Thursday, February 26, 2009

SEO - Can You Control It? Basic SEO 101

What IS SEO anyway? Search Engine Optimization is the term used to describe how one optimizes the content placed on the Internet to ensure that the content is found and placed in results.

To some, it is a fancy word that is perceived as a high cost endeavor. I tell you, though, there are things that you can do to boost your presence in searches -- and they do not cost anything but your time and persistence!

Let's start with the strategic concept. When someone types in a search term into a search engine and it relates to the items that you sell online, you want your shop or an article about you to be on the first or second page. This gives you a competitive advantage. While professional SEO is a very complex effort, the basic SEO is not.

The Search spiders and crawlers will read your file names, the content, the domain names, alt tags, H1 and H2 html headers, page titles, and meta content. They like frequent, new, and changed content.

The concept is that you want to pepper your shop name, item category, and key words all over the Internet in the areas listed above. Anymore, having one web page or one shop does little for your SEO.

The work is to be done consistently, frequently, and thoughtfully. Here is a list of tasks for you:
  • Photos & images: for every image that you upload to the Internet, anywhere, always include key words in your image file names. Example: gallerialinda_jewelry_1001.jpg.

  • File names: as with your image files, if you upload documents or other files to share, be sure to use the same tactics. If you are creating your own html pages, name the html page with a key word, such as "gallerialinda_about.html."

  • Text content: anywhere you type in anything about you and your business, be sure to do it thoughtfully and include your key words. The perfect places for this type of control include your shop announcements, profiles on social networks, blog content, your web site content and more!

  • Domain names: when deciding on domain names, it is always good to use your key words and be targeted. For example: using is not nearly as useful as using www.YourName' Don't be afraid of having several domain names that point to your one web site. www.YourName' could also be used and pointed to your site that also sells painted gourds.

  • Alt tags: these are the bits of information you see when you mouse over an image. If you are creating your own html or using a program like Dreamweaver, you can add these. They become important bits of key words for your SEO.

  • H1 and H2 headers: if you are creating your own html or using a program like Dreamweaver, you can be sure these have your key words, such as product type, name of shop, etc... If you are using online templates, the larger fonts are likely these tags so be aware of your header content.

  • Page titles: this is the title that shows at the tippy top of your browser. The page title is created when you create a web page. You may not have control over that when using an online template but some use your headers as the page titles too.

  • Meta content: meta tags and meta descriptions are placed in the code, so if you do not create your own html, these are not accessible to you. Some argue that meta content is not even relevant anymore, however, they can add to your success in getting your key words out there.

  • Frequent, new or changed content: this is important -- just as you see your blog views fluctuate when you post and when you do not post, so it is for all of your online content. Update what you have online, whether it is profiles, shop announcements, or bios, and update them on a regular schedule.

  • Pepper the Internet with YOU: I can't say this enough: if you are serious about SEO, then utilize everywhere you can place content. Other than your shop announcements, profiles, and social networks, you could also add web pages on sites that offer free web pages, as well as write and place articles. I will expand on this topic soon as it is important!

This is not a lot to maintain if you are organized. I suggest that once you do your initial SEO enhancements, make a list of locations of all your online content. Then, you can schedule your updates ongoing. Changes to content do not have to be huge. They just have to be done!

Updates to Topic~

Nicolette Tallmadge had such a great and important comment that I wanted to post it here in the article:

It's also important to remember that optimizing your page titles account for about 90% of your SEO value.

Doing all of the other stuff also helps, but if you had to pick one thing to do, you should definitely optimize all of your page titles. Also, if you're blogging, don't forget to optimize your blog titles and avoid using vague "mystery meat" titles that don't tell search engines (and your readers) what your post is all about.

Finally, you also want to make sure that you're optimizing your site for keywords that people are actually looking for. So do some basic keyword research to see what people are looking for online so you can optimize your blog and website accordingly.

(Thank you for that great advice, Nicolette!)

MatW adds an important issue about multiple domain names:

You mention "Don't be afraid of having several domain names that point to your one web site."Whilst true, these alternate domains must be setup correctly and point to your main site using 301 redirects otherwise you will actally damage your search engine ranking by making it seems as if you have many sites with duplicated content. Also, without 301 redirects, your site's ranking will be diluted between those domains, rather than focused on just one.

(MatW - Thank you for expanding upon this topic with such great wisdom. This is a complex subject that goes deeper and deeper.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ArtFire Shop & Free Custom Marketing Plan. How Can You Go Wrong?

Only you and I can create our own futures. Therefore, I am getting serious about selling on Artfire. I want The Artfire Free Ride for Life and you should too!

(I know this is a long post, however, it is an important opportunity that could affect your bottom line).

I seldom post the same content on both blogs, but I wanted you to know my commitment to you, so I am posting this on Indie CEO as well as GalleriaLindaShowcase.

Looking ahead at your business expenses is wise, especially for 2009. This information is worthy of consideration for online sellers who create handmade items or sell vintage items. Only you can create your future! You could have a full verified shop on Artfire, for free, for life.

Artfire is having a promotion that benefits shop owners and now I am offering to help you with your success. Before I get into what I have up my sleeve for you, here are reasons to join Artfire for $7/month:
  • Growing fast, extremely responsive admin, fast roll outs of new features that work the first time, listens to sellers, so many new features on the list to come
  • Unlimited number of free listings
  • Google Analytics statistics to support your marketing efforts
  • No selling fees, no final sales fees, no listing fees
  • Ways to be featured, seen
  • Random searches mean that your items will be seen more frequently without you worrying with it – list and let the search do its thing
  • For $7 a month, you have invested money equal to 35 listing or relist fees a month on Etsy - one a day plus a fraction. If you are a serial lister or relister on Etsy in hopes for your items to be seen, you will love this value. On Artfire, there are no selling fees when you actually sell those listings!
  • When the total 5,000 verified accounts are taken, the monthly fee will jump to $20/month. Now, don’t you want to get in before that happens?
  • Once you sign up for a verified shop, you too can work on your own new shop's Artfire Free Ride for Life. I will help you – keep reading how!

The Artfire Free Ride for Life promotion for the GalleriaLinda shop is when 10 people sign up for a verified $7/month shop and attribute their sign up to GalleriaLinda's Artfire Shop. GalleriaLinda will receive an Artfire Free Ride for Life shop. How great is that?

I want to give you a gift, plus, I am personally committing to help each of the 10 shop owners who sign up referencing GalleriaLinda, achieve this goal for themselves.

Here is how it will work:

  • The first 10 people who use GALLERIALINDA’S Artfire link and sign up for a verified $7/month Artfire shop, will be placed in a GalleriaLinda drawing, of only the first 10 people total from both blog posts. (you must use my link, not someone else’s…and there are many around and many Project Wonderful ads using ArtFire's logo - don't get confused, ALL the links in this post are GalleriaLinda's links to the Artfire Free Ride).
  • As each completes their sign up attributed to GalleriaLinda’s reference, they are to come back here to this post to COMMENT that they did sign up by leaving their new Artfire shop name. (Alternatively, you can comment on the GalleriaLindaShowcase post about Artfire). I will check. If you do not comment here, you will not be in the drawing. I don't want that to happen.
  • Each of the 10 sign ups will be confirmed as verified shops on Artfire by me.
  • You have a 1 in 10 chance to win consulting time for a custom basic marketing plan for your business – a $50 value. (I am a marketing communications consultant for small businesses by day). This marketing plan will be created from interaction between us by either phone or email and customized to your business time availability and goals.

Wait! There is more! Keep reading because here is the best part:

Once GalleriaLinda's 10 slots are filled and achieves the Artfire Free Ride for Life for GalleriaLinda, for those first 10 people who signed, I will run a 125x125 pixel ad for each of the 10, one at a time, for one whole week on my 3 web sites that links to your own Artfire Free Ride!!

The ads will run one at a time in the sequence of the sign ups, for example, number 1 signer will be the first week ad to run, then number 2 on the second week, to number 10 the last 10th week ad run. The ads will be placed simultaneously on my three websites (2 blogs and 1 web site) for one whole week along with the Project Wonderful ads located there.

Let’s summarize...a 1 in 10 chance are the best odds you may ever get!

Drawing winner to receive marketing consulting time is awesome in itself.

But, free advertising for your Artfire Free Ride for Life for one whole week on three different web sites is over the top.

I want you to succeed too!

3 Verified Members in GalleriaLinda's name
2 Free Shops in GalleriaLinda's name (will count if they become verified)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Community Directed Development - Does It Really Work? Would You Participate?

I had never heard the term "community directed development," but it is what drives From a business-branding standpoint, this is critically unique in the industry!

From ArtFire's mission found at "Community Directed Developement Puts Members in Control," I found this description interesting:

"....This type of social media, e-commerce, and community fusion has never been attempted or accomplished until now! CDD’s aggressive real time adaptation and implementation is much like putting a half built boat in to the water and assembling it while at sea; turbulence and challenge is expected and responsiveness is critical to success."

Do you like to be a unique part of the building process for a site that services sellers, as well as customers?

If you like this type of "give and take" selling environment, then ArtFire as a selling venue is worth consideration for your primary or secondary selling venue for handmade and vintage!

If you sign up with ArtFire from links on this blog...and you are verified as signed up with GalleriaLinda as your sponsor, and you post a comment, then GalleriaLinda gives you an opportunity for:
  • Free advertising for your own "free ride ArtFire shop" on 1 web site and 2 blogs
  • a drawing from a group of only 10 people to receive a custom marketing plan by Indie CEO for your unique business needs (see criteria here)

Here is an update from Indie CEO's post "ArtFire Shop & Free Custom Marketing Plan. How Can You Go Wrong?:

  • 3 new verified ArtFire shops attributed to GalleriaLinda
  • 2 new unverified ArtFire shops attributed to Gallerialinda (count only if they become verified)

Think about it! And, be sure to check out these Indie CEO resource pages:

General resource links
Open source and freeware software and utilities
List of 47 and counting, selling venues that you can utilize today

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How You Distribute Your Marketing Message is Important!

How do you communicate with your customers? Email? IM? Twitter? Social Networks? Snail mail? Phone? Print, Handwritten, Virtual?

Knowing your target customer's demographic is essential in planning your communications campaigns!

To grab your customer's attention, your messages need to be seen, so ensure that your customers are receiving communications in a way that they embrace. With so many distractions in the media today that competes with your business messages, you may as well purposefully plan to distribute your messages in a way that will be delivered successfully to your customers.

Here are the top three generations and known communication preferences:

The Y Generation (Net Generation Millennials, Echo Boomers, and iGeneration): born 1976-2001

This is the first generation to grow up immersed in a digital and Internet-driven world and all uses of digital technology is the way to reach this group. Cell phone texting, social media, Internet, blogging, and microblogging will win over standard single email campaigns.

Gen X: born between 1961 and 1981

Gen X grew up with computers in classrooms and later on, computers in their homes. As users of early cell phones and the World Wide Web, Gen X continues to embrace technology and gadgets. As adults, they still strive to increase their level of automation in their lives. Email campaigns, as well as Internet-based communications and promotions are received well by Gen X.

Baby Boomers: Born between 1946-1964

This group was introduced to technology in the 90s as they approach their 50s. Technology was not embraced for its value, but seen as a fun gimmick with no real value.

Older boomers may utilize email, but checking email is infrequent and social media is not a desire or skill. Personal communication, such as handwritten letters and notes and even phone calls will win over many boomers before email campaigns or tweets.

Generational demographics are interesting, especially in how you should structure your marketing efforts to reach them. There are many books on the subject. Here is a list of interesting books from Indie CEO on how to market to generational demographics that you might like to peruse!

Be sure to check out GalleriaLinda and IndieCEO's resource page for links to things you can use!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If You Haven't Told Them 57 Times, You Haven't Told Them At All

There is an old saying among ad agencies, "If you haven't told them 57 times, you haven't told them at all." How well are you communicating your messages to your customers?

I think this is an area of customer communication where we all have challenges - getting the message out so people remember what we said. We should (1) tell them what we are going to tell them, (2) tell them, then (3) tell them what we told them.

For example, let's pretend that you are going to start a new product line called Funky Widgets...your 3-pronged message plan could be:

1. Tell them what you are going to tell them

Coming Soon! Our new product line, Funky Widgets, is launching in March, 2009. Watch for the announcement, as you won't want to miss this! It will be fabulous......etc...

2. Tell them

Announcing the anticipated launch of our new product line, Funky Widgets! They are unique and lovable because.....etc...

3. Tell them what you told them

We hope you have not missed the opportunity to try our new product line, Funky Widgets! They will make your life wonderful! etc...

Each phase of this communication matrix can be deployed to outlets on your standard media list. Your media list is simply a list of places where you will promote your message.

Your media list can include online and offline "outlets" (places), such as specific blogs, your web site, multiple social networking sites, YouTube, photo sharing sites, forums, your shop announcements, advertisements, press releases, grocery store bulletin boards, free shopper classifieds in your town, and any other avenues you have for message distribution. Use your media list for each of the three phases.

With so many distractions in the media today, it is important to keep punching out your message in frequency and in a variety of methods. People absorb information in different ways and not all methods will work well on one person. The repetition of the message in different forms will be more successful than using one form.

Consider your messages in a variety of forms:
  • Print/Collateral (advertisements, press releases, coupons, postcards, flyers, samples of products, B&M store bulletin boards, etc...)
  • Online Reads (email newsletters, blogs, web site content, article submissions, shop announcements, social media, forums, etc...)
  • Online Visual Graphic Placements (Project Wonderful, web site, blogs, social media)
  • Online Video or Photo Slide Shows (YouTube,, social media, etc...
  • Online Photos (Flickr and other photo sharing sites, social media, etc...)
  • Online Audio (podcasts, audio with your short videos, etc...)

The next time you have a great message to deploy, think about your frequency and repetition of message, as well as the method of message distribution. Plan it for the greatest success!

Be sure to check out GalleriaLinda's resource pages for things you can use! And, if you see any Project Wonderful ads that are only $0, feel free to help yourself!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Enjoying the Fruits of Being "Business Frugal" with Open Source and Freeware Software

The financial atmosphere of our businesses is not the same as it was two years ago, or even one year ago. We are all looking for ways to save, cut back, and do more for less.

The Internet is a treasure chest full of useful, free tools for businesses. You just have to know where to look to find safe tools.

In the next few months, I will be bringing to you great resource links. It appears that I am an information junkie...and that is a good thing for you, because I want to share!

Over the last few years, I have read a lot of blogs, web sites, and forums and have bookmarked and documented oodles of great links for tools, web apps, software, tutorials, social media, advertising sites, and much more. The only thing is, I have to sort through and organize them, but I have started the task and I am so glad I did!

I found a great group of free software that will put any small business in good shape without spending a dime! Plus, you get free upgrades when available.

An office suite of software that rivals Microsoft includes word processing, spreadsheet, slide show, and more, PDF makers, a list of terrific image editors, chart makers, accounting, banner builders, animated GIF makers, and I could go on.

This is the first category to come and you can find them here on GalleriaLinda's resource page. The pages have been reorganized so take a look and then click on the red link for the free software page. This category will fill out too as I discover more in my treasure chest.

Most of these links (virtually all of them) come from recommendations from blog owners, forum posters, users, and technology web sites. I feel they are safe. In fact, many of them I have installed on my computer, but as always, it is your responsibility to be prudent with what you download to your computer. I recommend protection software.

Shiny new Project Wonderful ad boxes are ready for anyone who wants to take advantage of free advertising. Not bad for one evening - free software and free advertising. I believe that you are "Business Frugal!"