In the past year, Google has rolled out a few major updates that significantly impacted many of us in the blogging/SEO/internet marketing world. Penguin, Panda, and the more recent EMD update were algorithmic improvements designed to improve the Google search experience. To achieve that, some of the underlying assumptions that we (as web designers, developers, and bloggers) relied upon had to change. And a lot of people were hurt by this. Reading the forums and comments might lead you to believe that these updates were destructive tidal waves that bankrupted thousands and had businesses shuttering their doors all over the world.
The basic truth about Penguin and Panda (and even EMD) is that there were way, way too many people who were gaming the system to make money. They were all operating on this basic formula, which had become a proven money maker over the past decade:
The problem when you have thousands of people exploiting this scheme over years’ time is that it creates a lot of crap on the web. As the article Why I Love Google Panda over at SEOmoz points out, Google search results had suffered. Any time you searched for something, you got SERPs loaded with domains almost exactly matching your query, almost no content, and plenty of links or ads to make money from you. Google, as a search engine, was failing. Hence the updates. Ask just about any end user of the search engine, and they’ll tell you that the search results have gotten better.
If you were hit by any of these updates, you’re not alone, nor is it game over for you. There are a number of steps you can take to recover. I know this because I’ve gone through this process with one of my sites that was hit, and have seen a slow but steady recovery in search traffic. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done.
First and foremost, you should look over Google’s webmaster guidelines to make sure you’re in line with these. Most are common sense things to make your site informative, useful, and easily navigated:
Also, Google has a laundry list of things that you should NOT do. Go through this point-by-point and make sure you’re not:
If these updates from Google have taught us anything, it’s that relying on a single source of traffic for your web business is a recipe for failure. A single update, even (gasp) one that unfairly penalizes your site could bring disaster. You need to branch out to other sources of traffic and web attention:
If you have any other suggestions (or have seen success) in recovering after Google updates, they’d be welcome! Please use the comments section below.
Today while riding in the carpool home from work, I watched a YouTube video of a turtle eating a praying mantis, all on my buddy’s cell phone. Just a couple of years ago, it was inconceivable that one could get the internet bandwidth on a cell phone to stream YouTube, much less have a retina display to view it in high definition. And yet today, everything has gone mobile.
More and more people are using small mobile devices – phones, Ipods, Ipads, and the like – as their primary portal to the internet. This paradigm shift has changed the competitive landscape of the web. To be a serious contender at just about anything online virtually requires supporting mobile devices. Some of the powerhouses of social media, such as Twitter, were literally built around mobile communication.
The iPhone, perhaps more than any other device, has helped fuel this paradigm shift. Here was a smartphone in a class of its own, with a camera and Apple’s slick interface to the internet. And the apps would follow. Now, you can snap a photo, crop it, post it to Facebook, and then tweet it from your iPhone in about 30 seconds.
Wireless technology has even permeated into the world of newborn parenting. High-tech wireless video monitors let parents watch their sleeping infants around the clock, with color video, night vision, and two-way audio. All that’s missing is an internet connection.
WordPress is an extremely flexible system for managing website designs and content. Once you start your blog or website with WordPress, you’ll undoubtedly want to start publishing things on it. All of those great ideas will be fighting with one another for their chance to be shared with the world. This is a guide to building your website content so that visitors to your site can find what they’re looking for.
There are two basic types of content that you’ll have on your WordPress site: pages and posts. These are very similar, especially when you configure WordPress to provide permanent links (permalinks) for all pages. I recommend, however, that you create a handful of Pages and use Posts for the rest of your content. On the blogs and websites that I’ve built, I have only about 5-7 pages, but I have dozens or hundreds of posts.
Typically, you’ll want to limit the number of pages to less than ten, and these will be static pages that you write once. Many of the WordPress design themes will list your pages across the top of every page or in the sidebar, which is another reason that you’ll want to limit the number of these. To get you started, however, here are some pages that you should set up:
Most of the content that you put up on your site should be as “Posts”. Don’t think of these as transient, blog-style articles that are published once and never seen again. You’ll link to them from future posts, in the sidebar, and on your articles index. You’ll point to them from your Delicious account, Facebook, and other social media. You might link to them from a guest post on someone else’s blog. Bottom line, you can ensure that posts are just as visible as pages are.
It’s just easier to put your content in Posts because WordPress has all kinds of features built around them. There are widgets, for example, that will display your most recent posts on the front page of your web site. Others will show your most popular posts in the sidebar, like a running competition. Visitors will click on these.
Some websites are better than others. Some are memorable, some are forgettable. Your goal in building website content should be to engage, intrigue, and inform your readers. Here are some tips for how to do just that.
So, you’d like to start a blog or web site? A few years ago, building a web site required programming skills and technical expertise. Now, virtually anyone with a computer can do it. In this guide, I’ll show you how to start a web site – design it, build it, and share it with the world – in about 20 minutes.
Set up domain name and hosting
Activate the WordPress application
Choose a design theme
Configure a few things in WordPress
Your web site needs a home, in the form of web hosting, and a way for people to find it, in the form of a domain name. Yes, you can start a web site on WordPress for free, but you won’t nearly have the control over it that you could with your own site. It doesn’t take any special skills, either. You’ll need two things for your new website: a domain name and web hosting.
The domain name is just the URL that you reserve for your website. Someone types the address, and the registrar points them to your site. Right now these are on sale for $7.99 (annually) at GoDaddy.com.
Web hosting is the service that lets your web site stay up on the web, available worldwide for 24 hours a day. I recommend GoDaddy’s hosting, which has tons of features and runs about $5-6 per month. This is the basic cost of running your web site, but a lot comes with it:
WordPress is number one on the list. This open source software was originally developed for blogging, but you can use it to design and manage a web site very easily. Here’s why you should:
Once you get the e-mail that your WordPress has been set up (this takes a few minutes), you’re ready to start designing your new web site. Log in at yourdomain.com/wp-admin.
One of the greatest things about WordPress is that there are hundreds of free “themes” which give your web site a layout, look, and feel. You can browse themes from your WP admin section (Dashboard) by clicking Appearance > Themes on the left-side menu. Then do a search to find a theme that you like. A couple of tips for choosing your web site design:
Once you find a theme that might work, click to install and activate it. Voila, your site now has a snappy new design.
Congratulations! Your site is now up on the web with a sample page, a sample post, and the design that you picked out. There are a few things, however, that you should configure before you start putting content out there.
That’s enough to get you started. Good luck!
This year we launched a new blog, Get Your Baby to Sleep, to help parents establish healthy sleep habits for their babies. The author of most articles is a father of three children (a 2-year-old girl and twin boys), all of whom were sleeping through the night by the age of 3 months.
Sleeping habits differ dramatically between babies, even among twins. Some of it may come down to luck. For many parents, however, there are strategies and techniques that can help babies sleep more consistently and for longer overnight. Sleep Training 101 covers many of these in depth to get parents started on the road to healthy baby sleep habits:
Visitors to Get Your Baby to Sleep will also find reviews and product guides to some essential baby gear related to sleeping, such as:
With hundreds of subscribers already, this blog is rapidly gaining a following. Hopefully that means many babies are sleeping through the night, their parents are getting more rest, and the world is a slightly better place.