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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tips for buying corporate awards

As the year draws to a close, there are business managers and HR people who are beginning to think about the corporate awards their businesses will hand out to key contributors in their organizations. In fact, according to EDCO Awards & Specialties, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the December through March time frame is the peak corporate awards buying season.

That's why, EDCO has issued some tips on buying corporate awards. What I found interesting was the description of the difference between glass awards and crystal awards, as well as the importance of asking for the right type of engraving for the material type.

The company also issued a similar Slideshare presentation on corporate award buying for folks who prefer less reading.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How is voter suppression acceptable in the USA?

I'll admit it up front -- I screwed up. I went to my polling location yesterday and waited in line for 20 minutes (not bad!) before realizing my driver's license wasn't in my purse and left the line to go home for an alternate ID.

Not remembering where I'd last had my license, I called a colleague who found the Ohio voting requirements page on the Ohio Secretary of State's web page and was told there were a number of forms of ID I could use: state- or U.S.-government issued ID, utility bill, pay check, bank statement, etc. So, I grabbed the first thing whose location I knew and which I felt best represented an appropriate proof of my identity -- my U.S. passport. Went back to the polling station, waited another 20 minutes in line, only to find out as I was checking in that my U.S. passport would not be accepted as an appropriate form of ID.

WHAT???!!! I said, "Really? The state website says a U.S. government-issued ID is OK."

I was adamently told that that applied to a military ID, not a passport. When I asked why, the four workers at the table all told me "that's what we learned in our training." I suggested they contact someone to clear this up, because certainly this was a mistake, but they weren't budging, so I left again.

Don't worry -- I did vote after returning with a utility bill. I wasn't about to let the voter suppression folks take away my vote. But, it did give me reason to consider the potential impact of the various voter suppression efforts launched throughout the country and what that says about the supposed "greatest democracy in the world."

Clearly the GOP feels they made a mistake in letting the horse out of the barn by granting women and African-Americans the right to vote. Why else would they be creating obstacles now that cause people to wait hours in line or give up in frustration when they can't meet confusing ID requirements?

After returning to my office yesterday, I started searching for more detailed info on Ohio's voter requirements. I found varying descriptions of what was required:

And, the Summit County Board of Elections page says that the government ID must have a current address. Passports don't list your address. Unfortunately, I didn't consult either of these two sites, instead I referenced the state's web page on acceptable ID. But, really, why should three pages all dedicated to passing along information to Ohio voters differ in their description of what's permitted?

The only reason I can think of is that Secretary of State Jon Husted intentionally left his web page vague to cause the sort of confusion and frustration I experienced at the polls and that local county BOE's that actually have to deal with the voters are trying to clean up the mess by providing their own interpretation.

At the same time, where's the logic in allowing someone to provide a driver's license with an out-of-date address, but not allow a U.S. passport? For that matter, how is it that "other government documents" (read #7 on Montgomery County document) from agencies, commissions and colleges like letters, notices, court papers, grade reports and transcripts are all acceptable, but a photo ID issued by the U.S. government is not? Or, utility bills, including cell phone bills, which come from private companies are acceptable identification, but a U.S. passport isn't -- especially when the first desired form of ID is a government-issued photo ID?

Add to that the pre-election shenanigans of trying to cut-off early voting in Ohio Democratic counties and you see a very desperate party trying to rig the election.

My state wasn't the only place where this occurred, and it's been a factor for the last several elections. The question is: Is this the example we want to set for all those developing democracies around the world? How can we oppose tyranny in other parts of the world when we can't or won't oppose it here at home?

Perhaps it's time for a U.S. Constitutional Amendment that sets uniform election procedures across the country, out of the hands of politicians who would manipulate rules to disenfranchise the electorate.

As President Obama noted in his acceptance speech last night, "It's time to fix that." Let's do that.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Reasons to include an SEO company in your site redesign

We've had lots of situations where a company will come to us for SEO after they have just finished a site redesign, thinking that the new site needs to be up before we can do our work. WRONG!

The time to involve an SEO company in your site redesign project is right at the beginning. If you're lucky, you'll work with a full-service outfit that can handle the SEO and design work all at once.

The biggest reasons to include an SEO firm in our site redesign are to save you money and get you results. By waiting until after your site has been redesigned, you risk having your SEO company tell you about all the things your designer did wrong that will inhibit the search engine's ability to rank your site.

Or, you will spend a lot of effort having someone write your site content, only to find out that you need a major rewrite for it to be opitmized properly.

Before you embark on your site redesign project, talk to a qualified SEO expert. Have them review your existing site and talk to them about what you'd like to do with your new site. Finally, ask them what they can do to get your new site on track right from the start for optimal perforance on the search engines.

Read this article on 5 Reasons to Use an SEO Firm for your Website Redesign.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reasons to redesign your website

If you've been wondering why your website's not performing as well as it used to and you haven't invested in any SEO or site edits lately, then it's probably time for a redesign.

Internet standards for good websites change ridiculously fast, so you'll need help from a qualified SEO firm as you plan that site redesign.

Check out this article on the reasons to redesign your website.

Here's an article on why you should outsource your website redesign to an SEO firm.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween trophies in a snap

Are you planning your kids' Halloween party and stuck for ideas for party favors or costume prizes? Looking for something different this year that you can order and still get on time for Halloween?

Check out the selection of Halloween trophies by EDCO.

The witch and pumpkin-themed trophies and medallions are great for school parties, organizations and home parties, for kids and adults. Best of all, the company says it can turn around orders in just a few days because they produce their trophies in the U.S. (Fort Lauderdale).

I found these while looking at EDCO's website for sports trophies and corporate awards. I was surprised to find such a vast array of trophy designs, especially ones for special events. Happy Haunting!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Are you suffering from blog fatigue?

Writer's block happens to the best of us.  So, what do staffers at SEO company Pilot Fish do when they can't come up with a good blog item for the corporate blog?   Well, in the case of Client Services Director Beth Earle, she writes a song.  "The Blogging Song."

For more useful tips on blogging, read the full post.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

SEO key lead generator for businesses

A new business survey by Webmarketing123 shows that businesses actively involved in online marketing rate SEO as the most important lead generator for their businesses.

As far as social media goes, B2C companies find it far more useful than B2B companies, with most B2C companies (67%) citing Facebook as having generated sales leads for them. Meanwhile, 44% of B2B companies say that LinkedIn is the primary lead generator among social media outlets.

Another interesting bullet point from the report is that companies that used SEO or Internet marketing agencies were far more satisfied with the results than those who did the work in-house.

Check out the full report and stats here.

For a detailed description of what an SEO project entails, learn more about what is SEO.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Don't panic over Google changes

Word spreading in the blogosphere is that Google launched another algorithm update this week that is impacting search engine results.

If you've done all the right things to optimize your site, there's no need to panic over the increasing frequency of these changes. In most cases, they are intended to weed out spammy results.

The consistent message from the search engine giant and its various representatives is that quality content continues to be the primary measure of a site's value. So, keep doing the right things. HBUVN4NXAQTU

Random Thoughts from a Social Media Manager

I decided to update my personal LinkedIn account and discovered a feature to add a design portfolio through Behance.net. Several hours later, I had the beginnings of a portfolio posted (I had to do a bit of legwork to figure out descriptions for the projects, hunt down images, write the text, etc.) and added links to our Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. (Still need to add Pinterest.)

While working on that, managed to get sidetracked by posts I was seeing on my social media accounts, SEO-related things that seemed important enough to share. Add a link here, share a link there, it all takes time.

In the meantime, you kind of forget what you were doing in the first place. Social media has a way of pulling you through lots of winding tunnels, with no real sense of where you're going, where you've been or when you're going to get done. At some point, I just realize that my tush is hurting from sitting so long and my eyes need a break from the screen.

And the passwords! I'm a bit paranoid about using the same passwords for all my social media accounts, so keeping them all straight in my head has become a major endeavor. I guess it wasn't that important to remember all the neighbors' kids names -- no room in there for old phone numbers either.

Perhaps the most frustrating is the realization that you never finish social media. It's a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand. And, really, after being married 23 years, having 2 kids and committing myself to caring for a bird that could live longer than me, do I need another big-time commitment?

Finally, what's with the name - Social Media? The last thing I feel while glued to my screen is that I'm being "social".

OK, I'm done grousing. Time to get back to being "social".

BTW, here's a link to our new web design portfolio (still in progress)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SEO marketing that works, keeps management happy

It's not unusual for an SEO marketing program to become disrupted when management feels it's not providing the desired return-on-investment. The key is to establish well-defined goals up front, create a timeline, define measurement and then get the management team on board with how the SEO marketing strategy will be implemented.

Make sure that if "Keyword X" is important to the company president, your SEO marketing strategy includes a way to optimize for that term or you have a good justification for not including it. Likewise, if management expects results in the short-term, look for good keyword terms for which optimization would generate short-term results while you continue your efforts on more important long-term keywords.

Check out this article on tips for developing an SEO marketing strategy that works and keeps the boss happy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

7 Tips for Building Facebook Business Pages

Face it, Facebook isn't going anywhere soon, not with its more than 955 million site users. So, if your business hasn't taken the time to build a business page on Facebook, it's probably about time.

The major search engines are starting to re-tweak their algorithms to give social media a place at the table, so to speak, with regard to having an impact on your website rankings. Expect Google and others to make social media interaction a larger contributor to your website rank. They've already stated their frustrations with the manipulation of inbound links and continue to find ways to discount all that work you put into getting them.

Social media is becoming the third leg of a three-legged SEO stool, right there with on-page optimization and linking.

To help you get started, we've put together some tips for building your Facebook business page. Read "7 Tips to Leverage your Business on Facebook."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Has Google fooled you about your site's SEO ranking?

One of the confusing aspects of search engine optimization is knowing when or whether your site needs to be optimized. Part of the confusion is related to how Google operates and how it determines your SEO ranking.

In the past couple years, Google has tweaked its results to try to make them more relevant to users based on the user’s location.

If all of your clients are located within the city you do business, then that’s great. If you show up on the first page of results for your most important keywords, then you are more than likely reaching a large number of your target audience. However, if you do business outside of your city, chances are your website does not perform as well unless it has been properly optimized.

For instance, search for "restaurants" in Google. More than likely, you'll see a listing of several local restaurants that appear via Google Local. Now, go to the left side of your page and change the location of your browser to another city.

Re-do the search and you'll find a whole different listing. Google works the same way for other types of business listings in its main search results as well.

Do a simple SEO health check by changing the location of your browser and then typing in a keyword that describes your business. (Don't use your business name, most companies show up under their own name, but if a prospect doesn't know you, they'll search by something more generic that describes your business.)

Does your site show up? No? Then it's time for some SEO. Go to Pilot Fish for assistance with your SEO marketing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SEO Marketing Report: It's costly to stop SEO activities

SEO marketing company Pilot Fish has released a new report analyzing the changes in website rankings among companies that have long-term SEO programs in place vs. companies that discontinued SEO activities after their initial optimization projects.

In short: If you want to maintain #1 website rankings on Google, Yahoo and Bing, you need to continue SEO marketing even after earning those rankings to stave off competition and avoid be swept out by algorithm changes.

Read the full SEO marketing report.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Forgetting the small stuff is big stuff

I recently met with a client that was concerned that an Internet advertising program they'd invested in hadn't generated the desired results. The web ad was providing a good number of impressions and click-throughs, but the client wasn't able to document leads or sales from the advertising.

I looked at the ad and it seemed to be doing its job. It was well-written, compelling and directed prospects to click-through. The problem became apparent once I did. Nowhere on the home page was there an address, phone number or e-mail address that site visitors could use to contact the client. In fact, I had to click through three or four more pages before I found the first bit of contact info, an e-mail address.

There's the problem, I told the client. They're making their prospects work to hard. Most people will give a website 30 seconds to make an impression before they move on. If you haven't used your home page to clearly state what you do and your value proposition and provide a way to contact the you, you've lost a sales opportunity.

Before you decide your advertising or promotion program is ineffective, take a critical look at your home page or landing page and evaluate whether you've give prospects a reason and the ability to contact you.

It seems like a small thing, but if you're relying on your website for leads, it's huge.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Where were the grownups from Brentwood, Pa.?

As president of a high school sports website -- www.sportsink.com -- I was appalled at the story of the three students from Brentwood, Pa., who jumped onto the basketball court in banana suits to mock the opposing team, which was comprised primarily of African-American athletes.

Where were the supervising adults? I've seen fan interaction between student sections get loud and obnoxious, but school administrators typically are quite visible at high profile games and generally will step in before anything gets really out of hand.

Of course there's the issue of freedom of speech, but in any environment, there are limits and ramifications. This was racist hate speech, pure and simple, and shouldn't be tolerated in schools.

The folks in Brentwood should be asking some questions about the proper supervision at these events and what the school is going to do to make amends and prevent it from happening again.

Here's the story.

When you get a chance, check out SportsInk.com, which covers 46 high schools in Summit, Medina and Portage counties.

Interested in starting your own high school sport site? Get details at Sports Reporting Technologies