Warehouse Artist Studios

An artist/bohemian type working for themselves is perceived in a variety of ways by the general public. A lot of the perception has to do with a combination of the artist’s cashflow and apparel strategy, as opposed to the stirrings of their soul. Strangely, as a young man, people often saw me as a responsible, solid guy. Ha!

In the early eighties I ran my screen printing operation out of a funky old warehouse by the railroad tracks in Eugene, Oregon. Enormous pastry and coffee in hand, I’d get to my shop a bit past nine and dig in for the day. Usually I’d run out of work between 1:00 and 3:00 pm, leaving the rest of the day to run, draw comics and hang out.

Being that the economy had had the shit kicked out of it just then, I was moderately proud that I’d been able to scape up enough business to keep a roof over my head… ultimately I turned enough of a profit to embark on my checkered career publishing my own wacky comic books, but that’s not the subject of this rant.

Warehouse Artists Studios was the literal name of the co-op warehouse wherein I rented space. The studio took up the second floor of a truly dilapidated old funkster warehouse that had most recently been used to store spices. Add to that the gay girls who lived illegally in the space next to mine, burning patchouli oil night and day. This place had a certain bouquet!

I’d been printing T-Shirt jobs out of my flat, and it was getting a bit ridiculous. At an opening in a local gallery, I saw a flyer for “Warehouse Artist Studios”, a 5000 square foot space that magically divided up the floor into 170 square foot units that rented for forty bucks a month. I went down the next day and rented two adjacent spaces, which apparently I’d be paying $75 or $80 a month for. A slight, nervous man named Lynn rented my space to me. He was the manager, he had a chair upholstering business in the studio. Straight away, I could see ‘ol Lynn was a duck seriously out of water.

This impression was dramatically confirmed like three days later when Lynn informed me that the Warehouse was failing economically, and that he was resigning as manager. He handed me the studio ledger and checkbook saying “you seem like an astute fellow, why don’t you manage this dump?”.

I was rather taken aback at this, but sure enough at the next meeting of the co-op, the members all but begged me to save their studio. I had my serious doubts, but figured there wasn’t much to lose, so why not? It wasn’t lost on me either that as manager my rent for my 340 square foot space dipped to $35.00 per month!

The co-op had about 12 members. We were several hundred dollars in the hole. We could pay rent, but couldn’t pay the heating bill. We were required to carry basic liability insurance, which had gone unpaid and lapsed, for starters. I sat down and did a bit of math. I figured if we raised the rent on the basic space about $10.00 a month for five months, and attracted a couple new members, we’d squeak by and could continue renting the dump.

The measure passed at the next meeting. At least with the eight or nine people who decided to stick it out, as a couple members dropped out with the news of the temporary rent increase; we did indeed need to attract new members straight away. We papered the town with flyers for the warehouse, and got free listings in any newspaper we could. Miraculously, the plan worked. We lowered the basic rent back to $40.00 per month ahead of schedule and got an infusion of fresh blood. I can’t take too much credit for it, as the place snapped to with an esprit de corps I’ve rarely encountered… I’d say it was goddamn grassroots socialism is action, almost.

Now here comes the fun part, the personalities that made the place click, the swashbucklers, crackpots, con men, assholes, and outright brilliant geniuses I encountered in my stint at Warehouse Artist Studios. First comes a woman named Kathy Caprario. She was a dramatic beauty from New York of Italian descent, the best known painter in Eugene, an “older woman” to me of maybe 33-35 years (I was all of 24 at the time). Kathy is the person who was singlehandedly most responsible for the survival of Warehouse Artist Studios at the time of the financial crises. To say she was resourceful and a bit of an aggressive shark is an understatement. For starters, she marched me down to see the owner of the owner of the building when the lease came up. The guy was a real estate money grubbing slum lord type, who claimed an artistic background. Right. Our rent was $650.00 per month. Kathy figured that Jeff, the slum lord, was lucky that anyone at all was renting this dump in a crappy ecomomy. She advises me to offer the guy $450.00 per month. No problem! It was an invaluable early lesson in having brass balls.

So we’re in this real estate lizard’s office, and I make the rent offer. Jeff, the lizard in question, completely ignores me and starts this serious, near lecherous flirt with Kathy. She plays this guy like a fiddle, and we walk out of there with a lease for the next year of $550.00 per month, a hundred bucks per month rent reduction. Yes folks, in 1982 in Eugene, you could rent a 5000 square foot studio for that low price. I should mention too, the year after that, Kathy had moved on to a private studio space, but I’d learned well and got that damn rent down to $475.00 per month!

Kathy also had us apply for City of Eugene room tax grants. Turns out there was actual civic support for the arts afoot! We hastily threw together grant applications to run a gallery in our common space, such as it was, and to offer figure drawing sessions to the public. Given the level of initial interest in these projects, we all saw it as a way to get the city to help pay our rent with minimal execution of said projects.

But who knew! The figure drawing sessions maintained a core of attendance for a couple years. The gallery stared off as nothing–an unrented space was hung with art. But before long, a 22 year old painter of promise named Mike Perkin rented a space and started doing some pretty cool work in his cubicle. He tried his best to ape Francis Bacon, but the works looked a bit like Francis was a werewolf Mexican wrestler or something.

When it came Mike’s turn to show his work, he turned a critical eye at the tiny room where I asked him to hang his paintings. He asked me if I had the studio checkbook. What do you have in mind, Mike? He directed me to the Eugene Planing Mill, a massive lumber yard across the street from us. “Let’s stud up couple walls so I can hang my big paintings”. Outragous! Here’s this wild kid, plays the same tapes over and over (Scarey Monsters by Bowie, anything by Lou Reed) and yells at his paintings. At the drop of a hat, we get some lumber and flail away for a couple hours with hammers. Before you know it, instant gallery! We build some pretty decent walls in a jiffy (other studio members drifted in a pitched in) and whitewashed them.

Mike’s paintings for that show were terrific. They were done in ruddy reds, earthtones and orangey yellows, with wood and burlap assemblage fastened to the canvases. The average size was maybe 3′ across by almost 5′ tall. My favorite was called “The Inside of Lou Reed’s Stomach”. If I wasn’t blowing every cent on publishing comic books, I woulda bought it. The opening was a revelation. Mike’s family showed up, and they were the most amazing bunch of open minded art, theatre, film and literature lovers you could imagine. A lotta beer went down. I remember late at night, Mike’s mom was wrestling on the studio floor with one of her four sons. From there on in, our little gallery stood a few decent shows, and even better parties. And through it all, the city kept the checks coming!

Keith the retired Air Force colonel is next in our cast of characters. Bald, prim, post heart attack, gentle former Texan Keith. A late life painter, an ultra practical man. Ruled by logic on the outside, soft as a grape inside, he had a good heart even if it was failing him, he did his share to keep the warehouse afloat. He painted small landscapes that revealed a luminous take on Oregon’s rainy colors. Nothin’ amazing, but nice. Fluid, painterly, sea foam light permeating the canvas with a bit of warm ochre and alizarin crimson, tacking it to the surface of the earth.

Keith enjoyed regaling the Warehouse crew over beers with stories of flying B-52’s through mushroom clouds after bomb tests in the Pacific, back in the day. Knowing that I was involved in the anti-nuke movement of the day, he teased me “I did H-Bomb tests all day long, and I’m not glowing yet”.

Although he had a son who was around forty, Keith took a fatherly interest in me, and used to take me to lunch in his enormous four door GM pickup truck (with one of those worthless diesel engines they tried to manufacture for a couple years). He’d take us to the local Lions clubhouse. The food sucked. He’d insist we have a beer with lunch, which I didn’t like as I usually would go for a run later in the day. Hell Steve, have a beer, indulge the old boy! Unbidden, he told me his life story. Before retirement, had risen as an assistant to one of the joint chiefs of staff. After retiring from the military, he’d been a ROTC instructor on the University of Oregon campus in the sixties. He’d have run ins with various rag-tag groups of pseudo Maoist college kids. Then one summer, Keith and his wife were vacationing in the Cascade mountains east of Eugene. Hiking in the foothills, they came upon an encampment where some of these same youths were enacting a military training drill with assault rifles! They were indeed serious about the revolution bit. After a tense momentary face off with no word exchanged, Keith and his wife turned on their heel and hiked out. “I felt like I had a target on my back”, he said, adding that he never saw those kids again.

There was another older painter at the studio, one Nick Nickolds. He was maybe 60-65 at the time. He was the real deal, a life long bohemian, painter and philosopher dedicated to the pursuit of his art. He’d been an orphan from Denver who lived the middle decades of his life in Mexico. Nick scored the studio to the right at the top of the stairs. It was the best studio there, as it had a separate private entrance.

Nick Nickolds painted in a style that at once reminded me of William Blake and Titian. His color was rich, saturated and full of light, yet he built up layers of delicate glazes that gave body and air to his figures. He was painting the figure, faces, and the natural world, yet it was semi abstract. It was as if Blake had decided to lapse into abstraction and gotten about 73% there before deciding he still had to have a face here, an eye or a breast there.

This work was technically masterful and evoked images and emotion like a skeleton key. It alluded to everything while putting it’s finger on nothing, like a Robert Hunter lyric. Nick was so consistently true, dignified and full of heart that you had to love him. He was a slightly rotund, dapper little man with ample sparkle in his eye.

Once, Nick showed me a vial full of crystalline dust, claiming that it was a sort of emulsified, crystal LSD. He stuck a pin in it, putting a minuscule amount on the head of the pin. “That’s enough”, he said. He claimed he’d had the vial for years, had been in San Francisco in the sixties with it (it was full back then). He asserted he’d provided hundreds and hundreds of trips from his little vial. Today, I almost wonder if I made that part of the story up! It just sounds too good to be true.

Nick was a guy who was always fascinating, who revealed himself to me a little bit at a time as we became friends. He approved of my comic books, and my attempts to explain the nature of reality, time, the singularity of the eternal now in cartoon form, and all that jazz. Nick told me I was on the right track as an artist. “All you have to do is be careful about the beer”, he advised me, and boy was he right, as I developed enough of a drinking habit that I ultimately had to stop altogether for my own good. Nick eventually moved back into what he considered the morass of Marin County, as he had money connections down in California. I never saw him again, don’t know if he’s still around or not. I often reflect on what Nick taught me about maintaining integrity as an artist, and about having respect for every human being regardless of anything. I consider it immense good fortune to have known Nick and been his friend, albeit for only a couple of years.

P.S. Nick is indeed still around, at http://www.nicknickolds.com

Freak Magnet!

If you manage to set yourself up as a successful Boho freelancer/self employed artist, you will attract an amazing array of people from all walks of life to bask in your glory. Say what? Take my word for it, people will be attracted to your good thang, offering everything from sublime lessons in human dignity, to blatantly vampiric attempts to hi-jack your time and energy.

With a bit of practice, it becomes easy to recognize the latter–within minutes of meeting the vampiric leach, they attempt to wrangle the discourse to a place where you are somehow in the position of owing them something; most often a deep discount on your product or service. You’ll see a red flag, and you will get rid of them asap. Try adding a 50% “asshole fee” to your usual rate. When they get ugly, be sweet as pie but stick to your guns. And remember, you don’t owe them a thing.

The other sort, offering the sublime lesson, a peek into the bottomless well of the beauty of the human spirit, can be a real pleasure. They will probably try your patience a bit too, but it’s worth it. My rule of thumb is to attempt to offer the same basic respect to any person I come across in the course of my business. Easier said than done, but something to aim for.

As a self employed freak magnet, it’s been my great pleasure to encounter quite an array of swashbucklers. How about the charismatic actor who financed his theater company (and his t-shirts) with a successful drug dealing operation? He did quite well with it, but I guess his success was tempered by the little fact that he was a junkie…

One of my favorite encounters with an unusual person came early in my “career”, when I maintained a screen printing operation at Warehouse Artist Studios in Eugene, Oregon in the early ’80s. One fine rainy morning, when nothing much was going on, a slightly bellicose balding guy named Abner Burnett stepped through the door and asked how much I would charge to print one t-shirt. Sorry, minimum order is two dozen. OK, how much for two dozen?

Abner ends up ordering something like 2 shirts. He understands that the economies of scale are not working for him, that with set up charges, these will be very expensive shirts, but he doesn’t seem to mind. I wish I could remember what the design was–it may have had something to do with his beloved Chevy Vega (those were great cars, right up there with the Ford Pinto!). As Abner cuts me a downpayment check, he notes that he lives off a trust fund, and is bored, and is really glad he met me. Great.

When will the shirts be done? I can print them on Tuesday, I’ll call you when they are done.

Arriving at the warehouse on Tuesday morning, I am less than thrilled to find Abner at the door waiting for me with a curious half smile on his face. This is the first time I think, “axe murderer”. Turns out Abner wants to watch me print his shirts. He wants to learn about screen printing. Usually, it unnerves me to have a customer watch a production run, but hey, it’s only two shirts. And, Abner said he wants to learn about screen printing. He said the magic words. I love teaching people how to screen print. I figure it’s like teaching a poor man to fish. Or, it’s like giving someone a lesson in a tool that can be used to exercise your first amendment rights. So I am into it.

As I set up and print his job, Abner opines, “Mr. Lafler, I can tell that you are independently wealthy”. I bark out such a hearty laugh that I almost botch a print. “What makes you say that, Abner?”

“Well, you just leisurely hang out at your studio every day, doing just what you want.”

The fact is, Mr. Burnett, I am here in the studio to try to scrape together a couple bucks, with which to buy some burritos, beer and a can of food for Ed, my cat. If I make some extra cash, maybe I’ll publish a comic book or two, but independently wealthy? Ha!

Abner pays for his shirts, and he’s gone. I enjoyed the encounter, but I also was happy that it’s over. Or so I thought. Abner started showing up at my studio almost daily, to “learn screen printing”. He would stand there, half glassy eyed, issuing a series of loosely related comments that weren’t quite non sequiturs. One day I tried to leave, just to shake him. “Where you going?”, Abner wants to know. “I’m going to get some screen printing supplies”, I say. Abner wants to drive. Oh hell, why not? I don’t have a car.

Although I didn’t exactly like Abner, I was just a bit fascinated by him. What the hell was he up to? What was his story? He kinda gave me the creeps, but he exuded a thickly benign sense of serenity.

The jig was up one day when he came in, affable yet strangely agitated at the same time. What’s up, Abner? “Mr. Lafler, I’m a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, and I didn’t take my medication today”.

Okay. That explained a lot. Abner came around a few more times, then I guess he lost interest. As mentioned, he made me rather nervous, yet I was curious enough about him to indulge his presence. I like to think he was just another manifestation of Buddha nature, come to teach me a lesson, or something like that.

What is W3C Validation and Why Does My Website Need It?

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organisation for the World Wide Web and is headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee (the man credited with “inventing” the Internet).

W3C’s sole goal is to ensure that the World Wide Web and Websites all work as well as they possibly can. Their guidelines are extremely strict and are purely based on the concept of “accessibility for all”. Whilst it is not official (Google keep the criteria they use for ranking websites a closely guarded secret) it is widely agreed amongst website developers that following these guidelines will help your website list higher on the search engines.The W3C themselves state “Following these guidelines will also help people find information on the Web more quickly.”

Therefore if you wish to compete effectively on the Internet then your business needs a website that the W3C approve of – one which is web compliant.

You should test websites against these guidelines using W3C’s free online validation service -To do this you simply enter the web address of the website you want to check.

If a website “validates” then the website complies with W3C’s guidelines. If it does not “pass” the validator will declare the errors and also any warnings. These errors and warnings can be used to identify the problems in the website’s coding so that a web developer can fix them. Often these are highly technical detailed descriptions which are unintelligible to a lay person.

From a developers point of view a W3C error report is very useful because it also includes a description on how to fix the problem in a way that should result in the website passing validation.


The most common error declared by the W3C Validator is know as a “Syntax Error”. HTML and XHTML are languages used within the coding of the website and W3C produce an approved list of commands (words that are used in the language). If a website developer has used a non-approved command (word) then a Syntax Error is produced. The website may still appear to work and display properly but it does not achieve the levels of accessibility required by the W3C.


Unlike errors, warnings are produced when the W3C validator is unable to make sense of the coding the developer has used in the website. It is sometimes the case that the commands used are so different from the list of approved HTML and XHTML commands that the W3C are unable to give the developer advice on how to correct the problem. Even more seriously, this could mean that the website has the potential to crash or not function properly.

This guide is a relatively simplistic overview of an extremely complex and highly technical area usually reserved for well qualified website developers. It is therefore important that we bring to your attention some further details about W3C guidelines that may, on occasion, also be relevant.

Levels of Validation

There are actually different levels of validation and all of our own websites conform to at least level 1 of the Guidelines. You can also work to higher levels if you want to, which may include providing visitors with the ability to increase the size of the font on the website to make it more legible. You can also ensure your website is “screen reader” compatible (screen readers give the website a ‘voice’ and read the content of the site to the visitor).

Content Management Systems and Validation

Many websites now support the use of a Content Editor (also known as a Content Management System) which enable people with little to no web development skills to create and manage content on their website quickly and easily.

This means that what was once the preserve of those with considerable technical expertise is now open to anyone with basic computer skills.

Content Editors, do, however, have a very tough job on their hands as they have take all the raw text, images, links, tables, bullet lists, etc. that you throw at them and by using lots of formulas and processes, convert this raw data into HTML and/or XHTML code that is approved by the W3C.

Whilst this is easy for a web developer to do, because they have prior knowledge of what is and what isn’t “valid” code, it is very difficult for an automated system to do and often leads to shortfalls. For example, about 95% of validation errors on our websites originate from a content editor. Much of this can be avoided by not cutting and pasting copy directly from Word for Windows into the Content Editor.

This is because Word for Windows contains huge amounts of hidden information that can interfere with the HTML and/or XHTML code on the website.

We always recommend that you first cut and paste from Word into a more simple word processor such as Notepad. You can then re-cut and paste from Notepad into the Content Editor and avoid many validation errors. This is perfectly normal and an issue that is often experienced by many website designers across the world.

It is therefore important that whenever you or your client add or change content on a website you also check that it still validates. It it doesn’t, then your website designer should be able to fix it for you.

The 12 Ultimate Wealth-Building Habits

12 Time-Tested Strategies To Build Wealth For You and Your Family…Forever.

The only way to build-wealth long term is learning how to have the right mind-set. The philosophies below are the foundation needed to build long term prosperity and income from home that will support your life-style rather than your life-style supporting your business.

1. Maintain a P.MA.

In case you didn’t know P.M.A. stands for a Positive Mental Attitude. Notice, this is the first AND the most important habit on the list.

I sometimes take it for granted that people understand this philosophy, but most people have no-clue. There is only one thing we all can control…and that’s our attitude.

We all know people who brighten a room when they enter it and we all know people who brighten a room when they leave it. Which one are you?

There’s 2 types of people in this world…those who brighten a room when they enter it…and those who brighten a room when they leave it. Which one are you?

It’s all about the B.S. The Belief System.

10% of life is what happens to us, 90% of life is how we react to it.

2. Use Consistent Exercise and Good Nutrition To Maintain “Sound Physical Health.”

Elevating your heart rate is the absolute best way to renew yourself emotionally.

You’ll hear us talk about it over and over. When you perform high-intensity workouts and nourish yourself properly, that focus and discipline will carry over into every other area of your life.

Just remember, high-intensity exercise and nutrition are the gas and oil for your engine. Sound physical health is what constitutes true wealth.

3. Harmony And Communication In All Human Relationships.

Most of the time we ignore necessary communication because we want to avoid confrontation and we know people sometimes never change. The problem with this behavior is it builds up tension and resentment that limits your talents and potential to succeed.

Don’t make this mistake. The best philosophy is to FIRST seek to understand before seeking to be understood. And also, listen twice as much as you speak.

You’ll experience life-changing benefits when facing those relational fears, as your deepest and most fulfilling relationships sometimes have the greatest success because you overcame some adversity together.

When you learn to listen to the right people, ask the right questions, and communicate properly…the financial flood gates will open.

4. Strength To Face Your Fears & Manage Risk.

There is significant scientific research that shows when you face a fear and overcome it, you become stronger and more confident in other areas of your life where you once felt weak and insecure. Also, I learned years ago that I had to take manageable risk. I started my wellness business with no capital, no home, and no help. I took a manageable risk and built it up to be in the top 10 in the world for 3 years in a row now. All because I faced a fear and took a risk.

A turtle never gets anywhere without sticking its neck out. Face the fear and do it anyway.

5. Vision Of Future Achievement.

We’ve all learned and applied hand-written goals and experienced the benefits….however, your mind doesn’t know the difference between what you see OR what you visualize. So, you might as well focus on visualizing your ‘perfect’ future. Then, over time, your body and mind will manifest your visualization.

Don’t underestimate the benefits this behavior will bring into your life.

First, hand-write your perfect day and then write down everything you want to “Be”, everything you want “Do”, and everything you want to “Have”. Once you’re finished, create a picture book or a vision board and put pictures of everything you wrote down into your book or on your board.

You can access the pics at Google Images.

Next, create a written paragraph stating your perfect day along with everything you want to “be, do, and have” and read it out loud to yourself 5 to 6 days a week. Lastly, review your picture book or vision board 5 to 6 days a week.

This isn’t some “Secret” movie garbage either. By reading your vision out loud and reviewing your pictures you will program your body to act on your future.

Vision creates action. Action kills poverty.

6. Applied Faith.

Anyone can begin a marathon. Champions finish them…and all champions act on and apply faith. Applying faith for your financial future will give you the enthusiasm to attract the right people in your life. God rewards reachers who have faith. Your dreams and goals are worth any fight, and waiting, any price. Applied faith will help you finish the race.

7. Willingness To Share Your Wisdom And Gifts.

When you let go of the gifts and seeds you possess in your hands, then God will automatically let go of what’s in his hands and bless you 10 fold of what you give.

This is the law of the world. You can test it by being a ‘giver’ or a ‘taker.’

There are 2 types of people in this world – those who make deposits and those who make withdrawals.

Make sure you live and breath this law. By doing so, you automatically set yourself up for the flow-of-financial favor.

8. Always Pursue Your Passion.

We’ve all chased the damn dollar only to find out in the end when and “if” we find it, we’re still not happy. Don’t get me wrong here…I know money is important. It’s right up there with oxygen. 🙂 But, it’s not everything.

The only way that we can stay focused long term is to be engaged in a labor of love. When we pursue and build our wealth around our passion, our focus guarantees success. What’s your passion? Pursue it.

9. An Open Mind Towards All People And All Views.

Every single one of us is going to judge other people. It’s human nature. We all come in different colors, shapes, sizes. We all have different beliefs and different views of the world. We all have bad habits and we all have good habits. We’re all different. I learned long ago while overcoming troubled relationships to have an open mind.

Our world should live by the philosophy of “unconditional-acceptance” for ALL people.

10. Never Follow The Herd.

I learned over 10 years ago while competing in a physique transformation contest that the definition of discipline is usually doing the exact opposite of what everyone else is doing…and doing the opposite of what our human nature wants us to do. When we go against the grain and don’t follow the herd, we develop complete self-discipline.

Since 65% of the population is overweight and 95% of the population is dead-broke…don’t do what they’re doing! Stick with what you know is best and don’t follow the herd!

11. The Continuous Pursuit Of Wisdom And Knowledge.

Did you know that 95% of Americans don’t read one book a year! No wonder people are fat and broke. Everyone should be on a continuous pursuit of learning. Try to read one book a month. This will position you financially to see and embrace change rather that ‘react’ to it.

You’re either growing or you’re dying…so get busy living or get busy dying.

12. Ability To Serve Others For Financial Freedom & Security.

Observe money comes LAST on the list.

Once you start using your passion to stay focused, your only other option is to share your passion with others. This ‘servant mentality’ is quite possibly the most emotional and financial rewarding philosophy that everyone should follow.

Zig Ziglar said it best. “If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get everything is life that you want.”

Develop a servant mentality and financial provision is a guarantee.


Although most of the strategies above don’t actually involve money directly…they will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams, if used consistently. Building these philosophies into your life as habits will allow you to create wealth and have harmony in every other area. So, if your goal is financial freedom and security (and you’re motivated and coach-able), apply these philosophies and you’re off to the races.

Stay fit and keep growing.

Are You Wasting Your Marketing Dollars on Obsolete Strategies?

Many people who run businesses for a long time get into ruts or habits which may not be the best way to decide the most effective or productive strategies when it comes to marketing. What worked in 1980 or 1990 or even 2000, may not work today.

As we all realize, times have changed and along with them, consumer shopping and buying preferences. Whether your customer is an everyday person or another business, decisions about what to purchase, how much to pay, where to get it and how to pay for it have been greatly affected by the Internet.

Years ago, if you wanted to buy a used car, you would probably have picked up the classified section of the newspaper and scanned the appropriate listings. The same held true for real estate. If you were hunting for a job, where did you look? Of course, the want ads in the paper.

How about clothing, gifts, jewelry, golf clubs, books or even shoes? Well, you’d probably hit the mall for a tiring day of browsing, asking questions of a salesperson, trying things on, and lugging bags of purchases to your car.

How about tax services, medical consultation, planning a night out at good restaurant or pet grooming? Entertainment equipment, car insurance, office supplies or finding a local plumber? We used to pick up the yellow pages for all kinds of things we needed – you must remember those huge books filled with tiny type listing everything under the sun?

But we live in a brave new world. Today, practically everyone shops for everything online. Not only that, we use our credit cards to pay and have everything delivered to our homes or businesses for the ultimate in convenience.

So, how has that impacted how we reach our markets? Enormously! If you are still placing classified ads in the paper or buying expensive display ads in the yellow pages, you need to step back and reassess your decisions, which may be a little out-of-date.

Instead you should be capitalizing on all the free “yellow page” listing directories available online. This may take you some time to set up, requiring you to do some writing of short blurbs (otherwise known as paragraphs or “sound bites”) about your business, but are well worth the trouble for a couple of reasons. First, most people now use the Internet to find contact information for whomever or whatever they want to reach. And it is impossible to know which yellow pages they will use, so you need to be listed in all of them. But even more importantly, if you have a website, which you should, all those listings which usually include free links to your website, will help you with your SEO or search engine optimization. (That means that the time you invest in placing free listings will pay off handsomely by pushing your Google search rankings higher in search results if anyone is seeking your products or services online.)

I’m sure all the yellow page sales representatives will not appreciate my suggestions here. But, they are not the only ones whose printed products have fallen out of favor. I am still predicting the coming demise of the printed newspaper and many magazines, as much as I continue to enjoy sitting down to pour over the printed page when I get a few minutes. It’s probably just an old habit that I’ll need to break before it breaks me. First of all, as we age, our eyesight takes a turn for the worse, and seeing that tiny type in the paper is a lot harder than it used to be twenty years ago. Since I spend most of my days staring at my computer monitor, I take advantage of the enlarged type feature which makes it much easier to read. And although I consider the little time I spend reading actual magazines and newspapers as rare moments of luxury, to continue to do so in the future will probably only take place online or via electronic tablets or e-reading devices.

This means that if you run a business, your means of advertising must change as well. While you may feel you still reach the target audience you seek via a printed newspaper ad, which admittedly has become a lot more affordable when compared with rates charged in the past, you may change your tune once you explore the logic behind advertising on the Internet. Online text ads, in addition to banner ads (display “billboards” on the Internet) both of which appear in appropriately planned subject searches you control with pre-placement keyword decisions, are the modern, and perhaps, superlative method of target marketing. In much the same way we used to buy mailing lists to reach a certain segment of the demographic to which we were appealing via direct mail, today we can reach the markets we want by appearing within the subject matter of Internet searches. Granted, this is still quite new, but is evolving further as each day passes, clearly as the future of marketing.

Call me old-fashioned but I must say that direct mail can still be a lot more successful in its ability to land in a prospective customer’s hands compared with trying to elicit the click of a mouse from your customer’s scattered attention on the busy Google search results page! The advantage here is that the direct mailer if designed effectively has the power to keep the recipient interested with graphic influences of color, visual imagery and font size and selection. In comparison, the online text ad is just that, merely text, and looks like every other text ad on the Google page, giving you no greater edge to attract a click than anyone else. Whether the direct mail piece gets opened, read and responded to or whether it is immediately discarded without a glance continues to be the challenging factor to marketers everywhere. As with investing, there is no magic formula. To give a little guidance, if you are marketing to everyone anywhere, perhaps online text ads can make sense because of the large numbers of individuals which may possibly see your ad. That is provided your placement choices are in a popular area of interest. If your target is too small, then those numbers may dwindle considerably. While it is also possible to appeal to a small market in a small geographic area via online text ads, doing so successfully may require some diversification and support from other types of traditional marketing. At least until the Internet is the one and only means of marketing, or until Google is knocked off its Internet throne of infallibility.

With the proliferation of ways to enjoy the vast entertainment industry which includes radio, TV, movies, videos, games, and more, to name a few, investing marketing dollars into the right singular medium in a targeted market has become a lot more difficult. Trying to stretch your budget to appeal to the audience you want to reach can be frustrating with all the choices, distractions and short attention spans of most seekers of entertainment. From a marketing standpoint, and a 35-year history of experience, my advice would be to guard those dollars very carefully before making a rash decision about where to spend.

While I admit new venues have replaced old, some of the old choices still reach certain holdouts who refuse to accept today’s new technologies. Although few and far between, there are some markets still responsive to traditional yellow page, newspaper, magazine and other forms of advertising, which may justify maintaining a judicious presence within such media. It is hard to argue the merits of buying the back cover of the phone directories when thousands upon thousands will be delivered to countless homes even if viewed only that one time all year. The sheer numbers of that marketing reach are staggering. But to do so blindly into the future would be irresponsible if not totally wasteful, when there is now talk of “do not deliver” lists being added to the “do not call” rosters.

And when newspaper ads of huge proportion are sold for a fraction of the cost they once were, temptation sometimes trumps better judgment just for the momentary thrill of dominating the newspaper page for mere pennies. Any response is considered gravy.

This leads me to conclude that we are in a period of marketing limbo: some strategies are on their way out but the door has not quite yet slammed shut. The new strategies are a little intimidating but the old ones are much less effective. If you can bridge a balance between the two until time sorts out the survival of the fittest, marketing budgets will be preserved a bit longer and perhaps maintain a semblance of success despite the need to navigate seas of confusion, trepidation and obsolescence.




Often overlooked but incredibly important, the ALT tag helps tell search engines and visually impaired users the purpose of an image. It’s a great chance to add some important keywords to your code, but keep it sensible. Remember the golden rule of SEO; never make a website for a search engine, make it for your users. Spammed out alt tags will only harm your optimisation, keep it below 4 words and make sure it makes logical sense.

alt=”” src=”../images/logo.gif” />alt=”Something Logical” />


Bold Tag?

Never B always STRONG

and (bold and italics) are used purely for visual effect and mean nothing to search engines, where as and are semantics to add emphasis. Google will see something in a tag as more important than something in a tag. However, like everything in SEO it has to be used within reason, making your entire content bold will not help your rankings. The less times you use the tag on a page the more importance the one or two keywords wrapped in a strong tag will have.



This refers to a copy of a website stored on a search engine. Google as well as other search engines will let you view their current cache of a website via a link in their listings. It is important to stay on top of when your site was last cached, changes you make to your site will not get picked up on until the search engine includes them in their cache index.



“Lenin said that people vote with their feet. Well, that’s what’s happening. They either go, or they don’t go. It’s all politics. It’s all demographics.” – Warren Beatty

Demographics is crucial in any form of marketing, understanding your potential market, their ages, sex, race, income, location etc will help you lead a successful marketing campaign and will result in a higher conversion rate. AdWords and Adcenter, allow you to target PPC ads at searchers who fit amongst a specific demographic, doing this correctly can make the difference between a good PPC campaign and a highly profitable PPC campaign.



Major search engine indexes are continually updating and refreshing, Google coined this process ‘everflux’. Previous to this Google would update their index roughly one a month and this was referred to as a ‘Google Dance’.


Fresh Content

Some SEO firms see adding fresh content as simply updating a page once and again, if your a webmaster and you really want to rank highly in the search engines you will need a consistent flow of original high quality content. Firstly it builds the size of your site and secondly it shows the search engines your content is fresh and that people will want to read it. Low quality, short and unoriginal content will not help and will only jeopardise your rankings.



Google truly is the key player in the search engine world, it has revolutionised the internet and how people use it. Google started as a brainchild of two Stanford University students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998.

Now it has ventured into marketing, the browser wars, phones and online software development.



Where’s your heading at? Use headings accurately to structure your content, improve readability and transmit your site’s message. Make sure you get your important phrases in, but don’t start cramming. Analyse the importance of each phrase and fit with the appropriate heading,

H1 being the most important and H6 being the least. You don’t need to use all 6 on one page, just as many as you wish, also try and keep them in order so H1 first and H2 second. Using more than one H1 will take away from the importance of the tag, so only use it once or twice and make sure it is well written. I

Internal Linking

This refers to the process of linking to other pages on the same site, it can help users navigate the site and enable search engines to quickly find and crawl pages, which may otherwise not be linked in the navigation or footer. However, this is commonly misunderstood and a lot of SEO companies see the need to link each of their keywords, this isn’t necessary and it will only water down the importance of other links on the page and confuse your users.



Javascript is a client side scripting language, which is embedded into HTML to add more dynamic features to a website. Although Javascript itself isn’t indexed by search engines the HTML it controls is. So with the rise of javascript libraries including jQuery and Mootools, web developers are now able to add more interactivity and animation to their sites without using Flash.


Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

* Why have you chosen them?

* Are they relevant?

* How many people are competing for them?

* How many people are searching for them?

* How much is your competition spending on them?

Just a few questions you really need to be asking yourself at the start of your optimisation campaign. We have attached a few helpful links below to help you on your way to prosperous keyword research.


Link Building

Link building, when performed correctly is the process of gathering high quality links from around the web, which in hand show to the search engines that the site being optimised is authoritative, relevant, and trustworthy.

A few tips to get you on your way..

* Build high quality content, get high quality links.

* Be creative with your link building, think of new ways to gain high quality links, competitions, social bookmarking, april fools etc.

* More links doesn’t mean better links; it’s all about quality, not quantity!

* This is especially true for a new site, you need to ensure your first set of links are from high quality sites, if you plan on getting to page one anytime soon.

* Dmoz, although this has became a highly debatable subject in SEO over the last 6 months, Dmoz is still very much link worthy and authoritative.

* Never, ever, EVER use directory submission software or companies.

There are many more examples and we aim to cover this subject in much more detail in a new post during our SEO season. M

Meta Tags

Meta tags appear in the section of an html document and were a way of helping search engines analyse the content of your site.

Some of the Meta Tags include:

* Meta Description

* Meta Keywords

* Meta Distribution

* Meta Author

* Meta Language

All but the first (meta description) are not worth the time they take to implement into a site. Meta tags are no longer seen as a worthwhile SEO technique and will make no difference to your rankings. We have a slightly controversial view on these, however from experience we can honestly say that only the Meta description tag can help an optimisation campaign. And that is purely to do with the fact that it appears in your listing under your title in the major search engines. Use it to gain searcher’s attention and give them a reason to click through, mention your special offers, pricing, services etc.



Nofollow is a link attribute used to prevent a link from passing any link authority (PageRank, age etc) and is commonly used on user generated sites, such as blogs and forums. It was introduced by Google as a way to cut down on blog comment spamming. However, some blogs chose to remove this attribute and chose to reward their reader with a link back if they take the time to comment, this referred to a ‘DoFollow’.

The nofollow link attribute looks like this:



Organic Search Results

Most major search engine listings comprise of paid ads and unpaid listings. The unpaid listings are formed using the search engine’s algorithm and are called the organic search results. The organic search listings are selected by relevancy, link data, domain name and arguably age. Typically these are more popular than paid ads, hence why they appear on the left hand side and have more space compared to the paid adverts. Users also tend to see them as a more reliable and relevant source, meaning they have a higher click through rate. However, to appear on page one in the organic search results you will either need a high understanding SEO or a reliable firm.



PageRank is Google’s attempted scale at measuring a web documents importance based on its link capital.

Google describing PageRank

“PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages ‘important’.”

The PageRank formula is:

PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + … + PR(Tn)/C(Tn))

* PR= PageRank

* d= dampening factor (~0.85)

* c = number of links on the page

PR(T1)/C(T1) = PageRank of page 1 divided by the total number of links on page 1, (transferred PageRank) For any given page A the PageRank PR(A) is equal to the sum of the parsed partial PageRank given from each page pointing at it times by the dampening factor plus one minus the dampening factor.

A variation of Google’s PageRank appears in their toolbar, this is often referred to as ‘Toolbar PageRank’ and ranges from 1 to 10 (10 being the best), Google has yet to disclose any kind of precise info of how they determine a Toolbar PageRank value, it also updates periodically, on average once every 3 months.


Quality Links

These are the links you need to be aiming to achieve to start ranking in the search engines.

A trusted link can be broken down into the following categories.

* Relevance – The more relevant the link the more power it has, if you were optimising a veterinary website, links from internet marketing sites wouldn’t carry as much strength as links from somewhere like the RSPCA or another veterinary clinic.

* Trusted source – Authoritative links are the best kind of links. If you can build links from government or educational site you will have your foot in the door. However, this is no easy task, the best way to gain these kind of links is to be creative and think on your feet. See if your local council has any kind of local business directory.

* Age – Search engines tend to trust links from well-established sites over new websites.

* Amount of Links – The harder it is to gain a link the more value that link will carry and the less likely that your competitors will be able to get a link off of the same site. Take into account the amount of external links on that page, that’s one of the best ways to judge the strength of a link.


Reciprocal Links

This is where websites agree to trade links with one another to try and build a false authority. They made also use 3 way linking or other low quality link building schemes to try and trick the search engines. Overall this kind of link building is not recommended especially if the site you are trading links with isn’t relevant to your industry. Google will pick up on the fact that it is reciprocal and mark the link as a low quality link. However, It is worth considering developing a resources page where you can list useful websites and in case an opportunity comes along to trade with an authoritative and relevant website, you will have somewhere to place their link without spamming your homepage or any other important pages.



This is one of the SEO top buzzwords, SERP simply means Search Engine Ranking Position and refers to where your site is currently positioned in a search engine. You will hear this thrown around a lot in the SEO playground and you don’t want to look like the dumb kid, pretending to know what it means. It can be used in the following contexts.

“I’m not sure what happened to my SERP’s after I used that directory submission service, I have fallen 10 pages.”


Title Tag

Experts agree, us included, that this is the most heavily weighed piece of on-site optimisation.

Here are some points to help you on the way to writing a search engine and user friendly title for each page.

* Uniqueness – Each page title needs to unique for that page, do not have the same title for any two pages.

* Length – Try to keep it below 70 characters, anything over that will not only look messy but it will also get ignored by the search engines.

* Logical and Descriptive – Sum up your site and try to get your most important keywords in, however DO NOT spam this, it appears in the search engine listings and something like ‘web design, website design, web optimisation, search engine optimisation, SJL’ will not only get ranked lowly by Google it will also lower your click-through rate. We would recommend something along the lines of ‘Web Design & Search Engine Optimisation Specialists | SJL Web Design’.

U Usability

You may think usability and SEO are two completely different things, but getting visitors to your sites is only half the battle, the other half is getting those conversions. If your site is complicated and your users can’t find their way around, the whole point of optimising will become useless, because they will just leave and you will have a rocket high bounce rate.

So take into account the usability of your site, ask people who have never used it before just to browse it in front of you, watch them carefully, but try not to put them off. See if they become confused and take notes on where they experience problems and what could be done to improve them. If they can’t find things like a link to your contact page in less than 10 seconds your site may be losing you potential enquiries.


Viral Marketing

Apart from sounding like some kind of allergic reaction to a bad marketing campaign, viral marketing is an effective way of promoting your brand identity and increasing visitors to your website. Channels for viral marketing include emails, YouTube and simply enough word of mouth.



WordPress is a popular blogging platform created by Matt Mullenweg in 2003. Installing and maintaining a blog is great way to build a transparency for your business and forms a basis for trust between client and company. It also helps by adding a source of fresh content, which will help your site improve in the search engines. WordPress is easy to manage and with the abundant amount plugins and templates available it is highly recommended by us at SJL.


XHTML (Extensible HyperText Markup Language)

XHTML is a markup language that has the same depth of expression as HTML, but also conforms to the XML syntax. XHTML along with CSS has dramatically changed the way we build websites, if you are serious about appearing high in the search engines it is worth taking the time to get the coding right, even if it means hiring someone to do it for you. It may be tempting just to drop into tables or even just use the slice tool on photoshop or fireworks, however this is becoming increasingly outdated and you will have to do twice the work to get anywhere in the search engines.



We saw yahoo rise to fame during the dot-com bubble of the early 00’s. It was formed by Jerry Yang and David Filo in 1994, who were also Stanford University students like Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google. During the last 7 years we have seen Yahoo fall behind Google as the world’s most favorite search engine. Nowadays, Yahoo is heavily in the shadows of Google and its fate has been hanging in the balance throughout 2008, with multiple failed acquisition attempts by Microsoft.



Well sorry, I guess. This is the best we could come up with; Z isn’t one of the easiest letters to put SEO terms to. If you can think of anything better please drop us a comment below and we will consider adding it.

Anyway, Zeitgeist is one of Google’s tools for analysing search trends over time, split by country. It is describe by Google as providing ‘search patterns, trends, and surprises’. It can be a good tool for extensive keyword research and we applaud for being with the letter Z.

It is pronounced ‘tsIt-“gIst, ‘zIt’ if that helps and it means ‘the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.’

Article Written by Sam Logan, Senior Designer and SEO Consultant at SJL Web Design.

Find and Delete Duplicate Files on Your Computer

There is no denying that your computer’s performance can be affected by the number and size of files or, inversely, free space on your hard drive. Surprisingly, though the size of files does factor into the equation, the number of files, no matter how small, has a significant impact on your system’s performance. Why?

To use a silly analogy, imagine a garage or warehouse with empty shelves and a clear floor. If I place a single item anywhere in that building and ask you to find it, it shouldn’t take you too long. Taking the analogy a bit further, if I fill the shelves with items but carefully organize them, though your search may take a bit longer, it should still be fairly expedient. Finally, if I were to haphazardly fill the shelves AND heap things all over the floor, there is a chance you may never find a particular item.

Luckily for us, our Operating System (Windows, MAC OS or Linux) does a fairly good job of maintaining an index of files but, as you can imagine, searching through an index of 700000 items versus 7000 just plain takes more time. Although disk space, or lack of, isn’t the only factor that contributes to a slower computer, it is a considerable one. Regular disk management can help a lot. Perform frequent Disk Cleaning (I use CCleaner) to remove temporary and deleted files. Also, disk defragmentation helps speed things up by improving where your files are stored physically on your hard drive.

One thing many of you might not be aware of, however, is how many duplicate files may be hiding on your hard drive – taking up space and contributing to the overall number of files slowing down your computer. So if your computer was once blazingly fast but is now slower than molasses, in addition to performing regular disk cleaning and defragmentation, maybe you need a duplicate files finder!

What is a Duplicate Files Finder and why do you need it?

There may be thousands of duplicate files currently residing on your hard drive. The problem, as I see it, is “how do you find them and how do you sort it all out?” Of course, you could always go about it manually performing individual name searches and deleting duplicate files as they pop up but I doubt any of you would have the time nor the inclination. And I should mention that not all duplicate files have the same name. It’s not inconceivable that you could have two or three copies of the same file (image, music, video or document) scattered on your computer, saved under different file names. How do you go about finding those?

Well, the answer, quite simply, is to use a duplicate files finder. There are dozens of decent software for the job though my personal favorite is Doublekiller by BigBang Enterprises. To find out more about available free software to help you clean duplicates from your computer, Google “duplicate files finder”.

Search Engine Optimization and Design

Building an attractive even beautiful is the goal of most website designers. In the process, sometimes the effectiveness of the website is diminished. We need to keep in mind that our goal is not only to have a beautiful website that will make people want to stay and look around and enjoy, but also a website that will be helpful to the engines in determining what our website is about or what it is relevant to.

Udi Manber, Google vice president overseeing search quality, in response to a question about webpage content evolving to be more search engine friendly explained, “It’s definitely still lacking. I wish people would put more effort into thinking about how other people will find them and putting the right keywords onto their pages.” Popular Mechanics – April 16, 2008

Search engine optimization or SEO is arguably the most essential way to drive targeted traffic to your website because it leads to improved search engine placement. Optimizing the benefits of a well-designed web site will result in much more traffic coming to the website thereby generating income for the company publishing the website. With this fact in mind however, optimizing your website might cost you thousands of dollars if you are not skilled in this area. Good search engine optimization that leads to improved search engine placement will, on the other hand, bring you a much higher return on the investment of either time or money you put into it.

My goal in this article is to give you the basics of search engine optimization so that you can understand it and incorporate it to help you accomplish your task. This will help you to improve your relevancy and search engines rankings for the best results possible through proven search engine optimization techniques.

What are the major mistakes in design

First is is important to remember that search engines are machines and read words they don’t see images or pictures. The most common mistakes form a search engine optimization standpoint are:

  • Making a website totally in Flash(TM)
  • Images without alt tags
  • Minimal or nonexistent meta title or title tag

Flash(TM) to the search engines is just like an image it is invisible although the Flash(TM) may capture the intrigue of the viewer it won’t help the search engine to know what your website is about. While the text display as a part of the Flash(TM) my be rich in keywords and information it will be lost completely to the search engines and you will go unnoticed. Flash(TM) and pictures can be used to enhance a website but the site must have text in order to build relevance for the search engines.

In the same sense images are also invisible, however we can include alt tags that will give the search engines an idea of what the viewer will see. In fact the alt tags can be very helpful since the search engines will place a little more emphasis on the text in alt tags. Don’t go overboard using keyword phrases in the alt tags but use some to help where appropriate.

The title tag as well discuss later is an important place to tell the search engines what your webpage is all about.

Where do we start?

Why is search engine optimization (SEO) so important? SEO is important because this will make your website relevant to your keywords during the search engine ranking process and will lead to improved search engine ranking. This is the reason why some businesses hire an SEO company to do this task.

You can get information on low cost related services anywhere on the internet. However, few are really showing you how to work out an inexpensive plan for improved search engine placement. Some companies will even use antiquated techniques that may slow the process down. Good search engine optimization should help you to start improving the search engine ranking of your website and start driving traffic to it in a matter of days or weeks with expensive processes.

Search engine optimization begins optimally on your website, as you plan and build it. If it was not done at first you are not too late, you can do it after you have it built and go back and revise it to improve the exposure to the search engines and still lead to improved search engine placement. It consists of the following elements referred to as “onsite optimization”.

  • Keyword Research – choosing the primary and secondary keywords you will use on your website or webpage
  • Implementing the keywords naturally into important elements in the website header and body.

Keyword Research and Usage

Let’s start first with keyword research. Why is keyword research important? The keyword research helps us to find the keywords that connect us with our targeted audience. They are the words that we want to use on our website in a variety of ways to build relevancy on our webpage so when search engines find our website and view / crawl our pages, they will then index us for those keywords. Once that happens, then when those keywords are typed into the search engine by potential customers, the search engine will then display our site in the search results, which is how they tie us to our targeted audience.

Ideally you will use a reverse search tool that will enable you to type in words you think are keywords people would search for and which will tell you the number of times those keywords were searched for over a given period of time. Depending on the tool you are using and the databases and the search engines they have access to for their search results you will get different numbers in your reverse search results. Your search engine optimization professional will know and have access to these tools and which ones are appropriate for specific uses. These tools can significantly speed up the process of onsite optimization lead to quicker improved search engine placement.

One tool you can use for manual research is http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/search.html Keyword Discovery’s Free Search Term Suggestion Tool. It will limit your results to 100 keywords for any given search. Another manual search tool is http://tools.seobook.com/general/keyword SEOBook.com’s Suggestion tool. Both of these manual reverse search tools will allow you to find the keywords that people type into the search engines and how many times they were searched for. Remember keywords are how we connect with our targeted audience.

How Do I Use My Keywords Once we have identified the keywords, next we need to know where and how to use them for improved search engine placement. The first and arguably the most important place to use our keywords would be the title tag for your website. The title tag appears in the header of the page and is the first opportunity we have to tell the search engine what our page is about.

The title tag should be 60 – 80 characters in length and use one or two of the most important and/or relevant keywords for that page and possibly your website domain name, especially if your domain name includes keywords in it. The title tag information appears in the blue header bar at the top of the window and is also used as the title of your listing when your website is displayed in the natural or organic search results.

The meta description should be about 2 – 3 sentences or up to about 200 characters that describe for the customer and the search engine what the webpage is about. In the natural or organic search engine results, this description will be the first choice for the text the search engine displays beneath the title. This description does not appear on the website page when the website is displayed for the visitor but is readable by the search engine and used in the search results primarily.

A third meta tag is the keywords meta tag which is also not displayed to the visitor of the website. The keywords meta tag is a hold over from early methods of search engine optimization, but because it was abused by website developers, it is seldom use by search engines. We still use the keywords meta tag, but most search engines ignore it due to those previous abuses. Some search engines may still evaluate it and you never know when search engines may start to use it again. The Keywords meta tag is simply a list of up to 12 keyword phrases separated by commas.

The example below exclude the angle brackets due to this article being written in HTML but the angle brackets are the less than and greater than signs.

meta content=”Basic search engine optimizations concepts presented to give business owners and website developers and understanding of good SEO techniques…” name=”description” /” enclosed in angle brackets.

meta content=”keyword phrase 1,keyword phrase 2,keyword phrase 3,…” name=”keywords” /” enclosed in angle brackets

Your keywords used in the title, description and keywords tags now need to be used on the page to validate to the search engine that your page is actually about what you told the search engine that your page is relevant to. If the search engine doesn’t see any of the keywords on your page, then it can only assume that your page is not relevant to the words you used in the title, description and keywords tags in the header area of the web site.

Now that we know that we need text on the page how can we use that text to help emphasize the relevancy of the keywords on the page? Mechanisms such as header tags for headings using keywords will give more emphasis to keywords. Hyperlinks where the anchor text is a keyword phrase will add relevance to the keyword phrase and since the anchor text and the associated hyperlink reference are indexed by the search engines, using a keyword phrase as the anchor text both on the website and in offsite marketing will increase your ranking for that keyword phrase. Bolding and italics also draw some attention to the keywords for the search engine. Each page needs to have enough text on it to allow that page to demonstrate the relevance of the keywords it displays in the header of the page to the search engine, if true search engine optimization is to be achieved.

Lets take a look at some of the other tags mentioned in the previous paragraph. Header tags alert the search engine to more important text on the page, much like the headline on the page of newspaper does to the reader. A header tag is a tag that contain a “H” and a number between 1 and 7. The lower the number the larger the text and the more important it is to the search engine. H1 tags can be formatted using font tags to control the size or .css files to control the formatting.

Hyperlinks consist of at least two components. The first component is the link destination represented by the term “href” referring to the hyperlink reference and the anchor text located between the beginning and ending anchor tags. An anchor tag is an “a” in angle brackets and ending with “/a” in angle brackets. The beginning tag also include the destination reference. Remember that you you could use a keyword phrase in place of the word home to designate your home page. That keyword phrase would be a link and would help to build relevance for your website for that keyword phrase.

As we use these structures in combination in a natural way we then are able to help the search engine to know what our page is about and also create a page that is functional for the user.

To optimize your website well for the search engines you should use unique meta tags on each page on your website. The keywords should be used in:

  • The title tag – big three
  • Meta description
  • Meta keywords
  • Header tag – big three
  • Opening paragraph – about 4% density
  • Alt tags on all images and using keywords on about 3 images per page
  • Link / anchor text or hyperlinks – big three
  • Body of the page – about 4% density (visible text)
  • Closing paragraph – about 4% density

They should be used in such a way as to feel natural on the page. If the page feels awkward, then look for ways to reword the information on the page and make sure you are not forcing the keywords in too many times. This in combination with other activities to build your page rank are the best ways to get your page listed on page one of the search engines.

These strategies are what we call onsite page optimization. Each page needs to have its own unique page optimization for the content on that page. Don’t make the mistake of using the same title, description and keywords meta tags for every page on your site.

Using these strategies in conjunction with the design of your website will vastly improve your search engine placement.

SEO Tips to Get Your Website to the Top of Search Engines

When it comes to the success of digital marketing and finding new customers via the web, keyword optimization is one of the most important tools you can bet on. Keyword optimization or keyword research is the act of researching, analysing and selecting the best word or concept of great significance to your product, services or campaign in order to target and drive traffic from search engines such as Google to your website and other digital platforms.

Getting your website or blog on the first page of search engines can be a daunting task if you do not understand the fundamentals of optimization. Although this tutorial is not guaranteeing you the first place in major search engines, it does point out what one needs to do to be in the Search Engine Optimization game.

It is much easier than you think and this article is to guide, help and provide you with the basic and key for successful search engine optimization:

Step 1. Choose the right keywords

It is tough to be the best at everything and that includes Keyword Optimization. The first step of reaching the top of search results is identifying the right keywords. It can either be a single or multiple words or entire phrases. As you might already be aware of, most searches on the internet are made in the form of a question. Therefore, before you start writing down the keywords, you need to decide which keywords you want to focus on. These are the words people would type into the search engines in order to find your page, blog, website or product.

It is very essential that the word you choose as the keyword is broad enough for lot of people to search for on the internet, but narrow enough that you have a decent chance of getting a high search rank for it on the search engines and results.

For example, the word “shoe” is way too general. However, “Where can I find cheap shoes online” is a pretty good one. Similarly, the word “Europe” is way too general and Wiki sites will normally dominate these top spots. So, “the best holiday destination in Europe” is a much better phrase to focus on.

Here are my top tips for choosing the right Keywords:

1. Start with customers

Think about who your target audience or customers are. What are they likely to type into the search bar when they are looking for answers where your services can help them? Why not ask existing customers what they would search for?

2. Weigh up the competition

Although it is important for you to choose words that many of your target audience might be typing into search engines, they should not be words that bigger companies with the most muscles and bigger budget will compete for.

3. Use Google tools

Guess not only. Google has several good tools which can aid you find what is popular to search.

On Google Trends, a public web facility based on Google Search engine, shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages including a list of popular searches. You can also enter keywords and see how popular they are, compared with other phrases and ideas on similar terms – in order to choose the one that most are looking for.

You can also find keywords using Google’s ad tool AdWords. You do not necessary have to advertise, you can just create an account and select using the “Keyword Planner” under the “Tools” menu.

Step 2. Customise Your Content

Once you have successfully chosen your keywords, there are a few other things you need to do in order get your site ranked high on search engines. One of such things is content creation. You have to create and distribute relevant and valuable content (such as speech, writing, photograph or any of the various arts) that attracts and engages your well-defined target audience. Content marketing helps us to attract new customers and build loyalty with existing customers.

For existing customers, this could also mean they take part of the relevant content that creates additional sales by learning more about your offer, and is more expensive products/ services than they have done previously. The following are few tips to consider during content creation:

1. Working actively with texts

Use keywords in the title and preamble of all the pages. Also, include the keywords in the body, the much higher up it is in the text, the better it is for your ranking.

However, be careful not to use your keywords too much. Google may interpret your site as a nonsense page which is only trying to attract traffic and you go down in search results. A rule of thumb is that your content should feel natural and interesting. Which of course is also important for your visitors.

2. Do not forget your photos!

Rename even your photos with your relevant keywords. This will make it possible for search engines index them and you can get hit even in image search. If you have the opportunity to enter an alternative text for each image, do not let go of such an opportunity.

Step 3. Get visits and links from others

The most important thing for search engines is to deliver good and relevant results, remember that’s their primary business. Therefore, priority is given to websites that Search engines deems others rate high or think is good. An example is sites with links and many visitors who stay long to engage with the site. Therefore, this is really important to:

1. Make sure to get a lot of visits to the page

Ask family and friends to visit your website. Get the link or URL out there as often as possible, for example, you make a video, put it up on YouTube and the links there – but incorporate all the content on your site and link to it there.

2. Ask others to link to your site

Ask friends, business partners or customers to link to you, perhaps in exchange for a link back or share interesting tips in your field and let others get put up pieces of contents with a link to you.

3. Share your site on social media

Sharing your website and contents on social media (not forgetting Google+ Google for obvious reasons) is extremely important. It can provide visits to the website, more traffic, attention and higher rankings

4. Get visitors to share

Get others to share your site and contents on social media, using “share” buttons. AddThis is a one of the free tools allows you to instantly share or bookmark pages with one easy-to-use tool. AddThis can also get statistics on how much your content is shared.

Step 4. Revise the technical

Even how your site is built technically is important for your rankings. Here are some things you can do:

1. Use Google Webmaster Tools (Now Google Search Console)

The Google Search Console (aka Google webmaster) is an amazing tool which offers many tools that will aid you to thoroughly analyse your site. From this analysis, you can work on problem areas to make your site rank better on Search engines especially Google

2. Make Your Site Mobile Friendly,

With a good percentage of the world’s population owning mobile devices these days, it makes sense to make sure that your site is mobile friendly. Mobile users also expects good mobile experience when they visit site.

If your site is not mobile friendly, it may rank lower in searches from mobile phones. Google recently Google released a significant new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm that’s designed to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results, therefore you can’t go wrong with this offer.

3. Make sure the page is fast

A site that takes a long time to load will rank lower on search engines. Google has indicated in the past that site and page speeds is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages.

Page speed is also important to user experience, the slower your site/page speed the more likely you will have high bounce rate and lower average time on your site. Some of the great tools which can help you with your site speed is Google Pagespeed Insights and GTmetrix. This are tools that empowers you to make decisions that increase the performance of your website.

Step 5. Use Web Analytics Tools

Use analytics to measure the outcome of your efforts or to determine which areas of your site are doing well. Google Analytics offers free and enterprise analytics tools to measure website, app, digital and offline data to gain customer insights.

Example: Google Analytics enables you to track the visitors to your store, and generates reports that will help you with your marketing.

Under the “acquisition” in Google Analytics select “all traffic” -> “Channels” -> “organic search” so you can under the “keyword” to see which keywords drive the most traffic and the “source” which search engine. Using Google webmaster tools, you have access to them in Google Analytics under “acquisitions” -> “search engine optimization”.

Step 6. Use Google AdWords

Business regardless of size, wants to be found on the first page of Google. Getting seen by customers at the exact time they are looking for your information, products, services, deals or location is intent marketing (marketing based on someone intending to find your products), and it’s profitable.

Many businesses use Google AdWords to archive these by creating highly effective advertising campaigns to market their products and services, drive traffic to their website, and ultimately, increase sales.

I hope this article has given you an in-depth view of keyword optimization and you find one or more of the above tips useful.

Search Engine Optimization – What Not To Look For

Have you received emails spam emails from people promising to increase traffic to your website by making you rank high in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages)? We get them all the time. As a matter of fact Google states they even get these unwanted solicitations. Here’s an example of an email Google received in the past:

“Dear google.com,
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”

Funny huh? But how many people are responding to these ridiculous emails and spending lots of money with hopes that they can increase traffic to their website? What’s worse, many of these companies are actually able to brainwash their clients into thinking they really are benefitting! Companies that use these unethical business practices give the entire SEO (Search Engine Optimization) community a bad reputation.

Two Point Enterprise writes this article about what NOT to look for when shopping for SEO so that you may arm yourself to make an informed choice. We know of no better way to illustrate this article for you than to present a spam email we received from one of these rogue companies. Carefully read the email in the capture below, and then see our comments afterwards.

Click here to see a capture of the email

The subject of the email was “Do You Want Referrals from you Website?” (I guess they were in such a hurry to fire this email off they didn’t even take time to check the spelling.)

The first red flag is your receipt of the email in the first place! Check out Google’s Information for Webmasters and you’ll see that the very first thing they tell you is “Be wary of SEO firms that send you email out of the blue.”

The next thing the author of this spam email tries to do is make a feeble attempt of identifying themselves with real estate agents. Hence the words, “Location, Location, Location”. (Sorry partner, you ain’t jumping in bed with me.) Then they pay credit that you might already have a nice website, but if traffic could be increased could potentially drive millions of customers and billions of dollars to your website. They rule out pay-per-click services apparently without giving credit that real estate is actually one thing pay-per-click can work fairly well with, namely in large cities. Finally, as with all spam emails like this, they believe they have the solution you’ve been looking for!

We couldn’t help but chuckle a little at the next line where they increase the font size and announce, “It’s Here!!!! & Satisfaction is GUARANTEED!!!!!!!!” (One more exclamation point and I think everybody in the office might have wet their pants.) Seriously though Mr. Spam Email Author, what’s here? Is it SEO services with a perpetuating monthly fee to guarantee yourself recurrent income? I hate to crash the party, but SEO was around a long time before you registered your domain on September 24, 2004. And monthly fees were invented a long time ago too. I will give them a little credit for putting a guarantee on your satisfaction rather than your ranking. Rule #2 from Google is, “No one can guarantee #1 ranking.” They don’t tell you how they guarantee your satisfaction in the email though. I’d be surprised if it’s a 100% money back guarantee. I’ll bet they have it set up where they end up pocketing money some way or another. If they can brainwash you into thinking they are doing a good job they don’t have to give any money back.

The next thing this spam email does is make an attempt to establish credibility for themselves. They want you to go to a search engine and search for the massive, non-competitive five keyword phrase “neighborhood prospecting websites for realtors”. If the reader hasn’t deleted the email and flushed it through their recycle bin by now they’ll see that the company that sent this email currently ranks #1 for this search. We plugged the five word phrase into a Google AdWords campaign and put a bid of $5 on it. After submitting, Google automatically adjusted the price down to $0.02 (because that’s how much it’s worth), assigned it the top position on the page (because there is no competition for that phrase), and estimated that our cost per day for the phrase would be $0.00 (because nobody in the world would be searching for that). So big deal guys if you are the #1 result for “neighborhood prospecting websites for realtors”. That’s because nobody else wants it!

Now look down a little further and see what we have here! Well if it isn’t an intellectual property and trademark infringement against the search engines, Google, MSN, and Yahoo!. I’d be willing to bet that these search engines didn’t authorize any use of their registered trademarks. Also I don’t see any notice at the bottom identifying the rightful owners of the trademarks, nor do I see the author disclaim himself from any affiliation with these search engines. Subtle little images like this can mislead the reader into thinking some kind of special relationship, or affiliation, has been radified with the search engines. Google says “beware of SEOs that allege a ‘special relationship’ with Google”. My guess is that Google has no plans of entering into some sort of strategic partnership with these whiz kids any time soon.

Next we have the sign-up button where we can make our monthly donation to these people. How thoughtful of them to make the button so nice and big. We don’t want to miss when we try to click it with our mouse!

At the very bottom they try to stay with the rules and offer you and itsy bitsy link to opt out of future emails from them. Unless they are conpensating you, why should you have to take time out of your day to opt out of this email you didn’t ask for in the first place? Good luck with that, by the way. Two weeks ago we received this email and we asked them to stop sending us spam. They replied and told us we received it because we signed up for something, which we know damn well we didn’t. However, we cut them some slack and dismissed it. Then on 3-2-2006 we received this same email again after we told them 2 weeks before to stop emailing us!

Hope you enjoyed the article! Good luck with your SEO!

Changes We Are Going to Experience in the SEO World in 2017

“A year can change a lot” – something very truly said. And when it comes to a world where change is occurring every other minute we need to scrutinize and review what all things needs to be addressed in order to keep moving. The world of SEO continues to change at lightning speed. SEO value is increasing everyday so there’s a high demand to figure out and rethink optimization strategies. For better optimization of strategies we need to be aware of the changes we are going to encounter in the coming time. Here are some important changes that we’ll be experiencing some time soon:


We have entered in the third screen world. The first screen involved big room size computers fashioned by Charles Babbage in 1990’s, then came in desktop screens, what we refer to as Personal computers (PCs) and now we have entered into the world where we opt for mbile phone screens for anything and everything and all this proactively works for creating a new Mobile ecosystem. So this requires to kick off on creating responsive mobile websites.

Statistical data and Facts:

• 95% smartphone users put location-based site links.

• Huge traffic can be drawn to mobile friendly sites as more than 1.5 billion users use mobiles instead of any other screen.

• A good UI (user interface) the engages good amount of prospect’s for longer period of time.

• 15% of all Internet traffic is mobile traffic, globally. (Source: Newtarget. com)

• 70% online action within an hour comes from Mobile searches. (Source: Socialmediatoday. com)

Social Media

SEO usually puts all the keywords people and more specifically targeted audience are inquiring for. Your audience is no longer in one place. People use other mediums to communicate their requirements, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Discussion panels or forums such as Yahoo answers, Quora etc. and directly browse on web, now the trend has changed and is more on phones. Keeping this in mind, plenty of brands has grown mobile-friendly in 2015. Social media is all about building a brand and spreading awareness about the prospects. To increase your ranking in Google search you need to have good reputation on social media that implies good network and active presence on social sites. That acts as a helping hand in having a great SEO rank.

Becoming more available or Real time is the key i. e. Audio Input to Search is a preferred mode

Nowadays, people prefer audio search instead of typing keywords for search just because of its convenience factor, specially when someone is driving or is engaged in multitasking. Almost all mobile devices have a voice search function. With audio search having so much of appealing power, most of the software companies, nowadays, focuses on audio search interface. Some like Microsoft, Google, and Apple have launched their own versions of advanced voice-responsive assistants – Cortana, Google Now and Siri, respectively. Even ‘Domino’s Pizza’ has a ‘voice-ordering feature. Allo, Whatsapp, and many more. However,

1. Long tail Keywords: When people carrying out with audio search they are more likely to ask questions like why to…? How to? When to? etc. these sentences come under long tail keywords category.

2. Know your Prospects: It’s always beneficial to use those keywords your target audience is searching for. Hence being aware of the keywords and usage of long tail keywords is a gateway to success and in real time could be an added advantage to it.


Backlinking or internal linking shall help you in engaging the right prospect who has come to your website. It’s not a new SEO technique but a very important one to keep the customer engaged once he has shown his interest.


1. USE ANIMATED DATA instead of text content: Content having animation pictures with tag lines is more likely to be preferred over text as its more user engaging.

2. USE SLIDER INSTEAD OF TEXT CONTENT: A Slider is considered to be a quick way to deliver an overview about a website to the visitors and in a more effective manner than just an image. Helps user to understand without putting in much effort.

3. SMALL VIDEO: A website named http://www.vimeo.com/ and many others help you create and share videos that furnishes and delivers your content in a more effective manner. Small videos would be like cherry on the cake.

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