Why “Click Here” is a Really Bad Idea

Stop Using Click Here!It is used all over the place. Click here to get this coupon. Click here to send us your story. To visit our webpage click here. It’s simple, direct and devoid of any clues. Out of context on the page, it is a meaningless call to action.

As a designer committed to enhancing web usability and clear communication, I believe using “Click here” as a web link is a bad idea. And the WC3, the worldwide authority on web standards and best practices, agrees with me.

Here are 5 ways that “Click here” violates both web standards and best practices.

  1. The link provides no usability clues, because it doesn’t tell you what you’ll be able to do or can expect to find when you get there.
  2. It’s not accessible for the blind for the same reason.  Providing clues to those who use a screen reader to navigate the web is not just polite — for government and public agencies, it is the law. For the rest of us, including accessibility in our web designs is simply good practice for an aging population.
  3. It’s bad for search engine optimization (SEO) because it tells search engines nothing about the purpose of the link. The words are generic when they could be hot, juicy, descriptive keywords. Using keywords in strong, descriptive links will beef up your SEO scoring.
  4. You won’t find any lazier copywriting anywhere. This overused phrase is a cliche that focuses on the mechanics of using the link instead of the benefit the visitor will receive.
  5. A web visitor deserves your respect, and “Click here”  implies they are stupid. This far down the road we do not need to tell people how a web link works. Hello — how do you think they got here?

“Click here” is just another way of saying You idiot. Put your mouse or cursor over this blue underlined text to proceed to somewhere you know nothing about.” It’s like having “turn page” at the bottom right hand corner of a book instead of page numbers.

Please join me in stamping out the  use of  “Click here” for web links whenever you have the opportunity. Better yet, send me prime examples of “Click here” used online. I’m starting a collection.

Watch for These Email Red Flags!

Red Skull and CrossbonesA client just forwarded an email they’d gotten about helping with search optimization and asked me if I thought they should try it.

At first glance it seemed legit. The copy was well written and it brought up some real issues about content and search visibility. But looking more closely I saw many red flags indicating, if not fraud, at least shady business practices.

  1. The originating email name was not same as the person who signed the email.
  2. The originating email was from a gmail (or other generic, free) account, not a email address from the company’s domain name.
  3. Cost of the service was not mentioned, although they specifically stated “No Contract” and “No Setup Fee”. Be assured there IS a cost involved and it is most likely significant.
  4. The company and/or domain name was not listed in the email.
  5. There was no website listed to investigate the firm.

Working with someone like this would be akin to accepting an offer from a stranger on a street corner whispering “Need someone to fix your SEO?” or “I can get you top ranking on Google!”

Don’t be sucked in to the scam. There are many legitimate SEO vendors out there, and you can check to see what they have to offer by reviewing their website. They can definitely make a difference in your search ranking.

Sirius Media is happy to offer suggestions, just ask!

Shaking the Long Tail for Better SEO

booster_dewey

Booster Dewey, from the Power Brake Booster Exchange, Portland, OR

I have a client with an old fashioned .html website. It looks just like it was created in the early years of the web and he isn’t interested in changing it.  He’s so old-school, he sends me updates in a letter and I call him with questions. He has no email address and doesn’t want one.

His website works for him. Customers find his business easily and learn what they need to know from the site. The site is not hip or trendy. It has 2 pages. It is not optimized to work on mobile devices.  The only photos are of car parts and him holding a power brake booster.

So yesterday, I was doing his yearly price updates, and thought just for the fun of it, I’d check his search performance in Google.

And to my surprise, he owns the first page of search results! Every link went back to his website, which hasn’t had any SEO magic applied to it. I was amazed!

I tried several different queries and results were the same. Search for “power brake boosters”, and it’s all him. I know clients who would pay huge amounts to get that kind of coverage.

So how did he get such high search rankings? One is domain name longevity. You can’t buy a long-time web presence, and Google ranks it very strongly in their SEO ranking score. It’s a matter of getting in and staying there.

But the second factor, and most important, is his product is a unique one that fits the definition of the long tail perfectly. The long tail is the holy grail of search optimization and he’s nailed it.

The Long Tail

  1. Fits a very narrow definition.
  2. Appeals to a small highly motivated group of customers.
  3. Is not being used by many competitors
  4. Provides exactly what that group is looking for.

Or to borrow from one of the search experts:

Specific, niche search phrases, usually more than 2 words in length, that offer a low competition, low search volume and high searcher intent.
From SEO 101: Defining the Long Tail

So, let this be a lesson to anyone building a website: Figure out how your product or service is unique and appeals to a small, motivated segment of the market and wag that long tail. Do you sell t-shirts? Highlight your handmade, hemp t-shirts for allergic pregnant women. Promoting a park? Blog about the trails that feature Great Horned Owl habitat in the winter evening hours. Focus on what is unique about your product, service or subject and your search optimization will benefit tremendously.

Thanks to BoosterDeweyExchange.com for the lessons learned and inspiration for this blog post. If you need a power brake booster for an older American car, go see my man Booster Dewey!

Shaking the Long Tail for Better SEO

booster_dewey

Booster Dewey, from the Power Brake Booster Exchange, Portland, OR

I have a client with an old fashioned .html website. It looks just like it was created in the early years of the web and he isn’t interested in changing it.  He’s so old-school, he sends me updates in a letter and I call him with questions. He has no email address and doesn’t want one.

His website works for him. Customers find his business easily and learn what they need to know from the site. The site is not hip or trendy. It has 2 pages. It is not optimized to work on mobile devices.  The only photos are of car parts and him holding a power brake booster.

So yesterday, I was doing his yearly price updates, and thought just for the fun of it, I’d check his search performance in Google.

And to my surprise, he owns the first page of search results! Every link went back to his website, which hasn’t had any SEO magic applied to it. I was amazed!

I tried several different queries and results were the same. Search for “power brake boosters”, and it’s all him. I know clients who would pay huge amounts to get that kind of coverage.

So how did he get such high search rankings? One is domain name longevity. You can’t buy a long-time web presence, and Google ranks it very strongly in their SEO ranking score. It’s a matter of getting in and staying there.

But the second factor, and most important, is his product is a unique one that fits the definition of the long tail perfectly. The long tail is the holy grail of search optimization and he’s nailed it.

The Long Tail

  1. Fits a very narrow definition.
  2. Appeals to a small highly motivated group of customers.
  3. Is not being used by many competitors
  4. Provides exactly what that group is looking for.

Or to borrow from one of the search experts:

Specific, niche search phrases, usually more than 2 words in length, that offer a low competition, low search volume and high searcher intent.
From SEO 101: Defining the Long Tail

So, let this be a lesson to anyone building a website: Figure out how your product or service is unique and appeals to a small, motivated segment of the market and wag that long tail. Do you sell t-shirts? Highlight your handmade, hemp t-shirts for allergic pregnant women. Promoting a park? Blog about the trails that feature Great Horned Owl habitat in the winter evening hours. Focus on what is unique about your product, service or subject and your search optimization will benefit tremendously.

Thanks to BoosterDeweyExchange.com for the lessons learned and inspiration for this blog post. If you need a power brake booster for an older American car, go see my man Booster Dewey!

Easy Steps to Search Engine Success

search magnifying glassWe all want our websites to get more traffic. And the best way to do that is to be near the top of the page in search results. But how do you get Google’s attention or Bing’s blessing? It’s all done via the mysterious process of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Here are 7 easy steps to increasing your SEO score and get more visitors coming to your website.

1. Start at the top — use your page title.

The title bar is at the very top of your browser is the first thing a search engine spider sees, so make it count. The limit is 60 characters, so be sure to include your site name, location and a few words telling more about the site.

2. Write hardworking headlines.

Extra! Extra! Headlines tell us what to expect! They also create curiosity about the topic. Headlines are also the first piece of content the search spider sees on the page and are very important for SEO. Use your headline to announce the page topic.

3. Provide navigation to the destination.

Nav links are the road signs of the web and search spiders look at them closely. They should be concise, descriptive and informative. For extra SEO points, nav links or web buttons should have a title with additional information about what will be found at the destination page. These show up as as a tooltip when you hover over the link.

4. Make your links logical.

Links inform visitors and search bots what to expect when action is taken, and are very valuable. Don’t miss this easy technique to enhance your SEO. Simply tell the visitor where the link leads using keywords. “Click here” is a wasted opportunity because it gives no information where it leads. More about using “Click Here”>>

5. Make connections.

Incoming links from other sites are the holy grail of search engine marketers. So are links to and from the other pages on your site. Cross-linking page on your site provides a way for the web visitor to get additional information easily. Link between pages wherever possible.

6. Always use alt tags.

Alt tags are short descriptions of photos found on website to provide information for non-sighted web users using screen readers. We often don’t notice them, but they are seen by search engine spiders and can add a lot of value to your SEO score. Be kind to the blind and make Google happy by using your alt tags.

7. Find the magic keywords and use them wisely.

Make a list of words you and your colleagues use when discussing your topic, then make a list of the words people really use when chatting or asking questions about it. If you have site stats, check to see what keywords people used to find your site. Use these to provide a base for your keyword list.

Don’t search for help — give Sirius a call.

These 7 simple steps will go a long way to improving your search engine placement and will bring more web traffic to your site. Each website crafted by Sirius Media has SEO built right in, with custom keyword research part of our small business website package. Ready to take your website to the next level? Just give us a call.

15 Ways to Build Web Traffic Without SEO

Distance from PortlandWhen business owners think about ways to increase website traffic, they generally know that search engine optimization and strong keywords strategies are essential.

Search rank is important and very competitive.  But it can be very expensive to optimize or advertiser your way to top placement on the search page.

But Google, Bing, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook  aren’t the only ways people find our websites. It is easy to overlook some of the more traditional non-SEO approaches that are very powerful strategies in building site traffic. And when your site traffic goes up, so does your search ranking because sites with more traffic get higher SEO scores. So why not get busy and try a few of these each month to keep the attention on yourwebsite.com.

All of these techniques can be boiled down to one key strategy: advertising — you need to market your website just like you’d market a product. Even with great SEO, you can’t just put a website up and expect it to rise like cream to the top of the search page.

If you don’t tell people that you have a website and why they should visit it, they won’t know.
Here are some ways to do it.

  1. Be your own website evangelist. Tell people about it every chance you get. If you refer to your website often, others will learn to do so to. Be proud of your website and it’s content. If you aren’t, then build  a website you can be proud of.
  2. Use your domain name in your email. Every time you give out your email address, you’re telling others ‘where you live’ on the web. It’s a marketing opportunity too good to pass up. Use a forwarding email if you really don’t want to give up that aol, hotmail or gmail address, but always use yourname@yourwebsite.com
  3. Take out a print ad: magazines, newspapers, yellow pages, theater programs, school or neighborhood newsletters that features your website address prominently. Advertise new content, new sections, or promotions on the website.
  4. Print colorful postcards to leave in coffee shops. Include QR to your website with a promotional offer.
  5. Send email newsletters using an email vendor. Include short pieces of teaser or promo info then link back to the website for the full story. The best way to increase site traffic is to send regular useful email newsletters that link back to your website. Make a publishing plan in advance to keep your schedule regular.
  6. Post signs in your bricks and mortar shop with a QR code for an offer on the website.
  7. Get mentioned in the media — interviews, guest articles, photos or video clips on the news are golden. Always mention or include your web url when you’re being interviewed.
  8. Sponsor an event or benefit where you can distribute promotional materials. Look for ways to provide inkind sponsorship by providing services, prizes or supplies.
  9. Buy radio ads. Build brand recognition through ads or sponsorship of public radio.
  10. Post your job openings. If you have jobs, people will want to know and be checking back often. Jobs are one of the content areas that is a very strong draw.
    Mention the web url in any help wanted ads.
  11. Get fun stickers or rubber stamps with your web url and put them on shopping bags.
  12. Put your url on promotional items and pass them out  — bookmarks, tshirts, coasters, emery boards.
  13. Print marketing materials — brochures, letterhead, biz cards, rack cards, flyers.
  14. Blog or comment on other sites and include a link to your website.
  15. Send a custom greeting card via mail with a QR link in it. See SendoutCards to see some creative options!

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