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SEO and SEO Scams

My customer forwarded me this today. He was worried that his website was missing out on tons of traffic. I get millions of this crap, so it’s probably easier for me to spot as spam (I added the stop sign)

stopsign

From: Cool sounding (English) name@gmail.com

Subject: Can I give some honest feedback on your website?

Hi,
Wanted to touch base: We’ve spoken a while back about your website. I happen to be on it again and wanted to point out a few areas of concern (SEO, Visibility, etc). For what it’s worth, I see a few specific things impacting your site’s profitability that can be improved with a slightly refreshed strategy.

Just to remind: I work with several consultants who I have personally hand-picked: Each of them are more than glad to share CASE STUDIES of their work with you.Would you be open for a brief discussion? At the very least, you’ll gain new insights through an extensive Web Needs Analysis (Doesn’t cost a thing).

All I would need to know is whether you would be open to speaking briefly with my consultants to get started.(P.S.: If you’re no longer interested in getting periodic updates, let me know and I promise I won’t follow up again. Thanks for your time.)

Regards,
Cool sounding (English) name

Well, where do I start?
Things to be suspicious of:

  • It’s a Gmail account, could be anyone.
    awww, he’s being honest…
  • We’ve spoken?
    Doesn’t know your name.
  • Know anything about your site?
  • He has no website?
  • Only email contact address
    Could be anywhere in the world.

My advice, even if it was a *real* email
Ask them exactly they are going to do for you.

  • There is no secret sauce, if they won’t tell you, run away
  • If they claim great links from quality sites, that means they’re spamming the blogs.
    Quality sites are generally not giving links to someone they don’t even know.
  • Social Media
    Just a buzzword. Same thing, what work are they going to do?
    Are you willing to let them be the face of your business?

This is just a start. Any more ideas?

Custom WordPress login and registration page

WP logoMy client wanted to have extra forms on their user registration page on their WordPress site so they could capture more information about the visitors who signed up for their website.

In the past I had used a plugin called Register Plus Redux, but unfortunately it’s not supported any more. Because of the popularity of WordPress there’s usually a similar plugin available. That was true and easily found with a quick search called Cimy User Extra Fields.

The next problem that I had was that my client was not happy at all with the look of the standard WordPress registration form. It’s pretty easy to change the look of the standard registration page, but there are many people who want it to have the same look and feel as the rest of their pages and posts. A custom registration page for WordPress, not an unreasonable request.

Unfortunately this was no easy chore, but after many hours of searching I came across a plugin called Theme My Login. What a find! It is simple to install and worked great. It’s very simple and can be used in it’s default format, but is also highly customizable.

I can see where I’m going to use this for many clients.

Everyone wants to optimize their website

People ask me all the time what the best way to “Optimize” their website. To be found by the search engines.

When I think of the word “optimize”, I don’t think of the search engines, I think of my human visitors.
What’s the best and easiest way for them to get what they want.

This is a great way to think about it
Website Optimization Basics on search engine watch

Non sharable video embeds

A customer of mine wants to have a video site for lessons.

Video is in a state of flux these days. Up until recently you could just embed a Flash stream.
Then, Apple decided not to support Flash and now your iThingy won’t play it.

It’s not such a bad thing. The web is much more open with html5, but for now, until the best one shakes out, video has to be encoded three different ways to be seen in all browsers

  • mp4 for Safari / iOS video
  • ogg for Firefox / Opera / Chrome10
  • and finally a fallback to Flash for any others

YouTube would have been the easy answer, but the customer didn’t want his students to be able to share his videos and that’s not an option with YouTube.

It’s not that hard to do it yourself if you’re comfortable converting your videos to those formats.
If you’re going to host the files at your server, check your account to make sure you have a high or unlimited
bandwidth website hosting account. Videos can suck up a lot of bandwidth if they get popular.

I did some searching and business video hosting can get pretty expensive.
One that I see in many places is Vimeo. Their price seems reasonable, $199 a year (250,000 plays) and they give you full control of your embedded video.

I’ll let you know how this works out.

How to get visitors to your site

Filed under: Information,promotion,web design

I have written many times before that the best practice when writing new articles for your site it to write for your human visitors.

So many website owners these days are putting articles on their site that are stuffed with  “keywords” looking to be found on the search engines. They don’t realize that if the page doesn’t make much sense to the people who are reading it they won’t stay.

The results are, if they are lucky enough to gt their page ranked well in the search engines, the real target of their effort (people) just stop by and leave right away. However, the odds are they won’t get very high in the search rankings either because no one is going to link to them and inbound links are the main factor in doing well in search.

So what will do well? I tell my customers to write what they know and target at the human visitors. You should pick out your  search key words and place them in the title, then write your page. After you’re done look back and see if you can put your keywords into the text another time or two and still have it sound natural. I advise that you read it out loud. If it sounds spammy it probably is.

Google is on a quest this year and will have about 500 improvements to their search algorithm to eliminate or devalue spammy pages, not just their much talked about Panda update. They had a great post recently that I recommend called:

More guidance on building high-quality sites

Website security news from Google

One of the things I try to constantly pay attention is security. Especially website security.

it’s very important that you keep the programs running on your site up to date. Ones like WordPress and their plugins are constantly updating and they make it really easy to install the upgrades. usually with one click.

What about some of the other forms and scripts you have on your site. Have an email contact form? Perhaps a script that lets your visitors print your page or recommend your site to someone else?

It’s not unusual for a website owner have these forms installed, maybe by a website designer and then forget about them. Let me assure you that while your site may have stayed the same, hackers never rest and they are always looking for their next target.

There’s plenty of help for webmasters out there and some of the best if direct from Google and it’s free. if you are not subscribed to their Webmaster Central Blog yet you should be. They had a really good post on security yesterday and i recommend it.

Website Security for Webmasters

Starting on a new website? Read this

If you are thinking of building a new website or redesigning your old site this great post on speckyboy.com is definitely worth reading.

When starting a new site I try to ask my prospective client not just, how do you want your site to look, but what do you want your site to do? That’s important because most visitors don’t just want to see your brochure any more and maybe more importantly the search engines don’t either.

Stop Thinking in Pages: A Web Developer’s Perspective

Online Generators For Web Development

Every once in a while you run into such a great collection of tools online that you just have to stop and play with them for a while.

That’s what happened to me today when I discovered this post on a site called Splashnology. There are links to so many good tools here like background image makers, CSS makers and more than I can mention here.

If you are interested in some great free tools to help your website look better I highly recommend that you check out

Online Generators For Web Development – Ultimate Colleсtion

Why you can’t trust PayPal

There have been many times when I have recommended that my clients use PayPal for credit card processing. They are simple to set up with no upfront fees.

Unfortunately they also have a long history of freezing peoples accounts for minor infractions or even unfounded accusations. Usually the problems can be resolved, but in the meantime your money is frozen. Not good if you are a small business on a tight budget. For that reason I always advise removing the money from PayPal as soon as possible and as often as possible.

Today PayPal froze the defense fund for Bradley Manning, the accused leaker behind the Wikileaks circus even though the person with the PayPal account has never had any problems with them before. No matter how you feel about Mr Manning’s guilt or innocence this is not acceptable.
What? PayPal doesn’t believe in a fair trial?
Pressured by the government?

I, for one, will do my best from now on to find, use and recommend alternatives to PayPal and I’m sure new ones will be sprouting up all over the place due to this fiasco.

PayPal cuts service to Courage to Resist, Bradley Manning support

Update: as of 6:30 PayPal has unfrozen the account. They claim that the tremendous amount of bad publicity this has generated had nothing to do with their decision. (Yeah, I believe them)

 

Phone friendly websites

Here’s a really good article on the Google Webmaster Blog about how to make your website more phone friendly.

Making Websites Mobile Friendly

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