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Archive for April 2013

What are the best SEO practices in 2013?

19th April 2013

best practice SEO 2013

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a term that has different meanings for different people. What’s certain is that the way Google ranks pages in its search results has changed dramatically in the past two years, following major updates, referred to as Panda and Penguin!

For a small online business which relies heavily on Google traffic, a drop in search rankings will mean a drop in sales. That can have severe consequences.  

With so many different SEO companies out there and so many different opinions, how do you know who to listen to and who to trust?

I think the best place to start is to actually listen to what Google recommends. Think of it as straight from the horse’s mouth. I follow the Google Webmaster Central posts and also listen to Matt Cutts, the head of Google spam team. Furthermore, I am a member of SEOmoz and have been involved with SEO optimisation for many eCommerce sites. 

Here is my summary: 

The past

It’s no longer viable to use tricks behind the scene or resort to low quality artificial backlinks to boost the ranking of a website. I have seen first hand various sites being penalised by Google due to acquiring links from sites that are only there to provide links; such as low quality directories, low quality press release websites, article directories, artificial blogs, etc. Basically, the Google search algorithm has become very smart. If it identifies a link that looks un-natural or paid for (often acquired by SEO companies), your site’s ranking will suffer.

The future

Focus on the needs of your site’s users and the SEO benefits will follow. That is what Google says and I tend to agree with them. Now, what does that actually mean? It means understanding the specific pains, problems and needs of your specific target customers and providing them with the relevant and high quality information that they are searching for.

It means providing your target customers with an unparalleled user experience – a user experience that means buyers can find what they are looking for with minimum amount of clicks, and then be able to complete a transaction in a seamless manner. SEO still has a place when it comes to fixing the technical and HTML aspects of your site – so-called on-page optimisation.

On-page optimisation is everything to do with making your site more SEO friendly and more optimised for the right keywords. Again, the focus here should be on what will benefit your audience first, followed by keyword optimisation based on the knowledge gained from researching what people actually search for.

Here is an extract from a recent post from Google Webmaster Central, Another step to reward high-quality sites, which explains good practice SEO in a concise and easy to understand paragraph.

“White hat search engine optimizers often improve the usability of a site, help create great content, or make sites faster, which is good for both users and search engines. Good search engine optimization can also mean good marketing: thinking about creative ways to make a site more compelling, which can help with search engines as well as social media. The net result of making a great site is often greater awareness of that site on the web, which can translate into more people linking to or visiting a site.”

What's new in NetSuite 2013.1 release?

11th April 2013

Netsuite release 2013.1

NetSuite completed the rollout of their latest version – 2013.1 – last month. If you haven't yet had a chance to investigate what's new, it's definitely worth taking a look. There's something for (almost) everyone. We've had a month or so to work with clients on this new release and here are some important highlights that you might have missed...

By now you will have encountered the additional authentication requirement. You'll need to use the answers you set up whenever you log jn from a new browser or computer, just like Facebook and other sites already require you to. Email notifications will keep you up to date when this happens in case it wasn't you who logged in. Login security is always a hassle, but it's good to see NetSuite implementing current best practice. If you need an additional level of security for all or even some of your users (like administrators). then NetSuite have also enhanced their two-factor authentication solution, as well as making the price a no-brainer. Support is provided for both standalone token devices and for token apps you can install on Android, Blackberry and iOS devices, so implementation should be simple.

Your accounting team will be pleased to learn that NetSuite now performs gapless transaction numbering, along with the ability to automatically number additional transaction types such as customer deposits (but, alas, still not Bills). Your auditors can find the new transaction numbering log at Transactions > Management > Transaction Numbering Audit Log.

The rollout of the new SuiteCommerce web store feature set is now well under way. The communication around SuiteCommerce has been less than clear at times, so here's my take on where we are. The old "Advanced Site Builder" module has now been renamed "SuiteCommerce Site Builder" and offers the same core features as before, with the following enhancements:

* SuiteScript Server Pages (SSP) is now out of beta. SSP is NetSuite's long-awaited server-side page template engine technology, enabling sites to be built in the same way as in other popular tools and languages, such as ASP, ColdFusion and PHP.

* NetSuite provides a SSP "reference" implementation: Cart & Checkout. Reference implementations are pages built using SSP that can replace built-in pages and that developers (not NetSuite users, for now anyway) can modify by using the reference SSP code as a starting point. NetSuite exposes a number of "touch points" where SSP pages can be used to completely replace built-in functionality: Log in, Log out, Checkout, Register, Cart, Customer Centre and Home Page.

* File Cabinet assets are now delivered using CDN (content delivery network) caching, which should provide substantial site speed gains.

In addition a further new "SuiteCommerce Site Builder Advanced Features" module is now also available. This module provides additional ecommerce features, including the ability to build your site from the "ground up":

* The ability to replace the entire ecommerce shop flow with SSP pages.

* A new item indexing and search API to enable developers to build best-of-breed site search solutions within NetSuite itself.

* A reference shop, cart and checkout implementation as a starting point for developers to build a new store. This implementation includes features such as responsive design, instant search, faceted navigation, enhanced product display and merchandising, product reviews and gift cards.

* A new content delivery (CMS) structure that enables NetSuite users, not developers, to maintain the content that appears in the SSP templated store pages.

* CDN caching of SSP pages for faster page delivery.

If you operate one or more web stores in NetSuite, our advice would be to keep a close eye on the new ecommerce infrastructure in this release and the next. You'll definitely want to leverage all or parts of SuiteCommerce in your own site at some point, even if you're not ready to do so now.

For those with integration solutions in place, smbXML is being retired from release 2013.2 onwards. If you're still using smbXML to integrate with NetSuite, you should be working now to replace this with a current technology solution, utilising web services or NetSuite RESTlets instead.

Finally, and on a similar note, if you're an Internet Explorer user please note that NetSuite is ending the support for IE versions 8 and earlier from t             heir next release, 2013.2. This means you have five months or so to move to an up-to-date browser, such as IE 9 or 10, or the latest version of Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Getting this organised now will mean less to worry about when 2013.2 arrives later this year!

IE 9: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/internet-explorer/downloads/ie-9/worldwide-languages

IE 10: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/internet-explorer/downloads/ie-10/worldwide-languages

Chrome: https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/

Firefox: http://www.getfirefox.net/

Safari: http://support.apple.com/downloads/#Safari%205.1.7%20for%20Windows

There's plenty more that's new in 2013.1, including major enhancements around manufacturing. I'll discuss these in my next post. If you can't wait until then, NetSuite's release notes do a good job of detailing the changes; you'll find these in Help under Additional Resources > Release Notes, or see the pdf version here: https://system.netsuite.com/help/helpcenter/en_US/PDF/ReleaseNotes_2013.1.0_v14.pdf