SEO Building Blocks: Meta Tags

Posted September 30th, 2010 in SEO by Patrick


When optimizing your website for search engines, there are many tools at your disposal. There’s no such thing as a quick SEO fix, but one oft-overlooked element is the utilization of meta tags. Let’s take a look at what they are and how they can help you.

What are Meta Tags?

Meta tags are usually inserted in the <head> section of your website’s html code. They are used by search engines to help determine your ranking. Within these tags you can enter descriptions and keywords, which can help the spiders or bots understand the purpose of your website.

To see the meta tags of a web page you’re viewing on, click on “View” at the top of your browser, which brings down a drop menu, then click “Source” or “Page Source.” This shows you the html code of the website.
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Top 10: Our Best Small Business Blogposts


Over the last year we’ve written a few articles on running an online business (hopefully you’ve found some of them to be helpful!). We have also had a few terrific guest bloggers and reviewed some expert speakers. Because our customers often email us with similar questions – about SEO, paid search, and the like, we thought it would be helpful to compile some of this information in one place. You might want to bookmark this post for reference!

#10 How to Boost Holiday Sales

#9 How to Optimize Your Website for Local Search

#8 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Success

#7 10 Free Software Apps to Manage your Business and Cut Costs

#6 10 Website Mistakes to Avoid

#5 Thoughts on Customer Service with Shep Hyken

#4 3 Secrets to Getting More Customers

#3 Using Paid Search to Increase Your Traffic

#2 How to Build an Army of Brand Loyalists (guest blog by Jonathan Kay)

And presenting the #1 blogpost of the past year…. *drum roll*

Basics of Search Engine Optimization (John Lyotier of

**Bonus** 3 Ways to Convert Website Traffic into Customers

How to Fit Tough Keywords into Your Small Business Website

Posted July 20th, 2010 in SEO by Mara

puzzleWhen you’re trying to optimize your small business website for keywords, you sometimes end up with phrases that just don’t fit in to the flow of the page.

Strange word combinations, odd plurality and missing articles can make writing for exact keyword phrases a pretty difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be impossible – you just need to start thinking of it like a puzzle.

Here are a few suggestions for fitting in those challenging keywords:

1.    Break them up
Although punctuation means a lot to me and you, search engines aren’t that fussy about it. If you’re having trouble fitting the words of a keyword phrase in one sentence, break it up into two separate sentences.

Keyword phrase: San Francisco Real Estate

Looking for a new home in San Francisco? Real Estate can be hard to come by without enlisting the help of an expert.

2.    Use bulleted lists
Not only can bulleted lists be used to simplify information for your visitor, but they can also help you use keywords less awkwardly.

Keyword Phrase: Dog Training Articles

Looking for more information? See the following:

  • “Max’s Guide to Dog TrainingArticles about teaching your dog the basics.
  • “Penelope’s Puppies: All about dog trainingArticles for owners of puppies under the age of 6 months.
  • “Jane and her Litter” Everything you need to know about dog training.

Articles can help you get a lot of the information you need as a new dog owner.

Some keywords just can’t sound natural when written from the third person perspective. In that case, try including them in a quote.

Keyword Phrase: Make my own wine

See what our customers have to say about our services!

“I wanted to make my own wine, but didn’t want to spend a fortune. Grapestompers was affordable AND my wine is fantastic!”

Fitting keywords into your small business website is often a challenge, and these are just a few ways you can do it. Try to be creative and flexible without sacrificing readability – it’s important to remember that your visitor is just as important as the search engines, so be careful not to ruin their experience for the sake of fitting in your keywords.

[image by liza31337]

The “Wonder” of Google’s Wonder Wheel

Posted June 21st, 2010 in SEO by Mara

searchIf you’ve ever done keyword research for your online business, you know it can be a bit tedious.

It’s not always easy brainstorming different phrases that your customers might use to search for your business. That said, Inc. Magazine Online recently published a great keyword selection article that drew attention to one of Google’s less talked about features – the Wonder Wheel.

The wonder wheel is a bit of a hidden gem on the results page. If you look to the navigation on the left side, click “More” and you’ll find it about halfway down.

As opposed to the typical list-style results page, the wonder wheel is a graphical representation of related search terms alongside results for the searched term.

For example, when I typed in “naturopathic clinic”, the following is what I was shown:


The initial keyword is linked to eight others, and it gives you an idea of what other terms knows your searcher is interested in – meaning you get a hint as to what search terms you may want to focus on.

When you click on any of the suggested phrases, it also keeps on linking to more suggested terms, so you can create quite a big list.

Keep in mind that you do need to pare down your list and make sure that the keywords you choose are applicable to your business.

For the complete article that inspired this post, see 5 Secrets to Selecting Highly-Effective SEO Keywords.

Do you have any “magic tricks” for choosing keywords? Share in the comments!

Using Google Image Search to Bring Free Visitors to Your Website

Posted June 1st, 2010 in SEO by John

google image searchOur Website Coaches are often asked for guidance with the specific question, “How do I rank in Google?” Well there is no one correct answer, but there are a few tricks that they share with our customers and that we want to share with you.

First off, it is important to realize that a few years ago Google made some changes to their core ranking algorithm that introduced the concept of Universal Search, whereby regular search results are blended with results from news, video, images, local and book search engines.

A few weeks ago, Google tweaked their search engine again while giving a different view to search results. This is addressed by a “Search Options” panel that is to the left of your search results and allows the searcher to view results in new ways.

When I had the opportunity to come up with a new SEO strategy last week for our Homepreneur runner-up, Mike & Mary Ferrari of, aside from the usual Small Business SEO tips, one opportunity came to the forefront: ranking for Google Image Search.

Why is image search a good option for Mike & Mary? Their business is the business of celebrity fashions (e.g., people who want to find and buy the same dress worn by a celebrity). If you search for some of their longtail keyword concepts in Google today (e.g., “Lady Gaga Dress”), the results that rise to the top are almost always image search results. This has become even more important as Google announced over the weekend that they were going to include image search results in their real-time results.

So given this how do you optimize for Google Image Search? Here are 5 tips that you should remember:

  1. Name your image the same as the keyword that you are trying to rank for. This should be also what the image really is (e.g., LadyGagaDress.jpg)
  2. Attribute the image with Alt Text and Title/ID tag that is the same as the keyword phrase used in the file name, “Lady Gaga Dress”. If you are using the Website Builder, right click on an existing image, click “Image Properties”, and enter the keyword phrase when prompted for “Alternate Text”. Under the Advanced tab of the Image Properties, change the ID field to also read “Lady Gaga Dress”)
  3. Add supporting text around the image as the search engines consider contextual relevance of the surrounding images (e.g., “…To the right, you will see a picture of a Lady Gaga Dress worn at…”
  4. Make the images unique. Resave, re-crop, or change the heuristics of the image in some way that make the image that appears on your website different than the image that may appear on someone else’s website. This is especially true for images that you receive from distributors. One trick is to simply overwrite a watermark on the image with your website address or company name (Note: A few years ago Google filed a patent on capturing and indexing text contained within images. While there is no evidence that they are using this within their algorithm today, it may be good planning to add the keyword phrase as a watermark to the image itself).
  5. Keep the image fresh. Google seems to rank images based on freshness. This may involve re-saving an image occasionally so you change the image creation date.

Hopefully these tips can help you rank for search engines and bring more visitors to your website.

3 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Small Business Website for Local Search

Posted March 2nd, 2010 in Getting Visitors, SEO, Website Builder Features by Mara

2010-03-02-localsearchIs the location of your small business important to your customers? If so, your online marketing efforts need to include optimization of your website for local search.

Not sure what local search is? A great example is Google Local. When you do a search for a local business on Google (i.e. “dog walker Seattle”), on the search results page you’ll see a list of local businesses beside a little map. They are businesses that have been submitted to Google Local who are relevant to your search.

Here are some great ways to optimize your site for local search:

1.    Submit to Local Search Engines
We already mentioned Google Local, but there are many more and some may be more popular in your area than others. Consider the following:

2.    Include Your Contact Information on Every Page
This is easier than it sounds. Just create a site-wide footer for your pages and include your address. User Tip: Create your page footer by going to ‘Edit Site’ > ‘Page Footer’.

3.    Use Geo-Descriptive Keywords
When researching your keywords, make sure to see what people are searching locally, then use those keywords on your website. Make sure to include them in your title and description tags.

When you make a website that’s optimized for local search, it’s easier to get your business to the top of the search engines – simply based on your location! As a bonus suggestion, consider getting a localized domain name to compliment your existing one.

5 Tips for Using Paid Search to Increase Traffic to Your Small Business Website

Posted February 17th, 2010 in Getting Visitors, Selling Online, SEO by admin

When you’re starting an online business, it can take a while before people start finding your website. With paid search advertising – also known as Pay Per Click or PPC – you can place an ad for your website directly on a search engine page, right alongside the regular search listings, where people are already searching for a topic related to your business.

Google AdWords PPC Advertising

Here’s a brief overview of how paid search advertising typically works:

  1. You bid on keywords that your customers would typically search for
  2. Your ads are placed on the results page when people search for your keywords
  3. You only pay when someone clicks your ad and visits your website

Paid search can be very effective, but it’s also easy to get carried away and spend too much on ads that just aren’t getting sales for you.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1.    Don’t invest money that you’re not willing to lose
PPC is like making a high-risk investment – you have to put money in before you can get anything back, and you can’t always predict what your returns will be.

2.    Determine a budget
On most paid search campaigns you can limit the amount of money you want to spend over a certain period of time. For example, if you only want to spend $10/day, the search engine will stop showing your ads once you’ve reached your limit.

3.    Research your keywords
The magic to any good paid search campaign is in the keywords. You need to know what people are (and aren’t) searching for when they’re trying to find a business like yours. Also, start with a small number of very specific keywords and then grow it from there. For example, “Toyota brake calipers” would be much better than just “car parts”.

4.    Watch your numbers
After you’ve set everything in motion, make sure to keep monitoring your campaigns for effectiveness. See how your keywords perform – do people really search for what you think they do? And, if they visit your site after searching those keywords, do they buy? How much are you spending? If you spend more, will it mean more sales?

5.    What works on one search engine may not work on another
Different types of people use different search engines, so what worked well on one might not work quite as effectively on another.

There is definitely a lot to consider when it comes to paid search advertising, but the pay-off can be well worth it.

Looking for more information about PPC? Check out this series of articles from PPC Hero – a great resource for paid search advertisers: Rookie or Veteran – PPC Basics Every Advertiser Should Know and Use

Best of 2009: 10 Free Software Apps to Manage Your Business and Cut Costs

Posted December 22nd, 2009 in Getting Visitors, Selling Online, SEO, Website Builder Features by admin

Whether you’re running a physical or online business, you probably spend a lot of time on the computer. A great way to cut business costs and manage your time effectively is by using free applications or software. We’ve compiled a few of our favorites – some will even help you make your own website design a bit fancier!

Are you backing up your computer? You never know when something might happen – don’t let a hardware failure cost you your business! With Mozy, you can back up 2GB of data for free, and it works automatically. If you need more storage, you can upgrade to an unlimited account.

If you’re still using a landline and long distance phone calls are a regular thing for you, check out Skype. If both you and the person you’re calling use Skype, your calls are free.

Want to edit images, without spending a fortune on image editing software? Gimp is very much like Adobe Photoshop, so you can use it for adding just a bit of text to an image or making something a little more advanced.

Need to create documents and spreadsheets, but don’t want to spend on Microsoft Word? OpenOffice is a solid replacement and is compatible with Word – so those receiving your files will still be able to open them.

If you like to keep track of ideas or things that you like, Evernote is a great tool. You can capture photos, web pages, voice memos, text notes, screenshots – pretty much whatever you think of – and then organize and keep track of it. Plus, there are smartphone apps that will sync with your online notes.

Working between multiple computers? Or, need to share files with different people? With Dropbox, you can sync files between different computers, so wherever you are you can access the file you need.

If you’re still managing your account through Twitter, you might want to take a look at TweetDeck. By using multiple columns to display your twitter feed, mentions, and messages, TweetDeck makes it easy to see what’s new. You can also create “search” columns to watch for mentions of your product or company name.

Jing is a great tool for taking pictures or video of what’s on your computer screen. You can use it for demos, instructional videos, photo narration or whatever you like – then you can upload it to their video hosting service,, or use it elsewhere.

If your customers are from many different countries, you can add the TranslateThis button to your web page. Your customer can simply click the button and your page content will automatically be translated to their language choice.

With WebRSS, you can use an RSS feed to display content from a blog or website on your own site.

Although we limited our list to ten, there are a lot of free applications out there. From money management to design, you can often get away without paying for expensive software, especially while your business is small and you don’t need to pay for a ton of users.

10 Website Mistakes to Avoid

Posted December 16th, 2009 in Getting Visitors, Selling Online, SEO by admin

2009-12-16-mistakesYour website is the heart of your business presence online – especially if you sell a product or service! Here are a few common pitfalls to keep in mind before you begin / as your develop your site. From beginners to experts, anyone that has built a website has been guilty of at least one of these.

1. Lame Domain Name
Pick a domain name that is easy to remember and related to your business. People are likely to forget or misspell long names, so shorter domain names are usually better. Beware using dashes: will not help your customers get to your site. is fantastic for finding an available domain name and also provides great suggestions.

2. Poor Design
Flashing text? Autoplaying music or videos? A custom header that takes up half the screen? There’s no better way to drive away your traffic. Good design is largely based on consistency: same color, same typeface, visible logo. Menus should appear in the same place on every page, links should all be the same color/typeface, and a logo of some sort should be clearly visible at all times.

3. Call to Action
What is the objective of your site? You may have a lot of nice pictures and a shopping cart, but you want to create a sense of urgency in your customers, and encourage them towards the goal. Whether it is it purchases, subscriptions, or downloads – expedite the process by adding online coupons, downloadable items or links to your check-out page.

4. Making it Hard for Customers to Buy
The fewer steps to purchase from the initial visit to your site, the more sales you will make. Even people who want to buy from you will take their business elsewhere if there are too many pages to click through and forms to fill out along the way.

5. Too Fancy or Too Slow
Simplicity is often the best way to go. You may think flash intros are amazing, but often they take a long time to load and can frustrate impatient visitors. Keep your audience and functionality in mind at all times.

6. Stagnant Site
Fresh content helps your search engine rankings and lets people know that your site is active. Format and design can quickly be changed with the abundance of new tools: update regularly and take advantage of new opportunities to keep your site current and your visitors engaged (i.e. “Follow us on Twitter” button or RSS feed of relevant content).

7. Broken Links
Nothing loses visitors like a broken link. Check to make sure that every page on your site works – it’s easy to misspell or mislabel a link! Your brand will take a hit if users constantly see “404 file not found” error messages or find broken links. If you have a large site, adding a form on your site so that visitors can submit broken links is a solution.

8. Ignoring Statistics
Many successful and established businesses fall prey to this folly. You should be tracking not just sales, overhead, and subscriptions, but your traffic, where it comes from, and what works (and DOESN’T WORK) on your site. HitsLink or Google Analytics are good ways to get started for all your web statistics needs. Monitor your statistics to help build your marketing and design around your customer, or figure out what isn’t converting to determine what you need to improve.

9. Neglecting the Search Engines
Search engines find your page using automated “spiders”. Design your pages with keywords, headers, meta tags and relevant content in mind to alert the spiders and boost your search engine rankings. You will want to have a site map, which will show Google that your site is easy to navigate. Whenever you add a page or make changes to an existing page, submit the link to Google for indexing:

10. Contact Info with a PHONE NUMBER
You give potential customers peace of mind and add credibility by displaying your phone number on your site. Again, consistency is key: develop a footer for every page with your contact information. Many online businesses see a good chunk of sales come in over the phone.

By avoiding these mistakes, you help make sure that your visitors have a pleasant experience on your site and you increase your chances of success and profit.

Best Companies to Work for in BC – takes #2!

Posted November 26th, 2009 in News, SEO by admin

Last night, BCBusiness Magazine hosted a gala dinner to announce their picks for the 2009 Best Companies to Work for in BC, and placed 2nd for companies with under 100 employees!

The criteria for the Best Companies to Work for in BC is an organizational-wide employee survey measuring satisfaction in key areas, including leadership, work culture, and employee engagement. The data is compiled by BCBusiness Magazine and MindField Group to determine the winner.

“We are very pleased to be named the second Best Company to Work for in BC,” said Dean Gagnon, our Chief Evangelist and President. “One of the goals in our Painted Picture is to make the best, most fun and healthiest workplace in the world. This extraordinary achievement is a direct result of the tremendous efforts from our entire team.”

In the words of BCBusiness Magazine:

“There’s a fine line between work and play at, and staff and management wouldn’t have it any other way. The decade-old website builder’s bright and airy Gastown office is filled with whimsical touches motivating the mostly 20- and 30-somethings clicking away in casual open-concept pods. For added incentive, there’s the six-foot MVP trophy, the Wheel of Fortune laden with possible prizes and the candy jar stuffed with lottery-style tickets…”

Read more:

Here are a few photos from the event!

Huge congrats to all the other Best Companies, both in the under 100 and over 100 employee categories! Keep up the good work! has been featured in...