If Google was in charge of your local library…

google libraryThanks to my nifty NSA-Lite smartphone app, I was able to record the following conversation between two Googlebots as they set about reviewing and reorganizing the books at my local library.

(Don’t worry, after this short, light-hearted detour I’ll get back to my usual posts on writing for the web and freelancing next week. And yes, for the technically minded among you, I do know the Googlebot doesn’t judge the quality of the web pages it finds and indexes. Poetic license.)

Googlebot 1: Unbelievable! It must have been literally months since anyone last checked out the contents of this library.

Googlebot 2: I hear you dude. How can they possibly maintain quality without checking for what’s new at least once a day?

Googlebot 1: Agreed. The whole place looks like a pretty sad dump to me. Anyway, let’s get started. Here’s a dusty-looking volume: 1984 by George Orwell. What have we got on this?

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Do you have an internal linking strategy for your website?

internal linkingIf you write web sites, for clients or for yourself, you probably know about the importance of linking.

Attracting inbound links from other websites is a great way to attract new visitors, and also sends a strong message to Google that your content is of high quality. (If your content was of low quality, other people wouldn’t bother linking to it.)

However, paying attention to links is not just about maximizing the number of quality inbound links from other sites. You should also pay attention to internal linking, within your own website.

Why does internal linking matter? A couple of big reasons.

– It helps your readers find related content on your website. Instead of having to search through your navigation system to find other pages they might be interested in, they can find the links right there within the body of the page, or listed at the end.

– These links also help Google make sense of your website. They let Google know which pages are related, and also the relative importance of pages on your website. Lots of inbound links pointing to a particular page suggest it’s an important page.

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Why good websites are written like junk mail.

websites written like junk mailYou might be surprised to find me saying you should write a website the same way you write junk mail.

After all, I have spent the last 15 years insisting that writing for the web is different.

Well, I’ll happily defend both positions. Writing for the web really is different, in several ways. But also, it’s important to remember that the web is a direct response medium. Click or no click. Action or no action. Response or no response.

Therein lies the similarity. Just like with junk mail, a website can only claim success when its readers take some kind of action. If a visitor simply glances at your home page and neither scrolls nor clicks before hitting the back button, you have failed. You haven’t driven action of any kind.

Let’s look at the life of a piece of direct mail, from the moment it lands on your doormat, and see how that compares with a successful website.

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It’s not about the details, it’s about the overall customer experience.

stuck on detailsAfter you have read a hundred articles by various people about how in the world of ecommerce it’s all about the details, step back and ignore them for a few minutes.

Yes, the details can make a difference.

But they won’t do you a lick of good unless you get the big picture right first. In fact, all the details should point in the same direction – towards optimizing the customer experience.

Whatever your online business, you won’t be remembered for moving that image from the right side of the page to the left side. You won’t be remembered for the size or font of your headlines either.

But what every visitor and customer will remember is the quality of the experience they had at your site, whether they have made a purchase yet or not.

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