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5 Key SEO and Social Considerations When Redesigning Your Website

As you can see, we’ve given the website a bit of a spruce up over the past few months. Hopefully, we’ve improved the usability of the site, and the updates will assure our customers (and prospective ones), as well as Google, that we are moving with the times and our content is fresh.

Our updates have been mainly cosmetic, but it did alert us to a number of SEO and social considerations that are worth bearing in mind if you are due to do similar work – and they are absolutely essential if you are planning a more comprehensive overhaul.

1. Strategy

It might seem obvious, but planning is essential. Pore over your analytics data to see how folks are using the site currently and ask yourself which content is performing best and which might need improving. Work out and prioritise the key areas you are looking to change. For search, this a great time to ensure the keyphrases you are ranking for in Google etc are as relevant (and converting as well) as they were when you last updated (or originally launched!). Ensure you have a complete migration strategy in place if you are moving altogether.

2. Domain Name

In simple terms, your domain name is your web footprint to date. Search engines favour websites whose domain names display authority from their age, the amount of relevant content displayed on their pages and the links it crawls from other sites to yours. Changing this without due care will lose all trust from Google et al. and you might unnecessarily be starting from scratch. However, there are certainly times when changing your domain might be important or essential. If so, ranking problems can be minimized by permanently 301 redirecting your old domain to the new one and seeing to update those who link to you (especially the big ones) that you’ve moved.

3. Links and Landing Pages

This is a similar issue to what I mentioned above. But you can still run into problems with broken links from websites (hindering your search rankings) and social platforms (potentially affecting traffic from web-users). As above, being sure to redirect old pages to new pages will help. Essentially, you want to ensure that any of the old routes users might have used to get to your site before are ending up in the most relevant place possible, and not at some ugly error page…

4. 404 Error Pages

You might be keeping your domain name and have been through your links with a fine tooth comb, but there is always the possibility someone might end up on a page where there is no content anymore – especially during/after a redesign. However, all is not necessarily lost. Customize your 404 Error Pages to ensure users know they are still on the right website, there is a problem and you apologise, and that there are easy links to click through to somewhere relevant (here’s ours).

5. Transparency

When redesigning your website, keep your audience updated with the process via your blog, newsletters and social channels. This can be a great opportunity to pool the opinions of your community and to alert them that things will be different and possibly slightly amiss. Facebook is perhaps an example of a site which doesn’t do this so well – judging by the amount of complaints they get from disgruntled users when they implement changes. On that note, if you notice anything strange with our redesign or have any feedback, please get in touch!

On Amalgamating Social Media….

How amalgamating social media might be able to help you get more from your feeds and highlight those networks which aren’t delivering on value

There has been much written recently (this post and this one at Econsultancy are good examples) about the difficulties businesses, marketers and individuals have in being able to quantify and analyse the actual value of social media as a marketing or promotional tool.  In simple terms it is still very hard to see whether 100 ‘likes’ on Facebook leads to a worthwhile number of conversions on your site, and even if you do have 1000+ followers on Twitter does the ROI come anywhere close to that of more traditional (but less sexier) online marketing methods such as email and search?

It is unlikely that any ‘social media expert’ will admit that the benefits of email, search and most other online marketing is a darn sight easier to see than social.  He/she will also not be likely to highlight the experimental and largely trial-and-error nature of social media marketing – and without being aware of this nugget of truth from the outset, anybody with a fledgling online presence can easily end up with a confusing mess of distracting feeds, fruitless cyber-buddies and half-maintained profiles scattered across the web.  So is social media amalgamation a viable route back towards order, and value?

Introducing social media amalgamation – making things more manageable

When thinking about making our social feeds more manageable, tools which offer us an overview of the activities of those across our networks are the ones that usually spring to mind.  Friendfeed, launched in 2007, was something of a pioneer of this.  It gives users a real time overview of Facebook updates from friends, tweets, posts from blogs they have subscribed to and countless others, as well as a simple front page in which you can interact with everything without having to open numerous tabs and logging into separate channels.  The growth of Twitter during 2008 saw the emergence of more microblogging orientated amalgamation tools both in-the-browser (such as Hootsuite) and as standalone programs (such as Tweetdeck).

Getting around distraction

Getting all your most important feeds in one place is a great way to save time that might be spent flitting between profiles.  The tendency to be distracted by social media, however, can still be a problem – and new services are striving to address this.  Launched in 2010, Rockmelt is an entire browser dedicated to getting the most from your social media networks.  By allowing the user to amalgamate feeds direct into the architecture of the browser, they do not even need to navigate away from pages in order to network.  In addition, the service also provides a customizable quiet mode to minimize distraction at the user’s request.

Amalgamating on your site, to help your site

Social media value can also be improved by how we amalgamate our networks on our websites.  Including your feeds such as Twitter and Facebook directly on to your homepage can not only increase the likelihood that visitors will want to connect, but it also helps deliver the freshest content to your site – a positive thing in the eyes of Google and other search engines.  The evolution of this comes with services such as Flavors.me which seamlessly integrates the social networks of its users as a basis for a simple and useful website.

More valuable?

Like all that is social, precisely how valuable amalgamation can be to your overall campaign is difficult to quantify exactly.  Yet, being able to see all your networks side by side is a great way to gather insight into where the most worthwhile conversations are happening and via which channels followers and fans are being most receptive.  In addition, working to cut out as much of the distractive elements of social media is no doubt a step toward value.  And by ensuring as much of your network action is assisting the relevancy of your website in both the eyes of your visitors and search engines is certainly a positive thing.  With decent amalgamation, users are likely to be in a far better position to tweak, amend and refine their social media activities.

Is Photo Sharing a Worthwhile Marketing Exercise?

As social networking continues to become a key strategy for businesses and start-ups to promote themselves online, photo sharing is an activity which seems second nature to some but almost entirely ignored by others.  So – from a business point of view – is it worth downloading the latest photo app, snapping away at every opportunity, then posting the results to Facebook or Flickr?

Photo sharing to ‘blend in’

It’s a question which has garnered considerable discussion online recently, not least on the newly launched service Quora.  The most popular answer came from VC Simon Olson who argues that photo sharing can form the ‘base activity of the “social” pyramid’ and that ‘it is one of the most popular activities that users engage in on social networks.’  With this in mind, it then seems logical for anyone eager to establish themselves on any social network to spend some time doing what everyone else is doing, not least to align yourself with the audience you are hoping to communicate with, as well as to highlight that you know what social media is all about, i.e. sharing, not promotion.

So just how big is photo sharing online?

Photo sharing has certainly seen fantastic growth over the last few years.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, Facebook has been the key player, increasing its lead as top photo sharing site (ahead of Photobucket, Picasa and Flickr) at the end of 2008 with users now uploading more than 3 billion pictures each month.  Yet, as Facebook’s dominance may have been seen to be making life difficult for other photo hosting sites such as Flickr, whose traffic started to decline by early last year, the site now boasts five billion photos and has increased steadily at 25% over the last 12 months.

The impact of apps and technology

Of course, photo-orientated smartphone apps and the increasing number of camera phones is having a positive effect on photo sharing – and making it easier for all of us to take better looking pictures and upload them quicker than ever before.  Instagram, Hipstamatic and PhotoShop Express all allow photos to be tinted etc. without the need to upload to your desktop or laptop beforehand.  Following this, it makes even more sense that Facebook is winning the photo sharing race with more than two hundred million users accessing the site via mobile – it figures that we want to put our pictures on this network first straight from our phones.

The case for…

For some, photo sharing is a great way to naturally instigate communications on social networks (especially at the start of a SM campaign), and it is becoming an increasingly quick and easy way to do this.  But is photo sharing worthwhile for any business or start-up with a fledgling web presence?  From an online content point of view, I would add two additional reasons why it may well be: fresh content and transparency.  In simple terms, fresh content is good for keeping both your audience and Google interested in your presence.  If you are active, even with only one piece of content a day – then a photo can be a quick way to achieve that daily goal to remind everyone that you’re still there.

The latter reason, transparency, relates to the earlier point of ‘aligning yourself with the audience you are hoping to communicate with.’  One of the ways businesses and start-ups really succeed with social media is by highlighting the human side of the organization behind the corporate persona which is often presented on the website.  Simply put, evidence of staff events and non-work activities showing that your organization is a diverse bunch of real people is much easier to see in photos rather than text-based blog posts, status updates or tweets.