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Below you will find a collection of frequently asked questions related to Zee Designs, websites and print topics. If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines. The earlier a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it typically will receive from the search engine.
SEO considers how search engines work and what people search for. Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content and programming to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove features that might create barriers to a good search engine acceptance and ranking.
Unlike the “olden days” of SEO, current SEO requires far more than just adding the relevant keywords or submitting the site to the engines. Now, the search engines use sophisticated techniques to judge the relevance of each site. Google says it ranks sites using more than 200 different (undisclosed) criteria to avoid manipulation of rankings. The search engines continually change the criteria and their priorities.
These days, SEO is only part of a much broader website marketing focus where other online marketing strategies are used in cooperation with SEO to enhance traffic flow to the website. There are Search Engine Optimization Specialists who charge $1500 - $3000 per month to do all the work of keeping sites on top. It this is what you require, we would be happy to refer you.
These days, traditional SEO methods have become only part of a much broader website marketing focus. Other online and traditional marketing strategies can be used in conjunction with SEO to enhance traffic flow to the website. You market your website and your website markets you. That is the reason we request that you fill out a marketing questionnaire before we start SEO work for your site. It helps us know how to position you and which audiences to target.
There are Search Engine Optimization Specialists who charge $1500 - $3000 per month and spend hours doing all the work of keeping sites on top of Search Engine lists. If you are looking at less expensive alternatives, then you have to start out with an understanding of SEO, a good understanding of the audience you wish to reach, and a solid marketing strategy to supplement your SEO efforts.
Put your website address(es) on all letterheads, brochures, invoices, cards, menus, signs, ads, and promotional items. Zee Designs can help with marketing, design, and print services. Put your website addresses on your email signature. Mention your website to your clients and friends and new acquaintances at networking events.
When an older web site has had the same look for many years, the website may have a totally different look from your current print materials and organizational image. In such cases, it is wise to update the site to achieve a consistent branding. Sites with obsolete technology or a stale look detract from your image.
Virtually all the marketing opportunities listed on the Marketing Questionnaire are ways to promote your website as well as your business. The Marketing Questionnaire is a great tool to start you thinking about new opportunities, and the Zee Designs Team can help you create and implement a comprehensive plan.
You will do best when you can zero in on those who are most interested in what you have to offer. Who are your current clients, members, patients, audience members, or aficionados? Where are they located? How did they find you? What are they looking for and how are you currently helping them? The more you know about your current audience, the easier you can target your offerings and marketing to them and others like them.
Next, it is good to consider what markets you might have missed in the past. The easiest way to expand your business is to discover new niches, new ways to present the same products and information to different markets.
The easiest way to grow your business exponentially is to:
To increase the traffic to your website, to increase your business, it takes a plan that takes into account where you are now and what more you wish to achieve.
Search engines send out little animated “robots” to search the web for sites, to rate them, to categorize them, and to put the information about the sites in directories to reference as search results. These directories are indexed for rapid searches. Eventually they will find your site. You can also go to Yahoo! or Google and submit information about your own site. Zee Designs can register your site for you as part of a SEO project.
Most people, would like to be noticed in a way that lands them at the top of the listings rather than as listing number 45,379, and how to accomplish that is a totally different question!
Easy question, difficult answer.
Doing a search on “restaurants” yields over 318,000,000 results on Google. Searching for restaurants in Las Vegas can generate between 977,000 and 13,400,000 results, depending on how people punctuate their search. If the searcher further qualifies the search by adding a type of food, it will cut down the list further. If you wish to have a high ranking for the people who are your most likely clients, then your first step is to consider how they will be looking for you! Then you can work with Zee Designs to determine how best to reach these people in a variety of ways.
This is a highly regarded secret, and every Search Engine uses a different set of methods which change over time – and some engines use several different methods, all on the same day! We can share what we’ve learned and help you come up with a solid strategy that can stand up over time. The reason methods constantly change is so that programmers are less likely to abuse the system.
For instance, it used to be that keywords played a major role in search ratings. Not true today. Programmers were putting words in keyword meta data for websites that had nothing to do with those topics, so search engine results were skewed. To guard the integrity of their results, the search engines started disregarding keywords or giving them lesser importance.
The same thing was also true of doorway pages. Doorway pages used to be the mark of a sophisticated site. Doorway pages are pages specifically made for the search engines, and now too often contain hundreds of links that are of little use to the user, or automatically redirect to advertising. This trend made the search engines downplay their value in the rankings. Now landing pages are used by sophisticated users for specific tracking purposes. For example, a client with a magazine ad wishes those links to go to a specific page. Another example is at the end of an online order, providing a link to a landing page of a complimentary site. Doorway pages are abusive to the system, and landing pages, done correctly, are not.
Search engines nowadays care much more about what others do in relation to your website than what you do (or have done) to your website yourself. That is, if you make a great site about widgets, how does Google know your widget site is better than others? Among other things, it will check to see how many other sites link to yours using the word "widget." ("Click here for info about widgets", "This is an awesome widgets site", etc.) There are other factors involved, including metadata, good URLs, how long your site has been around, but links are a big deal for Google - at least at the moment!
Know that there's no magic bullet. The best way to get a good position in search results is to become a valuable, authoritative resource for your chosen subject that people link and refer to frequently. You do that by creating great content and sharing it with everyone you can. A well programmed site that is updated periodically with content relevant to your topic is a good start and can be built on as time goes on.
Deciding how to use the various aspects of your website to enhance user response, satisfy the search engines, and fit into your overall marketing plan is a continuing process.
Keywords are still important—in a different way than in the past. Most search engines pay scant attention to meta tag keywords. The words used in the URL, in the page titles, and particularly in the content on the page, are important. Content is key, so use your keywords frequently (without being obnoxious and blatantly repetitive) and strategically on the page along with related wording in context.
There are many places where keywords can be used on a webpage including:
For keyword selection, try the Search tools available in Google AdWords. There are two tools that are very helpful: The Keyword Tool and the Search-Based keyword tool.
The Keyword Tool lets you enter the URL of your business website, or of any site related to your business. The AdWords system will then scan your page and then suggest relevant keywords – which may turn up enlightening surprises. It works best with short keywords of one or two words in length to make it easier for Google to determine the most important words and deliver appropriate alternatives. It also allows you to find keywords based on your site content when you use the Website Content option. The keyword tool can help you identify synonyms or tailor results to a language or location.
The Search-based Keyword Tool is similar to the Keyword tool except that it uses your own URLs to display a list of relevant user queries that have occurred on Google.com with some frequency over the past year; these suggestions can be found under the Keywords tab, in the "New keywords related to (site)" section. In the “Keywords related to your search” section, you can see a broad list of keyword ideas that may also be relevant.
These tools can give you an idea whether the keywords you are using for your site really match the content that is present, a key item affecting search ranking.
There are many places where keywords can be used on a webpage including:
Using too many keywords will backfire, marking your site as a potential spam site. In the early days of search engine optimization, people would put their keywords all over the page in the same color as the background, boosting the number of times the words were used. They’d even use high volume-producing words, even if the words had nothing to do with their site. Search engines are much more sophisticated these days, so if the percentage of keywords on a page is too high or the keywords don’t match the content, either the site will get a low rating or be banned!
Smaller files (<40K) are preferred. ZD-CMS™ websites separate the formatting from the html pages, resulting in much smaller file sizes and cleaner content, both of which search engines love.
Hyphens in the Domain Name
Hyphens are used in domain names to make them easier to read and to indicate spaces, which are unusable. One or two hyphens can be excellent for separating keywords (i.e., pet-smart, pets-mart). Four or more can look like spam to a search engine. Ten or more are seen as spam, with rank demotion probable.
Freshness of Pages
Rankings are higher if the site changes over time, and when the site involves news, retail, or auction, the more recent the better! More frequent updates draw frequent spidering, which means the cached information the search engine has is more recent, which can improve your ranking. Some search engines look at the ratio of old pages to new pages.
Freshness of links may be good or bad: excellent for high-trust sites, perhaps worse for newer, low-trust sites. Search engines take care to ensure that spam sites where masses of links are updated daily from databases receive lower rankings.
Create the page content on the website to exhibit a clear and consistent theme and general consistency. Use your search terms, and also words that are similar to some or all of those terms, including plurals and synonyms.
Keep it less than the 2,000 characters allowed by Internet Explorer to be safe - less than 100 is even better. The ZD-CMS™ uses “pretty URLs,” which means the domain name is followed by a slash and a page title or record title without special characters, numbers, which search engines don’t like. Short, understandable, keyword relevant, and search engine friendly.
Search Engines like big sites because larger sites are presumed to be more professional, better funded, better organized, better constructed, and therefore better sites. This can backfire if the site content is sparse or incongruent with the purported topic. Small sites with better content are preferred to large ones that have been generated artificially to look large.
Sites that have been around longer do better than new sites when they have been updated over time. New pages on an older site will get faster recognition. There is often a temporary boost for very new sites - from one (1) week to three (3) weeks in Google and Yahoo.
Navigation within your own site
Ensure all links to other pages on your own site are valid and that you can get to any page in 2-4 clicks. ZD-CMSTM websites already have the efficient, logical, consistent, and conventional navigation with a tree-like structure the search engines prefer. Appropriate links between lower-level pages also enhance rankings. ZD-CMSTM websites have these built in.
Navigation outside your own site
Visitor behavior can affect page ranking:
Search engines can glean traffic information Internet Server Providers and other available network resources. Google Toolbar is a less desirable way to get visitor behavior information. If you install the toolbar and enable page ranking, it will show the ranking of the sites you visit. The downside is that it slows your page loading as it starts tracking everything you personally do online. You lose all privacy, which is one of the many reasons Zee Designs does not recommend using the tool bar. The Google Toolbar comes bundled with many software packages you might install from CD or DVD, as well as many of those you might download from the web. There is always a way to opt out of installing, so use vigilance. If accidentally installed, it can be uninstalled easily.
Things that search engines look at with respect to visitor behavior:
Zee Designs has Website Usage statistics that are automatically generated so you can monitor these trends. We can also install Google Analytics if you prefer that method of tracking your site’s information.
Site Metrics (Traffic Statistics) can affect page ranking:
Domain Owner Behavior:
Note: For ALL the POSITIVE factors listed above, PAGE RANK (how many links from other quality sites point to your website) can OVERRIDE them all. The next section on Incoming Links will explain all about Page Rank.
Too much of a good thing, shortcuts, or tricky programming can create unintended consequences!
Things you may not have much control over include:
It is important to be vigilant, check your ranking and traffic, and make modifications when required.
Back links or reciprocal links are links to your site from a site that your site links to.
Search engines have directories and they are good places to be, if they are one of the main directories like Google or Yahoo. Some trade organizations have their own directories, and they are good places to go to if you are interested in targeted niche markets. Directory listing is a boost only if the directories that link to you are real directories, rather than link farms, and respected in their niche markets, which requires that you understand your markets. Some directories require payment to belong, notably Yahoo!
Search engines index the sites they accept for rapid search results. If you wish to be found by the people you wish to reach, it is important that the search engines properly categorize your site through the keywords and the content that you use to back it up.
The type of domain is an important indicator of the content of a site.
In addition, the technology and the programming used can affect search engine rankings. For example, sites programmed with frames or as flash-only sites are at a disadvantage.
Flash animation is a great way to present complex content because it allows the designer to put more content in a finite space without wrecking page design. Flash is an ideal way to present a slide show or movie explaining a complex product. Art and entertainment sites have a real need for multimedia, and Flash is the perfect solution.
As part of a total solution, Flash is great! As the basis for an entire website, it introduces challenges for Search Engine Optimization. While Flash sites are graphics-based, Search Engines are text-based. For years the two worlds had trouble intersecting.
In recent years, Flash has been billed as having added new features that make it more conducive to SEO, and Google has bragged about its ability to handle Flash files. Despite all this, trusting Flash content to get good SEO results is like trusting a Seattle summer wedding to be rain-free. It could happen, but no one would call it a wise bet. The interfaces between Flash and the search engines is still too new and there are issues to overcome.
(Note: Adapted from the SEOmoz Blog, where you can learn more about Search Engine Optimization.)
Hoping that search engines can decipher your Flash is not a substitute for providing index-able HTML content. There are things that can be done to make Flash sites more accessible to Search Engines and Zee Designs can help.
Your site can be made into a hybrid site that contains both Flash and HTML elements.
Any content you embed in these files can also be available in text format to be accessible to search engines. Providing text-based equivalents of these files can help other search engines crawl and index your content. In addition, a text-based version of your site will let viewers using older browsers or mobile phones access your content easily. However, now that Google can index Flash in greater depth, there is the potential problem of duplicate content with sites that have an alternate HTML version for users without Flash player installed, and duplications are frowned on.
Zee Designs can help you evaluate your Flash-based website to determine which approach would work best for you.
Many Content Management Systems use technologies that do not interface well with search engines. The ZD-CMSTM was created with SEO in mind.
Meaningful, linkable URLs
The ZD-CMS™ provides simple, meaningful URLs for all website pages. Not every CMS does this. For example, here's a URL from the Joomla CMS:
There's no indication what kind of content is on that page. You won't know until you visit it. After redoing the above site in the ZD-CMS™, the URL became:
Now you can tell immediately what's on that page (and so can the search engines). It's also easier to link to from an email or to tell someone over the phone. Search engines will rank it higher, also, because the URL is understandable and congruent with the content.
Our sites are created using cutting-edge standards for code. Pages generated by our system are clean and as free as possible of clutter, which makes it easier for search engines (and accessibility software) to understand the meaning of the pages. Google is blind: it can't see cool designs; all it cares about is the semantic interpretation of your site - the meaning. Our sites are structured behind the scenes with this in mind.
Each site and each page within a site can have metadata associated with it, such as keywords, description, author, and so on. This helps search engines get a feel for what kind of content a page contains. Search engines are always looking for meaning, and metadata helps communicate important chunks of information directly to them in a machine-readable format.
Nothing is ever done when it comes to Search Engine Optimization because the industry is constantly changing. There are always new opportunities. Websites require maintenance, and it takes work to remain at the top of the rankings.
It is entirely up to you, your business plan, and your financial situation. There are companies that charge upwards of $1500 per month, just to manage a site’s SEO on an ongoing basis. For most people this is overkill. Zee Designs will be happy to refer you if you require this level of special care.
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