Archive for April, 2010

23
Apr

Is SEO Dead?

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon    in search engine optimization, Social Media Marketing, web design

For the last 5 or more years, I couldn’t pick up a newsletter or ezine without finding an article about search engine optimization.  That is, until now.

Ten years ago, we focused on adding meta tags to our websites to get them ranked.   Five years ago, it was about linking strategies.  Then content became king.  And with each change, SEO specialists like myself adapted.  So how to you drive traffic to your site today?

The evolution of search today has taken on a real time emphasis.  Looking for the news? Today the news finds you.   Of course, you want the latest information on whatever you are searching for.  Nothing is more frustrating than going to a website and finding information from 2006.  Even if it’s still pertinent, chances are you will go on to a more current site.

Real search or live search focuses on delivering the most recent information.  And that information is frequently not from a website.  The most recent information is more likely a blog post or even a Twitter tweet.  Yes, I said a Twitter tweet.  Here’s a good example:

A Google search for “Iceland Volcano” resulted in a section for Latest News – that contains a live feed changing every few seconds.  The listing below shows results from just minutes before.

Twitter Results in Google

Twitter Results in Google

Directly below the Latest News is a section for Video results that displays YouTube videos of the Iceland Volcano.  What every happened to the Google we all knew that took 90 days to get your site found?

Video Results - YouTube

Video Results - YouTube

So should you abandon your website for a blog, Twitter account and YouTube channel?  Not yet.  I look at the social media like a big funnel.  Twitter, Facebook and YouTube should be funneling people to your blog and your blog should be funneling people to your website, where browsers can find out details about you and your business and hopefully take action (but that’s another topic).

Another reason you can’t abandon search engine optimization (SEO) and your website is the permanency of social media.  You might be ranking well with your current article, post, tweet or video, but as more recent media are found, yours will either drop in ranking or disappear all together.  So you website is the anchor. A well designed, search engine optimized website should remain fairly stable (even in competitive keywords.)  For example, search for “Tucson Interior Design” in Google.  Of the top 4 results, 3 of the sites are ones that were optimized by 800biz.com several years ago.  With little or no changes, these sites have maintained their top ranking consistently.

So for now, SEO is still alive and kicking.  But today, you there are more pieces of the online marketing puzzle to put together.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com specialize in website design, hosting, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small and medium businesses.

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Now wait a minute – WordPress is free, isn’t it.  Yes, WordPress is an open source program that’s free (for the most part.)   But there are different versions of WordPress, with very different limitations.

Let’s look at WordPress.com first.  WordPress.com allows you to create your blog and have it hosted on the WordPress site.  You can create an account and have your first blog in the blogosphere in a matter of minutes.  No programming knowledge is needed and you blog can be visible to the search engines, Technorati and the WordPress blog directory.  You have a choice of templates to change the appearance of your blog, it’s layout and even include different widgets.

What’s a Widget?  A widget is an add on feature that will enhance the usability or appearance of your page.  Some common widgets are calendars, images in the side bar, videos and even social media badges.  Available widgets are based on the theme you choose.  Not all themes have the same widgets available.

There are several limitations to a WordPress.com site.  One limitation, your blog address is www.yourname.wordpress.com.  You can have your own domain name attached for an additional charge

The limited number of themes available is another limitation of a WordPress hosted site.  You have less than 100 themes to choose from and editing the theme requires knowledge of CSS Stylesheets and purchasing the custom upgrade.

Another limitation is access to plugins.  Plugins are like widgets since they add to the functionality of your blog.  How a plugin differs is a plugin can be added to any theme.  WordPress.com sites do not allow plugins

Finally, your content is not in your control.  Your account is controlled by WordPress.  You are subject to the terms and conditions of WordPress and if, for any reason, they choose to remove your account, all your content will be lost.

Now let’s look at WordPress.org.  WordPress.org is also free but it requires a website  hosting account.  A large percentage of hosting accounts include a WordPress add on.  If not, a free version of WordPress can be downloaded from WordPress.org.  To install, you will need FTP (file transfer protocol) to your hosting server.  FTP is a program used to upload web pages, images and other files to your server so they will be web accessible.

A WordPress.org site is attached to your own domain name so you have full control of your content and site.  Many domain registrars, like Godaddy, also offer web hosting.  For someone that doesn’t understand the whole web hosting and domain process, many companies, like 800biz.com, offer a inexpensive package that includes domain purchase and configuration, web hosting and WordPress setup.

Regardless of where you decide to host your site, you can expect to pay a monthly hosting fee, ranging from $9 up.  But remember, you get what you pay for – the lower price sites offer less support, no automatic backups, limited access to your site and more.  So choose your host wisely.

With a hosting WordPress site, you have hundreds of templates you can choose from, many of which can be modified with your own graphics.  You can also modify the colors and appearance by changing the CSS stylesheet.

With your own site, you also have access to the entire Plugins Library.  There are plugins for just about everything – social media, search engine optimization, videos, polls, site review, keywords and much more.  A word of caution – read the review of any plugin before you install them.  Some plugins have not been thoroughly tested and may cause problems with your site.

My favorite plugins are:

  • All In One SEO – This adds search engine optimization to your blog post
  • Askimet – This helps cut down on the spam comments
  • Share to Any (Add To Any) – This is one of my favorite plugins.  This plugin lets you or your readers share your blog post to hundreds of social media site and social bookmarking site.
  • Socialable – This adds the social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc to your blog, making it easier for people to share your content to their friends and followers.

As you can gather from this information, my recommendation is to host your blog on your own domain.  Yes it will cost you a little money.  But unless your blog is for personal use only and not business, the small investment a blog and a hosted account requires should be a no brainer.  Because you do get what you pay for.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com specialize in website design, hosting, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small and medium businesses.

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You Don't Need A Website UNLESS...

You Don't Need A Website UNLESS...

Wait, did I just read that right, you’re asking?  A website designer saying you don’t need a website – something must be wrong.

Well, there are cases where a website is a waste of money.  First of all, if the goal of having a website is just to check off the appropriate box on your business plan, you don’t need one.

You don’t need a website just because your brother in law, the unemployed college drop out says so.

You don’t need a website if you think a website is the new yellow pages and everybody looks there.

The bottom line is, you don’t need a website if you not committed to making it the important marketing vehicle it should be.  So where do you start?

During the last 10 years, I have seen the evolution of websites, from simple 3 page sites with a waving cactus graphic, to multi-media sites with intricate flash graphics, to the mobile web we see on our phones.  Search engine optimization has been the buzz word for the last several years.  And it remains a critical element of your website.

But in today’s internet landscape, SEO is only a piece of the puzzle.  Does your website content call browsers to take action?  How are you building your brand?  Are you the expert in your industry?

In the coming blog posts, I will discuss online marketing and how to create a comprehensive program to get maximum exposure.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com specialize in website design, hosting, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small and medium businesses.

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