Thursday, May 31, 2007

Keyword Analysis - The First Step in SEO

There is a lot of confusion about just what search optimization (SEO) is. There are a number of steps involved, but the first and most important step is to do a keyword analysis to figure out what key words people use when they search for a product or service via one of the search engines like Google or Yahoo.

Here are the basic steps for a keyword analysis:
1) Take a look at your client’s key messages, and jot down the words and phrases that stand out.
2) Go to
3) Enter your keywords and or phrases and copy the results for searches per month containing the keyword phrase(s) into an excel spreadsheet. One column is for the search term and the other column is for search volume.
4) Go to and enter each keyword phrase one at a time. Just above the search results on the right hand side on Google is a line with results 1-10 of about NUMBER for each keyword phrase.
5) Enter the value of this number in the third column (heading of Competition) for each of your keyword phrases. Repeat for all the keyword phrases you can think of. Then sort your spreadsheet under search volume column in descending order.
6) Now look for applicable keyword phrases that have high search volume and low number of competition...these are the keyword phrases you will want to use--the PRIME keyword phrases.

Use your keywords in press releases, online articles, and link to your website with links that use your keywords. All of this will help your website's rankings in the organic listings of the search engines so people can find your site when the use the same keywords.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What Makes a Good SEO Client?

Too often clients are their own worst enemies when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO.) Either they are totally unknowledgeable about the SEO process, or they possess just enough knowledge to be truly dangerous. Or worse yet, they trust their website designer to know and understand SEO. This can lead to a lot of frustration as well as bad results.

Just as we listen at first, do our homework and get into our clients challenges, we expect our clients to do the same. Good clients listen to what we know, and let us do our jobs. Bad clients take weeks to OK something we recommend. What only takes us about two hours to do for a good client ends up taking a month or more for a bad client.

One universal truth is that clients expect instant gratification - no matter how much we explain that this is unrealistic when it comes to SEO. In the case of the good client, results start showing up in about 30 days from the start date. But in the case of the bad client, results start showing up in about 60 days from the start date. The good client is thrilled, and the bad client blames us for delays.

Sometimes it gets even worse. The bad client has a project traffic manager who is clueless. This person often vetos several critical steps to the SEO process because they can't seem to comprehend their necessity. For instance it doesn't matter how many times we explain that optimized copy has been carefully crafted for keyword inclusion, placement and density, the traffic manager sees themselves as a wordsmith so they endeavor to rewrite copy, leaving out keywords, ignoring keyword density, etc. Then, once again, they point to the SEO as failing when in fact it was their misguided efforts at writing that were the cause for failure.

How do bad clients become good clients? They understand that social media and SEO are simply the latest tactics being used online in marketing, and this is no different than marketing, PR and advertising was back in the old days. The Web is merely another channel in which to market through and we have many exciting new tools to use.

The bottom line is that what we do as marketing and PR professionals requires skills just like other professions, and if you didn’t study it back then, you probably won’t know how to do it today either. So good clients just let us do our jobs and report back with the good results we can now measure, unlike the old days where it was hard to measure the results. Check out the case history below for one of Mike's "good" clients, and see the "good results" they have been getting since 1996.

Challenge: In 1996, Pacific Islands Reservations represented three vacation rental properties in Hawaii. The challenge was to grow the business of Pacific Islands Reservations in a cost effective manner using the Internet.

Solution: Using SEO white hat tactics, PacificIslands Reservations has grown from one website in 1996 to twelve websites in 2006 while maintaining top ten rankings in Google, MSN and Yahoo! throughout the period. During the same period, Pacific Islands Reservations has increased the number of properties it represents from three to 250. As search engine optimization and marketing has evolved, so to have the tactics used. When pay-per-click made its debut with (now overture which is owned by Yahoo!) Pacific Islands Reservations was one of the first twenty clients. Pay-per-click advertising was dropped in December 2004 when the ROI could no longer be justified. Other tactics that have been employed with success have been blogs, RSS news feeds, electronic press releases, link building and continued application of white hat search engine optimization tactics.

Result: Pacific Islands Reservations has grown from one full time employee to six full time employees. Along the way it has bought out several competitors and is the acknowledged leader in vacation rental reservation services in Hawaii. Revenues have expanded 400 percent in the last three years alone.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Content is King in Online Technology and Globalization

A new report by Forrester Research says, "most companies get involved in social media in a haphazard way - a blog here, a podcast there - with no coherent web content strategy based on audience needs."

MarCom has been ahead of the curve in online technology because we have been focusing on technology and software companies over the last twenty years, and those companies are the ones that developed online technology. Now it's going global, and other industries are catching up fast.

One of our more recent clients is in another field - the medical industry. The Wiley Protocol has a fabulous content-rich website - We started working with the company in December, 2006 and the first thing we did was a keyword analysis. The company specializes in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy - a hot topic these days among 40 plus women, and now, the US Senate thanks to a new law circulating that could limit compounding pharmacies. Their audience is pretty clear cut. Consumers, doctors, and compounding pharmacies. This means we have content being developed to use, as I say, "six ways to Sunday." On the website, in press releases both online and offline, newsletters to consumers, doctors and pharmacies, at trade shows, online in articles, blogs, forum posts, podcasts, radio and TV shows, and more.

The company's website designer used the open source content management product called Joomla. It's free, and actually pretty easy to use. The first problem we encountered was that because Joomla uses Global tagging, it's challenging to optimize the site's Meta tags and pages. But my associate Mike Keesling is going to be able to do it now that we were trained in using Joomla. Next we needed to be trained for an hour on how to write, edit, add images and disseminate one of two newsletters via Joomla. Not to mention how to use the mailing management tools for the lists of those who signed up via RSS feeds. After an hour of training this weekend, I edited my newsletter draft and then didn't hit SAVE, so I lost it all. Today it took another couple of hours to revisit, rewrite, and I still have to figure out how to add my images. Learning these tools to save time is money in our business.

We look at all this as an investment in our future. There are other more customizable content management tools such as - and this company's version 2 will be set up for easy optiomization. But the bottom line these days is that as marketing practitioners, we all need to invest the time in learning how technology and globalization is changing our trade, because it's not going to stop growing and changing any time soon.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Launching Early Stage Companies

Last evening one of our clients launched a new product that will help real estate agents get a leg up on the competition. Dogtor Paco™ technology ( provides end-to-end electronic mortgages locked in 30 minutes. We held a small cocktail gathering so people could view and interact with the product, a great tactic for early stage companies and products. We had excellent feedback, especially from the mortgage brokers in attendance, and this venue even allowed guests to show us, or demonstrate, what they were already using. Of course when we compared Dogtor Paco afterwards, there was no comparison -- Dogtor Paco always came in first -- as a mortgage calculator and loan organizer that's transforming real estate financing.

As a marketing and PR practitioner, these kind of events provide valuable resources for customer testimonials - because we can go back to them after the event with a customer Q&A and obtain publishable testimonials which can be used on the client website and in press and marketing materials.

We also offered those who attended our event a discount on the product subscription, and an incentive for recruiting others to try Dogtor Paco. The evening's discussions also brought forth new key words and key word categories that we will be using in the client's Search Engine Opitimization (SEO) efforts. Our advertising and branding expert Brad Stone watched the demonstrations and what people said very carefully and in the end has some ideas for what he needs to do to begin a branding and advertising campaign. But perhaps best of all, the venue also provided a unique forum for which we actually discussed some very valuable co-marketing opportunities with other special guests.

In the end, inviting people and employees to an end-of-the week gathering from 4 to 7 PM to learn about your products and services can be an excellent way to garner new marketing and PR ideas, thank employees for their hard work, and ultimately grow a business while having some fun doing it.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Latest Trends in Online Marketing

Yesterday was a great day. At 8 am I attended the Los Angeles PR Newswire morning breakfast networking event, which is starting up again. In the afternoon I helped a collegue by being a guest speaker at his Cal State Northridge class of 30 graduating PR students. They have a great understanding of traditional PR but they had NO idea what I was talking about insofar as some of the online marketing and PR tactics that I shared, and they were fascinated.

The breakfast event speakers included the new executive editor of the LA Times website, Kate Coe, Editor of's Fishbowl LA, and Coco Conn, who is manager of social media for As I listened I realized that what my associates and I have been doing over the last year or two is so far ahead of the "curve" in online marketing, that we need to start teaching it. Key word analysis and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) done right, is critical. It was amazing to hear that some people still do not know what an RSS feed is, many don't get SEO and most have not heard of search engine marketing.

The new trends are pretty cool though - like the use of short videos that tell a story. The more raw the better, and definitely not commercial looking. You Tube is changing the way people interact about the news -- and the media are now picking up on it. It is changing the way we will guide our clients. We are already busy scripting a video campaign series for T.S. Wiley.

A year ago my associates and I were thinking that blogs were on their way out. But now it would appear that blogging is here to stay. The number being tossed around yesterday was 71 million bloggers out there. And one thing that I learned that bloggers like IF you pitch them, is to write short pieces that they can lift and use. No press releases. Many bloggers prefer to find and write about their own perspectives.

My goal is to continue to share some of the tactics and ideas that my associate Mike Keesling and I are using for our clients. It's a an exciting time for marketers -- but it's a learning curve, and we now realize people out there need help.