RipCity Design and Development

Archive for the ‘Helpful Tips’ Category

Did you know that your website can help your company “Go Green”?!

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Eco-Friendly
As I’m sure most of you are aware, there is a big push for businesses to practice environmentally sustainable practices; recycle, use less paper, focus on efficiency, etc.

Did you know that your website can help you with almost all of these and more?

Use less paper

Online Forms

Paper forms -> Online forms

By putting your most often used forms online and having them accessible to your clients allows them to only be printed when needed, rather than having copies printed and lying around the office in boxes collecting dust.

Having your forms online also gives you the ability to have auto-fill (also referred to as interactive or fill-able) forms that your clients can type in the fields at home before the appointment/meeting and print out the filled in form at home. The benefit to this method is that it saves time and guarantees legibility.

Email Campaigns

Newsletters -> Email Campaigns

Do you currently employ a direct mail marketing campaign? Do you mail out quarterly newsletters? Would you like to know instantly if either of the two aforementioned campaigns have results or if your audience is even reading them?

Email campaigns can be relatively low cost and eco-friendly alternatives to direct mail campaigns. With direct mail you pay for the design, printing, paper, mailing and if you don’t do a mail-ready piece you also pay for the envelope. With Email campaigns you pay for the design, and if chosen; the email campaign service (CoolerEmail, Constant Contact) which is usually a low monthly fee. These services are a necessity if you are planning on sending the information to more than 100 clients.

Office Memos

Office Memos -> Emails and other options

Turn office memos into internal emails. Setting up an exchange server or using programs that provide the same services (shared contacts, calendars, email lists) can vastly improve workflow and cut down on the amount of pwper used. Social networking sites like Twitter can actually be used to a businesses advantage by posting big events for the day (Nike meeting, Company BBQ, etc.) it serves as a reminder for the people involved and improves search engine rankings if correctly implemented into the website.

Office Memos

Press Releases -> Blog

Blogs have a multitude of uses, one of which is to serve as an RSS feed for press releases. Anytime something of note happens to your company it should be added to the blog and categorized as a press release. Other great uses for blogs can be simply informing your customers of products, services, deals and changes within the company.

SEO Tips and Tricks

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

SEO

SEO
Search engine optimization is a hot item right now, it’s what everyone wants. The most asked question is “How can I get to the top of the search engine rankings”? The next question is “How much is it going to cost”? Although, I personally think they should be evaluated in the opposite order and the business asking for help should have an idea of it’s budget and more importantly an understanding that like anything you pay for that relates to technology it gets outdated fairly quickly. What I’m trying to say is: SEO isn’t a one time payment, consider it like taking care of an animal. If you neglect it, then you have a dead pet; same theory applies to websites. With that in mind, your next question for us is probably “Great, now what can you do for me”?

Blogs

Ah, the age of blogs has arrived and although it used to be websites were cool and blogs were hip, now it’s more along the lines of: websites are a necessity and a blog is a tool to keep your website healthy. Take a moment and consider a search engine like a parasite that feeds off healthy websites.

Now, you ask: what determines a healthy website, and how do you make/keep it healthy? For now we’ll ignore web traffic and it’s relation to search engines because traffic is a product of it’s environment and it screws up the analogy without further explanation. The simplistic answer to the question of what makes a website healthy is easy: content.

    Content

    GoooodEvery website needs it; after all the purpose of a website is the dissemination of information from the person that controls the site to their audience. The audience is not always, but quite often the general public.

    Content
    As far as search engines go, content is the meat and potatoes of any website. This brings up an important fact that many probably don’t consider; what is pleasing to machines (search engines) and what’s pleasing to people don’t match up perfectly. A search engine will read a straight forward non-designed site with proper compliant code, the same as a well designed site with compliant code. The one with more pertinent content and visitors will be higher ranked. The key difference there is “visitors” a search engine can’t evaluate solely based on content because they are trying to assume what people want based on trends. So the fact that more people visit a particular site gives the search engines insight (term used lightly) that the site more visited is a better resource or more pleasing to the visiting audience.

    A well used blog is like feeding your website fertilizer; continually updating content (that is hopefully interesting and valuable to your audience) will bring more visitors, but a key factor to constantly adding new content is for the benefit of the web crawlers. Web crawlers can be told how often to crawl your site, but I believe the average site (small businesses) only gets crawled once a month due to stagnant content. The more the crawlers update the search engine index for your site, the higher up it will go in the rankings (they update the index when something changes or gets added, hence new content = GOOD).

    Blog Platform

    Blogging
    We prefer to use WordPress because of it’s easy-to-use user interface and because of the freedom they allow you to customize the blogs skin (aka : theme) the beauty of having wordpress themes is that once the theme is designed and in place you can switch it with the click of a button. Now you ask, “why would I want more themes”? My simple answer is “Because you can”. I’m sure your visitors would love to see your site update with a different look every once in a while, and the nice thing is that you can switch the themes back if you’re feeling sentimental. Although there are other great and useful tools out there, Wordpress is our #1 choice and suggestion.

Meta Tags

You’re probably saying to yourself, “I’ve heard of those; but really what do they do and what are they”? Easy answer, they are tools for search engines that provide a quick and dirty guide to the information on the current page. Many people make the mistake of having the same thing repeat over and over again from page to page and this doesn’t help with SEO, it’s almost better to not have them than to misuse them (probably debatable by some professionals).

    Keywords

    Ah! One everyone asks for and hears about, but is probably the biggest myth out there. Although the keywords meta tag allows you to put specific keywords into your page that the web crawlers are supposed to look for, they really don’t anymore. Search engines got smart, the majority of the major search engines; google, yahoo, etc. actually scrub your page for content now instead of asking you what keywords you want listed. This actually guarantees the searcher (person typing into the search engine) that the content they are looking for is found ON THE PAGE and not just a hit and miss keyword tag.

    Description

    DescriptionAlthough you probably don’t hear as much about this tag, it is actually well worth using. The description meta tag allows you to provide a short summary to the search engines about the content of your page. Example: when you go to a search engine and type in your search various results return and under the title link there is a short description or excerpt from the page. Often times this is a direct output of this meta tag.

    Robots

    Even less talked about robot meta tag, and really it’s only needed if you don’t want robots to index pages. So for most practical uses people won’t use this tag unless they don’t want their company images showing up on googles image search. However a more practical version which produces the same results is the robots.txt file.

    Title

    Although not technically a meta tag, the title tag can be VERY useful. The title tag is actually what shows up in the search results as the title of the link to the page listed. Having this very specific to the content gives you a leg up on the competition. Many people make the mistake of just naming their pages “Home” or “About” which doesn’t really provide any useful information. When really it could be much more informative. For example, look up at the “Blue Bar” (as my old employer used to call it) at the top of your browser window and read what’s listed. Something along the lines of “SEO tips and tricks.. yadda yadda…” If someone was searching google for SEO tips and tricks this page might have a fighting chance, if it’s readership goes up over the other blogs and how-to’s that are already out there.

    Others

    WWW
    Although there are other meta tags and they can be implemented just to be up-to-snuff, AND certain specialized search engines use them; for the most part they are no longer supported by the big guys and hence over-looked

Social Networking

Myspace, Facebook, Digg, Delicious, etc. All of the sites that are based on human interaction and opinion can be considered social networking sites. What do they have to do with your website and increasing traffic? Well that’s simple; the more opportunities that you can to link to your site, the more likely you are going to have visitors. Example: If you are advertising and you give out your business card, you have a better chance of getting a call back than if you don’t give out your business card. Also, if you put up billboards or flyers advertising your business you’re more likely to be seen. The same goes with the web. Not everyone “hangs out on the same street” so you have to expand your marketing and advertising materials to hit those people that may not intentionally be searching for you, but could benefit from your services.
DeliciousDiggFacebookFlikrredditStumble UponTechnoratiTwitter

    Suggestions

    Bright Idea
    Set up a Facebook account, a Myspace account and use them as a directory entry. Talk about your business as if it was a person, give it a personality, sense of humor; make it a fictional character if you want. What’s it’s favorite beer? Hangout? Music? Band?┬áBelieve it or not, this will help some people relate to your brand and it will also give you the opportunity to link back to your site.

    Start up an affiliates link exchange within the social network, add “friend” businesses that you do business with and link to their actual site from your businesses profile.

Search Engine Submission

Not many people know that this is actually a FREE service offered by many search engines AND by most web hosting companies. The general rule of thumb is to not over-submit your site because it’s considered spamming. Once a month is adequate if the spiders are doing their job. Even though this service is free, we will still assist those that either don’t know how or don’t want to spend the time doing it. 1/4 hour of our time at our hourly rate is all it will cost for every month you want us to submit.

Directories

Directories
Are you listed on Portland city search? Are you listed in Google’s business directory? Your local chamber? State business registry? Online yellow pages? There are literally hundreds of online directories trying to find a niche or special market to tailor to, find the ones that tailor to your business and get in there ASAP. Go for the big ones to, if you’re not listed in google get it done. We can help you assess and find which directories other than the big ones that are a MUST for your business.

Quick Note

Although much of this information can ASSIST you with SEO, we still suggest that you employ your developer or an SEO specialist.. or better yet, *cough* us *cough cough* because although you may read a book on building a house, or even have the basics down it’s not likely that you’ll cover all your bases and build it to code.
Champion

If you read through this whole page, we hope you received some insight, and congrats champ; you made it!
After typing all of this for our SEO page, I decided that it was more like a blog post; so it gets double treatment!


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