Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#1 SEO Mistake is Imitating a #1 Ranked Site

#1 SEO Mistake = Imitating a website that ranks #1 in search for your top keywords.

Why is this wrong? Doesn't it make sense to model your SEO according to a winner, a website that is successful in being #1? How could that possibly be a bad policy?

This is not a good Search Engine Optimization strategy, because a site that comes up #1 can have many reasons for that position, especially common is longevity (website has been online for many years), social media promotions, and other things we may not be able to see.

A #1 website could be using a variety of promotional techniques and marketing channels, including link building, PPC (pay per click ads, like Google Adwords) and PR. Word of mouth could also be helping the website, as customers rave about the products or service.

A website that ranks #1 must be doing some or many things right -- but it could also be making SEO errors that must be avoided. Something is offsetting the negative effects of the SEO errors for their website, but if assume everything they're doing is right, you'll copy the error and run the risk of wrecking your SEO.

It's common for business people to say, when you recommend a Google-compliant SEO technique, "Well XYZ company isn't doing that, and they rank #1, and sales are skyrocketing for them, so I don't think we need to do it."

Your company needs to do SEO correctly, the way Google says to do it, regardless of what anybody else is doing.

In the worst case scenario, a website may be temporarily benefiting from black hat SEO, which is use of gimmicks or loopholes to artificially boost the rankings of a website which does not have the content to deserve that high ranking. 

Eventually, Google catches on to the tricks and will penalize or even remove the website from search altogether. You must avoid that like the plague.

Forget about what the #1 website is doing. Do what is required by Google. Then look at that favored website and see if they comply or not. If not, they must be doing something to compensate for the errors. And don't assume they'll remain #1 for very much longer.

If you want to know the right way to do SEO in any detail, whether it be proper use of H1 tags, img alt attributes, meta descriptions, meta keywords, robots protocols, site maps, etc. -- check with Google Webmaster Guidelines. Then you know you're doing what will boost your site in search results rankings.

In fact, if you just follow the link below and read just this Google Webmasters Guidelines webpage, and comply with the rules, you'll know more than most web designers -- not to mention gaining a big strategic advantage over your competitors.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 SEO Tips for Photos in Your Website

Photos can make your website more humanized, professional, and engaging.

Photos are extremely important visual content for your website. A website without photographic documentation of what the products, store, owner, etc. look like will suffer from reduced credibility. Effective use of photos can really make a company stand out. 

But many of your competitors will probably have done a lousy job with photos on their website, if they even have any.

As a photographer, I pay a lot of attention to the images used online. (The photo above is today's sunset over Big Hollow Plaza.)

Here are some how to tips for more effective use of photos on your website.

10 SEO Photo Tips:

(1) Avoid stock photos unless you absolutely must have strict confidentiality regarding your customers or employees. Use current photos of happy customers, staff, managers, owner, CEO. 

Customers are typically happy to let you take their photo and use it on your website, but get their permission and explain what the purpose of the photo is.

(2) Use photographs to generate good will, get people to like you, and show products and facility.

(3) Show products in the act of solving a problem, enhancing a lifestyle, or meeting a need. Also show close ups of important but easily overlooked features. If appropriate, show the product from different angles, in different colors, etc.

(4) Use photos of satisfied customers along with a testimonial for added impact.

(5) Include keyword-rich captions under the photos that explain what, where, who, why, when, or product benefits, specs, etc.

(6) If you have a bricks and mortar store or facility, show it, along with address and directions, so customers can more readily find it.

(7) Include photos of CEO and employees at civic functions, charity events, conferences, office parties, and presentations. Convey a sense of community involvement to make people like and trust you.

(8) Provide a keyword-rich title for each photo.

(9) Provide a keyword-rich img alt attribute for each photo file.

(10) Use photos to break up text content, for greater readability and ease of skimming and scanning.

PHOTO: Hawk Over Big Hollow.
Oct. 27, 2014

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Your Website Must Be an Answer Machine

Customers are searching for answers first, products second. 

Make your website a Library of Solutions,  an Answer Machine.

Product hype is not enough anymore.

Many potential customers are in the problem solving exploration stage. 

They're not ready to buy a product. They're asking questions related to problems your product solves. If your website has FAQ type information that answers those questions, Google will send you a lot more qualified customer traffic. If you answer their question, they may suddenly be ready to make a purchase from you.

While some customers know what they need and are searching for products to meet that need, many customers are in the exploration stage. They see a problem, lack, or opportunity. They are seeking enlightenment. They want to know more -- before they'll be ready to shop for a product.

When a customer searches online for information related to your products, the question they enter into Google is about a problem your product solves. They'll be asking how to solve, fix, customize, repair, upgrade, adapt, or replace something.

Customer types questions into Google. Google then, through its new Hummingbird search engine, seeks the best answer to the customer's questions. That's where you need to be. Not hawking the product, but announcing the answer, and then promote your product.

Notice, I did not say "Google then seeks the best PRODUCT for the customer" -- but rather, "the best ANSWER."

So if your website just contains we-oriented generic fluff, boasting about how great your company is, saying what any competitor could also claim, and spewing forth the froth of product technical data and specs, guess what?

Google is not going to consider your website a good match for the customer query. That customer with a question will not be sent to your website.

Favor will go toward the website that provides complete, authoritative, well-written, original answers to customer questions.

To take full advantage of this to gain competitive superiority, use the FAQ format to present information about your products. Information designed, not to glorify the products, but to explain how you understand the customer's need, and explains how to solve the customer's problem, by way of your products.

Your website needs to describe the problem in the language used by customers, not by your marketing team, sales force, engineers, or vendors. Speak the same words your customers use when they talk about their need, problem, or enhancement to their lifestyle. Google will be looking for a match based on the words and the intention of the customer query.

Example of Website as Answer Machine

Let's say you sell silver jewelry.

Many potential customers already own some silver jewelry. Right at this moment, they need some sort of polish that will clean silver jewelry they already possess. Your opportunity lies here: if you have a webpage that discusses how to polish silver jewelry, what to use and how to do it, those people may visit your website to read that.

They may then look around at the silver jewelry you have for sale. Some of them might be so impressed at the styles and affordability, they buy some of your products.

Another customer may be wanting to learn how to evaluate the quality of silver jewelry and how it compares to white gold or steel. Still another may want to discover new jewelry gift ideas for a graduating college student, like a diamond studded iPhone case.

If you know what the most common questions are that potential customers are asking, and you provide answers to these typical questions, you'll impress Google and your website traffic will surge.

This is how you expand your market and how you make your website more productive in attaining your business goals.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Website Content and Literary Devices

I've been thinking a lot about writing, from website content to Bildungsromans. Authors say to be a good writer, one must read a lot of good literature. One must pay attention to syntax, word selection, grammar, paragraph breaks, punctuation, and prosody.

Building text structures requires a deep understanding of how words work and how they can combine with other words.

I would add that a competent writer must be so passionate about composing with words, there is a keen interest in the technical gymnastics of rhetoric and semiotics.

You don't have to be writing a poem, play, or novel to employ subtle or advanced composition techniques.d Even emails, websites, and Facebook updates can be enriched by their inclusion.

Here's a list of my favorite literary devices.

See if you can guess what each item below means, based on the example given beneath it.


"The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun"


"Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them?"


"This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land"


"Had we but world enough, and time
This coyness, lady, were no crime."


"John lost his coat and his temper."


“I’ll give my jewels for a set of beads, / My gorgeous palace for a hermitage, / My gay apparel for an almsman’s gown, / My figured goblets for a dish of wood…”


“I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall–I will do such things,
What they are, yet I know not…..”


"...for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus.." (Shakespeare)


“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”


"Never let a fool kiss you or a kiss fool you.”




"He works his work, I mine."


"You have dancing shoes with nimble soles; I have a soul of lead."


"When everybody wears a uniform ,
The rebel dresses in fantastic clothes.
When everybody wears fantastic clothes
The rebel dresses soberly."


"They do not seem the happiest couple around."




"Well, I lay if I get hold of you I’ll –"

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