Blogs and SEO

Blogs and SEO
What are blogs? Why are they important for Search engines and why are they important for your website?  

What is a blog? Most people don’t know what blog means.

The definition of blog is:
blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblogvideos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio(podcasting) are part of a wider network of social mediaMicro-blogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts.

You can see that a blog adds interactivity and up-to-date content to your website. The only catch is that you have to add the blog entries and keep them updated.

How does this relate to your website?

Most websites have a blog attached to them that gives updated information regarding the subject of the website. Clients or people interested in the subject of the site will look for blog entries when they come out because it gives them up-to-date information on the website or subject. This keeps visitors coming back to your website to look at the new blog posts.

For example, I keep an eye on new adobe products by linking to their blog from iGoogle. Whenever a new product comes out I go to the blog entry and read it. This keeps me coming back to the website for more.

A blog on your website also makes your website more up-to-date and useful. Major search engines like Google and Yahoo can detect that you have updated information. A website that is frequently updated is given more inportance in search results. The moment you don’t update your website for a while is the moment that it starts slipping in the rankings.

Most Blogs are created so that they stand on their own. A lot of companies put valuable time and effort into their blog and treat it as an important individual website — as it should be.

Making a standalone blog can still be very beneficial to your website and/or client base. An example of this: if you are a sign company and have a website for your company. You could have a blog on signage techniques that would direct people to the main website and also provides useful information regarding your line of work.

Some ways to set up a blog

– Set one up on your web server using plain html and add posts by uploading new HTML files (Not many people do this. It is very inefficient)

-Set one up using a blogging system for your server like “WordPress” www.wordpress.com

-Set a blog up by using blogger.com  www.blogger.com

-There are many other ways to set up a blog click here to find more

I hope that helps you understand blogs and how they help your website.

Website Sales Optimization

increasing-web-salesThis tutorial covers optimizing a website for sales. What does this mean exactly and why is this important.

An example of this is a website I was optimizing that got visits, but no sales. After some steps to optimize it for sales made it a much more productive site that actually sold the intended product almost instantaneously.

There is a lot of hype about page rank, keywords and showing up as number 1 on the search engines, which might tend to distract someone from the real purpose of their site. Do not get me wrong — the subjects I brought up are very important for your website. The point I am making here is that there is so much more involved in getting your site to accomplish it’s purpose.

In most cases, the purpose of the site is business — which would indicate making money by delivering a product.

When you are making a website to sell a product, there are a couple of things you could do to optimize your site for sales. I will go over these next.

The first thing to do when optimizing your website for sales is to go through the exact thing a customer would do to buy something on your site, literally as if you were going to buy something.

After you have done this you need to figure out how you can make it as quick and simple as possible for the customer to buy products on your website.

Once you have finished the first step (Making it as simple as possible to buy products on your website) then move onto the next step: Find ways to get the customers to want to buy.

Wow! that sounds simple… well obviously this step takes some research and thought. The way to do this would be to find out what makes the customer want to buy. You might need to survey a number of customers to find out what makes them want to buy or what they don’t like that makes them not want to buy.

As an example — for one website that I was optimizing, I found out that the customers for that site liked to be able to have a rush shipping option. When we added a box to the home page that said “Rush shipping available”. The sales went up. No money was lost by allowing for rush shipping because the customers paid for the rush (Which they were happy to do to get the item into their hands faster)

The above example just shows what you can to to increase your websites sales by adding small things which communicate to the customer something desirable about buying your products.

After you have optimized your site you want to concentrate on getting more people to your site who are the correct kind of people.

A Site that sold jewelry that had teenage punk rockers being directed to it will not sell — no matter how good it is. Keep this in mind when you are doing other optimizations to your website to get people to it.

I will sum up what was just gone over into 3 basic steps.

3 basic steps for optimizing your websites sales:

  • Ensure the buying process is as simple and fast as possible
  • Communicate desirable things to your customers that will get them to buy
  • Get a lot of the right kind of customers to your website (SEO and Advertising)

Great WordPress theme club: Elegant Themes

 

Elegant Themes
Elegant Themes

 

 

I was looking around for a while for some well built wordpress themes. I spent many an hour downloading, installing and setting up themes. I couldn’t find anything I really liked.

I was trying to find something with some nice affects, Ajax and something solid.

I stumbled onto Elegant themes and looked at the demos. Almost all of the themes are very nicely designed and well put together.

The only bad thing is the cost. It’s 20 bucks to be able to download any template for a year.

I have used 3 of the templates on my sites and they are great. So far, this is the most valuable set of WordPress for the money.

Other “Theme Clubs” charge you $50 for one overdesigned theme with just enough special effects and glitz to distract you from your wordpress blog’s actual content.

So far I’ve used Evid, EGallery and Quadro(For this site). 

Check it out: www.elegantthemes.com

If you like the themes, leave us a comment. We’d love to hear what you think.

Cloning Basics

Photoshop Cloning

This tutorial will give you an idea of how to productively clone an object out of an image.

Some people might wonder why it is called cloning. This is because you are creating a part of the image
that was not there from other parts of the image. In this tutorial I will tell you some of the basics. Please bear with me, it is difficult to show you in detail every step without overbloating the post with images.

Level: Intermediate (can be useful for advanced Photoshop users)

Photoshop Version: CS4 (Can apply to Earlier versions up to Photoshop 6)

Tutorial:

In this image is a bug that we are going to remove. We are going to clone it out by placing pieces of the image over it until it is gone. Each person using Photoshop will have their own way of doing this — so take note: this is my way of doing this particular action.

The first thing we want to do is to clone out the major part of the image by using a piece of the image, here we select a square part of the petal.

Next, go to [Layer->New->Layer via Copy] to copy the selected square to a new layer above the background image.
Next, drag the copied layer over the part of the bug as shown here.
Select the eraser tool and select a brush with a very blurry edge.

Then erase a little bit all the way around the piece of the petal.

Next, while holding down the [Alt] key, drag the image piece to cover up different places of the bug as shown below. (Don’t worry if it goes over the edge of the petal — in the next step we will clean this up.

From the last step you will have made numerous layers when you were copying the piece to cover up the bug, now you will need to merge all of the layers above the background layer as shown here.

Once you have merged all of the layers, select the eraser tool. Select a brush with a slightly blurred edge. go around the edge of the shape with the brush, cleaning up any part where the color blured over the edge.
After that, using the clone tool, clone out the major parts of the bug that can be easilty cloned. Use a sensible brush size with a bit of blur when cloning.

Next, zoom up to the detailed part on the bottom side of the bug. Clone out the leftover parts of the bug with a small brush. You can be kind of sloppy here because we will be doing some cleanup work on this part later.

Then merge both layers as shown below.

Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool.

Select the area around the petal and the leaf.


Feather the selection with a 15 pixel radius.

Changing specific color regions in an image

 

Level: Intermediate (can be useful for advanced users)

Description:

This is a tutorial on changing specific colors in an image using the color range tool in Photoshop.

You can use this tutorial to easily change regions of color in an image to different colors. This can be very useful if you want to make a part of an image fit into the color scheme of the background or even just changing the color of someones dress or a clothing item.

Photoshop Version: CS2 (Can apply to Earlier versions up to Photoshop 7)

Tutorial:

The first step here is to go to the menu [Select->Color Range].

Then click on the area of color in the image that you want to change. Here we are clicking on a red part of the women’s dress.

The end goal for this tutorial is to change the color of her dress.

You can use the plus and minus eyedropper buttons to add more regions of color to the selection. Here we are just using one sampling of red. Adjust the fuzziness. (The amount of similar colors to the one you clicked to add to the range. If you go higher it will select any kind of red, if you go lower, it will only select a ceartain amount of reds similar the the area of her dress that you clicked)

Click ok to see the selected area of the image. As you can see here, we selected her dress but her lips are close to the same color so they were selected as well. The next step shows you how to remove those areas that you want to leave alone.

Click on the “Edit in quick mask mode button on the toolbox. This will bring you into the “Quick Mask” mode which will allow you to edit the selection by using the brush tool.

All of the areas that are pink are the areas that are not selected. Select the brush tool and make sure your foreground color is black. Paint out the area around her lips and head. This will remove the selection from those areas.

Once you have done this, click the “edit in standard mode” in the toolbox. This will return you to standard mode where you can see the dancing ants around what is selected. You will notice that the area that you painted out is no longer selected.

Now you can do whatever you want with her dress because you now have it selected. Here I show you how to change her dress color from red to purple. Go to the Menu [Image->Adjustments->Hue/Saturation] and set the settings shown here. You can also experiment with the sliders to see what colors you can get.

Here is the finished dress showing the color has been changed.