from pickett&associates … exploring PR, social media and entrepreneurship

The (SEO) Long and Short of It October 18, 2010

Filed under: Search Engine Optimization — pickettwrites @ 7:25 am

We have addressed it before, but lest you forget Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the way one achieves a “high ranking” on Google and thus drives people (aka, new customers, clients, evangelists) to your website. (Feel free to click and review our three-part series from White Hot Marketing!)

In my book, one of the “masters” of putting this art into layman’s terms is Michiel Gaasterland, founder & director at we do communications. In a recent post, he addresses the concept of “Long Tail SEO,” which sounds a little intimidating, but Michiel puts it in perspective, starting with this graphic illustration found in the link below.

So, for your reading pleasure, “Loving the Long Tail: Optimising Your Website or Blog for Keyword Phrases” … Good guidance with which to start this week filled with crisp, fall temps here in the midwest, trees turning, leaves falling … makes one feel like ANYTHING is POSSIBLE!


Is Your Website Generating Leads? August 18, 2010

Filed under: Search Engine Optimization — pickettwrites @ 7:49 am

It’s Wednesday (so soon? really?) and that means it’s “Guest blogger Wednesday!” Friend, colleague and marketing guru Margaret Osborn of WhiteHot Marketing provides the final installment of her series, “The Nine Truths of SEO.

Part 3 of 3

Selling on the Internet: Nine Truths of SEO

Part one of this three-part series on search engine optimization focused on how to maximize SEO when planning a new website. Part two provided you with information to start a conversation with the team accountable for your site if it’s not performing as well as you anticipated. In the final set of SEO truths, I leave you with how external SEO can be used to drive qualified leads to your site.

SEO Truth No. 7: Quality Not Quantity

Generating external links to your site is key to search engine optimization and increasing site traffic, but it can’t be just any ol’ link. An engine like Google does, in fact, consider the quality of the site from which you’re linking – so be wary of engaging with an SEO firm that sells you on generating numbers of links rather than quality. Some useful site-building practices you can do yourself include: subscribe to blogs and respond to blog postings that are relevant to your products or services; join relevant professional groups on LinkedIn and participate in dialog; blog yourself and link deep within your Web site. The key here is seeking out and generating snippets of content relevant to the content on your site.

SEO Truth No. 8: Link Deep

I’ve seen too many people spend inordinate amounts of time and resources on the design of and cool features on their site’s home page. Fact is, Google looks at every page of your Web site separately – not as a whole. So consider every page of your site as a “home” page – that is, a landing page. Additionally, never assume people who come to your site read through your site any logical order. When you’re generating external links, hyperlink to the page within your site that is most relevant in that instance – not to the home page. This means your prospective customer is getting to the most relevant content immediately, and it’s simple for them to decide whether or not to take the next step in doing business with you.

SEO Truth No. 9: Buzz = Success

Just because you built it, doesn’t mean they will come. You need to be proactive at all times in generating noise about your company – this builds awareness, credibility and preference. Your website is a means to an end – that being, business. And the most effective means to build your funnel of prospects is to generate buzz through traditional and social media. Engaging a PR pro to pitch stories about you and your company builds volumes of credibility and interest utilizing traditional and online media. The beauty of viral media is that you just need to put relevant information out there on the Web via social media sites. Then your Facebook fans, LinkedIn connections and blog readers post responses and do the buzz-generating work for you – in spades.

Ask 20 online marketing pros how to optimize a Web site and you’ll get 20 various answers. These Nine Truths, however, are quite foundational – and a great place to start. One final note – make sure you have a call to action on every page of your site – you’ve done all this work to get prospects to your site. Now make it easy for them to do business with you.

See, told you she was a Guru. Gearing up for iPhone/Droid App launch for client DuoChart (but not before optimizing their site!), digging into to the upcoming release of jewelry line NeckLust and following up with a couple of local entities who need a little help with their social media on this day which has turned sunny.


Secrets of SEO Continued August 11, 2010

Filed under: Search Engine Optimization — pickettwrites @ 6:56 am

It’s “Guest Blogger Wednesday” again … and back by popular demand is Margaret Osborn of WhiteHot Marketing.  As an aside, if your company has a blog, consider acquiring some guest bloggers of your own. It’s a GREAT way to increase your circle of readers and widen your sphere of influence.

Part 2 of 3

Selling on the Internet: Nine Truths of SEO

Part one of this three-part series on search engine optimization focused on how to maximize SEO when planning a new Website. Remember – it all starts with the keywords. However, if your site has been around a while, there’s no need to start over (well, maybe). The following three truths are foundational to any website. Use this information to start a conversation with the team accountable for your site if it’s not performing as well as you anticipated.


SEO Truth No. 4: Meta-Tags Matter

Hopefully you’re not asking, “What’s a meta-tag?” Meta-tags contain those vital keywords and help a searcher determine if your site is relevant to them or not – in a split second. There are two important tags that should have received some hard thought when your site was built: page title and page description. Go to your Website and read the content in the bar across the very top of your monitor. If it says “Untitled” or “Your Company Name” then it’s time to make some changes. Additionally, the page description should be a unique paragraph that summarizes each page’s unique content. Each page should inform and compel users to click through to your site.


 SEO Truth No. 5: Content is King

When people do click through to your site and the content is not relevant, you’ve lost an opportunity to gain a customer or follower. Google, the most utilized search engine tool by far, states that “creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any other factors.” This is because if it’s good content, users will know and they will direct others to your site. And increasing traffic to your site potentially translates to higher search engine rankings. There’s an art to making your site easy to read and “sticky” (that is, people return or encourage others to visit) by balancing compelling information with keyword density. If you’re going to invest in improving the content on your site, leave it to a copywriting expert.

SEO Truth No. 6: Internal Anchors Lift Rankings

Anchor text is a clickable phrase (typically underlined like this) that intends to direct users to additional content elsewhere within your site. It’s good practice for your link phrase to be descriptive so users clearly understand if they want to navigate to the link. Links, if utilized often, tell Google that you provide relevant content on your site – and this can impact how the search engine ranks your site. If your site provides anchor text like “read more” or “click here” you’re missing an opportunity. Further, anchor phrases that utilize your keyword phrases drive demand for those phrases. And that’s a win-win opportunity to improve your site’s performance for those phrases that are the foundation of how you sell on the Internet.

Next time: External SEO and how to maximize public relations and social media to drive traffic to your site.

Great insight … and her post last week doubled my readership over the previous week. Meanwhile, today’s agenda includes a meeting of the local Public Relations Society of America featuring Steve Crescenzo, a well-known corporate communication expert who promises to share some “war stories” and case studies. I’ll be posting from today’s luncheon, so follow me on Facebook or Twitter to gain “real-time insight” from this industry heavyweight.


Guest Blogger Offers Truths of SEO August 4, 2010

Filed under: Search Engine Optimization — pickettwrites @ 7:55 am

Keeping with last week’s promise, today’s Pickettwrites blog offers expertise regarding search engine optimization. I turn the floor over to my friend, Margaret Osborn of WhiteHot Marketing.

Selling on the Internet: Nine Truths of SEO

The core of successful online and offline marketing initiatives is purchaser profiling — that is, identifying how your potential customers research and buy goods or services such as yours. Narrow that even further to answering, “How are my prospects conducting research on the Internet?” Nearly all consumers (97%) now use online media when researching products or services, according to BIA/Kelsey.  And 90% of them use search engines.

You want your business to be found in those relevant search queries. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the key. Unfortunately, “What is good SEO?” is complicated and ever-evolving. So over the next weeks I’ll be providing some simple truths to help business owners better understand the ins and outs of current SEO best practices that will help drive qualified traffic to your website.

SEO Truth No. 1: It’s not about you.

If you have a website or are thinking about developing one — engage an Internet marketing professional in keyword strategy. To successfully sell your goods and services, you have to know how they’re being researched online. If you or your marketing team can’t roll five keyword phrases key to generating qualified leads off the tip of your tongues, then there’s certainly room for improvement. Leave it to someone experienced in SEO practices and website analytics to provide you not only with a list of 5 to 10 keyword phrases, but also recommendations for domain/URL names and site navigation structure — all important to impacting your site’s SEO.

SEO Truth No. 2: It’s not about the “cool” stuff.

You’re throwing money away if you make any investment in a website’s look and feel before you identify the search terms potential customers are using to find goods and services such as yours on the Internet. Before you or your Web design/programming partner starts thinking about imagery, cool flash applications or content, keyword research is an absolute must. It’s definitely fun and “sexy” to think about how your site will look, but it’s successful SEO (not cool pictures) that will drive prospects to your site.

SEO Truth No.3: Be informed and engage often.

If SEO is not a regular topic of discussion around the creation or ongoing performance of your website, then there’s a huge gap in your marketing strategy. The bottom line of successful SEO is to get engaged and stay informed. My experience after 20 years in consulting is that clients often think they know their customers. That’s sometimes the case, but within what time period did they know them? Customer wants, needs and preferences evolve. Google alone is used for nearly 34,000 searches per second. This vast volume of constantly evolving data is the secret to developing and maintaining a sound SEO strategy.

Next time: The basics of SEO that will hold your marketing team, partners and vendors accountable.

Marketing counsel, strategy and tactical support for companies of all sizes and market maturity providing  marketing solutions that will positively — and quickly — impact your organizational goals. Follow WhiteHot Marketing on Facebook or contact her at margaret@whitehot-marketing.com


What do you know about S.E.O.? July 30, 2010

Filed under: Search Engine Optimization — pickettwrites @ 7:52 am

In the next few days, I will attempt to provide some insight, information and hopefully a little “de-mystification” about search engine optimization (aka S.E.O.).

This topic has risen with a big red flag as I have met with a number of entrepreneurs who have sunk a good deal of money into what they THOUGHT was an optimized, lead generating website, only to be sorely disappointed. Next week I’ll have a guest blogger or two with expertise in the best practices of  optimization. The goal is you come away with a “checklist” of what IS and what IS NOT an optimized site.

As a PR professional, it’s become increasingly important that clients are committed to sites that are properly optimized, especially if they desire not only an increased awareness of their brand but an increase in sales leads as well. Utilizing optimized press releases and pushing links via social media are vital in driving the all important “organic search” (what happens when folks arrive at your site by searching for a particular service or product — NOT to be confused with “ad words”).

Earlier in the week, the New York Times Small Business section featured an outstanding “tale of S.E.O.” I would encourage you to click through and take a look. After several months and thousands of dollars, entrepreneur Catherine Wood Hill and her mother Michelle Wood (co-founders of La Grande Dame, an online retailer of high-end, plus-size designer clothing) concluded that successful S.E.O. had three components: the content on your pages; getting other sites to link to yours; and the way in which your site is coded. You can read just how they achieved an impressive benchmark: In June, the company spent just $30 on marketing, but had sales of $6,053 — up more than 50 percent from the previous June when Ms. Hill spent almost $14,000 on marketing.

And, if you say, “But I don’t have the TIME to devote to those social media connections,” know that Pickett&Associates  stands ready to assist with both traditional and social media relations!

Good thoughts on which to end the week. Happy, happy Friday!