the AdWords program.
For Adverting agencies a new badge will be available with a link to show your approved profile page, there will be alot more training materials to help agencies understand the recent changes in search marketing and adwords functionality which will be available by webinar series, learning centre or on-site training at google.
There are a few other new features that will help Advertising Agencies.
One of which is the preferred AdWords API Pricing, this will give certified partners free use of the Google Adwords API. Agencies will need to apply and must have an active agency profile page as well as remain compliant with the Adwords accounts and API terms and conditions.
More information on the Preferred Adwords API pricing can be found here
Link building is a great way to not only start driving traffic to your website but also more importantly to increase your website ranking.
Be carful when selecting link partners there are a few important factors to take into considertion, Im sure when you started on the process of website design you took time selecting the right company, the right design and layout, link building is just as important to get results.
Link Building is one of the most significant aspects of offsite optimisation along with articles about your service and blogging, its also a great way to Improve your websites Page Rank and credability in the Search Engines, as well as increasing targetted traffic.
A few Important thing to keep in mind when Link Building
1) Aim for “Unidirectional” or only incoming Links
2) Get links from Industry relevant Pages
3) Use anchor text for your links, rather than linking your domain name
4) Try to get links from Industry Specific Article Pages
5) Ensure any links to your website are not through a Redirect script
7) Flash Embedded Links will be of little relevance for optimisation
8) Avoid linking from pages that use frames.
9) Try not to use Paid Links
10) Don’t use link farms to generate your links
11) Avoid Free for all link networks
12) Avoid links on a no-follow page
These are a few simple factors to keep in mind when link building, start today and get your website moving up the search engine ladder.
Part 2 of our 3 part guide to successful website design, in this short blog we will describe how to start the process of getting a new website recognised in the search engines and online.
There are millions of websites all competing for the same keywords and many dream of top page positions for competitive keywords, a new website will always be difficult to get ranked along side the more mature websites, we recently wrote a long blog on how to optimise your website on-site and can be viewed HERE.
To start the process of getting your website recognised the best way is to start a link exchange program, but try to remember when doing link exchanges a few important points.
1) Try to get one way links from well ranked websites
2) Setup a blog and write good informative information that other people will find useful and hopefully link back to you
3) Submit your website to Free Directories (Try to avoid paid links, google adwords is ok).
4) Social networking is a great free tool, create pages on Facebook, setup a twitter account and submit regular tweets, but dont always tweet about your website, link to latest news and information that people will find interesting to get more followers, depending on your industry MySpace is also a great social networking tool that can generate traffic and business.
5) Find forums relevant to you and post replies to questions and threads, don’t spam the forums but usually you can create a signature on the forums and add your website URL.
6) Try to generate back links that are keyword specific, IE, link from the word relevant to your website, eg. website design and SEO
There are many things to consider, but the above will help you start to get incoming links, to get a website ranked well in search engines can take along time, don’t be fooled by people who say we can get you to top of google in 5 days, yes its probably possible for your domain name or company name if its not to common but for keywords that people are searching for its not so simple.
There are many good Search Engine Optimisation companies around but there are alot more not so good, if you are considering employing a SEO professional ask them what they have ranked their own website for, for example, our main market is eCommerce web design, we generally rank between bottom of page 1 and page 2 out of 25 millions results, another area we cover is adult web design, we rank number 1 in google for this, this will generally prove that the company is capable of gaining results. I get contacted every week by SEO companies wanting to work for us as outsource consultants, my first question is always what does your own website rank for, 80% of the time its not what their market keyword is, my general reply is if you can’t rank your own website how can I trust you to rank my clients?
Its always a fairly long process and not always guaranteed results with search engines so by putting in a little bit of work your self to start with can save you money in the long run on SEO.
We will shortly be releasing a blog on Google Adwords, a great tool and can certainly drive traffic to your website BUT there are alot of tricks and techniques that can be applied to lower your click cost and improve conversion rate, its very easy for someone without experience to have a budget swallowed up in no time without a single sale.
I hope this has been useful, follow us on Twitter for lastest updates on news and new Blogs.
Jamie Jackson – 2J Design
With more and more companies launching facebook fan pages and groups its only a matter of time before this become the best place to find a business quickly.
Facebook gained the most growth in search queries, rising by 10% to a healthy 436 million searches in the first 2 months of 2010, so its not difficult to see how facebook could quickly become the next generation niche search engine for everything from small business services to products.
Word of mouth and trusted friend links will always generate a more secure feeling when searching services and products, you would feel much more secure finding a plumber who was refered to you by a friend than picking a random list off an open directory.
More and more businesses are now launching their ecommerce websites onto facebook, and this totally makes sense, however not everyone agrees with this, do you?
Im always a fan of taking advantage of the free advertising streams out there that apart from a little bit of your time costs nothing, so theres very little to lose.
Whilst looking through a number of websites and peeking at other web designers websites it came to my attention how many people are not even doing the very basics of onsite SEO.
I am a great believer that if your onsite SEO is upto scratch your well on the way to the battle that is search engine rankings.
There are thousands of web designers some are very good with knowledge in most areas of website design, some are very good at the design but know little about the correct way to structure a website and simple ways to promote it, I was quite surprised how many website owners were never informed of little simple things they could do them self to improve their website rankings.
This is what triggered the idea to write this simple blog that hopefully will help others increase their website ranking and move abit further up the search engine ladder.
If you are a web designer this will also help you if you have limited knowledge of onsite SEO.
Point 1 – Choosing your keywords
Ok so you have a new website and want to quickly start getting traffic and making money from your new site, will this happen, well it’s quite unlikely without the correct promotion, the best way to get straight to the top of google is Adwords but without advanced knowledge of Adwords this can be very very expensive with less income that your profit margin.
One simple way to gain higher results is by choosing your keywords cleverly.
Think of your website like this, imagine the largest forest in the world, now double it, yes its pretty big, possibly 25 million trees or more some very mature and towering above the rest, now imagine your website in the middle of all this forest, and ask someone to go and find it, unless they know exactly where it is (Domain Name) its not likely they are going to find it.
There’s a simple way to reduce the size of this, many people aim for the big keywords straight away, lets use Kitchens as an example, 27,700,000 results highly unlikely your going to get up to the top of google quickly, so the first tip is to reduce this and aim for a less competitive keyword or more importantly key phrase, you can instantly cut the amount of results down to under 1.8million results by targeting affordable kitchens, you can also use google keyword tool to get keyword ideas and see how many searches each month and also the competition on the keyword, I personally look at the number of results returned for a keyword search in google.
Ok so you now found your key phrase your going to start with, the reason I say aim for a less competitive key phrase is to try to gain higher results quicker and start progressing with a few orders, really impress with them and before you know it people will start to recommend you, maybe link to your website, write reviews, (Ask happy customers to do this for you) before you know it your website will start to gain credibility in the search engines in preparation of moving onto more competitive keywords.
Point 2 – Correct Meta Tags the Basics
Its amazing how many people fail on this simple point, meta tags are important, the Meta Title is one of the first thing search engines look at, but don’t make the mistake of trying to cram lots of keywords into it. Using our Example of Kitchens see the 2 samples below.
WRONG – Company Name, kitchens, modern kitchens, white kitchens, pine kitchens, uk kitchens, quality kitchens
There are 3 main issues with a title like this, one is over usage of one keyword and the other is its far too long and messy
CORRECT EXAMPLE – Affordable Kitchens | Quality UK Kitchen Supplier | Company Name
Many people make the mistake of adding the company name first, unless people will be searching for it theres not much point of making it the start of your meta title short simple meta titles will be much more effective.
Meta descriptions are what display in the search results, don’t make the common mistake of writing just for keywords, remember this is what people will read in the search engine so at the same time as getting your keyword in there make sure it will attract clicks.
Example: Affordable kitchens from Quality UK Supplier, Company Name supply quality affordable kitchens to the public and trade with exceptional customer service.
Remember don’t over do it with the keywords.
Meta Keywords – Not really too important as google stopped taking them into account a while ago however some search engines still use them so add a few but again don’t repeat to many times something short simple will do. EXAMPLE; affordable kitchens, kitchens, UK Supplier, White, Pine, Gloss try to use keywords that are also featured in the page or they will have no effect.
TIP: Make sure all the meta descriptions are unique to the page across your website, search engines wont rank a page if it has duplicate meta tags.
Point 3 – The Code
There are many coding techniques that help the ranking of a website, correct usage of Header tags are one of them.
The H1 tag is the next big place to get your keywords, I recommend getting the H1 tag as close to the start of your website code as possible, again don’t cram it with keywords or waste it on something like Welcome to my website.
Sample H1 Tag might be: Affordable Kitchens from Company Name.
You can also use other tags further down your page for titles of various sections these are H2, H3 tags again you can use these wisely with your keywords.
Ok so you got meta covered and header tags, another very obvious one but so many people miss it is correct alt tags on images, search engines can’t read the content of an image so you need to give it an alt tag, again you will need abit of HTML knowledge to do this but make sure each image on your website has a ALT tag, use the keywords but don’t use the same one over and over, use variations, search engines are very clever now and understand different variation and meanings to the keywords so use them wisely.
Link Titles: I’m sure you have seen before when you hover over a link in a web page it comes up with a little description of the landing page, this is called a title tag, again very simple to add with html knowledge, this will increase the credibility of the link whilst also adding strength to the keywords of your website. Remember use short descriptions, for example the Home Page link, don’t just title it ‘Home’ use ‘Affordable Kitchens Home Page’.
These are a few basic techniques to better coding for on-site SEO, now we will look at page content.
Point 4 – the Content
By far the best way to have quality content is to get a professional to write it, but we all know sometimes budgets don’t stretch to this so when writing your content think about it for a while and come up with some drafts, take into consideration the following.
You want to get your keywords in but not too often it starts to read wrong, remember your not just writing for search engines you also need to impress your website visitors.
A web page with 2 images and one paragraph of content won’t have great effect, the more content you have the better try to add as many good content rich sections as possible, don’t just write for search engines write to attract your visitors too.
Highlighting keywords and linking, this is another good technique but again don’t over do it, if you have a paragraph which has the words affordable kitchens then make it bold text and link it to the page in your website that has more information remembering to add your link title.
Finishing the web page with your keywords, this is something I have always considered important, you started your web page with the keyword in the meta title, you added it in the H1 Tag, now the search engine spider has reached the bottom of the web page so make it the last thing it sees too. At the end of the website footer, add the key phrase again – example footer might be. Copyright: Company Name, Affordable Kitchens UK link the words affordable kitchens uk back to the domain name of your website.
Point 5 – Using Google and Sitemaps
Depending on your website you can use free tools from google for monitoring and promoting your website and products, the first step is to setup a google webmaster account you will need to add your website and add abit of HTML code to your web page or load a html file to your server to verify the site. From here once your website is indexed you can monitor a number of things, from sitemaps to errors found by the search engine spider when processing your website, once you have setup your webmaster account create an XML Sitemap, there are a number of free websites that will do this for you I recommend this one Click Here. Copy the code and save it as an xml file and load to your server, follow the instructions in google webmasters to verify the sitemap, this will not only tell google about your website but it will tell them about all the pages in your site.
Google Analytics – This is a great tool to monitor the website traffic, conversions if you are using adwords for ecommerce websites, keywords people used to find your website plus many more great monitoring features, signup and follow the instructions, make sure you add the analytics code to all the pages you want to track.
Google Base – If you have an ecommerce website google base (or Shopping) is a free service, more on this topic can be found in this Blog, this is a great way to quickly get traffic if your products are competitive prices.
Ok so you have now followed the basics of onsite SEO, the next step is to start getting your links out there, a number of great social websites are now available that cost nothing to use so make the most of them, forums, social networks are all free great ways to get your website out there, more on this will come in another blog for off site Search Engine Optimisation but here are a few sites that will get your started. Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, MySpace, UK Business Forums, A1 Business Forums.
Good luck with your website design and search engine optimisation and I hope you found this blog helpful, if you would like any help or advice on web design or search engine optimisation feel free to contact us.
However, alot of designers make the mistake of overlooking the important client related factors, below are some tips to keeping your clients happy and some well known mistakes made by many web designers in today’s competitive market.
Be a Successful Web Designer
Aim to Beat Your Timescales
This is one of the most common complaints in the web design industry, so many companies competing for the work and doing everything in their power to get the projects in, one of the most common complaints is web designers failing to meet timescales they have given, think if you were expecting to get your brand new car and the dealer tells you it will be in and ready in 3 weeks you will be excited probably prepared the garage and organised a day out to then find out its not ready and will be another 2 weeks, then another 2 weeks, this is exactly what happens with many web design agencies in today’s market.
Use your previous experience to estimate a timescale, then double it, and add abit onto that for problems and sometimes client response time. If you meet deadlines, or more importantly beat them your more likely to get repeat business, word of mouth recommendations which are by far better than any advertising, you could soon see your business turnover rapidly increase the more clients you impress with your timescales.
Communication. Updates, Communication, Updates. Communication, and more Updates!
I can’t stress how important communication is when it comes to managing your clients.
Clients simply love to be kept in the know, be in regular emails, telephone calls they will love the fact your letting them know what stage you are at.
Sometimes websites go through stages of silence where you are developing backend databases, programming codes that the client wont understand, don’t leave this for weeks without contact, drop them regular emails, the odd telephone call will give them so much more confidence in your work.
When creating initial designs do that bit more than just sending them a jpg, code your design into a quick html page and load it to the web, let them see it online in a browser, its amazing how many people like a design when they see it in a simple jpg format then change when its online in a browser, avoid this and get it right first time.
Send clients regular updates by email of progress, let them know any hurdles you may hit in the project, certainly if it is going to delay it, call them and explain the reason for this delay in development.
Another problem many web designers face that work across all sectors is the lack of experience in a clients industry, go that extra mile, don’t just rely on the client to give you the information, search for their competitors websites and do some research into the industry, I recently took on a project for a lighting supplier who supply emergency lighting, before I went to meet with the client I spent a good few hours on wikipedia, looking at their competitors websites and gathering as much information as possible on their industry, this will help you no end in the design and development process of the website design.
Go that extra mile and impress your clients and let the word of mouth advertising promote your business.
April saw the launch of a new eCommerce website Design to the 2J Design Portfolio, the site is built on the powerful magento platform and boasts a range of features.
Onlights are a UK Supplier of quality Garden Lighting, Kitchen and Bathroom Lighting plus much more, this company already host one of the largest Lighting Websites in the UK known as SCL Direct, SCL are suppliers of quality lighting products for commercial and industrial businesses, supplying floodlights, high bay and low bay lighting products plus their huge range of Emergency and Security Lighting.
Now established as one of the UK’s leading lighting suppliers SCL called upon 2J Design to aid in the Search Engine Optimisation and management of their Google Adwords Account.
Since the start of this SCL decided to launch a new eCommerce website called Onlights, after some consideration over the most suitable platform for the website Magento was the prefered choice.
Whilst speaking with a few clients today and various other web designers it came to my attention that many eCommerce Website owners are not been informed of all the available free streams to help them promote their products.
In this blog I want to concentrate on Google shopping also known as Google Base, if you have an eCommerce website selling products are you even aware of Google shopping and its benefits?.
For those who have never heard of it, used it or more importantly been advised of it by their web designer I will briefly explain.
Google offer a free service where you can load all your products into the database, it works like a price comparison website, showing up results of a particular product.
There are generally 2 ways to get the results from google shopping, when you search in the general search bar for an item specific keyword most likely 3 – 4 products will be displayed that are featured in google shopping, the other way is to click on the shopping link at top of the search page and search the products, this will then show many websites that offer the same or similar products as well as their prices.
Ok so if your products are alot more expensive than other websites it may not help you alot but at the end of the day this is a free service so why not take advantage of it.
Ok so all this sounds very simple, unfortunately unless you use a system like Magento or other eCommerce platforms that enable simple integration with google shopping you may need abit of technical help to export your products feed but any web designer should be able to do this for you.
To get started sign up for a free google shopping account which takes less than 2 minutes you can do so by CLICK HERE.
If you need more advice on this or help setting this up follow the link to our eCommerce Web Design page and we will be happy to assist you.
Here is the first of a 3 part tutorial to the basics of building a website and making it succeed.
We will shortly be releasing versions of this blog tailored to eCommerce Websites.
When considering starting an online business or creating an extension to your current business there are a few factors to consider, many people make the mistake of putting together a quick fix get me a web presence and expect it to do the job. I always explain to people if you called out the roadside repair man to come and fix your car and he turned up in a rusty old van puffing out clouds of black smoke you would instantly start to question his ability even though he has not stepped out of the van, so the same goes for your website, FIRST impressions count for alot.
Many people want to gather a web presence to compete with their competitors and take a percentage of the online market which is certainly the right way forward but many make the mistake of not meeting the standards. As explained above first impressions count alot, not only should you have a visually appealing website that will attract the customer to browse your site further but also a well written and coded website will help you rank better in the search engines, we will touch on Search Engine Optimisation in part 2 and 3 of this guide but if you are considering competing with a large competitor consider this. Would you want to compete in the Formula 1 in an old Nissan Micra, of course not your not going to even get a look in, the same applies to your web presence, if your standard is not up with the best you simply cant compete with the best.
So firstly you need to think about what you intend to gain from your website, more business?, more enquiries?, or simply an online business card?, all of the above need careful planning and content to ensure your not throwing money down the drain. The Internet is a minefield with millions of websites all competing for the top 10 places in google, and with the right planning and consideration you too could be up there with the best.
Take the following into consideration when planning your website.
1) Look for a website design company with a strong portfolio
2) If they rank well in the search engines for their main website keywords then they probably know their SEO
3) Think about and plan your website goals and targets before choosing a website designer and explain these to them
4) Carefully choose the keywords you want to target, part 2 of this guide will explain how to use the google keyword tool
5) Have plenty of content on your website, we always say content is king.
6) Look at your closest competitors and find ways you think you can improve on their offerings
7) Find who your competitors are linking with (More on this in part 3, Link Building)
8) Ensure you set yourself a realistic budget and goal, remember a quick fix website from your sons, friends brother who learnt web design in the school holidays for £20 and a chocolate bar isn’t going to do your business justice and gain the results you are wanting.
9) Ask the web designer to come up with a visually appealing website that will reflect your business and attract customers
10) Finally make your site simple to navigate, a fast easy to navigate website will perform much much better than a difficult long winded website with a contact us page linked from the 5th level in a small link in the bottom corner.
Look out for Part 2 – Ways to improve your search engine rankings for a new website.
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