Thursday, October 14, 2010

Find a niche market | Niche marketing with keyword research

Learn how to find that gap in the market where searchers needs are not being met by enough suppliers, so your new product or service can fit right in and compete, successfully.

The CEO and founder of, Mike Minhdel is teaching. Learn from the best!

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A Cloud of Missed Opportunities | WebProNews

Do yourself a favor and explore the cloud options that are out there.

Small businesses often overlook resources they need for their online presence and day to day operations. Do you know how many awesome tools you can find in Google Apps Marketplace? Many are free.

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The only reason we don't open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don't feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with.

To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else's eyes.

Pema Chodron

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's not enough to want success.

People like you and I, those of us taking risks, investing everything we have into our business and building a personal brand, know it isn't enough to want success. We have to innovate, think, connect, share what we know, and be relentless in our pursuit.

Being able to see progress and feel momentum gives you hope. However, you can have hope even when no one else does or when there has not yet been progress or momentum.

Knowing when to cut your losses is important as well. Sometimes it is important to shift your hopes elsewhere—often times refocusing elsewhere, depending upon the situation.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Getting the Traffic You Deserve

Are you putting your best content on your website but getting dismal traffic?

Are you writing blog posts, pouring your heart and soul into your content and getting no response?

Does your website have a high bounce rate? Is traffic coming from qualified prospects? Are you converting your traffic?

This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online marketing. The nuances of building an online presence is changing.There's more competition, more noise, more channels, and more vulnerabilities than ever before. On the other side of the coin, there's more more opportunitity than ever before.

This is a big game. There's a lot at stake.  The influencers gain more influence. Influence = traffic.

You might have really useful information but it is buried. With authority sites taking the first few pages of results, coupled with affilate marketers hijacking traffic on niche topics, it is a daunting task for the average small business to be found in search.

Here's a few things to commit to if you want your business found in search:

  • Never stop studying keyword research - pour over your own website analytics and use Google Insights and Google Adwords Keyword Tool
  • Know what is working for your SEO (on page and off): Use Google Webmaster Tools - there's awesome information about the way the search engines see your site, how your pages rank for various queries, where your links are coming from, reports on crawl errors and malware that might be on your site.
  • Optimize Local Search - if you are confused by local search and strapped for time, David Mihm provides the best resource on local search ranking factors
  • Take the time to produce good content. Quality over quantity. It takes practice and paying attention. If you are excited about what you are doing, find a way to talk about it. Use the Flip or screencasting tools for quick videos, subscribe to industry blogs and forums, think about ways to present your information visually -here's a great example of an infographic- The Landing Page Manifesto Typographic Essay.
  • Connect. Be real and be sociable. The number of followers will grow organically and will produce lasting results if you are connecting because you care. 

Don't get lost in the sea of information. Keep talking about your business, your passions and what you value. Fight for it. You deserve it. Whew. I just needed that little pep talk!







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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Do you think Google Screwed Up Big Time with Buzz Disengage Button?

Shannon Evans who co-authored a book on local search recently published a post about how horribly wrong Google got this. The sentiment from her post was that Google is punishing people who opt out of Google Buzz.

Fortunately, this isn't true. (The following is a copy of the comment I left on Shanon's post, which she felt a need to delete.)

There's no punishment so you can relax and feel free to disable your buzz and delete your profile. Disabling Buzz and deleting your profile doesn't delete your Google Account. They are not one in the same.

What is true: Google Buzz and Google Profile are intertwined. You can't delete your profile and keep Buzz and you can't disable Buzz and keep your profile.

If you want to keep your profile (and the SEO that comes with it) but ditch Buzz, you'll have to take a few steps: don't ever post anything to buzz, remove all sites from the "linked sites" in buzz, check "do not show lists on my public Google profile" and check "do not show Google Buzz in Gmail".

Not everyone wants to turn Buzz off...they want all of it; Buzz and Google Profile to go away. Google has made that easy.

If you disable Buzz and delete your profile, reviews on businesses do not disappear nor do blog comments or book reviews. If you have claimed your business on Google Places, your local listing is connected to your Google Account not your Profile/Buzz. There isn't a "force people to use Buzz conspiracy" by Google. Not yet anyway.

Some SEO is going to be lost. Especially if you have connected all of your other sites (Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Blogs) to your profile. If you want to be found in Social Search, it is clearly an advantage to connect as many sites as possible. Google Profile is unique in letting you link as many as you want. Btw, there's a lot of room to experiment with SEO and local search here.

On a personal note, I don't see deleting Buzz or my Google Profile as leaving a social network. I see it as a way to stop communicating in a public way. Google social networking tools stay in tact without Buzz (Google Friend Connect, YouTube, Blogger, Reader).

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Monday, July 12, 2010

New Google Site Example

I had the pleasure of working with Cristie Champlin and being a part of her journey - or maybe it was more like jumping of the cliff - from working in the mortgage industry, to starting her photography business!

Cristie decided it was time to live her dream and to share her photography with the world. She needed a simple website for gallery owners, fans and customers to see her work and get updates on her local showings.

When I first talked to Cristie, she was a little stuck trying to build a site using Intuit's website building program. It wasn't as easy as promoted and she wanted to pull the site from Intuit but keep the domain name she had registered there. It took about a month to get the domain name transfered to GoDaddy. Once we had the name with GoDaddy it was an easy redirect to the Google site.

Crisite was clear about a few site requirements: nothing pretentious, easy to update, and room for a lot of photo's. We used one of Cristie's ocean pics for the background image and created top navigation to keep the site light and clean.

Cristie is able to update the site with the simple text editing and she can update her photography from her Photobucket account. We used a Google embed gadget so all the changes can be made from Photobucket on the fly.

Check out Cristie's Pix at summer festivals in Seattle and Oregon.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Real Life Social Network v2

Love this presentation by Paul Adams. Paul works as a UX Researcher at Google, the research lead for sociability, and works with teams building products and features for the social web, but you won't find the usual Google Geeky talk about protocols and Open ID in this presentation.

He starts out with a simple but common problem when connecting online. There is no one-size fits all for social networks. We all have many people we are connected to in real life and we need networks that support our various identities and ties.

For small business owners, online marketing is more and more complex. We have to learn how to design social features on our websites and deepen our understanding of how our businesses can participate on the social web.

Hope you enjoy the presentation. Thoughts?

Monday, July 5, 2010

How to experience social media marketing before you start. Get the feel for it.

Fast track: from total newbie to experienced blogger:

1. Get a big picture view.

2. Create a social media profile that is the best representation of who you are,  who you serve, and what is unique about your services.

3. Perform keyword research and tweak your profile to make sure you are speaking in language that resonates.

4. Define topics near and dear to you. (not more than 4)

5. Set up Google Alerts around those topics

6. Use Google Reader to subscribe to the best complimentary blogs.

Little by little there's a move from reading, to posting notes in Google Reader. Confidence expands and those notes become paragraphs. There's movement from one paragraph to three. Writing in a blog is no different than posting a pararghaph or two in Google Reader.

Using Posterous for blogging helps to make it is just like writing an email. Blogging has become a common practice and sharing quality content across social networks is no big deal.

If the big picture becomes obscure or lost, don't worry. It is still there and will come back into view. It will become even stronger and more clear. You will discover more about what is important to you and to your readers if you stick with the basics.

Get a feel for social media marketing and experience it first hand. Once you get in the habit of reading, thinking and sharing , the rest is easy.

Online marketing isn't a static process and the chances of being motivated by a formula and list of instructions, is slim to none.

But almost without fail, when you find your tribe, your topics and your voice, you will develop a genuine love for blogging and social media marketing.

Posted via email from tamismith's posterous

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Out of the Fishbowl

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Social Search vs Social Media

about-social-searchI've been evangelizing lately about "Social Search" vs "Social Media".

I think social search is one of the biggest game changers in the way search results are displayed.

Our search results depend on who we are connected to, who is in our social circle.

Social Media is content that is shared socially.

Social Media Sites (like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr) help us to find, connect and share our i
nformation with each other.

Social Search takes social media to the next level.

If you are in someone's social circle, your public content may appear
on Page 1 of Google Search results. Creating good, fresh content on your website and blog, is more important than ever.

Here's what I'm talking about:


I do a search for "Photography". My results include authority sites l
ike "" and "wikipedia" at the top of the page. It is followed by Google Maps Local 7 pack, then more authority sites and then my friends! These small sites that typically don't make it to Page 1 now show up under "Social Circle" followed by videos and blogs.

The easiest way to take advantage of social search is to create a Google Profile and link all your social sites from that profile. Also, sharing information via Google Reader will fast track your social search results.

Seriously...I get so discouraged when I see my "social" results and my friend aren't there. They aren't showing up because they don't connect with Gmail, or Google Reader, or Twitter, or Flickr....they aren't using the main open social networks.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Getting Started and Improving with Google Sites

It is exciting to see more and more people using Google Sites as a web publishing platform.

I picked up a post today from Eric Sheninger, Principal at New Milford High School and advocate of 2.0 learning. His post Google Sites Rock, highlighted the benefits of Google Sites for educators and links to sites at New Milford HS.

Eric did a fantastic job outlining why Google Sites rock. I would like to take it one step further and demonstrate a quick Classroom Site Makeover on Mr. D's Class Page - Mr. D's Class Page Makeover

Here's a screenshot of the original home page:

Let's start with home page....this is critical. It sets the tone for the site.  The purpose of the page is to assure the visitor they are in the right place and that their needs are going to be met. If information seems confusing, the visitor isn't likely to stay engaged.

Explaining how to use the site is admitting that it is a bit confusing. Let's see if we can make it more intuitive.

Instead of directing the visitor with this long instruction, just give them clear choices.

Sites need organization.  Too much content all together makes it difficult for the eye to find the focal point. 

Understand the goals of your target audience and then provide clear navigation. 

In this case, start with adding a new navigation element to the side it Classes (and make sure to check the box "display title"). Then add a navigation element and name it Resources. In this way you are providing chunks of information. 

I've taken one class, AP Biology to demonstrate some additional design/page structure. 

  • Add a "Recent Post" gadget to the landing page to provide a quick view of chronological information - "class notes". 
  • Add a glossary page
  • Add a FAQ page
This is really a quick overview but demonstrates how little things can make a big difference. 

Overall, really focus on text. There's a lot of great information buried in the site because it remains in an embedded presentation. Perhaps assign a student to create a page that contains the same information in the PPT.  The idea is to make everything accessible and searchable. 

For example, when running a search query for "keys to designing a good experiment" I get only one result - an attached doc under Integrated Science. Yet "keys to designing a good experiment" is explained in the embedded presentation "Experimental Design", in the AP Biology class.

General mistakes with Google Sites:
  • Using templates! Most templates don't match the content. Best to start with default or Simple Template. 
  • Poor quality graphics
  • Not using contrast - text should contrast with background color, stick with black text on white background to be safe. It shouldn't hurt the eyes to read!
  • Too much content all together (the eyes need focal points so use text gadgets and chunk information together)

It is pretty cool that we can all learn from each other and use technology to quickly share what we are discovering.

Thanks to Eric Sheninger, I learned how to use Google Forms as a self-grading quiz! I've been working on a "Self Assessment" for Small Business owners, (a way to self score their social media marketing) and this formula for self grading is just what I needed.

Google Sites really do rock! Understanding basic design combined with the suite of tools from Google Apps, gives everyone the power to quickly publish and share information in a meaningful way.

Non-profits and education are discovering the benefits and also the agony of Google sites. I say agony because, as a creator of the site, it can be frustrating. There are design limitations and some quirkiness to sites. However, you will find a work around for almost every situation.

What  suggestions do you have for Mr D's Classroom page?

Or, do you have a Google Site that could use  a "makeover"?

Let me know!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Google Bookmarks adds a List Feature for Sharing

With the continual fire-hose of information today, creating lists have become a great way to filter information. Now you can quickly and easily create lists right from Google Search, Google Maps or when you are on a great website or blog.

I just created a couple of public lists, one for sharing my favorite coffee shops in Kirkland, WA and a list of resources for help with Google Apps and Google Sites.

Watch this video to learn how to utilize Google Bookmarks and Lists.

This could prove to be an awesome productivity tool and can play a role in your social media marketing strategy.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

QR codes and Google Maps

Do you want to be able to scan QR codes (QR Codes are a popular type of two-dimensional barcodes) to quickly access information?

Kaywa has a simple way to find a reader for you phone. 

And a QR Code generator to create your barcode

Check out Google's favorite places in Seattle and try scanning a code.

My website bar code


My phone number bar code

Monday, April 12, 2010

Google Docs Just Keeps Getting Better

Looking forward to the new improvements. Love having rulers, tab stops, spell check as you type, features in docs and collaboration on drawing!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Things that will get me to unfollow you on Google Buzz

Robert Scoble started a Buzz this morning listing the top 6 things that are a real buzzkill.
Things that will get me to unfollow you on Google Buzz:

1. If you bring your tweets into here I'm very likely to unfollow you. I read Twitter and have 17,000 people over there. Almost 100% of tweets brought in here are noise.

2. If you are a jerk. Or if you bring a jerk into my view.

3. If you haven't filled out your Google Profile yet. -- I find that I'm going to slowly go through my list of people I'm following and see if they've filled out their profile. If they haven't, I'm far less likely to keep them around.

3B: if you don't have a photo of yourself as an avatar, I doubt I'll keep you around.

4. If you spam me with advertising.

5. If you consistently write about lame stuff that I'm not interested in. I'm 80% interested in talking tech, news, and geeky stuff. If you consistently write about other stuff that's cool, but it's noise to me.

6. If you are using a non-real name and I find out about it. I hate anonymity and I hate when people don't share their real identity. 4chan is great, but not in my Buzz.

Take Robert's advice. Create a Google Profile and don't spam Google Buzz with advertising or use it as another bullhorn, like Twitter. Use Twitter to push your short, self promoting messages and use Google Buzz to connect and discuss authentically.

Google Buzz has started off as a great place to have conversations and connect with like-minded people, I just hope it is able to stay that way.

Having a community of users that discourage spam, and call it out when it happens, might help to keep Google Buzz enjoyable and productive.

See the full thread on Buzz

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Experiments in Social Search

I used a broad category word "photography" to see what my social circle has to say.
My connections are all coming from twitter and gmail with one really interesting exception: Dan Brickley - connected via Anders Conbere on flickr.
Seems like a good reason to use as many social networking sites as possible. With connected via another person,we experience more networking structural holes...maybe? I haven't read the book, but the concept has fascinated me.

Social search results take me to websites... great example of driving traffic from really long tail search words.

What are your experiments showing?

Creating a 2.0 Press Release

Tried and true principles need innovative applications. Would you agree that the goal is to keep elements of traditional marketing, the principles we know are universal and effective, and apply them in new forms. Pitch Engine is a great example of this but how many companies are in a position to utilize the service?

It is rare to find an organization that has digital assets organized in a manner to leverage for a 2.0 press release. Too much emphasis on Tweeting and not enough on creating content that is clear, compelling and news worthy.

in reference to: Local Search Website Optimizat... - Google Docs (view on Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Facebook Fan Page Created for Blue Sphere Labs

I've created a page for Blue Sphere Labs and now have to find a way to persuade you to be a fan!
Seriously, I would like to make it worth your time and to provide valuable content and resources. Any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Click on the nifty badge to see my page and become a fan.

Did you know I can help with practical applications like:

Getting the most out of Gmail?

Need help with

* Creating filters
* Creating contacts
* Importing contacts and mail
* Adding attachments
* Playing MP3 Files
* Selecting your Google Picture
* Syncing with Outlook

Need help getting started with Google Voice?

* How to use Google Voice with your own number
* Removing call presentation
* Customizing your voice mail greetings
* Creating Groups
* Display Google Voice number when returning calls
* Add a call widget to your website or blog

Using Google Wave for:

* collaborative meetings
* group event planning
* co-writing and brainstorming
* surveys

Do you need a quick easy way to publish information?

Google Sites can be used for

* Resume Sites
* Landing Pages
* Collaborative Sites/Wiki's
* Website for Non-Profits
* Business Plans
* Training

Find useful tips and how to's on our Facebook Fan Page