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May Newsletter
Issued May 7th, 2006

Welcome back.

I want to remind everyone that the newsletters are also online at
http://www.CCFDesign.com/asp/webdesign/newsletters/. As I get more and more of these, I expect it to be a great repository of knowledge.

I would like to start by recognizing the newest sites to the CCFDesign Community

Bayou Boer Goat Association

Bayou Boer Goat Association
in Louisiana

Pride Boer Goats

Pride Boer Goats in Texas

This month's Agenda:

1.  Text - Search Engine Ready
2.  Advertising
3.  Domain Name Renewal Length
4.  Search Engine Links
5.  Specials

1. Text - Search Engine Ready Sites

Most of the newer sites that I have designed, I have really harped on getting text that is appropriate for search engines (with linked keywords), but some of the older ones didn't get that sort of attention. Periodically, I go back through older sites and apply (or reapply) the techniques that are needed to keep the rankings up.

Among other things, search engines like pages that are updated frequently. If the text on your site has been stagnant for 6 months (or more), you should go back and look at the text you have on your pages and consider updates. In many cases, this might just mean writing two or three more paragraphs about your farm / ranch, or writing about additional herd genetics.

Here are some guidelines:

First, on many occasions, it is probably good to write the text as if it was time independent. So, writing that you just got a new herd sire or we will have kids born in Spring, 2006 are both fine -- as long as you keep the site updated (and request to have the text changed when it is outdated. Visitors can detect sites that have not been updated in awhile. Think about it: if you were a customer and went to one site that had obviously just been updated and went to another that looked untouched since 2003, which would you think first to purchase from?

Now, if you think about what I just said, there is a contradiction - on one hand I said that you should keep time out of it and on another I said that a visitor will pay more attention to a site that has obviously been updated. The best way is to spend a little bit of time each month and reading through the content to see what you can add to it.

My research has shown that people who buy from the internet buy because of the pictures and the text underneath them (the captions). They buy because of the bloodline and the price. And they buy because of location. But they will never find your site if you don't market it. The best "Free" marketing is to get your site displayed prominently on search engine results pages. I put "Free" in quotes because there are ways to boost your results with money, but I don't like to do that early on in a site's life (I would rather get as much as I can for free before paying). It is also in quotes because it takes time and work to get it done right. I spend a lot of time looking at the results and seeing how I can tweak them and you will have to spend a lot of time (at least up front) writing appropriate text.

With the text, we are trying to balance the requirements for your customers and the search engines. Most people really don't read the text on these web pages. The people want the pictures, but the engines want the words. Of course, without the engines, you may never get the visitors (which is why your writing is so important). Remember, the engines cannot look at what is in your pictures and accurately catalog the content of the images, but they can categorize hundreds of keyword combinations on your site.

Our first consideration is always your visitors. What do they want on a website? They want a readable site (in terms of the layout and the content) and they want to see that the site is professional (it shows that you are serious about your business). The text you write will frame the pictures, creating more of a magazine feel than a photo album. From a visitor standpoint, you want enough text and content to keep the people hanging around your site. The longer you can keep them on your site, the more likely they are to remember it and come back again to consider buying from you. The more time they invest in reading your site and looking at the pictures, the more comfortable they will be with buying from you.

But the real power of the text exists with the search engines. What most people don't appreciate is that the text is more for the search engines than for your visitors. You have to explicitly tell the search engines what your site is all about, while putting it in a context that will informing your visitors. With that in mind, we need to isolate the keywords and phrases in your industry and put them throughout the site. We have to maintain a transparent balance between stuffing a web page with keyphrases and just putting visual indicators. In the best cases, the people reading the page are not aware of what you are doing (which means that it is written well enough to naturally add the keywords without making the page unreadable).

So throughout this process, realize that it is OK (in fact preferable) to repeat yourself in the text of your pages (using the keyphrases in multiple combinations).

For instance, in normal speech, if someone asks "what do you do?" one would normally say, "We sell Boer Goats" (which makes sense). In web page text, it is better, though, to say, "we have Boer Goats for Sale" (because people will type in the search phrase "Boer Goats for Sale", and not the phrase "sell Boer Goats"). Longer phrases seem even harder to fit in (but are much more specific, so you want to really be able to get the people that are entering them). Like "Boer Goats for sale in Iowa" is not typically something you would have naturally in a sentence, but with some thought, you could write something like, "We believe our site is the best place to find Boer Goats for Sale in Iowa". "If you are looking for Livestock Guardian Dogs for Sale in Iowa , please contact us."

The hard part (at least conceptually) is that you have to repeat the exact same concept in slightly different sentences throughout the page. But if you go back to the real reason for the text (for the search engines) and you accept that, while you want it to be completely readable, the goal is instead to capture all of those phrases. I think it is easy enough to do with some practice and I will be there to help you out if you need it.

You need to have the following phrases in your text at least once:

Keyword List

Boer Goats for sale in Tennessee
Boer Goats for sale
Boer Goats
Goats for sale
Goats for sale in Tennessee

So, from Tennessee , there are 8 states that border the state and each of them could be mentioned (depending on the location of the farm). Additionally, you might want to use phrases that are specific to the location within the State, like southwest Tennessee , Western Tennessee, southwestern Tennessee , and some of the nearby cities ( Nashville , Huntsville , etc.) You want to prepare your site for search engine requests that might be like "Boer Goats in southern Tennessee" as well as "Boer Goats in Central Tennessee". Even though you might not be not directly in central Tennessee , your services and breeding stock ought to at least be presented as an option to someone who searches for that.  You don't have to worry about stuffing those into the same paragraph, but just something to think about, particularly as you get stuck thinking of something to add. One of my sites says, "Our Farm is located in Southwest Missouri, near Branson and the Lake of the Ozarks. If you are interested in Goats for Sale in Missouri, we are within a half day's drive from the following states: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee."  You can even say that you sold goats to people who live in any of the states or near any of the cities you want to mention.

You don't have to worry about stuffing those into the same paragraph, but just something to think about, particularly as you get stuck thinking of something to add.  One of the things about having a lot of text on the home and about us pages is that you can more transparently fit these phrases in.  I tend to think like this:  Pick a search phrase and write two to three sentences that encompass that search phase.  So, two sentences support the buildup to the search phrase.  The other way is to write want you want, and then go back and try to plug the keywords into your text (either by replacing phrases you wrote in the "natural" language or by adding additional sentences between your first draft of sentences).

I found a 15 page website the other day that was selling goats in Missouri, but the word Missouri was not in the entire site (they had their address with the MO, but never said Missouri ).  Even if they were showing up reasonably well for the phrase Boer Goats For Sale, they were never going to appear in the results for the keyphrase that targets their locality.

You will want to write text for every page.  Typically, I ask my clients to write 400 - 600 words on the home page, about as many on the about us page, and 200 - 400 on all of the other pages (except links and contact).  Even the sales pages need to have text (because, they are actually the ones that we are going to optimize for).  Even if you don't have anything for sale, you need to write the text as if you are active sellers.  Likewise, once you have sold your first "batch", we will probably keep them listed online (marked as sold) to let people know that you have a site that conducts transactions on the web. 

Finally, if you have special search phrases that you think would better target your site, let me know. When I asked this question to Danny Stovall a few months back, he told me that he was concentrating on Color and CODI/PCI genetics and wanted to ensure his website comes up when someone types in Paint or colored boer goats and Codi or Codi/PCI boer goats. So, we worked on a page to capture that information, and his site went from not even registering for the associated keyphrases to being in the top 5 for many of his targeted phrases. I chronicled the project here:
http://www.ccfdesign.com/ASP/...Search-Engine-CODI-Results.asp

I know that is a lot to think about, but the search engines are responding.

The bottom line: Take a look at how fresh the text is on your main page and consider adding some additional keyword rich text to the site.

2. Advertising:

I am still looking at places for you advertise. I have noticed that one good area is in the yahoo groups (bulletin boards). It is free and has people that are in your market. Typically, when I finish a site, we post on about 15 different groups to announce the "grand opening" of the site. Those posts generally send between 250 and 400 visits to a site. Ideally, the site has something to sell (and I know that some sites have gotten direct sales from that advertising).

Tips:

If you are going to become a member of the groups, it is probably best to not use your main address. I recommend setting up a mailing account with your domain name at yahoo.com and using that one (so, I would set up CCFDesign@Yahoo.com ).

One of the reasons that you should use a separate account is that some of the groups send out a lot of mail and you wouldn't want to spam your own inbox (inviting that many messages into your inbox). There are ways to join a group and get no messages from the group. After you join the group, you can go in and manage your settings and change your preference for how often (if ever) you receive messages from the group.

When you receive a post from the group, you can go to the bottom of most of them, and find a link to "Visit your group" and you can go in there. When you get into that, you can make changes using an "Edit Membership" link. In that, you can change your email address and the message delivery means.

Here are the choices:

- Individual emails - Receive individual messages (depending on how many groups you join, you could get hundreds of messages a day)..
- Daily digest - Receive a daily compilation of many emails in one message.
- Special notices - Receive only important email notices from the group moderator.
- No email - I'll read messages on the web site.

Your level of participation in the groups is up to you. It is probably a good idea to post a few times in the group (and make sure your website is clearly listed in your signature), and then when you have an announcement to make (like you have new goats or dogs for sale), your name might already be familiar.

3. Domain Name Renewal Length

Having a domain name registered for more than one year at a time is a factor considered by search engines as they attempt to measure the importance of your site.  The thinking is that if you register your site for multiple years (say 3 or 4), you are serious about maintaining a presence on the web (at least compared to someone who is just going year by year).  Therefore, I recommend extending the length of time you register your domain name to at least 4 years (and possibly up to 10 years).  If you are interested in doing this, let me know and I will give you some additional information and details about how to proceed.

4.  Search Engine Links

From time to time, I will add links to search engines to your home page (and I will normally remove them within a couple of days).  These will be near the bottom of the site, and somewhat innocuous.

Like all other pages, search engines catalog all pages that refer to them.  When you click on a link and arrive at a new page, the new page "knows" where you came from.  The benefit with having links to search engines on your page is that when you click through to their site, they will check their index, and if your pages are not in their index, they will mark your site to be "crawled" and indexed (or re-indexed).  It has been my experience that sites that do this get indexed quicker.

If you see those on your page, it might be helpful to click on them to do your searches. If you would like them permanently left on your page, let me know and I can do that.  In the big picture, it might give you a small boost - although there are so many variables it is really hard to determine the exact usefulness of this tip.

Also, for some of the sites, I have added your search phrases to your links page. This is another way for you to help increase your rankings. I sent out a notice to some of you last month about it (and I will provide a more in depth review in the a future newsletter).

5.  Specials

I currently have a special for $20 off the design. This special is going to run through May 15th . Also, the referral special is still ongoing (where you can earn an entire year of maintenance and hosting for free for recommending people to me).

Finally, I am sending this out via a program that I am evaluating, which is a program that sends mail to multiple recipients - one at a time.  Essentially, it is set up to prevent mail from being classified as bulk mail or junk mail and to keep my IP from being grey-listed. AOL users will get this in plain text, whereas everyone else should get it in html format. Let me know what you think about it. If you would prefer to not receive these emails, let me know.

Below are some Amazon.com feeds. In a future newsletter, I will discuss affiliate programs and how you can advertise from your site to make money.

Magazine Quick Links at Amazon
Books at Amazon
 
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CCFDesign.com

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email: webmaster@CCFDesign.com

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