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Monday, April 10, 2006

This Blog Has Moved

We took the blog in-house so please visit us at TIGBlog Search Engine Marketing & Web Design Blog

Friday, December 16, 2005

TechnOvaLoad.com/rss.xml.ajax.podcast.aaaahhhh

So I've got my FeedReader running and getting updates every few seconds from the blogs, podcasts, websites and I guess traffic reports that are being updated every few seconds, I'm trying to multi-task to get through several deadlines today, answering the phone because the wireless headset makes the phone easy to use and listening to some music from the latest podcast on BandTrax.net when my head suddenly explodes... I've got TechnaOvaLoad.

Don't get me wrong I love all of the advances and I kid about the overload but it can be a bit too much so keep it all in perspective after all it's just technology and you can't take it with you.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

SEO David VS SEO Goliath

We recently lost a project because we were too small. That's the reason! We were told in every other area we were equal or superior to the company that eventually won the bid but the fact that they have about 200 people working for them (we're less than 20) gave the prospective client some sense of peace that at the end of the day the big company would deliver better results than the small company. Now that last statement was something I came up with but isn't that what every project is about? Getting the best results possible?

So let's just do a brief analysis of this from a somewhat skewed point of view.

At any given time how many people are actually working on an SEO project? Of course there are factors here that help dictate this so let's set a couple of parameters.

  • The site is small (less than 20 pages)
  • Competition for the keywords is moderate to semi heavy
  • The site has no current online presence
  • The company has earmarked enough dollars to aggressively compete in PPC and also spend enough man hours for organic SEO.
  • There is 6 months to produce great results

Again, let's look at how many people this might take at any given time, keep in mind that this is done in phases not all at once.

  • In-depth site analysis (technical & seo) - Let's throw two people at this because we have the $ to do so. That means each person must analyze about 10 pages, ouch that's gotta be exhausting
  • Keyword analysis - This is a one person job as the products they are competing for are very focused.
  • Keyword mapping - Let's throw two people at this again.
  • Shopping Cart re-design - There is a shopping cart with this site that has been put in a frameset with some javascript re-direct. This is a one person job and they can build proper meta tags, product descriptions, image tags, etc while they're re-working the cart.
  • Site re-construction - The website utilized i-frames in several sections and pop-ups to present information. To break these out to individual pages would involve one person
  • Content creation - Additional content needed to be added to the site so let's dedicate two people to this.
  • Integrate content and Optimize site - Let's put three people on this as the site has now grown to about double the size it was.
  • Create sitemaps - (Google & static) One person
  • Begin site submission and link building - As this is ongoing with the link building, we will devote two people to this for the first three months and one person for the last three months.
  • PPC Keyword research - As any search marketing firm knows, your organic and ppc lists are not exactly the same but they are similar enough that the time to build a ppc list shouldn't require more than one person.
  • Construct PPC landing pages - As we have a person with a proven track record of creating landing pages that work, this is a one person job
  • Implement tracking - This is a one person job
  • Results tracking - This is a two person job, one for organic, one for PPC

So we've got the project running and set for 6 months and at it's peak I see where we might have 4 people working on the project at any given time. So for arguments sake (hey we all know there are problems and extra people might jump in on a project) let's double that to 8 people and say 4 are full time. So a fourth of our staff are full time on a project that is not only paying them full time but allowing us to hire more people to work all the new projects we have. (Oh and yes with our track record they would receive at least a 100% ROI) I guess they were right, we would not only be able to handle the project just like the big company but we would grow as a company and the big company wouldn't (they've got about 192 people that are twiddling their thumbs since the project didn't use everyone in the company). Now that's not fair so maybe that's where the unfair advantage comes from.

Sure, I jest somewhat but I think the basic points are valid. At any given time no company would have more than 4 people working a project of this size, it wouldn't make sense to spend the man hours unless it's the only project you have.

I wish them the best and hope their competition doesn't call us.

Mark
Search Engine Marketing - Dallas Web Design

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I Thought Jagger Was A Singer With Big Lips

I found out Jagger was an update with big results.

I understand and applaud Google's ongoing efforts to keep their index as clean and fair as possible but what I don't understand is the timing. For two years now going into the busiest time of the year for retailers, Google has decided to do a major update and in the process send thousands of websites spiraling out of control for a week, two weeks and in some cases longer before they land ... wherever they land. I'm not complaining on behalf of my clients or even us (we went from top two positions on all of our main terms to 6th page and worse for almost three weeks) I am complaining on the overall impact on the economy of these businesses that lose money during this time and after when they must now figure out a way to get back into decent rankings. I say figure out a way because in all honesty alot of sites get caught up in these updates that have done nothing to be penalized for. The net that must be cast by Google to implement changes cannot be specific enough to catch just offenders so inevitably it catches sites that play by the rules. Understood but again why now? Why do this during the time of year when business is starting to take off for most of these businesses for the first time all year? If anyone has every worked retail you know the Christmas season is the make it or break it time of year.

I guess my beef is this. Google, you must continue to work on your filters to keep the index as clean as possible but even though you are a cutting edge company who prides itself on finding new ways to do things, there are some things that will never change. One thing is Christmas, people will always want to shop for Christmas a month or two before, during and even a bit after. So next year why don't you do your update in July?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Search Engine Marketing for Miva Merchant 5

Miva Merchant 5 is the latest version of Miva and offers a revised look and feel and several new backend features than previous versions but the path to successful Miva search engine optimization is almost still the same.

Here's what stays the same!

  • Good, revelant content
  • Meta tags that don't overuse keywords
  • Descriptive product titles with keywords
  • Rich product descriptions with relevant content using keywords effectively
  • Text links using keywords when applicable
  • Sitemaps - for use on site and Google
  • Good, relevant links pointing to your site

These basic search engine optimization steps will give you the foundation to have success in the search engines.

Since Miva 5 is the first major version release after the company was taken over by FindWhat all of the modules that have been available to previous Miva versions are not available for Miva 5 yet. This includes the SEO oriented modules but read nothing into that, it is not uncommon when a revised software version comes out that not all external pieces which were available for previous versions are available or compatible with the latest version.

This being said, we have already launched several stores using the Miva 5 platform and by using the steps above (and of course our 8 years of SEO experience) we have already had numerous front page rankings in all of the major engines with these stores. Does that mean the basic Miva 5 store is search engine friendly? Not anymore so than previous versions, what it does mean is that engines now can spider dynamic sites much easier and if the optimization on those sites is done correctly than high rankings can be achieved.

Miva Merchant 5 is an exciting product so much so that we are banking on it as it will be the cart we focus on for all of our ecommerce clients. The Miva SEO modules will come and they will offer easier and more efficient ways to optimize your store but if you don't follow the basic steps listed earlier in this post... the module won't matter.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Internet Marketing - A New Expectation

Most if not all of our clients market their businesses through other mediums beside the internet. They spend thousands and in some cases hundreds of thousands on radio, direct mail, TV, print and other means marketing their products or services and with each of these methods they receive no guarantee of sales or information requests or any action of value to them. So why would they expect that an online marketing campaign should be different? What has changed in marketing that says with traditional means we expect nothing, with the internet we expect something? I think the answer is "big brother is watching".

In my opinion we have been sold on the fact that everything done online can be tracked and thus a sense of guarantee or expectation has risen. Clients feel that with this ability, perceived or not, there should be a direct correlation to the campaign and actual results that can be measured. Well, there should be! Now that doesn't mean you can track through a stats package when someone picks up the phone and places an order or requests information but that also doesn't mean that action can be tracked and related directly to the internet marketing campaign. The expectation that is unrealistic is to expect every result to be web based. Many studies have shown there is a dis-proportionate amount of people who use a website for information only. Those people will learn, compare and then make a purchase or initiate a action offline. It could be by phone or if you have a storefront they may come in and purchase what they found online... in person. The fact that they didn't use the online store doesn't mean the campaign failed if anything it worked perfectly. There was a sale as a result of your internet marketing campaign. If the client was told that before the campaign began would they have cared if it was online? Probably not, as I would expect they are looking to increase sales, not just sales online.

So how do you track this offline behavior? Diligence. You must have a plan of action and strictly follow that plan. Your plan should include a way of tracking phone traffic and foot traffic and should be tightly tied to your online tracking. With diligence you can successfully manage results of an internet marketing campaign.

There is a different expectation for internet marketing campaigns and probably rightfully so but like all marketing don't put your eggs in one basket.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Article Creation & Distribution, The New Linking?

There is always some buzz in the SEO industry about the newest technique to help your site get top rankings in the search engines. Truth is there has been the same basic techniques for as long as I've been doing this. (circa 1998) Those techniques include:

  • Good keyword research
  • Proper meta tag usage (good title tags, description tags, etc)
  • Proper body tag usage (h1's, h2,s, alt tags, etc)
  • Good content with proper and natural use of keywords
  • Good internal use of text links
  • Good and relevant links pointing to your site

What I believe is changing a bit from this relates to linking. Although I feel search engines will always allow proper reciprocal linking (that's the way the web started) I think we have seen an initial shift from the importance or value a reciprocal link on a links page gets. I say this based on research of sites we track and the number of reciprocal links we gather from quality, relevant, high pr sites that don't appear during a backlink update compared to links we establish through articles or releases that are posted on other sites. Those links that are wrapped in relevant content and usually the only links within the content have shown a much greater propensity to be counted as a back link than a reciprocal link. Again, I am not stating reciprocal linking is dead. I am saying there is and guess what, has been, another method of gaining links that seems to work more effectively. So did we (our company) just stumble upon this? No we've always used a variety of methods to obtain backlinks for clients and ourselves.

Including:

  • Reciprocal links
  • Links from press releases
  • Article releases
  • Blog postings
  • Forum postings
  • Text ads
  • Directories
  • Verticals
  • Horizontals... ok, I'm being funny here but you get the point, lot's of ways to get links.

Again, what I'm saying here is that article writing can help with links but also it serves a very important feature that search engines and visitors like... CONTENT!

So how do you go about this article creation and distribution process? Simple, take the time to write. If you're selling a product I would hope you know everything there is to know about that product. Features, size availability, color availability, etc also look at how that product impacts a person who uses it. Does it help with some aspect of daily living, their ability to function better physically, emotionally or even spiritually? These might seem like silly questions if the product is a hubcap but if you take a hard look at that hubcap I bet you'll find some interesting angles to write an article(s) about. That's the key, write, write, write.

The steps are:

  • Choose a subject
  • Use proper spelling and grammar
  • Create an introductory paragraph that summarizes your article
  • Use links within the article to point to other pages on your site that emphasize or explain a point
  • Close with a wrap up or summary of the entire article include a call to action or follow up advice, it's here that you should tie in the product or service you are selling
  • End with a short bio or who you are and include at least a link to your website

So the gist is, tell them what you're going to tell them, then tell them and finally tell them what you told them

Once you have written your article and made sure it has been proofread, spell checked and looked over by at least one other person you will need to submit it. The following are some places to submit an article, you should also consider local, state and national press outlets.

Now you've got another prospective on link building but as with all other techniques to getting great search engine rankings, don't try to trick the search engines, you're only tricking yourself and your visitors.

Enjoy!

Mark Stone
Partner
The Info Group
Search Engine Marketing
Website Design