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Is Your Website Accessibility Compliant?

TWMG3

The extended December 31 2014 deadline for Australian website accessibility compliance is fast approaching (WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard). This is a mandatory requirement on all websites owned and/or operated by the Australian government departments and agencies under any domain. This includes external (public-facing or private) and internal (closed community) sites. Therefore, conformance is required for all internet, intranet and extranet sites. Have you taken the necessary steps?

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Ten Essential Tips to Build A Better Website

 

A website is the spearhead of your company’s online marketing strategy. It provides the first impression of your company to your customers and prospects. However, crafting a good website is somewhat easy once you know several fundamental principles. By making a few simple adjustments, you can make a wonderful website that attracts visitors, converts prospects into paying consumers, and helps you to grow your business on the next level.

Here are ten fundamentals you should include on your site:

1. Invitation To Friend / Follow and Subscription On Social Media

Social media is more than a trend that you can use to build a fanbase. It is as important as the website itself, and just having a social media “presence” is not enough. You must let people know you are active on social media by inviting them to interact. There are many ways to accomplish this. The simplest way is by adding an invitation button like “Follow me on Twitter” and include a link to your page.

2. Professional Quality Logo/Header

The world of Internet marketing is vast and competitive. While you can create your own blog header, you should probably leave it to the professionals. Make an investment in your brand and your business by creating a strong, relevant header and logo to reflect your business.

3. Simplicity

Make sure your visitors can find their way around your website in a quick and easy way. If you are not sure about how to accomplish this, then study websites that you visit often. Notice how they guide you through the site. Do they provide cushioned navigation tabs? Does the flow of the site seem logical? Is there a search function so you can head directly to the page or information you’re looking for?

4. Interaction / Comments

Your website should be able to invite visitors to comment on your articles and blog posts. One of the best ways to not only measure engagement, but to also create it, is to take a look at the level of interaction on your site. If you are using WordPress, you can manage the comment section by turning it on and off. You can also allow comments for a specific period of time. Engage them in conversation and invite interaction and comments. Do these and you will build a loyal community of customers in no time.

5. Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking not only adds value to your visitors and prospects, but also helps boost your traffic and brand awareness. By adding a social bookmarking function to your site, your visitors can bookmark using the bookmarking service of their choice. There are several top quality WordPress plugins that make social bookmarking easy. You can add buttons for the primary sites like Digg, Delicious and Reddit. When someone bookmarks your site it’s added to their account, where other users can browse, vote, and share.

6. Good Quality Content

This is the most important thing you can do to have your site hit the top. Make a good quality content. Make sure they are daily updated and topical. You’re not creating content about something that happened five years ago or even five months ago. You’re creating content about what’s going on right now. And catchy content varies depending on your niche and your audience.

Consider the voice and style you want to communicate to your readers. Are you serious kinda guy? Funny? Controversial? What makes your content interesting, different, and valuable to your reader?

7. Article Archives

This function is particularly important if you have a blog or other WordPress based website. Make finding information easy for your visitors by creating archives. Archives are essentially directories for old content.

No one wants to search through page after page of old content just to find something they’re looking for. They want to be able to find what they need with a few clicks of their mouse. Use keywords that accurately describe the subject of the content to organize your archives.

8. Search Field

It doesn’t matter what the foundation is for your website – Joomla or WordPress or anything in between – it is important to make it fully usable by anyone who visits. One of the simple tools you can use to make this happen is a simple search field. It was briefly mentioned in Item #3 above, where navigation was discussed. There are different search tools you can use.

For example, Custom Search Plugin is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create custom searches. Maybe you want people to be able to search for quotes or tips on your site. You can use this tool to add functionality to your website and to help separate your business site from your competition.

9. Inquiry Form

What do you want people to do when they’re at your site and they have a question? You might already have a FAQ page (hopefully you do), but what if the answer to a visitor’s question isn’t on that page? Ideally, you want your visitor to be able to reach out and ask their question. This keeps them engaged and connected to your business.

To make this happen, it has to be easy for them to contact you. One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to have a contact form or an inquiry form on your site. They enter their email address, subject line, and ask their question. You or your customer service assistant receives the message and can promptly respond.

10. FAQ Page

Including an FAQ page on your website helps make it more user friendly. Create a list of the most common questions you receive and turn it into a separate page on your site. Make sure that like all your other valuable pages, this FAQ page is easy to find and read. As you receive more questions, you can add to the page. Also, consider occasionally linking to other important internal pages. This can accomplish two things simultaneously: first, it can help keep your visitor on your website longer, and at the same time it can help to boost the rankings for the page you’re linking to.

Website Audit – Why You Need To Do One

twmg-web-audit-infographic

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Enough Is Enough! Five SEO Myths Every Marketer Should Avoid for Good

To say that SEO has changed a lot especially these past few years is an absurd understatement. SEO, as any marketer know by now, is a continuously evolving and developing animal, not much different from any carbon-based creature in its ability to adapt to the changes in its environment. As search engine giants continue to refine their algorithms for maximum user experience, so as the diligence and creativity of online marketers to circumvent the new rules arising from algorithms updates. Ignoring the fact that the best way to gain page ranking is by delivering relevant and engaging contents, most online marketers focus on improvising “schemes” to bypass the search engine rules to create a “fake” page ranking, and bombard users with unsolicited content. But as I have said, search engine algorithms continue to evolve, weeding out these marketers and punishing sites that violate search engine rules. Through the years, these marketers have developed a lot of tactics to counter new algorithms and updates. Some of these methods have long been exposed by Google, Yahoo and other major search engines. Keyword stuffing, frenzy link building, Meta tag spamming and other black hat tactics use to work before but since the release of Panda and Penguin, Google’s new algorithms, the old-school tactics no longer work. These practices have long became myths. But myths still persist. And practices and strategies are still being formulated based on these myths. Here are of five of those myths that every self-respecting marketer should avoid in 2015.

1. Link-building is archaic

By archaic I mean old and no longer works. But this is a myth. Some marketers are claiming that making backlinks no longer works because of the improved search engine algorithms. On the contrary, backlinks can still be considered as a major page-ranking utility. If lots of users link back to your site because of the quality of the contents, then backlinks are good. What doesn’t work are frenzy link farms perpetuated solely to avoid the parameters set by search engines’ algorithms and cheat on page-ranking. Links should be earned. Users should link back to your site voluntarily and with no strings attached.

2. Social Media is #1 in SEO

The general belief since last year is that Social Media is the new platform for page ranking. Not true. Google itself admitted that it doesn’t use social media in page ranking. The only time Google use social media is for personal search but only within Google’s social community which is the Google Plus. Engaging in social media for the sake of SEO is wrong. Social media has no direct effect towards brand marketing. However, being able to engage thousands of users in social media helps the marketer build a better brand and this would eventually help in gaining links from web publishers, bloggers and other users. With this comes better page ranking.

3. Submit URL to search engines to be indexed

In the olden days when Internet was young, we fill-up forms to submit to search engines, informing the world of our presence. Nowadays, although the practice is still being done, it doesn’t do your site any good in terms of page ranking. Site submission does not guarantee anything. Even without submitting your site’s URL to any search engines, web crawlers will eventually discover your site and index it.

4. More indexed pages, more page ranking

Some marketers believe that the more pages our site have, the more chances for our site to gain page-ranking. More pages mean more content. More content is more page ranking. Again this is utterly false. Google and other major search engines does not rely on the quantity of the content but rather on the quality. Users who are happy with your site’s contents would link back, repost, comment and share your site’s information. That’s how you build your site’s credibility. Search engines can detect credibility the same way that they can detect bogus and duplicate contents within your site. Focus on the quality, not the quantity.

5. Pay Google to get organic page ranking

Nothing could be farther from the truth with this belief. First off, organic search results are based on the relevance of the content being matched by the search engine upon users’ request for information. Organic search results are free and has nothing to do with Google AdWords. Proper keyword placement, internal linking and better content will get you page ranking. There are other myths out there that are still being practiced by many marketers. Some myths as absurd as the next one. The five mentioned above are by far the most common SEO misconceptions. It is up to the marketer whether to believe them or not. A better solution is instead of focusing on how to get higher page ranking, focus instead on delivering high-quality and engaging content. Page ranking is sure to follow. Content is the true path to righteousness. Relevance is the true path to better page ranking.

5 Important Things We Forget Before Launching A Website

5 things To website developers, like us, launching an online presence is often not a big deal. We do it all the time for our clients. Sometimes, the act becomes so “automatic” that we forget how big of a deal it is for the client. From where clients stand, launching a website is, indeed, a very big deal. It is especially a big deal to those who are embarking their online presence for the very first time. To them, the act is not “automatic” but rather “ritualistic”. Think of this process as a young lady celebrating her sweet 16, with all the candles and the gowns. And we’re “catering” the affair. It may seem simple website creators but to the client, its a major step toward business development. We need to be reminded, from time to time, of the significance of the process. Not because it’ll affect our bottom line. This is more about being better at what we do–every single time a Web development project comes our way. So as you sit your cramped cubicle or living it up in your swanky studio space, consider how we are the so-called “caterers” of every sweet 16 party. Here are the five important things that slip our minds when launching a website.

1. The Browser Issue

Cross-browser testing can be a headache. Sometimes, most of us don’t bother doing it at all, content on the thought that nobody uses Internet Explorer anymore, or Netscape for that matter. That’s where most of us are wrong. We tend to overlook that some of the guests or maybe even the debutante herself, are vegetarians. Yes, in the real world, some users still use the old browsers. There are so many browsers in the Web and it is wrong to assume that we all use the same one. So make sure to test every site in all browsers.

2. Responsiveness

Gone are the days when people visit sites using their PCs and laptops. Today, most modern consumers own a smartphone and they surf the Web using these small but handy gadgets. Thus, these users demand a mobile-compatible site. One that doesn’t demand heavy sideways scrolling. There are lots of online sources that tests websites for mobile-compatibility and these services are often free of charge. Responsinator.com is one of these sources. Go check it out.

3. Meta Descriptions

In order to get the maximum possible hits for search engines, make sure to put proper meta descriptions on every article within the site. Think of it as directions to the event where the party is happening. What good is a birthday bash if nobody shows up because they don’t know its location? Meta descriptions will help Web crawlers and spiders track your site, page by page; thus, creating heavy traffic. Putting meta descriptions is not hard. Sometimes, all it takes is a proper page title for every page.

4. Favicon

A favicon is a 16 x 16 or 32 x 32 pixel icon, which is lodged up there in the address bar beside the page title. It is literally a small thing, but yes, it is very important because it adds identity to the site. And if it adds identity, then it is SEO-related. To some designers who fall short on the technical server-side of things, there are a lot of tutorial sites out there with step-by-step instructions on how to set-up a favicon.

5. The 404 Error Page

This is often overlooked. Basically, the error or 404 page takes care of the broken links in our sites. Two of the most popular blogs like Blogspot and WordPress have included the 404 setup in their platforms so there is no more excuse even for bloggers not to set-up the 404. Think of this as a way-finder signage for lost guests. We don’t want the guests wandering outside of the party perimeters, do we?

Ten Key Elements Of A Great Website (Infographic)

What are the criteria for a great website?

Everybody who are long enough in SEO business knows that content, videos, and images are very important, but there is more elements that you might never aware of.

For instance, 79% web visitors often choose to scan web pages, so if you don’t know how to make your page optimally scannable, you are one step behind. That’s just one aspect. There are many small details that you need to do in order to create a high quality website.

In the infographic below, you will find ten most important criteria for a great website. Still, many people think that if they just able to pick a few of the key elements below, they would have a great website. Unfortunately, it won’t work that way. The following guide comes in a total package and you need to work on all of the elements in it.

high-quality-website-infographic

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Using LinkedIn as a Tool to Drive Traffic to Your Website

LinkedIn Logo

LinkedIn is  often overlooked by people when talking about generating traffic from social media.  Traffic-generated social media are dominated by Facebook, Twitter or Google +. In many forums, LinkedIn doesn’t even get a look in. Even if you scroll down through the main Social Media folders, you could hardly find LinkedIn.  There appears to be a common misconception that LinkedIn is just a glorified resume or CV site, this could not be further from the truth.

LinkedIn: The Statistics

Before exploring into how to fully utilise this fantastic resource, let’s have a look at some of the statistics, so you can realise just what a potent force LinkedIn, can and will play, in traffic generation.

  • LinkedIn has more than doubled in size (OVER 160 million members) in the past year!
  • One new user is added every single second!
  • 160 Million Active Business users waiting to be contacted.

Pretty impressive eh? Especially when you consider that a large chunk of these users have their own business and are looking for new customers, new ideas, guidance.  That is potential traffic and business to your website.

Setting up and Utilising your LinkedIn Profile

Your profile is the first thing that anyone on LinkedIn will see.   So you need to make it count.

Firstly, upload a recent photograph of you. Make sure it’s a good one.  First impressions count, so pick the best picture.

Secondly, fill in as much of the information as you, a full profile is a good profile.  Doesn’t matter if you’re only just starting out and have changed businesses etc, honesty is the best policy.  Add your education, your previous work experience etc.

Now, when it comes to filling in your skills and expertise, this is when you have to make sure your clever.  You need to choose the words or skills that best suits the line of work you are in now.

If your business is based around social media marketing, make that as your skill, then expand on it a little.   If your business is based on baking cupcakes, then your skill set should be based around the skills and techniques used. The reason for this targeting, is when someone is searching within LinkedIn, just like in Google, it’s the skill sets that are being searched upon, so this is really important.  Don’t spread yourself too thin, you want to give the opinion you are an expert in your field.  Remember, this is the first line of sight.

Make sure you add your websites of blogs too, your entries will be shown in your timeline.

Getting Connected with LinkedIn

Now you’ve got your profile set up, you need to start building your connections.  The more connections you have, the more your updates will appear on other people’s home page, the more people will be able to view your profile.

If you have 2000 friends on Facebook, 5000 followers on Twitter but only 5 connections on LinkedIn, you are missing out on a massive amount of potential traffic.  Send a tweet to your followers asking them to connect, update your status on Facebook asking the same.

If you’re an active member of forums, look to try to add your friends there as contacts also.  It’s very important to get a good base of connections set up before you start joining the groups. Ask the people who know you to endorse you on certain skill sets.  This enhances your reputation massively, the more of these you can get the better.

When you do join the groups and start contributing, then those that you build conversations and relationships with, you can then connect with them as you go along.  The more you connect, the stronger you become, the more authoritative a figure you become.

How to use LinkedIn Groups to build authority and drive traffic

Once you’ve built your profile and established some connections, now it’s time to start looking into groups.   LinkedIn groups give you the opportunity to present yourself as an authoritative figure or leader in your specific market.   It enables you to put your skills in front of people who wouldn’t usually see them. What you do need to do is select the right groups.   As a free member, you can join up to 50 groups.  But don’t go joining any and every group you come across, you want to make sure that the group is of a decent size, and that it’s active.

Searching for the right LinkedIn Groups to join

In the top Right hand corner by the search bar, select Groups from the drop down box. Type in your keyword (in this case “social media”) and you will be returned with a total of groups matching this search, the group names, how many members it has, and how active it is.   It will also list the names of the connections you have if they are in the same groups.

This is vital information.   It’s so important that any group you decide to become a member of is active, but what’s more important are the underlying stats. Make sure whether a group is just active because a lot of people are post links / stories / articles, or is it a properly active group with lots of comments and discussions.   You don’t want to be joining a group where no one comments or reads your posts or articles. That’s no good to anybody.   You want the users of the group to be actively and readily engaged regularly. What you’re looking for is a higher number of comments per week than discussions started.

Managing LinkedIn Groups & Building your Reputation

When you’ve joined a group, you can’t just go in there and start dropping links to posts you’ve written.  That’s a definite “No, No”.   What I’d suggest is the following.

  • Introduce yourself to the Group – Tell a bit about yourself, your background and what you’re looking for from the group.  It should trigger a few responses.  Make sure you respond to each.
  • Browse through the posts, look to see who the key contributors are, find out who is the most active.
  • Read what they are saying
  • Comment on there posts, try to engage them, ask leading questions to get a response back.

What you are trying to do here is create a good first impression, if you do this right, then you will get noticed.   If you do this for a week or so across the 10 groups you’ve joined, you’ll soon have an impression of who the key people are in each group, and what the main type of posts that are getting the comments are.

Creating your first LinkedIn Discussion

Now is the time to start creating your own discussions.

Again, rather than just posting an a link to an article, try to engage once more, create a post that asks a question or look for an opinion between 2 sets of answers.

Make it to the point and relevant, but also interesting enough that you’ll get responses.  Once more, make sure you respond to each response, either thanking them, or doing a little more digging or challenging their view in the right manner.

You’ll soon create an authoritative presence within the group.

By this time, fellow group users will wanting to know a little more about you, they’ll probably look at your profile and pick up your blog posts from there.   It’s about this time that you’ll start to see the traffic coming into your site.

Posting your own articles on LinkedIn Groups

What you don’t want to do here is post the article to all 10 of your groups.   Be selective, see which groups best match your article, just 2 or 3 first of all, and post the article, along with some comments asking for thoughts, feedback etc.

By now, you should have developed enough of a reputation for others to take the time to read what you say.  Make a note of the traffic flow to your site from these 3 groups.   This is the first indicator of just how useful each group is in providing traffic.

If you get a few responses, again, make sure you respond in kind.  This is also the time to start increasing your connections, now you’ve engaged a few of the more active users, you can try to connect with them.

If successful, any update that appears on your timeline / wall, will now appear on theres.   If they are the major contributors, chances are they will have 500+ connections.  All 500 x (number of connections you have) will now see your article and links.

This is where you can start to see a real surge in your traffic.   

If you stick to these rules and continue to add a couple of groups at a time, following the same principles you’ll soon find yourself with strong following, people will then be looking to you as the authoritative figure and the circle continues.

Summing up LinkedIn

LinkedIn is such a powerful resource, should you utilise it in the right way, it can have a massive beneficial effect on your business. It is often overlooked in some circles when it comes to Social Media, but it really shouldn’t be. LinkedIn is the 2nd biggest Social Media Traffic provider, claiming a staggering 29%, which is more than Facebook, Twitter and Google+ together. Don’t make the mistake that so many do when they turn to Social Media, LinkedIn is a force to be reckoned with, and one that’s only going to get stronger.

Pre-Search Marketing Campaigns

It might sound crazy, but driving increased traffic to your website through SEO and paid search may be damaging your brand, rather than helping it. SEO and paid search efforts can be valuable ways to increase site traffic, but launching these efforts without first developing a solid business and marketing strategy is risky. If done incorrectly – without a winning strategy in place – SEO and paid search could actually threaten your marketing efforts and possibly erode your brand name. You also risk wasted time, money and effort – and may also alienate prospective customers. But there’s a solution! By conducting the following five assessments of your business prior to launching an SEO or paid search campaign, you’ll build a bullet-proof business foundation while greatly increasing the chances that your SEO and paid search campaigns will thrive.

1. Branding Assessment

Before launching your SEO and paid search campaigns, determine whether your branding is truly effective. Many companies skip this step, but the right branding will serve as a solid foundation, generating greater results for your SEO and paid search efforts. If your brand is in good shape, you’ll drive more revenue for the same (or even less!) effort. That’s just smart business. Yet, companies often plow ahead full-force with SEO and paid search campaigns with brands that are taped together with rubber bands, silly putty and band-aids. A B2B e-commerce company was eager to launch their first SEO campaign and had earmarked a large percentage of their marketing budget to the endeavor. Yet their online business had no identity, mission, personality, positioning or differentiation. In contrast, their competitors looked far more professional, reliable and credible. Regardless, this company insisted on moving forward with SEO, hoping to drive more traffic to their site. This is a doomed plan. Even if the company increases traffic to their site, there’s no compelling reason for site visitors to trust them or purchase from them. The company’s poor brand image is apparent. Their time, funds and energy would be better spent on building a strong brand first, and then launching an SEO campaign. Otherwise, their revenue results will continue to lag far behind their traffic numbers indefinitely.

2. Audience Assessment

It’s critical to understand your audiences prior to launching SEO and paid search campaigns. Certain companies rush to create online campaigns without fully understanding their priority populations and crafting customized marketing messages targeted to defined personas. An online apparel retailer believed that their audience included all mothers. Market research showed, however, that fashionable, upscale, metropolitan moms wouldn’t even consider shopping on their site, but budget-seeking moms would. By changing their approach – and messaging – accordingly, this company’s search campaigns performed more efficiently and increased revenue.

3. Analytics Assessment

Because SEO and paid search are so data-heavy, you’d think that all search marketers start with a major analytics analysis. However, all too often, they don’t, which is a problem. Analytics reveals important marketing insights, which can be key to a successful search campaign. A national food brand was optimizing their website and launching a new paid search campaign. After reviewing their web analytics, it became clear that driving additional traffic to the site would actually create poor brand experiences. Their analytics revealed that their average site visitor came to the site only 1.1 times. There were hardly ANY repeat visitors. People clearly didn’t like what they saw on the site, so they never came back. Before driving more visitors to the site, the company needed a major site overhaul to help attract and retain their customers. A B2B documentation company wanted to launch a new search campaign, hoping to drive additional traffic to the site. Their web analytics showed that their website had a conversion rate of 0.3%. That’s not a typo! It was truly that low. The source of the visit didn’t matter – the conversion rate was consistently dismal. Clearly, they needed to fix their website prior to focusing on SEO and paid search. After creating customized, redesigned landing pages, the company was able to increase both their conversion rate and revenue. Subsequently, their search campaigns generated much greater business results.

4. Business Model Assessment

Struggling companies often assume that their business models are working, but their marketing campaigns are underperforming. But what happens if the business model is weak and/or outdated? Every industry can go through disruptive innovation. At one point, Smith Corona was the world’s leading typewriter company. Over time, they believed their marketing campaigns were failing them, but in reality, their business model had become outdated. Tweaking their marketing campaigns didn’t matter. They needed to blow up their business model, switching their focus from outdated typewriters to innovative computers. Amazon is an example of a company that disrupted the book industry in the 90s, introducing a revolutionary e-commerce model. They’re doing it again with the innovative, timely Kindle today. Is your company focusing as much attention on your business model as your SEO and paid search campaigns? Tweaking a campaign can lead to improved marketing results, but to maximize your business performance, you need a current, competitive business model. Sometimes, adjusting just one aspect of a business model prior to SEO or paid search can make a huge difference in your campaign results. A music studio wanted to grow its revenue. Instead of incrementally capturing more students to take music lessons under its existing pricing system, the company needed to overhaul its business model to perform more like a membership-based health club. Changing that one element of the model improved their financial performance dramatically. Consequently, their SEO and paid search resulted in an increased profit per student and the company grew in an accelerated manner.

5. Website Assessment

Assuming you’ve defined a solid brand, identified your audiences, gained insights from your analytics and created the optimal business model, the next step is conducting a website assessment. If you’re driving traffic to a site that doesn’t satisfy visitors’ needs, it doesn’t matter how much traffic you generate. As more traffic visits the site, more people suffer through a poor user experience and associate that negative experience with your brand. Therefore, you need to first ensure that your site is fully satisfying your site visitors. A B2B corporate gifts company wanted to launch an SEO campaign. Their business model centered on an audience-segmented approach, specializing in the education, healthcare and government sectors. Even though their business relied so heavily on segmentation as a competitive advantage, their website felt “cookie cutter” and didn’t spotlight their customized solutions. The company redesigned their website, focusing on different offerings for their core audience segments. Their subsequent SEO campaign increased traffic in line with their differentiation, producing better financial results.

Maximizing Results

If you hope to maximize business results through SEO and paid search, remember that these efforts do not work in a silo. Instead, they’re part of the overall business and marketing strategy, and without solid foundations, any SEO and paid search campaigns will fall short of its potential. Therefore, it’s critical to first build your brand, understand your audiences, measure their online behavior, build the right business model and launch the right website. Only then can you maximize your SEO and paid search results. About the Author: Tom Shapiro is the founder & CEO of Digital Marketing NOW, a full-service digital marketing and design firm that offers strategy, web development, design, SEO, conversion optimization, social media, email marketing and more. Tom cuts through all the hype and develops clear, differentiated marketing strategies focused on real results for his clients. Throughout his career, Tom has worked with dozens of Fortune 500 companies including P&G, HP, IBM, Sears and Kraft Foods.  

PageRank Update the Most Important Ever?

After nearly six months of waiting, word is out that Google has just pushed out new PageRank values. This is the first update since January 2011 and the first since the now infamous Panda update clawed through a long list of sites. While many have questioned the value of PageRank in the past (some even very recently), the update might just provide site owners/webmasters/SEO’s an indication of just how Google currently perceives their site’s authority and standing. Because of the rapidly evolving search landscape, WM believes this might just be one of the most important (meaningful) PR updates in a very long time. It is also interesting to note that the recent PageRank update closely follows Google’s release of a new Google Toolbar a few weeks ago.

Increasing Time on Site in 3 Simple Steps

The Time Has Come to Increase Your Time on Site

Most online marketers and website owners tend to measure the success of their online business by the amount of traffic they are able to generate (and, of course, revenue). While increasing the number of unique visitors is most definitely important (and something that everyone should be concerned with), it is arguably only half the battle. Unique visitors and visits alone should not be the only means by which you are measuring success. It is easy to understand that there is little in the way of benefit from attracting a visitor to your website that quickly clicks the back button and leaves. Often, website owners and online marketers spend more time thinking about how to attract people to a site and less on how to encourage those visitors to spend considerably more time on your website. Take heed – there is a a direct correlation between the amount of time spent on a website and its success. So how can you increase time on site (and profits)? Follow these three simple strategies.

– Design Smarter (and Write Longer) –

Of all the different site types, it is the content marketers that either have the best or the worst time-on-site averages. While one suggestion might be to simply write longer-form content, another option would be to take the longer-form content you have or will develop in the future and commit to splitting it into multiple sections. This is a common approach that has been used on sites like About.com and many newspaper sites for years. For example, a 1,000 word article could be split into four sections of 250 words each. Some content management systems have this functionality built in, so explore that feature if available to you. Another benefit of splitting content is that it gives publishers the ability to generate more advertising impressions – a big draw particularly for those selling on a CPM basis.

– Create More Relevant Jump Points for Content Showcasing –

Would you rather feature content that is timely or timeless? There are arguments for and against both, but those publishers that concentrate on identifying areas where they can showcase their best information are those that often have the highest time-on-site averages. These jump points are areas where publishers can profile/push the most popular pages, the most heavily commented upon content items or most linked-to items. There are, of course, many places to do this, including at the end of articles/posts, within sidebars, and within the content itself. There is actually some SEO benefit to creating links to this type of content on your site as the number and relevance of links to internal pages is (arguably) an important factor in search engine ranking.

– Introduce Supplemental Formats: Multimedia & Applications –

Many content publishers, to their own detriment, opt to stay with the content format most familiar to them – whatever that may be. Consumers, however, often have very different demands when it comes to their consumption preferences – offering just one only gives you one chance for one type of visitor. Start introducing supplemental formats and you’ll be surprised about the positive effect it has on time on site. For example, if you’ve got a long-form article, why not fire up the webcam and produce a short-form video about that article’s key points or takeaways. If you publish a list of events, why not introduce a calendar application which is a terrific way to increase the number of clicks on your site as well. When it comes to increasing time on site, remember the following: your website visitors are willing to be engaged with your site (and spend more time on it), but content publishers absolutely must commit to repurposing content into new design formats, providing jump points wherever necessary to expose them to content that should be showcased, and they should introduce supplemental formats to satisfy the Web’s diverse content consumption needs and wants. Make no mistake – increasing time on site is no easy task. Keep these three simple strategies in mind and you will not only see significant percentage increases in time on site, but revenue as well.