I want to be on page one of Google…


page1googleYes, and so does everybody else.  If a company or a person promises that they can get your website on the first page of Google or any other search engine in a ridiculously short period of time, they are yankin’ your chain.  Why?  Because the things that must be done to get your website there take time.  Here is a list of the basic things you must do and think about to get high search rankings over time with your site–ones that will last.

  1. Make sure your website or blog has a solid SEO foundation
  2. Decide what search “phrases” from which you want people to find your website, then use them in context
  3. Start campaigning your site, the one who ends up with the most in-bound links wins!
  4. Pay Per Click Advertising — when to make the leap
  5. Lather, Rinse and Repeat…you’re not done…

Make sure your website or blog has a solid SEO foundation.

What’s a “solid SEO foundation”?  SEO = Search Engine Optimization (the process of making your site findable).  A “solid foundation” means that your site can have it’s meta tags vary on each page of the site.  Your site is made up of more than 1 page probably.

A site whose code is “solid” or “optimized”  makes it possible for you or your website designer/developer to edit the “meta tags” of each of those individual pages, to customize them to match and correspond to what that page is communicating to the visitor.

There are 3 main tags (title, description and keywords).  However, there are others that can be added as well when you are integrating your site with other sites to improve SEO, such as Google meta tag, Alexa meta tag, Bing meta tag, etc., the list goes on.  In a nutshell, your site’s code should be set up such that these things can be easily added/edited over time as you need them to be for ongoing/future SEO.

Why is this important to consider first?  Some quicky website building tools (like the free ones offered by many national hosting companies and advertisers) do not let you change these meta tags on a page by page basis.  Some don’t even let you adjust them at all for the entire site.  Without this information in these tags, you are limiting what the various search engines like Google and Bing can infer and document about your site and its contents–which limits your ability to be found.

Additionally, make sure your site has some sort of analytics tracking site visit statistics.  Google analytics is free, so is Google Webmaster Tools.  Make sure your site has both of these tools (or equivalents) installed and configured.

Decide what search “phrases” from which you want people to find your website, and then use them in context

For example, with my own site, I chose to focus on phrases such as “Loveland web design”, “Fort Collins web design”, etc.  I also picked out a few others that identify the kinds of websites I build like, “content management”, “CMS”, “blogs”, “WordPress”, “Joomla”.   Pick a minimum of 5 and maximum of 10 keyword phrases.   Make sure your site’s keywords are used / referenced in the content of your site in the correct and sensible context.  Relevancy is inferred by search engines and you either get docked or applauded for it.  Be sure to consider which geographies you want to be found in as well.  This is part of your keyword work as well.

Read more about keywords at:   The Role of Keywords in SEO

Start campaigning your site, the one who ends up with the most in-bound links wins!

Search engines will rank you high if they can see that others “know” about your site, i.e., that there are links to your site from other websites, blogs, posts, etc.  The better the site that links to you, i.e., the more popular it is, the better for you as well.  A link from Joe’s Donut Shop in Podunk won’t mean as much as a link from The Denver Post website.  You can achieve in-bound links (or citations or link-exchanges) in many ways and this is an area where you may want to employ the assistance of someone like my friend Jared Finkenbinder of Design328.com .   You may find free ways to get links and ways that cost money.  Knowing when to pay and when not to pay is an art and someone like Jared can really help you navigate those waters best.

Pay Per Click Advertising — when to make the leap

If you’ve done all of the above and you are still not getting the results you want, perhaps it is time to consider a pay per click campaign.  There are many kinds, Google and Facebook probably being the most popular.  You may even choose to embark on a pay per click campaign if you are trying to hit a certain target market at a certain time of year, like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  Be aware, however, your site needs some setup to accommodate a pay per click campaign effectively.

(a)  It needs to have pages that match the ad you have created.  For example, if you are advertising “Widget A”, there had better be a page on your site dedicated to “Widget A” that seems to make sense for where the ad lands people after they click.

(b)  It needs to be attractive and compelling to convert the visit to a sale when the folks come.

Another friend who is awesome at Google pay per click advertising is Tony Bielat of Front Range SEO and PPC.  With Tony’s many years of marketing experience, he is able to get folks setup with PPC campaigns that bring results.

Lather, Rinse and Repeat…you’re not done…

You need to monitor how all of this is working or not working.  Review the reports from Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.  Make adjustments to site content and keywords as needed.  Look for trends.  More than a 40% bounce rate on your site is not so good.  Lower is better.  Bounce rate is the measure of someone coming to your home page and then leaving, i.e., they “bounce” off your site to another site.  You want them to stay, spend some time, look around, be compelled to call or purchase, whichever applies to your business.

Change the content of your site periodically. Search engines monitor your site every few weeks and if they detect your site’s content is not changing, that is interpreted to mean that your site is stale, not useful, not being used and therefore, NOT VERY IMPORTANT.  So, have portions of it set up to change periodically.  This can be done in a number of ways– blogging, RSS Feeds, Twitter Feeds, Facebook Feeds, etc.

Summary

These are basic steps and certainly the list does not contain all that can be done.  The important thing to take away from this article is this:

SEO is hardwork, takes time, takes effort and thought and there is no silver bullet.

As the business owner, you will not be able to just assign the tasks of SEO to just one person, it takes a team of people who know how to do each part well and YOU–only you know your business and what customers and markets you want to target.  YOU WILL HAVE TO BE INVOLVED if you want it to be successful.  And finally, you will never be done with SEO.  There is no state of “DONE”.  Search engines like Google are constantly changing their algorithms to keep the playing field “level” for advertisers and stale websites drop off the radar.

Beware of those guaranteeing “page one”, they are asking you to go “snipe hunting” for a pretty penny.

7 Steps to Writing Winning Blog Posts


In addition to writing on your own blog, why not share the wealth?  Another way to promote your business and services is to guest blog post – write a blog post on someone else’s blog.

Here’s a summary of the advice for writing a winning blog post from Scott Gerber with Inc.com.

#1 – Headline! Headline! Headline!

A catchy headline will get you noticed and promoted.  Phrase the title of your post in a way such that the reader can’t help but click to read more about it.

#2 – Fit your Goals to your Placement

What’s the goal of the someone reading the blog?  Target where you guest blog to fit what you want to happen after the reader reads the post.

#3 – Lead Generation or Monetization

Get the people back to your website with a custom landing page to thank them for reading your blog and advertising your services, etc.

#4 – Be the Subject Matter Expert

If you provide a service, demonstrate you are the expert by providing expert advice.

#5 – Control Google Results

Make sure you are using analytics effectively to track the traffic back to your site.  Check out BrandYourself.com.

#6 – Syndicate your Voice

Advertise and encourage others to post your RSS feed on their site.  Write for publications that will help you spread the word about your business.

#7 – Create Value for the Reader

Write something that creates value for the reader and the blog owner.

To watch the full video, click the link below:

http://www.inc.com/scott-gerber/write-winning-blog-posts.html?nav=pop

I’m guilty — how about you? I don’t blog enough…


According to Hubspot, “Creating, optimizing, and promoting content are keys to filling the top of your sales and marketing funnel with more website traffic and leads. The good news is that companies who create, optimize and promote their blogs get 55% more traffic and 70% more leads than those who don’t.”.

Who’s with me on making a commitment to blog more about their businesses?  What sort of frequency do you find works well for promoting your business online?

How does your website compare to your competitors?


logoToday I found a great website tool that is FREE (yes, the best kind!) that helps you get a better understanding of how your website ranks to your competitors’ websites.  Hubspot’s Marketing Grader  [http://marketing.grader.com] will analyze your site plus 2 others for various items.  It lumps the results into sections of the “sales and marketing funnel”.

Top of the Funnel – content is king.

  • Blogging – The tool takes a look at whether or not you have a blog and are using it actively.  It also looks to see how many inbound links to your website exist and if people are tweeting about your site and your blog posts.
  • SEO – In the analysis of your site’s SEO (search engine optimization) it looks for basic items such as 301 pages, alt tags on images, page titles and descriptions (and their uniqueness), and other “authoritative sites” that are linking to your site.
  • Mobile – This is a very nice feature, the tool checks whether or not your site is mobile enabled / friendly.
  • Social – Looks to see if you have facebook and twitter accounts and whether or not you are actively using them.

Middle of the Funnel – Converting traffic into leads

  • Landing Pages that collect visitor information – these are typically contact forms, newsletter signup forms, etc.
  • Blogging – Blog posts contact links to landing pages.  Blog has an email subscription link.  Blog has social media links / icons to promote sharing of content.
  • Social – Do you link to your various social media accounts on your website?  Do you reply back to tweets and posts on social media?  Are others mentioning you in their tweets / posts?

Analytics – Measuring your traffic and site activity

  • Are you measuring your site’s traffic and activity with Google Analytics?

All in all, it’s a great tool that can help you identify where your site and your SEO efforts need work.  Try it out today.

http://marketing.grader.com

What’s under the hood?


So, I’ve been paying more attention to LinkedIn these days because one of my business mentors, Ken Ryan of Professional Business Networks, has been diving head first into LinkedIn lately to build business leads and contacts.  As part of that process of really using LinkedIn to build my own online reputation and make good business connections, I am a member of a few “groups”.  Groups on LinkedIn typically focus on a particular topic of interest.  I use Joomla to build websites and so there are a number of Joomla -related groups that I am a member of and monitor the conversations within.

Recently someone posted that they were looking for Joomla web designers.  As expected a number of business responded with links to sites they had just built.  I often go look to see what others are doing for ideas and inspiration.  What I found today, caused me to post this message.

A couple of the sites were beautiful graphically–very eye-catching, a real sample of “eye-candy”.  Unfortunately that was just it.  How so?   I looked under the hood (so to speak).  Every browser lets you look at the source code of a website.  So, likewise, I looked.  As a Joomla developer (which I use the word specifically DEVELOPER and not DESIGNER), there are a couple things I look for that tell me if the person who built the site really knew what they were doing.  Sites should look good–that’s a given, but a site has to BE good as well.  It has to have some specific things configured in order to be set up for success in any SEO (search-engine-optimization) post go-live.

Example Results:  This is part of what I saw “under the hood” on the first site:

 <meta name="robots" content="index, follow" />
 <meta name="keywords" content="joomla, Joomla" />
 <meta name="title" content="Bem-vindo a Clinart" />
 <meta name="author" content="Administrator" />
 <meta name="description" content="Joomla! - O sistema dinâmico de portais e gerenciador de conteúdo" />
 <meta name="generator" content="Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management" />

So what all this gibberish tells me is that (1) they did set any keywords for this page or site, (2) The title might be a bit short for SEO, (3) the description tag didn’t get set and (4) any hacker who wants to attack a Joomla site will now know this is a Joomla site.  This is SEO 101 stuff.  There are FREE plugins for Joomla that lets one configure this stuff.

So, what’s the lesson in this?  Look under the hood.  Pretty sites are not necessarily GOOD sites.  A good site is configured appropriately and in a way that will grow with your business’ needs over time.  Life Light Creative strives to build GOOD sites that also happen to look good AND save you time, save you hassle, attract leads and make sales.

Be efficiently social…


canstock0172133What?  That title might not ring any bells, however, when you hear someone say, do this, do that, do this other thing, then go do this one other thing for your biz, does your head start to spin?

Avoid channeling  Linda Blair (ok now that’s a throw back!) and have someone set your blog up to post automatically to Twitter and Facebook, so that you can blog, tweet and post in one swoop.  You can even get really creative if you have a YouTube video channel.  Your Facebook account or your website can be setup to pull in an RSS feed from YouTube to blast out to your followers on these networks what you are doing over in YouTube-land.

This YouTube video was very informational about how you can create custom RSS feeds from YouTube.

If you decide you’d like to enjoy the benefits of a little bit of automation and creative collaboration, give me a call.  In about 30 minutes, I can get your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and your blog synchronized and all playing nicely together and you can rest knowing you have a few less things to do.  You’ll be glad you did!!!

Pay it forward blogging, it’s not just about you…


I’ve heard some say,

“I don’t want to blog, blogs seem to be so eg0-centric and self-centered.  I’m not sure I’m comfortable touting myself or my biz like that.”

Well, that statement is true in part.  Some blogs are just that, an egocentric rant about stuff that some would say is non-informational.  However, blogs and blogging are just tools and mechanisms that you can use just like you use a phone or an email, except there is potential for a wider audience.

Ever thought about using the blog platform to pay it forward and talk about the business you do business with or the people you know running those businesses?  How about giving some well-deserved kudos to partners, colleagues, customers, suppliers, etc.?  ‘Tis the season and what’s it really going to do for you to acknowledge how well someone else performs a services, offers a deal, does business, etc?  It’s going to make you look good too.  You’ll be demonstrating the gift of gratitude and acknowledgment.

Do you network to promote your business?


If so, do you do it effectively?  How do you know?  How do you measure your effectiveness as a networker?

According to Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, those who consider themselves successful at networking spend at least 6 1/2 hours a week networking.  Those who identified themselves as less successful at it, only spent 2 hours a week.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/217827

So how much time to you spend? Is it effective?  The same ideas can be applied to your social media networking plan as well.

While all the other reasons relate to why social media ROI is important for the needs of other people, this one is for you. You are spending time, energy and budget on making social media a success. If you really want it to be successful, it’s critical that you understand what’s actually working and what isn’t.

Find out if what you are doing is the right thing.

– See more at: http://www.lifelightcreative.com/blog/112-do-you-network-to-promote-your-business#sthash.fAgqfJEL.dpuf

Herding reviews… yah! yah! ‘git along little doggie…


Perhaps it’s more like, “Here, kitty kitty!”?  It very well may be just like herding cats.  There are a number of sites that offer up a “profile” or “listing” of your business that are like an online yellow page ad of sorts.  Many of these services will offer the capability for visitors/customers to post a review of your business.  It’s more than 1 person can manage at this point.

However, help can be found and my friend and Google Adwords expert, Tony Bielat of Front Range SEO and PPC, clued me into a free service from www.brightlocal.com.

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“Review Biz” from Bright Local is a free customer review tool.  Basically, it will (1) Help you find all your listings on sites that offer reviews and (2) Help you drive traffic from your website to those sites to help your customers give you review.  The sites it looks for your listing on are:

Bing, Citysearch, DexKnows, Foursquare, Google Places, Local.com, Merchant Circle, SuperPages, Yahoo! Local, Yellow Pages and Yelp.

Some of these services are commercial, i.e., you pay and some are free.  With a little sweat equity, you can improve your site’s chance of being found AND therefore potential improve your revenue/bottom line.  If you need help taking advantage of these listings and getting on even more, consider looking at this other service that my good friend, Tony Bielat, also clued me in on.  http://www.ubl.org Universal Business Listing

Starting at $30 per year and with packages that go up to $299 per year (which is still a deal–really!), they will list your site on many of the sites above and more.

So, to recap–there are 2 main points to this post:

  1. Manage the reviews and the review process for your biz online.  People will review you, take my word for it.  Make sure you manage your business’s online identity.  Keep on top of it, drive people to it.  Be in control of who is posting by being an advocate for yourself and encouraging your good customers (make it easy for them) to give you a review.
  2. Drive traffic back to your website that are new visitors, new potential customers.  People will search about you before calling you.  Make it easy to find you and easy for folks to find out the really great things about your biz and what your customers say.

Enjoy! and GET TO WORK… on your biz (yes, ON not IN).

What is RSS? Something to read…so…read on…


In my inaugural post, I mentioned that you could subscribe to my RSS feed.  Some folks may still not know what that is.  So, for those of you who do not yet know, let me try to explain.  This website has a great explanation:

http://www.problogger.net/what-is-rss

As mentioned on that site, RSS or Really Simple Syndication, is just a way for you to tell a website, a blog or facebook or twitter…to notify you automatically when there is new content.  That new content will be syndicated or delivered to you in the format you desire or the format that is offered.

On my blog, you can subscribe to get the latest posts delivered to your email on a daily basis.  I’ve implemented the Google Feedburner service — which is free.  WordPress which is the software that this blog is made from, offers an out-0f-the-box RSS feed for both latest posts and latest comments.  However, it’s just the feed itself, not the delivery mechanism.  Personally, I like the what Google Feedburner offers, because it couples the feed contents (my latest posts) with a mechanism that manages you and others “subscribing” to it.  I don’t have to do anything once it is set up, except to blog.  Plus, I already use a number of Google’s fantastic services like Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Places, Docs, Gmail, etc.  It’s just one more feature to the one-stop-shop with which Google helps me manage my web presence, website and many of my customers’ web sites and presences.

So, once you sign up, you don’t really need to come to my site, my site, my latest posts will come to you, in your email inbox.  Voila! I’m stalking you now. Ha ha.

Except you can unsubscribe and turn it off whenever you like.  Hopefully you will not do that, however and you’ll become a junkie for my next post.  Ok, well, I’ll keep dreaming–it could happen.

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