Joe's Blog

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Focus on People, not Google

I get a lot of support tickets come in asking for help on SEO and ranking higher in Google. I truly feel that pretty much all of these people are wasting too much time focusing on the wrong question. The real question is… how do I serve my audience better?

People are the key

Let’s think about this. If I was a search engine, I need to provide my users with search results that will be the most useful for them. If I did not, they would go somewhere else. How would I determine what is the best content to show my user? Should I base it off what webpages have the best meta tags? Or should I base it off the websites that have the most people visiting them for that topic? I am pretty sure that you know the answer…

The key to developing a sustainable web based business is people. Without them, your site is just hobby. The best way to build an audience is to find your niche, preferably something that you are passionate about. The love that we have for our work will shine through. People will take notice and come back again and again to experience what you have to offer.

Providing content to your audience

There are many ways that we can provide content to our audience. The most popular one on the web today is probably a blog. Blogs are a great way to generate content for your audience and ensure that they come back to your site on a regular basis. Other popular means of generating content for your audience are podcasts, video and social networks.

Another amazing way to build your audience is to team up with another authority in your niche and cross promote each other. When starting off in the forrest of the internet, it can be really hard to be seen. It can be a very daunting task if you are trying to do it on your own. But if you were to team up with another authority in your niche, you could help build each other’s audience through cross posting via guest blog posts or podcast/video appearances.

From a technical standpoint, your search engine ranking will be vastly improved with the more external sites linking to yours. This tells Google that other people think that your content is important enough to link to. However, don’t try to do this artificially. Provide great content that you are proud of, and people will link to you.

It takes time

I have built a pretty amazing audience over the past 6 years (this did not happen over night). I have used all of the before mentioned ways of interacting with my audience. The key to my success though was not that I was trying to build an audience or rank on Google. I have built a successful audience because I serve them with passion for all that I do. I currently interact with my audience via primarily video and social networks. I have a ton of video content for users on both Vimeo and my YouTube Channel to help them build amazing websites. And over the past couple of years, I have built an amazing RapidWeaver community on Google+.

In the future, I plan on getting back into podcasting. As for blogging, as with most people on the internet, I should do it more. The key to both of these strategies, keeping a schedule it vital to success. You must release content on a regular basis and stick to a schedule, whether that be once a week or every 2 weeks. A good strategy to ensure that this happens is to batch create content. Then schedule it out ahead of time. This will ensure content will always be ready even for those crazy weeks where we just don’t have time to create new content for our users.

Technical basics

While I do feel passionately that we need to spend more time focusing on serving people, we cannot forget to at least implement the technical basics of SEO. Here is a quick bullet list of what I feel needs to be done on every webpage.

  • Maintain a sitemap.xml file that contains all of your webpages. This is a must have. Its easiest way to inform search engines about your entire site.
  • Make sure that your page urls contain keywords. You know exactly what this webpage is about just by looking at the url:
  • The page title (via the <title> tag) tells search engines what the main focus of your webpage. This is also the title that shows up in search results.
  • The page description <meta> tag allows you to provide a larger summary of your page contents to compliment the page title.
  • Use header tags (<h1> to <h6>) to define your content into sections.
  • If indexing images is important, make sure that your image names are relevant and that you use image alt tags.

If you want more info on how to implement these technical basics in RapidWeaver. I have an entire chapter in my book dedicated to it. You can get it at Will Woodgate also wrote an amazing article on the 10 steps towards improving RapidWeaver SEO. See what I just did there? Cross linking FTW! ;-)


Last but definitely not least, our webpages should look attractive and be easy to use. There really is no technical reason for this. Its just that if you want people to stay on your site and come back, it needs to be easy to use and preferably is not be hideous. I see a lot of peoples websites everyday. I will tell you that many times, less is more. I don’t have any hard tips for you here as I don’t truly feel like I am a top flight designer.

But as a visitor of websites, I can tell you that the hot pink and purple tile background that you were debating for your site is probably not going to be a good idea! Its also ok to split your content into multiple webpages. You don’t need to cram everything you would ever want to tell your visitor onto one page.

“One effect per page” is the best advice that I can think of for adding things like lightboxes, tabs, sliders and accordions to your webpage. If you ever find that you want to nest any other these inside another, just stop and rethink your layout. K.I.S.S.

People want you

The entire point of this post was to hopefully make you reflect on what you are spending most of your efforts on. We tend to forget that we are still dealing with people on the internet. Our websites are digital store fronts and I like to compare my website to an actual physical store. I want to connect with my customers on a personal level. I want to make sure that they know that they are buying from me, not some billboard and info graphics on a website.

Let’s take an Apple store as an example. As of today, its possible to walk into an Apple store, purchase something off the shelf with your iPhone and walk out the door without ever interacting with another human being. Would Apple store be packed to the brim with people if there was no one there to serve customers? Of course not! Apple stores are packed to the brim because there are tons of Apple employees who’s job it is to serve and help us with what we need.

Our customers need that sense of a personal connection. If you can build that, then you will have a sustainable web presence. Meta tags wont get you there. Focus on people, not Google.

I am very happy to present Page Safe to you. This stack provides and simple and secure way to password protect pages on your RapidWeaver website. Plus its probably has the most sexy login screen you have ever seen!

I am really excited about Page Safe. We have spent weeks refining the smallest of details to make this stack really shine. I know that it’s going to make your life a lot easier. Now go forth and make your websites secure!


Screens Stack Suite

The next big thing in RapidWeaver Designs is finally here! Screens is a suite of stacks for building beautiful full screen webpages. These could be used to build powerful one page websites or enhance existing multi-page websites. 

Screens Preview:

Screens Product Page:

The Screens demo site says it all. You can produce immaculatly clean websites that will wow your visitors. You should also check out some of the great sites that users have built with Screens during our beta testing. by Jon Hawkins (duh!) by Paul Russam by Brandon Corlett

El-Stacko Update Fiesta

At the end of last year, I acquired the products from a few other stack developers. El-Stacko had a very loyal following and I know everyone has been anticipating what my plans are for the stacks. Most of the stacks now have complimenting stacks that are already apart of my offering. A few of them are also on the roadmap for a re-release.

All existing El-Stacko users will be receiving emails this week on how they can get discounted updates to my versions of the stacks.

Lets review each stack now…

Show/Hide Content: Exposer Pro -> Peek-A-Boo

Exposer Pro may have been the most popular El-Stacko stack. Lucky my Peek-A-Boo is already released and it an amazing alternative. PAB is a great way to dynamically show and hide content. Exposer stack users will love the extra power and simplicity that Peek-A-Boo brings.

Transparent Backgrounds: El-Tinto -> Glass

Glass provides beautiful transparent backgrounds. El-Tinto users will also enjoy a simpler setup and more options for background styles.

Fancy Boxes: El-Box-o & El-Callbox-o -> Jack

Jack is “the” stack out there for creating advanced containers. Jack does so much more that anything else out there. The El-Box-o stacks only have a fraction of Jack’s functionality. So there is a lot of extra power here for users that want to update.

I should not that Jack does not have the border functionality of El-Callbox-o yet. It may be something that could be added in an update if users show enough desire for this to happen.

Animated Image Captions: El-Winko -> Popup Caption

Popup Caption is very close functionality wise to El-Winko. The double caption is not currently possible but its something that may be added in a future update.

Sliding Container: El-Slider-o -> Glider

We took Glider over from Pressure Designs last year and have really added a lot of functionality into it since. Its become the goto stack for many users. El-Slider-o users will love the upgrade.

Lightbox: El-Dorado & El-Sexy-o -> Expose

Everyone loves lightboxes and the El-Stacko lightbox stacks were no exception. El-Sexy-o’s icon will be forever etched into the RapidWeaver history books! Expose is our current goto responsive lightbox stack. Its very versatile and powerful. Its not an exact one-to-one match feature wise. However, we have some tricks up our sleeves coming this year.

Accordion: Sidewinder -> Squeezebox

Sidewinder was a horizontal accordion stack. Squeezebox is out vertical accordion stack. Its not an exact match but I wanted to be able to provide users with an alternative. I have added a horizontal option to my roadmap. However, in a responsive design world, the UX for that will be tough.

Coming Someday

The following stacks currently don’t have alternatives in my stacks toolbox. I have added them to my roadmap to release in the future. However, I don’t have any sort of timeframe for when they will be released at this time.

  • El-Text-o (not too far away)
  • El-Kwix-o
  • El-Book-o (Check out this WeaverPix theme for now)

Foundation 1.3 - Your site has never been this fast

Check out Foundation for RapidWeaver at

I am happy to announce our third big update to Foundation is here. If I had just one word to sum it all up, it would be SPEED!!!

We pioneered some new asset loading techniques that no other RapidWeaver addon as done before. But don’t worry, we will be sharing all of this our fellow developer community so that all of your websites are faster. Not just the ones built with Foundation. :-)

Here are the release notes for all 3 Foundation stack packs:

Here are a short list of what I feel are the biggest highlights:

  • Foundation will produce the fastest websites you have ever had.
  • The Foundation theme can now be autoupdated via Waterfall
  • Google font rendering has been enhanced with new settings for fallback fonts, custom weight definitions and more.
  • Form templates have been improved and you can now add a reply-to field.
  • Off Canvas got a nice work over with some new settings and better performance.

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