Website Platforms

In the olden days, websites were built from scratch with mixed results, often because important structural aspects were missing, which undermined the web site’s success with search engines.

Today websites are built on platforms that are then customized to look the way you want things to look.  The most prevalent platforms today are “open source”, meaning there are hundreds or thousands of code developers around the world, who also use the platform, working to improve it every day for the common good.  There are also proprietary systems available, but they tend to limit your options and not keep up with online marketing trends at that same pace that is possible with open source software.

These open source platforms all have:

  • Content Management Systems (CMS) with proper coding embedded in the structure
  • Templates and themes to make them beautifully consistent with your brand
  • Plugins, extensions, modules, or add-ons to enhance basic features
  • Fans who love them and will defend their platform to their last breath
  • Evolving capabilities as they battle it out to win the hearts and minds of people who need websites (When looking at reviews, be sure to check the DATE of the post for the reliability of the information. All of these platforms literally evolve every week, so a review comparing platforms last year is bound to be based on old information.)
  • Used and recommended by some businesses
  • Easy for non-technical people to use – many say it feels like working in MS Word
  • Built for professional blogging AND website pages
  • Many plugins enhance the capabilities and features, including better SEO, social media engagement, and tracking your results for optimum Return On Investment (ROI)
  • Used and recommended by some businesses
  • Repeatedly reported as difficult for non-technical people to learn or use
  • Preferred by designers and developers
  • Used and recommended by some businesses
  • Favored by developers because most things are customizable
  • The level of customization requires that you be savvy about what will serve your business best online. Many businesses find this overwhelming, especially at start-up.

While the open source platforms often have a free level of software, you might need to hire someone to install and configure it to meet the businesses needs fully. Most people you might hire are wed to a particular platform. Many plugin authors ask for small donations and some plugins are only available for purchase. (Disclosure: WordPress is the platform used by this site.) 

2017 UPDATE: Here is another perspective on website building with open-source platforms:

Proper Structure

Organic Optimization is most wisely applied to every structure you use online, no matter which platform you are using:

  • Domain name (e.g. – Domain names are most often based on your business name, so savvy folks actually do keyword research BEFORE settling on a final business name.
  • Title and URL (also known as the web address – it starts with http://) of every:
    • page
    • video
    • photo
    • pdf
    • sound file
    • blog post
    • blog category
    • link category
  • Descriptions: Right now search engines are hyper focused on words and probably will be for some time to come. As image recognition software improves, images will matter more for search engines.
    • It is all about how you DESCRIBE the images, videos, and sounds. Proper coding structures allow for descriptions to be in the code that are not visible to the visitor without screen reading software. This means blind people AND search engines get to find out what your photos, videos, and sound files are about by your descriptions.
    • Without a description, the search engine has no other recourse except to decide it is about NOTHING. Even photos added as “eye candy” have some value or you wouldn’t have added them for people to see! Convey the value in the description.
    • Example: if you add a photo to a page be sure to use strong keywords when you describe what’s going on in the photo in the alt attribute of the image tag in the code. (Not so complicated as it sounds. Most content management systems today make it easy to add this description, but too many businesses fail to do so!)
  • Categories: Many platforms offer ways to categorize your pages, posts, links, and more. Use keywords in category titles and URLs (sometimes called slugs) to get the most from your categories.
  • Tags: Tags are a special kind of structure for using keywords, that makes the search aspect of your platform SMARTER. A tag can be a word or a phrase. A great tag:
    • Is a proven keyword or keyword phrase
    • Is assigned by you to multiple posts or items on your site
    • Acts like a category, listing everything associated with it, after it is clicked by a visitor at your site who is viewing a “tag cloud”
  • Content Structure: The actual content structure of all the items listed above.
    • Break up pages into specific topics. One page about 3 important topics automatically gets a lower ranking by search engines than 3 separate pages about each of those topics. Why? Because that one page is not about any one thing, it is about three things. When something is important, it must have its own page.
    • Example: Every midwife in the birth center needs to have a distinct bio page, because that person’s name will naturally become an actual keyword that people will use in a search engine. By burying her bio on a page with other midwives, her name is made less important than when she has her own page with its own title, URL, subheadings and content that are exclusively about her.
    • Break up content with subheadings. The page title is often set up as Heading1, so the next subheading under that is Heading2, and Heading3 is under that – just like making an outline for a report in grade school. This is a fundamental way that the search engine determines what the content is about. This means that when someone makes a whole line bold, instead of making it a heading on your website, they are literally undermining the success of your organic optimization.
    • Use proven keywords in the headings.
  • Actual Content: Use the keywords throughout the content whenever it can naturally flow with the content. This is fundamental and often the downfall of web content. When you have good keyword research, you have a guide for which language to use. You know which terms are familiar to people and which are your jargon. It is imperative to write with the language and terms of the people you want to reach, so they will both find and understand your message.

Remember to Claim Your Place on Maps and Directories

Another step to take is to claim your place on maps and directories. Many times this is free and requires verification via phone or email. Sometimes there are options to pay for a fancier listing or for advertising. Be sure to find out the market share of your desired customers who already frequent this directory before investing.

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