Getting Found Online

There are many things that you must do if your website is going to be found online and that it is optimized to be found in the search engines. One of the most important items you must do is title tags, and below is some information that explains title tags in a little more detail.

Title tags
Although they are not visible on the page, it is the single most important on-site search engine optimization (SEO) factor so it definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.

1) Aim for 65 characters, this is the cut-off point in Google when listed with search results and it also helps to keep your title tags concisely targeted towards the most important keywords.
2) Include keywords towards the start of the title tag.
3) Include consistent branding in the title tag. This comes down to preference, but the branding value of having your company name seen several times when listed in search results can be very valuable. I normally opt for a consisitent style of “Keywords | Brand” but this really is down to personal preference, if you have a long brand name it may be worth abbreviating or cutting this down in some way.

If you have any questions about Title Tags and how important they are to helping your company get found online please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

How Small Business Owners Can Get Started with Online Marketing

Small business owners don’t have the resources that larger businesses have, but in most cases they can move much more quickly.  They need  to take advantage of their ability to move quickly especially in regards to online marketing, but where do they start?

The first step is to get educated or find someone you trust to help you along the way (subliminal message -> think Matt Shifley).  Find a blog or two, like this one, to follow and pay attention to industry trends.  Making uneducated decisions can lead to money in the hole and wasted efforts.

Next, it’s important to prepare a strategy that works for your business.  Do you run a service business, e-commerce website, or retail store?  Do you need search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) or both to get targeted leads?  Get your campaigns going and enjoy the process of refining and optimizing.

One of the easiest steps to success that provides lasting results is to start a blog on your website.  WordPress is a great  starting point.  Even if you only update your industry specific blog once a month and you don’t get hundreds of comments it’s still providing great SEO value.  There are lots of great sites that allow you to submit your blog to their directory.  By doing this you gain a link to your website and set yourself up to get noticed.  More importantly, blogging helps show your passion for your business and allows you to express your expertise.

Another method that works well for some and wastes time for others is social media.  Twitter, Facebook, and community websites can be valuable ways to find prospects as long as you stay focused and don’t let the hours go by as you explore.  Setup accounts specific to your business and provide meaningful information about what you do best, your business.

Finally, plan on revisiting your campaigns regularly.  Dig into the numbers to see what’s working, what’s not and where you need to put more money.

And if you want to go the extra mile try podcasting or creating a video to put on youtube.

By putting time into all of these different methods you can spread a wide net and capture a larger client base.  And don’t forget, while you’re getting things done the big competitor down the street is still working it’s way through all the corporate red tape.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

The Advantages of Social Networking

A good article from the Search Engine Guide Blog demonstrating some of the benefits social media sites are providing for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs). Some of the most popular sites include Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and YouTube however, it does not stop there as the list of sites is nearly an endless with new ones coming on board all the time. Even eBay and Netflix have jumped on the social bandwagon, allowing users to create social media profiles within their accounts. It probably won’t be too long before every site has some sort of social media or networking aspect built into it. This leads to the question of “what opportunities are available in this space to help SMBs?”

1. Branding Opportunities

In the same manner that it is important for companies to make sure they have all the various domain names that relate to their brand (.com, .net. .org, etc.), it is now becoming important for companies to make sure they secure their brand on social media sites – at least the popular ones. I wrote about this subject at the beginning of this year and made the following statement:

With all the social networking sites popping up everywhere, the idea of branding comes to mind. Sure there is the thought of how web sites can draw traffic from social networking sites, even sell product or services but in addition to that, what about protecting your brand before someone else beats you to it? This is especially important with respect to user names and unique URLs.

It was important back then and is even more important now. Typical with most social media sites, once you create a profile, you have a unique URL where you can access that profile. That URL, if you set it up correctly, will include your brand name (i.e. http://www.linkedin.com/in/searchrank, http://www.flickr.com/people/searchrank, etc.). The brand name is also used in the title tag of your profile. Why is this important? As I wrote in my last piece on social media, having a number of profiles spread out among various social media sites may help you to have better control over the first three pages of search results for your unique brand name. It also may help users of specific social media sites to find your company if they are actually looking for your brand. Finally, you keep competitors from sitting on your brand and/or people that may misrepresent your brand as I have seen in many cases.

2. Build Link Popularity

Websites essentially need three things if they are to experience good visibility in the search engines – 1.) good content, 2.) good SEO and 3.) good links. There are two ways to get links from other sites – naturally or pay (or beg) for them. Buying them is the easiest but due to Google’s recent declaration of war on paid links, they can fall prey to their big guns. So, natural is and always has been the best.

One way to obtain natural links is to link back to your original web site within the social media sites you set up. Many social media sites will allow you to include a blurb about yourself or your company and in many cases, add a link or links to your sites. Once you get these various social media profiles indexed, they will count as inbound links to your main site. You may even find it useful to include specific anchor text related to keyword phrases you wish to target and point them to pages that have been optimized for those same terms. The bottom line is that social media profiles create opportunities for natural links. Best of all, they’re free!

3. Attracting Traffic

Depending on the industry you are in, social media and networking sites can send quality traffic to your site. In one example, music and entertainment entities are successfully using MySpace to attract its millions of users. How many times have you seen movie URLs that are located on the myspace.com domain? Now if you manufacture and sell contemporary furniture, then you may not benefit much from MySpace traffic seeing its demographic is mostly comprised of youth but you may draw traffic from a photo sharing site like Flickr.

In another example, many companies are using YouTube to attract and drive traffic to their web site. BlendTec is a good case study of this with their “Will It Blend” videos, a series of short videos where they blend everything from golf balls to credit cards to even an iPhone in their industrial strength blenders. People just love to see stuff demolished and the videos have brought much attention to a blending product that many were unaware of prior to seeing the videos.

These are just a couple of many examples of how companies are utilizing social media to drive traffic to their sites. A good strategy is to select sites that are somehow specific to your industry and then let the creative juices flow. The bottom line is that just like millions of people are using search engines everyday, millions of people are using social media and networking sites as well. Creative marketers will discover ways to tap into these users in order to drive additional traffic to their web sites.

4. Interaction With the Public

The reason why it is called “social” is because it allows web users to socialize or interact with each other. This has been one of the biggest fears keeping small to medium sized business from embracing social media – the transition from “talking to” customers to “interacting with” customers. SMBs may be afraid that someone is going to talk about their businesses and it may not always be favorable. If this is your fear then I have news for you –  consumers are already talking so you might as well join the conversation.

Having the ability to interact with consumers is not just about dealing with bad mojo but also taking advantage of social media to bring further attention to products, services, company news or even put a personal face on the company. I reveal personal things all the time about myself and my company and have received numerous compliments from clients stating that they feel more comfortable doing business with us due to the fact that they now know something personal about us.

5. Networking Opportunities

A final reason how SMBs can benefit from social media is the networking opportunities. Trying to be the lone ranger of your industry is not always the most productive way of running your business. Personally, I have discovered many benefits from networking with others in my industry and getting well connected. Many social networking mediums offer opportunities to join specific groups of interest where you can then interact with like-minded people. Facebook is a great example of this – not only can you join groups, you can create new ones, add events and even build interactive applications that run within the Facebook environment.

For me, many of the social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others, have allowed me to develop numerous relationships which are not only beneficial in day to day operations, but especially rewarding when attending industry conferences. The conference becomes more like a family reunion than a boring, uninvolved trade show.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

Making SEO Work For You

If you plan on implementing search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to your website it is crucial that the SEO basics do not get skipped. For example, it is very rarely explained how, exactly, when you get down to it, search engine optimization actually works.

The answer is really very simple, even if the methods of SEO aren’t. Search engine optimization uses a number of tactics to draw the attention of search engines to your site. The idea behind SEO is to make your site fit as closely as possible with the searches performed with your target market. This is achieved by streamlining the elements within the site in order to make it more easily read by search engines.

Of course, making your site easy for a search engine to find is only part of the journey. SEO is also designed to help make your site appear the most relevant to the searches your target viewers are likely to make. This is what makes SEO such a tricky game to play. While search engines, algorithms and computer behavior follow lines that are relatively easy to predict, human behavior is slightly more complicated and a lot more volatile.

This is where keywords come in. A keyword is a term that is commonly used in connection with the subject of a site. When a site is found to have a certain number of keywords that are related to those used in the search, it appears relevant to the search query. Sites are then listed in order of relevance, although this is calculated via a far more complex equation than is easily explainable or guessable.

A site can boost its relevance by becoming the authority within its topic area. Older sites have the edge on this, as the age of a site is taken into account in the search engines’ algorithms. This means that sometimes the key to becoming number one in search engine results pages is playing a good waiting game. In order to stay in the competition, however, work must be done to keep the attention of the search engines. SEO is an ongoing process.

Search engine optimization is unwittingly led by the search engines themselves. When a person searches on Google, the query is compared with stored information hauled back by the search engine’s spiders. How these spiders choose the information and how it is then sorted is a secret closely kept by the search engine companies. SEO techniques are extrapolated from observations about search engine behaviour. Search engines respond by dropping sites whose behavior catches the attention of spiders, but do not provide valuable results for searchers.

Optimization begins at the page level and branches out to include everything about a site that is on the web. From the page’s place within the site and its URL, through its code and content and out to its links, SEO tactics can be implemented to make it more search engine-friendly. Clarity is important here, but a certain amount of finesse and reaction to the changing world of the internet is also required, and this is why it’s always good to get the advice of our experts when planning SEO.

SEO is a form of communication. It is also a marketing method. It informs target viewers in an honest manner and at the same time tries desperately to win them over. It both works with search engines and tries to trick them. It is technical, but it is an art.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

Drive More Visitors To Your Website

The Internet is becoming increasingly crowded with lots of new e-commerce businesses starting every day.  How can you be sure your website won’t get lost in this vast crowd?  By using experienced search engine optimization (SEO) copywriters like myself who skillfully embed targeted search terms with appropriate density into your website’s content.  Content is critical because search engine spiders (programs Google and other major search engines use to survey your website) only read text.  One of the determining factors in where Google ranks your website is the relevance of keywords and phrases in your site’s content.

I  have experience in properly using SEO copywriting techniques to create content that will improve your search engine positioning for your targeted search terms.  I create content that is original, well-researched, on-topic and search engine friendly.  I seamlessly fold keyword phrases into content that flows smoothly for the reader.  Quality SEO copywriting is invisible to your site visitors.

Benefits Of Our SEO Copywriting Services Include:

  1. Improved ranking in the SERP’s (search engine results pages)
  2. Greater volume of visitors hitting your website
  3. More narrowly targeted traffic leads to higher sales conversion rates
  4. Promoting your website as an “authority” site in your field
  5. Establishing trust with your site visitors
  6. Developing a new customer base while solidifying your existing one

In today’s uncertain economy, every online marketing dollar is precious.  My proven SEO copywriting services can help you increase your income without busting your online marketing budget.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

Non-SEO ways to get your website ranked

Search engine optimization involves getting lots of moving pieces coming together in the right way to achieve better search results for your website. But are their non-SEO ways to get your website ranked? According to the folks at searchenginewatch.com there are five ways to improve your rankings beyond best SEO practices.

1. Enhance Web Site Usability – Dr. Jakob Nielsen is considered to be a foremost authority of site usability factors, and he also has a knack for SEO. In his book “Designing Web Usability” (which many consider to be the “Bible” of usability), he writes that “site design must be aimed with simplicity above all else, with as few distractions as possible and with very clear information architecture and matching navigation tools.” From an SEO perspective, this is preaching to the choir. If sites aren’t human-friendly, they are usually even more unfriendly to search engine spiders.

Typically, enhancing usability also involves improving the information architecture of a site, which of course will help the site to be more easily spidered, and will often increase the potential for solid anchor text-rich internal linking.

2. Work with Other Marketing Teams – Many SEO projects fall victim to “marketing-in-a-vacuum.” SEO teams should work together with other marketing teams to ensure the same message being delivered offline is incorporating its way into the site’s visible text. Also, not combining efforts with the paid search team is a top way to miss out on search ranking opportunities.

It often takes extra “pushing” to become involved in other marketing efforts, or at least well informed of future planning. Fortunately, many of our clients have bought into the idea that we’re their partners in a mutual effort to gain visibility and traffic. Typically, the stronger the in-house SEO team is, the more clout they already have in their organizations, which certainly helps this effort. Every year, Super Bowl advertising gives us insight into how many top companies are combining these two forms of marketing.

3. Incorporate Traditional PR Efforts into the SEO Plan – Press releases should be optimized to help the company’s site perform better within search results. Again, this calls for involvement by the SEO team, especially in the distribution of the article and in the placement of properly structured hypertext links within the article to relevant pages on the site.
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4. Monitoring and Leveraging Communities – Every industry has an online community of some size. Some industries — such as travel in particular — have literally thousands of forums and blogs talking about deals and experiences. Savvy marketers can leverage these platforms by becoming an active participant — without being “spammy” or invasive — and gain traction within rankings as a direct result of this community participation strategy. Additionally, there’s lots of user-generated content about products and services in these communities, providing both invaluable feedback for refinement of current offerings and services, as well as an excellent base for R&D efforts.

5. Keep Content Fresh by Updating it Regularly – For some organizations, content is hard to update on a regular basis. For example, a company that sells one type of widget that never becomes obsolete may seemingly have no reason to update its content. However, the majority of sites on the Internet could benefit from occasionally “sprucing up the place.” Bottom line: if the content seems like it’s “getting stale” from your human perspective, imagine what a search engine that crawls it every month may feel.

Even if you’ve never done SEO, chances are that improving and updating your content can help you to gain rankings for terms that will drive traffic. Although this can be argued — especially for competitive industries — the core of the belief is certainly sound. There are sites out there that have simply followed best practices by including important content in tags, and maintained rankings and traffic simply due to keeping the content fresh.

Keeping these five factors in mind when thinking beyond traditional SEO best practices will likely yield long-term success in terms of driving organic traffic.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

Search Engine Optimization Tools

Those new to the world of search engine optimization (SEO) may feel a little overwhelmed with all of the tactics that are needed to achieve higher rankings. But here are a few tools that you need to help you get started.

Keyword Tools – Employing the right keywords can really make a difference in your SEO campaign. If you begin your campaign without taking the time to find, analyze, and validate your keyword set, then you run the risk of using keywords that won’t perform well for you. It takes considerable time for your SEO efforts to reach your ranking goals, so it might be months before you realize you needed to use different keywords. That would be a waste of time and money. A good place to start is SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool. It links to most of the other existing keyword tools, such as Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, and tools from Google, MSN, and Yahoo. This one tool lets you explore many others.

SEO Site Grader Tools – If you have an existing site and would like to take a pulse on the SEO effectiveness, then these tools will help. They will analyze your site against specific criteria and produce a report, or even give you a grade. You can even use these tools on your competition to see how you stack up against them. Website Grader is a great tool for running a health check of your site. Then it will provide a score that incorporates elements such as Web site traffic, SEO, social popularity, and other technical factors. It will also provide advice on how your Web site can be improved from a marketing perspective. Another SEO site grading tool is Quarkbase. This tool provides a great way to find your site information, including social bookmarking statistics, Alexa ranking, and related sites and domain information.

Linking Tools – You should be aware by now that the number and quality of external links that come to your site are an important factor in achieving good rankings. You need to be able to see how many URLs have links to your site and their quality, which is measured by its PageRank. A PageRank of 10 is the highest and rarest. You’re looking for PR 3-4 and above. SEO Pro’s Link Checker will report all backlinks to your site. Be patient, it will take time to run this report. This tool will show the PageRank of the pages your URL is on. It will also tell you the number of links on the page and the anchor text for the link. You also have the ability to check the number of backlinks for all of the pages on your site, or just the top domain. Another important factor in SEO is analyzing your internal links and identifying bad links. You’ll need to isolate any that you have and fix them.

Google Webmaster Tools – A free service that provides a wealth of information about your site. After you’ve verified your site, you’ll be able to check for errors, analyze your HTML tags important for SEO, identify top search queries, enhance 404 error pages, and much more.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Mistakes to Avoid

The process of optimizing your website has to be a carefully thought out process. Each space of your site has to be designed and structured to reach your objectives. Here are some search engine optimization (SEO) mistakes you must avoid.

1. Many pages include a beautiful but useless graphic as a header. The upper part is very valuable for SEO. Don’t turn important texts into images; less if you use keywords, because a search engine cannot read a graphic, so you will be losing opportunities to be indexed by search engines and to reach top positions.

2. Now, let’s talk about the menu. As we just read, using graphic elements can be attractive but not effective: the description, words and links you use in the menu and content must include keywords. It doesn’t mean that is necessary to avoid graphics or pictures; they can accompany the text or be used in sections of lower relevance to search engines. Even better, make your images into code, that way search engines would be able to index whatever text you include in them.

3. Graphics cannot be read by Search Engines but let me give you a trick: including ALT attributes on each images become legible. So, never let your graphics alone.

4. Experts suggest as a good strategy to include a register format for users. In this way, each time he or she visit your website there is an ID session which helps webmaster collect information, create statistics and discover his/her behavior while explore your page. All data can be used for optimization.

5. If you can avoid it, never redirect your site. If you do it, search engine robots will get confused and it will be difficult for them take your web page and index it.

6. Don’t forget to write a title tag and meta tag descriptions on each page of your site.

7. Flash allows huge possibilities of a dynamic page, full of color and animations, but too much is a big error. It might be attractive but not for search engines, they don’t like Flash pages because they can’t read the content. Never use a Flash website without HTML alternative.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

Alright Five More SEO Tips …

1. If your site content doesn’t change often, your site needs a blog because search spiders like fresh text. Blog at least three time a week with good, fresh content to feed those little crawlers.

2. When link building, think quality, not quantity. One single, good, authoritative link can do a lot more for you than a dozen poor quality links, which can actually hurt you.

3. Search engines want natural language content. Don’t try to stuff your text with keywords. It will not work. Search engines look at how many times a term is in your content and if it is abnormally high, this will count against you rather than for you.

4. Not only should your links use keyword anchor text, but the text around the links should also be related to your keywords. In other words, surround the link with descriptive text and use those keywords.

5. If you are on a shared server, do a blacklist check to be sure you’re not on a proxy with a spammer or banned site. Their negative notoriety could affect your own rankings and that would be most unsavory.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

How about 5 more Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing Tips?

1. Check for canonization issues – www and non-www domains. Decide which you want to use and 301 redirect the other to it. In other words, if http://www.domain.com is your preference, then http://domain.com should redirect to your preferred website.

2. Check the link to your home page throughout your site. Is index.html appended to your domain name? If so, you’re splitting your links. Outside links go to http://www.domain.com and internal links go to http://www.domain.com/index.html. Ditch the index.html or default.php or whatever the page is and always link back to your domain.

3. Frames, flash and AJAX all share a common problem – you can’t link to a single page. It’s either all or nothing. Don’t use frames at all and use flash and AJAX sparingly for best search engine optimization (SEO) results. If you are determined to go with Flash, make sure you have an awesome blog so your content can be found by the spiders.

4. Your URL file extension doesn’t matter. You can use .html, .htm, .asp, .php, etc. and it won’t make a difference as far as your SEO is concerned.

5. Got a new web site you want spidered? Submitting through Google’s regular submission form can take weeks. The quickest way to get your site spidered is by getting a link to it through another quality site.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.