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What really is SEO?

Web2Creative Info - Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It seems to be a common misconception that a website can be quickly optimized by tweaking the code. In reality SEO process is much different and more complex. The Google ranking system is based on relevancy. The relevancy is determined by the actions of the online community instead of by Google. Google only monitors those actions and assigns points. However, Google scans all sites in search of elements that facilitate communication and browsing. It awards points for good techniques and it deducts for bad ones. Consequently, when performing SEO, there are two things to consider:

1) Strategy

What needs to be put in place for bringing traffic and external linking to the site? It includes content creation and placement on other sites in order to generate traffic and inbound linking to the site. Where the link is coming from makes a big difference. 1000 links from irrelevant sites mean less than one link from Amazon.

2) Application

How the content and the code are written will impact SEO. The techniques that will score positive points includes:

a) content elements
keyword-rich content, careful selection of page titles and meta descriptions, using header tags, avoiding java script pop-ups, side-ins and flash modules that interfere with scanners, naming alt tags, naming image files, reducing file sizes to speed up loading etc.

b) internal architecture
link depth, design, url structure, HTML sitemap, XML sitemaps, breadcrumb navigation, location of sub navigation, internal linking, content barriers, etc.

Considering the visibility of the content is dependent on the application of techniques, the techniques become extremely important when there is quality content in place. However, if there is not quality content, these techniques play a very minor role.

An important thing to understand about SEO is that it is not an “all or nothing” game. Expecting to get on the first page of Google as a result of a short–term SEO activity is not reasonable.

Special tricks can be used to get the site up high but beware. Not only are the results not permanent, but if discovered, the site will be permanently removed from the search results.

Instead of aiming for such a high goal to be on the first pages of Google, companies should consider the impact that SEO has on other marketing activities. For instance, little is known that pointing a Google ad to an optimized page renders a lower cost per click. By simply lowering the cost of a click by a dollar, one can save thousands in expenses while increasing the traffic. For small companies, it pays off more to focus on the combined effect of SEO and SEM instead of focusing on getting the perfect SEO score.

Tips on Creating a Website and Building an Online Business

Web2Creative Info - Thursday, June 17, 2010

We looked into the essential parts of the Website implementation process and creating an online business. Here we try to give you an insight so you could have a better understanding whet to consider when deciding to make an investment.

Start with Strategy

Why so many businesses skip this step? Many of them have a functional "physical" business and they want to expend into a virtual one, but they all think it is just about a website and a few hundred dollars they have to spend before they start making all the money online. Well, they are up for a huge disappointment. The only ones that benefit from it are website companies that make a quick buck. Remember how much effort it took to start the physical business? Well, it is not any different, just a lot cheeper. You still have to go through the same steps of research, swat analysis and business plan development. You have to define the costs and determine the budget that is based on other successful businesses instead of assumptions and rumors. The truth is, if you want to make your online business a success, you have to invest.

Develop a Project

Website is a structure, like a house. When building a house, you normally have a project developed that specifies all minute details used to create a cost estimate. That way, the bids can be compared "apples to apples". With websites, people never thing to do the same. Instead they go to several companies with a half-baked idea only to receive proposals that have very little in common and are impassible to comapre. Finally, it is the cost that determines the winner. Since they are investing in a structure that will determine how much money you will be making, I wonder how wise of an approach this is? Not wise at all. If you want to do things right, have an independent company develop a project for you so you can get bids that are comparable. When you get your lowest price winners, look into their references before you commit.

Content or Design?

Most people go straight to a designer with only conceptual idea of what the content of their site will be. Maybe that works when you build a home and just need to ensure you have a bed and a table. When you opening a store, you better be sure you have all decorations and products in place before you start paying rent. Websites thrive on content. Content is Cash. More than anything, the success of your business will be based on its content, not on its appearance. Don't think I am saying that design is not important. It is. But content is more important. The bottom line is, no matter what you do, and before you do anything else, have your content created and ready before you dive into design and development.

What Role a Design Plays?

Good design is important but functionality is even more importnat. In other words, pretty doesn't mean good. It is not easy to find a good designer who has an understanding of SEO and usability principles. Designers that really get it are rare and expensive. When choosing between design and functionality, the functionality should win, but it is not always like that. People are swayed by the good looks and pay a lot for pretty sites that don't do anything but look pretty. If you have a limited budget, think twice before you spend it. Think of your marketing and how you will get the visitors to come back after they have gotten over the pretty factor and start looking for some meet.

What About the Code

Coding a site is really not that big of a deal so coders come dime a dozen and are willing to do the work for nearly nothing. At least it appears to be that way. If it helps to visualize, you can think of code as a material in construction and coders as the contractors. If that doesn't ring the bell, I don't know what will. You can spend money making things or fixing them. What very few clients understand is that how you code the site will determine the cost of your marketing cost. Going back to the house analogy, consider your marketing the energy you use in the house. The cheep windows will make you spend more money on heating and cooling. Here, I am referring to coding with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind. Like designers, the coders also have to be know how code impact searchability and what to do to make it optimal for search engine robots to see your content and rank it favorably.

How do you find a good developer?

If you don't understand what they are doing, how can you tell if a developer is good or bad? One way is to ask for the sites they have coded and ask their competition to critique. We all know how this will go. So I am not sure this is the way to go. Telling the developer you will hire an SEO expert for an opinion after he is done coding would be a good way to make the developer to commit to writing a quality code instead of just winging it. You can agree that If the SEO calls for rewriting the code, he would pay for it. That will get his attention or it will make him disappear.

How is content important

By now you should know that but if you don't let me briefly explain. There is a saying "Content is Cash", which has evolved from "Content is King". More than anything, Google looks and ranks quality content on your website. While the robots evaluate the content and assign points, all that is relatively of small important in comparison what your visitors think. If they think your content is worth while, they will come back and they will link their sites you theirs. That alone will give you the most browny points. The bottom line is, no matter what you do, the first thing you should think about is what yo put on your website.

What is an Online Business?

Online business is a real business with all the daily mundane tasks and responsibilities, except using different tools and working in a different environment. SEM, SEO, content and online marketing are the bread and butter in the daily routine. As an online business owner, you either need to learn the job or to hire someone who already knows what to do. Unless you are planning to become an online business specialist yourself, and devote all your time to doing graphics, code, marketing, SEO, SEM and communication, you should consider incorporating that position into your company's cost structure just like you do with your book keeper, lawyer and accountant. It is unfortunately not very common skill set and, until it becomes a commodity like developers, you will have to bite a bullet and pay the price to have it done either the first time or the second time around.

The nice thing is you can do it from anywhere you want. The bad thing is it requires skills you probably don't have. Yet. Maybe we can help.

It looks like the online marketing and content creation are becoming more of the focus of our company rather than designing and coding websites. The reasons are all tied to areas in which business owners are willing to invest, and how they justify the investments.