Tag Archives: Florida Web Design

Writer's BlockWriting a blog post is one of the most painful things that a small business holder might have to do during their already limited work time. But in the current context small businesses rely heavily on their online presence and on SEO for being visible, blogging becomes an essential tool for staying ahead of the competition.

But with limited time being utilized for 1000 different things, how can somebody write a blog post, much less a great blog post?

Well the trick is simpler than you think! Are we talking about hiring somebody to ghost write? Absolutely not. Ghost writers don’t share the same passion as you do about your business. Writing something on your own is something that can give you immense satisfaction and it can also be a good way for you to identify weaknesses of your business and marketing approach.

OK let’s get down to business. The ideal length of a blog post is about 400-500 words. If you are wondering, this post is already 180 words long. One thing that can help you with blog post writing is writing about something you are passionate about. Take me for example. I specialize in Search Engine Optimization and whatever I write about it comes to me naturally.

Don’t try to write about really complex matters in a blog post. A blog is hardly the best place for something like that. If you have a great subject topic, break it down to manageable bits. You’ll find it easy to write, you are going to find more topics to write about and your audience will love you for an easy to read and easy to remember post.

Try to make your blog posts interesting and to the point. It is always a good idea to try to engage your audience in the first paragraph and build your case from that point on. If you know anything about the inverted pyramid model of news reporting, I’m talking about that.

Also, use a couple of images that you might find for free. Try flickr.com or photos.com. You can find images that you can use for free after giving the owners proper credit for their images.

Another important thing you can do is linking back to your older posts. This works for you in several ways.

  1. You give value to blog posts that you’ve written already and get an opportunity to re-index them.
  2. Gives you an opportunity to direct viewers to your old posts that could be related in subject matter and beneficial to the reader.
  3. Those content thieves will be pushed hard to steal your content with their content scrapers.

 

So these are a few things that you can try when you are confronted with writing something for your blog. The best blog posts that I’ve written came off within 60-90 minutes like this one which has taken me about 66 minutes now.  So get cracking and share your experiences with the world (me included).

 

Image Courtesy – PhotoSteve101

With Google’s Matt Cutts admitting that Google is using website speed as a minor ranking factor, there had been quite some noise about page speed among the web design community. Now with the latest stats positively showing the page speed as not so significant as many believed it to be, can it actually affect a website negatively?

Not considering any SEO implications, page speed is an extremely important web usability element. Consider the following example originally published on Master New Media .

Gaze plots from two different users: The blue dots indicate where users looked (one fixation per dot).
  • Screen 1 – The first test participant in the top gaze plot fixated a few times within the big empty color block before the content downloaded, then spent the remaining time looking at the rest of the page. This user never looked at the big promotional space after it had rendered.
  • Screen 2- The second user (bottom gaze plot) happened to be looking away from the screen during the eight seconds when the promotional content downloaded. Thus, the first time he looked at the page he saw it as intended, complete with the entire promo.

The slideshow occupies 23% of the page and the user who had to endure the download delay spent only 1% of her total viewing time within this space.

In contrast, the user who in effect received instantaneous page rendering (because he didn’t look until it was done), spent 20% of his viewing time within the slideshow area.

So in essence if the page speed has been optimized, the marketing team would have seen some more traction with their well planned advertisement. But in this case, all that effort was spent in vain.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to website speed is “let the audience be in control”. Remember, it’s the audience who interact with the website and it’s them that matters to you or your client. Every second of delay in website speed is a negative impact on the audience and lead them to realize that they are no longer in control. In such case, you or your clients are going to lose credibility which is not helpful at all.

So it might be a good idea to start looking at page speed. There are many free tools to check speed. We use a Firefox plugin called ‘Yslow’. Google is going one step ahead and offering a Page Speed tool for free http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/

Check out this video from the Google dev team.

 

Twitter is one of the fastest growing social media tools. Loved by millions who use it for its simplicity and shortness, Twitter is a far more effective way to communicate with a peer group than Facebook or any other social media.

Twitter’s simplicity should not be underestimated, the real power is in harnessing ones followers. Hypothetically speaking, if Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) were to retweet one of your tweets about your product to his 6.5 million followers, chances are they in turn would retweet the same to their followers. Before you know it a tweet can go viral and be noticed by millions. If a company were to try to reach an audience say of 6 million TV viewers, they’d have to spend some real money. Twitter is free. Unlike many other social media, Twitter is always on the go, things are constantly changing by the second.

The good news is that it is easily accessible. It’s supported by almost all the smart phones and almost any internet device, so keeping your followers up-to-date is easy.

In some cases, Tweeps, as the Twitter users are known, tend to think out loud through their tweets. In fact there are many well documented instances where brands, famous people, journalists, sports personalities among others found themselves saying things that they shouldn’t be saying in the first place. Therefore it is a good idea to read up on twitter etiquette and establish a companywide protocol for tweeting.

So how can a small company find its way in this tweet-maze? It’s not difficult to start, start with meaningful tweets about your industry. No one is going to care if you just picked up Starbucks for the day, so keep the personal stuff away. First it would help to have a good idea what Twitter is and how to use its many unique features. For example, Twitter hash tags and lists are two of the most important weapons in a good tweep’s armory.

Let’s say that your company rents out party equipment. You could tweet about a new line of Gazebos that just came in and tag the tweet with a #gazebo hashtag. So let’s say a user in Miami is searching Twitter for a Gazebo rental in Miami. The tweet could be something like this: “Nice #party by the Virginia Key Beach #Miami under a nice blazing red #gazebo by www.sample.com”. The hashtag gives the user an opportunity to tap into more interesting tweet streams.

Start off by following people in your industry. Always try to keep the Followers and Following ratio close to each other. It is sometimes suspect if someone is following 5000 people but only has 2 followers. Keep posting meaningful content and you’ll see your follower count rising on its own. Share things about your area of expertise; answer general questions on your field; follow hash tags which have a good focused following; (This however does not necessarily include the trending topics!) and be a good tweep in general.

There are a few tools you can use to increase your presence in the Twittersphere. Start with the Twitter business section. It can give you really nice pointers on what you can do on Twitter to promote your business effectively on Twitter. Read this case study on moxsie available on twitter business section.

Take some time off to think through your twitter strategy. It can help you a lot with taking your brand to the next level of online visibility.

Google's panda update

Google updates its indexing and ranking algorithm quite regularly. In fact, they release about 400 new updates typically every year. Most of them are minor tweaks, but once in a while they release updates that are really huge like the Panda update they rolled out recently (early March 2011).
According to Matt Cutts, the head of the Google Web Spam team, the Panda update is in fact an algorithm update geared at taking down low quality content made specifically to rank well for important keywords. Such pages are often monetized using various advertising platforms getting the publishers millions of dollars in revenues in some cases.

With the Panda update, Google believes that it can deliver better search results for searchers and improve their search experience which had come under fire in various instances for not being consistent. For a long time, Google rankings were good for the first page for a given search query; hence the drive for ranking well in the first page of Google results.

So with the Panda update, Google is trying to separate the wheat from the chaff in a bid to improve their search quality. With low quality content given less value in their search index, Google believes that it can provide better web page results.

The Panda update is a blessing for websites that host valuable content for humans, not robots. Most of the sites that are affected are content farms or sites which contain scraped content from all over the web. With the initial roll out of the Panda update in the US, content networks such as Mahalo, Ezine articles and Wisegeek found themselves in hot water with ranking changes from -70% to -94% in some instances.
At the same time, websites with good user generated content have seen their rankings improve. So what’s the bottom line with the Google Panda update?

Well, if you have good content that is not specifically targeted at search engines, you are probably ok. To make sure, check out your Google Analytics to see whether there has been a dip in traffic from US visitors (as the Panda update is currently for US search results, but soon to be rolled out internationally). If so, you might be a victim of the Panda. Even Google has admitted that their new algorithm is not without faults and if you think that your site is a genuine victim, head over to Google Webmasters Tools and submit a reconsideration request.
If you think that there might be a problem with your website, correct any issues and send a reconsideration request and always remember that SEO is all about improving the value of your site for your visitors, not for search engines.

Photo credits JL08

The internet has certainly made the world a smaller place but that does not mean that the world is becoming more homogenous. Quite the opposite is happening in fact, as the more people that go online the more the web becomes culturally mixed.

SEO for businesses today must consist of much more than using the latest design trends. Designers should also be designing sites that take the full range of people viewing the site into consideration. The largest and most successful companies know that they have to offer different versions of their web content so as to appeal to everyone who accesses their websites. Continue reading

Join the team at “The Groove Spot” on Thursday at 7:30pm for this month Refresh Miami where they will have two great presentations that will help to be iPad-ready.

First Damian Montero will present “How to Make Your Website iPad Friendly,” showing how to leverage HTML5 in order to play videos and more on the portable device.

The second presentation is by Luciano Ibias, COO of Zila Networks, the company behind the successful Friends Around Me, who will talk about “iPad App in a Week: How To Port Your App From iPhone To iPad.”

Follow the April speakers on Twitter:
Damian Montero @damianmontero
Luciano Ibias @ibias

Please RSVP Via Facebook
iPad Crash Course

Date: Thursday, April 29, 2010
The Grove Spot
3324 Virginia Street
Miami, FL 33133

Time: 7.30 PM

The South Florida User Experience Group will be celebrating its two year anniversary this month.  This meet-up will be a good mixer for all the new people who have joined the South Florida User Experience Group in the last few months. Attendees are welcome to bring any site to put in front of the group and open it up for comments and suggestions.

This month’s presentation will be on remote automated testing: How to do it, what the benefits are, popular tools etc. This is going to be a great tool for anyone who works freelance or designs websites on their own. Testing can be an invaluable method for inspection into your sites usability. To do this, there will also be a demo of the Loop11 software, a great product for remote automated testing. The Loop11 competition will be launched while the meet-up and the details of the prize worth $1750 will be revealed as well!

Where

Panera Bread
1762 North Federal Hwy
Ft. Lauderdale FL 33305
954-567-5925

When

Thursday, April 29, 2010 7:00 PM

Web Design: Go Local

If you are considering hiring a web design company to assist you in setting up your space on the internet, you should consider hiring a local web designer. There are so many design companies today to choose from and they are located all over the world. While it is fine to use a design company located far from you, it could become a problem if a face-to-face meeting is necessary in order to go over some fine details concerning your website design. Continue reading

There are so many ways to build a great website that it can be somewhat confusing knowing where to start. The very first thing that must be decided when building a site is, what is the primary purpose of the website? Will you provide content? Will you sell products/services or is it simply informational? These questions must be answered before starting to put your website together.

Once you have decided what type of website you wish to build, then you must choose the best resources to use. This will save you a lot of frustration when building your site and it is not even all that necessary that you understand HTML in order to build an effective site. Continue reading