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crawling to you page, it has new content.
They really like that.

• RSS feeds give you instant theme-related
content. Google, in particular, really loves

• RSS feeds provide content that is readable by
search engines because the content is part of
your page, unlike javascript feeds which offer
no advantage because the little spiderbots
can™t read them.

• Your pages get indexed faster, since your
content changes daily, so you get more visits
from the Googlebot. That™s a very good thing.

One of the big advantages of RSS feeds is that you
get content that looks like it™s yours. You don™t have to
create it or pay a writer to write it. Best of all, you won™t
get in trouble with the search engines. Why not? Because
RSS feeds are completely legitimate from the point of view
of search engines.

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They™re also useful to your visitors, who are looking
for information related to the theme of your site. And with
RSS feeds, your site is constantly updated and fresh,
because the feeds update as soon as new articles or
content is added to the source you pull your content from.
With big sources, this can happen every single hour.
Better yet, RSS feeds are completely automated so
you don™t have to do anything to keep your pages fresh
and updated.

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Chapter 11: The Eyes Have it”So Where are They?

When you™re running a website, whoever is surfing it
is staring at the screen¦but where? One of the biggest
questions for website designers is, “Where are the user™s
eyes looking?” Where do your eyes go when you read
articles on the Web? What do you notice and what do you
Well, we™ve got some answers for you, because this
topic has been studied. Turns out that the upper left
quarter of the screen gets the most attention, according to
the Eyetrack III research of The Poynter Institute, the
Estlow Center for Journalism & New Media, and Eyetools.
But that™s not all. There™s more to it than that.
People™s eyes have some very common behaviour
patterns. It probably has to do with our hunter-gatherer
First, we do reconnaissance, or “recon” as the
military calls it. Users™ eyes flick over the entire screen at
whatever draws their attention. And what draws it most?
Well, the first hot spots are headlines, photo captions,
subheadings, links, menu items and the logo on the page”
doesn™t matter if it™s a good logo or a bad one, people look
at logos.

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Then the upper left corner of the screen gets special
attention, probably because that's where people expect to
find the very best stuff. And the right-hand and lower part
of the page almost always gets less attention.
This is info that site developers must know: when
you put your most important, vital content outside that
critical upper left corner, that important content might as
well be invisible when people are making the big decision:
whether to stay on your site and read more or go
somewhere else.
Yes, people scan a page quickly. But scanning has a
purpose: it quickly identifies to a user what they really
want to read. The good news is that if you can hook them
right off the bat, when they start actually reading a news
story on the Web, they read a larger proportion than if
they were reading that very same story in the newspaper.


Frontloading means that you start headlines,
paragraphs and links with the most important words. The
first words should communicate the subject of the
headline, paragraph or link. This is not like writing a novel
or a story, where you have time to be coy and not get to
the point for awhile. You™ve got about a quarter of a
second to grab that user™s attention or he won™t read the
rest of the sentence. Make the most of that opportunity.

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If you do this, and you frontload your writing,
especially at the top of the page, user™s eyes will easily
catch the most important info, and they™ll keep reading.
Here are some examples of good frontloading:

• Foo Fighters release new cd
• Barbeque beef ribs recipes everyone will like
• Tom Cruise stars in a new movie

Here are some bad examples that are not
• New cd is being released, it™s by the Foo Fighters
• Everyone will love these great new recipes for
barbeque beef ribs
• New movie is coming out and it™ll star Tom Cruise

Don™t Nest, Just List

Remember back in school when the teacher asked
you to make an outline and you went nuts making all sorts
of nested sub-headings that looked like this?

1. The United States
a. Texas
i. Austin
1. South Austin

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a. The 78704 zip code
i. My house

Don™t do that.
Why? Because the last few items could be out of
sight for many people when they skim-read. A straight
margin is a whole lot easier to scan quickly on the Web.
Nested dot-points and numbers are often used in
business and government policy documents and
management plans, and you™re not making those, you™re
just writing content. Find another way to show the
hierarchy of ideas. Web users do not like to try to read
through a whole bunch of indentations, and you will lose
some people before they even start reading.

Put web links where people will see them

If you™re putting web links in, make sure they™re
where people will see them”not in that bottom right-hand
Corner of Death! Yes, people notice links in web content.
They™re usually bright blue and underlined, so people
notice them. Many people even read links before they look
at headlines.
Now that you know that, make it easy for them to
get to your links by consistently presenting them in list

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form or by slamming them right up against the left-hand
Don't put your links in a sentence or they might end
up in the invisible right-hand area of the content. Yes, this
means you can™t use the old "click here" convention, but
for a good reason: it never worked very well anyway.

Here™s an example of a good way to put in links:

“There are several cool skateboarding sites you might want
to check out. They really rock and they™ve got some great
gear you can pick up for not a lot of bucks.

Here™s an example of a bad way to use links:
If you want to read about the latest in cool tricks,
check out skateboard.com. For the lowdown on which pro
skaters are doing what and dating who, you want to see
skatefreak.net. And one of my very favorite places to read
blog is liv2skat.com.

Never Hide Headers

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Remember how I said people look to the upper left?
If you™ve been centering your headlines and subheadings,
do you still think that™s a good idea? Well, it™s not. Yeah, I
know newspapers, magazines and books do it. So do lots
of other sites. But that™s just not where people want to
look first.
They™ve tested this. Believe it or not, about 10-20
percent of people just literally do not see centered
headlines, particularly if they™re in a hurry (and who isn™t
these days?) They look in the top left hand corner of the
content. And when they do, they see empty space,
because the centered headline starts off to the right.
So what do they do? Instead of scanning right, they
move their eyes down. And they miss the headlines.
Centered headlines are wasted headlines. If you
center them, you™ve hidden them from 10-20% of your
readers. Might as well not have them at all. And don™t
even think about right-justifying them.
Just left-justify them and don™t ever worry about it
A word about tables: the ideal table for online is
short, narrow, and only used for data. When a table is too
wide or too long, part of it is out of the reader™s natural
field of vision. When they scan fast, they won™t see all of

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Maximize your Click-Throughs With Placement

Yeah, size matters, but so does
placement¦particularly as far as Google AdSense ads are
concerned. Remember how I said to use the skyscraper
format for ads, putting them in the margins as opposed to
banner ads across the top or bottom?
Well, guess how much difference that can make. Go
on, guess. OK, I™ll tell you. Poorly placed ads, such as
banner ads down at the very bottom of the page, might
have a click-through rate of about 2.3% on a good day.
But well-placed ads, such as a nice skyscraper ad in
that critical upper-left quadrant we talked about, can have
a click-through rate as high as 40%.
And that™s for the same ad. Yes, the very same ad


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