Category Archives: website

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

search engine optimization
Search Engine Optimization

What is SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an organic method of increasing a website’s visibility in search engines by selecting the best and the most suitable keywords related to the website and then submitting them to various search engines. It is a process of creating, formatting and promoting web pages and websites in such a way that ensures that they are ranked highly for selected keywords and phrases when a user performs a web search. The websites with the higher page ranks are generally more likely to receive a greater number of visitors from the search engines than those with lower page ranks. As a most popular internet marketing strategy, SEO analyses the working of different search engines, and finds out what exact search terms people are most likely to use when searching for a particular thing on the internet.

Optimizing your Website

In order to implement SEO in your website, you need to do a little research on what people generally search for and how they actually write their queries in search engines. There are tons of online tools that can help you with this, the most popular being Google Adwords Keyword Tool, which helps you choose related keywords to the ones that you put there. After you have selected the right keywords and phrases, you need to use these keywords in your site’s content, its code and its meta tags. This process is called optimization. Additionally, you may also highlight the keywords and phrases by stylizing them differently than the rest of the content or by using them in headings and titles.

Market Share of Popular Search Engines
Market Share of Popular Search Engines

The most popular search engines on the web are Google, Bing, Yahoo Search, AOL Search, and Ask. Generally search engines’ algorithms are kept strictly hidden, however, you may easily find out some of the factors that influence their rankings. Algorithms of different search engines can vary extensively from each other, so a website that ranks number 1 in one search engine may rank number 100 in another one. However, one of the common factors that influences the rankings the most, is, yeah you guessed it right, the content. So be sure your content is always up to date, grammatically and factually correct, and of course, keyword rich.

You can submit your website to any or all of the search engines mentioned above to be listed; however, you don’t have to. A simple backlink from a reputable website will get the search engines to visit yours. Getting listed can take time, usually from a few hours to a few weeks, so be patient.

SEO Checklist

  • Create a Sitemap of your Website: Adding a site map to your website makes it a lot easier for the web bots to search your site.
  • Use Keywords: Use keywords and phrases in your website that describe your content and your site. Try to embed the keywords in the titles, headings, metadata, links, the image and video tags. Be careful while using keywords though, irrelevant, misplaced, and too-often used keywords leave a bad taste in the mouth.
  • Make your URLs Search Friendly: A good idea is to include your basic keywords in your URLs so that the engines pick it up faster.
  • Content is the King: Keep your content fresh and updated, as well as of relevance to your visitors. An article about food and cuisine, no matter how well written, will not do well in a website for science and technology.
  • Add Image and Video Descriptions: The web bots can only search text for keywords, and not the text in your images or videos. So it is always a good idea to associate some text descriptions with your images and videos.
  • Swap Links: Exchanging links with other webmasters can be great for your website. Add links to other relevant sites in your website, and ask those sites to link to yours.

RSS Unveiled

RSS Feed
RSS Feed

So you are a regular internet user who has a long series of frequently updated websites or blogs that you visit everyday. But you are a busy person also, and one of the biggest chagrins in your life is opening a website or blog only to discover it hasn’t been updated. Well then congratulations! RSS is the perfect solution for you. But what is RSS exactly, and what does it do? Read on to find out!

What is RSS

RSS is an acronym for either “Really Simple Syndication” or “Rich Site Summary”. It is a really easy and efficient method to publish and distribute regularly updated content such as news, blog posts, update notices, headlines, and web content to people in a standardized format normally called a “feed”.

History of RSS

Developed in the late 1900s by Netscape, RSS is an XML format that can quickly and easily distribute information and updates to a large audience. The initial version of RSS was called “RDF Site Summary”, and was based on a similar format created by UserLand Software sometime earlier. Several versions came out before Netscape decided to transfer the rights of RSS back to its original developer, UserLand, who continued to expand it. Meanwhile, another software group came up with a new version based on the original principles of RSS, but UserLand was not very happy with it and in 2002 introduced RSS 2.0, that quickly became popular. Now, RSS is widely used by people all over the world.

How it Works

RSS creates a list of notifications referred to as the “RSS Feed” of a website or a blog. This feed is actually a small and light weight XML file that resides on the web server. Subscribing to this feed will keep you updated with the latest headlines and updates of that particular website or blog. There are special programs called “RSS aggregators” or “RSS Feed Readers” that are designed to automatically access the websites and blogs regularly for the latest feeds and provide you the results in an organized, readable manner.

Why use RSS

RSS helps you to stay up to date and informed all the time by bringing you the latest highlights and updates from your favorite websites and blogs. It also saves a lot of your time as you don’t have to visit each website and blog individually to check for updates. It also provides you the facility to control the quantity and quality of the information you receive from the feeds.

How to Subscribe to a Feed

There are two ways you can subscribe to a feed of your interest:

  • Enter the feed’s URL into your RSS feed reader
  • Click on the orange feed icon on the desired website/blog to initiate the subscription process.

How to Generate RSS Feed for your own Website or Blog

Again, there are two ways of doing this:

  • Use free specialized tools called Feed Generators to extract data from your web page or blog
  • Use the RSS library of PHP. A PHP script will build an XML file by using the titles and the descriptions of pages and blog posts from the content of your website or blog.

Website Design Principles

You may have heard people say that content is more important than the design of a website. This piece of information, in fact, is not true at all. A good design is integral if you want people to come, and keep coming back to your website. Think of a restaurant that serves the tastiest food in the city, but fine food is the only good thing it offers. The service is crappy, the tables dirty, the chairs creaky, the lighting poor, and walls chipping paint; how many times would you go to that restaurant before leaving it for good? Not many, I’m sure. Websites work in the same way; you may have the highest quality content, but people may not be able to use that content in an effective manner because of problems in the design. Therefore, you should always focus on the design at least as much as you focus on the content. Here I have described a few principles to remember when designing a website:

The Design-How it Looks

This refers to the actual design of your website. Strive for a design that is beautiful and easy on the eye, as well as one that keeps the potential user in mind. For example, a website designed for kids will differ greatly with respect to design features than one designed for a law firm.

Precedence-What Comes First

Precedence means the order of all the elements in a web page. It also means what element of the webpage is displayed first when a website is loaded. Generally the header comes on the top of your webpage, with the navigation buttons just below it. There is a menu on the extreme left of the page, your content in the middle and banner ads on the right. A footer comes below everything. This is, of course, the general precedence, you may set the precedence any way you like as long as it highlights and complements your content.

Spacing

It refers to the spacing between the individual elements of the web page as well as the empty ‘white space’ on a web page. A rule of the thumb: do not try to cram the page with too much information; the user may skip things if the page is too crowded. Keep the webpage clean and spacious so that the use is immediately directly towards your content.

Alignment

All the elements in the web page should be properly and consistently aligned with each other. Tables can be used to help align the content, but it is advised to use CSS instead.

Typography

This refers to the font type, font colors, and their sizes. Do not use a too-small font, as it will reduce readability, nor use a too-large font that will look unprofessional. Also, make sure the background color contrasts with the font color. One thing to keep in mind, patterned backgrounds are a distraction where there is a large amount of text to read, so try to avoid those as well.

Consistency and Uniformity

The design and color scheme of the web pages should be consistent throughout the website, as should be the nature of your content.

Usability:

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the information I am providing usable to the reader?
  • Do the buttons click?
  • Are the links correct?
  • Is it easy to navigate between pages?
  • Is it easy to read?

If your answers to these questions are ‘yes’, then congratulations, your website is functional!

Navigation-Moving Around

Navigation means the ability to move around the website. Provide working links and buttons for easy navigation throughout the website.

Clarity

It means whether your design is clear and user friendly or not. It is basically about the relationships between the individual elements on your webpage. Group similar items together, be clear in your instructions if you have any, and try to make your website self explanatory.

Content Placing

Always put your most important content in a place near the top of the webpage that grabs the users attention first. Do not write in long paragraphs; instead break your content down into smaller chunks with subheadings. Place different kinds of media together such as text, images and videos etc. to give your website an appealing look.