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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.

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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3 shocking website design snafus

It's been a busy last couple of weeks. We have started work on a number of new sites and things are ticking along well. While there have been some interesting developments on the internet scene, I just felt like kicking back a bit this morning and letting some other sites show you just how NOT to do website design. If you Google "worst websites" you can spend hours being horrified at some of the stuff that appears on the internet. Now I don't normally bag other designer's work, as design is so subjective. But there are basic design rules which need following to end up with a nice website. The following fail to follow these rules (some manage to break nearly all!) Pacific NorthWest X-Ray Take our first example, www.pnwx.com. Their copyright in the "footer" says 1997 - 2012. While they may have updated and added products since 1997, I don't...
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Social media bookmarking is critical

No different to any previous year, Google has continued rolling out algorithm change after algorithm change. Some have a small footprint (the sites they affect) while others are quite widespread. Some of these updates have focused on catching those who are trying to artificially manipulate search results. In that way they've been very successful, and have weeded out many linking systems. Other updates have revised the way Google rates sites for relevance. Social media bookmarking This is one of this year's hot Google topics. With the Millennial generation becoming a major buying power, and one connected almost like Siamese twins to their portable devices, it only makes sense that Google would start weighting social indicators more. It's not just the big ones like Facebook, Twitter and Google +1, but they have taken a holistic look at all platforms like Delicious, Digg, Stumble upon, etc. It's now becoming crucial that websites get...
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Is Google ripping you off?

Remember a more genteel time on the web, when you searched with Webcrawler & Altavista, and Netscape was the browser of choice for those who wanted a free alternative to IE (or you paid for Opera)?  Alas, those balmy "summer" days of the Internet are well past.  This is definitely the "winter" of Google. I found some disturbing stats on search engine share.  The figures are compiled, and update twice a month, by Compete, Nielsen-Net, Alexa, seoMoz, StatsCounter - GlobalStats, and Karma Snack's Snackfolio traffic analytics.  We all knew Google was taking over, but did you realize by how much?  Click the image to see and, in that famous line from "The Fly", be afraid, be very afraid.... Anti-competitive Google? Is Google being anti-competitive?  Who cares if they are?  YOU SHOULD!  For the same reason so many people complain about Microsoft, the same charge should be levelled at Google.  Their constant expansion...
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Get your free website

There's no such thing as a free lunch - someone always pays, ya know?  I've seen this ad on TV a few times and, finally, I got intrigued enough to look (as I figure many people have).  And it's true!  They give you a free website design and hosting and some SEO, though it's unclear how much they do in your first month.   Oh yeah, did you pick up on "the first month"? Free website...not so free... Yes, it's true that they do build and upload your new or redesigned website for free.  Then, after "your first month" if you don't like it or them, you can "cancel and pay $0".  Wow!!!  Soooooo, what if I don't cancel, what happens?  The ad goes on, "You just pay one low monthly fee..blah, blah, blah".  Deceptive advertising Well, it's no surprise that they want to get paid sometime - after all, we're all...
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Buying domain names

I get asked a lot about domain names and their importance in SEO. So, to answer this I say, "Yes, it's nice to get your keyword or phrase in your domain name, but not critical." Let's face it, most keyword domain names are long gone - even the .biz, .info, and .net versions. You could do one with a hyphen in it, for example, www.cheap-pet-food.com, but that can be confusing for surfers to remember. However, you could grab that and point it to your main site to, hopefully, capture some results from it. New v old domain names There is definitely some advantages about buying an old domain name as opposed to a brand new one; but also some drawbacks.  The big advantage of an older domain name is that the search engines have, historically, weighted them because of their age and so you get a boost.  Google has hinted, starting...
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5 "must haves" for internet marketing

If two more-or-less equally skilled people start an Internet business, why does one flop miserably, yet the other become a roaring success? Is it a secret weapon - a magic bullet - that others are yet to discover? It sometimes seems like that, but you'd be wrong. Here are 5 characteristics which anyone can use to help improve their online (or offline for that matter) promotion. You'll find these traits in most all successful on line marketers. They are: Organized They have a plan!  Sounds like a no-brainer, but so many businesses approach the task of promotion haphazardly, with no clear idea of where they are going. You must get down ON PAPER (well, OK on you computer at least) a checklist of tasks and activities for each day of the week. Then, in the words of Nike, "Just do it!" It should be a simple system that you work on...
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RIP Internet Explorer - about time!

Did I give away my feelings? My wife's always says I wear my heart on my sleeve! :-) Yeah, well IE is dead... yet... but I'm looking forward to the day when surfers wake up to the fact that they very likely aren't seeing the site that the web designer intended they see. Remember seeing this ridiculous image plastered around the web? It's sad to realize that some designers went out of their way to coddle Microsoft and it's disastrous set of web standards. Becuase of IE we have tags like <strong> whereas everyone else was using <b> to get text into bold. Why? Probably because they (Microsoft) could, they didn't care, and a huge number of end users didn't know. But, for the design world, it just created unnecessary work. So, seeing as I've upgraded to Windows 7, and it doesn't run IE 6, 7, or 8, I was faced...
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