Categories
General

And The Winner Is…

trophySo this month I gave non-profits the opportunity to apply for a free website.

I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to pick just one organization. The goals for all of the applicants’ organizations were worthy & respectable.

But I did pick one…

The winner is: Champions of Hope in Dallas, TX

To all of the other applicants, I thank you for taking the time to do what you do. I would love to offer a free website every year, so if you’re still on the hunt for a web designer in 2010, come on back!

Champions of Hope will receive a custom designed web site & free hosting for one year (if needed).

Desperately Need A Website?

If you applied (or even if you didn’t), I would love to still help out in some way.

For non-profits only, I’m offering a 40% discount. A typical, custom-designed website costs $2,500. At 40% off you’ll pay $1,500.

To Other Designers & Developers

I have many applications for organizations in need of help. If you could spare some of your time, these non-profits would be incredibly grateful to have new and/or improved web sites.

Comment here or contact me through my website.

Categories
Microsoft

We Are Microsoft 2009

we-are-microsoft

Last year was the first annual We Are Microsoft charity event. I was able to be a part of the start of a great organization that seeks to develop websites and applications for non-profits in the matter of one weekend. Basically the weekend requires a lot of planning on the part of the event coordinators and the coders/designers just show up on Friday and begin work with the goal to finish by Sunday afternoon.

The charity I’ll be working with is the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas. View a list of all of the charities involved.

It’s no easy feat, but it’s amazing what can be accomplished when you have a deadline and the motivation to help out those who spend their whole lives helping others.

The only downside for me is that I’m not a Microsoft enthusiast. But, in the end, I’m a designer for the weekend and it really matters to the developers and there are some really talented developers that can utilize Microsoft programming and products to accomplish what it is these charities need.

It would be awesome if there was another event in Dallas with the same goal, but non-Microsoft focused. I’m challenging YOU to start that up. Thank you.

Categories
Case Studies

mindIT SEO Campaign

In November mindIT contacted me to help them improve online traction. They’re a small IT company in Dallas – great guys with a great business.

Google needed to hold up their end of the deal — finding the best IT companies in Dallas! Sadly, mindIT was lost amongst “the rest”. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t really show “the best” companies in the top 10 results for any given keyword so mindIT wasn’t being found for a number of keywords they should have been. That’s when they came to me and here’s where our tale begins…

Objective

Rank high and consequently drive more (and better qualified) traffic to minditonline.com in order to generate more leads/business.

mindIT is in the IT industry and needs to rank high for IT related keywords. In addition, they are a reseller of a popular health care software and offer support around it — they need to rank higher for related keywords.

Solution

mindIT had recently launched a brand new website that achieved a number a great things, including adding much more content to their site, building upon a content management system, and used many of the basic principles of improving conversion.

On the other hand, the website needed cleanup. Develop Daly cleaned up the site to improve upon the copy, extraneous pages, link juice draining, canonical issues/duplicate content, title & descriptions tags, and various other things.

All in all, the site maintains the branding and aesthetic appearance it had before the SEO process, but the guts are very much changed and improved.

Results

As with any SEO project, results are ongoing and hopefully improving all the time. In a very short amount of time (less than a month) we’ve seen incredible results. mindIT and the various keywords we targeted were not showing up in the top 10, 20, or 30 results. Here is what we achieved less than a month later:

Conclusion

It’s still too early to tell how the traffic has changed. For now, at least, we can see dramatic improvements in keyword visibility. Once again, I’m glad I could help a business increase their findability. If you need IT support, now you know who to call! (not me…mindIT!)

Categories
WordPress

WordPress Meetup Summary

Click here to check out
The Dallas/Ft. Worth Area WordPress Meetup!

This weekend I went to my first WordPress Meetup which was held in PD Johnson’s in Dallas. I wasn’t too sure of what to expect; the summary of the group made it seem like it would be pretty informal. It was. Everyone trickled in, about ten of us, and while some of us ate and others pulled out laptops we chatted mostly about Twitter and WordPress plugins.

Most of my time is spent with people who know little about technology, forget about WordPress and blogging, so hanging out with people who I can actually talk to those things about is refreshing.

However, I know that Dallas has a much larger audience of WordPress fans and major (or at least more than minor) bloggers. I was disappointed that the group doesn’t seem to attract enough of the audience using blogging and social media to its fullest extent. Granted, the group hasn’t been meeting for very long (just since April I think).

What I’d like to see more of is a formal atmosphere where people are encouraged to share with the whole group about how they use WordPress, what benefits it has for them, and how others can improve upon their blogging. One of the reasons I wish for this is because I’ve spent the past three years learning everything I can about WordPress and I’m dying to share the knowledge I’ve gained. It would be neat if the meetups consisted of neatly packaged topics so that the goal is clear and people know why they are coming and what they’re taking away.

On the other hand, maybe the point of these meetups is simply to socialize with other WordPressers and something so formal is outside the lines of what is thought necessary for the group. In that case, I’d love to be part of a new group that encouraged the formal training/learning of WP while the meetup group existed alongside the new group.

Any thoughts?

Categories
Reputation Management

What Percentage of the SERPs Do You Own?

Just recently I’ve been putting a little bit of effort into developing my online reputation.

http://www.google.com/search?q=patrick+daly

A Google search for Patrick Daly (at least from Dallas, TX) shows that I own 70% of the top 10 results. The other three results are a MySpace page, a .gov site, and a biography of another Patrick Daly.

How much do you own?

Categories
General

Launched: Simple Elegance

This week I launched a new client site: Simple Elegance. Simple Elegance is a wedding decoration company in Denton, TX that serves the whole DFW area. I’m getting married (in less than a month!) and so my bride met with Simple Elegance and found out that they needed a website. Needless to say, work began a few weeks later.

Simple Elegance Home Page

Design & Home Page

In designing the site I wanted to achieve two things: simplicity and elegance. 😉

The site needed to be conducive to an audience I’m only vaguely familiar with, yet constantly surrounded by: young women in dire need for wedding decorations. I ended up giving the site a very rustic, yet smooth feel. The dark colors are a stark contrast to the traditional white wedding sites (though I will be implementing a style switcher to go between the dark scheme and a lighter one). I feel as though the browns make the site feel a little smaller, but in a good way. The perception is that the site is well maintained, updated, local, non-corporate, and easily accessible to customers.

Simple Elegance Photo

Photos

Pictures are huge in a business that is selling services based solely upon how good they look. We used in-window popups to show off the larger images, and allow visitors to browse through the many pictures. We’re taking advantage of the WordPress built-in gallery feature to make photo browsing and management easy.

Search Engine Optimization

As with all of the sites I build, I take great care into how I build a site so that it out performs competitors in search engines. This section is for those already familiar with SEO.

Simple Elegance Heading

Headers

On the home page I used the text “Wedding Decorations in Dallas, TX” as the H1 tag. While the business is located in Denton, TX, their service is as wide as the DFW area and Dallas is a more trafficked keyword than Denton is, so it made sense to draw from the bigger pool, rather than limit ourselves to Denton.

The H2 tag is “Wedding and Event Décor Specialists” so that we can emphasize even more specifically what the site is about, including a broader range of services.

Tags

For our purpose, what traditionally are called “tags” we’ll call “styles”. I wanted brides to be able to find exactly what they’re looking for. Not only did we categorize rentals into a categories like candles, candelabras, and cake toppers, but implemented a tagging feature that will tag about 700 adjectives automatically. If you look at the screen shot below you can see a demonstration of which words could be tagged. This is pretty useful for users looking for a decorations of a very specific style and for search engines because it allows optimization of hundreds of long tail searches.

Simple Elegance Styles

Conclusion

The live site doesn’t reflect everything mentioned in this post as some of the content has yet to be entered. However, I think you’ll find the site to be beautifully simple and very well optimized for search engines.

Visit Simple Elegance.

Categories
Full Site Portfolio

Simple Elegance

Simple EleganceSimple Elegance is a wedding decoration company in Denton, TX that serves the Dallas/Ft Worth area. This site is unique because Simple Elegance was actually the wedding decorator for my wedding. So while I was in the thick of wedding planning with my finacé (and now wife) I had all kinds of great ideas about how to make Simple Elegance’s site stand apart from the rest of the wedding decorators of the world. The best features of the site are automatic and by far the best one of those is the automatic categorization of rental items.

When a girl (or guy…just not in my case) is planning the decorations of her wedding she often has a theme in mind of how her wedding should look. How better to describe that theme than with an array of adjectives? When Simple Elegance enters their rental items into their site they describe each item at which time I take over and interlink that item with other items using the same adjectives. This makes the process of finding items a girl wants far easier than leaving the description broad and open ended.

Website: No longer online

Platform: WordPress

Categories
SEO

SEMPO Certified Advice from a Dallas SEO

As I wrote last week, I was nearly SEMPO Certified.

The tests are over with and I am now a SEMPO Certified, Dallas SEO. Take a look at the right hand column >>>

As I said in that post last week I’d write an in depth post on SEO tips. Here’s only one of many more to come…

SEO Tip: Keyword Research

Keyword Research is crucial, or rather, the usage of keywords correctly is crucial.

When writing content for your site, optimize your content for single pages. Its easy to work with the mindset that you’re using good keywords throughout your site and you should be ok with just that, however, think about how PageRank works. PAGErank is much more concerned with the content of the page than it is with the site as a whole (not that your whole site is negligent to your PageRank though).

For example, your small business is a web design firm that wants to rank well for terms like, “web design dallas”, “dallas seo”, etc. When constructing your site content, use those keywords more on specific pages, rather than throwing a couple ‘here and there’ throughout your site. Certainly use the keywords on other pages, but remember that you’re optimizing specific pages for SERP listings.

SEO Tip: Siloing or Theming

SEO Siloing or Theming is the idea of building your site in such a way that content is easily categorized by search engines. I’m using this tactic on this blog, though I plan to extend its usage further in the future.

PageRank Flow
Figure 1: PageRank Flow Due to Siloing/Theming

Figure 1 shows how theming might work. Let’s use an example to better understand:

Say your home page has a PageRank of 4, higher than the rest of the pages on your site. The link juice that your home page can send to other pages is the greatest you have. Using the PR of your home page to distribute PR amongst your other pages can aid in getting your lower level pages into the SERPs. So, your home page is TIER 1. TIER 2 is used for categories (product categories, blog categories, etc.). TIER 3 is your specific content (products, blog posts, etc.). You may have a couple different levels of categories, so your TIER 2 may actually turn into TIER 2 & 3, pushing your products to 4.

Notice in Figure 1, also, how the pages are linked together. The home page is accessible from every page of the site, as it should be because it is the most important page. The category level pages are only linked to the home page and the product pages, but NOT to each other. Why? Your categories are very specific buckets of content that should only be related to other like content. The same is true for your product pages. A practical way to link to other “product level pages” is to link to related products/posts. Find a useful WordPress plugin for similar posts.

Remember here that the idea is to categorize your site’s content so that the link juice flows between related content. Be careful when implementing this kind of structure, though. You could easily, accidentally block access to pages or the long tail of your links may be lost by spiders and they end up never getting to your product pages.

SEO Tip: Strict Guidelines

Don’t we always want to know exactly how to do things? SEO surely isn’t an industry of “sure-fire” methods to accomplish goals, but there are some things you should always pay attention to.

Keyword Frequency: Keep your keyword frequency below somewhere around 2.5% for each page.
If you were to repeat “Dallas SEO” 100 hundred times on a page and submit it to Google they would immediately recognize it was spam. So, keeping your keyword frequency to a low level assures search engines that your content isn’t purely for ranking in SERPs.

Outbound Links: All links pass link juice, so some people believe that linking out to other sites passes your link juice to them where you could have exploited it for yourself. Its true that you are passing some link value to the external site, however, Google recognizes that worthwhile sites actually DO link out to others and it proves them to be an authority themselves. When you link to pages with similar content you’re affirming spiders that content on your page is legitimate, and you’re willing to share knowledge with your visitors. Somewhere around 5 outbound links per page is good.

Word Count: Amongst the text in your navigation, footer, etc. your body copy should prevail as the “meat” of the page. However, don’t throw a million words on the page to accomplish this. On the other hand, don’t be so lean as to not give the content it’s due credibility. Write body copy that exceeds 500 words, enough that search engines will pick up on real story inside your words.

Dallas SEO

I’m excited to be part of the Dallas SEO community now. Of course, I have been, but maybe I’ve got a bit more show for it now. If anyone would like SEO tips or advice, let me hear from you. I’d love to help you out. In addition to being SEMPO certified now, I’m also a member a DFWSEM through Lead Maverick. It’s pretty cool that DFWSEM enables the Dallas SEO community to thrive.

Categories
SEO

Almost SEMPO Certified SEO Expert

In order to be an SEO expert you have to prove yourself, something I’m still humbly working at. But in my pursuit to become the Dallas SEO guru, I’ve been given a great opportunity to become SEMPO certified.

Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) Mission: SEMPO is a global non-profit organization serving the search engine marketing industry and marketing professionals engaged in it.

A couple of weeks my boss gave me a credit towards one of the three SEMPO courses offered to build skill in SEO and SEM. I’m about halfway through the Advanced SEO Specialist Training. Of course, anyone can take a class, wear a badge, and flaunt a certification (well, almost anyone).

Fortunately, my job allows me to constantly review our site’s SEO. Had we not been sidetracked by some other higher priority things, we’d be in the middle of a six week plan to significantly alter various aspects of our website specifically for search engine optimization (some of which we have thankfully gotten to).

My side projects have also been teaching me useful SEO tricks (not the bad kind!). Some recently launched sites have been heavy on consideration of the architecture and layout concerns of SEO. What I’m learning, though, will really show itself in my future projects.

Some SEO qualities I’ve really been able to refine and affirm recently:

  • Keyword Research
    • Planning the targeted keywords and using them correctly within the content and links of the page
  • Copy Writing
    • Writing content to be noticed by search engines first and compelling to users second
  • Site Architecture
    • Organizing pages in an understandable way for categorization of content by search engines
  • Navigation
    • Linking structures are crucial to how content is understood by search engines

So, I’m not SEMPO certified yet, but I’m well on my way and should have an update for you in couple of weeks. After my certification, I’ll have an in depth post of some things I’ve learned. Hopefully you’ll be able to put them into practice, as I’ll try to keep the post more practical than philosophical.

Make sure you’re subscribed to my RSS feed to get the in depth SEO post.

Categories
Lead Maverick

More Develop Daly WordPress, Web Design, & SEO Resources

As part of my contribution to Lead Maverick, I keep a blog over there on web design related things. I have to decide to where my content is best suited – often times it is for both places.

My Lead Maverick blog consists of some rich content that you’d probably be interested in so I encourage you to check it out. Here are some summaries of a few of my articles.

The blogosphere has been booming lately with discussion of data portability. It’s a topic that really excites me, because I see the possibilities of the Internet and am discouraged by the lack of embracement.

Semantic markup is another one of those areas that could be utilized to a much greater potential and I’m excited that it is finally getting its due credit. The possibilities of sorting through semantic content is endless and can only improve search engines and in turn improve content visibility. Filtering through tons of crap to find what you want is a pain; hopefully through Microformats, XFN, and more we can achieve a level of content organization that extends a huge helping hand to searchers.

Matt Cutts made a video a while back sifting through some SEO Myths, view it through this post.

If any of these seem interesting to you, read both blogs and subscribe to my Lead Maverick RSS Feed.