A guide for the modern web for small businesses

The online world, it is a changing. Google updates their search engine all the time and what worked before may not only not work anymore, but it may be hurting you.
Also, SEO is a long game. Old tricks may provide bumps in traffic here and there but a clean implementation will provide steadier gains over the long haul.

Back to basics

First and foremost, you want to make sure you’re done with the basics.

  • WHO is coming to my site?
  • WHAT are they doing on my site?
  • WHERE are they coming from? How are they getting here?
  • WHY are they here?
  • WHEN do I have the most traffic? Weekends? Early morning?


Do you know how many visitors your site has? Is your traffic mostly from desktop browsers (Desktops, laptops) or from mobile browsers (iPhone, Android Phones, Windows Phone, etc.) If the answer to this question is no, go ahead and install Google Analytics on your site. Adding Google Analytics to your site allows you to start tracking your site’s performance and see how many people are coming to your site, where they’re going on your site, and how long they’re spending on each page of your site. You can even get fancier by using Google Analytics to track events on your site (downloading a brochure, for example).

If your site is comprised of static HTML files, you’ll need to add the block of code to each of your pages.
Most modern content management systems (Drupal, WordPress, Joomla) will have some plugin that can facilitate your integration. For this site, I use the WordPress plugin Google Analycator and and it makes integrating Google Analytics very easy. The plugin also has an option to disable Google Analytics tracking when I’m logged in so my tests don’t count towards the analytics.

Do you know how your visitors got to your site?

Google Webmaster Tools was recently re-branded to Google Search Console. If your site isn’t showing on Google, or if some of your newer pages aren’t showing in search results, used Google Search Console to add an updated sitemap containing entries for your new pages.

Additionally, Google Search Console allows you to see how your site performs for different searches and allows you to track the change in search performance over the previous month.

Old/ “Black hat” techniques that need you need to stop right now

If your site has been around for a while and you added links to your site to all sort of random places around the web as a means of building links to your site, this may actually be hurting you. Google’s Search algorithm updates (Panda, Penguin) have started identifying these sorts of site and have assigned negative points to the sites linked to them.

Just like having a well indexed site linking to you helps your Google ranking, having a site that has received penalties linking to you will hurt your rankings. If you’ve noticed a dip in your rankings, do what you can to remove the links to your site and see how your traffic is affected over a couple weeks.

SEO and Search Page Rankings

SEO as it’s been known in the past few years is not so much dead as that it has evolved. The old mantra of “Content is king” still stand but now it’s also about how your data is presented in search results. What is your business’s social footprint? Yelp/Facebook/Google+ ratings and reviews, mentions on Twitter for mobile searches (http://techcrunch.com/2015/05/19/google-adds-tweets-to-its-mobile-search-results/)… these social signals can help your rankings and also improve how your business is presented in the search results.

Integrating Google Web Fonts

.post-434 { font-family: ‘Jura’; }

Historically, web designers have been limited to the fonts they can use in live text. Enter Google Web fonts. This will allow you to integrate any website.

I have used the Google Web Fonts API to integrate the Jura font for this post by adding the following to my HTML:

<link href="http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Jura&v1" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" />
* { font-family: 'Jura'; }

You can view more font options on the Google Web Fonts site.

Why did I choose this font? I wanted to use something that was easily differentiable from the surrounding content.

Siobahn has a more thorough article on using the Google Web Fonts API here: http://wpmu.org/how-to-use-the-google-font-directory-with-wordpress/

Google Finance Web Service Fail

Google Finance AJAX Fail
I'm assuming this was due to a timeout

A couple weeks ago, I was checking out Google Finance and noticed something scary. One of two things had just occurred; either the whole world just went broke or (slightly more likely) the web service call to retrieve the data had failed or timeout.

While the scenario was quickly fixed by refreshing the page, these are the usability points that are commonly overlooked when designing for UX. What should happen in case of failure? In this case, the default value that’s used is a 0 (zero). When dealing with numeric values, I prefer to show “N/A” or “NaN” if the audience is mathematically inclined.

Motion Capture, Kinect, and You

UPDATE 2: June 16, 2011

The Kinect SDK (beta) has been released on June 16, 2011. Download it here.

UPDATE: April 15, 2011

Scott Guthrie announced the SDK in his keynote speech at MIX 2011. Additionally, each attendee was also given a Kinect to start building new software with it.

For their annual April fools joke, Google introduced Gmail Motion in 2011. You can read more about it here: http://mail.google.com/mail/help/motion.html

Some laughed, others saw it as a call to action. A research team at USC (University of Southern California) called Google on their bluff and used their experimental FAAST engine to actually implement the functionality from Gmail Motion. Even better, Microsoft has announced that they are releasing the Xbox 360 Kinect SDK later this spring (2011). I have some ideas for this and will be writing about this separately.

Academics, Enthusiasts to Get Kinect SDK

Custom Event Tracking with Google Analytics

I have been researching a method for tracking clicks to external sites from my site. Google Analytics’s custom event tracking is a nice solution. Here is a link for the asynchronous event tracking scripts for Google Analytics: http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/tracking/eventTrackerGuide.html#Anatomy. Keep in mind that to work with this code, you need the 3rd generation of Google Analytics scripts on your site. If you are using urchin.js or ga.js then you need to update your scripts.

Here is an example implementation:

<script type="text/javascript">
function LogLinkClick( linkId ){

_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Outgoing Links', 'Click', 'Link ' + linkId]);

alert( "Clicked 'Link " + linkId + "'" );

<script type="text/javascript">

var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXXXX-X']);

(function() {
var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);

Hello World!<br /><br /><br />

<a href='javascript: LogLinkClick(1);'>Link 1 </a><br />
<a href='javascript: LogLinkClick(3);'>Link 3 </a><br />
<a href='javascript: LogLinkClick(5);'>Link 5 </a><br />
<a href='javascript: LogLinkClick(7);'>Link 7 </a><br />

You need to dig around the Google Analytics dashboard to find the event tracking reports.

  1. When you access the main page for Google Analytics, click the View Report link for the profilefor which you are tracking the events.
  2. On the left navigation, select Content
  3. Under Content, select Event Tracking and Categories
Google Analytics has released a beta of their new user interface. To view your custom events in this new user interface, expand the Content tab on the left navigation then Events and Overview.