Do You Want Prospective Students to Find Your Website? Google Tells You How

24 03 2013

Despite Bing’s aggressive marketing campaign, most people still use Google as their main search engine.  Google has put out a number of videos, in non-technical language, to help us help Google promote their websites.  They are narrated by Google engineer Matt Cutts, who seems to act as the face of Google when issues around their algorithm come up. Here are two examples.

The first one is on keyword density, or how many words that users would use to find your site should you make sure to include on your page.

The second is also on keywords, but on how much text versus images need to be on your website so that Google can figure out what you are about. Cutts describes it as a balancing act — pictures are more attractive and can entice viewers to stay on your website longer, but you still need some text.

Another tool mentioned by Cutts is Google Web Fonts, which seems to give you the ability to add more ornate fonts to your website without having them in a JPG.  This can GREATLY expand your site’s font options, aside from the standard Ariel, Helvetica, Times, etc., families — if it works (some of the comments under the video indicate that it’s may not work so well on some browsers on PCs).

For more videos, visit Google Webmasters Video channel on YouTube (remember, YouTube is owned by Google).

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In The News – Joanne Factor of Strategic Living

20 03 2013

Within the last few weeks, NWMAF member and Certified Self-Defense Instructor Joanne Factor was in the local Seattle media. Two were TV news segments (although in the second late-night segment we were not identified), and two were local radio broadcasts.  You can see (or listen to) the recordings at Strategic Living’s press page.

As self-defense instructors, I hope you all have similar press pages on your website. You do, right?

Two tips for the press page: make sure you have the media available from your own website (on your host server), as sometimes smaller media outlets over time drop older reports.  Also, if the story is still on the news media’s website, include that link — this aids credibility, and the source likes the linkback.

And one other important step.  Check your website’s analytics for the day of and the day after your media exposure.  (You do have analytics, right?  Google Analytics is fine, and free.)  That way you can assess if this media exposure had any effect.  For example, I did not notice ANY increase in visits to my site from either the TV news segments or from the AM radio interview.  But I did notice a bump after the FM radio interview, as well as several emails and phone calls asking about self-defense presentations and classes.  This information will help me decide if I wish to participate in a Health and Wellness Fair put on by one of these media companies (for which I would have to pay, at minimum, $300 for a bare-bones table with no promotion).





Tech Tip: Guide to Optimizing Your Website for Google

18 03 2011

Google has recently updated its guide to SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and added a cute cartoon character, Google bot, to help you navigate through the myriad of often confusing SEO options.

Google bot image

Meet Google bot!

http://www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf

Easy to read, easy to use, if you think you could be attracting more potential students to your school (and who doesn’t?), print it out and begin implementing items one by one.

SEO landscape is constantly changing as Google, Bing, and other search engines strive to make search easier and more productive for you (and more lucrative for them), so keeping up with some current trends is always a good idea.

And, if you are feeling overwhelmed with the ever-shifting SEO world, I’m sure you have a tech-minded student who’d be happy to help!





Tech Tip: The “QR” Barcode

16 03 2011

We all know that potential students are increasingly finding our services online. While not (yet) the majority of searches, mobile devices are one of the fastest growing segments of the online search stream.

Still, self-defense is not the most common search term, and our market often needs to see (several times) that we exist before they will go searching.  To that end, old-fashioned paper marketing is ideal.  And here is a quick way to get those who come across your paper marketing (be it in a catalog, a poster, a postcard, ad in a local paper, etc.) to come to you online via their smartphone.

QR codes are barcodes that look like square puzzles. But when your smartphone’s barcode app scans it, you can be taken to a website, email, phone, . . . any other information that you can put online.

This website will generate QR codes for you, at no charge:  http://www.mobile-barcodes.com/qr-code-generator/

Scroll down to the “Generate” header.  By default you will be shown the form to enter a URL.  (Other tabs give you the options of Message, Phone, SMS, or Email.)  Type or paste in the URL you want a code for, and submit.  It will give you back a picture file and HTML code to put on your website, if you wish.

If you have a smartphone handy, check out this code: QR Code(Hint: it will take you to the NWMAF website.)

For two examples of how I’ve used this, here are a poster and an ad for a roller derby program.

Self_Defense_at_Studio_9

Rat City Roller Girl Program Ad

Three things to keep in mind:  QR codes can be resized fairly small, but not too small or they can’t be read.  Consider how well your means of replication will be on code clarity (you may need to make it a bit larger if it will be seen as a photocopy of a photocopy). Finally, the code needs to be black on white, so don’t make the white background “clear” to better blend in, or it can’t be read.





Are Your Website’s Visitors Noticing What You Intend Them to See?

7 04 2010

Web usability experts often say that most website visitors will decide if your site is what they are looking for within 5 seconds (or less).  If they don’t see what they came for, they will leave.  Because their time–not to mention all the work you put into your website–are valuable, your site has to welcome its guests and tell them there are indeed in the right place.

One online tool to help you figure out if your site’s visitors are really understanding the message you’re intending is fivesecondtest.  It is remarkably simple.  You upload a picture (or “screenshot”) of your website, logo, particular image, etc., to the fivesecondtest.com site.  Visitors get five seconds with the picture and then will be asked about the site.  You can pick one of two tests:

  1. Memory test. The visitor gets five seconds and then has to type what he can remember.
  2. Click test. The visitor gets five seconds to click on areas of interest, and then must describe them.

There is a free level that will give you a limited number of responses.  By paying a nominal fee you can continue to collect more information.  You can also increase the number of respondents by taking the test for others’ websites and earning “karma” points.

You can rely on random testers from fivesecondtest.com as your respondents, or you can also email a provided link to people you know (friends, colleagues, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc) to generate more data.  Preferably, you’d like this to go to people who do not know that the site is about self-defense or martial arts (that would skew the results for sure!).

Even if you decide to not test your site, I highly recommend you test other sites on fivesecondtest.com.  It is eye-opening what you won’t notice in that short amount of time!  Just serving as a tester can help you recognize pitfalls you can avoid when you next edit your own site.





Tech Tip: Finding the Right Words

26 03 2010

If you are wondering how to attract more online attention to your website or blog, from both human eyes and search engines, there are several tools to help.

Google’s keyword tools are at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. You can type in a key word or phrase and see the recent search volume.  For example, I typed in “self defense” and got a list of related keywords.  This gives you a way to gauge interest in specific topics, as well as pick more appropriate words to use in your web text.  “Women self defense” was searched for 27,100 times in February (using Google), while “best martial art for self defense” only received 720 search requests.

Another Google tool looks at your website and suggests keywords (http://www.google.com/sktool/#). You type in your website URL, and Google spits back a list of what is considers appropriate keywords that web users use.  It can also give you a sense if you’re saying in your web text what searchers are looking for.  For example, if you want to attract women looking for “self defense” and this tool tells you that good keywords for your site are “building self esteem,” you may consider editing your site to include more self-defense phrases or focus on the self esteem-building aspects of your classes.