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SEO: What it is and Why You Can’t Afford to Cheat on It

Posted by Avasoft Team | Posted in Site Traffic | Posted on 18-05-2012

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Don’t be an SEO cheater.  You know what they say.  Winners never cheat and cheaters never win.  No one can benefit from cutting corners when it comes to SEO.  Of course to avoid cutting corners, first you have to know what SEO is and what it isn’t.

SEO: What it is and what it isn’t

 

SEO, or search engine optimization, does involve instituting the use of targeted keywords on your site so that when people search for these keywords, they land on your site.  However, no one can just wave their wand and poof your site to the top of the search results.  SEO is more than just a magic pill your website swallows and then suddenly hits the top of search engine results.  It isn’t the genie in that lamp you’ve been rubbing feverishly for months now in hopes of increasing your website’s rank.  SEO is hard work that takes time.

Many website owners seem to have some concept of SEO as a secret code that, when entered into their website, unlocks some magical ability for it to rank high in search engine results.  Of course having your site coded properly is the first step toward an enjoyable user experience, but coding can’t help you at all if your site doesn’t have any good content on it.

Did you notice the operative word in the previous sentence?  It’s “good.”  You need “good” content in order for your site to rank highly.  What makes content “good”?

  • It’s fresh. – “Good” sites update their content regularly.  Search engines know when you last updated your site, and if it’s within the last week, you’re golden.
  • It’s relevant. –This means using keywords that pertain to what’s on your site.  For example, if you sell tractors, don’t target keywords that have nothing to do with tractors just because those keywords happen to get a lot of attention from people using search engines.
  • It’s informative. – These days Google’s crawlers have a pretty good idea about the quality level of what’s on sites.  They can recognize when the information that’s on your site is something that will actually help people, and they will reward this with a higher ranking.
  • It’s unique. – Sites that copy the content from other sites word for word get penalized in the search results because they are just posting up the same information other sites have.  And what’s even worse, this is plagiarizing, which brings even worse consequences than poor search engine rankings.

Why You Can’t Afford to Skimp on SEO

 

Now that you understand what SEO really is, you’ll find out about why you can’t afford to cut corners with it.  You’ve probably seen some companies offering shortcuts or “cheats” to SEO that come at quite a high price.  Unfortunately most of these sites are scams because these SEO shortcuts are often black hat techniques that do nothing but prevent traffic from your site.

There is no way to get around the time and hard work it takes to get your website ranked highly in the search engines, but you will be greatly rewarded.  Here’s why you can’t afford not to do SEO the right way:

  • Credibility – SEO shortcuts use some unethical techniques that damage your website’s credibility.  For example, scam companies might create fake Facebook or Twitter accounts to promote your site and get some backlinks by spamming your web address.  This is entirely unprofessional.  Create real social networking accounts yourself instead of using accounts created by spammers.
  • Time –Taking shortcuts in SEO is often very expensive and often results in you paying for a link farm to list your site, but those link farms don’t rank highly in search results and often don’t get any actual users because they look like spam sites.  A better use of your money is paying a writer to write some “good” content for your site.
  • Search engine rankings – If SEO isn’t done properly, your site won’t rank in the search engines.  If your site isn’t ranked, then no one will be able to find you and you won’t make any money.  Many so-called SEO shortcuts result in low or non-existent rankings.
  • Pleased users – There are lots of not useful content & information on the internet these days that people have pretty much developed a natural filter for it.  However, when they find a site that truly has useful information, they will remember that site and reward its owner in some way, whether it’s through return visits or a purchase.

So don’t try to cheat when it comes to SEO.  Do it right the first time and reap the rewards of a job well-done.

Starting an Online School

Posted by Richard | Posted in E-Learning Moodle | Posted on 04-05-2012

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For those at the beginning of starting an online school or training center there are many things to consider. First, the sheer number of Learning Management System platforms to choose from can add to the frustration of getting a project started. Every LMS has its own set of features and no two are the same. Cost is also a major consideration for most organizations. Each LMS has its own unique pricing structure. Some charge on a per learner basis while others charge a flat fee on a monthly or annual basis. There are many variants within these two basic approaches.

The first step is to determine your annual budget. This can quickly eliminate some platforms from consideration. Initial costs can often be more than ongoing annual costs. Your startup budget can be several times what your normal operating budget will turn out to be.

The second step is to determine what your specific requirements are for an LMS. Write those down and use them when you are talking to LMS vendors. If you have special requirements that are not met by a particular platform ask if the vendor will modify his system to meet your needs. Some will, many will not. If they are willing to modify their system be sure to get a firm quote for the work.

Once you determine the LMS platform that will fit your budget and your specific requirements the real work begins. Depending on your goals there are a number of approaches you can take. Your eLearning platform can be part of a blended learning system, it can provide live scheduled classes, it can provide solely on demand online classes or any combination of these. You can create your own courses, have courses created by a third party or buy SCORM (Scalable Content Object Reference Model) packaged courses and import them to your LMS. Generally, when you purchase SCORM courses you will pay on a per user basis.

You can learn more about the details of getting started in online training by going to http://www.Avasoft.net or by calling 239-567-9725.

I recommend you take a close look at Moodle.  This is an open source Learning Content Management System. It can be used free of charge. It is a feature rich system that can provide all the various approaches mentioned above.  Avasoft can host and even modify the system for you. Setup is free.

LMS Purchasing Guide

Posted by Richard | Posted in E-Learning Moodle | Posted on 03-05-2012

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Shopping for a learning management system (LMS) is made difficult by the number of systems from which to choose. This blog will attempt to remove some of the confusion and mystery surrounding learning management systems.

There are many things to consider when looking for an LMS. The major considerations are budget, scope (number of learners and amount of content), hosted vs. non-hosted options, brandable vs. non-brandable systems, SCORM vs. non-SCORM systems and last but not least what you see is what you get vs. systems that can be customized to meet special requirements.

Budget:

Organizations generally start their initiative into distance learning with a fixed budget. The size of this budget can eleminate a host of LMS’s or not.

SCORM based systems tend to be high priced and license fees are often paid on an annual basis. In addition to this, per learner fees can raise the price beyond many budgets. LMS’s range in price from $5,000.00 to $50,000.00 or more. Some are cheaper initially but charge additional fees for features, number of learners, number of courses and bandwidth usage. These fees are repeated on a monthly basis raising the cost of ownership significantly.

Scope:

The size of the installation is often not given careful consideration. Are you expecting to have 50 learners or 10,000 learners, one course or 500 courses, a lot of video (this can lead to additional bandwidth charges).

Most systems charge extra for file storage beyond a set limit and bandwidth beyond a certain limit. This is no different than how a hosting company charges a Website owner for storage and bandwidth. Certainly the scope of the installation will influence this.

Hosted vs. Non-Hosted:

Some systems offer only a hosted option, others offer both options. For a number of reasons such as security, some organizations require they host the LMS themselves. Another obvious advantage to that is saving the cost of hosting with the LMS vendor. Generally expect to pay more to have the LMS vendor setup the system on your server. Many variables can make the setup more time consuming in a hosting environment not 100% controlled by the vendor.

Branded vs. Non-Branded:

Many LMS’s do not offer this option. Basically it allows you to offer your courses to organizations that want the content to appear to be coming from them. In other words, the look and feel the learner experiences is the same as the look and feel of the organization’s Website. This is usually a very costly option in those LMS’s that provide it.

SCORM vs. Non-SCORM:

As mentioned before, SCORM complient LMS’s are more costly than non-SCORM systems. SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is a complex specification designed in response to a Department of Defense initiative to bring standardization to eLearning. One of the biggest advantages to having a SCORM based system is you can take a SCORM based course, packaged in a zip file, and easily import it into a SCORM LMS. This portability is very useful if you have several LMS’s and need to add the same course to them. SCORM content can also be added to non-SCORM systems but it is a more tedious process. If your content is free form such as a variety of Word documents, PowerPoint files, video files and Flash files, then a non-SCORM system will work just fine and you can save a great deal of money.

Here are some examples of LMS’s that fit a range of budget categories.

www.elearningmanagementsystem.com - This LMS is designed for small to mid-size installations. It is not SCORM complient. The vendor offers hosted or non-hosted options, branded or non-branded options and is customizable.

It is priced on the lower end of the scale.

www.xtention.com - This is a mid-range SCORM complient system. It offers branded and non-branded options.

http://www.Avasoft.net/e-learningmoodle.aspx - Avasoft works with organizations that choose the Moodle LCMS as their e-learning platform.

 

Moodle is open source so there is no charge for using it. The only cost incurred would be for hosting Moodle or any consultation or development services provided by Avasoft. For more information call 239-567-9725.

www.wsi-ole.com - This is a SCORM based LMS at the lower end of the price range. It offers branded functionality at no additonal cost. It is suitable for small to large installations. No non-hosted option is available.

www.blackboard.com - This is a very high-end system at the high end of the price scale. It is very capable and offers a large variety of add-on features.