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Learning Center

Knowledge is power when it comes to the Internet. We want everyone to have the knowledge to make informed decisions about their online presence – whether you’re a client of ours or not (yet).

Our learning center will always be expanding as we have different topics to talk about. Have a suggestion? Email us!

Learning Center

How Do I Write a Website Scope Requirements Document?

Sometimes when we get calls, the (soon-to-be) client comes to us only with their idea, but not much of anything else.  We often suggest to them that they put together a “website scope requirements document”.  This way, if they wanted to shop around (not sure why they would do that), every web development company would have the same information and could provide their estimate accordingly.

Recently, we came across a great article on Marketing Land that outlines what questions to consider. Here they are:

Background Information:

  1. Describe your target audience.
  2. What is the purpose of the website?
  3. What are your corporate core values and how do you express them to your visitors?
  4. What makes you different from your competitors?
  5. Why should people do business with you rather than your competitors?
  6. Describe the style of the website you want.
  7. Do you have specific company colors that need to be used?
  8. Can you provide the Pantone numbers for your company colors?
  9. Do you have any other materials that the site needs to match with in some way (brochures, press materials, etc.)?
  10. What do you like most about your current website?
  11. Is there any functionality or options on your current website that you plan to keep (other than the content)?
  12. What are your top 3 frustrations with your current website?
  13. What do your current competitors’ websites have that you wish to have?
  14. Are there any websites with designs that you like?
  15. What about those websites would you like to be incorporated into your website?
  16. What types of things do you see on other websites that you really like?
  17. What types of things do you see on other websites that you really hate?
  18. Name the 3 things that are most important in the design of your new website.
  19. Name the 3 things that are least important in the design of your new website.
  20. Where is your website hosted?
  21. Do you have full access?
  22. Can you provide usernames and passwords?
  23. Who will be involved on your end in the development of the website?
  24. Any other contractors?
  25. Who or how will you be managing website upkeep?
  26. Do you have a budget you are trying to meet?

Website Scope & Specs:

  1. Does your current web host meet all your new website’s needs (space, bandwidth, databases, etc.)?
  2. Do you plan on or need to move to a new host provider?
  3. Do you need help finding the right web host?
  4. Do you already have a URL you plan to use?
  5. If not, do you need help selecting and registering a good URL?
  6. Do you have a logo you plan to use or will one need to be created?
  7. If you have one, can you provide the original artwork files?
  8. Will you need a favicon created?
  9. Do you have a tagline you wish to use or do you need help creating one for your site?
  10. Do you have a completed site architecture for the new website or will this be part of the scope of work?
  11. How many pages will the finished website be (estimated)?
  12. Do you have any page wireframes ready or will those need to be produced as part of the scope of work?
  13. Do you have the content for the website or will content creation be a part of the scope of work?
  14. How many pages of content will need to be developed?
  15. Will there be any cross promotion of content within the site?
  16. Please provide details on content cross promotion.
  17. Will we be importing and formatting your content, or do you plan to do this?
  18. Do you or your team need training for making website updates, content publishing guidelines, etc.?
  19. What types of actions do you want your visitors to take on your website?
  20. Do you have any specific photos you plan to use?
  21. Do you have full rights to those files?
  22. Can you provide hi-res files to us?
  23. Will we need to find and/or create any images for the website?
  24. Will video or audio be a part of the new website?
  25. Can you provide us the proper files or is creation of this content part of the scope of work?
  26. How many videos or audio files will be added and/or created?
  27. Will any customizations need to be made such as optimizing for search, adding content overlays, customized wrappers, etc?
  28. Do you require online chat features?
  29. Do you have any other media or PDF documents that need to be incorporated, or will any need to be created?
  30. Will these need to be optimized for search?
  31. Will your visitors require any special needs (i.e., screen reader ready, larger fonts)?
  32. Do you require your site to be mobile friendly (responsive design)?
  33. Do you have any specific mobile requirements?
  34. Do you need multi-language support?
  35. Will you need a shopping cart system for e-commerce?
  36. Do you have a system you already use?
  37. Are you in need of an upgrade?
  38. Do you need a content management system?
  39. Do you have a preference for which CMS to use? (i.e., WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Concrete 5, Magento, etc.)
  40. If not, do you need help selecting the best CMS for your needs?
  41. Will you need multiple levels of access?
  42. Do you need to be able to manage content publishing approval processes?
  43. Does your site need a blog or a forum?
  44. Will users need to log in to your site for any reason?
  45. If so, why?
  46. Do you need any password protected areas?
  47. What kind of content will be put behind password protected areas?
  48. How many web forms does your new site need?
  49. What is the purpose of each?
  50. How do you want the submitted info handled? (email, database, etc.)
  51. Do you need any social sharing features built in (tweet, like, +1, share, etc.)?
  52. Will there be any third-party applications that will need to be integrated?
  53. What are they?
  54. Will you need an events calendar feature?
  55. Do you have any subscription services?
  56. Do you use a third party for any part of subscription content delivery and/or payment?
  57. Do you require printer friendly options?
  58. Do you wish to employ any “content-on-demand” features (i.e., hidden elements that are made visible with certain actions)?
  59. Do you want a fixed-width or fluid-width design?
  60. What information must be on the home page?
  61. What information must always be visible?
  62. What features, sections or information do you want emphasized on the site?
  63. How would you like that to be featured?
  64. Will different sections of your site require different designs, layouts or coloring?
  65. Do you have any flash elements you want included?
  66. Will those be provided or do they need to be created?
  67. Do you need an internal site search feature?
  68. Do you want contact phone numbers prominently displayed?
  69. Do you require a database?
  70. What specific functionality will it need?
  71. Will you be offering advertising on the site?
  72. How should that be implemented?
  73. Do you have a Google Analytics account?
  74. Can you provide us access?
  75. Do you have any other specifications or need specific functionality that has not been addressed?
  76. What is your time frame for total project completion?
  77. Will you be looking for keyword optimization beyond the design/development scope?

Avoid The Cost Of Scope Creep And Post-Development Fixes

The worst development jobs are those that end up with runaway scope creep. That happens when the client doesn’t really know what they want and they keep adding to the project as it moves forward.

The cost of this creep is often saddled on the developer because the scope was never clearly defined in the first place. When your developer poses these questions up front, it helps the client carefully think through all of the things they need in advance, eliminating scope creep almost entirely. And, because marketing is baked right into the development process, there’s no need to hire a whole new agency to “fix” all the marketing-related blunders perpetrated by the original designer.

Search Engine Glossary

The world of search engine optimization is jargon heavy, and SEO professionals often have to take a step back when speaking with prospective or current clients because we are immersed in the “language” of SEO. The list below has some of the more common optimization terms used on a daily basis. Note that SEO terms often have a different definition than the same terms related to Internet practices.

Age − First appearance of site in Archive.org, or first appearance in search engines. Not to be confused with domain age, which is the registration date of the domain name. Older sites have more credibility, but for SEO purposes the “age” clock starts when a site is cached by a search engine.

Algorithm − A very complex series of rules used by a search engine to determine rankings. The Google Algorithm uses up to 200 different factors to determine web rankings.

Analytics − Most often, this is a reference to Google Analytics, a free way to measure your site traffic. Other analytics programs include ClickTracks, WebTrends and Omniture.

Anchor Text − Linked text on a web page. Example: This is anchor text. Anchor text is important because search engines use it to determine what the destination page is about. Therefore, anchor text must be topical and relevant.

Backlinks − The number of links from other websites to your website. Google Webmaster Tools will give you the most accurate picture of your own links, and a search in Yahoo under link:yourcompetitorsitehere.com will tell you how many links Yahoo is listing for that site.

Ban − A severe search engine penalty that takes you completely out of the index. Normally caused by using black hat techniques.

Black Hat − In reference to search engine optimization, a technique that is unethical in the eyes of a search engine, and can get you de-listed.

Bounce Rate − The number of people who come to a web page from another site (or search engine) and leave without visiting any other pages. A high bounce rate is believed to negatively affect search engine rankings over time. Most often measured using Google Analytics.

Cache − The search engine’s stored data about your site. This information can be weeks or months out of date, depending on your crawl rate. When you make SEO changes to your site, it won’t be applied until the site gets re-cached and re-indexed. To see your cache in Google, type in cache: followed by your website.

Content − All text on your website readable to the search engine. Usually this is in reference to the body text on your pages.

Conversion − A visit to your site that results in an action being completed by the user. This can be a form fill-out, purchase, or phone call.

Conversion Rate − The number of conversions divided by the number of visitors. Higher conversion rates are always preferred. In Google Analytics, this can be considered “Goal” conversion.

Crawl Rate (Frequency) − The interval between search engine robot visits to your site. Generally, sites with frequent changes and more interesting (to a robot) content get visited more often. Pages with higher PageRank also get visited more often.

Description − A metatag that allows for a brief description of the page’s content. All description tags on a site should be unique, and less than 256 characters.

Directory − A website that lists other websites in categories.

Duplicate Content − Content that is substantially similar to content on other sites or on multiple pages of your own site. Non-original content is generally ignored by search engines, and referred to as a “duplicate content penalty” when it impacts your site. Duplicate content is often cached but not presented in normal search results.

External Link − A link to another site or online resource from your site.

Google Sitemap − An XML sitemap that lists pages on your website that you want Google to find. The same protocol is used by Yahoo and MSN. Several sources online will create a sitemap for you. Not to be confused with a sitemap that lists all the pages on your website.

Filter − A reduction in search engine ranking for a number of possible reasons. Filters are different than penalties, in that when the item tripping the “filter” is removed, then results should bounce back.

Indexing − When a search engine applies your site results and links to its current index. Web pages can be cached for some time before the cached results are applied to the index.

Internal Link − Links from pages on your site to other pages on your site. How pages link to each other is known as Navigation.

Keyword Blurring − Using the same keywords on multiple web pages. This keeps the search engine from picking a “best” page for the keyword, so multiple pages may have lower positions that a single page devoted to the topic.

Keyword Stuffing − Using multiple keyword repetition on a web page. Search engines prefer text and keyword use that is more readable and user-friendly.

Keyword Tool − Any tool that helps determine keyword demand. Wordtracker and the Google Keyword Tool are two popular sources.

Keyword Research − Strategic research into the demand for keywords relevant to a website’s topic. Good keyword research also uncovers synonyms and search terms that may improve site traffic.

Links − In the world of SEO, “links” is most commonly a way of referring to inbound links to your website, given that Google bases a great deal of its rankings on other sites that link to yours. The value of links is highly variable, and links from sites trusted by search engines are more powerful than links from low quality sites.

Link Popularity − An overall measurement of a website or web page’s link value, as determined by links from outside sources and links form other pages, which may themselves be getting good inbound links.

Long Tail − A keyword that contains a long search phrase. Long tail keywords usually have a lower search volume but a higher conversion rate, because the people who type them in have a very specific idea about what they want.

Metatags − Page code not normally visible to a site visitor which describes the content of the page. The Meta Title, Keywords, and Description tags are the most common, but metatags can contain many different fields of data not important to search engines.

Navigation − The way links are configured on a website to allow people to get to other pages. Search engines like to follow navigation and use it to determine the relative importance of pages on a site.

PageRank − (1) a numerical representation applied by Google showing the link value of any given page. This is completely determined by links from other websites and internal links. It is not a representation of the relevance of the site. There is a logarithmic scale of 1 to ten for PageRank, and higher numbers may require millions of links. This can be found using the Google Toolbar. (2) The algorithm at Google, not completely known to the public, that determines part of how links impact rankings.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) − Paid search engine advertisements that appear next to search results. PPC can be very expensive, but can be executed within hours, while SEO can take months.

Penalty − A change in search engine rankings caused by breaking one or more “rules” of search engine ethics. A search engine “filter” is a less strict penalty, but a “penalty” can be applied for a longer time period and is generally a sign that you are believed to be deliberately violating webmaster guidelines for search engines.

Ranking − A keyword position on a search engine, anywhere from #1 to somewhere in the billions. Usually you want your site to show on the first page for your keywords.

Ranking Report − A listing that shows positions on search engines (usually Google, MSN/Bing, and Yahoo) for a list of preferred keywords. Monthly ranking reports will show you your progress over time.

Reinclusion Request − A request to a search engine that a site be reexamined for inclusion back into listings. This is most commonly done when a site has been penalized or banned.

Relevance − The key to good SEO. More relevant sites are preferred by search engines because they confirm the search engine user’s trust in the ability of the engine to deliver results. SEO practices help format a site in such a way that the engine can understand its relevance.

Robot − An automated program that visits your website.

Robots.txt − A file on your website that can either allow robots or restrict them. Robots files can be useful when you want duplicate pages to be ignored, or search engines are crawling unnecessary pages.

Sandbox (AKA Sandbox Penalty or Google Sandbox) − An artificially low ranking due to having a new website. The existence of the sandbox penalty is debated, but generally a new site will get lower rankings. Search engines use this to prevent junk sites from getting rankings. There are ways to get out of the “sandbox” by being relevant, but customers with new sites are still advised that search engines may take some time to show good rankings.

Search Volume − How many times (usually per month) that a keyword search is made in a given search engine, or all engines. High search volume indicates a competitive keyword which may be more profitable.

Short Tail − A one or two word search term like “auto parts” that gets a high search volume, but is not very specific. A “long tail” version of the same term would be “used auto parts free shipping.”

Spider − Essentially a search engine robot that “crawls” your website for information.

SEM − Search Engine Marketing. This most often refers to Pay-Per-Click initiatives, but can also include SEO as part of an online marketing strategy.

SEO − Search Engine Optimization, or the practice of getting websites ranked on search engines through a variety of specialized methods.

SERP − Search Engine Results Page. The list of websites that you get when you make a search on a search engine.

Silo − A way of structuring categories on your website and individual web pages. Normally all the pages and navigation links in a silo are relevant to each other, and the “silo” structure helps improve rankings by structuring similar items into easily navigated categories. This benefits search engines and site users.

SPAM − In search engine parlance, Spam is not junk email but site content and linking practices that are keyword stuffed, automated, or created to get undeserved rankings for search terms.

Submission − The act of submitting a site to search engines or directories. For new sites, submission is still useful, but any site cached in a search engine would not need to be re-submitted.

Title − Also known as the meta title, the title of each web page appears at the top of the browser window. It tells search engines about the topic of each page. A well written title can have the fastest impact on search engine rankings if all other factors are good.

Webmaster Tools − Google Webmaster Tools is a free program that will help the average user understand how Google sees the website, if there are any problems, and if the site is penalized. Highly recommended to any webmaster.

White Hat − Search Engine Optimization techniques that are approved by search engines.

XML Sitemap − A “Google Sitemap” or a list of pages that you want search engines to find. This normally gets placed in your root directory in an XML format and named “sitemap.xml.” The sitemap contains information about pages, their relative priority, and how often they are updated.

This list is by no means complete, and different people in the SEO industry use different terminology.

Phoenix Web Design Company Comparison

We receive requests for web design on a daily basis. A lot of times, we’re one of many web companies in Phoenix that the client has or intends to contact. This is awesome! We want our clients to make an educated decision about their online presence .

The curiosity was killing us. We had to find out what people are being told about web design and development in Phoenix , so we did our own little experiment.

Here’s how the experiment worked:
We asked a friend of ours to choose one of their friends – someone whom we didn’t know and didn’t want to meet or talk to. We asked them to call us and 3 of our reputable competitors with the same broad information to obtain a quote for custom web design and development. While this wasn’t a “scientific experiment”, no one knew who this person was, if they were going to have someone else call, when they were going to call, where the conversation was going to go – nothing. Here are the specifics we gave them to talk about and receiving pricing on:

  • A basic 5 page brochure-style website with no eCommerce, no fancy features
  • Optimized for search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo)
  • Yearly hosting
  • Periodic ongoing content changes to the website

We asked them to get pricing for the above project, take notes from the conversation(s), and rate the companies they spoke with on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best).

After the experiment was complete, we asked them to provide us with their findings:

 

  eCreations Company “X” Company “Y” Company “Z”

Date first contacted

April 3, 2013 11:30am April 3, 201311:38am April 3, 2013 1:10pm April 4, 2013 9:35am

First contacted via

web form web form web form web form

Contact from the company

April 4, 2013 9:15am April 3, 2013 11:45am April 5, 2013 4:50pm April 26, 2013 5:00pm

Design & Development Cost Estimate

$3,750 $18,800 $5,000 $10,000 – $12,000

Project Timeframe

3-5 weeks 4 weeks 4-6 weeks 5 weeks

Content Management System Cost/Type

$200 one-time Adobe Contribute $included Proprietary $2,000 one-time WordPress $included Proprietary

Any monthly fees?

none, unless changes are done $2,375 $95 – $450 auto-bill none, unless changes are done

Search Engine Optimization Cost Estimate

initial included. ongoing available from $210/mo. included with above monthly fees $950 initially. available ongoing ranging from $125 – $555/mo. referred to 3rd party

Yearly Hosting & 3 Email Accounts

$180 no price provided $540 $3,600

Website changes Cost/Type (at their then current rate)

$105/hr. $95/hr. $95/hr. $120/hr.

Contract Term

annual for hosting only annual annual annual

Total Annual Cost(including initial design, development and hosting

$4,035 plus any optional monthly services or changes $47,300 plus any additional changes $8,490 plus any optional monthly services or changes $14,600 plus any optional monthly services or changes

To be fair and compare apples-to-apples, we’ll adjust the numbers to include 25 hours of modifications, ongoing SEO, etc. per month for 12 months (which is highly unlikely for a 5 page basic website)

$33,035 $47,300 $35,490 $50,600

Followed Up:

yes – 1 week no yes – 2 weeks no
       

RATINGS

eCreations Company “X” Company “Y” Company “Z”

Professionalism:

5 4 5 4
Knowledge:
5 4 5 3
Took time to understand my needs:
5 3 4 5
Was willing to work with additional people and resources:
4 0 3 1
Asked fact-finding questions:
5 3 5 4
Suggested and Offered Additional Services & Solutions:
yes yes yes yes
Additional comments on the experience you had communicating with each of the above companies:
View Comments click for more info

View Comments click for more info

View Comments click for more info

View Comments click for more info

In which order would you work with each of the companies you talked with?
First Choice 4th Choice A Close 2nd Choice 3rd Choice

View Email Headers

Email headers contain tracking information for an individual email, detailing the path and “hops” it took as it went from one computer to another. To find out how to view the full email headers, please select your webmail provider or email client below for complete instructions.

Email Client: Apple Mail

Email Client: Mozilla

Email Client: Opera

Email Client: Outlook

Email Client: Outlook Express

Webmail Providers: Gmail

Webmail Providers: AOL

Webmail Providers: Excite

Webmail Providers: Hotmail

  1. Log in to your Hotmail account.
  2. Select Inbox from the left-side menu.
  3. Right-click the message you’d like to view headers for and select View Message Source.

The full headers will appear in a new window.

Webmail Providers: Yahoo! Mail

  1. Log in to your Yahoo! Mail account.
  2. Select the message you’d like to view headers for.
  3. Click the Actions dropdown and select View Full Header.

The full headers will appear in a new window.

What’s New With SEO?

Before discussing “What’s New”, we need to understand “What Is”

What is SEO?

In English… SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving the visibility of your site or page in search engines in natural (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.

How does SEO work?

When someone goes to a search engine, such as Google, Yahoo or Bing, and types in a word or phrase, millions of “spiders” have already searched (or “indexed”) the Internet to find the sites that are:

  1. Most compatible with those words / phrases and
  2. Have come up the most in similar searches

SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories: techniques that search engines recommend as part of good design (White Hat SEO), and those techniques of which search engines do not approve (Black Hat SEO). Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listing from their database altogether. Examples of “Black Hat SEO” include hidden sections of the page that is packed with key phrases, or white text on a white background.

SEO done right, using White Hat techniques leads to ongoing long-term results. Black Hat SEO is bad for business.

searchEngineMarketShare

Search Engine Market Share:

As the chart above shows, as of February, 2012, Google owns 66.4% of the market share for online search. Since February, the numbers have decreased a bit, but Google still dominates the search market and other engines typically follow the same “standard” practices and suggestions for implementing a good SEO Campaign.

A good SEO campaign should be ongoing. Though the majority of the work will be done up front during the first few months, the SEO campaign should be monitored and adjusted as necessary for algorithmic updates.

Each year, Google changes its search algorithm up to 600 times – that’s nearly 12 times a week! Although most of the updates would be classified as “insignificant”, there are a handful that have a “noticeable impact” on Websites. Their latest major algorithm change was tagged “Panda” and was released in February, 2011. Since then, there have been refreshes to Panda, but most of them fall into the “insignificant” category.

From day one, Google has been about the “USER EXPERIENCE”. Google’s site quality algorithms are aimed at helping people find “high-quality” sites by reducing the rankings of low-quality content. The recent “Panda” change tackles the difficult task of algorithmically assessing website quality.

So, what can be done to keep Google happy (and your site ranked high)?

  1. Keep the following questions in mind as you focus on developing high-quality content rather than trying to optimize for any particular search engine.
  2. Low-quality content on some parts of a Website can impact the whole site’s rankings, and thus removing low-quality pages, merging or improving the content of individual shallow pages into more useful pages, or moving low-quality pages to a different domain could eventually help the rankings of your higher-quality content. 

Have you noticed the keyword in the 2 questions above? CONTENT. “Content is King” didn’t get coined for no reason. Keep it relative, keep it current and keep it geared to your visitor.

SEO Quick Facts

  1. 70% of the links search users click on are organic.
  2. 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads, focusing on the organic results.
  3. 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
  4. Search and e-mail are the top two Internet activities.
  5. Companies that blog have 434% more indexed pages. And companies with more indexed pages get far more leads.
  6. Inbound leads cost 61% lower than outbound leads. An example of an inbound lead might be from search engine optimization. An outbound lead might be from a cold call.
  7. 81% of businesses consider their blogs to be an important asset to their businesses.
  8. A study by Outbrain shows that search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300%
  9. SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
  10. For Google, a study shows 18% of organic clicks go to the #1 position, 10% of organic clicks go to the #2 position, and 7% of organic clicks go to the #3 position.
  11. In that same study, tests for Bing show the following: 9.7% of organic clicks go to #1, 5.5% of organic clicks go to #2, and 2.7% of organic clicks go to #3.
  12. 79% of search engine users say they always / frequently click on the natural search results. In contrast, 80% of search engine users say they occasionally / rarely / never click on the sponsored search results.
  13. Google owns 65-70% of the search engine market share.
  14. 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
  15. The search engine industry is estimated to be worth more than $16 billion.
  16. There are over 100 billion global searches being conducted each month.
  17. 82.6% of Internet users use search.

 

Assessing the Quality of a Web Page or Article

Below are some questions that one could use to assess the “quality” of a page or an article.

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

 

META Information

The “meta-keywords” tag: 

While some search engines rely on it, Google ignores it. Still spend time on writing relevant keywords, but try to keep the specific to that page. Duplicate content (on the page) or in the “head” of the document will have negative impact on SEO.

The “meta-description” tag:

A necessity for SEO if you:

  • Have a Website that is under 50 pages
  • Hope to rank well for your company name and a handful of related terms
  • Want to be smart about search engines and attracting searchers, but haven’t kept up with the latest search news.

Other META information:

There are other declarations that need to be included such as:

  • Title
  • Robots
  • Googlebot
  • Site-verification

META information is only a portion of SEO – the main area of focus should be on the unique content that is written on the page.

Analyzing Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free product available from Google and (provided your site has the proper Analytics tracking code installed), keeps track of web traffic in great detail, including an option for “Real-Time” data (still in BETA).

analytics1
analytics2

Components of Google Analytics

When you log into Google Analytics, you’re typically shown your “dashboard” which includes a chart along with some key stats.

  • Visits
  • Unique Visitors
  • Pageviews
  • Pages / Visit
  • Avg. Visit Duration
  • Bounce Rate
  • % New Visits

These stats appear on the dashboard for a reason: they’re important! So, what do they really mean?

  • Visits
    A Visit is simply the number of visitors your site has received during the specified period.
  • Unique Visitors
    Out of those visitors, Google keeps track on how many were “unique” based on the end-user’s IP address (Internet Protocol). This number may be a little skewed if the same user has DSL for example and is issued a different IP address by their ISP every time they cycle their modem or logs on to the Internet; or if the user clears their browser’s cookies.
  • Pageviews
    This number represents the total number of pages that were viewed by all visitors during the specified time.
  • Pages / Visit
    If you divide the Pageviews by the Visits, you’ll get the number of pages each visitor navigates to during their experience with your site. For example, if you had 2,248 Pageviews and 921 Visitors, you get a Pages / Visit of 2.44 (2,248 ÷ 921 = 2.44)
  • Avg. Visit Duration
    Taking into account the number of visitors to you site, Google Analytics displays the Average Visit Duration – or the average time each visitor has spent on your site.
  • Bounce Rate
    Bounce Rate is an important element in determining how “sticky” and relative your landing page(s) are. The Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors that see only one page during a visit to your site. There are a number of reasons why the Bounce Rate may be high. For example, visitors might leave your site from the entrance page in response to the site design or usability issues. Or, it might be that just certain pages on your site have a high Bounce Rate for very valid reasons, such as
    • ◦Single Page Sites
      Google doesn’t register multiple Pageviews unless visitors reload that page. As a result, single-page sites tend to have high bounce rates.
    • Contact information / location information
      If a visitor goes to a landing page (the contact page for example) to obtain the address or phone number and then leaves, this is considered a bounce.
    • User Login
      If you have a login option on the homepage and the user clicks on it, this is considered a bounce if that login page does not have the tracking code installed on it.
    • User behavior
      If a user bookmarks a page on your site, visits it and leaves, then that’s considered a Bounce.
    • % New Visits
      This is the percentage of visits Google deems as “new”. For example, if a visitor to your site did not have your site’s Google Analytics’ cookies when they hit the first page of their visit, this would be considered a New Visit. Additionally, should a visitor delete their cookies and come back to the site, they would also be counted as a new visitor.

The Difference between “Exit Rate” and “Bounce Rate”

To understand the difference between exit and bounce rates for a particular page in your site, keep in mind three things:

  1. For all Pageviews to the page, the exit rate is the percentage that were the last in the session.
  2. For all sessions that start with the page, bounce rate is the percentage that were the only one of the session.
  3. The bounce rate calculation for a page is based only on visits that start with that page.

For example, your site has pages A through C, and only one session per day exists, with the following Pageview order:

  • Monday: Page A > Page B > Page C
  • Tuesday: Page B > Page A > Page C
  • Wednesday: Page A > exit

The content report for Page A would show 3 Pageviews and a 50% bounce rate. You might have guessed that the bounce rate would be 33%, but the Tuesday Pageview granted to Page A is not considered in its bounce rate calculation. Consider that a bounce is the notion of a session with only one interaction from the visitor, and the session-centric analysis answers a simple yes/no question: “Did this session contain more than one Pageview?” If the answer to that question is “no,” then it’s important to consider which page was involved in the bounce. If the answer is “yes,” then it only matters that the initial page in the session lead to other Pageviews. For that reason, bounce rate for a page is only meaningful when it initiates the session.

Now let’s extend this example to explore the Exit rate and Bounce rate metrics for a series of single-session days on your site.

  • Monday: Page B > Page A > Page C
  • Tuesday: Page B > Exit
  • Wednesday: Page A > Page C > Page B
  • Thursday: Page C > Exit
  • Friday: Page B > Page C > Page A

The % Exit and Bounce rate calculations are:

  • Exit Rate:
    • Page A: 33% (only 3 of 5 sessions included Page A)
    • Page B: 50% (only 4 of 5 sessions included Page B)
    • Page C: 50% (only 4 of 5 sessions included Page C)
  • Bounce Rate:
    • Page A: 0% (no sessions began with Page A, so it has no bounce rate)
    • Page B: 33% (bounce rate is higher than exit rate, because 3 sessions started with Page B, with one leading to a bounce)
    • Page C: 100% (one session started with Page C, and it lead to a bounce)

Overview of Google Analytics:
Google Analytics tracks the following kinds of data about how visitors interact with your site and its content:

  • The pages on which they enter and exit your site.
  • How often and how long they view individual pages.
  • The extent to which they search your site for specific content.
  • The extent to which they interact with things like slide shows or embedded videos.

Based on this data, you can develop an understanding of how well your content addresses the purpose of your site (for example, to sell high-end luxury real estate).

If your landing pages have a high bounce rate and visitors spend only a few seconds on those pages, you might conclude that the page content does not meet visitors’ expectations, or that the page isn’t designed to effectively draw visitors further into your site.

On the other hand, if a great percentage of visitors are leaving your site from the page that concludes a transaction, you can infer that your site design is working in your favor.

If users tend to search your site more often than you anticipate, you might consider redesigning the site navigation.

When looking at the data from Analytics (and there’s a lot of data), understand and treat the data as a “report card” of your site. There are things that one could do to improve the overall numbers; however, if goal conversion is your objective, concentrate on the user’s experience to improve the conversion rate. 

Elements of a Good Website

There is only ONE element of a great website – To create the best possible experience for the targeted visitor. Period.

How do we do that?

  • Planning
    • Define and understand the targeted demographic
    • Ensure that the goals remain the catalyst of the site
    • Optimized directory structure
    • Optimized and relevant content (including images)
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Aesthetics
    • Single Branding message
    • Easy on the eyes
    • Prequalification
      • Touchy Feely = warm and cozy
      • Hi-End Real Estate / Travel = feeling of “I need to be there”
      • Sales and Marketing Services = show results and relay to the viewer why they need your services
  • Navigation
    • Relevant
    • Easy to use and always in front
  • Making the site “sticky”
    • “Sufficiently vague” to encourage multiple Pageviews
  • Engaging
    • Lead Gen and Requests
    • Online Chat and Support
    • Make the experience a memorable one and encourage bookmarking/sharing
  • Test the site for multiple variables
    • Browser
    • Operating System
    • Device
    • If it doesn’t work – it doesn’t matter.
  • Keep it “fresh”
    • Update content regularly
    • Adjust SEO efforts
    • Scheduled Evolution
  • Ask the “Website Quality Questions
  • Repeat
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