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Sometimes Fixing a Site Means Breaking It First

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Over the past ten years the mindset of SEO has evolved significantly. In the early years, website optimization was considered more of an IT expense handled by computer geeks. But over the years, businesses (and SEOs) began to change their frame of mind, realizing that search engine optimization was much closer to traditional marketing than they had thought.

After all, SEO is about getting exposure. Whether that is through on-page optimization, link building, social media, etc., the idea is to get as many targeted eyeballs on a site as possible. But that itself isn’t enough, because once the eyeballs are on the site the website has to make some money too. So now SEOs focus on usability (enhancing the visitor/shopper’s experience on the site) and conversions (getting sales, leads, subscribers, etc.). Exposure only brings traffic, usability allows the visitors to find the information they need, but ultimately it’s the conversions that matter most.

Continue reading at Search Engine Guide…

How to Uncover the Fundamental Information Necessary To Plan A Strategically Successful SEO Campaign, Part III

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When putting the framework for a solid optimization campaign, you have to spend some time evaluating various aspects of your site. This evaluation gives you an idea of any shortcomings the site has, what will be required to overcome the competition, and will then allow you to map out an effective strategy for success. But there is more to the evaluation than just looking at how the website currently performs in the on- and off-page analyses.

In the first two parts of this series, I addressed which on- and off-page elements that need to be analyzed in order for you to determine the actions necessary to create a successful campaign. But before this type of analysis is performed, there is another crucial aspect that should be analyzed first.

Click here to continue reading at Search Engine Guide…

How to Uncover the Fundamental Information Necessary To Plan A Strategically Successful SEO Campaign, Part II

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Whether you are putting together a proposal for a client or assessing your own needs, you need to be able to accurately predict how much time, energy and effort will be necessary to build a successful SEO campaign. Of course, in order to predict the time involvement, you need to first know the strengths and weaknesses of the website, which will then help you determine what will need to be done to accomplish your goals and make the site a viable competitor.

Last week, I went over several areas that need to be considered and analyzed in order to accurately put together a framework for a workable SEO campaign. I’ll finish that list today before moving on to part three, where we’ll discuss the goals of the campaign – another vital aspect.

Click here to continue reading at Search Engine Guide…

How to Uncover the Fundamental Information Necessary To Plan A Strategically Successful SEO Campaign, Part I

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Every SEO campaign has to start somewhere. Any good plan, whether you’re building a home, preparing for a family vacation, or looking to optimize your website for search rankings, starts with research. Before you are ready to optimize your first piece of code, you need to understand the landscape around you, which means you need to know the condition of your site as it currently is and the goals you wish to achieve over the course of your campaign.

Neither fully understanding the condition of your site nor your long-term goals is easy. Performing a site-wide analysis can be time consuming and can lead the untrained person around in circles, wondering what is important and what isn’t. And while the analysis is tangible, putting together realistic goals to be accomplished is full of wild speculation mixed with some good luck and a whole lot of good business sense.

Let’s first look at the site analysis. That will give you a pretty good picture of the site’s condition and its pitfalls as well as helping you to better understand what may being going right about it. This information isn’t meant to be an all inclusive site analysis, but just a pretty quick overview of various elements that should be considered to more fully understand where the site is at and what lies ahead in terms work that needs to be performed.

Continue reading at Search Engine Guide… or listen to the podcast above.

The 19-Hour Website Analysis, in 20 Minutes or Less

Performing a complete website review is rarely easy. I’ve found that you can start a site analysis intending to spend just a few minutes looking over it only to find that it quickly spirals into a multi-hour marathon of research. Complete website reviews can be time consuming and often produce many more hours of work beyond that.

One of the problems is that people tend want to skip right to search engine optimization forgetting that users matter. Many people want to rush into the marketing without realizing that the website itself is part of the marketing process. This is a shame.

Investing in SEO and PPC marketing, without having performed a thorough analysis of your website is largely an exercise in vain (and yes, even new websites often need a usability analysis!) You don’t have to have a perfectly usable site in order to rank well in search engines, but it is increasingly difficult to rank a site without a strong usability focus, unless you’re in a very niche industry. And even if you do rank well, without good usability you’re losing more customers than you need or want to be losing.Continue Reading

When is Usability More Important than SEO?

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Every day, we get businesses coming to us looking to improve their search engine rankings. They want to talk about an SEO campaign, but one quick look at their site and we see that SEO may not be the right approach for them. Usually in these cases, the site needs a complete usability makeover.

These businesses, however, don’t want to discuss website architecture, visitor usability, or even making their site search engine friendly. They want rankings and want them now.

I understand their standpoint. These are small businesses looking to purchase a service that will get them near instant visibility and exposure. “We’ll take care of the rest,” is what they often imply. But therein lies the problem. SEO and SEM without good usability is like inviting people out to eat at a rat and roach infested restaurant. You may bring people in, but you won’t make them happy.

Click here to continue reading at Search Engine Guide…

6 Quick and Easy Accessibility Fixes That Make Your Visitors Happy

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Total Usability SeriesAs more and more users gain access to the web, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that your website is accessible to all, not just a few. Just as businesses must comply with the American Disabilities Act to ensure proper access to customers with disabilities, businesses should do all they can to make their websites accessible to all users regardless of the means in which they access the site.

And of course not all accessibility issues involve meeting the needs of the disabled. What must be considered is the growing number of users that now access websites through non-traditional means, whether it be mobile phones or with images turned off. These users can still be your target audience, and ensuring your site can be used through alternate avenues is essential to capturing that audience.Continue Reading

4 Copywriting Steps that Will Sell Ice to Eskimos

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I think that by now everyone pretty much agrees that words are an important part of your website and your online marketing campaign. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, sometimes just a few words can provide the right mental picture your audience needs in order to make that final buying decision.

For many business owners, writing can be a daunting task. Sure we know our products and services inside and out and putting what we know into words is easy enough, but that’s about as far as it gets.

Is that enough to sell? Sure.

Could more be done to sell better? You bet!

Continue reading at Search Engine Guide…

When Small Business Shouldn't Act Like a Small Business

I think one of the most significant problems small businesses have when it comes to growth is that they maintain a small business mindset. Now if you’re one of those that likes being “mom and pop” then this article isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you’re a small business owner that has big dreams and big goals there is no better time than now than to start getting out of the small business, mom and pop mindset and start thinking like the business you want to grow into. And the first place to start is with your online marketing campaigns.

One of the great things about online marketing over the past decade is that it allowed small businesses to compete against the big guys on more of a level playing field than the off-line world allows. Over the past few years, though, the playing field has been tilting like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. As more big corporations jump into online marketing and invest tens, hundreds and even thousands of thousands of dollars each year, it becomes increasingly difficult for small businesses to gain headway.

Continue reading at Search Engine Land…

14 Website Usability Guidelines That Keep them Coming Back for More

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Total Usability SeriesSites that are designed to sell products and/or services must go the extra mile to enhance the visitor’s engagement with the website. Shopping cart abandonment (shoppers abandoning their carts before deciding to pay for the “items” they’ve added to their cart) can result in a significant loss in potential sales. But much of that can be reduced when the shopping process is streamlined and geared for shopper satisfaction.

The selling process–from initial interest to the very last checkout page–must be able to grab shopper’s attention and proceed to drive them through to the finalization of the sale. But even after the sell, you must deal with customer service issues in order to keep the sale finalized. Good customer service will bring your purchasers back for another and another and another. Here are fourteen general usability guidelines that will enhance your shoppers overall experience on your site.Continue Reading