Your computer won’t save you

Your Computer Wont Save You

Photo By: Striatic

There are times in life when you just need to stand up and do something manually. Nothing wrong with using the computer to send an email or type a report for school. It should make such a task easier — identifying misspelling and grammatical errors that you might otherwise miss. But when you have to pick up your computer to do everything, you’ve reached a new low in life. Continue reading “Your computer won’t save you” »

Junk Everywhere!

404 Not Found

by Thomas Hawk


Have you ever visited a website to find the ubiquitous “Coming Soon” page? I’m not talking about the standard “under construction” or placeholder homepage, I mean in either browsing the site, or typing in a URL directly, you stumble upon an “Under Construction” or “Coming Soon” page on an otherwise completed site. “Junk everywhere” is exactly what the users and search engines are thinking.
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what they won’t tell you


Photo by AndYaDontStop

In my last post, I told you all about great reasons to consider banner advertising to increase your brand recognition in the local area. Some of the ideas, like partnering with a local blogger, can be pretty inexpensive. Others, however, can get costly fast. Here are some questions you’ll want to know the answer to for each category I mentioned last time. Of course, they might try to smokescreen you with terms and numbers – so I’ll try to cover most of that as well.

To get things started, below is a list of some very basic terminology that you should know before you get too involved with banner ads. It will help you differentiate the good from the bad. I’ve broken it down into two separate categories, advertising and website. The website stuff is pretty universal and will cover your independent blogger and a really big news website equally. The advertising terms might vary depending on how big the site is that you’re negotiating with.

Continue reading “what they won’t tell you” »

The power of banner ads

So, you’ve been paying for SEO experts to get your name higher in the search engines. In the interim, you’re paying search engines to be in their pay-per-click program to show up on page one. What else is there? Have you ever looked at online banner ads? Here are a few reasons to check out this relatively old technology that’s underutilized by most local advertisers.

Where search engine marketing will help people who are really looking for you to find you, banner ads will help connect people to you that aren’t specifically searching for you. Think of it this way. If someone wants to buy a certain brand of handbag, but have no idea who in the area sells them, they will likely use a search engine to find out. However, all the people reading the online version of a style magazine aren’t searching for anything – but they’re engaged in a message you should be a part of. These readers may not even know your product exists, it’s name, or even what it looks like. Enter the banner ad. Placed right next to that online style article can give you more visibility than all that search engine work you’ve been doing. Local jewelry stores, boutique stores, salon & spas, and even cosmetic surgery companies can be right here, too.

Another big area local businesses might overlook for banner advertising in the real estate world. If you’re a home builder – you could be advertising next to empty lot listings. If you’re a home inspector, next to home listings. Real Estate Attorneys can be all over this one as well. Home improvement companies can advertise their ability to increase the value of your home before a planned sale, home stagers, decorators, the list goes on and on. Stocks and business news? Banks for sure, financial planners, insurance companies, business attorneys — you get the point, right? What about career counselors? Local job board websites that offer banner ads might be a great place to start.

Online banner ads get the word out about your product to potential clients who are not necessarily searching for it.

Now that you know why banner ads are a good thing, here are a few things to think about as you get started.

  • The smaller, the better. You really can’t experiment (inexpensively) with a huge website with millions of page views and hundreds of thousands of unique visitors. The best place to start is a small niche blogger. Failing that, you can at least target your banner ad to a niche section of a larger website. Just remember to really think about where on their site your potential clients are likely to be.
  • Find a local blogger. If someone in your local community has a following with good potential clients for you, sponsor their blog! Most bloggers write for fun, so sponsoring it might be really inexpensive. A good rule of thumb is to ask them for a price, don’t offer one.
  • Local business sites. If you’re a home inspector, I bet you know a few real estate agents, title attorneys, home builders, or mortgage brokers that have a website. Offer to trade some ad space on your site with theirs and cross-promote. You’ve seen cross-promotion at work for other businesses – now you just need to make it work for you.
  • Don’t expect a mad rush of customers. Banner ads are traditionally more for brand recognition. Certainly a decent offer might bring in more potential customers, but just be aware that, like SEO, this isn’t going to empty your store’s shelves overnight. It’s just one more way to get your name out there.
  • If you’re paying for it, it’s trackable (or should be). You can know how may times your ad was displayed and how many visitors that ad brought to your website. If you’re paying by the number of ad displays (CPM) and your ad doesn’t get shown as much as it should have, you can ask for a make-good and potentially run the next month for free.

RSS is your friend

Image by gdesigneralex

So what is RSS? It stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and just about every blogger and news outlet uses it. Basically, it’s a way to get notified that a website’s content has updated without having to visit. I follow 32 different websites with RSS because it’s easier than visiting 32 websites every day (several times a day) just to find out when one or two update their content. There are more than twenty other websites I would follow but they don’t haven an RSS feed. Some of them I wanted to follow so badly, I even called and asked them to create a feed! So far? Yeah, still no feed.

Maybe I’m off base, here, but I’ve been frustrated today in my search for RSS feeds on local websites. I just can’t believe that only three of twenty sites I looked at actually had an RSS feed. And none of them had multiple feeds. RSS isn’t hard stuff – any modern content management system worth its salt will have it built right in. Why not use it? Maybe it’s just a local phenomenon, but on the off-chance that it isn’t, here’s why I believe RSS is important.

Continue reading “RSS is your friend” »

SEO content for the non-blogger?

photo by arquera

Content building. I’ve heard it for a long time. You want to get the search engine’s attention, you must have fresh content — you must have a blog! Okay, but you’re busy doing what you do best — building your business. Who has time to blog? (If you do have a blog, don’t shut down here – there’s some good stuff for you, too.)

So, you pay some service to write a canned blog for you. Problem is, search engines don’t like the same canned content they see on a dozen (or a thousand) other websites. You have to be “fresh” and different to get their attention. So, do you have to provide a whole new angle to have something to write about? What if you sell insurance or real estate or cars or any other prepackaged solution to someone’s problem? What do YOU write about something that’s different and actually adds value to a very broad field like automotive? Even if you drill down to something specific like “Ford Mustang,” can you really write something new and original and actually compete in an overcrowded and loud space?

This question has haunted me this last year. So, since the “small guy” probably isn’t going to be able to compete in a crowded field, could he maybe have fresh content without having a blog? More importantly, what is a blog, anyway? To a search engine, a blog is really just your keywords wrapped in, that’s right, “fresh content.” So, can we do “fresh content” (read blog) effectively without a “blog?” Sure we can!

Even if you are a blogger, don’t miss this. What fresh information do you have that is specific to your small business? Did you help a client move into a new home? Quick picture and a paragraph. If they’re shy, just a pic of the house is fine. For the paragraph, you can just tell the story of what happened: how they found you, what they wanted, and that you came through. Look at what web developers and SEO experts are doing. When they launch a new site, they post a “case study” and a photo related to the project. It’s not (always) a blog post.

What other information do you have at your fingertips? If you’re Mustang Mike, I bet you know where all the for-sale Mustangs in town are (even if it’s not in your dealership’s inventory). Can you get an automated feed of Mustangs in the area with a picture and a paragraph on the car? I bet you could at least get that for your dealership. Work on the others. You don’t have to say where the car is – just that it’s available for sale. Make sure the dealerships you’re getting data from will work with you, though I’m sure most will be glad to move their inventory.

On the back-end of all this, make sure:

  1. the content hosted on your own website
    • Don’t link to twitter posts, or facebook shares, or a page on your dealer or broker’s site.
  2. each “post” has its own, unique page and photo
    • Each item (Ford Mustang) should have a separate html page dedicated to it.
    • Each page should have a unique photo (of that property, or car, or whatever). This is more for your readers than for search engines – and it will really help.
  3. you have an RSS feed
    • The RSS feed should include the photo (from above) in the short description field.
    • The feed needs to be properly linked to from your homepage. This is important. You’ll use an html code to embed it the RSS feed on the page itself, not tied to an RSS logo – in the actual header code of your page.
  4. you setup automated links coming back to you
    • Setup a tool like or and link your RSS feed to your Twitter and Facebook business accounts. Quick and easy linkbuilding – and both sites have a Google PageRank of 10!
    • Look for other important partnerships you can forge. Trulia and Zillow are great places to send real estate, Google Base is another one (and not just for real estate). I bet there are industry specific sites for any industry out there you could partner with. The important thing is that they will provide a link back to your site.

Keep in mind these are just a few tips for a relatively untapped area of content generation. There are certainly other, very powerful SEO skills you’ll need to tackle on your quest for SEO dominance. Things like your website being written in valid html (type your URL in here and see how you stack up:, using the proper tags to highlight content (like heading and page title tags), as well as using keywords in your URLs.

Nothing personal, it’s just business!


by DanBrady

The other day I was engrossed in a Twitter conversation about the best way to communicate with prospects. Even though we were communicating via Twitter, virtually everyone said “email” or “phone call” was the best way to communicate (and none of them had my email address or phone number).

Phone calls are so demanding. Stephen Covey puts them in quadrant-three: high priority, low importance. Phone calls just scream “pay attention to me – I’m more important than anything you happen to be working on.” With his low-information-diet idea, Tim Ferriss recommends that you never call or “drop in” on anyone. It throws off their concentration, which can take a considerable amount of time to recover from. If you want to be courteous, email is certainly preferred to a phone call. The recipient will simply reply at their convenience, instead of stopping their day for yours. It shows respect and courtesy while still allowing you to get a timely response. Email, then is the best way to communicate, right?

Continue reading “Nothing personal, it’s just business!” »

The New Online Sticky Note

The Sticky Note

The Sticky Note

The standard online sticky note – everyone hates them, because they “get all up on your way.” But if you are an advertiser who’s looking to get your message seen, they are absolutely fantastic.

About three years ago a large state-wide newspaper had a new, really small ad position it couldn’t sell. At the time other newspapers around the nation were using it as a logo-only branding position, but 95% of them were just using it for in-house advertisements. It was in this environment that I began experimenting with how we could convert that unpopular and unused ad space into something super popular and cool for advertisers. Enter, the online sticky note. Continue reading “The New Online Sticky Note” »

The Best Boss You’ve Never Heard of

Jeff Fisher

Jeff Fisher - photo by Ray Montgomery

I don’t have a photo of him, but he looked a whole lot like Jeff Fisher (the coach of the Tennessee Titans NFL team). Todd carried two cell phones: one was for business and the other for his x-wives — if that wasn’t an indicator then there never was such a thing. He was not know for his personable demeanor — he was known for grit, hell, fire, and brimstone. If  you blew it, forgot something, didn’t call a customer back, or missed any detail that caught his attention, you knew you were going to get both ears full. And nobody, but nobody, was brave enough to wait for him to inevitably find out something, anything, they went straight to him and just got it over with.

My favorite story about Todd Miller was one he told about himself. On some random weekend afternoon, the next door neighbor was entertaining some friends when suddenly gunfire broke out next door at Todd’s house. The visitors were startled and afraid. They wanted to call the police. “No, no,” said Todd’s neighbor. “He always does that before he mows the lawn.” “You’re nuts! Call the Police!” was their reply. A few more shots went off, and the demands continued. The stalemate went on for a while, but inevitably Todd’s lawnmower starting up. “See? I told you. Todd always does that before he cuts the grass,” the neighbor said casually. The company was dumbfounded. Continue reading “The Best Boss You’ve Never Heard of” »

Get sick or get out

Oil Platforms from the Air

Photo by Simon Varwell

I’ve never been in an offshore crew boat, but I’ve been told it’s quite an experience. Those who know say the trip isn’t always smooth. On a bad day the seas are high and the ride is very rough. On a good day, it still takes forever to get that boat the mile or more out to sea.

Many men who work offshore in the Louisiana Gulf Coast take these crew boats out to the oil rigs, stay a week or two, then take them back in. Rocking back and forth through the hours the trip can take surely can’t be all that pleasant. A few men probably get sea sick, especially if they’re new to the experience. For me, reading or doing any kind of paperwork in a moving car is enough to get me motion sick — I can only imagine that the motion in a crew boat would make it impossible. Continue reading “Get sick or get out” »