Archive for September, 2009

What is in a domain name?

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Your brand.

Your website search terms.

Your company.

Unfortunately, when many people come to me with their domain name picked out we soon realize that they did not consider that the domain name can be an important search tool. Others have made themselves unrecognizable in an effort to have something easy to type in.

Consider how these domain names differ in whether they emphasize what servcies are provdied, where they provdie services, and their company brand.

  • Asitethatworks.com or pracprog.com
  • DUILawyerNashville.com or Dumaslawoffice.com
  • NashvilleClosings.com or AffordableClosings.net
  • Timmonsprop.com or TNCondoManagement.com or TNPropertyManagement.com
  • PMRPro.com or PremierMaintenanceAndRemodeling.com or NashvilleRemodeling.com or NashvillePropertyMaintenance.com or nashvillehandymen.com

Some ideas to consider

  1. Put your location in your domain name. Most small businesses provide most, but not necessarily all, of their services in a local area. When people search for you, they are likely to put the name of their location, such as Nashville TN, or Dandrdige, or New York. Including a location in your domain name(s) can make your site more relevant to people searching in that area. (Be aware that you probably will need to select a single geographic area for reference.)
  2. Be descriptive: If people can visualize what you do it will help them remember what you do. I have seen some people suggest strong action verbs in their domain names.
  3. Branding: If you are working to create strong brand awareness you will want a domain name this is as close to your brand name as possible. You can still build a domain name around search engine optimization, but you will need to have the same content accessible from different domain names. (We often call this approach using an alias.)
  4. People will not remember long names.
  5. Can you say the domain name over the phone and not have to spell out your domain name. This problem can be sneaky and pesky. If you have any questions, you should try it out first. I originally chose pracprog.com as my domain name, which was short for PracticalPrograms.com since what I wanted was taken. It looks OK on paper, but even spelling it out on the phone became difficult in some situations.

Like most of your decisions regarding your website, your domain name should be considered in light of your overall marketing strategy. Remember that you can use more than one domain name.

Like a lot of things in life, simple is the best option, but not always the easiest option.

What is your favoriate domain name?

An Intro to Search Engine Optimization

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Welcome to the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a sometimes frustrating experience of getting on the elusive first page of a search engine’s listings. Many of us want to know the “secret,” but if the secret became wide known, then a lot of people with bad intentions would scam the system and get ranked higher than people honestly trying to do business. Nevertheless there are several factors that influence how well your page ranks. There are some additional factors that a good search engine optimization expert and your website develop should delve into on your behalf, but the following list should give an average person some idea of the process for getting ranked well in search engines.

  1. How old is your site? Some systems like to see that you have content that has been around for a while. Others do not care. (As of this writing Yahoo rated this aspect less important that Google. Which means Yahoo was giving better rankings to new sites than Google.)
  2. What search terms are testing against and did you use those terms in your site text? After you hear this concept it seems obvious, but it may not be at first. You have to figure out what terms people will use to find your site. Then you have to use those terms REASONABLY in your site. If think people will search for “Nashville web services” and you never use the word Nashville in your site language, then you should not expect great results. However, be aware that the search engines also attempt to determine if you are throwing in words to get them on the page. Therefore, be reasonable in your use of different words and do not try to game the system too much. Essentially this concept requires most of us to write our content and then re-write it to include the search terms we want the search engines to find us. (And you thought writing the content once was hard enough.)
  3. Do other people like you? (In other words, to some extent it is a popularity contest.) Do other organizations have links to your site. (Are those organizations well ranked also.) How much site traffic do you generate. (Yes, this is just like the problem of looking for a job fresh out of school when all of the employers want you to have experience.)
  4. Do you have new content? The search engines want to believe that if they send someone to your site that you will the most up-to-date information. That means they want to see new content on a regular basis. (Yes, this is more difficult in an industry where things do not change much and it has been done the same way for the last 100 years.) Blogs and other social media tools create a sense that there is new content, which is part of their appeal.
  5. Do you have an information rich site? To some extent the people that could easily write 500 extra words on that English paper in school have an advantage here. The search engines have to count and catalog words, which is an easy process. To some extent this extra information may not really be helpful to the client but I am not aware of there being any great “fluff detectors” out there as the process would be very difficult. However, you can focus your energy to creating pages that look at your client’s problem’s from every possible angle. Consider news and information related to current events, industry trends, core offerings and more.
  6. Do you have external links? This topic is very tricky. Anytime someone leaves your site, they may not come back. However, a link to a great site with lots of information shows the search engines that you are willing to “spread the wealth” and gives you credibility.
  7. Do you have a good site name? If you name includes good search terms the search engines will rank you higher, especially if you the other attributes in place.
  8. Has your developer included the appropriate search terms in the page “special codes?” Every page has a variety of “meta tags” and “alt tags” that can be used to describe the page or specific page items for the web browsers as well as for people with access impairments such as blindness. Proper coding of these terms can help immensely. A good developer also knows how to construct the page so that it uses a minimum amount of html to produce the right results so as not to bog down the search engines. (Some sites are built like interstates and others like a muddy wagon road.)

Using Facebook to Update Your Other Social Networks

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Hellotxt and Facebook are very nicely integrated. If you have Facebook and other social networking applications such as twitter, Flikr, Plaxo, etc, you can integrate Facebook and Hellotxt and make virtually all of your status updates from Facebook. To set this up.

If you have not already done so, create a Hellotxt.com account. They have a usual account creation process that starts at http://hellotxt.com. Once you have created your Hellotxt acoucnt you can integrate with a variety social networks.

Getting Facebook setup on Hellotxt.

There are two ways to get to the page that allows you to set-up Facebook.
1) From your homepage after you have logged in to hellotxt there is a link on the right hand side labeled “Facebook App.” (See the screen shot on the right.) (click on the words Facebook App) faceboog-helotxt1a
2) You can also click on the settings for your facebook account and arrive at the screen on the right. (Click on the blue “facebook” icon. faceboog-helotxt1b

Authorizing the Application.

Both routes take to the following screen, which begins a multi-stage process in which they double check (at least) that you really want to do this. (You should click allow in the following screen example–it is your only choice.)

(click on the image below to see a larger version.)

Picture of authorizing facebook and hellotxt--step 1

From here you will need to choose whether to use an existing Hellotxt account to create a new one. (This version of the instructions assumes you already have a Hellotxt account.

Picture of authorizing facebook and hellotxt--step 2

After entering your login information and clicking login (on the left side of the screen) you should see the following screen. You should probably click the Enable button below (I did anyway) to avoid being constantly asked for login information.

Picture of authorizing facebook and hellotxt--step 3

They want to make sure that you really want to authorize the contact, so they ask again.

Picture of authorizing facebook and hellotxt--step 4

Now you have to give hellotxt permission to access your facebook account. (Seems a bit redundant to me, but …)

Picture of authorizing facebook and hellotxt--step 4

Yeah, they like the double confirmation system. Click allow publishing.

Picture of authorizing facebook and hellotxt--step 6

At this point you should be finished. You can find the application in your facebook “Applications” area. (see the small icon on the very bottom left of your screen.) You may be required to provide an “user key.” If so, you can get it from the hellotxt setting screen. (I had to redo the process to create this blog entry to make sure I included all the reasonable steps and it did not ask me for this on the redo.)

    Please come back when we have finished our re-branding and have republished this site