Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

Superman Has a Great SEO Guy

Here in Metropolis, online advertising is at a premium. You have to make sure it is catchy and if it isn’t, you have to sign a superhero (or villain) to a contract to endorse your product. It’s a cut-throat world and in constant change.

So how does Superman stay at the top?

I’ll tell you how… he has a great SEO guy.

Mind you, the hero won’t tell me the secret identity of the genius behind his online image, but it is clear that he knows what he is doing.

Owning Keyword Phrases

It’s always important to own your keyword phrases especially your company name. If you don’t own this, then you are going to lose money faster than Lex Luthor lost his hair.

Superman’s SEO guy understands this and has spent hours ensuring that the word “Superman” points straight to the superherp. Open up Google and type “superman”. He owns the first three pages. Don’t you wish you could get the same for your client?

Try typing some other phrases.

  • “Superhero” – The third link should be to Wikipedia. Who is the first hero that they mention? Superman.
  • “big blue Boy Scout”, “dc” and “daily planet” – He is listed in the description of the first link.
  • Even if you put in “Lois Lane”, you get info about Superman.

To do this, you need good content, effective META tags and strong H1 tags. (And it helps if you save a school bus or two to get some good buzz.) This just goes to show that writing good content with great keywords can do you wonders.

The Importance of Good Link Campaigns

It also helps that Superman’s SEO guy has spent time building legitimate linking campaigns throughout the web, starting with Wikipedia. Inputting a legitimate page on Wikipedia became a goldmine! There are 8,756 pages linked to the Wikipedia page. Fourteen of these links are from inside Wikipedia, creating some excellent inner-linking campaigns. If you branch out and check all fourteen of these links, you’ll see that there are thousands and thousands of secondary links built in that eventually lead back to Superman.

Are Taglines or Mottos Important on the Web?

You bet they are! If you are known for a certain catch-phrase, then use it to your advantage. That’s what Superman does.

The Man of Steel? The Man of Tomorrow? The Last Son of Krypton? All of them lead to Superman.

Faster than a speeding bullet? More powerful than a locomotive? Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Even though all of these phrases contain common words, the SEO guy has spent years flooding the internet with the phrases in content near the word Superman. You can’t go to the web and type in those keywords without seeing Superman on the page.

The Love of the People

Because of his noteriety and high visibility, Superman shows up all over the place on forums and community message boards. Don’t forget that this can be extremely valuable. Those messages usually stay on the web forever and if you get a link in there, it will build history. Who knows? Maybe it will even gain you new fans.

History, History, History

Speaking of history, did you know that Superman is 70 years old? He’s also been on the internet since its inception and continues to build up his reputation with Google. I hope Google still knows who I am in 40 years. Heck, I hope they still know who I am in 10 years! You can’t buy that kind of history.

We can all take a lesson from this ingenious, unnamed guy who continues to retain his secret identity (until some villain uncovers it). He has taken basic SEO principles and applied them in a manner that is natural and unassuming. It’s almost as if he has super powers.

This article was written by Kimberly Carrillo, an SEO Specialist with IF marketing & advertising and IF Development and is also the resident comic book nerd of the company. Kimberly has spent much of her adult years reading comic books and continues to get annoyed when someone forgets to put them back in the protective bags. IF marketing & advertising is an agency in Austin, TX that specializes in making you and your website a superhero on the WorldWideWeb.

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4 Myths of Google that Your Business Needs to Know

by John Kim & Kimberly Carrillo, SEO Services, IF marketing & advertising

Myth #1
Our web design firm has “secrets” to get you ranked on top of Google!

Because Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is both a science and art, many vendors promise “first page rankings!” to unwitting businesses owners. This claim is the equivalent of “make a lot of money from home with no skills and no money down – with my real estate secrets!”

Really? If you fall for this, you just may deserve to have your money taken. More often than not, these vendors have sales agreements that do NOT back up any guarantee, or include pay-per-click advertising as a “first page ranking.”

Ask any vendor promising search engine success one question – do they have any track record of building an online business themselves? Most successful online marketers bring corporate or entrepreneurial track records having built web-based businesses from the ground up – not just designing websites and “SEO’ing” them. If they can’t build their own web business (other than selling SEO & web design) how are they going to do it for you? This reminds me of the “start-up consultants” that arose in the dotcom boom in Silicon Valley – the irony being that while they charged fees to advise one on how to build a successful start-up business – they themselves had never done it.

Any SEO firm that promises results should be approached with a wary eye. No different than the real estate infomercials at night that promise million dollar results for the fee of an over-priced book. They might make you feel good and full of initial optimism, but they probably won’t make your business a single cent.

Myth #2
It’s too hard to get on Google.

Actually, once your business gets hooked on revenues from being in the search engines, it’s hard to give up. That’s why your competition doesn’t want you as yet another entrant onto their cyber-turf and why Google’s stock price is so high – not because people like using their search engine, but because the websites that are listed on Google experience so much new business by being ranked at the top. Hence is Google’s power to build new businesses and new sources of income for companies that previously did not have large marketing budgets. Google works so well that businesses get “addicted” to the new monies Google brings them.

It’s too hard to get on Google if your search engine marketers do not have the experience of being a veteran in a space that is only 7 – 8 years old. Having said that, for most business owners with vision, one can NOT afford to ignore the rising power that Google brings to small businesses. Once you’re listed in Google and rising in the ranks – most likely your business will also get “hooked” on the new revenues and customers that this newfound visibility brings your business.

Myth #3
It’s a black box of never-ending costs to be on Google.

In most industries, the cost and effort to be ranked atop Google have reached the 3 P’s of the marketplace – price, parity, and par. Meaning that an average marketer may spend $35 to get each new potential customer from Google, but that $35 spent represents a 50% to 200% return in terms of the new business it brings in.

A smart marketer can take that and make it upwards of 400%. And what does it take to be a smart marketer? Like most things – experience. Search Engine Optimization is a relatively new field of software engineering & marketing, and because it’s such a new industry, it has a lack of experienced pros and a glut of fresh vendors eager to “cash in” on the search engine boom. The pros with track records charge an arm and a leg (because they can) and the fresh-faced Johhny-come-latelies offer low prices with “guarantees!” that often yield little to no results.

Compared to word-of-mouth, print advertising, radio, yellow pages or any other ad medium, search engines bring in a far better return-on-investment (ROI) than any other form of advertising. And unlike word-of-mouth, businesses can throttle their spending on Google up and down – generating as few or as many customers as needed, all on demand.

Myth #4
Buying a book on SEO will teach us what we need to know.

Even a competent webmaster can toil away for 2+ years and still not be successful at SEO. That’s because SEO requires a combination of technical mastery of websites as well as a creative element of designing SEO campaigns. Because there are no schools or degrees in SEO (yet) much of the information regarding successful web marketing is scattered and constantly changing. So no book could possibly stay atop the ever-changing search engine result rollercoaster.

That’s because the search engines themselves are continuously altering their algorithms (the mathematical formula(s) that dictate how websites get ranked) in order to keep the results relevant and fresh. This means that there is no “set it and forget it” or periodic “SEO treatments” that can have real affects on rankings. In-house SEO means touching the website on a periodic, if not daily, basis in order to stay atop the competition and regularly study the new trends in SEO.

If you’re going to optimize in-house, spend the first 6 months to get an SEO firm with experience to guide the in-house webmaster – otherwise the webmaster may waste 6 months to a year just “guessing” as to which strategies work best for your business situation, budget, and industry. Also, inexperienced link building strategies and optimization tactics can get your website banned from Google. You’ve been warned!

The Scourge of the Internet Highway: Maintenance

Working on website maintenance is a vital task that ensures fresh content and good SEO results. But what if you have 5 sites? 10? 100? Updates tend to become more of a chore. Setting up a good priority system for your maintenance schedule will help you to tackle updates and stay on top of the game.

Use Your E-mail as Your Personal Assistant
The key to good maintenance capabilities is organization. That word tends to scare many people. How do you stay organized when you are juggling 200 e-mails a day that include personal messages, legitimate edits, questions from clients and spam? And what about the changes that come over the phone or in person? Where does that fit in the mix? What about a change from another co-worker?

To keep all of this organized, you need to use your inbox as a tool, rather than a hindrance. Begin by creating the following sub-folders in your e-mail program: A, B, C, D and Personal.

Personal E-mail
Move all personal e-mail into the Personal sub-folder. Inform your friends and family that you would appreciate it if they did not send you e-mails at work unless they are emergency e-mails. If your work e-mail address is the same as your personal address, then tell your family and friends that you will not answer their e-mails during working hours unless it is something urgent. You need to set up this expectation and stick to it. You will be pleasantly surprised to find out what a relief it is to push those to the side. You should also consider setting up a filter that will send personal e-mails straight to the sub-folder so that it won’t clutter your inbox.

What is A, B, C and D?
These letters stand for your new priority system that will help you tackle your day. Each letter represents a different level of difficulty for your maintenance requests. You need to go through all of your e-mails and place them in the sub-folder that matches the level of time needed to complete the tasks.

D – 5 Minute Change
These edits should take you 5 minutes or less to complete. Examples may include fixing a spelling error, adding a link, changing punctuation or setting up an e-mail address.

C – 30 Minute Change
These edits take a little longer than D edits, but still don’t take all that long. Examples may include creating a graphical button and setting it up as a link on a page, creating a new page and adding content or adding a disclaimer to the footer of your website.

B – 1 Hour Change
These edits will take you the better part of an hour or one-eighth of your day. Examples may include adding a new menu item and page to the website, changing the font of your site (if you don’t use CSS) or major edits to the content.

A – 1 to 8 Hour Change
These edits will take longer than 1 hour, but less than 8 hours. Examples may include changing the colors of the website or converting the entire site to CSS.

What about verbal edits?
The first thing you need to do is to request all edits to be put into e-mail. Explain that this helps you to make sure you don’t miss something. Really try to enforce this, especially with your co-workers. That being said, there are going to be times when it is not possible to get e-mail edits.

TIP: Be sure that you always take notes when given verbal edits!

There are two ways to handle this. If the edits are short, go ahead and type them up and e-mail them to yourself. Then place them into the appropriate sub-folder. If the edits are long, then simply send yourself an e-mail that states the client name and a short summary. (EX: Willy’s Emporium – Work on content edits from conference call.) You can put the written edits into a folder that is kept in a designated area and file the e-mail in the necessary sub-folder.

What Should I Tell the Client?
The first thing you must do is set up expectations with your client. Do not promise them that you will have anything done in 5 minutes. In truth, that is next to impossible. Even with D edits. If the edits are D edits, tell them you will have them done in 1 business day. If they are C edits, tell them you will have them done in 1-2 business days. B edits are trickier. You can only do 8 B edits a day and if you have 8 of them, you will never get to anything else. Therefore, let your client know that it will take 2- 5 business days. Odds are, you will get to them faster than 5 days, but you never know what else might come up.

And now we come to A edits. These are nearly impossible to predict. Sometimes you will get an A edit that you think will take you 8 hours and it might take you 2 hours. Or you think an change is a C edit and once you look at the code, it becomes an A edit. In a perfect world, you shouldn’t schedule more than 2 A edits a week. The best way to approach this with a client is to let them know that you have placed them on the production schedule and their edit will be handled the week of ______. This will give you a break if you suddenly get an onslaught of many A edits. It might also help the client realize that if they have an upcoming change, they can get on your schedule ahead of time, rather than springing it on you.

It is important that you set up good expectations with your client. Consider creating a maintenance white paper with a priority schedule. Inform them at the beginning of your relationship about how many business days are required to make a change. This will alleviate a great deal of stress for you and also help you to avoid those uncomfortable moments when you are trying to estimate time.

I have all of my edits organized by folder. Now what do I do?
When you get to the office, do all of your D edits. Next, do half of your C edits. Then, work on 2 B edits. Work on A edits until an hour before you go home. At that time, finish off the C edits and then go to a B edit. If you have some more D edits come in during the day, refrain from making them until the next day. All of this goes out the window if an emergency edit comes through the door, but this should give you a good system to work with.

TIP: If an emergency change comes in, don’t be afraid to charge double.
Just be sure to let the client know at the beginning of your business relationship.

Start over the next day, making sure that you finish all of your C edits from 2 days previous.

What if a Change is Longer Than 8 Hours?
If you receive an edit that you judge will be longer than 8 hours, then you are not being asked to perform maintenance on a website. You need to approach the client about purchasing a web refresh package or something of that nature. In actuality, edits really shouldn’t take longer than 8 hours. Don’t let your services be sold for chump change. You perform an important duty to the internet community and your work should be highly valued.

Conclusion
If you create a priority plan and stick to it, you will have a system that not only flows well, but will also instill confidence in your clientele.

If you would like to speak to someone about purchasing a maitenance package, consider Intra-Focus, Inc. Intra-Focus is a full-service marketing company that integrates art and technology to deliver traditional and Internet marketing solutions. Leveraging marketing expertise and trend setting creativity, Intra-Focus helps its clients build brand strategy and market presence that generate qualified demand and quantifiable results. Intra-Focus provides innovative marketing solutions to businesses ranging in size from start-up to Fortune 500.

About the Author
Kimm Antell is a Senior Web Programmer at Intra-Focus, Inc. She has been surfing the web since 1989 and has been a web programmer since 1994. Her experience includes several web design workshops as well as customer service workshops at the University of Texas at Austin.

Why Are My Rankings So Bad? (What to expect when you purchase SEO.)

Each day, millions of people turn to internet search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to find what they’re looking for. At this very moment, there’s a good chance that many of your ideal prospects are using search engines to find the exact products or services you provide. The question is — are they finding you? That’s where search engine optimization comes into play.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the act of improving a website for better visibility among major search engines. From a business standpoint, the goal of SEO is to help your ideal prospects find your website, products and services.

A Good Approach to SEO

A competent SEO firm should take a “holistic” approach to search engine optimization. Instead of relying on any one tactic, they should incorporate a number of proven strategies to give you longer-lasting results. They should also provide a managed service that focuses on steady, long-term improvements in your search engine visibility.

Which Tactics are the Right Ones?

Unfortunately, there is no specific rule as to exactly which strategies work. The world of SEO is in a constant state of flux and what will work for your company might not work for another company.

What Will My SEO Firm Do to Improve My Results?

To start, you should expect your firm to have an extended conference call with you and your team. Perhaps you will meet with them at their office to go over your company, products, services and SEO goals. This gives you a great opportunity to see their office and work environment. If you are not comfortable in their office or, even worse, if they refuse to allow you to come to their building, you should immediately consider going elsewhere! There are SEO firms out there who are in it for the buck and not for your wellfare. Avoid these firms at all costs!

Once you have established the relationship and had your initial interview, you can expect the firm to implement specific SEO actions which may include:

  • Initial website evaluation (structure, content, navigation, etc.)
  • Keyword research to determine the exact phrases your prospects are searching
  • Content development where needed, with a focus on proper keyword usage
  • Link-building campaigns to increase your search engine visibility
  • Submitting your website to directories such as Yahoo and Best of the Web
  • Online article distribution to generate back-links from relevant websites to yours
  • Online press release distribution (with back-links to your website)
  • Constant pursuit of targeted online exposure
  • Regular reports to show how your visibility is improving

Some SEO firms will recommend that you redesign your website. If this is the case, do not panic. Ask them if they can implement some other SEO tactics while the site is being redesigned. This will give you the benefit of immediate optimization results while waiting on the new site, rather than waiting for everything several months down the line. Also be sure to see if the firm offers web design services and have it added to your package. This allows the entire optimization process to be handled by one company rather than being spread to another company that might not have SEO experience. You don’t want to spend the money on a new website that you may have to redo in a few months.

Your first reaction may be “This company is just trying to make another buck by selling me a new website.” Don’t jump to that conclusion. A good SEO firm SHOULD tell you if you need a new website if it is indeed a necessity. The majority of websites are not built to meet good SEO strategies. It is extremely probable that your website was not originally built to optimize your online presence. However, if the SEO company’s web design department is below par, then by all means, look for another design company that will work with the SEO firm to give you an outstanding website!

Don’t forget that you should try to redesign your webite every 1 to 2 years, so this is a great opportunity to have a fresh look and to update your content.

How Long Will This Take?

To install strong optimization features for your online presence, you should expect at least a six month process. This means that your SEO firm will monitor your website, update keywords, submit your site to relevant directories, write and release pertinent articles and make adjustments where they need to be made along with other tasks that they feel will help your results. It is this long process that will give you the best success. Some of the tactics will show you immediate results, but don’t be surprised if four months down the road, your SEO firm is still hard at work for your benefit.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Wikipedia.org defines Black Hat SEO as “methods to try to improve rankings that are disapproved of by the search engines and/or involve deception.” This is a practice that has helped unethical companies make a quick buck while detroying the online reputation of some honest businessmen who didn’t realize they were being swindled. Black hat SEO will most likely result in your website being banned from major search engines, especially Google! You do not want this to happen. It takes between 3 months to 1 year to get your site listed on Google once it has been banned. Make sure that your SEO firm does not do the following:

  • Create a redirect file that will send a user to a different page
  • Hide text on a page
  • Hide text in the source code
  • Create thousands of nonsense pages that do not have original content
  • Stuffing your content with keywords
  • Creation of web pages that contain content that isn’t relevant to your business
  • Links in your content to web pages that have no affiliation with your business

Trust me… if Google makes your website invisible, your online business will plummet. It’s just not worth it.

Get Started Today!

The key to search engine success is to start an SEO program early and sustain it over time. It takes time to “climb the charts,” so it’s best to get a head start on the competition. If you would like to talk to a company who has experience with SEO tactics and implementation, contact Intra-Focus, Inc. and ask about a custom SEO program for your company’s website!

Get Noticed Online

Publishing press releases can support your internet marketing and PR program in several ways. Creating an entire online PR campaign opens up lesser known opportunities and also generate leads to direct inquiries from the media and prospective customers. Use the following steps to help you realize your online PR campaign.

Step 1 – The Press Release

The first step is to identify a topic for your press release. Popular topics include new or improved products, relocations or new locations, website or blog launches, or any other unique stories associated with your company. Be sure that you have a competent person create a professional press release that identifies your target audience. Be aware that writing for print media and writing for the web can differ. If you do not have an employee that can meet these needs, you should hire a marketing firm to write the article for you. You might be surprised at how little it will cost for this service!


TARGET AUDIENCE QUIZ

Which of these sentences would appeal to men aged 16 – 20.

#1. The new Speedster skateboard uses ionized paint to anticipate the retroactive artistic styles of master artisans of the past century.

#2. The new Speedster skateboard has a retro look that will appeal to your senses.

Both of these sentences say the same thing and are professionally written, but the first sentence will probably cause the target audience to immediately stop reading. If you do not have someone in your business to handle these duties, you should consider hiring a marketing firm that has a copywriter. You might be surprised how little you will have to pay for this service.


NOTE: Do not finalize the press release until it has been checked for spelling and grammar by someone other than the copywriter. It never hurts to have a second set of eyes!

Step 2 – Releasing to the Media

Once you have the press release finalized, it is time to release it to the media for release in their publication or electronic medium. Send your PR to prweb.com and prnewswire.com. These websites are two of the most sophisticated online press release services around and many media outlets use these two websites to find news. Your article might just get picked up by dozens of newspapers! By combining your marketing firm’s knowledge and experience with the powerful distribution networks of sites like PRweb, you can transform your press release into an online promotional vehicle with unlimited reach.

You should also send your press release to your local newspaper and any local television or radio stations. Make sure that they have good contact information for you in case they would like to use you in a feature story!

Step 3 – The E-campaign

At this point, you should strongly consider hiring a marketing firm to handle the creation of your e-campaign. If you used a copywriter to write the press release, see if they will also set up the e-campaign. (Better yet, try to get everything in one package!) The e-campaign should be attractive and eye-catching and have at least one link to a landing page. Make sure that the landing page contains a form for lead generation or, at the very least, a button for people to contact you.

An important item that is largely ignored is the size of the e-campaign. If you choose to send the entire press release in the e-mail, then the campaign should be no wider than 600 pixels. This will fit in most e-mail clients. If you choose to send a summary of the article or an eye-catching graphic that will go to the press release, then the campaign should be no wider than 600 pixels and no taller than 395 pixels.

Your marketing firm should also have a system that will track how many people viewed and clicked on the e-mail. Be sure to ask for reports. This is an excellent opportunity to not only judge the success of your e-campaign, but also to remove any defunct e-mail addresses from your customer database.

Step 4 – Updating Your Website

If you don’t have a news page on your existing website, you are missing out on a great opportunity to add fresh content and to expand your profile on search engines. Get your news section built and add your first article.

If you do have a news page, get your article up there with a dateline at the top and contact information at the bottom.

Be sure to link no more than five phrases in your article to other pages in your website. This is called an optimized press release and will be beneficial to your search engine optimization efforts.

Step 5 – To Blog or Not to Blog

This step is optional, but can bring great rewards to your online presence. If you have a blog, post your press releases with target phrases linked back to your existing website. Optimized press releases get a lot of visibility in the major search engines. They can also generate new links back to your website, as other sites republish your release. These "backlinks" play an important role in the overall search engine visibility of your website.


INDUSTRY EXAMPLE – Online PR Campaign (Intra-Focus, Inc.)

An online PR campaign was recently created for Jimmy Jacobs Custom Homes and their work on Extreme Makeovers: Home Edition. In addition to electronic press releases, they also created a special website to generate buzz about the project.

>> Read the press releases
>> View an example of an e-press release
>> See the website
>> Visit the main website


The world is becoming more internet focused by the minute and you need to stay on top of this technology wave or your company will drown. Don’t wait! Get proactive and start your online PR campaigns today!

Learn More
If you are interested in getting a quote from a marketing firm or just finding out more about the process, you should contact Intra-Focus, Inc. Intra-Focus has a wealth of experience writing press releases, optimizing them for the search engines, and distributing them online. They can transform your press release into an online promotional vehicle with unlimited reach.

The Truth About SEO

Your site and the new generation of organic search technology.

By Robert Cowes (Products & Services Principal) & Clay Delk (Marketing Communications Writer) at Intra-Focus, Inc.

Unlike any other advertising medium, a successful internet presence can make or break businesses in almost any field. As internet presence, marketing and sales become a more integral part of business success, the degree of web presence and the process of “search marketing” have become more valuable than ever. Search engine optimization is still very much an emerging art, but its importance has grown exponentially over the last decade.

Early incarnations of search engines and search marketing were much different than today’s standard. To place high in rankings, business owners simply needed to place a handful of metatags or descriptors into their web page headers. Today’s search engines utilize a much more advanced combination of factors–or algorithm–to determine the best web pages. While metatags are still important, these new algorithms also take into account factors like specific copy and word choice, links from outside sites, submissions to online directories and regular content updates.

These elements combine in what is now called an organic search engine because the final results tend to be pages that are not only directly related, but have also grown to become highly regarded authorities on the subject. The search engine companies regularly reconfigure their algorithms every 3 to 6 months making this combination of factors even more difficult to decipher. Since each is a publicly traded company, they are continually working to maintain an edge over each other and over businesses trying to make the most of their sites.

In addition, regularly changing the algorithms helps ensure that the company’s own pay-per-click services remain useful and effective. These services will place a sponsor’s link at the top or along the side of the website for specific searches. These services work well for quick, dependable placement, but can also become very expensive.

All of these factors have combined to make search engine optimization a very complex and time-consuming element of a successful web presence. Some of the top companies offering SEO services charge anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000 for set up and another $300 to $5,000 a month to maintain the website. A recent survey of industry professionals found that over half (64%) of all businesses that outsource search marketing fail to implement the SEO companies’ recommendations. The major reasons for this failure stem from a lack of human resources and budgetary allocations required to optimize and maintain a successful web presence.

Fortunately, Intra-Focus now offers organic search marketing services with a proactive approach to website maintenance, linking campaigns and regular content updates. This new service is different from our previous treatment campaigns because we can now actively work to maintain and improve your web presence on a monthly basis–not only improving your original search ranking, but continuing to grow your web presence organically.

About Intra-Focus, Inc.
Intra-Focus, Inc. is a full-service marketing company that integrates art and technology to deliver traditional and Internet marketing solutions. Leveraging marketing expertise and trend setting creativity, Intra-Focus helps its clients build brand strategy and market presence that generate qualified demand and quantifiable results. Intra-Focus provides innovative marketing solutions to businesses ranging in size from start-up to Fortune 500.