Monthly Archives: December 2009

Three Very Honest Resolutions

This is my business, I built her from the little seedling she was when I found her in the woods into the SEO optimizing site you see before you.  I try and follow that whole “put your best face forward” business as best I can and keep my personal life to myself.  But hell, it’s New Years Eve and as is customary I thought I’d share my true, REAL resolutions for 2010.

Number One – NO MORE FACEBOOK GAMES!

Be it Castle Age or Mafia Wars (or you awful Farmville people) Facebook games have been a never ending sink in everyone’s time since the very first massive games first came to light.  As a former Warcraft addict it felt like I’d go from playing a little TOO MUCH World of Warcraft to then paying a little too much attention to hitting 501 Mafia Wars members.  I’ve got bigger fish to fry in 2010 and that starts with cutting the crap out of the home office.  World of Warcraft uninstalled.  Mafia Wars gone.  Castle Age gone.  That’s number one.

Number Two – GET HEART HEALTHY!

I’m not an overweight guy by any means, but being slender by genetics and actually being healthy inside and out are two very different things.  My goal for 2010 is to overcome the dredge of a desk job and be a bit more active.  If I’m going to read something, why not get it on Audible and take it for a walk around the neighborhood?  If I’m going to watch TV, theres no reason I can’t put on Fox Business down at the Gym.  I’m a young man, and I do worry about how my heart is going to hold up as I get older so number two is a road to a healthier heart.

Number Three – CONTENT, AUDIENCE & CONVERSIONS

When people come to me asking for a web site, they often don’t know about audience analytics, or the value of content to SEO, or the difference between a website that converts to sales or that just sits there getting hits but generating little to no business.  In 2010 I want to develop a model by which I can explain these three things in a way even grandma can understand and refine a fluid process by which all of our sites will be designed in the new year.

Does this content offer value to my ACTUAL audience?  Will they then be called to take an action?  Have I created enough, and often enough that Google will give me a bonus in Page Rank for having a frequently updated site?  The answer needs to be yes!

So these are my new years reflections, greater focus, greater health, and a stronger attention to customer transparency throughout our design and development process.  2010 is going to be the year of the YES and I’m ready to knock these out!

Happy New Years!

100 Blog Challenge – This is blog #1 of our 100 Days, 100 Blogs Challenge.  Monday through Friday log onto the Image Freedom blog for another blog in the 100 Days, 100 Blogs Challenge and why not join us in the challenge yourself!

Thriving on Twitter in 2010

Everyone is talking about making money on the internet.  I find that a lot of classic logic, logic my grandfather taught me close to twenty years ago is still more valid than a lot of what you read today.  I’ll go out on a limb here and say someone you looked up to taught you this same lesson.

Treat others how you want to be treated.

I know?!  I’m writing a blog about THAT?!  I must really be running on an empty well over here.  No, I’m afraid that wisdom my grandfather shared with me long before I could tie a tie or create a fancy metallic effect in Photoshop was to put out into the world what I hoped to get back.

That is true offline, and that is true on Twitter.  So many people are out there, whether they be competitors, peers in related industries, or perfect strangers, they are looking to make a connection.  Open yourself up, be generous with yourself, and you will find that gift returned again and again.

I’ll tell you a story of my week, this week of Christmas 2009.  A friend of mine asked me if I knew a skilled photographer, and it turned out that I knew a fantastic photographer that could help him.  I exchanged the contact information with this other friend, and as these things do a deal was met and business was conducted through a couple Direct Messages on Twitter.

Fantastic in and of itself, that same friend today sent me a message that they needed my services on a project of their own.  Once again, not a single phone was picked up, not even an e-mail was exchanged and once again business has been conducted through Direct Messages on Twitter.

My example is pretty immediate, and you won’t always have a return so soon after offering a random act of kindness but I’ll tell you first hand that this is not the first time business has been conducted over Direct Messages on Twitter, and I’m confident it won’t be the last.

Why not join the conversation?  Why not jump in as a peer in our ever growing network, be generous, be genuine, and like my grandfather said “treat others how you want to be treated.”  You never know where it might take you.

Abandon Meta Keyword Tags

Sat down with @AliciaSanera of Sanera People Development Company and one of the topics we discussed was keyword meta tags.  The meta data for keywords USED TO be an important part of search engine data.  A pages content didn’t used to be keyword rich, we didn’t really have a term for that yet, and so the keyword tag was a way to tell search engines in brief what terms the article could be found using.  Over time these keyword tags became so spammed with garbage that had nothing to do with the content of that page, that Google decided to stop using the keywords meta tag all together.

So this started a conversation about what meta data is valuable and when to spend time worrying about meta information at all.  You can scroll down to the end of this post and watch an actual video from Google’s Matt Cutts who can answer direct from the source that Google indeed no longer uses your keywords when determining what comes up in a search.  You could say the keywords meta tag is like your appendix, it’s still there, and it isn’t really hurting anything but it no longer serves a purpose.

Now as Matt shares in the video bellow, the description meta tag is still a valuable part of your page.  What that can do, is take a very complicated explanation, or a whole pages worth of content, and condense that all down to a paragraph that Google can preview in search results.  It is important to find a well worded way of using your targeted keywords in this description tag as those will be highlighted for the user in their results.

Screen-shot-2009-12-19-at-5.42.53-PM

Also in the meta data, the title tag is also very important.  Did you know that Google will display the first 69 characters of a title before condensing that down and shortening it with the “…” where it cuts you off?  So if you keep a title down to 69 characters or less, it will not be abbreviated at all.  That shouldn’t be too hard for those Twitter fans already thinking 140 characters at a time!  For your description tag, Google will only show the first 155 characters before it cuts you off, so again, fit as much as you can within that 155 characters so those looking at your results will be able to read your entire description.

Don’t take my word for it!  Enjoy the video bellow for confirmation direct from Google and their Webmaster Central YouTube Channel.

VIDEO: Google on the Keywords Meta Tag

Matthew in Entrepreneur Magazine

Hey folks quick note here as I know everyone is traveling to wherever they’ll be spending the Christmas break.  Just pulled out the iPhone and saw @EntMagazine announce the January issue of Entrepreneur Magazine has hit the newstand.  I was asked to write a brief piece on why I much prefer Mozilla’s Firefox to Google’s Chrome.  You can read the full article here or read the article on Page 33 of the January issue.

I just wanted to publish a note of thanks to everyone who has supported Image Freedom over the past year.  Building something like this is by no means a one man show and I am blessed by a network who supports us and opens doors for us we would have otherwise never seen.

Have a wonderful Holiday break and we’ll see you all in 2010!

Five Ways to Master SEO in 2010

2010 is a lot closer than most of us want to admit, and between dodging cart missiles in the Walmart parking lot and failing yet again to find that PS3 bundle for the little one, it might be good to set in motion your Optimization agenda for the new year.  Here are my five SEO MUSTS for 2010!

1. Google Local Business Center

No one SEO trick adds more value to your business than a simple FREE entry in the Google Local Business Center.  As you optimize your site and struggle to get past page 15 (Been there, believe me!) you are missing potential clicks from the local results on Google!  The Local Search Results don’t act the same as the Web Results so if someone is searching for “Stone Oak Bed and Breakfast” you’re much more likely to come up in a local search than in the web results as you’re getting started with SEO.

The other added value of the Google Local Business Center is being added to Google Maps, which powers the GPS function on the iPhone and many other devices.  You can tell Google exactly where your business is, and as many maps in San Antonio are a little wonky, you can drop that thumbtack exactly where your customers will find you.

Click here to Get Started with The Google Local Business tools

2. Learn to Link Bait

Link Baiting is when you create content so amazing, so life altering, so without equal that people would be crazy not to link to it on their Blog, their Facebook or their Twitter.  Following a very popular trend in 2009, give away some expertise for free!  Every time someone links back to your content, they’re creating valuable backlinks that will cause search engines like Google and Bing to index your content more frequently and increase your page rank!

3. Update That Blog

Sit down with yourself and say, how often can I afford to write a blog entry each week?  Can I only write once per week, or can I create more than that?  Personally, I follow the fixed schedule work week, and have dedicated Tuesdays and Thursdays after my morning e-mails to writing as many blog entries as I can in an hour.  The key is to keep that blog updated for two reasons, one being Google, when your site shows updated content, new content, and overall changes it shows Google that your site has been updated and this adds value to your SEO efforts, and secondly, having a blog at all is no good if you haven’t posted in two months!  Content is king, so go make some!

4. Target Keywords in your URLs

When naming a page on your web site, don’t call it page001.html!  The name of every file on your site is part of your SEO profile, so if you’re writing an article about San Antonio Traffic Tips, call it that!  “san_antonio_traffic_tips” is going to add much more relevant keywords to your content than a generic page 1, 2 or 3.

When you’re titling your blog articles, think about who might search for that article, and what they’d type in to find it.  Try to avoid generic titles like “Keep It Simple” and add some valuable keywords like “Simple San Antonio SEO Secrets”.  Mention your region whenever you can if you’re targeting only local customers, and don’t be afraid to mention areas by neighborhood, as sometimes “Stone Oak Pizza” would be more accurate for you than “San Antonio Pizza”.

5. Backlinks Outside the Box

Did you know that commenting on a friends blog often gives you the chance to put in your URL?  Do you offer a discount or some sort of military or educational discount that might be of interest to a site collecting such offers?  Do you fall into a special interest group that might want to spotlight you as a business owner?  Think about who would link to your site, and why.  Go out there and find new ways to be worthy of linkage.  Every backlink increases your page rank and pushes you closer to that #1 spot.

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2010 is going to be an amazing growth year for San Antonio, not only do we have over seven thousand new jobs being created through BRAC funds but San Antonio has been ranked as one of the best places to start a business by sources like Forbes and Entrepreneur.  Time to make new friends, time to share your wisdom, and create new content that will bring you the links to push your web site front and center!