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5 Easy Steps to Top Title Tags

The Title Tag is a major factor in search engine optimization. Using it and using it correctly can make a major difference in your search engine results. This article will outline:

  1. What is the Title Tag?
  2. Where is the Title Tag?
  3. What Text Should I use in the Title Tag?
  4. How do I Insert the HTML Code for the Title Tag?
  5. How do I Utilize the Title Tag for Optimum Success?

1. What is the Title Tag?

The title tag displays the name of the website page that both the search engine bots and we human surfers can see. The title tag should be different for each page of your site. It is reportedly the single most important factor that the search engine bots will index. When your website is displayed on the search engine results page (i.e. SERP), you’ll notice that the title tag IS the link text. The success or failure of your click-through rate (i.e. how often a surfer finds and clicks the SERP link) will be very dependent on the text in your title tag.

 TitleTag1

2. Where is the Title Tag?

You can see your title tag displayed at the very top of your browser window, in the normally blue bar.

 top-title-tags

In the case of the title tag for this page, the title tag says “5 Easy Steps to Top Title Tags – Cluster Web Design – Steinbach Web Design – We build businesses for Small Business!”

3. What Text Should I use in the Title Tag?

Keyword and/or phrase research is beyond the scope of this article, but, they are a key component to your title tag. Until you’ve done the research, you’ll have to just make an educated guess. Remember that the search engines index web PAGES; not web SITES so your title tag should be different on each page in order for each page to get uniquely indexed. The title tag on each particular page should contain keywords or phrases that pertain to that individual page on your website. For instance, if your website is a business website about your chartered accountant company, your title tag might be something like this:

Toronto Accountants – CAs in Toronto, Ontario – Partner and Partner, Inc.

Or

Partner and Partner, Inc. – Toronto Accountants – CAs in Toronto, Ontario

I prefer to place the company name at the end leaving the keywords and/or keyword phrases right up front.

NOTE ON KEYWORDS/PHRASES: Use them early; use them often.

Just be sure to keep it readable for humans.

There are two important points to be made with regard to the length of your title tag.

Most importantly, Google will only index the first 10 words. Second, in order for the entire title tag to show in the SERP link title, your title tag should be limited to 65 characters — including spaces. However, if your title tag is longer than that and the SERP cuts it off, it is still read in the indexing of the title tag.

4. How do I Insert the HTML Code for the Title Tag:

How you insert the code or work with your title tags depends greatly on what program or content management system you have chosen to use to create and maintain your website. If you are using or can access your raw HTML code, your title tag will go somewhere between the <head> and </head> tags as follows:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd”>

<html xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml”>

<head>

<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″ />

<title>Keyword | Keyword Phrase | Company Name, Inc. </title>

</head>

<body>

</body>

</html>

If you are using a content management system such as Joomla, then you establish your title tag at the point of creating/modifying a menu item, like this:

TitleTag3

Whatever system you use, do some research on how to manipulate the title tag entry in order to learn how to do it.

5. How do I Utilize the Title Tag for Optimum Success?

Be consistent. That is, once you’ve established a good method (i.e. keyword | keyword phrase | company name or company name | keyword | keyword phrase), stick to it for each and every page of your site. That is, use a consistent format—not the same textual information. Remember that each page is different on your website, right? Label them accordingly.

Your title tag text for any given page will also closely resemble your heading tag for that page. (We’ll cover this in another article).

The title tag is not carved in stone. If you find that when you test your keywords/phrases by searching them in any search engine and you are not happy with your results, you can modify your title tags for (hopefully) better results. However, you don’t want to be doing this too quickly. Give the current title tags about a month or between changes. Based solely on personal experience, I find that Google will re-index any given page on a site about every 15 to 20 days; however, each site is rated differently by Google and may be re-indexed on a very different schedule than what I have experienced.

The Art of Networking in Person

Today, we welcome guest blogger Della Bercovitch of Della-gate. Please see her profile with a link to her website at the end of this post.

As the social media phenomenon continues to grow online, many are spending more time on the computer. Some are trying to figure out what it all means and how they can benefit from online networking. We must keep in mind not to get lost in this digital world. It is still important to network in person.

It is always a good idea to attend your local networking events. They are a good place to start building relationships. Remember networking is not about you and making a sales pitch about your business. It is about listening. First rule of thumb is to focus and listen to the other person and determine how you can help the person.

Developing your listening skills and asking questions will impress the people you meet at networking events. Listening to someone else shows respect. When you ask thoughtful questions, it shows sincerity and builds trust. It shows an interest in someone’s opinions and thoughts.

A few tips on listening and asking questions:

  • To be a good listener you must give your full attention to the person who is speaking and maintain eye contact.
  • In order to show agreement with the person speaking to you, nod your head. Do not interrupt the speaker in order to make your point or share your personal experiences.
  • When you respond to the person speaking, mention at least one key point the person made in the form of a question. In other words, if someone is telling you about a new direction their business is taking, ask when they will be publicizing it.
  • When you ask good questions it shows that you are interested enough to ask a question and it keeps the conversation going. It also builds trust when you open the lines of communication. Maya Angelou says: “People never forget how you made them feel.” It is important to make people feel good.

It is important to remember that the benefit of networking is to build relationships and be committed to help other business professionals. You should be consistent and attend the same group’s event regularly. Get to know the members, and in exchange they will get to know you and trust you. One major benefit of building relationships with a group of people is new leads for your business. If they know you and trust you, your name will be the first one they mention if someone asks them for a recommendation in your field.

I would like to invite you stop by my blog. I would love to have the opportunity to connect with you. Please be sure to introduce yourself.

Della Bercovitch - Della-gate

Della Bercovitch - Della-gate

Della is a Virtual Assistant who specializes in Book Marketing Online, Online Events as well as administrative services for small businesses. Please visit her at www.bookmarketingservices.org.

Facebook Timeline for Pages – Your Key “Must Read” List!

Your Key Must Read List!

Facebook Weekly Round-upFacebook Timeline for Pages will automatically be enabled on March 30th. Have you already made the leap? Or are you waiting because you simply don’t know what to do? Here is a weekly round-up of links to articles or blogs which may help you:

  1. Mari Smith - Facebook Timeline for Business Pages – 21 Key Points To Know
  2. Musings of a Housewife - Facebook’s New Timeline Pages
  3. Simply Zesty – Facebook Timeline Pages Off To Strong Start As 8 Million Brands Make Switch
  4. IanSchafer.com - What Facebook’s Timeline for Pages Means for Brands and Marketers
  5. Social Media Today - Use the Facebook Timeline to Tell Your Brand’s Story
  6. Template Monster Blog - Facebook Debuts Timeline Brand Pages – We Showcase Most Creative Ones
  7. All Facebook - An E-Book Guide To Facebook’s Timeline For Pages
  8. The New York Times – Small Business - Drilling Down: Facebook Timeline Changes the Game
  9. Venture Beat - 8M Facebook Pages switch to Timeline in first week
  10. Galley Cat - Facebook Timeline for Pages Tips
  11. All Facebook - 7 Tools For Updating Facebook Timeline Pages, Profiles

At the time of writing this (March 17, 2012) there are only 12 days left before your Facebook Page automatically converts to Timeline.

Remember – if you need help, check out our Facebook Timeline Services.

 

How to Use your Facebook Timeline Cover to Promote your Brand

Facebook Timeline Template

Facebook Timeline Template

There are a lot of differing opinions about Facebook’s recent upgrades to the personal page. Especially with regard to Facebook’s Timeline feature. Personally, I really like this new feature! I can scroll through my timeline, remove things I don’t wish to share, or add things to my timeline that I do wish to share. And I can always choose with whom I wish to share each piece of it with. Additionally, I can really express my creativity (or lack thereof :)) through the large photo/graphic Facebook calls “Cover” I can place at the top of the page behind my profile photo. And as an amateur photographer, what better place for me to showcase some of my personal photos!

While I understood that we’d all be forced to use this as of December 21, 2011, I can see that many of my friends are still using the old page layout. If you aren’t yet using the Timeline feature, I believe that you can still try it out for 7 days without going “live” with it. If you don’t like it, I believe you can go back to the old way. But I highly recommend it! You can add it by visiting this page.

Using Facebook’s Timeline Cover to Promote your Brand:

You can take a read through Facebook’s Terms to see what they’ll allow and disallow. Initially, I used the cover graphic to include simply my business logo and my website address on top of the photograph I’d chosen. But, then I thought – why not add my Twitter address? I’m actively building my follower list so why not put that out there too? (@ClusterWebDesgn – shameless Twitter plus) That automatically made me think of the Big 4 – Twitter, Facebook Fan Page, LinkedIn and Google+. I may as well put them all out there. And that’s what I’ve done. Take a look at my cover photo here - www.facebook.com/heather.murray27. Also, take a look at Mari Smith’s page - www.facebook.com/maris.

You see, as a business owner on Facebook, you can’t simply have just a Facebook Fan or Business page without that page linking to a personal account. Many business owners would prefer to simply have the business page. As most of us do, I have a lot of family located throughout North America, so many of my family members are Facebook friends. But, I also have clients – past, present, and future – as friends on my personal page, who I want to redirect to my Fan Page and “Like” it. So, whatever I can do to direct people to my Fan Page, I’d like to do. This includes using my Cover graphic on my personal Facebook page to give them the required information.

Cover Graphic Information:

As of today, this graphic should be 850 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. Whether your original image is set to 300dpi or 72dpi, it doesn’t matter as, when you upload it to Facebook, Facebook unfortunately automatically reduces the quality of the photo. So, you end up with a bit of a pixelated (or boxy) picture. I’ve created a template in Photoshop to help you design your Cover, especially if you’d like to do something special in the area around your profile photo. You can download that here.

As of the introduction to Facebook’s Timeline feature, there are a lot of companies now providing stock Timeline Cover photos/graphics that you can easily use. Simple do a search for them if that’s what you’d prefer to use. Myself, however, I like to control my own Cover photo/graphic so that I CAN add my own information.

How are you using the Timeline Cover graphic for your branding? Share your link with us here!

 

How to Resize your Photos for your Website

As a web designer and an amateur photographer, I am approached often for advice on photographs. There are many who do not understand  how to prepare their photograph(s) for upload to a website – the physical size of the photo file (DPI) and the measurements of the photo (pixels). This is what I’m going to cover today.

Photographs are an important part of any website. A photograph can lend information to the story on the particular page while adding a visually appealing focal point. It’s important that they not take up more space than necessary on your web host and that it look nice on the given page.

DPI (Dots per Inch)

This photo was edited in www.thirdlight.com converted from 300dpi to 72dpi and reduced to 350 pixels wide.

Most digital cameras have the ability to set the quality of the photos you take. I always encourage friends, family, and clients to set their cameras to take photos at the maximum setting, or DPI. The highest might be anywhere from 200dpi to 600dpi or higher – each camera is different. I know that the lower you set this, the more photos you can fit on your camera’s memory card and some may like this feature. But, in the case of digital photography, more isn’t better. I strongly encourage you set your camera to shoot at the highest quality possible ALWAYS. If you find you are filling up your memory card too quickly, which it certainly will – buy a larger memory card. I encourage this because, you just never know when you might get that absolutely PERFECT shot that you will want to print as large as you can to frame and hang on your wall with pride. The lower the quality of the photo (i.e. the lower the DPI) you’ve taken, the fewer print options you’ll have. That is, the photo will look best printed on 4×6 photo paper but will look “pixelated” (i.e. boxy and jagged) printed at 8×10. The better quality the DPI is set to, the more choices you’ll have to print.

Think about the term – DPI. Dots per inch. If you take a moment to imagine a 1 inch square, in your mind fill it with 72 dots per inch. Now fill that same square (again, in your mind) with 300 dots per inch. Which one do you think will look better? (I’m hoping you answered the 300 dots per inch image!) Again, more is better.

On the web, however, the quality doesn’t need to be high. In fact, 72dpi is the industry norm. And any photo converted to 72 dpi from say a 300 dpi digital photo, will look just fine on any computer monitor.

So, how do you go about converting your 300dpi digital photo to a 72dpi internet-ready photo? It’s easy. Now, obviously if you have Photoshop or some other graphics program installed on your computer, you may use that to convert your photo. But if you don’t, there are many online photo resizer programs. For the purposes of this blog column, I did a quick Google search for “image dpi converter online” and I simply chose the first option that presented itself in my search engine results page (or SERP) – http://www.thirdlight.com. My first step is to upload a photograph I’d like to convert. It was originally a 300dpi photograph measuring 2304 pixels wide by 1728 pixels high. With this online tool, I can add a caption, keywords or copyright information and I can resize, crop or convert my photo, however, you may not use both options at the same time during 1 session. If you are using this tool, you’ll have to click on “Show Advanced Options” in order to set the DPI. Once you click that, you’ll be able to select 72 DPI from the drop down menu.

Pixels / Dimensions

Along with changing the DPI of an image, you’ll want to reduce the actual width and height of your image so that it fits in the allotted space on your web page. This is where it may get a bit tricky.

Websites are typically designed at 1000 pixels wide these days. This 1000 pixels usually includes a menu bar on the left, the right or a menu bar on both sides with the remaining space allotted to the main body. Each website template will differ. As an example, let’s say that you have a 3-column web design with 2 menu columns each measuring 250 pixels leaving 500 pixels for the main body. If you are intending that your image should go in one of the 250 pixel menu bars, as in this example, you’ll want your image to be no larger than 250 pixels wide. If you intend your photo to go into the main body, however, your image should be no larger than 500 pixels if it’s to fill the main body left to right with main body text falling above and/or below. If you want your image to be “nested” within the text either aligned to the left or right, you’ll want your image to be smaller than 500 pixels to allow text to actually fall to the left or right of your photo, as the photo does within this article. You may need to play with this for a bit to get the exact look that you are after. But, after doing this a couple of times, it’ll get easier.

Do you use a different online tool in order to resize your photos or images? If you do, please share them in the comments below.

9 Web Predictions for 2012

2012

2012

I think that when one year rolls over to another, most of us can’t help but take a moment and wonder. What can I expect in the new year for me, my family, my business, my website?

Change is inevitable — let’s face it. And while not everyone welcomes change, in order to compete head-to-head in our businesses, we must. The Internet is a constantly changing landscape so this is one place where you have to be especially open to change. In 2012, according to website specialists, here are some changes you can expect to see in 2012:

  1. Multimedia social marketing will thrive - be prepared to be able to access more photo and video social media sites
  2. Embrace Mobile Marketing - A huge increase in mobile browsing (is your website ready?)
  3. More use of (esp) handwritten fonts and other different fonts on websites. We’ve all gotten used to seeing the same fonts used on different websites, based on the standard fonts provided with your new computer, whether it’s an Apple or IBM. However, in the past few years, web designers have been given new tools in order to be able to use many different fonts outside of the standard ones.
  4. Social marketing for businesses will grow from “you must be on”  Twitter and Facebook, to “you must be on” Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn
  5. “Content is King” – This has always been true, however, having new fresh content on your website (let’s say, your blog) is becoming increasingly important and providing this new content on a consistent basis
  6. Facebook – apparently Facebook just hit 1 billion users and will continue to grow and be an even more important part of all businesses marketing plans. However, this means that, with so much competition, a fan page must be more and more unique, to engage the fan experience.
  7. Google+ – is anticipated to be equal to or better than the Facebook experience.
  8. More automation – Expect that more applications will be readily available to social media users to make things much easier with automation
  9. Email Marketing – Expect to see a new surge in Email Marketing

Welcome to 2012!

Is your website ready for Mobile?

I can remember the days when, as a web designer, I needed to “only” be concerned about the monitor size. Now, however, I have to consider how a website I design will display on:

  • multiple sized computer monitors
  • tablets of various sizes
  • smart phones
  • gaming consoles
  • etc.

Mobile Template for Cluster Web Design

<sigh> It used to be so simple. But now, I must adapt and adapt I will!

Have you ever visited a website, especially on your smart phone as opposed to your tablet, and found it really difficult to see anything because everything is so tiny? The site you’re visiting likely doesn’t have a mobile template in place. Oh, you can double tap the screen for it to zoom and you can tilt your phone horizontally so that your screen is wider (landscape), but it’s probably still a bit difficult to see it all without moving the screen left to right, and up and down.

The benefit and intent of having a mobile template basically strips down the original template by removing unnecessary graphics and increasing the font size. It simplifies the information that the viewer sees. You want the viewer to only have to scroll in one direction – up and down. Okay, technically that’s 2 directions, but you get the point. But, no left to right scrolling! Additionally, your navigation should be simplified.

There are many ways you can create and enable a mobile template. However, what will work best for you depends a great deal on the programming of your website. Check with your web designer.

For me, 99.9% of the websites I create are done so in either Joomla or WordPress. The benefit of using either of these programs to create your website is that both have available excellent mobile template extensions. The mobile template of my regular Joomla site may be seen in the graphic included within this post. For my WordPress blog template, please visit my website from your tablet or smart phone and check it out - www.clusterwebdesign.com/blog/. But, beware – if your website is built primarily in Flash and/or JavaScript, you most definitely want to have a specific mobile template in place as both are very rarely supported on tablets or smart phones.

In 2011, of the 4 billion cell phones in use in the world, 1.08 billion of those are smart phones capable of surfing the web. More than 50% of all local searches, are done from a mobile device.

For more information, visit http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/2011-mobile-statistics-stats-facts-marketing-infographic/. Or conduct your own research to see how mobile computing may help your business.

 

QR Codes

How many of you have heard about QR codes?

What it is

A QR code is a two dimensional image that looks like the image within this post. I’m sure you’ve seen them before.

QR – for those of you who do not know – stands for Quick Response. If you have a Smart Phone, and if you have a QR Code app that’ll scan QR codes, you can run your QR app and then scan the QR code. If you have a smart phone and an app, go ahead and scan this code.

What it does

When the end user scans a QR code, it’ll do one of several things:

  1. Visit a URL – like your business website, preferably your sales Landing Page.
  2. Dial a specific telephone number.
  3. Send a text message to a specific receiver.
  4. Receive specific contact information.
  5. A promotion.

How to use it

As a business owner reading the above list, I hope that your mind is starting to see where you might utilize this strategy. Here’s a partial list to help you along:

  1. On a business card
  2. On a t-shirt
  3. On a poster
  4. In your store window
  5. On any corporate paperwork – the envelope, an invoice, a letter, a flyer, etc.
  6. On a billboard or other advertisements
For more ideas, just search for “how to use a QR code” and you’ll find so many more ideas. Or check out this article on it - http://www.flyteblog.com/flyte/2011/03/50-count-em-50-creative-uses-of-qr-codes.html.

How to create them

To create you QR codes, search for them in your favourite search engine using a search phrase like “QR code generator”. The site I used to create the QR code in this post was found at http://www.qrstuff.com/.

If you plan to incorporate this into your marketing, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Educate your users on how to use your QR codes – that is, what app do you recommend?
  2. Because users will be using this on their cell phones and if you are using it to direct them to a specific url on your website, make sure you are using a Mobile template so they won’t have any problem viewing the page. (Contact us if you don’t currently have in place a mobile template – we can help you with that.)

Leave us a comment on how you are using QR codes in your business marketing! Have fun QR coding it!

 

Success!

A key to success

A key to success (c) Heather Murray Photography

Every year at about this time, I take a step back from my work and focus my thoughts on my own business, and plan on where I want my next year to take me. I know – business planning should be something all of us business owners should be doing all year round. But – as I’m sure a lot of you can relate to – I’m busy working for my clients! Anyway, so I’ve been tweaking my website and looking at my blog …

ugh

my blog

I always encourage my clients to have a blog … and write consistently in their own blogs. Yet, here I sit … with my blog. I think I wrote 2 or 3 entries in it in all of 2011. Oh wait – it’s still 2011 and this is another blog entry! Yeah! Make that about 3 or 4 entries! Yeah, I know – pathetic!

In all fairness however, Joomla – the content management system that I use on all of my websites, including my own, doesn’t have any great blog extensions. Now to be clear, it’s not the fault of Joomla itself, but the extension creators/master minds. For some reason, there just doesn’t seem to be a great blog extension available especially for Joomla 1.6/1.7, the newest versions of the free, open source software.

So, while I have been sitting here and thinking about my website, thinking about the components that are currently installed on it, and while upgrading it from Joomla 1.5 to 1.7 (thereby losing the one blog extension I really liked but not available for Joomla 1.7), it suddenly occurred to me that WordPress is undoubtedly the BEST in blog software.

Ok, maybe, just maybe, there is an extension that will pull my WordPress blog (which I’d then create) feed into my Joomla site! There are such extensions out there that I’m sure would do a fine job at this, I thought, why not just have a link in my menu to my WordPress blog. Ok, that would work. Off I go to create my WordPress blog.

But wait … in order for me to use my exact same template in WordPress that I use in Joomla, I’d have to pay something like $99 USD per year. Hmmmm. Didn’t really want to lay out that kind of cash.

New idea! Can I install (or have installed) both Joomla AND WordPress on my host? By doing that, I can not only use the same website template between the 2 of them, but I’d save some money while doing it.

And viola! Here I am.

While I troubleshoot many problems on any given day and for any given project, I am continually reminded that there is always (usually) more than one solution to any problem. You just have to be patient and let the solution present itself.

 

The Business Owner’s Largest Concern

From my experience, one of the biggest concerns small businesses might have when considering getting a website or not, is that they sell a product and/or service which is directed (or marketed) to a very local community. What they don’t have an interest in doing is spending time marketing their products and/or services to a global community, as the Internet essentially does. Google understood that and has been offering better results for local searching.

Let’s take a look at a bit of a case study. Let’s say that you are a plumber in Brandon, MB. Let’s say that someone in Brandon has a massive water leak in their basement and needs a plumber now! There is a 70% chance that this person will run to their computer — instead of their phone book — and type in something similar to “plumber, Brandon MB.” Every plumber located in Brandon, MB who took the time to add themselves to Google Maps (i.e. Google Local), 411.ca, YellowPages.ca, CanPages.ca, and CityDirect.info landed on the first page of Google and potentially “got the job” ahead of any plumbers not listed within any (or all) of those directories. And how many people are searching for plumbers in Brandon MB in any given month? Oh, about 31,500!

Local Search Marketing is one of the newest, greatest tools easily accessible to website owners who want to improve their search results. This month, we’re going to look at some of the ways you can make Local Search Marketing really work for your business.

 

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