SEOdamian's Blog

Helping others understand & share about technology, search

Inventory is Dead Weight.

A feature that you built and tested, but didn’t deliver yet because you’re waiting for the next major release, becomes inventory. Inventory is dead weight: money you spent that’s just wasting away without earning you anything. Joel Spolsky
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2012/01/06.html

I discovered a new tool for quick survey of the series of tubes of the web (Daily Show fun) – AllTop.com which lets you get a single feed around topics that you can create, or others have created. The ‘generic’ page led me to Joel’s blog post today.

But Joel’s thought on inventory struck me. I have different posts in ‘draft’ stage. I have different ideas in planning stages. I have different relationships in development stage – I promised to get them some useful information (by their feedback) that I have not. This inventory (or more appropriately WIP-Work In Progress) is not creating value for me, or more importantly for others. I am short-changing myself, and others, and I need to stop that.

I notice so many people I respect are not getting hung up in working on getting ‘it’ perfect, before they publish/post/deliver/share so few opportunities are missed. The value they are reflecting is important. So the question becomes, how I do that myself?

I am finally not only hearing the need for creating, sharing and niching, but delivering. Whether that means publishing, posting or just hitting send more often. Thank you Seth Godin, and the many who have preached this newer concept over the old framework of: design, develop, test, fix, retest, fix, retest, fix, retest….. deliver an outdated design for a changing world and market.

So this year there will be more posting, more ideas and consequently more mistakkes as I ‘iterate’ and continually improve.  How are you going to change your models to improve this year?

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Community, Simple | , , , , , | Leave a comment

FAQ – Get More Traffic by Saving Yourself Time.

Want to save time and get more traffic to your website?  I recommend answering your visitor’s questions as clearly and completely as you can.  This takes the advice written by Michael Gerber, decades before the Internet was even opened up to the public.

If your website is a part of your business, I highly recommend reading Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited.  It is written partly as a parable to describe the entrepreneurial myth of many small businesses. It is part parable, and part information. Gerber uses the story of Sarah, a struggling business woman, to describe the process of the written steps you need to take to improve your business. Whether your business is large or small, the website needs to have an entrepreneurial spirit.  Therefore, I recommend reading and integrating this classic book that has formed the foundation of the businesses I have started, and the hundreds of  business’ I have consulted for.

If you are trying to get more traffic to your site as easily as possible, I recommend creating or extending your FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on the site. The idea of the FAQ is to collect all the different questions that customers ask on a repeated basis with answers.  Why does a FAQ get you more traffic? Because when properly designed  these pages will be descriptive of the terms that customers use to look for answers on your site.  These terms will probably be repeated just enough without seeming ‘spammy’. So take the time to write out the questions and answers on separate pages to let users understand your site in the context of the questions your visitors are looking at your site.

It has also been suggested that Timothy Ferriss’ The Four Hour Work Week is another great resource that really explores the idea of defining your business on paper in a way that can ge shared with others. There are some great concepts there and clear steps outlined on how to document your business and create FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions pages.  He has made a whole lot of money on implementing effective (both cost and time) ways of making money on the web following his own advice.

Are you a newer business without the traffic and experience of  knowing the questions your visitors will ask? Time to do some market research.  Larger business’ will pay a decent dollar to go out and see what perspective customers are thinking about. If you cannot afford to pay, it is time to get guerrilla in your approach.  Ask friends, set up a kiosk at a flea market, hang at  coffee shop, go to your kids soccer game and ask what questions do you have. Be ready to collect the questions, and test the answers. Stop by the library and read about market surveys and how to create your tests with as little bias as possible.

I would recommend a FAQ page that has all the questions on one page, then link to each question and answer on a separate page.  On the page, I recommend the following:

  • A clear title that states the site name, short version of the question, and contact info (800 number).
  • A clear description of the site and question in the Description META tag.
  • Keywords META tag related to the question and answer keyword phrases.
  • Question summary
  • Long question
  • Short answer with key phrases in them.
  • Longer answer with key phrases and links to other pages as appropriate to the site or off the site.  This is your chance to really explain and give the background appropriate to understand your site and what you are trying to have each visitor walk away from your site with, knowledge wise.
  • Ideally, ‘breadcrumbs’ to how you got to this page from the home page of your site.
  • Ideally, links to the rest of the site navigation system in text and graphical.
  • Ideally, UGC – User Generated Content where visitors are allowed to comment and ask follow up questions and give responses.
  • Ideally, have short poll questions to begin to truly understand how users view your pages (4 questions at most, ideally only 1).

These steps generally will create content that will allow the search engines to ‘understand’ your site and help rank you well on a variety of search terms. The key is to explain your site from the perspective of someone who does not know anything about your site.  Do not assume your users have much background when they come to this page and ask the question, if for no other reason than this is the case for Google. It does not automatically understand anything and it is up to you to ‘explain’ your questions to the search engines.

Understand that unless you have been writing interactive copy for decades (and the Internet has only been public for 15 years), you will need to continue to learn how your visitors interpret your site. That is OK, and the fun of online marketing.  This will require you to continue to tweak and improve your site. Google actually prefers to see sites that continue to evolve rather than act like the US Constitution (and even that we keep considering changing on a regular basis with admendments).  Remember, it is a lot easier to change a website than it is to change our tax code and laws, and ‘they’ change that with great frequency (usually for the worse, unless you have million dollar lobbyists, but I digress).  Sucks that we have 100 Senators, not to mention the hundreds of Representatives, and they have a whole lot of staff just to work on the wording of our laws.  Are you better than 600 legislatures and thousands of staff in your ability to write your website FAQ pages?  If so, please contact me ASAP, we could make millions together! Otherwise, keep reviewing your questions and answers and keep improving your responses based on your feedback of how well you are communicating.

The key is to put in writing on the site all those amazing visions you have for helping others with your site. It really needs to be written down and not just in your head.

June 8, 2009 Posted by | E-Myth, How To, Reference books, Simple | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What should I do 1st to get ranked high in the search engines?

I am often asked, “What do I do first to get my site noticed on the search engines”?

Of course it is important to understand that SEO or Search Engine Optimization is best if it is an ongoing process to react to the world of other websites and changes in Google and other search engines way of ranking well. But we all want to take a pill and feel better in the morning, so here are some quick pills to take.

First, understand that Google has about 72% of all search engine traffic, so that alone says you should do whatever Google want. Second, the next 2 biggest search engines (Yahoo.com and Microsoft’s search engine-whose name seems to changes weekly) get most of the remainder traffic. Google basically sets the rules for ranking well on search engines – so lets do what Google wants.

So the question becomes – what should I do to rank high with Google.com?  3 ‘quick’ steps:

  • Register your domain name for at least 2 years. The reason for doing this is because Google thinks you will be around for a long time, and rates a website with a domain name registered for multiple years higher than a ‘fly by night’ one year registration. If you don’t have confidence that your site will be around for more than one year, then why should Google think you’ll be around and rate you higher?
  • Put a ‘good’ title on your page – a title that someone who does not know you would understand what the page is about without seeing the page.
  • Put a description on your page in the ‘meta’ tag section – again if you were emailing a description of the page to a stranger, that would let them know what the page is about and why they would WANT to visit it.

Domain Name registration

When Google looks at a new site, it is just like when we meet someone new.  We are trying to determine if that person is worth the effort to get to know. If that person is just stopping in the office, but you do not expect to meet again (say a friend of an employee that is leaving) – you probably do not put much into getting to know them. But when the new boss (that you think will stay around till at least your next review).  You prioritize her a lot higher and listen much more intently. So how does Google know a boss relationship vs. someone in the hall?  One hint is how long you register your domain name. If you register for 2 years, then you have ‘signed the lease’ for at least 2 years. That sense of commitment shows Google you plan to stick around and to value over someone who did not commit.

Page Title

When creating your website page there is a line of code called the TITLE line.  It can look like this:

<title>Social Media Marketing - Reputation Management, The Other Side of Social Media Marketing</title>

Notice this is not the typical ‘Home Page’ description. This is a keyword phrase and a clear benefit that includes the keyword phrase. Remember this might be the only thing that someone sees of your site in order to determine whether to visit your site.  Limit to around 70 characters, because that is what most of the search engines consider, as well as visitors read before making a decision. Your business name is usually not the correct title – unless someone is searching for you by name. If someone is searching for you by your product or service, that is what your site should be about.  Your website should be about your perspective customer’s needs, not about you.

‘Meta’ Tag Section

The meta tag section is the part of the website page that describes what a page is about.  This area has been abused in the past 13 years as people have tried to ‘game’, the search engines.  So search engines ignore most of the meta tags except the ‘description’ – this is what Goggle usually uses to describe your site in its listings. Because other people will read your description, it tends to trust it more.  A sample description of a page is:

<meta name="description" content="If you need Photoshop brushes or just love Photoshop brushes then come to Phatbrush. Phatbrush has High Quality Photoshop brushes of all kinds. Our Photoshop brushes will satisfy your hunger." />

Conclusion

These are few quick hints.  I will explain more as we go through different posts, but these are some quick hints that you should be able to implement in a day. Depending on Google, results may not show for a few weeks or more, depending on how often Google visits your website.

May 30, 2009 Posted by | domain name, How To, HTML Issue, Simple | , , , , , | Leave a comment