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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.

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...
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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,...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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Content is King!

Website content is the collective information that appears your web pages.  This can be images, text, tables or files.  Typically, at the time of the website's design, the web content is fresh and valuable (assuming it is well researched and written!).  But, as things in your business change, your website becomes out of date or incomplete, and your web content can become stale and boring.  Not only do visitors to your site appreciate up-to-date, fresh information and website content, but so do search engines! No static pages In the past, old web sites utilized “static” pages and were somewhat cumbersome for clients to add or edit web content.  Site owners generally needed to rely on their web master or web designer to implement changes to their site and to the website content, which, of course, meant time and money. CMS puts the power in your hands The breakthrough came with...
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Color for websites

Feelings & Emotions Color for website design and for branding definitely matters.  Color is a non-verbal (or non-written) communication.  Colors convey feelings and emotions, often without the viewer being aware of it.  These feelings can be inbuilt (for example, red has been shown to raise blood pressure), cultural (for example in the western world we associate white with weddings) or trendy (many people associate avocado with the 60's & 70's). When thinking about a color for a website, care must be taken to understand who the intended audience is.  Male?  Female?  Old?  Young?  Western? Asian?  Global?  Yes, white is associated with weddings, but that's very much a western idea.  In the Asian continent, white is associated with death and funerals.  An Asian wedding site in white is not going to go down too well! Color for your company's website Obviously the colors in use in your company are going to...
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Blogging for business

Blogging for business We often have new clients asking us about blogging for their business website.  "Do I need to do a blog?"  "Are blogs important for a business website?"  "How often do I need to do it?"  "How much time will it take?"  "What do I write about?"  "Can someone else do it for me?"  "I'll be away for 3 weeks and won't have time to blog - what do I do?" Do I need a blog? The answer is no.  But you don't need to SEO your website either - or have a website at all.  The truth is, blogging on a business website is an integral part of SEO and promotion.  Search engines have complicated algorithms to determine the relevancy of a site to the search phrase entered.  Google's algorithm purportedly looks at over 200 factors.  One of these is fresh content.  Blogging for your business is...
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Call me anything but late for breakfast

This is a joke I use from time to time, and it usually gets a smile or two.  Unfortunately it applies to a number of websites I see every day - I'm not sure what to call them, I just hope their owners are getting breakfast! I said in a post a while back that, in the old days - back when I first began writing websites, pretty much anything would pass for a good website.  We didn't have the technology either to design or be found.  It was the age of the online brochure.  But visitors demand more than just a brochure now.  They need action, movement, help, usefulness. Sadly, many site owners just don't get it.  The good news for them, is their sites are so badly optimized that most searchers aren't going to ever find them!  What a waste of effort and money.  Whilst hosting is cheap...
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Latest design

It's been a quiet start to the year with our attention in other places for much of it.  However, we've been quietly working away at a number of designs, some of which have been totally rewritten with the advent of the latest Joomla version- 1.6 - which has a whole different architecture to the previous version. Our latest creation just went live yesterday and you can check out one of Sacramento's only dedicated real estate attornies in Rita Lingwood by following the Sacramento real estate attorney link.  All of us here at CitrusKiwi wish Rita all the best with the new site!
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