Reno Tahoe Tonight Article (June, 2013) Blog
(Published in the Reno Tahoe Tonight magazine June, 2013)
Pretty or Practical: New technologies bring shift in website design mentality
Everything in the digital world seems to move at an alarmingly quick pace. Endless updates to software, hardware, terms of service, it can be exhausting. There are enough changes happening on the surface of the digital world to keep anyone busy, but what about the changes we don’t see? What’s going on under the digital hood?
The answer is: A whole lot.
Things like coding language updates, Internet Protocol changes, server formats, all of the hidden technologies “running” the internet from behind a curtain that really no average internet-goer is aware of; and for good reason. It’s so complicated; you could go crazy trying to even scratch the surface.
There is however, a massive change in the way the internet functions, one of these “under the hood” changes that every business owner should be aware of:
It’s called Search Engine Aggregation. The basic idea is that search engines have become so powerful and all-knowing in their never ending quest for data, that we need sub-search engines to search out and sort through… other search engines! Whole industries are reliant upon this now and especially location based internet services. Apple location services, local review and entertainment websites, news sites that “bundle” related stories from many other news sites, these are all examples of search aggregators.
Not all that long ago, the main concern of a small to mid-size business was simply having a website that looked presentable. The general understanding was that potential patrons of the business looking for more information would likely get the web address from a billboard, television commercial or radio advertisement. In other words, people would find the website from some other advertising or marketing avenue. This meant business owners had their websites developed only from a visual standpoint using image files and embedded web video. Optimizing a website for search engines was a foreign concept.
So how do these advanced search engines and search aggregators find an older “image heavy” website? The answer is simple.. they don’t. These data-hungry search engines are only looking for plain.. old.. text. Depending on just how heavily an older website relies on images, your website may literally be invisible to every major search engine and hence, your business will never be found by people searching online. Needless to say that’s a problem but it gets worse; If your website can’t be found by major search engines, then your website is also not being found by the search aggregators that make up location based searches and other local services. Not only are you losing out on people searching online for your products or business, but you’re also missing out on having your business pop up on someone’s smartphone when looking at an interactive map of the area etc.
Fortunately the solution is relatively simple. Make sure your website is full of text! If you’re commissioning someone to build your website, make this very clear before they start designing. If you have an existing website, check it for text. If you have an “about us/me” page, make sure that the description of your business is plain text and not an image file. Chances are, if it has a really fancy border, cursive writing, and especially anything that is animated, the text may be embedded into an image. If you can’t highlight a portion of text with your mouse, it is very likely an image file and thus invisible to search engines.
There are many things you can do to optimize your website for search, and this is just one recommendation. Of course if you need additional help and want to ensure that people find your business online, you can hire a Digital Marketing Agency such as Dragonfly and we’ll help you sort everything out.
Do you have a digital topic you’d like me to write about in a future column? If so, please let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dragonfly Media, Dragonflymedia.net, (775)746-4690
Amber Howland is General Manager of Dragonfly Media, based in Reno, Nevada. Dragonfly Media works with small to medium size businesses to increase their digital influence through SEO/SEM, social media management, website/app development, and email marketing.