Common website design mistakes…

There are a number of classic ‘mistakes’ made on a daily basis by web designers. Even experienced webmasters and marketeers have at one time or another been guilty of poor design, which has in turn, lost traffic. These mistakes change over the years as technology moves on, but the list of design mistakes below will stay constant, as they are integral elements of any website design.

1. Poor navigation – Getting visitors to your home page is only the beginning of the battle. You want people to navigate the rest of your site, to increase page views and drive up response to articles and advertising features. So create clear and simple menu bars on your site, to facilitate this process.

2. Graphics – Whatever you do, keep graphics to a minimum, and ensure they are well designed and meaningful for the theme of your site. Slow loading graphics will kill off your visitor retention rate.

3. Timeliness – The Internet is the most up-to-date communications medium ever seen. Make sure your site appears current and topical. If you are unable to update your site on a daily basis with the ‘what’s new’, you might consider including a date/time field within the structure of your pages.

4. Spelling and Grammar – If you are an information provider, double-check your text for typos before uploading. You’d be amazed at the number of high traffic sites who have forgotten that ‘millennium’ contains 2 ‘n’s, for example. You may get away with the odd error, but you won’t keep regular visitors if your site appears to have poor editorial control.

5. Code Structure – Wherever possible, try to keep your relevant text towards the top of your code. Search engines will analyse only the first few hundred words to determine your site rankings. Unnecessary JavaScript code towards the top of the page may have a direct impact on successful traffic generation. Why not store the JavaScript separately, and reference it within your HTML? You should also aim to make your site accessible to all – see our dedicated article here .

6. Frames – Many search engines cannot index frames. Unless frames are essential to your site design, we would recommend you leave them well alone. If you must use frames, then creating ‘doorway’ pages would be a good idea – these pages will point to your main (framed) site.

7. Hyperlinks – Make sure that your internal and external links are working. Other sites may change their URL’s from time to time, so you should check all links on occasion. There is nothing worse than clicking on a link and finding the classic error: ‘404 Error – Page does not exist’!

8. Flash – Terrible for obtaining high search engine rankings.

There are no hard and fast rules for web design – with all products and services now available on-line, a vast array of design techniques are employed by designers and webmasters. However, make sure you don’t make the fundamental errors listed above, and you’ll be one step nearer your goal of good visitor retention.

Writing quality content for your website

How can content help promote your site? One of the best ways to attract visitors to your site is by providing related sites with quality editorial relating to your subject area. Not only will this give you a chance to promote your service or small business, but it can also indirectly aid your search engine promotion efforts via link popularity.

For example, our website provides web design services for small businesses and individuals. There are a wealth of topics related to web design – probably hundreds, so there is no shortage of material to write articles on. The same is true for many other business areas whether your site is related to finance, travel or web design. Sure, article writing is easier when you are providing a service rather than say a product, but if you write clearly and concisely, other sites are more than willing to exchange content for links.

The best way to research sites which may be interested in quality editorial is to search on Google for ‘submit article’ + your subject area. For example, ‘submit article web design’. Make sure you visit any sites which regularly publish quality articles on your subject areas and find out their publishing terms. Chances are you will already be familiar with the key portals or news sites related to your area of expertise – email them to see if you can contribute editorial. The more established the publishing site the better.

Article submission and link popularity

You may well gain new visitors on the back of your article submission, but you’re also likely to have the article linked to that site for some time which could help with your own site’s page rank. This is an added bonus of article submission.

Once the article page on the publisher’s site is indexed by the major search engines (Google being of paramount importance), the link from the article back to your own site will be factored in to your site’s link popularity algorithm. The higher the Google Pagerank of the publisher’s site, the more important this backlink will be considered for your own site’s importance. So, look out for well laid out and indexed publisher sites for your content.

Remember at all times that there is a well-established trade-off between the author and the publisher. In exchange for a well written and researched article, any publisher should be more than willing to publish a link and summary back to the author’s site – it’s a fair exchange.

In order to get your article(s) published – there are several universal rules you should take into account:

Tips for writing articles for publication

1) Aim to write between 700 and 800 words – this seems to be the typical length required by most publishers. Check first though – some sites prefer more or less words per article.

2) Try to add a new angle to the subjects already submitted to the site.

3) Make sure the article is checked for spelling and the grammar (use MS Word).

4) Break the article up into meaningful sections, using headers for each section.

5) Don’t try to promote your services too much – this will put readers and editors off. They want qulity editorial, not a sales pitch.

6) Ask the editor(s) if there are any subjects they’d particularly like you to write about – keep in their good books.

7) Make sure you retain all rights to your article. Some sites may want ownership of your work, but most don’t. Make sure also that you can distribute any article to several publishers (don’t spread yourself too thin though).

8) In return for the content, you should be able to submit a link at the end, either in an ‘about the author’ section, or just at the end of the article. Use this opportunity to add a decent link back to your site.

Summary

The key to promoting your website using articles is in the win-win situation between the author and the publisher. Both sides need to benefit. The article must be well researched, relevant and readable. In return, you should get some traffic from the link in the article, and once Google & co. index the article, you’ll have a new backlink to your own site which will aid your link popularity. The more articles and sites you publish to, the more links you’ll get back, and your site’s reputation will be enhanced by the editorial you have written.