Tuesday, December 16, 2014

33 Questions to Ask Your Web Designer

Ask your web designer these questions BEFORE giving them the job.

(1) Can I see an online portfolio of websites you've designed?

(2) Do you design in HTML5? Schema.org? Why not?

(3) Do you use templates or custom design from scratch?

(4) Do you create wireframes (sketches of where content will go) before designing the site?

(5) How easy will it be for me to access the admin panel and make changes to the HTML and content, and upload photos and video?

(6) Where did you learn web design?

(7) Will you install Google Analytics on my site?

(8) Do your websites use light gray text on white backgrounds (which is difficult to read)?

(9) Do you do responsive web design (so the site looks good on any device)?

(10) What are the 5 worst mistakes that can be made on a website?

(11) How long will it take you to get my website up and running?

(12) Will you test my website for cross-browser compatibility? (So it looks good in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.)

(13) How will you accommodate my business goals for this website?

(14) How will you differentiate my business from my competitors?

(15) How will you implement a strong Call To Action on every page of my site?

(16) What will the top navigation links be?

(17) How will you test my website for usability?

(18) How will I be able to add fresh content to my website?

(19) Where will my website be hosted?

(20) How will you form the URLs for each webpage (should be keyword rich, like www.example.com/products/organic-seeds/pumpkin-seeds and notwww.example.com/1433793)

(21) What kinds of non-stock photos do you need from me and how do you plan to use them on my website?

(22) What kind of Contact form do you plan to use?

(23) Where will you put the business address, phone number, etc.?

(24) How will you implement social sharing links (like, share, plus one, retweet) for my business Facebook page, GooglePlus, Twitter, YouTube, etc.? How will you link to my social media pages?

(25) How will you make my website mobile friendly (mobile optimization)?

(26) What CMS (content management system) will you use? WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, proprietary? NOTE: Proprietary CMS is often used to trap you into a CMS that only the designer understands, so you can't leave. Other times proprietary CMS is created to accommodate a client's non-standard needs.

(27) How will you implement a blog for my website?

(28) Do you plan to use Flash or iFrames? (These are not good for SEO.)

(29) How will you implement a site search functionality (for larger websites)?

(30) How will you implement internal linking?

(31) How will you format content to comply with Google Hummingbird semantic search?

(32) What SEO values (meta tags, H tags, robots protocols, site map, etc.) will you build into my website?

(33) How will I be able to track results from my website, to get an ROI and ensure that it's productive?

NOTE: If you need further explanations of these issues, contact me.


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Monday, December 15, 2014

3 Reasons Why Businesses Won't Use Social Media

"Our top competitor isn't blogging or using Facebook -- so why should we? They're very successful without it."

My answer: Because this is a vulnerability of your competitor. You can take advantage of their cluelessness about social media. You can be better than your competitor.

Slavishly imitating a competitor is a sure way to destroy your own business. That successful competitor may be bankrupt a year from now. They may be doing many things right, but some things wrong, and if you imitate the things they do wrong, you'll suffer for it.

A consultant like myself will analyze the competitor and find the Achilles heels.

I fear that the 3 main reasons a business resists promoting themselves on Facebook or a blog are:

(1) They just don't care about customers as people with needs. Customers are just wallets that open. They don't want to engage in conversations with them, or provide their expertise to them. They just want to customers to spend money, without the CEO having to have any human warmth or social interaction with them.

(2) They think "if we build it, they will come." That silly phrase is used to justify not having SEO and not blogging. So their website just sits there, with nobody coming to it. They don't understand that Google wants to see fresh, original, relevant, frequent content -- not a static website with sparse content, no News page, no new information.

A blog is a great way to grind out fantastic content, that Google will take into consideration when driving customers to websites that seem relevant and up to date.

They don't understand the marketing power of blogging, they don't want to spend time writing blog posts, they aren't good writers, or they don't want to pay someone to write good blog posts for them.

(3) They believe in old fashioned media, like TV and radio commercials. They don't understand how wasteful those investments can be. They don't understand that their customers are on Facebook and are influencing each other about what to buy.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Current state of SEO and what clients need to know

What Clients Need to Know about the Current State of SEO

A friend on LinkedIn, Chris Abraham, was musing about how SEO is evolving. He said some SEOs now proclaim that you must remove all meta tags from HTML. This is ridiculous.

Google Webmaster is not saying that. Google gives a list of "meta tags we understand":


Chris also said that many big SEO clients are re-writing their hobbled together websites to comply with new search engine algorithms and rules. Many websites of larger companies have been stitched together without much rhyme or reason, due to departmental feuds and time constraints.

It's good to re-write corporate fluff into engaging, customer-centric content.

I offered this comment:

Title and meta description and H tags are valid, but meta keywords tag should be empty. Fresh, original content that answers customer questions in an FAQ format is how to do SEO services now.  

The big challenge is convincing clients that: 

* new subpages need to be created for major keyword topics customers are doing searches on, but there is no corresponding webpage in the client's website

* each webpage must have a single H1 tag that identifies the main theme

* keyword ranking is dead (since the Not Provided change at Google)

* page level metrics is all we have now, so we start optimizing the pages that get the most traffic or have the best financial payoff value

* they need to have more definitions and explanations from the customer viewpoint (you-oriented conversation, not we-oriented fluff)

* they need to define Conversion Goals and track them through Google Analytics so they can see the ROI of SEO

* Schema.org structured markup microdata code is now mandatory for implementation in the HTML, though very time consuming to do so manually.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Inspirational Quote Troll

New troll variety spotted in the wild -- the Inspirational Quote Troll. 

First seen, by this researcher, on Facebook.

I saw this long string of inspirational quotes and their authors, all jammed together, in a long unbroken block of text, being deposited as a comment by The Amazing Post user on Facebook.

The dense cluster of  inspirational text was on a The New York Times thread about insomnia leading to dementia. 

The comment also included a direct link to The Amazing Post's profile page on Facebook, so the comment was clearly a misguided attempt to, not participate in the topic, but to drive people to their Facebook page.

This falls into the category of the Lazy Underachieving Troll species.

Instead of structuring an insincere abusive argument designed to be inflammatory, these Inspirational Quote Trolls copy some group of positive affirmations.

Then they hop around, pasting the clipboard text wherever they feel like disrupting an online conversation, but without exerting much effort.

What's this world coming to when even the criminals and spammers are miserable slackers? Have they no pride anymore?

Very similar to the Recipe Troll that I told you about a few days ago, which posts actual recipes and cooking instructions (prefaced with "I don't know what to post as a comment, so I'll just give you my recipe for blueberry muffins") as comments.

Being disruptive, but in a very slothful manner.

My comment is that dementia is more often caused by dosing non-psychiatric nursing home patients with anti-psychotics to make them easier to manage.

And now...

Here is the actual Inspirational Quote Troll spam, in its entirety:


“Just know, when you truly want success, you’ll never give up on it. No matter how bad the situation may get.” - Unknown“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” – Les Brown“I don’t regret the things I’ve done, I regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.” –Unknown“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” - Joshua J. Marine“Its hard to wait around for something you know might never happen; but its harder to give up when you know its everything you want.” – Unknown“One of the most important keys to Success is having the discipline to do what you know you should do, even when you dont feel like doing it.” - Unknown“Good things come to those who wait… greater things come to those who get off their ass and do anything to make it happen.” - Unknown“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, or worn. It is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace & gratitude.” - Denis Waitley“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” – Bill Cosby“Go where you are celebrated – not tolerated. If they can’t see the real value of you, it’s time for a new start.” – UnknownDont be afraid to stand for what you believe in, even if that means standing alone.. - Unknown“The best revenge is massive success.” – Frank Sinatra“Forget all the reasons it won’t work and believe the one reason that it will.” - Unknown“I am thankful for all of those who said NO to me. Its because of them I’m doing it myself.” –Albert Einstein“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs“Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.” – Unknown“When you say “It’s hard”, it actually means “I’m not strong enough to fight for it”. Stop saying its hard. Think positive!” - Unknown“Life is like photography. You need the negatives to develop.” - Unknown“Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” – Jack Canfield“The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is opportunity for growth.” - Unknown“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” – Farrah Gray“The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the will to try and the belief that it is actually possible.” – Joel Brown“Self confidence is the most attractive quality a person can have. how can anyone see how awesome you are if you can’t see it yourself?” – Unknown“We learn something from everyone who passes through our lives.. Some lessons are painful, some are painless.. but, all are priceless.” - Unknown“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. it means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” - Unknown“Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan.” – Larry Winget“Three things you cannot recover in life: the WORD after it’s said, the MOMENT after it’s missed and the TIME after it’s gone. Be Careful!” – Unknown“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard“When the past calls, let it go to voicemail, believe me, it has nothing new to say.” - Unknown“Rule #1 of life. Do what makes YOU happy.” - Unknown“Walk away from anything or anyone who takes away from your joy. Life is too short to put up with fools.” – Unknown“Love what you have. Need what you want. Accept what you receive. Give what you can. Always remember, what goes around, comes around…” – Unknwon“Just remember there is someone out there that is more than happy with less than what you have.” – Unknown“The biggest failure you can have in life is making the mistake of never trying at all.” – Unknown“Life has two rules: #1 Never quit #2 Always remember rule # 1.” - Unknown“No one is going to hand me success. I must go out & get it myself. That’s why I’m here. To dominate. To conquer. Both the world, and myself.” - Unknown# Like_Like_like https://www.facebook.com/TheAmazingPost?ref=tn_tnmn


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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Schema.org Introduction to structured data

HTML5, Google Hummingbird Semantic Search, Linked Data, and Structured Markup -- how the web is moving from web page to data set as the atomic unit.

This is the path to competitive superiority, via enriched SERP snippets.

Enriched SERP snippets -- that's where your SEO focus should be now. Schema.org structured markup in your HTML5 website code is how to get there.

Google Webmasters explains "snippets":


Snippets—the few lines of text that appear under every search result—are designed to give users a sense for what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their query.

If Google understands the content on your pages, we can create rich snippets—detailed information intended to help users with specific queries.

For example, the snippet for a restaurant might show the average review and price range; the snippet for a recipe page might show the total preparation time, a photo, and the recipe’s review rating; and the snippet for a music album could list songs along with a link to play each song. 

These rich snippets help users recognize when your site is relevant to their search, and may result in more clicks to your pages.


The web is evolving from being a system of interconnected documents (web pages) to a set of linked data.

Web pages have been linking to each other from the beginning. Now data sets within web pages, and in other types of content, are being linked. So they will benefit from detailed instructions to search engines, code that will further explain the data set embedded in, or converted into, HTML.

Microdata, semantic web, structured data, it all relates to  more specifically identifying, and differentiating, the information found on a web page. The end goal is for people to more quickly and accurately find the information they seek on the internet.

This will help clear up any confusion about a name being the name of a record label, or the name of a fruit, or the name of a company in any particular usage of "apple," for a simplistic example. It goes much deeper, into the intricate aspects of store hours, location, founder of company, product offer expiration date, types of payment accepted, and so forth.

One of the controversial issues regarding this markup is how some have figured out how to spam it, adding unverified glowing reviews from spurious review sites, thus adding 5 stars to the "aggregate rating."

This deconstruction of web content is a revision of Tim Berners-Lee's original idea of the web page as the atomic unit of the web. Microdata for semantic purposes means that the data set, as few as one word or an entire tome, is now the new atom in the web universe.

This fits in perfectly with the Google Hummingbird semantic search engine that was installed recently. Google is now paying more attention to the intention of a search query, than to the keywords used. 

Google wants to be able to correctly guess that a give instance of "silver apples" is referring to an early electronic band, not a decorative item sold at Hobby Lobby. Or that "place for Italian" means a restaurant that serves spaghetti, not a class teaching the Italian language.

So now SEOs, web content developers and internet marketers must think about not just the major theme and keyword density of a web page, but also the building blocks of that page content. 

How that web page content can be subdivided into individual questions and answers, like an FAQ, but beyond that -- into the realm of all the minutiae of corporate structure, product types, offer packages, date founded, logo, parent organization, and other small, precise details.

Even within the About Us page, for example, there can be subsections (or subpages) on Company History, Founder's Welcome, Annual Report, Mission Statement, Staff Bios, Financial Data, Community Engagement, Associations, Photo Gallery, TV Commercial Videos, and so on.

This is part of the semantic web, where search engines understand more deeply what you're looking for, and why you're looking for it, what your intentions are, rather than just what keywords are being used.

Think of it as your website having a heart-to-heart talk with Google, patiently and meticulously explaining what is content is and means and for what kinds of customers it's best suited.

Schema.org is the structural microdata that needs to be implemented in websites for eventual search ranking improvements, matching customer queries, and enriching SERP (search engine results page) snippets (bits of content describing the web page and motivating people to click on the link).

Add Schema.org structured markup to your top priority webpages, then all pages. Your list of major SEO values must now include micro data.

SEO HTML5 code optimization should include:

(1) title tags
(2) meta descriptions
(3) page download speed
(4) image titles and alt attributes
(5) H tag hierarchy
(6) robots protocols
(7) XML site maps
(8) Javascript minifying
(9) CSS compacting
(9) Google Analytics code
(10) viewport configuration
(11) resource compression
(12) tap target sizing
(13) browser cache leveraging
(14) font legibility
(15) Schema.org markup

Here is the Schema.org section for LocalBusiness.


Moz Blog "The Lowdown on Structured Data and Schema.org"

W3C "What is Linked Data?"

Google Webmasters "About Structured Data and Rich Snippets"

Monday, December 8, 2014

SEO for Peoria, IL Area Businesses

When you need SEO services for your website, you know your goal is to drive more qualified customer traffic to it.

It's nice to know that your SEO provider has expertise in Google compliant techniques. It's also helpful if your SEO provider has experience in your specific field of business.

My clients are primarily local, in the Peoria, IL area.

Here are the industries in which I have experience providing SEO services:

* banks
* hospitals
* insurance companies
* agriculture machinery
* agriculture soil testing
* dentistry
* law firms
* construction
* home remodeling
* restaurants
* event planners

Need some help with SEO?


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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Build SEO into your website

Be sure to build SEO into your website. You do want qualified customer traffic, don't you?

Prevent brogrammers from laughing at your website, looking at the source code, and seeing poorly written title, meta description, and H tags.

Get Google-compliant SEO.


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