Archive for category Maintenance

Is Your Website Really Secure?

So you have updated your website to use encryption (HTTPS) and you want to know if the website is really secure. There is a neat website that will check it for you, and if there are any problems will give you the list. The website is Why No Padlock – referring to the green padlock icon you should be seeing in the browser address bar.

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Long Tail Keywords

The importance of optimizing your website for long tail keywords cannot be overestimated. Because while the top searched keyword might individually get you the most traffic, it is the sum of all the long tails that gets you the big traffic levels. You can see this to be true just by looking at your website traffic statistics, where you maybe get 50 visitors from your top keyword – but you get a thousand from the sum of all the others.

How do you pursue a strategy to get more long tail keywords to your site? It is easy – you make sure you use keyword ‘themes’ when you optimize your page. Don’t get hung up on just a single keyword, too narrowly defined. Don’t just use the one keyword, you use it plus all the other similar meaning keywords.  You group your keywords into ‘themes’ and then you use lots of them in the content, tags, and links.

I read a nice article on the subject that explains well – it is recommended reading.

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Good Website Content

What makes a website stand apart from other websites? The first answer that comes to my mind is the website design, right? But what is often overlooked is the content of the website: meaning what the website is saying, and how it is saying it.

Now personally I’m not really a “content guy” – I tend to cut and paste content into the website that I’m making or maintaining, so I’m not a real good person to ask to do that sort of thing. But even though I can’t ‘do’, like most everyone you know good content when you see it.

So that is why I recommend you read this article about content marketing. By Smashing Magazine, it breaks the whole idea down into understandable parts, and makes even me think I might be able to right great website content (smile).

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Sitemaps for Your Website

Sitemaps are very important for larger websites. If you own a website that has many webpages, say over 50, then it becomes increasingly important to have a site map. If you create a new webpage, you don’t submit it to the search engines – you just need to add it to your sitemap.

There are basically two types of sitemap:

  1. Site maps to help your website visitors, and
  2. Site maps to help the search engines

Sitemaps for your website visitors are meant to help website visitors find stuff on your site. Usually a link is placed at the bottom of the page saying “sitemap”, and it is a HTML page that you create that basically organizes your site into categories, kinda like a Table of Contents in a book.  The HTML sitemap page shouldn’t have every page in your site listed – it should just have all the important pages, or the ones people tend to look for or that might be hard to find.

Sitemaps for search engines are meant to help a robot spider your website. The spider can just scroll down the list of pages you have made showing it every page you want indexed. The sitemap file for Google is an XML file called “sitemap.xml”, and is placed at the root directory of your site like this: There are lots of sites that will make the file for you, the best I’ve found is XML Sitemaps. This particular service, which is free, also generates a second file called “urllist.txt” which is the file that the Yahoo spider looks for.  You just run the service on your site, download the two files, then upload them to your root directory, it is that simple. (you double check the files first, of course)

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How Much For A Website?

Without doubt the number one question I get from people can be boiled down to two words: how much? There is lots of confusion about the costs involved with having a website, so let me break it down for you. Basically it can all be broken down into three parts: your domain, your host, and your maintenance costs.

Domain Name Costs: $10 / year. I’ve written about domain names earlier.

Hosting Costs: $25 / month. This is the typical charge I have for hosting fees. You can find some hosting out there for $5 dollars per month, and others over $100. The average hosting fees to a small business is supposed to be $45 / month. At my company, I sweeten the pot by offering free maintenance with each hosted website that I make.

Maintenance Costs: $0 – 85 / hour. The maintenance includes the initial design costs, as well as any costs later when you need to revise or update the information on the website. An important question to ask the person building your website is how much it will cost to maintain it later on, that way you are not caught by surprise. My standard rate for doing maintenance work is usually around 30 / hour.

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Disposable Email Addresses

Tired of all the spam?  One method to avoid the spam is to use a disposable email address in those situations where you have to give it out.  Say you want to sign up to access some forum or blog, and they require an email address so that you can “opt in” to their system. All you need is a throw-away email address to recieve their opt-in email – and you avoid the inevitable spam emails that will follow.

There is a website called 10 Minute Mail where you can get a free email account for just this purpose.  Pretty slick idea.

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Basic Website Maintenance

We here at perform regular website maintenance on the websites we manage, and so wanted to explain what that means, because it is important. Website maintenance means different things to different customers, but generally speaking it includes the tasks below (not ordered by importance because they are all important). Yes, there are other things to do, but these are the basic ones – I’ll post more as I think of them.

  1. Check for broken links. Both visitors to your website and the search engines too hate broken links. You link to another website, or to some great news article, etc, and the very next week the other website takes the article down, or moves the file. Doh!  There are tools available that will check your site for broken links – and one of the best I’ve found is Xenu’s Links Slueth. Easy to install, very quick, and produces a nice report at the end so you can fix them later.
  2. Spell check the website. This should be automatic when the content is placed on a webpage, but it is amazing as to how often misspelled words work their way into a website.  And like I tell my customers, it is never my fault – I just cut and pasted the text they sent me (smile). Lots of spell checker tools out there on the web.
  3. Freshening the website content. There is some controversy regarding this point, whether anyone cares that you have a website where nothing ever changes – or whether it is better to have new content inserted routinely. Some swear that it helps you in achieving higher search engine results – but then, I keep noticing that there are many websites out there that have been static for years and they are ranked very high. There is no dispute that blogs tend to get higher rankings from Google, probably because they get regular fresh content. Anyways, to “freshen” the site means updating the website content and / or the meta tags as often as once a week.
  4. Backup the website. Personally I wouldn’t count on your host provider to do this step, even though many of them nowadays will do it automatically for you. Just download and zip the web files right off the server, or the ones on your PC if you have the originals. Don’t forget to backup any database files, as usually those are more important.
  5. Check your site in Google Webmaster Tools. This is free to join and will tell you lots of information about your website, and most important, any problems that Google sees with it. I especially like that it tells you of any ‘files not found’ – those pages you moved or deleted on your website that is causing 404 errors to now occur, because someone else is still linking to the missing page. To fix this, you either replace / redirect the content on your site, or politely ask the other website to update their link.
  6. Do a ‘site quality check’. There are lots of free tools out there that will help you maintain your website. One of my favorites is WebCEO, which is a free download, and that does a quality check on your site producing a nice report at the end. Another is iBP, though you have to subscribe to their service.
  7. Review your website statistics. How come? You should know if your website traffic is going up or down. You should know what web pages of your site are being looked at, and which ones aren’t. You should know what your conversion rate is, whether it is going up or down since last month. Etc.  You can review your web logs and find out some of this info (contact your web host for access), you can place Google Analytics on your site, or you can purchase a professional service like the one I provide.
  8. Update your sitemap files. This will assist Google in getting any new web pages indexed. Google looks for a file named sitemap.xml on every website it visits, while Yahoo looks for a file named urllist.txt.

There is lots more you can do to keep your website running smooth, and these eight tasks here will get you well along the way.

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