Launching A Free Small Business Seminar

My heart bleeds for small business. And in many cases the resources are small since they are struggle between time, funds, and staff to getting everything done. We know it’s difficult and sometimes balancing the day to day business with marketing is hard. That is why we are starting a free seminar to help educate small businesses on how to manage their own brand online.

Our fist seminar will be on local search engine optimization which is targeted at getting small businesses found in search results. Not every brand is competing on a national level or competing against large brands. Instead they might be interested in simply getting a presence online to help them promote their business within in search results. We hope to make these seminars an ongoing event for small businesses located in the Beaverton, Tigard, Hillsboro, and Portland area.

We look forward to presenting on topics related to online marketing. Other than local seo we also hope to deliver information on email marketing, tips for blogging, and social media marketing. If you live in the Beaverton-Portland area feel free to join us. Check out our current seminar.

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Adding Rich Snippets To Your Address

Rich snippets are becoming an important part of Google search. We see all kinds uses for this from product images to authors. Here I want to cover how a small business might get there address to standout a little more.
image of micro format for address
This can be done in various ways but all has to do with micro formatting. Here I am going to use one provided by schema.org. There are others such as the Vcard which you can also use. The code looks like this.

div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization">
a href="http://www.emprisemedia.com"><--- Website goes here Emprise Media <-- Business name goes here
div class="PostalAddress"> a href="You Want to put your Google Places Address here it looks like something like this http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=en&georestrict=input_srcid:#### ">
span class="streetAddress">Address Goes here.
span class="addressLocality">City Goes Here, Zip Code goes here
/div>
span itemprop="telephone">Phone Number goes here
/div>

This really has a number of uses. Mobile devices can address and contact information and signifies to Google that your company site is there. There isn’t any evidence yet that microdata are impacting results but it does make you wonder if it will. My impression of it is that it stands out in search results.

How are you using the snippet. Any significant discoveries? Need help the call us or visit our local seo services to learn more.

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Three Things For Succeeding In Business

Rome was built over night. Why should we think that if we hang a digital placard (your website) that your business will take off? The truth is very few businesses are like that. We don’t see the failed pitches, the disappointing website traffic, and the endless networking. It’s not likely to happen over night. So what are we to expect? I want to cover a few things I am learning through the business startup process.

1. Plan, Plan, Plan. If we were to go for a trip somewhere it isn’t likely for most of us to throw some stuff in the trunk and just drive. We often have a destination that we are aiming for. There is likely stops along the way and things to look at. Our trip also has some things like gas, food, and lodging. The car might need an oil change before we go or potentially new tires. Likewise a successful business needs to start with a plan. What are our products and services? How much are we going to charge? How are people going to find us? Building a road map like a marketing plan can help increase the odds of your business succeeding.

2. Build Discipline and Routine. After we have a plan a routine is good to have. This will save you in your moments of desperation or depression. Because a business takes work if we don’t have certain amount of routine and discipline we are likely to throw in the towel. Edison wrote 40,000 pages of notes and tested over 1,600 different materials before he came up with a filament light bulb that could last for more than 40 hours. I think that his success was his on going willingness to try and try again.

3. Defend your money. Cash is what makes your business run. In fact, in accounting classes they teach you that cash is king. We would think of this as stupid advise but I have heard of even well funded startups fail because they didn’t defend the cash flow. If you are a restaurant know what your costs are for food and labor. If you are a products company know what the sales are, your inventory, and forecast your demand. When you want to buy something for the business try to determine if the purchase a need or want. Being objective will help you make a good decision.

Succeeding in business is difficult. These are three things that I have found to be important. Are there some things you have learned as a business owner that help you to succeed?

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Recap on Demo Night at Portland WordPress User Group


If you live in the Portland and want to blog, are blogging, or are developer than the WordPress users group just might be the right group for you. Personally I love it. Last night was Demo Night at WordPress. The organizers requested people to present on projects and uses of WordPress from the Porland community. This is a brief overview of the demos presented.

Paleo Plan. briefly covered it’s start and some of the plugins they use. Grew business for an experiment into a productive community. View Site.
Plugins Covered

  • bbPress For forums
  • Suma Plugin
  • hellobar I personally thought that this was a good plugin. Definitely am going to need to look at this one in a little more detail. Basically on first visit this plugin pops down with some sort of call to action.

Jeremy Felt from 10up
Website Development firm covers use of WordPress for a client. Talks about how WordPress functionality and flexibility allows them to develop custom websites.

Kurt Mottweiler Studio
Covered mostly his use of image plugins for his theme and an aim for a clean design.
Mentioned Simple Lightbox for image editing. View site.

Michael Fields
Covered a new starter theme at github called Underscores or _s. Theme is meant to be hacked, tweeked, and redesigned. If you are interested in using it and making modifications you can download it here.

Eric Mann
Encourages users of WordPress to contribute to the core. Any from writers, coders, and designers are able to make edits to WordPress.org. Also covers some of his plugins and encourages others to contribute as well. See his contributions.

Portland Afoot Covered
Launched website with WordPress and covered its use as a Wiki.

Howling Dog Themes
Demoed the framework with a new theme design in under 5 minutes. Didn’t actually make their suggested redesign time but was interesting. Great demonstration on how their framework allows non designers or technical wizards to easily change the look and feel of a website running on their framework in no time. See their framework.

GoGingham
Sara Tetreault spoke on how she got into WordPress. Discussed her beginning and where she is at now with WordPress. My take away from this mommy blogger is that WordPress is easy enough for people to learn. See her site.

Posted in Meetup | 1 Comment

Creating Custom Page Templates in WordPress

Lately I’ve been covering some topics on customizing your WordPress theme. Most of this is based off the Twenty Ten theme which I like. The last topic was about creating custom child themes. In this part I want to cover creating a simple page template. There are many reasons why you might want to do this. For instance, perhaps you want your home page to look different than some of your other pages. Maybe you want a landing page, a product page, or some other layout that a page template may not include. Here we will cover adding your own templates in WordPress.

We begin by finding our page template in our theme. You can do this by going within WordPress dashboard to Appearance > Editor. If you setup a child theme then you will want to go to the core theme and grab the file there. In most cases this is named page.php. It might even be titled Page Template in the navigation bar of your website. Copy the code and paste it into your favorite text editor. Now save the file titled something different than page.php. I like to call it by the name of page that will use the new template (e.g. front-page.php).

Now before you upload it you will want to add a little bit of code so that you can find it when you plan to use it. Really it isn’t code so don’t freakout. It is just some markup that notifies WordPress that it is template and registers it. Below is what it should look like in the main area. You can just leave the rest of the code the same.

/**
* Template Name: Front Page
*
* A custom page template without sidebar. <--Explains the layout for easier code
*
* The Template Name: Front Page <-- From a core theme this even says that it is so
* that you can choose it from the drop down >
*
* @package WordPress
* @subpackage Twenty_Ten
* @since Twenty Ten 1.0
*/

<-- The rest of the code from your page.php file goes here. Right now all we are editing is the template header part.

Now you have your own page template. You can then go through the code and change it up as you see fit. We aren’t actually doing a new full template. We are just duplicating an old one with a new one so we can customize it later. Now that you created the template you can add new features to your code. In the right hand corner of the WordPress editor you will find the drop down on the right. Choose the template that you want and when you publish your page it will use your new template.

If you want to read more about this you can learn about it from the WordPress Codex.

Thoughts or comments? Need help? We would love to hear form you!

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Creating Child Themes in WordPress

I remember the day that I learned about child themes. It was Aaron Jorbin at Wordcamp covering child themes. I would say it is one of those thing that revolutionize the way I do things in WordPress. I used to dread the updates because I would customize WordPress designs at the core files and in the end it would delete all my changes. You get the idea.

So now that I look back I think I would share how to create your own child theme.

Here is what you should have:
1. A FTP client.
2. Some sort of text editor like notepad, dreamweaver, textmate, etc..

Pretty Simple right.

Be fearless. Now this can be down right freaky for those who have never done it. Don’t be. You are not gonig to break anything but your website. Just kidding. If you are one of those killer php, css, wordpress slinging ninjas then who knows why you are reading this.

Lets tackle it.

Start by opening your text editor and saving your file as style.css. Next you will need in the header of your section to say this”

@import url(‘../ThemeName/style.css’);

This “ThemeName” is whatever theme you are creating your custom child theme from. You are telling WordPress to use this theme in you file. You have to have it downloaded in order for this to work. An example might for a custom Twenty Ten theme would be @import url(‘../twentyten/style.css’);. Easy so far.

Next you might want to include some details about the theme. It will show up in your dashboard. Here is what it looks like. You can just copy and paste this part and fill in your own info. Save after you are done editing this.

/*
Theme Name: My Theme Name
Theme URI: http://www. Website .com So this is where your theme image will reside. Put and address of your image.
Description: Describe what features, colors, any other important information.
Author: You and maybe the orginal author if you feel like sharing the love.
Template:twentyten (What templete you are using)
Version 1.0 (Maybe a version. Perhaps you will come back to it)

*/

Okay now it is time to upload your theme. Open your favorite FTP client. Then navigate to the themes folder. You can get there by going to wp-content > themes >.
Now you want to create a new folder or directory. You do this by right clicking on your mouse and choosing the create new directory. Title the directory the name of your theme. Now upload the css file to the new directory. Viola!

Were almost there. You can now activate your new theme by going into your Appearance section of WordPress. Click on the Activate Theme and now your theme is live. Because we did no changes to the theme it will not look any different.

There are benefits to procreating child themes. Doing it this way allows you to select certain CSS rules that you want to change without creating a whole new CSS file. You just simply select the rule you want to change and add your own. If you do change the CSS file it will help reduce any fixes that might occur when you update WordPress.

Your living smarter by creating custom child themes. Especially if you have clients or multiple websites. Then when you need to update your website you won’t need to worry about breaking your theme.

Have any questions? Something not clear? Did I miss something? Share your thoughts. We would love to hear from you!

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Sign Company in Salem Oregon Gets A New Website

Honan Signs Old WebsiteHonan Signs Old Website
Web design is always an interest to us and it helps when we get a client who needs it. Honan Signs and Graphics in Salem, Oregon came to us with a need to get found online. The company used a click and drag WYSIWYG website service which can work but often lacks some of the technical sides of web design and development. We redesigned Honan Signs and Graphics to create a compelling site that is easier to navigate.

We also were hired for search engine optimization. Several projects in the website build was to fix url names, naming conventions of photos, add H1 tags, and include anchor text which were missing do to the editor. We also added micro formatting to the site for local SEO and mobile. In addition, we are building links and improving local SEO with consistent content within all the search engines.

For the slow time of year Honan Signs and Graphics is poised to make a profitable presence online.

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Developing Your Own Branded Url Shortener

Twitter’s 140 characters or less created a whole new business model-url shorteners.  Services have come and gone with some surviving the attention deficient social media users. And fewer with viable money sources.  URL shorteners are a great tool but with the number of failures they can create a problem with links that no longer work.  Selecting a URL shortener and sticking with it is important.  A few suggestions is to stick with some that might be around for some time.  Protecting your links can be important especially if you have klout worth mentioning.  Here is some help in developing your own url shortner.

Choosing your url shortening service to self host.  Unless you are dev and know how to program scripts to handle generated urls then finding a source to create your own is easy and cost effective.  Here are the options.

Free.  Yourls is a free open source software that allows you to have a hosted url shortner.  The free use allows you to easily create and maintain your own service.  By following the instructions given you can have url service open for business quickly.  You can also opt to have the service open to the public.   There is also stats and the ability to change urls the links and urls in the future if need be.  One major disadvantage is that this has little support.  Which if your not a developer can create headaches in the future but the code is available for your updates and changes.

The other plans are affordable depending on your price point.  Here are a few that I came up with in my development of http://empri.se.com branded url shortner.

Awe.sm.  I love the name of this url shortner but that’s not what this is about.    This paid solution is affordable which gives you on going support and updates.  With some understanding you can have url shortner based off of the api pretty quickly.  At the time of this article the service started at $15.  They have an API which if you have a developer then you can have them install it for you.  This service also comes with stats by the hour and unlimited if you buy the $50 option.  Really this is an affordable option for some more enterprise tools if your in need.

Bitly.  Bitly has been the leader for some time in the url shortening service.  They have an enterprise solution for $995/mo for one keyword and 3 seats at the time of this post.  So if you’ve got a grand to drop per month and the clicks and audience then it might be well worth the cost for your service.   Although I can’t tell you what the service is like, big brand names are touted on their site as examples of their shortening api at work.

Branded urls can look professional and help drive your brand presence.  It also can help to stand out from chatter within Twitter.  The problem is that perhaps people might be a little skeptical your use of them.

Are there any other services that are worth mentioning?

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Keeping It Fresh

Truly content is still king. It really has just taken on a new face of late. Freshness. SEO keywords and good content go along way when it comes to relevancy. But when was the last time you updated your site? SEO is not create it and leave it any longer. It is now create it and then create again.

Freshness helps your SEO efforts. Think about news. No one wants old news. In fact, we want breaking news and that is why news stations are always “breaking” it. But when it comes to search optimization of your website it matters to get your content up frequently.

Three Areas Where Your Fresh Content Helps in Search Results

1) Fresh content to appear in search with different parameters. If you didn’t know search has silos. You can search within images, videos, blogs, hours, and dates. The more frequently you create or update your content the more often Google will visit your site. In addition, Google will index your content with the how recent your content and give it other parameters like blogs or places.

2) Fresh content with the long tail in mind.. The depth of your content and variety will help you show up in more results. Google says that 20% of searches are new searches which have not been performed before. That is a lot of keywords that you might be able to capture.

3) Creating trust with fresh content. This is a great way to show that your company is current on the issues that revolve around your business. The more knowledgeable you are around the topic the more trust that will gain from your current and potential customers.

So try to keep it fresh. Creating new content is hard but if you get good at it will reap rewards in search engines. Are there other ways you have seen fresh content impact results?

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Places to Learn SEO

Learning SEO has been one of the most fun and difficult things that I have done. What makes it both fun and fun is that search engines are continually evolving and updating their algorithms. So I would like to simply share what I have found useful in learning.

Read, Read, and Read. One aspect of search engine optimization is that everyone is sharing advice. Blogs, community sites or forums, and even books are great place for resources. The problem with some resources is that sometimes date matters. The older it is the less valuable the information. It still might be applicable but old content you just want to take with a grain of salt. Books can also be a negative part SEO. Because the content takes time to write, edit, and publish it can become out dated. But don’t let that keep you from writing.

Try it. The best place to learn is to try it. Now it isn’t likely that you can get someone to hire you for SEO work if you haven’t done it. So if you are looking to get into the field and haven’t actually worked on it or don’t have the luxury of interning then experimenting is the way to go. It isn’t likely that you are going to destroy your site with your experiments.

Get an education. Taking classes through a school can be a great way to learn. If the instructor is a professional in the field it often gives you a structure for common practices which allows you a jump start over certain hurdles. And often they will give you advice. Yes it can be costly but if you are serious about it then spend the money it is worth your time.

Join. The value in communities is that they have events and networking. Build a relationship and you might find that they can be helpful. Joining industry events, associations, and groups can help you learn and become more proficient in search marketing.

Share. Write about what you are learning and ask questions. You might find that others will share with you on your journey.

Are there any things you would suggest people use to learn SEO? How did you get into the SEO industry?

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