Be seen (by Google)…

I have just finished working my way around 100+ websites and backing them all up. I also check them to make sure the infrastructure is up to day. There are a couple of interesting observations that are worth noting, particularly if you are new to editing, or struggling with updating your website, or don’t like updating it for some other reason.

All of the points raised and guidance are included in a downloadable document at the end of this article.

1). Google Searches.

Before I start checking a site I perform a google search on the entity name (not the domain name) to make sure it comes very close to the top, if not at the top of the first page on Google. I have never had any problems getting people to the top of searches without paying a penny. But there are things you need to do to stay there, and stay fresh.

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2). A picture paints a thousand words

Well in web terms it doesn’t unfortunately. I have seen lots of examples of people placing images, such as posters on their home pages. Posters are generally a graphic stored as a PDF, JPG or PNG file. It is an image file. Humans can read and interpret images. Google and computers generally cannot.

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3). News from a year ago is not news

If the top item in your news page is not from the past 4 weeks you should consider adding something there to freshen it up. While going through my client base, I searched for a Nursery, and while it came at the top of the page, immediately under a paid ad in Google for a Nursery in the same location, when I went to the website, the last news item was 12 months old. If I was the parent of a young child and seeking Nursery support, I may not look any further on this website because it is not up to date.

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4). Erase everything you know and look at your website

Does your site still represent you? Is it current and up to date. Are the contact details current. Most importantly, when you land on that home page are you engaged enough to look further. While things may be going well, they can always be improved. Look critically at your site from time to time and check you do what it says on the tin… well screen.

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5). Make Social Media work for you

Depending on the demographic of your audience, some organisations will have a strong following on Facebook. Some organisations are using their Facebook group page as their news feed. You need to use both Facebook and your website for news. Pursuing one or the other will not maximise benefits.

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6). Found something broken?

If you have found something that is broken, don’t leave it. Fix it, or if you are stuck, contact me and I will fix it. Broken links or things that do not work reflect poorly on your site and your organisation.

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7). Even websites need haircuts

Some of the larger sites are over 300MB in size, some are over 500MB. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that provided you are confident that the public is accessing all of it. Chances are they are not. If you are continually adding things to your website, don’t forget to remove them as well.

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8). Is your monitor 5000 pixels wide?

Chances are it is not. Some sites are uploading images that are straight from the camera. Your website width in pixels is probably around 1100 pixels or less. If that is the case there is no point trying to display a 5000 pixel wide image.  While you may be able to display the page quickly, those on slower connections will see a slowly emerging image. For those prospects viewing your site on a mobile device over the cellular network, they are paying per megabyte, so viewing your site may be quite expensive for a mobile user.

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9). Respect your brand and style sheet

Well that took ages to do. Within your website there is a style sheet. This defines how to handle standard text and headings (and page layouts).  Somewhere in your organisation, someone has selected a logo and strapline, and these elements are on your website. If you did not agree a set of colours for your site, I have derived a colour pallette from your logo. Or you have sent me some approved colours. Those colours are embedded in the style sheet for your website.

If you want something to stand out, try to avoid changing the font, style and colours to something that is really alien to the rest of your site. It is possible to make things stand out, and on some of the more recent sites there are some clever tools available to you within the website.

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10). Beware of the “well meaning IT volunteer”

Volunteers tend to come and go, while it is great to have someone “in the know” and bringing in skills to your organisation that will save you time, or allow you to have a greater impact. It is also worth making sure that they are working within a boundary defined by a manager or equivalent supervisor in an organisation. Common sense here applies, but often people “trust” someone to get things done.

Some Answers

10 things to help increase the effectiveness of your website

You can download all of the points raised here and some things you can do to stay in control and maximise your web presence. Manage yourself on the web

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