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Thirty participants on January 15 workshop on web searches

searches on the internetThis first workshop in partnership with the McCall College was a great success. We had a waiting list since we could only seat 30 participants due to the limited number of chairs available – and even 30 required the McCall College to borrow chairs, so don’t hesitate if you want to help them out

Steve Berry, CEO and founder of Battery Universe in New Meadows, was the principal instructor for the workshop and inspired the audience with his usual enthusiasm and real-world examples. The following is an outline of this workshop on web searches with links to examples or useful resources.

NOTE that this outline makes use of “hidden text” that opens by clicking on the ► arrow (find out how to do that in your own web-pages and visit ).

 

 

 

 

Disruptive technologies and changing demographics

We discussed disruptive technologies that change how we do web searches for services and products; as businesses and organizations we better change our ways accordingly. Those that embrace these technologies first are often the young urbanites and if we are not vigilant in staying up-to-date we may find ourselves wondering why loose business.

The internet and the smartphone can rightly be called disruptive technologies; an important reasons why we hold this workshop.
  • Two decades ago it would be inconceivable for a battery-supplier like Battery Universe with thousand of products (and even more part numbers) to be located anywhere but in a populous area with access to expressways. Today many suppliers became “footloose” and drop-ship products from the many manufacturers that they build partnerships with.
  • A decade ago, any respectable engineering or manufacturing company would have a subscription to the Thomas Register: a row of huge green books that listed every respectable supplier in the US. Now we use the power of the internet, and Thomas followed suit to stay relevant .
  • Three years ago we would carefully search out our destinations on the internet and print out maps from MapQuest and Google; now nearly half* of all American adults have a smartphone that can provide these last-minute details.
  • 72%* of our internet-savvy “Generation Y” (24-32 years old Americans) lead the way in doing about every information gathering on their smartphone. Not only will they look up where they want to go for lunch, but will compare the ratings and specials between the closest lunch places and compare ratings on Google, Zagat, Bing Local or Yelp.

* These statistics are from September and December of 2012, and are rapidly changing. Among others, the Pew Center for research is a good resource to follow these changing habit

Brick & mortar locations and Points of Interest

Locals mostly don’t need directions to your location, unless you have not done your marketing or you are an “occasional” service. Visitors and tourists will need directions, even if they have heard of you.

Make sure you show up correctly on (map and) web searches and on GPS devices (and remember: even if you have little time to spare, update at least Google Places!)

How does your website show up on a smartphone?!

If smartphone users are becoming so important, we should not ignore them. We all know the problem: a great looking web page looks all crunched and unreadable.
So what can we do?

Tips for the non-designer…
  • Keep the message to the point and allow readers to easily skim; you can use reveal/hide of content if available (like in hits post)
  • Avoid flash intro
  • Avoid (large) pictures that do not resize with the screen; keep you page load-time to a minimum
  • Make contact information easily available (and DO add the area code to your phone number…)
  • Keep navigation simple
  • If possible, use text that flows in columns and can fit any screen
  • WordPress user? Make sure to pick a theme that is smartphone friendly – many actually do what we are going to talk about in the next section…
Simple web-design tricks to make one site fit all
  • Don’t use fixed column width; use percentages so that the text can flow to fit the screen.
  • You can use javascript to detect screen-size or browser platform (example: link ).This allows you to use two or more different CSS Style sheets; one for a large screen, and one with smaller column-widths.Remember that you do not need to duplicate styles; loading a second style sheet can just override specificstyles from the main style sheet – that is what “cascading styles” is all about.
  • Use the HTML5 summary feature – link. Combined with a dedicated style sheet you can create something like Wikipedia’s mobile site.
Create a separate mobile site.
There are simple tricks to make sure that

Search optimization basics

Tips for the non-designer…
  • Relevance – Search-engines do their very best to place themselves in the shoes of the searcher. You should do the same!
  • Keywords – Your editor may have the ability to define key-words or a description for the page; use them, and make sure they are unique and relevant to the page!
  • Layout – Does the content have a logical layout? Most editors have the ability to assign a heading-style (h1, h2, etc) to paragraph and chapter headings, which helps search-engines to look for structure.
  • Depth of content – strive for 60 words minimum; touch on unique text, video, press releases, etc.
  • (Back) links- The more relevant your content, the higher the chance that other websites refer to you. Search-engines will therefore take incoming links very serious in web searches.
    • Be relevant! Just like visitors will get irritated if following the link did not help them, so will search-engines weed out the irrelevant links.
    • Things not to do: Sign up for text-link ads that harm your page rank (for example: www.tnx.net; backlink farms like www.getbacklinks.info
Simple design tweaks
  • Include relevant image names (on mousover)
  • Include relevant Alt image text
  • Proper HTML (W3C Validator: validator.w3.org/)
  • Things not to do: Keyword stuffing, white text on white background. Redundant keyword stuffed text that does not make any sense. Duplicate content, using similar URL to other sites, marketing the same content across multiple sites.
SEO Plugins for WordPress users
WordPress Plugins like WordPress SEO by Yoast can greatly assist in optimizing your pages. They analyze your page and give you easy access to keyword and description specification. Since they are popular you can find YouTubes to help you with the setup.

And, of course, browse through through Steve Berry’s handout page again.

 

 

 

 

 January 23, 2013