Lots of predictions of what 2013 will bring on the web. For enhance.ie we would predict some of the key changes will be in the area of Mobile, and Responsive design in particular, no big surprise there as it seems to be trending at the moment…
Find out more about what we can offer in the areas of Mobile and Responsive Design
There is three elements to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO):
- Structural SEO
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
The web build or development is all about structural SEO. It is imperative that the website is structurally built to with optimisation guidelines in mind. This is the first foundation or building block associated with website development. We would recommend building a new website on a content management system that is structurally optimised to the hilt! For example, WordPress is a highly optimized content management system (CMS) and performs very well search engine rankings. However some web agencies have developed their own CMS platforms, for example the team here at enhance.ie have developed a tailored CMS which on par with WordPress in terms structural SEO. So make sure you address the different options in terms of content management systems with your choose agency or developer.
Here at enhance.ie we come across a lot of clients who are ignorant to the fact that a website is only a small part of a bigger picture. Too often, the detrimental factor when deciding what agency or route to take in relation to a web build, is PRICE. However we feel it is imperative to understand that a website is part of an overall online strategy. I would recommend going with an agency or other party who is willing to offer the whole package and create a lasting relationship.
More often that not you will run into some technical difficulties and need to call on a reliable source, a committed agency will be able to offer the guidance and advice you need. We deal with a lot of clients who are left in the lurch by a rogue developer who has vanished off the face of the earth. This is a reoccurring theme in our industry. So do not let the price be the significant or only factor determining your choice.
When approaching a web design agency or developer with your proposed web build ensure that you have a clear picture of what goals you want the website to achieve. Many people and businesses set up a website for the sake of going online and really do not know what they want the website to achieve. Here at enhance.ie we advise our clients to identify at least three clear goals to accompany the web creation request. Example of website goals would be:
- build brand awareness
- increase revenue
- increase footfall to offline store etc.
Ideally you should be able to work with your agency on developing and tracking the progress of your goals. Furthermore we would recommend discussing conversion strategies with your agency or developer during the web build. For example if you are a service provider and your main action button on the website is ‘request a quote’ – ask your agency about different conversion strategy tests (e.g. A/B testing) and how you can improve these rates together.
Content Management System
The Content Management System (CMS) that your website is built on will be an important element to your online progress. When you are discussing the different CMS options with your web design agency or developer make sure you trial the CMS and see if you like the look, feel and overall functionality of it. The agency should be willing to give you a quick demo or guide. WordPress is World’s favorite CMS. Originally WordPress was built for blogging and the blogging community i.e. content people, non-techies. Therefore the usability and accessibility has always been at the forefront of the WordPress development. The content management systems we offer here are at enhance.ie are similarly built to allow users to easily update, edit and maintain their website.
Focus is a crucial aspect of any website development project. Everyday here at enhance.ie we have calls from different people (‘entrepreneurs’) who have a fantastic idea and want to know if we can make it happen for them. More often than not the individual has done very little market research and wants to offer a web solution to everybody and anybody. The features and functions are sometimes endless. So my advice here is too make sure that you know your target market before you decide to build the website and do not try to cram everything into the intial build. Tailor the features and functions back to ensure that the core of website is built correctly and runs smoothy. Remember the modern day CMS is extensible and new features and functions can be added to the website when necessary.
Finally the last but certainly not least is communication. It is imperative that you remain in constant contact with your agency once the web development process has started. Web agencies have a vast amount of clients and your web development progress could easily be hindered by other projects. Once you have chosen web design agency or developer the key to progress is constant interaction. Make sure that you stay in constant contact with your account manager and make an effort to provide them with everything they need ASAP. For example if you receive a wireframe or design sample make sure to give instant feedback to move onto the next stage.
What does search engine optimization (SEO) and an endangered mammal, The Panda, have in common? Absolutely nothing! The Google Panda update was aptly named after the Google software engineer, Navneet Panda, the individual responsible for developing the Google algorithm update. This update has changed SEO forever and has reaffirmed that content is king.
Maybe you were not aware of this but Google is trying to develop an algorithm that is responsive to the human mind rather than a machine. In other words Google wants to present the best search engine results based on human perceptions and engagement. Panda is a major stepping-stone to achieving this ‘ideal’ search engine world.
Panda operates through a machine learning process. In simple terms, the process analyzes a bunch of websites using all kinds of different metrics to try and figure out why people like a website or more significantly why people do not like a website. For example, bounce rates would be a significant metric used by the Panda update. Basically if human users are consistently bouncing (i.e. abruptly leaving) from a website’s landing page on the first impression, a red flag will be raised and the website will subsequently be downgraded in the rankings. In essence the Panda update seeks to discover if a website evokes positive feelings from visitors and this can be measured through user engagement with a website.
So what has the Panda update really changed?
Rand Fishkin and the team at SEOmoz presented a short informative ‘Whiteboard Friday’ video clip about the important issues surrounding the Panda update.
- The design of a website is now more important than ever. The Panda update has put a primary emphasis on the user experience. Websites that engage visitors and websites that are easily accessible and easy to navigate around are key to enhancing the user experience.
- As we all know Google penalizes websites that present duplicate content. The Panda update signifies another significant shift towards the importance of content in relation to SEO. When developing content for your website try to make it as unique as possible by using descriptions, anecdotes, photos, similes and humour etc. If you can create interesting content visitors are more likely to engage with your content and may even go as far as sharing the content. The Panda update will recognize engaging content and reward a website significantly.
- User usage metrics are now more important that ever. Website administrators should optimize their website based on key analytics. For example, Panda will rank your website negatively if visitors are bouncing straight off your website. Alternatively if the visitors continue to browse though the website Google will rank the website favorably. Furthermore low levels of click through rates (CTR) will adversely affect a website’s Google ranking. Optimizing the title of the landing pages, snippet and the domain name will go some way to ensuring that a website does not appear ‘spammy’ in search engine result pages. Panda will even examine the diversity and quantity of traffic coming into the website, for example geo-locations must be consistent and relevant to the website’s ‘target location’. Google analytics is a key tool that will help you optimize your website and keep up to date with Google and the Panda update.
Note: The Panda update recalculates the index metrics every 40 days on average.