SEOdamian's Blog

Helping others understand & share about technology, search

Email is a Traffic Generator?

Your personal email is a great way to improve your site traffic, for at least two major reasons:

  • You are sending a personal message to someone. You should have a great deal of trust in what you say and recommend. Your signature link to a site leverages that trust.
  • It helps create a mindset to tailor your site to optimizing your links and ALT tags to effective communication to Google about what your pages are about.

If you can’t put a good reason in your email for someone to visit your online presence to the people you are emailing, then you are doing something wrong. Sorry to be so direct, but is it that hard to have something worthwhile to share with those you are emailing?

If you are trying to promote or market yourself and you cannot put a softsell reason to have someone visit your online presence (website, Facebook page, Linkedin page, any of your blogs, where you have posted on someone else’s blogs) then you are either too selfish in not helping others out by sharing your information, or you are way too shy about your knowledge and wisdom.

To paraphrase podcaster (et al) Douglas E Welch puts it ‘if you have one more piece of knowledge than someone else in some area’ then you are an expert.

Your expertise is what you want to be sharing through your online presence.  That presence should be linking back to your website. As you share your expertise, you should ‘naturally’ be creating more content that the search engines can use to understand why you should rank high in their listings.

So the key is to be altruistic and give your expertise and wisdom away.  Think about how you would ‘gently’ let others know about your knowledge and put links in your email signature.  Then look at how to describe that wisdom in short snippets –

  • 5 ways to work more efficiently
  • 3 ways to lose weight
  • My favorite wines in the last year
  • How I improved my  business 15%
  • How I improved the health of over 1000 patients
  • How I helped 200 people save money with xx product
  • My favorite flowers for clay soils in the midwest

These quick descriptions belong in your email signature. They also belong in your blog posts, comments where appropriate on other sites, and in your links to specific pages on your site.  These descriptions also tell Google what your pages of content are about.

These links should not just be to your home page, but specific links to specific information on your online presence. I would recommend creating a catalog of signatures and rotate them on a regular basis so that people know to pay attention to the extra ‘nugget of knowledge’ you give in each of your emails. That little bit extra you give in each interaction with your visitors/clients/friends/community.

Start thinking about helping others with your email signature, and you can help yourself.

Thanks to Dr. Kent Christianson for the inspiration to this blog

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June 22, 2009 Posted by | How To, Simple, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ALTernate Universe – Letting Google and Others Understand Your Site.

One of the challenges of having a beautiful site, is that it usually includes graphics and lots of pictures.  Even if your site is all text, the easiest way to control how your site looks is to make them into graphics.  It solves lots of problems with columns lining up and borders being just right.

The problem is, as smart as Google is (or is not), Google (or Yahoo or Bing) cannot really tell what an image really looks like. But that is ok, there are a bunch of people that cannot tell either.  Some are visually impaired, some are technically impaired. Others may be on limited bandwidth – whether it is a slow connection of dial-up across the world, or a ‘smart phone’ that automatically strips out all the graphics. Many of your visitors may not be able to see your site with its pretty graphics.

So why is this OK? Because when HTML/WWW was designed, they allowed for that possibility of graphics that not everyone could understand.  The designers implemented a standard called ‘ALT Tag’, as in Alternative description tag for graphic elements.  So what does this have to do with SEO?  The ALT Tag is the tool to tell the search engines what your site is about.

The ALT Tag is the place to describe your site as if a martian was looking at your site, and had not come from another page, another search engine or link to your site.  They just walked in the room and sat down at a computer and here was your site’s page.  What do the graphics mean?  So do not describe the front page as ‘home’ but instead as ‘Flutist Jennifer Bartel of Chicago North Shore Home Page‘. Do not describe a page as ‘Hot links, Cool Tips’ but as ‘Resume Writing Links and Tips by Executive Career Services’. That way the descriptions stand alone. When Google visits, it looks at how you describe the pages and takes the hint.  These are far more descriptive then ‘page 1’, ‘home page’, ‘about us’.

How do you know when your ALT tags are complete? When you can have a friend look at a page with only the ALT tags and understand what your site is about, and where to go next.

Are your ALT tags not complete yet? Don’t worry, after 14 years of doing website optimization for search engines and usability, I have found few sites that are complete. Of course there are all the ‘clever’ graphic designers that feel I must intuitively know what every icon and graphic relates to. Those are the ones that most often don’t use ALT tags.  What does a purple smiley mean – where will it take me?  Most often it takes me to the ‘x’ for close this tab, and I go to the next site.

Optimizing ALT tags is a continual process of improvement.  But it is a lot easier to fix a website than it is to fix a printed brochure. So keep on tweaking and asking for feedback on how to improve  how you communicate to your visitors, including the spiders in the night that Google, Yahoo and Bing send out to try and understand your site.

What have you seen? Do you ever use ALT tags to find your way around a site?

Let me know your favorite ALT tags and your ALT tag experiences.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | How To, HTML Issue, Simple | , , , , | 2 Comments