Back to the Basics: Search Engine Ranking – Learn it From Google

The last two weeks, I have done a considerable amount of teaching, and have participated in numerous discussions related to online presence, websites, and social media. Of course, many questions are centered around the question “how will we get noticed, and what does it cost to get a better ranking on Google?” 

Google describes their Page Rank Technology

PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results.

PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value. We have always taken a pragmatic approach to help improve search quality and create useful products, and our technology uses the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page’s importance.

 

My answer is go ask Google. They publish everything they deem important on their website, Google for Webmasters. And, don’t be afraid; most of the information is not technical, but practical and actionable.

How to Get Better Visibility on Google 

USA Today interviewed Matt Cutts of Google, to get a primer on the four or five most important things to ensure good Google visibility.  This video gets you started in just a few minutes: 

 

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SEO Site Review Session from Google I/O 2010

Invest another hour to watch the second video posted here.  Matt Cutts and his team review sites for search engine optimization (SEO) during this year’s  Google I/O, the yearly Google developer conference.  Again, very interesting insights, and day-to-day questions and answers. Below, we make some of the referenced links available to you, and provide links to Matt Cutt’s and Vanessa Fox’s blogs. If you have questions about your site and would like us to offer some feedback, make sure you post them in the comments section and we will answer.

 

 

It’s your job as the site owner to be aware of these few key topics, so you can assist developers, friends and consultants in doing an optimal job for you. Remember, you are the content provider, and will also be monitoring your website. Here are some additional tools for you,  all free all from Google:

Google Webmaster Tools

 

  • Google Webmaster Central Blog
    Read related articles about Google.
  • Google Webmaster Tools
    Sign-up for an account, and let Google help you optimize and analyze the performance of your website.  Find out what keywords get people to your site, what the back links to your site are, and how the Google crawler sees your site. 
  • Matt Cutt’s Blog on SEO
    Matt Cutt works for Google Search and shares short articles on search engine optimization (SEO). Both videos in this post show him talking about Google’s search engine behavior.
  • Vanessa Fox’s Nine By Blue
    Vanessa Fox developed Google Webmaster Central while working for Google. She is now head of the company, NineByBlue, which consults in online branding and optimizing reach for target audiences.

 

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The Idea of the iPad – I’d Rather Wait

or Why I didn’t buy an iPad?

 

My imagination tricked me into thinking I would love the iPad. I believed the advertising. And, it’s completely true. It has changed how many people interact with digital content. I was drooling over the previews posted on various websites, (links are included at the end of this post). I could see how my parents or friends would love it. They are, for the most part, still struggling to integrate basic technology into their daily lives. The iPad is the perfect device for them; the time has come when technology stays out of the way, and, just like a car, you turn it on and just “drive”. And, a smooth drive it is! The iPad is a wonderful magazine and book reader when you’re on the road and in situation where you can’t use a computer, but you need something to do, i.e., while waiting in a hospital, in an airport, or sitting on a commuter train.

 

During my first weekend back in the US, the lust for an iPad steered me towards the Apple store. I was finally able to put my hands on it! My husband and I gave it a good 60-minute run around the internet, and tested a few apps we have grown to love on the iPhone. I was fascinated with the touch screen user controls when flipping through photos, reading books, watching videos, and browsing the internet.

 

We punched in our favorite websites. Then, the first “oh, that doesn’t work” or a few similar revelations, started to emerge. We were surprised that the limits associated with an iPhone experience, which we were ready to accept, felt entirely unacceptable on a device created to augment the current content consumption experience. And, as a result, our enthusiasm waned, piece by piece.

 

Here is our short list of the major deal-breakers:
No multi-tasking: 
It’s hardly an issue that the iPhone can’t multi-task, but it is really unacceptable for a larger device. It seems this device is a returning time traveler, who went from the 21st century into the early 20th century, but hasn’t returned for 7 years, and is now surprised how much technology has progressed while she was away. One example: I took a screen shot of an iPhone look-a-like application we created for a non-profit, and wanted to e-mail it to myself so I could show it to the client. Well, I wasn’t able to use the e-mail feature to click on the attachment, and then attach it to a document. Instead, I had to go into the photo application and click on the “Share via e-mail” option, one at a time. Now, I would accept this on the iPhone, as it is meant to be used a “crutch”, or a limited feature tool, but I am not able to accept that limitation on a computer device, as limited as it wants to be.

 

No Flash: 
It might make sense on the iPhone, but it really gets in the way on the iPad, when you expect to be able to view all your favorite websites and see all the TV shows, etc., like you do on your laptop or desktop. A grudgingly, albeit, accepted annoyance on the iPhone, it is a deal breaker on the iPad. Seriously? Really. No Flash? No Fox TV, no Hulu, and no, no, no to lot of other websites. A plug-in that has been around for over 12 years, just came out in Version 10, and an army of web developers, designers and animators have used it to spruce up the web experience for three generations. And, now, I can’t enjoy it anymore? Seriously? The touted ‘alternative’ HTML 5 is not yet up to the task, as the Apple HTML 5 Demo revealed.

 

No browser cache:
Every time I hit a website that I’ve already visited, it’s loaded again; I can’t just hit the back button or forward button and jump between sites. Again, an annoyance on the iPhone on which I hardly browse, because of the tiny screen, but it’s definitely getting in the way of my iPad experience. Of course, in light of AT&T doing away with the unlimited data plan, the ticker runs with any reload of a website you have just visited. That way, you are hitting the bandwidth ticker faster, of course.

 

Not more than 9 Safari tabs:
The OS will tell me that I am not able to view this page because there already 9 browser windows open. It’s a content consumption device, therefore, I would prefer to see no limit on browser tabs.

 

Mobile version browser:
Any website that has a mobile version available might display the same version on the iPad, as on the iPhone. This doesn’t really make sense, as the iPad screen is about 8 times larger. It looks clunky on iPad. I am always happy when companies have websites that change their behavior when you look at it through the tiny screen of an iPhone, and I’ve studied mobile web space a bit, and have had my share of problems. I still do not understand the reasoning behind the decision for the iPad to register with websites as a mobile device, when it is a full-sized screen device, and the browser renders large websites beautifully. Apple is in control of how their browser comes to a website; if it pretends to be an iPhone, then it is doing something wrong on behalf of their users. The NBC site, for instance, doesn’t register as a full browser, it shows the mobile version, which might be OK on the tiny iPhone, but, on the iPad, it’s virtually unreadable.

 

No camera:
Yes, it doesn’t have a camera. As astonishing as this is, I was equally surprised when I learned that the iPod touch doesn’t have a camera. Apple was very late to include a video camera on the iPhone — about 3 years late to the game. Why do I want to have a camera? Because, then I would be able to use it as a convenient Skype device, that allows me to talk to my friends and family, without hauling around a big laptop or failing at the attempt with my iPhone. 

 

Price/Value ratio:
Considering the convenience in digital content consumption I would have to give up using an iPad, the $499 price for the basic version, is way too high. We have seen wireless picture frame devices for $79, that allow photos, music and video playback from my computer on 8″ screens, with a touch interface. And, I can plug my SM cards and USB into it.

Summary: For occasional, beginning online creatures, it is a fantastic device. It makes for a great online content experience. However, even novices will outgrow the iPad fast. No Flash definitely diminishes the online experience. No multi-tasking limits the sharing, and no camera diminishes connecting and subsequent sharing. There is a lot of catching up to do. A shiny cool interface does not make up for the loss of features dear to my convenience level since Win95, and necessary for an all around experience. The fate of my iPad would be that I’d use it extensively for a week enthusiastically, and then never look at it again, waiting for better things to come about. I like the idea of it. The practical implications, however, are less exciting for me.

 

All the photos in this post are from other tablets/slated products in the pipeline of major manufacturers around the world.  I captured them from Tablets.com, a site reporting on the latest development of tablet devices. If you are still on the fence, browse there for a while and compare features, sizes and prices.
Related Links:

Content Matters

Your website is your organization’s greatest communication platform. Competition can copy everything you have, but it cannot copy who you are. Let your ‘brand’ shine! Connect to customers, potential members, etc., online with content that focuses on their needs, provides them with information, and communicates the benefits your products and services provide.

Fresh content personalizes your online presence and gives people something interesting to learn about your business, organization or about themselves.  Whether you write a blog post, article, Facebook post or website page, you want your business to be seen as a vital resource. The right content inspires action and pulls people into your message.  Publish content that people want to read, link, subscribe to and share. Use content marketing to generate a following that continually expands.

 

Deliver valuable information that people will talk about and share with others. Here are some very compelling reasons why your content matters as much as the design of a website:

 

  • Positions You as an Expert. Giving your customers the resources to believe in you is the new way to market. If you have good content, other sites might link to your content, increasing traffic to your site and potentially boosting your search rankings. Reliable and up-to-date content will increase your credibility, engage with your audience, and raise the likelihood that visitors will become customers.
Great content, blogs and articles can also serve as (free!) PR for your business, making you an informative and quotable resource to the press.
  • Connects to Customers:  90% of all corporate websites talk about how great the company or product is, but forgets about the customer. The right content attracts customers and retains their attention. Incorporate a ‘News’ section, and make sure it is updated often. Your news page shows visitors that you are proud of your achievements, and that you’re always striving to grow and develop.

Regularly updating or modifying your website’s content gives you an edge over the competition. People will keep returning to your site if they notice something new to see, learn from or enjoy each time.

 

  • Utilizes your entire web presence. Fact: Only 25% of people land on a site via its homepage. The rest are guided into various pages of the site, depending on the keyword phrases they use in the search engines.  Delivering high-quality content on every page increases your chance of capturing a potential client or customer. Each page of content (with proper meta-tags, title, optimization, and submission) is indexed by the search engines, which increases your keyword coverage.

 

  • Increases Sales: Unfortunately, 76% of online shoppers surveyed report that content is insufficient to complete research or purchase online always, most often or some of the time.? (from eTailing Group; click here to view press release in its entirety.)

Barcamp SWFL site in WordPress

Site Design: WordPress SWFL

 

Barcamp SWFL was held in January 2010, and being presenters on RSS Feeds and holding a mini-WordCamp is was almost natural that we would do the web site in WordPress, too. It was very helpful spreading the word around South & Southwestflorida as we posted all new additions to the list of presenters on the site, each on in its own post, so we were able to share and syndicate it over the Internet. Barcamp SWFL & JuniorCamp had total 80+ participants. The energy amongst participants and presenters was inspiring, creative and productive. We will definitely be part of the next Barcamp SWFL.