Archive for the ‘off page optimisation’ Category

How erroneous is it to ignore spelling errors in web pages?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

When there are attractive images, excellent structure and easy navigation, spelling errors in the text might seem quite trivial and insignificant to a website owner. Visitors are, after all, coming to see and purchase products and if they are offered a website that has the necessary products shown in a user friendly way, are they going to really bother about those minor errors in spelling or syntax? Most online business owners consider text content as a means to enhance their search engine optimisation techniques and nothing more. For this reason, all they consider is the number of keywords in the content and not its quality or relevance.

However, the truth is that content that is given on the web pages is crucial not only for the search engines but also for the visitors to the site. They would definitely be checking at least the content on the important pages of a website like Home, About Us, Contact Us, product categories and of course product descriptions. Whether you believe it or not, repeated errors in spelling can create a negative impact on your website ranking by some of the major search engines, namely, Google. What they might think is, “if the company cannot have proper, error-free content for their own website, how efficient are they going to be in replying to my request or delivering the product I ordered?”

It has been reported by online entrepreneurs that due to spelling mistakes, Internet businesses in the UK are losing millions in revenues lost. In fact, studies show that a single error in the spelling can cut down the sales in almost a half. This is because when the users find errors in what they read they get put off and thus the website loses the credibility. As much as the world has become technologically savvy and the standards have changes, certain factors still remain traditional and one such factor is the proper, accurate and error-free content that you present before your customers. When they find spelling errors in your text what they think is you are not well off enough to appoint someone who can write without errors.

While displaying your website before the web users the time you get is about ten seconds to attract them and convince them to stay back and check what you have to offer. And in that ten seconds if they find a single error in what you have written, they can immediately bounce back, especially when you have hundred other competitors they can go to.

This calls for a detailed check on the qualifications of those whom you employ to create content for your websites. James Fothergill, the head of education and skills of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says, “our recent research shows that 42% of employers are not satisfied with the basic reading and writing skills of school and college leavers and almost half have had to invest in remedial training to get their staff’s skills up to scratch”.

Types of errors

Obvious errors

Spelling mistakes occur in different ways. There are obvious spelling errors such as writing “conetnt” for “content” or “www,” for “www.”. These are typos that you can find and correct with your spell check. With the spell check available you might think that such errors are not common. However, the surprising fact is that such mistakes are also seen many times in many websites.

Right word and wrong context

A very common error in web pages is the use of the word that is correct in spelling but wrong in meaning. For example, using “effect” instead of “affect” and vice versa or “its” instead of “it’s”. These are minor errors; however, they are wrong for the context and can read awkwardly on the web page. Unfortunately, such errors are hard to find as they might not show in the spell check as the spelling is correct as is.

Errors in URLs and links

Spelling errors could mar the effect of not only the content that you present for your visitors to read but also the Javacript and URLs you provide, making them useless and ineffective. Visitors would need no other reason to bounce away than such broken links. When the links they click takes them to an error page they will not realise what is happening and thus get annoyed and bounce away immediately.

Informal variations of spelling

Another way of errors appearing on web pages is when you unconsciously add spellings that you normally use in texting, tweeting or updating status in Facebook. The variations like “gud” for “good”, “b’coz” for “because”, “thru” for “through” and “luv” for “love” are cool and hep when they are used where they should be, that is, in social media or sending SMS to friends. You could use them even on your own personal blogs, but not at all for business.

Deliberate errors to increase keyword density

Nothing can be as annoying to the reader as these deliberate errors in spelling to add the keyword density on a web page.  This is a common technique, however, to ensure that your website shows up in the search results when the user searches with a word that is spelt wrong. While minor omission in punctuation like leaving out an apostrophe can be overlooked, these deliberate changes in the spelling of a word just so that they are matching the keywords that users type in cannot be forgiven. Not only would they irritate the readers, but the repetition of these errors on the web pages can seriously affect your credibility.

It is true that the demand from search engines to have original and keyword-rich content that is often updated to keep it fresh can make the website owners turn a blind eye towards the minor errors in the spelling and grammar. It might be your company blog that you have to update every week or sometimes every two-three days. Time is less and thus you just write what comes to your mind and just update.

In fact, most business owners would employ a copywriter at the time of website creation to provide the content. And once that content is uploaded, they tend to update it on their own. This could be where the errors creep in as correction of these errors might not be the primary thing you have in mind. Neither can you expect your website designers to correct the content for you. As a result, after may be six months later or so, your website might contain many errors that can immediately make your visitors move away to the next website. Remember, yours is an online business and often you might not be interacting with the customers directly and hence the text that you provide has to impress them.

So how do you ensure that your text is error free? In the case of a professional copywriter, you might not have to worry as the content would come to you after editing and proofreading. But what about those last minute updates that you make yourself? Or the latest blog post that you have added? The best way would be to make someone read it after you write it. The other person would find those errors that your visitors would find and thus save you from losing a sale.

Here are a few questions that Google had come up with when it released its Panda update. You could use these questions as a checklist for the content you have for your site before it is uploaded.

  • Does the content have errors in spelling, style or facts?
  • Has the content gone through editing and proofreading phase?
  • Has it been produced by more than one person or across a large network of sites?
  • Has it been created in haste or for the sake of marketing?
  • Do you see what you have written in a magazine or a book? Is it worth publishing on print?
  • Does it provide interesting information or insightful analysis?
  • Does it come with a lot of ads that distract the reader’s attention?
  • Has it been given attention to detail regarding punctuation and grammar?
  • Does the content have the relevant information for the readers? Does it answer their questions satisfactorily?

Asking yourself these questions before you upload the content to the website can avoid a lot of rework later and thus save your time as well as your business. As discussed earlier, certain traditions never change, and so is the language used with your customers. Give them the information they want in the correct and proper language and it is worth it. Remember, if you are correct, visitors might not notice it, but if you are wrong visitors would catch it very fast. It is your business, your source of income, and there no effort is too much effort for that.

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Boosting the ranking of your website in SERPs

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

If you own a business on an online platform where the website popularity matters when it comes to sales, you are undoubtedly familiar with SERPs and page ranks. Because, these are highly crucial for bringing more customers to your website and thus boosting your sales in a natural and organic way. Different search engines follow different algorithms to rate a website and bring that site to the front pages. However, there are certain basic factors that help in boosting the ranking in result pages of any search engines and these factors are not going to change.

For past few years, search has meant Google for quite a lot of people, with Bing and Yahoo just closely following. The latest news anyway is that the alliance that Bing and Yahoo have formed has increased their market share, which might turn out to be a bad news for Google. Whether you are optimising for Google, Bing or Yahoo, the truth remains that you need to put some efforts in bringing your website to gain better positions in their search results. Here are, therefore, some of the common principles that search engines follow in ranking websites:

Improved Click through Rate (CTR) and reduced bounce rate

Your website’s CTR, in other words, the number of times it is clicked in the search divided the number of times it is displayed, depends on where exactly the site is placed in the search engines. This indicates that it is not enough to just bring the website to the front pages but you need to make the visitors click on it. The number of times visitors click and the number of times they return to your site make a difference here. In fact, even the time frame that visitors take to return to the site is taken into account, which means that you cannot get away with just a better position in the search engine, but you need to make the visitors come to you and convince them to return to you some way or the other.

Logically following the CTR is the bounce rate, which represents the number of visitors who reach your website and bounce away to other sites almost immediately as they couldn’t find what they required. Today, search engines, especially Bing, has started measuring the bounce rate, if the visitor returns to the result pages within less than minute, it doesn’t really look good for your site as it would mean the site couldn’t provide what the visitor wanted. On the other hand, if the visitor could stay in the site for a longer duration the search engine would consider the site compelling.

A protocol supported by Google, Bing and Yahoo, helps you to mark your content according to their type so that the search engines can recognise them as they are such as images, product descriptions, locations, reviews, etc. Schema also helps you in defining the semantic relationships between the different components. Schema is still not known to boost your rankings; however, being promoted by search engines to reduce their own costs and efforts, we can safely assume that they are definitely going to add extra weight to those websites that use the protocol.

Original and quality content

This is perhaps the most common and oft-repeated requisite in any SEO related article or blog post, that a website requires quality content to boost its ranking. And there is no surprise in that. If you want visitors to come to your site and spend their time there, you definitely have to offer them what they need. A good website needs information relevant to its users that would help them do transactions with you. And original and quality content does not mean some random words, keywords, obviously, but well thought out ideas logically and sensibly put together in sentences that have no errors.

User friendliness

A user friendly website is not one that has a lot of images and interaction; in fact, it is far away from that. User friendliness is a combination of different factors, the content mentioned above being one of them. The right images in the right resolution, informative videos, faster loading time, easier navigation are all part of the combined effort of making a website user friendly. It is easy to put one or two of these factors in the site, but users tend to stay back in a website when all these elements are put together to make the site attractive and relevant and helpful. Besides, you need to know the right balance in which you need to include these items. For example, if you add too many videos, the site would load slower. At the same time, you cannot completely avoid the graphics to make the website totally empty of colours and graphics. In other words, it is balance that you need here.

Social media

Of course, there is no website now without a link to its social networking profile. In fact, adding the necessary buttons for social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is not just necessary but not adding it can take away points from you in the eyes of search engines. In fact, Bing has admitted that it uses the data from Twitter and Facebook in its algorithms to check the website’s popularity among the users. You can make use of this fact is by adding these buttons at the strategic locations of your web pages.

Relevant URL, keywords and meta descriptions

The links and URLs you choose for your website play a pivotal role in making users click them. Choosing a random link that doesn’t seem to have any relation to the business you do or the keywords you are focussing can make the users ignore your site even if it is in the front pages of the result pages. Therefore, keyword-rich links could divert visitors to you who might end up converting once you convince them to buy from you. The same rule applies for the keywords and meta descriptions you choose for the site.

It is important that you realise how important the keywords you choose are. For this you might have to do a detailed research on the keywords you have chosen as well as keywords of your competitors. If your website is not optimised for the keywords related to your business, no matter how much you try to make the website attractive, visitors might not come to you and convert. To ensure that your website is optimised adequately for the keywords, make sure you do a thorough analysis and optimise the website for those keywords. This also means that you should not stuff the website with the keywords and thus give an impression of spamming.

The descriptions that you provide for the website to accompany the URL in the search pages is as important as the positions they occupy there. Most visitors would be reading your titles and descriptions before they choose a website to click. Providing relevant details that are short and at the same time to the point can make a favourable impression on the users and they would click your website.

Good crawlability and structure

To ensure that your website is crawled and indexed by the search engine robots you need to make the site easily crawlable. Adding an HTML sitemap could help you in this as you can include all the necessary web pages that you wish to be indexed. Similarly, each time you add a new page, make sure that you add the page in sitemap. Remember that unless you add the pages in the sitemap they will not be indexed by the search engines.

Good internal navigation is also important for the search engines to go through all the important and optimised pages in the website. Also, this is important for the visitors also that they can move from one page to another and find the page they want quite easily. Hence, if you have added external links in your web page, do make sure that the search engines do not leave your site through them. Add proper alt tags for images so that search engines could read them.

To make your website a favourite for your targeted audience the list above is not entirely sufficient. However, you could concentrate on them as the first step in optimising the website so that you start improving your position in the result pages. After all, these preliminary steps would help you in establishing your position in search engines first before you starting moving up to reach the front pages.

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The ever-widening scope of social bookmarking

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

social bookmarklink building

Suppose you have an online store that sells wedding gowns and other accessories related to weddings. It has an amazing set of products of the best quality and affordable prices. Still you are worried that the traffic to your website is low when compared to that of your competitor You give a lot of importance to the marketing of your business through different means; still, XYZ stays ahead.

While looking for the reason for this low traffic you come across an acquaintance who told you something interesting – she was recommended your name and was planning to come to you for purchasing her wedding gowns and accessories. However, when she logged on to her favourite social bookmarking website to add your link to her bookmarks, she did a random search for wedding gowns there and came across that also had a great collection of clothes. Since she liked them she decided she will make her purchase from XYZ.

The result – you lost a valuable customer and a good sale.

Why? Because you just did not think about adding your website in that social bookmarking website. So are social bookmarking websites that relevant for the popularity of a website and even bring you visitors? Yes, they are and let’s see why.

What are social bookmarking websites?

Often while you are browsing you come across websites that you’d want to visit in future. You’d store them on a notepad or in your mail box which might be convenient then but tough to manage later. Social bookmarking websites on the other hand let you store these links at a single place, divided into categories and tagged with keywords so that you could find them easily. These websites require you to register and create a profile which you could open from anywhere in this world. In other words, you can access your bookmarks wherever you are without walking around with your old, messy notepad in laptop or iPhone.

Today, social bookmarking websites are many, and some of the most popular ones are Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Diigo, etc. It hasn’t been long since they have made their appearance and ever since they have, lots of people have started using them. Whether it is the researchers who are always hunting for information or those journalists who wish to keep tab on the website addresses where they find the latest information, they’ll find these websites an awesome change from the silly notepads and diaries.

How do social bookmarking websites benefit you?

As we discussed before, websites like Digg and Delicious help you in organising the various website addresses you find into related categories and tags. Hence if you had been reading on the English Tudor period you could collect the links under the category ‘History’ and tag them as ‘British History’, ‘Tudor History’, ‘Queen Elizabeth I’ and lot more accordingly. This brings us to another advantage of social bookmarking – you could give different tags to a single website URL so that you could find it under that category also.

Suppose you want to share a few links that you found with your friends. Social bookmarking aids you there too. As the name indicates it is social, in other words, your links are accessible to others too who are looking for information on the same category. Moreover they could see the other links also that you have saved thus creating a community of people with similar interests. In fact, by checking the tags that people give for various sites and other links that come under the same category, you could get new insights of what people think of a particular topic. For example, if you have tagged a website under ‘travel destination’ and add websites on ‘winter destinations’ also under the same tag it gives new ideas to people who are searching for interesting travel ideas.

What does social bookmarking means for online businesses?

You are already aware of how quality back links can get you better ranking from search engines. When you get your website address in any of those bookmarking sites, you are in fact ensuring a back link of quality that would remain for a long time. For social bookmarking sites do not remove the links from their database. And as for your visitors, when they find you in a website like StumbleUpon or Delicious they tend to trust you more and thus come to you keeping an open mind.

With most of the social bookmarking websites moving beyond the desktop to smart phones and other handheld devices online bookmarking is literally on your fingertips. Finding a place for your website there would mean you are a hot topic in the online communities and among users who in turn could be your customers in future. In other words, social bookmarking is growing and growing with the potential that we are not even completely aware right now.

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