SEO Tips Made Easy From ScentTrail

Easy SEO Tips from ScentTrail

SEO Doesn’t Have To Be Hard

Just shot a video with our resident photographer Andrew Bartlett. Our conversation reminded me Search Engine Optimization doesn’t have to be so HARD. Here are five easy tips we discussed:

  • Keywords In URL (when possible).
  • Keywords in image Alt Text.
  • Tell A Story With Keywords.
  • Content With Call-To-Actions is Key.
  • Be Consistent (with other marketing).

Keywords In URL

Andrew owns but he felt the URL was too long. I would have used the longer URL because Andrew told me he gets most of his work from social media (Pinterest and Facebook). Given the source of most of his work URL length is more a SEO play than anything, and may be harder to remember. In this case, I would have used the longer more keyword dense URL. Andrew actually made his job harder, harder but more instructive.

Keywords In Image Alt Text

Andrew made sure Andrew Bartlett Photography was in his image alt text. This tweak has helped his images show up in Google search driving a new source of traffic. Don’t over stuff, but when you take a picture using “Andrew Bartlett Photography” is relevant and NOT keyword stuffing. Pictures are GREAT this way. Pictures create an ability to use the same attribution text over and over and NOT get penalized.

Tell A Story With Keywords

I write flow of consciousness but edit out as many “stop words” as possible. Stop words are words that have no meaning to a search engine spider such as “they”, “him”, “it” and conjunctions such as “and”, “but”, “thus”. Write short subject/verb sentences. Be specific. Don’t say “it” when you mean “seo tips” since the later is much more powerful and NOT a stop word.

Content With Call-To-Actions Is King

Andrew had a one and done problem. His web metrics showed people were most likely to click on images, this is not uncommon, but few looked at more than one post. He solved this problem brilliantly by adding a simple, small but powerful Read More button

easyseo_readmoreAndrew saw a great improvement in key heuristic measures such as time on site, pages viewed and return visitors thanks to adding the Read More button. I like BIG buttons and the text above the image isn’t doing much for engagement of customers or SEO. I would eliminate the text above the image and make the Read More button huge to get yet another jump in viewership and the heuristic measures such a jump brings.

Be Consistent With Other Marketing

Andrew wanted to make sure he out ranked the existing #1. He watermarks all of his images Andrew Bartlett Photography so every move he made was to make sure people who type that search see him first. I think he has some work to do on consistency such as:

Add Social Share Buttons to content and make sure social link buttons (Facebook and Pinterest are on top of every page. This creates scentTrail for the traffic coming from social media (they can use the button as a back button to confirm yes this is the guy I want). My SecentTrail Pinterest took a jump when I verified by blog. Good idea for Andrew to do to reinforce consistency and legitimacy.

Look for the video on Raleigh web developers Atlantic BT where I am Marketing Director. Should be up soon.


Apple’s Profitable Gamification

Apple’s Gamification

It was right there all the time. Apple is a game. The biggest company on earth doesn’t make the most popular anything, but everything it sells is intensely
profitable. Why?

Apple's Gamification Claw Machine

Gamification And The Claw Machine

If you’ve been anywhere near these drop the hook, grab the stuffed animal machines you know it. They have a sing-song, “There’s No Limit To What You Can Win,” metronome call to action. A few weeks ago I watched a mother and ten-year old son feed $20 in to try more than ten times to capture one of the prized stuffed animals.

This mother didn’t look like she had twenty to spare to play an absurd game, but, once started, she had trouble walking away. Her ten-year old insisted the next drop of the claw would reward all the time, effort and money. It never did.

The total wholesale value of all the stuffed animals in the machine was not much more than the twenty the mother and the boy spent. Stuffed animals without gamification are worth a few dollars each. Stuffed animals with gamification are worth many multiples of their wholesale prices. Price of all stuffed animals in the box wholesale? I would guess less than $100. Value of those same stuffed animals with the claw? Let’s do some math.

I watched the mother and son get 2 stuffed animals from their 20 tries or 1%. If the box holds 200 stuffed animals and the 1% hit hate holds it will take 20,000 drops of the claw to clean out the cage. How do you turn an investment of $100 into a $20,000 return? Gamification.

Apple Stores and Apple’s Big Silver Claw

Apple lives on perceived exclusivity and tribal gamification. Social status is granted for those who are lucky enough to drop the clay into an Apple store and come away with a new phone, laptop or desktop computer. The apple store is a huge stuffed animal game box.

I’m writing this post on a MacBook Air, just answered a call from my mom on my iPhone and have dropped the claw many times in the giant silver box. Apple has the same dynamic as the claw game. Computers without the gamification are worth half of what they are worth with it.

The Cost Of Playing The Claw Game

If he mother and son didn’t score the two wins they would have never played again. If we weren’t able to buy the latest Apple gear eventually we wouldn’t play. Apple must know how far they can push a backorder without spoiling the illusion of their gamification. Stall too long and the game doesn’t matter.

Make it too easy, make Apple’s stuffed animals too ubiquitous, and the game loses its value for the players. Just as the mother and son will report success at the game to their friends possibly inspiring more play we share our Apple badges of courage too. Part of what keeps the game alive is generations of players sharing their stories.

The cost to Apple of playing the claw game is a need for just enough innovation to keep the game alive. Apple created the concept of the iPad, iPhone and portable music. These innovations fill up the big silver box with more profitable stuffed animals. The box is about half empty, so time for a new round of Apple stuffed animals is approaching fast. If the box ever approaches empty the game is over. No one wants to pay to drop a claw without challenge or choice. No one plays that game.
Interested in Gamification? Read my Gamfication: Winning Hearts, Minds and Loyalty Online whitepaper for Atlantic BT.

Five Types Of Courage II

Five Types Of Internet Marketing Courage I don’t feel courageous today, so it is a good day to write about courage. My first post on the Five Types of Internet Marketing Courage discussed the courage for self-examination. The web is a huge amplifier, so knowing who you are, what you stand for and how what you do saves the world a little are all important things to know.

You might wonder what I know about courage. I’m a cancer survivor, but that alone doesn’t mean I’m courageous. When I visited the Children’s Pediatric Center at UNC’s Lineberger Cancer Center yesterday I saw courage. Children playing with chemotherapy IV polls next to them is an inspiring sight.

In the summer of 2010 I set out on a bicycle ride from the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham to the Santa Monica pier in LA. I needed to know how much courage was in my tank. What could I take. Turns out, like all of us, I can take more than my imagination could dream. Martin’s Ride To Cure Cancer taught me courage is not being fearless. Courage is being more afraid than you’ve ever been and riding on.

We are all courageous. I use examples from my life in this post, but you have the same examples. We are the same. I’m no more or less courageous than anyone. We all wake up and fight the dragon one more day. We care about others and find the courage to live, love and find joy. Yesterday at the UNC Pediatric Cancer area children were children and joy was joy cancer or no. This post is about applying that lesson to Internet marketing by finding the Five Types Of Internet Marketing Courage:

Internet Marketing Courage #1 Courage To Examine Yourself

I covered this courage on my first post. In that post I talked about knowing yourself, “Warts and all”. No one is perfect. Internet marketing happens faster and faster. One idea you must give up to be a GREAT Internet marketer is the belief you are the kind of person who never makes mistakes. Sorry you are going to make mistakes. Mistakes often teach more faster than success, so as you conclude self-examination recognize and let go of any perfectionism as it will not serve you well and limit becoming a GREAT Internet marketer.

Internet Marketing Courage #2: Courage To Play Like A Child

I’m writing this post today because I was so moved by visiting the Children’s Pediatric floor at UNC yesterday. Children play with anything, anyone and at anytime. Yesterday was Halloween, so PLAY was the order of the day. Nurses were dressed as characters from the Grinch and children were laughing and playing.

To “play like a child” you must let judgment go. Judge and you lose the thread. Judge and you lose a potential play partner. Judge and you are the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Think not judging people or situations with those knee jerk fast muscle twitches is easy? Try it. Go out tonight and accept whatever and whoever you see. Talk to two strangers. Accept whatever they say. Whoever they are. Now go home, play like a child and create some GREAT Internet marketing.

Internet Marketing Courage #3: Courage to FAIL

There are NO FAILURES in Internet marketing. I don’t mean everyone gets a trophy. Internet marketing costs money, time and ego. Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction. Even “failure” produces enough ashes that a Phoenix can rise again.

Lots of people TALK about having the courage to FAIL, few walk the walk. I’ve bet my 401K four times and have FAILED according to some. I’ve created 9 products you can’t find in a store. I ran into one of my products the other day, Poetryslam a Scrabble-like board game, on a game review site. Poetryslam had a pretty good review despite the fact I would NEVER do what I did then now (lol).

Internet marketing has a single epic failure – inaction. The web is almost sentient, almost a living breathing thing. It moves even if you don’t, so inaction creates the kind of pressure that can sweep you from the board. If you want to be a GREAT Internet marketer you will need to give up your fear of failure. You will need to refine what “failure” is or means.

Learn one thing, and you always do, is no failure here. Failing in the same way over and over is almost impossible. Even if you try you can’t do it because variables change and the web moves on its unstoppable track to infinity. Internet marketing is a train, a train you must get ON, hang on and hope it doesn’t toss you off. When it does, and believe me it will, GREAT Internet marketers dust off and run after the speeding bullet that just tried to crush them.

Internet Marketing Courage #4: Courage To Act

You may think of yourself as a man or woman of action. Good, now I’m going to trap you in a burning house with that rock music the CIA uses to drive our enemies crazy playing so loud your brain hurts then we will start randomly hitting you with a huge cushion and opening up a fire hose as you attempt to escape being whacked with the cushion. The final insult is we are going to speed time up so you have to make decisions very fast or your situation gets worse. Now act.

Coming down mountains on a bicycle at greater than 60 mph during Martin’s Ride To Cure Cancer is a good analogy for Internet marketing courage. The wrong idea at the wrong time would ruin my day (lol). When you ride so fast a mistake can kill you, your mind races but is calm and confident too. You settle down because the situation is clear. Sun Tzu talks of the courage of having nothing to lose.

This is NOT to say I never made a mistake on a bicycle at 60 mph. This is to say the mistakes I made on a bicycle or as an Internet marketer were usually the lesser of two evils. The key was to survive, learn and get better. Live to tell the story and the next story will be even better. Live to tell the story and you have courage.

Internet Marketing Courage #5: The Courage To Love

Love is the Killer app to quote Tim Sanders, a favorite author. In the middle of chaos, crushing speed and noise you must find, appreciate and create love. The Internet isn’t a JOB it is a belief system, a philosophy. The web isn’t about making millions, being all-powerful or loved by millions because of a simple human truth I may know a tad better than you.

We die, time is short and precious.

I read something important right after my cancer diagnosis. The author, I’ve forgotten who, wrote that knowing our mortality is important but can’t be what we care or think about every minute. My first reaction after hearing I have cancer was, “Now I can’t make my ride”. I asked my oncologist, Dr. Hank van Deventer at UNC, if he could treat me like Martin’s Ride To Cure Cancer was the most important thing. I explained that longevity wasn’t as important to me as realizing a dream and riding a bicycle across America. “I can do that,” he said and he did.

I’m in bonus time now (lol), so I’m most interested in sharing and giving things away. GREAT Internet marketers know life’s comedy and tragedy. Greatness may be defined by those who can create and share love, those who can help others, those who understand life’s situation and go on anyway.

By that measure I too am courageous. Was I a GREAT Internet marketer? I can’t answer that question since tomorrow is another day and there will be new dragons to slay. Let’s slay them together and then sit on the ground and tell tales of the death of kings and ride bicycles at the speed of sound or as close to it as we are likely to get.

Do you have the 5 types of courage needed to be a GREAT Internet marketer? The answer to that question is always YES.

Share your stories of Internet marketing courage. We are always more courageous together than alone.


Five Types of Courage

Courage Quote from Aais Nin

Five Types of Courage: An Internet Marketing Fable

Time For An Ever Expanding Life

I’m sorry you weren’t here in the late 1990’s. Internet marketing didn’t exist yet. I built and launched, my first website now RIP, in November of 1999. I had time to think about the site’s Mondrian grid lines for months. I couldn’t find a reasonable price for HTML. There was time to learn HTML and write the code.

Not so much anymore. Time is gone compressed into an ever more chaotic NOW.

It was easy to be courageous then because no one knew any better and the bet was small. Strangely, our current environment is the same. Sure there is more NOISE, but greatness and truth remain in short supply. Most people copy others a dangerous tendency in Internet marketing.

Courage Wins

Don’t fall into the trap. Don’t copy. If something is confusing work to understand it. Understanding is the bridge to every successful Internet marketing I’ve ever created. Here are just a few things you MUST understand to create great Internet marketing:

  • Yourself warts and all.
  • Your products warts and all.
  • Your customers.
  • How your customers FEEL, THINK and ACT (not always the same).
  • How you save the world (everyone does in some way).
  • Why your customers love you.
  • Why your customers hate you.
  • Your competition.
  • Your business ecosystem (called “business vertical”).
  • Your tendencies (if x happens you usually do y).
  • What to do next.

All of this information is available, but not in the same place. Take an inventory. Find what is missing and print it out., paste it on the wall. Look at it like a series of paintings. Add to it, subtract from it, edit what is there. Do Pinterest on your office wall so others can see, contribute and comment.

Internet Marketing Courage #1 is The Courage of Self Examination

Tomorrow Internet Marketing Courage #2. Can you guess what it will be? Tweet your ideas to @ScentTrail.

5 Visual Marketing Tips

The Secret Life Of Pictures ScentTrail Marketing

Walker Evans, Cuba

5 Visual Marketing Tips To Increase Conversion

If content is king after Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm changes then visual content is Queen. Visuals create engagement. You see increased engagement in key website metrics such as Time on Site, Pages Viewed and an increase in repeat visitors. Images, arresting visuals, as newspapers and magazines have always known, are key to getting your content read.

Visuals also play an active role in any website’s design and traffic patterns. Images guide your visitors’ eyes and block their engagement with your website. If “block” sounds like your website is a stage play that is because it is in a way. Since images are so important to websites and websites are so important to marketing here are 5 tips to help use images to increase conversions on your website.

Visual Marketing Tip 1 – Follow The Eyes

Visitors follow the eye line of people pictured on your website. In the Walker Evans image above the man on the left is looking off the page. Good idea to put a Call To Action where people in pictures on your website are looking. The man on the right is looking straight out at the view. That view increases engagement though I would prefer a less menacing look if the image was on an e-commerce website (lol).

Visual Marketing Tip 2 – Blocking with Picture

People’s eyes tend to trace picture borders. This creates “hot spots” immediately below and to the right of images. The larger he image the more displacement of attention and the more this effect is increased. Here is an example of a recently suggested redesign. The Call-To-Action area on the right is made powerful by the large “Hero” image (Hero is term Internet marketers use for the largest image on a webpage.

Visual Marketng Image Blocking exmple on Scenttrail Marketing blog

Visual Marketing Tips 3 – Avoid Trapping Engagement

Images can be helpful or hurtful. Images that don’t enrich a storyline create confusion and dissonance hindering engagement. Images that aren’t blocked into the content well, that don’t include clues about how they relate to the content around them can strangle clicks. Make sure your images support the content on the page. People like to click images too so be sure where they end up, when clicking on an image, is related to the image in a meaningful way and there is scent trail, a sense of breadcrumbs issuing from the previous location.

Visual Marketing Tips 4 – Avoid The Roll

I’m going to sound old school, but don’t use large heroes with aggressively timed rolls. When an image changes it shouts LOOK AT ME. Attention must be redirected and split. Rolls are a form of SHOUTING and so should be used sparingly if at all. Keep the page quiet and let your visitors decide where they want to go. Watch your metrics and accentuate the path your visitors create. If you must use a roll do so SLOWLY and no more than 3 different images in the roll. I am not a FAN of rolls despite their ubiquity. Just because everyone is doing something doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do.

Visual Marketing Tip 5 – Avoid Stock Photography

Stock photography is inauthentic and bland. The best use of stock is to change-up the angles so it looks less bland and stock-y. The problem is the people all look too Stepford Wives-like. If you MUST use stock let your best designer carve it up with angles or filters so it looks more like YOU and less like some idealized version of you. The web is about being REAL, sharing your passions and sticking to your truth whatever that is. When you use right out of the can stock it undercuts your visual marketing