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  • 5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses

    Thursday, July 19, 2018 by
    summer tech initiatives for small business

    5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses

    The summer is a slow time of year for most businesses, with many customers and clients out enjoying the longer days and extended vacations. This makes summer the perfect time to implement new technology. With your business and employees less stressed by pressing deadlines and client demands, you can finally tackle some of those technology projects or updates that have been put on the back burner. Bolster your tech before this season ends with these tech initiatives. HostGator Website Builder

    1. Digital Security

    Big, high-profile business aren’t the only ones being attacked by cyber criminals. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, small businesses represent 58 percent of data breach victims. Per the report, the majority of breaches (73 percent) came from outsider threats, while 50 percent came from organized criminal groups and 12 percent involved nation-state or state-affiliated actors. To protect your business from expensive and damaging cyber attacks, it’s important to implement improved digital security. For example, if you don’t have an IT team, consider hiring consultants who can mitigate threats and monitor regularly for you. Use the summer months to educate your employees as well. You may even want to start a cyber security series, sharing a new digital security tip for employees to learn and then follow each week.  

    2. Mobile Responsive Website

    More and more consumers are accessing information and purchasing goods via their mobile device. According to eMarketer’s estimates, smartphone retail mcommerce sales in the U.S. increased more than 50 percent in 2017, to total $102.14 billion. mcommerce sales In order to successfully compete, it’s important for small business owners to have a mobile responsive website. This makes it easy for customers to find and purchase your products or services, or simply read about what you have to offer—which is, of course, step one in the buying process. To do so, start with your development team. Is your website already mobile responsive? If so, head online and test it with a number of mobile browsers. What’s showing up wrong? What’s not working properly? Better yet: do what the big tech companies do and “eat your own dog food.” In this case, that means requiring employees to only use your app or website via mobile for an entire week. You’ll be sure to come up with a long list of issues that need to be addressed.  

    3. Better Developer Training

    Employee training is valuable for all employees, but especially those in tech-focused roles, like your development team. With technology changing at what feels like the speed of light, and more and more tasks on their plate each day, it’s crucial that they stay up-to-date. As you look to improve your online training for this team, start by asking them what they want to learn about. “If you haven’t asked your technical talent what they want to learn, you could be missing an opportunity to customize your learning strategy, and more importantly, to build your business. Your technical talent is often closest to problems that will produce cost savings and or increase sales, service or efficiency if solved. Therefore, they often know what they need to learn—so ask,” suggests DeveloperAcademy.io. Use their answers, in addition to tech leadership preferences, to start searching for a better tool to implement the training they requested. Look for platforms that allow for customized lessons, dedicated implementation and ongoing development support, and gamification. All of these features make it more valuable for your employees, and easier to manage from your end.  

    4. Collaboration Tools

    With so many companies choosing to hire remote employees, it’s become imperative to implement better collaboration and communication tools. This is the only way for teams to work together without being in the same office, and luckily, technology makes it easy to facilitate. There are likely a number of collaboration and communication needs between your various employees. Consider onboarding a variety of the following tools to mitigate those woes:  

    5. Chatbots

    Chatbots are computer programs that use artificial intelligence to converse with with customers or website visitors. They’re becoming increasingly popular within the small businesses community because they can help you save both time and money. The experts at BusinessTown explain: “Hiring a developer to build a basic bot is remarkably easy and affordable … Chatbots are [also] an affordable means of providing a better customer experience. They don’t take time away from otherwise busy employees and don’t cost much money to use.” With chatbots, your business can run 24/7 without ever having to pay an employee overtime. What’s more, chatbots can help improve customer engagement and satisfaction as their needs and questions are being answered any time, day or night. Check out Impact’s list of chat bots to check out in 2018 to find the best one for your needs.  

    It’s Time for Tech Initiatives

    Now’s the time to get started on the projects that make the most sense for your business. Pick the tech initiatives that will help you work faster and more efficiently, while mitigating issues you’re currently experiencing. When your busy season comes around, you’ll be glad you took the time to make these updates now—and your employees will thank you too.
  • 15 Creative Website Design Ideas

    Thursday, July 19, 2018 by
    creative website design ideas

    15 Creative Website Design Ideas

    Have you ever clicked through to a website and immediately clicked away because you didn’t like what you saw? Maybe the website was too cluttered and it made the experience overwhelming. Maybe it looked like a website built in the 90’s and you worried the information would be out of date because the website design was. Like it or not, website design matters. Your website’s the primary face of your brand online and its design plays a key role in how your visitors experience the site. Incorporating smart and creative website design ideas gives you a way to stand out and provide a unique, positive experience for your visitors. If you’ve been considering a web design makeover, but you haven’t decided yet what you really want, these creative website design ideas can provide some inspiration. HostGator Website Builder

    1. Make It Interactive.

    Ideally, you don’t want a visit to your business website to be a passive experience. You want visitors to be engaged with the information on your pages. One way you can pretty much ensure that will happen is by adding interactive elements to your website. This can include anything that gives the visitor the power to change their experience on a page by scrolling and clicking certain parts of it. One good example of this is the Nurture Digital homepage:
    interactive web design interactive website design
    Instead of a typical menu, their different services are labeled alongside a cute animation. Scrolling over each option changes the animation slightly, and clicking opens up a page within the page that provides more information. Even though the page is different than what people are used to on a homepage, it’s intuitive to figure out and still makes it easy to find all the information a visitor needs.  

    2. Use Original Illustrations.

    An interactive site won’t make sense for every brand, but there’s a much simpler step you can take to make sure your website shows a unique brand personality. Hiring a graphic designer to create original illustrations for your website and content can help you develop a unified visual experience for your brand. Illustrations that are in the same style and color scheme across the website will tie all the different pages of your website together visually and tell visitors something about your brand personality without them even realizing it’s happening. This is a web design tactic we use here at HostGator. You can see a unified style between the images used on our homepage, our product pages, and our blog. Each one is relevant to the context on the page, but also fits in with the larger visual whole of the site.
    use original illustrations on blog create original graphics for website

    3. Use Animation.

    While it’s a bit more difficult (and costly) to achieve, animation can be another alluring way to create a memorable website experience. Adding some movement to the image on the page can draw people’s eyes and make them more interested in what they’re seeing. The Rollpark website uses a mix of animation that’s constant when you’re on the page and some that’s triggered by scrolling. In both cases, it adds something visually arresting to your experience of the page while helping draw attention to the messaging the brand wants to get across.
    use animation on homepagewebsite animation example
    You do want to be careful if you choose to use animation on your website that it supports the larger message you’re trying to communicate to visitors, rather than serving as a distraction away from it.  

    4. Incorporate Product Photos.

    Let’s be honest, product photography often isn’t particularly beautiful or interesting. But it can be. And if you take an approach to your product photography that makes it more artsy or attractive, you could make photos of your product the center of your web design. People Footwear does a good job of this. By positioning their shoes in visually aesthetic and creative ways, they create images that both serve as good backgrounds for their homepage and communicate something about the products – and not just how they look, you can tell right away from the images that they’re good for activities like walking and tennis. use original photos in website design  

    5. Use a Unique Font.

    Most of us that aren’t web designers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about fonts, but they have an effect on how we interact with different websites we visit. Choosing a unique font is a small way you can add some additional personality to your website and create a design experience that feels original. There are a lot of resources online for finding new fonts and if you want to mix things up by using different fonts on one page, Font Combinations is a useful tool for helping you pick out fonts that look good together. Caava Design uses a mix of different fonts to create a visually compelling homepage that tells you something about their style as a brand and as designers. The design all works together naturally enough that you might not notice the different fonts if you’re not looking for it, but once you notice you can see how well they all work off each other. use unique fonts in web design

    6. Make Your Content the Star.

    If you’re putting a lot of work into creating high-quality content, then you want people to find it. One option for making your content more visible is to build your website around it. Content-centric websites, sometimes called content hubs, put your valuable content front and center. They’re designed to make sure people easily notice the content options they’re most interested in. Websites that are built to center content make the most sense for media companies that have a business model based on content or for brands that want to give high priority to their content marketing programs. Makeup.com from L’oréal falls into the latter category. The entire website is focused on drawing attention to the content the brand has created around makeup subjects. People can also find the company’s products by scrolling down some, but they’re not the main focus of the website. The website clearly follows the content marketing principle of providing value first and promoting products later. how to feature content in website design

    7. Leave Visitors Wanting More.

    Sometimes less is more when it comes to great web design. If you can keep your main landing page simple but intriguing, it can make your visitors want to keep scrolling or clicking to figure out what the site is all about. The restaurant Maaemo uses this principle. At first, the only thing you see on the website is the name (in interesting font, see tip #5) with a beautiful moving landscape in the background. The only clue at this point as to what the site is for is the “Book a table” in the top left corner.   minimalist web design You have to scroll down to learn that the website is for a restaurant that specializes in using natural, local produce as a way to help people better understand the local landscape and culture through food (which makes the initial image relevant to the brand’s positioning). It’s beautiful and interesting enough to catch your attention from the first moment, but it makes you do just a little but of work to engage with the website and learn more.  

    8. Dare to Be Colorful.

    While a minimalist style can be just right for some brands, for others your personality will be better represented by a burst of color. Wistia’s website is full of vibrant colors, which makes perfect sense for an artsy brand that presents a playful personality. color block web design You don’t have to limit yourself to a basic color scheme that just uses a small part of the color palette, as long as you choose your colors wisely so they all look good together, you can make your website stand out and make its mark by using vibrant colors.  

    9. Use (Silent) Video.

    To start, let me be very clear that I don’t mean using loud autoplay videos. That creates a bad user experience and will inspire many visitors to quickly x out of the window and find another site to visit instead. But you can use silent video as a way to make the background image on your website do more by showing more. Mediaboom does this by having a video in the background of their homepage that shows people working and browsing the web. It’s subtle enough not to distract from the positioning or CTA on the page in text (the most important font and CTA button are in yellow, while the video’s in black and white), but it does some extra work to humanize the brand and provide visual information about what the business does. website design with video on homepage

    10. Make Your CTA Bold.

    A lot of the web design ideas on this list are about providing an experience that’s visually interesting or unique. But it’s important that whatever else you do with your website’s design, you also make sure it does the main job you need it to: communicating what your brand is and what makes it special. For that reason, you should make sure that your web design centers your main positioning. You want everyone that comes to your website to quickly learn what makes your business valuable. Freshbooks does a pretty good job of this on their homepage. The first thing you notice when you visit is the big blue writing that tells you they provide “Small Business Accounting Software that Makes Billing Painless.” You know what their product is, who it’s for, and why people should use it. make cta clear in landing page design

    11. Use Parallax Scrolling.

    Parallax scrolling is when the website changes as you scroll down. Sometimes it’s the background that changes and sometimes your scrolling triggers animations. Either way, it makes for a memorable experience that gives the visitor a lot to look at as they navigate the page. The Make Your Money Matter site uses parallax scrolling to let you control the pace of an animated story that makes the case for choosing credit unions over banks. It’s an intuitive and entertaining way to take people through an argument that might have sounded dry and boring if delivered in another way. parallax scroll on website

    13. Make Your Navigation Fun.

    Remember the “choose your own adventure” books you read as a kid? Getting to pick where the story went next was exciting. You can design your website to provide your visitor a similar experience by letting them pick the version of your website they want to see as they go. This can be as simple as letting them choose which persona they fall into before delivering up the correct version of the website for them. Or it can be something more fun like the “choose your own adventure” experience provided by Lower Junction.
    fun website navigationcreative use of navigation on website
    The site lets you choose between options like “Follow the Smell of Java” or take a “Tour of Moca.” Each option takes you on a different path of learning about the Lower Junction community in Toronto. It’s an innovative way to introduce people to an apartment community.  

    13. Use Gamification.

    While this option won’t be a fit for every type of website, in some cases incorporating gamification into the design of your website can be a smart way to get your visitors more engaged and drive the kind of actions you want them to take. Gamification involves providing a system of rewards in exchange for the actions you want your visitors to take – like in a video game. For example, you could devise a points system that adds up to discounts or upgrades. Dropbox uses gamification to encourage users to start using the program more actively, and to share the program with other friends. In exchange, users get more space for free rather than having to pay to upgrade. incorporate gamification into website design Gamification plays on the human desire for competition – even if it’s not against someone else. Feeling like you’re earning new levels and winning feels good. If you can create that feeling, you can get people to take action.  

    14. Pack More In With Mouseover Text.

    We’ve established that clutter is a bad thing on a webpage, but sometimes you have a lot to say. Figuring out how to get all the most important points onto the page without making the page look too crowded is a challenge. One handy design feature you can use to solve this issue is mouseover text. Stink Studio provides a collection of images with basic textual information over them on their homepage, but when you scroll over each, you get more detail on what you’ll see if you click. use mouseover text in website design That allows them to keep the website more visual, while still saying everything they need to.  

    15. Provide a Virtual Tour.

    If your business has a physical location you want to give visitors a taste of, you can use a 360 virtual tour to provide a feel for what a visit will be like. Even if you don’t have a storefront, it can be a way to humanize your brand and staff for your visitors by bringing them into the headquarters where you work every day. Virtual tours are a neat way to allow visitors a new way to interact with your brand and get more out of visiting your website. Agora Gallery uses virtual tours to give website visitors a view of the art that’s likely to entice them to want to see it in person. For someone on the fence about making a visit, a glimpse of what they’ll see when they get there could be enough to tip them toward coming in. include virtual tour on website  

    What's the Right Design for Your Website?

    Providing a unique or cool experience is nice, but it should never be at the expense of your site being easy to navigate and clearly communicating what you do. Balance creativity with function. Whatever creative web design ideas, or website builder tools you decide to use, make sure you always make it clear what your business does, why visitors should care about your brand and products, and what you want them to do next. If you know you want to take your website design to the next level, but you don’t really know how to make that happen, HostGator’s web design services could be the solution you’re looking for. We can help you put together a website that’s optimized for search, looks great on mobile, and represents your brand effectively. Get in touch to learn more.
  • How Do Search Engines Work?

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by
    how do search engines work

    SEO 101: How Search Engines Work

    So much of your business depends on being visible in the search engines. You’d like to try to understand this thing that has so much power over your success. But figuring out how search engines work can be really confusing. And it’s not just you. There’s a whole industry based around trying to understand which sites rank for which reasons, and even the information we do know is changing all the time. We can’t provide an extensive rundown of how the Google algorithm works for you (no one can), but we can provide some basic information on how search engines work that may help remove some of the mystery. Here are a few of the main things you should know. HostGator Website Builder

    The Search Engine’s Goals

    The first thing to understand about how search engines work is that their priority is providing the best possible results for what the searcher is looking for. When it comes to the natural results, the search engine is not concerned about how much a particular website owner might want to grab those top spots or think you deserve it – they only care about the people searching. By providing the information people need, a search engine can ensure those people keep coming back to use the site again. We know how well that’s worked for Google – many of us use it every day. That primary goal leads into the secondary goal that generates the company’s profits: making money on ads. Businesses pay to advertise on search engines in large part because they know a huge number of people use them every day. As long as Google keeps its users satisfied and coming back, advertisers will continue to keep the company profitable. So the search engine’s main concern is therefore how to make sure the results it delivers provide the most useful information for the consumer’s query. That’s where things start to get complicated.  

    Search Engine Index

    For a search engine to be able to identify the right web page for every possible query (or come as close as possible to such a lofty goal), it has to have a record of all the possible web pages online, along with some understanding of what’s on each of them. To do that, search engines create a massive index of web pages. This index attempts to identify and organize every website and web page on the web in a way that allows it to draw connections between the keywords people search for and the content included on each page. On top of all that, it needs to be able to assign relative quality to different web pages that cover the same topic.  This is tricky since all of this is happening with machines. People have a hard enough time agreeing on what constitutes “quality” content, but search engines have to determine it based on factors that machines can measure objectively.  

    Website Crawlers

    The first challenge of creating a search engine index is identifying all the web pages out there. This part of the job is up to website crawlers. Each time a website crawler discovers a page, it crawls the page, collecting all the relevant information on it needed for the search engine index. With that page added to the index, it then uses every link on that page to find new pages to crawl. how search engine web crawlers work Website owners can speed up the process of getting a website crawled by the search engines by submitting a sitemap and using internal linking. This is the easy part.  

    Search Engine Algorithms

    The second challenge of the search engine index is the much more complicated one: attributing relative value to all of the web pages. If the website crawler finds 100,000 pages that include content on them it deems relevant to a specific term, how does the search engine decide what order to deliver those results in? That’s where the search engine algorithm comes into play. Engineers at each of the big search engine companies have spent untold hours developing a complicated algorithm that uses a number of factors to assign relative value to websites and web pages.  

    Ranking Factors

    While there are many different factors that go into determining exactly why one page will rank over another – many more than we can summarize here, and more even than the greatest SEO expert knows – we have an idea of some of the most important search engine ranking factors Google and the other search engines take into account:
    • Links – Links are the most important ranking factor, especially external links (those that point from one site to another) because every time another website links to yours, it signals to Google that there’s something authoritative or valuable on the page being linked to. When a web page that has a lot of other websites linking to it links to another site, that link is even more valuable because of the high authority the website already has. While everything else on this list matters, a LOT of determining rankings is based on the number and quality of links that point to a website.
    • Website age – Older websites are generally seen as being more trustworthy and authoritative than new ones.
    • Keywords – Search engines are always trying to provide the most relevant results, so they look for terms on the page related to the query of the person searching. The more you use related keywords, the more it signals to the search engine that your content is relevant.
    • Mobile usability – Google has been upfront about using mobile usability as a ranking factor. If your website looks awesome on desktop, but has never been optimized for mobile use, then it could hurt you in the rankings.
    • Page speedPeople are impatient and therefore so are the search engines. A slow-loading page will rank lower because of it.
    • Behavior data – Google tracks what people do once they get to the search engine results page (SERP). If someone clicks on a page and immediately backtracks – that’s a signal that the page didn’t provide what they were looking for. If instead they spend time on the page or even click through to different pages on the site once they get there, then it shows Google that the site provides value.
    Google and the other search engines have provided some information about the ranking factors they use, but they generally keep pretty quiet about how their search engine algorithms work. They don’t want people trying to manipulate the results – something that’s long been a problem with black-hat SEO practitioners.  

    Search Engine Optimization

    While there’s definitely a lot we don’t know about how search algorithms work, everything we do know has come to form the basis of the whole field of search engine optimization. SEO is competitive and you’re limited in what you can do to grab the rankings you most want for the keywords relevant to your business, but there’s still a lot you can control and do. Our series on SEO basics will dive deeper into some of the ranking factors you can control and how to optimize your website to perform better in the search engines. Check back soon for the rest of the series. Don't miss the rest of the articles in our SEO 101 series! Want to boost your website rankings? Get expert help with HostGator's SEO services.
  • Website Architecture: 6 Best Practices for SEO

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by
    website architecture best practices

    SEO 101: Best Practices for Website Architecture

    Some websites start simple with just a few pages and little by little over the years grow into something big, complicated, and unorganized. If you don’t take time to think about your site structure early on, it’s easy for your site to grow into something chaotic before you realize it. A badly organized site is confusing for the user, hard for the website owner to manage, and bad for SEO. Whether you’re reading this soon after launching a new website or already have a years-old website that’s grown unwieldy, it’s worth taking time now to define your website architecture. It’s important for improving your SEO, and it will make your life easier when maintaining the site in the years to come. HostGator Website Builder

    What Website Architecture Means

    Website architecture is the structure you use to organize your website. For most websites, your site hierarchy should have a pyramid structure:
    • At the top is your home page, which is the most important page on the website.
    • The next level below that will include the next most important pages, so those that you want to see in your website’s main menu. That probably means your About page and the few main category pages that most of your products and content will fall into.
    • Below that will be any relevant subcategories that go under each category, followed by the individual pages that are all organized into the relevant categories you’ve defined, such as product pages.
    best website architecture for seo A website architecture helps you organize your website so that you’re giving priority to the most important pages in terms of visibility on the site while ensuring that every page is easy for visitors to navigate to when it’s what they’re interested in.  

    Why Your Site Hierarchy Matters for SEO

    To start, a well-organized website is easier for users to navigate. Given that Google cares about metrics that indicate a good user experience, such as bounce rates and the amount of time a visitor spends on the website, making it easy for your visitors to find what they’re looking for will pay off in improved behavior metrics. In addition, a clear site hierarchy makes your website easier for Google to crawl. By using intuitive, clear categories and subcategories, Google’s bots will have an easier time understanding the layout of the site, which pages are the most important (those high-level categories), and seeing how different pages relate to each other. That information helps Google better figure out what your website is about and what search terms your pages should show up for.  

    How to Build an Intuitive Site Hierarchy

    The earlier you define your site hierarchy, the easier it will be to keep your website organized in a way that’s intuitive and good for SEO. If you already have a large site, then you may have to do some work upfront to move all of your current pages into the new structure, but once your structure is in place, sticking with it in the future will be easy.  

    1. Create an organization plan.

    The first step is to sit down and figure out how best to organize your website. If you have a small site with fewer than 10 pages, then this part should be fairly simple (although it’s still important to do!). If you have a larger website with dozens or hundreds of pages, it will be a little more complicated. Aim to keep your site hierarchy as simple and straightforward as possible. Unless you have a particularly large site with thousands of pages a la Amazon, your hierarchy shouldn’t go more than three levels deep.  Ideally, a user should never be more than three clicks away from any other page on the website. Your site hierarchy will also help with element of your SEO we’ve covered in a separate blog post: your URL structure. For most online stores, the category name is included in the URL for each product page in the category. If we take an online bookstore as an example, if the website has a category for Textbooks with different subjects as subcategories underneath, the URL for a math textbook would look something like: www.book-website.com/textbooks/mathematics/name-of-specific-textbook.html This provides an extra SEO bonus, as categories become extra keywords in the URL that help Google understand what each page is about and which search terms it should rank for.    

    2. Define your primary categories.

    Think carefully about the main categories you can divide your pages into that are:
    1. Descriptive of what the different pages and products are
    2. Intuitive to any visitor to your website.
    As an example, for an online bookstore it may be possible to divide your products into categories like length or the color of the book covers, but most visitors to the website will find it more intuitive to see your products divided into categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, and common genres.    In other words, don’t choose your categories arbitrarily; they should be based on information that’s valuable to your end user. Think first about the way they search and browse, then structure your website based on that.  

    3. Define any relevant subcategories.

    Not all websites will need subcategories within the larger categories, but many will. Using the example of our online bookstore, Fiction and Nonfiction are both huge categories on their own. Visitors will have a much easier time finding a book they like if they can browse more specific subcategories like Science Fiction or Memoir. As with your primary categories, try to think like your customers in determining the most useful subcategories to include. You want them to be specific enough to be useful, but not so specific that your categories become bogged down in lots of words and details. For our purposes here, Science Fiction is a better category than YA Dystopian Books with a Female Lead (although the latter could make a good topic for content).  

    4. Minimize the number of clicks between pages.

    One of the benefits of a good site hierarchy is that it helps you create a site menu that makes the website easier for people to navigate without losing sight of other key parts of the website they may want to navigate to. If people can see the main menu on every page of the website, and see the relevant subcategories as a dropdown menu when they scroll over it, then you make it easy for people to move through your website without having to use the back button or do a lot of clicking around. This helps with the goal we discussed above of keeping every page on the website within three clicks of every other page. As you work out your site structure, pay attention to whether or not there are any pages or sections of the website that are more than three clicks from each other. If there are, then re-think your structure to correct that.  

    5. Strategically use internal linking.

    Internal links are an important SEO tool that help Google to more efficiently index your website and understand the relationship between your different pages. And since you have total control over the anchor text for internal links (the words that are hyperlinked and show up underlined in blue), they give you the chance to tell Google specific keywords to associate with the page.   Internal linking is also useful for your visitors. When they find a page on your website helpful, they can trust that the links on that page will bring them to more information that’s also relevant and useful. It gives you a way to guide them from page to page and increase the traffic of related pages on your website. As an added bonus, when you have a page that’s doing especially well in the search engines, internal linking is a way you can spread some of that page’s authority around. By linking to other pages on your website on the page that Google’s decided is authoritative, it boosts their authority as well. As with most SEO tacticss, you have to be careful not to overdo it with internal linking. Only use it when it’s relevant and helpful to visitors.  But if you keep an eye out for relevant internal linking opportunities, you’ll find that there are plenty of times you can use internal links without getting spammy about it.  

    6. Make use of 301 redirects.

    Creating a site hierarchy and re-arranging your website to fit it will likely mean moving some pages to new URLs. Anytime you change a web page’s URL – for this reason or any other – make sure you use a 301 redirect. If the page you moved has built up any link authority, you don’t want to lose it. A 301 redirect lets Google know that the web page at the new URL is the same one that people liked and linked to at the old URL. And importantly, it means that potential visitors can still find the page they’re looking for rather than ending up on an error page. Broken links create a bad user experience, something you always want to avoid.  

    Defining Your Website Architecture

    Creating a site hierarchy is a useful exercise for clarifying what you want your website to look like and how it should be organized. It’s an important step for on-site SEO, but it’s also a good practice for keeping your website organized and intuitive for both your users and yourself. Good website organization has no downsides and plenty of upsides. Don't miss the rest of the articles in our SEO 101 series! For more help improving your SEO rankings, get in touch with HostGator's expert SEO services.
  • How to Write Title Tags for SEO: 5 Best Practices

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by
    how to write good title tags

    SEO 101: How to Write Compelling Title Tags

    One of the first things most website owners learn about SEO is how little power you truly have. A lot of what determines where your website’s pages will show up in the rankings is outside of your control. But those limitations make it all the more important to do what you can with the parts you can control. Every business can at least practice good on-site optimization. It’s a relatively cheap and easy way to give your website an edge over the (surprisingly) numerous sites that don’t bother to do it. One of the most important on-page ranking factors you have control over is the title tag. best WordPress hosting

    What is a Title Tag?

    On the search engine results page (SERP), the title is the main part of a site’s listing. It shows up in blue, in bigger font than everything else, and is hyperlinked back to your website. title tag in search results On your website, the title shows up in the tab at the top of the browser (although it’s normal for a lot of it to be cut off from view here). title tag in browser The title tag is the spot in the html where you define what will show up in these places. Generally you add it to the html in the page header with a tag that looks like: <title> Title of Your Page </title> title tag in source code If you use WordPress and have an SEO plugin, you can skip the html and add the title tag to your page by filling in the field that’s labeled “Title” or “Title tag” in your plugin. add title tag with wordpress seo plugin

    Why Title Tags Matter

    Google’s goal is to deliver up results that are relevant to the searches people make. For the search engine to do that, it has to recognize what different pages on the web are about. Google discovers this information by looking at the words used on the page, but it also gives certain parts of the page more weight than others in determining the page’s content. The title tag is one part of the page that’s given a lot of weight by search engine algorithms in determining what a page is about, since it’s a short and simple way for website creators to signal what’s on the page that follows. For that reason, title tags are one of the most important on-page ranking factors. But beyond the role they play in ranking, they’re also extremely important for getting people to click on the link once it shows up in the search results. The title is the first and most obvious part of the listing they see – it’s big, it’s blue, and people expect it to provide the main information they need about what’s on the page behind that link. Ultimately, itle tags aren’t just about improving rankings, they’re about getting people to click once your webpage does show up in the search engine – which what you care about the most. And they do make a difference in that. In one case study, Ahrefs found that improving the title tag of a webpage led to a 37% increase in web traffic to that page. If you aren’t optimizing your title tags, you’re missing a big opportunity.  

    5 Tips for Writing Title Tags

    To make the most out of the space you have for title tags, follow a few best practices.  

    1. Write unique titles for every page.

    Every page on your website is unique and your title tags should reflect that. Make sure you customize the title tags on each page of your website so that they accurately describe what’s on that specific page. You want your title tag to signal to Google what the individual page is about. Plus, having a clear and accurate title is more useful to anyone who sees the page in the search listings.  

    2. Pay attention to length.

    Google will display 50-60 characters of a title tag in the search results before cutting it off, so you should generally aim for title tags that are around 50 characters or less. To be safe, you want the most important or descriptive words in the keyword toward the beginning so they’re less likely to get cut off. If you like to include your brand name in every title tag (which can be a good idea for recognizable brands), put it at the end, behind the words that describe what’s on the specific page. add brand name to end of title tag

    3. Use your target keyword (but don’t overdo it).

    Every page on your website should answer a question or provide valuable information someone will be searching for. Your website will be more useful to those people if it shows up in search for the right term – just when they’re looking for the information you provide.  So for each page, you should have a target keyword (or a few) in mind. Since Google’s algorithm uses the title tag as one of the main ways to determine what a page is about, it’s a good opportunity for you to include the main keyword you’re targeting for that page. That makes it clear to Google that this page is relevant for anyone searching for that specific term.  

    4. Be descriptive of what’s on the page.

    When your web page does show up in search, a lot of people will decide whether or not to click based on your title tag. If they click and come to a web page that isn’t what they expect based on the title, they’ll likely click that back button right away and look for another result to try. You want your title tag to provide an accurate description of what people will see when they choose to visit the web page. When people’s expectations match what they see on the page, it means a lower bounce rate and a longer time spent on the site – metrics that signal to Google your page is valuable and should keep ranking high. More importantly, it creates a better experience for your visitors. You want every visitor to like what they see and hopefully come back for more.  If your title tag isn’t clear, that’s less likely to happen.  

    5. Make a (brief) case for what’s on the page.

    You don’t have a lot of space for this, but use what you have to differentiate what makes your web page so great. Often this can be accomplished by adding an adjective in front of the descriptive keyword or additional description behind it.  For blog posts and articles, a good title tag often looks a lot like a good headline, so you may be able to use the headline you’ve already written. Make sure you really think about what on the page is most valuable or important to your target audience. Your title tag should emphasize the value your page provides to them.  

    Title Tags: Short, but Powerful

    Title tags are a short and therefore deceptively simple part of SEO. Just because they don’t require writing much, don’t assume they’re something you should treat as quick and easy. Take some time to really think about the best words to use to signal to Google what the page is about and to communicate to potential visitors what’s valuable on the page. Your title tag has to do both at once. If you get it right, it can improve your rankings and increase your click-through rates. Don't miss the rest of our SEO 101 series! Want expert help improving your SEO rankings? Get in touch with HostGator's expert SEO services.