<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Ignite Your Site: June 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Meta Tags - Which ones should we use?

There often isn't a week that goes by that I get asked about keyword tags and how important they are, or whether they should use a variety of other meta tags to help the search engines index their site. Everyone wants to know which meta tags are the ones that are most important and which ones they can ignore.

It's all in the title
The answer, well it isn't exactly black and white. However, it is widely agreed that the most important tag, as of right now is the title tag. This tag should be written in such a way as to have your most important keyword/phrase included and it should be straight to the point. The title tag should also be unique for each page. For example, your products page should have a title geared towards your products while your company history page should have a title that relates to the history page. If someone only saw the title tag for each page they should be able to get a good idea of what that page will be about.

A good description always helps
Another tag that is important, but not for the reasons you may think is the description tag. This tag is invisible to the front-end user (unless you view source), but the search engines will use this tag to display as your search engine result listings. They generally speaking do not use this tag as a factor in your rankings, but it will give them some idea of what you feel the page is about. As with the title tag, this should be unique for each page.

Keywords aren't the key anymore
There was a time when the keyword meta tag was one of the most important tags on your website. Any word/phrase you put in there was a possible word/phrase that you would show up in in the search engines. Put them in there more then once, and you stood an even better chance. However, today this tag is seldom used by the search engines if at all. More often then not this tag is used for spam purposes and the search engines have decided not to even think about using it as a ranking factor.

The never ending list of meta tags
There are many, many meta tags that can be used within a page. However, most of them serve little to no purpose for the search engines. When you try to put all of these tags into each page you are making the search engines work harder to get to what is most important which is the content of the website. Ignite suggests that you stick to the basics. Make sure you have unique title tags, unique description tags, and if you have to you can use the keyword tags but make sure not to stuff them full of keyword phrases.

Remember: Less is often more, especially when it comes to placing keyword/phrases in meta tags.

Ignite MediaLLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

How do I get my keywords into my content?

One of the biggest problems I've come across in this field is that too many times people are more concerned with making sure they have a specific keyword/phrase in their site then they are about what the content is really saying. They want to get that word/phrase in there as many times as possible without looking spammy and they could care less how well the content is put together.

The problem with this approach, other than the fact that it makes for very hard to read copy, is that you are focusing on a very small percentage of your potential traffic. Not everyone uses the word/phrase that you have chosen. Sure the keyword research shows that a good majority of the people searching for your product/service will use that phrase, but what about the rest? You certainly don't want to blow off potential visitors.

Write for your clients - not at them
When you are putting the copy together for your site you want to first write it the way you would if you were writing a letter directly to a new customer. Forget about getting certain words/phrases in there; just make sure your message is clear and to the point. Once you've done this then you can go back and see where it's appropriate to substitute one word/phrase for another. Once you've done that go back and read what you've just written to make sure it still is clear and to the point. You should be able to hand that to anyone have them read it and they should be able to explain back to you in their own words exactly what you were talking about; if they can't do that than its back to the drawing board.

Write to educate then to sell
You have to remember, the reason the internet was created was for a means to share information and research. People still use the internet to educate themselves and research what they ultimately want to purchase. When you are writing your copy remember that you want to be sure to give them enough information to make an informed decision and then you want to pitch them the sale. You can't expect that someone will buy from you just because you are selling what they want.

Remember: Copy is the foundation; if it's cracked the whole thing will come tumbling down one day.

Ignite Media LLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Guest blogging; Should we allow it on our blog?

Guest blogging has become more and more popular over the months/years since blogging has really taken off. Guest blogging is allowing/asking/accepting someone to write a blog entry on your blog. It allows the guest blogger to spread their name and usually link back to their own site/blog and also gives your blog some fresh content written from a new viewpoint.

Should we allow guest blogging on our blog?
Most times there is no harm in allowing a guest blogger to write an entry in your blog. You just want to be sure that you read the entry prior to posting it live and get a sense for what the topic will be prior to accepting the offer, or asking another writer to post.

Guest blogging can be a great way to draw a new audience. Many times the guest blogger will refer to their post on your blog at their own site. This of course starts drawing traffic to your blog and hopefully to the rest of your site as well.

Just because you have a guest blogger does not mean they should write about whatever they want. Their entry should be in line with the theme/concept of your blog. So if you're blog is about wine tasting and wineries an appropriate guest blogger might be another wine aficionado talking about their wine tours.

How do we get a guest blogger?
Sometimes they will hunt you out and ask you, but more then likely you'll have to do a little asking yourself. Find a blog you like, or a friend that you know and ask them if they would be interested. Remember you can offer them a link to their website/blog. Try not to pay someone to write on your blog. Why you may ask, because you want their entry to be as honest and genuine as possible. You want them to write an entry because they want too not because they are getting paid to do so.

You may also want to consider offering to guest blog for someone else. This is a great way of getting your name and site out there, as you will most likely get a link back as well.

Remember: Networking is more then just handing out business cards, it's a whole new game with the internet.

Ignite Media LLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Should we have a slogan?

There's a lot to be said for a well written, well marketed slogan. Just think about some of the great ones "Reach out and touch someone", "Drivers wanted", "Have it your way", "Don't leave home without it", "The quicker picker upper", etc. All you have to do is say these lines and people will typically know what product you are referring to.

A really good slogan will not only be catchy but it will also relate to what you do. "The quicker picker upper" is a perfect example. Paper towels are meant to pick up spills and the quicker the better. So not only do you have a catchy slogan, but you are telling people what your product/service does all at once.

How do we come up with a slogan?
It's certainly not as easy as it may seem. A good slogan requires thought, research (to make sure no one else is using that line), and creativity. Take for example our slogan "Ignite Your Site™". We wanted to incorporate our name and also that we build websites that will help increase business. Typically someone who is having a good streak, or doing really well at something is considered to be "on fire". So we took all of that and come up with "Ignite Your Site­™".

There are companies out there that specialize in slogan development. There are also freelancers that you can hire temporarily to help bring in some fresh, creative ideas.

What do we do once we have a slogan?
Very simply, start using it everywhere. Put it on your packaging if you have it, your business cards, your stationary, etc. Make sure everyone in your office knows what the slogan is, and knows the reasoning behind it. It's important to have company buy-in with the slogan. You certainly don't want one of your employees on the phone telling someone about the slogan and then snickering about it with them.

Your slogan can and should become synonymous with everything your company does. Are you attending a trade show, or hosting an event? Your slogan should be incorporated as much as possible (without going overboard).

Remember: A slogan can be like a salesperson, the more people know it the more it will help sell your products/services.

Ignite Media LLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Memory vs Hard Drive - What's the difference?

OK, I'll admit this is probably a little off topic, but I get asked this question all the time. If I get a bigger hard drive will my computer go faster? Or, I have a lot of memory but I can't save any more files to my hard drive, what's going on?

I guess having used and worked on computers since middle school has made me oblivious to the fact that this stuff is not just common knowledge. There are people who really do not understand what the difference between a hard drive and memory is. So I've decided to see if I can help explain this a little better. The reason this has come up this week is because my father and I were having this discussion over the weekend and I didn't feel like I was explaining it as clearly as possible. So I thought about what I could relate it to that most people would understand. So here goes...

Lets think about your car for a minute. You have a gas tank and you have a battery right? OK, your gas tank holds the fuel for the car and stores that fuel until it is called on to run the car. The battery is used for things like the lights, radio, locks, horn etc. The battery doesn't hold anything but a charge that is used when needed.

Think of your hard drive as the gas tank for your computer. You can fill up the hard drive with files that when needed are called on and can be worked with. Unlike a car you can put the files back that you've just used, where as the gas is gone, but you get the idea. Now the memory for your computer is like the battery. It doesn't store anything it just holds the "charge" that is used when the computer needs to run or think about programs. The larger the memory the faster or more efficient your computer is able to run.

So when you are looking to purchase a new computer for yourself or the office remember that the larger the number is for the memory the more efficiently your computer can run, and the larger the hard drive is the more files you can store on the computer. Hopefully this will help at least one or two people.

Remember: You store stuff on your hard drive and you pull power from your memory.

Ignite Media LLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Making a negative a postive!

In today's economy there is a lot to look at in a negative light. Gas prices are through the roof, the economy is struggling to stay afloat, unemployment is on the rise, and businesses are starting to see a slow down. So what is positive about all of this?

It's what you make it out to be
It's very easy to sit back and complain about how bad things are, and most likely you will probably find a few people to join you in that discussion. However, it takes a motivated and passionate person to find the silver lining and use it to their advantage.

Lets take the gas prices for a minute. The price of gas is increasing across the country and around the world, so how can we spin this to be a positive? Well lets say you are a company that is able to allow your employees to work from home. You can send out an email about how "You're going green one step at a time" and talk about how this will help keep costs to your customers down and quality up. You've now let your customers know that you are a forward thinking company that cares not only about themselves but about the customer as well.

What if my customers are having a tougher time economically then we are?
Offer a discount. When you know your customers are trying to cut costs and save money wherever they can, make sure you are working with them to do this. Get on the phone, have a discussion and let them know you want to help them make it through this tough time. Sure you may not make as much on your markup, but you've just kept a good client and chances are when times get better they'll remember what you did for them.

There's nothing that says you have to charge more just to stay afloat. Sometimes cutting your profit margin, or offering your products/services a little differently can actually increase business, or at the very least keep things steady.

Remember: Work with your customers and you may find that things will start working for you.

Ignite Media LLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Standing Out from the Crowd

I've recently been reading a book entitled "The Big Moo", odd name but very good read. The book is all about being remarkable, not just ordinary or good, but truly remarkable. It is actually a collection of thoughts/ideas/stories from some very powerful and successful business people.

So how do I make my website stand out from the crowd?
There are many ways, you just have to put the same energy you had when starting the company into differentiating your company. It's not good enough anymore do just do sales, or specials, you have to really connect with your clients. You have to make them feel like they are getting more then just a product or service they are getting an experience.

The internet has made everything easy to get and at the cheapest price, but yet there are still people selling things for top dollar. How is this possible? Well more then likely they are not selling on price but rather something even less tangible. Perhaps they are selling on the craftsmanship, the quality, the durability, the personal service, etc. Whatever it is, they know they have it and they cherish it, and therefore draw in the customers.

Where do I start?
Where ever you feel you can be most inspired to be creative. Take a day off, go on a company trip, have a brainstorming session. Whatever it is that you do doesn't matter as long as you are thinking differently then you normally do and you are seeing things in a new light. It's easy to become stagnant and run the same rat-race every day, but it takes a true innovator to really break the mold once in a while.

Do I have to do it on my own?
Are you kidding? Absolutely not, bring as many people as you need. Other people will help you to realize things you never saw or thought of before. The best people to have around are people that you know do things differently then you. These people will let you see another angle that was always there but just never calling out to you.

Start today, take some time to brainstorm, or have a company lunch where everyone shares a thought about what they would like to do with the company. You'll be surprised with what you might discover from your very own employees.

Remember: It's not about gimmicks, it's about connections. Connect with your clients like no-one else is.

Ignite Media LLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization


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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Too much copy or too little; What's right?

As we all know content (copy) is king, but do we all know how much is too much or too little? Does a paragraph work, or should it be 4 paragraphs? Do bullets have the same impact as sentences? There are hundreds of questions like these that come to mind when writing copy for your website.

So how much copy is enough?
That really all depends on what you are writing and for who. If your topic is structural engineering then you will probably have more than just a paragraph and some bullets. On the other hand if your topic is selling a new product, a great intro sentence or two and bulleted feature list might just be the key to more sales.

There is no definitive answer to what is right for your site. You want to be sure that you provide enough content for your website visitors to make an informed decision without inundating them with information that might be better served as a downloadable PDF.

Is there such thing as too little copy?
Yes, generally speaking if you can take someone who has no idea what you sell and have them read the copy for one of your pages and they know what it is you are selling after reading it, you have enough copy. If they are more confused or are left asking more questions then the copy is either not enough or not written clearly enough.

It is important to know that when you are writing people will read it. There is a popular saying that "no one reads on the internet" and frankly I just don't buy it. Sure, maybe they don't read as much on the interent, but they are reading something. This should be your call to create copy that is concise, powerful and informative all at the same time. Not an easy task, but one that will ultimately give your site that leg up you are looking for.

Remember: It's not about the quantity but rather the quality.

Ignite Media LLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization

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Monday, June 2, 2008

How can specialization help a website?

When you specialize in something you become not only good at it, but most likely great. You know your product/service inside and out and eventually you've seen almost anything and everything that could happen. Specializing also gives you an edge over your competitors because while they may "do it all", you "do it right!".

How does specialization translate to your website?
Very simply put, it gives your website that same advantage. Think about all the sites that you have been to, and think about the ones you would go to in order to make sure you got just the right product for your situation. Chances are that site was specializing in that area. They had all the information you needed, just the right products and their staff and/or website could answer any question you had.

Are there any other benefits of having a specialized website?
Absolutely. Sites that specialize in one area stand a much better chance of being seen as an authority on that subject. For example, if you had a shop that was all about car stereos and only car stereos you stand a better chance of being found under that then the site that also sells car seat covers, windshield wipers, etc. This is because your pages and your entire site are structured around a very specific, defined set of keywords.

What if I can't specialize my site?
Just because your company/business is not specialized doesn't mean your website can't be. You have several options here, you can create separate websites for each of your divisions or better yet you can create sub-domains for each of your divisions. This way you can drive people directly into whichever sub-domain is appropriate for them and still gain the benefits of a larger more content rich website.

Remember: You don't have to necessarily be specialized for your site(s) to appear that way.

Ignite Media LLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization

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