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Sue Nolff's Weblog

website design & hosting, SEO, email marketing

Your Home Page Content

May1


So have you ever wondered just what the search engines see when they visit your site? Here’s a great way to get an idea of it. I’d like you to open another browser window so you can navigate to your website without losing my site window.

I’ll assume you’ve done that. Now view the “source” code of that page. With each browser you will have to access this a little differently, but you’ll find the option somewhere in the top navigation bar for your browser.

Now, unless you know a little bit about html, you probably won’t understand much of what you see in this window. Here’s the catch — if you don’t find the text on your home page clearly visible somewhere in this long (hopefully!) page of code, then either can the search engines! This code very closely resembles exactly what the search engines see when they visit your site.

If the text of your home page is embedded in images or in a flash presentation, then the search engines have no way to “read” your home page. Your home page is the page that is supposed to give the search engines all the information they need to know about your website; for instance, the name of your company, what your company generally does, all the links to the other pages in your website, the location of your business (for geo-location purposes), etc. If the search engine spiders don’t find that information there, they will simply move on to the next website. That will invariably leave you wondering for weeks, months, even years why your site just doesn’t show up on the first page when you search for it, even though you’re the only widget builder in town.

Can you see where this is going? I can’t tell you how many times I hear clients say something like, “My site must have the WOW factor right when people get there. I want a flash splash page!”

Okay, I’m done gagging. People, people, people! Flash is great! Yes, I’ll say that. But please, can we constrain it to pieces strategically placed on well-optimized home pages? NOT the whole darn page, please. Go out there and find a website that I’m sure really has the WOW factor (that’s ‘why oh why’ in my book) because of its flash intro. Please view the source code of that page. You will find that the source code is only about 15 or so lines long, and not one bit of it contains the all-important text about your company that the search engines need to find.

Now I’ll admit that Google has started pulling text out of flash pieces, but they are the only search engine doing this.

I’m just amazed when I visit a site that has the entire site navigation built in flash. How does that company expect the search engines to navigate to any page other than the home page? It can’t be done.

If I am able to dissuade just one person from insisting on a flash splash page, then I’ve accomplished my mission here. Please just let that be you.

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posted under Design, Home | 108 Comments »

How many blog posts is enough, or too many?

November23

The NCAA this week announced a formal program limiting how often bloggers with media credentials can update their blog while attending championship college events.

The sports governing body set blogging limits for each sport. For example, those at football games can update their blogs three times per quarter and once at halftime. For basketball, bloggers can post five times per half, once at halftime and twice per overtime period.

When did it all come to this? It used to be acceptable to post to your blog once a month, or for the over-zealous, once a week. But 12 times WHILE watching a championship college basketball game?

Nowadays, the standard seems to be at least once per day for avid (non-media) bloggers. Personally I’m still lucky if I can squeeze once a week into my schedule! So am I not typical any more? Have the standards changed? I’d love to hear your blogging habits. How often do you post, and when you do, is it just “Hey, the weather stinks today!”, or do you really have profound posts every time?

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Email linking on your site

September23

The days of the mailto: email link should be long gone, but unfortunately there are still millions of those type of links out there. I don’t necessarily mean unfortunately for you or me; I mean unfortunately for the millions of people who are the poor recipients of email from such links out there.

There are thousands of nasty little spambots out there just searching the web hour after hour, zeroing in on that little snippet of code known as a mailto: email link. Bingo, when they find one, the email address that comes immediately after mailto: in the link will be massively bombarded over time with spam. Did you ever really wonder how that poor widow in Nigeria got your email address?

Every good web design company has an even better web programmer. That web programmer can spend up to 1/3 of his or her time just trying to stay one step ahead of the hackers and spammers. In larger companies, it can be a full time job.

The mailto: spam debacle is generally one of the easier problems to troubleshoot, and I’ve seen many different workarounds.

Some people just type out their email address but don’t make it a link. This is fine, but it forces the person who wants to email you to have to write it down, or copy it over to their email program in order to email you. That’s where human error enters the picture.

Some are even afraid to type out their full email address on a web page so they take that human error factor one step deeper and tell people to email them at myname at mysite.com.

Now, I’ve also seen some ingenious workarounds. I’ve seen code that turns typed email addresses into images of the letters because the spambots can’t read text in images. That one is pretty cool!!! But it’s also pretty complicated for the average site.

My favorite solution is a simple javascript, placed in an external javascript page. I’m so fond of it that I’m about to share it with you. Copy and paste the following into your external javascript page, or just in the head area of your page:

<script type=”text/JavaScript”>
<!- -
  function myEmail(prt1,prt2,id,subject){
    //redirect to mailto
    if (subject == undefined ){
      window.location = ‘mailto:’+ prt1 +’@'+ prt2;
    }else{
      window.location = ‘mailto:’+ prt1 +’@'+ prt2 + ‘?Subject=’ + subject;
    }
    return false;
  }
- ->
</script>

Now instead of the mailto: email link in the body of your document use this:

<a href=”javascript:void(0);” onClick=”myEmail(‘myname’,'mysite.com’,this,’Website Contact’);” title=”Click here to email us”>email us</a>

Now how cool is that?! And if you think about it, how much more simple could it be?



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