Anti Internet Explorer 6

Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Internet Explorer 6

Anti Internet Explorer 6While I don’t condone the use of Internet Explorer, I definitely have to agree with Microsoft on their campaign to eliminate the use of Internet Explorer 6.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has long been behind in web standards and has caused much grief to web designers the world over. So here are a few reasons why you should never use IE6:

  • It is 10 years old
  • It is slow……
  • You have to open a new window for any webpages you want to have open at the same time.
  • It is no longer supported by Microsoft and security is… well, NOT GOOD!
  • Because IE6 didn’t support the existing web standards 10 years ago, websites look REALLY BAD in this browser.
  • The more you continue to use this browser, the more you perpetuate the life-cycle of outdated software.

If you are using any version of Internet Explorer, I would urge you to look into using Google Chrome. At least use an up-to-date web browser, even if you prefer Internet Explorer after trying out some other web browsers.

On the flip side, if you have been thinking about having your website design be compatible with IE6, just STOP IT! Just to make sure I have emphasized this, here is a video of a MadTV sketch that might make it more clear…

Rather than try to make your site look great in IE6, Microsoft recommends displaying a banner to IE6 users on your website.

Creating a Photo Gallery in WordPress

Many people get confused when trying to create a photo gallery in WordPress. It isn’t obvious at first glance how to utilize this built-in feature. Let me walk you step-by-step through how to create a photo gallery by uploading images from your computer or by using images already in your media library.  Just in case you need a little more help, you can follow along with the video! Continue reading Creating a Photo Gallery in WordPress

Add New Page Screen in WordPress

Adding Pages to a WordPress Site

WordPress is a popular solution for managing website’s nowadays.  The reason it is so popular is because of the simplicity with which you can add or manage the content on your site.

Using WordPress for the first time can be a bit confusing, but once you get the hang of things, I guarantee you will love it!  One of the first tasks you will need to learn to perform is how to add a page to your site.  Here is a great video from WordPress.tv on how to add pages:

Adding Pages to Your WordPress Website

  • Log in to administrative back-end of your WordPress site.  Typically, you can reach the login by typing in your normal website address and adding /wp-admin on the end.
  • Next, click on ‘Pages’ in the navigation menu on the left-hand side.  If you have pages already, they will appear on this page.
  • To add a page, click on the ‘Add New’ button in the ‘Pages’ sub-menu or at the top of the page that just loaded.
  • Now, you should be on the ‘Add New Page’ screen.   The first box you will need to fill in is the title.  Below the title field is a text editor where you can put the content you want to appear on your page.

Add New Page Screen in WordPress

  • On the right-hand side, you will see some options.  If you want to add this as a sub-page of another page, you can do so in the ‘Page Attributes’ box.
  • Once you are ready to publish your page, just click on the blue ‘Publish’ button in the ‘Publish’ box at the top right of the page.
  • Once the page has been published, you will see a notification at the top of the page with a link to view your page on the main site.

So that is it in a nutshell.  It is pretty simple, but feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

Landing Page

Landing Page Confusion

Landing PageMost people are clear on the definition of a landing page.   A landing page is just a page on your website where you are driving traffic to, typically from an ad campaign. The whole point of the page is to get new visitors to complete some specific action on the page, such as begin a free trial or even buy a product. The more you test and improve on the page, the more likely visitors to the page are to complete the desired action. So what is the confusion?

Many people don’t realize it, but there are two completely different strategies for using landing pages for a paid online ad campaign versus organic search. Now, please don’t confuse what I am saying here. Some shady SEO guys out there use the term landing page when they dynamically create thousands of pages to target a slew of different search terms. This is not what I am referring to at all. Let me explain…

Landing Pages for PPC (Pay Per Click) Campaigns

Let’s assume you are running a Google AdWords campaign and are sending the traffic you generate to your website. Assuming you are a good advertiser and not sending people to your homepage, you will create at least a few landing pages that are relevant to the ads that you display. Because these pages are relevant to the ads that visitors are clicking on, they are more likely to perform the desired action on the page.

Since you will be creating a lot of landing pages to match up with all the different ads you are running, it is important to block the search engines. The landing pages you create will be very similar to each other and have a lot of the same content. If you don’t block the search engines from these pages, you will have duplicate content issues and will dilute your SEO efforts. Many people don’t realize the importance of this… or just don’t use landing pages!

Landing Pages for Organic Search

When you optimize the content on your site for organic search, it is important that you don’t target more than a couple of keywords for any given page. If you want to create a landing page in this setting, you should really only create one landing page for a given call to action.  You should create different versions of the landing page and test to see what works best, but you don’t want to have more than one URL targeting similar pages. The reasoning here is that, because you are trying to rank this landing page for a particular keyword, any other page you create with similar content or targeting similar keywords will weaken your chances of ranking well.

Also, it is important to keep the user in mind and not go overboard with keywords on landing pages when you are after organic search.  If your page does not have a natural flow to it, users will leave and the point of the landing page will be defeated.

The key difference between a landing page for PPC versus organic search is that the organic landing page is not isolated from the rest of the site.  Typically, an organic landing page is well linked to across the site and can be readily found by any visitors.

So what about campaigns that are not PPC or Organic in nature?

Landing Pages for Offline Ad Campaigns, Social Media & E-mail

Now that you have a better understanding of the two ways that landing pages can be implemented, lets take a look at some other use cases.  Typically, with an offline ad campaign, it would be best to use a landing page that is optimized for organic search.  This way, users who don’t remember the exact URL presented in your ad, will be able to easily find the offer by using a search engine or just visiting the site’s root domain.  Most likely, you would want to run a social media campaign the same way.

E-mail campaigns, on the other hand, you may want to implement landing pages like you would with PPC.  Since a lot of marketers use automated e-mail campaigns, it would be beneficial to have several different landing pages for the same offer.  For example, if you send out an offer to new subscribers, they would be sent to a simple landing page.  If users haven’t bought and are presented with the same offer, you may want to send them to a landing page that offers more incentive that the original.  Since these pages are bound to be similar, you don’t want to have the search engines finding them.

Online Sales Leads

Online Sales Leads

Is your business struggling to generate online sales leads? It is common knowledge that generating sales leads online can be more effective than traditional methods, not to mention more cost-effective. Given the current economy, businesses are looking to the internet in order to cut marketing costs.  We are going to take a look at different methods of lead generation and how your company might use them.

Online Sales Leads

Lead Generating Traffic Sources

In order to maximize sales leads, you have to maximize the traffic coming in to your website and landing pages.  There are three ways to generate traffic online:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Optimizing your web pages so that your potential clients will find you when they search for your products or services.
  • Paid Advertising – Paying to have your ad appear in the sponsored listings in the search engines, or in a particular location on a selected website.
  • Social Media – Utilizing large web communities to generate interest and traffic for your products or services.
  • Affiliate Marketing – Partnering with like minded sites to offer each others products or services.

Depending on your business and what stage of development it is in, you will utilize these methods differently.  The key takeaway here is to utilize all three methods to some degree.  Don’t limit your ability to reach new clients by focusing all your efforts on one method.

Lead Capture Methods

Once you are generating some quality traffic, you will want to be sure that you don’t miss out on capturing as many leads as possible.  It is important to understand your target audience and their purchasing behavior.  Here are some ways you can keep in touch with potential clients at different levels:

  • Facebook Like Button – Including the ‘Like’ button on most pages of your site will allow visitors to ‘Like’ the content that they find helpful or amusing on your site.  When a visitor clicks on the ‘Like’ button, they automatically become a fan of your business and will receive updates that you send out through your Facebook page.  This is a great way to connect with people who are only on your site for a short time, or only visit a single page.
  • Opt-in List – Not everyone is going to buy on their first visit, but that doesn’t mean they won’t.  Give visitors the opportunity to receive quality content on a regular basis through e-mail.  You will offer some sort of upfront incentive for opting in and will occasionally offer your products or services in your e-mails.
  • Landing Page – Similar to the opt-in list, a landing page is specifically designed to promote a particular product or service.  When a visitor fills out their information, they have the opportunity to opt-in to your list, but may also be requesting a quote or some other type of follow up.
  • Registration – Having a site where users register to have access to a free service or a niche community is a great way to get visitors involved and to be able to make some quality connections.
  • Contact Information – Some businesses forget about this one altogether and don’t include their contact information in an easy-to-find location on the website.  If someone wants to use a more traditional means of contacting you, don’t limit them!

It is important to avoid surprises when a visitor comes to your site through any given medium.  If a visitor doesn’t think your content is relevant to what they are looking for, they will leave quickly and your conversion rate will suffer.

Lead Generation Examples

Here are a couple of scenarios that will help you better understand how to utilize these advertising mediums to generate leads online:

Brand New Local Restaurant – Knowing that it can take a minimum of six months to generate adequate organic search traffic and that SEO is more cost effective than paid advertising in the long haul, you hire an SEO expert right away.   You claim your local business listings with the major search engines so that local searchers can find you easier.  In the meantime, you utilize Google AdWords to not only generate immediate traffic, but also to test out your organic SEO keywords in the process.  As your business generates more and more organic search traffic, you rely on paid advertising less and less.  However, you don’t eliminate it altogether because you have realized that running PPC campaigns alongside your SEO campaigns creates some great synergy.  Your primary landing page encourages visitors to sign up for your e-mail list so they can receive special promotions and a free birthday meal.  Thanks to technology, you have automated your entire annual e-mail campaign and are able to discover what social networks your members are in and can connect with them on their favorite networks.  In order to promote your business to people who happen to be nearby, you utilize FourSquare.  You also become active on Yelp, encouraging those that have been to your restaurant to rate their experience.

Independent Consultant – As a consultant, you show off your knowledge through a blog, which is part of the main website.  This blog is great for generating organic search traffic, because you carefully optimize each post and post often.  Because your are a smart consultant, you are already using PPC, but are not over-reliant on this method.  You have also paid to have some banner and video ads on some of the top sites related to your industry.  LinkedIn is a great social media tool for you because it is a professional network that facilitates some great business to business connections.  As an added bonus, you frequently answers questions related to the industry on LinkedIn and other related forums, and you run a couple of Meetup groups for people interested in your specialty.  Affiliate marketing can come into play here as you team up with other consultants that have complimentary skill sets to your own.  You don’t actually sell any products online, so your landing pages focus around proprietary research and tools that you have created.  Once visitors opt-in for your email list, they are automatically sent a weekly e-mail containing your latest blog posts.  You also highlight a particular service each month and offer your e-mail list members a special discount.  All of your lead capture forms automatically feed the captured information into Sugar, your customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

Online Digital Camera Store – Let’s assume this business targets professional photographers who are looking for high-end digital equipment.  Your efforts are focused around SEO and PPC keywords related to your most profitable brands and products, because you understand that people searching for specific products are usually considering buying it.  The website itself is more than just an e-commerce store, but a social network within itself.  Because your business values repeat customers, you have forums where users can discuss the latest trends in photography.  Every month, you hold a contest where the best submitted photo wins the latest high-tech gear.  Most of your customers are quite satisfied not only to have found quality equipment, but also a great community.  Your community extends beyond just your site, in the form of a Facebook Page, a YouTube channel sporting some very helpful videos and a Flickr account that grabs the attention of anyone who sees it.  Your site also promotes the re-chargeable batteries of another site, which in turn promotes your high-end cameras.  Since your best sales come from active members of your community, your landing pages focus on having new visitors join the community.

Choosing a WordPress Theme

Choosing a WordPress theme can be a confusing task for a lot of people.  Everyone can choose a theme that looks nice, but being able to head off potential problems before you launch a theme on a live site is extremely important.  As a WordPress developer, I am often asked to review WordPress themes for clients.  In order to avoid major issues, I recommend doing the following checks on any theme that you are seriously considering.  These checks are listed in the order that they should be done:

  1. Date Last Updated – If you are looking at free themes in the WordPress theme repository, you can easily check this by clicking on the theme you are interested in and checking the ‘Last Updated’ date in the right-hand column.  You really want to find a theme that has been updated relatively recently.  The idea here is that you don’t want to have to hire someone to make a lot of changes to be sure it is compatible with the most recent version of WordPress.  If you are buying a premium theme, you will want to be sure that you will have access to support and upgrades.

  2. Test Thoroughly – You can demo most themes before you download them, whether they are free themes or paid.  If you can’t demo a paid theme before you download it, I would recommend looking elsewhere.  Make sure you don’t just look at the homepage on the demo; visit all the possible links and watch out for issues.  Once you decide to download the theme, perform the same checks you did in the demo and make sure that all the functionality that you are expecting is available in the admin area.  This will require that you have some content on the site.  If the theme doesn’t take advantage of features like the new customized menus, or doesn’t support widgets, this would be a deal-breaker for most people.  If you really like the theme, you can have a WordPress developer fix these things for you.  You may also want to consider how easily you can insert your logo.

  3. Code Quality – Run your theme through a markup validation service to see how it checks out.  If you don’t mind touching code, disable any WordPress plugins and make sure the theme you want to check is active.  In your wp-config.php file, found in the root directory that you installed WordPress in, drop in this line of code: define(WP_DEBUG, true);.  You will now be able to see any errors with the PHP code in the theme.  Hopefully, there won’t be any.  Poor code simply means more issues that will have to be fixed.  Watch out for themes that try to obfuscate the code so you can’t change it.  It is important that you are able to make changes as needed.

  4. Cross-Browser Compatibility – Your visitors may be viewing your site using Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, Google Chrome, Opera or another web browser.  Regardless of the browser or version being used, you still want them to be able to see and use the site.  Adobe BrowserLab is currently a free service that will allow you to see how your site will look in different browsers.

This list applies to any type of theme, not just WordPress.  Even if you are having a web developer create a custom theme for you, be sure to personally do checks 2-4!

MailChimp Setup

Automating your E-mail Newsletter with MailChimp

As you may already know, WordPress and other content management systems automatically generate an RSS feed with the content you create. MailChimp is an online e-mail distribution software that can take an RSS feed and use it to fuel an e-mail newsletter. Find out how… Continue reading Automating your E-mail Newsletter with MailChimp

New SEO Tool Just Released

As of today, we have just released our first of many SEO tools to come. The Meta Tag Checker Tool helps you analyze how well you are using SEO related tags on a given web page.

If you have ever wondered how you should be using the following elements on your webpages, you should check out our new tool:

  • HTTP Status
  • Page Title
  • Canonical Link
  • Meta description tag
  • Meta keywords tag
  • Meta robots tag

Over time, we will be improving the information that this tool returns, but I think we are off to a great start!  If you have any issues with it or have any feature requests, let us know by commenting on this post.

301 Redirect

Redirect Old Domain to New Domain via .htaccess

When you migrate a site from one domain to another, it is very important that you don’t break all the links that you built to your old domain. Proper redirection of all the pages on the old domain to the same location on the new domain will ensure that visitors to the old domain will end up in the right place.  A failure to redirect will result in a loss of visitors as well as search engine rankings.

Continue reading Redirect Old Domain to New Domain via .htaccess