Pinterest. How this new social site can help your business!

In 2010, the introduction of Pinterest, a fusion of bookmarking, blogging, and Facebook, opened up greater possibilities for businesses to reach greater numbers. If you thought harnessing the power of social media, blogging, and social bookmarking were great for business, can you imagine the possibilities when these powers combine? Pinterest has taken social sharing to the next level in a unique and fun way.

So, what is Pinterest and how will it drive business to your website?  I say it’s a fusion because you can post pictures of things you find interesting from websites you like and trust. People search for topics they are interested in and can comment and follow pin boards, or you, (or both) and clicking on the pictures can take you to a linked website.  It is essentially a more visual form of blogging, but any one person can have several unique pin boards related to topics they find interesting.

It seems unlikely that random people posting pictures about their interests could increase traffic to your business’ website, but if one person is interested in your field of work, chances are several others are similarly interested. Let’s take for example weddings:  many different businesses are associated with weddings including, florists, caterers, bridal boutiques etc. If you go to Pinterest and search weddings, numerous pin boards with pictures come up from all these categories. A bride may see a pin board with a “pinned” dress they like, if they click the picture they will be directed to the dress maker’s business. Voilà, potential client!

Internet usage is on the verge of surpassing the amount of time people spend watching television.  So establishing a presence on social Internet media can help increase traffic to your site by allowing customers to share pictures, videos and pinable information with others who have built their own follower base, thus increasing your exposure effortlessly.

We preach the notion that people rely heavily on the opinions of others, which explains the popularity of sites like Angie’s list and Epinions. This fact is a big reason why Pinterest has captured the interest of many. Is it useful to business? We say YES! Not only can a social site like this drive traffic to your site, it’s FREE advertising directed only at the people who are interested in seeing it. There’s no opting out, they choose to see this information because they want to. If you are interested in adding Pinterest or a Pinterest button on your website, contact us today!

What Is On-Page Optimization Anyway?

What Is On-Page Optimization Anyway?

In the early days of public Internet access, few knew the enormity it would become. .com sites popped up like wildfire, offering everything from coupon clipping services to instant mail- e-mail! This revolution took the world by storm and streamlined the way everything was done around the globe. It created huge competition for every industry and even more competition for those desirable high page rankings.

So, what is search engine optimization exactly? Put simply, it is comprised of steps taken to strengthen the visibility of a website. But if not done property, the process can actuallyin some cases, a website’s search engine results.  SEO experts use several criterion to “optimize” your site’s page rankings. One factor that is fairly simple, but quite time consuming, is on-page optimization. Not many know exactly how it can help or even what it is, so let’s discuss it!

On-page optimization includes the use of keywords, keyword placement, meta tags, internal linking strategies and, formatting. There are other strategies, but these are the basics.  These on-page optimization strategies will start a company on its way to better search engine results. Remember, patience is key. Even if a person goes out and implements all these strategies today, it takes months of refreshing content, researching keyword effectiveness, and re-formatting webpages to result in the optimal SERP.  With some basic knowledge, though, you can help your site move up in page rankings.

One way to help is the process of using keywords in a natural way within your website. Doing so helps search engine spiders see what your site is about and decide that it’s legitimate. You should avoid placing too many keywords on any page; the rule of thumb is one to three percent of content should have your keywords.

Meta tags are weighted differently depending on the search engine in question. Meta tags include:  title tags, description tags, keyword tags, robot tags , heading tags and alt tags.  All of this are a form of key word placement, essential to helping search engines identify the name of your web pages and the information on them. As a result, each page should have its own unique set of meta tags.

Internal linking is one of the most important on-page optimization strategies. Linking from your websites homepage to your category pages is one way to accomplish some easy internal linking. This is usually accomplished through use of a navigation menu. Try not to place more than three links to the same page on your homepage; this could look bad to search engines, especially Google.

Formatting consists of many factors like content placement, proper keyword placement , using heading tags and alt tags , having a site map and trying to avoid flash and java script. Content placement is important because spiders read content much the same way as humans read books: top to bottom and left to right, so you will want to have your content as close to the top of a page as possible.

Heading tags and alt tags are forms of meta tags. Heading tags help indicate the importance of the content and alt tags describe pictures on your page. The main benefit to this is you can use keywords in these heading tags and the search engines will read them.

The use of Flash and Java Script should be limited, it’s simply not easy for search engine spiders to read them. However, this doesn’t mean you can never use them We all know how visually appealing Flash is,  just try to refrain from making entire pages of Flash and Java Script.

Sitemaps make it easier for spiders to crawl your site faster and they help visitors find content on your site. Experts recommend including short descriptive text for each link. Uploading your site map directly to search engines also has a positive impact on your SERPs.

There are many factors that go into on-page optimization and, as you have read, each category can be made up of several categories. With just this brief overview of on-page optimization, we hope you are able to help begin your rise in the ranks; don’t forget there are still many more ways to optimize your site, so check back for future articles on SEO.

Mobilize for the Mobile Life

The mobile movement is fully upon us and PC’s are no longer the only way to visit websites. The ease and ability to access any information needed at any time is particularly important in today’s busy society. If you haven’t optimized your site for mobile browsing or looked into developing an Android or iPhone App, give Atwoodz a call.

Today’s consumers have access to mobile apps wherever they go because they always have their phones on them. This means a consumer could have instant access to your site whenever they want. A mobile app by Atwoodz will add value to your company, its services, and products by helping you create a functional and creative way for customers to interact with your business.  With tons of features and customizable options you can design an app that meets your specific needs, as well as those of your customers.

The Gartner Group reported over 15 billion apps were downloaded in 2010, with estimated app store revenues reaching over $5 billion.  Microsoft statistics show mobile phone searches are expected to surpass desktop Internet browsing by 2014 and 29 percent of mobile users are open to scanning mobile tags (QR codes) to get coupons.  Another source, mobithinking.com , stated mobile apps are expected to reach peek downloads by 2013 with the U.S. m-commerce market reaching $31 billion by 2016 and $119 billion globally. As you can see m-commerce is not just growing fast, it is exploding! These are just some of the several reasons that a successful business will want to optimize their site for mobile use and have a mobile app.

With the evolution of m-commerce it is imperative to include a mobile site as part of your business plan. Not only will you begin to create long-term relationships with active app users, but you will be ready for future innovations like the trending m-wallet, where you can pay for virtually anything with your cell phone using near field communication (NFC), thereby making your phone your wallet!

A recent press release from Google stated that after using a mobile phone to search for services, 61 percent of mobile users make calls to local businesses and the user’s experience on the mobile site directly affects their perception of the business.

If you are thinking about getting a mobile site, we can help you from start to finish. Our staff can help design and create a mobile website that offers a great user experience and features like click to call, click to-e-mail, mapping, QR codes, and social media integration.  Contact Atwoodz today to get started and be sure to find us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter and +1us on Google +  for all our latest news.

What is Off Page Search Engine Optimization?

First, off-page search engine optimization is activity which occurs outside of your website, on the Internet, that improves search engine results page (SERP) placement. The concept is simple, but the implementation can be lengthy and overwhelming.   Essential practices for off-page optimization include developing quality links to your site through article marketing, directory submission, social media, social book marking, blogging, press releases, RSS feeds, and forum marketing.

Off-page optimizati­on is the most important SEO strategy you need to focus on to start your climb to that number one position on Google. One of the best ways to achieve this is with quality (not quantity) inbound links to your site; meaning sites linking to you should have a higher page rank than your site, helping you to move up in SERP’s. A couple things you need to consider when link building: First, make sure any sites linking to yours have a higher page rank than your site does, and be sure that inbound link text contains your key terms. For example, “SEO consultants” instead of “click here”, so spiders associate your keywords with your pages.

There are three main methods for building links to your site: one-way links, reciprocal links, and three-way links. One-way links are the strongest because you are essentially getting endorsed by a third party website. Reciprocal linking is a link exchange between two websites. In this case, you would link to another website, and they in-turn link to yours; this has value, but not as much as one way. Three-way links are a combination of one way and reciprocal linking. How does this work? By linking to a site and providing your link for the website owner to link back to your site, but instead of linking back from the original, site they link back from another website they own; this creates a one-way link to your site and theirs, it doesn’t appear as reciprocal linking, even though it really is.

Getting quality links to your site may sound like a simple task; however it is not as easy as it sounds.  Link building takes a lot of time and effort on the part of the website manager, often several hours a day and results of this hard work generally take six months up to one year to appear. How do you get other quality websites to link to your page? Popular methods like Google AdSense and similar programs can be very pricey.

Another method is article writing.  This method can take a lot of time, mainly because articles need to be submitted individually to several article sites. Each submission needs to be slightly different so that you are not penalized by search engines like Google for publishing duplicate content. Link building should be done methodically and consistently; don’t expect to rank number one in a week or even a month.

Another option for moving up in SERP’s is through social media; for example posting your link on FB, Twitter page and even You Tube. Once you have established a network, you can ask others to post and share your links on their sites, blogs and forums. Building followers can be tough and is also something that won’t happen overnight. Be sure to share you handle and your FB “like” button on any blog or webpage that you have and actively follow others yourself. Many people have automatic follows set up, so if you follow them, they will also follow you.

There are several other methods used to move up in SERP’s including press releases, forum marketing, RSS feeds and blogging. These create back links to your site; helping to increase page rank significantly over time. Remember, ranking first in search engines like Google is very competitive, with several industries and companies like yours all trying to rank number one.

Off- Page search engine optimization is not limited to writing blogs, press releases and spending hours on social media sites. Utilizing sources such as Google Places will also help. If you are not registered on Google places, register! This is one of the easiest methods to implement and it’s free.  When creating your Google Places account remember that complete and relevant profile information will help your search engine results.  Be sure to add as much content as possible, including soliciting customers to leave reviews. Also, don’t forget to add photos and videos.

Business owners, especially small business owners, often wear several hats. Some of those roles include project manager, customer service representative, outside sales, inside sales, accountant, human resource coordinator, custodian, logistical coordinator and the increasingly important role of Internet marketer and SEO analyst. With so many things to do in one day there is not always enough time to give one hundred percent effort in all areas of your business and for this reason, websites and businesses often suffer the consequences of neglect.

Having an amazing, user-friendly website with loads of bells and whistles may keep users searching your site and coming back once they’ve found it- but if your site can’t be found on a Google search, you will soon start noticing that you are not generating as much traffic as you would like. Many business owners spend a lot of money having highly sophisticated websites built without considering what happens after the site goes live.  For many, spending money on SEO just seems like a waste of money, but truly the only waste of money, absent a well planned SEO strategy, will be the money you spent developing your site.

One of the primary reasons for unsuccessful websites is the lack of time spent on SEO, and the biggest reason for lack of time spent on SEO is lack of time! Business owners are busy and SEO is the easiest task to put on the back burner. Why?  The answer is simple; SEO work doesn’t demand constant attention like customers, employees, and vendors. It’s understandable that we neglect the silent wheel and pay attention to the squeaky one.

Trying to implement a solid SEO plan can be overwhelming, but not to worry as there are plenty of reputable companies eager to help you. Many agencies including, Atwoodz, offer several tiers of search engine optimization packages, including on-page and off-page optimization. You can outsource article writing, press release drafting, e-blasts, link building, content optimization and just about anything else that can help move your website up the SERP.

Contact Atwoodz today if you are interested in learning how we can help you with website optimization. We will be happy to analyze your website and suggest a plan that will best optimize your site for the internet.

Google Privacy Changes in Affect

In March, there will be a serious update to the Google privacy policy! Is this good or bad? We aren’t sure and we know many of you aren’t either. We’ve decided to read the entire new privacy statement and give you the Cliff Notes version.

What you need to know:

  • Google collects and keeps ALL information you give them when you sign up. If you type it in or upload it; it’s theirs. This means pictures, credit card info, telephone number, address, etc.
  • Google collects data about websites you visit, how you browse the website, how much time you spend there and what you do while you’re there.
  • Google collects information from your phone or computer like its operating system and your network, IP address; and, yes this includes your phone number.
  • Google Collects information from every Google related service you use, and everything you do, ANY phone number you put in, anywhere you do it from (IP address), time and dates of calls or queries, and ALL associated information with them.
  • If you decide to use Google maps, Google will access your phone location and information.
  • Google uses “cookies” to collect all the information when you visit any Google service and any Google linked partner.

Okay, so this is the super abbreviated version, as you can see its pretty standard. This new policy is really just a more understandable way of re-writing the old policy. In this day and age, we should all be aware that any information you provide to any search engine is probably being tracked or monitored in some way and will be used for learning what can be done to improve services and offer users more relevant search results.

So, there is our summary of the new Google policy with different easier to understand language.  Need more information? Check out the entire new Google policy here.