Training

SEO 101: Need an SEO Friendly Site? Think Blog!

When I started out in web development as a website developer and coder way back in the dark ages (1998), I was doing web design for an in-house agency. Primarily, we did sites for the publications that the parent publishing company produced, but we also took on local Palm Springs area clients and built web sites for them.

It went something like this. For a certain amount of money, like $500, we’d build a ten page static web site. We’d do the design work, but the client provided images and text. We’d do the SEO as it existed in those days (title, meta tags, submit to the search engines/directories) and then there would be a monthly hosting/maintenance fee (about $50). Quarterly changes (pictures and text) were part of the fee, anything else cost extra.

Of course, the client was sort of at our mercy as they had no way to make changes themselves. They had to go through us. This could get frustrating for clients who needed frequent changes to their sites, like real estate agents or those with products that needed changing constantly.

Fast forward to today. Yes, if you really need a complicated site with a web designer, programmer and so forth, that option is definitely available more than ever. But, if what you want is a smaller site that you have complete control over and won’t cost a fortune, it can be had quickly and inexpensively. Continue reading

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Training

Palm Springs SEO Services

After many requests, I am pleased to offer the following personal search engine optimization training services to businesses in the Palm Springs area, including Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta and Indio. For those outside of the area, consulting and website reviews can be done by phone, e-mail and even Skype.

Personal Site Overviews by Phone

I am now offering Personal Site Overviews by phone at a cost of $50 per 30 minute session. During the telephone session we will go over your site from a Search Engine Optimization point of view and I will make suggestions that should help you with your SEO efforts. In addition, prior to the call I will take a look at your site and provide you with a report of basic things that can be done to help your site rank better.

To schedule an appointment, simply e-mail me and we’ll set you up with a time and I’ll send you an e-mail invoice. Payment for the service is by PayPal or check and appointments won’t honored until payment has been completed.

The call can be made through Skype or telephone, whichever works best for you.

Recession Buster Website SEO Review

Included in the site review:

  • Study of your site for issues that could be keeping your rankings and traffic low.
  • A PDF report of your site’s status and recommendations for improvement.
  • E-mail mentoring with Richard V. Burckhardt, The Web Optimist of Palm Springs, for any questions arising from the report.

Charge: $500

Frequently minor tweaks and changes can result in improved search engine rankings and traffic!

Please allow two weeks for the review. Naturally, I will try to get it completed and sent sooner.

In-House SEO Workshop

As previously announced on the Palm Springs SEO Workshops page, this two-hour workshop is held in your local office for groups of three or more (up to 20). Internet access is required at the location.

  • On page optimization (Meta tags, navigation, etc.)
  • Off page optimization (Links, competition)
  • Site clinic (I critique YOUR site)</li%
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SEO, Training

SEO 101: Twitter Twips, uh, Tips for Tweeps

SEO 101 Twitter Tips
Twitter has become an important communications tool. Here are some tips to optimize your tweets.

Who would have thought? I have to admit that when Twitter was first launched, I was one of those folks who thought it was downright silly. Who cares that you’re sitting in a coffee shop texting a 140 character status report? Sheesh. Bound to disappear in a few months…

Wow, was I ever wrong. Twitter has taken the world by storm, providing communications for everything from patriots in repressed regimes to emergency information services. And, yes, you’ve still got those nerds tweeting about sipping a latte at Starbucks, too. Oh, well…

Twitter has been a natural magnet for SEOs and Internet marketing tweeple, er, people.  Twitter allows an unprecidented way for an individual or company to get immediate insight from around the world, allow you to break out of your social group (follow friends of friends, industry leaders), grow your channel of distribution and build your brand.

Here’s a list of twips, er, uh, tips to make your tweeting twouble fwee, ah, er, uh, trouble free! Continue reading

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Training

Palm Springs Beginner SEO Workshops

As mentioned on my SEO Workshops page, I offer search engine optimization workshops for businesses in the Palm Springs area.

Palm Springs beginners SEO class
Coming soon to a palm tree near you, Beginner SEO 101 Workshops.
SEO 101 Training Workshop
for Businesses
This is a basic SEO training workshop for beginners, perfect for do-it-yourself businesses, advertising firms and web designers looking for ways to make their sites stand out for both visitors and the search engines. This two hour session includes:

  • On page optimization (Meta tags, navigation, etc.)
  • Off page optimization (Links, competition)
  • Site clinic (I critique YOUR site)
  • Image Optimization
  • Social media, universal and personalized search overview.
  • Lotsa good tips!
Price: $100 per person, minimum group of three (Larger group discounts are available). I will come to your conference room or office in the Palm Springs and Coachella Valley area. Internet access is required. Contact me for more information.

I am available for SEO consultations in the desert (Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, etc.). Contact The Web Optimist for more information.

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Training

SEO 101: Web Analytics

Web Analytics for Beginner SEOsAs I mentioned in my post about off-page optimization factors, keeping track of site traffic and visitors is extremely important. You really need to understand where your traffic is coming from, what keywords are driving the traffic and why so that you can optimize your site. It can be complex and confusing, though, so what is a beginner SEO to do?

  • Check with your host. Most hosting companies offer at least some sort of bare bones log-based web analytics as part of your package. Many times this consists of something like AWStats or Webalizer, which are pretty standard and offer stats that are probably sufficient for very small sites. Study these and get familiar with some of the nooks and crannies, like where your traffic is coming from and what keywords are driving the traffic.
  • Go real time. If you haven’t heard of Yahoo’s MyBlogLog, it’s an online social site that’s especially targeted to blogs, but other sites are welcome. It’s big with SEOs. In addition to all of the social networking and community building opportunities, you can pay for their statistics service ($25 per year) and see real time traffic information for all of the pages to your blog/site. All you have to do is paste some tracking code within the BODY tags of your template or pages. The information is incredible – where your traffic is coming from today, what they are clicking on within your site and what outbound links they are clicking on. Reports can be run for various time periods. It’s a hidden feature that you need to check out.
  • Get a full-blown analytics package. If you’re looking for free and don’t mind Google having access to your data, sign up for Google Analytics. It’s a slick, feature-rich analytics program with most of the bells and whistles beginner SEOs could want. In fact, there is a learning curve in trying to find all of the features and figure out what they mean. Like with MyBlogLog, you have to insert tracking code on pages you want Google Analytics to follow. If you run an ecommerce site, it can even track conversions with some advanced set up.
  • Do it yourself. If you don’t like the idea of Google or anyone else having access to your stats, you could run log-based analytics software on your own. This is time-consuming and, as your site grows, can become impractical because log files can be huge. You might have to download your log files and run the software to analyze them or install analytics software on a dedicated web server. One free option is WebLog Expert Lite which also offers paid versions with more features. Running log-based web analytics software used to be the norm. I’m only offering this as an option to those who are really paranoid about their data. By the way, Google also offers a log-based solution called Urchin, but, it’s definitely not free.
  • Go commercial. There are zillions of commercial web analytics packages available with all sorts of wiz bang features. The problem with wiz bang is that many of us wind up banging our heads against the wall trying to figure out the wiz. From experience, I highly recommend spending time trying out trial versions of any analytics product you are considering. See if you understand how they work. Find out how available support will be for you. Some of these companies charge you a ton for the product, give you a few months of support and then want a contract for continued support and updates. Be absolutely sure about what you are buying into. One company I know of spent thousands on one of the top log-based analytics packages, couldn’t get it running properly for months, then couldn’t understand the interface once they got it running, had numerous tech and support issues and finally abandoned it altogether, losing several thousand dollars in the process. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. Understand what you are getting.

What do most SEOs favor? An informal, very unscientific poll of my LinkedIn contacts came back with Google Analytics as the definite top choice. Again, this was a very small sample and by no means authoritative, but it does seem that Google’s freebie has its fans in the search marketing community. On the commercial side, Clicktracks and Mint were also mentioned. (Note: you’ll find people who both love and hate all of these, so test, test, test before making a final decision).

By the way, it’s worth mentioning that a log-based tracking system will track every action on your site – clicks, server calls, spidering, whatever. If you want to use analytics that depend on tracking code on your pages, be sure you have the code on ALL pages. Anything without the tracking code will be invisible to your analysis software or service.

Keep in mind that these suggestions are for newbie SEOs and not for you advanced folks out there. Some of these will seem simple to power users, but someone who has never studied web analytics in the past should find these recommendations easier options for starting out.

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Training

SEO 101: Video Optimization

Video optimizationUnless you have been living under a bridge the past couple of years, you know that online video has become hot, hot, hot! Promoting your site, blog or product with online video is free, it’s mobile and social, so getting your vid to the most eyeballs should be easy, right?

Well, not really. YouTube is the biggest of the video sites and the average video posted there only gets about 100 views per year, so it’s not as easy as it looks. There is a bit of optimization that can help you on your way.

  • Use rich meta data – Video optimization, like web page optimization, is still driven by this. As with your content-rich web pages, make sure your title and meta description are keyword rich and helpful to the visitors (and spiders).
  • Build a unique page – Create a content-rich page just for the video you are promoting. Along with appropriate meta data, include some descriptive text and keyword rich links to help get you crawled by the crawler based search engines.
  • Share – The easier the video is to share, the better. For instance, YouTube’s strength is that it is a sharing site. Only a part of the video traffic comes from search itself, so be sure to build in a sharing strategy for your video.
  • Optimize for Related Videos – People watch a ton of these in YouTube and the higher your view volume, the more likely your video will show up above the fold (bottom of the screen). Study the top videos and see what they are doing that you might be able to use to your advantage.
  • Embed your video – To keep some traffic going after the initial rush of viewers, embed your video in a widget that you can not only show on your page, but share with others to post on their own sites.
  • Push out updates – This one’s pretty much a no-brainer. Be sure you push out your updates in a video RSS feed.
  • Make it viral – Quirky, offbeat, unusual and unique videos tend to have the most success lighting a fire under themselves.
  • Export videos as SWF – Please, no Active X controls. For higher quality and mobile, try .mov.
  • Build a Google video sitemap – You want to be sure Google finds your videos, so this definitely can’t hurt.
  • Be constant – Use the same title and description on all of the video sites that you post your video to like YouTube, MetaCafe, etc.
  • Customize your thumbnail – YouTube gives you a selection of three images from your video to use as your thumbnail. These are pulled from the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 marks in time in your video, so try to work it so that a scene in your video shows up in one of those points that would be appropriate for the thumbnail. Consider having your URL or telephone number show up at one of those points.
  • Localize – Having a video in your local listings can improve your traffic.
  • Submit to Blinkx – This will get you into sites like Ask and MSN, too.
  • Be descriptive – Be sure the actual name of the file and URL are clear and descriptive (www.website.com/funny-bunny-video.mov, not http://www.website.com/fbunvid.mov).
  • Use TubeMogul.com – Use this site to upload your video to several video sites at once. Your video could actually show up several times for a single search. See my previous post Importance of Diversity in S E O for an example. TubeMogul.com also includes YouTube stats for you and your competition.
  • Take the hint – YouTube tells you popular related phrases in the search drop down as you type. In a way, they are doing your keyword research for you. Pay attention!
  • URL first – Include your full URL as the lead to your description for your video in YouTube. This puts your link at the beginning where it will show best. You can even include tracking code if you like.
  • Don’t over tag – Tags are great, but don’t over do it. These can be just as spammy as circa 1998 keyword meta tags. Be concise and true to the content.
  • Call to action – Include one in your video with your URL. Watermarking is a good way to do this.
  • Press video – Include a video in your PRWeb press release. Yes, this will cost you money, but it is money well spent if you have something good to share with the world. If you don’t have something good to share, why are you bothering to submit a press release in the first place?
  • Respond – Look for a video that is popular and related to yours. Letter a title and description identically and submit a video response.

Naturally, all of the tips in the world won’t guarantee success. There are a lot of factors involved with making a video popular, including the video itself, but hopefully these suggestions will give you a starting point for your video optimization campaigns.

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Training

SEO 101: Beginning Viral Marketing

Give your viral campaign a shot in the arm with these tipsWe’ve all heard of something going viral, meaning it gets picked up quickly and spreads like crazy all on its own. Big companies pay big bucks for marketers to come up with viral campaigns, so how do you as a beginner viral marketer compete?

First, let’s take a look at the most recent definition of viral marketing on Wikipedia.

Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral marketing is a marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message voluntarily. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages. The basic form of viral marketing is not infinitely sustainable.

For our purposes, using pre-existing social networks can be a key in getting started. One thing to keep in mind is that not every viral marketing attempt will take off, so don’t get discouraged if you flop the first time around. For the beginner, a lot of learning has to go into using social media in the first place, so cut yourself some slack and have fun with it.

Here are some ideas to give your viral campaign a shot in the arm.

Start with your blog. Post about your campaign on your blog to get the word out in your RSS feed and to e-mail subscribers. If you’re lucky, your posts will be picked up by other blogs and subscribers. Use a Twitter plugin like Twitter Tools to pass your post to Twitter at the same time.

Look for niches. Start out with big social media sites like Facebook and MySpace, but also look for smaller ones serving a niche. For instance, if your viral campaign would be attractive to baby boomers (I happen to fit into that category), look at sites like Eons.com, which is smaller, but like Facebook with a few age lines. 😉

Make a viral video. Videos are hot and a great way to promote your campaign. Although YouTube is the biggest, also post to other video sites for the widest distribution. Try TubeMogul.com, which allows you to submit to several video sites at once.

Join in on forum conversation. Seek out forums related to your topic and get involved. Don’t just jump in and push your campaign, but provide feedback and information that is useful to the forum members. These communities can be passionate about their topics and maybe, just maybe some of them will pick up your news and spread the word. You can search for niche forums at http://rankings.big-boards.com/.

Join in blog conversations. As with the previous suggestion, find related blogs and jump into the conversation, providing good content and information, not sales pitches. Your comments can help you gain trust in the commuity, especially if you listen to and hear what the other community members want to know.

Bookmark it. Utilize bookmarking sites like Delicious and Digg where people can see what you are interested in and bookmark those links themselves. In addition to these two big sites, there are lots of niche bookmarking sites out there, too. Bloggers grab stuff off of these for content, others see it, bookmark or IM to others and if the stars are aligned right, it snowballs. The more eyes to your content the better.

Cross promote all of the above across social media sites. For instance, don’t just upload your video to YouTube, plug it at Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, etc.

Develop relationships. People with influence can get your information in front of more eyes. Create a relationship with these folks. Send them information that will help them. Later, you can send them information that will help you, after you establish trust. For example, you could approach a respected blog and offer to write a good guest article for them to get your foot in the door.

Contact by name. Nothing worse than trying to cozy up to one of those persons of influence using “To whom it may concern” or whatever. Send them an individual e-mail. Make sure you are pitching something relevant to their blog/site. Read their blog/site first!

Buy advertising. No this isn’t for SEO ranking purposes. Buying advertising to promote something simply is another way to open a dialogue with the blog/site owner, that person of influence.

Spread the word. Utilize your customers to get the word out through your web site, customer service e-mails, letters and newsletters.

Free is good. Give away something as part of your promotion – a white paper, resource, video, widget, etc. Make it great, quality, quirky, fun, whatever you can do to make it a desired, wanted freebie. Other attractions include how-to videos and articles, surveys, lists and tools.

Make sharing easy. Put up links to aid your visitors and readers in sharing the wealth – a bookmark this page link, forward to a friend link and social media links. See addthis.com for easy to use and build bookmarking chicklets.

Get recommendations. Getting these from consumers is gold and where better to get them than on the web, which is top heavy with consumers. See my previous post on user content generation for tips on getting reviews and ratings.

Remember, most viral campaigns don’t take off. Learn from your efforts and try, try again.

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