Tag Archives: Google Places

SEOmoz PRO Seminar Day 2

It would probably take me four years to execute on all the information I’ve absorbed (or at the very least tried to absorb) at the SEOmoz PRO Seminar here in Seattle.  I can’t express the value of that, typically we go to seminars to learn from folks who are repeating the same old crap we’re used to hearing, and we walk away with maybe a few nuggets of information, but I have been just blown away by the wealth of knowledge at this Seminar.

Ryan Kelly @PearAnalytics, Rand Fishkin @randfish & Matthew Egan @ImageFreedom

Ryan Kelly, Rand Fishkin & Matthew Egan

Yesterday, Day 1, featured a fantastic line up of speakers.  Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, broke down the changes to what we see in typical Search Engine Results (SERPS), David Mihm got into the range of options available to those targeting Local Search or Google Places results and my very favorite session came from Lindsay Wassell from Keyphraseology who broke down the magic and presentation of a superior SEO Site Audit.

On the Social Media side of things, Dan Zarrella broke down analytics and observations from Social Media resources.  Did you know that the volume and frequency of the links you post on Twitter impacts how likely they are to get clicked?  Did you know that men tweet less than women, and women follow more people than men do?  Dan’s research and insight was invaluable as we construct strategies for SEO that greatly involve Social Media integration.

Meet and Greet with Will Critchlow @willcritchlow

Meet and Greet with Will Critchlow @willcritchlow

The best part of any seminar like this is the chance to meet others who share the same passions that you do, and those who may create content that you follow.  One such chance was with Distilled’s Will Critchlow, who has been one of the inspirational bloggers I’ve followed as the owner of an SEO Consulting group.  During a powerpoint battle with Rand, Will shared that overnight successes take years, an idea I’ve always subscribed to and loved seeing up in the talk.  I have a lot of respect for these guys and what they’ve been through to get to where they are, it gives me a lot of inspiration and drive seeing how far we’ve come in our short time, and also where we’d like to see ourselves in a year, in five, etc.

We’re halfway through Day 2 of the Seminar series and I’m really looking forward to Will’s final session, “How to Make SEO Data Reporting Sexy”.  It’s one thing to be factual, it’s one thing to be easy to follow, it’s another thing to make data reporting inclusive and I’m excited to see his thoughts.

Just a fantastic workshop so far, and we’ll be sure to bring more tidbits and wisdom as the event wraps up and everyone returns to their little corners to spread the SEO love.

Search Theory: But Can They Read It?

I’ve been knee deep in Header 1 Tags and Meta data for the better part of a month now.  Well, if all goes well I should always be knee deep in these things as an SEO but the debate over keyword density (the volume of keywords on a page) is always of constant discussion.

I’m of the camp that if content is king, the content must be readable, as all the traffic in the world won’t bring you business if the visitors can’t read the actual content.  We’ve talked about this before but I really want to drive the point home again, find the keywords you want to target and work those keywords into your Header 1, include them in the first four words of the Title, and reference them and similar terms in an easy to digest 165 character Meta Description.

Recently I sat down with a friend who has a WordPress blog not unlike my own and we were able to change her site so that the right keywords were in the right place, the Header 1 had the right content etc etc.  Within 7 days she moved from Page 3 to #8 on Page 1.  Odds are good your web site has juice it isn’t utilizing because your onsite factors are seriously lacking.

Target your keywords in those places we talk about, the Header 1, the Title Tag, Description Tag and whenever possible as part of the links URL.  Be ungeneric!  Get optimized!

SEO for Dummies

I follow a lot of really cool blogs about Search Engine Optimization, I can’t say I read them all but I try to.  It’s my job to do that.  I don’t expect you to do the same.  My job is to know about SEO for when you have a question, or God willing need my help.  I’ve been in business in San Antonio for under a year, but I’ve been blessed by tapping into various communities who change me practically every day.

Today I was sitting down at Week 2 of a new Camp Sanera class.  @AliciaSanera asked me to come by and share how I’d grown personally, and I was happy to meet the new class.  Afterwards a few of us stayed behind and were talking about SEO, and how most people, including I’m sure some of you reading this, are completely clueless as to what SEO is, how it actually works and when it is necessary.

The problem is your average SEO is a crook.  Makes my life harder, because I’m always doing damage control for the lies spread by other SEOs.  I’m not perfect, sometimes I reach for goals that are unreasonable, but I’d like to think I’m very honest about what is possible, but also what I’d like to achieve.

My new buddy Mani Karthik wrote a blog titled “5 Ways to find out if an SEO is lying to you“.  He touched on some really sad realities within the Search Engine Optimization community.  So let’s talk about some of these things, do you really need SEO?  What is SEO going to provide you?

How does SEO Work?  What is it? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  Different people will define it differently, but I’ll define it as being aware of trends and tactics to create web content that will place highly on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.  SEO works by targeting the keywords people use to find content on Google.  One of my keywords for Image Freedom is “San Antonio SEO” so often on my site you’ll see images titled “San Antonio SEO” or that phrase placed in my content (like in this blog, shameless).

When targeting a keyword, you want to be aware of two things.  #1) Is this a keyword people will ACTUALLY search for, and #2) can I place this keyword in a way that won’t look out of place or obstruct a users experience reading my content?  Number one, take the keyword you want to target and log over to The Google Keyword Tool which I talk about a lot.  Type in your keyword and you’ll get results like this.

I used the Keyword Tool to search for "San Antonio SEO"

I used the Keyword Tool to search for "San Antonio SEO"

The graphic here shows that there are 1,300 searches each month for “San Antonio SEO” which isn’t a whole lot but is enough that it’ll make the phone ring if I’m the one that comes up on Google when a company is interested in SEO.  For most businesses, you’ll want to go after keywords with more search volume, but sometimes the keyword you come up #1 for is easy to do because it only gets a few searches a month.  The more search volume a keyword gets, the most potential value that keyword has.

Does that make sense?  The more people who are interested in “San Antonio SEO”, in my case, the more potential visitors to my site are out there.  So if I can rank really high for a keyword with tens of thousands of monthly searches, my web site traffic is going to spike because so many people will be seeing my site.

Secondly, you want to place your keywords on your site in a way that doesn’t obstruct the user experience.  If I’ve learned anything from my six weeks in Camp Sanera it’s that user experience is everything.  This is where design comes in and your web site needs to be setup as easy as possible, so you don’t make the user work for what they want to find, and don’t pack each line with so many keywords that it becomes unreadable.

“San Antonio SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEO San Antonio, Web Design, Internet Marketing, Experts”
OR
San Antonio’s SEO Marketing Solution. No hidden costs. No drama. Just the web design your business has always deserved.”

Which line speaks to you more?  Do you want a list of keywords, or do you want an honest statement?  See how my description still targeted my keyword, but did so in a content driven way?  I’m from the camp that you don’t insult your user by cramming so many keywords into a paragraph that it becomes unreadable.  That will cost me business, guaranteed, but I’m not going to do that for you, so why should I do it myself?

What are backlinks?  Why do links matter? Besides putting keywords on your site, and naming things with keywords in mind, you want to also build links to your web site.  Why does it matter if people link to you?  The way this works, is Google is asking other web sites if they’ve heard of any cool sites worth visiting, and most webmasters wouldn’t link to a site unless they liked the content, the design, or SOMETHING offered by that site.  So when Google visits and sees that you are linking to someone, they check that person out and you’re basically giving that other site your seal of approval.  You have just created a backlink.

The more backlinks you have the higher you typically rank on Google.  Sites like mine with hundreds of backlinks might have a PageRank of 3 or 4, where sites with 10,000 easily have a 5 or a 6 PageRank.  There is also a relevance factor to these links, you want to be linked to by sites that are related to your business or your blog.  So if you sell Tennis Balls, consider building relationships with a Tennis Racket or Tennis Shoe company because a link from those sites is going to be more valuable than a link from, say, a Tire Company.

I can’t afford an SEO consultant, what can I do? The cheapest way to build your SEO is to create awesome content.  Be authentic, be genuine, be yourself and share honestly with the world.  Marketing messages don’t work anymore, the second you tell me what to think, I’ve already tuned you out and am probably off playing Peggle on my iPhone.  If you build relationships with your web site you can reach a much higher potential than if you stick to “HOLY CRAP BUY THIS” methods of advertising.

Did you learn anything?  Awesome!  I’ve got some homework for you:

#1) Consider Blogging: If you had to write 5 blog articles about your business or your web site, what would you blog about?  Take those ideas and put them into The Google Keyword Tool and see if any of those topics get a lot of search traffic.

#2) Admire the Competition: If you have competing businesses that are getting the kind of sales you’d like to achieve, take a look at their web site.  Is it obvious what that site is about?  Is it easy to find a map, a phone number, a product?  Could your web site do this better?  How could you stand out next to their web site?

#3) Oodles of Backlinks: What web sites out there would link to you?  Are you a member of an organization that would link to your business?  Have you donated money to an organization that might spotlight your service?  How could you generate references of your business out on the web?

My goal is to make SEO accessible to everyone and hopefully by educating folks on what is out there, it’ll be a lot harder for you or your friends to be taken advantage of by shady SEO’s promising the stars.  Comments and questions appreciated!

Sorry, your web site sucks

Been spending a lot of time conversing lately about the value of a GOOD web site.  When Image Freedom was founded, I didn’t intend to be a Web Developer.  I’ve been creating content for the web for ten years, be it for gaming sites back in high school or all centered geocities sites with big spinning 3D logos all over the place.  I’ve seen the best and the worst of the web in all it’s glory.

Lately a lot of San Antonians have been talking with me about their own site, and what their plans are for it.  The general perception is that you’re going to have to spend $10-15,000 to get a web site you can be proud of.  I don’t have permission to show specific examples, with prices, but the reality is closer to one tenth of that.

This may sound like one of those “use me instead” articles, and maybe at it’s core that holds some merit but it is just so vital that a business has a solid web site.  Does this mean you need ANY web site?  I’m a pretty savvy web guy and I visited a site for a San Antonio business and was unable to find a link to a map, or driving directions.  HUH!?  That is priority one if you have a physical location.  What happened was they named it something cute, so I had to click through half the site to find the address, none of which had a link to Google Maps.

@AliciaSanera wrote a blog recently called “You Get What You Pay For” about investing in your web site, and I couldn’t agree more.  Alicia teaches finding a niche market for yourself, and as stubbornly as I clung to my SEO roots I find myself much more often developing strong actionable web sites.  I meet the demand of the area, and the demand is “give me a site that works”.

Can anyone FIND your web site? Optimization for Search Engines, advertising and social media marketing are all great ways to bring people to your web site.  It is important that you are in Google Maps, it is important that you are Searchable by your name, and it is important that you pop up for search terms related to your industry.

Once they find it, what do you want them to DO? Having a web site is not about having a picture of yourself on the web, you have customers, stepping through your virtual doors and it is your job to service them like you would if they visited your real location.  What is it you want them to take away from the experience?  What information do you want from them?  Do you want their e-mail address or phone number?

Once they’ve done that, how do you KEEP them coming back? So they found your site, and they filled out a contact form giving you their phone number (thus becoming a lead) do you have the content to keep them on your site?  If there are resources, or *gasp* a blog you could display on your site, would that keep them interested?  Ask yourself, would my sister read this article, would my neighbor?  Sometimes we are the worst people to gauge whether a piece of content is interesting, we think ANYONE would want to read it, but often times that is not the case.

Ask yourself the above three questions.  Can people find my web site?  What does my site ask people to do?  Will they stay once they’ve done it?  That is in order the most important aspects of any web sites.  You could have the best design, the most flash, the cutest little names for all your sections, and your site will still be something people glance at and leave.

Do you know what bounce rate is?  Bounce Rate is the volume of people who only visit one of your pages, most likely your homepage, and then leave.  A low Bounce Rate means that your web site is inviting and informative and people spend a good amount of time on your pages.  A high Bounce Rate, 70% 80% or higher means people are only seeing your homepage and deciding to leave.

Do you want 100 hits, or 1 lead?  Do you want 1,000 site visitors, or 50 regular users?  There is so much more to web design than hits and flash menus and cute names.  Does it function and meet the above goals?  No?  Then I am very sorry, but your web site sucks.

Learn more about Search Engine Optimization and Audience Analysis for your web site at the Image Freedom homepage.

What the heck is SEO?

I hear it all the time.  “What do you do?”  Well I’m an SEO.  “And what is that?”  Don’t get me wrong there are people who get it, or if they don’t get it, at least they know about it but the biggest hurdle for any optimizer is that constant question, “what is SEO?”

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, or sometimes Search Engine Optimizer.  The reason SEO is such a mystery is because even the best Optimizers in the world are not 100% sure how Google’s algorythm works.  We have a pretty good idea how it works, find some keywords, put them in the title of a web site, put them in the Header 1 tag, put them in alt tags and in the body of your content, maybe bold them, maybe italicize them, etc.

Your average web site is not doing these things, and so they contact an optimizer like myself.  What are the three primary reasons someone contacts a search engine optimizer?

1. They want to show up on Google.

Google has become synonymous with “search” and while Yahoo and Bing are important too, most people ask why they haven’t showed up on Google, the big boy in internet search.  Thankfully Google is pretty nice, they offer some really great tools to track the traffic your site gets, to analyze the keywords you’re currently popping up for, and to help you tell Google what pages on your site are the most important.

The SEO’s relationship with Google is not always a good one.  It is our job afterall to cater the content of a web site to get our site to rank higher than other sites, and in some cases dueling SEO’s have gotten in serious trouble with Google for breaking the rules about ethical optimization.

Image Freedom is what is called a “white hat” SEO group and while we probably would do some Black Hat techniques if we could get away with them, the risk of getting a web site blacklisted on Google is just too big, and we believe no one should ever take that chance.  Gotta play by the rules, or Mother Google will shut you down.

2. They want to show up on Google Maps

I bet you didn’t know that you can move the little Thumb Tack for your business and where it falls on Google Maps.  Have you ever looked something up only to find the needle across the street from the actual location?  Many businesses turn to an optimizer like myself to make sure their Google Maps entry is perfect.  This can be done for free through the Google Local Business Center but it does help to have someone on your team who has done it before.

On the other hand, sometimes someone has tried to setup Google Maps themselves and has hired me to put it back the way it should be, so they aren’t in the middle of a lake.  (True Story)

3.  They want to know which keywords to target

Content is king.  Coming very soon, Google will be putting even more weight onto the content of a web site and things like hidden keywords and classic Black Hat tricks will be a thing of the past.  When a marketing team decides to pursue a content plan, they will hire an SEO to develop what we call a Keyword Cloud.  A Keyword Cloud is many many keywords that are related to an industry and are scored based on the monthly search volume that word gets, and how many other sites are currently targeting that keyword.

This way, with your Keyword Cloud in tow, you can create content that follows the Keyword Cloud instead of just blindly making content.  Your content will come up in searches and your message will spread.  How often have you created content and wondered why no one ever found it?  It needed some keyword research.

So that in a nutshell is Search Engine Optimization.  It’s how you show up front and center on Google, Yahoo and Bing and the techniques and tricks to make sure it stays that way.

Does that make sense?