SEOdamian's Blog

Helping others understand & share about technology, search

Another Analytics Tool To Understand Your Engagements

http://chartbeat.com/demo/

Here is another analytic tool to consider. It is part of the Microsoft BizSpark portfolio, this SAaS tool provides analytics in a manner different then Google Analytics. This tool is more geared towards looking at all your online channels: Twitter, Facebook, Website, mobile. Designed as a dashboard to scan for action steps next, it has a new look and feel graphic that allows for quick absorption of information. The focus here is on how long visitors are engaged. ChartBeat Analytics is that tool. It can in real time show what your traffic is doing. It will show where it is from (in bound links), what the keywords that are driving traffic to the site, what links are getting visitors to your site and more. This lets you focus on what is working to turn it up, and what is not working, to keep on experimenting. You are experimenting your SEO and site conversion,  are you not?

This tool is another example that it is not just about getting someone to your site, but are they paying attention and engaging on the site. This is the same as someone running in the brick and mortar store because of the shiny display, only to find it does not correlate to the products inside. That user will just turn right back around,, and head back into the next store in the mall. Or the person in the mall that’s just looking for a restroom, and in 10 seconds head to the restroom, does their business and turns around and heads back out. The person didn’t buy anything, and best case your store maybe made a slight impact on him. So the next time they are looking for something like what you have in the store will consider you, probably not. You fooled them once shame on them, but they don’t want to be fooled twice. but it wasn’t a true engagement.  What they are really looking for is not real engagements, and their lifetime value to the store or your website is absolutely minimal because you failed them the first time to match your SEO to your real site.

Analytics are tools that help you understand who your visitors are, and allow you to get a sense of how they perceive your website and what the value is to them.  While it does not ask the question directly, you can infer that if they are staying on the site for longer periods of time, they are often more engaged and more interested in what you have to offer. This indicates a good correlation to your SEO and SEM efforts. Unless of course they just got distracted by a phone call.

 

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April 18, 2012 Posted by | SEM Industry, SEO tools, Social Media, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Looking at Your Website from Your Cusomers Perspective?

Do you understand specifically what your website visitors are looking for or do you only have a generic idea? If you understand what they are specifically looking for to meet their needs, you have a much greater chance of true engagement. When you have true engagement, your odds of a sale increase dramatically, if not today, then on the next visit.

But if you don’t understand how to look at the trends and numbers, you will have a challenging time understanding what your visitors are really looking for.

That’s why retailers count how many people are coming in and how many people are coming out there also counting how many of them are actually purchasing. I have worked with over 100 different retail chains from single store retailer to office supply big box stores. They are counting by the month, day of the week, hour of the day (I know, I installed the counters that go back to the corporate databases with these body counts). They are counting how many of purchasing customers are actually signing up for the e-mail list. They’re counting how many of purchasers are return customers from previous orders. There also counting what is the average amount of each visitor’s spending. Retail stores count the numbers in so many ways you would be amazed. Just like you need to on your website. Your website is not a black box. You need to be paying attention to what’s happening.

If these types of customer engagement don’t make absolute clear sense to you, then I would suggest you go and spend some time and with brick and mortar retailers. Consider even working as a retailer. Learn how retailers convert the looky loo’s into true engagements. Yes we have all been shopping, but look at how retailers work with other customers not just yourself. Learn how retailers try to customize to the needs of each person, not a one size fits all. It is important that you learn how to look through a store or website through the eyes of a customer. It is important that you understand that the customer is always right in their perspective, and how they are looking at the world. And if you don’t understand their perspective, it will be very hard to understand why they’re not buying from you. If that same attitude of understanding is what a potential customer or visitor is looking at when they see a store and their perspective also becomes very useful.

This attitude of looking at your website comes into play in how you design your SEO and SEM. Did you need to present the right kind of signage from the street to get the customer to pull into the parking lot? Once they get inside the store, they need to see what the sign promised is fulfilled. SEO and SEM is about creating it signage from the street. You can fake a man once or twice, but once you do, they will ignore your sign for the rest of their life, because you made them cut across left-hand lane and pull into your parking lot. And they will tell their friends to ignore you or worse. You need to create a good ‘sign’ in your SEO/SEM to attract your visitors into your store. But you also need the sign to be a good indicator of what is in the store.

Just as stores don’t (at least those that survive long term) have the same layout year after year, websites also must evolve and continue to improve based on what works and what does not. This should be done as measured experiments. You can follow the models used in Lean Start-up (Eric Ries) and E-Myth Revisited (Micheal Gerber).  Those experiments need tools like Google Analytics and other tools like ChartBeat. Topics of other blog posts.

Oh, not selling products on your site?  I would place heavy odds that you are selling your ideas – be they the idea that your service is better then someone elses, or your idea is more important then the next bloggers. Remember to look at the website through your visitor’s eyes in the path they took to get to your website, and your pages.

April 16, 2012 Posted by | E-Myth, How To, local marketing, SEO tools, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Types of Traffic – It is all the same, right?

A customer is a customer is a customer, right?  No, there is the customer that asks 200 questions and buys your loss leader, returning it used and unresellable. There is the customer who comes in, asks can you ship 200 of your most profitable item? Oh, and can you autoship if they pay in advance for the next 5 years?  Who would you prefer more of?

Visitor traffic is similar, not all traffic is the same value to your organization today or tomorrow. There are different types of traffic to look at when trying to create a successful site.  There are different dimmensions of traffic – what type of traffic, what quality of traffic, what the cost it was to get the traffic and others. But lets just look at one dimension, where is the traffic coming from:

Referral Traffic

This is the traffic created by other sites referring / linking to your site, or your emails driving traffic to your site.  This is great ‘free’ traffic.  Referrals from other websites also supports your SEO traffic and rankings, because the search engines (SE) respect other sites sending traffic to your site. The more you are listed on other sites, the better your SE (search engine) ranking.  The more related the sites, the better your SE ranking. For example a site about guns referring to your site on trees is not as helpful as a referral from a site about arboretums referring to your tree site.

A way to quantify your ranking is to look at your Page Rank (named after Google Founder Larry Page). There are a number of tools including add-ons to your browser that will automatically let you know your PR (Page Rank) on a 0-8 (higher is better) score. Here is one – http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php

SEO – Seach Engine Optimization or Natural Traffic

This is the traffic that comes from your site ranking well in the search engines, and the traffic coming from others looking for answers to their searches.  The 1st key to creating this traffic is to create content that answers your visitors questions. The key here is to look at your site from the perspective of your visitors. What are they looking for? Not what do you want to tell them. You may shift the answers to be what you want to share, but 1st look at what would be the perfect answer to a visitor coming the site.

Of course, if you collect the most common questions you can create a FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions page or better yet section of pages (depending on your answers, it may be appropriate to have a single page for each question).  The challenge is to come up with the best answer to meet everyone’s needs. But like all good communications, allow the reader to choose how much they want to read by putting the most important/simplest information first. DO NOT follow the mystery novel format and keep the best for the last.

SEM – Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is when you pay to get traffic to your site.  This can include a variety of different strategies such as:

  • Banner Ads on other sites – here you can pay per image shown (maybe or maybe not registered in the viewers mind), or per click thru to your site.
  • Email marketing like Constant Contact or iContact (a whole other post) to someone else’s email list (make sure you are not spamming) or to your own list.
  • Google AdWords (buying ads on the search engine)
  • Google AdSense (buying text ads on different websites) – this is an overlap of banner ads, but through the 600 pound gorilla Google that acts as the ad-man for you.
  • Ads on other search engines
This traffic can be very profitable or a total waste of money. The great part of this type of traffic is it is easier to test. Testing is a big part of what you need to do to be successful. Consider it the equivalent of practice in sports, music or dating.  You don’t expect to get it perfect the 1st time, and you need to keep improving as your competition keeps getting better.

LMT – Local market traffic

Local market traffic is when visitors are looking for the types of businesses and solutions that used to be  typically found in a yellow pages directory.  They are usually the local businesses like restaurants, and cleaners.  These are businesses that are not trying to market across the country, but only the local community. This traffic is in some ways easier to get, because there is less competition (only a few real estate agents in Downers Grove, compared to million in the whole country). You don’t have to rank higher than the real estate broker in Texas, if you are Wisconsin. But you need to have people looking for Wisconsin real estate.  That is where focus is important.  This also requires looking outside the ‘normal’ spots.  Don’t try to rank high in ‘real estate’ on the search engine.  Instead try to rank in ‘Bloomington real estate’ or even better ‘Bloomington vacation real estate’. But also look at other sites than the big 3 search engines.  Look at local sites like the different yellow pages or Yelp.com.

What kind of traffic you want will determine what kind of strategies you should follow.

SEO is more on content.

SEM is more on converting the visitorOf course you have to define what conversion is. It may be a sale. It may be a signup for a newsletter. It may be a request for a consultation and setting an appointment. Or it may be requesting a free report. You need to define what your conversion funnel is (most businesses have multiple conversions in the process of a lifetime of a customer.

LMT is about converting and getting them to call or use traditional business channels. That may be getting them to drive to your store. That may be getting them to call and set an appointment. It may still be just calling or emailing for a report or other trust building step.

Understand that just like traditional sales takes on average 7 touches to convert to a sale (after having built up enough trust), online channels can take multiple steps to build the trust required for your final conversion.  Make sure you design your website presence to convey that.

What about you? Take our long poll – 1 question –

March 15, 2012 Posted by | Definitions, How To, local marketing, SEO tools | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Got a Free Blog – Thats Good Link Juice Right? (part 1)

The are many cliche’s that warn us there is no free lunch. But that does not mean we understand where the cost of those lunches really is. If we are used to paying the waiter, but the real cost is elsewhere it can be confusing.

The challenge is similar in technology, marketing and other areas that are changing rapidly. In the world of Free Blogs, the value and costs sometimes are hard to find. DRKent.Com had someone sell him a free blog that looked like a good value. It was bundled with other services, so it did not look like a scam. The creators of this blog generator may not have even known they were selling year old bananas, but they were.  Here are my comments to Dr. Kent about what is happening with his free blog.

I would take down your blog ASAP or ALL links to DRKENT or any other site you want to rank well. This is a clone site as you mentioned that I did not know until your email –

Google penalizes links from this site, since it is the equivalent of spamming,  since there are thousands of copies of the site. When I copy your 1st sentences into Google search it returns:

Results 1100 of about 5,320 for “I can’t believe how much my low back hurts! I don’t know if I can go to work with it like this!” Does this sound familiar? (0.32 seconds)

Over time, Google learned that real content seldom has the same sentences as other sites. Even if they are quoting the president, there are enough other analysis or comments that make the page unique. But if it is the exact same words, then Google interprets all the sources as junk. Additionally, if those sites are junk, then all sites they recommend are junk. Basically if you hang around criminals, statistically you are a criminals. Of course that leaves an interesting situation for Police and the FBI, but there are a few dozen TV shows and hundreds of movies and books exploring that correlation. So if you have ‘cheap, duplicate content’ pointing at your site, then you probably don’t have quality content on your site. While Google cannot really read (understand what you are really intending to communicate), it can statistically analyze what you have shared. It knows that if your friends are bad, then there is a greater chance you are bad. Just like a background check by the FBI.

From Google’s own blog at

There are some penalties that are related to the idea of having the same content as another site—for example, if you’re scraping content (automatically copying the ‘good’ parts) from other sites and republishing it, or if you republish content without adding any additional value. These tactics are clearly outlined (and discouraged) in our Webmaster Guidelines:

  • Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
  • Avoid… “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
  • If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.

I guess as a way to ‘prove’ that the process works, using the scientific method – test and see the results. It is not truly following the scientific method, but as an experiment it has greater value then just being a thought experiment so often used as truth on the Internet:

  • When I search for ‘back pain’, none of the 5,320 cloned blogs show up in the top 200 listings.
  • When I search for ‘lost work time’, none of the 5,320 blogs show up in the top 200 listings except for http://www.drlarrycimpermanblog.com/wp/2009/08/05/have-you-lost-work-time-because-of-your-back-pain/ who they changed his title tag and page name explicitly to include ‘lost work time’.  It appears that he was the 1st one they did with the new format on August 5 out of about 70, so he got a higher listing. The other 5,320 including you – lose.  Google will sometimes rank the 1st site it finds, and then count the rest as duplicates. So yes you can game the system, but it may be as much effort as just following the rules appropriately.

When I search for ‘Neck and Arm Pain – The Herniated Disk?’ – the title and heading of another page – one site gets listed in the top 200 at 12 or on the second page for most searchers (click through rate on page 2 is about 1% of being in the top 3, so unless it is a high volume search term, useless) – http://instantchiroblogs.com/wp/2009/05/31/neck-and-arm-pain-%E2%80%93-the-herniated-disk/ Ben’s page may have been a test or a mistake, since it has the extra characters in the page name, and his page does not have an address or phone number on it – probably making it unique.

So the moral of the story is check to see if your free website is worth taking. It may even be costing you (extra calories or wasted time) in ways you do not even know. Typically to give something away free it needs to be lower quality. In the world of the Internet, quality is easier then ever to determine with just a few clicks by human or less effort by computers.

 

February 15, 2012 Posted by | Blogging, copywriting, SEO tools, tools, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Integrating all the tools of Keeping Current – Part 1

There are a wide variety of blogs, sites, magazines, books, podcasts and more for learning and keeping up to date with how to market your online presence. One of the challenges is what to pay attention to, and what to ignore.

With that as a need, I am going to start posting what resources I find helpful and try to point out how I look at them for understanding how best to develop an integrated marketing strategy. These tools may have direct information on what to do, but more often they provide a framework for what not to do (such as Black hat SEO – best case a short term strategy, worst case can kill a business) as well as what creative solutions to look for to improve business.

These are just some of the tools and resources I am using today. Having ‘learned’ many industries over the decades, I have learned that trade magazines and newspapers were the best way to quickly see what was coming to ‘mainstream’ business, as well as how to read between the lines as to what are the best practices for today.  I am forever thankful for one of my mentors showing me the subscription cards in most trade magazines. I also curse him every time I move, and I am not current, and need to toss my piles. There is so much changing in every industry, and marketing is no different.  The underlying principles are often the same over the decades (ever notice how similar website marketing is to direct mail marketing), but the nuances evolve (7 touches is now 9 or 12 depending on your study and costs).

All of this leads me to ask you – what tools do you use to stay current?

August 14, 2010 Posted by | local marketing, Reference books, SEO tools, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another site review on how to improve your sites traffic

I had a request to give some feedback on a 6 year old site on how to improve conversion, and traffic for the gift basket site Blissful Balance . Here in no particular order are some quick hit suggestions. Feel free to comment and ask some more questions.

  • http://www.blissfulbalance.com/essential_oils.html
  • Some suggestions for improving your SEO and site conversion
    • Script font is hard to read, contrast is low, graphic is not SEO compliant
    • There is No call to action above the fold
    • If a gift, not as clear that you cater to the giver – include a free gift for the giver or way to reward the giver for their giving thoughts.
    • No alt text to attract Google juice
    • Image names not leveraged – xdfwe99 is not useful to Google as to what the image is about. Consider listing in Google Images
    • More trust building across the site. Why should I trust my money with you where there are so many other sites out there to buy gifts from.
      • Above the fold
    • No header text to help Google understand
    • Need video for demonstrating product. Video can get YouTube traction today, Google takes months.
    • Audio to demonstrate CD as to why this is something I want to send to my giftee, this seems more unique then other parts of your baskets
    • About us – it should tell a story of passion – why should I buy from you. Because you have passion in these products
    • Tell me about you last 6 years – what have you done.
    • Hosting on Yahoo can be a challenge for other sites on IP could be tripping you up.
    • You have many Duplicate descriptions and boring titles on your pages throughout the site (site: blissfulbalance.com)
    • Articles page is missing your call to read on the description
    • You have links on spam farms
    • What keyword phrases are you going after?
    • No keywords in domain name
    • What is your niche?
    • You footer text should be unique on different pages.
    • Allow larger text options
    • What is your conversion rate?
    • Site is slow on Contact Us page
    • No physical address is listed here. You need to build TRUST, too many other options to go to the next one.
    • No 800 number (still need local number for trust) – Kall8.com is a great resource for low cost, easy to work with for 800 numbers in about 5 minutes including an autobill credit card number.
    • Have product info also on separate pages to allow the power of smaller pages. Tell more of a story with these sub-pages to allow for long tail search engine optimization by Google.
    • Look at SEO (search engine optimizing) your Aromatherapy page.
    • Tell me a story on your essential oils page. Consider making this a better resource for others to share by flushing out a greater list of resources, links to other sites and stories of the benefits of these oils helping others.
  • Driving traffic to the site
    • Create a few blogs to demonstrate your thought leadership and how you understand your customer. As the site reads now, you look like a salesman, not a person who understand the buyer of gift baskets.  Explain to me how you care about your customers, and they will care more about you.–
      • Post content at least weekly (partner if you need to – perhaps a trade of a basket for every 4 stories including shipping)
      • Mix ideas (for how to use) and stories (of how the baskets change lives by allowing for balanced life)
      • Post ideas on other site

Remember that the objective is not to trick Google, but understand that Google is trying to best understand what you can share about your products. Google is not human, so you first have to communicate to Google what your pages are about in order to most effectively communicate to it what you are selling.

Understand that there are many types of media to share with Google (and YouTube) and your perspective clients the value of our site.

Good luck, and let me know what your reactions are.

July 30, 2010 Posted by | Community, copywriting, HTML Issue, SEO tools | Leave a comment

I Ranked Well in Google, Where Are My Sales?

A client asked ‘I am ranked well on my keyword search term, but I am not getting many calls for my service – what gives?’

In the years of working with businesses even before the Internet, one of the biggest issue I have found, is that many businesses do not understand their solutions from their customers perspective. They look at their business from the supplier/seller side. They try to sell the best drill, forgetting that customers want to buy holes.  They sell the best shoes, forgetting that customers are buying a fun run, or how to win the marathon, or how to get a date. It has been a problem for so many businesses that 95% will never celebrate their 5th birthday  So how to translate this wisdom into Internet sales?

Create a more complete keyword list

Understand your ranking well may be in the wrong category. The customer IS searching for the right term, if you are not ranked well in that term it is your issue, not the customer’s. This is another place where the customer is always right. So a few questions and suggestions:

  • Make a list of all the different keyword search terms your perspective customers would be searching for you .
  • Then take some time, ask some friends and double your list of keyword phrases.
  • Now call your best 2 customers, ask them how they would search for your product or service.
  • Then feed it into Google’s keyword suggestion tool – https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Now you have a list of keywords phrases. This usually is a much longer list than most businesses start with. This is part of what you hire experts for – to develop this list. The trend is to use longer phrases, as the shorter ones are usually more generic as each year passes. The short ones are more competitive, even if they get more traffic. But start with the longer ones, as they are usually easier to rank higher on, and also often incorporate the shorter phrases.

Now optimize each page of your site for a different phrase.

Are there any geographical indicators in your keyword phrases? If so, then think like your customers and consider that they consider themselves the center of the universe, not you and your business. They are probably searching from their home, not your business as the center. If your business is technically located in Warrenville, then cover the surrounding area. This is especially important if you are located in a suburban area where one town blends into the next town at the end of a strip mall and many customers many not even know where the town lines are. If you are in a larger city, don’t forget to refer to the city and the neighborhood names. Again focus on your customers location, more then yours. So optimize or add text that indicates you serve them –

Serving the Western DuPage lllinois area including: Lisle, Naperville, Warrenville, and Boilingbrook for dental patients like you for over 10 years. Supporting the Lisle Lions Football team and the Naperville Hockey Booster club.

Change this up on the different pages (but be truthful of course – lies will kill you more then poor rankings). You can put a tag line at the bottom of each page, you can have different descriptions in your description and TITLE tags, you can describe your location with ALT tags on the photos of your location, you can talk about your staff and the towns they live in. All of these help Google and your clients understand that your business is in their neighborhood.

Of course you need to optimize your titles to include your keyword search phrases in a way that attracts your customers to want to click on your site. If you were looking at these page titles on a Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page), which would you click on?

  • About Us
  • About Joe’s Lawn Service
  • Joe’s Lawn Service
  • Joe’s Lawn, Kingwood
  • Kingwood TX’s best Lawn and Garden Maintenance service keeping your yard sharp, and your pocket book full since 1998.

Who are you more interested in considering – you or your customers?

Once you have these in place, make sure you have Google Analytics or some way to measure your traffic to determine if the problem is – not enough people getting to your site, or not enough people taking action on your site. Without numbers, it becomes very easy to solve the wrong problem. Especially if the real problem is harder to solve.

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Community, copywriting, local marketing, SEO tools, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judge a (web) Page By It’s Title?

The TITLE tag is one of the most important part of any webpage. That is what tells your browser to put up at the top of the screen between the BluE and ‘- Internet Explorer’ or the Firefox logo and ‘-Mozilla Firefox’ or after the compass in Apple Safari . It is even in a distinct color from the rest of the browser.  This is what gets listed in the tabs of your browser to help your visitor get back to your site while switching between the others sites competing for your attention. The TITLE tag is also a trusted part of what Google determines your webpage is about.

But most importantly, this is the underlined, Bold and Blue text that shows up in Google’s’ results page (SERP) – This is where you get to 1st sell your potiential visitor that they need to click on the link and come visit YOU!  This text is your best chance to get a person to decide what that your site will meet their desires better then the 9 or 99 other pages listed next to it. This is where if you fail, it is pretty clear it is your fault for not meeting the needs of your potiental visitor.

So how to get your potential visitor to choose you?

  1. Don’t waste it.  Don’t use ‘generic’ titles that are written from the perspective of the website – Home, About, Contact. There are 4.2, 4.1, 2.6 Billion pages you are competing against respectively compared to 436 Million for Fire, or 126 Million for Pizza (95% easier to rank at the top of).
  2. Don’t be too specific. If people are searching for your business name – ‘Smith’s Itailan Bar and Grill’, then use that. But usually they are not, they are searching for a restaurant.  You potential customer probably does not know he is looking for you specifically, but what solution as a good or service that you provide. List that good or service from the customers perspective. If they know your restaurant’s name, they are a different kind of prospect. They deserve a separate page with ‘their’ own Title. That may well be the ‘Contact page’.
  3. Don’t be too general, there are 327 Million restaurants sites listed on Google. Of course they are all over the world, and all types of quality and cost. Some of the sites are not even about specific restaurants, but related to restaurants – including goods and services for restaurants. If your customers are looking for you, they won’t be looking for your vendors selling your restaurant cleaning supplies. Typically this is where you want to get geographical – Naperville Restaurant limits the selection to 1.7 million pages. Again, another reduction by 95% in competition. But you may need to limit yourself down some more – Naperville Pizza Restaurant – cuts the pages down to 63,000 – again cutting your competition by another 95%. Balancing 2 and 3 can be a challenge – the key is to look at how your visitor will look for you. The perspective is from your visitor’s search box, not from your business or web design
  4. Sell your site.  This is where the advertising industry earned their living for decades. How to write quick headlines that attracted you to read their ad further, in a short compelling fashion. If you had the following titles which would you click on:
  • Joe’s Bar And Grill, Downers Grove
  • Downers Grove’s restaurant for dining-Joe’s Bar and Grill
  • Downers Grove’s best restaurant for casual dining-Joe’s Bar and Grill with nightly chicken dinner specials ranked by Zagat’s review

The third one tells a story like any good headline should, while at the same time giving the search engine the information it needs to place it well for your visitors search terms on Google.

Now that you are on the right track on how to craft a TITLE tag, perform some searches from a visitors perspective for your site. Look at the different Titles and see what catches your eye as well as what communicates that the page is what you are looking for. Search similar topics on Google and Bing to see how effective Title tags are constructed.  Take some time to learn what is most effective at drawing you to click on a link. This will help you learn how others are looking at your Title tag.

When you are crafting your Title tag, take some time and even consider soliciting some feedback as to what best attracts someone to your site.

Once you have crafted your Title tag to meet these criteria, consider testing – try different titles every 2-4 weeks and see what creates the most traffic based on your Google Analytics (free) or whatever tool you use to track your sites traffic.

How did you craft your Title tags and what did you learn along the way?

October 23, 2009 Posted by | How To, HTML Issue, SEO tools, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

How Do I Get Bad Stories About Me Off Google? Part 2

Continuing on with our discussion from Part 1 of How Do I Get Bad Stories About Me Off Google…

Google will also change it results based on what it learns about the web. That is changing second by second as its ‘bots (computer programs running day and night reading and analyzing website pages) return each second with new information. Those ‘bots are busy looking at:

  • What sites are out there,
  • what sites do they link to,
  • what sites are most popular
  • how the pages are optimized?

Search Engine Reputation Management

So what to do?  Here is a starter list of steps for improving your search engine reputation:

  • Get your story out there – create a website and promote it on the search engines. Like any website, you need to follow the basics –
    • Buy the domain name for at least 2 years – get your full name as the domain name or whatever keyword phrase is causing you the most grief. The reason for buying your name as a domain name is that if someone is writing a negative story about Ebenezer Pumpkin, (which is your name), then when someone else puts in a Google search for Ebenezer Pumpkin, they are directed first to your website, not the negative press story. The reasoning for buying a domain name for keyword phrases is the same. Consider getting a few domains based on your top keyword phrases. Ideally, you want to have the websites active, and not just by the domain name and lock it up. The more active a website is, the better it is for search returns. When you buy and lock up the names for the websites, you do actually have to do something with them, not just let them sit there unused.
    • Fill out your meta tags especially the ‘description’ – make sure your name and top keyword phrase is in the description. If you can not edit the code directly (such as if you are using a site template that generates your site, look for a place to create a description.
    • Put effort into the 1st 70 characters of the ‘Title’ tag – again include your name and primary keyword phrase.
    • Use header tags in your content (H1, H2, H3) to alert Google what is really important about your content.
  • Put your photos and images on the site with ALT tags.  The reason this is important is that Google searches for things in different ways. Google searches by video and picture in a different program, so its important to cover that base as well. The more you can get your name out there referenced in a positive way, the better off you are. These ALT tags need to have your name in them.  Google has a separate search engine just for images. This is your opportunity to directly ‘feed’ it what it is looking for.  These should also have your name in them as part of the file name.  In other words not picture1.jpg but barackobamastanding.jpg or johnmccainmad.jpg If your site creation or your abilities allow, create captions that match the images and the ALT tags.

This lets you more easily dominate one whole search engine aspect (images) which is often one of the key links on ‘normal’ text links.  But it also lets you ‘prove’ your content on another part of Google’s search.

  • Visit your content from the search terms in Google.  Google looks at what you (and everyone else) visits when you put searches into the search. If you visit your results, then it feels that those results were relevant to the search terms you entered. If your friends do the same, all the better. Do an intentional search on your website to see what it pulls up. Google does keep track of the number of times you do this, so you can’t use it forever to drive up your search engine results.
  • Create a WordPress blog about something you are passionate about.  Plan on creating at least 10 entries – they don’t have to be long treatises; plan on 400-800 words each.  Make sure you put your name, and post some more photos. Make sure it is good content. Don’t just put up garbage, or things you’re not interested in, just to have content up on a blog.
  • Make a list of all the search keyword phrases that you are trying to shift your image. This list may be as short as 5-10, but probably should be as long as 50-100.  Do a search on the terms You can use Google keyword phrase generator and many other tools as discussed in other posts. This is where you can keep an eye out for the hidden spots that you are gaining a reputation that you do not desire.
  • You can also considering having free cartoon versions of your image made for free at befunky.com – the key is to create different images of you that are well indexed by Google.  Rather than just having one photo of yourself on your site copied across all the pages, have different photos of yourself, with ALT tags on them, so that Google will pick up your name more often, and in a good sense. You can repurpose a photo and have it made into a cartoon version of you, rather than just having different regular photos of yourself. Google will think its a different photo of you, even if  you see it as the same photo of you, just in cartoon form.  Also post these on your other sites –
  • Create accounts on the social networking sites – you may want to be conservative in how much others are allowed to post content related to you, but you can use this to put your version of the story.  If you limit the responses that others can make, you can control to some degree your image.  Most of these are not create and forget types of efforts. You will need to keep adding content to the accounts to show they are active.  Again you can use your images here as well links to positive stories.
    • Facebook
    • Linkedin
    • Myspace
    • Zoominfo
    • Plaxo
  • Post content on a regular basis on sites with links to your site.
  • Post content on Craigslist with your keyword terms. Even though Craigslist is primarily a classified  ad market, you can also post a message about yourself, your services and jobs. This is shorter term, and will probably need to be reposted every couple of weeks as Craigslist takes down the ads after a couple of weeks.
    • You can use tools to make reposting easier such as Craigslist Bot Pro – I have not personally used this yet, but have read many good things about it.
  • Ask your network to social bookmark your preferred sites and stories. This includes sites like digg.com, Mixx, delicious, reddit, metafilter. This lets others see your ‘good’ content over the ‘bad’ content, as well as letting Google know your ‘good’ content is better then the ‘bad’ content.
  • Write press releases and submit to PRNEWSWIRE and other newswire services. These are great sites as far as reputation with Google and other search engines.  Of course these need to be properly written to include your keyword phrases and related phrases frequently throughout the release. Include links back to yourself at least 2 times.
  • Review your content for your keyword phrases and related terms.  If you are not being explicit in your descriptions, don’t expect Google to know what you are thinking and where you want to be ranked as well.
  • Consider tools for managing your efforts – WebPosition is one that I have used over 12 years. Many of its best strengths are no longer relevant but, it can still be helpful for a variety of tasks.
  • Optimize your website including creating a page specific for the keyword phrase.
  • Link to good articles ranked rather than bad articles. You want to make sure that when you do a Google search, the number of good articles and references about you comes up higher in the results list than the number of bad items.
  • Create a personal link for your Facebook page
  • Create a Wikipedia page – Be careful with this. Be ready to manage this page. It is open to anyone to edit, and there are people who put many hours towards making sure all discussions are complete, as well as balanced.  You may need manage the updates on an ongoing basis.  Ignoring this option of course does not prevent someone else creating a negative page about you.  So at least start thinking what you would want on your Wikipedia page. In the meantime look to see if you are listed anywhere on the site as well.  Also look how other biography pages are formatted and what is listed.
  • Create a (at least one) blog. You can create multiple blogs on each site about different topics.
    • Create on
    • Use tags on your different postings
    • Use categories in your postings
    • Link to individual pages from posts or comments on other sites. These links improve the reputation of your content, by linking to your site.
    • Link to other pages that you like from posts on other sites.
    • Link to ‘good’ articles that are ranking well on Google about your reputation.
    • Link to other social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace especially your personalized URL.
    • Keep updating your content. Google assumes newer content is ‘better’ and more relevant then older content. Sites that are updated regularly are more relevant to ‘stale’ sites. This becomes key when going against news sites that continue to update on other pages, even though your ‘bad’ pages may never change.
    • Consider using RSS feeds to auto update your blog or website.

To be continued in Part 3 of How Do I Get Bad Stories About Me Off Google…

September 8, 2009 Posted by | SEO tools, SERM, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Optimizing Large SKU Count Retailer vs. Boutique Retailer On The Internet (part 1)

Large SKU Count Retailer vs. Boutique Retailer On The Internet

Recently a broker asked me how I would handle setting up a new Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing position for a large SKU (Smallest Known Unit, or individual parts) count retailer/direct marketer with an existing successful book of business.

This is a different kind of project than someone starting up a website on Yahoo.com or GoDaddy.com. A typical Yahoo shopping cart has from 20-200 individual product numbers.  There are many other vendors of shopping carts, but the cart that Yahoo bought years ago was the strongest for many years. A ‘Yahoo’ type cart is someone who is selling 5 or 20 product lines with a half dozen colors of sizes of each. That kind of site allows for a mentality of treating each SKU or product number as a gem. With a small SKU count you are trying to create a relationship with each individual audience. There is a reason why Suzy likes the large blue one and Ryan likes the small burlap one.  The optimization of effort and concentration on solution is different than a large SKU count retailer.

The large SKU count retailer sees the world from the solutions, not individual but multiple solutions he provides his clients by providing a large selection of products.  His value is not his ability to choose the ‘one’ product a client needs, but in anticipating the multiple needs his clients with the proper products at the moment his client needs them. His job is to find, source, stock and share the information on the products his client needs before his client knows what they needed themselves.  While this retailer is:

  • being a mind reader,
  • attending tradeshows,
  • meeting with vendors and
  • separating the flash in the pan products that will haunt him for years with reputation ruining returns or worse from the next wonder product that later will become obvious they are winners,

The retailer has to stock the standards those products his clients count on him to have – the nuts and bolts of the industry. All of this requires a mindset of looking at the bigger picture, but also a process designed to store the data so it can be managed as a whole, as well as individually by item. It needs to be collected, so the addition of new items can be distinguished from current items. A bolt is not a bolt to someone concerned about corrosion on a salt truck holding a snow plow blade or boom on a sailboat crossing the ocean, or a motorcycle on a cross country tour.

The large SKU count retailer needs to 1st understand how he will manage his inventory and back office system before even considering how he will be selling it out the front end whether through a retail store, phone and mail order catalogue or Internet online sales. The back-end management wags the dog, compared to a boutique retailer where the front end store is the dog.

While much can be written about the tying of back end to front end, and working in partnership, I will focus more on a role directed to improving the front end results through marketing.  By marketing I am referring to all activities with new and existing clients to create:

  • greater lifetime value
  • higher referral rates,
  • greater profit per sale
  • reduced cost per acquired customer
  • reduced cost per sale

The next few blogs are some of my thoughts on the process I would take to begin the project.

July 23, 2009 Posted by | How To, SEM Industry, SEO tools | , , , , , | 2 Comments