Okay, okay, it’s been an awfully long time since we’ve posted on here. Virtual slap on the wrist duly noted.
But what better day to get back in to blogging here than Earth Day?
I don’t often get excited about new web browsers, but when a green one comes out, as it has today, it certainly gets my attention and should get yours too. Check out the Flock Browser: Eco Edition. I’m very impressed what I’ve seen on it so far — not only integration of many useful interactive tools, such as Facebook, Webmail (which can be customized), blog feeds and lots more, but also connections with a whole whack of eco-minded content from Treehugger, Ecorazzi, National Geographic, Planetgreen, and others. In addition, Flock is giving back 10% of search proceeds to environmental charities.
I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface here, but have a look and test drive (in your hybrid, of course) for yourself and see what you think.
Here’s a simple tip that many health practitioners and counsellors don’t consider when putting together their web pages: Include some sort of blurb or mention about your office’s geographic location.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve searched for a particular service on Google, found the web site of someone who sounds interesting, but then not been able to find where that individual works. Or it takes a lot of time and effort, which most of us don’t seem to have these days, to find out that basic piece of information. If I’m looking for a naturopath, for example, come across the web site of one who sounds very good, but then can’t quickly and easily see where they offer their services, I’m moving on to the next naturopath.
Now, if I’m looking for a naturopath in Vancouver, say, I’ll enter "naturopath vancouver" as my Google search. Presumably, most people would think to do likewise. And, guess what? If you’re a naturopath in Vancouver and you didn’t mention the word "Vancouver" anywhere in your site, Google’s not going to pick your site up for that particular search.
All you need to do is either work the name of the city (and/or outlying areas that you service) into the copy of your pages or, if that doesn’t work naturally, include a simple one- or two-sentence blurb at the end of the page, along the lines of, "We provide naturopathic services to Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, including Burnaby, New Westminster, …" Do one or both on every page of your site. It also helps to include your geographic area in your pages’ title tags as well. Trust me, you won’t be sorry.
Although one of the old meta tags — they keyword tag — has pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur, the meta description tag still has value. Although Google and other search engines don’t really give the tag much (if any) weight when it comes to determining the rank of your page, they’re still displayed in the search results. At least sometimes.
Google generally will display a page’s description content (or at least some of it) underneath the underlined (title tag) link in the results listings if it’s deemed to be "informative" enough. In Raj Krishnan’s post, "Improve snippets with a meta description makeover" on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, he says the title and description tags should "accurately represent the web result" and give "users a clear idea of the URL’s content." Fair enough.
If your description tag is just a bunch of keywords, it’s less likely to be shown in the search engine results pages. Also, it’s best if the tag is not automatically generated, but rather "human-readable and diverse."
If you have any control over the page, and want to increase the likelihood of click-through from search engine listings, try to input a useful and descriptive description tag.
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Good, basic rules, particularly for those new at green and socially responsible marketing. Here is a summary:
1. Don’t focus solely on "green". Hough suggests that consumers want more than this and that companies now need to address the 3 pillars of sustainability: environmental impact, social impact, economic
2. Walk before you talk. Ensure your business is engaging in green marketing before you make any claims.
3. Focus on Facts. Don’t make claims that you are socially responsible and green –focus on the facts–specifically what you are doing.
4. Let someone else tell your story. Get endorsements from clients and non-profits that you have partnered with.
5. Keep it simple, make it relevant. Make your
sustainability initiatives feel like a natural extension of your
6. Look inside. Ensure your employees are involved in your sustainability initiatives.
7. Money isn’t everything. Don’t just focus on making financial contributions to green initiatives. Make connections between your brand and the cause.
8. Tell the truth, the whole truth. Be honest, admit your flaws and say what you are doing to change them. Consumers want transparency.
9. Be genuine. Sustainable marketing must be real and authentic. It should be embraced by everyone involved.
10. Have fun. Don’t be all doom and gloom.
It’s wonderful to see the mainstream increasingly adopt more "green" or "socially responsible" products making room for more green businesses. However, I am concerned that the message that people are getting is that buying green will solve the environmental crisis.
The bigger issue that is not being addressed enough in the mainstream media and culture is that we need to reduce our consumption patterns. And while Perry Goldstein makes a good point in that we do need to purchase and use things in order to survive, many of us likely consume more things than we need.
So while I am happy that the green business movement is growing, I think it’s important to note that it is simply one step forward in solving the enormous problems that will make the world a better place. I look forward to the day that we all care enough to realize that we need to fundamentally change the way we live and consume.
Google is setting a great example of what steps a large, influential corporation can do to help green the planet. They’ve just installed a 1.6 megawatts solar roof on its corporate campus, which will provide about 1/3 of their electricity. Google is also awarding $1 million in grants to support plug-in hybrid cars and has plans to award another $10 million.
Just a quick post today to cover a bit of Font 101 for you. You might be surprised to see this…
Hard to believe those are both size 12, eh? Different fonts, especially serif (e.g., Times New Roman) vs. sans serif (e.g., Arial) can look to be different sizes even when they’re the same. But it’s really an optical illusion.
So, what’s the lesson here? Make sure to test your fonts at different sizes to get the look you want.
There’s a good post by Debra Mastaler, on Search Engine Land, about "Foundational Links". Debra talks about how to start building inbound links to your web site, which is one of the big pieces in getting your site ranked well by Google, et al, by "establishing a base of links from authority sites that work toward building their business reputations." These foundational links are from solid, reputable sources and are generally inexpensive or free.
Second are authority links, such as industry associations you or your business belong to, the Chamber of Commerce, etc. These can improve your reputation within your industry. Also, you’ll want to see if you can get links from high ranking sites (if these aren’t the same as the aforementioned ones).
Online newsletters may give you a chance to get either paid links by advertising in them or free links by writing articles for them.
Debra also suggests Yellow Pages ads, of which I’m not a huge fan, since they’re often expensive and I haven’t seen them drive the kind of traffic that businesses are looking for. I suppose it depends on the type of business you’re in.
As small businesses, socially responsible, health or healing businesses often don’t have budgets to hire search engine experts to optimize their websites. While Nathaniel and I help our clients with basic search engine optimization (SEO) as most of them have no idea have to do this themselves, I encourage my clients to learn the basics. Even knowing just a bit of SEO information can help with your search engines rankings.
SEO expert Aaron Wall was recently interviewed by Kelly Spors from The Wall Street Journal on Keyword Selection. Aaron clearly explains the often confusing process of selecting keywords.
Some of the methods Aaron suggests for determining keywords include:
- for established sites, check your web traffic logs to see how people are finding you
- write down all the keywords you would use to search for your product or service
- ask past and current customers/clients what they would use to search for your product or service
- research what terms are being used on blogs and discussion forums related to your topic
- determine what keywords are being used for the top competing sites in your area
- finally, use a keyword tool like www.wordtracker.com, www.keyworddiscovery.com or some of the ones that are available to use for free. i.e. Google’s Keyword Tool.
All this and more on this great podcast. You can listen to the podcast for free here.