Content is Not King. Gratitude is King.

King Joffery Kings Dropping Like FliesIf you’ve read anything in the last ten years about online marketing you’ve probably heard the term “content is king.” If you’re like me, and you follow marketing blogs and read digital marketing books you probably throw-up in your mouth a little whenever you hear it. Why? Because it’s been regurgitated so many times that a gag reflex is the only appropriate response. It’s also somewhat meaningless without context. It’s kinda like saying “Ads are king.” Yes, if you’re an advertiser, ads are flipping king. So what? If you’re a baker, flower is flipping king.

So now that we got that out of the way. Let’s go a little deeper. The internet is content. That’s what it’s made out of. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody that content is important. But not all content is important. We must be discerning. Bad flower makes bad bread. And the only way that you’re going to get anybody to eat shitty bread is when it’s the only bread available. The same goes for content. Poor content can only survive in a severely limited environment. Like when you’re stuck in the doctor’s office without your phone and the only thing to read is People magazine.

Forget about the internet for a moment; content has been around much longer. The Bible is probably the most viral piece of content ever created. There are poems, novels, paintings, and more that have been passed down for generations. Why do we find certain content so valuable?

We need to go beyond “content is king” if we want to succeed as marketers and business owners. Why is quality content important? To put it simply: because it’s helpful. Billions of people are searching for answers, for understanding, for solutions, for encouragement, validation, sympathy, connection, knowledge, etc.

Google is not the reason for search. Human beings are the reason for search. It’s how we are made. Its how we make ourselves. We gather opinions, experiences, anecdotes, evidence, and then we make decisions based on what we learn. And making decisions is hard. It’s hard to sift through all the B.S. and find something that can really make life better.

The magic part is when we do really find something that helps. Something that makes our lives a little easier. Because when we get help, we feel gratitude. Helpful content breeds gratitude. And gratitude fuels mentions, word of mouth, social sharing, links, allegiance, purchases, and more. Content is not king. Gratitude is king.

I waited tables for ten years. I went through a new pair of shoes every 4 months. I got blisters. It sucked. And then I discovered Rockports. Rockports are sturdy dress shoes that last forever and they have oil resistant souls so you don’t slip on dirty restaurant floors. They aren’t cheap, but they’re worth it. I still wear Rockports, because I am still grateful.

You have an idea, a business, a product. You want to reach more people. You want to rank in the top 3 spots for your chosen keyword. You know that there are millions of people on the internet and you’ve got a great service or product to sell. How do you engage those people? How do you find them? How do you let them know?

The answer is: you help them. Create content that will truly help your audience. That is how you improve your SEO. Content is not King. Content can be useless. Helping people is what’s important. Because, only then will you cultivate gratitude. Gratitude is king. All hail gratitude!



Posted in Content Marketing

How to Use Google’s Keyword Planner for SEO

Google's Keyword PlannerGoogle’s Keyword Planner is probably the most important keyword research tool there is. Why? Because it comes directly from the source. With 70% of the search market, Google’s search data is invaluable. Unfortunately, Google wants us to use this data to run paid search campaigns rather than optimize websites, so there are a few hoops to jump through in order to get the data we need.  But the keyword data that can be gathered with the Keyword Planner is well worth the effort. Oh, and unlike many other keyword tools–it’s free.

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Posted in Keyword Research, SEO Strategy Tagged with:

Intuitive keyword research for small business

intuitive keyword researchIntuitive keyword research is about using your own knowledge about your business to choose keywords phrases that make sense. There are some great tools out there for discovering keywords, and I’ll recommend a few of my favorites, but keyword tools won’t do you any good if you don’t already understand how people think about your business services. In my estimation, most keyword tools will give you about 95% junk and 5% gold. And picking the good ones isn’t about simply choosing the keywords with the most traffic and the least amount of competition. You need to train yourself to be able to recognize the intent behind a search query and pick the phrases that will be best addressed by your business. Sometimes this means choosing keywords with high competition and low traffic–and that’s ok.

The most important keyword tool is your brain

Your brain is your most important keyword generating tool. The 2nd and 3rd most important keyword resources are your employees and your customers. 4rth is probably Google’s keyword planner, but we’ll get to that.

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Posted in Keyword Research

Free Intuitive Keyword Research Worksheet

keyword research worksheetThe most powerful Keyword tool in the universe

The most powerful keyword research tool that exists . . . is the human brain. All-to-often we begin our keyword research with fancy keyword tools that spit out hundreds or thousands of keywords, most of which have almost nothing to do with our business.

Not to say that keyword tools aren’t invaluable, they are. But it’s important to think deeply about what keyword research actually is. It’s about connecting with potential customers. As a business owner or marketer, this is something you should be an expert at. If you’ve taken the time to build a business and study your customers and everything else it takes to build a business, chances are you have a pretty good idea about what potential customers might be typing into search engines in order to find services like yours. Often it just takes a little bit of brainstorming to come up with a list of keywords that could have real value.

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Posted in Keyword Research

Zen and the Art of SEO

SEO Strategy for small business

SEO is a practice

Search engine optimization is a practice. It’s not a service, an audit, a product, a series of tweaks, or a special kind of programming–but it often gets portrayed as such because it’s easier to sell that way.  And SEO is certainly not just about keywords.

SEO is the practice of connecting with people through search engines. The goal of practicing SEO is to solve human problems by optimizing and promoting relevant and useful content (web pages, images, documents, videos, etc). Because of this, it should be a very gratifying experience for both the searcher and the content owner when SEO efforts succeed. It’s a mistake to think about SEO only in terms of rankings or traffic, because these things (on their own) may not bring any value to your business. Ranking #1 for “peanut butter sandwich” isn’t going to do you much good if you sell vacation packages. And visitors who want peanut butter sandwiches will only get frustrated when they land on your vacation website. They’ll bounce quicker than you can say . . . um . . . jelly.

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Posted in SEO Strategy

Intro to Link Building for Small Businesses

small business link buildingLinks power the internet. They are at the foundation of how websites and web pages work. They also play a large part in how websites are ranked in search engines. Therefore, building links for your small business website should always be a high priority in order to expand your web presence and grow your business online. Though it’s important to understand that ‘more links’ does not always mean ‘better rankings.’

Relevant links from highly regarded websites are the holy grail. These are the kinds of links can really boost your rankings–and they are not always easy to come by.  A relevant link is a link that exists on a web page that features content related to the page it links to. For example, a Wall Street Journal article about tech startups that also happens to link to your tech startup website would be a highly relevant and authoritative link. A single link like this might be thousands of times more powerful than a link from a less relevant and authoritative website (like a link from your cousin’s greeting card business website). But even a link from The Wall Street Journal wont do you a ton of good if it’s buried on some page that nobody ever visits.  In other words, a valuable link is one that is found in a relevant and prominent place where people will see it and click on it. The real world equivalent might be a Chevron ad on a billboard above the freeway. An ineffective link, is a link placed on an unrelated website with little or no traffic, kinda like a snowboard advertisement posted in the basement of a senior center.

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Posted in Link Building, Offsite SEO

6 Link Building Strategies for 2014

Ilink-building-2014t’s 2014 and there have been a ton of changes in the search marketing world. But one key SEO ingredient has not changed: links. Links are still super important. Creating a realistic link building strategy that works–can greatly improve your search rankings over the course of the year. But link building has changed to such an extent that the term itself can be a bit missleading. Google’s algorithm updates have rendered many link building practices obsolete. For this reason, I think we need to stop thinking about “building” links and start thinking about “earning” them. You need to create enough value online that people can’t help but link to you. This means creating great content, running a great business, building powerful relationships in the business community, and leveraging contacts through social media, blogs, and more.

Here’s my top 6 link building strategies for 2014.

1.Make your business newsworthy

If your business is the kind of business that people like to talk about, then it will naturally acquire links as people discuss and interact with your brand. This means positioning your business as the leader in your particular niche and developing your story, voice, unique selling propositions and more. The more exceptional and memorable experiences that your customers and clients have, the more links you will get. How can you make your business story-worthy in 2014? What can you do that makes your business stand apart?

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Posted in Link Building, Offsite SEO Tagged with: ,

How to Optimize Your Images For Search Engines

Red tag

Optimize your images for search

Search engines are sometimes described as ‘blind five year olds.” The reason for this is because Google (and other search engines) can’t ‘see’ images in the same way a human would. A search engine may be able to tell if your picture features a person, place, or thing, but the context is much more difficult. Search engines must rely more heavily on the words associated with the image in order to identify the content. So it stands to reason that we give search engines a helping hand by describing our images thoroughly. One way of doing this is by properly tagging images with relevant keywords. Google’s web crawlers may not be able to tell what’s going on in your images, but they can read any text associated with the images. This includes the file name, alt text, title text, captions, and text surrounding the image. We can use these attributes to help search engines “see” what our images contain.

Why optimize your images?

When you optimize your images, it will be easier for search engines to understand your site and send good traffic your way. This can give you a competitive advantage over competitors who never take the time to properly tag and optimize their images. Also, properly optimizing your images makes for a better user experience and will make your customers happy.

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Posted in Image Optimization, Keyword Research

Writing a Meta Description – Meta Description Examples

Meta description tipsEvery web page on the internet should have a descriptive and helpful meta description that aids searchers understand a search listing before they click. Of course this is not the case with every website, some Web Masters use the same meta description on every page or leave it out all together. If you’re interested in improving your search traffic, carefully crafting ,your meta descriptions is an art you need to master. While meta descriptions don’t affect search rankings in Google, they can heavily influence click-through-rate (the number of people who see and click on your link). Meta descriptions help both search engines and people understand what your page is about on search results pages and every meta description represents another opportunity for your web page to stand out against the rest.

The meta description tag is located in the <head> portion of a web page and will look something like this in your site code:

<meta name=”description” content=”Free shipping BOTH ways on shoes, clothing, and more! 365-day return policy, over 1000 brands, 24/7 friendly customer service. 1-800-927-7671″ />

When it appears in a search result it will look like this:

Meta Description Example

Note: Google does not *always* use the meta description in search results. Sometimes a relevant section of your site will appear instead. In some cases a business description from will appear, but in most cases you will see the meta description you wrote.

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Posted in Meta Description

Writing SEO Title Tags – Best Practices with Examples

Writing SEO TitlesThe title tag is the most important area for keyword placement on your website. So it makes sense as a writer or webmaster that you spend a bit of time writing search engine optimized title tags will make a difference in your traffic and rankings.

The title tag is what you see when you do a Google search (along with the meta description). The title tag has a duel purpose. It’s used to tell your potential site visitors what your page is about and it ‘s used by Google to determine what search terms your page should rank for.  This duel purpose can be tricky. If you focus too much on one or the other you can lose out on traffic.  While Google would have us believe that it can interpret the purpose and quality of your page almost as well as a human can–we’re not quite there yet. So it’s best to follow the current best practices for search engines, while still considering the comprehension of your potential visitors.

Title tag best practice (example)

Full Sentence Containing One or Two Keyword Phrases | Business Name


Keyword Phrase 1 – Keyword Phrase 2 | Business Name

In my opinion, it’s better to use a dash “-” than a pipe “|” between your keyword phrases–especially if they are related. Commas can also be used to separate keyword phrases.

Pipes can be useful too, but they are separators.  So only use them when you want your search terms to be quarantined from each other. Commas and dashes may be more appropriate when two keyword phrases are related.

Note: Your “Business Name” does not need to be included in your title, but is good for instances where branding is important. I usually put the company name behind a pipe “|” at the end of the title because in many cases it is not part of the keyword phrase I am focusing on. If Google wants your company name front (at the beginning of the title) it will automatically insert your business name at the front. This will usually occur when people do branded searches that include your business name.

How to write SEO friendly title tags: Do’s

  • Use Google’s keyword tool to select a focus keyword phrase for your page. Generally you want to choose a phrase that contains high traffic and low competition.
  • Use Title Case -this is not a hard fast rule, but lowercase titles tend to get a slightly lower click-through rate.
  • No longer than 70 characters (including spaces). Google will usually truncate URLs that are more than 70 characters. But this is also something to experiment with. Evidence suggests that it’s not the character length but the pixels length that matters. So if you use a lot of skinny letters or symbols–you may be able to fit more characters.
  • Your title must do an excellent job of describing the content on your page
  • Your title should be clear and easy to read and comprehend

 How to write SEO friendly title tags: Don’ts

  • Don’t use the same title tag on more than one page
  • Avoid excessive use of special characters: @*&^%$
  • Don’t stuff your title with keywords. Usually one or two keyword phrases is all you need.
  • Don’t bother focusing on high competition keywords until you have the authority to actually rank for them.
  • Don’t skimp on the length of your title. Use all the space allotted. It’s valuable real estate.

Now keep in mind, search engines like Google understand that titles are written in dozens of different ways, so just because your title is too long, too short, or too keyword heavy doesn’t necessarily mean you will rank poorly. Quality content is still the most important ranking factor and Google will forgive sloppy titles as long as your content is popular and well liked. That being said, following these guidelines can significant help improve rankings of any quality content.

Do you have any title writing tips or suggestions? Let me know in the comments below.



Posted in Keyword Research, Onsite SEO, Title Tags Tagged with: