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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.

Connecting with the past

I spent the last weekend visitng old friends (well, some of them aren't that old!) and family before flying back to the States on Wednesday. It got me to thinking about how important the past really is. I know as kids we all hated visiting the old, crusty relatives, but the past has a great deal to teach us - if we are prepared to bother to learn from it. It's said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action, but expecting a different outcome. Even if it's not true for every situation, it very much holds true for website design and, especially, SEO. Unfortunately, with SEO, the goalposts keep moving which doesn't help either. That's why ongoing SEO work is so important. Yes, we must look back (at past results or failures) to be able to plan ongoing strategies, but the SEO "designer" also needs to remain acutely...
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All over bar the shouting!

Well, it's late on a Thursday night - a little bit late on this entry, but I figure I have a semi-decent excuse... I had a wonderful day seeing my youngest daughter getting married here in Auckland, New Zealand. Despite some threatening weather on Friday, and a less-than-encouraging forecast, the weather behaved well and about 1 minutes drizzle was all the inclemency we got. Whilst the ceremony went off without a hitch and everyone had a great time, building a good marriage is a lot like doing a good job on SEO. You don't say, "I do!" and then do nothing more. Both partners need to work weekly or daily at building love and care into their relationship. Do nothing for a year and, oh boy!, things just don't run well! Yet so many website owners believe SEO is a one time fix - and that's like leaving a marriage at...
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Better late than never?

Better to be late than never? Depends on what you're talking about. If, like one of my clients, you're into CPR, then the answer is definitely not! However, if it's doing last Saturday's blog (yes, I misssed writing it over the weekend), then it is better to get it done than just leave it out. You'd be surprised just who may be following your little missives! Today - Monday 06/18 - I'm off to New Zealand for my youngest daughter's wedding. Yet here I sit, all dressed up and nowhere to go, in Sacramento airport waiting for the plane which should have left 10 minutes ago to arrive from Las Vegas. Still they say 7.00pm we'll be airborne to LAX which will still get me there on time for the connection to NZ. Better late than never can apply to your website too. Whether it's getting one, redesigning an existing one,...
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How to fail in business

Those who fail to plan... ...plan to fail. I've heard that ever since I started school...errr... a number of years ago! And, I suspect, it's even older than that. I couldn't find out the bibliography for it, but it's actually irrelevant. The fact is if you don't have a destination (a plan) any road will get you there. Men have a justifiably bad reputation of refusing to ask for directions when driving (I have been there so many times!), but so many business owners approach growing their businesses in the same haphazard way (ummm, you DO want your business to grow, right?) That's your first goal - decide the ultimate end for your business. The Ray Kroc's, Bill Gates's and Steve Jobs's of the business world didn't wake up one morning and decide to build a one shop, small business. The visionaries were just that - visionaries where the end result...
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What to expect from your SEO

To begin with, as we have had in our contracts since we began, SEO is not a science, but an art (or words to that effect). There are definitely known factors which influence ranking - the <Title> tag, <H1> tag (and through H6), bolding text, keywords in the first sentence and a bunch of others.  That's on-page SEO and it's somewhat quantifiable.  I say somewhat, because, with Google, the goal posts are continually moving.  Content "above the fold" is a hot change this year. Many sites have rightly recognised this as prime advertising real estate and jammed it full of ads.  Google says, "No, our surfer came to learn about <search phrase>, why should they be assaulted with ads?"  So these sites have received a penalty. Off-page SEO is as fluid as on-page. Link farms and link sites were hit hard this year. The traditional reign of back links has been...
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Good passwords, bad passwords

Or, how to be safe on the Internet Doing what I do, I come across all manner of passwords from clients.  Some are good passwords, and some are bad passwords - some are SERIOUSLY bad passwords.  There are lots of articles around the 'net telling you what you should and shouldn't use.  For me, what you shouldn't use is a complete no-brainer and takes one sentence, not a whole article.  If you can type it into Google and find it on the 'net DON'T use it!  It's that simple.  So, that includes the really dumb ones like your name, your spouse's name or your kid's or pet's name.  1-2-3-4-5, password, admin or any other password shipped with your equipment.  For bad passwords, that's it. What is a much better question is, what is a good password?  Another simple answer, one YOU didn't come up with!  It's hard for a human to...
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Is FB advertising dead

Was it ever alive?  I think we can easily answer, "Yes" to the second question.  But why would I ever even consider it is dead?  Recent changes by FB have annoyed many users (and undoubtedly pleased others) myself included.  I like to think I'm pretty tech savvy, but I just don't get FB's new "timeline" layout.  IMHO, they've taken something good and fixed it to broken.  If users are unhappy, you can bet advertisers are hearing the fallout. This week, car giant GM pulled $10 million in ads from Facebook.  Just a few days later FB was valued at $106 billion - now $10 mil seems pretty inconsequntial.  However, if one giant has seen fit to do this, you can bet others are looking hard at FB's ad model.  Interestingly, GM issued a statement on it's corporate FB pages that hey are still on FB, "like" alll their fans back, and...
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Google algo changes change SEO

In the first 4 months of this year, Google has rolled out a number of algorithm changes which has changed the face of SEO.  Not that this is new to any of us in the industry - just another frustration to deal with and adjust to.  But, like other major updates, it has changed the way of SEO - again. What color is your SEO's hat? Various forms of SEO are referred to by different colored hats.  While I've seen up to 5 or 6 colors described, there are, in my mind, really just 2 - white and black.  I guess you can argue that, if you do a bit of both then you're doing grey hat, however, the possible outcome of you bit of black hat work will result in the same penalties, maybe just a little slower. White hat SEO Ethical, by-the-book (the book is written by Google -...
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Under construction 3

Here's the final part of clueless mistakes that I see around the web, and are, generally, committed by "professional" designers who should know better. "Last updated <years ago!>" and out of date content.  Google (and you can bet the others are close behind) is now weighting search results in favor of fresh content according to one of the latest updates.  That means website owners need to be even more vigilant in adding new content, and this makes blogging (points a finger at myself!) something we all need to be doing with even greater frequency. "Last updated..." There's nothing wrong with this in itself.  I regularly use it on pages where there is time sensitive material, for example, pricing pages.  Visitors like to know that content displayed on a pricing page is current, and they won't rush to buy the latest blue widget for $9.95 with "FREE shipping", only to find that...
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"Under construction" and other clueless mistakes – Part 2

The last post looked at one of my favorite bugbears, "Under Construction" pages.  This week, we look at senseless navigation. Senseless navigation What do I mean by senseless navigation?  Well, it comes mainly in 2 categories in my opinion. Illogical menu selections Pages too deep Illogical menu selections I have seen some very confusing sites in my surfing.  Under "Illogical menu selections" I lump non-standard approaches to content presentation.  Where do most people expect to find phone numbers, email address, and physical addresses?  Either in the footer or on a page accessed by choosing "Contact" or "Contact us".  Now some may argue that putting it under "About" or "About us" makes perfect sense and I sympathise with them.  To a point.  Yes, contact information IS "about the company" , but that is not where it has been displayed for years.  And why make visitors scroll past all your self-serving back-slapping to...
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Under construction

You’re rushing to catch at flight at the airport.  You’re already late seeing as the cat threw up on your spiffy Armani suit as you prepared to walk out the door.  Late and stressing you glance at your watch; yes, you can make it!  You turn onto the last street before the airport… and grind to a halt.  There, standing in the middle of the road is a road worker with a Stop/Go sign in is hand – the road, YOUR road, is under construction!  Frustrating huh? So are web pages that boldly proclaim “Under construction”.  What were the designers thinking?  There’s an SEO saying, “Content is king”.  More correctly, “GREAT content is king”.  Garbage content is a pauper and “Under construction” is the lowest of paupers. Those who have read my blogs will see I’ve ranted about this topic before.  So why regurgitate it again?  I had the misfortune of...
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Why your website may not be helping you

"So, how much traffic did you get from <insert source here>?"  "Ummm, not sure..."   Well, how much traffic did you get to your site?"  "Ummm, not sure..." "OK, how about sales?  Did your website produce any sales?" (You guessed it!)  "Ummm, not sure..." Sound familiar?  Heard those questions before?  The crux of it is what you did based on those questions.  Did you just soldier on, put your head in the sand like an ostrich, or actually take a long hard look at your whole website and how you track campaigns? Why sites don't perform 1. No one knows they're there!  Yes. I know that sounds simplistic, but, if you're on page 3 or worse you are, to all intents and purposes, invisible. 2. Bad navigation on site.  I see it all the time, even on professionally designed sites.  You can't find anything; important stuff hidden behind 2-3 mouse clicks....
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Is 2012 the year of the turn around?

Obviously, the hopeful among us (and probably a bunch of the pessimists too!!) will answer, "YES!!".  One thing for sure, we'd all like it to be... in fact we'd all have preferred 2011 or 2010 to have been that year. So are there really any economic indicators that are showing the economy is recovering?  There was a rise in IT salaries this year, though not huge, however the whole IT sector is pretty healthy, despite the fact that so many companies are abandoning the USA and sending jobs to India, Asia and Latin America.  Whilst this cheap labor seems a boon to the bottom line, consumers are likely to vote with their feet when an American alternative appears.  This is why we don't outsource. Overall, most hiring managers appear to have a similar mindset to last year.  Approximately 1/4 (23%) of employers plan new hires for 2010, down 1% from 2011. ...
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Why we use Advanced Web Rankings software

Just over a year ago, we got our hands on 2 great pieces of software - Advanced Web Ranking and Advanced Link Manager .  At that time we wrote quite a substantial review on what we found as initial reactions to this software.  We have now been using AWR for just over a year and we are still as happy with the help it gives us as we were when we first reviewed this wonderful piece of SEO software .  AWR automates the incredibly important, but time consuming task of checking the rankings of the website we administer.  If we had to break it down to some bullet point of "Why we love AWR", it would go like this. 1. Time management. AWR frees up valuable time to be able to move onto cash producing tasks such as marketing, client meetings and actual design work.  A huge part of any SEO...
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A life saving tip for computer users

I've just flown back in from New Zealand yesterday, after a successful pleasure and business trip there.  Because the Internet knows no borders, it's very simple for me to work for clients in any country, and that was part of the reason for the trip to NZ - to visit existing, and cultivate new, clients.  To this end, I had my trusty WD passport HD with me, so I could still access important documents.  There ends the good news! The passwords document I had lovingly created many months ago had not been updated, due to my own failure to do so.  So I couldn't access the backends of many of my clients sites, nor get to them via FTP either!  Fortunately I didn't really need to, so there was no real drama, but there could have been. So my "life saving tip for computer users" is to back up, back up,...
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5 reasons Google Apps is a must for business growth

Google first launched its Apps program back in 2007 as an alternative for businesses to the traditional Office suite of tools.  Whilst most businesses will be more than catered for with the free version, there is a Premier version that gives tech support and more email storage for a paltry $50 per year per user.  Plus, in April this year, Google added the ability for businesses to pay just $5 per app per user per month. Who's using Google Apps? According to Google, 3 million plus businesses and 30 million plus private persons are signed up for it.  That's a powerful user base to allow Google to go even further, because you know many of those will be paying customers = more revenue!  Their impact on small and medium-sized businesses has caused Microsoft to release its Office 365 recently in the hope it will offset the inroads GA has been making...
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1 solid reason why meta data is dead for SEO

One of the most common questions I'm asked is, "Is meta data still useful?"  To which my answer is an ambiguous, "No!"  Let me qualify that a bit... For SEO (search engine optimization) purposes, yes, they truly are dead.  At least from Google's point of view.  And, I would say, the other 2 biggies in search - Yahoo and Bing - would be right behind Google (albeit a long way behind!).  Have a look at the video below from the head of Google's Webspam team, Matt Cutts (you can also look at his blog here ).  He is VERY definite about Google not caring less about how many hours you've spent crafting beautiful meta tags. That said, if you picked it up from the video, the description meta tag is still worth using, if only to entice potential visitors to your site.  It's the one we spend the most time on...
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5 critical e-Commerce trends to be aware of

Maybe you, like me, remember the "good old days" of marketing on the Internet.  The late 80's and early 90's were very much the wild, wild west of having an online presence.  Clunky websites with little pizzazz, zero visitor interactivity, and the same information you'd find on the company's brochures.  In short, their website was just a brochure - and usually done with way less class than the original! In a report from earlier this year, Forrester Research Inc from Cambridge, MA, USA, identified 5 critical trends for 2011 and forward in e-Commerce. 1. The growth of multi-channel monster. An increasing number of retailers are now multi-channelling their marketing efforts and seeing more of their sales through their web divisions than previously. This tendency for the web channel to outstrip the physical retail store has been going on for years.  But much of this growth is coming at really critical times,...
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9 tips for writing great content

I am often met with fear and trepidation when I ask clients to give me some content for their website.  "I can't write!" I hear very commonly.  The good news is you don't have to - we can do it for you!  So, what, we're experts on every subject?  Hardly!  But we do know some good questions to ask, and this allows us to write great articles about any subject that you give us the information on.  Here's a brief idea on the sort of things we can ask to jog you into giving us facts we can then weave into content. When did you start your business and why? What's your USP (Unique Selling Point)? What are your <insert number> major products/services? Who are your staff?  Tell us about their background (better still have them write it). What concerns do customers in your industry have?  How does <insert company name>...
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8 online marketing strategies

What are your marketing strategies?  Are they staying up to today’s trends?  Here are some marketing strategies that we use here at CitrusKiwi Web Solutions to help drive traffic to our site and our customers' sites, establish credibility as a company and turn that traffic into sales. Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) People select from the first or second page of search results.  CitrusKiwi provides ongoing SEO services as part of their Web Solution packages as we see this part almost as critical as the actual website itself.  A fantastic, "all-the-bells-and-whistles" website is useless if it appears on even page 4. Keyword Research Discover the words and phrases people are searching for online.  We are addressing this issue even as we are designing the site.  Why wait till after the site's designed and content written?  As the site develops and evolves, we help you continually refine these words and phrases within...
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