Could a Simple Sitemap Raise the Profile of Your Website?

The internet is a changing place. It is no surprise therefore to discover that some of the tips and tricks that used to work to rank your website highly within a search engine result are now defunct, having been replaced with newer and more sophisticated alternatives. Staying on top of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques is a difficult job, as you could spend many a day researching and coming no closer to an answer as to which techniques will make the most difference.

Well one handy, and often forgotten, method will help you in both ranking more highly within a search engine, but also in appearing within their results more quickly. This method is simple to implement but powerful, and is particularly useful for any website, but especially for website designs with a lot of Flash, those with many old archived webpages that are no longer linked to from anywhere, those that take advantage of dynamic content, and just those that are new to the World Wide Web. Even if your particular website design doesn’t fall within one of these categories, you should still consider this useful tool as an essential part of your site.

The little method that we speak of is known as a sitemap.

What is a sitemap?

A sitemap isn’t a complex creation. It is, quite simply, a map of your website. It will show how your website links together, for example if several subpages link from one other page. Also every page, whether linked from another or not, will be displayed within your sitemap.

Although it is unusual to actually link to a sitemap from your main navigation bar, many websites will allow users access to it from the footer. It is certainly beneficial to allow visitors to your website to access your sitemap, as it may help them find what they are looking for more easily than in using a search bar or trawling through several pages.

However it isn’t only your visitors that will take advantage of a sitemap. Search engines don’t consider a website as an entity; instead they consider the separate webpages within your website. If these pages don’t link to each other, the search engine spiders have no way of knowing that your pages are actually affiliated at all. With a sitemap though, search engines will soon know exactly how your website fits together, including all the intricacies of your navigation.

How do I create a sitemap?

Don’t worry; you don’t need to create a sitemap by hand. There are many free tools on the internet that will do it for you. Some of these tools require downloading a sitemap generator to run on your own computer, while others will simply run online. If you use a Content Management System such as WordPress, you might even find an appropriate plugin to do the legwork for you.

Once you have created your sitemap (assuming that you haven’t used the functionality within a CMS) you will need to upload the generated .xml file to your website, as with any other webpage. However your job doesn’t end there.

To take full advantage of your new sitemap it is important to let the big search engines, particularly Google, know that it exists. If you have a Google Webmasters account, you have the ability to submit the location of your sitemap to Google. If you don’t, register now and submit your new sitemap. Don’t expect an overnight difference to your search engine rankings, but within a few days you might be pleasantly surprised at the difference that you see.

The above article was kindly provided by Matt from DigitalCloud.org.uk. Thanks buddy, hope to see more of these in the future too!

Top Tips for an Effective Website Design – How to Make the Most of Your Website Layout

The way that your website looks to a visitor is very important. You might think that content is the most important aspect to your website’s success, and it is undoubtedly a crucial element, but with a website design that pains the eyes of your visitors they will never stay to read your wonderful text.

Fortunately creating an effective and professional looking website design isn’t rocket science. It is something that even those amongst us who may be creatively challenged can accomplish. Stick to these simple guidelines, and you too will soon be making the most of your website layout, helping you to attract more visitors and, more importantly, keep them for long enough to read your vital information.

1.    The KISS Principle

You may not have heard the expression Keep It Simple Stupid, or KISS, but when it comes to the layout of your website design it is certainly something to remember. Simple layout’s are user friendly, so avoid any complex navigational quirks, reduce the number of large images that would take a long time to load and don’t use too much complex coding.

2.    Keep it Consistent

A visitor to your website will be frustrated if, after just working out how everything works on one page, finds it to be different on another. Although there is some grace for your homepage as users tend to expect this to be a little different, ensure that all of your subpages are consistent.

3.    Include a Search Bar

If someone visiting your website wants information quick then the all important Search bar could be the answer to their prayers, particularly if your website is filled with content. The common location for search functionality on a website is at the top right hand corner, and it is here where you should place your own if at all possible considering your overall website design. By no means should a visitor be forced to scroll to find the ability to search.

4.    Navigation, Navigation, Navigation

When designing your website’s layout you must carefully consider how a visitor will navigate around your pages. However your navigation works, it is essential that it looks the same on every page, and that it is always in the same place. This will allow a user to jump swiftly around from page to page until they find what they are looking for.

5.    Square and Centre

Finally remember that, for a professional website layout, you should consider lining up the different elements to a grid or at least lining them up carefully with each other. A higgledy piggledy look may work for some websites, but be sure that yours is one of them before launching pages that your visitors may not appreciate. You should also bear in mind that some visitors may have a screen resolution that is greater than your own; websites should, therefore, be centred to appear aesthetically pleasing on all screen sizes.

How to Create a Fast Loading Website

One very quick and easy way to put off the visitors to your website is to force them to sit for more than a minute, just waiting for everything on the page to load. Broadband technology has been quickly adopted around the world, but it isn’t present everywhere, so don’t assume that your website is fine because it loads quickly on your own 20Mb connection. Instead, utilise some of the following tips and tricks to optimise your website design, helping it to load quickly for all of your prospective visitors.

Tip 1 – Minimise the use of images

 There is no denying that the use of images can certainly enhance a website design, but too many images can drastically slow down its performance. Consider some very successful websites such as eBay or Amazon, or even Google; you won’t see many images as load time for these internet giants is very important. Stick to a minimalistic website design and it will look professional and load quickly.

Tip 2 – Utilise CSS

 CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, allow a website browser to quickly load your webpages, because it only needs to read the information regarding the formatting of your pages once. Without the use of CSS, a browser will need to gather this information each time a visitor clicks onto a different page within your website.

Tip 3 – Keep your pages short

 Content will obviously load more quickly on a shorter page than a longer one, so if you find yourself with a long scroll bar why not split your content into several shorter sections? Not only will this improve your load time, but it might even encourage your visitors to stay as particularly long scroll bars can certainly be daunting, as our attention spans online are not overly long.

Tip 4 – Use Flash only when necessary

 Flash websites can look incredible, but they can also feature the longest loading times of all other sites on the web. Use Flash within HTML code for quicker loading, rather than creating an entire website through it, and only use it where it is really necessary, and where no other alternative will work.

Tip 5 – Reduce the number of different fonts

Believe it or not, using many different fonts can actually slow down how quickly your website will load. Cluttering up your content with a range of different font styles is also not very easy on the eye, so pick your favourite and stick to it. If you need to emphasise different points use other features of your font such as bold, italics, underline or even a larger font size.

These five simple tips will help your website design to load quickly on any internet connection. However, before announcing your site to the world why not take advantage of one of the free online tools that will calculate a load time for you? If it is unacceptably long, go through these tips again and see if there is more optimisation that you can do to help your website to load as quickly as possible.

Could a Simple Sitemap Raise the Profile of Your Website?

The internet is a changing place. It is no surprise therefore to discover that some of the tips and tricks that used to work to rank your website highly within a search engine result are now defunct, having been replaced with newer and more sophisticated alternatives. Staying on top of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques is a difficult job, as you could spend many a day researching and coming no closer to an answer as to which techniques will make the most difference.

Well one handy, and often forgotten, method will help you in both ranking more highly within a search engine, but also in appearing within their results more quickly. This method is simple to implement but powerful, and is particularly useful for any website, but especially for website designs with a lot of Flash, those with many old archived webpages that are no longer linked to from anywhere, those that take advantage of dynamic content, and just those that are new to the World Wide Web. Even if your particular website design doesn’t fall within one of these categories, you should still consider this useful tool as an essential part of your site.

The little method that we speak of is known as a sitemap.

What is a sitemap?

 A sitemap isn’t a complex creation. It is, quite simply, a map of your website. It will show how your website links together, for example if several subpages link from one other page. Also every page, whether linked from another or not, will be displayed within your sitemap.

Although it is unusual to actually link to a sitemap from your main navigation bar, many websites will allow users access to it from the footer. It is certainly beneficial to allow visitors to your website to access your sitemap, as it may help them find what they are looking for more easily than in using a search bar or trawling through several pages.

However it isn’t only your visitors that will take advantage of a sitemap. Search engines don’t consider a website as an entity; instead they consider the separate webpages within your website. If these pages don’t link to each other, the search engine spiders have no way of knowing that your pages are actually affiliated at all. With a sitemap though, search engines will soon know exactly how your website fits together, including all the intricacies of your navigation.

How do I create a sitemap?

 Don’t worry; you don’t need to create a sitemap by hand. There are many free tools on the internet that will do it for you. Some of these tools require downloading a sitemap generator to run on your own computer, while others will simply run online. If you use a Content Management System such as WordPress, you might even find an appropriate plugin to do the legwork for you.

Once you have created your sitemap (assuming that you haven’t used the functionality within a CMS) you will need to upload the generated .xml file to your website, as with any other webpage. However your job doesn’t end there.

To take full advantage of your new sitemap it is important to let the big search engines, particularly Google, know that it exists. If you have a Google Webmasters account, you have the ability to submit the location of your sitemap to Google. If you don’t, register now and submit your new sitemap. Don’t expect an overnight difference to your search engine rankings, but within a few days you might be pleasantly surprised at the difference that you see.

A Website For You Or Your Company

In the 21st century, it is clear that for any business, company or venture initiative to be ultimately successful, it needs to have a clear and substantive presence on the World Wide Web. This can be difficult, if only for the fact that there are so many “websites” out there, that many simply get lost in the clutter of it all. As the Internet continues to evolve, it is becoming imminently clear that the successful web marketing campaign cannot be solely about a single website dependent upon web hits for publicity. Any company looking to get noticed out on the World Wide Web needs to have a comprehensive Internet presence that incorporates successful social media integration with clean, clear and accessible traditional online elements such as a traditional website.

As for the construction of a website for your company, here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure full integration with social media elements.

Figure Out the Purpose of the Website

As the digital age continues to grind forward, it becomes clear that web users are far less patient than they used to be. This means that they will not stick around long if they feel that they are having their time wasted, or if they cannot find their way around your website. Take the time to think out the function and look of the website, with a clear idea of whom the target readership is. This will save you a lot of time on the back end, trying to fix the site after the fact.

Ensure Search Engine Optimization for Your New Website

These days, generating attention (and more importantly, ad revenue) is all about optimizing your website for easy search engine hits. In the website design industry, this is called search engine optimization (SEO). The trick to achieving proper SEO for your website is by making a concerted effort to strike the correct balance between keywords, visual elements and overall subject matter. When you register your domain name, you have the option to pay an extra fee to have your website indexed by subject and content matter for better search engine placement, but this does not take the place of a proper and concerted SEO effort.

Above All Else, Make Feedback System as Clear As Possible

Make sure that all e-mail and contact information is clearly and easily placed on the first page of the website. This gives your readers an easy path to give feedback and seek assistance.

How To Optimize Your Website With SEO

For nearly two decades now, the Internet has been an incredible tool for research, for knowledge, for data transferring and for all manner of entertainment and amusements. In addition, since the earliest days of the modern Internet, where AOL, Prodigy and Netscape ruled the World Wide Web, before the URL address became a known thing, the entire Internet ran on a system of keywords. It was these keywords that users employed to find particular web pages and sites online, long before Google and bookmarks made the web a “surfable” space.

Now, of course, the Internet is still all about keywords, but it goes about it in much different way. Instead of a website publishing and acknowledging one formal keyword for users to find it, now keywords must be embedded into the text placed on websites, in order for those sites to show up early and high in popular search engines queries. This process is known in web design circles as search engine optimization, and there is a considerable amount of money and success at stake for the proprietors of many different types of websites to employ a successful SEO campaign.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search Engines

The most common way to optimize a particular website or page for search engine traffic is to associate the content on the website with commonly searched for words and phrases. These are usually one to four word phrases that are popular on Google and other search engines. The key is to subtly incorporate these keywords or phrases into the text of your web copy. Do not saturate keywords or phrases, as search engines automatically weed these out of their results. The trick is to use a keyword or phrase once for every 100 to 150 words on a given page.

Is It Really Just About Keyword Use?

No, there are many other things that a web designer and a company need to do to ensure that their websites are optimized for search engines. The first one of these is the registration of an easily recognized domain name that is quickly and commonly associated with the company or product that the website intends to represent.

Other ways to ensure SEO compliance for a website are to properly encode imagery and graphics, as many search engine web hits today are generated by image searches rather than keyword searches.

Blogging – How Social Media Is Confusing the Issue

For the past seven or eight years, web logging, or blogging for short, has been heralded as the next generation in news gathering and information dissemination, and has been credited (and loudly denounced) as the death knell for more traditional mediums of news information. Even companies that really had no business interests with setting up and running blogs wanted to get into the act, setting up blogs on their corporate websites, and filling the Internet will reams of “information” about their company that became quickly redundant.

Now, with the advent of quicker and ever diminutive methods of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, it has become clear that the future of expression on the Internet is getting shorter. This, coupled with the exceedingly popular phenomenon of “texting” with mobile phones, has generated a confluence of events where the act of blogging comes under threat, not from attack or litigation, but from irrelevancy.

Is there room for blogging in the next generation of the Internet? Well, yes and no. Here is the case for both the affirmative and negative arguments.

Blogging Is a Go

Even if many Internet users only flock to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, there will always be a niche segment of the Internet that has long been home to the policy wonks who have found a refuge of camaraderie in which to commiserate. The political and information geeks will always call the Internet home, and they will use the blog, or some reasonable permutation of it, to do so. This, coupled with the fact that the traditional media is still dying, means that information will continue to be disseminated on the Internet more and more.

Blogging Is Dead

But the question was not necessarily if blogging would fade out and disappear, only if it would continue to be relevant. The fact is that, whether or not the policy wonks congregate on blogs or not, most people would pay no attention to them whatsoever. There is one major reason why long form blogging is practically on the way out, with one foot in the proverbial grave already.

The Internet Is Going Mobile

The Internet is being increasingly tailored to be consumed and experienced through mobile devices exclusively. This is to the benefit of Tweeting and Facebooking, but not so much for the long form blogging diatribes.

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