eSites Network Website Design


Redesigning a Website - Important Steps

They say that the only constant thing in internet marketing is changing and nothing proves this statement more than the ever-shifting design of websites. One day it’s black, the next day it’s white. One minute it’s avant-garde, the next it’s streamlined and minimalist.

Here’s one golden rule when it comes to redesigning a website: Don’t do it for purely aesthetical purposes. Meaning, don’t engage in a website overhaul just because you want to prettify something. Your website is the single, most important and most powerful internet marketing tool you have. There’s a checklist you should follow and not do it on a whim just because you want to make something beautiful.

The Rationale of the Redesign Initiative

You have to remain grounded and know exactly why you want to redesign your website. Does this sound taken straight from the pages of The Purpose Driven Life or an episcopal circular? Kidding aside, starting with a web redesigning project without an end goal in mind is much more prevalent among website owners or organizations than you think.

A purpose or a business objective should stimulate a website redesign, not the other way around. Do you need to increase user engagement? Do you need to boost conversions? Whatever it is that you want to achieve, be sure that everything is clear in your head before making any move.

Determining Your Web Redesign Requirements

Based on your objectives, you can now pinpoint how extensive your web redesign project should be. That being said, it’s a common mistakes among companies to pull the plug on everything that currently exists and begin from square one.

There are a number of variables that you need to factor in such as your budget. Realistically, given your resources, can you really afford a full-blown redesign? More importantly, is this really what you need? Maybe there are small tweaks that you can do. Perhaps you can isolate on the problem and focus on that area. Don’t leave a stone un-turned and consider all parameters to accurately determine what your web redesigning needs are.

Learn from Your Current Site

Before touching anything on your present site, make an honest evaluation of it and be as objective as possible. Consider this as your benchmark and without bias, create a list of things that produced good results and those that did not. As you go through the process, take note of the things that you should probably repeat in your new design, those that could have worked given a few revisions and those that really turned out bad which you should charge to experience.
As the old adage goes, you need to know where you’re coming from to know where you’re going.

Assessing Your Visitor’s Overall Browsing Experience

It is easy to forget that there is an actual person on the other side of the screen. One of the most important questions web design companies oftentimes forgets to ask is: How is this site going to add value to the Internet browsing experience of users?

This is where site analytics tools such as Google Analytics come into play. For example, you can determine which web pages are serving as exit points. This might mean that users lose interest at these sections and maybe you should improve content to raise the level of engagement.

Know Your Brand

A website is not a standalone or independent entity. Websites are online representations of brands. As such, not knowing what your company or organization stands for will result in problematic designs.

Think of it as if you were creating a coat of arms or crest for your brand. With a single glance, what should your site visitors get as a first impression? That your company is credible, established and trustworthy? That’s your brand is young, fun and carefree? Design elements such as color, layout and even the typography should all contribute to build your brand image and equity.

Plan the Timing and Execution of Your Site Re-launch

There are organizations that put such a high premium on their website that a re-launch calls for a grand entrance. However, there are those that prefer to do it quietly and let the visitors discover themselves that they have a new look.

Be creative and strategic when it comes to the manner on how you would unveil your brand new web design, depending on the resources that you have. Instead of a press conference, you can do a launch wherein you can invite bloggers. You can also do a social launch, releasing materials over Twitter and Facebook. You can roll out a progression of social media posts from a teaser phase to the actual unveiling of your site’s new look. If you’re an e-commerce site, you can probably time your re-launch during a spending season such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Bridging the Gap between the Old and the New

This transition stage is often overlooked by many companies. This is especially important for websites that have been around for so long and has received significant traffic. Be sure to tie loose ends such as putting 310 redirections from old pages to the new ones and making sure that you still get the link juice from the previous link building activities that you may have performed before. Also, ensure that there are no links leading to web pages that have already been taken down so as not to ruin the user experience.

No matter how big or small the web redesigning project you are planning to do, make sure you go through all the items in this simple checklist to guarantee that you are on the right track.

Why we value future more than the past

Consider this. Your friend offers to let you use his guest house at a hill station. Touched by his gesture, your family decides to gift him a bottle of wine. It turns out that the quality of wine that you gift depends on when you give him the bottle, before or after you visit the guest house. Why? Suppose you hire a carpenter to do woodwork in your house at an estimated cost of Rs 25,000. You pay half the money upfront. But you may be reluctant to pay the other half after the work is done. Why? When you pay half upfront, you look forward to beautifying your house: The joy of expectation reduces the pain of parting with the cash initially. But when the work is completed, you are more likely to be disappointed. This is because we typically overestimate the effect of a future event. In this case, it is highly possible that you do not derive the satisfaction that you thought you would after the carpentry work is completed.

As one psychologist puts it, it is the WOMBASSA - what you think you are going to get and what you do not get when you get what you want. Now, extend this argument to your friend's gift. If you buy the bottle before you visit the guest house, you are more likely to buy an expensive wine. Why? You look forward to having a great time at the guest house and want to express your feelings to your friend. If you, however, gift the wine bottle after you come back from the guest house, you are more likely to offer a less expensive bottle. Why? You did not derive as much as satisfaction as you thought you would.


Behavioural psychologists call this temporal asymmetry. This behaviour may have important implications. In one study, psychologists found that people demand a higher compensation for the work they will do in the future than for the work that they did in the past! Likewise, another study found that a court is more likely to award lower compensation for a victim who has suffered an accident in the past than for a victim who is likely to suffer in the future.

We typically tend to value the future more than the past. And what does that mean to you? If you run a business or offer professional services, receive your fees up front, if possible.

Add Value To Your e-Commerce Store

As all of us already know that how important is e-commerce to your business so here in this post we are not going to discuss about that. What we are here is to discuss features, design and layouts which can add more value to your e-commerce store.

There are no fixed features and design defined which guarantees the success of an e-store, but several essentials are there which should not be ignored while creating an online store.

So here we are – with some desirable features to increase the usability of your e-store :

Business Logo

While shopping online, most of the time both the parties (Customer and the store owner) are unknown to each other. At that time what make customers to shop from there is Trust. Now the question is from where that trust come from? Its your logo that creates your identity and make others trust in your services. Hence it’s a good practice to keep your brand logo at the home page of your e-store to make your identity clear in front of your customers.

Hot Deals & Discounts

To make people shop from your e-store, it’s must to keep them engaged otherwise what they will do, they just leave your store and will go to some other online stores. To make people stay, it’s must to have a home page with attractive deal banners as discounts and deals are what that attracts them more and make them to shop.

So, discounts and deals are usually the first things that visitors look for, hence to make your online store usable keep such kind of deals at the home page of your website.

New & Popular Products

Homepage is the best place to house new and popular products of your store as buyers are not supposed to browse your website for an hour or two just to search for the new products added in your store.

Branded Products

You have an e-store with lots of products, so it is practically impossible to show all of them on your website’s homepage. Your store can have many kind of customers, some may be looking for discounted products and other may be for branded one. So, better to keep a category display of branded products available at your e-store at the landing page of your website as this can help you to grab the attention of potential buyers.

Shopping Cart & Search Box

Shopping Cart : It’s almost practically impossible to establish an online store without a shopping cart functionality and it’s must to have a shopping-cart icon at the homepage of your e-commerce website as this can help buyers to shop easily.

Search Box : While dealing with a large e-store with lots of goods, it’s must to have a search box. Search box helps customers to locate the specific products they are looking for.

Payment Mode Icons

An e-commerce website can have customers from all over the World and hence there can be a possibility that payment methods have some technical limitations. So, it’s always better to keep the icons of the modes of payments you accept either at the footer or at the header of your website’s homepage.

Social Media Usage

People are inclined to take in public opinion and social media websites are one of the best sources nowadays to get the info you need about anything. Also, social media accounts provide a wonderful platform for self-promotion. Hence for e-store, it’s a good platform to promote their products and keeping their customers up-to-date with hot deals.

Customer Support : Contact Number & Live Chats

While managing an e-store, there is a need to provide round-the-clock, pre-sale and after-sale support because when there is a problem or query, customers would more likely prefer to have someone they can talk with.

Store Locator

Some customers prefer to shop from the online store nearer to their place or located within their city. Hence it’s must to have a store locator tab on the homepage of your e-commerce website. It will be better to have a special store locator tab where customers can search actual store with Country and City.

Customer’s Trust

Visitors would be more inclined to make a purchase if they know that their payment details are in safe hands and this can be done only by gaining their trust. Websites are supposed to clear a security test to show their authenticity so that visitors can trust them. Some of these trust-makers are Network Solutions, clear design, detailed description of products and user reviews. Trust really plays a very important role in a customer’s zeal to shop.

We hope that the above tips will help you to make your e-commerce store more usable and interactive for website’s visitors and hence increase its profitability. If you have some more ideas that would be helpful, be sure to leave them in the comments section below.

What Your Clients Really Wants?

The world of freelancing is host to many complicated skillsets. Artists and graphic designers are constantly trying to match their talents with the numerous demands pouring out from clients. Project work can be exhilarating, yet also very stressful if you aren’t prepared.

In this article we’ll go over tips to figuring out exactly what your clients are looking for. At times it can seem like communication has fallen through and all is lost. But the ranging issues of a freelance project should not stifle your creativity. Once you understand how to effectively ask questions it’s not so difficult to get your clients on the same page.

Build a List

A great way to kick start the planning process is with a list of ideas. You can’t go wrong with a bulleted list since it’s easy to skim and provides a bare-bones outline of the project work. In this way the client can peruse what you’ve made and possibly suggest changes if needed.

Try not to get descriptive with the first draft. Put down only the ideas which need attention and explain them in 2-3 sentences. This should be enough for your client to gauge if you understand their thought processes. If it’s beneficial to include examples of other websites with similar traits(design patterns, navigation, etc.) then create a sub-list underneath each of your examples.

This list may consist of any number of ideas – UI features, page elements, graphics, or even functionality. It can become a working draft that you and the client may edit. Furthermore it allows collaboration between a single set of achievable goals and the project isn’t so wishy-washy from the start.

Provide Examples

The best way to clarify details with your client is through examples. Whenever you are discussing the project it will likely be difficult for the client to explain what they mean in technical terms. This can relate to design, but also interface effects with jQuery.

If you have a portfolio of works then maybe you’ve previously built similar functionality you can showcase. Otherwise try to keep a handful of websites in mind as you can utilize them for references. Clients will provide more valuable specs and you will feel confident when building each phase. If you can’t find a particular example try googling for better results.

With so many freebies on the web you can run into just about any pre-made open source script. There are plenty of great examples for image carousels, jQuery popups, navigation menus, and other page elements.

Keep Them Updated

Throughout the pre-planning and design process send your ideas over and communicate. Though in the end it is your client who has the final say in these matters. So pressure is on for your to conform with their desires and build what they are paying you to build.

Why get started coding a website layout when you don’t even know if the design is properly setup? There are only so many times you can go back-and-forth like this. Plan out an “average” schedule ahead of time so you have the details fresh in your mind. Touch base once during the sketching/wireframing process and again after the design has been polished off.

Work With Newer Ideas

Some clientel are smart enough to understand the basics of a website. Many will try to suggest how you should do the job, but this can feel slightly backwards. Don’t be afraid to point out some of the new source technologies available to web designers.

For example, just because your client has never used WordPress doesn’t mean their website wouldn’t benefit from the CMS engine. This is possibly one of the greatest hassles since editing page content and website administration can easily be accomplished through WP. Yet when you have a client who insists on building in straight HTML it makes your job a lot tougher.

Even other code solutions may help with smaller-scale concepts. Check through resources like Github which are host to thousands of scripts in PHP, Ruby, Python, jQuery, and SQL. Working on top of these newer code libraries will speed up development time tremendously. It also eliminates the issue of buggy code since most authors scrutinize their work religiously.

Talk About Services Upfront

It’s certainly best to discuss your services before even accepting any project work. Often times you’ll find clients who are looking for a jack-of-all-trades and will push these expectations onto any freelancer. Even finding a sole web designer & developer together can be tough, let alone other services such as marketing and copywriting.

Be sure that you clarify what can be accomplished and what you cannot do. It’s not worth the extra stress tackling excess work in the hopes of making your client a bit happier.

However I would be wrong to tell you to stay away from new ideas. If you have the motivation to help with a new project or Internet marketing plan then go for it! As long as the client understands you are not an expert they won’t be looking for expert results. It’s also a great way to expand your freelance portfolio.


Freelancing is far from the easiest job in the world. Although it can be very rewarding there are plenty of challenges to overcome. When you start working on freelance projects you need to consider a handful of strategies for dealing with clients. Networking skills are vitally important for your success.

Remember that you both need to stay focused on the same goal and communication is key. I hope these ideas can influence your process of pitching and creating new projects. Everything ultimately boils down to simplicity. Keep all the details on a very understandable level and you shouldn’t run into any problems.

Design Tips for a Cleaner User Interface

Minimalism is the design concept where you build interfaces using only the most important elements. These websites often come out looking very clean and intuitive for users. The style has been adopted in many different fashions and today influences much of the modern web.

I want to share a few design tips towards building minimalist user interfaces. A cluttered web design harbors resentment in the eyes of many visitors. Too much information overload and you’ll send people running away! But with just the right balance you can put together exceptional user interfaces which are easy to build and even easier to use.

Plan for Necessity

When designing a mockup for a web layout be sure to plan each element in advance. Make sure your website is utilizing each bit of space with important details. A clean interface will happily leave extra open white space if this is beneficial to the overall experience.

I suggest making a sketch first of all the components your website should contain. Ask yourself if each area is really vital to the overall design. Do you need a sidebar section on the homepage? Does this contain important links every visitor will need to access? There is no right or wrong answer as it varies between project.

But you should have a keen internal sense of what feels right and what feels wrong. When you can understand which page elements are necessary then it makes your job a whole lot easier. Each small page section should fit into the bigger picture like a puzzle piece.

Paint with Basic Colors

This isn’t a hard and fast rule to follow but it does help during the initial design phases. When you look over other similar clean web layouts you’ll notice many of them cater to a specific color scheme. Black, white, and grey are very commonly held together with 1 or 2 other primary colors.

When you can start designing or even wireframing on a simple color scheme it leaves more room to focus on content. There is always a chance later to change colors and append new styles. But focusing primarily on the clean interface will always bring out your most talented work.

Make Navigation Simple

Simplicity is another word I like to associate with clean design. Users on your website should feel like it has been baby-proofed for non-techies. All page text should be fairly large and easy to read from a great distance.

Even your navigation links should be very straightforward and easy to pick up just skimming the page. I lean towards using extra styles such as tabs, toolbars, dropdowns, and other fancy design methods. This can become one focal point on your page and it works brilliantly paired with a navigation scheme.

But alternatively you could employ minimalist ideas into website navigation. Links formed towards the top or bottom of the page naturally draw attention from wandering eyes. People are conditioned to expect a top and/or bottom navigation. Putting on any additional colors or textures is really just to please user aesthetics.

Clear Out Redundant Areas

You may find yourself looking over a design to pinpoint a few areas of duplicate content. In some situations like a sidebar or footer block this redundant setup is helpful. Users don’t always want to scroll towards the top just to access specific links.

But your page space is likely small and there isn’t room for so much content. Almost everything you are displaying should be unique, and oftentimes links to other web pages(blog posts, press releases, videos…). Filter out the redundant ideas and replace them with newer more useful ones. Your visitors will get much more out of the experience.

Match your Page Elements

Using the new CSS3 properties it’s so easy to create many of the difficult effects we all love. Box shadows and rounded corners are two of my favorites – but there are so many others to list. When you are styling default HTML elements like forms and buttons you should pay attention to consistency.

I like cleaner interfaces which keep the default styles in-tact. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy a customized layout. However I find that between Windows/OSX/Linux there are many differences in browsers and rendering engines. Unless you can test your site everywhere the majority of your audience will appreciate a linear experience.

Plenty of options are available for web developers looking to customize these elements. Form input fields are a great example because it’s difficult getting a consistent design between text inputs, dropdowns, sliders, radio boxes, and textareas.


Hopefully these tips can get you thinking with a minimalists mindset. Designing a clean user interface is actually a lot more work than it appears to be. You have to put yourself in the user’s shoes and see your website from their eyes. It can take months of practice but the artistic direction is phenomenal. If you have similar ideas for designing clean minimalist websites let us know your thoughts in the post discussion area below.

The Bottom Line for Projects

Working as a freelance web designer I find myself naturally jumping from project-to-project. This quick pace comes with the lifestyle and requires some serious dedication. You cannot get lost in the royalties of extra touch-ups and recoloring textures.

You need to understand how to freelance working with a bottom line. This should be your ultimate goal to achieve on every project. When working for many clients it will be difficult jumping through hoops to accommodate design choices. But in this article I’d like to share a few tips for setting your bottom line and sticking to it.

Envision the Final Product

Before you jump into coding or even open Adobe Photoshop, it may be worthwhile to plan a concept in your mind. If you can see the finished layout in your head then it’s just a matter of fleshing out the details. You’ll save loads of time going back to fix smaller mistakes if you have a plan prepared.

But having a solid finished product ahead of time also keeps you on a single course. You will know exactly what needs to be done and which steps are necessary to get there. No need to side-step your todo list and jump around on extra cool features. Sticking to a tight layout will keep you focused, working dedicated to a single end result.

Understanding Motivation

It’s important to understand why you’re even working on projects in the first place. As a new startup idea the concept is more confusing. When you are building a website for yourself it’s more about building a name, getting traffic and setting up a powerful brand.

But when freelancing it’s 99% about the money. You can still do amazing artwork and make payment your top priority – meaning your work quality will not suffer. But you must be honest with yourself about why you’re freelancing and what the ultimate goal should be. Is it necessary you freelance to keep paying bills, or more like extra income?

Either way you can use this motivation to keep everything moving. When you are stuck on a project and feel lost take a quick break and reflect on the bigger picture. This will reset your perspective on things and hopefully you won’t get caught up in all the small details.

Disregard Perfection

There is definitely no such thing as “perfect” in web design. Or any field of design for that matter. Going into a project with the expectation that it be perfect is absurd. Design is very subjective in its own way – meaning beauty is within the eye of the beholder.

If you aren’t expecting a perfect design from the beginning then you will have an easier time accepting whatever you can build! Because with such a perfectionist mindset you’ll undoubtedly end up destroying your own work with over-analyzation. Go into every project with no predetermined expectations and you’ll be surprised with each outcome.

Stick Within your Boundaries

All too often I see freelancers jumping at any project they can land. Even if the job requires some aspect which they are not familiar with – and this will generally lead to disaster.

You can’t promise work to a client if you are almost totally unfamiliar with some bits and pieces. However you also shouldn’t be afraid to try new ideas which are within your realm of control. For example, if you are already familiar with PHP but have never built an avatar upload form you shouldn’t be discouraged from accepting such a project. You can use your existing knowledge of PHP and tutorials around the web to figure out a finished product that works.

A good rule of thumb is to stay away from techniques you know nothing about. If you have never made a vector in Adobe Illustrator then you shouldn’t promise anything like that in a client’s work. Even with the myriad of tutorials out there, it’s just not feasible to learn an entirely new piece of software on a project deadline.

Accept the Finished Work

One really tough aspect for freelancers is when the project finally comes to a close. Right before you upload all the finished pages, you can’t help but second guess a few choices. Maybe you could flip through a different color scheme or reposition the ad banner?

Thinking like this will keep you holed up in front of the computer screen for too long. Meeting your bottom line is a signal that all the project requirements have been met. Once everything is done you shouldn’t feel attached to the work. This will only make it more difficult to accept the finished piece and move onto your next client.

Overall it comes down to business. Remember that your bottom line is to get paid and provide a service. Once your services have been rendered and the payment is received it’s time to move onto your next gig. If you live for the edge and excitement this lifestyle can be very rewarding! You can get your name on some really cool projects, all while learning new web technologies and getting paid to do so.


I hope a few of these tips can hold a purpose for like-minded freelancers. The field of web design is packed with young, gifted talent. And even meeting new clients can be a struggle with little experience. But when you setup a business around your talents then it’s so much easier churning out tasks and pushing forward as an independent designer.

The Ultimate Guide to On-Page Optimization

We work with a great deal of very talented website designers and developers who create first-rate websites for their clients – aesthetically superb but not always the most search engine friendly they could be. Overall it can make the project more expensive for the client because it means that we as the SEOs have to go back under the hood of their shiny new website to make tweaks for better on-page optimization.

This guide is intended to be a cheat sheet that allows you to really bake SEO into the projects you are working on – saving time and money in the long run as well as making the process much more seamless for them and your life a heck of a lot less stressful, well at least no more SEOs bugging you to make changes!

Website Factors & Site Architecture Factors

URL Structure – the golden rule when it comes to URLs is to keep ‘em short, pretty and include the page level keyword – never ever build on a platform that doesn’t allow for URL rewriting because not only are ugly URLs, well, ugly, they are also a mistake SEO wise. Short, sexy and search friendly URLs make it easy for the user to share with their social networks or link to – not to mention how much easier a logical URL structure makes website management!

Website structure accessibility – inaccessible navigations are a real headache when it comes to SEO. A navigation wrapped in javascript is bad and a menu made from Flash is worse. Now I bet you are thinking “Javascript makes a website more user friendly because it creates things like drop down menus helping the user to make better sense of the page options.” This might be true, but we need to balance usability with search engine friendly. Firstly, we shouldn’t forget that a slick looking menu/navigation bar could render a website unusable on certain devices and in certain browsers (try switching off Javascript or Flash) but from a strictly SEO perspective it could mean that pages deep within your site aren’t being indexed because the only links to them are from a menu wrapped in code that the spiders can’t decipher.

Considered use of Javascript – following on from the point above…whatever Google says, there is clear evidence that the search engine struggles to handle javascript. Reams and reams of unreadable code could mean Googlebot heads somewhere else rather than crawling any deeper into your site. It might also be causing other issues like crawl errors and damaging your website’s crawl rate neither of which are good

Canonical URLs – use the attribute to specify your preferred URL for a page. This is useful in situations where almost identical pages appear at different URLs because of something like a category choice or session ID being added. It is important to tell Google and Bing which page is the one they should index and pass all relevant link juice and authority to. Failure to implement canonical
URLs can mean duplicate content issues but more crucially loss of rankings as search engines divide link juice and page authority between the copies of the page something which could have been avoided if the correct page had been stated in the rel=canonical tag.

Unique meta titles and descriptions – to many, on-page optimization is just about changing a meta title here or there…hopefully this list will show you otherwise. Whilst making Meta title and description changes might feel like SEO from 1997, in my experience it is still a part of the bigger on-page optimization jigsaw. In my mind, it is quite a simple step in the on-page optimization process… a unique title and description for every page front-loading page level keywords in a natural non-spammy way. There are of course other meta tags that you can include, e.g. ‘keywords’ and whilst I am sure some people will disagree with me on this, I only see the use of optimizing the titles and descriptions, tags like the keyword data have been abused to the point of rendering them almost a complete waste of time. Google might not always use the title and description you give a page but at least you’ve told the search engines what the page is about and if Google does decide to use your title and description, you have some influence over encouraging a user to come to your website over the other choices in the SERPs.

Robots.txt file – a good starting point for robots.txt best practice is this guide from SEOmoz. It is always worthwhile ensuring a robots.txt file doesn’t contain any unwanted directions for the search bots, even if you haven’t added anything, someone or something working on the site before might have.

XML Sitemap – fairly common practice nowadays but still worth a mention. An XML sitemap should always be available. It helps make the search engines aware of all the pages on your website and increases the likelihood of faster inclusion in the index for newer pages.

Website speed – I’m sure this issue is right at the fore of your mind when it comes to building websites because it is a really hot topic right now. Google recently enabled all webmasters to monitor page loading speed directly from their Google Analytics dashboard; if they’ve made it that easy for you, you can bet they are using this data as part of their calculation as to where to rank your website. Google loves to improve user experience and since a fast loading page is definitely a better user experience, I can see this playing an increasing role in SEO of the future, particularly in competitive markets. Also, conducted a study and found that for every 100 millisecond increase in page load time, their sales decreased by 1%. Therefore the reasons for improving page speed go way beyond just SEO! There are multiple ways to improve site speed so I won’t go through them all here but all I will say is code responsibly, choose a good host and setup a CDN (content delivery network) if your client is targeting users worldwide.

Content Factors

I was in two-minds as to whether to include this section in the final guide because as a designer you might have limited control over content factors but there again in my experience; designers certainly have some responsibility for either the content itself or for formatting and publishing so I feel it is worthwhile to mention these factors.

Content language – Google uses the language the text content has been written in as a reference point for the relevance to the user making the search query. If you are targeting an English speaking country then content should be written in English. Obvious really but it does reinforce the need for localized websites if you are helping a client to target other countries that speak different languages.
Content uniqueness – one phrase I am sure you are bored of hearing is ‘create unique content’ if you want to do well in the search results. People keep saying it because it is true. Unique content sends the right kinds of quality signals to Google because more users engage with it and talk about, they share it, it generates more links. Encourage your clients to invest in useful, unique content that offers real value to the reader or if necessary take responsibility for this yourself.

Amount of content – the recent Google Panda algorithm update has had an impact on what could be considered the right ‘amount’ of content. My suggestion is that you encourage clients to consolidate existing content or target new content creation efforts towards smaller but higher quality hubs of content. Help and advise clients to remove pages that are basically just a carbon copy of another page on the site but with a few different keywords.

Unlinked content density – pages that contain a lot of links particularly to external pages never look good in the eyes of Google. It gives off a link farm/poor quality directory/paid link operation type vibe which is not just damaging to the page but also to the website and to the pages it links to. Whilst there isn’t an optimum density, as a rule of thumb the number of links should feel natural and be well balanced with unlinked text or other types of content. If all the links are absolutely necessary, consider breaking them down into smaller categorized pages to improve the unlinked content density.

Is the content well-written? – there isn’t any direct evidence that suggests Google penalizes a website for poor spelling or grammar however that being said, a badly written page is off-putting for the user and will therefore send off the wrong kinds of signals to readers or potential customers and since Google is incorporating user feedback like bounce rate into its algorithm, keeping the user happy is vital.

Expertise and Depth of content – Google is smart and since it is on a mission to organize the world’s information, I would be willing to bet that it has already hit the mark or is close to it when it comes to understanding how deep a piece of content goes and whether the author is an expert or not. Algorithmically it could probably quite easily detect if key topics within the theme have been discussed and whether there are any factual inaccuracies meaning it is more important than ever to really be the expert.

Keyword location and repetition – it is widely accepted that Google places more emphasis on links that appear higher up a page. This is based on the logic that if something is important, it is likely to be included first. My suggestion is always (provided it looks natural) to front load the heading of the page with the keyword being targeted and then to mention the keyword within the first paragraph and then depending on the length of the page at selected intervals throughout the text. The key is to keep it natural, there’s no optimum keyword density but there certainly is such a thing as over optimization and keyword stuffing both of which will see the page and possibly the site subject to a penalty. Interweaving keywords into text so that it is good for both user and search engine can be quite challenging but it is worthwhile.

Spam keyword inclusion – if you run an adult themed website then of course this is unavoidable but be vigilant of quite innocent and accidental inclusion of these keywords on what would ordinarily be a very family friendly website. This will be a real turn off for the search engines because of safe-search filtering and also because it may suspect your website has been violated by hackers who have injected spam keywords and links.

Internal Linking Factors

Number of Internal links – one of the reasons that Wikipedia ranks so well is thanks to its internal linking structure. Of course each of the pages wouldn’t hold so much weight if it weren’t for the overall authority of the website but the online encyclopedia has still mastered internal linking best practices. It adds a link to another page on the site wherever it feels natural and will be useful to the user allowing them to flow through the website. You can take this concept and apply it to your client’s website helping them to increase pages per visit, improve user experience and ultimately improve page rankings through increased link volume. They may ‘only’ be internal links but the will still serve enhance your off-page link building efforts.

Anchor text of internal links – anchor text is still an important factor in link value. It will likely decrease in importance thanks to the abuse of it but for now it is still a case of anchor text rules. Use this with care however, particularly if you are working on a very large website where internal link implementation could potentially result in hundreds if not thousands of links with the same anchor text which would be easily detectable by Google and may result in a penalty. Just as with off-page linkbuilding, internally, it is also important to vary anchor text. Consider making the header navigation a keyword anchor text link, the breadcrumb a variation of this and in-content links something like “learn more about our services” – too many anchor text links can be overkill.

Source of internal links (content, breadcrumbs, navigation) – when it comes to link building campaigns, it is always advisable to encourage links from a variety of sources, the same applies to organizing internal links. Take care to ensure that links to internal pages are balanced. Too heavy reliance on for example breadcrumb navigation could mitigate some of the power of internal links.

Quality Factors

Google is making leaps and bounds towards making truly high-quality websites more visible in the search results. It is important to ensure you are helping clients give off the right kinds of ‘quality signals’: here are some factors worth considering.

A gorgeous design – Google can’t quite grade the looks of your website just yet but it can gauge the reaction of visitors. Good looking websites keep people engaged and stop people clicking away meaning it keeps the bounce rate low. Google utilizes user feedback metrics like bounce rate so anything you can do to improve the user experience is going to be a big win in the SEO arena.

Custom(ised) design – it doesn’t have to be a completely custom design but it is reasonable to assume that Google looks less favorably upon websites that use free or even premium themes but do absolutely nothing to make it their own. I’d imagine that Google takes this stance because it is quite reasonable to say that a webmaster who hasn’t bothered to get the basics of a website right is unlikely to be creating something high-quality in the long run. That might be an over-simplification and a sweeping generalization but Google is trying to crunch vast swathes of data and web pages, it doesn’t have the time to individually review every page out there.

Address, privacy policy, TOS, and other brand signals – Google post-Panda is looking to promote ‘real’ businesses and brands. Adding an address, a privacy policy and other basic housekeeping that reputable online operators would have on their website, can make all the difference with how well a website performs in the search engines. This Google blog post offers some guidance on building high quality websites and one of the rhetorical questions asked is “Would I trust this website with my credit card details?” If the answer is no then it would suggest there are some quality issues that need addressing.

On your radar for the future

Rich snippets and page markup – is a collaboration between all the major search engines to allow webmasters to markup their pages and provide more information about them. This markup (or at least some of it) will be incorporated in the search results pages more and more in the future. Read the recent Google Webmaster Central blog about this

There may well be other things that you feel are important in the on-page optimization process but the above is simply my 22 point checklist for optimizing websites.

Your Website Can Change the Way You Do Business

1. Be Open For Business 24 Hours a Day

Your business is open to the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no labour costs. An online store never closes. And a website faces no time zone barriers.

2. Look Big, Important, and Credible

If you still do not have a Web presence you are inadvertently making a statement about your inability to embrace technology and adapt to change in today’s dynamic environment. Especially for a small business, a well-designed website is a great way of creating credibility and looking bigger than you actually are. When one compares the cost of establishing a website to what it costs to promote a business on the traditional media (newspaper, radio, television), it is evident that a website is the cheapest form of marketing ever created.

3. Make Information Always Available

You can provide 24 hour customer services without hiring any additional employees. Your customers are better served when they can access information about your product or services immediately via your website rather than waiting for a mailed brochure or a return telephone call. Provide answers to frequently asked questions on your website. Information requests can be processed immediately via online forms and autoresponders whether someone is in the office or not.

4. Update Your Brochure for Free

A website is your online brochure or catalogue that can be changed or updated at any time at a much cheaper and faster rate than print material. It saves you money on printing and distribution costs.

5. Change Your Marketing Strategies

You can provide photos and detailed descriptions of your products or services, and show people how your products or services can help them in their personal or professional lives. Link in to Social Media to create a buzz around your brand and boost Sales.

6. Ensure Stability

You may move your place of business, change your phone number, or even change your hours, but your website address never changes, and your website is always open.

7. Take Control Over Your Own Internet Identity

Your own domain name ( establishes a strong online brand identity, and allows you to set up email addresses specific to your own company.

8. Promote Your Services

Lawyers, doctors, financial consultants, entertainers, realtors and all service-oriented businesses should take advantage of the massive reach of the Internet. Millions of users are logging on to the Web to compare various specialists and practitioners before they purchase a specialized service.

9. Be in Touch With Your Customers

You can gather information about your existing and potential customers by using online forms and surveys. Provide a feedback form to make it easy for your customers to send their input. Conduct surveys to find out how you can improve your products and services. Your site statistics can also help you understand how your visitors and customers use your site.

10. Function As a Great Recruiting Tool

Your website is a great recruiting tool for building your business. Everyone looking for a job today checks out businesses in their field for job openings, and some of your best future employees may find you online.

So whether your business is large or small, you need to use the web smartly and right now if you want to make an impact. Try it and you’ll be amazed at the results.