Fix My Site

Does your site suck? Do you need professional advice? Do you not want to pay for this advice? Send me an email, and I'll take a look at your site and provide you with some real suggestions. By real, I mean real.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Make Your Site Work (In More Ways Than One)

Jami, whose site is www.abnsave.com, writes:
I really need help generating traffic to my company’s website, but I just started this website development thing and haven’t got a clue. I’m also trying to figure out how google adwords works, so any advice you have would be most excellent.
By the looks of it, Jami, you're off to a pretty good start. While the design lacks any sort of creativity or ingenuity, it makes up for it with cleanliness and simplicity, two things many sites lack. For someone who claims to not have a clue, you're doing okay on the coding end as well. There are a few recommendations I would make, though, aside from learning CSS/XHTML div layout structuring concepts (ie, using divs instead of tables to lay out your site).

My first suggestion would be to get rid of all the styles at the top of each page and aggregate them in a CSS stylesheet. I see you've got one already, but for some reason you're still using page-specific styles. The problem with this, of course, is that if you have a class that you use on one page that you want to use on another, you have to recreate this class on that page. Then, if you want to modify that class, you have to touch each page. If you keep all your styles in one stylesheet, all you have to do is touch the stylesheet and your changes are made throughout the site.

Second, put a doctype on your document. I would suggest XHTML 1.0 Transitional or Strict. If you do this, though, know that you must adhere to these standards if you wish for your code to be valid. Why should you care that your code is valid? Well, it depends on your audience. If you want to get as wide a range of customers as possible, you should make sure your code is valid, because this is the best way to ensure compatibility across browsers and platforms. If you are creating a site for a specific, known group of people using a specific browser, validation is not as important (although I will always highly recommend you write valid code). Valid code also leads to fewer headaches when things go wrong, as valid code is much easier to debug.

Okay, onto your questions about generating traffic. One way that is effective is finding a forum out there that discusses your line of business and start talking in it, putting your site at the bottom of your posts. People will follow the link. Another way is to SEO your site, which is a bit more complex. Search engine bots likely crawl most of your pages every day, and you're in the GYM, so getting indexed isn't your problem (everyone should be so lucky!). Basically, what I would suggest is going back through your site and, like I told Al, try to figure out the focus of every page and really try to tighten up your copy so that it reflects one singular idea. That way, when someone types that idea into a search engine, your page will be relevant. Sure, there are other little tips and tricks, but the best way to get to the top of search engines is to have quality, focused content.

In your quest to generate traffic, do NOT submit your site to link farms and other shady sites. This will get you banned, and no one goes to those sites anyways. Instead, try to exchange links with someone else with a similar site, or preferably just get them to link to you. You generate traffic through links.

As for AdWords (I assume you mean what you say, and not putting advertising on your site, aka AdSense), go for it. It's pretty easy, and it will generate a modest amount of traffic. Just pick your words carefully. Advertising is pretty much the only way anyone will ever hear of your site, be it paid or unpaid, so you might as well do what you can.

Anyways, hope this helped. Let me know by posting a comment here.

2 Comments:

At June 09, 2006 9:38 AM, Anonymous Jami said...

Thanks for your help! I am trying to add the doctype to my document, and I have put the below in my code, (as you suggested) but when I go to validate it at validator.w3.org, it still says that there is doctype found. Is there somewhere special I need to put this or something else I need to do? I am trying to read about this on the w3 website, but it's not very clear to someone who doesn't understand a lot about html to begin with!

I tried putting the Doc Type 1.0 strict and 1.0 transitional into the body of my code, but they didn't work. What am I doing wrong?

 
At June 12, 2006 2:00 PM, Blogger Edelman said...

Jami-

Try putting the DOCTYPE above everything in your code, including your [html] tag

 

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