the internet ideas blog

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Links: The Web's Version of Election

It's an election year!  To celebrate here is a list of items to remember about links, the voters of the internet.

1. Think Election! 

Each link gives your site a "vote" in terms of good information, popularity, relevance etc.  The more links, the more votes and we all know that the person with the most votes wins!

2. Win the primaries in the best states.

Remember that it's more important to have links from relevant sites, sites that relate to your business. Don't participate in link farms.

3. Stay on the campaign trail - winners don't quit

Most people start link building then quit from over confidence (or exhaustion).  This is a mistake, you should always be on the look out for good linking opportunities.

4. Buying votes with money or favors isn't a good thing.

Anytime you buy a link or promise to exchange just to get the link doesn't help your overall goal.  These types of links aren't relevant and you'll get penalized when Google recognizes it's a paid link site. You're also at risk of being reported by your competitors.  Strive for high quality organic links that compliment your site.

5. Don't make false campaign promises.

If you've got pages on your site that have moved be sure you use search friendly redirects. These are on the server side and they are "permanent" telling the search engines to get the new page and do away with the old. This way, when someone clicks on the link they still get to the relevant content on your site and search engines will pass links to the correct address.

If you've lead your link campaign with integrity you'll soon reap the rewards of gaining the popularity vote and your site will gain status through higher page ranking. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Press Release

I just received my monthly issue of Website Magazine. Hard to believe that I started in this industry over 10 years ago when there was literally nothing but a bunch of online geeks - now we have 2 industry magazines! But I digress . . .

This month there was an article about press releases and although I find myself telling people that press releases are a good way to promote their business, I usually don't go into why and most people don't understand how or why to use the internet for press releases. So I thought I would share this great little list with you including my personal thoughts on each idea.

1) Press releases show up in organic search results. If you have something new, exciting, newsworthy happening in your company, posting the press release on your website gives the search engines and searchers another way to find you.

2) Links. Use your online press release to link to other relevant pages of your site. These internal links give search engines a better way to organize your pages and a stronger ranking for linked pages based on the link text description.

3) Manage your company reputation. If you've ever had a disgruntled employee or very unhappy customer you may find your site negatively listed in a blog or review site. By using press releases to talk about the great things happening at your company you'll be in better control of your company's image.

4) Catch the blogger's interest. With social media becoming increasingly important on the internet, your press releases are food for the fodder! A good media area (press releases) within your site give bloggers and other interested parties something to talk about - you! And the more they are talking about you in blogs, the more links and traffic are generated.

5) The old stand by - Traditional media. Putting out a press release to journalists is still a good idea even in the internet age. While you may not always get coverage, it certainly keeps your name in front of them and they may consider calling you for a quote when writing about something relevant to your business.

There are several ways to get your press release out there when it comes to the web, from free to spendy. But the best thing to do is to get the ball rolling and start telling people what your company is up to!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Clutter Cutter

In a quest to be all things to all people it's easy to get caught up in trying to fill your front page with everything imaginable. Does too much stuff make your page undesirable to visitors? To search engines? Yahoo has applied for a patent that includes a new application that will rank pages according to their "clutter" factor. This is an excerpt from the patent application:

"It can be important to make web pages easy and pleasing to use, which can be particularly important for web pages it is desired to monetize. [...].

If such web pages are not easy and pleasing to use, the money-making potential of those web pages can be jeopardized. One conventional indication of whether a web page is easy and pleasing to use is called 'clutter.'"

According to Yahoo, here is a list of 51 ways pages are considered "cluttered" and are, therefore, may not ranked as high as we would like.
  • Total number of links
  • Total number of words
  • Total number of images (non-ad images)
  • Image area above the fold (non-ad images)
  • Dimensions of page
  • Page area (total)
  • Page length
  • Total number of tables
  • Maximum table columns (per table)
  • Maximum table rows (per table)
  • Total rows
  • Total columns
  • Total cells
  • Average cell padding (per table)
  • Average cell spacing (per table)
  • Dimensions of fold
  • Fold area
  • Location of center of fold relative to center of page
  • Total number of font sizes used for links
  • Total number of font sizes used for headings
  • Total number of font sizes used for body text
  • Total number of font sizes
  • Presence of “tiny” text
  • Total number of colors (excluding ads)
  • Alignment of page elements
  • Average page luminosity
  • Fixed vs. relative page width
  • Page weight (proxy for load time)
  • Total number of ads
  • Total ad area
  • Area of individual ads
  • Area of largest ad above the fold
  • Largest ad area
  • Total area of ads above the fold
  • Page space allocated to ads
  • Total number of external ads above the fold
  • Total number of external ads below the fold
  • Total number of external ads
  • Total number of internal ads above the fold
  • Total number of internal ads below the fold
  • Total number of internal ads
  • Number of sponsored link ads above the fold
  • Number of sponsored link ads below the fold
  • Total number of sponsored link ads
  • Number of image ads above the fold
  • Number of image ads below the fold
  • Total number of image ads
  • Number of text ads above the fold
  • Number of text ads below the fold
  • Total number of text ads
  • Position of ads on page

There is also reason to believe that flash and animation adds to the "clutter score." It should go without saying, pages that are easy to use will convert more visitors to customers so in that aspect Yahoo may be right on target. Not to be outdone, Google has a similar patent application regarding "annoying documents."

So, if satisfying the delicate balance of key phrase density (among other things) isn't enough, it is now becoming more important than ever to look at the level of usability from the visitor standpoint.

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