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New Web Designers: How to Avoid Neglecting SEO Best Practices

For many new web designers, the focal point of their services is providing a magnificent design that checks all the right boxes in terms of user experience.  It sounds strange when they are asked to incorporate search engine optimisation.

It is important to note that although your beautiful design can help drive the client’s goals and enhance retention, it is not where it all ends. If your design neglects SEO best practices, any positive results will be short-lived.  As a new designer, you may ignore SEO because it doesn’t allow you free rein on their artistic contributions to a design. However, as you become more experienced, you will understand why the best web designers work with SEO specialists to ensure a final result that ticks all the right boxes for both users and search engines. Here are top tips to keep in mind to ensure you maintain an SEO-friendly design.

Limit Splash Pages and Flash

seo best practices

Beautiful splash screens look magnificent but they mask the website in the eyes of the search engines. Java applets and Flash are largely ignored during indexing. Therefore, you need to tone down use of such elements to the barest minimum and make sure they do not take over important elements including navigation. If the homepage is flash-based without text content for instance, it will lead to poor indexing of the site.

Do not Use Frames

It is 2017 but there are still websites that are designed with frames. They became obsolete years ago so why use them in the first place? “Using frames makes it even harder for search engines to pick up content on your site,” says Ben Smith at City Wide SEO. “Indexing for such sites is more difficult because framed websites incorporate three html files instead of just one.”

Replacing Headers with Images

If you replace header text with beautifully crafted graphics, will it may look appealing but you are harming the discoverability of the website. Header texts should highlight important keywords so replacing them with images means you are limiting the reach of the overall site content. The same applies if you replace homepage content with sliders.

Do Not Ignore Breadcrumbs

seo best practices

A properly fine-tuned breadcrumb matrix will enhance the performance of site in the SERPs. Apart from ensuring a readily visible hierarchical structure, text links are easily deciphered by the search engines. Breadcrumbs also enhance the user friendliness of a site, making them highly valuable in site design.

Do not reinvent the Navigation Wheel

Many new designers make the mistake of believing that creating designs that discard regular navigation elements will demonstrate uniqueness. However, it is important to note that the focus of web design is delivering a robust user experience while retaining discoverability. Properly organised navigation, especially one that is line with industry standards, is vital for visitors and search engine. If your design doesn’t feature the global user navigation, it may be hard for site visitors to find what they are looking for on the page. The inconsistency in linking structure can equally harm rankings and reputation.

In conclusion, you are setting up the website for failure if you still treat SEO as an afterthought. It must be part and parcel of the design process. Your beautiful site design can only be appreciated when all the right elements are in place to make it easier for the search engines to pick it up. The costs of correcting damages as a result of neglecting SEO in the early days can be prohibitive. Why not get it right the first time?

6 SEO Must-Haves for Web Designers & Developers

This post was written by James Cummings, a business psychologist and serial entrepreneur, with over a decade working in finance, IT, marketing and recruitment sectors. He has authored numerous books in the management space and is Founder and CEO of www.dailyposts.co.uk.

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Web Design Mistakes to Avoid in 2017

Web design is a constantly evolving philosophy. As technology improves and communications become faster and more meaningful, web designers need to explore new ways of reaching their companies’ customers and establishing value. Sometimes, an older site needs an overhaul or complete replacement in light of new technologies or emerging trends.

When designing or redesigning a business website, knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do. Many common web design blunders can work to your disadvantage, discouraging customers from using your business. Below you’ll find several examples of what to avoid during site construction or redesign.

Lack of Quality Content

Today’s consumers want much more than just a good deal – they want to feel connected to brands and enjoy seeing their experiences valued. One of the best ways you can offer value to your site’s visitors is with high-quality content. This can be a blog, image galleries, video content, interactive elements, and anything else that delivers value in a relevant way to visitors on your site.

Content also has a tangible impact on your search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is a game with constantly changing rules and trends, but consistently updating your site with high-quality content is a great way to rank better in search results. Freshness and relevance are huge boosters when it comes to SEO, so ramping up your content generation is a great way to land more hits on your site and convey value to consumers.

Having Little to No Grasp of SEO

web design mistakes 2017

When it comes to SEO, you also need to stay up to date on the latest trends that affect your site and industry. Search engines like Google and Bing are constantly tweaking their algorithms to create a level playing field for every site, and in turn, marketers must figure out new ways to get their sites high in search result rankings. As previously stated, regularly adding high-quality content to your site is a fantastic method for earning better SEO results, but you also need to rethink your keywords. Explore long-tail keywords and phrases, such as questions a consumer may enter into a search engine’s search field, and include them in your SEO efforts.

Opening Multiple Windows

If you asked a million people what their three least favorite things about the internet are, chances are a great deal of them would include pop-up windows in their lists. Pop-ups are now automatically associated with advertisements, and more than that, they are usually unwelcome. People don’t like seeing random windows pop open if they didn’t choose for them to appear, so take care to avoid any scripting or page elements that create new windows. Even if you have pop-ups with valuable content, users are highly likely to close the pop-up window instinctively as soon as they notice it opening.

If you have something of value to provide to users, make sure it’s on an actual page, and make sure your site navigation doesn’t prompt the user’s browser to open a new window needlessly. This not only appears cluttered, it also builds mistrust in the user, because most people associate pop-ups with scams and hard-sell advertisements.

Too Much Reliance on Free Design Services

Just about every customer-focused business needs a website today, and this need has given rise to an explosion of free web design services. For the most part, these services can be invaluable to a growing startup or new business that doesn’t have the capital to invest in full-fledged web design. However, once your business can afford professional design services, make the switch to something more robust and detailed.

Free website builders typically employ lots of back-end coding that slow the site’s performance overall. If you take the time to explore freelancers and professional design services, chances are good that you’ll find a far more cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing design that performs much better.

No Calls to Action

web design mistakes 2017

Calls to action (CTAs) are more important than people realize. You need to be direct when you ask a site visitor to take action, such as asking them to opt-in to an email list, complete a purchase, leave a product review, or share a piece of content on social media. CTAs need to be direct without becoming obnoxious. This means placing them naturally in your content and on your site instead of bombarding visitors to your site as soon as they land on your page.

Poor Analytics

If you’re trying to improve your website’s performance, you need a way to measure it over time. More importantly, however, is you need to turn what you learn into actionable changes that improve the overall user experience. Your website is a massive investment, and you need to ensure you’re seeing acceptable returns on that investment. Analytic tools are crucial. If you’re not using them, you’re probably overlooking areas of your website that desperately need attention and are causing you to hemorrhage conversions.

Lackluster Social Presence

The evolution of the internet and the advent of social media completely reshaped how people connect and communicate with one another. This has also changed how businesses interact with their customers. Social media allows brands to have more personal, relevant, and meaningful interactions with their audiences. Building a strong social media presence is a fantastic method to boost your brand identity and stay fresh in the minds of potential customers.

Incorporate a social aspect in your web design. Allow users to share content across their social media profiles, and you’ll see a boost in your lead generation. Most consumers will pay more attention to a close friend’s recommendation over an advertisement, so a strong social media presence will help foster organic leads.

No Understanding of Responsive Design

People use several types of devices for internet use today. In years past, web designers simply needed to make sure their sites looked good on a desktop computer screen. Now, mobile technology is at the forefront and most consumers use smartphones and other mobile devices to browse the web, enjoy content, connect socially, and make purchases. The concept of responsive design has emerged with this growing trend.

Most web designers are starting to incorporate touchscreen technology in their planning phases, meaning they design their sites for mobile viewing from the ground up. Your website needs to perform reliably on any type of screen, and users should be able to navigate your pages easily no matter what type of device they use to do it.

Disregarding User Data

Big data has entered the business conversation over the last few years, and this concept describes the incalculable amount of data generated by users online. Businesses have found various methods for capturing and using this data for the benefit of their customers. If you don’t have some kind of data collection capability, you’re missing out on a massive pool of potential.

Data analytics are crucial for assessing customer needs, trends, and disruption in your market. Additionally, you need a method for capturing customer information. This can be as simple as offering an opt-in to your email newsletter, or something more detailed such as a loyalty program that rewards consumers for their participation.

Ultimately, one the biggest determining factors in the overall success of your website is the usability. Customers aren’t going to enjoy having to hunt for what they want, so make sure you organize your site logically, and users can easily navigate your pages. The core information you want to offer visitors should be easy to find, and you need to gear the content you offer towards your customers’ pain points and problems.

Offer solutions to problems instead of just products and services. Focus on the experience of your brand rather than just the tangible gains of making a purchase. Incorporate these concepts into your website construction and you’re sure to find success.

Related: 34 Inspiring & Responsive Web Design Portfolio Layouts

This post was written by Stephen Moyers, an online marketer, designer and avid tech-savvy blogger. He is associated with Los Angeles-based SPINX Digital Agency. He loves to write about web design, online marketing, entrepreneurship and much more. Apart from writing, he loves traveling & photography. Follow Stephen on Twitter & Google+.

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Avoid Shooting Yourself in the Foot with a Social Media Risk Assessment

Shoot first, ask questions later. Good idea for Wyatt Earp. Bad idea for your business. Far too often companies chose not to conduct a social media risk assessment in order to save a few dollars in the budget and instead opt to wait until something terrible happens and then react to it. That’s foolish. Especially […]

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Ethan Wall

Ethan Wall contributes a monthly column on Social Media and the Law. Ethan is a social media law attorney, author, professor, consultant, and keynote speaker at Social Media Law and Order where he pursues his passion for educating, consulting, and training users on all areas of social media and the law. He also practices social media, Internet, and intellectual property law in Miami. He authored three books including Fire over Facebook: A Primer on Protected Social Media Activity in the Workplace and Best Practice Guide for Managing Employee Social Media Use, and the Social Media Guide for Lawyers. High profile news organizations, including CNN, NPR, and Thomson Reuters have turned to Ethan for commentaries on social media legal issues.

Avoid Shooting Yourself in the Foot with a Social Media Risk Assessment by Ethan WallMaximize Social Business

  
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10 Common Personal Branding Mistakes to Avoid

No Mistake photo from ShutterstockFor many people, especially creative types and those involved in business, building a personal brand is one of the most important steps towards success. This is also something that is never “finished.”

Building a personal brand is on ongoing project that can easily eat into your work time—if you let it.

However, it is possible to build your brand without letting the process consume you. It just takes organization and self-control.

No matter how much effort you put into building your brand, certain mistakes can make the process less successful. No matter what stage you are in the brand building process, keep in mind these mistakes—and avoid them at all costs.

1. Not Being Real

Being fake, whether you are trying to be a fake version of yourself or trying on a completely new persona, will make building your persona much more difficult. Additionally, it is exhausting to try to keep up with all the details you create. Like your mom told you when you were a kid, be yourself.

2. Not Taking a Stand

If you refuse to take a stand on anything, people are not going to know who you are or why they should trust your opinions. Do not be wishy-washy. Share your opinions and let others determine how they feel about them.

3. Jumping Into Things

You know the old adage “measure twice, cut once?” This is very true when building your brand. Think about each action you take and how these actions affect your overall brand strategy. A poorly written blog post, negative encounter on social media or other seemingly insignificant action can have a big impact on your overall brand.

4. Choosing Quantity over Quality

Whether you are talking about connections on Linkedin, blog posts or business cards passed out at a live event, focusing on quantity instead of quality is a rookie mistake. Make every action you take count and then it won’t matter nearly as much how many actions you take. One quality lead is worth 100 leads that do not have much hope.

5. Focusing on Fame

Personal branding is not about becoming famous (or even “internet” famous.) It is about sharing the genuine you with those who encounter you. Do not think about branding as a way to put your name out there, think about it as the way you control what information IS out there associated with your name.

6. Forgetting that Branding is an Everyday Activity

Working on your personal brand is not something you do once a year, month or even week. Branding is part of everything you do. Make building your brand part of your daily plan—it will take less effort this way also.

7. Keeping Your Brand Online

While online branding is very important, there are still many organizations that prefer to do business the old-fashioned way. Take time to make those business cards, schedule meetings and around for face time with those who are important to you. This will show that you are someone who is committed to doing business right.

8. Doing it All Yourself

Depending on your particular branding needs, you may not want to try to “do it all” yourself. Build a community of likeminded people, reach out within your industry and make those important connections. By doing this, some of your branding will be done for you.

9. Being Selfish

While branding will ultimately benefit you, think about ways you can build your brand while helping others. You’ll brand yourself as a generous, caring individual and you put yourself in the position of helping others get ahead. It’s a win-win situation.

10. Not Checking Results

It is possible to become so focused on the brand building process that you forget to check in and see what is happening. Utilize analytics tools to find out how you appear to others. This can save you time and money when you quit using techniques that aren’t successful.

Every person is different. As such, every personal brand will be different.

While avoiding the mistakes above is key, the most important thing you can do is to have a strategy in mind.

When you know what you plan to do with your brand and work on implementing it, you are less likely to stray from your long-term goals for yourself—and your brand.


Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career

5 Damaging Career Moves to Avoid

177745799Careers aren’t made overnight, but a few mistakes can easily derail your career pretty quickly. Whether you’re complacent in your current position, or you’re swept up in office politics, there are many snafus seasoned professionals can run into.

“People make a lot of mistakes in their careers, some are small and can be recovered from with an apology or the passage of time,” says  Julie Bauke, career strategist, president of The Bauke Group, and author of Stop Peeing on our Shoes: Avoiding the 7 Mistakes that Screw Up your Job Search.  “Others can fully derail your career and your reputation.”

From blowing off networking opportunities to aligning with the wrong colleague, here’s a look at the five damaging career mistakes to avoid:

1. Not taking advantage of the tools at hand

When taking on a new role, most people set their goals on doing a great job, learning as much as possible and hopefully moving up to a higher position. But often people fail at meeting these goals, simply because they don’t take advantage of the tools and resources that are readily at their disposable. “We offer a lot of really great training tools, a lot of which are offered online,” says Christy Palfy, recruiting manager at Progressive. “Yet a lot of people don’t sign up and take advantage of that training.” By utilizing any tools available to you, you are able to stretch in the job you have today but also advance within the company because you have learned new skills.

2. Being focused solely on your job

You want to do a great job in your current position and you want to show you’re a hard worker, but the work can’t stop once you leave the office.  Many people are “working for the weekend” and as a result miss opportunities to develop and grow and become valuable to the company, says Bauke. “It is imperative that all professionals always understand what is going on in their industry, company, and profession so that they can continue to stay aligned with what is needed,” she says. “Our ability to stay relevant and marketable is fully the responsibility of the individual.”

3. Not keeping your emotions and behavior in check

Often we spend more hours at work than at home, and as a result we forge deep relationships with many of our co-workers and bosses. While those relationships may introduce a level of casualness ,your behavior inside and outside of the office will have an impact on your career if you don’t keep it professional. Some of those career killers, according to Anthony Graziano, regional managing director Randstad Professionals include having an inappropriate relationship with someone ion the office, getting inebriated at company outings, or being insensitive to someone or overreacting emotionally to a work scenario. While you may want to throw your computer across the

room in frustration actually acting on that feeling will be a surefire way to lose your job and reputation.

4. Blowing off opportunities to network

Networking doesn’t stop once you land the job but instead should become a way of life, particularly if you want to move up in your company. According to Palfy far often people work in the same company for years yet they don’t know what other people in the organization actually do. Whether you are networking at an official event or just chatting with someone in the elevator, Palfy says you should always have your elevator pitch ready and share what you do when meeting new people in your job. Another great way to get access to different people is to participate in company organized groups, outings or teams.

5. Choosing the wrong team

Power ebbs and flows in organization and if you align with the wrong person you could end up on the chopping block if something goes wrong. Yes you want to be loyal to your boss and be a team player with your co-workers but you should always keep it professional. If you are working with a disgruntled boss it’s ok to listen to him or her but don’t get involved in any gossip or office politics.  “I have seen situations where people were aligned with the wrong boss and when that boss was removed from the situation, whether a transfer, a promotion or getting fired that person was then negatively affected by that,” says Graziano. Align with the wrong person and best case you’ll have an uncomfortable time at work. Worst case: you’ll lose your job along with your boss.

Author Bio

 writes for Glassdoor.com.


Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career