Category Archives: Design and Functionality

Don’t Be A Slave to Your Domain Name

Set Your Mind Free and Your Site Title While You’re At It

I’m going to set you free in this post.  It seems there is an unspoken belief that the Domain Name and the Site Name are somehow mystically joined.

WAKE UP, THEY AREN’T

Still in a fog?  Let me clear the air and the mind for new possibilities.

In the old days of web surfing people would sit at the computer for hours and hours typing in random domain names to see what they could find.  There were no such things as “Search Engines”  and engines they are.  Today, we never just type in a domain name in an address bar unless we know exactly where we are going.  (Usually to our own site)  But we still tie our site title to the domain name like it is some kind of rule.

It is time to clear the fog and set your site free.

Domain Names should have Keywords

Yes, we want our domain names to have keywords.  It is good SEO to do so.  But we DO NOT have to use those words in our site title.

Is this sinking in yet?  Let me guess, you aren’t getting much traffic to your site.  You don’t rank high for the keywords you want to rank for, yet you persist in using the domain name in your site title even though it isn’t what you want to rank for.

Does this make any sense?  NO,

The biggest gun in our SEO arsenal is the Site Title.  The big H1 Tag.  The brightest light in your on line marketing galaxy.  And what do you do with this big gun and bright light.  Almost NOTHING.  You put a AAA battery in as a power source that can handle galaxy reaching laser light.  You put a firecracker in the BIG GUN that will handle one TON shells and wonder why you never see a shell leave the end of the barrel.  Just a little smoke and maybe a pop.

Is the light starting to come on?

Some real world examples.

Domain Name:  www.painttucson.com
Site Title:  Tucson Professional Painting

Domain Name: www.tucsonazrealestateblog.com
Site Title: Tucson Real Estate – Tucson AZ Real Estate ( No Blog in the title)  Just the keywords

Domain Name:  www.kristalsellsdenver.com
Site Title:  Denver Real Estate – Denver Homes for sale – CO Relocation Homes

Is the Light Coming On?

Every site we build or rebuild we power the BIG GUN and the  BRIGHT LIGHT in your on-line Marketing Galaxy.

Set your site title free, set your own thinking free, don’t be a slave to your Domain Name.

Balancing Design and Function for SEO

Eye Candy vs. Search Engine Placement

I was having an interesting conversation this morning with a client.  She is a talented author and designer.  Which puts her in the “Creative” category of personalities.

I love creative and imaginative people.  They add color and texture to our world.  In the world of online marketing there needs to be a balance between form and function.  It is what I call:  The Eye Candy vs. SEO conundrum.

Often the artsy look is at the expense of solid code and navigation practices.  The guiding principle for a developer in creating this balance has to be:

If it can’t be found it doesn’t matter how pretty it is.

The search engines have to be able to navigate the site and add your content to their index. It is that simple. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a small business owner say to me “I’m not getting any traffic to my site”. I have found a couple of instances where the site had plenty of content, but there was only one page in the google index. Why? because of the way the site code provided navigation.

Putting the site navigation in a flash module or javascript drop down menu means the search engines can’t crawl your site and find all the content.

Using images with words in the image is another way to make a site “pretty” but the search engines can’t read words in a graphic.  This is the one worst issue in the balance between eye candy and SEO.  Making it pretty to the eye by putting fancy fonts and colors in a graphic and then slicing those graphic into the code so it looks pretty to the eye.

Creating Balance Between Form and Function

There are new tools available to designers that are currently being tested and included in the new browser standards.  HTML5, CSS3  and @Font-Face are tools making it possible to do things in design that are functional and encoded in a way that search engines can crawl (read) the site.

CSS3 Drop Shadows, Rounded Corners, Gradient Fills

All of these functions that once had to be done with graphic which take time to load can now be done in style sheets.  Why is this important.  Because graphics take time to load.  Style sheets render the effect in the viewers browser.  The difference, SPEED.  Rendering in the browser means a site loads much faster.

@Font-Face  Fancy Fonts

Designers love Fancy Fonts.  They like all those pretty curves and long descenders.  Up to now we had to put those fonts in graphics to display them.  Why, because in the past in order for a browser to display a font it had to be loaded on the views computer.  Most people don’t have a lot of fonts on their computer so designers put those fancy fonts in graphics so they would display on all computers, in all browsers.  But has we stated earlier, Search Engines can’t read the text in those graphics.

Now with @font-face technology designer can load a font onto the site server and call that font from there.  This means that if a viewer doesn’t have the font face on their computer the browser will load it from the site.  Everyone can now see those fancy fonts and search engines can read them.  @font-face creates a Win/Win for everyone.

Your site has to be more than pretty.  It has to be functional.  When picking a developer you should ask about how they will develop the site.  Do they incorporate CSS3 and @Font-face fonts in their design?

You want and need a designer that will balance form and function.  Design and SEO.  Yes, you can have both, don’t settle for eye candy.  Remember the guiding principle:

If it can’t be found it doesn’t matter how pretty it is.

What Domain Name Should I Use ?

It doesn’t have to be either/or  Both/and works fine

This past week I’ve talked with two small business men who have made the same mistake I encounter all the time.

They owned multiple domain names and chose the wrong one as their main domain to promote.

Check your ego at the door this is business

There was a time when everyone in business was being told to buy the domain of their name.  Back then the feeling was it was all about you.  Many built their online presence based on their name.  Back then there were no search engines, Google, Yahoo, Bing, MSN didn’t exist as search engines.  You typed in domain names to see what would pop up.  That was “surfing the net”

Today, is very different.  Most of the time I don’t even know a domain name, including my own.  I search on the topic I’m interesting in and click on the one with the best except in the search results.

Another issue with making your online marketing based on your name.  What if your business is geographic in nature?  What if you move?  You can’t ever sell the content on a domain that is based on your name.

Keyword Rich Domain Names

Keyword rich domain trumps all others including the name of your company.

Exception to this rule. If you are already a nationally recognized brand. Most of us are not.

Getting a good keyword rich domain for your business is a plus, a big plus.  Picking the right one can do a lot for your placement in the search engines.

Let Us Help Pick a Name to Purchase

If you are just getting started online with your business let us help you find a good domain name with the keywords you want.

A good keyword rich domain name is a huge benefit to organic placement in the search engine results.

Content without Access

Content without access is the same as no content at all

I recently did a site review for a local artist.  The site was a static HTML site and it had good content.  There we about 200 pages of content on site.  But only 9 pages were indexed by the search engines.  Those 9 pages had the same title tag on every page.  The Artist’s name and the web address.  The only way to find the site was to search for the artist’s name.

The artist had spent thousands of dollars in web development.  Not a single lead, client or customer had come from her website.  She was frustrated and that is why I was doing the review.

Poor site design can kill you

There was talk of a redesign of the site.  The question that lingered; “If I have so much content on my site why are there only 9 pages indexed by Google?”  The answer was mostly due to navigation.  There was a lot of content placed in pop-up windows with no navigation out of the page.  View, close, view another, close, etc.  The content was 4 or 5 layers deep on the site with much of it only visible from another pop-up window.  I demonstrated how this worked and used the illustration of building a lot of rooms on a house with no doors or windows.  The only way in was to transport into the room and there was no way out.  No easy way in, no way out.

The call came in a few days later.  “My web developer says there is nothing wrong with the site.  I need to have him add more content to get the site.”  More work for the web developer, more money spent by the artist, more content added to pop-up windows with not navigation.  Will it help?  Not really, but I run into it all the time.

No one wants to believe they have spent thousands of dollars on their website in vane. So they invest even more money doing the same thing that has produced nothing for them.

Widget Areas For Flexibility

WordPress Widgetized

Early in the history WordPress development added support for Widget areas.  Typically that meant the sidebar.  Instead of hard coding the content of the sidebar it would be made “widget ready”.  Anyone could quickly add and arrange the content of the sidebar.  Adding, moving, removing content became easy.  A few clicks of a mouse and major content changed can be made to sidebar navigation.

Widget Area Evolution

It didn’t take long before theme developers realized they could add widget areas to any area of a theme.  Soon widget support was added to headers, footer, and content areas of a theme.  But not all themes provide this kind of support.  The ones that do define those widget areas and size.  Flexible to a point, but you have to make sure your content fits in those areas.

Custom Widget Area Support

You don’t want generic?  You want to have your site to be built for YOU.  Well, with a little code addition and some tweaking of the theme additional widget areas can be added to almost any WordPress theme.  (Some themes, don’t want it to be easy, Thesis comes to mind) But for the most part adding a widget area so you can add and change content when you want to make a change is possible.

A Theme is a Framework

A Framework can have sever limitations.

The best kind of theme design is one that provides a “Scalable” and Flexible framework.

Scalability in Theme Design

Pages and Sub-pages in the navigation.  A theme should provide a way to have all your pages/posts in the navigation.  Content that can’t be found is almost the same as no content at all.  (Borrowing a phrase from “The Land of Point”)

The same is true for Categories and child categories.  If the theme doesn’t provide this in it’s base design, you have two options:

  1. Find another theme
  2. Find a way to add functionality to the existing theme

Your Site Should Fit Your Business

To many businesses end up fitting their business to the site.  They have to live with-in the framework.  Make their content “Fit” the sidebar or the content area.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  The theme needs to be flexible in design.  Want a page without a sidebar, or a page with 2 sidebars, a custom page template can be called for those situations.  Want some content to only show on a single page . . .  A theme should be flexible enough to fit your business, not the other way around.

Looks Good Tastes Great

Remember that old bear commercial based on those 4 words?  Well, the same is true about a theme.  It should look good, (most do) but it shouldn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.

  • It should be easy to navigate.
  • It should provide a way for your customers to ask questions and get answers.
  • It should be designed to fit in with your business and branding.

Scalability, Looks Good, Tastes Great that’s a framework on which you can put your content, and build your business.