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Monday, November 13, 2006

7 Characteristics of a Great Webpage

What makes for a great webpage?

Wouldn't you like to know the main ingredients for creating a superior webpage? What basic elements you must have if you want a solidly designed webpage? A webpage that will stand out and be noticed by your visitors. One that will keep those visitors returning to your site, again and again. An effective webpage that is 95% better than most of the other pages on the Net.

Follow these simple design features when creating your next webpage and you will have the answer:

1. Good Keywords

The nucleus. The conception. Good keywords are the very first building blocks you must consider before your webpage even becomes a dim notion in your head. Picking the right keyword or keyword phrase is the ultimate factor that will determine the success or failure of your webpage. You must do major research on the keyword or keyword phrases that will be the focal point and drawing card for your webpage.

You must get this right. It is vital. It is the single most important element of a webpage. You can use keyword research software and sites such as GoodKeywords, Wordtracker.com, Nichebot.com, or superior keyword research software such as Brad Callen's Keyword Elite.

Regardless of what process you favor, you must choose your keywords very carefully. You must chëck the competition for your chosen keywords or phrase. You must chëck the number of searches made each month for your keyword. You must also chëck the keyword density of your page to see if it will register in the search engines. You may have to adjust or fine-tune your keyword density at a later date.

Make sure you place your keyword in the title of your page. Place it in the first Headline on the page and many marketers also place their keyword or phrase in the url. For example: www.yourdomain.com/keyword.html This will help the search engines and surfers to find your page quicker.

2. Simple Design

Keep it simple. You must keep your webpage simple and direct. Keep it professional. Make sure it is readable and clear to all your visitors. Do a spell chëck. Do a grammar chëck. You may also want to chëck how your webpage looks in all types of browsers (www.anybrowser.com). Better safe than sorry.

Keep your visitors in mind at all times when designing your webpage. Keep it on topic, keep it related to your keywords. Most marketing studies show that's it's best not to confuse your visitors with too many options. If you're selling a product or products, limit the number on each page to one product if you can.

If you have a comparison page, limit the number to three or four. Studies also show that if you present too many options or products, the conversion rate goes down, not up. Keep all your products related. If you have a page on laptops, don't start discussing the benefits of owning a SUV.

Keep your sentences short and the number of words on a page down to 200 to 300. Many sites break up longer articles into multi-pages, this will be of some inconvenience for your visitors but you will have more room for advertising - your call.

3. Optimized

Let's face it, the average webpage will get most of its traffíc from the search engines, mainly Google, although MSN and Yahoo are also worth considering. Optimize your page for Google. Use a simple hierarchy, keep your pages no more than three clicks away from the main page. Linking all your pages to your index page is a good practice, always do this. The search engines will find your page faster if it is linked directly from the main index page of your site.

Using blogging software/structure that comes with such free blogging software as Wordpress will optimize your pages for you. Blogging systems have a linking hierarchy (categories, archives, etc.) that are very search engine friendly. It's almost impossible not to optimize your pages if you're using a blogging system. Plus, you have an RSS feed that will syndicate your content and place it into the search engines very quickly.

Chëck factors such as Mega Tags, title description and content. Use a robots text file for the search engine robots.

If you're new to building webpages, you may want to chëck out Google's Webpage Creator, you can create your pages and have it hosted free by Google and they will be indexed immediately in Google. Big Plus!

4. Easy Navigation

A great webpage will have easy and simple navigation. Link your page to and from your main index page if you can. Make sure you link to it from your sitemap page. Many webmasters put all the main links on their site at the top or the bottom of all their webpages, so that a visitor can freely move around and find what they're looking for. Keep your visitors' comfort level in mind at all times.

Double chëck to see all links on your webpage work! You may be surprised how many don't work, especially if you link out to other sites. The search engines don't like broken links, neither will your visitors.

Also double chëck to see if all images on your page display properly. Nothing will bring down the quality of your page faster than images that don't load.

5. Fresh Content

A great webpage will always have fresh content. Make sure you update your webpage often. Our world's technology changes rapidly, make sure your material is current and still revelant.

Remember, 9 times out of 10, the only reason a visitor is on your page is for information. Make sure you deliver. Make sure that information is recent and accurate. Besides, there is nothing like fresh content to keep your visitors interested and coming back for more.

6. Bookmarkable

A great webpage will always be bookmarkable. Your visitor will want to bookmark your page and return to it for more information. Make sure you make it easy for your visitor to bookmark your page. Use a bookmark scrípt. Make sure you have a favicon, this is a small logo you place on your site and it will be automatically picked up and displayed in your visitor's bookmarks, drawing attention to your page. Consider a bookmark and favicon like bread crumbs, all leading the visitor back to your page.

7. Cool

Every great webpage should have a WOW factor! Try to make your page stand out from the crowd. Try to make it unique, try to make it cool. Just remember, a simple professional webpage with valuable information is always cool. And remember there is nothing like a little good 'word of mouth' to get some traffíc drawing PR for your page. Great buzz about your webpage is worth its worth in gold.

So the next time you're designing a webpage, go all out and try to create your webpage with all of the characteristics listed above. Start with your keywords, keep it simple, proof-read and test for coding errors, create good navigation and optimize for the search engines, make sure you provide valuable fresh content and information. Last but not least, try your hardest to make your webpage memorable and bookmarkable. Make it a professional webpage that will be superior to the majority of other pages on the web.

Aim high and you will reap the rewards.


About The Author
The author runs a modest Internet Marketing web site where you will find helpful online guides on RSS/Blogging, SEO, Building Profitable Websites, Affilíate Programs, List Building, Laptops, Internet Fax and quite a few Free Marketing Tools: http://www.bizwaremagic.com

posted by Scott Jones @ 9:11 am 0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 06, 2006

Effective SEO Through Good Code Structure

For a successful Search Engine Optimization strategy, take into consideration that search engines look at content and also at the structure of the markup. They emphasize the importance of text content, page titles, keywords rich text, meta descriptions and information architecture. A website where quality of content and code prevails will rank higher in the major search engines.

There are many Search Engine Optimization tactics, but try to find the best combination and don't sacrifice the usability and performance of your website. Here is some basic information about improving your source code from an SEO perspective:

Avoid Classical 404 Error Pages

The 404 - File Not Found - page is presented to the user by the server as an error page. The user gets this message directly from the server of the website he is trying to visit. This error page is supposed to appear only when the server cannot find the requested location and is unsure of its status.

In the vast majority of cases, the 404 error emerges for pages that were moved or even deleted or the layout of the site or page information changed.

Many hostíng companies offer a 404 redirect page. This means that when a user enters the URL of any page of your domain, and that page does not exist or can no longer be found, you can automatically redirect the user to a specified page - usually your home page or your sitemap.

Pay special attention when you decide to delete certain pages. Remember to redirect them to a main page of your site using the 301 (Moved Permanently) HTTP response code.

You can greatly improve the user friendliness of your website by creating a custom 404 page.

Present a message of apology for the inconvenience;
Try to ease the user's way back to your site. Introduce error messages and include evident links to the home page, sitemap, and contact page;
Offer assistance and encourage the user to continue to search for the information he needs on your site. You could even include a search box right on the error page;
Keep the same design for the error page as for the rest of the website.
See: http://www.avangate.com/4040404404

But remember that the best strategy for a 404 error page is to prevent it from coming up altogether, as many customers might be left with the impression that the whole website does not exist and not just the specific page they were trying to access.

Keep Away From Orphan Pages

An orphan page is a page that is not linked to another one and thus cannot be found by spiders. To avoid having orphan pages on your website, chëck regularly that all your pages are linked to each other.

Search engines consider sites with orphan pages to be unprofessional, and not worthy of getting a high rank. This kind of website is under construction or is the result of a poor design process. If your pages aren't linked properly search engines won't index them and will consider them irrelevant for the search.

Pay attention to the fact that some search engines don't correctly index websites that use HTML frames. When spiders crawl through your internal pages, they index each individual page and display them as orphan pages in search results. Most frame designs include a content frame and a navigation frame.

Visitors require both frames to navigate through the site. Create a JavaScrípt to chëck if the page is loading correctly, and load the frameset. In this way, users won't be able to open pages outside the frame. This is a very easy way of losing clients.

Use 301 Redirect Pages

To avoid displaying a 404 error page, set up a 301 redirect page. The code 301 means "moved permanently" and it's the easiest way to preserve your search engine rankings for that page.

There are two ways of generating proper 301 redirect pages. If your site is hosted on a Linux or Unix server create a .htaccess file to add the redirect to your server's web root.

The .htaccess file contains specific instructions for certain requests, including security, redirection issues and how to handle certain errors. If it is hosted on a Windows or IIS server then the 301 redirect can be set up in the Administrator's section of the server software or through the DNS (Domain Name Server) zone.

Make a habit of reviewing the log files which contain data sent by your server. Search engine spiders often make critical decisions based on what your server tells them through the server's headers.

Pay attention, an improper 301 redirect can cause you big problems, since your website might fail and users won't be able to visit your pages. Setting up a correct "301 redirect" assures that you'll stay high in search rankings.

Create a Sitemap

A sitemap is a web page that lists all the pages on your website. They are intended both for users - to find easier the information they need, and for search engines to index pages.

Your sitemap link should be right on your home page. In this way spiders are sent directly to the place where all your content information is gathered. Sitemaps can improve SEO, however, be advised that they only take into consideration a limited number of links to those pages.

To make sure that spiders chëck your whole site and have more chances to get indexed, it would be a good idea to use a sitemap generator. You can use ROR sitemaps that are readable by all search engines.

ROR is a sitemap tool that uses XML feeds to describe your website. ROR sitemaps allow search engines to match text search with structured information, thus obtaining more relevance for your site. This kind of sitemap helps search engines to better understand your website content - products, services, images, articles, etc. By creating a file with product names, descriptions, prices, images, availability, affilíate programs, and any other relevant information customers can find you easier.

Don't Overuse Dynamic Pages

Dynamic web pages include dynamic content - images, text, etc - which change without the page being reloaded. Client-side languages like JavaScrípt and ActiveX are usually used to create these types of web pages.

Search engines don't rank dynamic pages with many parameters well. If you choose not to turn your dynamic URLs into static ones, at least put the most important parameters in your URLs first and try to limit dynamic parameters to no more than two.

Spiders can't read the text rendered as graphics. Any text that you want the spiders to read and index should be written out as text. At the very least, put any text that appears in graphics into the images' ALT attribute.

A slightly better alternative is to write your text in Flash, but remember to have a "Skip this intro..." link that takes visitors (and spiders) to the text-rich content of your site. Don't neglect this information if you want to optimize your search engine strategy.

Put .CSS and JavaScrípt into External Files

For a search engine, improperly formatted code will have a negative impact on your rankings. Since search engines read only a certain amount of information on a web page, you should try to increase the text content to HTML tag ratio.

If you have too much HTML code, the text content won't be seen entirely. For reducing HTML code, utilize hand coding using external .css files and Javascrípt.

Make Sure You Have Well Formatted [X]HTML

Try to fix as many of the HTML errors as possible. Although the search engines don't rank websites that have standard compliant code better they tend to "read" them easier. Use the W3 HTML Validator to chëck the validity of your code.

For a successful Search Engine Optimization strategy, take into account all of the aspects presented here. It takes time, effort and patience to achieve a higher rank in the main search engines. The idea is to have a long term strategy that makes your website stay on top for an extended period of time.


About The Author
This article was written by Adriana Iordan, Web Marketing Specialist at Avangate B.V. Avangate is an eCommerce platform for electronic software distribution incorporating an easy to use and secure online payment system plus additional marketing and sales tools.

posted by Scott Jones @ 10:33 am 0 comments links to this post