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Best of 2008 (So Far) - Website Design, Part 1

Why do some websites fail to achieve objectives? How can you whip an underperforming website into shape? Which elements are the most critical when initiating a website redesign project? How can small businesses cost-effectively add sophisticated capabilities like custom search and social networking features to their sites? What separates effective navigation from poor design?

Learn the answers to these questions and more in some of the best blog posts and articles on website design published so far in 2008.

A Small Business Year-End Web Site Checklist by Search Engine Land

Search marketer Matt McGee provides an outstanding 10-point checklist of items that site owners should check (at least) annually, including domain registration, contact form operation, autoresponders and outbound links.


15 Ways to Get Your Website in Gear by iMedia Connection

Lisa Wehr, CEO and founder of Oneupweb, writes that if your online marketing efforts are coming up short, it may be a good time to take "a systematic look at how your website is performing and (develop) a strategy to address its shortcomings." To this end, she recommends reviewing 15 areas, including navigation, interface design, architecture, PR and SEO.


Site Redesign: 4 Vital SEO Tips for Web Designers by Search Engine Watch

Noting that, "Many times when companies consider a site redesign...their rationale may be that they need better 'marketing fluff'...Rarely do you hear companies say, 'We need to redesign our Web site because it wasn't built for SEO,'" Mark Jackson, President and CEO of Vizion Interactive, outlines the four essential considerations in a redesign. Included in his analysis is an intriguing suggestion for a CMS, and the introduction of the term "Flashterbation" (using Flash for no real reason) to the web lexicon.


Write in the Quiet to Get Your Point Across by E-Marketing Performance

Michelle Montoya provides three writing tips for getting your message across to "scanners," the significant portion of online readers who "want the message as quickly as possible and don’t want to have to read through a bunch of muck to get to it." Key to this is using "quiet times"—those short sentences mixed in among your paragraphs that really get your point across.


Top 10 Reasons A Website Fails To Perform by Internet Search Engine Database

You spend significant time, effort and money on a website redesign, and then get lackluster results. Why? Gary Klingsheim, Vice President of Moonrise Design, nails it in this list of 10 factors to examine, including poor definition of your target audience, underestimation of competitors, and inconsistency in design and content. Obviously, this is a great post to read before undertaking that redesign effort.


How To: Create a Great 404 Page Not Found Error Page by Conversation Marketing

Ian Lurie supplies step-by-step instructions for creating a more engaging and friendly 404 error page for your site than the standard "This page cannot be found." As he points out, if someone mistypes a URL or follows an incorrect link from another site, why drive them away with a boring standard message? For some really creative ideas, check out 404 Pages - Funny, Geeky, Disturbing from Squareoak.


Using Google’s Custom Search Engine for Internal Site Search by Ask Enquiro

Manoj Jasra, who writes a lot of great stuff on web marketing, explains why Google's Custom Search tool is excellent way to add this functionality to your site in this brief but informative post.


Google Wants to Help Web Sites Make New Friends by The New York Times

Saul Hansell, editor of the New York Times Bits blog, explains the features of Google Friend Connect, which lets small website publishers add social networking features to their sites. As Hansell writes, Friend Connect gives website publishers an easy way to let users log in then link their profiles from other social networks (including Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Hi5 and Google’s Orkut), and "add OpenSocial applications, written by Google and other companies."


The 19-Hour Website Analysis, in 20 Minutes or Less by Internet Search Engine Database

Stoney deGeyter, website design expert and owner of Pole Position Marketing, explains that "Investing in SEO and PPC marketing, without having performed a thorough (usability) analysis of your website is largely an exercise in vain." He then provides a 19-step guide, with links to prior articles, to analyzing and improving your site's usability looking at factors like on-site search, about us, contact and FAQ pages.


The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist for Website Navigation by Search Engine Guide

Yet another highly useful checklist from Stoney deGeyter, this one detailing 21 considerations for effective site navigation, including consistency, proper categorical divisions, and the use of absolute links throughout the site.

Previous posts in this series:

Best of 2008 (So Far) - SEO Guidance, Part 1
Best of 2008 (So Far) - SEO Guidance, Part 2
Best of 2008 (So Far) - Search Engine Marketing, Part 1
Best of 2008 (So Far) - Cool Web Tools, Part 1
Best of 2008 (So Far) - Social Media Optimization, Part 1
Best of 2008 (So Far) - Blogging for Business, Part 1
Best of 2008 (So Far) - Web Marketing Research, Part 1

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All Time Greats

Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the fastest-growing categories in all of advertising, because it is both measurable and logical: present your ads when people are searching for what you're selling. A well-crafted search marketing program can provide not only broad brand exposure at a very reasonable cost (with CPMs of $10 or less), but also high-ROI lead generation. As with any other type of advertising, however, a poorly-designed campaign will be a disappointing waste of money. In addition to best practices in search engine marketing , the following articles and blog posts were among the best of 2007 at providing helpful guidance for creating and managing effective search marketing programs. Five Common Paid Search Mistakes That Can Sink Your Campaign by Search Engine Guide Blogger Jennifer Laycock explains how common mistakes such as "ego bidding," writing a single ad for all keywords, and directing all of your traffic to a single landing page can limit the res

Getting More Out of Each Click with "Post-Click Marketing"

With the economy now officially in a recession (as if we didn't know that), marketers are under increasing pressure to do more with less. On the interactive marketing side, few marketers will get budget increases enabling them to drive more clicks. The challenge, then, is to maximize marketing productivity—to get more leads out of the same number of clicks. This is the first of two posts that will look at how to improve conversion rates to get more value from each click. One answer to this challenge is provided by "post-click marketing," a.k.a. lead automation management vendors. While the specifics of each service vary, all of them essentially: automate the process of extracting visitor IP information from your log files; match the IP address to an organization; filter out ISPs; and map the company name to one or more external databases to provide additional information (company size, industry, key contacts etc.). The better services also use geo-location filte

The 8 Layers of a B2B Web Marketing Plan

One way to think about designing a B2B technology web marketing plan is as a series of layers, like an onion. At the core is SEO—simply making your website "findable" through organic search to buyers who are looking for what you offer. Working out from the center are concentric layers of additional investment and sophistication. Small companies and start-ups with modest budgets will focus most of their efforts on the inner layers or rings, which are primarily designed for lead generation. As the company and its marketing budget grow, efforts can be expanded to the outer layers, which are aimed more at branding but support lead generation efforts. Ideally, a company eventually reaches the outer layer where pure branding activities (such as print advertising) help to maximize the effectiveness of lead generation programs (such as SEM) near the center of the circle. This diagram shows how different types of web marketing programs can be prioritized in order to maximize the retur

Don't They Know Who You Are? Why Reputation Management is Critical

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Best of 2008: Social Media Optimization, Part 2

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Best of 2007: Web 2.0 Sites

A number of new social networking, social search, social bookmarking, and other Web 2.0-related websites and tools either got their start or got traction in 2007. Here are some of the most notable new sites and tools that made it onto the radar last year. Go2Web20.net Billed as "the complete Web 2.0 directory," this site has cataloged more than 2,000 Web 2.0 applications and services, searchable by an extensive list of tags and sortable by date and name. Snitter Snitter is a small desktop application that makes it easy to keep up with those you are following on Twitter, a social networking site that lets you keep "followers" up to date on what you're up to, and stay in the loop on what they're doing. KickApps A hosted web-based platform that enables webmasters and site owners to create, deploy and manage a branded social media community on any website. Socialtext An enterprise wiki tool that enables workgroups or organizations to create secure, group-editabl

MarketingSherpa Releases 2008 Search Marketing Benchmark Guide

MarketingSherpa recently published its Search Marketing Benchmark Guide for 2008 , providing data on cost per click (CPC), conversion rates, SEO and other key online marketing metrics. The study is designed to help online marketers set PPC and SEO budgets, forecast results, test online marketing programs, and even (toughest of all)—explain search marketing plans to your client or CEO. Among the key findings: Search marketing continues to grow at an incredible pace, with spending up 39% globally in 2007. A third of respondents anticipate double-digit spending increases on both SEO and Google PPC programs in 2008. Marketers rate SEO second and search engine marketing (PPC) ads third in terms of ROI, behind only house-list email marketing. Online banner ads and print advertising receive the lowest grades for ROI. The return on PR spending is viewed as the most difficult to measure. Thinking of bringing SEM and SEO in-house? Nearly a third of corporate respondents said that finding ta

How To Use the Tools of Social Media Optimization

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