We’ve moved our blog…

Having done our initial setup on blogger.com’s server, we’ve moved our blog onto our own website – but still using blogger.com to publish the blog.

Why did we do that?

Well, you have three options as to how you host a blog with Blogger:

  1. On Blogger.com’s servers.

    This gives you a web address like websanity-web-design.blogger.com.It’s a great way of creating a blog simply and at no cost. However, because all that lovely search engine friendly content you’re going to write appears on somebody else’s domain, it isn’t going to help boost your own domain rankings – unless the blog becomes popular and your links through to your own domain pass on ‘link capital’ from your blog subdomain to your main website domain. This, of course, presumes you’re trying to use blogging as a way of communicating as well as promoting your own business website.
    So, option 1: great for people who just want to communicate.
  2. Redirected to your own site.

    If you control your DNS (techincal stuff) then you can have a subdomain of your site redirected to blogger’s servers, who will serve the appropriate content for you: for example blog.websanity.co.uk. This hosts the domain on the blogger servers and associates it with your own domain. But, remember that the search engines see https://www.websanity.co.uk/ and websanity.co.uk as two separate sites if you don’t deal with the issue of canonicalization, well it will also see blog.websanity.co.uk as a separate site, so from an SEO perspective this still isn’t ideal.
  3. Hosted on your own site.

    You web hosting control panel should allow you to create a new ftp account which can can give sole access to a subdirectory on your web site, e.g. websanity.co.uk/blog. If you feed these details to blogger.com it will manage the files for your blog but then copy updated files to your site when you ask it to do so. websanity.co.uk/blog is very much part of the websanity.co.uk domain, so Google and the other search engines will count all that good content you write towards building the ranking of your website, plus the site is firmly branded as your own and yet is still managed through blogger.com’s easy to use blogging system.
So, now we’ve got around to it, we’ve switched to option 3, for all the good reasons stated above.

Now we just need to sort out linking the blog from our website (adding it into the menu system and making a more obvious link to it) and making the template look more WebSanity like…

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Research your website keywords

Keywords are in a nutshell (a very small one) the phrases that you think people are using in a search engine who you want to find your website. Clearly if you’re going to have much success rising up the search engine rankings, your website must be structured around them, ideally you with specific landing pages to target closely grouped sets of keywords – which happens naturally in some cases, but not in all cases. Plus the content of your site must have those keywords prominently in the appropriate positions: page name, page title, headings, links etc. etc. But how can you second guess what people are actually searching for on the web?

The answer is: you don’t have to. Use one of the free key word tools from WordTracker, or better still (with information from the most authoritative source) Google to do some research and find out what people are actually searching for on Google.

Here’s an example from our own website, WebSanity web design. We often ponder what potential customers are looking for on the web (!), for example, is it:

  1. web design
  2. website design
  3. or web site design?

Technically speaking option 2 is the ‘grammatically correct’ variation, but you never can tell. So let’s look at the results from Google’s Keyword tool (which will suggest other variations we might not even have thought of). Make sure you select the “phrase option” – that will select search volumes with the keywords above in them (but not exclusively, so it will include “rubbish web design” as well as “web design huntingdon“) and not some variations that it think might are useful to you (it’s all to do with AdWords). You could try exact match but that might be a bit over-restrictive. Then sort by average search volume…

So the clear winner is “web design”, “website design” is in there, but “web site design” is joint 5th place.

So the lesson is: we need to target the words we use on our website to use the phrase “web design” when referring to our web design services.

But take that with a pinch of salt. Lots of people ARE looking for “web site design”, so have a sprinkling on the target landing page, or if you have the time create a whole separate page about “web site design” it might be able to attract those people.

And another consequence of this is… look for some phrases down the list that you hadn’t thought of. “Web designer” in third seems pretty popular but we never use that phrase ourselves.. so let’s get it somewhere on the site; maybe a separate bio page about one of our web designers would help our search engine rankings?

In summary, don’t just guess at what people are searching for on the web: use the free keyword tool from Google and KNOW what they are searching for!

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Search engine optimisation and sitemap.xml files

A sitemap.xml file is a file that you can use to define the structure of your site to the top search engines. Although it won’t improve the ranking of your pages (according to Google et al), it allows the search engines to get a better idea of the structure of your site, which means that they will index it more efficiently, and taking account of the structure that your website might imply, but which it might be difficult for a search engine to pick up on.

So, basically a key fundamental of Search Engine Optimisation, SEO: hands up who doesn’t have a sitemap.xml file? Most of you based on past experience! (Recently we’ve read some opinion that you shouldn’t submit sitemap.xml files, because by not doing that you can compare the way Google actually indexes the site with the way you think it ought to, and adjust accordingly. That’s a great idea; IF you have the time to experiment in this way, wihch not many do).

We’ve always wondered exactly how the interaction between sitemap.xml files and the site goes, and recently on Matt Cutts’ blog (a Google employee), he implied that Google will use the information supplied by your sitemap.xml file but augment it with other pages it finds from other links internal and external to your site. That’s great news: it means you can focus on getting your sitemap in order, gradullay growing your site (say through PR or news articles) and not have to worry that they will be ignored by Google if you don’t update the sitemap.xml file and resubmit it after every single change.

Note that we’d always recommend that you update the sitemap.xml file every 6 months or so and definitely after you’ve built up a lot of changes.

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Welcome to our blog

Well, as if they weren’t enough information on the internet already (good and bad), we thought we’d add to it!

This blog is intended to share our thoughts at WebSanity web design on the internet, business and life in general. It is being written by Gerald Thulbourn, WebSanity’s manager, more of whom you’ll find out about in due course no doubt.

Note: This blog is intended to take over the ‘comments’ section of our existing website, which was initially intended to give hints and tips to Small Businesses about how to get the most out of their web site. After over a year of writing this we felt it had become too restrictive: did we just want to write some odd notes from time to time (to help local businesses as well as marketing our services) or was it getting a bit too formal, not allowing us to make observations and to share half thought through ideas?

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