What is keyword density?

Posted on April 14th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page. It is one factor used by search engines to determine the relevance of a web page for specific keywords or keyword phrases. Therefore, it is an important aspect to consider when you are working to improve your website’s search engine optimization.
What’s the ideal keyword density for your web pages? There’s no good answer to this question. Unfortunately, search engine algorithms remain a mystery. However, there does appear to be a law of diminishing returns with keyword density. While you don’t want to use your keywords and keyword phrases too little, overusing them will work to your detriment. The trick to striking the right balance is to work your keywords and keyword phrases into your content in a natural way.

You know you’ve achieved an effective keyword density when you have included keywords and keyword phrases throughout your content without it sounding stilted or artificial. You should be able to read it aloud and it should sound natural to readers. A final key to keyword density is to make sure that your keywords and keyword phrases are relevant because if you get the density right and the keywords are not relevant, it won’t matter and your rankings will suffer.

In order to achieve the ideal keyword density for your web content, work closely with your web design and marketing pro. You’ll need to make sure you’re generating useful relevant content with a good mix of keywords and keyword phrases in order to get the kind of results you need for success in today’s competitive market.

What do you consider to be the ideal keyword density for your website content?

How to Redirect Using PHP

Posted on April 12th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

1083328_41541641A redirect is quick and easy with PHP. When you want to redirect a user from the page they entered to a different page, all you need to do is use a simple PHP script. Simple PHP redirects are useful for instances where the page the users are trying to access no longer exist.

With this simple method, you can seamlessly redirect users to the new page without requiring to click on a link in order to proceed. Redirects using PHP work on all browsers, so they’re an ideal solution for web development.

Here’s how a simple redirect should look:

<?php

header( ‘Location: http://www.examplesite.com/new_page.html’ ) ;

?>

First, change the code on the redirect page following the above example. Then, replace the URL in the example with the URL you want your page to redirect to. Make sure there is no text sent to the browser before the redirect or it will not work. Finally, you may want to remind users to update their links or bookmarks.

Making the Best Use of Space on a Web Page

Posted on April 11th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

1418124_25366521Some websites are just too busy. Have you ever left a website because it was overwhelming? Page layout is one of the biggest challenges you will need to address if your web pages have lots of content and design elements. Making the best use of space on a web page isn’t ever easy, but it’s even more difficult if you have a lot to fit onto your pages. How can you make the best use of space on your web pages?

Work with a web designer. This may seem obvious, but too many business owners try to go it alone. Your web designer will be able to help you create a user-friendly page layout  for your site’s pages. When you meet with your designer have an open mind. You might be surprised at how different, but effective your site’s pages can be laid out.

Create a separate space for separate pieces of content and design elements. You will improve the usability, readability and overall aesthetics of your web pages simply by defining their layout. Lumping all of your text content, graphics and videos all into one solid block may allow you to pack your pages with information, but nobody will every be able to find it.

Be consistent in your layout. When you have a lot of content and design elements on your web pages, you can really make the most of your space by having a consistent layout. Plus, your regular users will appreciate consistency you’ve established on your pages. You’ll save space in the long run because you will be able to tailor your content and design elements to fit into your existing layout.

White space is an important, but often overlooked design element. Sometimes the best use of space on a web page is its white space. White space gives your page content room to breath and allows users to focus in on important parts of your site. When laying out your pages, be sure to include plenty of white space in your design. Working closely with your web design pro will help you refine the white space on your pages into a work of beauty.

Plan ahead. One of the easiest ways to make the best use of space on a web page is to carefully plan it out ahead of time. Designing a page on the fly is a sure way to end up with a cluttered mess. Invest the time upfront on your page layout and you’ll have a spacious, content rich website.

Where to Place Social Sharing Buttons on Your Pages

Posted on April 10th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

abstract-shape-1178168-mPlacement of social sharing buttons on your website’s pages is very important because it can have a significant impact on user behavior. In general, most users expect to find social sharing buttons at the top or bottom of content. However, sometimes social sharing buttons are placed in the middle of pages with lots of content. So where should you place social sharing buttons on your pages?

Social sharing buttons are used for two specific purposes:
1.Encourage users to follow you
2.Encourage users to share your content

The purpose of the social sharing button will largely determine its ideal placement on your pages. In general, you’ll want to place your sharing buttons with the purpose of gaining more followers on either the top or bottom of your pages. This is where users are used to finding these sharing buttons, so why complicate it for them?

Social sharing buttons for encouraging users to share your content can be placed on the top of the article page, bottom of the article page or both. For longer article pages, you can include sharing buttons at a logical midpoint in the page. While button placement is important, keeping your placement consistent is critical.

Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule for placement. You’ll have to work with your web designer to determine the most effective placement on your pages. For encouraging users to follow you, be sure to place the buttons in a prominent spot in either your header or footer area. For encouraging users to share content, you can’t go wrong with placing buttons at the bottom, but the top and bottom can both be effective. Again, the key is consistency.

Where do you place social sharing buttons on your pages for increased engagement?

Should you underline links? Google Doesn’t Anymore

Posted on April 9th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 11.23.46 AMIf you’ve performed a search on Google recently, you may have noticed something different about the search results. The major search engine recently made design improvements to its desktop search results. These changes rolled out on the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web.

Perhaps the most noticeable of the changes was the elimination of underlined links. Links to other sites are no longer underlined in the search results of the Internets leading search engine. Does this mean you should stop underlining links?

Web design standards are continually changing as the Internet evolves. As Google’s lead designer, Jon Wiley, pointed out while addressing the recent changes, underlined search links improved usability in the early days of the World Wide Web, but they’re no longer needed. Today’s Internet users no longer need such an overt visual cue to identify links on a web page.

Ultimately, the decision to underline links on your website comes down to aesthetic preference. You may decide to follow Google’s lead and eliminate the unnecessary underlines or you may prefer the traditional look of underlined links. Before you make any decisions, you should discuss this topic with your web designer. What works for one  web page may not work for another web page. Your goal should be to maximize your website’s usability.

Google also has increased the size of its search results titles and evened out line heights. Wiley feels that these changes have improved overall readability and created a more streamlined look. Your website may very well benefit from similar design changes.

Text size, line spacing and removing underlines can create a more streamlined look for sure. However, you still need to strike the right balance between appearance and usability. Talk to your web designer to see what will work best for your website.

What do you think of Google’s new changes? What can you do to improve the readability  and overall usability of your website?

5 Essential WordPress Plugins

Posted on April 8th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

Screen shot 2014-04-07 at 7.49.43 PMWordPress is a powerful blogging platform and content management system. It’s widely used by bloggers, small businesses and large corporations. Because it’s open source, there’s a huge community of developers who contribute to its massive directory of plugins.

Plugins allow users to easily customize their blogs/websites. Complex tasks can be easily achieved with the use of a plugin or two, making them a popular solution for non-developers to use when designing/managing a blog or website. There are over 24,000 plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory.

If you’re new to using WordPress plugins, you might be wondering where to begin. While plugins aren’t necessary to create a fully functional website with WordPress, some do improve the functionality of the platform. Here are 5 WordPress plugins to help you get started:

1.Akismet
If you allow comments on your blog or website, this plugin is essential. Akismet will protect you from getting overloaded with comment spam. Comment spam is annoying, but it can also bring down your search engine page rank. Akismet offers a simple solution to spam.

2.Google Analytics
This plugin offered by Google allows you to track visitors to your website through their powerful analytics tools. Google Analytics allows you to gain a detailed understanding of your web traffic. As a result, you’ll be able to optimize your website for an increase in traffic and conversion.

3.WordPress SEO by Yoast
Search engine optimization (SEO) is central to the success of your blog or website. This plugin features an SEO box below your content box and displays a preview of how your post will appear in Google. It also provides you with a quick and easy way to view page analysis and change your meta description. Be sure to take the tour so you get the most out of this plugin.

4.Better Related Posts
Show related content at the bottom of your posts with Better Related Posts. This plugin allows you to easily display your related website content without having to limit yourself to posts. Generating related content for your website users will encourage them to stay longer and become more engaged.

5.JetPack
You can really give your website a boost with JetPack. This plugin provides you with a handy analytics tool, social network comment system, social media sharing bar and a number of other widgets for your WordPress sidebar. JetPack will give you powerful set of features to help you improve your site’s user interactivity and engagement.

What are some of your favorite WordPress plugins?

Where’s best for navigation – top, left or right?

Posted on April 7th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

gps-directions-4-1198033-mThe layout for a site’s navigation is an important web design consideration. The location of the navigation on a website greatly affects its usability. Navigation is intuitive when it’s properly positioned on a website. Users are able to quickly find the navigation, easily find information and navigate between pages. So what’s the best position for navigation: top, left or right?

There’s no easy answer to this question. Each website’s design and layout will largely determine the best position for the navigation. While some websites will benefit from a navigation bar at the top, others will be more intuitive with a side navigation bar. Work with your web designer to make the navigation as simple and intuitive as possible. Users should be able to navigate your website without thinking about it.

Unfortunately, too many websites fall short in terms of usable navigation. Usability.gov reports that 50 percent of potential sales are lost due to the inability of users to find the information they’re looking for on a website. Worse yet, users are unable to find the information they’re looking for on a site approximately 60 percent of the time. This means it is time for you to evaluate your navigation system. Is it located in a prominent position on your website? Does it help users quickly and easily find what they’re looking for within your website?

While there are no hard and fast rules for navigation placement, most web design standards recommend placing the menu horizontally along the top or vertically along the left side of the page. Web users are accustomed to this placement and will innately look for navigation menus in these two locations first. You might opt to stray from the standard, but top and left are best when you are looking to maximize usability on most websites.

No matter what position to ultimately choose for your website’s navigation, make sure it is consistent. The navigation menu needs to be consistent on every page throughout your site. Top, left or right positioning is less important than presenting a simple, intuitive and consistent navigation system for your site.

How can you improve your website’s navigation?

Getting Customers via LinkedIn

Posted on April 6th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

mzl.hcndxsjsLinkedIn isn’t just for professionals looking to advance their careers. You can actually generate solid leads for your business through LinkedIn. While it’s a social networking site for professionals, it’s also a great place to find new customers. Here are a few tips to help you find prospects through the social network:

Targeted Search
In order to find solid leads for your business, you’ll need to perform carefully targeted searches. While you can do this with a standard account, you may find a premium account will better serve your needs.

In either case, you’ll want to search for customers in your demographic. Break down your search into industry, location, job title and any other criteria you can think of to generate a list of prospective customers.

You can also search for your current or past customers. Analyze how they are categorized on LinkedIn and then base your search on those terms to find prospects who are similar to your existing customer base.

For example, if you’ve been selling a product/service to print shops, you can search for prospects with similar job titles as your contacts at the print shops where you already do business. If you wish to broaden your search even more, you can also search for professionals within related industries.

Connection Requests
Once you have a list of leads from your targeted searches, you will want to send out connection requests. Spend some time carefully crafting these requests. Try to send meaningful requests with the goal of forming a real connection similar to what you would establish at a business mixer. The goal is to communicate how your connection will benefit the professionals you’re reaching out to through your connection requests. Devote a block of time each day to sending out connection requests.

Start a LinkedIn Group
Groups on LinkedIn can provide your business contacts with a quick and easy way to communicate with you. Promote a space where people can come for advice, ideas and helpful tips. A group is a great way to connect, build relationships and establish trust with prospective customers.

Be sure to present useful information to your group. One way to share helpful information to hold webinars. You can establish yourself as an expert within your industry with these events and generate a great deal of interest in your business without having to engage in a sales pitch. Grow your group by inviting members of similar groups to join in the webinar. Before long, you’ll have people wanting to join your group and your list of prospects will grow organically.
What other ideas do you have for getting customers via LinkedIn?

Do you need a responsive design if you don’t get any mobile traffic?

Posted on April 5th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

1438236_63812032There’s a lot of buzz right now about responsive web design and the growth of the mobile market. However, as a business owner, your website may not be seeing much, if any mobile web traffic. Therefore, you may be wondering if you really need a responsive design for your website. While you may be able to go without a responsive design for the short term, your business will likely be impacted in the long term as the mobile market continues to grow.

The presence of the mobile market is hard to ignore, even if you currently aren’t receiving any mobile traffic. Consider the following percentages compiled by Super Monitoring:

  • 91 percent of people worldwide own a mobile phone
  • 56 percent of people worldwide own a smartphone
  • 50 percent of mobile phone users access the Internet through their mobile device as their primary Internet source
  • 72 percent of tablet owners make weekly online purchases from their tablets

In order to position your business for the future, you will need a responsive web design. Responsive websites make browsing across platforms a seamless experience for users. These fluid websites adapt to the screen size of the user’s device to provide for an optimal browsing experience.

Standard websites don’t adapt well to mobile devices. The text remains small and difficult to read, the navigation is awkward and functions poorly and the layout can become jumbled on mobile devices. As a result, you will want to prepare your website for the time when your mobile traffic does pick up. A responsive design won’t impact the appearance of your site for your regular visitors, but it will vastly improve your site’s usability on mobile devices.

Mobile users rarely return to a website where they’ve encountered a poor browsing experience. Therefore, you need a responsive design in place now to avoid losing business as more and more people access the Internet through their smartphones and tablets. After you read this blog post, take a walk and observe people on the street. How many people are using a mobile device? Remember, every person you see on a mobile device is a lost customer if you don’t prepare your website now with a responsive design.

If you aren’t receiving mobile traffic on your website right now, congratulations. You have an excellent opportunity to prepare your website for the growing mobile market before you start losing business.

How can you promote mobile traffic to your website?

Time to Abandon Flash?

Posted on April 4th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

Adobe_flash-logoIs it time to abandon Flash? While Flash served its purpose in the history of the web development, it is being pushed aside in favor of new developments such as HTML5. Apple leaving Flash out of their mobile devices marked the beginning of the end for Flash. Seeing the writing on the wall, Adobe Systems later abandoned future development of Flash for mobile. Today, web developers are faced with the option of using Flash and excluding mobile users or opting for HTML5.

Today, mobile devices are everywhere. An increasing number of people are accessing the web from their mobile devices. As a result, websites need to be able to perform equally as well on a desktop as they do on a tablet. Since Flash is not viable on mobile devices, it isn’t a great option for web design in 2014. If your website is still relying on Flash, it may be time to give it an overhaul.

HTML5 is advancing rapidly and offers a wealth of new opportunities for web development. More importantly, HTML5 is the future of the web. Now is the time to abandon flash and position your website for future growth with HTML5. Even if most of your web traffic isn’t coming from mobile devices right now, that is going to change. The mobile market is growing every day and shows no sign of slowing down.

Flash was a great resource for web developers a few years ago, but as mobile continues to grow, it is becoming a less than attractive option for web development. As a business owner, you need to sit down with your developer and evaluate your website. Does it rely on Flash elements? If so, then you may want to look at other options to replace those flash elements. Otherwise, you’ll be excluding mobile users from accessing those elements.

Does your website still use Flash?

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