Common SEO Mistakes with Small Business Websites - mjcpk web design and development

Archive for the ‘Web Design’ Category

Common SEO Mistakes with Small Business Websites

Friday, June 29th, 2012

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a dark and mysterious art to most people. As a result there are a few mistakes that crop up time and again on small business websites.

  • Keywords. Most people seem to understand the idea of keywords and they often compile a list of them that they want to rank for in search engines but they tend to do this as a separate task to writing the copy for their website. As a result they often want to rank for keywords that they haven’t used, even once, anywhere on their website. Google  cannot guess what you have in mind; you have to provide content that is clearly relevant to the keyword someone is searching for.
  • Overly general keywords. Small businesses can easily be squeezed out of the rankings by large corporations or websites with national or international scope. With the odds stacked against you it is foolish to challenge the big boys in their own back yards. Everyone is fighting for the general keywords like ‘marketing’ but if you are a small business only providing marketing services in a distinct geographical area then you don’t need everyone who is searching for ‘marketing’ coming to your site. So, rather than take on the impossible task of ranking for ‘marketing’, choose a more specific keyphrase instead. ‘Marketing services [your town]’ might be a more reasonable target to set yourself and a cheaper one too.
  • Keywords meta tag. There is still a widely held belief among non-web designers that you just have to cram all of your favoured keywords into the keywords meta tag and you will magically rank in the search engines. This hasn’t been the case for some time and Google takes no notice of what you put in the keywords tag. Others may take some notice but are still far more interested in the content of your page. Again, if a keyword is important enough for you to put in the keywords tag then it should be in the main copy somewhere.
  • Not enough content. Many small business owners seem to treat a website like a printed brochure and plan their site as if someone is going to read it from start to finish. As a result they try not to repeat themselves and keep things as concise as they can. However, as we saw earlier they need to mention all of the keywords that they want to rank for (and more than once!). Keywords that are used in title tags and h1,h2 tags etc. are considered more important than in the body text so it makes sense to devote a whole page to each major keyword you want to rank for. You can also mention them elsewhere and then link to the specific page too.
  • Static Content. Unfortunately for small businesses Google likes regularly updated content. This doesn’t often make a lot of sense to small business sites that may still contain relevant content even if they haven’t been updated for a couple of years or more. To get around this we have to force things a little and create a News section where updates about new products or services, special offers and advice for customers can be posted. These news posts then need to link back to the existing content. Pushing this content out to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks can also be useful. This process can be automated so it doesn’t add any extra work.
  • Splash pages. A splash page is a home page for a website that contains little or no real content and usually offers a pretty picture and a ‘Click here to enter our site’ type link. They, again, assume that visitors are going to view the site like a brochure, start to finish. In reality, if they are coming from a search engine, they are going to be directed to the page that is most relevant to their search term. Splash pages offer no value and can also put off visitors that do see them. The Internet has conditioned visitors to want their content immediately. If they cannot see what they want straight away they often choose to go elsewhere. Strange as it sounds some people just can’t be bothered to click a link that says ‘Click here to enter our site’ and you’ve lost them.

So, there you have it.  These are not complex issues but they still crop up all over the place. No amount of off site SEO and promotion is going to make up for these basic errors so it is essential that you get them dealt with before you try anything else to increase your search engine rankings.

If you would like your website checked to see what mistakes need fixing then please Contact Us now.

We’re looking for a new web collaborator/partner

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Hi are you a web designer, developer or general web/social/seo person?

We’re looking for someone to join our web design collective/partnership. We have a number of projects that we would like someone to collaborate with us on.

Ideally they would be in the Sevenoaks area of Kent, UK as we would like to be able to meet up face to face and discuss/plan things etc. However, we are always keen to hear from people further away who would like to collaborate on projects now and then.

Motivation and interest in the web is more important than experience. The web is constantly evolving so as long as you are willing to learn and keep up with things that is enough.

This is not a job. We are looking for someone who wants to supplement the work they are doing by collaborating with us. You will receive your share of the profits but you will be self employed.

We have a lot of exciting projects on the go and we can’t keep up with all of them without some extra help. This would suit someone reasonably new to the web design industry or a freelance web designer who has been working on his/her own and would now like to team up for some things.

If you have ideas or projects that you would like help with we’d like to hear about them too.

If you are interested or would like some more information please Contact Us.

Is Your Website Now Illegal?

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Most people seem unaware of the new EU regulations regarding the use of cookies on websites that came into force on May 26th.

This is why we’re offering a Cookie Audit Service for only £25 where we will check your website for cookie use and give you a clear report on the cookies used, why they are being used, if they are exempt from the regulations or not and what you need to do to comply with the regulations.

Third Party Tools

Statistics tools like Google Analytics and Social Media sharing buttons are widely used but very few website owners know that they are using cookies behind the scenes. These are exactly the types of things that breach the new regulations if you don’t offer your visitors the option to opt in before placing cookies. YOU are responsible for compliance not the third party tool providers.

 

See our Cookie Audit page for more information and sign up for your audit. You definitely don’t want to get caught out with an illegal website.

May Madness Website Special Offer

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Every May we have a special offer where we offer a discount on one of our main packages.

However, this year we have an amazing offer. Instead of just offering 10% off or %15 off we are offering our Standard Website package (normally £250) for only £99!

For a short time only

This is an amazing offer and won’t be around very long so take advantage of it while you can!

Complete WordPress Website/Blog for only £99

Offer includes:

  • Domain Registration (.co.uk – .com or similar)
  • Multiple Email Accounts
  • Hosting and Maintenance
  • Choose from 1000s of Template
  • Add functionality with FREE plugins
  • Support
  • Google Analytics

Get stock images for your website

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

A Stock Image

A website with no pictures is fairly dull to look at and can be a big turn off for visitors. Ideally, as a web designer, the client will provide you with a set of professionally taken images that perfectly illustrate what you’re talking about. But, life is never perfect and you often need extra images from somewhere.

The best advice I can give anyone starting out in website or a client looking to set up a website is to NOT use free stock image websites. I’ve talked before about the dangers of using copyrighted images from the internet but this is a stylistic matter rather than a legal one.

The quality of free images is usually terrible

You can find images on the internet that you are legally allowed to use on your website for free but they are often either low resolution, poor quality or both. Many of these websites also insist that you provide a link to them on every page that uses an image. Also I have found the number of images you can choose from to be very small.

Good images cost less than you think

Don’t get me wrong, stock images can be expensive if you a resolution suitable for print work. However, for websites you rarely need massive images for anything and the cost is more reasonable. For example, the site I use www.123rf.com charges £11 (GBP) for 15 credits. 1 credit will get you an image that is 400 x 270 pixels, 2 credits will get you it at 850 x 570 pixels and for 3 credits you get a massive 2500 x 1670 pixels. Larger sizes are available.

So far I haven’t needed to spend more than 2 credits on an image for a website and as 1 credit works out at less than 75p you can see it doesn’t exactly break the bank! They also have better deals for larger amounts of credits.

You have to pay for quality

Another Stock Image
Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

75p isn’t much but it makes all the difference when it comes to quality. I’ve seen some awful free images but I’ve been really impressed with the range and the quality of images from paid stock sites. It also makes the process far quicker and easier if I can go to one place and I know I’ll get the image I need.

Here are a few sites to try:

123RF
shutterstock.com
istockphoto.com
gettyimages.co.uk
sxc.hu

Are you losing page rank and visitors when you change the names of your pages?

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Without thinking about it you can easily be creating links from search engines and other sites that go to missing content. Make sure that when you rename pages, images and other files on your site that you tell everyone what you’ve done.

A .htaccess file is an essential tool for any website. It has many uses like setting default pages, 404 pages, indexes and URL rewriting but what we need it for here is the 301 redirect.
A 301 redirect is a way of telling the web server that you’ve moved or renamed a file but you still want links to the previous name or location to keep working. For example: if I have a page titled ‘products.html’ that I decide to rename ‘new_products.html’ I can use a 301 redirect to make sure anyone following a link to ‘products.html’ gets to ‘new_products.html’ and not a 404 page.

Where’d my Page Rank go?

There is nothing worse than having lots of people linking to your site and finding that it doesn’t go to the page you want it to. It also means that any Google Page Rank that you would have received is lost.

A 301 redirect tells people that the page has moved permanently. Search engines can use this to update their indexes and ensure that Page Rank is passed on to the new page name.

The syntax for a 301 redirect is really simple:

Redirect 301 /oldpagename http://www.yoursite.com/newpagename

Just create a new line for each page that you have renamed or moved. You can even redirect a page to one on another site if you have moved it that far.

You probably have a .htaccess file in the root of your website. If not you can create one yourself, it’s just a normal text file.

In summary

So when you next change the name of a file or an image on your site don’t forget to add it to your .htaccess file as a 301 redirect. You can check if you have any broken links on your site with Google Webmaster Tools. The 301 redirect also helps if you haven’t managed to update all of the internal links on your site too.

We now accept Bitcoins!

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

By Satoshi (http://www.bitcoin.org/smf/index.php?topic=64.0)

Bitcoin is a new online digital currency.

We are now accepting Bitcoins for our various services at discounted rates. This means that it is significantly cheaper to pay us with Bitcoins than with GB pounds.

This offer may not last for ever and is very much dependent on the fluctuations of the value of Bitcoin relative to other currencies. So take advantage of this offer while you can!

See our Bitcoin offers for more details or Contact Us for a quote for a specific service.

jQuery Rejuvenated by @rem

Monday, May 30th, 2011

I must confess that I tend to shy away from jQuery and javascript in general. I know that javascript can do amazing things and I know it can really enhance the user interface of a site but I tend to avoid it. In my defense part of the reason comes from the historical problems with javascript prior to the advent of the modern libraries. Javascript could cause problems and was an effort to implement and maintain. As a result I kept things deliberately simple to ensure browser compatibility and for my own sanity.

Nowadays there is no excuse to avoid javascript and, when necessary, I use jQuery plugins to provide what I need in a site. However, I haven’t been moving beyond using plugins and the initialisation code provided by the developers on their websites. Other than changing a couple of variables I’ve not been writing any code. That’s not programming, it’s copy and pasting!

Something has happened to change everything. I recently stumbled across jQuery for Designers which is a site by Remy Sharp (@rem) with a whole load of great tutorials on using jQuery to achieve real world tasks.

It is the real world nature of the tutorials that has made the difference to me. It is not suitable for absolute beginners as it doesn’t introduce you to the basics of jQuery. I know the basics, I’ve watched and read tutorials about them before, but what I needed was some more concrete examples of jQuery in action.

What’s good about jQuery for Designers is seeing how you can use the various selectors and functions built in to jQuery to achieve things quickly and simply. Remy does a great job of making you want to get coding. As a result I threw together a little animated carousel in only a few lines of code. Previously I would have searched the web for a plugin that exactly matched my requirements and would probably ended up with more code when you added together the plugin code and the initialisation code that goes with it.

So, all in all, I’m feeling both inspired and empowered. I’m looking forward to taking my designs to the next level with what I’ve learnt. If you want to do the same head on over to jQuery for Designers and get started!

Using Copyrighted Images: Don’t Risk It!

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Using copyrighted images that you don’t have permission for can cause you serious trouble. What seems like and easy way to avoid paying for images can end up costing you a lot more.
Using Copyrighted Images
Every image is copyrighted by default. The copyright is owned by the person who produced that image. They can sell the rights to that image in many different ways or they could license it for use for free. Just because a website doesn’t have a copyright statement doesn’t mean that you can use their images for free.

I found this image on a website…

Clients often come to us with images that they want to put on their website that they have found on other peoples websites. Sometimes they find them by using Google’s Image Search.

These images all belong to someone else and if we were to use them we would be stealing them and passing them off as our own.
Don't Hotlink Images

Hotlinking

It is possible to show an image from another website without actually having it on your web server. This is called hotlinking. Your web page displays the image directly from they other website’s server. This isn’t an infringement of copyright but it is still a very bad idea.

Using images like this uses bandwidth from the other person’s website. It may actually be costing them money to show images on your website. This is known as bandwidth theft and is considered a very rude thing to do on the Internet.

The other problem with this is that you are always at the mercy of the website that is hosting the image. If they remove the image or block your site the image will disappear from your website without notice. Sometimes website owners like to get their own back when you hotlink to them. Some do this by changing the image to a notice that says something like ‘Don’t Hotlink!’ but others have been known to be more extreme and swap them for offensive images and pornography. Do you want that on your website?

Penalties for Copyright theft

If you are using someone’s images without permission they can send a takedown letter to your ISP. Internet Service Providers like to avoid the legal complications of copyright and often comply immediately with takedown notices without contacting you. The first time you realise there is a problem is when people start complaining that they can’t get to your site anymore. The ISP has probably pulled your entire site due to breaching the terms and conditions of their hosting agreement.

Beyond this you could be sued for your use of copyrighted images depending on whether doing so made you money or caused the copyright owner to lose money. However the potential loss of your site (even if for a short time) should be enough to make you avoid stealing images.

Alternatives to using copyrighted images

There are a number of sites on the web that will let you use their images for free. Some of them will do so on the understanding that you link back to them but they don’t often have very many or very good images in their collections.

Another option is images that have been licensed as Creative Commons (CC) by their creators. These can be found on both Flickr and Wikimedia Commons. There are different types of Creative Commons license that allow you to do different things with them. Make sure you check the details of the license before you use an image.

Royalty Free Images

Royalty Free Images are not free. You have to pay an initial fee to use the image but you don’t have to pay a royalty every time the image is used. The good thing about royalty free images is that you don’t have to include an attribution to the image creator on the web page.

Lately we have been getting Stock Photos from 123rf.com who have a large catalogue of images that are available in different sizes and very reasonable prices. This is a much quicker option than having to trawl through free images sites and Creative Commons sites for the image you want.

Never, ever, ever

So there you have it. There is never a reason to use copyrighted images. It is illegal, can cause you loads of problems and there are much better alternatives available.

Keywords and Keeping Track of Them

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Keyword Monitoring Service - Sevenoaks Web DesignKeywords are an essential part of websites and how they rank on search engines. The only way to really gauge the success of a site is to monitor where it ranks in the major search engines for certain keywords. Here at mjcpk we offer a Search Engine Rank monitoring service that tracks your main keywords and where your site ranks for them.

There’s more than one important keyword

You may be a cleaning business but ‘cleaning’ is not the only keyword you want to rank for. ‘cleaning ’ is one your shouldn’t ignore as this is often more important than ‘cleaning’ on its own. In addition there will be any number of other keywords you’ll want to rank for: cleaners, floor cleaning, house cleaning, domestic cleaning, office cleaning, professional cleaning, affordable cleaning, industrial cleaning etc. may all be applicable to your site too. A small site should have a list of at least 20+ keywords that they are targeting.

This is important because you may find that it is too expensive or difficult to compete for your main keyword and it would be better to spend time and money on other keywords.

Monitoring keyword rankings

The only way to know which keywords are worth spending time on is by knowing where you rank for them. If you rank 23rd for a keyword on Google it may not take much effort to get onto the first page. However, if you rank 479th then things are going to be a lot harder and not always worth the effort.

The more information you have the better you will be able to choose an effective strategy for your site. Once you have begun work to improve your rankings then the only way you can be sure it is working is by tracking your keywords rankings.

Making it easy

If all you want to do is get on with your business and don’t want have to spend your time gathering statistics about your website then mjcpk can help. For only £25 per month we will prepare a report detailing your rankings in all the major search engines. We will monitor up to 100 keywords (or key phrases) for you.
We will begin by establishing the keywords that people use to get to your site now and where they rank. If you can improve the rank of these keywords you will definitely increase traffic to your site. We will then prepare a more complete list of keywords (incorporating any that you would like to rank for) and will monitor their rankings.

We will point out suitable candidates for easy improvement and can also offer advice, when required, on how best to improve the ranking of your site.

Contact Us now to start tracking your keywords and making your site more successful

If you have any questions or would like to discuss things further then please feel free to Contact Us.