Tag Archives: Dan Dreifort

## I am white privilege

16 Jan

What is white privilege?

I was born in 1973. With a bachelor’s degree, I am the least educated person in my immediate family. My parents had a computer in the house before most people knew that personal computing was a thing.

Our author’s great bangs

I was sent to “enrichment camp” five days a week the summers after third and fourth grade where I learned to code in three languages, how to write poetry, speak French, and other smartypants stuff.

When I was 11, my maternal grandparents, both immigrants, died and left my mom about $60,000. We moved to a new home in a better school district. The high school had a planetarium. I never finished my junior year of high school. I got my GED and applied to and was accepted by two colleges. In college, I met other geeky, white people and helped start an Internet service provider where I worked for ten years. Now I work from home, staring at palm trees from my sit/stand desk, helping companies with esoteric niche digital marketing concerns. I am white privilege. ## Looking for the best Hawaii digital marketing agency 8 Jul I fired a Hawaii marketing agency a couple of months ago. I was not a client. I’d been providing usability and SEO services to their clients since 2007. (Does that mean I quit?) I grew online business for a few of their big-name clients and received decent money for it. Everybody at the agency was polite and skilled. So why did I fire them? Throughout the six-year engagement they paid several hundred invoices, but rarely on time. I fired them because they regularly forced me to act as an accountant and a collections agent. ## Glutton For Digital Media Agency Punishment I heart Hawaii ! A few weeks later I was approached by another Hawaii digital marketing outfit. I’m not hungry for work now, but with so much SEO and usability experience in the Hawaii destination and hospitality verticals, part of me wants to put that knowledge to good use. So when this new agency reached out to me, I engaged. I insist on signing a mutual non-disclosure agreement with all clients. The NDA serves to protect any private information and ostensibly allows us to discuss anything without worry of public eyes and ears. After a month of wasting my time, this new agency today tells me, “We can’t sign this.” I tried to identify and fix the perceived problem, but after receiving a couple more obtuse emails, I eventually jabbed, “I take my clients’ privacy very seriously. If [Agency] doesn’t respect that, we’re obviously not a good match.” I sent a friendly “goodbye” note to his partner. I assure you I won’t be communicating with them again unless we agree about privacy. ### What I’ve learned: • Fool me once, shame on, um… how does that go, George Bush? Fire clients more quickly if/when they’re late with payments. • Don’t invest too much speculative time with clients until they agree to protect privacy. • I’d again like to help a Hawaii company or agency with search engine optimization and user experience. • I *still* don’t like time-wasters. Dan Dreifort‘s current clients include: Product recommendation SaaS company, Plastic container manufacturer/retailer, Adjustable air-mattress retailer/manufacturer, Memory foam mattress manufacturer/retailer, Specialty shipping company, Brazilian jiu jitsu franchises, Tourist magazine, Childcare franchises, Acting school, Real estate brokers, Lawyer, Fence manufacturer/retailer, Online drug rehab center and a couple more. Dan is busy and can’t accept new work until January, 2014. ## A Post About Droste 6 Feb Nice, but needs some cropping. (In which our amateur blogger plays the role of self-aggrandizing art critic.) Always bad web-form to refer to something that might soon change, but see that banner up there? It’s a Droste effect applied to a picture I took in NYC on September 21, 2001, just ten days after 911. My digital camera (a Fuji Finepix) served me well at the time, but its 640 x 480 output pales and pixelates next to even the cheapest digital cameras available today. Still, I really like that picture. No flash?! I didn’t use a flash for the first snap of this picture. In it the chain link fence looks cold and constraining, confining and defining the entire composition. How ironic then, that illuminating the foreground barrier really delivered a sense of openness? This is the first and last time I’ll display it. You’re welcome. Much better. (2001) Shortly after my trip to post-911 New York, I started doctoring the w/flash-version of the picture. First I cropped it. That looked nice enough, got rid some extraneous color palette (who needs trees anyhow?) and provided subjective focus. It’s in this phase that I came to call the picture “Jung Gym” for what may be obvious pun-inspired reasons. But cropping wasn’t enough. ### Banksy? Meh. Next on the image doctoring docket, a pass through what looks like a Photoshop cutout filter with some selective digital hand painting wherein the artist introduces fresh, bold color to the ensemble. So enamored by this piece, I tacked on my dotcom brand and slapped the would-be commercial art on a coffee mug. It has not sold well. A dozen years later, it’s still available. Buy your uncool mug today. Is that recursion? Still haunted by this lo-fi image of a fence partly obscuring a jungle gym in front of a building, I immediately modded it again. This iteration, while not a true Droste, includes elements of recursion, no doubt planting the seed for future self-similar expression experimentation. What does that mean? When I look at this throwaway sketch, I see the seeds of my journey into Droste effects. ### I thought this was a post about Droste? Yes, it’s a Droste. (2010) So, back to the banner on top of every page of DanDreifort.com; it’s a Drosted version of this “Jung Gym” picture wherein we replicate the original introducing near-infinite recursion. It’s not really infinite, silly. That’s impossible. We can only hint at it. Hell, instead of referring to that banner (that might go away someday,) I’ll just post the full version of that and erase the bit where I asked future reader noticing the absence of said banner to tell me to post that image over to the right. See it there? That’s why I make the big bucks. Fast-forward to September 2009: My Sony Elph digital camera is a little better and there exists a plugin for The GIMP called MathMap. Pair the two with moderate investment in time and elbow grease and voilà! Pixel pushers the world ’round are able to create myriad mergings of art and math. For me, that meant the ability to create Droste effect images. I’ll offer only one more thumbnail image here. Clicking it, just like the following hyper-linked text, will take you to a selection of Dan Dreifort Droste effect efforts, displayed in chronological order. Enjoy! Do you want a personalized Droste effect image? Tell me. Maybe we can work something out. ## Inadvertent Lessons from Safety Town 11 Jun ## Under a Blanket of Sleep My earliest memories fluttered archetypal dreamscapes of unknowable shapes and otherworldly sounds. I remember not understanding the recurring dream, confusion which no doubt rooted the subtle cerement of fear shrouding this fascinating fancy. That I lacked adequate language to describe it frustrated me more than my inability to understand it. No, it’s not a little girl. It’s our intrepid rememberer at a USA bicentennial parade. Well, I still don’t get it and my words still don’t do it justice, but my next-oldest set of memories are mundane enough to recount here without feelings of inadequacy. Like most memories of early childhood, these gems exist only because of unintentional mnemonics. I likely remember the USA bicentennial Independence Day parade because there’s photographic evidence I attended the event. I saw those “Happy 200th USA” pictures in 1976, 1977, 1978 and so on, every time I opened the family photo album. The requisite bright colors, explosions, and yummy charred meat in tube form might have seared something into my noggin too, but without photographs to jog my memory you wouldn’t be reading about it now. (Sorry!) ## If a bear tells a story in the woods and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? The narrative is another way we cheat the long forgetting. One of my earlier memories surely exists because I heard about it repeatedly and then repeated the tale thusly. The babysitter put me to bed in my crib. All’s well, until some pother of hullabaloo caused her to enter my room a short time later. Feathers filled the air. Through the feathery haze she cried, “What happened?!” I said, “My pillow hit me, so I hit it back.” Or so the story goes. I’m sure I first heard that story when my parents recounted it to somebody shortly thereafter. I heard it again a few years later when I asked, “Mom, Dad, why are there little feathers in the carpet in my bedroom?” Then I took the storytelling torch and ran with it every time a friend asked about the teeny snow-like feathers mashed into the blue Berber carpet acting as the floor of the rebel fortress on the ice planet of Hoth as we played with Star Wars figures in my room. ## Mnemonicless Memories of Safety Town So what should we call the first memories of waking life we store without story or photo aid? I’m tempted to use words like “pure” but my episodic memory isn’t what it used to be, so we’ll just say they’re unaided or mnemonicless memories. An unintentional lesson from Safety Town might be my earliest cohesive unaided memory. Safety Town, for the uninitiated, teaches preschool children about life on the streets. Here’s a link to the Safety Town I attended http://www.clevelandheights.com/index.aspx?page=1157 where I learned about safety on the sidewalks and streets of suburbia. I think I remember kids riding Big Wheels around a marked course acting as ersatz cars while numerous police officers watched over us. Safer, I suppose, than letting a bunch of idiot kids run loose in the streets to learn via trial and error with real cars. ### This one time, at Safety Town Surrounded by counselors and cops, a man walks among us distributing candy from a large container. “Would you like some candy?” “You’re damn right I like me some candy,” is probably what I thought as I nabbed some sugary goodness with my grubby kid hands. One of the many police officers then lined up all of the kids. “If you took candy, step forward,” he said. I and most of the other children took a few steps. “Now, turn around and hand all of your candy to somebody behind you.” “What the f#*%?!” is what I might have said had my vocabulary been more, um, mature. Obviously the lesson was, “Don’t take candy from strangers.” But what I took home that day was something along the lines of, “Don’t trust old people who take your candy.” Or “The police aren’t capable of protecting you, even if you’re standing next to them.” Or whatever. @$$holes took my mother#*%ing candy. To this day I’m more likely to accept candy from a stranger than to think the police are going to protect me from harm. Candy is awesome. 1979 Safety Town can suck it. Safety Town, are you paying attention? Change your curriculum, if you haven’t already. What other sorts of memory mnemonics are there? Is there a song that carries you to a specific place and time? Every time I hear “Happy Birthday” I think of my birthday. What a great song. Thanks for reading. When not mangling memories, Dan Dreifort consults on search and usability and makes music with his band LEAVE CORP. He recently founded SLACK, Summer League Adult Co-Ed Kickball and is doing yoga for the first time tonight. Dan Dreifort is a notary public and a marriage officiant. Dan is also for scuba. ## Why Does Time Seem to Speed Up as We Age? 1 Dec Time flies when you’re having fun. Time waits for no man. And sure enough, time appears to move faster as we get older. I’ll preface this by saying that this is (obviously) not an original observation. Furthermore, I don’t think my explanation of WHY time seemed to pass more slowly when we were younger is original either. But it makes the most sense to me when I explain it, so maybe you’ll like it too. ### The Short, Obtuse Explanation of Why Time Speeds Up The relative self-investment of a given time span dictates the speed at which the passing of time is perceived. $S=\frac{1}{e/U}$ U = Self duration (Your age at the time, minus the age at which you started to remember things.) e = Event Span (e.g. a specific summer) S = Perceived speed of time ### The only slightly longer but clearer explanation of the speed of time As we get older, time seems to speed up. How weird is that? (larger numbers = faster speeds) That summer I spent playing basketball with my neighbor Trey, watching Transformers on the boob tube, and um, well, I don’t actually remember too much of what I did when I was eleven years old, but it seemed to last a long time. School was even worse. Those nine months of school seemed like a thousand eternities. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that kids really start storing long term memories, i.e. they begin becoming individuals, somewhere around the age of six. It follows then that the three months of a post-fifth-grader summer amount to a whopping five percent (5%) of your life sensations. It seems like a long period of time because given your only referential (you) it is a long time. Conversely, 50 year-old you perceives summer’s passage to be much faster because that period is barely a half of a percent (0.005%) of your accumulated experiences. If my quick math is correct, the difference is about 1,000X. Or to put it another way, your sixth grade summer was something like 100,000% of the proportional time span that the summer of your 50th year will be. That’s it. But if you’re a big time geek and/or Billy Mays fan, but wait, there’s more! ### Implications of senility, dementia and amnesia on perceived speed of passage of time Pure speculation here, but I assume memory loss (think: Alzheimer’s) might cause time to slow down. That is to say, if you begin to lose your experiences and frame of reference thereby attenuating your period of “self duration”, you’ll likely perceive events as taking longer. In the case of a person with anterograde amnesia, time will largely seem to stand still. (Memento) Whereas a subject with retrograde amnesia would likely immediately perceive time to slow to a crawl and then experience a profound uptick in time’s passage as new memories are forged. And what are the implications of looking back at past events? Does that 6th grade summer seem longer the older I get? Does it stay the same? Or is it getting shorter, its time speeding up in tandem with my perception of more recent events? Hmmm… My memory’s not good enough to dwell on that one too much. Dan Dreifort has been fascinated with time for a long time. He even wrote a song about it. Find it via that link you just read, you know, the one that looks like this, Dan Dreifort. Daniel Dreifort consults on usability, search and efficiency. ## SEO Blogging Best Practices 22 Nov (WARNING! This article is several years old now. The world of SEO changes often. Take this and any other SEO advice with a grain of salt and an eye for the contemporary.) This article assumes your web team has already configured your blog on a good blogging platform like WordPress with all the best SEO plugins installed and configured. It also assumes that you’ve gone through the complex decision of deciding where to put your blog: e.g. mysite.com/blog vs. myblog.com Let me know if you need help or want further discussion on any of those prerequisites. ### SEO Blogging Basics • Write often. • Know your keywords. • Focus all page and post elements. • Leverage links. • Embrace community. ### Content is King When done well, blogging benefits your brand, customer community and valuable search rankings. Write well and often. Avoid blogger burnout by using multiple bloggers. Invite guest bloggers who will give you great content and buzz in exchange for a link to their site in the byline. Do whatever it takes to get content flowing regularly. There’s no upper limit to quantity but you want to make sure you’re cranking the quality too. Your audience is twofold and you should write for both humans and robots. We’ll assume you know how to connect with those humans but the pesky search engine spiders are a little different. If you blog a lot, you don’t need to always pander to the bots. But… All in-house bloggers should be aware of your SEO campaign’s keywords and should be updated as the list changes. If it’s ever convenient to fit a keyword phrase into your blog post, and it sounds natural, do it. ### Page Elements and Agreement But sometimes you’ll want to take it a step further. The best SEO blog entries have some sense of agreement throughout disparate page elements. These elements are opportunities for us to convey semantic information to Google. Some of these elements: • title (appears in the very top left of the browser and often is the top bolded part of the Google search engine result page (SERP) listing) • description (not visible on page, but often used by Google in SERP listings, below the title) • body content – copy in your paragraphs – the beef • Headlines – your primary headline on almost any blog entry is the Blog name. it’s the h1. You then define a headline specific to your entry (h2). And break up your text with tertiary (h3) and sometimes other sub-headlines (h4, h5) These headlines help both humans and robots to better understand what’s important. • alt tags – any time you use an image you have the ability to specify an alt tag to tell search engines and accessibility devices (screen readers) some info about the image. • page name / entry name / headline / title – in WordPress, the “Enter title here” field is often used to populate several fields including • the first, primary headline in your post • the page name • the page title (see above) For example in this post: https://dandreifort.com/2010/10/08/the-fall-of-uncool/ I entered “The Fall of Uncool” into that field. • Which was used verbatim as the main headline of the post • hyphenated in the page name /the-fall-of-uncool/ • and prefixed to the blog title to create the title The Fall of Uncool << Dan Dreifort • WordPress SEO plugins like Platinum SEO Pack, allow you to specify unique page titles, page names, descriptions, etc. apart from what you enter into the “Enter Title Here” field. You should use these fields to your advantage as specified below. Titles – Should be no more than 65 characters in length including spaces. Anything more than that and you’ll be wasting energy; Google won’t display >65 characters in the headline of the listing and won’t pay attention to the additional characters for indexing. (Use Title Case for Titles) They’ll often be similar and sometimes even identical to the main headline of your blog post. Description – Keep them under 165 characters. Use sentence case for descriptions. This is your opportunity to suggest to Google what they should put under the search engine result page (SERP) headline. Google uses these various bits of info you provide to create an outline of your page and they toss it into the algorithm and do the ranking magic. We don’t want to miss out on these easy opportunities to tell Google what’s what. It’ll become second nature in no time. Back to the concept of agreement, try to avoid stuffing important SEO keywords in the title, description, alt, etc. while NOT also using the phrase in the plain body content too. Or put positively, if you use a keyword phrase in the title and headline, it should appear at least once in the body too. Your ideal Keyword Density for a campaign keyphrase should be between 1% and 3%. Don’t go too much higher or you risk retribution. Ideally, at least half of that keyword density will come from your plain sentence/paragraph body text. Err on the side of caution; if you’re copy starts to sound unnatural, don’t fret about low keyword density. I’ll use another example: https://dandreifort.com/2010/09/07/wordtracker-kei-fail-wordtracker-alternatives-seo-news/ Take 15 seconds to scan it. Notice that there’s a theme? (No, it’s not ‘whining’. That’s just the modus operandi, not the theme.) How did you notice the theme? Some will mention the headlines. Some will mention the images and the captions. Others might have scanned the body content. Regardless, it’s easy for both humans AND bots to figure out the big pic of what this article is trying to say. When you google some phrases about this entry, many show up first SERP on Google. “wordtracker alternatives” “wordtracker kei” etc. What if I’d used the same “Wordtracker” headlines and images but my body text was about something totally different like cooking? While most humans wouldn’t be able to notice the incongruity (or lack of agreement) at first blush, it takes Google a fraction of a second to judge every detail of your content. If you stuff a keyword into important fields like title, headline, alt, etc. but don’t also use it in your body content, Google knows you’re stuffing keywords to try to game the system. ### Post tags and categories Whether or not you choose to make them visible on the page, you have the ability to tag and categorize your posts. Develop a main taxonomy of your content to establish your main categories. If you start writing about new content, add a new category. A post can be in more than one category. You can leave a post uncategorized but why? Put it where it belongs! Use several words and concepts to tag your post. A tag is usually a great place for the SEO keyword on which you’ve focused for the post. Choose several tags. There’s no hard upper limit, but use common sense. Don’t overdo it. There are also WordPress plugins that will suggest tags for you. ### Linking Linking to relevant sites can add value to your post. Your readers might benefit, and it lets you tell Google more about your content via association. You can also use linking to help your main (non-blog) site’s SEO. There are two main elements of a link. The target URL is the page the link points to. The anchor text is the text that is the link. I.e. in the web’s early days webmasters regularly employed “Click Here!” as the anchor text for most links. Click Here tells neither human nor bot anything about the content on the other side of that link. We can do better. #### Linking to third-party sites When you link to a site you’re letting Google’s algorithm know that you’re sort of voting for that site. We can greatly diminish the vote by using a trick called “nofollow”. Nofollow instructs Google that the link is censured and should be ignored vis-à-vis their index. Unless you’re feeling generous, always specify nofollow and never use an SEO keyphrase as the anchor when you link to a site you don’t control. The WordPress plugin “nofollow post” allows you to select “nofollow” when creating a link. (See my earlier post about the best WordPress SEO plugins for more.) #### Linking to your own site Just like linking to your competitors’ sites, but 100% opposite! Always try to use a relevant SEO keyword phrase to link to your own pages. Never use nofollow. Furthermore, you should use Google’s guidance to decide which of your pages gets the incoming link. First determine which of your pages already ranks best for your keyword phrase. If you type this into Google site:dandreifort.com seo You’ll get a list of the highest ranking dandreifort.com pages for the phrase “seo” The page on top has the best foothold (highest rank) and is a great candidate for some SEO love. I.e. the page on top would be the ideal target URL for a link with anchor text “seo”. Unless it’s your policy to only link to your own site, don’t overdo the links to your own site. Try to link to your own site less than half the time. I.e. for every link in a post to your site you should include at least one nofollow link to different sites. There are arguments for and against excessive self-linking. ### Links to your site from third-party sites Encourage others (readers, friends, etc.) to link to your site. Getting a quality incoming link (“ backlink”) to your site is SEO gold. What is a quality link? ### The BEST incoming links: • Link from another site to yours • Are on a page that has high Google PageRank (PR) • …on a page with content closely related to yours • …on a page with only a few or no other links to external sites • …hosted on a different server, different domain registrar info, etc. • Use relevant anchor text (“[good keyword]” vs “Click here!”) • without reciprocity (i.e. you don’t link back) #### How do we get links? • Ask nicely (ultra low success rate) • Offer to trade links (also pretty low) • Rent them (expensive and frowned upon by Google) • Do some press releases (hope for links) • Befriend bloggers (hope for links and/or a review) • Other networking (hope for / trade for links) • Etc. ### Syndication and Community Encourage syndication of your content via RSS. Provide multiple opportunities for readers to subscribe to your RSS feed. Use a plugin to enable easy liking/sharing of your content on popular social networks. Enable comments. Always reply to comments. Using keywords in comments is smart too. ### Spelling Last but not least, always run a spell check before publishing! Dan Dreifort consults on usability and search. Contact him… if you can figure out how! ## Need Help Finding a WebPosition Replacement 7 Jul The all new, (all suck) webPosition! WebPosition was pretty great until Infospace bought them in 2009. What was once a wonderfully supported suite of SEO SERP tools turned into a nightmare. The newly released Webposition is a web-only interface (vs. software you install on your computer.) Whereas you used to pay a few hundred bucks to own the program outright you now have to pay WebPosition a steep monthly fee to use this website. ### What’s wrong with the new WebPosition? It’s costly.$499 per year.

Poor security. Because it’s online-only, all of your clients’ campaign data is on their servers. No doubt they’re selling it to somebody.

Missing features. And more! My friend reports that he’s…

having trouble exporting their reports into excel.
They don’t give any details on how many keywords
rank #1, 2-10, 11-20, etc (only shows a bar graph)
There’s no report email function, and I don’t see an option to FTP/upload reports.
The reports look really sloppy compared to the WP4 reports.
WP support is still no good.

### WebPosition Alternatives

#### Advanced Web Ranking

That same friend and fellow SEO says,

I’m trying AWR because I’ve heard a lot of good
things from prominent SEOs and larger agencies who use it.
AWR has custom reports and lots of bells and whistles.
I couldn’t get anyone to answer their customer service line…I believe the
company is in another country… I never tried emailing them.

So far Advanced Web Ranking is at the top of my list to try. It’s $399 to buy and then$119 per year after the first 12 months.

#### SEOmoz

\$79 per MONTH ?! Wow. My friend says,

Seomoz’s rank tracker isn’t very robust and you need to enter each keyword
and URL individually. Lame.

#### Wikipedia’s List of Web Ranking Software

As if this wasn’t already complex and challenging, Wikipedia offers a longer list of SERP software options. And dmoz has a category full of website promotion possibilities.

### SEO Software Help

As you can see, this blog post isn’t informative as much as it’s a cry for help. If you have a non-shill comment on your experience with SEO ranking software, please comment. Here are the most important criteria

• >20 sites
• sftp upload of reports
• brandable/customizable reports
• data export (csv or ods or xls)
• easy backup AND restore from backup
• easy revert (e.g. if my evdo internet connection dies during querying and I need to re-run a report.)
• imports WP4 campaigns (this might be a pipe dream)
• no monthly fee
• no sensitive data stored on third-party servers
• etc.

What do you think?

Dan Dreifort whines about SEO, efficiency and usability on this blog and IRL.

## SEO Reduces PPC Cost

6 Jul

Use SEO to boost your Google quality score.

One of my clients recently opened a second Google Adwords account to advertise one of his many businesses. “Why does it cost so much more to go after the same PPC keywords on my new website with this new Adwords account?! Is it because it’s new?” I’d previously mentioned to him that good SEO reduces the cost of any PPC campaign, but I say a lot of stuff, so it must’ve gotten lost in the shuffle. I sent him the following refresher.

### Adwords Quality Score

The AdWords system calculates a ‘Quality Score’ for each of your PPC keywords. It looks at a variety of factors to measure how relevant your keyword is to your ad text and to a user’s search query. A keyword’s Quality Score updates frequently and is closely related to its performance. In general, a high Quality Score means that your keyword will trigger ads in a higher position and at a lower cost-per-click (CPC).

Lots of good info here. If you’re interested in lowering your PPC cost you should read the whole thing.

### Lower CPC for PPC through SEO?

More info on how to get “a high landing page quality score” to decrease your CPC

and a shorter answer

Even shorter still, here’s a summary of how to use SEO for better, cheaper PPC.

• Optimize your landing pages to match the keywords in your PPC campaigns. Create many landing pages if you have to.
• Do some usability testing on those landing pages. Read Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug or hire somebody like me to do it for you.

That’s it. Your ads will be cheaper, appear higher, convert better and your landing pages will be more effective too. Contact me if you have any questions.

Dan Dreifort works  SEO and Usability magic for clients of EdenMarketing.com, StarrTech.com and MySEO411.com. He has lost 15 pounds in two months. Booyah!

## SEO, Typography, Usability – Advice to a client

26 Feb

Through better usability (and other practices) we can turn more of your visitors into customers.

A client asked for clarification on a few suggestions I’d queued for their project. While I don’t offer any background, this article is still informative. Partially edited to protect the innocent.

### What is Google Page Rank? How do I measure it?

Google pagerank is best explained by those who’ve already typed it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank

I use a Firefox page rank plugin to tell me the PR of any page I visit. But you can also use web tools like this one

http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php

### Typesetting and typography: What are they and should I care?

Typography… I’ll just talk around it a bit. That restaurant menu link I sent:
represents the last time I tried to do something neat with fonts, layouts and spacing. It’s from a few years ago (largely stolen from here) and I was on a tight budget. But while it’s far from perfect, it uses fonts, font sizes, font colors, font spacing, kerning, etc. in an attempt to present information in a sensible and easy to read format.

The example cited even conveys some subtle branding – with the Italian color scheme. We could display the same information with stock fonts, stock spacing, stock (black) colors, etc., and it would look different… worse. The information conveyed wouldn’t be as attractive. Visitors would read it less, and other nastiness! 😉

#### Another Typography Example

Prior to that one, my earlier attempt at an Italian menu (circa 2005) was this one:
It’s been edited (read: improved) since I worked on it, but it’s still sucky enough  (typographically speaking) to be a good example. The fonts stay the same throughout. There’s bold text here and there, and we add some red. But other than that, it’s a fairly jumbled mess, comparatively speaking. The kerning is too tight. The spacing between an item’s header and its description is actually GREATER than the space between the item’s description and the NEXT item’s header. Etc. Etc.

#### A final typographic e.g.

Go to your bookshelf. Grab a paperback from the 1960’s and then grab the most recent hardcover book you can find. Open them to page 50. Read a few lines from each book. What’s the difference? Typesetting’s come a long way in a few decades. Books are much easier to read now.

So, using typography, we can better present the information on your site. We do this using CSS Cascading Style Sheets to define the spacing and other font attributes.

To further answer your question, yes, there is something you can do to help the effort. Write more sub-headlines to break up text.

### Using HTML headlines helps both humans and robots

I’ll pick a random page:
https://www.mygovspending.com/gearbox/GovtDeficitAndDebt
Ah, not the *best* example, but I’ll use it nonetheless. A page with fewer headlines would’ve been better, but in one sense, this is actually better; it shows how we can improve on a good start.

Between these two headlines…
“A Shot at Quantifying Comprehensive Taxpayer Liability”
and
“Can government debt be a good thing?”

…we have a whole bunch of text. And while there’s a chart and a magazine style pull quote box, it still needs more segmentation. What’s there would suffice for a textbook or even a newspaper, but more headlines are the norm for web content where it’s so easy to lose a reader’s attention to countless other sites.

e.g. I picked a random article from smart money
http://www.smartmoney.com/investing/economy/the-other-consumer-confidence-index/

There’s a headline an average of every two paragraphs.

This is not just good for readability, keeping readers hooked, helping readers find what they want in a page and etc, it’s also good for SEO. Robots love this sh*t! HTML headlines are our opportunity to present a better page outline to the search engine spiders.

Headlines should often be accurately descriptive more so than catchy. If they’re both, that’s even better.

#### How about a segue?

As a neat tangent, and segue, think about the links you see when you visit a site. The call to action, “Click Here!” was once the norm. But then some genius realized that presenting the user with a dozen links on a page, all with the anchor text “Click here!”, all going to different pages… was a bad idea.

### What are good links made of?

#### The BEST links are:

• from another site to yours
• on a page that has high page rank (PR)
• on a page with content closely related to yours
• without link reciprocity (e.g. w/out you linking back)
• hosted on a different server, different domain registrar info, etc.

### How do I get incoming links?

But getting the best links is VERY hard. So we just get as close as we can. For SEO, I’d say the PR is the most important variable.

How do we get links?

• Ask nicely (ultra low success rate)
• Offer to trade links (also pretty low)
• Buy them (expensive and frowned upon by Google)
• Do some press releases (hope for links)
• Befriend bloggers, e.g. hook them up w/ a free account (hope for links and/or a review)
• Other networking (hope for / trade for links)
• Etc.

We could compile a list of the top twenty or so bloggers in your field and compose a very short email to them. “Hey, check out my mad-crazy site, yo! I’ll hook you up with a free account.” …and you can send them off with a personal touch.

### W3C Page Validation

The W3C link at the bottom relates to web standards. The closer you are to meeting them, the more people (e.g. w/ disabilities) and robots (e.g. Google’s) are able to make sense of your content. It’s otherwise advisable to get your code up to specifications too. If you need more convincing, please Google for myriad reasons.

Whew! This took a while to type, but it’s worth it.

#### Dan Dreifort

Dan Dreifort is a SEO consultant, usability consultant… and he’s working on becoming an efficiency consultant too. He just bought fficient.com in the hopes that it will some day become the web home of his efficiency consulting wing. Yeah, he’s like a bird.

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