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Best of 2007: Website Design

Before embarking on a serious search engine marketing (SEM) program, it's critical that your website is designed to take full advantage of the increased traffic. Landing pages are important of course, but not every SEM visitor will convert immediately—some will want to check out your site to learn more about your company, products and/or services first. Intuitive navigation, relevant visitor-focused content, and SEO all need to be built-in to your site from the outset.

With that in mind, here are some of the best articles and blog posts from 2007 on website design considerations and action items.

20 Ways to NAVIGATE to Higher Conversions by Internet Search Engine Database

Writer Stoney deGeyter details how elements such as the location of navigation bars, site search functionality, contact information, image alt text and clickable links are critical to designing a user-friendly website. "Site wide navigation, including top, bottom and side navigation, should be as user-friendly as possible, ensuring that what is "expected" is implemented just as much as much what should be obvious."

Color Schemer Online

This very cool color selection tool lets you easily translate RGB color values to hex and vice versa. It's very useful for finding just the right colors for a new site or website redesign.

12 Website Design Decisions Your Business or Organization Will Need to Make (PDF) by Ralph F. Wilson

Web marketing expert Ralph Wilson provides a 12-step guide to developing an effective website in this 32-page paper. It's designed to be printed out and "serve as a worksheet to clarify your thinking and provide direction at various stages of the project. If you decide to outsource the project, you'll want to share a copy of your marked-up copy of this document with your website designer."

5 Easy Ways to Make Your About Us Page More About Your Customers by Internet Search Engine Database

This brief but insightful articles shows how to make your "About Us" page more about what your site visitors need to know in order to have confidence in doing business with you. "The About Us page can play an important functional role in the process of providing visitors comfort and assurances in your company and your ability to meet their needs. Here you can provide specific information that visitors both expect to find and that will help them feel "safe" with the offerings you provide."

SEO for New Web Site Launch by Search Engine Watch

Mark Jackson of VIZION Interactive shows how to build in onsite SEO practices from the outset of a website design to optimize search position for new domains that are not yet "trusted" by the search engines. "Search engines need to go through a courting process...They need to get to know you and your friends (external links to your site). Over time, they'll come to trust you and like you, or decide you're a flake who deserves no attention whatsoever."

Small business branding; Developing a FAQ page for your website by Smart Marketing

Marketing consultant and author Jay Lipe shows how to use the FAQ page on your site to establish credibility with prospects and help the most qualified visitors to self select. "A FAQ page is actually a sales and marketing tool that can help qualify your website visitors and move them closer to doing business with you."

Four Quick Ways to Improve Your HELP and FAQ Pages by E-Marketing Performance

Echoing Jay Lipe's contention above, stating that "comprehensive Help and FAQ pages gives your visitors confidence that you’re there to provide them the information and help they need to be comfortable purchasing from you," Stoney deGeyter offers helpful guidance on making these pages as helpful and effective as possible.

Online shoppers quick to leave retail sites: study by DMNews

Ellen Keohane reports on research supporting the importance of accurate and well-designed site search functionality. Online visitors have short attention spans, so making it easy for them to find exactly what they are seeking is critical. "73% of respondents said they would leave an e-commerce site within one to two minutes if they could not find what they were looking for."

12 Product Page Conversion Strategies That Shant Be Ignored by Internet Search Engine Database

Pointing out that "Your visitors enter your product learn, research and compare what you have against a competitor. In addition to this, product pages also help buyers find relevant pricing information, delivery costs, warranty and/or return policies and a whole lot more. To be effective, your website must implement product pages that are able to satisfy each of your visitor's needs...but (also) be convincing enough to entice your visitors to move through the purchase process—on your site rather than on a competitor's website," this article provides 12 valuable tips for developing effective product pages.

The Top 10 Dumbest Web Site Decisions by SiteProNews

Writer Kalena Jordan details 10 "ouch!" mistakes that should never be made when planning, developing and promoting a website—but sometime are.

6 Ways to Get Your Visitors To Contact You From Your Contact Us Page by Search Engine Guide

And finally, one more article by the ubiquitous Stoney deGeyter (is there any site this guy doesn't write for?!) offers six techniques to make your Contact Us page ("one of the most important and crucial pages on your site") as effective as possible.

Previous articles in this series:

Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Google AdWords
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 1)
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 2)


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom


All Time Greats

Email Campaign, Newsletter and Banner Ad Click-Through Rates (CTR)

When planning online advertising and email promotion budgets, it's critical to calculate the likely ROI upfront whenever possible, as well as to establish campaign benchmarks. The first step is understanding the average and likely range of CTRs for various programs. The growth in online advertising, the proliferation of enewsletters, the emergence of new forms of information delivery such as RSS and the emergence of social media sites have all affected CTR, so planning based on current data is crucial.

It can be challenging to find current statistics, but based on several studies, these are typical CTR ranges for email newsletter ads, email campaigns (blasts or internally-produced enewsletters), and banner ads.

Email newsletter advertisements
Open rates range from 28-40%, with an average of about 33%—meaning that roughly one-third of the subscriber base is likely to see your ad. The Advertising Is Good For You blog tracks these statistics from DoubleClick.
The average CTR for indust…

SEO Link Spam - What Is It and Who's to Blame?

Over the years, unscrupulous black hat SEO scammers have used a variety of tricks—keyword stuffing, link farms, white text and others—to try to manipulate search results, and the algorithms used by Google, Yahoo and the other search engines have evolved to identify and squelch the effectiveness of such nefarious tactics.

A more vexing issue for the search engines is dealing with link spam, not only because it is difficult to detect and address algorithmically, but because there isn't even a clear definition. As a website owner, the term represents emails like this:

Dear webmaster,

As a part of ongoing campaign to increase the Link Popularity of My website I am looking for some good potential sites like yours. I review your site and find that, in SEO perspective your site is Perfect. Also, this would be a great resource for my visitors too.

I would request you to consider listing my site.

Title:- My Spammy Website
Description:- miracle weight…

Twitter Twaddle, Part 1: What Twitter Is and Why It's Cool

Most Web 2.0 sites fall into one of a few increasingly well-defined categories, such as social bookmarking (Digg,, Searchles), social networking (LinkedIn, Facebook) or file sharing (YouTube, Flickr, podOmatic). Twitter, however, stands alone. (Okay, there's also Pownce, but Twitter is better.)

Self-described as simply a real-time short messaging service and often referred to a microblogging platform, to those new to it, Twitter resembles nothing so much as a giant cocktail party where everyone talks at once and hopes others listen. You can tell who's important by how many "followers" that person has, though that's no guarantee anyone is really paying attention. People (or rather, Tweeple in the Twitter lexicon) can come and go without really being noticed, just like at a real (very, very large) gathering.

Twitter can be difficult to explain to those unfamiliar with it. Jennifer Laycock writes that Twitter is like Post-It notes; lots of them and in mu…

Best of 2008: Social Media Optimization, Part 6

Google and the Parable of the Turkey

In The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about the life of the turkey: for 100 days, the turkey is sheltered, fed and cared for by the farmer. The turkey grows to trust the farmer completely, even perhaps developing a fondness for the farmer (and of course the feed). Then, on the 101st day (with Thanksgiving quickly approaching), the relationship between the turkey and the farmer changes abruptly and permanently. The rationale behind the farmer's apparent benevolence become clear in a final flash before the turkey takes the necessary step preceding de-feathering, vacuum-packing, freezing and shipping off to the market.

Taleb's lesson for us from this: don't be a turkey. More succinctly, don't assume that the future will resemble the past, or, in the words of mutual fund prospectuses, "past performance is no guarantee of future results." Also, remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Of course, that doesn't take into account the perspec…

ON24 Launches Virtual Tradeshow Platform with Real Potential

The concept of virtual tradeshows has been around since at least 2001. The appeal, to both exhibitors and attendees, is obvious. No travel costs. No lost productive time due to travel. No limit on the number of employees you can use to staff your booth or "send to the show." No need to limit the duration of the show to just a few days. No geographical boundaries (assuming you have a way to staff the odd hours). No environmental concerns. No panic because your booth staff flew to Chicago—but your booth ended up in Atlanta.

Yet in practice, uptake has been very slow. This is partly for cultural reasons (can I buy you a virtual drink?) but also because the technology has never quite delivered a user experience that's a viable substitute for physical presence. Now, the folks at ON24 believe they may have changed that. Their new Virtual Show platform combines the company's expertise in webcasting with rich graphics to create a compelling visual environment with useful tool…

Twitter Twaddle, Part 2: Best Practices, Tools and The Future of Twitter

This is the second of a two-part series. Part one covered what Twitter is and why it's cool; this post discusses Twitter etiquette, tools, and speculation about its future.

How to Twitter Properly

Like any other social setting, Twitter has its own etiquette. This can be confusing to new users. (And, as you can see by spending more than a few minutes on Twitter, it's apparently elusive to many long-time users as well.) Margaret Mason has written an outstanding primer on Twitter etiquette, offering advice such as watch your ratio ("If only a few people follow you, but you follow a thousand or more, many people will assume you’re a spammer. That’s because you probably are. Go away, spammer."); never Twitter if you're drunk or high; and most importantly, "remember that everyone can hear you."

The brilliant Mike Volpe of HubSpot takes a different approach to offering his advice in 5 Things On Twitter That Annoy the Crap Out of Me. His practices-to-avoid incl…