Search Engine Optimization: Elementary Essentials

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The topics discussed here are very simple changes to your webpages, which when combined, have a notable impact on how your website is treated by search engines.

Here is what matters most, and why.

Keywords:

It all starts with this, even though it is not exposed to users. It is the term that people search for, in order to arrive at a website. You first need to identify the keywords which are both, relevant to what you offer, and are likely to bring you traffic. Keywords of a page are different from keywords of another page, because each page has its own focus terms. Identifying keywords is the most important task of them all, because the title, description and URL of that page depend on, and contain the keywords.

The more specific your keywords are, the better. For example,if you own a bakery in Seattle, and specialize in muffins, then Muffins in Seattle is a better option than Cakes.

Users are more likely to click on a search result that contains the term they just searched for. That is why the title and description draw attention if when contain these keywords.

Title:

The title of your page is enclosed in <title> tags, and is exposed as marked in the image above. There are some guidelines an optimum title would always follow.

1. Uniqueness – No two pages of your website should have the same title.
2. Readability – It should be a meaningful sentence, long enough (preferably 65 characters), and is not spammy.
3. Keyword – The title should contain the keyword which that page focuses on. The sooner it appears in the title, the better.

Description:

Description appears below the title on search results, and should support the claim you’ve made in your title.

1. Preferably 160 characters long.
2. Should also contain the keyword focused on that page.
3. Should be unique, informative and interesting
4. Should sum up the content on the entire page.

URL Structure:

Easily understandable URL’s have two main advantages. They make your website easily navigable to users, and simplifies managing your pages. The characteristics of a good URL are,

1. few, easy words, no numbers
2. Not too long
3. Use specific keywords like home.html, contact.html, etc. instead of generic ones like page1.html, page2.html, etc.

Headings:

It is best to have only one H1 heading tag per page, which should contain the same keyword used in title and description tags.

SEO with Zoho Sites:

All these are enclosed in meta tags like <title>, <description>, etc. If you are managing your own HTML files on Zoho Sites, you are probably familiar with these tags. Otherwise, if you are using the drag-and-drop builder, things are even easier. Zoho Sites lets you enter meta details for every page on your site.

In the Settings page, you have SEO options.

Pick the page from the list, and enter the meta details for that page. Once done, save the changes, and pick another page to optimize.

In addition to these meta information, there is another essential optimization technique, but that happens automatically on Zoho Sites; the sitemap. For every website published, Zoho Sites automatically generates the sitemap.xml file. A sitemap helps search engines to identify the entire structure of your website, so that no page goes unnoticed. It also helps in identifying the navigation path to every page.

All the above parameters focus only on the text on a webpage. There are numerous other techniques to drive more traffic into your website, which we will gradually get into. Try optimizing your web pages by filling these parameters, and see how it affects your site’s ranking on search engines.

Zoho Sites And The Database Connection

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A website is the online face of a business, and act as a repository of information. They are the first point of contact for random visitors, and play a vital role in helping them decide on using your service, so it’s got to be really impressive. Call it the front-end of your business activity.

Then there is the back-end, which is the critical business data obtained from these visitors. This collected data is a source of wisdom that teaches you about visitors and trends, enabling you to make smarter projections in future. Collecting and storing data, and more importantly, mining information from piles of collected data has to be done using databases; Zoho Creator databases, in this case. But how do these two ends meet?

When it comes to business process management, the relationship between these two services is blazing, though not very obvious. Zoho Creator databases are pre-integrated into Zoho Sites, and serve two scenarios.

1. Data Collection through Custom Online Forms
2. Dynamic Webpage Content Management

Online Forms:

Be it contact details, event registration, survey or any other unique data collection requirement, Zoho Creator forms can be customized to suit every need. The forms can be inserted into your webpages just by dragging them into place, and they blend with your website’s color theme, so that it appears to be a part of it.

Best thing about forms is that you can configure condition-based actions to make it as intelligent as you wish. For example, you can instantly show or hide a set of fields based on the value of a previous field. This makes sure that only the relevant fields are displayed to users, thus establishing a connection. And every time a visitor fills up a form on your website, an email notification is triggered automatically to keep you informed.

The data collected would be of less value without filters to manipulate it. Searching, sorting and filtering options help you to mine out that essential piece of information from the entire database, without having to write complex combination code.

Dynamic Webpage Content:

This is yet another major implementation of databases on a webpage. Some pages on a website need to be continuously updated with information. So, instead of having to modify the webpage every time, you setup a database for that page, which holds all the frequently changing content, and the layout in which it is displayed on the webpage. Every time you need to add, alter or remove data, you do it on the database, which is simple as filling up a form. The corresponding webpage automatically reflects the changes, without even the slightest delay.

This is especially useful when the website is being collaboratively managed by many members. This database, which is actually a Zoho Creator form, can be shared to all these members, enabling every one of them to keep the website up to date, from independent locations.

These are just the gist of how databases can be used to leverage your website. Both Zoho Creator and Zoho Sites stand up for customization, and cater to unique requirements, so the limit is always what you put on it. Oh, and now is a good time to begin experimenting, because we have Payment Buttons for Dynamic Pages up next, so you’ll want to be familiar with databases by then ;)

New in Zoho Sites: PayPal and Google Checkout Payment Buttons, and more.

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This being the first feature update since the release of Zoho Sites, we tried to introduce something for everyone who wants to set up a free website. The most important feature is payment buttons from PayPal and Google to enable monetary transactions. Others include Duplicate pages, Sitemap and RSS feed.

Paypal and Google Checkout

Paypal and Google Checkout buttons are the first step of the e-commerce journey. Accepting payments and donations is now possible in Zoho Sites. Buttons are of three types – Add to Cart, Buy Now and Donate. We believe this will benefit all the non-profit organizations and websites specifically set up to receive donations for causes. Sellers can also find comfort in processing payments from within their website.

 

 

Duplicate Pages

If you have been using our free website builder you know now how easy it is to build a website. Now wouldn’t the ability to duplicate pages be absolutely perfect? Duplicate Pages – saves time and is extremely helpful when you have to create many pages with a similar layout.

 

Sitemap.xml

A sitemap gives your website an SEO advantage. How? Adding a sitemap to your website helps search engines to easily crawl, find and index pages on your site. With support for sitemap.xml, we are making websites primed for search engines. Take advantage of this feature to pull in more traffic.

Blog RSS feed

Your blog page too has an enhancement – The RSS feed. Followers can now subscribe to your blog. The feed eliminates the need to remember a  web URL or bookmarking a page to catch up on later. A visitor has the simple option of subscribing to the blog via the RSS feed to receive all your blog updates through e-mail.

While we work on taking this higher, do try these features out and tell us what you think.

Zoho Sites; The Newest Website Builder At Google Apps Marketplace

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At Zoho, we strive for ideas to run a business with ease, and then transform those ideas into easy-to-use business applications. Realization of yet another such idea was a business website builder for everyone; Zoho Sites. It is also the newest website builder at Google Apps Marketplace. In addition to all its goodness, here’s what Zoho Sites has exclusively for GApps.

Zoho Sites lets you build your business website all by yourself. But if you still want assistance from your colleagues, you can share your webpages with them, let them modify and even publish the changes for you. When sharing your webpages for collaborative editing, Zoho Sites fetches your contacts and organization-members on GApps.


Installing Zoho Sites to your GApps account will list it on the universal navigation bar. As Zoho Sites supports single sign-in, you can create your business website without having to log-in separately.

A website is the face of your business. That is why Zoho Sites never displays annoying advertisements on your business websites. Not even if you are using the free plan. Zoho Sites also lets you make the most of the mobile revolution. A mobile version of your website is automatically generated, and your visitors using mobile devices are smartly directed to the mobile-optimized version; without any extra effort from you.

Any business using GApps is run online, and a website is the starting point of an online presence. So create a website for your business, today. Try Zoho Sites for GApps.

Zoho Sites – Afterparty!

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Last week was definitely a milestone for us. It was when we expanded our portfolio with Zoho Sites, a do-it-yourself website builder. After a week of website building, many early adopters have graciously shared their opinions, and they are very warming indeed. Thanks to TechCrunch, CMSWire, The Hindu and many others who covered the launch.

We’ve put in quite some time and effort in simplifying website building for everyone, regardless of their technical expertise. We have already begun acting on the overwhelming feedback we are receiving, so we are sure it’s eventually getting better by the day.

Most of you who had published a website, had experimented with every feature. Thank you for trying Zoho Sites, and even more for sharing your site-building experience. You drive us.

Here are some websites we stumbled upon.

Following a successful launch, we are back to adding missing pieces to Zoho Sites. A shopping cart is the most requested feature till date, and it sounds interesting to us too. Some time soon, you will experience major make-overs, and a few cool new additions to Zoho Sites.

For others who missed out on our announcement, Zoho Sites is a website builder, without the complexity of HTML.
Try Zoho Sites today!

Introducing Zoho Sites, Free Website Builder for your Business​

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We are excited to announce a new addition to our broad application portfolio; Zoho Sites. This new application is a website builder aimed at simplifying website creation, including mobile websites. Users can create websites easily just by dragging and dropping elements, without having to write even a single line of code.

​There are hundreds of Website builders available in the market already. Then, why are we launching Zoho Sites now?​

At Zoho, we want to offer a broad set of business tools, so that you can run your entire business on Zoho. If you look at our portfolio today, we host your email on Zoho Mail, your documents in Zoho Docs, your customer data in Zoho CRM, Accounting data in Zoho Books, Support through Zoho Support….you get the idea. Obviously, website hosting was one of the missing pieces from our portfolio. Until today.

​As you’d expect from Zoho, we created an easy to use drag-and-drop website builder to create your website. We added good number of themes you can build on top of, or customize. We built various widgets (like Google Maps, Google AdSense, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa etc) that you can include in your web pages.​ Zoho Sites offers ‘one-click’ publish to your existing domain or a new domain. And every website that you build on Zoho Sites  will automatically be optimized for Mobile devices.

This is just the beginning.

The application comes with great set of features unique to Zoho. You can create powerful forms such as Contact Form, Feedback, Survey etc…. The form builder is powered by Zoho Creator which lets you collect data from the visitors, without writing any code.

The pre-integrated Zoho Creator backend also powers the Dynamic Content feature. It populates the web page content from the Zoho Creator database bringing advanced features with a simplified interface.

You can collaboratively work on websites with other users by sharing your site with appropriate permissions. You can also add a blog to your site with the built-in blogging platform, analyze your website traffic with the available Google Analytics integration.

If you are a Google Apps user, Zoho Sites is also integrated with Google Apps and is available in Google Apps Marketplace.

Pricing

Zoho Sites is available in both free and paid editions. The paid edition is priced at $39/year that lets you create up to 6 websites, 10 forms, unlimited pages and offers rebranding along with some advanced features. The free version lets you create two websites, two forms, unlimited web pages and is ad free.

Want to look at a sample website created using Zoho Sites? Check out our Zoholics website. If you access it from your mobile device, you’ll notice that the website is optimized based on your device.

You can get started by creating your website @ http://zoho.com/sites

The launch of Zoho Sites is an important milestone. Moving forward, you can expect tighter integration with our backed systems like CRM, Support etc. Meanwhile, we would love to hear your feedback on Zoho Sites.