Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beer, Wine, Liquor & SEO Keyword Search

Typing "beer, wine & liquor" into a Google search engine yields about 33,400,000 entries. If I were an online distributor of such spirits, I might be hard-pressed to distinguish my business from thousands of others on the web.

On the other hand, if I knew about search engine optimization (SEO) and combined the availability of certain brews with a location, providing a city and street with a phone number and an email address, I’d be more likely to target thirsty customers, particularly those who are new to an area.

In today’s highly competitive SEO marketplace, appearing on the first page of a user’s search results is a thing to be most desired. Thomas Petty can teach you how to do this.

Petty, (no relationship to the Heartbreakers) is a former Chevron IT employee, who left the mothership several years ago to lead SEO workshops in Sacramento and San Francisco. He was kind enough to let me sit in on a recent morning session. Petty is an associate SEO educator who bases his material on the work of industry leaders, Robin Nobles and John Alexander.

One of the first tools he discussed was how to research keywords, sort of like getting a credit score, but for search terms. According to Petty, the higher the score the better, with 400 or more being excellent and 100 or more, pretty good.

The goal here is to develop a keyword effective index (KEI) that lets you know how frequently certain terms have come up over a measured period of time (in Wordtracker’s case the past 160 days).

Using a tool like Wordtracker can help you to analyze how frequently certain terms or keywords appear in search engines. It costs $329 a year to subscribe to Wordtracker. The company also offers a free 7-day trial period. You can find other similar tools out there in the marketplace.

“Let the tool cast its net,” said Petty as we viewed what he referred to as “right/ left word stemming.” In this case he entered the term golf and retrieved golf bag, golf cart, golf lessons, etc. You get the picture.

Once you’ve identified a likely search term candidate with a high-yielding KEI, there’s a lot more work that goes beyond the scope of this post.

A few grab bag items:

--The number one place to enter keywords is in the title tag of a web page
--The metatag description is the second most effective place to enter keywords
--Personalized search is making it more difficult to appear on a user’s results page
--Know your audience

“What companies want to be optimized for is a lot different than what people enter on the Web. First do your keyword research,” Petty said.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pepper Moment

On the patio looking at trees and closer in,
a pepper plant, foot tall with a crown of white blossoms

below which hang three glossy backpacks
carrying peppers to the next weigh station.

I carried the pepper home earlier this year as a seedling
on the backseat of my car along with tomato plants.

Tomatoes always grow. But peppers on the patio?
Alert! Hummingbird on desk sampling white basil flowers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

iPhone Development Meetup Style

Develop one thing on the iPhone simply and well and ship before anyone else does, is the advice from the creator of the Obama ’08 iPhone app and Twitter aficionado, Dom Sagolla.

Sagolla has a tech pedigree that includes a Masters of Education at Harvard with stints at MIT Media Lap, and hands in the creation of Twitter and the first iPhone Developer’s Camp at Adobe in 2007. 

You want to know where he was speaking?

At 1436 Howard Street in San Francisco, home of PariSoMa, a co-working space that provides desks, wi-fi, coffee, and community events for independent professionals, located up the street from a Burger King, SpeedMart and Starbucks, itself a comment about the fast life we’re living especially here in the tech-savvy Bay Area where iPhones are prevalent at every street corner and bus stop. 

Many attendees of the iPhone Network Lounge, sat in metal chairs gazing into the oracle of their iPhones before the actual event began.  But don’t get me wrong. Many folks munched on chips and dip and spoke amongst themselves about everything ranging from vacations, cameras, and iPhone development, including Marine Leroux of bamboudesign, the organizer of the SF iPhone Network Lounge (a Meetup Group), which she said includes about 100 members. And that’s just after two meetings.

One such member lurked around the edges of the room taking pictures with an impressive camera, Jeff Johnson, a previous iPhone Lounge presenter. His company ANSCA, offers iPhone developers an alternative to programming in Objective C, language of the iPhone OS. Using Lua, Johnson said, is much easier and "more like plain English.” 

These days developers for the iPhone are in great demand and can charge up to $250 hour, especially for Cocoa, Apple's name for the development layer of the Mac OS X  (written in Objective C) and the most direct way to create native applications.

At the beginning of 2009, Apple announced that there had been more than 500 million iPhone application downloads.

Sagolla talked about two of his top-rated apps that follow the “keep it simple” principle.

Big Words displays words as large as possible on the iPhone screen, handy when you want to make plans with your friend as to where to meet in the parking lot after the big concert. Or then there’s Math Cards, a flash card-type application, a lot more fun for kids to learn multiplication and addition tables using technology. 

And watch for Sagolla’s upcoming book to be released this October from John Wiley & Sons, 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form, based on his use of Twitter as a social marketing tool.

Other developers promoted some upcoming iTune apps, What’s Shaking, which transforms your cell into a percussion instrument, or Aqui , which sends friends your exact GPS location.

“Take control of your story and lead the discussion,” advised Sagolla, as applicable to life, I guess, as it is to Twitter and iPhone development.

Lenore Weiss

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tweety Bird Take2

My feet weigh me down when I want to fly fly apply new mascara to my eyelashes they are curling around my waist I use them to hang on tight.

You look stupid, Syl said as I unwound a long eyelash from around my waist. I like to keep them curled but using the bathroom can be tricky.

The box said the stuff would compliment my style, but I want my style to compliment me and look I can't open my birdy eyes to save my life.

Since I've become an empty nester I want to jump ahoy and do community service, sad state of affairs when Syl's the only one I can talk to.

Where are my babies and their hungry mouths poking me in the face for a crumb from the floor? Have they arrived at the next Bay Laurel tree?

On paper, I'm a single bird. Pieces and parts shoved inside a hierarchy. Elastic rebars of my own tooling. All this writing has taken a toll

Now I've got it uncurl one of my mascara long lashes and use it to slide down the pole fireperson style to the wood bearing of my ancestors.

Another branch except that it's wider and I can wax it with my yellow feet go sliding it's no fun to sit around texting alone. Syl is there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tweety Bird Sings

I am Tweety Bird with big fat yellow feet. I take orders from a Hummingbird at the red feeder. A cartoon? Please don’t sit and laugh at me.

Why do I have wings? Why do I have fat yellow feet? Guide my faith. Fly to the Basilica to kiss the Senator's lips. See both brothers there.

This morning Sylvester and I are in serious traffic. We want to go swimming, do laps, and then go hide out in the steam room with the steam.

Sylvester wouldn't swim in the pool he ran into the women's dressing room with his red bathing cap doesn't like water such a silly puddy tat

Container ships troll the water for promises as I drive my honey way out to the airport. How can I help but love a warm furry cat who sings?

Maybe not so good. Hummingbird is my spirit guide. She flits outside the door and tells me not to put chicken stock in such things off key.

Syl wants to be an action hero and autograph cars. How can I tell him he's just a cat? In spotty times as these, we all have to face inward.

Wild fires swipe me into submission. Gray water feathers down my back. The Statue of Librty is getting red highlights. So who does her hair?