In this issue: New Sandvox Designs * Website Tips * SEO Tips from StomperNet * Mac.com Warning * WWDC

Greetings from Karelia Software!

New Sandvox Designs

If you have been keeping up with the Sandvox Designs website you have seen a number of new designs come out from our partner providers. A new Sandvox Designer, Vitor M. Costa, has just released a free design “Midnight Blue.” Blueball Design has just released a stunning new design suite called “Blueball Ecom” which must be seen to be believed. We think it’s going to go down in history as one of the awesomest Sandvox designs ever!

Blueball also has a cool promotion going on that we wanted to share - a bundle of five design packages (47 individual designs in all) for $36. Check it out.

Website Tips

A few months ago, this newsletter featured a bunch of our tips for getting your website noticed. We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from Sandvoxers about these tips, so we thought we’d share a few more:

Do you have a local business or organization? If you haven’t yet registered your website with Google’s Local Business Center, you are now making it even *harder* for people to find you! That’s because Google is now including local results in many Google search results pages, based on the viewer’s location — they don’t have to specify a location name in their query. Try it yourself: search for “plumber” or “ice cream” in Google and you’ll see what we mean, about halfway down the page. If you want your listing to appear there, add your site to Google’s Local Business Center.

Do you want to see a decent list of what websites are linking to yours? In this case, Google doesn’t provide the best tool. You are better off using Yahoo’s Site Explorer. Enter your domain name, then click on the square button that shows you your “inlinks”. If you don’t have many, then you need to work on getting other established websites to link to yours. The article we mentioned above has some suggestions on doing just that.

Do you want some help brainstorming for terms that people might be using to search for whatever it is you offer? You can use Google’s Keyword Tool (which they have built for their AdSense program, but it’s still useful even if you don’t use AdSense). You can give it some seed phrases, or it will mine your own website for ideas. As you come up with additional keywords and phrases that people seem to be searching for, you can then update your website’s content to contain that kind of language. Just watch out for “keyword stuffing” — make sure that your website content makes sense for human visitors!

Yikes! Were these just a bit too complex? Then read on....

SEO Tips & Course from StomperNet

As webmasters, you have probably received offers and seen advertisements for training or services to help you get your website better noticed by search engines — for a hefty fee, of course. While there are dozens or maybe even hundreds of self-proclaimed experts in Search Engine Optimization — SEO, for short — we have found that most of them are short on real information and long on hype. That’s too bad, because it’s often overwhelming to know what to do when you have a website and you want it to get more traffic from search engines.

Sandvoxer Geoff Wells turned us onto StomperNet a while back. While they still go into the “hype” territory a bit more than we’d like, we have to say that in the domain of getting your website good placement by search engines, they are the second-best resource for webmasters that we have found. (The first is, of course, Google itself, but they only tell you so much.) Many “experts” seem to be recirculating myths and old information; StomperNet, on the other hand, comes across its information through a lot of testing, and keeps it up to date. We have been following their advice and integrating it into Sandvox (as much as practicable), and we are very pleased with the results. We think you will be as well.

StomperNet has lot of good information that they are giving away for free or for very little. For some basic tips, we recommend you sign up for their free “7 Deadly SEO Mistakes” mini-course. We have seen these kinds of mistakes on many Sandvox-built websites — even though the tool helps you with the structure of your site, the content you provide is critical. It’s well worth your time to take their advice to improve the content on your own site.

They have also been recently making their full “Stomping the Search Engines” course available for $1 (with a cancelable signup for their monthly magazine, which we have found to be very well-produced and useful), so if you are serious about getting your website noticed by Google and generating more visitors to your site, we think you would benefit from signing up for this as well. There is a link to get this course after you sign up for “7 Deadly SEO Mistakes.” (They are not indicating how long this price will be in effect, so it’s probably a good idea to get it sooner than later just in case!)

Semi-Warning for Legacy Mac.com Sandvoxers

If you have a MobileMe (formerly mac.com, or .mac) account with Apple, you may have received emails from Apple warning you that, as of July 7, 2009, the .Mac HomePage web application will be discontinued. For people who had been using “HomePage,” Apple is recommending something called “eye-web” — Hmm, never heard of that; they must not have heard of Sandvox in Cupertino — but since you are using Sandvox already, that doesn’t apply to you, right?

Well, it’s not quite so simple. If you are publishing your Sandvox website at a URL starting with “http : //homepage . mac.com/”, you may be affected! Although the website will not be taken down, it is possible that you may not be able to make any changes to your site after this date. It is not clear in Apple’s documentation how websites built with third-party software like Sandvox will be affected, but if you want to be on the safe side, you may want to move your homepage.mac.com website (either to another domain — hey, you deserve it — or to a “web . mac . com” or “web . me . com” URL). To be helpful to visitors coming in through an old link, you may wish to update your pages at the homepage.mac.com website with a warning that there is a new URL for your website. (You could put some text in the footer of your site, for example.)

Karelia at WWDC

As usual, Karelia Software will be at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in a couple of weeks. Well, Mike and Dan will, at least — Terrence had a previous family commitment in Chicago so he can’t make it — and we will be wearing reddish T-shirts with the legendary Karelia logo some of the days. We will be immersing ourselves in Apple’s technology sessions and of course schmoozing with fellow developers in between and at numerous evening parties!

We know that there are a few Mac developers on this list, so for those of you who will be there, we hope you will stop and chat for a bit if you run into one of us there!

See you in the Sandvox!