This week’s edition of Sites Weekly is all about cheating.
As you’ll see, this week’s strategy article is about why it remains foolish to try to cheat Google. Hopefully that article means nothing to you because you’ve payed attention to our consistent advice about Google over the past decade, but I included it just in case.
This week’s links also should help you avoid cheating yourself. For example, don’t cheat yourself of extra value from Twitter because you’re not leveraging everything you can do. And don’t cheat your website of putting its best foot forward by having a subpar website header or waiting too long to update your version of WordPress.
You’ll find links for all of those topics and more (there’s a bonus link!) below.
Content: Think outside the box with Twitter polls
We know Twitter is powerful for content sharing. But Twitter also plays an important role in content creation … though depending on how you use it for creating, Twitter can be both a bane and a boon.
Twitter can be a bane when we use it as a distraction from creating content, or when we allow the magnitude of news, information, and ideas to overwhelm us.
But Twitter can be a boon when we are disciplined in using it, and when we leverage all of its features for specific purposes and with specific goals in mind.
Case in point: Twitter polls.
My friend Kelsey Jones wrote a piece recently at Search Engine Journal that provides six creative tips on how to use Twitter polls. Her ideas cover both promotion and creation, but I found the ones dealing with content creation to be the most interesting.
So pay special attention to #2 and #3.
Design: What more could you be doing with your website header?
Your website header does a lot of heavy lifting. It creates a lasting first impression in the eyes and minds of every single person who visits your home page.
The question is: are you creating a positive first impression or a negative one?
A secondary question would be: are you creating a comfortable, intuitive experience or a confusing, disorienting one?
These two questions are related, of course, as the answer to the second question is going to influence the answer to the first one.
So when was the last time you took a look at your header? Perhaps today is a good time to do so. Try to view it through the eyes of someone who has never visited your site before. Is it having the intended impact?
Before you do that, take a few minutes and review this article from UXPlanet.org, which Rafal tweeted out earlier this week. It’s a useful overview of the basic elements and importance of a website header, and it provides several spectacular examples that might jog your creative thinking for your own site.
Technology: What’s new in WordPress 4.8?
In case you missed it, there is a new WordPress update available.
Always take the opportunity to upgrade to the newest version of WordPress as soon as you’re able (unless, of course, you have a host who does it for you). In addition to new bells and whistles, the most important element of any update is the security updates and patches that come along with it.
To find out what’s new in the latest version, read this article from WP Beginner. (The added functionality to widgets looks really interesting.)
Strategy: Stop trying to cheat Google
We all want to improve SEO on our sites.
Moving from the second or third page to the top of the first page can have a massive impact on traffic. If we have a well-designed site with useful content, that increase in traffic can lead to a major increase in subscriptions and sales.
This is why it’s so important that your website has good hosting, so pages load fast and are secure, and that you use tools that help you structure your content in a way that makes your focus clear to Google. (An example would be the patented SEO tools we include with every account at StudioPress Sites.)
And, of course, you need to publish valuable content that users actually engage with and share. Do all of this, and Google will trust your site and be more willing to surface your pages for relevant searches.
What you don’t want to do is try to trick Google. In case you haven’t already learned that lesson, the article below offers a quick refresher of several companies who have tried and been smacked down.
Create good content. Structure it clearly. Play by the rules. This is a future-proof way to keep your site in good standing with search engines.
Bonus: 10 quick lessons from a smart man
Finally, here is a bonus link from our very own Chris Garrett.
It’s a list post, but it’s very short. It will take you less than 75 seconds to read. And I bet you’ll learn (or relearn) something important.
And now ask yourself: which of the ideas in this week’s posts will you take and put to good use immediately?
I’ll be back with a new edition next week.
In the meantime … keep building.