Aug
02

5 Simple Tips To Drive Your Business Into The Ground

So, you let someone talk you into building an Internet website, huh? It is quite the trendy fad. You’d better be careful, though, your life could change. One of the disadvantages to having a website is that people who like it will want to buy things from you or use your services and keep you from your leisurely life of playing computer games and eating nachos. Being a care-free pauper is much easier. If building your business is cramping your style, you could just let your search engine rankings tank, drive away visitors and live a quiet life without interruption. Here are five easy ways to do just that.

1. Use a single page for your website to keep things easy. Cram everything onto one page. All of it. That way, people can let the page load while they’re doing something else and come back later. If they hang around long enough to see what’s on your site, they can see all of your services, all of your products and all of your information all at once. Uh-oh. If you already have multiple pages on your website, not to worry. Just fill them up with advertising. You can make money without having to deal with your visitors — at least for a little while. Cram in as many ads as you possibly can and see what happens.

2. Disguise your identity. If you were silly enough to create a Contact page, don’t let anyone know how or where to find you. Hide. One of those lone contact buttons on the page with no information about your location will do. People will use it if they’re desperate enough to ask questions. Don’t give them an address, a telephone number to call or a real life email address to contact, though. They might find you and hunt you down. Of course, by then they may not trust you with their personal information or their money, but that’s their problem. The fewer the sales, the better, thank you very much.

3. Once you have put together your website, that’s it. Take a break. You don’t need to add anything to it. Ever. Don’t update the information. Don’t create a blog. Blogs are for people who want to interact with their customers and share interesting information. Uh-oh. You’ve already got a blog, have you? No worries. Just quit using it, cold turkey.

4. Steer clear of mobile users. Smartphones, tablets and laptops are a fad, just like the Internet. No need to spend precious time and talent on that bunch. Only one in seven Internet searches is from a mobile device, anyway.

5. If you’re gonna write content for your website, do it quickly. The write-it-and-you’re-done concept is the quickest and easiest way to put content together. No research necessary. Don’t waste your time proofreading it, either. If people are smart enough to visit your website in the first place, they can figure out what you meant to say. Besides, who cares if anyone tries to read it, anyway? You do want them to just go away, right?

Mar
07

What Does Your Website Say About You?

Do you have a fair amount of traffic that comes to your website but leaves without buying anything? There is probably a reason. When there is an investment of time or money involved, potential customers are looking at your website for information. You might have the services or products they are looking for, but that’s probably not enough. That’s just one piece of the puzzle. People want to know more about your company before they do business with you for the first time. What makes you special? Use your About Us page to tell them. Think of it as a resume of sorts. If your website doesn’t have an About Us page, you might consider adding one. If you already have one, take a moment to read it as if you’re a potential customer who has never seen it before. Would you do business with you?

Here are 5 things your About Us page should include – just to get you started.

1. Background – If you experience makes you special, be sure to tell people how long you have been in business. Outline your background.

2. Philosophy – Include some nuggets of information on why your business is better. Explain your philosophy. This is where you put your mission statement. If you don’t have one yet, create one.

3. Awards – Has your company been recognized for excellence? If you have, this is the place to let people know. List the name, date and sponsor of the award. Include a picture.

4. Staff – Talk about your staff. If you’ve got the best of the best, let people know. Highlight their accomplishments.

5. Location  – If you are looking for local traffic, this is important. As a national or international e-commerce site, people still want to know where you are. Nameless and faceless doesn’t build trust.

Once you’ve come up with some new ideas for your About Us page, make sure you share that information the best way possible. Make sure the puzzle piece fits with the rest of your website. If you’re not comfortable writing,  have a professional do it. Don’t forget to optimize the content for relevant keywords. It’s great to have information that people will read, but you want something people will see, too. With a well-written page that is properly optimized to be found on the search engines, you have a better chance of not only capturing an audience, but gaining new customers.

Dec
11

CM’s Website Workout: Trimming the Fat

With Google’s recent announcement that page load time may soon factor into ranking algorithms – and alongside the Google Labs release of the Site Performance tool within Webmaster Tools, internet marketers everywhere are wondering what they can do to improve page load speed for themselves as well as their clients. Well, CM has put together a comprehensive checklist to help internet marketers in their ventures toward a faster web.

  1. Optimize your code
    1. HTML
      • Always validate your HTML against a valid DOCTYPE (and never leave out the DOCTYPE!).
        This can expose issues with your code that can increase page load time, such as unclosed, improperly nested, and orphan tags, among other issues.  (I recommend W3C Markup Validation Service)
      • Avoid tables.
        I know this is hard, but please avoid tables if at all possible, as they take most browsers considerably longer to render.  Avoid nested tables at all costs. Side note: It’s almost 2010.
      • Remove extraneous code as well as code that is no longer being used.
        Take a few minutes of your time to look through your code and remove code that is serving no immediate purpose, and calls to files that are no longer being used.
    2. CSS
      • Always externalize stylesheets.
        Putting styles in the <head> section of each page (internal styles) means the browser has to reload styles for each page that is loaded, thus increasing load time.  Externalizing means that the browser can cache and reuse your styles!
      • When linking to an external stylesheet, always link in the <head> section of your document.
        Linking at the bottom of your document prohibits progressive rendering in most browsers, which means the page will stop rendering until all of the page’s resources have loaded.  Not only does this increase load time, but it also puts the user in front of a white screen in many cases, which is never a good idea.
      • Remove unused styles.
        Whether a style is in use on your website or not, the browser has to digest every bit of your code.  Maintain your stylesheets regularly by removing styles you know you’re no longer using.
      • Minify your code
        Dig through your CSS and remove extra characters, spacing, and comments.  This will make a significant difference, especially if you have large stylesheets.
      • Use shorthand CSS codes.
        Instead of#border-box{
        border-bottom-color:#0F3;
        border-bottom-style: solid;
        border-bottom-width:4px;
        }
        try

        #border-box { border-bottom: #0F3 solid 4px; }

    3. JavaScript
      • Externalize your JavaScript documents whenever possible.
        There are going to be some scripts you can’t possibly externalize, but most you can.  Doing so means the browser can cache and reuse your external scripts, instead of reloading them with every page, thus decreasing page load times.
      • Call scripts at the bottom of your document, if appropriate.
        Contrary to my suggestions with CSS, JavaScript calls should be moved to the bottom of your document, as most scripts are not needed on page load (those that are dependent on page load need to be at the top, obviously).
      • Minify your code
        Remove extra whitespace and comments from your JavaScipt (or use a program that does it for you).  This will cut down on load time, but be careful not to introduce any bugs!
  2. Reduce HTTP requests to the server
    Each resource required by your site sends an HTTP request to the server.  This includes stylesheets, images, scripts, music files, flash, etc.  Each HTTP request, as you may have guessed, delays response time.  Here are some tips to reduce these requests.

    1. Use CSS sprites for image rollovers
      If you don’t know how to do this, here’s a great tutorial.
    2. Combine images and use image maps if needed
      Combining images you plan to put next to each other is a great idea.  It will not reduce file size, but it will reduce HTTP requests.  It’s not recommended to do this for your navigation, as it’s not accessible and definitely not good for SEO.
    3. Combine multiple stylesheets into one CSS file, if possible.
    4. Combine multiple JavaScript files into one file, if possible.
  3. Optimize Images
    1. Preload site resources
      After the page has loaded, you can request resources you will/may need in the future by running a preloader script.   If you want to learn more, here’s an article about it.
    2. Know which image format to use
      • JPEG
        This format is for images with fine variances in color, such as photographs or detailed art work.
      • GIF
        This format is for images with continuous areas of color, such as logos, illustrations, and graphic text and is limited to 256 colors.
      • PNG
        This format supports 24-bit color as well as true alpha transparency.  The catch is that not all browsers support all PNG features – but a PNG can do anything a GIF can do, often with a lower file size.  PNG-24 format should be used for images that require true transparency or require more than 256 colors.
    3. Optimize images to create faster loading graphics
      Get in the habit of using Adobe’s “Save for web” feature, where you can compare different quality images side by side. If you want to learn more, this tutorial might help.
    4. Always specify proper image dimensions in your code
      When you specify image dimensions in your code, the browser will hold a place for the image until it loads.  Leaving out this valuable information means the browser will have to figure out the dimensions and draw the area, which wastes valuable resources.
    5. Never use HTML to resize images
      Resizing images in your code still eats up the same amount of resources, so if you know your 400px by 300px image needs to be 200px by 150px, resize the image in an image editing program and not in your code.
  4. Utilize Web Caching
    Caching stores copies of documents which it can reuse if certain conditions are met, which is intended to reduce latency and bandwidth usage.  Configuring your web cache means that you can specify expiration dates for site resources, such as images, text documents, JavaScript files, and more.  If you’re on an Apache server, this is a super tutorial.
  5. Enable GZIP compression
    GZIP compression allows your web server to serve compressed/zipped content to the user’s browser, which saves bandwidth and speeds up your site considerably.  If you don’t know if your server is GZIP enabled, check it here.  If not, read this.
  6. Host your site with a fast, reputable hosting company
    Most people just don’t realize how much this aspect matters.  Often, people assume that the larger a hosting company, the better and faster it is.  Well we at CM know first hand that this is not true, as evident in our performance overview chart in Webmaster tools.  Yes, we changed hosting around October 12th and had everything switched mid-month.  This caused a decrease in our load times, as you can see, and then decreased even more when we began  these load time trimming excercises!Website Load Time
  7. Avoid excessive redirects
    Redirects are often mission-critical in the SEO world, but here are a couple of issues frequently overlooked:

    1. Always use the trailing slash on links to directories
      For example, the link http://www.customermagnetism.com/directory will return a 301 response and redirect to http://www.customermagnetism.com/directory/.  Because the file path is not explicitly defined, the server has to expend valuable resources to retrieve the closest match and return it to the user.
    2. Always check your redirects.
      This can expose potential problems with your site!

Keep in mind that while rankings are important to us in the SEO world, faster page load times also mean we’re providing a better user experience, which makes it a win for everyone!