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Creating Websites That Provide Results

I’ve been a “professional” Graphic Designer for almost 20 years.  Building and designing websites has long been something on my “never going to touch it” list.  I’ve deferred that task to those who knew more than I did.  BUT, as we get farther and farther into the digital age, I’ve been finding that I can’t avoid it any longer.  So, I’ve recently started working on websites.  And boy is there a lot to learn!  I also been finding that there’s a lot of mixed messages out there and a lot of people providing web services who don’t seem to fully grasp all the in’s and out’s of what really matters.  With that said, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned.

A site is only as good as it’s search engine ranking.

Now how to get a good ranking is different depending upon who you talk to.  Generally, it’s not rocket science, the more you update your site with RELEVANT information, the higher your rank will be.  I have a client who updates something new on their site every morning he gets into his office.  Now this might be overkill but it’s also given him a #1 ranking in a very competitive industry.  So what can you do to make your website more visible?  Here are some ideas.

  1. Never underestimate the value of good Keyword Research and their placement on your site.People find you by simple internet search strings.  While it’s important to use the RIGHT keywords, it’s also important to put them in the right spot.  In the “old days”, people used to put all kinds of keywords in hidden text in hopes they’d catch all kinds of traffic to their site.  Now, the search engines are smart enough to differentiate from you throwing a bunch of keywords on a page to them actually making sense in appropriate places throughout your site.  Here are the most important places to populate your site with keywords:
    • Within the URL of your page
    • Within the title of your page (what shows in the top bar and in bookmarks)
    • Within headline tags (<h1> <h2>, etc.) on your pages
    • In links throughout within your body text
    • In <alt> tags on your photos

    Here’s a GREAT list of what’s important and what’s not: – gave me a great sense of where to spend my time. SEO is sort of like home remodeling. If you put your time in and really make improvements, you’ll definitely get more out of it in the end.

  2. Use text wherever possible instead of using images. Again, back in the “old days”, I remember creating all kinds of jpegs for our web designers to use on menus, rollovers and what not. While you might like the look of the rollover that uses an image, you won’t get any SEO value out of it in the end. If you do use images as buttons, like I’ve done on this page, use them in the CSS so you are able to attach titles to them and get the full SEO value out of it.
  3. Get other sites to link to you.  Search for REPUTABLE sites that could offer a link to your site. Associations you belong to, newspapers you advertise in or even some of your customers. Ask them to trade links with you. You can help them out and they can help you out. Many of the publications you advertise in also have online components to their printed books. Be sure you have a link on that site – ESPECIALLY if they’re ranked well on google. I’ve gotten quite a few inquiries from listing myself on various sites – especially since they rank really well on google. But be careful, you want reputable websites. Websites that produce lots of SPAM and engage in harmful activities could hurt you as well — guilt by association!
  4. Content is KING!  Having more and relevant content that isn’t generally found on others sites can really boost your site’s rank. If you think about it – search engines are more successful to those that use them if they provide them with accurate results to the search terms they are looking for. There’s nothing worse than searching for information on a topic only to find it’s out of date by 2 years! Update your content often. And by update – I don’t necessarily mean changing a few words here and there – I mean adding new content consistently. Show the search engines that you care about what you’re putting out there. A blog helps to establish this content. You can add new items often while still keeping your older content.

Announce your new website!

Once your site is up and running, there are a few things you can do to get the word out there a bit.

  1. Register your site with Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Each site allows you to post a profile, upload images and embed a map to your location. Even more important is to submit a sitemap.xml file to these services to better help them index your site.
    • Google Places: You know when you do a google search for something like a restaurant and those listings come up with the red pin at the top? Those businesses have created a profile on Google Places. It’s not hard and it doesn’t cost a thing – just takes a little time. You fill out a profile, upload a few photos and provide a description and address. They’ll mail you a postcard with a code to verify you are who you say you are, then you’re all set.
    • Bing’s Places for Business: Pretty much the same thing as Google’s Places. Bing feeds information to both the Bing and Yahoo! search engines so it’s a good follow up to setting up your Google Places listing.
  2. List your site on the Universal Business Listings page: They used to have a $39/year plan but now their entry level plan is $79/year.  Still a fairly good deal.  It helps get your website out to all the places people look, including:
    • Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing
    • Online yellow pages like Superpages and
    • Social networks like Yelp, Twitter, and Facebook
    • Portals and guides like AOL and Citysearch
    • Mobile devices like BlackBerry and iPhone
    • 411 directory assistance services
    • GPS navigation services
    • Telematics services like OnStar

Test your work and see how your doing.

  1. Embed Google Analytics onto your site and keep an eye on who’s visiting your site, when, and from where they’re finding you. That will allow for future planning on which direction to take.
  2. Visit Hubspot’s Website Grader tool to see if you’re hitting all your bases. They also have some great tools for properly utilizing all the SEO options out there.  Be sure to sign up to receive their newsletter.

Link your website to social media

Facebook is everywhere. You can link your website to your facebook page as a way to stay in the forefront of your “fans”. Applications on facebook like “Networked Blogs” allow your blog feed to automatically show up on your timeline. They can also link to twitter and post the items there as well. Always staying in front of your customers is important. But make sure you do the research. If your target market is CEO’s of large companies, perhaps facebook isn’t going to be the best place to focus your efforts.


That’s a good list to get you started. Mostly, it just takes discipline. Let me know how all this works for you and be sure to let me know what else has worked for you!

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