Bookmark and Share

First step first: the planning of content. When it comes to search engine optimization, good planning can mean the difference between 100 visitors to a page and 1,000 visitors. It’s an important factor for success. The first step of this process is deciding what we’re going to write about.

Choosing a Topic

Sometimes you know already know what you’re going to write about. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. A lot of writers have trouble coming up new topics to write about (problematic if you’re producing content for a living). Thankfully there are several ways to find topics that are interesting for your users.

My favorite method to find new topics is by using Quora. Even for seemingly boring niches you’ll find valuable topics in no time. Let’s say you’re selling lawn fertilizer and you want to write some articles for the company blog, in order to capture some long-tail traffic. If you head over to Quora and look for questions that use the word ‘lawn‘, you’ll find plenty of good threads that can be turned into interesting articles;

  • how to stop dog urine from killing grass,
  • best time of the day to water the lawn,
  • how to get rid of moss

Keyword Research

It’s always a good idea to do some keyword research prior to writing an article. Choosing the right keyword can help you attract the right kind of visitors. Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool is a great starting point for this task.

Let’s say you’re a kitchen manufacturer. You have a website where you write articles about everything that is related to kitchens. Via these articles you want to get some extra visitors to your website. For your next article you’ve decided to write about popular kitchen design tools, i.e. computer programs that help you plan a kitchen. But is ‘kitchen design tools’ a good keyword phrase? We can use the Adwords Keyword Tool to check this.

Research

Now that you know what you’re going to write about it’s time to do a little research. The chances are that there’s probably another website which has already covered the same topic. So why should people visit your page instead of the other websites?

Do some research and see what other people have written. Think about how you can improve upon these articles. Is there important information that they’ve forgotten? Are there statements that you disagree upon? Use this information to come up with a relevant, unique piece of content.

Content Development

So far we’ve selected the ‘right keywords’ and we’ve performed some research around the subject. Now it’s time to start writing the content.

You’ll need to add some structure to the article to help people find the information they’re looking for. Nobody likes to read a big chuck of text that lacks paragraphs, headings and an overall structure.

There are some tips that can help you write good articles, at least from a structural point of view. Not only users, but also search engines will appreciate this. A good structure makes it easier for visitors to read the page.

Structuring content

One of the easiest ways to add structure is via headings. Headings effectively cut an article into smaller, bite-size pieces. It helps readers scan the article for relevant information. Assuming your choice of heading elements properly represents the hierarchy of your content, search engines spend extra attention to them, especially h1 and h2.

You can use bold for important elements of your content. The SEO-value of this is negligible, but it’s very useful for your visitors. Bold text is a great way to emphasize important parts of your text. Google treats the bold and strong tag with the same weight.

Bookmark and Share

1. Be Prepared

It is imperative that a clean and easy user experience is implemented early on. The longer you wait, the more changes you will have to make and it will cost you a lot more time and possibly money. UX should be one of the highest priorities on your list, as this is normally the most important fulfillment users need. UX should not be added in half-heartedly later on after the product is launched.

Research, test, and be confident in your user experience before you plan on launching it, even in beta. A solid user experience can lead to a better, cleaner design in the long run.

2. Set Clear Goals

Whether this is a new blog talking about the latest web technologies, or an amazing startup launching a new product, it is extremely important to show a clear goal. When a user finds your site or product they should be able to know exactly what it is within seconds of seeing your site. This should be the most important and forefront element on the page. A nice simple header explaining your service, maybe a quick paragraph about it, and an image or video is all you need on the landing page.

Keep it simple and explain your product. Get the core description right, and the right users will come.

3. Information Overload

When starting out, a lot of designers feel the need to cram crazy amounts of information on a single page. Posts, ads, icons, social media links, email lists, and pop-ups can seriously affect the experience of a new user on the site, not to mention it can easily make them turn away and just leave the site.

When designing a new site, consider organizing the information in a way that is easy on the eyes. Clearly define headers and paragraphs, separate information, use white space where it is necessary, and try to organize social links along with ads or other extraneous information in a subtle manner so as to not put a burden on the user.

4. Too Many Words

Research shows that users are much more engaged with visual or audio cues. When designing keep in mind not to overload on text and to provide some visuals and possibly video or audio to make the website or app interesting. An interaction here and there is always nice and will keep users enthralled in the simple, but interesting features your site has to offer.

Do keep in mind not to over-complicate it though. Features are nice, but not if it is preventing the user from using your actual service. Define the goal of the user, and help them reach it. What do you want the user to do when visiting your site or app, how should they interact with it, what problems might they face? These are just a few of the many questions you could & should ask when designing and developing a new product.

5. Cluttered Forms

Another mistake that is made on a ton of websites are the forms. Whether it be a contact form or a sign up/sign in form, some have a common problem: Too many fields. When building and developing your forms add only the absolute most important fields that are necessary. It is imperative not to clutter the form and make it so the user must add a bunch of extra details when all that is needed are a few things like a name, email, and message for example.

UX is definitely something that startups, and all designers alike, should consider. It can make the biggest difference in your new product, and will help you truly connect with the users. Here are a few closing points and tips to keep in mind for future user experiences.

Bookmark and Share

An online identity is just as vital as a physical identity these days and, in many cases, it’s even more crucial than the age-old trusty business card. It is 2013 after all, and with many reasons to possess a website for your business, we’ve narrowed it down to the top five. Here’s why you should be part of the new generation of advertising:

1. Competition

When your potential clients search Google for a company to do business with, will they find you or your competition? Chances are most of your competitors already have an online presence. That means they are undisputedly stealing your sales right from under you. Facebook may be a start, but do you want to settle with “good enough”? No matter how great your service is, if you aren’t part of the game, you can’t win.

2. The Internet Influences Purchasing Decisions

Whether it’s buying books from Amazon or buying clothing from Zappos, most people now make purchasing decisions online.

Even if your business operates offline, having an online presence is of critical importance.

With social networks like Facebook and Twitter, whether good or bad, people talk about their offline experiences online. If you run a restaurant for example and a customer had a great experience in your restaurant, it isn’t uncommon to see her take to Twitter or Facebook to share her experience. When people do this, conversation ensues online and more people become interested in checking out your restaurant.

If you have a website they can instantly head over to your website to find out more about you, get in touch with your representatives and have their questions answered. This gets them more engaged and less-likely to forget your brand. Without a website, though, this becomes another forgotten experience since customers can’t do anything after hearing about you on social media.

3. Branding and Customer Confidence

Your customers assume you have a website. If you don’t, they’re disappointed by having to find another less convenient way to learn about your business and their confidence drops. You weren’t there for them and have already let them down before you knew they even existed. Earn their trust by pursuing their satisfaction in advance.

4. You Build a Powerful Marketing Channel

Your website also serves as a powerful, cost-effective marketing channel that works with your current marketing system.

You have a website people can visit regularly for more information about your products/services; you can use ads to promote this website online to drive business, you can leverage social media to go viral and drive more business and you can build an email list of thousands of people that you can get in touch with regularly about your services.

3. Customer Service 24/7

Websites are always open. A potential customer wanting more information on your business can’t call on the weekend, he doesn’t look for your business card, he doesn’t remember your print ad, but he DOES search for your website. Even if he has to use your site’s contact form to find his answer, the fact that his inquiry has been submitted is more satisfying to him than waiting for 9AM Monday morning.

Bookmark and Share

1. Too Much Text

Research shows that users are much more engaged with visual or audio cues. When designing keep in mind not to overload on text and to provide some visuals and possibly video or audio to make the website or app interesting. An interaction here and there is always nice and will keep users enthralled in the simple, but interesting features your site has to offer.

Do keep in mind not to over-complicate it though. Features are nice, but not if it is preventing the user from using your actual service. Define the goal of the user, and help them reach it. What do you want the user to do when visiting your site or app, how should they interact with it, what problems might they face? These are just a few of the many questions you could & should ask when designing and developing a new product.

2. Clear Defined Goals

Whether this is a new blog talking about the latest web technologies, or an amazing startup launching a new product, it is extremely important to show a clear goal. When a user finds your site or product they should be able to know exactly what it is within seconds of seeing your site. This should be the most important and forefront element on the page. A nice simple header explaining your service, maybe a quick paragraph about it, and an image or video is all you need on the landing page.

3. Proper Preparation

It is extremely important that a clean and easy user experience is implemented early on. The longer you wait, the more changes you will have to make and it will cost you a lot more time and possibly money. UX should be one of the highest priorities on your list, as this is normally the most important fulfillment users need. UX should not be added in half-heartedly later on after the product is launched.

4. Poorly Designed Forms

Another mistake that is made on a ton of websites are the forms. Whether it be a contact form or a sign up/sign in form, some have a common problem: Too many fields. When building and developing your forms add only the absolute most important fields that are necessary. It is imperative not to clutter the form and make it so the user must add a bunch of extra details when all that is needed are a few things like a name, email, and message for example.

When it comes to forms, follow two simple rules. The first is the KISS philosophy, that is Keep It Simple Sherlock. The second is Less Is More, do not try to collect too much information right off the start. Focus on the primary information. You want to encourage contact not discourage it.

5. 10 lbs. of Sand

Do not try to fit 10 lbs. of sand in a 5 lbs. bag. When starting out, a lot of designers feel the need to cram crazy amounts of information on a single page. Posts, ads, icons, social media links, email lists, and pop-ups can seriously affect the experience of a new user on the site, not to mention it can easily make them turn away and just leave the site.

When designing a new site, consider organizing the information in a way that is easy on the eyes. Clearly define headers and paragraphs, separate information, use white space where it is necessary, and try to organize social links along with ads or other extraneous information in a subtle manner so as to not put a burden on the user.

Bookmark and Share

You’ve probably heard this before, but when a person lands on your site for the first time, you only have a few seconds to capture their attention to convince them to hang around.

But if your page loads slowly, you may lose people before you even have the change to convert them.

Most studies have confirmed that you have a very short time to load your site before people click away, especially if they’ve been linked there from another site that they visit.

1. Web Hosting

If your website takes a long time to load every time it is accessed, it is time to think about upgrading your web hosting package or switch the web hosting provider. Even if you have just started your website, it’s a smart move to plan for the increase in the traffic.

There are many reliable and managed hosting solutions available and depending on your preference, you can opt for a good web hosting with WordPress package that offers with a strong technical support to backup your website. Spend some time in researching for a premium hosting solution that brings out the best performance of your website.

2. Optimizing The Images

For any type of website, use of images is imperative because it helps in creating a great impression on the visitors. Use of appropriate images enhances the readability of the blog.

It is a fact that the image files consume more space as compared to the text files. If you have uploaded a wide range of images, you will surely have a slow loading time. This will happen if you are not using any image optimization plugin. One of the best image optimization plugin is WP-Smushlt. It can be installed on your WordPress website for free.

3. Database Optimization

Optimizing the database is an important aspect for every website. WordPress provides with many database optimization plugins, one of the most efficient one of them is the WP-Optimize plugin. With a properly optimized database, the web hosting server can respond to queries without any delay, thereby having a positive effect on the overall website speed.

4. Restricting The Number Of Plugins

Although you might be allured to install a lot of pluings that suit your website, it is important download, install and use only the specific plugins that are necessary for your website. Plugins and themes acquire additional space that can slow down a website. It is true that some plugins are valuable and important and you must have them, however it is important to keep a check on the number of plugins you are downloading and the ones that are being utilized.

Eliminate all the plugins and theme files that you don’t require for your website. For the plugins present on your website, make sure that you have the latest versions. Even the deactivated plugins can slow down your website and also make it vulnerable to malicious activities.

5. Caching Plugin

Your WordPress blog might contain of old and static content that is no longer read. A new server request is initiated for this type of content as well every time a visitor comes back to your blog. The page load time can be reduced to a considerate extent by installing a caching plugin.

There are a number of great caching plugins that you can choose from but it’s important to choose the one that will work with your hosting and service provider! Whatever you choose you use they ultimately will help in similar ways, providing caching options for any website type and makes scaling easy in any hosting environment.