This means you should talk with your designer when you’re having your site built, to ensure that the author either shows or does not show, depending on your preference.
However, adjusting your theme later for this feature is not usually a difficult job, so you don’t need to despair if you didn’t plan ahead. It’s not a DIY task unless it’s an option in your theme. If not, then you’ll need to get into the code, which means you should call your webmaster or designer for help.
Should you show authors’ names or not? In general, a blog or article that shows the author’s name is considered more trustworthy than one that does not. Google’s patent for its news search function specifically mentions that users are more confident about articles with bylines, and that sites which identify their authors are therefore given higher rankings than those that do not.
There are reasons you might not want to do this. For example, you might be using posts for another purpose than for a blog — for product pages, say – where a byline makes no sense. Company blogs often prefer the impersonality of having no author identified, so it’s just the company talking. You might not like how a byline looks on your page. You might also want anonymity or have no one at your company who feels like having his or her name out there for the public to see.
Have a look at a few alternatives we use for our clients:
You can see that we sometimes use the company’s name, “admin,” the name of a fictional character chosen by the client, or no name at all — in addition to our own names or the name of someone at the company that owns the site.
So how can you control the name that’s shown as the author for your posts? When you sign into your WordPress website to create a post, your username will be shown by default as the author of the post. You can change that, though.
First, you’ll need to make sure that the author button shows on your page when you edit your post. Find the screen options button in the upper right hand corner:
Choose and check “Author,” as shown below:
Now your post will show a drop-down menu listing all the authors. You may have to search for this item, depending how you have set up your post page. Just scroll down till you see it.
Once you’ve chosen the author for the post, update or publish your post, and the author you have chosen will show up.
How do you handle bylines at your company blog? Have we left out a great option? If so, please share it with us in the comments!
If you plan to keep up your own website, though, usability for the people doing that upkeep should also be high on the list.
The screenshot here is from an educational website we’re building right now. The site owners will do their own blogging and they want to put in their own pictures, as well. They want to be able to change out the images in the slider or gallery, which you see here. The large photo fades into other photos — some galleries like this slide, which is where we get the common term “slider.”
We usually make sure that the home page, which often is the powerhouse when it comes to search engine optimization, is not so easily accessible that clients can get in and break it. (I just had an email from a client informing me that he had inadvertently thrown his site in the trash, so I know that happens. Fortunately, we were able to take it back out of the trash.)
We talk with clients and find out the parts of the site that they want to be able to update themselves. The blog is a common choice. This is one of the reasons we switched to all WordPress. WordPress is one of the easiest and friendliest platforms, and since style is separate from content, clients can just type in their blog posts and be confident that the styling we’ve created will take care of keeping their website looking good.
The galleries are another area clients often want to update. Galleries are small pieces of software. Some galleries are easier to work with than others. When we have a client who plans to care for their own galleries, we make sure to use the easier one. Changing it out after the fact often won’t work, so it makes sense to build that ease in when you design the website.
Other areas you might want to access frequently:
- Areas showing products, prices, and special offers
- Staff or team pages
- Store locator
Discuss with your web professionals which areas you need to access often and make sure their idea of “easy” matches yours.
Writing about their events and documenting them in photos will be part of the job of the department that owns the website shown in this post. If you’re running a business rather than an academic program, you probably won’t have people in-house taking care of your content.
It still makes sense to have under-the-hood usability in mind when you build your website. When you have your web pros go in to update your sidebar, will they be faster if the file for the sidebar is labeled “sidebar” or if it’s labeled “s4.56.FINAL”? When your professional blogger goes in to update, will it be quicker if there’s a visual editor or if each post has to be written in HTML — possibly in old HTML, since the person who built the site hasn’t kept up? When your graphics guy wants to update a photo, will pictures saved as “tablou95.xxx900x640″ slow him down?
As you’re thinking about those questions, keep your web pros’ hourly rates in mind.
Clearly, it’s important to make your website easy to work with as well as easy for visitors to use.
Northwest Arkansas financial planners Beale, Lee and Associates are rebranding their company. They’ve had significant growth and quite a bit of visibility with an ongoing radio show, major press mentions, and a forthcoming book by one of the principals. Headquartered as they are in the home of Walmart, they serve a prosperous clientele, and they have big plans for the future. They also have a new name and logo.
It was definitely time to update their website.
Their old website, which you can see below, had a lot of good content, but there wasn’t a clear path for visitors to take through the many homepage offerings.
This is a common problem. We like to imagine our visitors settling down to read the entire home page and making a leisured choice about where to go next, but that isn’t how people generally use the internet. Instead, they take a few seconds to determine whether your website has what they need or not. If they can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll probably leave.
Tom’s new design, shown above, includes plenty of good stuff — see more screenshots below — but in a new, easier to grasp format. The main calls to action are at the top, with a clear, simple site navigation bar.
Visitors who are intrigued but not yet ready to take action are drawn down the page by visual elements that make it clear that there’s more to see further on.
They’re rewarded by video, recent blog posts, tweets, clickable information about the company’s products, event announcements, and more. See the below-the-fold below left.
The overall effect of the home page is of an exciting place worth coming back to visit again, a vibrant company with a high level of expertise and community involvement — but without any feeling of clutter or confusion.
This is basically the goal when you have a lot going on: a sense of richness, not of clutter.
We’re using the blue of the new logo, which references the site owner’s history as a fighter pilot, and adding clouds in the background for the same purpose.
Another big change is in the video. On the old site, the video began playing as soon as the page was opened. By and large, web visitors prefer to choose whether and when to watch videos — especially if they’re sneaking a peek at your website at work.
The video on the new site is smaller, but it’s easy to click through to see more, and video is used throughout the website. We’ve added an interactive map, a snazzy new event registration system, and an easy-to-find client login feature.
The old website had no blog. There was an external blog, but blogging on your website has more SEO and conversion benefits. We’ve included a blog at the website — the main blog page is shown at right — and added pictures to make the posts more visually appealing.
The look is fresh, new, and upscale. It’s a better representation of the company and will grow with them.
Does your website need an update? You might not be rebranding your company, but you might still have outgrown your old website. Call us at 479.966.9761 if you’re not sure, and we’ll help you decide.
One of the persistent problems with social media marketing is the difficulty of measuring its effectiveness. A new tool called Social Crawlytics is trying to help with that.
Social Crawlytics takes a different approach from other social media monitoring tools: it doesn’t look at the reach of your tweets or the number of Likes you’ve amassed, but at how the content at your website is shared.
This gives it one immediate advantage: it doesn’t get bogged down in vanity metrics. Another advantage: you can use the tool on your competitors’ sites as well.
To give it a try, just go to SocialCrawlytics.com and sign up for 5,000 free credits. You’ll then put in the URL of the website you want to crawl, plus optional reporting details if you want automatic crawls in the future. You can see those screens above and below (click to see more detail). Step 3 is “Notification” — provide your email address so you can be alerted when your report is ready.
Social Crawlytics now checks how your website has been shared in social media. You’ll initially see a nearly empty screen like the one below, so don’t be alarmed.
The report shows you which social media platforms are responsible for most of the sharing. Our lab site, Fresh Plans, has some shares at Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Delicious, but 80% of the sharing our readers have done has been on Pinterest. For our website here at Haden Interactive, Pinterest is the least important, behind Twitter, Facebook, G+, and then LinkedIn. Look at charts for a few different websites and you’ll see how pointless those discussions about whether LinkedIn is more important than Twitter are — it differs from one site to another.
On the other hand, if your competitors are making great use of Pinterest and you are not, you might want to look and see what they do that you don’t.
You’ll see total numbers, top authors, and the pages being shared most. In the example below, we can see that our page of monkey lesson plans has been the most shared lately, with 237 pins. We can also watch LinkedIn and Stumble Upon, though they have too little juice to show up in the charts.
You can also see whether images or text are being shared most often — that’s the ring on the left in the screenshot below. Though Pinterest is the top sharing source, it’s text (red) that is most often shared, not images. This is good news for us — we want people to click through and read the text. Our yellow “unknown” slice is probably video.
The blue ring is your “Sunburst Tree.” Click through and you’ll see the shares according to site architecture. For this site, for example, we can see how many people share from pages in our main navigation, how many from pages they found by searching in a category, how many from the general blog page, etc.
This report could tell you how much your individual products are shared, for example.
Note that this doesn’t track only our shares — this shows sharing by readers as well. That differentiates this tool from most social media tracking tools. Check it out and let us know what you think!
We’ve had two clients apologetically say they were being picky in the past week. In one case, it was about describing a plane as “our plane” when they actually charter the plane. The other was about making a phone number a bit larger.
In both cases I wrote back, “Picky is good.”
Picky is really good when you’re making sure that your website, blog, ad, or social media is free of errors. It’s also good when you’re making sure things at your website are just the way you want them. It’s your website, and while we don’t expect you to be an SEO copywriter or a web designer, we want you to have things the way you want them.
You are the expert in your field. If you know that your particular target customer doesn’t respond well to the phrase “in the cloud,” we respect and value that information. If your industry says “turn” instead of “turnaround time,” it’s important to us to get that right in your blog. You know the people your industry considers the major thought leaders — and that list may not be the same as what people outside your industry think.
Picky is also good because we are human. We write thousands of words every week, and we are going to have typos every now and then. We try to catch them all, but we appreciate it if you alert us when we don’t. Granted, we’ve also had clients think they saw errors when there really weren’t any (after all, if you think a word is spelled in one way and it really isn’t, you’re going to see an error when it’s spelled correctly), but we do not mind that. We’ll check and make sure.
Here’s why it’s good for your website when you’re picky:
- Both human visitors and search engines find websites without errors more trustworthy. We’ve seen and heard claims that typos and little errors don’t matter, but we don’t agree — and the research is on our side.
- Your website represents you and your company. It’s important that you feel good about your web presence. That’s why you hired professionals to create it in the first place.
- It’s better for relationships. Seriously. Being picky in private life can be bad for your relationships, as you may know if you have the habit of critiquing your spouse’s cooking. But being picky with your web professionals is much better than saying nothing and being unhappy.
I’ve been talking about myself here, but I think it applies across the board. You have a right to insist on excellence, and your web firm should agree with you.
Traditional site design and development uses HTML tags to identify parts of a website and how those parts should look. You can specify the header, content, and footer along with many other things. These traditional HTML tags don’t provide much context for the meaning of the information inside them.
But did you know that you can use microdata, also known as structured data, to give search engines an even better idea of what you do?
Microdata is a new set of tags that was introduced alongside HTML5. These tags use a collection of schemas, available on schema.org, that are commonly used by all major search providers. By using these new tags along with your traditional HTML, we are able to give search engines more accurate data.
Take, for instance, the movie The Great Gatsby. Regardless of whether you’re imagining the Leonardo DiCaprio or the Robert Redford version, imagine you’ve written an entire site devoted to this movie and want to make sure you don’t get visitors who are looking for information about the book. You can make sure that search engines understand you’re talking about a movie by using itemscope itemtype =”http://schema.org/Movie” inside your div.
You can use tags from this same set to identify recipes, music, events, products, special offers and many other things.
If this sounds too complicated you can also try the new Data Highlighter tool available through Google Webmaster Tools. This makes marking up the content on your site really easy and even has an element of automation if you’re using content types. It’s primarily used for event markup, but is still quite useful.
And remember that site optimization is an ongoing process. If you’re not sure what’s on your site, give us a call and we’ll help you with a site audit!
We heard this rumor and checked it out right away. After all, blogs are not only an important source of information and entertainment on the web, but also an important marketing tool.
In fact, Google is de-indexing “private blog networks.” These are networks of blogs that allow you to post a single piece of content at hundreds or thousands of different blogs. A truly private blog network might be set up by one individual, but many of these are paid networks. They’re generally set up as a subscription or membership service, and they offer various features:
- They’ll use content you write, or write content for you.
- They’ll “spin” content for you — that is, change up some words to make it look a little bit as though you have a number of different posts instead of just one.
- They’ll post your content gradually rather than at all 3,000 blogs at once.
- They’ll keep all their client information secret so it won’t be as obvious that you’re using the service.
- They’ll find blog posts in their network that happen to contain your preferred anchor text and use the existing posts to link to your website.
Back when I wrote blog posts for all sorts of blogs all over the world, I often found my posts — scraped, stolen, or perhaps intentionally spread by the clients, whom I didn’t necessarily know very well — on these networks. Usually they had been spun but sometimes a whole blog post would be strewn all across the internet, supposedly as part of a blog but in fact in a collection of unrelated articles at a generic looking blog. Usually they’d turn up during linkbuilding work, and cause me a moment of confusion.
If you’re curious to see what this looks like, SEOMoz has an interesting article which will also give you steps to take to clean up your act if you have been using this technique.
Now let’s suppose that you haven’t been using private blog networks. In that case, this can be good news for you.
First, it means that you are less likely to have to wade through poor quality junk next time you are searching for information. That’s the main point of this update (and most Google algorithm updates).
Second, it means that your high quality, informative blog posts have less competition.
It has been suggested that this might mean that Google is planning to be stricter on blogs generally, and that this is therefore some kind of danger sign for blogging.
I don’t think that’s the case. Here’s why:
- This is a Penguin update. Penguin updates are about unnatural linking. Building a bunch of poor quality blogs filled with duplicate content is obviously an unnatural activity undertaken just for the sake of links. That’s irrelevant to the high quality blog on your company website.
- Google is already strict with blogs. Higher quality content performs better than poor quality content. If you’ve been cherishing the notion that you could slap any old thing up at your blog and get search engine love for doing so, you were being unrealistic.
If you’ve been following the general principles of good SEO — providing a valuable web experience for your customers — you have nothing to worry about.
The Power of Why: Breaking Out in a Competitive Marketplace, is a new book from C. Richard Weylman. There’s a lot in this book, and I’ll be reviewing it at Amazon if you want to learn about all of it. However, there are two aspects of the book that I want to share with you here.
First, there is a section about online marketing in particular. There’s nothing new here. Weylman points out the value of a good, usable website, social media, and compelling emails. You’re not going to find anything startling there if you read what we write here or talk with us. However, Weylman integrates your web presence into his broader discussion of marketing. It’s readable, completely nontechnical, and inspiring.
Who else is telling you to “Go forth as a digital optimist and be there so that buyers can find your promise and your business every day”?
If you sometimes have trouble seeing how online marketing fits into your overall marketing strategy or feel alienated by the idea that you have no choice but to embrace the web, you might find that this section speaks to you more than most of the books I review here. This section is in Chapter 7, under “Little Things That Make a Big Difference.” Yes, your online marketing is included as a “little thing.”
I’ll give you a minute to get over that idea.
The thing that really struck me, though, is Weylman’s big idea. We’ve seen quite a few examples lately of web marketing that is all about the company. Each time, we search for a way to say, “Hey, your customers really aren’t that into you” in a more diplomatic way. When your customer wants to buy a cage for his pet, he honestly doesn’t care whether you’re the top pet cage maker, whether you’ve won awards, or whether you are passionate about pet cages. He cares whether his pet will be happy in your cage, whether the cage will keep his pet safe, how easy it will be for him to clean the cage, whether he can trust you to send him the cage in the way that he wants — it’s all about him. Not about you.
“Most websites,” says Weylman, “have…lots of text about who they are and how well they do things.”
When people are shopping, though, or researching products and services online, they aren’t thinking about you. They don’t even know you. Later, they might come to love you or at least to be big fans of your company. Right now — as web visitors — they want to know what they’re going to get out of the deal, and that’s completely appropriate.
The Power of Why: Breaking Out in a Competitive Marketplace is about taking a customer-centric approach. Your website, as well as all the rest of your marketing and delivery, should be based on the answer to the question, “Why should your customers do business with you?” Not, “What makes you so great that people should do business with you?” or “What are the benefits of doing business with you?” but why the customer will be better off with you than with your competition. Why will they be better off if they buy your pet cage (or whatever it might be)?
The book goes into detail on how to formulate this question and related questions, how to find the answer, and how to apply your results. It discusses how to get your team on board with the idea, how to incorporate it into your sales, delivery, and service processes, and an intriguing set of case studies. It’s an enjoyable read and has thought-provoking questions following each chapter that might make this a great summer study group book.
Even if you don’t read this book, though, I hope you’ll think about the Power of Why and how you might apply it to your website and social media.
I received an advance copy of this book for review. I was not paid for this review, and I always tell you the truth.
This nice infographic is the result of a new service from Visual.ly: your own personal Google Analytics infographic.
Once you sign in and give permission, Visual.ly will pull data from the past week at Google Analytics and populate the fields in the chart for you.
Here’s what’s included in the report:
- Week over week visits. You’ll see the increase or decrease in traffic over the past three weeks in raw scores, a cute little chart, and percentages.
- New vs. returning visitors. You’ll see the percentage of each, as well as the increase or decrease of both.
- Engagement. You’ll see a couple of data points which have changed over the past week: pages per user and time on site. These are not the only metrics that deal with engagement, but they are good basic information.
- Social traffic. You’ll see the overall increase or decrease in social traffic, plus the change in Facebook and Twitter in particular.
- SEO. You’ll see the increase or decrease in organic search traffic.
- Bounce rate. You’ll see the increase or decrease in your bounce rate.
- Congratulations! You get a cheery little message telling you how great things are.
Actually, we were able to look at plenty of examples, so I can tell you that you might see not just the “great” and “amazing” messages here, but also commiseration that “it wasn’t the best week, but you did do well on…” and “Uh oh! What happened?” followed by a hope that you’ll be able to take the data presented and turn things around (that last was for a site which was down last week).
You can download your report, and you can sign up to have these reports sent to you weekly.
Now, You can also have Google Analytics reports sent to you weekly.
The image at left shows the basic Google Analytics weekly report from our lab site — the same site that got “a great week” message from Visual.ly above. It contains all the data that we see in the Visual.ly report, and then some, and is equally clear, if less cute.
What’s more, you can set up reports of exactly what you want to know. For example, you can check page speed, conversions, and percentage of mobile visits if those metrics are as important to you as traffic and engagement.
On the other hand, the more complex your reports, the harder they may be to grasp at a glance. And of course, the most interesting information always requires you to notice a surprising piece of information and dig more deeply into the data to see where it’s coming from. That’s not possible with a weekly report.
If you find analytics intimidating, though, getting simple reports with cheery messages might be more appealing.
Visit Visual.ly in any case, if you’re interested in visual representations of data — or fun graphic toys to play with.
Adding video to your website used to be time consuming and expensive. Now it’s simple and cost effective. Let’s look at some of the ways you can use video on your website to promote your brand. Our clients are providing the examples.
AdWeek recently reported that online video is more effective than TV advertising. People are more likely to watch ads on their computers than on TV, and they’re more likely to remember the message and even the brand.
You can also upload ads to YouTube for people to watch by choice, and embed them on your website.
The most popular ads on YouTube are expensively produced miniature dramas and comedies with catchy music and great production values, but visitors to your website are likely to be interested enough in what you have to offer to watch your ad.
Consumers trust testimonials and reviews from other consumers more than they do advertising. United-Bilt Homes has a series of interviews with happy homeowners, most of which have more views than the professionally-produced commercials which are also on their website and YouTube channel.
Since a large part of the appeal of customer reviews is that they are authentic, production values can be fairly low, so these can be relatively inexpensive and simple to produce. However — as with any interview — good editing is required to keep them interesting.
The Natural Fruit Corporation was the subject of a documentary on the Food Channel, so they have a professionally-produced video showing their factory and the process they use to make their natural frozen fruit bars. It gives an inside look into their manufacturing — something that appeals to kids and adults.
What’s the interesting part about your business? Your travels? Your factory? The surprising raw materials you work with? Your charity fundraisers? Your Friday Bring Your Dog to Work Day policy?
Whatever your business, there’s something people would like to know about you.
You might think that funny cat videos are the backbone of YouTube, but how-to videos are actually the most popular genre.
8th & Walton is a training company, so their training videos (like this sample of their Retail Math course) provide viewers with a sample of their wares. However, you can get just as much mileage with videos that show how to use your products, how to make recipes or craft projects involving your products or services, or how to do things that your target market happens to enjoy.
Clear instructions matter more than production values for this type of video, unless you’re in a competitive niche. For make up tutorials, for example, there are so many choices that professional quality is required to make a video stand out from the crowd.
At Haden Interactive, one of the main things we sell is our expertise — we know how to do things like SEO and content marketing, which not everyone knows. Sharing some of that knowledge in our videos demonstrates that expertise and also provides helpful information for people interested in the subject.
You have special knowledge about your business. Share it generously, and you’ll be adding value to your website while building trust with your prospective patients, clients, and customers.
Sometimes people who sell their expertise worry that sharing too much of their knowledge will keep people from coming to them as paying clients. We don’t think this is something to worry about. There is so much information available now that your customers probably aren’t paying you for the information per se, but for your ability to apply it to their needs.
If you sell a product, you can assume that the vast majority of the people who buy your product will research it online first, so it’s worth your while to show what it can do.
Here, a car dealership shows how well their product drives in the snow. With a subject like this, production quality doesn’t matter at all. If you make perfume, it matters enormously — it takes artistry to convey anything about a scent on video.
If your product lends itself to video, you need video on your website. If still photos really work better for your product, go with a gallery instead. For example, we build websites. Our products are better served by a gallery with links than they would be by videos.
If you’re a performer, you need videos. Trout Fishing in America has several.
For musicians, the quality of the sound is generally more important than the visuals, but high quality music videos will get more play and be shared more than lower quality videos. People often share music videos with friends and on their social media pages, so making your videos readily shareable and making sure your name and web address are included can really help spread the word.
For theater company Pushcart Players, we included lots of videos in the website and made up for the relatively poor production quality (videos of live performances taken from the audience usually suffer from this) by including plenty of their high quality photos. The combination gives a good idea of the experience of seeing the troupe.
If you’re not a professional performer, you can still benefit from the shareability of performance videos — Coke and Pepsi do. Can you sponsor a local band in exchange for permission to post their music video on your website? Maybe the halftime show at your local high school football game? For a local business, the local connection can be very beneficial.
Has this list given you some ideas about how you could use video on your website? Here are some more blog posts that will help you get from the idea to the reality:
- Video Production
- 10 Quick Tips for Your Company Video
- Video Interviews for Your Website
- Video and SEO
- YouTube Embedding, Your Way
- The Viral Video Manifesto