Friday, November 30, 2007

Excuse Me Time To Fly

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” ~ George Washington, the 1st U.S. President (1732-1799)
WebmasterWorld's PubCon starts Monday...So I'm not posting this weekend. Have to get my ducks in a row before flying to Vegas.

I'll be reporting from the conference daily... I hope to share some tidbits.

For more information go to http://www.pubcon.com

AP

PS - Google's Susan Moskwa stopped by CVoD just the other day to say hey... and she had this to say about our our online philosophy:
"Glad to see you're evangelizing value-adding content; we can't stress enough how important original and compelling content is!"
Thanks Susan... Create value or die!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More on Keyword Tags

"There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don't know." ~ Ambrose Bierce, American journalist (1842–1914)
Straight from the lips of Google... from Susan Moskwa of Google Webmaster Help:

Q: How many keywords should I put in the meta keywords tag? I heard the limit was 25, but then my web guy told me you should only put 3 - 5.
A: Not all search engines take the meta keywords tag seriously these days, since its potential for abuse is so great. If you're using it because you think it's a great way to send Google a signal about your site's topic, your time would probably be better-spent creating great content rather than carefully tailoring your meta keywords (since site content is one of the signals we use to determine what a site is about).

Filling the meta keywords tag with hundreds of keywords tends to look like spam, so I'd keep the numbers reasonable; but if you want to use keywords, there's no exact limit on how many you're "allowed". I've heard several people say they use the meta keywords tag as a reference for themselves, so that when they come back to a page they can remember which keywords they were targeting or what the main focus of the page was (this is particularly helpful if you're managing a large site with many pages). Using the number and type of keywords that would be useful for *you* is a pretty good rule of thumb for the meta keywords tag.
So Google says time is best spent creating great content... creating value for your readers creates value for Google.

Amen sister!!

I'm still using my Keywords Tag, (Description tag as well), considering what Google says publicly and what Google actually does is not always the same.

Yes I'm a cynic, but again, inserting these tags takes no time at all and I'd rather be safe than sorry - until Google says using these tags will penalize you.

AP

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tonsils & The Death of Tags

"The report of my death was an exaggeration." ~ Mark Twain, American Humorist & Writer, (1835-1910)
Mega tags are bits of information inserted into the HEAD area of your web pages. We talked about probably the most important tag just last week. All these tags are for search engines and have an impact on your rankings.

Or do they?

Many pundits, bloggers and search gurus have been calling meta tags dead for years. Claiming all engines, specifically Google ignores them. Of course, everyone loves a good controversial post... right?

Is it true?

Ummm... I'll get to that, but before I bloviate let's first review the most used meta tags:
Title Tag - "Tonsils & The Death of Tags - CVoD" /TITLE
For more on this tag read the CVod issue "Name This Plant Page" The title tag is what the engines use for the clickable title of your page in your listing. It's also the text that appears in the reverse bar of someones browser when they view the web page.
Keywords Tag - "meta tags, death of meta tags, keywords"/META
These are only seen by the engines. When creating them focus on just a handful of relevant phrases, and don't repeat them - that's considered web spam. Think of the phrase that best describes your pages theme or subject matter. Remember... this is the phrase you want your page listed under. Here's the rub... only a few search engines actually rely on these. (I'll get to this later)
Description Tag - "Meta tags... once powerful now useless... or so they say. I say they are not dead yet."/META
This tells the engines a description of your page. I suggest no more than 200 words in a compelling sentence and please include your keyword phrases.

Ideally, Google will use this description in the listing of the search engines results... but that's no longer a given. Some engines use a keyword rich sentence in the body copy, while others only use the first sentence or so. The way I look at it... if it gets used, good. If not, so be it. Either way the writing of the description helps me reaffirm whether I chose the proper keyword phrase.
Robots Tag - "index,follow" /META
For more on this tag read the CVod issue
Do You Follow or No Follow?
In short this tag lets you specify to the engines whether a particular page should be indexed or NOT be indexed. The INDEX directive specifies if an indexing robot should index the page - or not, and the FOLLOW directive specifies if a robot is to follow links on the page - or not.

Now for the postmortem... are these aforementioned tags dead?

Of course not. The Robots tag is essential and the Title tag could be the most important factor in being ranked under your chosen keyword phrase.

But the Keyword and Description tags?

Ummm, let's just say that if they were seen as body parts... they'd be described in today's SEO landscape as the appendix and the tonsils. Still a part of the body, but not indispensable.

I don't believe the gurus that say they are useless, no longer relevant and they should be forgotten. While it’s true that the engines are concentrating more on other page and code criteria making these meta tags less essential, by no means does it mean they are irrelevant.

Truth be told, well-written, optimized, formatted content IS more important than your Keywords tag. But so what? Do both.

Do you take out a healthy appendix?

Heck no. Actually, the tonsils AND appendix are important parts of the immune system that protect the body from dangerous microbes in our food. They are perceived as useless but they are indeed a functional part of your overall immune system.

In other words, the sum is greater than the component parts, eh?

Keep including your tags.

In my world the well-crafted and unique Description and Keywords meta tags should still be a part of your overall organic search strategy... AND should continue to be until Google says they are seen as a negative.

The bloggers will still opine their demise... however, this death is just another exaggeration.

AP

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Solution to Social

"More time is wasted in front of computers than on highways." ~ Ben Shneiderman, American author and computer scientist.
Tired of being social?

Had enough of the web 2.0 buzz about networking?

If you are, you’re not alone. It’s time to refuse to be dragged along by the social networking frenzy join NOSO.

NOSO is an online organization which offers a unique opportunity to create NO Connections by scheduling NO Events with other NO Friends.

That's right no IMing, friending, texting, poking, skyping and podcasting – or worse, no crackberry.

Just peace and quiet.

It is analogous to the This Page Intentionally Left Blank Project from several years back when we would post a page on our web site without content but for the remark “this page intentionally left blank”.

It was a tribute to former times when printed books and manuals printed several blank pages. The movement offered Internet wanderers a place of quietness and simplicity on the overcrowded World Wide Web—a blank page for relaxing the restless mind.

Ah….

I digress.

NOSO protests against social conformity, dwindling privacy, and corporate influence. It’s an anti-social networking movement. Check out the NOSO site.

Be no social!

AP

PS - NOSO offers a moment of relief to the technology wearied… but, ironically, being predominantly a web-based project, it is still tech-centric. Not to mention that it asks you to set up a user profile AND choose a trendy silhouette reminiscent of those made popular by the ipod commercials to represent your online personality.

hmmm...

Part of NOSO also involves anti-socializing meetings, which consist of a get together of registered users, snapping a few photos and posting them online. Well, now...

If this isn't social networking, I don't know what is.

Suddenly I feel used…

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Tradition Of Thanks

"Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for - annually, not oftener - if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man's side, consequently on the Lord's side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments." ~ Mark Twain, American Humorist & Writer, (1835-1910)
Today, on the American Thanksgiving Holiday, I'd like to give thanks as this may have been the best year of my life. Why do I say that?

This past year I saw the birth of my daughter, and my family is healthy, supportive & actually loves me. Sounds crazy to say that... but I think that's rare these days ...said the cynic. I have the perfect little family, and I wish everyone could have the loving home that we have.

Ok, it's not perfect... nothing is, right?

After all I am a lawyer and living with a lawyer can be hell. Not to mention that I'm online ALL the time. But we're committed to make it work.

So, it works.

Professionally I've got a bit of a crazy life but I've never been happier. I really like the people I work with, the sense of freedom I have each day and the fact that we're building a new business. I really love that.

Lastly, I'm thankful to share an office with my wife and the best man from our wedding. Come on, what could be better than to spend the "working" day with two of your best friends?

Thanks to everyone who has made this incredible year possible, there are really too many of you to mention... but I do indeed appreciate your support. As I've said in a previous post, I'm one lucky bastard!

Enjoy the day with your family, and stay off the Internet today... if you can.

AP

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Name This Plant Page

“Originally we were going to title it "The Daily Show With Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays Off," but it was too long.” ~ Jon Stewart, American Comedian
Today we are going to talk about the “title tag.”

Ok, it's not a sexy topic… but an important part of your optimization efforts.

Having a proper title tag can make a big difference to your rankings. They are equally as important as your visible text copy and the links pointing to your pages — perhaps even more so.

What is it?

The HTML title tag is what the engines use for the clickable title of your page in your listing. It's also the text that appears in the reverse bar of someone's browser when they view the web page. You place this text between the TITLE and /TITLE codes.

This text… how your listing appears should be a critical aspect of your SEO campaign. After all, if you have high search engine rankings you still must convince searchers to click through to your page, right?

So, what are the best words to use?

a. The name of your business?
b. The purpose of the page?
c. Your sites relevant keywords?
d. All of the above?

It’s best to choose the most relevant keyword phrases from your page and incorporate them in your branding. Combine them as a compelling phrase.

If you can’t think of the right phrase, you might have a copy problem.

Here is an example, if your company is "Plants Nouveau" a company that markets new plants, you shouldn’t place only the words "Plants Nouveau" in your home page title tag, but instead use something like "Plants Nouveau - Introducing New Plants to the World.”

This allows your company name to be searchable as well as the keyword phrases “New Plants” and “Introducing New Plants.”

I use a hyphen between the phases. The bottom line is to convince the searcher to click on your listing. And the added descriptive keywords increase the odds of acquiring that click.

What is Plants Nouveau?

Beats me. I don't know from that title.

Ah, ...but using "Plants Nouveau - Introducing New Plants to the World” tells you in the title, right?

Well kinda of... ah heck, I'm still not sure but it sure sounds interesting... I'm going to click through and check it out.

B-7.... BINGO!

A much more engaging... appealing ...and influential title.

Keep in mind... you might what to test different text to see what ranks higher and converts better. You might just find that your non-high ranking title actually gets your page more clicks/page views/conversions.

Please note that some content management systems (CMS) and blog software such as WordPress automatically generate the title tag for you using the blog name, and the name of the page.

If this happens… it probably also uses the same text for the headline, navigational link, and the URL. You don’t want this redundancy,

You want your page listing, for it's the first look at your business, to be more compelling than that.

It needs to compell them to click. No pressure, eh?

AP

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fast-Acting Relief

“As fast as each opportunity presents itself, use it! No matter how tiny an opportunity it may be, use it!” ~ Robert Collier, American motivational author, (1885-1950)
Having trouble getting your pages indexed, or ranked high?

Here is a quick check list of things to look for before throwing your computer out the window:
Has your site been updated since creation?
Is the design Google friendly?
Easy to navigate?
Are you selling stuff?
Is there a call to action on every page?
Posting new content?
Are you using independent Meta Tags for each page?
Are your pages optimized for single keyword phrases?
These are the basics... if you have answered "no" to any of these questions you need to take action.

Don't know what to do?

Don't worry, I'll be discussing these points in CVOD over the coming weeks.

AP

Monday, November 12, 2007

Top 10 Marketing Blogs

"A business exists because the consumer is willing to pay you his money. You run a business to satisfy the consumer. That isn't marketing. That goes way beyond marketing." ~ Peter F. Drucker, American managment guru, (1909 - 2005)
In his book, Writing White Papers, Michael Stelzner reveals his secrets for creating compelling white papers that attract readers in droves. He has written more than 100 white papers for recognized companies, including Microsoft, FedEx, Motorola, Monster, HP and SAP.

In his Writing White Papers Blog Micheal recently asked readers to submit nominations for the Top 10 Marketing Blogs.

Judging by his staff is now complete and here are the results:
1. Seth Godin’s Blog: Seth Godin finds marketing insight everywhere – make him a daily read.
2. MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog: Many of the marketing world’s greatest minds share their wisdom here.
3. Duct Tape Marketing Blog: This blog is a gold mine for small businesses and includes regular insights that are easy to implement.
4. Techno//Marketer: A very good blog on leveraging online tools for marketing (and includes helpful videos).
5. Buzz Marketing for Technology: This excellent blog, by BearingPoint’s Paul Dunay, helps businesses learn how to stand out in a noisy world.
6. Create Value or Die: The title of this blog says it all. Learn how to create value for visitors.
7. Web Ink Now: The ultimate stop for learning how to generate publicity for your business, from author David Meerman Scott.
8. Web Strategy by Jeremiah: Great social networking blog with embedded podcasts (for those of us who are reading-challenged) by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang.
9. The Buzz Bin: Excellent social media and PR blog by author Geoff Livingston.
10. Diva Marketing Blog: A cornucopia of marketing insight comes from marketing diva Toby Bloomberg.
All these folks excel at sharing their insight and craft with the world. Check these additional blogs out.

Read the ones that pertain to your marketing and you will greatly advance your knowledge. There is some really good stuff here.


AP

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More Buyers At Your Disposal

“I haven't trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I've never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.” ~ Erma Bombeck, U.S. humorist, (1927-1996)
What do the polls say...?

It's not too late to start marketing online. Why do I say that?

Besides the fact that the Web is filled with thousands of websites... very bad websites. AND that the e-letters associated with these sites are little more than advertisements, if not actual advertisements.... besides that.

The fact is that the audience which we call the "Internet Marketplace" is indeed getter bigger.

Are you serious?

Yep...

According to a new Harris Poll, 79% of adults -- about 178 million -- spend an average of 11 hours a week on the Internet. That's a 10% increase over last year.

The Harris Poll was conducted by telephone within the United States in July 2007 (July 10 and 16, 2007) and October 2007 (October 16 and 22, 2007) among 2,062 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, size of place (urbanicity) and number of phone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

The results reflect a steady rise since 2000 when 57 percent of adults went online, and 2006 when the figure rose to 77 percent.

Only 9% were online in 1995, were you? (I was)

The amount of time people are spending online has also increased. The average number of hours per week that people are spending online has risen to 11 hours, up from 9 hours in 2006 and 8 hours in 2005.

So if more people are online spending more of their valuable time... you'd be crazy not to tap into this market, eh?

Loyal CVoD reader now this, but for you newbies... why leave money on the table, or rather on the Internet?

Get you business online today. Are you late... yes. Too late?

Hell no!

Join the party... just don't forget to create value or die.

AP

Come join the party, or as Dave Barry says:

“The Internet is a giant international network of intelligent, informed computer enthusiasts, by which I mean, "people without lives." We don't care. We have each other...”

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Newbies, Spam & Vikings

“If you want to receive e-mails about my upcoming shows, then please give me money so I can buy a computer.” ~ Phoebe from the television show - Friends
Friend's don't let friends... spam.

If you know a friend is spamming please stop them. In the end spam hurts all of us.

I know you have heard spam kills - an online business - but it's really true. And as obvious as it sounds I'm learning that as more and more people enter the online world they just don't get this.

They don't understand the basics of web marketing and they don't concern themselves with spam. They have little or no education in email and/or the best practices online and the newbies then come into the industry with shotguns... spreading spam emails like buckshot.

Run for your lives!

If we are not careful these late comers will ruin the landscape for all of us. As such, we must reach out as much as possible to education them.

There are a lot of great resources out there for the novice marketers. In fact if you Google "email marketing education" there are more than 93 million pages indexed.

The problem is people need to do that search... and I don't think they are looking to learn.

For example, I ran across a story about an advert that was posted on Craigslist from a person who wanted to find someone with software to spider the Internet and collect email addresses to send their ads to. In other words, they want to collect a list of spam names.

Ugh..

Some readers actually tried to dissuade the idea but the clueless newbie argued,

"It’s only spam if you go to an ISP, NOT Web sites. They invite people to email them. Big difference, and we only go to web sites in our profession, not general public.”

So what we have here is a newbie who thinks that if someone posts an email addresses online, that it's equal to giving ones permission to receive commercial email.

Yikes - that's a jump.

For those new to CVoD... what is the definition of Spam?

Glad you asked.

Spam has several definitions... but according to U.S. law spam is unsolicited bulk/commercial e-mail. It is also any email message that is pornographic, lewd, or fraudulent, or any email message where the sender’s identity is forged, or messages sent though unprotected SMTP servers.

(Unsolicited means that the Recipient has not granted verifiable permission for the message to be sent. Bulk means that the message is sent as part of a larger collection of messages, all having substantively identical content.)

It's all about permission. If you don't have permission to mail to someone than it's going to be seen as spam. The question is what is permission. Signing up for a e-letter is permission. Signing up for a paid product that has an email component is permission. But having a customer service email address posted on your site is not permission to receive email on how to satisfy your wife!

Lastly, please note that the sending of unsolicited bulk email is banned by all Internet service providers worldwide.

Spam is growing, more and more each day, with no signs of abating. Today there are approximately 90 billion spam emails sent out per day.

Frightening.

There is some debate about the source of the term, but the generally accepted version is that it comes from the Monty Python song, "Spam spam spam spam, spam spam spam spam, lovely spam, wonderful spam…"

Like the song, spam is an endless repetition of worthless text. Another school of thought maintains that it comes from the computer group lab at the University of Southern California who gave it the name because it has many of the same characteristics as the lunch meat Spam:
- Nobody wants it or ever asks for it.
- No one ever eats it; it is the first item to be pushed to the side when eating the entree.
- Sometimes it is actually tasty, like 1% of junk mail that is really useful to some people.
Anyway you look at it... it's something you want to stay away from.

Multi-million dollar spamming operations that use multiple mail servers in numerous countries make big money. The small time newbie who spams makes money in the beginning and is then shut down by the ISPs, if not prosecuted.

Don't do it - it's not worth it.

If you are new to the web, and you think what you are doing is spam... ask someone. Email me, go to a discussion board, post a question on a blog... just let us teach you right from wrong.

But don't be a spammer... intentionally or unintentionally.

AP

P.S. - a now a treat - the Monty Python Spam Song

Scene: A cafe. One table is occupied by a group of Vikings wearing horned helmets. Whenever the word "spam" is repeated, they begin singing and/or chanting. A man and his wife enter. The man is played by Eric Idle, the wife is played by Graham Chapman (in drag), and the waitress is played by Terry Jones, also in drag.

Man: You sit here, dear.

Wife: All right.

Man: Morning!

Waitress: Morning!

Man: Well, what've you got?

Waitress: Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam;

Vikings: Spam spam spam spam...

Waitress: ...spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam...

Vikings: Spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam!

Waitress: ...or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam.

Wife: Have you got anything without spam?

Waitress: Well, there's spam egg sausage and spam, that's not got much spam in it.

Wife: I don't want ANY spam!

Man: Why can't she have egg bacon spam and sausage?

Wife: THAT'S got spam in it!

Man: Hasn't got as much spam in it as spam egg sausage and spam, has it?

Vikings: Spam spam spam spam... (Crescendo through next few lines...)

Wife: Could you do the egg bacon spam and sausage without the spam then?

Waitress: Urgghh!

Wife: What do you mean 'Urgghh'? I don't like spam!

Vikings: Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

Waitress: Shut up!

Vikings: Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

Waitress: Shut up! (Vikings stop) Bloody Vikings! You can't have egg bacon spam and sausage without the spam.

Wife: I don't like spam!

Man: Sshh, dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your spam. I love it. I'm having spam spam spam spam spam spam spam beaked beans spam spam spam and spam!

Vikings: Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

Waitress: Shut up!! Baked beans are off.

Man: Well could I have her spam instead of the baked beans then?

Waitress: You mean spam spam spam spam spam spam... (but it is too late and the Vikings drown her words)

Vikings: Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam! Spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam. Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Spam spam spam spam!