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CitrusKiwi's Web Design, Internet & Marketing blog

Get hints and tips about web design, SEO, and things internet. We also discuss online security issues, showcase new client websites and offer hints on marketing and networking.

How to avoid website DIY disasters

Coming from a nation of DIYers - New Zealand - I can empathize with those who want to do it themselves. Right now, I'm in the middle of a bunch of "honey-do" projects around the house - tiling, baseboard replacement, painting. Even though these projects don't require huge learning to do acceptably, they do require some learning. They also need the correct tools to do it well. For example, I bought a good quality wet saw for the tiling project. I have quite a lot of cutting to do, and getting the cuts where I want them is critical. So how's this all play into website design? Simple.... you need to know some stuff, and you need the right tools. Without either, your shiny, new, 24/7 salesperson may not be doing you and your company any favors. As I mentioned in a recent blog, the average person makes up their mind...

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1/20th of a second and you're flying or dying

In 2006, a Canadian research team conducted a study to try and ascertain how short a time it took for human visitors to sum up a webpage. And the results were startling! 1/20th of a second can be a killer The team began by showing 50 millisecond glimpses (that's 1/20th second) of webpages to the participants, then had them rate the webpages in terms of their aesthetic appeal. Then they let them see the same pages for a much longer periods and had them rate the pages again. Surprisingly, the results were very close. The conclusion is shocking to us as designers (and should also impact anyone with a website as well)... According to the results in the study, you have 1/20th second before a visitor decides your sites flies or dies in their thinking! This makes choosing a designer with good design and layout skills so critical. Forget fancy "gadgets"...

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10 simple ways to give your site credibility

I'm often amazed just how easily the simple, and obvious, things trip us up or cause a disconnect. It's no different with websites. Here are 10 seemingly obvious things that can really stoke the fires of credibility on your website. 1. Easy verification of site information When you've written articles, invariably there are times, often many times, when you've used a source to help build the content. SO provide your content third party support in the way of citations, references, or links to original content. It's shows YOU have confidence in your material. 2. Be a "real" organization Ever been to a site trying to find contact info and all you get is a web form? Seems a little shady, right? If I come across this sort of thing, I invariably hit the close button on the window. I figure they can't be very reputable if they have to hide their...

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Slack blogging and fast computers

Considering how I encourage all my clients to blog, it was with dismay that I looked at my December 2013 last post date! Ouch! I'd plead the 5th, but I'm not sure that covers this. I do have some sort of excuse... really! At the beginning of January 2014 we moved down to Phoenix, AZ, so most of December was spent packing up, and most of January unpackign what we'd just packed. Except for all the stuff that got stolen... thanks for that whoever you are, I hope my clothes fit...or not! So we're now settling into a slower paced life in Phoenix than it was in Sacramento. Everyone keeps asking if we like the heat and "You just wait till summer!" We'll see, as we both love the heat. So that's my excuse for being slack at getting to this. My other part of this little post is something I...

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5 questions to ask yourself about keywords

I guess I'm getting ahead of myself by assuming you know what keywords, or phrases, actually are. In a nutshell, they're the words or phrases people are using in their searches to find you, or businesses like you. So, for me, that's phrases like "website design", "web site design", "web development". Often, there's a tendency to want to rank for EVERY keyphrase you can think of or keyphrases that are too vague. Examples of vague keyphrases/words are (again, using myself as an example) design, internet, marketing. Design could be architectural, graphic, boat, aeroplane, automobile! So here's 5 questions to ask yourself about your keywords & phrases BEFORE you talk to your website designer. How would you describe what you do?In your opinion, what makes your product or service special? What makes you different from your competitors? In other words, what's your USP (Unique Selling Point)?What services or products do you consider...

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2013 Best of award scam

CitrusKiwi Web Solutions LLC has won the "Best of Citrus Heights for Web development 2013"! Wow!  What an exciting email to receive! Of course, it lost its luster somewhat as I'd had 2 identical emails over the last 3-4 weeks for Web marketing and for Search Engine Optimization. So what's this "best of <city name> for <your industry>" scam all about?  Money!  Isn't it always?  And this is how it works... You'll get an email out of the blue stating that you've won. Here's the exact text from the opening line of the one I just received. CitrusKiwi Web Solutions LLC has been selected for the 2013 Best of Citrus Heights Awards for Web Site Design & Development. The email goes on to say that I can get "...details and more information..." by viewing their website and giving a link.  So, curious me follows the link and, yowza!, there's my award....

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"To mobile or not to mobile" your website

When I first began designing websites - a long way back in internet terms - in the late 1990's, things were much simpler.  Little completition, little sophistication, little anything! Nowadays, the landscape is vastly different, and the industry has fragmented into many niche sectors - design, mail, SEO, and more.  It's harder and harder as a small business to be all things to everyone.  That's why we decided to move away from offering anything much in the way of off-page SEO and concentrate on what we did well - design and implementation. Mobile websites - good or bad? When mobile website first began appearing, they were totally separate sites to the main desktop/laptop site.  You'd see different URLS - m.citruskiwi.com or mobile.citrsukiwi.com (don't bother following those links as they won't work!). These were all well and good - they DID display on mobile devices well, but they often lacked much of...

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10 Recession busting tips

1. Don't be Hypnotized by the Bad News. Constantly watching the bad news on the TV, the newspaper or internet is not going to change things. Be informed, but don't excessively indulge in watching the bad news. Focus on things that you can change and be proactive. What's in your sphere of influence? Focus on that. Also make sure that you don't hang out with people who have been hypnotized. They will be like a wet blanket.2. Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude. Be grateful for things that are working in your life. Focus on the things you already have.3. Over Communicate the Good News. Make sure you over-communicate with your team, your clients, suppliers, bankers and suppliers. When there is too much bad news in the market, be the shining beacon that gives fresh perspective that things are still working. It's like an antidote to the bad news. It gives people hope. Share stories on a weekly basis about...

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5 steps to getting testimonials

We all used to do our pre-purchase "research" using the Yellow Pages, but no more.  Well over 1/2 of all pre-purchase research is now done online, with as high as 83% when it relates to books, music, movies, computers & electronics according to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study in March 2012.  In today's buying world, people are looking at specs, at prices and at recommendations.  Recommendations can be from authority sites - Cnet, PC World, etc - or in the form of testimonials.  And that's why testimonials are so very important to your website. I always tell clients, "We need a testimonials page" when I'm talking about their new site.  A sadly overwhelming number fail to see why or have even considered it.  I figure the only reason this is so common is because 20-30 years ago you could trust almost anyone in business.  Everyone knew about the bad ones because they were...

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5 on page SEO disasters

How to fix 4 common on page SEO disasters On page SEO - that's the stuff you do to your actual website, as opposed to off page SEO which is the back linking process, etc - is a pretty simple thing to get right.  Yet, I see it done wrong so often and that hurts you and you business.  Here are 5 ways to boost your on page SEO - and they're all easy. The "Title Tag" This is what appears in the browser tab of the website, or pops up when you mouse over the tab.  This is the most important tag in your on page SEO arsenal.  Getting this one wrong can be painful, yet, as I said, I see it wrong so often.  This tag should be 60-70 characters long - characters after that will be ignored.  I aim for 65 generally.  You should also get your most important...

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The internet in 2016

Back in the 80s I had computer problems and had to buy a new hard drive and some more memory.  The memory stick was a wopping 1Mb and cost $100!  I don't remember the cost of the equally wopping 80Mb HD (can't even get Windows on that now!), but I remember thinking to myself, "How will I ever fill up that much disk space?"  How times, and technology, has changed.  And changed our lives. Remember these?  Yes, that's aging me to say I do, in fact, I had a couple of them.  And that was only a decade before my 80Mb HD. In the day when I carried my bank book to the bank with my 50c to deposit (and that was a bunch of money back then), desktop computers were few and far between, and the closest we got to smartphones or tablets was watching Star Trek... "Beam me up...

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Twitter helps boost your business

I put off using Twitter for years.  I just seemed an odd little thing, but now, with 150 million plus tweets a day, it's hard to ignore as a viable marketing tool.  Everywhere you look you see @<some_name>; TV, billboards, magazines.  But are businesses using it correctly.  Do they have a plan?  Quality control? Metric tracking?   Do you? I've been doing some research on Twiiter methods for business and a client talked to me this week about exactly that.  I sent them a somewhat complete email, but, on reflection, realised that I'd not really given them a big how-to, rather a do this.  So I sat down today and wrote "The Twitter Method", which is a complilation of all that I'd gleaned.  I'm sure, given the ever changing landscape of the net, there's a bunch of stuff not in there, but it's a good starting place for those who've never...

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5 wait reducing tips for your website

Although everyone told me I didn't need to lose any weight,I've recently shed a little over 20lbs and feel so much better for it.  The only downside, is I now need to go through my closet and get rid of a bunch of clothes that are waaaay too big for me!  A good downside I think you'd agree though. Reducing your website's wait When Google is presented with a search query, it looks at the pages in its index and applies a test that includes over 200 parameters to it in a bid to serve the user a relevant result.  One of those is page load speed.  There's a temptation now to overlook this vital aspect of page "health".  After all, most of our users have a fast internet connection right?  Who uses a 56k dial up modem anymore?  Interestingly, I was speaking to someone just a few weeks ago who...

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Backup or die!

This week I got a very timely reminder about the value of backups, and being on top of your internet security.  Despite the best efforts and intentions, if you don't know, don't assume!  When one buys space of a reputable, respectable and established host, it's reasonable, but very dangerous, to assume they would have put into place all the necessary security measures, right?  Wrong! This week - well it came to a head this week; the actual damage had been done around Valentines Day - our server got hacked.  Not as badly as it could have been, but enough to be more headaches than a mild irritation.  Obviously I've seriously tightened up security - things which I foolishly assumed would have automatically been put in place already.  That was my mistake, and I am grateful only 1 client suffered anything (2 days without a site) due to my mistake. The great...

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When did you last update your website?

If the answer is more than a month ago, that's too long. And if you have an e-commerce site, updating doesn't just mean adding a few products or changing their descriptions.  Nor does editing a page a bit count.  Updating means substantial additions or editing. What's the big deal? Updating your site is important for 2 entities - your human visitors and your robot visitors.  Humans like fresh stuff to read or look at and keeps them returning - that's why blogs are great additions.  It may also get them to bookmark you or, even better, refer you to friends and collegues.  Robot visitors - those are the electronic spiders which search engines send out - also like fresh content, but for a different reason.  Fresh content indicates that the site owner cares about their site, and is putting effort into making it better = authoritive. What should I do then?...

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5 tips for great content

5 tips for great content There's a saying in SEO circles that "Content is king!"  That's even more true heading into 2013 as older, traditional SEO methods have become irrelevant or now have less weight in the search engine's eyes. One of the more spectacular demises in the last 12 months has been the backlink schemes, many participants of these finding their sites hit hard by the Panda update earlier last year. There is no substitute for great content.  Yes, a picture might say a thousand words in some circumstances, but not when it comes to SEO.  They can say a few in SEO through the use of "alt text", but it remains a smaller part of the whole on-page SEO strategy.  Great content, however, is the stuff others link to, and bookmark, and refer others to.  So here's 5 tips for making sure you start in the right direction with...

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A lesson from crashing your plane

I've recently gotten back into Radio Control modeling after a 35+ year absence. My home club is AMOS RC and you can see their site (which we designed and maintain) here. It's a really fun hobby, cheaper than golf, but it  teaches some hard lessons - like New Years day this year. Being a novice (I was never terribly proficient in the 70s), it's easy to get confused about your plane's attitude in the air and what appropriate control responses are required.  Such was Wednesday... confused pilot, plane too close to the ground - the inevitable happened!  So it's now waiting for the arrival of some new parts so we can get airborne again! The point of the story is this.  We all go through various circumstances in life and we have the ability to choose to grow from them or to wither because of them.  Don't let anyone try to...

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5 Christmas presents for your website

Here's 5 presents you can give your website this Christmas to  help it work better, work smarter and get more business for you. 1. Write a blog Many clients I speak to have a real phobia about writing a blog, but it's really simple - it just requires commitment. As a business owner, I have no doubt you know a lot about your business, and the industry you're in.  There, already, are a wealth of topics to cover. Throw in a few, what I call, "human interest" stories (see my blog around June/July this year for my daughter's wedding), and you're good to go. 2. Add or renew some content For search engines and humans alike, new content is considered good (providing it's unique and well written).  Both see it as an indication of a site that's considered important in the scheme of a business's marketing strategy. If you're hesitant about...

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Is this the end of search engines?

A recent court case Downunder in Australia, found Google guilty of being party to libelous content which tied a man to organised crime.  Did Google write the content?  No, but they "published" it according to the jury, and the judge gave them the proverbial wet bus ticket" with a $200,000 fine - what's that, a minute's worth of income?  A second's? Understandably, Google is appealing the case (well, they sure can afford to!), but it's not about the money.  It's all about the precedent.  Google claimed that it merely listed the link to the content, and that the view expressed herein do not necessarily, blah, blah, blah!  The jury and judge saw different. A page of their own making Part of the reason was that it wasn't just the "link listing", but Google also had the plaintiff listed in their images with not-very-subtle allusions to his crime connections.  This, the judge...

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Good link/bad link

One topic of questions I hear a lot is about linking - no real surprise as this has been the mainstay of off page SEO in the past.  However, Google, with its billions of dollars and a stable full of engineers, is getting smarter.  The old focus of getting dozens of backlinks all with the same anchor text is well dead, yet many companies still consider this relevant.  But it's not just about backlinks anymore. Is every backlink good? Short answer is no - not every backlink is good.  Links from known link farms and spam schemes are not good and will generally hurt your rankings long term, even if you do see short term gains.  Worst case is they get your sire delisted and then you're in deep doo-doo. I get asked (by those with a little SEO savvy) about the worth of getting no-follow links.  The truth is, many...

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