Monday, 31 January 2011

How to Optimise your Website – Part 1 : The vocab

by Kathryn Richards

As with learning any new skill, it’s important to understand the key concepts and basic vocabulary. Even if you will be out-sourcing the SEO of your website to an agency, it will be very beneficial for you if you understand the basics.
To give you a head start on SEO and the processes behind it, here is a guide – an A-Z, if you like, of all the basic terms associated with SEO.

SEO, Online Marketing and Web Design
Analytics Code
Analytics code allows you to access the all-important visitor statistics for your webpage. Google Analytics (a free product) is the most commonly used. You can see how visitors have arrived at your website (e.g. from a linking site, from Google…), which pages they are visiting, how long they have spent on them, and lots more…

Alt Tags
Alt Tags, or alternative text tags are used to describe images that are used on a web page. They allow Google to identify what an image is (as Google cannot yet read images).

Article Marketing
Article Marketing is an SEO technique that onsists of the online distribution of an article written by you, on a subject related to your business. This is then published all over the web, creating important backlinks to your site.

Google cannot see websites like humans! It is important to remember all they can see is the code that is behind the website. So, for example, if your website is created solely in Flash, and there is no text in the code, Google will have no idea what your sites about.

HyperText Markup Language is the predominant mark-up language (that describes how the text should be appear on the webpage) that websites are written in. You can think of it as the basic building-blocks of webpages.

Inbound links
Inbound links (or backlinks) are links from external web pages linking back to your site. Not only do they encourage new visits to your site, good quality, relevant inbound links can have a great impact on your Google Page Rank – and so your place in search results.

A keyword is a word or phrase that explains what your website is about – it is a term you wish to be found for in Google. For example, if you are a Digital Agency, you might choose keywords such as “web design London”.

Meta data
Meta Data is information hidden inside the website which lets the search engines know what it is about. It includes the “Page Title” – which explains what the specific webpage is about, “Meta Description” – a short summary of the pages content, and “Keywords” – key words that describe the pages content. In terms of letting the Search Engines know what your website is about, Meta Data is very important.

Organic search results
Organic Search Results are the search results that are NOT paid for/ sponsored. Whilst PPC (Pay per click) and other paying results can be a short term solution, organic results are key to long-term success.

Outbound links
These are the links on your webpage that link to other (external) webpages.

Page Rank
Page Rank (PR) is a ranking out of ten given by Google for every web page based on how important Google thinks the web page is. 10 is the maximum ranking (although only a handful of websites, such as Facebook and the US Government website have reached this). A higher Page Rank can hugely affect your Google search results position.

Pay per click
Pay per click is an internet advertising model used on websites, where the client only pays if their advert is clicked on. For search engines, these adverts are linked to specific keywords.

Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising your website so that it appears on the search results of the search engines (most commonly, Google) for your desired keywords/phrases.

SEO Marketing
SEO is not a one-off process – just because one day you are at the top of Google, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be there the next. SEO Marketing is the on-going process of optimising your website – whether this is through article marketing, optimising your content, a blog, social media…

Site Map
A site map is a list of the pages you have on your website – it is important so users can easily navigate through your website. From an SEO perspective, it’s essential an XML sitemap is submitted to Google (so they know how many pages on your domain they can index).

Any other words/ phrases that need to be added to the list? Or maybe there's a term you hear all the time - but have never been quite sure what it means?
Let us know in the comments and we'll get back to you :-)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Flash and SEO

by Kathryn Richards

Using flash to build a website is an SEO topic that comes up all the time.

What does Flash offer?
Flash can offer visitors a high level of interactivity when they visit a website – giving them a rich experience. This is especially the case with gaming websites – through an interactive video format. It is designed to be used as a complement to basic HTML - it is installed by each user as a web browser plug-in.

Can users find your flash site?
It is very common to see portfolio websites based on Flash – especially for photographers and graphic designers. And of course, there’s plenty of great Flash websites out there!

Why is a site based solely on Flash a bad idea?

You need to bear in mind, that with a website solely based on Flash:

-    Not all users will be able to see it – for example Iphone, Ipad users etc
-    Flash pages frequently take a long time to load – how many visitors could you be losing in this time?
-    Although some Flash content is now readable by Search Engines (the text), there are still major limitations

In addition, the lack of unique URLs, page titles, link anchor texts and content hierarchy mean that Search Engines find it very hard to read and class these pages. Take, for example, Google Instant – on the instant preview feature, Flash elements simply won’t show – risking a blank page showing up if your site is based entirely on Flash.
Lastly, even Google agrees it’s not a good idea to base your site entirely in Flash!

Use Flash in moderation

As we’ve seen, Search Engines are extremely limited in what they can read within the Flash file – so be sure to keep any important information (text) separate.  In addition, accessibility, SEO and the user-experience are often not priorities for Flash developers, as they are difficult to implement.

However, it’s possible to use Flash solely for specific elements on your web page. For example, you could choose to use it for the header, a video on the home page, your navigation… This is a great compromise – as it allows you to benefit from the rich experience Flash can offer – but your website will still be based in HTML. The user will not notice any difference – but will, however, be able to access your website on any computer/ device.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

An Introduction to Online Typography

by Kathryn Richards

Words are pretty much everywhere. So are fonts.

In recent months, trends in web fonts have been taking the headlines in the online world, mainly thanks to the Web Open Font Format, but also the opportunities now available to integrate real fonts into design, mobile support, and font support in web apps...

What is Typography?
Typography is certainly a lot more than fonts - a real art form. We love this video, explaining the basics in a creative and original way:

Typography Inspiration

3 Great Typography Resources for Designers

Typechart lets you flip through, preview and compare web typography while retrieving the CSS.

Seen a great font on another website but just can’t figure out exactly what it is? “What the font!” can tell you. Simply upload an image, or enter the URL of the website, and this tool will spit out the font. 

Nice Web Type; quite simply, a haven of information on implementing web typography! Plenty of advice and info on the latest trends, as well as an impressive gallery of best practices.
Seen any other great examples of Typography around the net? Get in touch in the comments ;-)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Top 10 Viral Videos from 2010

by Kathryn Richards

So. It’s a new year, and back to work.

To brighten your day, here is a look back at some of our favourite web videos from 2010.

And don’t worry about all the time you’re wasting spending à we’ve even found you research that proves Watching Viral Videos Increases Productivity!

1. Social Media Revolution
Not yet convinced of the power of Social Media? Watch this video and you will be. 

2. NSFW. I shot a bear
A great example of a traditional product (Tippex) embracing new media.

3. Pixals by jean paul
Yes, you will HAVE to go and play Pacman/ Tetris / another suitably retro game directly after having watched this video.

4. The Money Tree
And if money grew on trees?... the result:

5 The Original Human Pac-Man Performance
Played by 111 human pixels, this 2 minute video took over 4 hours to film...

6. Alors on danse.
"The Making Of" video of the hit by Stromae "Alors on danse". Even if you don’t understand the French, it will still make you smile.

7. The Google Job Experiment
A creative (and successful!) way of getting a job.

8. The Girl Effect
The clock is ticking... See how a 12-year-old girl could be the solution the world needs right now.

9. Green Peace Kit-Kat Advert
This “Anti-Nestle” viral video took the headlines back in March. Warning: Don’t watch it before lunch !

10. Parisian Love
One of the many “Search Stories” by Google.

For lots more great reads, the latest videos and cool links, follow Art Division on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook

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