Posted by Peter Otte on February 23, 2015
Of all of the plugins available for WordPress blogs and websites, “SEO All-In-One” is perhaps the most popular. It makes optimizing your WordPress blog or website for search engines much easier than it otherwise might be. If you’re not already using this for your business’s website or blog, then here’s a down and dirty guide for how to install the plugin and configure it.
- Get the Plugin: You can do this one of two ways; you can use the WordPress automatic plugin installer (where you will see it listed), or you can download the plugin from SEO All-in-One here and upload it to your website yourself.
- Activate the Plugin: After you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll need to activate it. Navigate to your WordPress website’s plugin tab, locate “SEO All-in-One” and activate it.
After the plugin is installed and activated, you will then need to configure it. Here the most important things you should configure:
- Activate Canonical URLs: In order to avoid duplicate content penalties, make sure this setting is active. You’ll find it under the plugin’s general settings.
- Fill Out Your Homepage Information: Be sure to fill in your website or blog’s title, and also provide a description that uses your main keywords and key phrases. Don’t worry about “Home Keywords”, as search engines no longer use these when indexing websites.
- Make Sure Noindex Settings are Active: Archived material can count against your website’s page rank when it’s indexed by webcrawlers. By activating these settings, you’re preventing that from happening.
Outside of the above configurations, there are a lot of other features that are offered by this powerful WordPress plugin. Depending upon the kind of website you have, you will want to investigate some of these other settings. Conducting a simple search about the plugin will yield a bevy of valuable resources for getting even more out of “SEO All-in-One”.
Posted by Peter Otte on February 16, 2015
Following up from last week, it’s not enough to have a Facebook page for your business; you need to tend to it as well. Having an effective Facebook page shows that you’re engaged with your customers. Those who are new to social media sometimes don’t know the best way to go about this, so here are some guidelines that I recommend for your Facebook business page.
- Update Regularly: Just as you would keep your business’s website active, so too should you keep your Facebook page active. Post informative content regularly with your followers in mind.
- Engage Your Followers: Speaking of your followers, remember that this is social media and having a Facebook page provides an opportunity for direct interaction. If you care about your customers, then interact with them.
- Stay Neutral: How many times have you read a story about a business getting into trouble on Facebook? Most often, it’s because they chose to take sides on a divisive issue. Be neutral, especially with anything that has the faintest whiff of controversy. Careless remarks can spread like wildfire.
- Track Your Metrics: Facebook offers Page Insights once you gather at least 25 Likes, which is a powerful and robust tool for your tracking any and all metrics relating to your business’s Facebook page. Check it out by clicking “Insights” at the top of your business’ page.
- Consider Advertising: Facebook offers a powerful system for targeted advertising. After you’ve gotten some wind behind your Facebook sails, make sure that you look into it.
By following the above guidelines, you can be assured of getting the very most out of your business’s Facebook page. Even if you doubt the efficacy of having a Facebook presence for your business, if you go about it the right way, you’ll quickly find that it can be an incredibly powerful tool in your overall marketing and SEO strategy.
Posted by Peter Otte on February 9, 2015
More than ever, having a presence on social media is important for businesses. Simply, if you’re not managing your business’s reputation on social media, then you can bet that someone else is. So, if you’re not already active, then here are the steps you need to follow in order to set up and promote your business Facebook page.
Figure 1 – Create Page
- First, log in to Facebook. If you don’t have an account, create one by filling out the sign up form on the home page.
- Once you’re logged in, look for the Create Page button on the left-hand side (Figure 1). It will be near the bottom.
Fig. 2 – Create a Page
- You should now see the Facebook page creator (Figure 2). From here, you’ll have to select one of the six categories that’s most appropriate to your business. If you have an office or storefront where clients come to you, select the first button “Local Business or Place.” If you have more than one business location, select the second option.
- Fill Out the Basics: Depending upon what category you select, you’ll be charged with filling out certain basic information. Sometimes you’re business will fit neatly in a category. Other times, you might have to stretch the definition a bit. These categories are important because they are linked both to Facebook search and other search engines like Google. Make sure that the information you provide Facebook with is accurate, complete, and consistent with other business profiles that appear on the web.
- Create a Vanity URL: Facebook will give you the option to create a custom URL, or vanity URL, that is easier to remember than the longer string of characters. For example, my custom Facebook URL is https://www.facebook.com/PeterOtteProductions. Choose one that describes your business. Put some thought into it, because Facebook will only let you change it once.
Fig. 3 – Profile Picture and Cover Photo
- Make a Cover Photo: The cover photo (Figure 3), which sits across the top of every Facebook page, is the first thing that visitors will see. Make sure that it’s eye-catching and that it does not contain more than 20% text.
- Add Content: After adding a cover photo, add your logo or portrait as the business’s profile picture (Figure 3). From here you will want to populate the profile page with content. It’s very important that you link to your website. Also, create a biographical summary of your business and the services you offer. Whenever you have some news for customers, make a status update. Don’t let your profile languish. Every so often update your bio or post a new update.
- Invite Followers: Invite Facebook friends to follow your new business page. Your Facebook profile can only be seen by other friends; your Facebook page, on the other hand, should be the public face of your business. Also, invite friends of yours, clients and customers to follow the page. It’s important that you get them to “Like” your page.
Once you’re live, having a successful Facebook page is all about keeping it well maintained. Like your web site, your Facebook page is a work in progress. Keep it fresh and you will help reinforce your relationship with your customers. So, be sure that you keep current with your Facebook page after you’ve set it up by updating it regularly; don’t just let it wither on the vine!
Posted by Peter Otte on February 2, 2015
WordPress may be the most popular platform for making SEO-friendly websites, but any technical errors with your site’s code may penalize your site’s ranking. Go through the following 7 steps to help you identify and correct any problems with your current site. If any show up, forward them on to your developer so she can correct them as quickly as possible.
In order to be searchable, you need to be accessible to search engines. So, make sure that you’re doing the above, and also stay abreast of WordPress SEO best practices, as they are always evolving.
Posted by Peter Otte on January 26, 2015
Backlinks are well known as one of the best ways to boost your WordPress page’s ranking on search engines. Businesses, however, all to often go about this the wrong way. More than ever, search engines are factoring in the quality of backlinks into their web-crawling algorithms. This means that taking a scatter-gun approach to backlinks may hurt you in the long run. So I’ve put together some guidelines to help you build backlinks the right way:
- Stay in Your Field: Not long ago, it didn’t matter very much where your backlinks originated. That’s simply not the case anymore. Your backlinks should come from websites that match your field. For example, if you’re an attorney, it makes sense to have a backlink from an online legal directory, not from a construction web site.
- Cultivate Relationships: Whether you’re simply exchanging links or doing a guest blog, try to develop a relationship with that readership. You might earn additional links from other members of the community. Be generous and helpful as much as time allows.
- Offer Great Content: If you offer content that is of value to people, then they will be inclined to share that content with others. The concept is simple, but in practice it will take some effort. Be warm, friendly, and informative and try to keep the sales pitch to a minimum.
- Make Sharing Your Content Easy: If you’re not using WordPress plugins that allow visitors to easily share your posts on social media, then research some good plugins out there. You will want to take advantage of social media sharing. It’s easy to create Facebook sharing buttons; ditto for twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. Make it as easy as possible to share your content! If you’re not using WordPress, the same principle applies; you probably will have other tools at your disposal. Add this has a quick way to add a share button if you don’t have WordPress.
- Share Content from Others: Your visitors don’t care where your content comes from, so long as it’s useful to them. Sharing valuable content from others serves your customers and clients, and it may inspire other content creator to share your work as well.
By following the above guidelines, you should be well on your way to making quality backlinks an important part of your overall SEO strategy.
Posted by Peter Otte on January 20, 2015
If you do business on the Internet and participate in social media, at some point you will field reviews and comments from your customers: both good and bad. Often however, businesses run into the trouble when they are forced to deal with the negative opinions of their customers and clients. Knowing how to respond to such reviews is not only crucial to maintaining your business’s reputation, but it’s also an excellent way to build that reputation. Here’s how to do it:
- Always Respond: The biggest mistake you can make is to ignore negative feedback that you receive. Instead, make a concerted effort to field any and all comments that your business receives on review sites, whether they’re good or bad.
- Keep Your Cool: Even if the negative review that you’ve received is over the top, remember that as a business, you always need to take the high road. Nothing looks worse than a business that meets an unreasonable customer’s complaint by responding in kind.
- Address the Review Directly: Think of how you would address the customer or client’s complaint had it been delivered to you directly. Take the time to consider what’s been said, and address the issue head-on.
- Highlight Your Strengths: Responding to a negative review isn’t just an opportunity to address a complaint, it’s also an opportunity to educate that customer and others about your business’s strengths. Turn the negative review on its head and call attention to everything your business does right.
Ultimately, you should come to view dealing with negative reviews as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience. Though the impetus for doing so may not be what you’d like, negative reviews provide a platform for you to sell your business and to manage the public’s perception of it.
I hope you learned something from this post. To learn more about our SEO services, including Online Reputation Management, please visit this page.
Posted by Peter Otte on July 25, 2014
The Santa Barbara Artist Directory has officially launched:
This is a new searchable online directory that is open to all artists who reside in Santa Barbara County. It’s a quick, affordable, and easy way for an artist to create an online presence and immediately market your work.
Here’s what one of our members had to say:
“It looks fabulous! Great design and idea. Pretty user-friendly too. It will be a great asset for the SB artistic community.”
The home page has a unique, scrollable tile that lets you browse new artists at a glance. The home page also includes thumbnails about featured artists with a link to their profile.
You can also search the artist database. The advanced search features let you filter different attributes, such as the media type or artistic genre.
The site is also responsive. It’s possible to view the entire site on your tablet or smartphone device.
The Santa Barbara’s Artist directory’s mission is to:
- Promote the local artists (Santa Barbara County) by increasing their exposure on the web and creating local, national and global recognition.
- To maintain the website with images of each artist’s artwork and a link to their website when applicable.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize the Santa Barbara Artist Directory to give maximum exposure to the participating members.
- Develop publicity for the website at local galleries, art shows, art related stores, museums and foundations.
The annual membership fee is only $26. As a member, you can create a member profile that will be viewed by the public with a short bio and samples of your work featured on your own page. In order to become a member, You must live in Santa Barbara County.
Signup is easy. You only need to fill out the essential information on the member profile page to sign up; you can always return later to update details. You may choose which fields to share with the public and which information you wish to remain private.
- The website is an optimized searchable online directory divided into different Art disciplines/ mediums.
- You can load your artwork into albums so that art buyers can view your work.You may upload as many images as you like. The file format for each image needs to be either a JPEG, PNG OR TIFF. Each image should not exceed 10 MB. You may create as many albums as you like and update them when you need to.
- You can also link to your web site or social media pages. And by clicking on the button you can post a link to your profile from your favorite social media profile so your friends, family, and colleagues can view your profile. You also have control over who sees your information.
- At the same time, we promote the site and our members on the search engines. We are also promoting the directory around town at local galleries and art shows. You can enhance your exposure on the web, create recognition and sales opportunities for your work.
- As a member, you also qualify for a discounted rate on a website.
We promote local artists in Santa Barbara County by increasing their exposure on the web and creating local, national and global recognition.
Posted by Peter Otte on February 5, 2014
The Santa Barbara County Psychological Association (SBCPA – www.sbcpa.org) is a client of mine in Santa Barbara. They were having problems with their previous developer and they hired me to, among other things, set up a membership subscription site utilizing Paypal.
WordPress did not turn out to be a good match for them at the time so I opted instead for a membership platform called Wild Apricot. While it has its limitations, Wild Apricot is a very good membership system with individual member accounts, a simple an an advanced membership directory search, a very good accounts section that exports to Quickbooks, and a great overall value when compared to other systems requiring thousands of dollars annually. The monthly expense for using Wild Apricot runs about $25 for under 200 members.
Setting Up the Payment System
One of my tasks was to set up their Paypal account so members could pay online for membership fees, event registrations, and make donations. The model is similar to a subscription-based solution because there are recurring annual fees and different membership classes. From time to time they also host events where they invite a speaker to discuss a current topic of interest. Now they can set up an event on their web site, notify their members, and then enable them to register for the event in advance.
So after customizing their site with new graphics, I set up their Paypal account using the setting Paypal Express Checkout, which has no monthly recurring fees. It’s not rocket science, but it’s important to follow each step carefully so that payments get credited to their account. They already had a Paypal account linked to the organization’s checking account. And they had their 503c status current, which qualifies them for a lower non-profit rate.
The essential steps included entering their existing account information, enabling the API permissions and credentials, and then configuring their Payment settings to work with Paypal Express Checkout. If they had a different payment preference, I would have had to follow a different procedure. For example, they might have asked me to implement Google Wallet instead.
Before, they were waiting for checks to arrive in the mail or in person. Now, when it comes time to renew, members can take care of it themselves and the money gets deposited into their PayPal account. Now most of it is handled online. If they ever outgrow PayPal (the percentages tend to be a bit higher than authorize.net), then they’ll call me and ask me to switch to the new system.
Some of the Drawbacks
But like most hosted solutions, Wild Apricot does not allow you to access the root directory of your account. While you can customize a lot of things through the admin panel, you can only access the theme files in your resources folder, which is a subfolder in your account. So for example you can’t upload an XML sitemap to the root directory and then submit it to the search engines.
I’m really looking forward to seeing the changes that are coming with release 5.0 of Wild Apricot. You may just want to try the free trial to see if it meets your needs. It’s worth effort.
Posted by Peter Otte on January 10, 2014
Note: This post was updated on January 10, 2014.
Last year the videogame industry faced stark financial realities in light of the shift toward free or low-cost games available for download from Apple’s App Store and Valve’s Steam. Established mid-tier publishers could no longer predict what their revenues would be for a new release and in many cases left developers in the lurch. From the consumer’s perspective it made perfect sense: why should I have to pay $60 for the latest Super Mario game when I can download Cut the Rope or Angry Birds for $4.99 (or less)? So the industry took stock of the situation and started looking into crowdfunding solutions. Enter Kickstarter.
Posted by Peter Otte on January 6, 2014
Note: This post was updated on January 6, 2014.
One of my web design clients wanted my help finding a cheaper web hosting option. Her colleague, also a client, had recommended she try hosting with Network Solutions for a low $2.99 per month. Naturally I told her I would help her.
Digital Housing, their existing provider were very cooperative and the transition process began apace. If you have ever undertaken the switch before, you know that changing from one web hosting company to another is seldom a straightforward and efficient process. It can take hours, even days to reach a live human representative who has been trained to persuade you to change your mind. Digital Housing, on the other hand, handled the issue with aplomb and my client was all set to make the switch to Network Solutions.