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Old 12-31-2012, 02:16 PM
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tonygreek tonygreek is offline
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2013 New Year's Resolution Time!

In looking back over the last year, the web landscape has continued to evolve, with most of the bigger changes being Search related. I thought now would be a great time to list some things you might want to focus on during these off-months (the snow can't last forever...can it?).

Things to pay attention to:

- Work on your own site before spending the time on off-site SEO: Yes, I'm glaring at you, Citations. Too often I see people spending hours and hours, in a zombie-like state, building citations. If you've done it, you know it sucks. But, here's the thing... work on your own site first. We see a lot of businesses that have spent very little (any?) time refining or expanding their own, on-site content, but they well spend 20 to 50 hours creating citations. I think this is for a couple of reasons: It's time-consuming, but very easy. Building your own content takes thought and...yuck...writing. lol Somehow, citations have become synonymous with an SEO steroid injection. They're not. They're helpful, but just like meta keywords and link directories, my 2013 prediction is that Google cranks up the Citation Signal Scrutiny Knob™ (CSSK). I think Google should crack down. It's the same tactic, different flavor, that's been abused and then punished over the last 15 years. It's not a matter of if it happens but, well, you know...

- Keyword and Location Stuffing: Playing the local search game can easily lead one to fall in to the double-stuffed trap of getting "Bill's Lawn Service in Peoria". By "double-stuffed", I mean "Lawn Service" and "Peoria". Between alt tags, image names, page titles, page names, geo tags,your business name and address, on-page content, etc., it's really easy to fall into this trap. To do a quick check, right click/view page source and do a word search on the page. Is your city or main keyword(s) showing up 5 times, 25 times...uh-oh...75 times? This happens a lot. Remember, it's not just the on-page content that keyword stuffing pertains to.

- Make 2013 The Year of the Landscape Photo: Here comes my own, personal cliche... "As LCOs, you work in a visual medium, really no different than any other artist. Show it off.". By this, I mean that when a prospective client visits your web site, they can only go by what they see, and that's hopefully great looking lawns, well-cut beds, and beautiful trees/hedges/whatever. They want to see this and then they want to see you do it their lawn. Your other target market, Search, really likes photographs, too. Add context to your images by adding relevant, descriptive content to their names/tags/captions and surrounding content.

Also, if you service an area that doesn't have a mansions, don't use a stock/borrowed photo that has a mansion with an expansive lawn. Your prospective customers aren't dumb. Show them your work.

Another thing to watch out for... Google and Bing do take note of duplicate images and they are only going to get tighter on this. If I can find that a site has a duplicate image, this means so can Search.

If you are a DIYer, get a camera that can take very good pictures. At a minimum, get a tripod you can use to steady your picture taking. So many of you only get to accounts at certain times of the day, so if you need a tripod to steady your shot for a longer exposure, have one with you. Takes two seconds to do this. If you have a friend that's an actual photographer, barter/bribe with lawn services to get an assist. If you can afford a photographer, well, it doesn't take much to compare two site's photography to see what that can gain you.

- Citations: Contrary to my above jag, citations do serve a purpose. Make sure they're well-written, optimized when they can be, and makes sure the site they're on is useful. In fact, anything you can write off-site should be optimized as if it was on your own site.

If an SEO company or guide says you're going to need 100 citations, you can accomplish the same with so many less. In fact, just ask for or read the list of sources. It's not hard to see if they pass the smell test. Just because they're a citation doesn't mean Search uses them to corroborate your business legitimacy. That's what a citation really does.

- Understand Facebook Marketing: Get current with Facebook Pages, as well as understanding what they do and don't do. If you're focusing more time on your FB page marketing than your own web site, you're doing it wrong.

Any given status update goes to everyone who Likes your page, so what's the problem? The problem is that it does not. On average, you're hitting 16% of the people who like your page. Does your site have 100 Likes? We all know what that math means, but reading the words might help: Of those 100 you're hoping to get your message to, only 16 will probably even have a chance of seeing it. My advice? Work from your page out. Add content to your site, talk about it on FB, and push whatever promos and things you want on there, just know how the system works and how your various marketing components work in concert with each other. As a bit of homework, visit the various FB Pages of the businesses you Like. How much content do you find that you've never seen come across your stream?

- Spend the time to figure out Google+ for Business: As has been widely chronicled, it's a complete train wreck right now, especially if you are a Service Area Business and not a fixed location that accepts customer visits. Who knew that bricks 'n mortar would see the pendulum swing their way like this? Blame the SEO scammers for this one, but until Google figures out their game plan, start with a Google+ personal account and get the hang of it. Google has been known to play favorites in the past.... lol

- Meta Keywords Tag is still dead to Google: No, really. Totally, completely dead. We're coming up on the 10th anniversary of this tragedy. On the flip-side, I do use it to scrape competitors' websites to see what they're targeting, so it is useful...


There are probably 10 more things I'm easily missing, but it's off to the store to get ready for the New Year's festivities. Love to see some additions to the list by you all. Cheers. - Tony
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Last edited by tonygreek; 12-31-2012 at 02:22 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-31-2012, 04:24 PM
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headz77 headz77 is online now
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Sounds good to me

I am personally working on content creation and Authorship.

Here are two great posts that I have bookmarked recently:

1- How to utilize G+ http://www.seomoz.org/blog/tips-to-use-google-for-seo

2- Honesty in Local SEO: http://www.solaswebdesign.net/wordpress/?p=1385

Follow #2 and we won't have anything to undo the next time Google rolls out an update. I am trying to stick to that myself. It's soooo easy to slip and find yourself wearing a black hat...
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Old 01-01-2013, 10:40 PM
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tonygreek tonygreek is offline
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- Get Your Facebook Pages in Shape: There's a thread going in the General Discussion forum re: Pages and getting each other to Like them. I'd say at least half of them have serious issues with the real estate Facebook gives you as a virtual billboard, the "Cover" (banner) and Profile pic. Most have Profile pics that are forced to fit the allowable image size and are not utilizing the Cover area for any type of marketing.

Also, pay attention to the overlay of the Profile image over part of the Cover. I've seen several Pages where the Profile pic blocks part of a phone number or whatever marketing message is attempting to be conveyed on the Cover.

To avoid Facebook mangling your images via their resizing, work within these parameters and you're on your way.

Profile Image: 160px X 160px (if you're not using a square image to start, Facebook will destroy your final product)

Cover Image (aka the banner image): 851px X 315px
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:56 PM
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headz77 headz77 is online now
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Question- can you show us an example of one done right? I know that would help me
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:23 AM
Duekster Duekster is offline
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Thanks Tony. Another good post. Now how to get those photos into my drupal template. I can do it

Happy New Year
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:50 PM
PaperCutter PaperCutter is online now
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tony - everything I've read is that FB is discouraging ANY type of marketing message in the cover. Here's what's listed in the Pages TOS:

All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can't be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else's copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines.
Covers may not include:
i. images with more than 20% text;
ii. price or purchase information, such as "40% off" or "Download it on socialmusic.com";
iii. contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page's "About" section;
iv. references to Facebook features or actions, such as "Like" or "Share" or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
v. calls to action, such as "Get it now" or "Tell your friends."

Having spent the last three years dealing with Google (they suspended my local business page for violating one of 25 quality guidelines but wouldn't say which), I'm real reluctant to put a toe over the line with another giant, faceless company.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:53 PM
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tonygreek tonygreek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaperCutter View Post
tony - everything I've read is that FB is discouraging ANY type of marketing message in the cover.
I'm glad you brought this up. My point of familiarizing yourself with Facebook Pages and marketing should have included "Read the FB TOS".

Re: following the TOS, I agree with you completely. It's where you say "ANY type of marketing message" where I'll start to veer off a bit. Obviously, everyone should follow the TOS, but there is definitely creative gray area as to what constitutes marketing, and the line that is walked is up to each business. Is a picture of your company billboard a violation if it has your contact info in it? If your logo is in it, does that constitute marketing to FB? Apparently not, but branding is marketing. What if your logo features a deal or call to action as part of it? Nike is a good example of ambiguity. Is including a Twitter hashtag outside the parameters of the TOS? To me, it can be argued either way.

My pointing out the covered phone numbers was specifically because it seemed to be a recurring theme for those who chose to include the info on their Cover. If you're going to float outside of the TOS, at least make it look good. The punitive side of FB only comes out in two situations that I've noticed, but I don't want to veer off into the ethics of a business' decision, both with the Page owner and Facebook themselves.

Personally, I choose to work within the confines of the 20% text content rule, preferring to go with tagline/slogans and, if the 160x160 Profile pic box doesn't showcase it well, the logo goes on the Cover. I prefer that the Cover image best shows what it is your business does. I do occasionally include a web address or phone number, but it depends on the application. I've had no issues from FB. Any issues I have seen are almost always related to calls to action and who exactly is making those calls (the ethical compass of FB again comes in to play here).
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Last edited by tonygreek; 01-02-2013 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:58 PM
PaperCutter PaperCutter is online now
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With any of these big companies like FB, I think you're good to go right up till you're not. For me, I'm not really interested in pushing the boundaries with the cover image because 1) most people probably visit a page once, to click like, and then never return, and 2) I don't see my FB page as a viable lead capture tool. For the most part, the people who have liked my page are clients, prospects, people I've met at trade shows or networking events, and so on. They've already gotten a peek at what I have to offer, so my job is to use the ability to put my message in (16% of) their newsfeeds to stay top of mind. That allows FB to be a tool for generating referrals from fans, but cold leads? Doubt it.

Oh, and since we're sharing: www.facebook.com/RevolutionaryGardens
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:46 PM
Duekster Duekster is offline
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Does Facebook really matter?
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:11 PM
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headz77 headz77 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duekster View Post
Does Facebook really matter?
The different social networks have varying degrees of usefulness to different businesses based on each businesses' marketing plan. If you don't get new business online then none of them mean squat. If you hope to get found on google then, at the very least, FB is an easy citation. If you are engaged in content marketing to drive your SEO then FB is a big deal.
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