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  1. #1
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    Hello,

    I have been working on designing this website for a while. It is a website for a club I am a member of for a hobby called live steam. It is essentially large model trains you can ride on.

    Anyway, I am not a web designer by trade, actually in school for civil engineering right now. However, I have always had an interest in all things computer related. I am completely self taught when it comes to web design. The website has been built to comply with W3C XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS coding requirements. Everything has been done by myself with the exception of the lightbox code for the photos and the members password coding.

    I would like to get some honest opinions when it comes to the design of the website. I know it does not have a lot of fancy flash or new content management systems, but I did what I could with my level of knowledge.

    Thanks,

    Patrick

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Fireproofgfx's Avatar
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    Congrats on making your own website and taking the time to conquer something like this. Since it is your first attempt at making a site there is going to be a lot of things you didn't know.

    First off, with the type of site you made and your knowledge level I would have suggested that you used a Word Press theme site because it would help you with the design/look aspect of it along with the code. Right now the design/graphics don't tell the viewer what you are about. For example the banner has a picture of a house?? That at the least should be a close up of a train. With a little help from Jquery you could add a rotating banner that could showcase some of the great pictures of trains and really tell the viewer what you guys are about.

    I noticed that your meta description tag doesn't give much of a description.
    Code:
    <meta name="description" content="Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers News" />
    so when people search Google for Steam train and your listing comes up it will only say "Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers News" I would give this more information and use keywords through out the description that coincide with the content on your page, title, keywords, etc. that is how you help make your page relevant to the topic of your site.

    I think you did a good job considering your experience.

  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireproofgfx, post: 240348
    First off, with the type of site you made and your knowledge level I would have suggested that you used a Word Press theme site because it would help you with the design/look aspect of it along with the code. Right now the design/graphics don't tell the viewer what you are about. For example the banner has a picture of a house?? That at the least should be a close up of a train. With a little help from Jquery you could add a rotating banner that could showcase some of the great pictures of trains and really tell the viewer what you guys are about.
    That is actually the club station house. It is one of those things that someone who knows what they are looking for would understand, but someone just stumbling onto the website might not.

    I will definitely consider putting some type of rotating banner with different photos.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireproofgfx, post: 240348
    I noticed that your meta description tag doesn't give much of a description.
    Code:
    <meta name="description" content="Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers News" />
    so when people search Google for Steam train and your listing comes up it will only say "Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers News" I would give this more information and use keywords through out the description that coincide with the content on your page, title, keywords, etc. that is how you help make your page relevant to the topic of your site.
    So would a better description be:

    "Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers Information, Recent News, Photos, Videos, and Calendar"

    Also, do you think a basic description like the above would be appropriate for the individual pages?

    The one thing I truly don't have a good grasp of is how google determines your rank. Would you be able to give a short description of how this works? I have tried looking it up and a lot of the information seems unnecessary for my situation.

    Thanks,

    Patrick

  5. #4
    Senior Member Fireproofgfx's Avatar
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    My understanding of Google and other search engines is you need to make your webpage relevant to what you site is about. I am going to show you how I did so for gentleman here in WA that was running for Congress.

    So first off the website url was Jesseyoungforcongress.com so when ever Jesse Young was searched it was usually first to show up on search engines. One of the reason is because his name is in the url itself which doesn't hurt relevancy.

    So then in the title to show that this site is in fact about Jesse Young I added the following, but I also noticed that we were ranking high when people searched WA 6th District which I realized that I had also added it to the title among other areas as you will see.

    <title>Jesse Young for Congress | WA 6th District | Incumbent Norm Dicks 6th District | Congressional Candidate </title>

    So you can add descriptive words to your title. Rather than saying "Neols Home" say "Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers | large model trains" I would do away with the acronym NEOLS unless a lot of people actually know what it is and would look for it. As it stands Live Steamers might be a better keyword/title than NOELS

    Then in the description I made sure to use Jesse Young and other key words that I felt people would be looking up hence Norm Dicks. Even though the site isn't about Norm I figured we would use his name for an alternative so when people looked up Norm Dicks they would come across Jesseyoungforcongress.

    <meta name="description" content="Jesse Young who is running against incumbent Norm Dicks for the Washington's Congressional 6th District seat."/>

    So as it stands right now there are 3 different sources in the code pointing to Jesse Young of WA/Washington 6th District, so it becomes more relevant to search engines.

    So with your description I would do something like: Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers (NOELS), large model trains club. Side note: I didn't notice anything like an ABOUT US page? Am I missing it? Do you want people to learn about your club and possibly join? If you don't have one you should definitely add one asap. That is the whole reason people are on the net. As I was trying to think of a description I looked for the about to give me an idea of what you guys are about but no luck.

    For better description look at what the competitors are doing: LINK a lot of them don't tailor their Meta tag Description so the bots grab what ever text there is on the page and uses that as the page description. But since you are working on your Meta Tags and have some understanding of them you can make the description message that will show up on Google short and sweet and to the point.

    Keep in mind each page, titles, keywords and descriptions should be different.

    So with Keywords you only want at the most 10 key words per page and again make sure they relate to that particular page.

    <meta name="keywords" content="Norm Dicks, Young Gun, Notre Dame, WA Congressional 6th District, Illegal Immigration, Bermerton Naval Ship Yard, Healthcare, Budget, Economy, Taxes, Military, gun rights "/>

    This is just the Meta Tag section. You have <h1> - <H6> that will also help, learn more here. So for example on the about page I have:

    <h1>About Jesse Young</h1>

    You couple all of the above with properly written page content that utilizes the keywords that you purposely used above and your page will be relevant to what you want it to be.

    <h1>Welcome to Jesse Young for Congress</h1><br />

    <p>Jesse’s life experience is very different from that of the typical candidate. He grew up impoverished, and truly realized the American Dream through hard work and lots of effort. His experience in business and technology, as opposed to the political or legal arenas, allows him to bring a uniquely qualified and much needed perspective to the problems facing our nation today.</p>

    <p>Jesse has a vision for Washington’s 6th District – it can and should be the preeminent district in the country. The diversity of its people combined with the resources available – ports, farms, navy installations, coast-line, mountains and natural areas – make the area both a great place to live and a wonderful place for business to succeed. Being on the west coast of America, the 6th District is ideally suited to be a leader in the emerging Pacific Rim economy.</p>

    <p>Jesse Young has the experience and vision to lead the 6th District to reach its full potential. As a business man with global experience in both Europe and Asia he has developed strategic and decision-making skills which he will leverage in promoting the interests of the District. He will also engage the constituents of the 6th District, making them part of the solution – he will ask them to hold him accountable as their Representative and to become grass roots activists in promoting sound fiscal and social policy.</p>

    This home page write up could have been done a lot better and we could have added keywords like Norm Dicks and other keywords that would become more relevant but the campaign manager chose to write this up and wanted us to go ahead with this even with me trying to explain the idea behind a page being relevant.

  6. #5
    Senior Member donkey123's Avatar
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    I am finding the text a little hard to read, using a grey text on a grey back ground seems a little straining on the eyes.
    IQ Catch Intelligent Dating for Smart People www.iqcatch.com

  7. #6
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    Here are the changes to the homepage specifically I am going to make, and then I will make like changes throughout the website:

    Meta Description
    From
    HTML Code:
    <meta name="description" content="Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers News" />
    To
    HTML Code:
    <meta name="description" content="Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers (NEOLS) Information, Recent News, Photos, Videos, Events, and More" />
    Title
    From
    HTML Code:
    <title>NEOLS Home</title>
    To
    HTML Code:
    <title>Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers (NEOLS) Home Page</title>
    Page Headers
    From
    HTML Code:
    <div class="center"><b>Welcome to the Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers Website!</b></div>
    To
    HTML Code:
    <h1>Welcome to the Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers Website!</h1>
    Do you think these are appropriate changes and will help my google ranking?

    And the About Us page is still in the works.

    Thanks,

    Patrick

  8. #7
    Senior Member Fireproofgfx's Avatar
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    Hey Patrick,

    I would consider tweaking them a little bit more as such:

    Title:
    I would take out Home Page and add Model Railroads, Model Trains
    Here is another site I made:
    HTML Code:
    <title>Mr. Picky LLC, Full Service Building Contractor, Shelton Washington </title>
    So the title that shows up on google is "Mr. Picky LLC, Full Service Building Contractor, Shelton Washington" rather than Mr. Picky Home page. "Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers (NEOLS) [S]Home Page[/S]" Should be something like "Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers (NEOLS) Large Model Train Club"

    Description:
    I would also change the description to something more descriptive.
    <meta name="description" content="Northeastern Ohio Live Steamers is a club dedicated to large model trains for all enthusiasts. I[S]nformation, Recent News, Photos, Videos, Events, and More[/S]" />

    When you use "information, Recent News Photos, etc etc, it wastes your opportunity to build relevancy among your meta tags. Again you want to make sure you use keywords in each element. Your site is about Model Trains in Ohio so make sure you use the words "Model Trains, Ohio" in your title, Keywords, Descriptions.

  9. #8
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    One thing to consider though is that we are not really competing with other clubs. In this hobby, the term "live steam" is synonymous with large model trains. There are many clubs across the country, and people typically just join the one they are closest to due to transportation needs.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Fireproofgfx's Avatar
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    I understand that, I don't know anything about you club or organization to come up with the perfect keywords, descriptions or titles, so I just winged it and figured you would get the drift and change it to what the best for your site. Be more descriptive about your club other than saying "Information, Recent News, Photos, Videos, Events, and More"

  11. #10
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    Thanks for all the help, I think I have got some good ideas.


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