Category: Special Offers

What is SEO?

These days, it seems as if every other web designer (and website spammer) is advertising their SEO services, promising to get your site to the top of Google’s search results. So what exactly is SEO, and what can it do for you? We’ve previously discussed white hat vs black hat SEO, SEO vs SEM, and the importance of links (with follow-up here and here), but the topic changes so quickly that it’s worth following up.

For as long as there have been search engines, there has been search engine optimization: trying to get your website to the top of the results. Often, this was a battle between the search engines and the web designers – a technique (such as meta keywords) would be abused (keyword spam) and then discounted by the search engines (mostly Google). Back when Google’s algorithm and results only changed a few times per year, a new technique could make a lot of money even if it only worked until the next Google update. These days, with Google constantly rolling out new updates, abusive (or black hat) techniques only work until Google devises an algorithmic way around them.
This isn’t to say that SEO is a bad thing. Google actively encourages white hat SEO, where you optimize your site to create the best possible experience for both users and search engine spiders; they even provide a list of webmaster guidelines to help you. Having a site that loads quickly, for example, and an easy to use navigation structure, can boost your search engine ranking. As more people have abused links, getting many thousands of links from as many places as possible, Google has put more emphasis on trusted sites: one link from an authoritative site in your niche can be worth more than many, many links from random websites.
These days, it’s possible for a page to rank for a term that doesn’t appear anywhere on it, or in the anchor text of any links going to that page. How? Google knows that various terms are related, so it can figure out that, for example, if your page ranks highly for “dog vets”, “dog medicine”, and “dog exercise”, then it’s probably also relevant to the search “dog health”. At the same time, while they might not be able to tell whether or not you’re using excellent grammar, search engine spiders can look for key words that indicate authoritative speech on a topic; for example, if most of the authoritative pages on a topic use keyword X, then whether or not I use keyword X can be an indicator as to whether or not I’m an expert on the topic. The goal (which so far has had mixed success) is to promote pages written by people who really are (or at least, sound like) experts on the topic, under the assumption that those are most likely to be useful. We’ll come back to this topic in another article, when we talk about Google+.
The takeaway is that, while the most effective techniques change year to year (and even day to day) the key to having a firm foundation for top rankings is to build a clean, easy to use site that provides your readers with the information they’re looking for. Keeping up with the latest design techniques and tools is a full-time job in itself, but it helps to create the great user experience that readers and search engines love.

9/11 Remembrance

Do you remember where you were on 9/11/2001?

I do.

The summer was coming to a close and fall semester had just started.  A few weeks prior to the day, my father and I were having a conversation about national tragedies, and how they affect our nation. One thing he said that has forever stuck in my head all these years and on the day of:

“Brit, you will face a national tragedy in your lifetime”

At the time I really thought but did not say out loud “What? No, impossible, we’re grownups here”.  Although I did keep that statement in the back of my head and thought what if he ended up being right after all?  I got my answer just two weeks later…

That morning I was awakened by a phone call from my sister: “Brit, turn on the TV, a airplane struck one of the World Trade Towers in New York. Hurry it is all over the place” Quickly I turned it on and saw it.  I thought, that sucks, and how did they not see that, as I truly thought it was an accidental crash.

That lasted only a few minutes… until the second airplane hit.  I knew it was no accident seeing the second plane and all of a sudden my father’s statement pierced my inner thoughts “Brit, you will face a national tragedy in your lifetime”  This was a national tragedy.

I remember that day for both the nation coming together and at the same time falling to pieces.  I was impressed with the outpouring of individual AND businesses that gave in the first few days to weeks following the day.

Something that bothered me on that day was a young women who was middle eastern came into my job, and stopped to look at the cashiers and I, asking us if she was “allowed” to shop here- stunned my coworkers and I all looked at each other and unanimously said “Of course.”  I know at the time the middle east was being blamed for the attack, but I was brought up that it is individuals, not ethnic groups. So I had no problem, but in the weeks following I saw such hatred for the group, and that was how the nation was falling apart.

But let me focus on the positives in that moment. Where I worked, there was a blood donation center; it has always been there, but on and the days following 9/11 the lines went all the way down and around the shopping center. Grocery Stores and other delis in the area were donating snacks and water for the people in the line. I was so humbled to see this and on my breaks I would go out and chat with them, learning about them, and all of their connections to 9/11.  Funds were created within hours and our nation was growing together as a family – no longer divided by our different ethnic groups or class.  I think it was the first time ever that I saw where the nation spoke as one, not a nation of many. The nation came together and helped out, became more patient and compassionate to all.

It was inspiring to say the least.

Ten years later, I am still learning from 9/11 in how to be compassionate and that when we all join together and help out it betters the soul.  Maybe that is why One Ear Productions enjoys working and partnering up as everyone involved is bettering their business or connections  to charitable causes.

While I never knew personally any family affected by 9/11 I do know that the pain was felt by everyone and that we truly will not forget but if there is one thing we should walk away with, it is:

While 9/11 was a national tragedy, the nation came together in one of the worst moments
and forged new/renewed friendships, by our fierce love for our people & our nation.

Let’s Continue on that path …

Dane Buy Local & Other Community News

Last month one of our clients recommended that I go with them to a networking event.  It was hosted by Dane Buy Local.  Due to schedule conflict and an upcoming trip, it was decided to wait until July.

Think Local First

As July settled down I started reseaching Dane Buy Local, as I have been actively looking for local networking businesses and clients.  One thing that caught my attention is their slogan: Think Local First. For that is how I think, how can MDS better the local community? Granted my thoughts are geared towards local charities and youth groups to help and donate too, but I have been trying to network more and more with local businesses as a way to connect and meet to get inspired on my projects.

Another important reason for thinking local is I have grown up that the more the merrier and by that I mean I would rather help  a few local business along with mine grow and build an incredible reputation as being very informative and help clients in referring them to the right businesses (if MDS does not provide a service that is needed) as that build trust among clients.

The hope for this as well as my other networking membership is to grow Moonlight Designs Studio, into a company that is known for its dedication and compassion to each and every local, national client that joins our family.  For without our community, we would have not lasted as long as we have and continued growth.

Check Out Our Profile on Dane Buy Local for more info.


While we are on the subject of Community involvement, I thought I should share with you what MDS has done or what is near and dear to our hearts:

  • • MDS Donates up to $3k per year since it has opened its doors.
  • • Funded in Art Club (Owner LOVES the Arts!)
  • • Currently researching ideas to keep Arts in the Schools.
  • • Donates Services to Local Events.
  • • Donates to Health Causes (Humans/Animals)
  • • Would like to Support Movie Theater Captions in all theaters (not just a few showings either)
  • • Looking to donate designs to local charities for Adults and Kids

iOS? Of Course…

Here at Moonlight Designs Studio, we have been having a debate- Should we design for iOS or not? Clearly if you know us well, we have all sorts of Apple products floating around and with the owner just (finally) acquiring an iPhone, it seems natural that the time has come to start a new venture into the mobile world.

About a month ago we stumbled on an request for a designer to help out with an overhaul to an app.  As most know we love a good challenge and since the app is already currently available, we decided to respond.  Next thing you know we are designing it for iPhone 3GS, iPhone4, and iPad 1, & 2.  We learned a lot about the format and have been in close contact with the developer to make sure that they have all that they need.

Once the current app has been updated we will post info on the Name and the developer that we helped.  We look forward to working with them in the future.  We felt that if we are going to be designing apps, than we should register with Apple to make sure there are no problems in the future when a developer is releasing apps for the public.

*NEW Service*

In celebrating the owner’s birthday, USA’s birthday and everyone that has a birthday in June/July we are offering a new service called ” dedicated” designer.

HOW IT WORKS
You pay a base amount every month and have at least 40 hours (or more) in the month dedicated to your needs from Web, print, and even video needs.  This service is for those who need a consistant amount of Design work needed.  This includes the following and beyond:

  • Website Design/Coding
  • Website SEO
  • Website Updating as needed.
  • Social Media/eBlast Design
  • Print Design Service (Flyers, Brochures, Mailers, and so on…) [We do NOT print – will refer or send to your printer house]
  • Video Editing

WHO THIS IS FOR
This service is for those who have a lot of design work they need completed, but do not want to hassle with estimates on every project and on a certian budget.  Clients that have one or two projects every couple of months – this is not recommended  for.

Our 4 Year Anniversary Celebration

4 Year Anniversary Celebration

Gearing up for our fourth anniversary this June we are looking to add more clients and fans.  Our goal is 150 fans by June 1, and if we reach that goal ALL of our fans will get 50% OFF ONE Service from us for a single project.

How it Works – On June 1, 2011 at 11:59pm Central Time if we have 150 fans total, than all of our fans will be automatically awarded 50% OFF  ONE project on June 2, 2011.  If a current fan is under contract for an existing project that was started on or after April 15th 2011, will have the option to use the discount on that project or save it for another project.

RULES:

  1. Go to www.facebook.com/MoonlightDesignsStudio and click the “Like” button
  2. In order to receive the discount, you must be a fan of Moonlight Design Studio’s fan page before or on June 1, 2011 and during the duration of the project.
  3. If you are a fan but have no need to use any of our service you may pass your discount on to one family member or one friend who would benefit from one of our services, but you will no longer be eligible to receive the discount at a later date (Although you will be subjected to a Friends/Family Discount due to referring someone to us :) ).
  4. Promotion must be used or a signed contract by September 1, 2011 as it expires on September 2, 2011.
  5. Promotion will not be allowed to be combined with other promotions/ discounts offered by Moonlight Designs Studio, Inc.

For more information please contact us at info@moonlightdesignsstudio.com. Thank you for your support though out the last four years and may more to come!

Google Targeting Content Farms

Last Thursday, Google released a new update to their search engine aimed at knocking scrapers and content farms down in the rankings. Unlike most of their changes, which make minor tweaks and are rolled out with little fanfare, this one is major, affecting the results of nearly 12% of all queries. The change is currently live only on the US servers, but will likely be rolled out to the rest of the world in the near future. So what is a content farm, and how does this affect you?

A scraper site is one that (usually automatically) copies content off of other people’s sites for display, while a content farm generally has a large number of people rewriting content from other sites (usually badly); as such, it will have a lot of original content (helping it to rank highly with Google) without providing much value to users who would generally be better served by going to more authoritative websites.

Think back to the last time you tried to look up something technical with Google. Chances are, the first page had a number of spam sites that pulled in a lot of content (either word for word or rewritten) from legitimate sites, but didn’t do a very good job of answering your question. Google doesn’t like this – it makes them look stupid.

Unfortunately, the new tweaks aren’t quite precise enough yet, so while they have gotten some of the really bad sites, they’ve also hit some more legitimate sites. For example, Hubpages has long been one of Google’s favorite sites, making it relatively easy to rank a page you put there; I know several people who’ve started making several hundred dollars per month within a few months of putting articles up there. Once the changes took effect, traffic to Hubpages dropped close to 90%.  Will it stay that way? Probably not – Google will keep tweaking – but the people making big money through hubs are going to be very annoyed for a month or two!

On the other hand, if you have a legitimate site with good, original content and a lot of incoming links that aren’t from content farms, there’s a fair chance that your site wasn’t affected by the change, and may even have improved in the rankings. At the moment, it’s mostly the really big sites that are benefiting from this – think Amazon, Home Depot, etc – but it shows that Google is having at least partial success in promoting legitimate sites; now they just need to figure out how to find smaller sites that are actually better matches than the big ones.

So what does this mean for you? If you’re working on building websites that are a legitimate resource and actually help people meet their needs, you may be seeing some fluctuation in your ratings but probably don’t have much to worry about. If you own scraper sites, on the other hand, it might be time to move into a more legitimate line of work!

Article Marketing

Have you ever wondered why there seem to be so many pages on the internet that have no point whatsoever, just a bunch of links? If you guessed it’s for the search engines, you’re right! Because Google gives a lot of weight to the incoming links that a site has, webmasters naturally want to get as many links as possible. Of course, many of them don’t know what they’re doing and either put up pages with several hundred links (which do basically nothing), pay someone to add their site to such a page (which both does little good and risks getting their site deindexed when Google finds out they were buying links), or buy software to spam millions of blogs with their links (which has the net result of annoying a lot of people and convincing them to install anti-spam plugins such as Askimet).

But then you have articles which are a reasonable size, readable, and have no more than two or three links. Sometimes they’re really good, sometimes they’re, shall we say, not so good. However, every page on the site will have a (usually short) article with exactly two to three links.

Welcome to the wonders of article marketing! You’ve likely stumbled across a site with contributions from a number of different people. Sites like this have two purposes. First, the site makes money for its owners through advertising, usually Google Adsense; a great example of this is ezine articlee, which Google seems to be quite fond of. The people writing the articles don’t get paid, at least not in money, but they get something else: several links to web pages of their choice, using anchor text of their choice.

As with any other tool, article marketing is often misused; many people throw out all kinds of crap onto the Internet with nary a care as to whether it will be useful for anyone. Indeed, once you start looking into this area, you’ll likely be bombarded with advertisements for “spinning” software that will take your article and swap out words to make a number of other poorly written articles that are just distinct enough to avoid being marked as duplicate content by the search engines; they suffice for links, but tend to read badly and are not useful for the user. The spinners don’t care; after all, these articles aren’t meant to be read, only to get links.

And then you have people who use article marketing the way Moonlight Designs Studio does. It’s quite possible that you first found this blog by reading an article we’ve played elsewhere on the web; while the primary purpose of these articles is still links, we still expect to get readers from them because they’re well written and informative. In short, they give the reader useful information and direct them to where they can find even more. Google approves of this, because it helps them to meet their core goal: giving the users what they want. And when Google and webmasters are working together towards a common goal – connecting searchers with high-quality information that is directly relevant to their search – everybody wins.

SEM and SEO: What’s the Difference?

Trying to promote a website? No double you’ve seen the terms SEM and SEO being thrown around. While similar, they are not interchangeable; SEM, or search engine marketing, properly contains SEO, search engine optimization.

Most people are largely concerned with SEO, which refers to measures taken to improve the visibility of a site in the organic results (in other words, the ones that come up naturally, not the results in the sidebar that you pay for). This encompasses a variety of techniques, from white hat methods such as building great content with proper keyword density and getting natural links, to black hat methods such as keyword spam, doorway pages, and comment spam. Google encourages webmasters to use white hat SEO techniques, but actively pursues and deindexes those using black hat techniques. There’s also grey hat: methods that aren’t exactly on Google’s list of spam indicators, but might not be the most ethical either. Here at One Ear Productions, we use white hat SEO only.

Notice how there are multiple links in this post to other articles on the One Ear blog. The anchor text, which is the words that you actually click on, tells both the user and the search engines what to expect from the page the link is going to. For the user, it makes it easier to find other posts that are relevant to what he or she is searching for. For Google, it makes it easier to decide exactly what the post is about and return it correctly. While we always prefer external links (that is, those coming from other websites, preferably in the same area), setting up a proper link net on our site helps improve its standing with Google.

Search engine marketing, on the other hand, is concerned with making sure that a website is getting traffic from search engines, and SEO is just one method that someone using SEM might be using. It also includes paid advertising, such as the contextual ads that show up next to the Google results and the targeted ads that show up in Facebook and GMail. Some search engines (not including Google) allow webmasters to pay a fee to be included in the search listings. While an effective SEO campaign is the most efficient way to build up traffic in the long run (as the improved search engine visibility will continue after the campaign has concluded), many companies prefer to use paid advertising as it can lead to immediate results. Generally, the advertiser has a choice of paying for ads either by CPC (cost per click), where they pay a certain amount of money for each click, or CPM, where they pay a certain amount for every thousand times the ad is displayed.

Is one strictly better than the other? No. While we believe that SEO is more cost effective in the long run, and have run some small SEO campaigns to get this blog to position #1 for certain keywords, we’ve also used paid advertising to get the word out about limited time special offers, targeted at the people we wanted to see them. When those campaigns ended, however, there was no longer-term effect. The SEO should keep growing our traffic indefinitely.

Advanced CSS: Adjacent Sibling Selectors

In my web articles thus far, when I’ve talked about CSS it’s been in terms of the basics: the box model,relative positioningpage flow, etc. In the Advanced CSS articles, I’ll be talking about aspects the you wouldn’t normally find on every page. This isn’t necessarily new stuff from CSS3, just things that you wouldn’t normally need to know to do CSS design, but can come in handy sometimes.

Generally with CSS, we select an element based on its class or ID and on its ancestors. However, sometimes we need to be a little more specific. For example, suppose that every paragraph in each section, starting with the third paragraph, should have special formatting. (Why that might be, I don’t know…but CSS is very flexible!) The adjacent sibling selector will let us do this! We simply write:

p + p + p {

rules go here

}

This says that the style only applies to paragraphs which have two preceding siblings, where a sibling is another child of the same parent.

This example was a little contrived; how about another one? Suppose that we have a page with a number of h2 and h3 headers, and we want the first h3 header in each section to have special formatting. We can’t use the :first-child psuedo-class because the h3 we want is not actually a child of any h2; it simply appears immediately after it. As such, we’ll use the following code:

h2 + h3 {

font-color: #6CFF0A;

}

Now every h3 tag which immediately follows an h2 tag is bright green, as desired.

Note: the adjacent sibling selector does not work…wait for it…in IE6 and below.