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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Website Launch Checklist: 25 Things to Test Before Your Site Goes Live

website-launch-checklist

Launching a website is a little like making homemade soup. You’ve got many ingredients coming together, and before you’re done adding them, you sample it to see that you got it just right. But this step – the testing – is often ignored before a site goes live.

Testing a new website can seem overwhelming. Teams aren’t sure where to start. But you may have more help than you know. Every team member can assist in the pre-launch process.

Most websites have writers, web developers, marketers, search engine optimizers, and network administrators coming together to create the site. These same people can help test it. Here’s how.

For the Writer or Editor

Writers and editors have strong attention to detail when it comes to the written content on your site. And this attention to detail can also be used for other tasks as well. Here’s what they can do pre-launch:

1. Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation

Check for proper spelling, typos, and grammar site-wide.

2. Forms

Fill out the forms on the site and go through the following questions:

  • Can the flow be improved?
  • Do you get stuck?
  • Are the instructions accurate?
  • Does the completed form get sent to the right people or person?

3. Site speed

Check the size of your page sizes and their load time. Here’s how:

  • Download Google Chrome
  • Navigate to your page in Chrome
  • Press F12
  • View “network” tab
  • Behold!

While Step 3 may appear technical, it doesn’t require a very technical person in order to be useful. The Gantt chart on the network tab will show what a page is doing when it loads in a browser. In the top right corner, they’ll be able to see the total load time.

Website Launch Checklist

In the Gantt chart, it shows how much time each element takes to load. Almost anyone can help find the culprit slow page. Just show the long, horizontal bars to your web developers or network administrators, and they can help.

4. Context

When giving a critical eye to the pages within the site, ask:

  • Why would I visit this page?
  • Is the content ready for visitor?
  • Does the page address the audience?

For the Web Designer

Web designers know what the original design intent is, and they have an eye for the visual details. They can usually spot when things don’t look quite right pretty quickly.

5. Compatibility

Multi-browser rendering is the bane of the Internet, but as website creators, we have to live with it. Check to make sure the pages render well in common browsers. Browser share is a moving target so to help prioritize efforts, here’s a site that continually examines it.

6. Fonts

Sometimes font codes get dropped into a page inadvertently and make a letter or a word look funny. Check to see that the formatting is consistent, and look for odd blips in the copy.

7. Images

Make sure all display text renders on the image when you hover over it (the alt attribute). Make sure the images display correctly. Are they larger than 120 kilobytes? If so, find out of there is a good reason for that. You really only need 72 dots per inch (dpi) for web images in terms of quality.

For the Web Developer

Web developers know the inner workings of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and how browsers handle those languages. There are some important technical items that a web developer is best suited for when it’s time to go live. Here are a few.

8. Live URLs

Often, sites are built at a URL (uniform resource locator) that isn’t the website’s final destination. When a site goes live, the URLs are transferred from a staging area to production. All the URLs change at this time, and they need to be tested.

On small sites without any tools, you can navigate to each page to make sure they all work. On a site with fewer than 500 URLs, you can use Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool for free to find bad URLs. For larger sites, there is a modest annual fee.

9. Validation

W3C-valid code is the one thing you can do prior to launch to have some confidence around a search engine spider being able to crawl your site. It’s pretty simple to know if a page is valid. You just paste the URL in question here, and you’ll get a report almost instantly.

With that report, you can attack the issues and get the page into compliance. To help even more, here are 10 common fixes.

10. Minify

This is a technique that combines and compresses website code into smaller chunks to speed up your site. You can read more about it at Google. Then, look at the website pre-launch to see if the site is using minify where it can.

11. 404 pages

When a 404 (“page not found”) error occurs, make sure you have a custom page to help your visitor find something else of use, even if it wasn’t what they were looking for. Do you have an HTML sitemap there? Does the 404 page include a site search?

12. Favicon

Favicons are those little iconic images that show up in the address bar and tabs of your browser. How does it help? It’s a small branding opportunity that lends credibility to your site. It’s nice to have one when you launch.

For the Search Engine Optimizer

SEO professionals bring an understanding of the web marketing focus. They can look at a number of things with perspective that can help the site right out of the gate with search engines.

13. 301 Redirects

Sometimes content is repurposed or gets moved to fit the new navigation structure of a site. If you have an existing site and you are changing the URL structure with your new site, you’ll want to make sure you’ve mapped the old URLs to the new ones.

The Screaming Frog spider mentioned earlier can be run on both the old site and the new. An Excel spreadsheet is a great way to document this effort. Column A has the old URL, and you place the new URL in Column B. Each row represents a redirect from old to new. On launch day, it’s time to execute.

14. Title Tags/Meta Data

This may sound like old news to some, but this easy-to-fix mistake happens every day. Make sure every page has a title tag, and make sure they are unique.

Also make sure each has a meta description. This is still a common source for search engine spiders to draw from to understand what the page is about and provide visitors with a sneak peak into the page contents from the results.

15. XML Sitemaps/HTML Sitemap

Make sure your new website has an accurate site map in both XML and HTML format. Both users and search engines care about this important element as it helps them find the pages they are looking for when other methods fail.

16. Tools

Make sure Google Analytics or the analytics package you’re using, and Google and Bing Webmaster Tools are set up and ready to go.

17. Social Media Integration

Do the social media icons on the site go to the correct pages? Do you have the right buttons and social plugins installed for what you are trying to accomplish and what you want the user to be able to do? (For example, share a page versus “Like” you on Facebook.)

18. SERP Display

Are the search engines displaying your pages correctly in the search engine results pages? Did you write proper meta descriptions, but they aren’t being used? Are the images you placed on your Places page being displayed in the SERP?

19. Search Engine Submission

It used to be that all new sites needed to submit to be crawled and indexed. Today, the search engines are more sophisticated, and will likely find and crawl the new site anyway, but it is helpful to include this in your launch checklist.

20. PPC Setup

Make sure if you are running any PPC campaigns that it’s set up and ready to go with the site launch. To avoid a lapse in service, if you have a Google PPC rep, you can set and pause all your campaigns to the new URLs prior to launch, and instead of the ads getting disapproved, your rep can approve them manually.

For the Network Administrator

These folks manage your web servers, the software that runs on them, and all the traffic components that keep your web traffic coming in. Their technical expertise on some of these tasks is like gold.

21. Monitoring

A site monitor checks pages regularly to make sure it is available for visitors. Basic monitors check if the page is working.

Important pages within the site should have enhanced monitors that test if a completed form behaves the way it should. Enhanced monitors are more expensive to setup and keep running so the page in question needs to justify the additional expense.

22. Backup System

Have you thought about what happens if the server goes down? Make sure the backup system is configured properly, and the recovery process has been tested so you know it works.

23. Traffic Loads

Think about what might happen to your site if it gets an influx of heavy traffic. There are load test software tools that allow you to simulate heavy loads. If you are expecting big crowds, this is a must.

24. Protected Pages

Does your site have pages that require user credentials to view? If so, do the credentials work? From the opposite angle, also check to see that the pages can’t be viewed without proper credentials. Make several attempts to get to those URLs without proper credentials to make sure the security is working as expected.

25. Secure Certificate (if Required)

If your site is ecommerce, or you’re using encrypted pages to protect visitor privacy on a form or elsewhere, you’ll want to check your certificate on launch day.

To do this, go to the encrypted section of your site. When the lock appears in the address bar, right click on it and read the message your visitors will read. It should have your name on it and state that it’s valid. If the lock doesn’t appear or the name isn’t right, let your provider know.

Summary

Hopefully you can see that everyone on a marketing and web team can be assigned tasks to test leading up to a site launch. This team approach does the best job for the diverse challenge of testing a website. If you can rally your team around these tests, no one person needs to bear the full weight of a site launch.

Author : Mark Knowles
Source : Click Here

 

 

7 Great Ways to Advertise on YouTube

Videos have become one of the most important components of the online user experience. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube per minute and this number is only going to increase due to the growing number of online devices with video capabilities and the successful user engagement videos create.

Being able to generate sales or leads through YouTube should be an essential item in every marketer’s toolbox for several reasons:

  • It is cheaper to get more visibility compared to other advertising tools
  • It helps increase brand recognition while still targeting relevant users
  • It integrates with many traffic sources since it allows the use of remarketing

Before getting into several ways to advertise on YouTube, we are going to have a quick look at how advertising on YouTube works in the first place.

Advertisers can choose among two ad formats to advertise on YouTube:

  • Video Ads
  • Banner Ads

Read on for the instructions for banners and the seven ways to advertise on YouTube:

Using Video Ads to Advertise on YouTube

Using video ads is done through the use of a Google AdWords Account. You first need to log in your Google AdWords account.

If you have never created a video campaign or are looking to create a new one, click on “+ Campaign” and “Video”:

advertise on youtube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next step in the creation of a video campaign is to actually link your YouTube Channel to AdWords for videos. This will give you additional data on the performance of your campaigns.

In order to link YouTube to AdWords, click on the settings wheel in the top right corner and click on “Linked accounts.” You will then have a number of options including YouTube. When you click on “View details” below the YouTube paragraph, AdWords will guide you through the account linking process.

advertise_on_youtube_link_adwords_youtube

 

Any video campaign you create will show up in the campaign tab. Here is an example of a video remarketing campaign:

advertise-on-youtube-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are creating a video you want to use as an ad, here are some best practices.

Video Creation Best Practices

  1. Create a video that directly addresses your audience
  2. Say the most important thing in the first 5 seconds
  3. Keep the video short (around 30 seconds maximum) and easy to understand
  4. Use a professional voiceover to maximize results
  5. Create at least two variations of the video to test what generates better results
  6. Add call-to-action overlays

Using Banner Ads to Advertise on YouTube Videos

This is an extremely powerful tool to increase brand awareness. To get started, you need to create a display campaign:

advertise-on-youtube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will then be able to choose the campaign type based on your marketing objective:

 
advertise-on-youtube-5-760x503The next step is to select the proper targeting once your campaigns have been set up. Targeting is located in the display section of the campaign menu:

http://mavistechnologies.org/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/advertise-on-youtubeYou should then add youtube.com (or specific video and channels) as a targeted placement and you will be all set.

Banner Creation Best Practices:

  1. Include a call to action
  2. Use colors that contrast to stand out
  3. Don’t include too much text
  4. Test the use of people as opposed to text only
  5. Create banners that reflect your brand

7 Ways to Advertise on YouTube

Now that it’s clear how to get started with YouTube ads, it is time to discuss the target methods you can use in your campaigns:

1. Placements

Placement targeting allows advertisers to pick specific videos they would like to appear on. The main advantage of placements targeting are:

  • You can pick highly relevant videos
  • You spend money only where you have a higher chance to convert
  • You will be able to control bids on the placements that are likely to make the difference for you

This method also holds many disadvantages:

  • Volume might be small
  • CPCs are higher due to a lower amount of available impressions
  • The campaign will be difficult to scale up

2. Topics

Each person has different topics of interest and being able to target those topics allows you to target a relevant audience while generating volume.

The main advantages of topics targeting are:

  • Large impression availability
  • Targeted, but not too narrow
  • Good CPC compared to placements targeting

The main disadvantages are:

  • Lower conversion rate than placements targeting
  • It doesn’t guarantee websites talking about your topics will be relevant to your business
  • It might be too broad for items targeting specific niches

3. Contextual
Contextual targeting works with keywords and helps identify pages whose context fits the context of your keywords. Picking the right keywords becomes key to the success of this campaign type.

The advantages of a keyword driven display campaign are:

  • It allows you to target contexts relevant to your business
  • It is a good way to scale up campaigns at a low CPC

The main disadvantages are:

  • It might not convert very well at first
  • It needs a lot of negative placements to make sure the campaign doesn’t invest money on bad websites.

4. Remarketing

This is one of the most effective ways to target people on YouTube since it is based on targeting people who have already visited your website without converting.

Remarketing is extremely powerful and its main advantages are:

  • High conversion rates
  • Extremely relevant to the users
  • It can be customized based on users’ behaviors on the site

Remarketing doesn’t have many disadvantages:

  • You need to make sure not to target irrelevant users, such as people who bounced right away from your site
  • It might become too invasive if it has no caps on impressions

5. Interests

Interests can be found in the same place where you add a remarketing list:

http://mavistechnologies.org/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/advertise-on-youtube

Interests include:

  • Affinity audiences: This option allows you to target large groups of people based on their long-term interests
  • In-market audiences: This option targets people who are actively shopping in the market for your products or services

The main advantages of interest targeting are:

  • Possibility to reach out to a large number of targeted users
  • Lower risk to target irrelevant users
  • It focuses on the user behavior and not only on page content

The main disadvantages are:

  • It might still target audiences that aren’t relevant enough

6. Demographics

This target option speaks for itself. It allows you to target users based on age and gender. Additionally, Google introduced an additional targeting layer which consists of targeting a parental status. Here is what the end result looks like:

http://mavistechnologies.org/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/advertise-on-youtube

Demographic targeting has a few powerful advantages:

  • It helps exclude people who aren’t relevant to a business
  • It allows you to customize bids by age, gender, and parental status

The main disadvantages are:

  • It general and targets too many irrelevant users for businesses that don’t aim to the masses\
  • If you get a lot of traffic from “unknown” users, you won’t be able to optimize based on performance and you will be running blind

7. Combination of Targeting Methods

This is certainly one of the most interesting targeting options since it allows you to take the best of each targeting method and reduces targeting disadvantages, since different methods compensate for the flaws of others.

The best practice is to combine two to three targeting options, but no more, to avoid limiting your audience too much.

Conclusion

With the ever-increasing demand for video, you can never know too many ways to get your ads in front of the right audience. However, not every business has videos ready to go and banners are a great way to get started with YouTube. Try these tips to increase sales and brand awareness.

Remember to combine different targeting options and continually test what works best.

Image Credits
Featured Image: Image by Rocco Baldassarre
All screenshots by Rocco Baldassarre. Taken September 2015.
Source : Search Engine Journal
Author : Rocco Baldassarre

 

 

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