Do you want your visitors to go away from your website thinking, "That was a really good experience."? If your visitors have a good experience at your website, they're more likely to come back again and again.
Why not give your visitors a great experience instead? It's fairly easy to turn a website that offers a good browsing experience into a website that offers a great browsing experience. All you have to do is give your visitors what they're looking for, and then you give them more.
Websites like SEOmoz and LifeHack don't focus on giving their visitors a good experience - you shouldn't either. Instead of focusing on giving visitors a good website experience, SEOmoz and LifeHack give their visitors a great experience by having the things a typical visitor would look for on their website, and then giving them more.
Once someone finds themselves at the SEOmoz site, for example, they have the option to look around at all of the typical search engine optimization firm options - types of services, pricing, contact, and more. SEOmoz provides visitors with the things most internet users searching for a search engine firm would look for. SEOmoz then takes the visitor experience to a new level, offering SEO tips and advice, a great blog packed full of useful - and fun - information, a user generated blog, useful website and search engine tools, and more.
SEOmoz is a firm offering website optimization, but has become a great website experience because of the fun and useful things they provide outside of their regular content.
Similar to the SEOmoz site, LifeHack gives users what they are looking for when they come to the site - information on how to be productive. Then LifeHack goes further and offers a complete how-to section, a forum where users can get together, and - for those daring at heart - an advertising option.
LifeHack is designed to be a simple blog, but has become a great website experience because of the little things added to the site.
Both websites are good examples of how to give visitors a great experience. If you look at all of the websites that you visit on a daily basis, you'll notice that they are doing what SEOmoz and LifeHack do. They give their visitors the content that they are looking for originally, and then the websites give more content (whether useful, fun, or original) that will expand the visitors experience of the website.
All it takes is a forum, a poll, a "how-to" page, a quirky little game, a photo-sharing page, or anything that adds to the experience. You can turn your visitors experience from a good one (or a bad one) into a great one.
July 30, 2007
"Websites like SEOmoz and LifeHack don't focus on giving their visitors a good experience - you shouldn't either."
Do you want your visitors to go away from your website thinking, "That was a really good experience."? If your visitors have a good experience at your website, they're more likely to come back again and again.
July 27, 2007
The field of search engine optimization is always changing, and that's what makes it exciting. Yet, the same changes that make search engine optimization exciting, make it a struggle to work with. If your business is shying away from optimization, you're losing valuable customers.
Search algorithms used by the major search engines are being tweaked randomly - and the rate at which they change is rapidly becoming smaller. Updates to the webmaster guidelines are made more frequently with each passing day. The rules of SEO change on a weekly basis. The strategies and approaches towards search engine optimization are not set in stone, and their benefits can change without notice. What you think you know one day could be completely different the next.
Weeks worth of work could "go to waste" in an instant. One minute your website is on top of every search engine in the world, the next minute your website can't even be found and everything you thought about online marketing is completely wrong.
Because of these exciting, and intimidating changes there are a lot of people - and businesses - that shy away from search engine optimization (or even look down upon it).
Businesses that shy away from optimization are losing valuable customers - they aren't reaching every potential customer possible. If you're not into optimization, you're not reaching all of the people you could easily be reaching.
Yes, search engine optimization is a tricky field. SEO is full of excitement and failures and success and boredom and everything else you can possibly imagine when it comes to marketing. All you have to do is come up with a strategy that works for you and your business and go with it. Even if your marketing strategy for search engines turns out to be a failure - due to changes in the system - at least you are reaching a wider audience and impacting more people than if you were to not optimize.
July 25, 2007
Search engine optimization is big. You can easily optimize your website, and reap the benefits by doing so, right now.
Because so much web traffic is being sent from - and to - search engines, the benefits of your website being on the top of search results page is huge. I've found the most effective way to get your website to the top of the search results pages (or SERP for Search Engine Results Page) for any keyword you want. And I'm going to tell you that method right now. You won't have to pay a penny for this information, and I can guarantee it will increase your website's rank. The key to SEO is...
Produce quality content on each page of your website.
Now get to it.
July 24, 2007
July 20, 2007
There are currently an estimated 6 billion users on the internet in our day and age.* Practically 99% of the entire world population is online. Sharing pictures, posting to blogs, meeting friends, downloading music, and whatever else it is people do online.
July 19, 2007
Search engine optimization (or SEO) is a growing field, not a dying one as others would have you believe. In-fact, I would even say that search engine optimization is still in it's crawling phase, and we're going to see a lot of changes and growth in the field within the next 15 years. If you're not on the bandwagon yet, you should seriously consider hopping on right about now.
Every business that has the power to be online is quickly discovering the power of optimizing for search engines like Google and Yahoo. Even major corporations are beginning to realize the power of search engines and - even though they hardly need it - they are optimizing themselves online to reap the benefits associated with the number one spot on a Google, Yahoo, or MSN search. We're talking giant fortune companies, the ones with millions of millions of dollars invested in their websites, getting interested in optimization.
When giant companies, who gained billions of links over the past thirty years - without the thought of SEO even existing mind you - are focusing more attention on optimizing their websites for SEO, you know it's a good sign that the field isn't going anywhere but up.
Search traffic is amounting to a huge percentage of visitors, and that percentile is growing almost every single day. The only foreseeable future is a growth in SEO and marketing. By optimizing your website for those visitors, you're going to increase your ranking on the search engine results page, and you are going to boost your business by an incredible amount.
Even with the introduction of mobile web, search engine optimization is only growing stronger. There are millions of cell phone users who use search engines on their mobile phones to find content. With the introduction of the Apple iPhone and rich HTML viewing on a mobile phone, SEOs are finding ways to appeal directly to cell phone users who can now browse the full, unaltered web from anywhere.
The field of search engine optimization isn't going anywhere. In-fact, I'd state that within 15 years it will become a huge industry, and almost every single person will know about it. So, if you haven't considered optimizing your website - or looking for someone who can help you do it - I'd suggest you get started now. Take a look at these great websites for more information on SEO, what it is, how to get involved, and other valuable resources:
• Seattle-based SEO company, SEOmoz, serves as a hub for search marketers worldwide, providing education, tools, resources and paid services.
• Tips about internet search engines and search engine submission through Search Engine Watch.
• SEO Book.com is a leading SEO blog by Aaron Wall covering the search space.
July 18, 2007
There are too many bloggers out there who are writing crap and trying to get away with it. They don't understand that piling junk into their blog isn't going to help their blog be healthy. Just because you can write, doesn't mean you can write well - and it doesn't mean anyone will be interested. For the sake of potential readers, don't be a junk food blogger.
July 17, 2007
Social media websites are driving the internet forward. Websites like Digg, Facebook, and Netscape are helping people meet, communicate, and be-friend one another. Not only are address books filling up through these online connections, but these social media sites allow the internet to be funneled into an easy-to-use website. Giving just about anybody access to the best in news, entertainment, and almost anything else you can imagine.
July 16, 2007
"Instead of trying to show off your mad skills, focus on simplicity and you will be greatly rewarded."
A lot of new - or inexperienced - web designers like to show of their skills and make their websites fairly complicated, a mistake you probably do as well. By adding unnecessary technologies to a web page, creating a complicated navigation system, and simply having elements that are completely useless, your website could be losing a lot of valuable visitors every day.
July 13, 2007
Within the first 10 seconds of visiting a website, visitors decide whether or not the website is worth their time. Webmasters have only a few options to make visitors interested in staying on their website for longer than a few seconds. I call this the "so what?" effect.
July 12, 2007
One of the most crucial - and beneficial - strategies to promoting a website is linking. While there are hundreds of ways to obtain links, one method has remained strong since internet marketing began. Of course, I'm talking about manually tracking down, working with, and obtaining links.
Yet, despite how simple manually working with links sounds, it can be a daunting task. So I've come up with a few tips and tricks on how to make a link building campaign less stressful. Some of these may seem obvious, but are easy to forget. And all of these are valuable tips for any link lover, as I have learned from personal experience.
When communicating, be human. When writing an e-mail to a webmaster, be human. You want to keep things formal, but don't sound like a robot. Act as if you were e-mailing an old friend, comment on features of their website that you admire, avoid using terms such as "link exchange." And, above all, be friendly. If you can create a connection between yourself and the potential link partner, your chances of obtaining a link are dramatically increased.
Don't just look for links. This tip goes along with the previous one. Granted, the easiest way to get links is to just ask for them. Asking a stranger for a link to your website is like asking someone on the street for a kiss. Instead, take some time to connect with the webmaster. After-all, you shouldn't just be looking for links. You should be looking for resources your site visitors can use.
Avoid out-dated websites. If possible, check the date of the webpage/site. If it looks like the website hasn't been updated for a while, chances are you aren't going to get anything beneficial from the website - let alone communication. Don't waste your time, move on to a different website.
The Google Toolbar makes things easy. The Google Toolbar has a few little features that users often overlook. When you find a great website that would be perfect for a link click on the PageRank button in the Google Toolbar and select "Similar Pages." What you'll find is a great library of links somewhat similar to the one you were on.
Use search engines to track quickly. If a website has a fairly big list of linking websites - or their links are spread through-out their pages - you can use a quick Google search to track your website down on theirs. Simply copy the URL of their website and type this code into Google: "site:theirwebsiteurl.com yourwebsite" but be sure to replace theirwebsiteurl.com with the actual website URL, and yourwebsite with the name of your website.
July 11, 2007
I recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat about the future of the internet with talented author and professional speaker James Huggins. James is a professional speaker on technology, ebusiness, and other technology related topics. He's also a technologist with more than 30 years of information technology experience. He runs a personal website over at jamesshuggins.com, where you can read more about him and the things he has been doing for technology over the past few years.
When I first got in contact with James, I was interested in his philosophy on link trading. He's got an entire page devoted to link exchanges. "I believe that if a site truly wishes to benefit its own visitors, then it should link to another site, if, and only if, that link would benefit its visitors," says James.
While planning for links, keeping your focus on your visitors while working on your website - rather than focusing on search engine results - has its clear benefits. And by keeping your visitors in mind, search engines such as Google will automatically deliver your results - if they are what searchers are looking for. As James puts it, "Google's goal is to serve the searcher. That is, Google's ability to make money depends on its ability to deliver relevant pages to the searcher. ...Create the best pages for your readers and Google will deliver them."
In the market of websites today, there are countless websites that chose to focus on search results directly, rather than benefiting their visitors. "Many site owners think that rankings are a matter of tricks and they spend too much time looking for tricks and trying tricks," James tells me. "You have to write the page that the reader would want to read, in a way that Google will know that and deliver it, with appropriate information that will allow the reader to make the next decision you hope they will make (e.g., buy the product, subscribe to your newsletter, write their congressman, rescue a dog or cat ... whatever it is)."
I asked James why he believes there are so many webmasters that focus on rankings instead of visitors. "Many site owners own sites as a pure investment," he replies. "They read somewhere that by putting up a site they could make millions in their pajamas. They don't have a personal connection to the topic of the site nor to the customers who use that site."
Obviously the internet has become a superb breeding ground for multi-million dollar corporations, but unless a webmaster goes into building their website with their visitors in mind, their success won't be as great as companies such as Google, or eBay.
"[The success of a website] depends on your goals. ...Success is personal. Each person must define it for themselves. ...The best SEO writes for the searcher in a way that the search engines will recognize. It isn't about tricks. It is about good structure and good writing practices."
When James brought up the success of a website, I asked him what he thought about the success of the internet, where he thought the internet would be in the next five years, and if the internet will be a success in terms of social and business interactions. "I see two possibilities," says James. "In vision one, the internet has an increasingly positive impact on our [lives]. It allows social interaction and business data sharing. It works to reduce the cost of information. ...Competition can't work effectively if you don't know the competitors features, options, benefits and prices," he tells me. "In vision two, the future is not so bright. The internet has helped reduce the control of mainstream media, and given everyman the opportunity to become a journalist, an information creator and a critic of government, business, society and each other. There are many in the business community who see everyman not as a contributor, but only a consumer."
A perfect example of James second vision of the future of the internet can be seen today, with such things as YouTube becoming a part of CNN.
"I fear what Richard Stallman wrote in his classic short story "The Right to Read". And I fear the possibility of the internet to empower the powerful, both the private power of business, and the nominally public power of government, to steal the private information which you and I own by right of our lives, making it part of massive databases that make Orwell's 1984 look tame."
In conclusion, James left me with some good advice that all webmasters should consider: "I'm not saying these are likely. But I fear that when we do not recognize the power of lightening, we are more likely to take shelter in a storm by standing under a tree."
Next time you have a minute to spare, read up on some things James has done over at his website and drop him a line.
July 10, 2007
The internet, as we know it, is quickly becoming one giant pool party. If you wear a swimming suit to the party - instead of a business suit - you'll make more sales.
The pool party, or as it is commonly referred to, the internet, was created for one reason: to help people meet and connect. Now, in the year 2007, we are seeing connections from all over the world. These "social media websites" are springing up left and right. Connecting people from Spain with others from Russia. Citizens of Asia or India can video chat, e-mail, and send documents to people in Canada or Tonga. And the world is picking up on this social interaction - almost everyone who owns a computer is socializing through the internet. The pool party is growing every day.
There's a valuable marketing strategy here, but there are millions of webmasters who aren't getting involved with it - despite the fact that it's easy to do.
The strategy I'm referring to is interaction.
Of course, any website that wants to sell something - whether it's t-shirts or an opinion - will think of social connectivity, but not in a way that truly benefits their customers. Interaction through websites has become such a powerful tool that even major, global corporations are paying top dollar for somebody to figure out how to do it - they're paying somebody else to put on a swimming suit and have fun. While stating that "those huge companies are wasting their money" isn't completely fair, it's partially true.
Many businesses and corporations - big or small - are stuck in the frame of mind "professional sells." There aren't many companies that are catching a wave and connecting with their customers through the internet these days. Because they're wearing their business suit at the pool party, they're loosing a lot of potential business. They need to put on some swimming trunks and splash in the water with the people they want to sell to. They need to connect, one-on-one in the water of the internet, with their visitors.
By adding fun, less-business-focused content to your website, you're creating the opportunity for interaction. You're allowing a connection to be made with your visitors, that doesn't revolve around a dollar sign. Add a section to your website where you share customer mugshots. Or have a place where visitors can come and mix facial features of different employees of your business. The ideas are endless, and easy to come up with.
Companies like Coudal Partners have realized the ever lasting effects of being friendly (dare I say, human?) over being all-professional all the time. And it's paying off. Coudal is currently conducting what they call the "meat swap," and the publicity I have seen for this is everywhere.
When it come to your website, your visitors, and your business, don't be afraid to get a little wet. Take off the business suit and connect with your visitors. You'll not only make a lot more sales, you'll also make a lot more friends.
July 9, 2007
I've spent the past few weeks pacing back and forth in my living room. Partially from excitement, partially from worry. The reason for these emotions is - thus far - the pride and joy of my life. My child. This blog.
Because, in a lot of ways, creating a website is like having a baby.
For most of my life I've wanted one. I know a few friends who have more than one. I've heard the stories of how much of a blessing - and curse - they can be. I have decided it's the right time of my life, I'm ready to have one of my own.
The first few days are full of excitement and planning. I looked around online on what to expect, and even searched around Google for possible names. I read up on what types of things it would need to be healthy and strong. I wanted to be prepared to put as much time and money into it as possible, to make it grow. In all honesty, I originally had the hopes that someday it will be able to make money for me. I understand that by having one I need to be responsible for it's well being, I need to be ready to support it while it grows.
After a lot of planning and pacing, the day has finally arrived. My baby - this blog - is now a part of this world. Even with it's first few moments of life, I've realized that it is going to require a lot of love and attention. I will lose countless hours of sleep at night worrying about it. And, above all, it will stink from time to time.
I think the best way a website is like a baby is that, it is a blessing that you and I get to watch grow overtime. Hopefully, someday, it will be able to stand up and change the world.
So, without putting it off any further, say hello to Internet Hunger.