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SEO

SEO is a part of Internet marketing, October 31, 2017

SEO is a part of Internet marketing that deals with the website positioning on SE by the keywords that best match the page content. To understand search better let's explain what happens when you use SE. First thing to understand is when you do a SE search you are not actually searching the web, you are searching SE's index of the web. SE's are using software programms called „spiders“ or „crawlers“ which are fetching the pages and links in those pages untill they index a pretty big chunck of the web. If you want to know more about SEO on web you would write keywords like „Search engine optimization“ or simply „SEO“ in SE (SEE PICTURE 1.). By hitting enter on your keyboard you are starting the indexing process where the software is searching for every page that has those search terms. In „SEO“ case there are hundreds of pages with those keywords and it's reasonable for you to ask how does the SE decide which documents you really want.

There are more then 200 querries that the SE asks to get those results. Some of them are:

  • How many times does this page contains those keywords?
  • Do those words appear in the URL?
  • Do those words appear in the title?
  • Is this page from the quality website or a low quality one?
  • What's this page SERP ranking?

search engine result page (SERP) imageBy combining all those factors together websites are getting an overall score and by it they are ranked in SERP. As search engines become more sophisticated, they've started putting far less emphasis on specific keywords, and more on the meaning or intent behind those keywords. You should know that SEO affects only organic search results, and not paid or "sponsored" results such as Google AdWords (SEE PICTURE 1.). Payed ones are covered by search engine marketing (SEM). Be aware that some „consultants“ have made wild claims about being able to guarantee getting a particular search rank. If it sounds too good to be true, you need to understand what techniques a company is using, and if they don’t want to talk about it, run away. Black hat SEO involves playing games with SE's, which can get you banned, and you don't want that.

SEO is very complicated subject and only when you digg into it you'll see how vast it is. Technical tweeks are about 20% of a SEO if the content is done correctly. I mean if you build your content as you should you can see the finish line already. Before starting technical tweets of your SEO you should know is your site seenable in SE's at all. Second thing is thinking about those keywords; think as a client, e.g. what would you write in SE to come to your company. To me, this is the central question of SEO and SEM, whether you are going for organic search results or choosing keywords for an ad campaign.

To make SEO simpler we can divide strategies in 2:

  • on page strategies;
  • off page strategies.

On page SEO involves things you can do on your own web site to enhance search engine rank and to make sure your web site/page is set up correctly while off page SEO are diverse strategies to get traffic from other web sites.

On page SEO strategies (ONPSS)

    good and bad url image
  • Title tags ()
    A title tag tells both search engines and website users what is the topic of a particular page. They should be placed within a head tags and ideally you should have unique title for each page on your website. If your page is listed in SERP title tags should usually appear as a title of your page. If they appear in the search querry words in the title are bolded. (SEE PICTURE 2.)
    The best practices for title tags are choose a title that best describes the content of the page, create unique title for each page on your website, and use of a brief and descriptive titles (if your title is too long SE will show only a portion of it).
    Things to avoid:
    • Filling your title with unneeded keywords;
    • Using too long titles;
    • Using same title on more pages on your website;
    • Choosing a title that doesn't have anything to do with your site;
    • Using default titles like „Untitled“.
  • Description meta tags (DMT)
    DMT's are important because SE might use them as snippets (a text displayed beneath the title of a corresponding web page on the search result in SERP) for your page. (SEE PICTURE 2.)
    The best practices for DMT are use of a unique descriptions for each page, and accurately summarize the page's content.
    Things to avoid:
    • Using a single DMT across all of your site's pages or a large group of pages;
    • Copy/paste the entire content of the document into the DMT;
    • Filling the description with only keywords;
    • Using generic descriptions like "This is a web page ";
    • Writing a DMT that has no relation to the content on the page.
  • URL structure
    search engine result page (SERP) explanation imageVisitors may be intimidated by extremely long and cryptic URLs (SEE PICTURE 3.) that contain few recognizable words. Creating descriptive categories and filenames for the documents on your website can help you keep your site better organized, and also lead to better crawling of your documents by SE. Also, it can create easier, "friendlier" URLs for those that want to link to your content. You have to remember that the URL is displayed as part of a search result in SERP.
    Best practices for URL structure are providing only one version of a URL to reach a document creating a simple directory structure, and usage of words in URL's.
    Things to avoid:
    • Using odd capitalization of URL's (users expect lower-case URLs and remember them better);
    • Deep nesting subdirectories like ".../folder1/folder 2/folder 3/folder 4/folder 5/page.html";
    • Using directory names that have no relation to the content in them;
    • Having pages from subdomains and the root directory access the same content (e.g. "domain.com/page.html" and "sub.domain.com/page.html");
    • Choosing generic page names like "page1.html";
    • Using long URL's with unnecessary parameters and session Id's;
    • Using excessive keywords like "renta-boat-renta-boat-rentaboat.html".
  • Navigation
    Nowdays visitors want to find the content quickly and website navigation is important. It can also help search engines understand what content webmaster thinks is more important. SE likes to have a sense of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of the site. Make two sitemaps: one for users, and one for search engines. A site map is a simple page on your site that displays the structure of your website, and usually consists of a hierarchical listing of the pages on your site. An XML Sitemap file makes it easier for SE to discover the pages on your site. Use a breadcrumb lists to ensure more convenience for users. A breadcrumb is a row of internal links at the top or bottom of the page that allows visitors to quickly navigate back to a previous section or the root page.
    Best practices for navigation are adding an HTML site map page on your site, and an XML Sitemap file, having a useful 404 page, creating a naturally flowing hierarchy, usage of text for navigation.
    Things to avoid:
    • Creating complex navigation link webs, e.g. linking every page on your site to every other page;
    • Having a navigation based entirely on drop-down menus, images, or animations;
    • Creating an HTML site map that simply lists pages without organizing them, for example by subject;
    • Allowing your 404 pages to be indexed in search engines (make sure your webserver is configured to give a 404 HTTP status code when non-existent pages are requested);
    • HTML site map page that is out of date with broken links;
    • Using a 404 page design that isn't consistent with the rest of your site;
    • Providing only a vague message like "Not found", "404", or not having a 404 page at all.
  • Images
    Images may seem like a straightforward component of your site, but you can optimize them as well. All images should have a distinct filename and "alt" attribute. The "alt" attribute allows you to specify alternative text for the image if it cannot be displayed for some reason. The contents of the alt attribute provide information about the picture if a user is using alternative technologies, such as a screen reader or is viewing your site on a browser that doesn't support images. Optimizing your image filenames and alt text also makes it easier for image search projects like Google Image Search to better understand your images. Store image files in a specialized directory called images. This simplifies the path to your images.
    Best practices for images are creating an image sitemap, usage of brief, but descriptive filenames and alt text, and creating a alt text when using images as links.
    Things to avoid:
    • Writing extremely lengthy filenames;
    • Stuffing keywords into alt text or copying and pasting entire sentences;
    • Using generic filenames like "image1.gif", "pic.png", "1.jpg" when possible (some sites with thousands of images might consider automating the naming of images);
    • Writing excessively long alt text that would be considered spammy;
    • Using only image links for your site's navigation.
  • Headings
    Headings or heading tags are used to present structure on the page to users. There are six sizes of heading tags, beginning with "h1", the most important, and ending with "h6". Since heading tags typically make text contained in them larger than normal text on the page, this is a visual cue to users that this text is important and could help them understand something about the type of content underneath the heading text.
    Things to avoid:
    • excessive use of headings throughout the page;
    • Putting all of the page's text into a heading;
    • Using heading tags only for styling text and not presenting structure;
    • Using headings where other tags like "em" and "strong" may be more appropriate;
    • Placing text in heading tags that wouldn't be helpful in defining the structure of the page;
    • Irregularly moving from one heading size to another.
  • robots.txt file
    SE are favouring websites that are optimized for people using mobile and smartphone devices. But there are five more things that a responsive websites do for SEO:
    • Speed
      Beside thinking on clients who demand faster loading websites page loading time is an established and known ranking factor, e.g. fast-loading sites are favored in search results;
    • Improved usability
      SE's are recognizing „time on page“ as a fundamental indicator of a site’s value for any given query. Responsive web design makes your website much easier to read and navigate. The result is an improved user experience and a greater time on page.
    • Less duplicate content
      One of the most common problems for webmasters who run both mobile and desktop versions of a site is that the mobile version of the site appears for users on a desktop computer, or vice versa. Other is duplicate content can seriously harm your ranking. If you don't write info to crawlers which content is most vital and ensure that it's the indexed content, then SE's will decide instead. The result is almost always lower rankings in search results. Write a single URL regardless of the device being used to view the content, and deal with a design for other devices with CSS.
    • Decreased bounce rate
      Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server. SE's are paying attention to user behavior when it comes to entry and exit points for a website. Content may be magnificent, but if design prevents easy apprehension, users will leave the site very fast. A mobile responsive design enables you to put up relevant content and display it in a way that is mobile device friendly.
    • Boosted Social Sharing
      Responsive web design is built to make social sharing easy for the most dominant demographic online – mobile users. Even though social media can help SEO, social shares won’t have a direct impact on rankings. Indirectly it will help you grow your users. More users make more traffic and more search which will definitely be recognized by SE's.

Off page SEO strategies

And this leads us to the off page SEO strategies (OPSS). OPSS refers to techniques that can be used to increase the position of a website in the SERP's. Many people associate off-page SEO with link building but it is not only that. OPSS are the things you can do outside your website to help you rank higher, such as:

  • Social Media Engagement
    A major Off-page SEO technique is social media engagement. Getting involved with social media sites is the fundamental step with which you begin to advertise, market and build your online reputation within your niche. If you want to make your business, blog or website popular, engage with people on multiple social media sites. Social media presence will help grow your business and getting more back links;
  • Blogging
    Blogging is one of the most powerful ways to promote your company blog or website online! Writing a blog for your website, is giving your visitors a reason to keep returning to it and keep up to date with your latest posts. It triggers SE's to crawl your site more frequent, as they have to update your latest blog post entries, which ultimately helps you rank higher in SERP's.
  • Forum posting
    Find forums online that are related to your sites niche and get involved within that community. Create a post or reply to a thread in service-related existing forums that allow links in your signature which can be crawled by the search engines. Reply to threads, answer peoples questions, offer advice, etc. This all helps to build up your reputation as someone who is an expert within that niche.
  • Blog Marketing
    Post comments on other blogs within the same niche as yours, which allow you to add a link in the comments section. These links can then be crawled by search engines, helping to point them towards your site. Instead of guest blogging solely for links, use this tactic to help you build a rapport with some of the top brands online. If done correctly, the links do come. As long as you make links the priority the tougher it’ll be for you to use guest blogging effectively for off-page SEO.
  • Social Bookmarking
    Social bookmarking sites are another great place fro promoting your website. Submit your latest blog posts and pages to the most popular bookmarking sites, like StumbleUpon, Delicious, Digg, SlashDot, Technorati, Reddit, etc. SE's really like these types of sites because the content on them is updated very frequently.
  • Link Baiting
    Link baiting is another popular way of promotion. If you wrote a really unique post, other people may want to link to it. Maybe you've copy/pasted another website’s content on your site - don’t forget to place their website link as a reference. Do it for others and, if your content is trustworthy, others will eventually do it for you.
  • Q&A sites (question & answer)
    One of the best ways you can get high traffic is from Q&A sites. Join high PR Q&A sites and search for questions related to your business, blog or website and give clear answers to these questions. Give a link to your website which will help in bringing you more visibility.
  • Photo Sharing
    If you've used your own images on your site, you can share them on major photo sharing websites like Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Picasa, Imgur, Photo Bucket, or etc. Other people will see them and comment, hopefully following a link to your site. Before submitting your images, check that they have a proper title, description and tags.

Those are some of the things you can do on OPSS, but I'm sure you can find a hole lot of other ways do increase your SERP ranking.


e inclusion image

E-inclusion

inclusive Information and Communication Technologies, October 24, 2017

The Riga Ministerial Declaration defines e-inclusion as “inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the use of ICT to achieve wider inclusion objectives and policies aiming at both reducing gaps in ICT usage and promoting the use of ICT to overcome exclusion”. Term "e-inclusion" describes a set of policies and activities leading to “e-inclusive society” where every person has equal opportunities to participate, including those people who are physically, mentally, socially or economically disadvantaged.

Designers are visual types and often forget about those who are not so fortunate to be able to see or read, such as the blind and visually impaired, people with motor dysfunction or dyslexia. I think the least we can do is try to set the websites for everyone. But to be able to do so you need to know how people with disabilities use the web.

Visual disabilities

Visual disabilities can range from substantial vision loss in both eyes – “blindness”, to mild/moderate vision loss in one or both eyes – “low vision”, also called "partial sight". Low vision includes vision that is not sharp – “poor acuity”, seeing only the edges of the visual field “central field loss”, seeing only the middle of the visual field – “tunnel vision”, and “clouded vision”. There are those with “deaf-blindness” a substantial, and uncorrectable visual and hearing impairments. Some folks have reduced or lack of sensitivity to certain colors – “color blindness” that includes inability to perceive any color or difficulty distinguishing between colors such as yellow and blue or red and green. Some has increased sensitivity to bright colors. These variations in perception of colors and brightness can be independent of the visual acuity.

People with visual disabilities mostly use a reading software that interprets what is displayed on the screen and generates speech output and browsers. They use keyboard support to help navigate through the page to see the overview, or jump to a certain section because they can’t see mouse pointer. They can also read text using refreshable Braille, listen to audio descriptions of video in multimedia or text-to-speech synthesis of the content, customize settings for fonts, colors, and spacing or enlarge/reduce text size and images.

What can be a barrier for people with visual disabilities?

  • images, controls, and other structural elements that do not have equivalent text alternatives, e.g. alt tags with proper explanation;
  • text and images with insufficient contrast between foreground and background color combinations;
  • text, images, and page layouts that cannot be resized, or that lose information when resized;
  • missing visual and non-visual orientation cues, page structure, and other navigational aids;
  • video content that doesn’t have text or audio alternatives, or audio description track;
  • inconsistent, unpredictable, and complicated navigation mechanisms and page functions;
  • websites, web browsers, and authoring tools that don’t support the use of custom color combinations;
  • websites, web browsers, and authoring tools that don’t provide full keyboard support.

Physical disabilities

Physical disabilities, sometimes called "motor disfunctions" include weakness and limitations of muscular control (such as involuntary movements including tremors, lack of coordination, or paralysis), limitations of sensation, joint disorders (such as arthritis), pain that impedes movement, and missing limbs.

People with physical disabilities may be using head pointer, mouth stick, and other aids to help with typing, ergonomic or specially designed keyboard or mouse, on-screen keyboard with trackball, joysticks, or other pointing devices, voice recognition, eye tracking, and other approaches for hands-free interaction, or even switches operated by foot, shoulder, sip-and-puff, or other movements.

What can be a barrier for people with physical disabilities?

  • inconsistent, unpredictable, and complicated navigation mechanisms and page functions;
  • insufficient time limits to respond/complete tasks, such as to fill out online forms;
  • websites, web browsers, and authoring tools that don’t provide full keyboard support;
  • missing visual and non-visual orientation cues, page structure, and other navigational aids;
  • controls, including links with images of text, that do not have equivalent text alternatives, e.g. alt tags with proper explanation.

Auditory disabilities

Auditory disabilities range from substantial and uncorrectable hearing loss in both ears - “deafness” to mild or moderate hearing loss in one or both ears - “hard of hearing”. Some folks with auditory disabilities can hear sounds but sometimes not sufficiently to understand all speech, especially with background noise. This can include people using hearing aids.

While multimedia on the web provides many opportunities for people with auditory disabilities, it also poses challenges when content is not designed to be accessible.

What can be a barrier for people with auditory disabilities?

  • lack of sign language to supplement important information and text that is difficult to read;
  • audio content, such as videos with voices and sounds, without captions or transcripts;
  • media players that do not display captions and that do not provide volume controls;
  • media players that do not provide options to adjust the text size and colors for captions;
  • web based services, including web applications, that rely on interaction using voice only.

Speech disabilities

Speech disabilities include difficulty producing speech that is recognizable by others or by voice recognition software. For instance, the loudness or clarity of someone's voice might be difficult to understand.

What can be a barrier for people with speech disabilities?

  • websites that offer phone numbers as the only way to communicate with the organizations;
  • web based services, including web applications, that rely on interaction using voice only.

Cognitive, learning, and neurological disabilities

Cognitive, learning, and neurological disabilities involve neurodiversity and neurological disorders, as well as behavioral and mental health disorders that are not necessarily neurological. They may affect any part of the nervous system and impact how well people hear, move, see, speak, and understand information. Cognitive, learning, and neurological disabilities do not necessarily affect the intelligence of a person.

People with cognitive, learning, and neurological disabilities use different types of web browsing methods, depending on their particular needs. For instance, some people use text-to-speech software to hear the information while reading it visually or use captions to read the information while hearing it. Some people use tools that resize text and spacing or customize colors to assist reading. Others use grammar and spelling tools to support writing. For these web browsing methods to work, developers need to consider web accessibility requirements which are often shared by people with hearing, physical, speech, and visual disabilities.

What can be a barrier for people with cognitive, learning, and neurological disabilities?

  • complex sentences that are difficult to read and unusual words that are difficult to understand;
  • complex navigation mechanisms and page layouts that are difficult to understand and use;
  • long passages of text without images, graphs, or other illustrations to highlight the context;
  • moving, blinking, or flickering content, and background audio that cannot be turned off;
  • page designs that cannot be adapted using web browser controls or custom style sheets;
  • browsers and media players that do not provide mechanisms to suppress animations and audio.

How can web developers and designers help?

When discussing a new project with your clients make an effort to explain them importance of e-inclusion. Not only that it will help the less fortunate ones – your clients will benefit as well. They will get new customers who rely on e-inclusion.

Use your spare time reading the WAI (web accessibility initiative) guidance http://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/quickref and implement them in your work.


marketing mistakes image

Marketing mistakes

common mistakes from my perspective, October 18, 2017

Money invested in a marketing campaign should make a positive impact otherwise it's just gone with the wind. If you want to start a new marketing campaign - and it doesn't matter if it's a website, brochure, social network campaign, TV commercial or any other way of marketing – do it wisely. When I start a new project I see a lot of confusion in the text my clients send me the first time. My conscience doesn't allow me to copy/paste those text without suggesting some major changes. So here are the things they mostly do wrong:

  • Thinking like a sales person - number one thing where all of them make mistakes is they don't think like their customers. The questions I'll write here you should already ask yourself in your business plan but… Here are some of them: If I'm my customer what would I want? If it's a new product think why would you want to buy it? Why should someone start a business with you?
  • Explanation - even if it's a simple thing like a bottle of water you should explain what's it all about. There's always something that is special about it you could emphasize. Maybe it's the spring that local folks were using for healthcare purposes, or your bottles are made of non toxic material. Emphasize what makes you different.
  • To long/short - there are two types of people. One will need to add just one more sentence every time you tell them not to and others you'll have to beg to write a little more. At the end usually it happens I have to write something for them cause they don't know what and how to. Try to be specific, do not envision and don't add unnecessary adjectives. Make your sentences clear, simple and easy to read.
  • Think of SEO - so you've spent thousands on a website you can be proud of but you don't get any results. Nobody explained you why it's important to do the SEO on your site ? I'll talk more about importance of SEO on some other occasion and here I just want to explain how you can cut your expenses on SEO. Think about keywords you would write in the search engine to find your company or a product. Make a list of 10 keywords and list them by importance. First one (the most important) should be everywhere – in the title, subtitle and text. 2-5 should be in the subtitle and text at least, and 5-10 at least in the text. The pictures or videos you use should consist of the keywords that explain them. Many people search the web over pictures and videos. It's very likely they'll come to your site if they like what they see on them.
  • Be honest - if you lie in your campaigns you can't expect long term prosperity. You can't gain customer trust based on lies. But this is something I'll write in another article...

Hrvoje Kunović

More then ten years of web and graphic design experience he crowned by opening a web and graphic design company - Idea Ltd. He is a web developer, graphic designer and executive director of Idea. He has a broad knowledge in this area and likes to share it. The company goal is to spread positive vibes and be a lifetime partner with companies or individuals with same interest.