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Archive for December, 2009

Google ‘Design & Content Writing Guidelines’: Part 9

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

In this post, we will be looking at Guideline #9 from ‘Google’s Design and Content Guidelines.’  Guideline number 9 stresses the importance of limiting the number of links on a web page.

Google Design and Content Guideline #9: “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).”  Why should you limit your links to less than 100 per web page?

Good question:  Fewer links make it easier for visitors and search engine bots to navigate your web page(s).

As a rule, visitors don’t like having to search through hundreds of links in order to find what they’re looking for.

The more links you have on a web page, the more confusing it is for the visitor to determine what is and what is not important.  Pages with multiple and randomly placed links often frustrate visitors and aesthetically may result in what some refer to as ‘link splatter.’

Organized web pages, and links, are easier for visitors and search engine bots to use.

Having too many links on a web page, especially outbound links, can also impact search results.  For instance, some webmasters take part in link exchanges and/or build partner pages for the express purpose of cross-linking, resulting in low quality links.  Abusing these practices violates Google’s webmaster guidelines and, as Google says, “Can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results.”

When linking, think ‘quality’ and ‘relevance.’

For our final blog on the Google Design and Content Guidelines, we will be looking at Google’s image guidelines.  Stay tuned!

Writing Web Words Inc:
We are  full service Web Content Writers in Toronto, the GTA and Ontario that helps small and mid-sized businesses maximize their online potential via Web Content Development, SEO Copywriting,  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing services.

Google ‘Design & Content Guidelines’: Part 8

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

In this segment on ‘Google’s Design and Content Guidelines,’ we will be chatting about dynamic pages and ensuring that they can be found by search engines.

Google Design and Content Guideline #8: “If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a “?” character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.”

First and foremost, if your website only has static pages, this guideline does not apply to you.

Static pages are web pages that only display information found in a pre-formatted file, such as pages written in HTML.  If your web page relies on a database for some of its information, it is a dynamic page.  Dynamic pages are automatically created from PHP or another technology, and generally have a “?” in the URL.

Search engine bots are able to index dynamic web pages; but they take longer to find than static pages.  Although search engines are evolving to become friendlier towards dynamic pages, there are a few ways to ensure that the bots find your dynamic pages.

First, rewriting dynamic page URLs with large parameters into more user-friendly versions is a good idea.  Parameters are something like “OrderBy=avail” or “&PropType=”, are found in the page’s URL, and are designed to input the visitor’s request.  Simplifying web page URLs allows the bots to find them more easily.

Second, by limiting the parameters on your dynamic web page URLS to only 1 or 2 per URL, it will increase your chances that the search engine bots will find the web pages.

Third, it is possible to create static copies of your dynamic web pages.  This is a slightly more advanced technique, which involves “telling” the search engine that the static web page is a copy through the use of a robot.txt file.  A Google search on this topic will lead you to more information about how to do that.

Lastly, consider using mod_rewrite, which allows you to create rules for rewriting URLs on the fly, be they static or dynamic.  This means you can present simple, clean, easy to read  and SEO-friendly URLs that are easily read by search engines and visitors alike.

Mod_rewrite is becoming more commonplace among the better Content Management Systems (CMS) out there and is the best solution for those that don’t have the time or tech-savvy to do it manually.

Writing Web Words Inc:
We are full Web Content Writers in Toronto, Ontario, that help small and mid-sized companies maximize their online potential via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SEO Copywriting and Social Media Marketing.

Google ‘Design & Content Guidelines’: Part 7

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

This week, we will be continuing our discussion of ‘Google’s Design and Content Guidelines,’ looking at the importance of fixing broken links and correcting HTML errors.

Google Design and Content Guideline #7: “Check for broken links and correct HTML.”

Following our recurring theme of search engine optimization, broken links and incorrect HTML could have a negative impact on your website’s performance in search engines, the user experience, your image and your bottom line.

Consider Search Engines: Broken links within your site (internal links) prevent search engines from finding and indexing all of your web pages.  The inability of search engine bots to find your web pages and index them can negatively affect your website ranking.

Consider Users: If your website has broken links, links that do not lead anywhere, your visitor’s will not be able to find all of your web pages, oftentimes causing them to abandon your website in frustration.

Consider Image:  In addition to causing frustration, broken links will hurt the usefulness and professionalism of your website and business image.  They may even cause visitors to question your credibility.

Consider The Bottom Line: Broken links to landing, product and/or service pages can cost you time and money.  Imagine investing in a SEO or Pay-Per-Click campaign, all the while sending prospects to a non-existent page.  Or worse, your prospect has hand on wallet and is ready to make a purchase:  The only problem?  Your checkout link is broken.  Ouch!

Common Causes of Broken Links:
• You rename a page(s) and forget to change your internal links
• Another website links to an old or relocated page
• A search engine continues to rank a deleted page
• Someone has bookmarked a deleted or moved page
• Someone links to your page but misspells the link URL

You have little control over how external links (other websites/bookmarks) are managed and created.  But you do have control over your internal links.

Check Links Periodically:
Links can be checked either manually or by using software.  Manual checks involve clicking through all the links on your website and making sure that they load properly. 

You can also use software such as The W3C Link Checker and Xenu Link Sleuth to check links on larger websites.

Ensure HTML is Correct:
Although HTML can have errors, it may still appear to load normally in a browser.  Ensuring that your HTML is correct has a few benefits that make it worth the extra effort. 

For example, correct HTML allows search engine bots to find and index all your web pages.  HTML that is error-free also loads faster than incorrect HTML, leading to a better experience for your visitors.  Finally, correct HTML ensures that your website will load correctly on all browsers, now and in the future.

In order to check if your HTML is correct, you can use The W3C Markup Validation Service.

Happy Linking!

Writing Web Words Inc:
Based in Toronto, Ontario, we are a full service Web Writing and Content Development Company that helps small and mid-sized companies maximize their online potential via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SEO Copywriting and Social Media Marketing.

Google ‘Design & Content Guidelines’: Part 6

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

In this blog post, we will be expanding further on our discussion of text descriptions and their role in search engine optimization.  This blog series in based on ‘Google’s Design and Content Guidelines,’ and we will be looking at Guideline #6.

Google Design and Content Guideline #6: “Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.”

From our previous post on Google Design and Content Guideline #5, we know that ALT attributes are written to describe and provide a textual context for images.  They also help search engines find and identify images on a website.

Ensuring that all ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate will assist search bots in finding and correctly indexing your web pages.  ALT attributes are not needed for all images, but they are essential for important images, such as your company’s logo, products, etc.

<Title> elements do the same thing for web pages that ALT attributes do for images.  Using <title> properly in HTML provides an accurate description of your webpages.  What you write between <title>Insert Text Here</title> tags will appear in a web browser’s title bar, bookmark lists, and as a hyperlink to your website in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

As a result, it is important to pick a clear and focused title that accurately reflects the content of your web page(s).  Titles that are short and unfocused such as “Part One” are ineffective.  “Part One” provides no context or sense of what the web page is about.  However, most windows, menus, and bookmark lists only allow 60-80 characters, so your title cannot be too long.   “How to Play the Guitar” is an example of a good title, especially if your website teaches people how to play the guitar.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog posts, in which we will be discussing links and HTML.

Writing Web Words Inc:
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