Monthly Archives: May 2010 | Force 5
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Monthly Archives: May 2010

May
21

Is Your Website Customer-Centric?

Posted on May 21, 2010 by force5

In case you haven’t noticed the web is changing. There is a huge movement underway toward clean, simple, user friendly websites that promote productivity and, consumer interaction. The average consumer doesn’t care how creative a design team you have or, how technically advanced your development team is. They want information. Honest, peer driven information.

Whether a potential customer is at your site to buy a product, comment on your organization, read reviews, download a podcast or, read your latest blog entry, it’s your job to keep them interested and coming back. This is what customer-centric website design is all about.

So what is a customer-centric website?

Simple.  A customer-centric website focuses on your customers and what they want. Today’s online consumer is not interested in your company, products or services – they are interested in themselves. A customer-centric websites is structured so the customer can easily find what they want or get answers to their questions. By focusing your website on customer benefits and, ensuring a unique user experience, you will not only increase loyalty you’ll generate the much coveted word-of-mouth advertising; both key drivers of online sales.

There are a few basic steps you can take to get started on the road to a customer-centric website
• Clearly define your product or service and how customers will benefit from it
• Make sure your contact information is never more than a click away
• Clearly organized and easily navigable site content
• Place links in consistent locations and include them on every page
• Review your content for spelling and grammar mistakes
• Allow customer feedback on products, services and the site
• Make it easy for customers to get what they want
• Ask customers for a bare minimum of information to register or sign up
• Include in-depth, well written FAQ’s
• Make it easy for a customer to get support

A successful customer-centric website is created by meeting customers’ needs better than anyone else. If you focus every aspect of your website on meeting your customers’ needs you’re much more likely to remain a preferred provider. Remember, your customer is your best source of advertising. Give them what they want and they will tell the world.

Don’t get left behind.  Take the next step toward a true customer-centric website. Contact Force 5 today at 574-234-2060 or info@discoverforce5.com.

May
07

Sitemap.xml

What are Sitemaps and why are they important?

Sitemaps are a tool for developers to inform search engines about the website content that is available to be indexed. The sitemap protocol is made up of XML that contains a list of URLs, last modified dates, and page priorities for your website.

Here is a quick sample in simple form of a sitemap.xml file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset  xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9”>
  <url>
  <loc>http://www.discoverforce5.com/</loc>
  </url>
  <url>
  <loc>http://www.discoverforce5.com/About/</loc>
  </url>
</urlset>

For more information on sitemap protocol and XML tag definitions visit: http://www.sitemaps.org/protocol.php#xmlTagDefinitions

Below you will see two optional attributes available to include in your sitemap. The new attributes you see will be <changefreq> and <priority>. As stated within the sitemap documentation:

  • <changefreq> refers to how often a page is likely to change even though search engines may not crawl that often.
  • <priority> refers to the priority related to other links/URL’s within your site.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset  xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9”>
  <url>
  <loc>http://www.discoverforce5.com/</loc>
  <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
  <priority>1.00</priority>
  </url>
  <url>
  <loc>http://www.discoverforce5.com/About/</loc>
  <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
  <priority>0.80</priority>
  </url>
</urlset>

For more information about sitemaps and more advance information head over to www.sitemaps.org.

Next steps - Submitting your sitemap to the search engines

Each search engine is different in how they approach webmasters in submitting sites. Here is a list of locations to submit your sitemap.xml to search engines:

Tying in both the sitemap.xml with robots.txt

In part 1 of this series discussing robots.txt, you can declare the location of your sitemap.xml file for web crawlers/bots. Here is an example what a Robots.txt would look like:

User-agent: *
Allow: /
Sitemap: http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml

A quick refresher about the syntax above: "User-agent: *" is defining all bots and "Allow: /" is stating index all folders.

If you have multiple sitemaps you can declare them in your Robots.txt file. Here is an example in how to do so:

User-agent: *
Allow: /
Sitemap: http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap-1.xml
Sitemap: http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap-2.xml

In conclusion, having a sitemap.xml is not required for successful search engine indexing. Although, at Force 5 we believe it is beneficial when submitting your site to search engines that your site will be properly indexed. A great example is when a new site is going live where older pages may no longer exist in the same location. Even though search engines use other methods on indexing your site, using Sitemaps will in the end help the indexing process.

If you have any SEO needs or questions please give Force 5 a call.