Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Utilizing SEO: Strategy

seo wwwPart 3 of 3

Beyond technology, here are three principles to remember when planning and executing an SEO campaign:


Remember, the reason you are trying to get your website to the top of the first page is because you want people to come to the site and look at your content, then buy what your selling. Don’t get so involved in SEO that you junk-up your site with links and keywords beyond the user’s ability to read the page. Balance your site design your site between bots and people. Don’t lose your users for the sale of search engines. Remember, bounce rate (the time your users spend on your site) is a part of SEO as well.

Patience is a virtue

SEO campaigns are not for instant gratification junkies. Give your site about three months to sink in. Check your analytics, watch to see how the site is doing and adjust accordingly. Keep your efforts simple; make a minimal amount of changes so that you can accurately see what works and what doesn’t.


Stay on top of things. Keep an eye on the search engine guidelines to ensure your SEO is always up to date. The last thing you want is for your long sought efforts to slowly wash down the drain as technology advances.

By applying different techniques used to achieve organic search results, you’ll find online marketing to be a cost-effective, simple solution to promoting your business and products.

Part 1 of this 3-part series explained why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 2 defined a Glossary of Key SEO Terms. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

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Monday, February 8th, 2010

Utilizing SEO: Glossary of Key Terms

seoPart 2 of 3

Understanding these key SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ideas and terms will help you make the best decisions for your search marketing strategy:


Each page on your website is coded with a unique title that is different than the page name. Depending on your internet browser, check the name of the tab or the command bar to see if your site optimizes titles. The title should contain carefully chosen keywords, because this is the first thing search engine web crawlers, bots and spiders read (these are automated computer programs that methodically browse the web gathering information). Your titles should be no longer than 100 characters; however, Google will truncate the title if it is more than 60 characters including spaces.

  • Example: “Home Furnishings, Home Décor, Outdoor Furniture & Modern Furniture”
  • Example: “Bedroom Furniture, Dining Room Furniture, and more quality Home and Office Furniture”


Keywords and phrases drive SEO campaigns and fuel your site’s success. Keywords are a tricky business though so take your time, research your keywords and make sure you select keywords that are in your niche. Often amateurs will not take much time in this area, simply plugging in obvious words. For example, suppose a small store called ABC Furniture automatically chooses the key phrase “furniture store.” They’ve unwittingly gone to head with major players who are throwing big bucks at the “furniture store” key phrase. While not impossible, it will be very difficult for ABC Furniture to outspend these players and reach the first page of the major search engine search results. Unique niche phrases can yield effective results and cost pennies by comparison.

  • Example: furniture store, sofas, dining room furniture, mattresses
  • Example: “pillow-top mattresses Oakland CA” or “leather rocker recliners Oakland CA”

Body text

The main content of your website should also contain keywords. The keywords should be used naturally to avoid being pegged as a “keyword spammer,” someone who uses the word “sofa” 48 times on your living room page in attempt move your site up in the rankings. This will get you booted from Google and other search engines, who carefully measure your “keyword density.” Too low, and you may not achieve optimum results. Too high, and you’re considered a spammer. Google will only tolerate a 2% keyword density; Yahoo and MSN are considerably higher at around 5%. Qualified web designers who use qualified and trained copywriters can help creatively optimize your keyword density, unlike hackers who jam nonsensical words into your body and footer.

  • Example: Central Oklahoma Furniture. ABC Furniture is a family company. Browse our selection of Central Oklahoma Furniture or visit our store to sample Central Oklahoma Furniture. You deserve Central Oklahoma Furniture form ABC Furniture!
  • Example: From San Antonio to Austin, ABC Furniture delivers beauty, quality, and value to your home.

Heading Tags – Each page on your website has a heading tag that should also contain your keywords. Ideally, the tag should be right up there at the beginning of the page, as close as possible to the top of the page.

  • Example: Living Room Furniture
  • Example: Directions to ABC Furniture


Consider purchasing a domain name containing your keywords. If ABC Furniture sells solid wood furniture in Columbus, Ohio, they should consider Search engines use the domain name as an SEO qualifier so keep that in mind when choosing your domain names. With a little savvy programming, keywords can also be incorporated into the URL of each page. If your keywords for a particular page are solid wood bedroom, the page name should be


Make sure there are no broken links in your site. Search engine algorithms consider broken links as incomplete, so the overall rating of the site is affected. Restrain yourself from the traditional “click here” link. When web bots, crawlers and spiders come across a “click here” link, they will associate the destination page with the words “click here” instead of your valuable keywords. Instead, optimize your site’s searchability and usability with full-sentence links that use verbs to direct the user what to do.

  • Example: “Click here for a price quote.”
  • Example: “Explore your furniture design possibilities.

Inbound links

Links from other websites are supreme to the rating of your site. Inbound links are like personal referrals, so these links should be from sites that are of high quality. The higher the rating of the sites that link to yours, the higher search engines will rate you. Getting inbound links is the hardest part of SEO by far. You can pay for quantity, but quality is often compromised if you do so.

  • Example:
  • Example:

Part 1 of this 3-part series explained why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Subscribe to receive Part 3, SEO Strategy. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

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Thursday, December 17th, 2009

How To Make Your Website Stick

Room with a wall of tv screensConsumers have a lot to look at these days. We’re exposed to several thousand advertisements and websites each day, yet we remember very few of them – despite billions of dollars spent on advertising.

How can you do a better job than your competition at attracting your consumer’s attention?

  1. Be brief. Decide what to leave out. Be selective about what you say. Pick one point and stick to it, because that’s all the consumer will remember anyway.
  2. Be bold. Have you ever surfed the web while listening to music, or watched TV while eating dinner? On your usual drive home from work, you can easily chat with an old friend. But while driving on an unfamiliar street in a strange city, we need to stop talking and take in what’s going on around us. Your consumer may be multitasking, too , and is likely to ignore the expected. An unexpected element grabs attention.
  3. Be clear. The Wizard of Ads, Roy H. Williams, once said, “The price of clarity is the risk of offense.” Clarity leaves little room for vague impressions and enables your consumer to see your brand real. Posing and hype don’t hold up in today’s marketplace, yet many marketers fear telling the truth. Would you dare say who your brand is not for?
  4. Be sustainable. Once you’ve attracted attention, you must sustain it. Your marketing must grab the consumer and never let them go. Continue to make your website interesting, or consumers will go somewhere else.
  5. Be relevant. Make sure the attention-grabbers on your website and advertisements are relevant and don’t distract from the main point you want consumers to remember.

What do you want your customer to do? You want them to focus on your brand and your message. You want them to think of you first and best when they have a need for your particular product. You want them to remember why you’re different and how you’re better than your competitors.

Let us help you be attractive.

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Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

History does repeat.

491 years and 18 days ago, the 95 Thesis was nailed to the door in Wittenberg. In its day, this was the means of inviting scholars to debate important issues. Not a single person took the challenge.

A decree condemning the views was issued. The decree was later burned. The rest is history.

Eight or so years ago Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger bought their 95 Thesis to the marketplace in The Cluetrain Manifesto.

I’ll not force feed 95 points down your throats.

However in dealing with some important copy writing today, the kind that has family’s lives hanging in the balance, I was moved by how little some have changed.

Clearly we continue to miss the main idea from these authors, who wrote, “Networked markets are beginning to self-organize faster than the companies that have traditionally served them. Thanks to the web, markets are becoming better informed, smarter, and more demanding of qualities missing from most business organizations.”

Here are only a few of their thoughts. If you would like to see all 95, you can read them here. Surely you can find the time.

#4 Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.

#11 People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.

#14 Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, and literally inhuman.

#15 In just a few more years, the current homogenized “voice” of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.

# 24 Bombastic boasts—”We are positioned to become the preeminent provider of XYZ”—do not constitute a position.

#61 Sadly, the part of the company a networked market wants to talk to is usually hidden behind a smokescreen of hucksterism, of language that rings false—and often is.

#75 If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.

#91 Our allegiance is to ourselves—our friends, our new allies and acquaintances, even our sparring partners. Companies that have no part in this world, also have no future.

#95 We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

I beg you in the most human of voices to hear this mad man’s voice from the wilderness and respond. Call me, email me, snail mail me, or comment right here on our blog.

Please join this conversation. Your business life probably depends on it.

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Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Social Media

Foul language shouldn’t be needed to make your position clear.

No one has ever accused me of of being a prude. In fact, just the opposite is more likely the case.

The use of bottom rung slang is no longer my style. Today’s post is an exception because, after an exhaustive search, I’ve not been able to find another way to better explain this new style of marketing.

Today I met with Rex Williams and Keith Miller to discuss Keith’s website, book store and most importantly his upcoming book. We talked at length about ideas.

Thanks goes out to Rex WIlliams for the courage to finally make the post. I’ve been saving it for weeks because of the foul language.

As for the bad language, I’m truly sorry. Get over it!

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Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Sticks and stones will NOT break bones, but words CAN really hurt you

Words really do matter in advertising.

  • Advertising written well will cause the reader or listener to take abrupt and unexpected changes in direction.
  • Advertising should align with what really touches the customer, moving them and their hearts with meaning.
  • Advertising should clarify how your store answers their felt need for status, power, money, fame, and relationships.
  • Advertising should position the customer emotionally as restless, irritable, anxious, or discontented with their current situation. The deeper the writer can make the customer question thier current situation, the easier the job of selling your solution will be.
  • Advertising needs to take the customer on a journey. Journeys can be upward to the gates of heaven, or spiraling downward toward the gates of hell. Either way, movement in the customer’s mind has taken place.
  • Advertising should move you beyond black & white, or good & evil, or helpful & harmful. Copywriting should move the customer to a decision.

Don’t waste your valuable paid advertising time telling customers about your business. Instead, explain to them how you understand their lives and needs. When you have proven you understand, you’ll be granted the opportunity; when you are granted the opportunity, you’ll need to be sure you are ready; if you are ready, you’ll often win a customer for life.

If you weren’t ready, the plastic, fake, happytalk message about your fun, fast, family, friendly advertising wouldn’t have mattered a plug nickel anyway.

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Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Soil and seed can be like the chicken or the egg.

What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams. This famous parable explains one of the most important laws of the universe. This parable holds true in baseball, marriage, advertising, and certainly business in general.

The story is typically known as “The Parable of the Sower.” But don’t you also believe it could be called “The Parable of the Soils.” As the story is being interpreted there is an emphasis the different kinds of soils and how differently they receive the seed, which seems to be a law of the universe.

In business I’ve seen the truth of the story played out again and again. Sowing the good news, people have received the exact same message in such different ways. Some reject it without a second thought. Some are excited, but soon lose their enthusiasm. Others respond with genuine interest, but their attachments to this world soon strangle their commitment. And then there are still others who hear, believe, and live a life others only imagine for themselves.

Perhaps the most crucial ingredient of good soil is openness to the laws of the universe, genuine desire for goodness and a willingness to do the right things in your life. Such openness comes as we recognize our need for God, and as we respond to the pull of God’s Spirit on our hearts.

So I’m wondering what kind of soil is your company and what kind of soil are you? Has your soil condition changed? Business conditions sure have. Is your business and your life producing the fruit?

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