23 November 2009

Creating an HTML sitemap and a XML sitemap for your website could be the easiest thing you do to improve your exposure on the web. For those of you who pay close attention to the search engine optimization (SEO) of your site, this could be the one thing that gets you onto the first page of Google's results. For those who don't devote too much time on the SEO of their site - this is a good place to start. By submittĂ­ng a sitemap to various search engines, you are telling them that you exist and what pages your site has to offer the World Wide Web.

There are two types of sitemaps, HTML and XML. An HTML sitemap provides a useful directory of all the pages that are in your site. While XML sitemaps play an important role in helping the search engine "crawl" the various pages of your site. This Roadmap discusses the benefit of creating both an HTML sitemap and XML sitemap, and how you can go about creating them using a sitemap generator. HTML Sitemaps

An HTML sitemap is a single HTML page that contains links to all the pages of your website. Normally, this is accessible via a link in your site footer, where it will be displayed on every page. With large sites, it is easy to get lost and struggle to find the page you are looking for. With a well organized HTML sitemap, your site visitors will be able to use this to easily find the page they are looking for.

From an SEO perspective, as the search engine's robot (or spider) crawls your site indexing pages, it may find some pages on your site easier using this sitemap, rather than through the general navigation. Therefore, sitemaps can benefit your site visitors and even play a role in enhancing your exposure on the web.

Take a look at WebAssist's sitemap to get an idea of what an HTML sitemap looks like. Notice that each page on the WebAssist website contains a link to this page in the footer.

XML Sitemaps

HTML sitemaps are designed to benefit your human site visitors, whereas XML sitemaps are created specifically for the search engines. All of the most popular search engines including Google, Yahoo and Ask.com utilize XML sitemaps as part of their process for indexing the pages of a website. A good XML sitemap will tell the search engine what pages are in your site, how often those pages are updated, and when they were last modified. This way, the search engines know which pages to revisit more regularly, and are likely to do a better job of indexing them. Here's an example of the XML you might include in your XML sitemap:


Notice that for the index.htm page of this website, we have provided details regarding the last modified date (), the frequency that this page is updated (), and the priority of this page in relation to the other pages of our site (). By providing this information as accurately as possible to the search engine, they will be better equipped to index your site, and give the correct pages the appropriate attention.

TIP: Be honest about the information you provide in your sitemap. If a search engine finds that you are not updating your site as often as your sitemap suggests, they may come back less often.

17 November 2009

Search Engines Optimisation terms

Search Engines Optimisation terms

Is a mod rewrite file that when placed on the root folder enables Redirection on an apache server.

301 Redirect
A permanent move of website, essentially indicating that the website no longer exists and all requests are forwarded to another page.

An algorithm is a set of mathematical rules to get a result from an input of data. The most famous online Algorithm is that of search engine Google. The Google algorithm is used to determine the ranking of websites in its index. Many SEO Professionals see the Google Algorithm as the Holy Grail.

Bad neighborhood
Refers to sites that link to each other that may have been penalized for some unethical promotion techniques.

Blackhat SEO
Is unethical methods of optimisation, severe penalties are handed out to sites who are recognised for using techniques such as same colour text as background, spamming keywords or linking from bad neighbourhoods.

A blog, is short hand for Web Log and is a page on a website where information can be regularly updated. Useful for Search Engine Optimisation because the more frequent content is added increases the likelihood is of regular crawling and indexing, resulting in higher placement in the SERPs.

Canonicalisation essentially means that your website has two entrances to the same location/page, The error normally lies in the websites URL structure, this is classed as a negative offence towards most search engines "as it leads to duplicated content" It is always important to close off one of these entrances using a [301] Permanent Re-direct.

Acronym for Content Management System, a secure web page where you can edit your website, sometimes called an admin system.

Content, or Copywriting is the text that is placed on a web page. Good content is key to a successful SEO campaign.

A directory is a website that details services categorised by industry. There are 1000's of free and Paid Directories available, and some can be industry specific. Within the directory you can normally submit a paragraph of information about your company, and a link is provided directly to your site.

DMOZ - The Open Source Directory
DMOZ is an open source, human reviewed Directory. Google uses the information from DMOZ to estimate the Authority of a site. Entry to the directory is not guaranteed as each and every submission is review for quality by a human volunteer.

Domain – URL
the address of a web page on the world wide web . The registration of these domain names is usually administered by domain name registrars who sell their services to the public.

Domain age
Is the date that a page was first available for index in a search engine. The age of a domain has a significant impact on search engine rankings, as an older domain is seen as more stable, and therefore more Authoritive.

Ethical SEO
Ethical SEO describes optimisation that does not use any underhand methods to improve rankings. There are many methods that are seen to be faking or deceive the search engines view of the site. Please read the Blackhat SEO section for some examples of unethical search engine optimisation.

File transfer Protocol  - File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard network protocol used to exchange and manipulate files over a TCP/IP based network, such as the Internet.

HTML Sitemap
The HTML Sitemap is an easy way to supply your users with a snapshot of the structure of your website and allows for them to successfully navigate quickly through your website. HTML Sitemaps also help build up "Internal Linking" throughout your entire website.

Indexed or Indexing is the action performed by the search engine to attain a position for a website in the listings. Not to be confused with crawling.

Keywords are used on a website to tell a search engine which specific information you are targeting and to also help target users who may in-turn search for those keywords within a search engine. Keywords are contained within a "Meta Tag" and the Body of a website.

Long tail
Is the term given to non-generic search terms entered into a search engine. Long tail searches generally convert into sales / leads as the visitor has been very specific about what they want.

Meta Tags
Meta Tags otherwise known as "Meta Elements" can be found within both HTML and xHTML contained between the tags of the document, they can contain specific information about a website such as relevant keywords or the webpage description.

In relation to search engine results means that the listing has been gained over time and is seen as an authority site. Natural referrals are the opposite of PPC referrals.

Page Rank
Page Rank is a visual representation of a websites authority. Ranging from unranked, for weak or new websites, to 10 for highly trusted and resourceful websites. Every single web page is assigned a Page Rank and there is a blanked update every 3 months approximately.

PPC - Pay per Click
Pay per Click is the practice of advertising on a search engine or other website. Website owners will pay the site hosting the advert based on the amount of clicks they receive through to their site.

The Google Sandbox Effect - is associated with newly registered domains, and has never been confirmed by Google, and many believe that it does not exist as a policy, but is simply an effect of the Algorithm that Google uses to calculate a ranking for a website. It seems that it can take up to 12 months for a site to move out of the sandbox, and this can be even longer if a new domain uses Ad Sense adverts on the page. This would suggest that it is Google's way of trying to reduce the amount of spam sites on the internet that abuse the use of Google Ad Sense.

SEM - Search Engine Marketing
Is a form of internet marketing which has the goal of promoting web sites by being listed in search engines. There are various SEM methods, these include: Search Engine Optimization, paid placement and paid inclusion

Acronym for Search Engine Results Pages.

Social networking
Is a buzzword at the moment on the internet. A social network is an online group of people who share similar interests or activities. Examples of social networks include Digg! Facebook and MySpace.

Is the term given to junk mail that arrives electronically. This is typically unsolicited, as email addresses are scraped from the internet by programmed spiders. Spam websites are sites that have the intention of deceiving users in to clicking adverts on the page, to make the owner money.

Title Tag
The Title Tag can be found within the tag of a HTML or xHTML document and can be used to display textual information to a user, The Title Tags information can be found at the very top left hand corner of the Browser/Applications window.

Traffic is the term that is used to describe visitors to a site.

W3C Stands for "The World Wide Web Consortium" and was foundered by what many believe to be "The Father" of the internet, Sir Tim Berners Lee. The consortium exists to ensure that compatibility between vendors agree on a foundation of standards when programming for the web.

XML Sitemap
An XML Sitemap is an easy way for a Search Engine to find out what type of content is hosted on your website and where to find it. The XML sitemap replaces the previous way of users having to submit their site to various search engines through the use of submission forms, Now users can simply upload an XML Sitemap to their website and wait for the search engines to find it.

11 November 2009

What is Pay per Click?

Pay-Per-Click marketing has become an online phenomenon, with marketers only paying for traffic they receive. As Internet marketing has evolved, pay-per-click is seen by many as the middle ground between paying per impression and paying per sale. Advertisers only pay when they receive traffic that may or may not be targeted.

The pay-per-click advertisements are usually displayed with the advertisement from the highest paying bidder in the top position.
Navigating the complex web of Internet marketing, publishers and marketers are often confronted with terms that seem foreign. This simple guide will assist you in understanding the Pay-Per-Click marketing model.
 An easy way to explain this is to remember that the top results (skyline) of Google and the sponsored results on Google and Yahoo are all paid listings.

Facebook PPC
Recently the social network giant Facebook has started offering a pay per click advertising model. What is exciting about this is that one can not only target keywords and  regions as in the Google model, but also prospective clients by their interests, age, marital status etc. The model is not as advanced as Google yet in its tracking, however it is generally cheaper and can with the right product give far better conversion rates.

Pay Per Click Definitions

Bid - The amount that an advertiser is willing to pay for a click on a specific keyword.
Budget - The amount of money that an advertiser sets aside for an advertising campaign. Different publishers allow for advertisers to set daily, weekly or monthly budgets.
Clickthrough Rate (CTR) - The percentage of clicks on a link. This is usually a percentage based on the total number of clicks divided by the number of impressions that an advertisement has received.
Conversion Rate - The relationship between visitors to a web site and actions considered to be a "conversion", such as a sale or request to receive more information: the percentage of people whose clicks have resulted in a sale or desired action in relation to the total number of clicks on an advertisement.
Cost Per Click (CPC) - The cost or cost-equivalent paid per click-through to an advertiser's website.
Cost Per Thousand (CPM) - The amount an advertiser pays for one thousand advertisement impressions, regardless of the consumer's subsequent actions.

Delisting - The removal of a listing as a result of inaction or poor performance.
GeoTargetting - An advertisement targeted at a specific geographical region, area or location.
Impressions - The number of times an advertisement is viewed by web surfers.
Keywords - Search terms or phrases that are related to an advertisement or ad copy.
Landing Page - The specific web page that a visitor ultimately reaches after clicking an advertisement. Often, this page is optimized for a specific keyword term or phrase.
Linking Text - The text that is contained within a link.
Pay Per Click (PPC) - Advertising model in which advertisers pay for click-throughs to their website. Ads are served based on keywords or themes.
Rank - How well a particular web page or web site is listed in a search engine or advertising results.
Return On Investment (ROI) - The percentage of profit that results in a marketing or advertising campaign. Naturally, advertisers want the amount of money made to exceed the money spent.

Why does your business need a professional logo?

Why does your business need a professional logo?
There are a lot of things that contribute towards the success of your business. Having a good quality product or the cheapest price doesn't necessarily ensure your success. To build a long term impression on your customers, it is vital that you have a proper marketing strategy and something unique about your company.
At H2L we believe it is our job to make sure our clients realize the importance of having a custom designed logo. A professional logo design goes a long way to establish the identity and exude the attitude of the company. Now, when we say 'professional logo design", we must understand that it is not a child's play, its a specialist job and better if it is assigned to a professional logo designer.
A professionally designed custom logo can be very powerful in representing the company profile, the nature of job they do and the attitude of the company. It helps to build the identity of the company and distinguishes your service from your competitors in the industry.
A logo, if done properly can leave a long and deep impression on your customers mind. They go a long way in depicting the image of your business. You can well understand, how powerful a logo can be if you think about the golden M of McDonalds—the moment you see that, you know its’ them. Just think about the Swoosh of Nike, do you even take a moment to think, to whom does that logo belong? That shows how powerful impact a logo can create in the mind of your customers. Wouldn’t you like your company to have an equally powerful logo?

What makes a good logo? A good logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, graphic, simple in form and conveys an intended message.
There are five principles that you should follow to ensure that this is so…
An effective logo is (in no particular order):

Top 50 Brands of the world
Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM, GE, Intel, Nokia, Walt Disney, McDonald’s, Toyota, Marlboro, Mercedes-Benz, Citi, Hewlett-Packard, American Express, Gillette, BMW, Cisco, Louis Vuitton, Honda, Samsung, Dell, Ford, Pepsi, NescafĂ©, Merrill Lynch, Budweiser, Oracle, Sony, HSBC, Nike, Pfizer, UPS, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Canon, SAP, Goldman Sachs, Google, Kellogg’s, Gap, Apple, Ikea, Novartis, UBS, Siemens, Harley-Davidson, Heinz, MTV, Gucci and Nintendo.

Simple logos are often easily recognized, incredibly memorable and the most effective in conveying the requirements of the client.
Following closely behind the principle of simplicity, is that of memorability. An effective logo design should be memorable and this is achieved by having a simple, yet, appropriate logo.

Surprising to many, the subject matter of a logo is of relatively little importance, and even appropriateness of content does not always play a significant role.
This does not imply that appropriateness is undesirable. It merely indicates that a one-to-one relationship between a symbol and what it symbolized is very often impossible to achieve and, under certain conditions, objectionable. Ultimately, the only mandate in the design of logos, it seems, is that they be distinctive, memorable, and clear.

An effective logo should be timeless - that is, it will stand the test of time. Will the logo still be effective in 10, 20, 50 years?
Leave trends to the fashion industry - Trends come and go, and when you’re talking about changing a pair of jeans, or buying a new dress, that’s fine, but where your brand identity is concerned, longevity is key. Don’t follow the pack. Stand out.
Probably the best example of a timeless logo is the Coca-Cola logoCoca Cola logo has barely changed since 1885? That is timeless design.

Make it versatile
An effective logo should be able to work across a variety of mediums and applications. For this reason a logo should be designed in vector format, to ensure that it can be scaled to any size. The logo should be able to work both in horizontal and vertical formats.
Ask yourself; is a logo still effective if:
Printed in one colour?
Printed on the something the size of a postage stamp?
Printed on something as large as a billboard?
Printed in reverse (ie. light logo on dark background)
When H2L is creating your logo, we begin designing in black and white only. This allows you to focus on the concept and shape, rather than the subjective nature of colour. One must also remember printing costs - the more colors used, the more expensive it will be for the business over the long term.

Is the logo appropriate?
How you position the logo should be appropriate for its intended purpose. For example, if you are designing a logo for children’s toys store, it would be appropriate to use a childish font & colour scheme. This would not be so appropriate for a law firm.
It is also important to state that that a logo doesn’t need to show what a business sells or offers as a service. ie. Car logos don’t need to show cars, computer logos don’t need to show computers. The Harley Davidson logo isn’t a motorcycle, nor is the Nokia logo a mobile phone. A logo is purely for identification.

06 November 2009

Should your Business have a Website?

So should your business have a website, even if your business is small and sells products or services you don't think can be sold online? The answer is: Yes, if you have a business, you should have a website. Period. No question. Without a doubt.

Also, don't be so quick to dismiss your product as one that can't be sold online. Nowadays, there's very little that can't be sold over the internet. More than 20 million shoppers are now online, purchasing everything from books to computers to cars to real estate to insurance, you name it. If you can imagine it, someone will figure out how to sell it online.

The point to be made here is that you should at the very least have a presence on the web so that customers, potential employees, business partners and perhaps even investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or services you have to offer.

That said, it's not enough that you just have a website. You must have a professional-looking site if you want to be taken seriously. Since many consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store, your site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer. If your site looks like it was designed by your child, your chance at making a good first impression will be lost.

One of the great things about the internet is that it has leveled the playing field when it comes to competing with blue chip companies. As mentioned, you have one shot at making a good first impression. With a well-designed site, your little operation can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company.
When it comes to benefiting from a website, the size of your business doesn't  matter. if you don't have a website, you're losing business to other companies that do.

Make sure potential customers can find your site. Resist the temptation to build a "do it yourself - template cheapie" website. You will regret it. For one it doesn't look professional, but more importantly you need your site to be found. A bespoke PHP coded site will always outrank a template. Your site has to be search engine friendly to rank. Invest a little more on a good website design, and SEO of the site. The returns will far out weigh the initial cost.

Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, "Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have created this wonderful site for our customers! Or "hy we are small fry and have  put up this website for the sake of it"
Your website is an important part of your business and by far the most cost effective way of advertising. Make sure you treat it as such.