First Page SEO Basics

Two weeks ago I was having an interesting debate with a guy on LinkedIn. It was supposed to be on the subject of social media and SEO, and instead it turned into a debate on SEO and what’s important.

He was saying in this group that it wasn’t important to optimize one’s home page anymore because we were all under an illusion if we thought that most of our visitors came in through the home page. In his opinion, optimizing all the other pages were more important to attracting visitors than anything you might think of doing on your home page.

I of course countered, saying that without optimizing and working on your home page that your other pages don’t really have all that much of a chance to get you anywhere. The bots sent out by search engines start off with your main page, “index” if you will, and if you haven’t taken care of that then the bots get confused as to what your site is all about and almost nothing else you do will overcome that lapse.

Strangely enough, I was talking to my wife about it, someone who knows nothing about computers or coding or SEO or anything related to technology, and she said “Don’t you need a foundation before you do anything else?”

Exactly! It’s like what many people write about when they’re talking to brand new bloggers who are getting into the game to make money. The recommendations are always the same, and they’re true; think about content and building up a community more than the money part initially. If the day you start your first blog post your site is already loaded with all sorts of banner and affiliate ads all over the place and your articles are geared towards the “make money” market, you’re going to look at little bit goofy. This isn’t saying you can’t have anything, but unless you’re someone like John Chow, who was already rich before he started blogging, you’re not going to come across as well.

Anyway, back to SEO and foundation. If you’re putting together a site, it works best if you decide what your site is going to be about and then try to figure out what you want to be found for before you even begin constructing your site. Doing that research helps you write your copy, and make it as natural as possible so the search engines have no problems reading your site and determining what it is you do. Sure, you could try to go the backdoor route, and you might possibly succeed in some fashion, but it’s not the best way to do it.

Optimize every page on your site as much as possible. But always start with your main page.

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Writing A Press Release

Okay, by now everyone should know that I’m putting on a social media workshop on Thursday with RenĂ©e Scherer. Well, at least you’d think that. What I found out just after the last one is that no matter how many times I put the link out on Twitter, people seemed to miss it. I mean, what the hey? This included people I talked to often on Twitter; that was discouraging, and of course if people don’t know about it, they’re not coming.

Grafik Magazine: Hand Drawn Type Spread
Carolyn Sewell via Compfight

This led me to considering the idea of writing a press release for this one and seeing if the newspaper would put it in. Of course, one can have a press release go to many other outlets as well, but there’s only one main newspaper in town, and I know the rules for writing a press release, which is pretty much only one main rule; make it sound like a news story and not an advertisement.

Having said that, there are some basic rules for writing up a press release; here they are:

1. You need to make sure there’s contact information in it

2. You need to indicate what the press release is for, hopefully giving them a title they might be able to use. I did that within the article, and I told what the event was up front.

3. You should have someone quoted in it. That’s not quite a necessity, but it helps to have a quote or two.

4. It needs to be in 3rd person. No “I’s” or anything like that unless it’s contained in the quote.

5. It needs to look “newsy”. In other words, it should read like it’s a story in the newspaper, even if it’s a short one.

I created the press release and I passed it by one of my Twitter friends who also happens to work at the newspaper. She said it was perfect, and that she’d give it to the powers that be. This isn’t my first press release, by the way. I’ve had two others put into the newspaper, one in 2004 when I was giving my Keys To Leadership seminars, and another when I was promoting a customer service workshop in 2005. So, it had been awhile, but my hope was that I hadn’t lost the skill of putting one together.

I hope it shows up in the newspaper, but there are never any guarantees. Actually, I’m writing this days ahead of time, so if you see this line then it probably won’t make it in time. In either case, another friend of mine in media said I should put it on my website to make sure it’s at least seen by someone. I decided to share it here:

Press Release:

Social Media Marketing Workshop
Hope Lake Lodge, August 19th, 2010

Following up on a successful first presentation on July 22nd, Mitch Mitchell of SEO Xcellence and RenĂ©e Scherer of Presentations Plus are putting on a second workshop on the topic of social media marketing. Titled “Make A Splash With Social Media Marketing”, they put on a 5 hour workshop that talks about social media strategies that have been used by many companies across the United States to enhance their business profiles and interact with customers.

“Smaller companies found out first how successful they could interact with current clients and grow their client base by using social media marketing, and now bigger companies have hopped on the bandwagon and establishing themselves as players in the game as well,” said Mitch Mitchell, who’s been working with clients on social media marketing strategies for 3 years now. “Anyone who hasn’t figured out that they need to embrace at least some aspects of social media marketing are going to fall behind, and it’s not going to be easy to catch up.”

Since both Mitchell and Scherer are from the Syracuse area, why start at Hope Lake Lodge? “I’m a skier and I love Greek Peak,” stated Scherer. “Once I realized how much more they had and that they’d love finding ways to help promote the new Cascades Water Park it seemed like it would be a nice marriage.”

They are working on setting up a workshop some time in September in the Syracuse area, then hoping for at least one more presentation at Cascades Water Park before deciding where to take it next. “I’d love to take it on the road, as it’s become a very hot topic”, said Mitchell.

So, what do you think?
 

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What Message Are You Trying To Project?

A strange thing happened to my wife and I last Saturday.

Some Saturday mornings, we decide to go to what’s known as the Regional Market of Central New York. People from all over central New York sell all sorts of things there like fruits and vegetables, candies and cakes, candles and perfumes, fish, clothes, foods, etc. My wife goes almost every Saturday. I’m kind of a part time guy; I invariably have a good time (when it’s warm weather), but you have to go early if you want to be close to everything, otherwise you could have a long walk coming.

This Saturday was going along like any other. I was saying hello to babies, being my naturally friendly self, while my wife was looking at produce that she and a friend were going to share later. This particular week there happened to be a Christian group booth in the middle of one of the display areas, and as we got there I got distracted by some honey roasted cashews on a table to my right. I’m not sure what my wife was doing, as she was slightly behind me, but I heard the man ask her if she would take a flyer he wanted to give her. She politely said no, and his response was “are you ready to die?”

Because I knew she wasn’t in danger I didn’t turn around, but kind of out loud I said “I’m thinking that’s not the best sales pitch I’ve ever heard.” The women in front of me heard it and laughed, and one of them turned around and gave me a high five. I accepted it, but I was thinking “what the heck was that all about?”

In the next display area we came to, a man was smiling and holding out his flyers. This time I said no thanks and walked on, but my wife decided to take his flyer. On the front was what you see in the image: Muslims for Peace. Later on, while sitting in the car while my wife went into a new hair salon to ask some questions, I pulled the flyer out and read through it, and found it somewhat illuminating.

No, I’m not about to go out and become a Muslim. However, I have to say that the two messages my wife and I got literally within minutes of each other were drastically striking and contrary. If my only experience ever with both Christianity and Islam had been these two men, you know which way my support would have gone. The way information was presented was way different, and even though I understand the message the Christian man wanted to convey to my wife, in a public forum with lots of other people around and one chance to make a good impression, he uttered a statement that could have been taken as a threat, but was definitely taken as one of strange intolerance for someone else’s position, all from deciding she didn’t want a flyer.

Lately here I’ve been talking about influence and social media marketing, but in the past on my other blog I’ve talked about consequences and perception. Giving people a reason to dislike you more because you said something wrong rather than stating an opinion someone else may or may not like is almost never worth it if you really care about getting business, making friends, etc. I’ve talked a lot about how social media can be your friend, but sometimes it can also hurt your online and offline business if your timing is bad and your words not quite correct. Of course, as I’ve always said, if you’re ready to deal with the consequences you can say anything you want.

Of course, I have no religion or faith, so I’m not going to be changing to anything any time soon. Still, if I were at Hogwarts I’d probably have given 50 points to some house and taken 50 points away from another. I wonder who ended up scoring better on the day once my wife and I left last Saturday.

Love Couture Love Peace Sequin Tunic






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Images Used By Permission & Copyright Laws – Guest Post

Following up on my post yesterday titled The Quest For Legitimate Images, I was able to convince my friend Scott Thomas to write this post explaining his position on the topic as well as giving us some insight into the issue.

Used by permission of Scott Thomas Photography

Mitch and I were discussing the use of photos on this blog a couple of weeks ago. I told him he should find the person who took any photo he uses on his blogs to ask permission to use it. What he said disturbed me and I find it is a prevalent attitude found around blogs, websites and even in advertising and other media. He said if he can not find the person who created the photo and sees it in other locations, he saw no reason not to use it.
Continue reading Images Used By Permission & Copyright Laws – Guest Post