Monday, January 26, 2009

What You don’t Know – Can Hurt You, Or Why You Too Need a Site Map.

In the past when I was first starting out in the web designing business. I would build a small website and I really believe a sitemap was not all that important. After all I made sure the navigation was very clear and visitors never had to go deeper than 3 clicks to get to the pages they wanted. It is a really important step to have clear navigation – and the minimal clicks are key as well, but a site map well that was for the bigger more developed websites –those that really needed a lot of structure right? Wrong!!

I hate to admit it but boy was I wrong!

Always wanting (and needing) to learn more, a client and I had a consultation with a major SEO (Search Engine Optimization) consulting firm. I believed we had done everything right but it is always a good idea to double check – then triple check.

SEO (search engine optimization) rules do change from time to time. Usually subtly but these small changes are important. It is actually good to check each year to see what the difference in the SEO rules (algorithms’) are so you can tweak your website accordingly. Once we were in this consultation – and started to converse he asked “I see you don’t have a site map, why not”? I explained to him that I was unaware that a site map was of much importance for a smaller website.

He quickly – told me no it is really an important step in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and all websites should have a xml site map before they start submitting to search engines. I believe those of use who do develop and maintain websites need to learn constantly – and so I took his advice to heart.

I developed a site map for my client a few days after having this discussion and it wasn’t more than a week or so later when I searched Google – the website had been re-indexed and to my surprise we also had the sub-links under it!

When I put my clients website URL into Google they it popped right up on top and underneath had an index – 7 pages listed as sub-links right on Google’s search engine. Seeing the proof such a short time later really did prove that I had been wrong on this issue. Never again – you only have to show me once I have learned.

Seeing the improvement in the Google listing made I wanted to tell you how important a site map is to every website.

It is not just about the .html site map that your web visitors will see but a site map that is developed in xml (that only the search engines see) that can make a difference in your indexing on Google as well as other search engines.

Google Listing Do you have a site map for your website? Is it built correctly?

It is important to have both an xml site map and an .xhtml site map… Not only is it important – It is Priceless...

Pamela Jacob - Artista Design

If you need a Site Map built email me I can help

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What’s The Focus – SEO in 2009…

Let’s say, you have a strong website that is designed to attract your target customer, fast loading, great navigation an opt-in box to capture people who come to your website – with a really good free report, book, information… You have worked hard and now you are ready to unveil your business masterpiece…

But Wait – Have you optimized your website for the search engines? Have you forgotten that all important step…

The basic foundation of your website is where everything else springs from and Search Engine Optimization is part of that.

There is so much misinformation out on the internet and great information as well – how do you sift through it all??

You may think your website is totally SEO compliant (search engine optimized) but things change from year to year. The basics do stay the same for the most part - but a lot of little things change that can make a BIG difference they need to be looked at and addressed.

Did you know that Google does not use the description Meta tag anymore? Alternatively, that Meta tag keywords in general have lost a lot of the weight, they use to carry?

Does that mean you don’t need Meta tags anymore?

Of course you need them – do you realize that a lot of search engines do use Meta tags! Don’t under estimate the power of yahoo, MSN or any of the specialty search engines out there.

I know everyone wants to be on top of Google. I love Google and all the fantastic tools they have – but don’t overlook all the others.

A customer is a customer is a customer!

There is nothing better than people doing a search and finding you – on any search engine - that would be your target market and therefore your best customer(s).

The point of this article is??

I want you all to take a look at what you can do to refresh or update your website to make it a search engine compliant. You website may be on top now or close – but make no mistake – you must make sure you make these small changes as well because you may find yourself missing (suddenly).

Case in point:

I have been working with a client for the last 2 years (outstanding company).

We rebuilt the website – so that it was totally SEO compliant, fast to load and had a solid foundation. We have for the last year done a lot of linking – advertising – web 2.0 and marketing in general.

Everything is right where it needs to be – do we stop now??

NO – of course not – in fact my customer was a little worried about the economy her industry was/is getting hit hard and even though she is doing well she wants to continue to.

We delved into a lot of different new material – and low and behold found out that a lot more weight is being put on other items on a web page. We thought we had everything covered but, talking with an expert we learned even more about what needed to be done for 2009 so I am passing it on to you…

8 Thing you may not know about SEO 2009

1. Make sure you have a descriptive title – do not duplicate it on any of your pages! Put Keywords in your page title.title 2. Give you pages an H1- html - tag for the main titled sections our your pages. Make sure the visible title on the copy of your pages are keywords. 3. Have a sitemap that is compliant with Google, even if you have a small site. Make sure the links on your sitemap does have keywords for the links – and descriptions. More information on sitemaps – click here 4. Have Google analytics placed on your site (or another good analytics code/software) check out the keywords that you are being found by and use the keywords to develop web pages. 5. Do not use duplicate content on your website – in other words if you have a page on branding – and a page on graphic design make sure they have totally different text/copy on them. 6. Make sure each page has its own set of Meta data – and the copy/text on the page reflects the keywords you are using on that particular page. 7. Just because you have several domain names pointed to your site does not mean Google or any other search engine is picking up the name as keywords to your website. So what will you do with those domain names? You can develop landing pages and apply these domain names but do not duplicate content – from your main site and you may want a different IP Address (that is a hot debate now). 8. Don’t forget to have a robot.txt file placed in your root directory – it invites search engine spiders in to search your files – you can also direct the search engine spiders on what files you do not want them to index (look at).

With the New Year comes excitement and new challenges. I know that this is one will be our best year yet!

If you are a newbie and need me to explain anything that you just don’t understand please shoot me an email – also I am running a special on sitemap development. So if you are interested let me know, and we can talk!

To an amazing 2009!

Pamela Jacob – Artista Design (801) 910-4825