Digital marketing and online content creation snippets

| May 20, 2014 | 0 Comments


There’s loads going on in the digital marketing scene as usual. It can be a challenge to keep up with the latest developments, never mind past ones, as evidenced by some of the dodgy goings-on I come across during my online travels.

Are you fully au fait with stuff like hidden text, colour contrast and web page accessibility? Are you still lost in space over keywords and how to use them? How do you pick the right person to design your website? Read on…

Content creation and digital marketing news

Online businesses protest the end of internet neutrality

Google and Facebook are amongst more than 1000 online businesses who have written to the USA’s Federal Communications Commission – logo above – demanding an end to moves designed to stop internet neutrality. Neutrality in this context means that all online traffic – whatever its source, location or content – is given equal priority.  An online world without discrimination? Yes please. Long may it continue.

How to use keywords? This is as simple as it gets…

Confused about keywords? You are not alone. More than a decade down the line they’re still causing mayhem and chaos, even with digital marketers who should know better. Why is the whole keyword thing so hard to grasp? It’s baffling. Here it is, in Google’s words, and it really couldn’t be simpler:

“Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.”

If that isn’t straightforward enough, here’s how to break it down into three content-related actions:

  1. Think about the words users would type…: ie. define the target audience and do some keyword research to identify the keywords they tend to use when looking for products or services like yours
  2.  …to find your pages…: This means keywords must be mapped, AKA associated with, specific site pages – pure logic
  3. …and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it. In other words the page content, including the meta data, should include the keywords you’ve identified

Google, the law, sledgehammers and nuts

The big G is being forced to delete information from the search results after a high profile European court case ruled against it. In the case, a man whose past actions were visible in the search results when his name was Googled has successfully lobbied for the details to be removed from the search engine’s index.

Hm. It sounds like the legal profession is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut again. As any good digital marketer knows, Google is dedicated to surfacing the most recent, up-to-date content available. That’s what its famous Caffeine algorithm update was all about. If you want to obscure undesirable information about yourself, all you actually need to do is add fresh content and the older stuff should end up buried at the bottom of the heap… unless someone in the know searches specifically for it.

Colour contrast is ‘just’ a design thing, right?

Wrong. Did you know that making your web page text the same or a similar colour to the page’s background contravenes Google’s guidelines? It can even result in web page penalisation or de-indexation. You need to make sure every element of every page is easily accessible regardless of people’s disabilities and any assistive technologies they might use.

You already know search engines need words to explore, rank and rate a web page accurately. But you want your page to be clean and empty, an exercise in arty clear space without lots of messy verbiage. Can you mask text altogether, hiding it from human eyes?

It might seem like a clever idea, especially if you’re a designer who hasn’t bothered to get to grips with the basics of SEO. But it’s very bad practice and contravenes Google’s guidelines. You want people to find and enjoy your site? You need to bring words into play. C’est la vie.

 What does my website look like to Google?

Accessibility is a biggie but it’s ignored a lot of the time, leaving visitors with disabilities in a rotten position and search engine spiders unable to ‘see’ what websites are about. Here’s what the Equality Act 2010 says about it:

A person … concerned with the provision of a service to the public or a section of the public (for payment or not) must not discriminate against a person requiring the service by not providing the person with the service. Accordingly, neglecting to provide a service to a disabled person that is normally provided to other persons is unlawful discrimination. This applies to commercial web services as much as to traditional services.

If you want to stay on the right side of the law and help all your visitors enjoy your site to the full, humans and bots, try looking at it through a text-only browser like Lynx. Here’s what Google Webmaster Guidelines says:

“Use a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site, because most search engine spiders see your site much as Lynx would. If fancy features such as JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, frames, DHTML, or Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site.”

Best practice: make sure your site is completely accessible with Javascript and images turned off.

How fast is my site? And why does it matter?

Yesterday I had a fight with a small, simple public sector website. It was so slow-loading it kept leaving me hanging… for minutes on end. There was obviously something horribly wrong. There’s absolutely no need for such piss-poor performance these days. But does site speed really matter?

In a word, yes. Back in 2010 Google announced website speed would be included in their site ranking calculations. It makes perfect sense since speed is one of the most important influencing factors for visitors. Google doesn’t want to surface frustratingly slow stuff to the top of the search results, ergo a slow load will ultimately affect your business’s search visibility.

How fast – or slow – is your site? Find out via the GTMetrix website performance tool.

How to pick the best website designer

Plenty of us these days simply upload WordPress to a url and go for it. I create my own websites, informed by decades of direct marketing experience and a Graphic Design Degree. But what if you want an actual web designer to create a website for you? How do you know who’s good and who isn’t?

If it was me I’d find a qualified graphic designer, not just someone who knows how to code or build a basic WordPress site. But I would also insist they had enough on-site SEO knowledge to do a decent job from the offset.

There’s nothing worse than having to implement on-site SEO after the fact, crowbarring keywords into pages after they’ve been indexed, faffing about with stupidly long and complex urls, daft page titles, accessibility issues and more. Get it right first time – find a web designer with SEO experience.

Use meta descriptions to increase search results click-throughs

Someone asked me about meta descriptions the other day. They’d heard Google doesn’t use them in its website ranking calculations, and hasn’t since 2009. Quite right. But a good meta description is still vital if you want to inspire punters to click on your link in the search results.

Google uses the meta description as the snippet it associates with the page in the search results. As such it is enormously important, directly influencing whether or not someone clicks on a listing.

Because clicks on pages in the search results have an influence on search rankings, meta descriptions continue to be important for SEO, too… but indirectly. So make them the best you can. And test different versions to see which performs best.

My website is full. Do I really have to add more content?

A website made up of a collection of static web pages that never change or update has no chance of achieving long term visibility in Google’s search results. How come? Because as I’ve mentioned earlier in this post, Google ranks fresh, recently updated content above unchanged, old stuff.

Any good SEO type will recommend you create a sensible content strategy to refresh your site with new, valuable, unique content as often as possible.

As long as you have a blog on your url, your site will never be ‘full up’.

 

 

Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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