Archive for 'research'

Where Business Editors and Newspapers are Failing

An interesting piece I found on Talking Biz News that is worth a gander: Where Business Editors and Newspapers are Failing.

Think it may be a good idea to find some top flight bloggers and syndicate them across many newspapers? I think that’s a viable solution. Many of us are finding and sharing good content throughout the day so why not include that research in a news rag?

Thanksgiving Musings

First off, I hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving and a safe one. Our family got together for a fantastic meal at my brother’s house in which his wife (Donna) cooked up a mean bird and her world famous green-beans. I used to hate green-beans, but she got me back to liking them to the point I can make a pretty tasty pot myself (her recipe tweaked of course).

Since this day is about giving thanks, I thought I’d take the time to give thanks for the following:
1) My parents are still alive and kicking. Mom is in a nursing home, but she’s at least adjusted and seems content/at peace. I hate seeing her there, but they can give her the care she requires at this juncture. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that I hope they find a cure for as it’s affected my mom’s side of the family pretty heavily which scares me to no end—I have seen what the disease can do, and I don’t want to go through that. That’s a selfish view, but I can’t help but wonder if I’m headed there eventually. Luckily, my dad’s side of the family doesn’t seem to be afflicted with Alzheimer’s so there’s hope. Anyway, I’m very thankful my parents are still with us regardless of capacity. If your parents are still around, please appreciate the time you have with them.

2) I have my health for the most part. My knees now cause issues, but I’m in pretty good condition other than that. Every since I kicked the diet drink habit (February 8, 2006), I’ve felt much better overall, and my cholesterol, blood pressure, resting heart rate, and energy levels have returned to normal. That aspartame is a demon—stay off that stuff if you can.

3) I met a great girl this past year (Jennifer), and we’ve been going strong since March. While I’m sure I frustrate her with my tunnel vision focus on work sometimes, I’m really glad to have her in my life. I’ve been fortunate in the dating department and probably take some of it for granted when I get zoomed in on another aspect of life, but that’s just who I am.

4) I got my own business started in earnest this past year—something I have always desired to do for as long as I can remember. It’s beginning to produce fruit so I feel good about the future of this firm. It takes a lot of work to start a business (a topic for a future article?), and I honestly had no idea what I was doing when I started down this path last year. I halfway started this thing then, but I threw myself totally into it in the summer of 2006. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to work with some great people and expand my own knowledge along the way.

5) Last but not least, I’m thankful for my family and friends. I’ve got some high quality people in my life, and I’m glad to have them share in the trials and tribulations of my life and vice versa. Every successful person has a solid support group so I’m fortunate to have that. Repeated success is sure to follow with the group I have in my corner.

Now onto a recap of my Thanksgiving if you’re interested.

Day in General
My day got started by doing something I truly enjoy—bicycling with our Louisville Race Team. We (13 of us at the start; 9 at the end after a few peeled off early to head back home) set out to do 40 miles from one of the local parks at a decent pace but nothing too brisk. I somewhat determined the route we’d follow with input from a few other guys. Much to my chagrin, I guided the team past a key turn about 25 miles in, and we ended up with 70+ miles instead of the planned 40. Oops! Sorry about that guys. I hope nobody got thrown into the doghouse for being late, but I’m guessing a couple of guys did. I feel bad about that because I don’t like misguiding a group of friends/teammates, and I really didn’t want the extra 30 miles because I’ve been battling knee pain for a while now, and that didn’t help matters. Around mile 50 or so, my legs started locking up in the knee area (of course) so the last portion of the ride was rather painful. Thankfully we weren’t drilling it out today, or I’d have been complete toast! Not sure if I can ride tomorrow, but the ride today really helped create quite a bit of hunger so there was some serious damage done to the food spread. This is the first Thanksgiving I can remember in a long while I haven’t been hung-over from totally blowing it out the night before so I’m happy about that. I drank nary an ounce last night so I felt pretty good all day aside from the end of the ride. Perhaps I’ve finally matured?

Work
I’ve actually done some work today—can you believe that? Maybe I’m obsessed, as some have suggested, but I truly find it easier to “catch up” during holidays because people aren’t looking to do something or go somewhere.

I am working on another SEO article and also researching different copywriting techniques to guide people through a website and ultimately get them to sign up for something or at least have enough interest to contact me. I’m disappointed in my website’s traffic so I’ve decided to do something about it. Getting it to rank well is one thing, but “converting” visitors is another. The site gets consistent new visitors each week, but they obviously aren’t intrigued enough to go to the contact page and fill out the form or sign up for the newsletter. If you have some constructive criticism you’d like to share on what you’d do to better “convert” visitors, I’m very open to that. The site can be found at http://smbconsultinginc.com/. Check it out and shoot me an e-mail (go to the contact page on site and reference this post otherwise I’ll think you’re just some wise ass. Ha, ha.)

Sports
While I sit here watching the Boston College/Miami college football game, I’m reminded of how far the Hurricanes have fallen yet I don’t believe Larry Coker should be fired. The guy has a 58-15 record (.795 winning pct.) coming into this game. That’s phenomenal! I think he should be given another year at least. You can’t throw someone with that kind of record under the bus so quickly and easily even though the fans are screaming to chop the guy’s head off.

Tomorrow the Cards play in Cincinnati against Dayton in basketball, and Saturday the football team is at Pittsburgh. Both are worrisome games because the basketball team can’t stop dribble penetration worth a damn, and the football team’s defense struggles against the pass. Tyler Palko (Pitt) is a solid quarterback that could pick apart the secondary if we don’t get consistent pressure on him. I believe we will put some pressure on him, but that doesn’t mean a win is guaranteed because of that alone. Our offense has struggled of late, and this game has been a source of stress all season even when we were undefeated and rolling.

As for the basketball team, there is a good group of young talent, but Rick Pitino doesn’t like to play freshmen as much as he’s going to have to play them this season. That troubles me because this freshman class is a very talented one, but they have to learn on the job. Last year was a complete circling of the bowl in hoops, and I frankly won’t go through another one of those this year. If this team shows signs of sucking, I’ll have to find something else to do with my time. My blood pressure simply can’t handle a repeat of last season.

There you have what’s on my mind today. Not a lot of business for a change, but I figure a change of pace every now and again doesn’t hurt anything. Right?

What are you pondering this Thanksgiving Day? What are you thankful for? As always, f
eel free to e-mail me or comment below, and thanks for reading.

by Roger Bauer
Posted: 11/20/2006

Designing a website can be a daunting task if you’re new to the game and have little time to research the proper ways to develop a site that is both user and search engine friendly. After-all, what good is a website if no one can find you? Below are some things to avoid if search engine traffic is a priority.

Frames
Frames are pages within a page. Search engine crawlers, spiders, or bots (small pieces of code the engines send out to inventory websites) read a frameset as one page with very little content. Just because you can’t see the frames distinctly when viewing a page online doesn’t mean the search spider sees the site as a human does. If you want to see the site as a crawler does, right click on the main area of the page in question and view the source code of that page. Avoid frames especially for main/home pages of a site.

Flash
Flash is a very cool and hip way to do a page as it can incorporate interactivity and entertainment into a site or page, but it has little value to a search crawler. The fact is a search crawler cannot read a Flash page or component so all of that content and interlinking you worked so hard to develop earns you nothing in terms of search value. Your viewers may love your site, but you’re unlikely to attract new viewers without the help of the search engines. One caveat: it’s okay to mix in some Flash, but stay way from pure Flash for your website if your goal is to attract the masses.

Java-script Navigation
Search crawlers can’t execute lines of code therefore they won’t be able to navigate your site if you implement a lot of Java-script to guide users. The purpose of a crawler is to inventory a website to report back to the engine what it found. Once the search engine has a pretty good inventory of a site, it can mix that site in with the search engine results pages (SERPs) for a given keyword phrase. Try to make the crawler’s job as easy as possible by limiting the amount of scripting navigation per page. If you insist on using scripting for navigation, make sure you have some form of HTML navigation visible as well. At worst, have an HTML link on each page to an accurate site map for your site.

Dynamic URLs
Most search engines will not list dynamic URLs in their results pages. Dynamic URLs are typically used for database driven sites or script based sites. The above paragraph outlines the reasoning behind avoiding scripts, and dynamic URLs are no different. If you must use dynamic URLs, try to have a main page that doesn’t so that the search engines can find you.

Image Map Navigation
Search crawlers frequently get stuck within image maps and can’t accurately inventory your site. Stick with standard HTML navigation schemes if at all possible.

When designing your site, keep in mind that it needs to be easy to navigate for users and search engine crawlers alike. A slick site is of little use if no one can find you especially a search engine crawler.

Before Tackling SEO In-House, Weigh Your Options

Have you ever wondered “can’t I just perform search engine optimization in-house?” The answer is a resounding “yes, you can,” but there are many things to consider prior to starting your own in-house SEO program. If everything does not line up at the moment, it may be a wiser decision to bring in an outsider to optimize your website properly. Let’s look at some common considerations.

The initial question you should ask yourself prior to undertaking an in-house SEO program is “do I currently have the staff expertise to tackle SEO effectively?” Good candidates for SEO have traits such as: good research skills, learns quickly, high attention to detail, adapts well to change, enjoys solving fairly complex puzzles, is technologically savvy, and isn’t afraid to try various approaches to solve a problem. If you do not spot these basic traits in someone on your staff which could transition smoothly into an SEO role, it might be wise to look externally for some help.

If there is no one obvious on board currently, who else might be an ideal choice within your organizational ranks to learn SEO? Perhaps training someone that is unhappy in their current role, yet is still considered an asset to the organization, may provide a good opportunity to transition that person over to an important new role. Maybe there is someone that is very intelligent which isn’t so happy dealing with people on a regular basis—they may make a good candidate also.

Once you have a candidate or team sketched out, how will you train them? There are several places to look for training and several sources of basic information, but it may be best to hire an outside firm with the sole purpose of training some of your people as they perform the actual services. Many reputable firms will agree to this type of arrangement provided you are clear with your objectives early on in the relationship, and you set a realistic timeframe. This presents a potential win-win outcome in many cases because the outside firm can lay claim to improved ratings as a result of your partnership, and you can build your new team while sharing in the publicity your site brings to both parties. Keep in mind it can take anywhere from two solid months to a year to get someone up to snuff so don’t expect miracles overnight just because you’ve pegged some folks to take on this role. If someone is really passionate about learning, the curve can be shorter, but that is an exception rather than a rule. Most people are resistant to change which means they won’t fully invest of themselves immediately.

Lastly, are SEO tasks performed in-house really cost effective for your organization at this stage of the game? Many SEO firms charge, on average, anywhere from $2,000-10,000 per month to perform their services. That’s a somewhat broad price range, but it takes into account several factors such as: how competitive are the keywords you’re wanting to rank well for, how many high ranking back-links might it take to improve your site’s ranking, will original content generation be a major factor, how well does the site rank today, how long until consistent results may be evident, and so forth. SEO is not a quick fix project and should be viewed as a long range strategic investment versus a one-time project.

If, after reading over this brief list of considerations, you even slightly believe it would be of greater long-term benefit to your company to hire an external firm, it might save some headaches down the road to just bite the bullet and hire someone now. SEO can definitely be done in house, but it takes appropriate planning and allocation of resources just like anything else.

For more Search Engine Optimization information, please visit our company site.

The Basics of SEO

What is SEO anyway?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO for short) is a highly involved, somewhat lengthy, process designed to elevate an internet website’s major search engine ranking and/or positioning. The major search engines (Google, Microsoft Network (MSN), and Yahoo) make up greater than 70% of search traffic on the internet. This is a common way for people to find others, information, companies, potential business partners, etc. by entering a “keyword” or search term. Typically, the searcher will seek information on their keyword or search term and click on the top results. Thus the higher a site ranks for a given keyword or search term, the better its chances of attracting more visitors to its site.

Why Should I Care about SEO?
If you run a business and have a web presence, don’t you want the most people possible knowing about that business? Wouldn’t it benefit you if your website was able to bring you new leads or develop new customers every day, 24 hours per day? Research has shown that nearly 95% of all search engine users rarely read past the first page of search results. Because of that, it behooves you to have your website on the first page of search results for specific keywords and terms.

Can’t I just Pay for a High Ranking?
No! Organic (or “free”) search listing rankings cannot be purchased. These are “earned” over time via links, content, keyword relevance, page and site descriptions, titles of pages, etc. You can pay for clicks to your website based on specific terms or keywords however these are separate results from the free results people commonly click.

What is Pay-Per-Click?
Pay-per-click is a form of internet advertising where you pay a certain amount for each “click” or “hit” to your website as a result of a person searching for a certain keyword or phrase.

What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud occurs when a person or automated computer script imitates a legitimate search for a keyword or phrase yet clicks on the pay-per-click result for the sole purpose of generating revenue for the search engine or affiliate.

What is a Linking Partner?
A linking partner is a website which provides a link to your site. Some will require a link on your site to theirs in return (a reciprocal link) while others will want to have a link on a third party’s site in exchange for the link to yours. Reciprocal links aren’t as valuable as unique one way links but the more links you have pointing to your site (link popularity), the more “important” the search engines will consider your site.

What is Page Rank?
Page Rank is Google’s proprietary algorithm for determining a site’s importance. It’s expressed as a value from 1-10 with 10 being the most important and most desirable. The algorithm was designed by Larry Page, Google’s co-founder. Page Rank is affected by things such as the number of links pointing to your website, and the amount of unique and relevant content on your website.

What is a Keyword?
A keyword is a typical word or phrase you’d expect people to use when searching for your site. That’s about as simple as we can explain it.

What is Keyword Density?
The number of keywords you use on a particular page in relation to the number of total words on that page. The more keywords you have peppered throughout the page and site, the better your site may rank for that particular term. You must be careful not to load a page with too many keywords, however—that is considered keyword “stuffing” or spamming and is frowned upon by the search engines.

What is a Sitemap?
A sitemap is basically an inventory listing of all of the pages on your site. It tells the search engines how to get around your site and also how many pages there are on your site. It can be made visible to your visitors, but it doesn’t have to be. Uploading an XML file directly to the search engines is a generally accepted best practice for optimizing your search engine rankings.

What is a Spider?
Search engines utilize small programs to surf and inventory sites all over the internet. These are called spiders, and they follow links from site to site to gather their inventory to report back to the search engine. They are also referred to as crawlers or bots from time to time.

What is a Meta Tag?
A meta tag is an HTML piece of code which provides information about that particular page or document. These don’t provide formatting information or any actionable code—they are there for the search engines to catalog your site and the pages contained on your site.

What is a Blog?
A blog (short for weblog) is a news or journal type of site which is frequently used more for opinionated type of entries and is typically updated frequently. It is intended for general consumption but has become a valuable tool for all types of users to spread information and awareness of their websites.

Why Should I Write Articles for my Website?
Articles are a great way to increase the amount of unique content on your site as it pertains to the keywords you desire to rank well. There are numerous websites that publish articles, and it is common practice for the authors to include a link in their by-line back to their website. This creates an inbound link to the author’s website which in turn increases its popularity. It’s also a good way to increase awareness aside from the linking benefits.

What are Directories?
Directories are databases containing listings to websites based on categories and sub-categories. Many of the search engines access directories to crawl their links to learn of new sites. Directories are an invaluable resource for search engines and can often serve to improve a site’s ranking depending upon how important the search engine weighs the directory in question. Directories may provide a link to your site often without requiring a return or reciprocal link on your site.

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