SEO and META Description: The Unsung Hero

by demtron on Thursday, November 19, 2009 08:26 PM

Is the META Description tag really worth any time and energy?  Compared to other aspects of on-site SEO, this one doesn’t provide the kind of ranking and authority that impact rankings significantly.  In spite of this, there’s an important reason for using it that’s often overlooked.

META Description provides and easy and succinct way to summarize the contents of a page, but it can be substantially longer than the title tag.  The real benefit of this tag is in writing a sales hook that will encourage a visitor to click in spite of its position on a page.  Here are two examples found in Google when searching for the term "birthday gifts":

 

Unique Gift Ideas, Gifts, Unusual Gifts, Birthday Gift Ideas, Unique Gifts, Gifts For Men, Gift Ideas, Corporate Gifts, Birthday Gifts, Gift Ideas.

 

Say Happy Birthday with a birthday gift from RedEnvelope - no better place to order and send birthday gifts.

 

The first results comes from a keyword stuffed section of the page content and reads more like a ransom note than a description of the site.  The second one, even though ranked lower, has a nice message, a call to action, relevance and it’s easy to read.  It conveys the image of a place that someone might like to shop.  Sure, it’s not keyword stuffed and may not rank as well, but relevance was the key here.  I passed over the first result because it just didn’t have a good feel to it.  There’s not doubting that both sites intended for the visitor to see exactly what was shown, but the one with the clear message and call to action wins the day.

META Description optimization is one of the easier on-page optimizations that can be made.  Despite is relatively lower importance in ranking, the sales punch it can provide makes it worthwhile to include it in your SEO plans.

Need help with your META Description tags.  Contact the <a href="/Milwaukee-Wisconsin-SEO-Expert.aspx">Milwaukee SEO Experts</a> at Demtron today!


Killing Your Search Engine Ranking in 7 Easy Steps

by demtron on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 07:40 PM
Have you ever wanted to completely destroy your search engine ranking or do it for someone else?  Maybe you never want your site to get found again?  Believe it or not, I've helped clients in the last six months with each of these problems that were torching their search engine profile and strangling their organic traffic.
 
1) Domain masking: I took over one site where the entire site was using domain masking.  In seven years, the client had absolutely no idea that the previous designer was doing this to save himself a buck on a hosting plan for the site.  Only the home page was found in search engines.  It turns out the designer did exactly the same thing with all the rest of his clients' sites that have been live for years.  They, too, only have the home page to show for it in search engine results.
 
2) Use only a JavaScript menu for linking pages: Sure, JavaScript menus are cool.  They can drop down, slide across, have pictures and generally spice up a site.  But they can't be crawled by search engines.  What's more, the links in them don't contribute anchor text, either.  One recent client had over a hundred pages in a JavaScript menu and practically no linking using anchor tags.  Most of the 200 pages of the site had not been crawled at all
 
3) Use a JavaScript page strip: ASP.Net is famous of offering page navigation strips using is doPostBack JavaScript methods.  Another client I acquired had over 6 thousand pages on a site, but only 32 pages actually crawled.  The remaining pages were all accessible through paginated tables.  Another great waste of code that a search engine ignores.
 
4) All pictures and Flash with little text: Some designers with a flair for graphic design take sites a little overboard.  If you're a famous pop star and have zillions of fans finding your site every day by just typing yourname.com, then who cares?  In the real world, most sites are not wildly popular and are only found through search engine results.  SEs love text, especially keyword-rich, backlinked text.  Pictures and Flash sure are pretty, but they basic tell nothing to a crawler.
 
5) Renaming pages without redirects:  One site I redesigned earlier this year had tons of links from other sites pointing to a page that was non-existent.  What a complete waste of free traffic and promotion!  Both search engines AND human visitors wouldn't find the site.  Oh, what a little bit of 301-redirect action did to help out that one.
 
6) Leaving title tags blank:  One of the aforementioned sites had about 60 of it's 200 pages with blank titles.  How is anyone going to find those pages, and why would anyone click on them?  Here, let's write a book, then tear the front cover off and leave one of those "this page intentionally left blank" pages as the new front cover.  Real slick.
 
And last, but not least...
 
7) user agent: *  disallow: / in the ROBOTS.TXT file: This one didn't actually happen, although it was close.  The site had the disallow all set for a user agent of Google.  So, they kissed 81% of their traffic away just by a simple screw-up by the former designer.
 
And there you have it.  If you implement these seven key steps, your success with annihilating your search engine exposure and traffic is pretty much guaranteed.  Good luck and happy destroying!

Broken Link Checking for Your Web Site

by demtron on Friday, November 14, 2008 04:54 PM
Broken links are one of the most frustrating experiences for a web site visitor.  A broken link is one that leads to a non-existent page, either on the site or an external site.  Unless special code or custom error pages have been added to a site, the visitor is presented with a bland "404 Page not found" error or an equivalent that gives the user no indication of what to do next.  This is a surefire way to encourage a visitor to go away and maybe not visit again.

For a designer, finding broken links on a site can be a vexing problem.  There’s no visual indication of a problem on the site, and neither design tools nor markup editors will expose these problems while they’re being designed.  Finding broken links can be a tedious and time-consuming task without automated tools.

Some of the best tools for this purpose are available on the web for free.  One of my favorites is available at http://validator.w3.org/checklink.  The World Wide Web consortium develops the specifications and guidelines for Web design standards, so you can be sure that this tool works!

Upon opening the page, all that's needed to start is to type in the URL to examine and click the Check button.  This process will take between 20 seconds and several minutes depending on the number of links it needs to examine and the responsiveness of the pages represented by those links.  During this time, it examines the page markup for the existence of anchors and links then makes a call for each page to determine its status.  It also checks for redundant links and can provide warnings for indicating when destination pages have been moved and redirected.

Both a detail and summary output is provided.  The list of links examined is shown for each copy and pasting into a spreadsheet or other tracking document.  Following the detail section is summary of all problems shown in both tabular format and list format.  They identify the problem, the HTTP error code, the count of occurrences, what corrective actions to take, and even the line number of HTML code that caused the problem.

All site designers and webmasters should consider using this tool to find errors on their sites.  An error-free site improves visitor retention and maintains the professional image of your organization.

SEO for Title Tags Tip 5 Brand Building

by demtron on Sunday, November 09, 2008 12:49 PM

When considering how to modify page titles for a site, it’s important to recognize the significance of brand awareness for your products and services.  Your brand may be just as important, and perhaps even more important, than anything else.

Let’s say that you operate Crazy Cutters Hair Styling.  Your “claim to fame” is short waiting times and quality hair care products that sold in your salons.  Crazy Cutters is a pretty catchy name, and, depending on the nature of your other marketing and advertising efforts, it may be well known.

This is where some investigation is in order.  When they visit your salon or Web site, ask your customers how they found out about you.  If they found you in the Yellow Pages or a newspaper, ask them why they decided to come to your store.  If your brand name or slogan is mentioned often, it’s a “must use” on your site!  For example:

Haircuts and Family Hair Care at Crazy Cutters

Crazy Cutters Hair Styling - Cut Out the Wait!

Hair Conditioner - Treat Your Hair to Crazy Cutters

Each one touches on a different aspect of the products, services or customer experience.  Search engines will pick up on the coupling of these phrases and others prominently identified on your page and associate them with Crazy Cutters.  Alone, it isn’t clear that the term Crazy Cutters has anything to do with hair styling.  By integrating your important keywords with your brand, search engines will more readily identify Crazy Cutters with the hair styling theme, and your site ranking will rise, especially for long-tailed searches.


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