Teaching Your Kids the Science of the Search Engine Search
May 17 2011

Following is a guest post by Taylor Laurents, a twenty something freelance writer from Lincoln, NE. She was bitten early by the entrepreneurial bug, selling Girl Scout cookies like many young girls, and hopes one day to run her own business and be her own boss.

Teaching Your Kids the Science of the Search Engine Search

It sounds like probably the most boring subject you could mention to your child, but perhaps nothing more vital to their well being is so easily bypassed during dinner table discussion than lessons on how to initiate a productive search for something on the Internet.

Think about it – we teach our kids to grasp other forms of information location: alphabetically, by way of reference, through the Dewey Decimal System, et cetera. But when it comes to how to use search engines effectively, undoubtedly the tool our children will be utilizing the most to get information, we seem to be in a kind of disinterested time warp, not nearly as focused on making sure our kids know how to execute proper research on the Internet. This is a generational gulf that needs to be crossed.

Children who use the Internet to garner information who don’t know how search engine optimization works, and we’re just talking the basic understanding of it, are at risk for falling for the deceitful tactics many online enterprises use to perpetuate desired information. For instance if your child wanted to do a research paper on the fat content of McDonalds hamburgers versus home made and wasn’t aware that typing “McDonalds fat content” would bring up McDonalds-sponsored websites, they could be easily manipulated into submitting a paper with inaccurate information, and worse carrying that inaccurate information in their head for the rest of their lives.

The business behind search engine results is really not that difficult to get across to the mind of a child. If your kid can grasp how your own small business works then the moneymaking methods of search engines shouldn’t be hard. If you have a problem relating the issue to your child though, try and focus their intention on the power of “number one”: Number one in line gets lunch first, picks the first playground toy, et cetera. If they can understand why a company would view being in first place on a search engine as a top priority, they’ll begin to understand.

The information that encompasses all of human knowledge is one day, if not already, going to be accessed exclusively through the Internet. “Don’t be evil” is the self-guiding model of search engine ethics, but more times than not it’s the good intentions by companies trying to be found that leads to the propagation of disinformation, which can easily find its way into the heads of our kids if we don’t give them a heads up first.

Note: I was compensated to review, edit and post this article.

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What They Don’t Tell You About SEO – Part 4
Oct 22 2008

And now for a long overdue post on search engine optimization.  The business reason for waiting this long was that I wanted a quarter to pass after I officially ended my search campaign (i.e., June 30, 2008) with the firm I had been using before analyzing the results.  The personal reason is that well, um, given my various activities, I didn’t have the time to do it until now. 

To get more background on my SEO experiences, check out my posts: What They Don’t Tell You About SEO Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Although I signed up for an annual contract, about 4 months in it became apparent to me that it wasn’t working for a variety of reasons.  I think it was obvious to them also because 6 ½ months into it, we were very far away from achieving their guaranteed results of making more than we spent monthly on search services by the end of the contract.  Something miraculous would have to occur.  Was it anyone’s fault?  Yes and no.  

There were things I should have researched and understood better before engaging a SEO firm.  I made the decision hoping it could be part of a ‘silver bullet‘ solution to raise our trial and conversion numbers and as we all know, the silver bullet doesn’t usually hit where you want it to.  I also think that the firm could have advised me better upfront on things like website conversion, dropped the ball a couple of times, and could have proactively paid more attention to the direction things were going.  When I last checked their site, it looks like they have changed their focus more to SEM (search engine marketing) than just SEO.  

Although it does hurt to have spent the money (especially considering the economy today), several of my peers have spent tens of thousands more dollars than I did with similar results.  So I feel a little less dumb when I look at my company’s P&L statement.  In fact I know several web company CEOs in town who have suspended their SEO/SEM campaigns to focus on other ways to bring more qualified/convertible traffic to their sites after not seeing expected results.  

Overall, I learned a lot and when the time is right, I may consider re-engaging with SEO again.  I have no hard feelings against any of the people I worked with at the firm.  They are all nice people, and since I don’t want to focus on feeling let down, I have chosen to think about it as educating myself and helping someone somewhere feed their kid or pay their rent.  Such is life! 

The biggest lesson I learned was: SEO is not a good choice when you are creating a market!  It’s hard to predict what people will search for when looking for your product in a market that is not well defined.  It’s hard to even know how many or if they are looking for your product!  I’ve mentioned before the example of a baby blanket.  When you are looking for a ‘baby blanket’ or a ‘red soccer ball‘ you know what you are looking for.  When you are looking for a way to get your baby to sleep better at night or understand his feeding patterns, you may not even know you are looking for a web and mobile based tool to help you track his activities.  So even if you land on the Babble Soft site, you don’t have a frame of reference to compare it to. 

So I chose to end the contract rather than spending thousands of more dollars for another 5 ½ months with all signs pointing to the fact we weren’t going to achieve the hoped for results.   I could have continued but I didn’t want to have to deal with a situation where none of us wanted to be in thereby making all of our lives more stressful.  I’ll never know if I did the right thing but given the economy, I’m sure glad I’m not having that big cash outflow each month when I’m not seeing the equivalent or greater cash inflow.   Maybe I let them out easy, but I think the money is better spent paying our mortgage instead!  Here are the highlights: 

Facts for SEO Analysis on Babble Soft

  • Search engine traffic went from 14% just before the beginning of the campaign in December 2007 to 36% in September 2008 with a peak of 58% in July after ending the campaign.
  • Referring site traffic went from 42% to 46% with a peak of 51% in August 2008 due to a fabulous article on BabyCenter called The basics of baby schedules: Why, when, and how to start a routine.  This article resulted in a record amount of trial signups and still sends qualified traffic to the site and I didn’t spend any money for that lucrative mention!
  • Direct traffic went from 43% in December 2007 to 17% in September 2008 which is good because the number of people who know to directly type www.babblesoft.com or another URL link on our site is few in the world.
  • Trial sign-ups went up 200% from November 2007 to June 2008.  They increased 500% from November 2007 to September 2008 because of the BabyCenter mention.  However, since we just launched the web and mobile applications in 2007, the base amount wasn’t that high to begin with.
  • Conversions went up some as well but that again was because the base to grow from wasn’t that high.  They didn’t go up near the amount we all hoped for to cover our SEO costs.  That’s why percentages are great to quote but they don’t mean you are breaking even yet. 🙁

Key Learnings from my SEO experience: 

  • SEO is not a great place to spend your money when you are creating/making a market.  There are just too many unknowns.
  • Focus on getting mentions in places where your target audience visits (e.g., BabyCenter).  This is hard to do without PR help but sometimes you can get lucky.  People have spent tens of thousands of dollars on public relations firms as well and still not achieved the ‘perfect’ story placements.  Since I don’t have a big marketing budget, I am taking things into my own PR hands and hoping I’ll get a big mention from the free Help A Reporter Out (HARO) PR leads I now get.
  • If you have the budget, experiment with keywords using Search Engine Marketing (e.g., Google Adwords) until you see what keywords work to get qualified traffic to your site, and then revisit SEO.  However, if you are creating a market this could prove to be an expensive endeavor because you might have to do A LOT of guessing!
  • Spend a significant amount of time making the appropriate conversion changes on your site.  In other words, make sure your site gets people to sign up and part with their money!  Make sure your SEO firm not only understands the importance of conversion but can also identify the changes and make them up front.  There are people who know how to make your website flow and your text copy sing a siren song.  You need to find someone who gets your market and if you are creating a market, you might be the expert and have to wing it yourself.  

I think that the SEO/SEM firms are going to face hard times with the changing economy as many businesses will.  If you have the time and money to do it right and you’re selling something like ‘red soccer shoes’ or ‘Halloween costumes’ then SEO might make sense for you.  If not, it’s probably best to turn over another low-cost marketing rock while you create and define your new market.

Sign up for free email updates to read about my continuing saga of building a web business after hours (soon to be a SXSW 2008 Interactive panel)! And please Stumble, Email, or Digg this post so others can learn from my SEO experience.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

A Dream You Have Will Come True
Jul 30 2008

Photo by Sandy Blanchard
Yes, the title of this post is yet another fortune cookie fortune that I got at lunch at P. F. Chang’s yesterday.   And yes that means my brain is too tired from working two jobs, taking care of kids, and pretending to be a being a good wife to come up with my own titles. 

I will eventually get around to my next post on the painful great lessons learned about Search Engine Optimization, but  in the meantime you can go back and read my What They Don’t Tell You About SEO posts Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to get you primed and ready for Part 4!

So back to the fortune cookie title ‘A dream you have will come true.’  I’m wondering what dream it might be referring to?  Does it mean night dreams or day dreams?  Does it mean it will come true if I play the Lucky Numbers 3, 56, 32, 38, 25, and 42 that appear under the fortune?  Or does it imply that if I learn how to properly say the word “Peach” (i.e., tao-zi) noted on the back of the cookie in Chinese that it will come true? 

Then I started wondering if I even have dreams that I want to come true?  Being an avid dreamer at night, I often wish for dreamless, deep sleeps since I dream about work, life, kids, etc. while I sleep.  I don’t have scary dreams, just boring, mundane, every day life dreams where sometimes I happen to come up with some solutions to problems but that mostly leave me wishing for more sleep when I wake up! 

So if a dream is a wish and a wish is a dream, I wish for some nights of dreamless, uninterrupted-by-kids sleep.  Oh and I also dream that I will be able to change the world by helping others discover their potential to change the world! :mrgreen:

How about you? What is your dream?

Author: | Filed under: Just For Fun, random stuff | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

What They Don’t Tell You About SEO – Part 3
May 19 2008

Photo by Sandy Blanchard
We are about 5 months and thousands of dollars into our search engine optimization (SEO) campaign managed by SpryDev and before you read the rest, I suggest you check out my Part 1 and Part 2 posts.

Let’s just say I’m not yet ecstatic with the results.  On the plus side, Website Grader now shows our grade as 79 which is up from 67 when I ran it for my Part 2 post on March 3, 2008.  We are also just now starting to show up in the first and second page of Google for our current keywords of ‘breastfeeding support’ and ‘baby sleep.’  We are showing up in the top 30 for other important terms.  Interestingly enough, we are showing #1 for ‘baby care software,’  but I have no idea what the search volume is for that term!

On the not-so-great side, although our overall traffic is increasing at a pretty good percentage rate, we still aren’t seeing a huge jump in total number of visitors or more importantly a significant jump in trial sign-ups which have shown in the past a 7 to 10% conversion rate to purchase!  For instance, according to Google Analytics, in December 2007 we had 873 total visitors of which 626 were unique visitors.  In April 2008, we had 1,585 (82% increase) total visitors of which 1,162 (86% increase) were unique.  Page Views during that same time have gone from 2,364 to 4,898 (107% increase).  In the world of the Internet, the percentage increases are good, but the total numbers seem low to me especially when you see numbers like 1 million visitors per month thrown around often on Mashable and TechCrunch.

In February and March we saw an increase in percentage totals of people finding us using organic search engine terms but saw a drop in organic search and trial sign-ups in April.  The more trial sign-ups we have, the higher the conversion rate of customers purchasing our apps.  Direct and Referring site traffic is still greater than 70% of our traffic sources which means that’s a heck of a lot of my time emailing, blogging, twittering, as well as links from my friends and other interested parties.  My family does not blog or twitter so unfortunately I don’t get back links that way. 😀

I know that the SEO link team is submitting articles, press releases, and creating directory submissions on a monthly basis which seem to be getting accepted and picked up at a reasonable rate.  SpryDev gives me good weekly and monthly reports, and I check out our Google Analytics to see how things are going. So I know that they are sharing all the information they can with me.

We did have an account manager change back in early March when Rose, who I mentioned in a previous post, left for personal reasons and now our account manager is Erik.  We also had a keyword shift around that time from ‘pregnancy week by week’ to ‘baby sleep.’  I’m still not sure why we selected that keyword since we don’t have an offering for that keyword, but I think it was because it had a high search volume…needless to say it had a high bounce rate.  In other words, people who found our site using ‘pregnancy week by week’ didn’t stay long on the site. 

We have also made several website conversion changes based on recommendations by SpryDev via Brian Massey of Customer Chaos, who I also mentioned in one of my previous search engine optimization posts.  Some examples include:

a) Changing trial period from 30 to 15 days
b) Changing our trial follow up emails from same text emails X and 2X days from sign-up to different text emails on sign up, X days out, and Y days out.
c) Adding the Try It Free button on the Babble Soft home page and throughout the site.
d) Creating a new Contact form.

I can’t really opine on the conversion changes until we see a huge jump in trial sign ups. So honestly, I’m a little stumped and frustrated.  Maybe my expectations at the beginning were not correct?!  I had hoped we would see better results by now especially since I was tying some of our fundraising success to SEO.  I don’t know if I’m alone in this or if everyone just has stellar SEO experiences and all of a sudden trial sign-ups and sales go through the roof!  Anyone?

As I mentioned in my SEO, Here I Come post, I signed up with SpryDev because of their guarantee:

“By the end of your contract you will have at least as much additional business from your Web site as you spend on our services…  or we’ll work for FREE until you do.”

Since the contract is for 12 months, we have 7 more months to go and they are assuring me that around the 6 month mark is when their customers start to see the big results…although so far May hasn’t been proving to be a big trial sign-up month yet.  I’ve heard from others that they’ve seen big results in as little as 3 to 4 months from their SEO endeavors. 

So now I’m wondering what could we have done better and what could we do better?  Are we optimizing for the right keywords?  Do people know to even look for applications like ours?  Are people even interested in using applications like ours?  Do we need to do more marketing around the benefits of using these kinds of applications more than the parent stories I pull together when the opportunity arises?  Should I put the money that I would be putting into SEO into paid ads on parenting related sites, Google AdWords, etc. instead?

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that I will need to continue to bootstrap Babble Soft since fundraising has been challenging given this economic environment and because we have yet to demonstrate a compelling increase in the number of our users.  I would feel much better going out to raise funds with thousands or tens of thousands of customers.

I am beginning to think that I might just have to get a job to support my entrepreneurial addiction! 😯

If you are interested in reading more about my SEO trials, tribulations, and hopefully victories think about subscribing to this blog.  If you know more about SEO than I do (which is likely), then leave a comment and share your advice with the rest of us!

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby sleep, breastfeeding, entrepreneurship, fundraising, sleep | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

What They Don’t Tell You About SEO – Part 2
Mar 3 2008

Billiard Cupcakes – Photo by PinkCakeBox (flickr)
As a follow on to my What They Don’t Tell You About SEO – Part 1 post, here goes Part 2.

So now we are about 2 ½ months and 3 ½ payments into Search Engine Optimization with SpryDev.  We’ve made several changes to our site based on some great recommendations by Brian Massey at Customer Chaos and now we wait and measure the results.  We have seen an increase in trial account sign ups and a few more sales, but I’m still waiting for the landslide! 🙂

I know it is sometimes an experimental process with keyword selection, and I know since we aren’t selling cupcakes (i.e., a well understood product) that things might take a little longer.  I know all of this and yet I still want (dare I say need) to see those results immediately because I’m fundraising.  With every presentation I make, the more users I can tell potential investors have signed up, the more compelling the story becomes and the chances of getting funding increase ever so slightly.  Sort of a + b = c stuff.  Sometimes those tiny incremental changes can make all the difference.

I was reading some blogs and came across a neat tool called Website Grader that tells you how your website ranks with regards to SEO.  Social Media Mom mentioned it and when I ran the tool a distant memory was triggered because I was sure I had seen reference to this site before and lo and behold Pearl at Interesting Observations had mentioned it back in October 2007!  I can’t remember the score I had on my blog when I ran it then, but I ran a report for both http://www.babblesoft.com/ and http://entrepremusing.wpengine.com/ and here are the results:

Babble Soft

Score: 67 out of 100 (a D grade – wah!)

Google PageRank: 5

Google Indexed Pages: 66

Last Google Crawl Date: February 25, 2008

Traffic Rank: Top 8.01%

Inbound Links: 2,815

I also discovered we were not yet listed in the Yahoo! Directory but that has since been corrected and now we are.  We are still waiting for DMOZ and ZoomInfo to acknowledge our submissions.  I know SpryDev has submitted us for many more directories.  For some reason, this tool hasn’t really put the fact together that the related blog is this one.  I hope at the next Google crawl date, we move out of the D range.  Being the overachiever that I am, getting close to a failing grade makes me, well uh, let’s say not happy.


Score: 95 out of 100 (an A – yay!)

Google PageRank: 5

Google Indexed Pages: 334

Last Google Crawl Date: February 28, 2008

Traffic Rank: Top 4.08%

Inbound Links: 5,699

And that’s despite not being listed in Yahoo! or the other directories.  I haven’t done any formal SEO on my blog (i.e., the report even tells me I don’t have page titles and descriptions) but I know the high rank is probably primarily due to the fact that I frequently update the blog making it fun and interesting for those Google spiders and my readers to reference.

So my conclusion is that even if you have hired an SEO firm, take time to check out other SEO tools out there like Website Grader.  You might just find something to ask your firm about and learn something about the process along the way.  Even the best of teams and people sometimes require a little oversight.  If they are a good team, they won’t get defensive and they’ll work to fix it right away and make it up to you with hopefully more than yummy looking billiard cupcakes!

Stay tuned for more of my SEO journey that may involve cupcakes (or more likely other random pictures) by subscribing to my blog here!  If you have an SEO experience you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to leave a delicious comment below.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

What They Don’t Tell You About SEO – Part 1
Jan 24 2008

Picture by Sandy Blanchardwooden-steps-hill-sblanchard.jpg 

As some of you know we signed up with a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firm, SpryDev, back in mid-December.  It’s been a great process and I already wish that we had our site designed with SEO in mind to being with.  We are making several design, layout, menu, text, etc. changes that are very time consuming.  I wish they could all be done overnight but given all of our time constraints unfortunately they can’t!

I think my biggest learning experience (note to self) so far is to have an SEO expert involved during the design of the site.  It apparently will save a lot of time later.  Now we won’t be sure if any of these changes will actually result in increased conversions for some time but so far they make sense to me.  Apparently seeing results overnight doesn’t happen just like we can’t make all the changes overnight.  Sigh.

The good news is in the past month we have seen a slight increase in the number of visitors.  We’ve also seen more people finding us based on organic search (i.e., search terms in Google) versus a direct landing.  Most people still find the Babble Soft site by searching on terms like Babble Soft, Baby Insights, Aruni (my name), etc. which is what I’m calling a direct landing.  Since I’m not Britney Spears or some other famous person, it doesn’t really do us much good for people to be searching on my name!  Now a noticeable few are finding us with relevant keywords.

Here are some of things we have done or are still working on:

  • Changing our menu navigation and adding cool buttons.  All in the name of increasing conversion.  Brian Massey who blogs at Customer Chaos is their conversion specialist and he’s given us some great recommendations that will hopefully pay off big time.  Interestingly, he just did a great post called Here’s the Truth About Building Your Website that is pretty accurate.

  • Creating individual landing pages for our Family Stories and Press Releases.  Check out our Sleep & Immunization Release that just went out!

  • Setting up a phone number to display on our site (should have that up soon – I need to record a great greeting message)

  • Adding Page Titles and Descriptions to each page.  I can’t believe we hadn’t done that.  DOH!!  I guess that’s why they get the big bucks and further reason why we should have involved an SEO expert during the design phase of the site.

  • Building links.

  • Submitting articles, press releases, and other stuff to all the various sites that love them as much as we do. 🙂

Rose, our project manager at SpryDev seems to be very patient since I email her night and day asking her what else we can do and how fast we can do it.  When it’s your personal credit card that gets hit each month you want to do everything possible to start seeing sales come in to offset those expenses. 

Did I know that we would have to make some changes to our site going in?  Yes, of course.  Did I realize the extent of the changes, the time it would take to make them, and that cash wouldn’t start rolling in the door 10 seconds after we made each change?  Not so much.

If you are interested in learning more about “What They Don’t Tell You About SEO,” go ahead and subscribe to this blog.  If you know more about SEO than I do (chances are you do), then leave a comment and share your wonderful wisdom with the rest of us!

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby sleep, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

SEO Here I Come!
Dec 11 2007

After doing some research on hiring an SEO firm, I decided to go with the full service firm option.  It wasn’t an easy decision and I was concerned about spending the money, but now it’s done.  I just signed the paperwork with SpryDev for our search engine optimization internet marketing campaign!

SpryDev is based in Austin, Texas and I found out about them from a reply their founder, Ben Finklea, left on the Bootstrap Austin email list.  I had been thinking that I needed to find someone to help me with SEO and there was his email with his guarantee:

By the end of your contract you will have at least as much additional business from your Web site as you spend on our services…  or we’ll work for FREE until you do.

I took it as a sign.  Of course I checked out a few others but given that time is of the essence (I will start fundraising in 1Q 2008), he is based in Austin (I can meet with him face to face if any issues arise), and I didn’t have to get anyone else’s approval (I’m still bootstrapping) except for Erin’s (my husband), I made the decision to go with them fairly soon after our initial conversation. 

Ben must be pretty darn confident about his services, and based on our few discussions he seems like an honest guy.  I have heard stories about bad SEO experiences so I was paying particular attention to what he was saying and how he was saying it.  He didn’t act like he knew everything and seemed interested in learning about new things.   He said they haven’t worked with a company in the parenting space before, but he did some preliminary research and felt like he and his team would be able to increase our web profits and that he would be able to cover his guarantee.

He was proud of the fact that his firm has never engaged in paid link campaigns to increase their clients’ rankings…especially since Google recently updated PageRanks of several sites.  He was also proud of the fact that they didn’t follow a practice of internal linking between different pages within a domain to increase rankings.  I didn’t know this but apparently Google announced they would only count links to one domain so if people were linking between “www.companyname.com” to “products.companyname.com” those internal links will no longer be counted when determining search results.  Honestly, I don’t know why people would have thought that would work or why Google’s algorithms wouldn’t have already taken that into consideration.

Rose Holston is the project manager for Babble Soft.  I’ve already filled out a fairly extensive questionnaire about our market that she will use to help create the internet marketing/SEO plan.  I mentioned some of the target markets that Naomi mentioned on her post about ‘monsters and pants.’  Thanks Naomi!  Rose has two kids and she could instantly relate to the need for Baby Insights.  She is a self-professed anal retentive Excel spreadsheet mama.  I wonder what kind of keywords she will come up with to reach that audience.  🙂

I told them I would be blogging about my SEO/SEM full service firm experience in order to help other entrepreneurs with their SEO decisions.   So check back often and feel free to share your SEO thoughts so others can learn as well.  I am looking forward to working with SpryDev and to making significantly more money than what I end up paying them!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Yikes!
Dec 4 2007

I have never done any active SEO work for Babble Soft or this blog, but now the time has come to do some.  With the pending release of two new features to Baby Insights and my plan to raise angel money in 2008, I need to make sure people (our potential customers) can actually find us. 

We have unique products that sometimes people don’t even know they need until they see them.  How does a couple in their 8th month of pregnancy with their first child even have a clue about all the things they will need/want to remember after their baby arrives?  They typically don’t!  Many people still don’t think applications like ours exist.  Right now we average less than 50 unique visitors to the Babble Soft website per day. I get more visits to my blog and from the cats in my neighborhood than to the company site!

Any links we have are because of luck, the kindness of friends & strangers, or links from our Partners.  We have had some press mentions but it seems like the online press has a moratorium on putting actual active hyperlinks in their articles for some reason.  I mean how insanely crazy is it to let your readers easily go to the sites of the companies/people you are writing about?  Ugh!  I guess they think it would be a bad thing to drive traffic away from their site?  I haven’t figured that one out yet.  Thank goodness for blog writers who don’t have those rules!

Based on an easy to understand post by The Karcher Group called Should You Hire an SEO Firm, or an SEO Consultant, it seems my options are:

  1. Do it ALL myself.  At the moment, I can’t do this physically because there aren’t enough hours in the day.  Plus I am not an expert in this area.  This is the cheapest option when it comes to dollars but the most expensive when it comes to my time allocation and sanity.
  2. Find a consultant who can tell me what to do.  See above comments for Option 1.  Unfortunately, I can’t clone myself and have my clone work for free also and implement what the consultant tells me to implement. 🙂
  3. Find a one man/woman shop.  This is a possibility, but how do I find that one person who can put a comprehensive SEO plan into place?
  4. Find a full service SEO firm.  This is also a possibility (with cost being a big factor).  The challenge is to find the right firm who is willing to work ‘flexibly and creatively’ with a small self-funded company.

This is a critical decision on many levels.  I can’t afford a mistake in this area especially since I’m leaning towards option 3 or 4.  This means I will have to take a calculated risk and place a bet on an individual or a firm that after a few months of hard work and payments, will start to pay off.  I have to part with precious cash up front for the hope of having it all come back to me and then some!

If any of you have gone through this process, I’d love to hear about the things you considered.  What questions did you ask?  What did you do on your own?  What did a firm do for you?

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, fundraising | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

The Google Trap
Nov 5 2007

Since the primary goal of this blog is not monetization, I was intrigued by many other bloggers outcries at the recent changes made by Google that drastically affected their Google page ranks.  Since many bloggers are trying to make a decent income from their blog, this action by Google apparently really hurts them with regards to interest by other advertisers, impressions, visits to their sites, search optimization, etc.

Honestly, I don’t even know what the page rank of my blog is.  (UPDATE: I now know my blog has a PageRank of 5) Someone once told me that you can get a tool bar add on from Google that tells you the page rank of every page you are on, but since I’m not really into page rank yet, I haven’t devoted the time to finding that little toolbar.  I’m sure I’ll get around to it some day and may be the relevant thoughts on the subject that I found below will engender a new thought about the plight in the future.  I do use Google Analytics so maybe I’ll find my rank noted in my account.

One thing I did notice was that when I removed the widget for Text Link Ads from my side bar, traffic to my blog almost doubled.  Now I don’t know if there is any direct correlation or not because there are so many variables that affect the amount of visitors, but it may be a part of it.  I wasn’t getting any revenue from them anyway so it was not a hard decision to make.  I wonder if I reactivate my Google AdSense account if I’ll get even more visitors…

Here are some great articles on the Google Monopoly Trap topic:

Composing the perfect letter of surrender on Search Engine Guide.  A hilarious conversation between Jennifer Laycock and Robert Clough.

Frustrating Yes – But I Want Google To Be My Friend by Yaro Starak at Entrepreneur’s Journey.

4 Search Engine Optimization Rules That Were Supposed to Actually Matter by Wendy Piersall at eMoms at Home.

Don’t let it bring you down! by Pearl at Interesting Observations.

Dear Google, I’m the Relationship Blogger by Liz Strauss at Successful Blog.

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