What did I learn last week – .htaccess file and other oddities

 

.htaccess

favicon.ico

googlexxxxxxxxxxxx.html

robots.txt

sitemap.xml

Not compulsory but in general a good idea to have.

 

.htaccess (hypertext access)

  • Custom Error pages (ie 404 etc)
  • Pw protection
  • Redirection – can redirect requests for one page to another (useful if your site changes)
  • Rewrite URLs – wheater your site uses www or not (URL Canonicalization)
  • Hot link prevention – (images usage from your website control)

A localized server configuration file to override default server configuration settings.

Name comes from – originally the file had one primary purpose – create pw protection – controls the access to any particular areas of the website.

Usually at the root folder.

Usage:

What .htaccess does?

  • Custom error pages (most common one – 404 “page not found”). Often not appreciated but very important.
  • If there is a broken link on website (your mistake). A custom error page to help user recover from the error.
  • There is no real rule to create one. Should look and feel same as homepage. Can place anywhere but you should tell server where to find it.
  • In form – ErrorDocument 404 /error/404.html – one line txt line (each elements separated by a space) in .htaccess file in the root of your web site (then applies to all pages on your site)
  • Inject some humor into your custom 404 error page

PW PROTECTION

  • Pw protection – in combination with a htpasswd file (containing encrypted username and password) Pw protection needs .htpasswd file in folder to be protected. You can set up as many id and pw combinations as you want. File can be located anywhere on the domain, ideally in a secure location.
  • If the .htpasswd file is located in the same folder as ht.access but if you have access to folders above the root, it should be placed there as its more secure.
  • Also used if you work with a file which you want to see live online but you want no one else to be able to view it.
  • How it works:
        • User requests access to folder by entering address in browser -> Server checks if folder contains .htaccess. -> If auth required: username and pw are asked.if incorrect 401 is issued, if correct, access is granted
          AuthName “Student Project work”
          AuthType Basic
          AuhUserFile /home/mawa/.htpasswds/.htpasswd
          Require valid-user

          AuthName – text that will display on the  authentication dialogue box
          AuthType – method used, Basic is the default
          AuthUserFile – server path to the password file
          Require – type of access (e.g. group access can be specified

.htpasswd file contains a list of User Name/PW combinations, one on each lineIf you want to add more than one pairs.

One pair of id and pw; id given in plain txt, the PW si encrypted using MD5 algorithm.

Free online tools to create .htpasswd files. Use notepad to save your .htpassword file and then upload to your site using FTP. One both .htaccess and .htpassword are in place, the folder is protected and accessible only by entering the correct authentication details. If the .htpasswd is not there, the .htaccess will still request the credentials (in which case no one will be able to access because there is no pw)

The auth dialogue box varies depending on browser.

If the auth in unsuccessful (incorrect pw or username), a 401 error is issued (You can make a custom page for 401 errors.)

(The Code Book by Simon Singh)

 

REDIRECTING
If you need to make changes on website.

  • 301 redirect
    It tells where the content is moved to. It knows the change is permanent and it will update index straight away. (Requesting for the new content)
    Its an .htaccess file;

 

Redirect 301 /acad/ http://xxx.net/xxx/xxx

Inbound links are not usually updated in any systematic way -> keep the redirect in place for as many years as appropriate

(for the users who got main links for your site)

In some reason you may want temporary redirect -> not telling search engine it’s a permanent move (if you are fixing your site, if your site is down)

 

REWRITING URLs USING .htaccess

Apache server called mod_rewrite used.

  • to change http:/www to www.
  • to change .co.uk to .com (to use either/or)
  • rewrite URL’s which are generated by blogs, formus and cms’s so that they are more instantly memorable and usable by search engines – SEO purposes to get the keywords to your URL! (in case of wordpress article presenting, the wordpress transforms the “ugly” URL with and article name)

CACONICALIZATION

It is an SEO issue. Search engines may think

http://www.mysite.com

and

http://mysite.com

are different wesites when, infact, they are the same.

To force all URLs to be rewritten with “www” even if the request was made without it:

RewriteEngine On
Rewrite Cond %{HTTP_HOST}^mysite.com$[NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.mysite.com$1 [R=301,L]

HOTLINKING

To stop hotlinking (If for example someone is using your images or other data and stealing your bandwith):

If the file (jpg, gif, etc) is requested by another server, not a local server, issue a failed request. To annoy you can also send to different image or any different file! 🙂

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?mydomain.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ http://www.mydomain.com/angryman.gif [R,L]

SITEMAP.xml

Very similar to html. Not very options available. It tells Google and other search engine spiders which content you would like them to index (for crawl).

Lists all the important content on your website. Includes options that allow you to spesify how often the content changes and its relative importance.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap/0.84">
  <url>
    <loc>http://www.websitearchitecture.co.uk/</loc>
    <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
    <priority>0.5</priority>
  </url>
  <url>
    <loc>http://www.websitearchitecture.co.uk/programme-details</loc>
    <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
    <priority>0.5</priority>
  </url>
  <url>
    <loc>http://www.websitearchitecture.co.uk/core-courses</loc>
    <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
    <priority>0.5</priority>
  </url>
</urlset>

 ROBOTS.txt

to tell crawl/spider where they should not go – list of content you do not want to index. Evenn if you have no content you dont want to index, still add it! If the content is not found, a 404 error is issued and the spider continues with crawling your site. robots.txt avoids 404 error.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /error/
Disallow: /includes/
Disallow: /forum/clientscript/
Disallow: /forum/cpstyles/
Disallow: /forum/customavatars/
Disallow: /forum/customgroupicons/
Disallow: /forum/customprofilepics/
Disallow: /forum/images/
Disallow: /forum/includes/
Disallow: /forum/install/
Disallow: /forum/signaturepics/
Sitemap: http://www.websitearchitecture.co.uk/sitemap.xml

It is good to add robots.txt file in your web root. Do not forget to add your sitemap when you have one in place! Looks like this:

==============
User-agent: *
Disallow:
=============

FAVICON

A small graphic image that appears in the address bar and other places when website is viewed in a browser. 16×16 inch. Special type of image file (.ico) that is not supported by mainnstream applications (Photoshop has no native support, Fireworks CS4 + has; plugun for Photoshop available). Context sensitive!

If you create a lot of icons,  it may be worth spending a bit of money ($49) on an application like IconWorkshop.

Adding the Favicon to your site:

  • When you save your icon, it should be called favicon.ico, this is the default filename the server will look for, just as it looks for index.html
  • Use FTP to upload favicon.ico to the root folder of your website.
  • There is no need to add a link tag to the <head> of your HTML files if you use the default filename and place it in the root folder.

Point to Favicon using a <link> tag only if:

  • icon file is called other than favicon.ico or is in a sub-folder. (if you want to have it in images folder etc)
  • if you want to use different icons in different parts of your page (blog has different one from main part of web etc)
  • to conform to W3C preferences
<link rel="icon" type="image/x-icon" href="/folder/favicon.ico" />

CHMOD

Change Mode (CHMOD) is a method used in Unix operating systems for setting file permissions. When uploaded via FTP its given default permission settings. Expresed in 3 digit number – default value 644 –  all can view but only the server can write.

If it is a folder – 755.  In order to maintain security, you should only change permissions on files and folders where it is absolutely necessary.  This file listing shows
a WordPress blog. The permissions for the folder “wp-content” have been set to 777 because WordPress uses it to store uploaded content.

What did I learn last week – Social Media

To get the attention of your viewers to your social media links you need to use both strategy and good taste. To design a good call-to-action social media icon/link you need to think about its positioning, its color, approach, style, size, everything. You also need to keep in mind that you want to get the attention of your viewers to the social side of your website without distracting from what’s important, such as the content. In my opinion, a good social media link is one that you have no trouble to finding and when you find it, you like what you see. – Gizele Miller

Social Media is a tool that allow the sharing of information and creation of communities through online networks of people.

Social Media for Busines:

  • Gain Likes – opt-in marketing list
  • Motivate to gain followers
  • Updates and offers to maintain followers

Customer feedback (seek feedback from customers on a new and existing products)

Customer service (honest and promt to customer enquiries/complaints)

Widgets and buttons(make it easy o share your content)

 

Blog – It is difficult to start forum as at the beginning it is “empty”.

FB

FB Pages – to attract more business.

3 kinds of FB:

  • FB personal account
  • FB Groups (closed discussion)
  • FB pages

Set up: must be logged in to your personal account, you can not set one up; bottom right – create a page button; follow options.

Once the page is set up, go to you personal page, you can see personal account and pages – visible only for administrator. (Button to edit) Because it is Page – people can Like it (ie Friend with the business). You can have more than 1 administrator (edit admins)

Like your page – instant form of communication! Give them good reason to Like.

(special offers, new content, fan only content maybe,…)

When you set up your Page, make all media files available (video, images). You need to continue give quality content to keep people attracted for not to Dislike.

If non fan visits page – come and join option for benefiting…

You need 25 Likes for FB.com.

If you are adding Like button, there are 2 different type of Like buttons – Like website or Like FB page.

Insights – only admin can see. Friends of fans – direct contact is with people who have Liked your page – its good to get Friends to share the content!

Story – likes, posts, shares or comments – interaction with your page

Friends of Fans can be quite compelling!

FB connect

Integrating FB to your web page – FB apps. When people interacts with your web page it appears on their newsfeed – clever way of marketing!

Canvas – you can create as many pages as you want called what ever you want which will be listed – gives an iFrame.

FB will give you code how to add widgets and buttons to your page.

You can have a live stream from FB page (status updates) Customers can import the latest activity to timeline.

FB also provides customer service opportunities (FB can be used for customer contacts – feedback / complaints via the “wall” or “message” systems. Reply to public messages quickly and view criticism as a chance to improve. Never delete user feedback because it is a complaint).

EdgeRank – everything do not appear to Friends page?

(Your status within the FB network)

Cross posting (FB is not the same as Twitter so don’t make the mistake of cross-posting the same messages between the two platforms, unless they are appropriate for both).

FB Marketing Links:

Commerce

PR

Media

Marketing solutions

For news sites

Pages.

G+

New in market but it is gaining popularity (remember – it links with the biggest search engine!!!) (similar to FB though)

Followers – Circles – possible to post on certain Circles only.

Good for separating customers from suppliers – provides segmentation.

Hangouts – a high quality video chat.

  • Promoting your website

There are lots of ways to promote your site and Google+ page. Promote it yourself with Google+ Direct Connect and the Google+ badge, and let others recommend you with the +1 button. Including the Google+ logo in your marketing materials, directing users to ‘Follow you on Google+’ and using other media outlets to let people know you’re on the platform are also great ways to grow your followers.

Twitter

You can comment on anything and anyone can pick up the tweet. If its interesting he/she can retweet or become a follower. Lifetime of a tweet is limited though.

You can comment also by tweeting about something in your industry to get followers.

# tag – if you want a particular word or company – retrieve similar tweets.

You can also send direct messages via twitter.

Twitter for business:

Follow button – Promote your Twitter account and make it easy for people to follow you directly from your website.

Widget – Put your updates anywhere or create a live stream for an event. Compatible with Facebook, MySpace, Blogger etc.

Twee button – Add a Tweet button to your website and let people easily share your content on Twitter.

Promoted Tweets

Use Promoted Tweets to amplify your message with targeting options that allow you to reach the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

Promoted Tweets can be targeted to search results or to user timelines. Twitter’s geographic targeting increases the relevance of your message based on location.

Promoted Tweets in search: Use Promoted Tweets to reach users while they search for their interests on Twitter. Promoted Tweets targeted to search terms appear at the top of the results page.

Promoted Tweets in timelines: Use Promoted Tweets to amplify messages to your followers or users who are like your followers. Promoted Tweets targeted to users’ timelines appear at or near the top of their timeline when they log-on or refresh their homepage.

Targeting followers puts your message in front of your brand advocates

Targeting users like your followers extends the reach of your campaign and brand to more users who are receptive to your message

Geographic targeting: Increase the relevance of your campaign by targeting your message to a specific geography. Promoted Tweets can be targeted at the country level or at the U.S. regional level.

Political campaigns: Use Promoted Tweets in search or in timelines to reach Twitter users during the election season. Campaigns requiring FEC-compliant notices will feature a purple promoted icon at the bottom of the Promoted Tweet. The disclaimer appears when a user hovers over the Promoted Tweet.

Promoted Tweets are priced on a Cost-per-Engagement (CPE) basis, so you only pay when someone retweets, replies to, clicks or favorites your Promoted Tweet. In addition, impressions on Retweets are free and can extend the reach and cost-effectiveness of your campaign many times over.

Just like organic Tweets, relevant and interesting messages are rewarded above all else. Tweets that engage and resonate with users will appear more frequently.

YouTube
Benefits:

create your own “channel” page

results might appear in google standard search

people are using YouTube as a search engine in its own right

earn CPC when adverts are displayed over video

product support / “how to” videos – reduce customer service overheads

embed videos in your website

viral marketing opportunities

Here are 34 ways to use YouTube (and other video hosting services) for business.

Expertise and Thought Leadership

  1. Upload recordings of presentations you’ve given, to demonstrate authority and public speaking skills.
  2. Share slides from presentations that weren’t recorded.
  3. Create short videos of valuable tips of interest to your clients and prospects to show off your expertise.
  4. Conduct an interview with an expert.
  5. Turn your podcasts into videos, to expand your reach.
  6. Engage with the YouTube community by leaving comments and uploading video responses to videos on topics related to your business or industry.
  7. Enhance your videos using YouTube’s special features, such as annotations, audioswap, insight, language options and quick capture. Also see what’s cooking in the YouTube Biz Blog and TestTube for more  upcoming features.
  8. Record an important meeting to share with employees, shareholders and others, as appropriate.

Marketing and Advertising

  1. Set up a channel to reflect your brand and engage with others. Here’s an example from The White House.

10.Choose a user name that reflects your brand for your channel URL.

11.Add your channel URL to marketing collateral and social network profiles.

12.Post customer video testimonials to add to your credibility.

13.Put together a creative video explaining your product or service.

14.Show your product in action using movie trailer-style: fast, creative and catchy.

15.Show the results of someone using your services.

16.Promote your events using recordings of previous events.

17.Introduce your staff to add authenticity.

18.Take viewers on a tour of your offices and city to help them feel connected with you.

19.Ask others to use your product in their videos (like product placement in movies) and cross-promote each other.

20.Post links to your videos on various social networks.

21.Look into YouTube Promoted Videos to reach your target through contextually-relevant search results.

22.Use Google AdWords on Google Content Network, which includes sites like YouTube. These use text-based ads and don’t require a video from your business. Research thePlacement Tool to identify the best placements for your ads.

23.Earn money from your videos by entering into a partnership with YouTube.

24.Run a contest.

25.Add Call-to-Action overlays to your videos to drive traffic to your web site.

26.Study your channel’s performance with the integrated Google Analytics and YouTube Insight to make the most of your videos.

27.Display company information in every video including name, URL, phone number and email address.

Customer Service

28.Create “how to” videos to help your customers use your product or service.

29.Post solutions to common product or service problems.

30.Answer customer-specific questions using videos. Imagine how surprised a customer will be when you point them to a video with the answer!

31.Embed videos on your web site on appropriate pages, including customer support and product tours.

32.Post a blog entry discussing a problem and include a video for visual support.

33.Go the extra mile by adding closed-captions or subtitles to your videos. Remember that not everyone can watch or hear videos in the same way.

34.Show a work-in-progress project to a customer for review and approval, without the need for a face-to-face meeting or in-person demo.

NB! Quality images and videos!!!

Social Bookmarking

Specifically for sharing links:

Share yur own useful contet on these sites;

Provide “share this” buttons on web pages!

Social bookmarking is a method for internet users to organize, store, manage,share and search for bookmarks of useful web content. Search engines (might) favour sites appear within social media sites.

15 most populat bookmarking websites:

Twitter

Digg – Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by our community.

StumleUpon

Reddit

Pinterest

BuzzFeed

Delicious – Delicious helps you find cool stuff and collect it for easy sharing. Dig into stacks created by the community, and then build your own!

Tweetmeme

FARK

Slashdot

Friendfeed

Clipmarks

Newsvine

Diigo

DZone

(Chime.in)

Online Communitites

a social network of individuals who interact through internet media, potentially crossing geographical and political boundaries in order to pursue mutual interests or goals.

Forums

  • an internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages.They differ from chat rooms in that conversations are not necessarily in real time
  • source of user generated content
  • promotes community
  • moderation can be challenging
  • software to run forums:

Blogs

  • blogs are often considered to be a form of social media:
  • comments / discussion
  • share buttons

Chat rooms

a website application where visitors can exchange messages by typing them on-screen which makes them appear to scroll by as a conversation develops with other visitors to the site.

Virtual worlds

a virtual world is an online community that takes the form of a computer-based simulated environment through which users can interact with one another and use and create objects.

What did I learn last week – Revenue Models

Freemium

Freemium is an eCommerce business model which a product or service is provided free of charge, but a premium is charged for advance features, functionality, or related products and services.

The free version of the product should be useful without the need to upgrade to premium version (often there are obvious limitations that make upgrading tempting).

If you think you got valuable content on your site you can charge for it is considerable.

Should be useful without a need to upgrade.

Flickr – limited services for free, for extra space you got to pay

SoundCloud – limited 120min music for free, after that you got to pay, pay more – more features

FreeDigitalPhotos.net – small version is free, for bigger sizes you would need to pay

(policy – if you use for free you got to say from where you got the image from, to remove it you need to pay)

(With Freemium it is 2-5% who actually buy)

Freemium works for digital products as the cost is actually next to nothing.

Subscription content

Also known as Paywall, access content, 3 types:

  • Hard paywall – u cant get any content without pay
  • Soft paywall – type of freemium, degree of items for free
  • No paywall – free online

Benefiting search engine e traffic.

Internet advertising (CPM, CPC)

What type of advertising is appropriate for your site?:

  • None – be aware of distraction!
  • Value added – contextual  – the adverts are related to topic or page of your website; an extra income for your website
  • Ads as serious source of income – deliberately positioned to get clicked
  • Aggressive – pop-ups, pop-unders, overlays

Advertiser is the website or company who wants to advertise through banner adverts or other websites

Publisher is the website or company that displays the adverts, in return for payment

All related to the content on your page.

You can have 4 adverts on your page. Top one will pay more than the one on the footer. Even small websites can make money.

Inventory – your available advertising place. Its different kind of design (home page design, the actual page designed for adverts)

Advertising network – aka brokers. Advertising networks will take their cut (sometimes more than 50%)

(Google AdSense is advertising network)

Pricing:

CPC – you will not get paid for displaying the advert, only when its clicked

CPM – cost per thousand (millie)

CPA – cost per action (when certain action is completed)

ECPM – effective cost per thousand

CPS – cost per sale – not used very often (you get paid when something is paid)

Tenancy – flat rate with advertiser

Advertising network is company which connects advertisers to publishers. Their key function is the aggregation of supply from publishers and matching it with advertising demand.

They will try to match the adverts to content (context).

You generally have to have degree of traffic to sign up – so, not necessarily from day one!

There is minimum pay out – often $100.

Buysellad.com – possible to browse where to advertise

Google AdSence

An advertising network. Program which allows publishers to serve automatic contextual text, image, video and rich media adverts.

Key features:

  • Very contextual
  • Publisher has (some) control over appearance and text ads. Advertiser can chose color scheme
  • Publisher can remove adverts from certain publishers.
  • Google has strict quality standards for publishers sites
  • Range of reports to help optimize revenue
  • Integrates with Google Analytics for strong reports

AdSence for search – Google technology on your site

AdSence for feeds

AdSence for mobile

AdSence for video – displays ads over videos you host yourself

AdSence custom search ads – show contextual ads on ypur own site search pages (ads which match the search terms)

Any CPC network is targeted for clock fraud (from publishers who attempt to increase revenue; advertiser’s competitors who want to cost them money)

Don’t attempt to sign up for adverts in case your site is “work on progress” state

Affiliate schemes

In affiliate scheme webmaster promotes another company’s products. The webmaster is rewarded when customer buys a product (reward- flat rate or %)

Brings together the merchant, the publisher and the customer.

Customer is attracted via:

Banner aids, text links, widgets, feeds.

Often a cookie is installed so that when customer buys the product even after 30 days, you will get the reward.

If your website is global, Ad Management Software is handy!

Comission Junction – http://uk.cj.com/

ClickBank – http://www.clickbank.com/index.html

Other revenue generating ideas

Sponsored blog posts – https://payperpost.com/

Job boards – http://www.jobthread.com/publishers

Donations – donations by PayPal in return of good useful content

In-text advertising – http://www.vibrantmedia.com/in-text_advertising/index.asp

(advert pops up when you hoover over it)

What did I learn last week – Analytics & Competitor Research

  • Competitors are the pages who rank highly in search engine results for the same or similar products or services that you offer.
  • Timing
  • Assuming you have done your KW research
  • How to find your competitors
  • Enter one of the targeted keywords into one of
  • the main search engines – the leading sites
  • will show.
  • NB! Choose your geographical region!
  • Analyzing competitor’s web pages gives you better idea about the condition of the market you are entering + the level of optimization required for your own site.

SEO competitor analysis will build a picture of the online topology. I helps expose opportunities & guide your online campaign in the right directions.

  • SEO Competitor Analysis

Essentially broken into wo major areas:

  • On-page – all of the standard SEO elements (meta, h, content, kw focus, site structure, internal linking etc + also check usability, branding, image etc)
  • Off-page – primarily back-links (how many, where they are from, what quality, most importantly – can you recreate them for your own site)

On-Page Analysis (what to check)

  • Domain age
    Search engines determine authoritativeness and trust. (there is a contraversy about it as search engines go with the date domain was registered not with the date it was first indexed.)
    http://www.seologs.com/dns/domain-check.html
  • Backlinks
    Find out how many of the links to your competitors contain your target keywords then try to have more inbound links that contain your target keywords than your competitors’ in order to beat your competitor.
    http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/
  • PageRank spread of the linking pages
    PageRank is a link analysis algorithm developed by Google, Inc., used to measure the amount of links a page has to determine it’s relative importance. The higher the PageRank a URL has, the higher is its authority is with Google. PageRank is one of the few factors that webmasters can use to determine the strength of a web page. If a website has a high PageRank, chances are it has a large amount of strong inbound links, and Google has ranked the site appropriately. PageRank is updated every 3-6 months at Google’s discretion, and should not be used as a definitive way to judge the trust of a website; it only gives us an idea of the website’s authority and link power based on Google’s algorithm.
    Find the Google PageRank of each page that links to your competitors, for it can also help you in finding out why some websites rank higher than others. Try to get more high PR links to perform better than them.
  • Top level domains of the linking pages
    Try to have more backlinks from websites that use the corresponding top level domain than your competitors.
  • Content of the linking pages
    Google prefers websites that get links from related websites. Goal for more inbound links from related websites than the websites of your competitors.
  • Metric Analysis
  • Page Authority (PA)
    The relevancy and quantity of high quality sites and domains that link to the page.
  • Domain Authority (DA)
    The relevancy and quantity of high quality sites and domains that link to the entire domain.
  • Unique Domains
  • The quality of inbound links that point to a specific URL or page  as Google looks at specific linking domains and the quantity of unique domains tends to be better.
  • Unique URLs
    The true quantity of inbound links as Google looks at the specific linking URLs and domains.
  • Keyword Relevance
    How relevant a specific URL or page is for a specific keyword or phrase. KW in URL reflects how many of the target keywords are present in the ranking URL
  • Keyword Focus
    Is the page obviously targeting a keyword? (present in the Meta, the H1 title, the content, etc.) Are they trying to target multiple keywords with one page? Are keywords bolded or otherwise highlighted in the content. Is there enough content to achieve a high level of keyword focus?
  • Meta Data
    Description and titles should be present and in-line; character limits, capitalisation etc. Also look for unnecessary Meta data such as “Keyword” tags, these are not used by Google anymore but they can impart some little insights into what they’re targeting. Many websites still list all of their keywords in a single Meta tag. This is great for us as immediately you can see everything they are targeting, this data can be used later to see how well they are ranking for each of these words.
  • Site Structure
    How many pages does the site have? Is it structured in such a way that 2nd and 3rd tier pages are easily accessible? Are URLs created dynamically by search functionality or are the pages static?
  • Additional Files
    (robots.txt, sitemap.xml, an error 404 page and a sitemap.html…) Are they present and are they setup correctly?
  • Dodgy tactics
    Does the site use spam tactics (keyword stuffing or duplicated content)? Has it been copied from another website or appear to be using hidden text? This will highlight the nature of the market you are in, if many sites use these underhand tactics then it is likely that they will experience a short lifetime in the SERPs.

Now Compile & Review Search Engine Result Page (SERP) Data!

Find out your three primary target keywords used by your competitors then gather and review the Domain Authority, Page Authority, Keyword Relevance and Keyword in URL Data of these targeted keywords.

When performing web analytics, pay attention to every detail, particularly traffic sources. If you get traffic from your competitor websites, check out the pages they go to and how much time they spend on viewing them.  In case your competitor regularly visits your blog page and spends 2 minutes in average – he’s keeping a track of your updates.

Know the SEO program your competitor uses for web analysis – most of the companies use SEO tools for web analysis. Once you identify the tool your competitor uses you’ll have the opportunity to find out what he can track. NB! your business performance depends on how well you understand your competitors.

How to define which SEO program your competitor uses?

  • On competitor website’s landing page, open HTML source and check out the tracking code. Discovering the tracking code (it is possible to find out the SEO tool he uses). This is difficult, however taking into account that it is crucially important, it’s worth trying.
  • Be aware of competitor updates.
  • Remember, your competitors are doing the same thing and that is, trying to beat you; especially if you constantly grow and improve your services, your competitor will want to offer suchlike staff to stand out in the market. For this – regularly check out your competitor’s web site to track his updates and whether or not he has copy/pasted anything.
  • NB! being aware of what your competitor does and what he knows about you means having some idea on his upcoming projects. (This is already a success.) In addition this is a great learning experience to know if your competitor has succeeded in achieving what you are intending to achieve and in case he did how he managed these all.

Off-Page Analysis

For this you need to use tools!

  • Yahoo Site Explorer (now merged to Bing)
    Type URL into it and hit “explore”, ensure that you are looking at links “external to this domain” and links to the “Entire Site”. What you will be presented with is a list of back-links from pages on websites that link to the URL that you entered into the search field. The idea is that you can go through those links looking for places where you can get links from for your site – if you see a comment they made on a blog, go to it and see if you can get a link in the same way.
    Possible to find useful niche directories, relevant forums or sites from which you can get a link from (quite often a much quicker and easier way to find places to get a link from, you will not be able to get a link from every source that the competitor has, but you will be able to get some). Performing this for each of your major competitors means that you will be able to quickly gain lots of good links.

Competitor Analysis Tools

Many tools out there that offer more insights into competitor back-links, some will cross reference a specified number of competitors with your site and highlight places where more than 3 have a link from. Others will list the links in order of PageRank or keyword relevance, but these tools will normally cost to use and can vary in how much they cost from £50 per month to £1,000’s.

On-page analysis tools are also found in abundance on the net today, although most of them are free.

Good quality tools make a difference – a job will take less time or a significant amount more work can be achieved in the same time frame.

  • Yahoo site explorer – Free www.siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com – great for checking back-links
  • Majestic SEO – Paid – www.majesticseo.com – great for checking back-links
  • SEO Site Tools – Free – www.chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/diahigjngdnkdgajdbpjdeomopbpkjjc – Great little tool for on page and off page analysis
  • Linkdex – Paid – www.linkdex.com – great tool for off page analysis, but also has functionality for monitoring on-page SEO.
  • Status Search – Free – www.quirk.biz/searchstatus – On and off page analysis tool.
    Search and Social Media Tools – Many of the tools listed above can provide you competitive information as well. E.g. Set SM2 to monitor the keywords that describes your competitor and you can start to see what customers are saying about your competitors
  • Alexa – http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo – Alexa is the leading provider of free, global web metric
  • Compete – http://www.compete.com/
  • Quantcast – http://www.quantcast.com/
  • Google Trends for Websites – http://trends.google.com/websites
  • Google Ad Planner – http://www.google.com/adplanner

What did I learn last week – eCommerce

E-commerce systems such as your website can be used to market and sell to customers, and to provide after-sales support. E-commerce can also be an important part of strengthening relationships and improving the efficiency of your dealings with suppliers and other key trading partners.

Ecommerce content management systems (CMS) are critical for online retailers. Many ecommerce stores rely on CMS systems to maintain customer and product catalog data, perform payments and transactions, deliver online shopping cart features, marketing and search analytics, as well as SEO support.

  • platform functionality (many look simple and clean but are not functional)
  • SEO friendliness (slim – minimal in their code; easy – simple to implement on-site optimization)

Some of the most SEO-friendly content management systems provide a URL, page Title, meta description and meta keywords field for each page of the site. The ability to add these SEO elements uniquely to each page is a critical one-up for ecommerce optimization.

  • shopping cart checkout

Sometimes the process is too long and asks for too much information on too many pages, whereas other CMS are too brief with their checkout process, giving buyers a lack of confidence and motivation to shop elsewhere.

eCommerc CMS key features

  • add / edit / delete categories / sub-categories
  • standard CMS functionality for pages (e.g. about us, terms and conditions)
  • postage and packaging price management
  • e.g. by weight, by price, by country
  • tax management
  • e.g. VAT applied to EU destinations, not worldwide
  • stock control
  • options to take products off sale / leave available for back-order when stock depleted
  • cross selling facilitation
  • “if you like this you might also like this”
  • customer account management
  • emails: order received / order dispatched
  • payment gateway integration
  • discounts
  • offer codes
  • typical feature list: http://www.jshop.co.uk/features

other selling solutions

  • eBay
  • Amazon Market place
  • E-junkie
  • PayPal
  • Affiliates
  • Price comparison sites
  • Voucher code / cashback sites

Conversion rates

  • only 2-3% of eCommerce website visitors buy something – this is the conversion rate
  • cart abandonment rates are 75%

 Turn visitors into customers – How to increase conversion rate

targeted market (low traffic with high conversion rate rather than high traffic with low conversion rate)

long tail searches are more rewarding

social media following (FB with many ‘likes’, also builds trust)

price (if your price is higher its obviously less likely customer would buy, unless you are trusted site – loyalty)

hidden charges (shipping, tax etc) – no no! combined postage – yes!

promotions – vouchers after buying in the delivery box

usability (‘don’t make me think!’)

make sure your site search works!

quality of information (large images, 360’ view, video, accurate text, add to cart)

customer service (ph nr, this adds trust as well)

clearly publish return policy

may be to publish delivery time?, guarantee?

customer reviews

secure server connection (padlock)

display security badges

get listed directories (human edited)

put little widget to your site if you got lot of FB fans (how many ppl have ‘liked’ your page widget)

analytics is the key!

Cart abandonment

  • strip out navigation and other distraction
  • registration optional (even though its beneficial for customer) give an option
  • not too much data on check out (you only need addresses and name…)
  • show the progress to check out on the top
  • postcode look up
  • could detect country of origin
  • make form completion as user friendly as possible
  • foundation using jQuery (consider inline validation)
  • offer different billing address
  • some carts will time out – no no!; set the time for a day or 10hr or…
  • gentle cross selling but no aggression
  • provide link back to product
  • link back to product as a pop up window so basket wont be abandoned
  • review basket
  • payment gateway (lot of technical stuff involved but CMS will do it for you) internet merchant account needed for other than PayPal, 10% from the money is held back from you for 6 month in case of any claims – merchant is always at risk for fraud purchases (fraud credit cards etc) [PayPoint – 2.59% transaction charge + 25p fraud scoring + £18 per month service charge + 10% you will see after 6 month]

What did I learn last week – Marketing

Marketing

SEO

search engines’ aim to present the user with the most relevant web pages; ranked by popularity

• on-site SEO (website content itself) – within the direct control of webmaster

– conduct kw research early on in website development

– each page on website is an opportunity to write powerful unique content

– make sure engine knows what your site is about

kw should be in

– <title> tag

– <h> tags (h1 has more weight than h2, h3 etc)

– <meta name=”description” content=””/> (used by search engines on search result page, not for to influence ranking)

– <meta name=”keywords” content=””/> (ignored by main search engines, strong reason no to use as it gives away kw research for competitors)

– <strong>, <em>(highlight important keywords but don’t overdo it!

– descriptive <a href=””> (should describe the destination page; gentle kw can be useful to search engines, heavy can result penalization!)

– images (kw in file names, alt text – don’t forget alt main function!)

– URL form (kw’s in URL may influence ranking; where possible it should reflect site structure

– content (search engines love unique, continuously updated content! More content – more web spread!)

• off-site SEO (outside influence – inbound links, social media)

– inbound links (good quality inbound links (authoritative website in same industry, or related industry; one-way links preferred)

link generation

• good content has possibility to share!

• share buttons

• link exchange

• directories

• partnership links

• links from suppliers

• shares from social media

avoid!

• buying links

• companies who sell links ( x links for x£)

• link farms

• ‘too good to be true’ deals or anything!

Niche directories (specialize in a particular industry or subject – have relevant factor!)

• DMOZ (Open Directory Project) – get listed! (try once a year, it really can take months to get listed

if you don’t get listed, try again but don’t fret, many amazing sites can’t get listed due to inconsistencies in the process)

• SEO free directories to list your website

• anchor text (the text on which the hyperlink is placed, its “anchor text” can be very powerful)

Keyword research

The aim of KW research is to find out what people type in to search engines

• Google Keyword Tool

• Google suggests: predictive search

• wordtracker

An important marketing concept known as “The Long Tail” is used to describe the hundreds to thousands of keywords and key phrases that a website is found for, yet rarely noticed or exploited by owners of the website. The principle of the Long Tail is the opposite of focusing on the top 10-20 keywords for marketing your website. The “top keyword” concept is reinforced by agencies that contract to gain rankings for 10-20 terms, maybe 30. However, when studying the referrals from the search engines and the traffic they generate, those that focus on the top 10-20 terms may be missing the majority of their market.

Top search engine ranking for specific searches in incredibly hard to achieve, particularly for brand new websites. It is much more realistic to target long tail / niche searches.

Once success has been achieved with niche / long tail searches, the webmaster can set his sights on a more generic term.

Search engine advertising

• pay per click (pays only when clicked)

• contextual (highly targeted – advert only appears when someone is searching for that product or service)

• price influences (position of advert, top more expensive)

• position influences (keyword bid amount)

• management

• Facebook advertising (offers pay per click that is linked to FB user’s profile and ‘likes’)

Article marketing

Check article directories (should it really be a part of marketing strategy??)

Guest blogging

Contact bloggers in a related industry and offer to write an authoratitive article for them, in which you can include links to your site

PR

All internet marketing activity could be considered “PR”, particularly social media, article marketing and blogging

services exist that will distribute a press release to an established network of news sites, search engines and bloggers

press releases will include a link back to your website.

Social media as a powerful tool to influence SEO

– YouTube

– Facebook

– Twitter

– Google+

RSS feeds

Ideal for frequently added content. Embed RSS feeds. (see Feedburner) Many CMS generate RSS feed automatically (WordPress), some need plug on.

Viral marketing

Marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message.

Email marketing

– less costly than other media advertising

– instant, global

– hyperlinks create dynamic user experience

– forwarding option for user

– building relationships – weekly newsletters

– target specific customers (due to their registration forms)

– gathering customer feedback

– easy access to dynamic information on the success of your marketing campaign

– eco friendly – boosts your ‘green’ credentials

NB! HTML email designs must use “tables for layout” (no DIVs) and very simple CSS, due to archaic HTML support from Outlook and others

*Interspire Email Marketer,  MailChimpdotMailer

Offline marketing – do not neglect!


What did I learn last week – Content Strategy

Defining Content Strategy

Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content

A content strategy defines:

• key themes and messages

• recommended topics

• content purpose (i.e., how content will bridge the space between audience needs and business requirements)

• content gap analysis

• metadata frameworks and related content attributes

• search engine optimization (SEO)

• implications of strategic recommendations on content creation, publication, and governance

Content should be

• useful

• unique

• authorative

• influence SEO

Content planning

• websites are living things, update content regularly

• define a content release schedule and stick to it

• out of date / unchanging sites lose trust / ranking

• blogs are important because they provide new content regularly

• plan content carefully, remember: useful, unique, authoratitive!!

Writing for the web

text should be easy to read and follow

• remember who you are writing to (audience demography)

calls to action

– understand your user’s goals – what action do they want to take?

– understand your goals – what action do you want them to take?

alternative ways of information presentation

– images (HD, high resolution, wide screen, check the quality! alt text for accessibility. Descriptive filenames aid SEO! Larger images, with descriptive file names and alt text are more likely to rank higher in Google Image Search)

– photography

– diagrams

– videos (HD, host on YouTube and embed in site, no format/compatibility issues – playable on no-flash devices. HTML 5 video coming soon!)

– audio

– NB! accessibility!!!!

Information architecture

• ‘navigation by category’ architecture (sub, sub-sub categories…)

avoid having a particular content page in more than one category

• tagging – tag with keywords! (provides another navigation system, aids site search

– clear heading and title

– ‘active page’

– breadcrumbs

– site map

NB! do not relay on colour alone!

• version control (to restore backup, resolving errors, quality control, customer service)

• meta data (author’s name, date published, date updated)

Style / brand / tone of voice / personality

• brand is more than just a logo and name, it’s the way company’s staff communicate and behave, the style company uses to market itself! Website should be 100% aligned to its offline brand

– refer to documents produced by the brand teams

– define colour schemes

– font style and size

– use of logos

– tone of voice (formal/informal, adults/children; or everyone?)

– personality

What did I learn last week – Inro to CMS

CMS

a web based software application used to manage content on a website:

• User-friendly interface for non-technical website manage

• for faster development for web designers

Features and benefits:

• common functions – image galleries, forms etc

• user friendly, no technical knowledge required

• each page gets the design from a pre-built HTML/CSS template, custom coded by web designer or as a ready template

• add/edit/delete/unpublish pages or categories

• add/edit text

• upload images, pdf documents etc to page to page

• updates navigation links automatically for new pages

• social media plug-ins

• universal accessibility

CMS types

• WordPress

• Joomla!

• Drupal

• Perch

• Expresion Engine

• ModX

WordPress is most advanced

Image gallery CMS

• Zenphoto

• Menalto Gallery

• Pizel Post

eCommerce CMS

• PrestaShop

• Magento

• osCommerce

• jshop

Specialist CMS’s

• Moodle (learning management)

• WikiMedia (wiki)

• booking systems

Most CMS’s are free (WordPress, Joompa!, Drupal, ModX) – feedback comes from community therefore answers for problem may take time or not come at all L

Paid CMS (Perch £42; Expression Engine £65; CMS Builder £125) comes with professional support J and extensions are well tested

 

CMS usage

• In some cases CSM is not used

• standard (“out of the box”)

• standard + plug ins

• standard + own theme + custom built plug ins

• custom built CMS (Very large companies may use very expensive custom built CMS’s)

 

CMS installation

What to check:

• make sure your web host supports CMS you will use (check the list of requirements)

• amount of memory allocated to PHP (mostly for image galleries)

• availability of mod_rewrite Apache mpdule (required to produce search engine friendly URLs)

 

Preparing:

• download & unzip

• create new, empty MySQL database (usually via hosting control panel – Cpanel or Plesk)

• connect your website using FTP (Filezilla for example, its free!)

• some CMS ask to type the database connection details before uploading, some after

• may need to change permissions on certain directories (Drupal requires to change the sites/default directory permissions to 777)

• administrator username and password to set during installation

 

Some CMS hosting companies offer to install it for you (Fantastico, Softaculous), check they are using latest version of the CMS!! In this case you do not need to create a database or connect by FTP, its all done for you, just set username and password.

 

How to choose

• easiness for your client

• does it has what you need?

• you can combine CMS’s

For your thesis project, you are expected to design and code your own HTML/CSS templates, to demonstrate your learning

• free with community support

• affordable with commercial support

• search engine friendliness (does the CMS create keyword-laden URLs, for example www.website.com/services rather than www.website.com/index.php?id=5485. Most modern CMSs create search engine friendly URLs with the help of the “mod rewrite” function of the Apache web server.)

Suggested workflow

• define content strategy

• select CMS by researching its functions

• install & check functionality

• design the look and feel

• use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to build web templates

• make the templates available for use in CMS (download and study examples)

• test. And test again!

• review & correct

• launch

• client training and ongoing support

Template anatomy

<link href=”style.css” rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” media=”screen” />

<title>{{title}} = [[sitename]] </title>

[[scrips]]

</head>

<body>

 

<div id=”wrapper”>

<div id=”header”>

[[header]]

</div>

 

<div id=”sidebar”>

[[navigation]]

</div>

 

<div id=”content”>

<h1>{{title}}</h1>

{{content}}

</div>

 

<div id=”footer”>

[[footer]]

</div>

 

</div>

</body>

</html>

 

 

Elements with curly brackets {{}} are unique to this page

Elements with square brackets [[]] are common to other pages too

 

Extensions

• free add-ons

• extend with writing your own PHP code

• hire programmer to do it for you (offshore are often high quality and inexpensive – Elance)

• participate on support forums!