Archive for April, 2010

Leasing Domain Names For Your Business: Good or Bad??

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

I’m not going to make you wait for the answer. It’s a bad idea. A new website, rootorange.com has launched with the intent of leasing out premium domains to small businesses. In their words: “Small businesses can now lease a generic domain name they have always wanted just for their local market. ”

So, internet searchers who need, say, a mechanic in the Orlando area can simply type into their search box “mechanic” and if rootorange.com leases out one of the top websites in Google for mechanics (ex: mechanics.com) then a visitor will be able to click on mechanics.com to find a local mechanic. This is supposed to give small and personal businesses a fighting chance against the big boys, however it’s all just a gimmick.

There’s already websites out there that offer similar services. One is called yellowpages.com or directory.com that offer visitors more tailored search results including maps, reviews, coupons and more.

Lastly, using a website to “lease” a website ties you to that company and prohibits any business small or large from taking advantage of SEO for their business. One of our words of wisdom we offer to all our clients is that every business should own their own brand. That includes their own domain. You don’t lease a brand or a business name, nor should you lease your domain.

10 Dos and Don’ts for Brands on Twitter – A Rebuttal

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Today I read an article on Mashable.com. It can be found here: http://mashable.com/2010/04/27/twitter-brand-dos-and-donts/ . While I agree with many of the numbered points in the article I have to strongly, very strongly disagree with point number 1.

In summary, the author’s first point is titled “Don’t Be a Showoff” and says “Don’t post links to your latest press release, promote articles written by your CEO or make extravagant claims.” This is very bad advice. I understand why the author posted it, but that statement fails to take into consideration exactly what benefit posting company related information has.

Now, i’m not going to say that Twitter and other micro-blogging or macro-blogging efforts are as beneficial or can replace launching a dedicated press release campaign for company product releases, trade shows, etc. However, utilizing Twitter to announce to followers company info can be a valuable way reaching your intended audience.

The main reason you SHOULD absolutely Tweet everything important regarding your company is this main fact:
Over 10% of all internet searches are done using Twitter. If you do not announce company info you will fail to make that information available to current or potential clients and customers.

It’s just that simple. Your brand and corporate identity will not suffer from announcing important updates and information through Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. In addition, that information will be indexed in Google and other search engines and will actually help your website when it comes to ranking for valuable keywords.

Take a look at the other points from that Mashable article as there is some really valuable info there but please disregard the first point. Your company might just depend on it.

Should You Be Worried About Flash On Your Site?

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

That really all depends on what you are accomplishing with your site. Do you have a video intensive site? A site that is just a portfolio of your work? Are you not very worried about being #1 for competitive keywords? Then, no you shouldn’t worry too much about Flash.

Yesterday, I posted about site speed and how important it is to search engines, especially Google. Flash is notorious for being laggy and slow and generally slowing sites down. If your website is predominately developed in Flash then you should use the Yahoo and Google speed testing tools to assess what changes, if any you should perform on your site to ensure it is as fast as it needs to be.

If your site is in a very competitive niche and you are very worried and spend a lot of time or cash on trying to get to the top of the search engines for specific keywords, then you really should consider how Flash could be negatively impacting your website.

Any decent web design and development company can give solid, sound recommendations for switching site content and functionality over to Javascript, HTML, PHP and CSS and away from Flash. To be truthful, Google and other major search engines to NOT handle Flash very well when it comes to indexing web pages. There are various work-arounds you can perform on your site if it is Flash to help with positioning well in search engines. However, if your competitors are not using Flash and if they are positioned better than your website for specific keyword phrases, then you should seriously consider switching and maybe even completely redesigning your website using web standards, valid CSS and HTML and limiting or eliminating Flash…completely.

Search Engine Optimization Tip #1: Increase Site Speed

Monday, April 26th, 2010

With Matt Cutts and Google’s announcement recently that site speed now plays a big factor in web site rankings the SEO community is abuzz with conversations on how to best optimize websites for speed. From those conversations have come some decent tips in what designers and developers can do to speed up their websites.

I’ve already discussed Google’s and Yahoo’s plug ins for assessing site speed and offering automated tips in how to optimize a site. They are FireFox plug ins that help designers and developers out, but using and even understanding how to use those plug ins can be a very daunting task for anyone not adept at coding websites.

Many companies have websites that are dynamic. Websites that have databases of pages and products. When anyone comes to your site, these database tables must be accessed and the information retrieved. Often times, this is the most costly factor in rendering a webpage. There is a way to help speed your website up and virtually eliminate any latency that occurs when a user accesses your website.

Simply by making static copies of your web pages and rendering those instead can you speed your website up and ensure a fluid user experience that will help your site rank better.

The process of creating and delivering static webpages to visitors is not straight forward nor is it a simple process. However, good web developers who are experienced and knowledged in SEO should do this on a regular basis. There are numerous site plug ins and stand alone code to assist. For instance, any website that uses popular CMS platforms like WordPress or Joomla already have plug ins that allow site owners to to automatically create static pages of their website and it’s quick and easy.

So, if you already have a site go ahead and ask your web designer or development company what they are doing to ensure fast render speeds of your website and if they are familiar with creating static web pages. Good luck.

Should Your Web Developer Design For Internet Explorer 6

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Here’s some data for you. Roughly half of all traffic from most of the clients’ websites that we recently tested comes from visitors who use Internet Explorer. Of those using Internet Explorer, roughly 18% use Internet Explorer.

While we personally believe that percentage is skewed a bit based on the targeted visitors for the majority of our client websites that were tested (they are generally catered more for Microsoft product users), we feel that roughly 15% to 20% of Internet Explorer users are still using release version 6.

That directly translate to roughly 5% to 8% of visitors to your sites that are using Internet Explorer 6. That percentage could easily go up to 10% on occasion. So, is it worth the extra effort it often takes to make sure websites are coded properly for use in Internet Explorer? The answer is: absolutely.

We see the need to make website designs Internet Explorer 6 proof lasting until at least 2013, when it is predicted that Internet Explorer 6 will only be used on up to 3% of all web users. 3% is still a lot of traffic and there are many reasons why web developers should ignore Internet Explorer 6 when testing which I will get into in another post here. But, for the time being it is in your company’s best interest to make sure your website works properly and looks nearly identical in all major web browsers, including Internet Explorer 6.

Should You Worry About Bing and Yahoo?

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The short answer is…maybe. We at Volvemedia have numerous clients and the far majority of them are certainly worried about where they place in Google for relevant keywords but only a a very small number of clients say they are interested in where they place in Yahoo or Bing.

while Yahoo and Bing collectively account for over 30% of web traffic, that number does not always hold true for every website. Testing is required. If your site currently has analytics it will be fairly simple to look at exactly how much of your traffic for relevant keywords is coming from Google as opposed to relevant traffic that comes from other search engines.

If your currently do not rank well for keywords in any search engine it is still possible to test the search engines. Checking competitor websites is a key way to do this as is checking websites from all major search engines to determine which search engine is showing results from relevant keyword phrases.

As a rule though, Google generally does the best job at displaying relevant results for keywords. They have a number more spam filters than either Yahoo or Bing. However, some keywords are typically searched more in Yahoo or Bing than Google. We have one client in particular that relies on “data center” related keywords and since those keyword phrases are typically done more on Windows machines running primarily Internet Explorer, our client is more concerned with Yahoo traffic as over 50% of all traffic comes from Yahoo.

So, as a rule you should focus in Google results as well over 70% of most keyword phrases come from Google searches but testing should be performed to determine the exact percentage and your web design and seo agency should present your company with a detailed proposal of how it plans on building your presence on all major search engines.

Google Search Results 101 – Part 1

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Every time you do a search in Google you are taken to a results page commonly referred to as a SERP (search engine result page). Based on your geographic location your searches will return an index of websites, images, videos, etc that Google has stored in one of it’s many data centers.

What many don’t know is that Google has several dozen of these data centers where it stores and syncs it’s index of websites. Google will actually attempt to sync it’s data centers with one another but it is theorized that that process takes time and lots of it. Thus, when you do a Google search for something like “website designs” you will see at times a much different index of sites returned to you than in other parts of the country.

Of course, based on your geographic location Google does attempt to return results that are specific to where you live. Thus, your search for “website design” might include websites based in the city or state where you live. That, is in part, a reason why Google must sync it’s index across all data centers, because the searches you do in Orlando can impact the popularity of a specific search term in other parts of the country. For instance, if the vast majority of people searching for “website design” were doing so in Orlando and most chose a Orlando based design company because it appeared near the top of the search results, Google would see that that Orlando based website was more popular than other web design websites from other cities. Google would rank the Orlando website generally higher.

Want to know how to check your website or certain keyword phrases on different Google data centers? There are a number of websites out there that allow you to query dozens of different Google data centers across the United States. Doing so should give you a good indication of what other people in different states are seeing when they do similar searches.

Go ahead and give it a shot. Just Google “Google data center test” and see for yourself.

Getting Spam? Here’s a Tip to Help Stop It!

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

VolveMedia hears a lot of complaints about spam. Adding rules to email clients that filter based on geographic location, header info, content featuring specifics words or phrases and other routine spam fighting techniques are all good and go a long way. However, the best tool we found to use to help fight spam is make sure your websites have the following two things in place:

1. An inline contact form. This eliminates the need to have an actual email address displayed on the site and can also be setup to prevent spam before any spam attempts hit your mail box.

2. Use ASCII to represent characters. For instance, by using ASCII to render email addresses you basically eliminate most bots and spam software from reading email addresses. Here’s how it’s done:

pass an email address like admin@volvemedia.com into a filter like one found at http://fantomaster.com/fantomasSuite/mailShield/famshieldsv-e.cgi and you get ASCII code to place in the HTML code instead of regular text.
try it out for yourself.

Google Docs Gets Major Update for Collaboration Efforts

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Today comes word from Google that it’s dev team has launched some pretty major advancements to its Google Docs app. It’s gotten some pretty dramatic redesign of its document editor as well as updates to group chat, real-time collaboration and other updates that mimic a lot of functionality previously only found in Google Wave.

We at VolveMedia maintain and collaborate on documentation with our clients using Google Docs so this news today comes as a welcomed update. As a collaboration tool, Google Docs really now is second to none.

How’s Your Speed? Google Hopes Your Website is Fast

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Matt Cutts of Google recently announced that site speed was now a major ranking factor. In the past it was well understood that two sites being equal, Google would rank the faster site higher. However, now it appears that Google weighs site speed even more importantly.

Google offers a plugin for FireFox and FireBug to assist developers in testing and optimizing sites for speed. The plugin contains detailed descriptions, reporting and how-to’s for helping out. Yahoo also has a FireFox plugin called YSlow. We at VolveMedia recommend and heavily rely on both to assist us in making sure our clients’ websites are as fast as they can possibly be. Ranking highly in search engines is important but so is making visitors’ experiences on our clients’ sites as trouble-free and stress-free as possible.

Ask your web designer or web development company what steps they are doing to ensure your site is as speedy and bug free as possible.