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Archive for the ‘Web Design’ Category

No question, video is the next big thing for golf websites.  But just like adding photos to your site, it has to be done right.  I think Seven Canyons is doing a great job.  My only suggestion is the video should not start automatically.  The photos and video definitely make me want to visit this place!

If you’re going to add video, make sure it streams so users don’t have to wait for the entire video to download.  Flash is the most popular method and is easy to add to your site.  You can also embed YouTube videos, though they won’t look as professional.

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We’ve gone over a few pointers on how to increase your ranking and therefore traffic from search engines.  Now I would like to talk about keywords.

When someone types into Google “St. Paul Golf”, those sites that include those keywords will come to the top.  And when search engines rank the keywords in your site, they place the most value:
1)  On the home page
2)  The higher up in the page they appear
3)  Whether they are bold or in a larger font
4)  If they are included in the title of your page
5)  If they are part of your domain name (www.stpaulgolf.com for example)

So it’s important to include your keywords on your home page and try to include them as high on the page as possible. Many sites like to include just a photo with little or no text on their home page.  They feel this gives a sense of professionalism or class to the club.  But this dramatically hurts your ranking. You’ve lost your best chance to gain viewers through search. Here is an example of a site with NO text on the home page.

So when creating the most important page of your site, the home page, remember to keep both your viewers and search engines in mind.  No other page can bring you more viewers or keep them away then a poorly thought out home page.  And you should carefully think about the keywords you want to rank highly. For a tool that shows you the popularity of search words, check out this site.

There is another tag, unseen by viewers, called a keywords meta tag.  This would normally include words you want to be searched for.  Because of abuse by some websites, this meta tag is no longer used by most major search engines.  I no longer even include the tag.

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Golf Course Blogs

I’ve wondered if any club has been using blogs successfully as a way to communicate with their members.  Now I think I have the answer as Northland CC has a great blog. Some items just don’t seem like they fit in an email or on your website. One unique and positive aspect of blogs as that people can post comments that everyone can see.  You can’t do that with email or your website as easily.

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Attracting Visitors

There are many ways to attract visitors to your site but none may be more important than using good SEO (search engine optimization) techniques.  Search engines, and Google specifically, will always be your main source of getting new viewers.

We already touched on why you should not use graphics as a way of displaying text.  Search engines cannot ready graphics.  There are many others and here are a couple:
   Content:  Nothing is more important than well written, current, changing and lots of  content. If you are trying to improve your outside outings business, make sure you have a separate page for outings AND talk about that on your home page.  SE’s (search engines) give more priority to what is on your home page so don’t just put a link to your outings page; discuss it on your home page.
  Outbound links:  Make sure you have lots of links within your site linking to other pages within your site. If you think another page within your site is important, then SE’s will too.  And it’s not a bad thing to have links to other sites.  Though this will improve your SEO there is also the downside of sending users to another site.
  Inbound links: This is one of the most important and what made Google what it is today.  If other sites link to you then you must be a site that is of value.  Google calls it “page rank” and the higher your page rank the higher your SERP (search engine ranking position) .  You can find out your page rank by going to this site: http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/pagerank-lookup/  A page rank of 3 is  good.  4 is very good and 5 is terrific.

In a later post we’ll talk about some other ways to improve your site for search engines.

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Text on Your Website

When I deal with a new client, one of the biggest discussions (argument?) we have is how to display text.  Many people want to display their text as a graphic because it gives them more control over the type of font and various ways to dress it up by using shadows, gradient fills, etc.  Hey, I admit it looks great!

But text should almost never be a graphic.  Just look at the new Golf.com website which I think does a terrific job in web design.  You see almost no text displayed as a graphic.  From the “Web Pages that Suck” site, they pretty much sum it up:

“Text is Text. Don’t use graphics or Flash for text. The first reason is it increases the size of the page; the second reason is it isn’t search engine friendly; the third reason is the graphics are often of poor quality and are aliased (jaggy); and fourth, mistakes are hard to correct.”

Another mistake is not having enough contrast.  Remember that not everyone has a quality monitor or have it set properly.  I have put together sites that look great on my expensive graphics monitor only to show it to a client on their machine and you can’t read the text. Remember that search engines are blind.  They can’t read graphics, they only can read text.

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There are all kinds of great articles about what makes a good website.  But I find some of the best at a place called “Web Pages That Suck“.

Look over this list, and I’m sure you’ll find some good info.

Here’s a quick list from their site:

  1. Believing people care about you and your web site.
  2. A man from Mars can’t figure out what your web site is about in less than four seconds.
  3. Mystical belief in the power of Web Standards, Usability, and tableless CSS.
  4. Using design elements that get in the way of your visitors.
  5. Navigational failure.
  6. Using Mystery Meat Navigation.
  7. Thinking your web site is your marketing strategy.
  8. Site lacks Heroin Content.
  9. Forgetting the purpose of text.
  10. Too much material on one page.
  11. Confusing web design with a magic trick.
  12. Misusing Flash.
  13. Misunderstanding the use of graphics.
  14. AfFrontPage
  15. Javascript

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Flash on your site

I have to admit it.  I dislike Flash websites. I have the software and know how to use it’s basic functions.  But other than fading in/out photos, I can’t find another useful purpose.  Now here is a very attractive Flash golf course site that is created entirely with Flash. One major downfall is that it kills search engine ranking.  You also can not set up a CMS (content management system) so users can edit their own content, the pages are not searchable (CTR-F) and they usually require you to double-click links rather than the standard single click.  And many sites tend to have too much of the “gee whiz” effect for me.  Are these the kinds of sites that people will want to see time and time again?  Most of your visitors are not first-timers.  Or at least you hope not.

If you’ve found a really good, functional Flash created golf site, let me know.  I’m still looking…..

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