Category: Web Design

Aug 02 2012

Beyond Blogging: Using WordPress to Build Your Business

WordPress is one of the most convenient free programs available to help you create an attractive, well-organized website. Most people use WordPress for blogging, with great results. But in this guide, the popular marketing authors guide you step-by-step through some of the best ways to go beyond blogging with WordPress, to build your business and bring in even more revenue.

The authors take you through ten great ways to build your business through adding impressive functionality. Learn how to transform your blog into one or more of the following:

1-Article Directory
2-Auction Site
3-Content Management System
4-E-Commerce Storefront
5-Frequently Asked Questions or Question and Answer Portal
6-Forum/Discussion Board
7-Help Desk
8-Invoicing System
9-Membership Site
10-Project Management Tool

A handy appendix at the back gives you even more ideas on how to transform and monetize your blog, for an even more impressive niche-related site.

A second appendix gives you insider information on how to make the most of WordPress plugins and themes.

If you are eager to grow your new blog and go beyond the basics to create an impressive niche site to rival even those of your top competitors, get started using this guide today to help you achieve your business and financial goals.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Joan Mullally has worked in digital publishing and as a marketing consultant for a wide range of firms for over 16 years, with expertise in the health, finance and small business niches. A former educator and the author of over three dozen how-to guides, she excels at providing clear, practical action steps to help readers and her clients grow and transform their lives for the better.

Andrew Simon has worked in the technology departments of some of the world’s leading financial institutions, including Dow Jones, the New York Stock Exchange, and NYSE Euronext. He is an avid follower of new and emerging mobile devices and is now perfecting the art of developing Android apps for his clients.

Together, Joan and Andrew have launched the Business Matters series of guides in order to help non-technical business owners make the most of the great new money-making opportunities that online marketing offers.

BUY NOW:

Beyond Blogging: Using WordPress to Build Your Business (Business Matters)

More Titles: Bookstore



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Mar 24 2012

JavaScript Redirect – Do Not Use

Among all the different kinds of redirects available, there is one that is a big Search Engine Optimization pitfall: the JavaScript redirect, which is often used by search engine spammers to serve different pages to people and search engines, a practice known as cloaking. Using a JavaScript redirect can cause search engines to mistake you for a spammer and downgrade your website accordingly.

Why Search Engines Don’t Like JavaScript Redirects

There are a few kinds of code that the Google bots can’t read very well. These include Java, JavaScript and Flash. Because these are extremely complex programming languages that the Google bot simply isn’t designed to read, search engines often skip over the code completely. In the past, that left holes in the Google bot. It allowed spammers to put redirects in JavaScript that would send people to one site, while displaying content to the search engine bots.

Naturally, Google has become much more sophisticated about detecting this kind of cloaking. Still, using JavaScript to redirect a user is considered bad form and carries with it some risk of getting penalized by the search engines. According to Google’s Webmaster Central, using a JavaScript redirect is okay as long as the intent of the code was not to deceive. Therefore, unless you have a very good reason to use a JavaScript redirect, you should probably just use a different redirect instead.

What Kind of Redirect to Use?

There are many different kinds of redirects you can use. Four common ones include the 301 redirect, the 302 redirect, the PHP redirect and the Meta redirect.

The 301 Redirect is also known as a Permanent Redirect. It tells search engines that the page has permanently moved to a new web address and that all rankings, backlinks and PageRanks should be moved accordingly.

The 302 Redirect is considered a temporary redirect. In other words, it is used by webmasters who want to send visitors to another page, but want to move it back at some later time.

Keep in mind that these redirects are written at the .htaccess level and won’t cause any speed loss at all. The server never opens the old file. Instead, when the user’s browser requests the old page, the server looks up the page, realizes it has moved and instead sends the user the new page.

The third kind of redirect is the PHP redirect. It’s slightly slower than the 301 or 302 redirect because it has to go through your server’s PHP engine. It is best used by web applications that need to use code to determine where a user needs to go on a per-case basis, as opposed to directing all visitors to a new page.

Finally, the Meta redirect is the slowest of all. It requires the visitor to completely load the page with the redirect before sending them to a new page. One of the other methods is usually better than a Meta redirect.

In summary, JavaScript redirects are frowned upon by search engines. Though they are technically not against the rules, there is no reason to take the risk. Instead, use one of the four alternative redirect types discussed above.



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Feb 19 2012

Understanding Static Links and Dynamic Links

One controversial topic among Search Engine Optimization (SEO) enthusiasts is the static link versus dynamic link discussion. Each has their benefits and drawbacks. Some websites, such as Amazon.com, work very well with dynamic links. Other sites wouldn’t do well at all with a dynamic link structure and would fare much better with a static link structure. What’s the difference and who should use a static link structure and who should use a dynamic one?

Static and Dynamic Links: A Definition

A static link is basically a hardcoded link. For example,

http://www.site.com/page3.html is a static link.

A dynamic link on the other hand is a web page and a link generated by computer code. The page URL usually contains a string of code in and of itself. For example, a dynamic link might look like:

http://www.site.com/?pid=310837498/lem_dit=809342098?gm=398ab

The code is used by various parts of the software to identify specific products, users and pages. It is not designed to be readable, but is instead designed to be useful for software.

How Do Dynamic Links Affect SEO?

In the past, search engines couldn’t index dynamic links at all. Today, search engines are more than capable of identifying dynamic links and indexing them, though it does take the engines longer to index dynamic links than static links. According to Google’s SEO team, their system can read dynamic links by filtering out symbols such as = or ? Their team has also stated that webmasters should not try to make dynamic links look like static links. Instead, Google has a sophisticated enough system to be able to read and index dynamic links. Trying to disguise dynamic links as static pages will do more harm than good. It’s generally accepted that dynamic links are rated lower than static pages. How much lower is a hot topic of debate. The general consensus is that it’s rated lower and slower, but not by a wide margin.

Who Should Use Dynamic Links?

If you’re running a simple website without a large database of products, users or pages, then you should probably just use a static link structure. You will get ranked faster and better and it is also easier to manage. On the other hand, if you’re running a complex software structure that generates its own links and uses in-URL tracking, then you should probably use dynamic link structures. Don’t sacrifice usability and ease of use for link structure/SEO.

In short, the main benefit of using static link structures is that they are ranked higher in the search engines. On the other hand, dynamic link structures give programmers a lot of flexibility in how they design their links and user experience. If you have a website that can be built only with dynamic links, don’t let the SEO factor interfere with it. Don’t worry as Google can still read and index your links.



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Feb 13 2012

How to Optimize Webpage Load Time

How fast your webpages load has a big impact on both your viewer’s experience and your search engine rankings. People tend to view fast loading websites as more professional, and search engines give faster loading websites more “points” than slow loading sites. Here are a few tips to optimize your site to load faster:

Use Gzip Compression

Gzip compression allows you to compress HTTP data on your server and send it to the user’s browser, which will then decompress the data and display it on their side. This can make quite a big difference. If you take a 17k HTML file and Gzip it, you’ll get a 6.8k file back. Sending the compressed file will take less than half the time of the uncompressed file. Not every browser supports Gzip compression. Some browsers, such as Internet Explorer 4, can’t handle compressed JavaScript code. That said, if you enable HTTP compression just for browsers with Gzip capability, you will drastically speed up your load time for a lot of your visitors.

Use Cascading Style Sheets

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) allows you to store all the stylistic elements of your website in one file. That file needs to be downloaded only once, no matter how many pages on your site any given viewer sees. For example, let’s say someone comes to your blog ten times a month and looks at an average of two pages each time; therefore, they are loading a page from your site twenty times a month. If your fonts and page styling were stored in the page, they would have to load that every time. If you put it all in a .css file, however, they would only need to load that once. This will optimize your page load times, as well as save you bandwidth.

Use Page Caching

Caching allows you to turn PHP (or other web app code) into HTML files for faster loading. Let’s say you run a WordPress website. Typically, when someone comes to your site, this is what happens. First, they send a REQUEST for a file to your server. Your server then goes to its PHP engine to execute your index.php file, which will put together your index file based on all the different code in your WordPress set-up. Once the page is put together, it’ll serve up the HTML to your end user. The browser turns the HTML into the webpage that the end user sees. This whole process is quite processor intensive and is slow from a technical perspective.

What caching does instead is convert all your files into HTML so that it can be served up to users in HTML form without having to go through the page construction process every single time. A smart caching engine will be able to serve up HTML files only when that’s what they would see anyway. If what the user would see with the PHP version is different, the caching engine will go through the PHP engine instead of serving up an HTML file.

These are three extremely effective ways of speeding up your webpage load times. Enable Gzip compression, use external CSS files, and install some kind of page caching. These three combined can drastically decrease your average load time.



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Feb 09 2012

How to Revamp Your Online Store to Increase Business

Revamping your online store can make a huge difference on your conversions. It can increase customer trust, loyalty and conversion rates. What are the most important things to revamp? How can you make sure the new version of your website is truly effective?

Designing Above the Fold

The most crucial part of the revamp is the first screen someone sees when they land on your website. Everything that is above the fold is what will determine whether or not someone will decide to stay on your site.

What Should Go Above the Fold?

Most successful ecommerce stores put their most popular products on the front page, as well as any particularly good deals. Make sure your USP is clearly visible on the front page as well. For example, when Domino’s Pizza ran their “If it’s not there in 30 minutes it’s free” campaign, it was clearly visible on their website. If you have a user login system, another proven strategy is to use their recent purchases to determine what else visitors might be interested in.

Fewer Steps to Checkout

The fewer steps someone needs to take to get to the checkout process, the better. Instead of having someone fill out a lengthy registration process, make it as short as possible. Make it optional. Some of the most successful websites have only a two-field registration process: the email and the password. Everything else is just pulled from the credit card entry process. Make sure your “Add to Cart” buttons are clearly visible on every page. On every step of the purchase process, it should be crystal clear to the reader exactly what the next step is.

Optimize for Trust

Trust is often the most important factor for determining whether or not someone buys. Certain colors such as blue tend to work best to increase trust. It does make a difference what industry you are targeting and the age range of the visitors, however. Getting BBB, HackerSafe and SSL certifications can also help increase trust.

Adding Features and Products

Ask your customers what they want to see more of. Is there a product line they want you to carry? Is there an improvement or a feature they want added to your website? Although website owners are often very intuitively aware of what their users want, they can’t always come up with the perfect solutions for their customers on their own. User feedback is critical to building a great business.

In short, start your design with the above the fold impression. Make sure it creates a sense of safety and trust, as well as conveys why your site is special. Put your best products up front. Reduce the steps to check out and make the process as streamlined as possible. Finally, continually ask your users for feedback, feature suggestions and product requests.



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