Tag Archives: SEO

Website: Read Instructions Before Building

Skip the instructions and strategy for a new website and you might go psychedelic!

Your mailorder website has arrived. You tear into the box, an pull out the parts, like Flashy Stuff to Impress Your Boss, SEO Pak (optional), and a Velcro® Navigation Bar. Just grab the handy hex tool, muddle through the instructions in Swedish and cross your fingers. If your assembly line bookcase breaks, you can kick it to the curb. Unfortunately, the plug and play approach for a website has serious consequences.

Building a website without a coherent plan will harm your company’s business competitiveness, lead generation, traffic and reputation. And it’s too expensive to too toss in the dumpster. Fixing or rebuilding your site could cost thousands of dollars, not to mention lost time and opportunity.

Web Strategy: Write the Instructions

Web sites are capital expenditures for most companies, so you shouldn’t order one up like a burger without knowing precisely what you want it to do. Work these out with your internal team or with a trusted web agency (like Ideopia, of course!).

1. Business Objectives
Define the revenue goals for your company or division.
Discuss new initiatives. Are you launching a new line, or moving into a new market? The information is critical to designing your new site.

2. Barrier to Sale
Every company has one. Write it down, and make sure your site addresses it.

3. Web Strategy
What is the value proposition or strategy of the business and how does it translate into a web presence?

4. Search Engine Optimization
Carefully choose 15- to 20 keywords, or keyword phrases that you wish to rank on in search engines. The most effective SEO is designed before the development of site architecture, design and copy.

5. Content Plan
Involve as many people as possible in generating ideas for content. But set the expectation that the purpose of the site is to support business objectives, not pump up egos or pet projects. Remember, the search ranking and success of your site will depend on the relevance of its content.

6. Site Plan
Use a whiteboard, or sticky notes, and sketch out all the key pages in the site and what they do. Arrange them so they support the web and content strategy. It’s simple, the important stuff gets moved to the top of the site.

7. Paper Prototype or Wireframe
Test the logic of your new site by creating a prototype with normal office paper. One piece per page. Sketch out the navigation in detail, and work out the function of applications, like long forms. You don’t need a special program, or even the ability to draw a straight line.

8. User Testing
Find out if your customers understand the site’s navigation, labels for major sections, or how to use an app. You can perform user tests yourself, and you can to one on a cleaned up version of your paper prototype. Skip at your own peril.

9. Product Backlog
Finalize the content and structure of your site by creating a product backlog in a spreadsheet. It should include the directory names, text for SEO; and page contents, including images, copy, animation, and any functional items.

Now you’re ready to track your project and start building a web site. And with any luck, you won’t have any screws leftover.

To learn more about web strategy at Ideopia, call Mike Bober at 513-947-1444 x15. He might be able to help put together your bookshelf, too.

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Bolster Search Rankings with Press Releases

High search engine rankings on keywords can drive the success of a business. So it makes sense to extend search engine optimization (SEO) to all aspects of the brand. Public relations and SEO press releases are a great place to start. They drive higher search rankings by:

  • Creating backlinks from high-value news sites
  • Bolstering keyword authority through coverage in all media
  • Visibility on secondary media properties like blogs and RSS feeds

How to Write a SEO Press Release

  • Choose 1 or 2 keywords your planning deems important.
  • Use the keyword(s) in the headline (H1 tag) and subhead (H2 tag).
  • Be brief. Keep the release tightly written around the keyword wander off into the bathroom. Off target copy just dilutes the impact of the keywords.
  • Don’t stuff keywords into your copy to boost rankings. It doesn’t work. And editors and readers alike won’t read your mangled jargon.
  • Use keyword phrases as links back to additional information on your website.
  • Circulate widely by using press release distribution services like PR Newswire, not just to traditional media and bloggers.

This might sound like SEO trickery. But, if you remember the last time you got thumped with a copy of Strunk & White, it’s just the foundation of good writing.

Learn more about about Ideopia’s PR capabilities and our public relations case studies.

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Too Much SEO? Google Nips Over-Optimized Sites.

Last February, Google released nearly 40 updates to its search service. Among minor ones, like improving and standardizing search images, is an entire set of changes that takes aim at over-optimized sites. This is huge because over zealous sites may lose rank, or get booted from the listings altogether.

Mathew Cutts, Google’s mouthpiece to the world, explained that this is an effort to diminish sites that game the system, and provide equal opportunities to sites with the most relevant content on any given search.

Warning Signs of Over Optimization

Even though your site has avoided black SEO tactics, check it for these signs of over optimization:

  1. Excessive number of links on a page, especially to the same URL. Count the links on navigational drop downs and your footer. The danger zone starts at more than 50.
  2. Overuse of keywords within copy, e.g. “Ideopia is an advertising agency, also known as an ad agency, that takes being an advertising agency very seriously.”
  3. Back links that lack relevance from suspicious domains.

Google is serious about finding the best content for users. And no matter where you are on the SPAM-SEO continuum, this is a good thing. Maybe now we can allocate more budget to create engaging content, and spend less on SEO.

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Home Page Redesign of B2B Website

Our home page redesign project for HamiltonCaster.com was, in may ways, more challenging than revamping an entire site.

While the old site looks dated, it ranked exceptionally well on major search engines. To avoid mucking this up, we analyzed the site structure, website analytics and researched competitive sites.

Hamilton Caster is an international manufacturer of casters, wheels and trucks with customers ranging from Mercedes Benz to the NFL.
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Web strategyHome Page as Marketing Weapon
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Web visitors take about 3 seconds to decide if they’ll remain at your site. Impact, speed and a meaningful message are critical. With Hamilton, we wanted visitors to rethink the importance of caster selection by showing the heavy duty customers that specified them.
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flexible web design
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Expandable Sites Stretch Your Investment

The web design of the new home page features 5 target industries. The setup expands to add new industries or swap out additional executions. Aspects of the design have already been applied to the interior of the site, which is now ready for additional development.

Design informed by Web Analytics

Our team used web analytics information to identify popular pages on the site, important landing pages other then the home page, navigation paths and search engine performance.

Testing Design for Roadworthiness

While aspects of design are subjective, usability is not. With Hamilton Caster, we tested our work from paper prototypes through final design and programming to ensure users could find critical navigation to find their way through a large site. Testing at each step saves time and money on rework at later stages.

Dig Into Interactive at Ideopia

Ideopia not only designs, builds and maintains websites, we create the fabric of digital and off-line marketing that keeps them healthy: fresh content, tech checks, SEO, blogs, social media,
and email marketing.

To see work Ideopia has created for manufacturers and other B2B categories, please visit our B2B case studies.

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Did Google’s Panda Eat Your Website?

Have your search rankings taken a dive recently? It’s possible Google’s Panda, the latest update to the search giant’s algorithm, has thrashed you. As with previous updates, Google is aiming to squash certain types of sites called link farms. In the past, large numbers of links from these sites would boost your ranking. Now Google is lowering your ranking for these links, because their relevance to your site’s content is low.

So what makes a good or a bad page? The SEOBook.com has these useful guidelines: A useful document…

1.    will pass a human inspection

2.    is not ad heavy

3.    is well linked externally

4.    is not a copy of another document

5.    is typically created by a brand or an entity which has a distribution channel outside of the search channel

6.    does not have a 100% bounce rate followed by a click on a different search result for that same search query

To learn more, consult this mostly non-technical guide to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines from FeedTheBot.com.

Find out about strategic SEO at Ideopia.

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Getting Up to Speed on SEO

Maybe you don’t want to rip the guts out of your website and tweak URLs for better SEO, but it sure doesn’t hurt to know what the fuss is all about. So we’re heartily recommending Google’s Guide for webmasters. It’s 20-pages-long, non-technical, and it does a great job explaining how search works, and how to make it work better. Download it from Google’s Webmaster blog, and the next time you bump into Spock from IT, you can chat with him about canonical urls.

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Redesign Home Page without Tanking Search Rankings

It’s no secret that some websites that perform well on search engines will never win a beauty contest. Just look at Wikipedia. With solid analytics and research, it’s possible to have the beauty and the beast. Our approach, put simply, is to thoroughly understand why a site works and not break it. See our Case Study on Website Redesign to find out how we remade and rebranded the home page for a major manufacturer while maintaining the luster of its search engine rankings.

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Social Media’s Profound Effect on SEO

By now, it’s probably been pounded into your head that social media content is important for optimizing your company’s rank on search results. Google, Bing and other search engines now incorporate  social media participation as an important factor in their alogrithms. But, have you seen this effect in action?

The screen capture shows Google results for the term “Ideopia.” Note that 8 out of 10 results are from social media – Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook. And these results are being incorporated fast, e.g. the Twitter post on phobias was posted just 28 minutes ago. Food for thought!

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Kosher Ham’s Jeremy Bloom Squeals in Ideopia’s First Twitterview

KosherHam.com is an irreverent, in-your-face online t-shirt company that drives its
business through social marketing and its vibrant online fan base.
Jeremy Bloom, president of Kosher Ham, explains how it works in 140
character responses in our first Twitterview.

@Ideopia: Question #1 What’s a “kosher” ham?

@KosherHam: 1)”kosher” ham…first and foremost -1) the bacon that’s been blessed.
2) the pinnacle of all oxymorons. 3) funny Jews. 4) Funny
t-shirt/clothing company featuring pop-culture and Jewish humor

@Ideopia: How do you use Twitter in your marketing?

@KosherHam:
We find people that are interested in the same themes/topics and then
send ‘em an @reply (or a poke – Facebook terms) to get attention

@KosherHam:
Twitter is great for additional branding, seo/sem, finding potential
customers/fans, and networking w/ marketing & t-shirt geeks

@KosherHam: We also promote coupon codes exclusive to Twitter followers. We like Facebook more. 140 characters is too short sometimes.

@Ideopia: What is your all-time best selling t-shirt?

@KosherHam:
crowd-pleasers: Rick Astley Pie-chart, Barack’n tee (’09 sales r
sleepy), 30-Rock & the Golden Girls “ultimate conquest” themed-tee.

@KosherHam: Our/my favorite – Kosher Ham logo tees. It gives me warm-fuzzies when people buy the logo tee across the country.

Read more at KosherHam.com and see the KosherHam’s Spring Collection.

Follow Ideopia’s Bill Abramovitz on Twitter @Ideopia and Jeremy Bloom @KosherHam.

Join Ideopia’s mailing list.

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