Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

The Best Social Media Platforms For SEO

I saw an interesting poll on SEOmoz.org where they asked what social media platforms netted the best SEO return on investment.  An informal poll, but the results are interesting none the less. Here is the results so far:seopoll

Social bookmarking websites, such as StumbleUpon, was the big winner followed by social networking websites and social news websites coming in a close third.  Social Microblogging is just squeaking in a 4th place ranking, but expect this platform to continue to increase as sites like Twitter become more mainstream.

Evernote – A Handy Tool to Stay Productive

evernotelogo

If you are like me you have notes in a million different places, a voice recorder when on the go (that you always forget when you need), a gazillion internet bookmarks, a stack of scribbled note pads and folders in and out of your “My Documents” folder and on 12 different color coded thumb drives.  That is not counting the older CD and DVD backups of your computer’s last hard drive as well as the various external hard drives that are hiding somewhere behind that tangled mess of of network cables.

Now there is one place to put all your ideas where you won’t forget them – Evernote.  Evernote organizes all of you ideas in one central location online so you can access them anywhere.  And when you’re inbetween computer access, you can use your mobile phone to access your Evernote account, take and upload photos, make and upload a new voice memo as well as send a text note.

Organize your ideas into folders, search by keyword tags, convert photos of text documents into searchable text, take snapshots of web pages you want to remember for later, geo-code the information you gather and so much more.  I gather a lot of ideas for work in Evernote.  I tend to also take photos of things using my mobile phone via Evernote, I tag it, give it a description, assign it to a folder – it is then automatically uploaded to my Evernote account where I can access it later.

Give it a try to see if it works for you: www.evernote.com

Copywriting Tips for the Web

Struggling to put together an online message for your company’s website?  Try these tips:

1. KISS your words – Keep It Short and Sweet

As a web professional, I live on the web.  I can find anything on the web, including books and online magazines.  But I still go out and spend my hard earned money on printed books and magazines at Books-A-Million or Barnes and Noble.  This is because I hate reading anything lengthy on my computer screen.  The resolution is not as good as a cleanly printed book and the glowing pixels and reflective screens burn out my eye sockets.  Because lengthy text doesn’t play out well online, don’t be long winded online.  People will skim or even skip your text altogether if it is too much work, negating all that hard work you put into it.

2. Think about Search Engines – As well as your Visitors

Everything you write for your website will be read by visitors to your site as well as those cold, impersonable search engine spiders.  Think about what is your most important point to cover and cover it early in your text.  Don’t take forever to make your point – it will bore your visitors and the search engines will miss your point altogether as they give higher weight to text that is higher up on your page.

3. Organize Your Text with Headers and Sub-headers (like these!)

Don’t plop all your text on a page in a series of paragraphs.  Try to use headers and sub-headers where appropriate to break up the information and make it easier for visitors to assess.  Bullet points work well too and a picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words, so see where you can replace excessive text with a picture or two.

4. Clarify What You Do or Sell – Be Specific

Avoid generic catch phrases and fluffy text that sounds smart but doesn’t teach.  For example:

“We think outside the box so you can leverage your assets to get the best return on investment and work more efficiently.”

Um, ok… but what do you do?  What do you sell?  Tell your visitors by being specific.

5. Have a Call to Action – a Sense of Urgency

Direct your visitors to the action you want them to take.  Just as you have to pass the cash register in any store you visit before you leave (the brick and mortar call-to-action), make sure a visitor to your site can’t miss your website’s call-to-action before leaving.  Sure, this might be a fancy graphic a designer is creating for you, but work it into all of your text copy too.

Twitter Cured My Hiccups

I had a bad case of the hiccups this evening – couldn’t get rid of them and my chest was really starting to hurt (I don’t get them often, but when I do, they’re massive).  I was sitting at the computer and thought “I’ll send a tweet (post) out on Twitter about my hiccups”.  Sure enough, in less than 30 seconds I got a response from one of my followers saying to exhale slowly for 30 seconds and then inhale slowly.  I tried it and bingo, my hiccups where cured.

Online social networking really doesn’t have any limits as to what is possible.  My silly little hiccup situation made me think about the use of social networks as a research tool to discover new information.  Much like search engines 10 or even 15 years ago, most people didn’t really grasp the impact they would have on our lives.  Instead of going to the library when seeking information, we just “google it”.

The next phase in information research just might involve “twittering it”.  More and more high profile users are showing up everyday.  Depending on who you follow on Twitter, you can get business tips from CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, inside scoops on new products from major manufacturers, investment advice from a famous book author or even dance steps from MC Hammer – yep, he’s on Twitter too.

Build Your Network Before You Need It

I was reading an article by Jeremiah Owyang and read the following line that I thought was pure brillance:

Grow your network before you need them.

Now, Jeremiah was referring to building up a network of business contacts to protect yourself if faced with sudden unemployment in today’s economy, but I thought of it in a different light.  My thinking is to grow your network in the face of less sales prospects.  The last thing you want to face as a business owner is waking up one day and realizing business is too slow to keep the doors open.  That moment is not when you suddenly want to rush out and try and quickly figure out this whole online social media thing and how to make it work for you.  You wouldn’t wait to run out of gas before figuring out where the nearest gas station is, so start filling up your network tank now and revisit the pump often.

Further Exploring of Twitter

I wanted to do a post on Twitter highlighting all the pros and cons and then remembered Chris Brogan has already written an excellent article on this very topic.  Twitter is one of those social media tools that you can get a lot out of if you take the time to use it and get over the initial uneasiness of telling the world what you’re doing at that exact moment.  But at the same time, it helps to know what you can expect to get out of it before jumping in.  While I find Twitter a great tool, I realize it is not for everybody – but it is for mostbody!

Chris Brogan is a top user of Twitter and a high profile blogger.  As a Twitter user myself, he is part of my collective Twitter knowledge stream since I follow him and he also follows me.  To me, this is the most powerful aspect of Twitter in that I have instant access to resources that extend my own knowledge base.  Who you pick to follow determines how successful your venture into Twitterland will be.

Here’s Chris’s article:

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/50-ideas-on-using-twitter-for-business/

Google = Busy

So Google big hitters Matt Cutts and Maile Ohye recently shared during a question and answer session that Google made over 450 changes to its search algorithm last year.  That means that Google changed it’s mind over 450 times on how it decided to rank websites.

Over 450 times!

Granted, many of these changes were minor tweaks, but still, those Google geeks stay busy.

So what does this mean to you?  Specifically that you need to stay on top of your website rankings and making sure that your site is properly search engine optimized for right now, not for a year ago.  A static or abandoned website equals a dead website.  You need to stay busy with your website because Google stays busy with it too.  If you get too far behind Google, you may have less search engine visibility as a result.

In most cases, Google is the main artery for your online traffic.  It brings you business so don’t ignore it.  If you don’t have time in your schedule to keep up with Google, make sure you hire somebody that can.

New Websites Go Live

In the last couple of weeks we went live with 2 new sites – both from repeat customers we have had the pleasure working with – Brian Ehlers Construction and Mike Scott Plumbing.  Both clients were actively involved with our design and programming team which helped us create sites that matched their vision.  The sites each feature content management systems for easy updating and improved SEO coding for better search engine visibility.

Brian Ehlers Construction Website

Brian Ehlers Construction Website

Mike Scott Plumbing Website

Mike Scott Plumbing Website

Alert! Alert! Somebody Said This About You…

You have spent a lot of time building and protecting your reputation, but do you know what your online reputation is?  Do you know what others are saying about you – good or bad?

There is a number of tools out their that let you find out what others are saying.  At a minimum, be familiar with our old friend Google.  Sure, you probably have already Google’d yourself, or your company name, right?  But have you setup a Google Alert (or two)?

Google Alerts are part of the overall Google services that they offer.  How it works is you type in any search term you want to be kept up to date about – such as your name or company.  Then, each time Google tracks a new web page with your keyword term or terms, it kicks an email to you with a summary and link to the page so you can see first hand.  Very handy as it is a set it and forget it service.

Your Google Adwords Account is About to Expire

Here is another scam that has been going around recently.

You get an email that appears to be coming from Google telling you your Adwords account needs to be updated or they will have to close it.  Usually, having to do with payment on your credit card not going through.  It first made rounds a few months back but I have been seeing it alot again.

If you get one of these emails – delete it.  If you have any doubts as to whether it is legit and you do have an Adwords account, go to your account the normal way you would – via bookmark or typing the URL in the address bar, for example – and NOT via the URL this scam email gives you.   After logging in to your actual account, you can check you account settings to verify all is running well.