Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lucky escape for mid air jet & glider collision near Reno

I flew gliders a lot in Minden, Nevada these past 10 years - its the valley below Heavenly Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe and I last visited there in November 2005 to do a spot of gliding.

Anyway a mid air collision between an ASW 27 high performance glider and a Hawker executive jet happened 2 days ago. Fortunately all parties survived though the glider pilot had to bail out and parachute to safety into the mountains whilst the jet landed on its belly at Carson City airport. Interesting flight which I am sure will give them all something to tell their respective grand kids!

I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon and say this was an accident waiting to happen like so many others are saying as I have soared the Pinenut Mountains (the location of the mid air collision) and I don't believe that for an instant.

If you don't glide or fly then its easy to imagine glider pilots are dangerous as hard to see due to their small size and the skies are so full of power planes then gliders shouldn't be there.

Small power aircraft are also hard to spot and a view from a slow moving glider is far better than from a powered jet travelling at 300 mph!

Why neither pilot saw each other will be discovered in any air accident investigation - I used to spot jets with plenty of time to move out of their way - even if the rules do state powered aircraft give way to gliders!

All pilots are trained to carry out a thorough lookout as part of our flying training and it is drummed in on every flight review we carry out. Lookout, Lookout, LOOKOUT...

Accidents in life do happen and risks are what drive us humans forward - its an unfortunate part of life.

Thankfully there was no loss of life in this instance - maybe some lost pride and a couple of wrecked aircraft but nothing else.

Finally if you've never gone gliding and you find yourself in the Minden area I would not hesitate to have a go. Gliding over the Sierra Nevadas is one experience in life you do not want to miss! (Even if you do have to avoid the occasional jet coming into Reno!)



Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Being busy is great but it makes it hard to blog

Really busy this week - in fact most of September I am booked solid with new and existing clients so there may be some delay in getting blogs out.

I'll promise to make as much effort as possible - in fact I have a list of articles as long as my arm I wish to write, its just finding the time to sit down and craft them carefully for really good reading.

Wish me luck in finding the time!



Saturday, August 26, 2006

Does anyone care about Global Warming or are we just kidding ourselves??

This is off topic but what I find disturbing is this report on BBC news:

So do we ACTUALLY CARE about our planet and the environment or is the urge to make that all important extra £ or $ just far more attractive.

I fear we as humans are continuing blindly on with no real regard and this will cause us serious problems for future generations.

I hear a lot of people saying they recycle and are green yet that goes out the window when they get a car (more and more a fuel greedy 4X4) or go on holiday abroad a few times a year.... is it me or is our economy just too wrapped up to actually allow us to make economic changes that will help preserve or even this planet we all live on...



Friday, August 25, 2006

Wordtracker is more accurate than I gave it credit for

I have a website that is in the planning stage of a complete content and structure revamp. To make sure keyword phrases I usually make use of Wordtracker. Now I have always been a bit dubious about this tool - its great for keyword seeding (i.e. coming up with other keywords).

BUT I have been pleasantly surprised that its estimates are (for me anyway) pretty accurate which gives me a hell lot of confidence. Some results are slightly skewed - especially competing sites - for one of my keyword phrases Google lists more than 46,400,000 sites whilst Wordtracker reports only 2040 sites are competing for this phrase. Not sure about this one... requires some more research.

The certain keyword phrase "how to please a man in bed" (don't ask!) currently ranks highly on Google for one of my site. Due to its redesign I won't link to it just now.

This phrase was targeted as part of a plan to increase traffic to the website over time as it was an ecommerce site in a competitive arena. It did bring a lot of people to the site but very few converted and made a purchase.

This is something I wanted to correct.

With other projects taking up my time I have elected to bring the site back to a content only site and have advertising around that (mainly Adsense). This may (if done correctly) generate a small regular income which is better than having a website online doing nothing at all as it is currently doing.

So I thought I would generate more keyword phrases based on the one mentioned above. Right now the site is bringing in over 130 visitors a month just on the keyword phrase "how to please a man in bed". However Wordtracker only estimated worldwide there would be 5 searches daily - so on the whole its close (based on 30 x 5 = 150).

Just watch out for the number of sites competing - Wordtrackers result can be a little conservative.

Lastly if you're having doubts about keyword research tools have a second think about Wordtracker... it might be accurate enough to help you get the keywords you really want.



Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Ten Levels of Seo

This post makes it all sounds so easy! :)

Ten Levels of SEO

An amusing but also insightful article on levels of seo (search engine optimization)

Still I enjoy what I do and the Porsche is not that far off (only a few more years.....)



Benefits of corporate blogging

Gartner analyst, Allen Weiner's quote: "What is undeniable is that there is a growing interest among businesses towards blogs as business communication tools..."

I spent time yesterday with clients of mine who are considering the possibility of further web optimisation and internet marketing services through my company all things web.

I mentioned the benefits of blogging to my client which caught his interest as it appears he had heard of blogs previously. He was extremely interested to hear more.

Most of the concepts of blogging he readily grasped but I think my client was left with a few elements he was not so sure about. I advised he had given me the idea to blog about the benefits to business through corporate blogging.

So thanks Mike! He knows who he is... :)

I've spent some time researching this morning so that this particular blog entry has as much detail as possible to communicate with everyone reading - including customers.

Blogging offers the corporate user a great way of marketing and communicating for almost next to nothing. The only REAL investment you have to make is yours or your staff's time - so it may be a good idea to share out the strain of creating and writing blog entries if you intend to blog on a regular basis.

Share and care with a blog

Corporate blogging can help present your business as a caring, sharing company and become part of a larger networking community.

The web is increasingly becoming a "social network" - with the likes of MySpace, Digg and others sharing their knowledge of websites and blogs. It is becoming a solid community and offers the potential for many businesses to increase their network sphere on a social (and professional) basis.

Blogging is a way for your company to become more interwoven with the internet community at large and for many blogging companies right now this is happening on a National or even GLOBAL basis.

The secret to blogging

The secret to blogging successfully is to allow your personality (and individuality) shine through. Forget trying to use your latest direct sales techniques, this is not what blogging is for.

Be honest and have an opinion - this can help your reputation and also promote other people to leave comments on your blog.

Its likely you are passionate about what you do in your business. Make that completely transparent on your blog.

People follow passion

If you show how passionate you are about your industry you will likely gain more blog readers who in turn will inform others about your blog and your business.

This can be of greater benefit than any other marketing campaign as your blog can be a point of reference for many people associated with your industry.

Generating content for your blog

This is the most common failure of a blog and a regular objection I hear from people when considering blogging as a marketing and PR tool.

If you treat your blog like any other part of your business and persevere it is likely your blogging will benefit your company. Blogs require effort and long term planning to really be of benefit. The odd blog here and there is not going to be as rewarding for you.

Ensure your content makes for good reading, is informative and also entertaining.

Regular blogging can help as people are more likely to subscribe to your blog if they know it is updated regularly.

If you are struggling for content use services such as Google News Alerts to keep you informed of events and happenings in your particular industry. You can then post these links from the news items and then make your own comments and reflections within your blog. Easy!

If you intend to allow staff to blog do make sure there is a Corporate Blogging policy in place to ensure sensitive company information is not inadvertently (or maliciously) posted online.

Final thoughts

As a PR tool, blogging really is not an option you want to miss out on. It's been around for a while now and does not show any signs of losing pace. Miss out on your blogging opportunity with peril!



Monday, August 21, 2006

Trademark rules not adhered to by Google

Maybe its me. Maybe I have missed something but I tried to set up an Ad Group in an SEO campaign for my own company - All Things Web - using the term "Google" in the Ad.

Google will not allow me to do this as they advise it is Trademarked. Fair enough.

HOWEVER when a trademarked term is put in for another client of mine in organic search one of his competitors is listed above in a sponsored (blue) link - AND it comes up for a specific trademarked term.

Yet when I complain to Google and advise that the competitor is using a trademarked term that belongs to my client they advise me that "we should contact the competitor to advise for them to stop using a trademarked term".

Why they cannot just prevent my clients competitor from using his trademarked term I do not know. Talk about looking after your own... or is it that Google only look after the bigger industry players????

I'd very like much to know and invite a public response from Google to respond. I'd be interested to hear.



Friday, August 18, 2006

5 stages of drunkenness

Its official! The BBC are claiming that if you drink enough you turn invisible. How great is that???

And if its from our State Owned Propaganda Unit (aka the Beeb) its got to be true! LOL

I'm off down the pub to try this one out right now!



Thursday, August 17, 2006

Forums help promote your brand!


Wanting more traffic to your website?

Thought about starting a Forum? Its not all blog, blog, blog... there are other ways of getting traffic to your site.

Creating and managing a forum can be a good way of having regular users on your website on a daily (or even hourly) basis.

I have a client who has a forum about "Bergamasco dogs" and I believe the forum has helped her site climb up in Google to 1st place for the term mentioned above. It is admittedly a niche website with only 214000 other websites competing so that is likely another main reason for its high ranking but with plenty of forum topics using the term Bergamasco I think it has been noticed by the search engines as higly relevant.

It has taken a while to increase the numbers of visitors to the forum and the website but both are now doing very well in terms of focused traffic.

The only downsides? Having to monitor the site and ensure no-one is abusing the forum rules. If the forum is abused do make sure you can ban forum members by name AND ip address to help prevent their return.... one bad apple can ruin it for everyone and send your members to other forums... so make sure you protect your investment.

Work hard to make your forum a 1st stopping point for your business/hobby sector and its likely you will see a positive return.



Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Google Base for ecommerce merchants

Known previously as Froogle I had my doubts when a client first asked me to set this up for his website.

It might well serve the USA market but I was doubtful it would increase the number of visitors to my clients website.

However I think I have been (pleasantly) proved wrong.

Having advised my client to significantly lower his prices on certain outdoor/walking/hiking/camping products Google Base/Froogle is now in most cases listing his website products in "Product Search Results" at the top of the Google page - ABOVE the 1st place organic result.

This has lead to more traffic - 28% - and a significant rise in conversions of visitors to sales.

The next plan is to increase prices to just BELOW his competitors online prices so he can make more from a sale. At the moment some of the prices are being sold with a very marginal profit so he now needs to make some money. Being able to see what his competitors are charging is proving to be a bonus!

If your online shop is not being listed I would seriously go out and get your site and it's products today into Google Base!



Monday, August 14, 2006

Time to update... for better web optimization

It pays to test, refine and analyse your web optimization results on a regular basis and create and modify pages around some of the data that you receive from your server logs.

Well its been around 3 months now that my web pages at All Things Web have been up offering my web marketing services to potential new clients.

In that time it has generated a number of enquiries and helped me convert several of those enquirers into new business.

However I wisely had the site reviewed in a Website Critique forum on Ecademy (an online business network). Some of the criticisms were blatantly correct and sorely obvious so I have made my mind up to alter the pages on my website.

Nothing too drastic, just alterations in content. Mostly decreases with links to break up the information on web optimization into smaller pieces. That way it will make the site easier to read.

I will check to see if I can improve my grammer and look to reduce the number of words on each page - bar the home page of course.

In all the site currently is being listed for the following keyword phrases - as I said early days but its on the increase so as I increase my content I will see my site coming up for more keywords.

Here is the current list for August - and we are only 14 days in:

web optimisation (found via PPC)
all things web
uk seo experts (organic search - pleased with this result)
initial marketing
website design 499 plus vat
market website (PPC)
seo experts uk (dead chuffed with this result but does only show on a Google UK Search)
home top 10 submit site
show keywords to find instant links
website in google results
benefits of linking with other services
submit a new website
ppc web pages
set up google campaign (third on Google, a pleasing result)
advertising a new website
website marketing guidelines
advertise my website
sdk photography
css webpage content
website optimisation
ppc increasing conversions
major website design mistakes
market my website
sponsored links in blue background adwords
ecademy vat
marketing consultancy per hour
medium level targets
get your website in google results (1st page results for this phrase so worked out well)
web site optimisation
website optimisation uk windsor
pictures of blunsdon wilts
how to get in the blue background in adwords
increase ppc conversion rate (Google UK search only but again on the first page and worked out well)
how to get a website into google s index
website underconstruction signs

So if you do not believe the route to securing targeted traffic to your website via unique keyword phrases I would say there is almost undisputable proof that this concept DOES work.

I'm off to sort my website out - and stay one step ahead of the game!



Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Men of SEO

I regularly read Rand Fishkin's blog and found this other blog today courtesy of one his blog articles:

The Men of SEO

It did brighten my day and raise a laugh so I thought I'd share it with you!

Personally I do not know Rand (he is US based whilst I am in the UK) but he is acknowledged as being particularly talented in the SEO world by his peers.

... I would though like to know what SEO Fangirl looks like.... just curious you know??



Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Effective Search Engine Optimization

Effective Search Engine Optimization is not just a case of optimising your meta tags and hoping for the best.

To get the most you're going to need to do some research, create targeted relevant content on your website, alter your code and generate links to your site. This all takes time.

It is not a 5 minute solution. To effectively optimize your website for search engines like Google you are going to need to carry the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) process on a regular ongoing basis. Whether that's everyday, every week or once a month is up to you. I would recommend starting on once a day.

First off some SEO Research basics:

What keywords do you wish to target?
Are they unique keywords or generic keywords which are highly competitive?
Who else is using those keywords in their websites - put your keywords in to Google and pick the top 5 website listings (or choose the 5 most relevant sites to you if the other results are full of directories)

How is each page structured?
Does it make you want to buy or generate an enquiry - there should be obvious calls to action?

Are there how to's, articles on the industry, blogs, forums or is it just a simple page offering nothing but a product or service?

Does each page avoid the use of frames?

Is Flash being used in conjunction with HTML or is the whole site built in Flash?

Is their HTML code (you'll need to use the menu options View > Page Source to see this) bloated with Javacscript and inline CSS code?

How is their copy written on the page - are the keywords too repetitive on the page?

Use Keyword Research tools to help you generate more keywords from your original keyword seed.

Moving on:

Ensure your keywords are incorporated into your Title tag and Description Meta-tags in your HTML code. Concentrate on no more than 3 to 5 keyword phrases in each tag.

Create original and compelling tags here, as you want them to work for you when listed on a search engine, this will help people to click on your site over someone elses.

Keyword meta-tag - place your keywords here, do not overdo it though, again aim for 5 keyword phrases here. Google ignores this meta tag (unless it sees a spamming attempt) however its best to use as you never know when this tag will come back into affecting page ranking.

Ensure you have at least 200 words on each page - this is a minimum.

People ask me all the time what the secrets of SEO are. Well one is making sure you have well written and keyword relevant text on the page to give a search engine something to work on (as well your for your visitors to read).

Don't forget you are writing for your visitors to the website NOT the search engine. So for the most effective website optimization do not repeat the keyword in the content. If it reads like spam then its likely it will be treated as spam!

Structure your content - use headings, white space, paragraphs, bold content, bullet points to name just a few and suitable formatting with CSS to make it as easy as possible to follow your content on the screen.

Now re-read your content. Is it unique? Is it informative? If yes then you are on the right track. If not then you're going to need to make adjustments.

Ignore Keyword Density tools - old news these days. Think instead about using your keywords and wrapping them around other words in the content - this is likely to do far better in the long run as search engines (especially Google) get more adept at understanding content.

Sorry but a 5 page standard smal business website is not going to do as well as a website with 30 pages of good targeted keywords within carefully written content (usually, there have been exceptions to this rule).

Once writing copy is complete you''ll want to check your coding. Is it bloated with Javascript and inline CSS? If so externalise these as seperate files and point towards in your code.

I don't go for table tricks in HTML coding, I do not need to as I can ordinarily bring links and content high enough up in the code that is liked well enough by Search Engines.

I ensure links are text based where-ever possible with Anchor Text (say I was a Wedding Photographer, instead of saying "Gallery" as my link I would use "Stunning Wedding Images here").

Images are usually ALT tagged - again I use a very short description to advise the reader of what the image is about. Do not stuff this tag with keywords - it will not be of any use when used like this.

Almost complete as you now have to go ahead and start link building. This is a tedious but compulsory process. Identify websites that can ally with you - ignore the thousands of web directories offering free submission of your site instead search for websites and blogs on your chosen field and request links to your site that will BENEFIT that other site's readers rather than compete with it.

Finally you will need to start recording your traffic to your website so ask your host to set up a reasonably advanced package (AW Stats for me springs to mind). You will need to monitor this regularly to check that your search engine optimization is working.

Effective search engine optimization as I have said takes time and IS an ongoing process in most cases. With a bit of effort and creatvity there is no reason your site should not be listed high enough in the search engines to start generating decent volumes of traffic.

Good luck and hope to see your site at the top of Google soon!



Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Free Search Engine Submission - 'tis BS!

Free Search Engine Submission sounds like something you cannot afford to miss, however the main 4 search engines Google, MSN, Yahoo and Ask are the only ones you want to ensure list your site.

The best way to do that, generally, is to ensure other websites want to link to you because of the high quality of the content you offer. Submitting your site to "thousands of search engines" is frankly a waste of time.

Think about it - name more than 10 search engines - most people struggle to get past 5! So thousands of search engines is to me anyway a pointless exercise.

Getting Linked to from industry related websites is important to generate traffic but free search engine submission services are generally just after your email address to sell on.

Building links from niche directories connected to your industry is a great way of generating links and likely to help send you traffic that is actually interested in your website.

A list of Free (and Paid) Directories to help you generate links to your site.

I make no guarantees that each directory is still free in the list (or spam free) but it is worth the time submitting your site to get it out there. Don't get too distracted by it though!



Friday, August 04, 2006

Make sure you get GREAT testimonials for your SEO

Eveyone likes to be thanked for a job well done.

And thats what I got in writing from a client today who provide payroll software

Having struggled to reach the first page for keyword phrases connected to their industry they called me in on a SEO consultancy basis to help them achieve the online marketing targets.

They now seen a significant increase in not only traffic to the website but also the number of downloads from their site of the free trial payroll software they provide.

Its nice to be appreciated and its even nicer to know that they want me to spend more time working with their web development team to help other areas of their website.

Its even nicer to work with a company that not only listen to what I recommend (and question my suggestions rather than just follow blindly what I say) but also understand what is needed to be done to get results.



Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Long Tail of Keywords

I found my website comes up eigth on Google for uk seo experts (admittedly only on a Uk search).

Not a bad result - its taken me around 7 weeks to get listed for that but I'm pretty chuffed with the result.

I operate as a one man band offering SEO to small to medium sized clients across the UK - though mainly targeting businesses in England.

I like to think I compete in a COMPETITIVE arena online so have to play by the rules but with an edge. And that edge?

Looking for keyword phrases with very little competition - the what is now known as "the long tail" - I always used to consider it was "the poor man's nitty gritty keywords".

I come in from the sides if you like rather than run a full frontal assault on the search engines when optimising websites - thats why I seem to be popular with companies with smaller online marketing budgets. I get things done ethically and properly - might take a little longer than some of the big guns in SEO but my clients are always pleased.

I have always done SEO like this and when I started years ago thought I was just being too cautious... however it soon became a popular way of getting good rankings with the likes of Google... and there was me thinking I was just being too goody-too-shoes!

So next time you think you want to go after truly competitive keywords why ot do some research and target the long tail?? Its working for me not only driving visitors but also generating enquiries.



Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Optimizing your blogs - Part 1

Blog optimization appears to be in ever increasing demand from bloggers.

With 75000 blogs being set up daily and 21 million regular blog visitors it's not hard to see why optimizing blogs is becoming a minimum requirement.

Blog optimization should be treated in pretty much the same way as you would with any web page. Blogging systems are just a glorified CMS at the end of the day!

Research keywords, look for demand in your arena...

I have already sourced the following phrases for my blog for blog articles for the next 17 working days:

Here are just some:

Microsoft wants to dominate internet (like we did not already know that!)
Free Search Engine Submission pitfalls
Top Ten Search Engine Placement
Improve Search Engine Rankings
Search Engine Position Consulting
Effective Search Engine Optimization
MSN Search
Optimize Blog
Blog Optimization
SEO Optimize Meta Tags
Optimize Web Site Promotion
Achieve Natural Optimized Listings

By now researching and carefully applying the phrases into my blog content, ensuring each is mentioned in each articles page title and tagging will help me on my way to bringing in some serious traffic.