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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.

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...
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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...
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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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Survive a Panda attack

Panda, Venice, Caffeine and Vince - what do they all have in common? Answer - Google. They're all Google algorithms from 2009 to the present.So, who really cares? What's in a name? Nothing really, as Shakespeare penned, in Romeo and Juliet, "What's in a name? that which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet;" It's not the name that has the impact, it's the code behind it. Earlier this year, some of the Google updates caused terrible ranking damage for some sites. Personally, we've seen rankings decrease on some sites and increase on others. And yet we do the same sorts of SEO on each site we manage. And we're not the only ones confused. Going onto big SEO discussion sites, such as http://www.seomoz.org/ , you'll find forums full of confused SEO practicioners asking what on earth they should do. SEO is a long term investment...
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5 reasons you don't need a backup

I had the misfortune of having Windows grind to a complete halt on me this week necessitating a total reinstall. To lighten the mood, read this amusing piece - thanks to annoyances.org. Now back to the gloomy stuff. After spending hours trying to fix it by applying numerous "fixes" off the net, I gave up and resigned myself to the reinstall which ended up taking a day to complete. Happily, I had the disks to reinstall, and backups of my important data. Oh, but, of course, backups aren't needed right? REASON 1 - Computers are reliable now. Yeah right! The fact that computers run at all, given the permutations of hardware sometimes astounds me. And while they are more reliable than before, they certainly aren't infallible - especially netbooks and laptops which suffer from "heat exhaustion"! Then throw in a whole bunch of software and there's a good recipe for an...
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9 reasons for credit card acceptance

In the days where you'd pick up a phone book to find a business, almost no websites accepted credit cards, in fact, many businesses didn't at their bricks and mortar site. But that's all changed now, with more and more purchases, even of major items, being conducted online. And the only easy way to accomplish those transactions online is with a credit or debit card. Not just the "big boys" "I'm just a little guy..."; "I'm a roofing contractor; it doesn't work for me." Wrong and wrong! The internet has levelled the playing field when it comes to size. No longer do you need to be huge to be successful online. And the good news is that anyone can benefit from accepting online payments. The catch phrase is.. Make it easy to pay! The more ways your customers have to pay, the more likely they will! If people want to pay...
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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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