November 8, 2010

Our Key Takeaways from Google's SEO Starter Guide

This blog post is a summarized guide of Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter's Guide with additional information that we think they left out. There is a lot of information we are leaving out for the sake of keeping this post short and simple for our readers, so if you have the time make sure to check out the full starter's guide. This post also assumes you have a basic knowledge of html. If you are unfamiliar with html visit Enjoy!

Modern search engines index an unimaginable amount of websites every day. Organizing them effectively is no easy task. That is why webmasters who want to rank high in these lists have to make their sites easy for the search engines to understand.

Search engines run software programs called crawlers that discover, read, and store websites all around the internet. They discover websites by following links on already discovered websites or by going through sites submitted manually. Since these crawlers don't have the sophistication of a human viewer, they attempt to understand the relevance of a site through html tags and site content. They also attempt to determine the authority of a site by analyzing inbound links (other sites linking to your site) and outbound links (your site linking to other sites).

A website's ranking on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is correlated to the site's relevance and authority (determined by the crawler) to the searched keyword or term. Webmasters who understand how these crawlers operate can tailor their website's code to achieve better rankings on the SERP. That process is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Some adjustments that can be made have to do with page titles, other html tags, submitting xml sitemaps, and link building.

Page Titles

are one of the most important indicators to search engines as to what the content of that page is about. Not to mention, title tags are usually displayed on the first line of search results. Since page titles are so important, they must be chosen carefully with keyword research in mind. Additionally (while it doesn't state this in the Google Starter's Guide) the earliest words in the page title have the most weight with search rankings. It is also good practice to create unique title tags for each page so that search engines can distinguish key differences between pages.

Other HTML Tags

such as meta description, meta keyword, image, header, and anchor are all tags that help search engines determine relevance. In addition, often times the meta description will be listed on the SERP to help describe to the visitor what each site is about. So make sure to type in accurate and unique descriptions for each page in the meta description tag.

One tactic that used to be abused was loading the meta keyword tag with all sorts of popular keywords whether they were related to the site's content or not. That has led to many leading search engines to no longer use the meta keyword tag when determining relevance. However, there are still plenty of less popular search engines out there that continue to use the meta keyword tag, so use it appropriately.

When people create websites, they often neglect to fill in the alt and title sections of the image tag to save time. Doing so is missing out on SEO opportunities. Crawlers can't view images like humans can, so it is important to let crawlers know what they are looking at by filling relevant text in the alt and title sections of the image tag.

Another thing webmasters often neglect is that their content is a very important part of SEO. Specifically when header tags are used to organize the content and when anchor text describes the nature of the associated link, search engine crawlers hone in on that. When a crawler sees a header, it assumes that the text below it relates to the content in the header tag. Similarly, crawlers assume that any anchor (link) text describes the nature of the link address associated with it. For example, some SEO experts change the anchor text to a keyword they want to rank high on in search results; then they have the link address point to their website so that crawlers will assume their website is about the keyword they have in the anchor text.

Submit an XML Sitemap

to major search engines so that they have a record of all of your pages. Most search algorithms take a look at the whole website before suggesting a page in the search results. This way, the search engine ensures their users get sent to a website that is full of relevant or related information. If you don't know the XML language don't worry. has a free tool that you can use to build this sitemap without knowing the XML language. Once you have that done, you can submit them to major search engines here.

Link Building

helps search engines determine the authority of your site in relation to other websites. All links aren't created equal. For example, if your site gets a link from CNN's website your authority will go up a lot. However, if your site gets a link from a brand new unestablished website your authority will remain close to the level it was at before. If your website gets a link from a site that is a known spyware or spam threat, your authority will go down by a lot.

There is a lot to learn about search engine optimization. The best way to get familiar with the subject is to talk to SEO experts and subscribe to SEO blogs. As always, please comment if you think we left some important information out, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Good luck with your website!

October 6, 2010

The Dangers of Posting Your Info Online

This is just a bit of fun. We came across this picture on a couple of other websites and thought it was worth sharing. Send us your funny pictures having to do with the internet in the comments section below! Please keep it PG.

September 7, 2010

How much time does it take to build a website?

This is a tough question to answer in a broad scope because websites come in all shapes and sizes. So let's break this answer down into parts: standard brochure websites, content-rich online communities, and custom web applications.

Standard brochure websites are informational websites that usually list product details and contact information. These types of sites are extremely simple to create and don't usually require much conceptual planning. However, a good deal of thought should be given to the content and look of the site since visitors will likely only visit this type of website once.

Any of the website building applications listed in the "How much does a website cost?" post can create a slick looking standard brochure website. So you don't need to know computer programming and you definitely don't need to hire anybody to get one of these sites up and running. Creating a standard brochure website usually only takes between a couple of hours to a couple of days.

Content-rich online communities are websites that contain content that is relevant to frequent site visitors. In these sites, visitors also get the opportunity to contribute comments and content to the website. These types of sites aren't all that difficult to construct, however they do require a good deal of conceptual planning. Extensive research must be done to ensure that there is public interest in creating a community around the subject of the content. While this research is not an exact science, it is critical to the success of the website. Content creation is also a very time-consuming activity if executed correctly. It is also an activity that should be happening on a constant basis in order to keep the community alive and thriving.

A popular route for these types of websites are to integrate social media sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Blogger, Wordpress, Twitter, Facebook, and/or Flickr into standard brochure websites. This adds a large level of capabilities to the site without adding to the complexity of building a website. It also taps into online communities that are already established on these social media sites. Since content creation is a continual process, you are never finished building content-rich online communities. However, it should be noted that communities usually take a long time to create. If you are patient, you create relevant and remarkable content, and you promote the content effectively you will create a vibrant online community.

Custom web applications are software programs that are hosted online. Examples of custom web applications include: Facebook, SalesForce, Pandora, Google Analytics, etc. Development time truly varies based on the size and scope of the project, the amount of planning completed, and the competence of the individuals programming the software. So in order to get a good idea of development time, you should speak in depth with a professional about your idea for a custom web application.

August 27, 2010

How much does a website cost?

Depending on the nature and scope of the website, it can cost anywhere from free to millions of dollars. Costs of building a wesite include domain name registration, hosting, and development. All of these costs can be avoided for the do-it-yourselfers out there. However, for most people those costs can't be avoided due to lack of training or equipment.

Websites like Weebly, Yola, Squarespace, Webs, Jimdo, HotDoodle, BlinkWeb, Homestead, Wix, Joomla, Edicy, and soon our own EWVSites (shameless self-promotion) allow users to create a site themselves without looking at code. The advantage of using one of those web applications is cost-effectiveness. Instead of having to pay a web developer to manually code a website, the web application does all of the work. It also bundles the costs of domain name registration and hosting.

When you use a website builder application the only work you have to do is create the content. One drawback includes your limitation to the functionality built into each application, and not all website builder applications were created equal. However, for individuals without programming skills and small businesses, this is the best option for them. Pricing for these sites usually range from $0 - $25 per month. The more expensive packages are usually more capable.

For those who want to create a website with complicated or very specific functionality, the only way to go is to build it yourself or hire/outsource people to build it for you. Competent website/web-application developers usually run from $20 - $65 per hour. To find people or companies to help you with that, all you have to do is Google the term 'Website Developer'. Websites like Elance can also help you find quality individuals/organizations to help build websites and web applications. Or feel free to shoot us a message at and ask us who we trust to build our websites and web applications.

August 18, 2010

How does a website work?

A website is a collection of files (pages) that can be read by browsers. Some popular browsers include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc. Browsers find these files on publicly accessble computers called web servers. Each server has a unique address so that browsers know where the server is located. An example of an address would be "".

The contents of a webpage file are written in a way that the browser can understand. Usually that entails a combination of html, css, and the text you want to be displayed (in any language). If you don't know how to write html or css code and don't have time to learn, you will need to either turn to a web developer or find a web application that automatically codes html and css behind the scenes.

March 1, 2010

Mixing Offline and Online Marketing Strategies

Many companies ask themselves, "Which is better, online or offline marketing?" In today's marketplace, this is the wrong question to be asking. The better question to be asking is, "How can I integrate my online and offline marketing efforts to work synergistically?" When businesses address this question properly, the result is more customers.

There are also groups of consumers that are partial to either online or offline messages. For example, many people still feel more comfortable reading off of paper vs reading on a screen. The opposite is true for other people. Since this is the case, in order to capture the largest possible audience both strategies should be pursued.

Another point to be aware of is that offline strategies are great at finding people, while online strategies are great at being found by people. While a television ad can be great at getting attention and creating interest in viewers that weren't previously interested, a blog about your company or product can be found online by already interested individuals and create a desire to purchase. In that example, the television ad and blog are both effective. To take it one step further, the television ad can create interest then drive viewers to the blog to further their interest in hopes of a sale.

More and more companies are using offline ads to drive people to their social networks. You might be asking, "Why not send them to the company's website? Isn't the point of having a website to be a place to sent prospects to get more information?" While websites can be very effective sales tools, visitors usually only need to visit a site once to get all the information they want. When a person becomes a fan of a Facebook page or follows a Twitter page, they receive notifications when content is updated. Those notifications can drive the person back to the site. So what is better, 1 impression (standard website) or many impressions (social media page)?

February 26, 2010

Who are we and what is the point of this blog?

Hi internet world! Since this is a brand new blog, you might be asking yourself, "What is this blog all about?" This blog's purpose is to help inform individuals, companies, and organizations on how the internet can and is being used to get a message across. Whether that message is "Save the Rainforest" or "Buy my Product," the tactics involved in letting the world know about that message are very similar.

Everybody is talking about how social media is changing the way people communicate. People have written blogs, books, and articles about this topic for good reason. Some people still don't get the picture! Companies that don't embrace modern internet marketing techniques are not reaching as many consumers that they could be reaching otherwise. Instead, many continue using outdated tactics such as print ads, cold calls, spamming, and radio and television commercials. Consumers have learned to avoid unwanted advertisements through caller id, email filters, DVR boxes, and satellite radio.

Today the best way to reach your target market is to have them reach out to you. How is this possible? If you have a large presence on the internet, it will be easy for people to find you. While many internet users use search engines to find information, more and more they are getting referred to information from their peers on social networks. Because of this, many companies are expanding their web presence to these social networks to converse with their followers, fans, and subscribers. This way, when a company has an important message for their customers (Ex. 50% all purchases on Tuesday), they can send that message instantly and easily to users who requested it on the company's profile (within a given social network).

According to the book Socialnomics by Erik Qualman, "100 billion status-updates per day are processed through Facebook's News Feed servers." Many of those stories are about a user's interactions with a company or organization. For that reason and many others, it is critical for companies and organizations to get involved in this growing and evolving world of social media.