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The Future of Web Design?

I’ve been noticing a difference in the way websites are being developed recently, OK we’ve all been using templates for years, regardless if you are the type of webmaster who uses them as they are or customizes them. More recently though there seems to be a trend towards websites as more of a service, where the customer has much more control over the site on a day to day basis, in some cases developed by a design agency, but in others a complete DIY type approach. Of course large designer throwing paintcompanies will always have their own in house web development team, but their needs are much bigger than your average small business, the real change seems to be in respect of what is available to small and medium sized companies.

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t see the big design agencies ever going out of business, their business model will undoubtedly have to change in time, but then again, doesn’t everyone’s? There will always be companies who want to spend that bit extra on getting something which is exactly what they want, regardless of the cost.

The Options

Firstly traditional web design, which can cost quite a bit, I’ve heard stories of companies paying thousands of pounds for what is essentially a customized WordPress theme, OK it may be very pretty, but do most people need that, or have the money in today’s economic climate?

web designThe next option, and the one I like the best, is the subscription model, the client pays a relatively low monthly figure to an agency who manage all aspects of domain registration, design, hosting, security and maintenance, this company from Swindon offer this type of subscription service.

The final option and for the record, the one I least like the idea of are these DIY type affairs, things like Moonfruit, while they are very cheap, I just find their technology a nightmare to work with, just getting in and adapting slightly technical SEO factors can be difficult to impossible.

So what are the pro’s and con’s?

Well based on my favorite (the middle option) the biggest benefit to a start-up business is the lack of an initial outlay to have the website designed in the first place, a great saving for what’s probably the time when cash-flow has to be watched most closely, of course on the other hand, if you stick with them for the next 10 years it will no doubt work out more expensive overall. The next big benefit is the set and forget mentality, if you don’t have the time to manage a site you don’t need to and there is no need to worry about the domain expiring or hosting running out, as there is someone there to keep an eye on it for you, I suspect that the design you would get isn’t going to be as impressive as going the traditional web design agency route, but it also means you won’t need to find a couple of thousand pounds to get it off the ground either.

It’s all horses for courses really!

Written by stevie B

08/06/2013 at 15:18

Posted in design, seo

Is it worth submitting to Directories any more?

Is it a good idea?

I remember the days, albeit close to ten years ago now, when you could submit a website to a load of general directories and rank a website, it really was that easy. Back then the search engines didn’t really seem to care about where the links came from, it was a simple case of more is better, but if you don’t read any more of this post than here, just be aware that things have now changed quite dramatically.

business directoryA few years ago, the search engines started to lower the authority of directories and in many cases the trashy free ones were wiped out of the index completely, leaving them with no authority or “link juice” to pass on. Not a bad thing at all in my personal view, because they were essentially worthless, the only people who went on them were those wanting to submit their sites, in many cases they were automatically approved so the directory became worthless as soon as it became populated.

Fast forward to today and things are very different, even DMOZ doesn’t seem to have the authority that it once did and adding your site to it has become a matter of process at best, the reason being that although it’s huge (and I mean, absolutely massive) and human edited, it tries to be all things to all men (and women). It’s a high PR directory, but as PR is not what it used to be either (that’s another story altogether), that’s not really a good reason to submit any more.

So what are the good ones? I hear you cry!

Well, think relevance, I don’t mean just in the context of your details, but the whole thing! An example being regional ones, such as Wiltshire Local yes it covers a wide range of topics, but it’s focused on a specific, fairly small region, Wiltshire. The search engines seem to like these type of directories because they are a genuine resource available to people in that particular county. So search your local area, there are usually a few focusing on both the towns or cities and counties in a given region.

The other ones which are of use are the industry specific ones, while they may not exist for every profession or trade out there, there are a plethora of directories dedicated to the building trades, accountancy, solicitors and retail to name a few. Again with these you are associating yourself with other businesses in the same vertical market, and because they have to be categorised another way too (or you would just have one huge long page of listings), they are likely to be split out into sectors within that specific one, or possibly also by region.

Make sure you write a good unique description of your business so it’s approved and you will probably find your listing showing up as a link in the future. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not the best type of link to have, but it’s a relevant one and may just help you appear for local searches if it’s regional.

Written by stevie B

03/20/2013 at 18:09

Basics in 2012

Just a very quick update today. I was browsing around YouTube as you do and wasting lots of time watching things completely unrelated to work, when I found this video, so thought I would post it up. It’s just a few of the basics which everyone should be adhering to for optimisation now and moving forward into 2013.

So watch and enjoy!

Written by stevie B

09/11/2012 at 11:53

Posted in seo

There are no SEO secrets!

seo secretsI’m quite an active member of a few of the bigger seo forums and as such the same old questions tend to come around time and time again, “when is the next pr update?”, “why has my website vanished from google?”, or the one this post is about, “what is the next big thing” or “what are the new seo sectets for 2012?”, well if you can’t be bothered to read any further, and you likely can’t if you are expecting someone like me to tell you how to find that magic wand which will accelerate you to top place in Google, thousands of daily visitors and untold riches.

Why would you know anyway?

Well, while I’m not an old original SEO’er from the early 90′s, I have been around for a while, tested a few things and paid a lot of attention to some of the experts over the last 10 years. This, it seems is enough for me to know a lot more than the vast majority of people who seem to think they can set up an seo business just because they have heard of Google and read a couple of articles.

So what is the next big thing though?

The fact is that there isn’t one, I’ve seen and on a couple of occasions inherited customers who have tried all the tricks in the book (and there have been a lot over the last few years), and while some of them have gained the occasional positions up the SERP’s, most have quickly lost them again and a few have been banned completely.

SEO is quite simple really, just follow good practice and do it well.

Written by stevie B

04/25/2012 at 15:37

Posted in seo

Important Website Design Rules

The Most Important Rules of Website Design

When creating a website, you only have one chance to keep your visitors from clicking on the back button on their internet web browser.  It doesn’t matter whether you are selling a product or a service, your site represents your company, and you want to make sure that you are putting your most professional foot forward. After all you certainly don’t want to spend money on designing and having SEO done on your site, just to loose visitors. Just like a work interview, you have approximately ten seconds in which to make your best first impression.  This first impression can mean the difference between a paying customer and simply a visitor that has found your site.

Here are 5 Easy Rules to Bear in Mind when Designing your Site:

First of all, either limit the use of or completely do away with the usage of banners and advertisements.  There is a time and place for these, but not on your homepage.  The only exception to this rule is that a customer would be coming to you to see banners or advertisements, such as if you are a marketing company offering web advertising, the visitor will want to know what he or she is paying for.

Next, be sure you design your site with simple navigation in your mind, this is also an important SEO factor. Look at the site as if you are your own visitor. If it’s hard for you to navigate it will likely be hard for the visitor in order to navigate. Visitors should possess a clear sign of where they’re at on your website and how you can navigate around your website.

designer throwing paintIt pays to include an “about us” page along with a “contact page” for the visitor to obtain some understanding of who your company is, what your company is regarding, and how you can contact a person for more information.

The color of the website is an essential part of the website style. Colors which are too vibrant or dark might be hard upon some site visitors’ eyes. It may actually trigger some in order to strain to see your info.

Excessive utilization of font colors could be annoying as well, to these potential customers. Try to remain with a maximum of three font colors throughout your site.  The Jump Web Design site is a good example of how keeping fonts and colours to a minimum can keep a site looking crisp and fresh.  For instance: If your site is aimed toward older clientele you might want to use enjoyable colors. It’s not a secret once we grow old our vision becomes sub-standard.  Think of the audience as well and gear the actual colors utilized on your website towards the audience you’re catering to and wish to attract. Font colors and web site colors ought to be one consideration when making your web site.

When doing web design, you should seriously consider the loading time. The time it requires your webpages to load is crucial. You may reduce launching time through reducing images on every page. A great website style should take under 5 seconds to load.  The longer it requires the webpages to load the more frustrating it may be to the web visitor and search engines, as the load time of a page is important to how Google ranks your site too, if in doubt you should find a professional seo services company and take their advice.  People want to buy yesterday, not really today, and not at all tomorrow, because of the nature that people have become accustomed to of getting what they want, when they want it.

Use the font dimension and style that’s common to any or all web site browsers and readable. You have to consider your marketplace. If you’re selling a service or product that can be used by older individuals you might want to increase the actual font.

Written by stevie B

06/23/2011 at 11:09

Posted in design, http, seo

Do Keywords in the Domain Still Help?

I’m pretty sure I already know the answer to this one, as a quick Google search for any common term (or an uncommon one for that matter) will return several results with all or at least one of the keywords from the web users search string in the url, or failing that, at least in the folder or file extension.

I guess the real question is why would the search engines, and Google in particular give this metric such an emphasis for SEO purposes? It’s incredibly easy to manipulate so therefore is, very often, but why would Google in particular let companies and organisations get away with it? After all, if your company is called ABC Taxi Co you have a good keyword rich domain available to you (provided it’s available at all), but if your company was called AB Price Ltd, there is no prominent keyword in the likely domain name, yet your business could be bigger, longer established and more profitable than the taxi firm.

The only thing I can think is that they know that in time the domain names which are registered will become so numerous that everyone will have their own small bite of the cherry, or perhaps as many bites as they have the time to set up multiple sites! Take a couple of websites in my area of expertise, first you have Jump Web Design, this is a brand new website, but the company name itself is specifically targeted at the keyword search for which they wish to appear. Because it is brand new, I will be watching it carefully as I want to see just how easily and how long it takes then to reach page one (if at all of course).

Then we have the big boys such as SEOMoz they are completely the other end of the scale, a long established business who have been offering SEO services for many years and now only to other companies in the industry, no longer to the end user company. They have SEO in their name too, so I assume it worked back then too.

So it would appear that having keywords in a domain name does help, even a folder or file path seems to have some small effect too, how much longer this will apply is anyone’s guess though.

Written by stevie B

04/28/2011 at 08:16

Posted in seo

Focus on an Industry

While I wouldn’t call myself an seo expert, well, not yet anyway, but I’m working on it, I probably know a bit more than most it would appear, I don’t mean to brag, but I can achieve good ranks for my customers while I see many many companies who can’t. So it got me thinking about why that might be and it seems to come down to two main factors.

The first is the old thing about getting your keyword research right, I’m a huge advocate of spending a significant amount of time working on keyword research.  I don’t just mean running a few terms through the Google Adwords tool and being done with it, although this does have it’s place before developing a brand new website, albeit along with a few other techniques. But I mean the type of research which can only be done by having Analytics installed on a site and spending some time to dig deep enough into that data to make it really start working for you.

I also suggest you completely ignore all those posts and articles out there on the internet who suggest that you copy your competitors keyword research, OK it’s very easy to do, just have a look at what’s in their keywords meta tag and focus on those, but wait a sec!  How do you know they got their research right in the first place? What makes you think that they are better at it than you?

So the other point which I believe makes me a little different from 99% of companies out there is that I try to only work with companies in a market I already either understand, or have other customers who are in it already, why? It’s simple, if I have a customer in the travel industry, lets say they are a travel agent and I’m developing content for them, it’s just as easy to develop content for another one. Then that stems out to other related industries, ticket sales, car hire, holiday packages etc, so soon I am seen as an expert in tourism SEO so that’s a good thing, as now every time I find a good site to drop a link on for one client, I can do it for several, I may find a business directory which has a good section on travel and tourism, or even better is a niche industry directory, so I can add all my customers to it. This means that I am working faster and smarter, so my customers get better value from the work I do for them.

Written by stevie B

03/02/2011 at 11:33

Posted in seo, tourism

Google Places Search Results

Unless you’ve been asleep for the last few months, you will probably have started to see googles local or places results appearing in the search engine results. These are the listings with a red icon next to them with an A, B, C etc inside and a map off to the side with corresponding icons pinned to a Google map. So what are they and why are they now appearing?

simple internet diagram

Firstly just to be clear, these are called google places listings now but are just the newer version of what was previously called google local listings, they can be added by anyone who has a website, all you need to do is visit the google local pages and list your website, fill in as much detail as you can, including a description, opening hours, pictures and of course make sure you have that little pin in the right spot on the map.

So how do you go about getting listed? That’s the easy part, you just log in to your google account and add the listing, then leave it for a few weeks and if you are lucky, or in a small town or uncompetitive niche, you may find that you start to appear straight away. If not you just need to keep going back in and adapting the ad, make sure you adhere to the guidelines though, breaking those may mean you get a penalty of some sort and then find it even harder to start appearing in the future.

I must admit that I am still trying to work out exactly when and why the local listings are displayed for a given search term, you can click here for a site with more regular updates as this does not seem to follow any specific logic in the same way that traditional seo does. For example if I search builders with a UK town name, I always seem to get local listings, this makes sense seeing as most builders do work within a set geographic region, due to time and cost implications. However, if I search for pizza without a town name I still get localised listings, obviously this is due to my browser being set with a region and therefore the results are being set accordingly.  Other times though I can search for a term and I see no local listings at all, just the normal SERP’s and Adwords. Then again, sometimes I get about 8 listings and sometimes just three, sometimes the map is in the main page, and sometimes it’s in the side bar. I’m not sure if it is still settling in, or if there is some kind of logic behind this, so I will keep an eye and report back further if I find the answers.

Of course, if you are unsure about doing this, you can always find a professional SEO company to add it for you. If you do use a company, you may be best finding someone local to you, as they will most likely have done it for other companies in your local area, so if you are in Wiltshire find a wiltshire company, or even better if you can find someone in your local town, so if you are in swindon and can find a swindon seo all the better.

Written by stevie B

02/10/2011 at 11:01

http design and optimisation

http stands for hypertext transfer protocol.  If that still doesn’t mean an awful lot to you, it’s an application protocol and as such it defines how the internet transfers files around, you will see this as web pages being served when you do a search on the internet. So when you either type in or let a website default to it’s http setting in the address bar it can contain many elements such as text, links, animations and photographs.

Webdesign, is when people create a page, or selection of pages which combined make up a whole web site. The 2 main elements are the design itself and the copy, or content which is to be displayed on the pages. The user will have a browser installed on the PC which is capable of accepting and translating the http files and rendering them as the original designer intended.

SEO or search engine optimisation is a creative yet technical skill, it is the process of design and off page factors to make the page more popular, this is usually measured in search engine positions or ranks and the number of visitors that a site receives. When most people brows the web they will find what they are looking for in the first page of results, so therefore not move on to subsequent pages, this means it is important for a site to appear on page one, ideally at the top, if it is to achieve high numbers of clicks.

The combination of these three things, http, web design and search engine optimisation, is the combination of technology and skills which has created the world wide web as you see it today.

Written by stevie B

10/15/2010 at 18:51

Posted in http, seo