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anchor-text-imageThe use of anchor text is nothing new, but the rules as to what can appear in it have certainly changed over the years. As a result, a number of websites are falling foul of these changes leading to their websites being punished and being sent tumbling down the results pages practically overnight.

That in itself is soul destroying for the owner of the website. On most occasions, there is even an inability to understand what went wrong with them frantically searching for an answer.

Now, we don’t want that to happen to you as the stress it causes is huge. So, how can you avoid it? Well, the answer is so much easier than you perhaps thought as it is all to do with the information that you have included in your anchor text.

What is Anchor Text?

Let’s kick things off by looking at what anchor text is according to the laws of SEO. The simple explanation is that it is the text that is visible in what is actually a hyperlink to another page of the website, or another website entirely.

In other words, you can often see them as the words will be blue to mark them out as being different from the rest of the text, or else nobody would click on them.

But, here’s the thing. There is a need for you to be aware of the things that you can and cannot put on these links before Google starts to complain and punish your website for breaking some of the rules that you are supposed to follow.

Why it is Important for Search Engines.

So, why is this text so important for the search engines? Surely the overall content is more important to them?

Well, this is not about determining what is more important. Instead, it’s about doing things in the way that is going to be most beneficial to you and your website.

With anchor text, the search engines use it to determine what your website is all about. They also use it to determine how people view your website, and as you are in control of the text that is used for these links, it does mean that you have a lot of power in your hands even though you may not have previously been aware of it.

What happens is that other websites that may want to link to you will view these links, so you have to make sure that they are relevant, useful, and descriptive. These links can determine the relevance factor of a page, and if your content is then regarded in this way, then that can only be a good thing for your ranking.

Things to Avoid.

We have given a brief description of why this anchor text is so important, but there is still a need for us to guide you away from making various mistakes that could hamper the way in which your website is viewed.

The first thing to avoid is making the anchor text too keyword heavy. This is hated by Google, and they will treat it in such a way that you know this is something to be avoided at all costs.

The text should also be succinct. Long and rambling anchor text is also frowned upon, so keep things as short as possible and you will be viewed in a far more favorable light as a result.

Linking to the wrong page is another thing to avoid. You cannot mislead people by having anchor text that says one thing, which they then expect to find, and yet you then send them elsewhere. This is similar to a form of entrapment, and you will also have your website punished because of this, so don’t do it at any point.

You should also avoid having too many of these anchor texts on the one page. This comes across as something similar to spamming, and it changes the impression that people have of your website, which is something that you just do not want to happen. Limit yourself to only using them when it is correct to do so and where it actually adds something to the experience of the individual that is visiting your website.

Anchor text is here to stay, but you cannot just use it in any way that you want. Google do have a firm understanding of what it is that they are looking for with this, so you have to make sure that you fall within those parameters, or you will have to deal with your punishment.

Use them wisely to enhance the experience that people have when they visit your website. Never overdo it, or you will turn people away, and who wants that to happen with their site?

Webfoot Site DesignAs the role of mobile websites can no longer be disputed thanks to the importance placed upon them by Google, it is interesting to look briefly at something that is being termed ‘alive design’ as it could very well be something that is going to take over.

The term is actually pretty self-explanatory, which makes life so much easier, as it is all about designing websites that appear to be alive, constant, fresh, and best of all that it is tailored to your own individual needs or wants.

This does sound pretty impressive, as well as difficult to imagine, but it is certainly an approach that is being used by more people. Think of how you interact with the likes of Twitter or Facebook on your phone. That in its own right is a prime example of alive design as everything is constantly changing. You see updates, you can interact, and every single time you look at the website it really is new as something different is right there before you.

Clearly, this is the complete opposite to the static design. With that, you know exactly what to expect from the moment you land there, and even if you go back a week or so later, you still see the same picture and text as you did the last time.

However, that’s not to say that we are saying static design is a bad thing. Indeed, it is certainly the best option for the majority of websites, even those that have caught onto this entire mobile website thing.

It Has Been Around Longer Than You Know.

Here is some news for you. This concept of alive design has been around for longer than you are perhaps aware. Indeed, it is only relatively new that it is being applied to traditional websites because previously it was apps that were the real home of this approach.

The alive design market is huge. Even on the Apple app store, there are estimates that over 2 million apps actually use this approach. You can be sure that the same number, or roughly similar numbers, will also appear on the Google Play store.

Now, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is something that works well for mobile apps, but not for websites, but you would be wrong. Oh, you would be so wrong.

Even websites for businesses that operate in a certain locality or industry can benefit from considering this type of design. The freshness that it brings can inspire people into buying from a company website as they feel that there is a more personal touch to it all. Considering the amount of competition out there, anything that can increase the chances of a completed sale or even contact being initiated is certainly worth exploring.

But what kind of things can you do with your own website that at least adds a sense of this active design to it? Well, there are several points that could work.

Of course, one of the main ways would be to have aspects of your social media appearing on your website. These can be updated automatically and it gives a sense of something changing. This is the primary way of achieving this feel, but then if you sell a number of products, you can have regular updates showing the most popular items, new reviews, or anything else that is happening in that moment.

Mentioning the concept of ‘in that moment’ is more important than you think. Indeed, it is central to the entire ethos of alive design. You are present as something is changing on that website. You are present and aware of business happening, or interactions happening as you sit there looking at the site. It feels as if it is on the move, which is what you are probably doing when you on your phone and checking out the Internet.

So, how do you know if your website is even suitable for this approach?

Well, there are a number of things to take into consideration, but the only way in which you will ever know for sure is to go ahead and seek some professional advice. As we mentioned earlier, there are a number of instances where a static design is indeed the best way to proceed. Not every website actually has to have things changing constantly to get its message across, and not everybody expects that.

Do not allow yourself to be put under pressure to have your website looking a certain way if it is not actually required. Yes, active designs work, but they can also be overused and at that point they are negating all of the advantages that they have. Avoid falling into the trap of believing you need it. You will often find that this is not actually the case.

Constantly Playing the Google Game

If you view the world of SEO as a game, then it is one you constantly need to play thanks to Google. In fact, it has been shown that Google can make over 500 changes to the algorithm that decides the search engine rankings over the course of a single year.

Now, not every change is huge or going to completely disrupt how you rank, but subtle changes do tend to add up to something that is much bigger, and that is where the problem lies. Also, nobody knows the direction that Google will be heading in next, so staying on your toes with your SEO strategies is going to be important.

But here’s something else that makes it even more difficult than before, Google has a habit of keeping its cards close to its chest.

You could say that they are quite correct in taking this approach, but it does make our job so much harder. Often, websites will suddenly vanish from view as a result of changes to the algorithm leading to SEO experts scrambling around trying to work out what on earth is going on. However, there are times where the site will bounce back all on its own accord a short while later leading to even more head scratching than before.

At times, Google becomes your friend and warns you of a massive update coming. They also then give it names such as Panda or Penguin, but that’s only with the large scale changes and, to be honest, those are easier to handle.

So what does a website owner, or SEO expert, do in these instances? How can this entire approach by Google be counteracted?

Clearly, one approach is to follow the rules to the letter. It makes sense that if you stay well within the lines that the chances of you being caught up in small changes and them having a negative impact are slim. However, if you go up to the line to such an extent that you are positively surfing along it, then you run the very real risk of having your fingers burnt.

You see, it’s unusual for Google to drastically change direction to such an extent that the majority of websites would then be affected. That would just be bad news for them and would cause such an uproar that they dare not risk it. That’s why they tend to tip toe around making small changes here and there which, over the course of a year and hundreds of changes, does add up to something substantial.

The idea is that, by taking this approach, Google allows people to make the changes gradually leading to smaller dips in rankings that can then easily be recovered. Now, this isn’t a post praising the virtues of Google, far from it, because hundreds of changes over the course of a year is a bit too much to keep track of, but it is an attempt to stress that things may not be as bad as you initially thought.

Staying Ahead of the Game.

For us, the key is in staying ahead of the game and, admittedly, that is not always as easy as you would like to think. However, having a clear strategy in place for your SEO and the future success of your website does make life easier as does having a Plan B, C, and even D.

Your approach to SEO has to be flexible to accommodate those changes that could occur at any point. If you are too rigid, then any movement is going to throw you into a quandary as you wonder what to do next and desperately attempt to avoid having to scrap your entire approach and start anew.

You must accept that changes will occur. The sooner you do that, then the easier it becomes to deal with them. Know that they will often happen without any prior knowledge, which is why you need to monitor things on a regular basis and drop the idea that your plan today will still be the perfect plan this time next year, it won’t.

Dealing with Google and SEO is indeed a dance. It’s a dance where Google leads and you are trying to avoid standing on their toes so they don’t go into a mood and send you back to the sidelines. The best thing that you can do is to become an expert dancer, or hire the services of someone who knows how to keep pace with them and stay in line with the rules. Anything else just puts your entire website at risk and Google will not think twice about punishing you, which would be a huge shame.

By studying a range of websites, it makes it easier for you to begin to come to terms with things that are categorically wrong with so many. Often, a website can look as if it’s too crowded as if somebody has tried to put far too much information on the one page, and what is the result? A website that can be extremely off-putting.

Now, this isn’t to say that this approach will not always work for everyone, far from it. However, you need to really put some thought into all of this. After all, what do you prefer as an individual when you go to the website of any company? Do you prefer being able to land on there and feel stressed out as you simply have no idea where to look? Of course not, and who would?

That’s why the title of this blog is ‘Simplifying Your Website Could Be the Best Decision Ever’ because that statement does indeed speak the truth. In fact, it is now even more important than ever before thanks to the use of smartphones and tablets. Gone are the days where your only concern was how your website looked on a 17inch monitor and it has been replaced by something far smaller.

In other words, if your website is crowded, then how can you expect those individuals surfing it on their iPhone or whatever to then make sense of it all?

So, what could be your way forward? Well, there are several key points that are worth considering that may very well help you out of this rather difficult situation.

Use a Call to Action.

People no longer want to sit and wade through reams of information just to get to the reason why they are there in the first place. Instead, people are impatient and just want to get to that destination, so it makes sense for you to provide them with this call to action and make it as bold as possible.

This will actually increase the click-thru rate that you get and will actively encourage more people to do the action that you want them to do. It is actually crazy to think that a number of individuals will often bypass this and feel that they need to sell something over and over again. If that’s you, then stop it.

Reduce the Number of Pages.

Even if you have a lot to say, cut down on the number of pages. By simplifying things, you need to streamline as much as possible, so that’s where the likes of bullet points and bringing things together under common categories will work well.

For example, say you have a number of services. Some people would go ahead and have a different page for each service, but that is like web design suicide now. Instead, it would all go under the one banner of ‘Services’ with a brief summary of each thing all on the one page.

Don’t Get Fancy with Navigation.

There has been a recent trend to have all kinds of fanciful navigation methods, but that’s only going to complicate matters. This is especially true when they have included hidden menus because people will just get fed up trying to find something and go elsewhere.

The best approach is the old tried and trusted menu. People know what to expect, and they know how to work it so you really are onto a winner with this.

Be Careful with Typography.

There are a number of websites that seem to be in some kind of competition to use as many different fonts as possible on the one page. However, that’s just sore on the eyes and the website itself actually looks a mess.

You are best to stick to a rule whereby the fewer the number of fonts, the better it is. In general, try to have just two or three and mix it up by using some in bold, italics, or using h2, h3 and so on. There’s just no need to try to be all artistic like this as it just annoys people and makes your website look far more complicated than it actually is.

Remember the Text Size.

The final thing we will mention is the text size. It must be easy to read, and yet some people will have a font size that is far too small so that when it’s transferred to a smartphone it becomes impossible to ready it.

Increase the font size by a few points and cut back on the number of words instead so it no longer seems as cramped. Be succinct with what you are saying and get your point across as quickly as possible as that will only bode well for your potential conversion rates.

These are just a few things that we feel anybody should look at doing with their website, and it’s up to you as to which ones you need to use in order to make those changes. A simple website is a winning website and surely you want to be a winner?

cost-of-bad-design

It is understandable for you to be excited about getting your new website out there for the world to see, but this is certainly a case where patience is indeed a virtue.

To stress this point, we can look at the actual cost of bad design. Now, we aren’t saying that we will be looking at exact figures, but this is more about discussing the negative impact that poor design can have on not only your website but also the way in which you are perceived.

Bad Design from a Technical Point of View.

Getting your designer to just throw something out there without too much thought or care for the end product is just not something that you want to be doing. It’s important to remember that your website is the key form of advertising that you will be doing online, so you should want to take some care over it so it represents what you are doing in the best light possible.

If you put pressure on a designer to just produce something that is barely functional, then you run the risk of encountering a website that has not been adequately tested. This can mean that there is code contained within it that is just not going to work smoothly leading to broken links and even worse if you are not careful.

There can be bugs and additional performance issues that have a negative impact on the way in which the website works. This will hardly be something that will then appeal to the visitors who will be expecting something smooth and functional without having to screw their eyes up wondering what on earth they are trying to look at.

Also, additional pressure to get a design completed will lead to poor choice of colors or fonts. There could potentially be a mix of images at various sizes and resolutions that are difficult to comprehend.

It is a real mess. But it gets worse.

Bad Design from a Business Point of View.

We have only really hinted at the mess it can make from a technical point of view, but you are probably more concerned about the business aspect. Well, as you might expect, it’s bad news.

It has been shown that bad design leads to you effectively bleeding business. Visitors to your website see the poor design and are instantly put off. They view you as just not being too concerned with the fabric of your website, and this is then translated into the fabric of everything else that you do.

It does not inspire confidence in what you offer, and trust can be gone in an instant. This break in trust is especially true when they know that your competition has a plush website that works and delivers everything that they would expect.

Think of it this way. Poor design often means that things are all over the place. Nobody knows where to look or what message you are trying to portray. Think about how you would react if you walked into a real store expecting something that is functional and able to provide you with the product or service you need, only to be encountered with boxes all over the place and broken windows.

What would you think? The chances are you would walk away.

Also, if you do rush out a new website, there is a pretty good chance that you will end up spending more money and more time trying to rectify everything later on. Is it not worth you spending that time correctly from the outset than trying to repair a giant hole in the future? By then, the damage has mainly been done, so it’s not exactly worth taking that chance, is it?

Finally, and this should come as no surprise, your sales will drop accordingly. As we said, nobody is going to feel excited about buying from you if their first impressions are poor thanks to the bad design.

It is known that a healthy percentage of buyers will make their decision from the moment they set eyes on the website. If your shop front looks as if it has been looted, then people will run away and spend their money elsewhere. All of this just comes from your reluctance to give your designer the correct amount of time to do their job correctly.

Overall, what we are really saying is that this is a problem with planning. A problem with arranging your time and setting out to have a website designed well in advance. This allows for the correct research and development to take place before everything is revealed to the world. Things will work smoothly, and your visitors will love what they see leading to a boost in your sales rather than you committing some form of commercial suicide.

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