Don’t Rule Directories Out Of Your SEO Efforts

Posted on: No Comments

This is really great news. Since I started working on the internet I have always created niche web directories for clients, and an most cases these directories hove gone on to be quite successful. However, for a few years now many people have disregarded web directories from their SEO efforts after it was widely publicised that Google was devalueing links from low quality web directories.

As with a lot of SEO news, many people immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion and started talking about how web directories were no longer worth worrying about. I have always maintained that this simply isn’t true… It is true that Google devalued the links from low quality web directories and websites that promoted themselves as SEO directories, but there are hundreds of really good quality directories that get a great deal of traffic and are definitely worth listing your business website on, if your website matches the theme of the directory of course.

This has now been confirmed, in an interview, Ex Google Web Spam employee  Andre Weyher was asked “What are 3 off site (link building) tactics that you recommend?”, to which he replied…

Don’t dismiss directories completely. I have heard people talking about directories being altogether bad and advise people to avoid them. This is not the case, good quality, moderated directories, or niche directories are still worth looking in to.

Whilst this is no surprise to me, it’s fantastic that my thoughts on directories have been confirmed. I have recommended that clients add their websites to good quality directories for years.

Recognising A Good Quality Directoy

If you are going to submit your business and website to web directories then it’s important that you consider the quality of the directories you are submitting to. Also, don’t avoid directories that charge for a listing just because they charge. Some of the best quality directories do have a review or listing fee.

Signs of a low quality web directory…

  • You have seen the exact same design, perhaps with different colours, on lots of other directories.  This could be a sign that the directory is a cheap script and that the directory owner has put no time or money into development. This type of directory often vanishes without notice and is generally ignored by search engines.
  • The directory promotes itself as and SEO directory, or tells you how a listing will help you get a better rank in the search engines. This is exactly the sort of directory Google does not like.
  • The directory insists that you link back to them before they give you a free listing. This type of directory is less interested in creating a comprehensive resource and more interested in gaining inbound links for themselves. A real sign of low quality.
  • The directory contains websites that are clearly Spammy or of extremely low quality. Quality directories always care about the quality of their listings.

Signs of a high quality web directory…

  • There is evidence that the directory has been online for years. Whilst you should not avoid new directories, everyone has to start somewhere, if you can see the directory has been online for a good length of time it is a good indicator that the directory is doing fairly well. Most low quality directories vanish within a year.
  • The directory publishes clear contact details. Directories that do not give a contact method are generally of lower quality. Try sending the directory an email and see if you get a reply from a human, if you do you at least know that there are genuine people behind the site, this is a very good sign of quality.
  • The directory doesn’t not accept any and all listings. If a directory informs you that your listing is subject to review before it goes live, this is actually a good sign, it means that the directory cares about which websites it lists.

So be careful not to waste time and money submitting to low quality directories, but do not dismiss directories entirely. Spend some time looking for good quality directories in your niche or that are Geographically relevant. Do not be tempted to use a ‘Directory Submission Service’ as they generally submit to very low quality directories. Do all of your submissions yourself.

Tip: Take time to write a unique listing for each directory you submit to. You will have far more success with directories if each listing you own is completely using and treated such by the search engines. Duplicate listings will be of little value to you, and never be tempted to just copy and paste a passage of text from your own website.  Treat every listing as though you are writing the most important description of your site or business you have ever written.

 

The Basics Of SEO – Part 3 – Meta Tags

Posted on: No Comments

There are lots of meta tags that you can use in your HTML document, many of which serve a purpose other than SEO. In this article we will specifically look at meta tags that are useful to SEO, and some that are no longer useful at all.

The Description Meta Tag

The description meta tag is used to describe the content of your page. You should have a unique description meta tag on every page of your website. Search engines such as Google may use your description meta tag to help decide what a page is about. You should add your most important Keywords and key phrases to the description meta tag.

In 2009 Google told the webmaster community that the description Meta tag is not used as a ranking signal, but testing has proved this not to be true and Google no longer make this claim. It is however unlikely that keywords or phrases in this Meta tag are given any more weight than standard page text.

The search engines may include the description Meta tag as part of the visible search result (snippet), so it is important that your description meta tag reads well to humans and clearly explains what the page is about. A well written description meta tag can not only count towards helping a page rank well for particular phrases, it can also increase click-through rate.

In the following Video, Matt Cutts (Google Engineer, Head of Web Spam) suggests that you should test different content in your Meta Description Tag to see what effect it has on Click Through Rate…

Google do not always show the description meta tag in the search result (snippet), but when it does, it shows the first 155 characters only. You do not have to stick to 155 characters but you should aim for less than 200 characters, 155 character is optimum.

An example description Meta tag: <meta name=”decription” content=”This is the description of my web page”>

It is important not to abuse this Meta tag. Historically many have abused this meta tag by loading it with huge lists of keywords, and because of this, Google and other search engines may use the description Meta tag to detect likely Spam.

Tip:  Don’t use full quotation marks (” “) in your description meta tag content as ” marks the end of the tag. Use single quotes (‘ ‘) instead.

The Keywords Meta Tag

The Keywords Meta tag was once used by search engines to determine words and phrases that were relevant for a particular page. Sadly this was widely abused with websites adding all sorts of keywords that were not at all relevant to their content, in an attempt to get their site to show up for as many searches as possible, and in response to this abuse Google stopped using it as a signal.

Example Keywords Meta Tag: <meta name=”keywords” content=”blue widgets, widgets, round widgets”>

Recently, Bing has told the SEO community that it DOES use the keywords meta tag, but less to discover what a page is about and more to discover potential Spammers.  Bing told Danny Sulivan of Search Engine World that it uses the keyword meta tag as a Spam signal, and that use of it will not help you, but abuse of it could hurt you.

In the video below, Matt Cutts from Google explains why Google no longer uses the Keyword Meta tag as a signal.

At the moment our advice is not to use the Keywords Meta tag at all. We are about to do some testing with a client to see what difference, if any, removing this tag makes to search engine rank. We expect to see no difference at all, but we will let you all know how it goes in a future post.

Revisit-After Meta Tag

The revisit-after meta tag looks like this…  <meta name=”revisit-after” content=”14 days”> …is believed by some to tell search engine robots when to revisit and check for updates. The truth is, it is a largely pointless Meta tag that was only ever used by some specialist North American search engines.

This tag is ignored by Google, Bing and probably all other search engines. Even if it wasn’t ignored, why would you want to restrict how often search engines visit your content?

Robots Meta Tag

The Robots Meta Tag still has it’s uses, but creating a robots.txt file is a far better idea. This Meta tag can be used to disallow search engines from indexing a page, or disallow a search engine from following the links on a page.

It’s important to understand these tags as using them and getting them wrong, could result in search engines not including your pages in their results.

The robots Meta Tag looks like this…

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>

The above example tells Search engines not to Index the page and not to follow the links on the page. This Meta tag will result in the Search engines not including the page in search results.

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”INDEX, NOFOLLOW”>

The above example tells Search engines to Index the page but not to follow the links on the page.

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, FOLLOW”>

The above example tells Search engines not to Index the page but allows Search engines to follow links on the page. This Meta tag will result in the Search engines not including the page in search results.

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”INDEX, FOLLOW”>

The above example allows Search engines to index the page and follow the links on the page. This is the default behaviour of search engines so this would not often be used. You might use it if you have accidentally blocked search engines from the page and you want to make it clear that it can now be indexed and followed.

Other Meta Tags

Just to be clear, there are of course lots of other meta tags that can be used in an HTML document that are unrelated to SEO, I may talk about these another time in another area of the blog. I want to focus this post entirely on Meta tags that are directly related to search engines and the way they index websites.

In the next part (Part 4) I will talk about keyword research – working out which keywords and phrases you should target on a page.

Google Disavow Links – My Thoughts Any Why You Should Think Very Carefully

Posted on: No Comments

Yesterday, Matt Cutts whilst speaking at PubCon in Las Vegas announced the launch of a new feature of Google Webmaster tools called Disavow Links. I’ll explain in simple terms what this is, and I’ll add a video to the end of this post, of Matt himself, explaining the new tool.

For years, web site owners and SEO companies thought that one of the fastest ways to the top of the search engine results was to gain links form other websites by any means possible. People submitted to so called SEO directories and links farms, people Spammed forums and Blog comments, people bought links on high PageRank website solely for SEO reasons (A practice that goes against Google’s  Webmaster guidelines), and people participated in low quality article networks. Millions of Spammy, low quality, meaningless links were created, and for a time it worked very well. Google of course got wise to this and started to develop ways to determine the quality and relevance of a link. Many links no longer counted and websites that once got a boost from these links, started to fall down the search results.

Google have never said that links pointing to a website could actually do any damage to a site’s reputation or search engine rank, after all if this were the case, people could submit or even buy lots of low quality links and point them at their competitors websites in order to do damage to them. I have wondered about this for some time after some very respected web marketers talked candidly at a conference last year  about how they have networks of low quality sites ready to point at any site that threatens their position in the search engines.

I have to wonder with the launch of this new tool if in fact Paid links, Comment spam and other dodgy link practices do actually damage the rank and reputation of the site the links point to. Otherwise why would there be a need for this tool.  Matt Cutts says that most people will not need to use the tool and that it is just for some SEOs and webmasters who want to clean up links, perhaps from previous bad practices. I think the following text, found on the Disavow Links tool itself makes it very clear that Google do in fact count bad inbound links against a website…

If you believe your site’s ranking is being harmed by low-quality links you do not control, you can ask Google not to take them into account when assessing your site.

I have to wonder if the data submitted via this tool might be used not only to Disavow links, but to gather data on which sites are having a lot of their outbound links Disavowed. It could provide Google with real user submitted details of link sellers, link farms, SEO directories and Blogs and Forums that are not dealing with comment Spam.

Most website owners are going to wonder if they need to do anything, and the answer in almost all cases is no. I certainly can’t think of any of our clients who would need to use this tool, and unless you have participated in some pretty serious Spammy link building in the past, I wouldn’t worry about it at all. If you’re in doubt about a link pointing to your site, consider if it is really likely to be harming your site, and if you think it is, proceed with caution. Please, please, please don’t start disavowing all your inbound links, you could end up doing more harm than good. Matt Cutts has said that this tool is for those who have already been warned about unnatural links via Webmaster Tools. If you have had no such warning, you probably don’t need this tool.

If you do have some links that you think should not be pointing to your website, the first thing to do is to ask the website to take the links down. In most cases this will be the fastest way to remove the links. In some cases a webmaster may not respond to your request, deny your request, or even try to charge a fee to remove the link. It is in these cases you may want to go on to use the Disavow Links tool.

The Disavow Links tool is part of Google Webmaster Tools so you will need an account to use it. You submit the request to disavow links as a plain text file with the following format…

# Contacted owner of spamdomain1.com on 7/1/2012 to
# ask for link removal but got no response
domain:spammydomain1.com
# Owner of spamdomain2.com removed most links, but missed these

http://www.spammydomain2.com/contentA.html

http://www.spammydomain2.com/contentB.html

http://www.spammydomain2.com/contentC.html

Lines starting with a # are treated as comments, Google will ignore them. You add the URL of the page that contains the link you want Disavowed, one per line, and “domain:” keyword indicates that you’d like to disavow links from all pages on a particular site (in this case, “spammydomain1.com”).

Google say they will treat this as a strong indication that the links should be disavowed, they do not guarantee it. Links could take several weeks to be disavowed after you upload your file.

I stress again, as Matt does five times in the below video, most people will not need to use this tool.

If you would like an opinion on links pointing to your site and whether or not you should use the Disavow Links tool, contact us today.

Is The Keywords Meta Tag Still Used By Google Or Other Search Engines?

Posted on: No Comments

Today has been mainly spent planning and setting up and E-commerce website. I will be talking about this later in the week because we have used a premium WordPress plugin and we will do a review of it for you. So far it is proving to be a very E-commerce option.

Anyway, I was chatting with a client yesterday about how it is no longer necessary at all to include a Keywords Meta Tag in a page. In fact, not only has Google claimed for a few years now that they ignore the Keyword Meta tag completely, Bing has recently said that they do use the Keyword Meta Tag, but mainly just to discover possible Spam. Bing seem to be saying that if you use the Keyword Meta Tag your site may be Spam, or at least if you are abusing the Keywords Meta Tag, what else might you be doing? Either way, it seem that using the Keywords Meta Tag is now not a good idea.

Today my client and I spoke again to decide whether or not we are going to remove the Keywords Meta Tag, and what we have decided to do is instead of blanket removing it from all pages, we are first going to remove it from 4 pages, but first make a note of where those pages are positioned for the keywords in the Meta Tag, and see if any positional changes happen in Google over a few weeks compared with the pages that stall have the tag. Of course changes could happen due to normal changes in the Google index, so it’s a test we will need to repeat, but it will be great to get some of our own data about the Keywords Meta Tag.

What do expect to happen? Absolutely nothing, I expect that removing the keywords tag will make absolutely no difference at all, but this test involves virtually no work, just a few notes and a few Google searches, so it will be and interesting and worthwhile test.

Until tomorrow…

Be Aware Of Domain Name Scams

Posted on: No Comments

This morning, a very concerned client contacted me asking for help regarding an email they had received regarding one of their domain name. The email from a Hong Kong based company claimed that another company had applied to register a brand name and some domain names that are the same as my clients domain name, and asking my client to contact them within 10 days.

The email our client received is below. The brand name has been changed for privacy reasons.

Dear CEO,

We are the department of registration service in Asia. Currently, we have a urgent issue needing to confirm with your company. Oct. 11th,2012, we received an application formally. One company named “UNA Management Group Ltd.” wanted to apply for the Brand Name” bluewidgetsco”and some domain names through our body.

According to our initial check, these domain names and brand name are as similar as your company name. So we confirm with you if this company was authorized by you. If it was neither authorized by you nor your branch company, please contact us in 10 working days.

Best Regards,

Oscar Ho
Auditing Department Manager
Tel: +852-3077 5980
Fax: +852-3077 1254
UNIT 04, 7/F, BRIGHT WAY TOWER, NO. 33 MONG KOK ROAD, KOWLOON, HK.

I could see right away that this was a Scam, so I let my client know not to give it any further attention or thought. the scam works like this…

The Asian company send the domain name or brand owner an email as above claiming that another company is trying to register the same, or a similar brand name and domain names.  This is designed to make you worry that your brand is not protected and that your domain names are in some sort of danger.

When you reply to them for more information you will get a reply telling you that although another company has made an application to register domains that same as yours but with a different TLD, and a similar brand name, you as the existing brand owner have more right to it, so instead they will sell the brand name and domains to you.  The domain names are Asin  TLD’s such as .asia .in .cn .hk and .tw, which to any company that does not trade in these countries are useless. And, should you decide that you do want to register these domains to protect your brand, they will charge you around 4 times the usual registration fee. That’s if they don’t do a runner with your money and register nothing.

If you get a similar email, bin it and forget it.

Allowing People To Login To Your Site With Facebook

Posted on: No Comments

Today has largely been about tying up some loose ends on a few projects, nothing particularly out of the ordinary. One thing we did that was quite interesting is create the ability for people to log in to or register on  one of our client’s website using their Facebook account.

People, myself included, hate filling in forms and creating new accounts on websites. We want to surf and get things done without having to mess around with forms, creating passwords and registration verification emails. Most people also don’t like the security issues that come from using the same username and password on multiple websites, so the more site we register on, the more credentials we have to remember. Personally I like it when a website allows me to log in with Facebook, it’s quick, simple, and does not require me to create yet another user account. I use my Facebook account to log into many different accounts.

So, if your website has a membership area that people register and login to, consider allowing people to log in with Facebook. You may find that your registration numbers go up, and your users visit you more regularly.

Contact us today if you would like help integrating your website with Facebook.

Tomorrow we are working on a new E-commerce project for a company selling baby clothes and gifts, and rather than using Magento or Prestashop, we will be using a premium WordPress plugin. We’ll explain more tomorrow…

The Basics Of SEO – Part 2 – The Page Title

Posted on: No Comments

The page title is one of  the most important aspects of on page SEO. When we talk about the page title, we are not talking about the main heading seen on the web page,  we are talking about the HTML tag that defines the title of the HTML document. The title tag displays at the top of the browser window, or on the relevant browser tab.

There are two reasons why the title tag is extremely important for SEO. Firstly, the title is the first thing search engines look at when determining what a page is about. Search engines may give more weight to keywords and phrases in the title tag, so it is important to include your main key phrases here. Secondly, search engines use the HTML title tag as the title for the search engine result (snippet), so creating a good compelling title can increase click through rate…

Search Engine Snippet

Over the years the HTML title tag has been one of the most abused aspects of on page SEO. Extra weight is given to keywords and phrases in the title, so it tempting just to stuff it full lots of keywords. The search engines, particularly Google, are wise to this and have developed ways to tell a well constructed title from a Spammy list of keywords. Abuse if the title tag could be damaging to your SEO efforts.

Title tag best practices…

  1. A well constructed title should contain one or maybe two of your main key phrases and should allow both humans and search engines to quickly understand what your page is about.
  2. Make sure you include the most important key phrase at the beginning of the title tag. Testing has shown that this can increase perceived relevancy and click through rate.
  3. The page title is valuable real estate so consider not including your business name or brand in the page title unless it is directly related to the content. That said, of your page is about a well known brand, tests have shown that including the brand name in the title tag can increase click through rate. It is suggested that if you do include business or brand names, they should be added at the end of the title tag.
  4. Your title tag will also be the title of the search engine result. Make sure your title makes sense and tells users what you page is about. There is no point in having your page show up in search results if nobody clicks on it because it does not appear to match what they are looking for. Spammy looking titles rarely get clicked on.
  5. Increase click through rate a little by capitalising the first letter of each word. Do not be tempted to capitalise every letter.
  6. Google displays the first 70 characters from an HTML title in it”s snippets. You do not have to keep your titles to 70 characters, but anything over 70 characters will not be shown, and titles that are really long could be considered Spam after a certain point.  Try to stick to 60 – 80 characters. 70 characters is optimum.
  7. Do not just stuff your title full of keywords. This is a sure way to make sure your page does not rank well. Your title should clearly describe your page content in a way that will make sense to a human reader.
  8. Create a unique, compelling title for every single page of your website.

In case you are not sure where your title tags are in your HTML document, they are in the head section and will look something link this…  <title>The page title</title>. Often, if your website uses a content management system you can edit your titles when you create or edit a page or post.

In part three I will discuss meta tags. What meta tags are, which ones to use and how to construct them.

The Basics Of SEO – Part 1 – The Correct SEO Mindset

Posted on: No Comments

We are putting together a guide to the basics of Search Engine Optimisation so that our customers, and anyone else who cares to read can get an understanding of what is one of the most often misunderstood aspects of owning and developing a website. One of the biggest mistakes made when trying to improve a websites traffic through SEO is starting with an incorrect mindset.

Too many people mistakenly believe that SEO is about tweaking various aspects of a website’s pages and building inbound links from other sites to manipulate the search engines results, as if SEO is some sort of competition, the site who does the most tweaking and link building gets the prize. I see it over and over, people building awful websites with largely copied content, spending hours and hours tweaking meta tags, page titles and headings, and getting some inbound links, then posting in SEO forums wondering why their efforts have not brought a tonne  of traffic and made them rich. Back in 2003 this sort of SEO may have worked well for them, but times have changed, today SEO is a completely different ball game and unless you understand it and start with the correct mindset, you are heading for disappointment. And if you are looking for quick results for little or no work, SEO is not for you, get your wallet out and try PPC instead.

SEO is not about manipulating the search results. A website that offers little value to a keyword or phrase will not likely rank well for that word or phrase no matter how much on page SEO you do, or how much link building you do, nor should it. Google has become incredibly good at working out which content adds value, and although it doesn’t get it right all the time, Google’s future lies in ensuring it delivers quality search results, so you can be sure Google will be spending a lot of time and money on getting even better at it. Google ultimately only want to deliver the best content for every search, so your very first concern when it comes to SEO should be the quality of your content. If you are not prepared to put some hard work into the content of your website, then you may find that your SEO efforts fail, regardless of how many hours you put in.

SEO is…

  • SEO is about making sure search engines can find your content and understand what your content is about so that they can correctly position your content in their search results. With a combination of good content and good SEO, your content will naturally be higher up the search results.
  • SEO is about providing search engines with the information they needs to make decisions about your page such as whether it is relevant to a particular keywords and phrases.
  • SEO is about ensuring search engines can find and index your content.
  • SEO is about creating useful unique content that other sites want to link to.
  • SEO can also be about about tweaking the page to improve the Search Engines snippet. This will help search engine users to understand what your page is about and increase Click Through Rate.
  • SEO is about making sire your pages load as quickly as possible. Page speed is now part of Google’s ranking algorithm, and faster page load speeds improve user experience.
  • SEO should also be about tweaking the page to increase conversion rate. Too many people do not even consider this aspect, yet it is the most important of all.
  • SEO can now also include building a reputation on social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

SEO is not…

  • SEO is not about cheating or manipulating your way to the top of the search engine results.
  • SEO is not about creating lots of low quality content so that you can cover a wider range of keywords and phrases
  • SEO is not about submitting your site to low quality directories or link farms, nor is it about spamming blog comments or forums.
  • SEO is not about trying to get poor content to rank higher than great, authority content.
  • SEO is not just about increasing PageRank.
  • SEO is not something you should concentrate on more than your actual content, the quality of your content should always come first.

Some things to consider before you start working on SEO…

  • The days of brand new websites with newly registered domains getting lots of traffic really quickly have passed. It can still happen in rare cases but in most cases it takes time to build organic search traffic.
  • There is such thing as too much SEO. Over optimisation can be a lot worse for your website than under optimisation.
  • You should spend a great deal more time working on and worrying about content, than you do SEO.
  • There is a great deal of bad or out of date SEO information on the internet. Do not take anyone’s word for it, do some research before changing the way you do things.
  • Search engines are not out to get you. If you do get penalised for something and loose traffic, there is almost always a way to fix things.

Your mindset should be that SEO is important, in fact vital, and should be considered on every single page you publish, but whilst the aim of SEO is to get the highest possible position on the search engines, SEO must compliment great content. Your content should be your first consideration. Do not be the person who spends hours and hours obsessing about SEO and giving little thought to improving content.

There are lots of things you can do to optimise your content for the search engines. Great content and good SEO is a real recipe for success. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at all the different aspects of SEO.  In part two I will talk about the importance of a good page title.

How To Write A WordPress Blog Post – For New Users

Posted on: No Comments

This post is intended for clients who have recently had a WordPress Blog added to their website and have never before written a blog post. It is mainly about how to actually use WordPress, not so much about what to actually write. That part is up to you and limited only by your imagination.

  1. Make sure  you have the log in details for your WordPress installation.
  2. Log in to the WordPress control panel. Don’t be daunted by all the menu items, WordPress is probably one of the worlds most intuitive control panels, you will get used to it in no time at all.
  3. You will see a vertical menu on the left hand side of the page, and a menu item called ‘Posts’, this is where you go to create all of your blog posts. Click on the ‘Posts’ menu item.
  4. When you click on the ‘Posts’ menu item a new page will load. This page will soon show a list of all the posts you have written, but right now, if you have not yet created a post, it  is a largely empty page. You will notice that if you now look at the main vertical menu, several  new sub menu items appear directly below the ‘Posts’ menu item you previously clicked. Click the ‘Add New’ menu item.
  5. Once you have clicked the ‘Add new’ menu item, the Blog post submission page will load, it is here that you will write your first blog post…

The WordPress Post Submission Page

Take some time to get to know the post submission page. This page is where you will write all of your blog posts, so it’s probably the most important page in the WordPress control panel.  Here you will see a collection of form fields that make up the content of your post. Take a few minutes to look at each one and see if you can get an idea of what they do. I’ll explain every part of this page in this post, but just taking a good long look at the post submission page will help you understand what each art does.

Although through customisation it is possible to hide or add new sections of the post submit page, usually this page is made up of  seven main form sections… Post Title field, Post Body field, Discussion switches, Category Selection, Tag Submission and Publish or Save post buttons.

Writing a compelling post title

The first field you will see is the title field, marked ‘Enter Title Here’.  Obviously this is the title of your blog posts. Not only will this be the heading of your post on the page, in most cases it will also serve as the page title, showing in the viewers browser, bookmarks and the heading of search engine results for that page. So, if you are looking to gain traffic from the search engines, it would be good to add an important key phrase to the title.

So, if you were writing a title for a blog post about rewiring a plug, instead of calling the post ‘Rewiring a plug’ perhaps call it ‘How To Rewire A Plug – 4 Simple Steps’.  It is also advisable to capitalise the first word in each sentence as this has been shown to increase search engine click through rate slightly. Do not be tempted to capitalise the whole title.

The post Permalink

The post Permalink will show directly under the title, after you have written it.  If rewritten URLs have been switched on, you will be able to edit the Permalink. The Permalink is simply the URL (web address) of the post once it has been published.  This will usually be the blog web address followed by the post title, with the words connected by hyphens. You should check your Permalink because often if you edit your post title, or hesitate during writing your post title, the Permalink may not format correctly.

Tip: A really simple way of making sure the Permalink is correct is to click the little ‘edit’ button next to the Permalink, delete everything in the Permalink field and then click ‘OK’. It will then correctly set the Permalink.

Visual and HTML editor

Underneath the Title and Permalink sections, you will see a larger form field with some buttons/icons at the top, and two tabs, ‘visual’ and ‘HTML’ on the top right hand side. This is the post editor, and where you will write the main content of your post.

Wordpress Post Editor

The WordPress Post Editor

If you are familiar with word processing software such as Word  or Open Office Writer, you should be able to find your way around the WordPress post editor fairly easily. The usual formatting tools such as Bold, Italic, Underline, Lists, Alignment and Font colours are there, as well as a good spell checker. If you know a little HTML, you can use the HTML tab to format using simple HTML. The HTML tab  is also useful if the visual editor causes strange formatting issues.

Adding Images to your posts

Adding images to your posts is fairly simple. Above the post editor you will see a tiny icon that looks like this… Wordpress post editor, add image / media icon. … Click this icon and the ‘add media’ screen will pop up. You can simply drag your image into the box, or you can click the ‘select files’ button to browse you hard drive for images.

Wordpress add media screen

WordPress add media screen allows you to upload images to add to your post.

Alternatively to uploading an image, you can specify the web address of an online image, or select an image that has already been added to the WordPress media library, you can find tabs for this at the top of the add media screen.

Once you have selected your image it will upload to the image server and you will be presented with a screen where you can change the settings and attributes for the image.

Wordpress image settings screen

WordPress image settings screen allows you to change the settings and attributes of your image before adding it to the post.

There are a few settings you need to you need to set before you add your image…

Give your image some alternative text, this is used if the image cannot be displayed or if the user uses a screen reader because they are blind or partially sighted. The alternative text should be a short description of the image.

You can set an image caption. This will be displayed below the image and would usually be some text that compliments or describes the image.

Less importantly, you can set the image description. This would again simply be a short description of the image.

Next, decide how your image will be aligned. The options are…

  • None – This will position the image with no alignment and text will not wrap the image to the right. You could use this if you place the image on a new line and do not want to wrap text around the image. You then start another new line after the image for any more text.
  • Left – This will place the image to the left of any text. Text will wrap around the image in the right.
  • Center – This will center the image on the page. Text will not wrap around the image.
  • Right – The image will move to the right of text content and text will wrap the image to the left.
Finally, select the size of the image. There are several pre-set sizes, these are usually set up to work well with your WordPress theme, or you can opt to have the image display at it’s original size. Be careful that the original size is not larger than the width of your blog post though.
When you are happy with all of the image settings, click the grey ‘Insert into post’ button and you will see your image in the post editor.
If you are unhappy with the position of your image, click the image, then click the picture icon that appears on the top left hand corner of the image. This takes you back to the image settings.

Allowing / Disallowing comments and Trackbacks

You may see a section called ‘Discussion’, though this is sometimes hidden. If you do see it, it allows you to control whether or not people can add comments or Trackbacks to your post. This is simply a case if ticking a check box, or not, depending on whether you want people to be able to comment on your post. Most blogs do allow comments in posts.

Selecting and adding categories.

WordPress allows you to organise your posts by category. Even if you if your blog is about a single niche subject, it can be helpful to your readers if you spilt you posts into a few categories. The nice thing about WordPress is that it not only allows you to add a post to an existing category, it also allows you to create a new category on the fly.

Lets assume that this you first post and you only have one category called ‘Uncategorized’, this is the default category that WordPress add when it is installed. You will see the categories you currently have in a section called ‘categories’ on the right hand side of the submit a post page.  To add a new category, click the ‘+ Add New Category’ link at the bottom of the category section, enter the category name and click the ‘Add New Category’ button. You will see your new category in the list of categories, already ticked.  You might want to un-tick the Uncategorized category at this point.  When you publish your post, it will be added to whatever categories you have selected. You can add your post to more than one category.

Adding Post Tags

Not all WordPress themes support post tags, and even when themes do support post tags, many people choose not to use them. Tags are keywords and phrases relating to your post. You enter them into the ‘Tags’ section of the post submission page as a comma separated list or words and phrases.

When tags are supported they create links that when clicked lead to an archive of posts that use that tag. A few years ago tags were very popular, but they are less so now. Use them if you wash to add another way for users to navigate your Blog.

Saving your post as a draft

If you are not quite finished writing your post and you want to come back to it later, you can use the ‘Save Draft’ button in the ‘Publish’ section of the submit post page. This is usually located top right of the page. This will save your post so that you can come back to it later.

Previewing your post

If you have finished writing your post, or you have added something and you want to see how it looks before you publish, click the ‘preview’ button in the ‘Publish’ section of the submit post page. This is usually located top right of the page. This will open a new browser window or tab, showing how your post will look when it is published. Don’t worry, no-one else can see it, it has not yet been published.

Publishing your post

Once you are absolutely sure you have finished writing you blog post, you have re-read it, spell checked it and checked all of the settings, you can go ahead and publish it. The blue button in the publish section (top right) allows you to publish your post immediately.

If you have finished writing your post but you want to publish it later, you will see a section just about the publish button that says ‘publish immediately’ with an ‘edit’ link next to it. Click the edit link and then set the date and time you would like to publish your post, then click ‘OK’.  You will now see that the big blue button that previously said ‘Publish’ now says ‘Schedule’. Click schedule and your post will automatically publish at your specified time. Some people do have trouble with this though and find that WordPress fails to publish scheduled posts. There is a WordPress plugin called ‘WP Missed Schedule Fix Failed Posts‘ which fixes this error.

Other Fields

If you or someone else has added plugins such as an SEO plugin or custom fields, you may find that there are more sections on the submit page than I mention in this post. All sections should be fairly simple to understand though, just take your time and don’t be scared to do a little experimenting.

Building Responsive Websites And Considering Mobile Devices

Posted on: No Comments

Today the major part of our day will be dedicated to creating a responsive layout and design for a new classifieds website related to high quality wrist watches. It is vital to our client that this website works just as well on a small smartphone as it does on a tablet, notebook or desktop.

Responsive website layout

Responsive layouts adjust and rearrange based on the size of the window or screen they are being viewed on.

In case you are not sure what I mean by responsive, It is a website layout that changes, or rearranges based on the size of the screen or window it is being viewed in.  Responsive layouts allow you to have one website for all devices, rather than having one website for desk tops and another for mobiles.

There are a few good responsive frameworks, the most popular of which being Twitter Bootstrap, but our favourite by far is Foundation 3 by Zurb. Unlike other responsive frameworks, Foundation 3 allows you to use a mobile grid rather than have everything simply default to 100% width in mobiles. Foundation3 also allows gives amazing control over element styling, and like most frameworks it allows rapid layout development.

Developing responsive websites is very good for us as web developers because it really makes us think about what should and shouldn’t be displayed in mobile browsers, and how they should be laid out. Use of mobile devices to surf the web has increased so much in recent years that we cannot afford to ignore it and continue developing for desktop only. You would be surprised how many web design and web development companies have their heads in the sand pretending that mobile revolution is not happening.

Interesting Mobile Internet Usage Statistics

  1. Of the worlds 4 billion mobile phones, over 1 billion are smartphones
  2. Already, one half of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. If you run the kind of business that will come up in local searches, you cannot afford to have a website that does not perform well on mobiles.
  3. Women aged 35 – 54 are the most active mobile internet users.
  4. If trends carry on the way they have been for the last few years, it is estimated that that mobile internet access will overtake fixed internet access by 2014.  This will mean that if your website is not mobile friendly you could be providing a poor user experience for more than half of your site visitors.

It’s true that the large majority of mobile internet users are socialising on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc, but the number of people performing local searches or purchasing products and services online is growing very fast. Nobody can afford to ignore this anymore.

If your website is not mobile friendly

Although most smart phones are capable of viewing large website that have not been built for mobile devices, there is no doubt that websites that are not properly optimised for mobiles offer a poor user experience and do not convert well. It is now becoming vital that you offer a mobile optimised version of your website, whether this be by creating a responsive layout or by developing a separate mobile version of your site. Spending a bit of time and money getting this right now could make a huge difference to your business as more and more people find you whilst on the move.

Converting an existing website to a responsive layout, or creating a mobile optimised version of your site may not be as much work as you think.  Contact us today if you would like a quote.

I’ll be writing lots about mobile internet usage, development for mobiles and mobile marketing over the coming weeks, so stay tuned…

Until tomorrow…