Archive for the ‘Site Strategy’ Category

Review of Relocating to Silicon Valley

Monday, January 28th, 2008

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Last week, I offered to edit, for readability and SEO purposes, posts that readers felt could be better written.  Today I’ll be looking at a post by Tricia Lawrence, Moving with kids in tow, on her blog Relocating to Silicon Valley.

Next week, I’ll take a look at Blogging Personal, a blog by Lani Giesen, and her post A Personal Blog is Art – stay tuned.

Editorial and SEO Review for Relocating to Silicon Valley: Moving with kids in tow

Overall, Tricia writes well, breaks up her paragraphs, and is clear so she really needs very little help in terms of writing, but I would like to offer a few lessons in the art of linking.  You can read my rewrite of Tricia’s article at the end of this post.

Linking strategy

The first thing I noticed is Tricia’s linking strategy.  She has three external links, and I’ll discuss each one, but first, I’d like to talk about linking in general.

The Web is made up of links.  Links are great to get you noticed (via pings and trackbacks) by other bloggers; they are great for visitors that need further information, and search engines use them to determine how useful a post is.  When you link to another site, the site owner will notice you, and if you write well and offer quality content, that site owner just may return the favor and link to you when the opportunity arises.  If you have links going out to related content, search engines deem it a useful resource, and link to it.  So link much, but link well; make sure your links are useful for your readers.

To link well, I’ll examine the three links Tricia has used in her article:

Blog: Tricia has used the word blog as her anchor text to a post titled: Are there optimal ages for a move or relocation.  The search engines see “blog” and it means nothing as there are millions of blogs out there.  A better way to link to the post is to use the title of the post; it serves two purposes:

  • It names the article for Tricia’s visitors, so they don’t need to hover over the link to see whether it would be useful to them.
  • The text lets the search engines associate the words in her heading “Moving with kids in tow” with “Are there optimal ages for a move or relocation” and find a commonality.  If it is related, it is good for SEO.

Single Parent’s site: Again, the anchor text shows a link to someone’s single parent’s site, rather than the name of the site which is “Single Parents Blog” on the “Family” network; both of these sites can be linked to.  This is more about good etiquette, and good habits.

Specializes in relocation: Tricia has used this text to link to her business, California Concierges.  While it is good business sense to link to your own site, it is far better to consistently use the same anchor text because over time, search engines will associate specific keywords with specific sites and send other searchers there too.  Tricia ends that paragraph with the words “…didn’t want to move to Silicon Valley.”  It would be better to link the text “…move to Silicon Valley” to the California Concierges home page; better still to use the exact keywords she wants California Concierges to be found under, which I believe are “Relocating to Silicon Valley,” it just means tweaking the copy a bit.

Internal linking

There is very little internal linking to Relocating to Silicon Valley itself.  A long post, such as this (540 words), offers ample opportunity to link back to previously written articles on the blog. This is important as it will direct new readers to previous articles that they may not have seen on a blog, it is also significant as it is noticed by the search engines.

Sub Headings (H1, H2, H3)

When a post is longer than 200 – 300 words, it is useful to divide it into sub headings.  Not only does it benefit the reader who, at a glance, can see what the article is about, it is also good SEO strategy.  The major search engines pay attention to these sub headings; if you think it is important to point something out, search engines will think it is important to point it out too.  Of course, you can go too far and have too many sub headings, but when used properly, they certainly help with site promotion.

Finally, the phrase “in my opinion” seems to pop up a few times too many.  It’s your blog, so it’s a given that it is your opinion.  You are a specialist in this field, don’t diminish your authority!  Speak up woman! :)

I would love reader feedback, let me know if you have any other suggestions for Tricia.

Edited: Moving with Kids in Tow

I just read a post:  Are there optimal ages for a move or relocation? on the Single Parents Blog of the Families network, about when, if ever, is the best time to relocate kids to a new home. The writer correctly stated that every kid is different as far as readjusting is concerned, but sometimes it can get harder as they move into their teens and have established strong roots of friendship and familiarity.

Many of us have moved with kids in tow and have encountered all types of problems – new schools, making new friendships, finding new interests, or just being plain sullen and miserable at having left their friends behind and blaming it all on Mom and Dad.

What to think about when moving with kids

For elementary and middle schoolers, try not to move them just after the summer holidays have started. Two reasons:

1. You will be faced with some long weeks of entertaining kids who have not made any friends yet, as they haven’t been able to attend the local school.

2. They will start the fall semester along with every other new kid and no one will be making any special effort to make them feel at home. If they start school soon after the beginning of the school year they become the “new kids” and can be made special and probably be buddied up with someone by the teacher.

So the best option would be to move them into their new school a few weeks before the end of the school year so they have time to make some new friends with whom they can spend more time in the summer.

Or if that timing doesn’t work for your new job, don’t worry about possibly starting the new term a little late. The benefits of being made “special” and looked after by the other students outweigh the disadvantages of arriving a little late into the school year and having to catch up.

And, the other thought is, as someone who specializes in relocation, I encourage every parent relocating with kids to make sure that they find out where and how they can continue to participate in their sports or pursue their interests. We have totally turned several families around whose kids were adamant relocating to Silicon Valley was a horrid idea.

An example from California Concierges

One I remember in particular was a family with two boys, not at all happy about leaving their friends behind in North Carolina. They came over for a visit before making the final decision. The wife, too, was reluctant but we found out that she loved sailing, so a trip to Santa Cruz won her over; the teenage boy was mad about lacrosse, so we found and introduced him to one of the few lacrosse coaches around at that time (this was several years ago) and his younger brother was a crazy skateboarder so a tour of the local skateparks convinced him this was the place to be!

So get to know someone in your new area, or better still, a relocation expert who can find the answers to your kids’ questions; someone that will reassure them that life does go on after the big move.

If you’re on the move to Silicon Valley, please feel free to leave question in the comments below or send me an e-mail.

Focus on writing well and search engines will love you

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Focus and Write Well for SEO Success

 Photography: Margo Love

Turns out, writing is cool again. Those who would have laughed at touching a keyboard ten years ago, are now are busy typing away, rushing to get their next post out. 

If you have a business, and you don’t have a blog, you’re missing out.  There is no better way to get your name, brand, and product out to the world, and into search engine results – just make sure you blog well.

So, what does writing well have to do with search engines?  Plenty.  If you write well, others will link to your article.  When others link to your article, search engines take notice and point to you too.

But – don’t think for one moment that you need a degree in journalism to have a blog – you don’t.  Some of the best bloggers have no formal training in writing, yet they are successful because they have taken the time to brush up on basics – you can too.

So, how do you write well?

Use plain English. Of the nearly 700 words in Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 505 are of one syllable, and 122 are words of two syllables

Use active verbs unless there is no comfortable way to get around using a passive verb – “The Googlebot saw him” is strong; “he was seen by the Googlebot” is weak

Get rid of small qualifiers. They dilute your style and persuasiveness. You are not sort of tired, or a bit confused, or somewhat annoyed. Be confused! Be tired! Be annoyed!

Keep your paragraphs short. Writing is visual; it catches your eye before it catches your brain

Get comfortable using a dictionary and a thesaurus; it expands your mind, and shows you care about your readers – you didn’t just throw it all together

Use fewer words but make them count 

Get to know the most common errors in English

Edit, Edit, Edit. Once you have written your article, go away, have a coffee, come back, print it up, and read it out loud. When you stumble over a sentence, rewrite it, because if you stumble, others will too

And a final point from Brian Clark about headlines:

I absolutely love clever word play.  Puns, turns of phrases, neologisms, Spoonerisms, etc… I love them all.  I just don’t use them in headlines.

The benefits of writing well are many: more readers, increased links, higher rank on search engines, the power to influence, and revenue.

Pretty decent return for your investment, dontcha think?

For more information on writing well, familiarize yourself with On Writing Well, by William Zinnser and the writers’ bible, The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White.

An invitation

Much like Brian Clark did with his remixing headlines experiment, I thought I’d try an editing experiment.  If you have written a post that you think could have been written better, leave a link in the comments section below.  I’ll edit it for you and write up the reasons for the edits next week.

17 Ways To Lose Money With Your Web Site

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

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Photo credit: Moaan

Stroke Executive Ego: Do not try to work out what your users want, it’s secondary, and too difficult to determine. Instead, make the boss happy first – after all, he signs the checks. He likes pumpkins? A pumpkin theme it is!

Do Not Create a Web Site Plan: It’s unnecessary; a waste of time and money for something no one refers to anyway. Honestly, Web sites aren’t meant to have a point – and – since when could Web sites make money anyway?

Disregard Landing Pages: “Landing page” is just another buzz term. Clearly, the most important thing is to drive people to your site, it doesn’t matter where they land; you just want them to land somewhere. If they can’t find what they want when they get there, it is not your problem – after all, you went to all that trouble creating the site for them in the first place.

Consistency Is Overrated: Be creative. Use different fonts and colors on every page – and while you’re at it – why not create a different logo for each page too; make it more interesting!

Do Not Worry About Your Copy: Writing well should be a minor concern – dno’t yuo nkow thta het odrre fo orwds si uinmprtoatn? If your visitors want to know about you and what you do, they will make the effort.

Do Not Include Testimonials: You don’t want someone else’s logo on your site – give me a break – a link to someone else? Ridiculous! So what if Forbes said your company is the best thing next to sliced bread? It’s old news.

Use Many Graphics: The more the merrier, in fact, the larger the better. If it takes longer for the page to load, that’s just bad luck – the pictures are worth it.

Use Industry Jargon: It shows you know what’s going on in your field; that you care about staying up-to-date with the terminology. Your visitors will respect that and learn.

Include Abstract Language In Your Tagline/Motto: If your visitor needs to spend some time considering what you do, and who you are, there is a greater chance that they’ll remember you for a longer period of time – it’s directly proportional.

Turn It Into A Game: Change the navigation scheme on each page to spice things up. Visitors like to have fun; it breaks up the dreariness of Web surfing.

Don’t Waste Money On Professional Images: Take or make your own. So, they’re not as great as the professionals; you never claimed to be professional in that area – do it. Better yet, if you come across a great image online – grab it quick. The odds that the person who owns it will turn up at your site are practically zero.

Link Thumbnail Images: One way to be super useful – if you sell products – is to open up a new window for your visitor. It’s expected. However, rather than create a different or larger image (and confuse everyone), use the same thumbnail image – voila!

Demand Registration: It is imperative you have visitor information on hand. Of course they have to fill out the same information when they buy your product – they know this – it’s not a problem. Make them register, login, and provide details when purchasing your product/service – it’s a verification process – completely acceptable.

Use Forms To Get Visitor Information: Put every question you can think of in your forms. No, 150 questions are not unreasonable. In fact, a useful one that is often overlooked is “Are you left or right handed?”

Spend Your Entire Budget On SEO: It’s about getting thousands of visitor’s right? It doesn’t really matter what they see when they get to your site – they’re there!

Count Hits: Seriously, it’s the most important thing. Knowing you had 500 visitors is more important than knowing why they came, and why they left. And hey, you can’t please everyone anyway.

Once you’ve created your site – LEAVE IT ALONE: Do not do anything else. There is really no need to waste your precious time monitoring to see what visitors are doing. You’ve done your bit, created the perfect online space for them, they should be grateful.

This post is inspired by a great giggle I got from visiting ScriptingSite and reading “How to Design a Terrible Website” and the new book: Web Design for ROI: Turning browsers into buyers & Prospects into Leads.

Read the book if you want to increase ROI (free chapter on forms available online), check out How to Design a Terrible Website for a smile.

Truemors: How Guy Kawasaki built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09

Friday, December 14th, 2007

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(Photo Credit: Karagos)

Guy Kawasaki talks lessons learned, and numbers involved in creating Truemors last night at PARC.

The Numbers 

0 - Number of business plan drafts

0 – Number of pitches made to venture capitalists

7.5 – Number of weeks from registering truemors.com to launching it

4,500 – Cost of software development by Electric Pulp

4,824.13 – Cost of legal fees to set up new company

399 – Cost of logo from LogoWorks

1115.05 – Cost of domain registration

55 – Total number of domains registered to “surround” truemors.com at Network Solutions

1.5 – number of full time employees

3 – Number of times Tech Crunch wrote about Truemors

261,214 – Number of page views first day

14,052 – Number of visitors on first day

0 – marketing budget

24 – Number of years spent to make $0 marketing budget possible

405 – Number of truemors posted on first day

218 – Number of truemors deleted as junk, spam, or inappropriate on first day

3 – Number of hours before the site was hacked

36 – Number of hours before Yahoo recommended that we do not use their hosting service

29.95 – Monthly Yahoo fee

150 – Monthly break even after switching from Yahoo

2 – Number of days before Truemors was labeled the “Worst Website Ever

246,210 – Number of page views on the day Truemors was labeled the “Worst Website Ever”

150 – Number of Google hits the week before launch

350,000 – Number of Google hits after 11 days

The Lessons:

  • The blogosphere is full of angry people
  • $12K goes a long way these days
  • You can work with a team that is thousands of miles away
  • Life is good for entrepreneurs these days

Questions?  Ask in the comments

Does your website make you money, or lose you customers?

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Recently, American Express credit cards wrote to me, explaining I had been pre-selected to obtain one of their cards. All I had to do is go to their website and fill in the form.

Brilliant!

Quick detour:

My family is still new to the United States so our credit rating here is almost non existent. To fix this, we thought we should begin by applying for several cards, paying in time, and build the rating… Amex was on the list.

I spend 15 minutes gathering information, another 20 filling in forms on the site, and hit submit:

“Server down, try again later”

Really, really wanted to smack someone…

How hard is it for the programmers to build in a contingency for this? Not hard. Why don’t they do it?

Because the people that make decisions about changes to the site (marketers and CEO’s), are so busy working out how to get more people to the site, how to optimize their site, how to promote their product; they forget about making the site great for their visitors.

A couple of months ago, Eric Sink wrote about his experience with Citibank and described the dramas of dealing with large corporations in his post, Absurd Customer Relations post. I’m starting to wonder whether quality of service is directly proportional to size of the organization.

In the offline world, small businesses tend to have more expensive product, they have fewer items for customers to choose from, they don’t have the funds to spend on advertising, so what do they do? Focus on really great personalized service!

But – what about experiences in the online world?

The Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility show that 75% of web users admit to making judgments about the credibility of an organization – based on the design of its web site.

I’m not going back to Amex, Mr. Sink has cancelled his Citibank card, and I’m fairly confident we’re not the only two people in the world to be frustrated with customer service and website design.

So, what then, are business owners – small and big – waiting for?

Do they think it will be easier to fix once they’ve lost all their happy customers – or is it they just don’t know what to do right now?

If you belong in the first group – good luck; if you’re part of the second, start reading.

Books:

Web Design for ROI: Lance Loveday and Sandra Niehaus

Lance and Sandra have over 20 years of online experience between them, and their new book Web Design for ROI shows you why it is so important to start treating your web site as a business. Expect to increase 10 – 50% of web sales by switching focus: make your site usable – good for your visitors – instead of worrying about traffic – good (you think) for you.

Business of Software: Eric Sink

Eric Sink led the team that developed the Spyglass browser, (now known as Internet Explorer). His book Business of Software is indispensable if you’re thinking of starting a development firm or joining a startup in a very early phase; the business principles can be applied across all fields.

Eyetracking Web Usability: Jackob Nielsen and Kara Pernice

Eyetracking Web Usability, (available December 2007) demonstrates what can be learned from tracking user’s eye paths – where users go on your site, how they react to design elements – and leaves you with practical and effective information about how best to design your site.

The Art of the Start: Guy Kawasaki

If you listen to only 10% of Guy’s advice then you’ll probably double your success. His book, The Art of the Start will give you the essential steps to launch great products, services, and companies as well as show you how to unleash entrepreneurial thinking at established companies, helping you stay ahead of the pack.