Visualizing Your Objective-Part 2

Mapping Your Objective

If you have done a map search for random companies lately, you'll start noticing a trend.  Companies that aren't franchised and have only one physical address are popping up all over the place.  If you do a search for Illinois Web Design, a few names... not mentioning them... will pop up across the entire map of the state, when they are located at only one address.  This is a trick that is being used more and more for SEO and SEM.  I won't take a stance to endorse or denounce this tactic because it does provide results.hidden links mapping While some may say this method is dirty, tainted, or just underweight marketing, it's being used by business everywhere to propel their site recognition and visibility.  The point is not to consider any form of media as to small to be useful.  Whatever addresses are applicable to your business or site should always be listed in Google, Yahoo, and Mapquest Map sites.  Unless there are privacy concerns, this is an easy method at getting multiple links and search traffic to your site.  If there are privacy concerns, it is quite apparent that a lot of businesses are using addresses that are not their own, not remotely related to the company, and in a few cases, don't even exist.  Like I said, I don't take a stance either way on the address issue.  Whatever address you choose to use is your own business and will be pertinent to your site needs.  The pint is to consider adding site traffic through any means possible and to elevate your position in the search engines.  If you find that having multiple addresses within search maps allows for extra exposure, it might be worth considering.
Read more...

Writing for SEO

I found an article at helpmeblogger.com that is great in relation to writing content for SEO without having to sound redundant or confusing.  The link to the original article will be at the base of this post. hidden links -enjoy- spider_botYou'll see lots of advice about "SEO" or Search Engine Optimizing, or "using keywords." Much of that advice can actually hurt your Google rankings, especially "keyword stuffing," or deliberately over-using the terms you think will bring your page to the top ranks in a search. Google and other search engines are constantly changing the way they calculate search rankings, and they're getting smarter about figuring out ways of rewarding quality sites. That means that the best way of making sure your pages and posts have top search engine rankings and appear in the first few results when someone does a search is to write well. Really. Good writing trumps all the deliberate use of SEO keyword techniques. But what, you ask, is good writing? I'm glad you asked, Grasshopper. To begin with, good writing means being as clear as you can about what exactly you're writing about. Use a very clear and specific title for your page or post. Remember that a lot of readers will only see your title in their RSS feed, and the title has to be clear enough that they click to read the post. You want to be accurate, descriptive—and brief. Don't use the same subject phrase over and over—that's called keyword stuffing, and it's not only repetitive and boring, it's down right obnoxious. Overusing a keyword or phrase can suggest to a search engine that you're a spam site, and your ranking will suffer accordingly. Do use the most appropriate descriptive and specific language. Being specific means that your reader doesn't have to guess what you mean or what you're talking about. SPecificity makes your work easy to find. Remember that just because you call cats kitties, doesn't mean that your readers will; so think about synonyms, and likely search phrases. What will help a reader find your post? You might choose to use cats, kitties and felines—and you might also deliberately choose to avoid using pussies, since you don't want to attract porn spam. Google offers some tools to help you write good posts. One of them is the Google keyword tool. This helps you figure out what your readers might search for, in terms of using the best terms for our post or page. There are also some helpful .pdf guides from Google. The Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide is exactly what it looks like; a basic how to in terms of writing that makes your content easy to find. Original Article by by:Lisala at helpmeblogger.com
Read more...

Visualizing Your Traffic Objective – Part 1

Reverse-Ripple Marketing Theory

So here we are, trying to improve our site traffic.  Many people begin this aimlessly and without any clear idea of what they wish to accomplish.  I can speak from experience, that quite often I have done the same.  The misconception is that if you build a site, then send a bunch of invites and plug it to generic media, then people will automatically blow up your Alexa ranking, right?  Not necessarily.  A lot will depend on how targeted your approach may  or may not be.1184141_ripple Visualize The Approach Think of throwing rocks into a small pond or lake.  The ripples will swell outward in various patterns and expanses.  They become even smaller as they travel outward.  As they encounter obstacles and other ripples, their direction shifts in many more obscure ways.  This is the key visualization to increase site traffic... In reverse, of course.hidden links Our goal is to increase site traffic.  This means that we have to create these ripples in their reverse form.  Casting a large net across various related topics to your site will inevitably cause these ripples to develop and move back to their origin in waves of response.   The net has to be cast wide and in substantial volume.  Anyone with a blog presence can blow up their numbers for a few days.  We see companies offering this for exorbitant amounts on a regular basis.   They work with mob-like tactics; as soon as you stop paying, your site traffic immediately drops to the floor.  This is not a reason to run back to them(unless you really enjoy paying money for a service that's rigged for only short term gains). Diversify to Enhance your Marketing View To have a traffic plan with true longevity, you have to think of all of the ripple in the pond.  What happens when the ripple encounters an obstacle? It changes direction; it becomes obscure.  No matter what basis you may think, all ripples of net traffic eventually become obscure.  The point is to use the obscure traffic to grow your site.  All of the direct and sharp traffic is like the ripple closest to the rock.  They are large and even, but they only reach a certain radius.  The same amplitude is expressed with the smaller, uneven ripples that have expanded outward.  What separates them is that they are cast over a much larger area and range.  This wider net causes for slow, sometimes bent and obscure group reaction.1138325_rings_of_water Keep in mind, all waves have roughly the    same amplitude.  With this thought, imagine pushing traffic in small, obscure waves that build in size while traveling back to your website.  This requires a lot of work and interaction with other sites as well.  Using the blogosphere, utilizing Press Releases,  Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Ning, Digg, Del.icio.us, LinkedIn, ect.... The list could go on for some time.  Now these are the at the tops of most every "At Home SEO Expert", but what of the lesser known sites?  What about blogs that are only minimally related to your goal.  They "ARE" all fair game, regardless of what some experts may say.   The point is to not just think of social networking, not just think of bookmarks, not to just think of the quick response websites,  but to think of every possible eventuality in response to the content you have to offer. My Enemy Is My Friend But what you have to offer may be something to consider as well.  When the ripples from different points of action intersect, they modify each other and cause for warps within their framework.  This is also a benefit if we play the tape in reverse.  By interacting with your competitors, you will wind up giving and receiving more traffic.  By competing in a communicative manner, both sites win more traffic and reach a larger audience. This is only the first of a 5 part series of post.  Using this "Reverse-Ripple Marketing Theory" will be a long, productive process, but the rewards for the work put into it are far better in yield than paying for quick jolt traffic that is bound to fall as quickly as it arrived.
Read more...

Top-5 WordPress SEO Plugins

Earlier today, I was storming through the blogosphere and reading many different top-5 and top-10 list of SEO and SEM Plugins for Wordpress.  It occurred to me that none of the articles I was reading had the exact combo that I liked.  There are many great examples of good SEO planning out there, but I felt it would only be right to begin postings explaining my own.  I'm not sure how long it will take to place my plan into post format, but over the course of the next few entries, I will explain how we've kept a customer on the first page for some time now, with barely any site maintenance.  Please join us in this, the first of many in this discussion.hidden linkshidden linkshidden links To begin with, let's discuss what I would think are the Basic Fundamentals of Wordpress SEO... (no, not content, I do realize it's number one on the list).  Beyond content, we have to consider what needs your site will have in being indexed easily by crawlers and bots.  For that, I suggest building a foundation with these Five Plugins for Wordpress.
  1. All in One SEO Pack - For those reading this article who are familiar with Wordpress SEO, it will be no surprise that the All In One SEO Plugin is at the top of the list.  This Plugin has turned some of the most mundane code into one of the easier experiences involved with developing and maintaining a Wordpress Blog.all_in_one_seo_pack1
  2. Google XML Sitemap– The biggest benefit of using wordpress is the manual labor you save because the software already knows where all of your content is. This Plugin submits a comprehensive index of your site to Google, Yahoo, MSN Live, and Ask.com (BING as well) every time you update your site. It’s a huge boost to your site’s SEO. The Sitemap also allows for some, not very much, but some control over the frequency with which the crawlers come by.google-xml-sitemaps
  3. Google Analyticator - Ok, so what's the point of generating lots and lots of content, if you have no idea who's reading it?  There are many ideas out there about why to use the Google Analyticator or Analyticor; most of those are dependent on what community you have to reach.  The benefit of knowing who you're reaching is that you can diversify your content/SEO Model for the demographics you wish to reach.  With the Google Analyticor, you'll have a constant gauge of how well you reach the target audience.avinash-kaushik-analytics-dashboard
  4. All Category SEO Updater - This Plugin offers more than just its SEO power.  While it offers the ability to stuff extra Meta into the category list, it has another added quality.   Have you ever had the nasty issue of attempting to add Category specific information to each Category Page?  If so, you've likely run into a bit of a headache.  This Plugin allows for a custom paragraph to be placed at the top of the content for each individual Category Page.  For those of you as long-winded as myself, this is an incredible bonus and makes for heightened customization of each CAT Page.
  5. SEO Friendly Images - SEO Friendly Images is a Wordpress optimization Plugin which automatically updates all images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes. If your images do not have ALT and TITLE already set, SEO Friendly Images will add them according the options you set. Additionally this makes the post W3C/XHTML valid as well.  ALT attribute is important part of search engine optimization. Whatever images are not viewed by the crawler bots can easily be substituted with ALT Tags.  This Plugin simply takes the hassle out of writing those Tags within the actual code (those of you who have know what a tedious experience it can be).
There are obviously more Plugins to help with SEO.  Depending on what your SEO Plan consist of, you may require many more, or just what has been listed.  In a posting later in this week, I will go into details of how to build a functional and transforming SEO Plan.  I will likely ask for Featured Content from some of the best in the business.  While we can offer quality suggestions for the SEO Development of local businesses within Illinois(especially Naperville), I will not discount the benefit of listening to those who are at the top of this business.
Read more...

Improve Search Engine Crawl-from DailySEOBlog

Ok, I said earlier today that I barely ever re-post another persons work, , but it's not often that I find two incredibly written and informative articles in the same day. I also haven't had the most time to look around for good info in a few days because of work. Either way, I think that this posting deserves a read as well. The suggestions involved are ones that are valuable to know and sometimes we need to focus on more ourselves.hidden links Links within the posting have been left intact because of their weight and merit. At the end of the post will be a link back to the author. hidden links Enjoy seo-p

10 Tips to ensure better search engine crawling of your site

Even if you have an amazing site, sometimes you have to wait for ages to get some pages indexed and crawled on Google.  Why does this happen ? I’ve found many people complain that after building a great site, and doing the standard chores, waiting so long for the results doesn’t make any sense. Certain things just don’t happen as planned. Like certain pages on a site, doesn’t get indexed and if indexed doesn’t get the right visibility on the search engines. Strange. I can probably attribute all these problems to a couple of SEO factors. Let me try and explain them below.hidden linkshidden linkshidden links

1. Set a sitemap, with the right priorities

Setting a proper sitemap solves most of the problems often. But don’t take this lightly as we have many automated plugins to do the job. Many a times, the automated plugins need good tweaking to ensure that they have the right settings for your site. I have written several posts about sitemaps, like this one, check it out.

2. Publish articles regularly in a predictable fashion

This is not a  way to “control” how often the bots visit you. Google has its own algorithm to find out when it should visit you, but publishing more articles in a regular fashion sure does give Google clues on what your posting frequency is like. Nothing wrong in publishing articles in random, but I’d suggest you keep it pretty much in a predictable fashion so we make the process easy.

3. Link well contextually and often between posts

Cross linking between pages contextually is a great way to make sure that the bots visit all those pages. Contextual links are given more importance probably than any other link on the site, so make use of them.

4. Keep the directory structure simple

If you have a self designed website, make sure you keep the directory structure simple and not too deep. Having more directories to crawl will make the job difficult for the bots. Keep it simple.

5. Block the unnecessary pages with proper SEO techniques

Along with making sure that all the pages are crawled, also make sure that the ones you don’t need to show up in the search results are blocked. (Like the TOS page.) You could use the Meta Noindex and the robots.txt exclusion protocol to get things done.

6. Make the navigation bar simple and accessible

Often I see websites with complex, fancy navigation bar annoying. I mean, it doesn’t have to be fancy to impress your visitors right ? You could use classy CSS styling to get elegant looks and still impress them. The problem with fancy navigation bars are that they often do more harm than good like not allowing proper crawling of the pages linked. There are various techniques you can use to make the navigation bar attractive and still allow smooth crawling, employ them.

7. Practice deep linking

Always practice deep linking (you shouldn’t be having a deep structure in the first place.) if you have a big and deep directory structure. Do not miss out linking to any directory/pages. Use clever linking strategy to link all the directories/categories and pages each other. If possible link to all the main category indexes right from the homepage.

8. Make use of proper anchor texts and internal text links

Linking to pages with images and other elements may also result in poor crawling of those pages. Use proper anchor texts to share the contextual factor among your pages and directories.

9. Keep the URLs simple and easy to remember

Confusing URLs are neither good for Google bots as well as visitors. Google bots love simple, meaningful URLs and visitors love URLs with recall value and those are easy to remember. If you don’t want to screw up things, keep the URLs simple and easy to remember (both for bots and humans). P.S – Google does not have any problems with seemingly confusing or meaningless URLs. They still make out the content from the page, however having meaningful URLs are a definite plus.

10. Use the homepage very well

The homepage as you know is likely to gather the most link juice and importance compared to other pages on the site. (This is just a general observation, but if a page gathers more links to it, it could also get more authority and link juice than the homepage.) Use the homepage well, and add more links to the inner pages from it, so they share the authority. Essentially, factors like how fast to index, how often to index and how deep to index are decided by the search engines. But to a certain level you can control their crawling speed and frequency. The points above are good pointers to this, hope they helped you.hidden links
Read more...

Ten Great Ways to Crush Creativity

Normally, we don't augment other peoples post to place on our site, but today there is an interesting posting on how our best intentions can cause our websites to suffer. hidden links I think this posting could be applied to any form of artistic or business and marketing plan.  We'd like to see what our audience thinks of this article posted on  lifehack.org . I hope you leave feedback on what thoughts you may  have.  A link to the source site will be placed at the bottom of the posting.... Now for the featured post written by Paul Sloane egg Leaders have more power than they realize. They can patiently create a climate of creativity or they can crush it in a series of subtle comments and gestures. Their actions send powerful signals. Their responses to suggestions and ideas are deciphered by staff as encouragement or rejection. If you want to crush creativity in your organization and eliminate all the unnecessary bother of innovation then here are ten steps that are guaranteed to succeed.

1. Criticize

When you hear a new idea criticize it. Show how smart you are by pointing out some of the weaknesses and flaws which will hold it back. The more experienced you are, the easier it is to find fault with other people’s ideas. Decca Records turned down the Beatles, IBM rejected the photocopying idea which launched Xerox, DEC turned down the spreadsheet and various major publishers turned down the first Harry Potter novel. The same thing is happening in most organizations today. New ideas tend to be partly-formed so it is easy to reject them as ‘bad’. They diverge from the narrow focus that we have for the business so we discard them. Furthermore, every time somebody comes to you with an idea which you criticize, it discourages the person from wasting your time with more suggestions. It sends a message that new ideas are not welcome and that anyone who volunteers them is risking criticism or ridicule. This is a sure fire way to crush the creative spirit in your staff.

2. Ban brainstorms

Treat brainstorming as old-fashioned and passé. All that brainstorms do is throw up lots of new ideas that then have to be rejected. If your organization is not holding frequent brainstorm sessions to find creative solutions then you are not wasting time on new ideas. Instead you are sending a message to staff that their input is not required. If people insist on brainstorm meetings then make them long, rambling and unfocused with lots of criticism of radical ideas.

3. Hoard problems

The CEO and senior team should shoulder the responsibility for solving all the company’s major problems. Strategic issues are too complicated and high-level for the ordinary staff. After all, if people at the grass-roots knew the strategic challenges the organization faces then they would feel insecure and threatened. Don’t involve staff in serious issues, don’t tell them the big picture and above all don’t challenge them to come up with solutions.

4. Focus on efficiency not innovation

Focus solely on making the current business model work better. If we concentrate on making the current system work better then we will not waste time on looking for different systems. The current business model is the one that you helped develop and it is obviously the best one for the business. After all, if the makers of horse drawn carriages had improved quality they could have stopped automobiles taking their markets. The same principle applied with makers of slide rules, LP records, typewriters and gas lights.

5. Overwork

Establish a culture of long hours and hard work. Encourage the belief that hard work alone will solve the problem. We do not need to find a different way of solving a problem – rather we must just work harder at the old way of doing things. Make sure that the working day has no time for learning, fun, lateral thinking, wild ideas or testing of new initiatives.

6. Adhere to the plan

Plan in great detail and then do not deviate from the plan regardless of circumstances. ‘We cannot try that idea because it is not in the plan and we have no budget for it.’ Keep to the vision that was in the plan and ignore fads like market changes and customer fashions – they will pass.

7. Punish mistakes

If someone tries an entrepreneurial idea that fails then blame and retribution must follow. Reward success and punish failure. That way we will reinforce the existing way of doing things and discourage dangerous experiments.

8. Don’t look outside

We understand our business better than outsiders. After all we have been working in it for years. Other industries are fundamentally different and just because something works there does not mean it will work here. Consultants are generally over-priced and tell you things you could have figured out anyway. We need to find the solutions inside the business by working harder.

9. Promote people like you from within

Promoting from within is a good sign. It helps retain people and they can see a reward for loyalty and hard work. It means we don’t get polluted with heretical ideas from outside. Also if the CEO promotes people like him then he can achieve consistency and succession. It is best to find managers who agree with the CEO and praise him for his acumen and foresight.

10. Don’t waste money on training

Talent cannot be taught. It is it a rare thing possessed by a handful of gifted individuals. So why waste money trying to turn ducks into swans? Hire our kind of people and let them learn our system. Work them hard, keep them focused on our business model and do not allow them to fool around with crazy experiments. Workshops, budgets and time allocated to creativity and innovation are all wasteful extravagances. We know what we need to succeed so let’s just get on with it. Ten Great Ways to Crush Creativity
Read more...

Limos-Alive

Recently, we were asked to remake a website for one of the up and coming Limousine services in the Chicago area.  We were shown the original site at Limosalive.com and asked what we could do with it.  After a check through the SEO grading tool at hubspot's Grader Tool, we found its score to be an 8 at best.  8 out of 100 is certainly a sign for needing some help.  We've gladly taken on this challenge and have been working on a highly functional finished product at Limosalive.net.   While building the site on a new, but similar domain, the original site never needed to be taken down, and the time of development has been far easier without the limitations of only one url.  I encourage you to look at the progress as we add to the new site.  Please compare it with the existing on.  There is a Java script associated with the .net version that i must still disable, so if scripts are not allowed, you may have to reset them to view the site we're building. Already, this site is scoring in the low 70's and will be within the top of the local limo services before Google even issues the next round of page-ranking. Here are some before and in progress pics, but more are on the way. If you enjoy this remodel, please feel free to contact us.  We are looking to improve the Chicago Web Design Community, and add whatever benefits we can to the Web Development of Illinois.
Read more...

Illinois Renewable Energy Fair

65zvu8yq3j It was a pleasure of mine to be invited to the Illinois Renewable Energy Fair in Oregon, Illinois this past weekend.  As you would expect, the economy did take a toll on turnout for this years even; however, it was a full of creative ideas and many different business introducing their alternative energy ideas. hidden linkshidden linkshidden links Now, you may ask, "why post this on a professional blog about web design?".     Allow me to explain. Most of the sites produced by these startups are doing them no benefit.  The average site we found throughout the fair scored around a 12 on the website grader tool offered by Hubspot.  Needless to say, the sites were offering almost no marketing value to their owners.  We conducted the general B2B scenario of offering our services and lending advice where it could be given, but we consistently ran in to one of three issues that continue to prevail with local companies.   With this post, I'd like to take a moment to point out two of the main site issues that we are finding with small business sites: Built in an Auto Builder:

hostgator-sitebuilder

Whether it be Godaddy's Website Tonight, or Cpannels Site Builder, there tend to be some horror stories of automate website builders.  These builders, usually relying on a basic Java system, are usually comprised by nothing more than images and almost no text.   If you are attempting to view one of these sites without scripts, you're likely to see nothing but an adblock warning. This can be found often with the "Local Hosting Companies" as well.  Don't get me wrong... Not all of them are crooks, they just usually charge far more over a period of time for a sub-par site than would be paid for a good, one-time build.  When checked, many of them have no Meta Data or Keywords to optimize them for search.  The usual result of this is a site that people only reach when they have either received a business card or have someone direct them to the page.  While it is imperative for the modern business to have a page for regular clients to view, this does little if any to bring new clients.  The concepts of inbound marketing require that a site be accessible to those who would normally never hear of your company other than through net traffic. To Much Flash:FlashLogo_4 With al of the advances in content management, jQuery, Content Galleries, and SlideShoPro(just to name a few), why do companies continue to abuse themselves with large, long-loading, and usually unrelated flash based websites.  It's like the "Cornflower Blue" joke from Fight Club... The Flash is played out and doing your site a disservice if it takes longer to load than a persons attention span.  Many at even the highest reaches of the professional world have yet to learn this basic theory.  It has been estimated that for every second of load-time your site waste, you loose another 10% of prospective viewers.  With inbound marketing being the most common reason for a business site, why would a company purposefully turn away prospective customers? I'm not saying that Flash is evil, and I certainly do not have a battle with Adobe.  Flash has served the web community in various ways for over a decade, but at some point, businesses should realize what a detriment it can be when potential customers are lost to time needed for the site to load(another post coming on flash this weekend)
Read more...

To Tweet or not to Tweet

In the past year, Twitter has risen to a level of use rivaling most every other site and service on the internet.  As a result, many are asking how it can be used to increase traffic to their site.  There are many tutorials and basic ideas for how to approach Twitter; I suggest you read them as well.  This posting will focus on two fairly obscure questions to consider for your site and Twitter. Do you really care if people think you're a jerk?Twitter_256x256hidden linkshidden linkshidden links A Tweet can consist of as little as you pasting your url in a post and sending it on.  While this method is viewed more as a SPAM act than any, you'll find that many people simply pawn their site through Tweets up to 50-100 times a day.  The choice is up to you on how you wish to be received.  Obviously if you're only doing this once a day, there won't be nearly the humor and snide statements made of you like the ones who are hitting up 20 an hour. The last sentence was not to assume that all of the Super-Tweeters are simply over-posting jerks.  The fact remains that they create inbound links on a constant basis.  While using many other SEO techniques, Twitter directs traffic to your sites and can in turn lift your rankings in many systems that effect search engine visibility. Who are you really wanting to reach? With Twitter, who are you after?  If you're trying to push traffic to your NSFW site, it might be a good idea to set up an account with people who would be willing and able to see that content.  In turn, you wouldn't want to send invites to a corporate team that would abhor the content of the site. (if this sounds to stupid to be possible, you have not visited fark often enough).  There may be a need for several Twitter accounts for each business or site. There is no reason to keep you reach small, and each individual account can aim for a different target market. twitter-bird-2The best way of getting like minds to follow you is to begin by following people of a like mind.  When setting up each account, consider your site definition.  If your site is built to target designers, following designers would be your goal, if you paint, following people associated with painting...ect. This method will result in the people you follow usually following you in response.  By this method, you should receive a fairly strong and targeted market.
Read more...