Web Design

Web Design, navigation, graphics, web copy, and seo topics

A Little Rant About Joomla

Joomla is a content management system – hereafter called, a “CMS”, in the grand tradition of techie acronyms which confuse the uninitiated. It is a “fork” of Mambo – another CMS. The codebase (like the foundation on a house) for Mambo, was older, and built before coders had figured out that there were ways to do it that made it more sustainable (again, like a house built before there was such a thing as a building code).

So the Joomla team fairly quickly realized they’d have to rebuild a good deal of the codebase if they wanted to continue to improve the CMS in ways that users needed to have it improved. They worked on this for years, and last January, they released Joomla 1.5 to the community at large.

I’m somewhat puzzled by the response of many within the community. There are now two versions of Joomla – 1.5, and the older 1.0. There are people who cling to 1.0 as though it has a future. Yet anyone could see, the minute Joomla 1.5 was released, that it sounded the death knell for Joomla 1.0. At that point, it was no longer wise to build a new site in 1.0 – why do so when you’d just have to rebuilt in a year or so when 1.0 became unsustainable? Not a good choice to make for myself, or on behalf of a client. (We ended up starting over on two contracts in order to put them into 1.5, and will be migrating the ones that were too far along at the time to rebuild easily.)

Yet we still have people building new sites in 1.0, clinging stubbornly to the past. There are a few RARE instances where the necessary new components are not yet ready, but for the most part, there is now as much available for 1.5 as for 1.0, and many things available for 1.5 that are not available for 1.0.

The best templates are compatible only with 1.5. Some of the best new extensions are available for 1.5 exclusively.

We went out on a limb with a few contracts, building in 1.5, on the expectation that the extensions we needed would be available by the time we needed them. This has proven to be the case – all have been updated in time for us to use them with 1.5, or we have been able to locate alternates.

Most extensions (except a few rare ones) are now either compatible with 1.5, or being rewritten to be compatible with 1.5. Most coders have abandoned further progress for 1.0. The majority of new sites have been built in 1.5 for the last several months, and smart designers are migrating sites on a consistent basis. A few coders have delayed releasing versions that were compatible with 1.5, and new coders have come in to fill their place with 1.5 compatible alternatives.

What I do not understand is why the holdouts did not see this coming. Why they still foolishly cling to a system that will no longer be improved, instead of rebuilding their sites in 1.5 and moving forward. Yes, I know a few have compatibility issues, and I am fully aware of the issues in moving a very large site. I’ve done it – not once, but about 5 times now. Each site took between 2 and 20 hours, depending on the complexity of the site. I did a lot of hand database recoding on sites that could not be migrated using the migration tool. Even with it, I had additional work to do to get it right in 1.5.

I didn’t really want to move forward in this way either. It is a pain in the nether regions to have to rebuild a large site. But it is preferable to do it on my time now, than to be forced to on someone else’s schedule later. And I just cannot see saddling a client with the cost of building now, an rebuilding later, when a little wisdom on my part would eliminate the need for a rebuild.

There is no room in technology for standing still. Sure, you don’t have to use it all, but when you depend on a structure like Joomla, and it is clear that one option has a future, and the other does not, it is time to get on board and learn to work in the future instead of the past.

Breaking the Hourly Rate Barrier

They make it sound so easy – just create an info-product, or a replicatable product.

The reality is much harder.

The problem is, if you sell services, or products that have to be set up, you lock yourself into an hourly rate barrier – you can only do so much in the hours of the day, and if you have an hourly rate, you cap out when the working hours are filled. You hit the styrofoam ceiling.

So you need to find a way around it. Take on more clients simultaneously, automate part of the process, package a do it yourself version, create informational or training packets, etc.

But doing that creates its own set of issues:

  • You now have to work to create the resources for the automation, package, or informational product. And you don’t get paid for that right away, so if you are already maxed out on time and money, where are you going to fit in product development?
  • Creating each one is a lot more work than it looks like – you have to create the product, the packaging, the marketing, and the instructions. A LOT of work!
  • Selling it isn’t as easy as it sounds either. Everybody and their dog has a training packet or membership site, or something exactly like what you are trying to develop. It takes smart marketing, persistence, and time to get them to sell.
  • You have to differentiate them. Because everybody and their dog has one, yours has to be different, or all the marketing in the world won’t help. Making it different and desirable means you have to approach it creatively. Often more difficult than it sounds.

Still, if you can get it developed in a creative manner, and start marketing it well, there are potentials to use automation to deliver surprisingly sophisticated services, or to assist you in adding an extra layer of personalization to what would otherwise be just another book spread out across a lesson platform, or another dime a dozen training pack.

It is worth considering this early on in your business – then you can begin assembling materials as you go along, instead of having to create them cold when you suddenly realize that the day in which you’ll hit the ceiling is closer than you thought.

The right website can be a huge asset in all of this – both in providing the creative approach, and in delivering it in a unique and effective way. We are learning that just about anything is possible, and for far less than anyone would have ever thought just a year ago.

Are You a Geek?

She introduced me to her daughter. She said her daughter was studying computer sciences at the University, and loved web design. I asked her, “Are you a geek?” She smiled and admitted it.

There are two kinds of techies:

  • Those who are embarrassed about it, or think that they need to apologize for the name “geek”.
  • Those who take pride in it, and wear the name of “geek” as a badge of honor.

She was obviously the second type.

People have tried to define what a geek is. They talk about glasses, social ineptness, and a love of pizza. In reality, geeks don’t fit any stereotype, other than this:

They are universally passionate about their area of technical expertise. They speak a language that boggles the mind of regular people. And they can get in and solve a problem that makes other people think they are a genius (we actually like that part!).

The thing I’ve noticed lately is that you can create a geek. At first, the candidate isn’t even aware it is happening. But soon, words like “processor”, “code”, and “compatibility” begin to creep into their vocabulary. It isn’t long after that before they drop their first acronym (HTML, PHP, SEO, CMS, IP, DNS), and at that point, you know that it is only a matter of time before you can hold a conversation with them which will sound mostly like real English, but which will confuse the heck out of any average person!

I happen to like the confident geeks. The ones who fully understand that it isn’t just something they do, it is part of who they are, and they take pride in their ability to comprehend and puzzle out the problems.

It isn’t a closed club. It is populated by people all across the world, of every shape, size, color, age, and lifestyle. If an overweight, middle aged, gray haired mother of eight can be a geek, pretty much anyone can!

Reporting Cyber Crime and Hacking to the FBI

Attended the IT Summit in Laramie, and learned some good things about internet crime from a presenter from the FBI. Some of the information was illuminating.

Much of what he said was a reiteration of what I know – common sense protects you the majority of the time. But automated crime is not only on the rise (as we feel the impact of in spam and increasing site threats), it is exponentially increasing as technology makes it easier and easier for people to automate exploitation.

The real eye opener though, had to do with website exploitation reporting. Just what do you report to the FBI? I asked him. I told him I’d had a site that was exploited, and that since the web host had shut down my site due to abuse by someone else on the site, that I assumed they’d reported it to the FBI. He said they would not! So if your site is hacked, it is up to YOU to report it, and to preserve evidence.

Evidence comes in the form of two things:

  • First, any files that have been placed on your website.
  • Second, the log reports that show the activity during the time in which any material was installed on your site without your consent.

So how do you get that?

The typical scenario, is this:

  • You install some kind of insecure software, or a form, onto your site.
  • At some point, your email from the site stops working, or you get a report from a site visitor that the site is down, or you discover for yourself that your site is down. A notice appears that it has been suspended.
  • You call your hosting company, and they inform you that an abuse has occurred. At this point, you are UNABLE to access ANY files! You cannot preserve any evidence at all!
  • Usually, the hosting company will remove the offensive material, and then reactivate your account.
  • You can then access the log files (if your hosting package has visitor logs), but the offensive files are gone.

If you want to preserve evidence and report, you’ll need to ask your hosting company to cooperate. You’ll have to ask them to zip or tar (compress) the offensive files BEFORE they delete them, and then report the offense to the FBI, making the log files and abnormal site files available to them as requested.

To report a violation, go to: http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/. This organization is a cooperation with the FBI, and they aggregate small cyber crime reports, including site attack data, and looks for patterns, so that violators can be prosecuted. When they gather sufficient evidence to build a case worth investigating further, it is turned over to the FBI. Your report can help isolate an offender and bring them closer to prosecution.

The point here is, YOU must report. No one else will do it for you, because YOU were the victim.

Had I known that previously, I’d have reported and collected evidence on the three prior attacks experienced by myself or my clients during the last 4 years.

I’ve learned to protect sites better, but the risk is still there. In the event that it should happen again, a report will be filed, now that I know that I SHOULD, and now that I know HOW.

Sometimes the Experts Are Right

I had something in mind with this topic – You see, I take notes as I think of ideas, and I write down a title. Then I progress through the list when I have the time, and write each article. Only sometimes I forget what it was that I had in mind at the time… Takes some thought. And sometimes it never goes back to what it was originally.

Ah, yes. Now I recall.

I had blogged previously about trusting your own intuition and knowledge, when you get advice from an “expert” that doesn’t sound right. But there is another side to that. Sometimes the experts are right!

As a small business owner, you can’t know everything. A specialist can sometimes offer valuable insight – and often they will require you to make a shift in thinking that you do not want to make. The question is, how can you know when to trust your gut, and when your preconceived ideas are holding you back?

The first thing, is to not hire an expert just because they say they are an expert. Make sure they have some experience with businesses the size of yours, and with issues relevant to what you need. It is a lot like hiring a child psychologist who has never had children, or a marriage counselor who is divorced or has never married – personally, I’d never trust either one! Find out what their background is.

The next thing to ask yourself, is, “do they know something I do not which causes them to recommend this, or do I know something they do not, which makes their advice unworkable?”. This is critical! A good professional will be willing to discuss such things with you to help you figure it out. The answer to this helps you know if it is an understanding of the inside of your business which limits your options, or whether it IS fear holding you back.

And lastly, did they listen? I mean did they REALLY listen to your ideas, your explanations, and your own expertise? No one is an expert in every business! No “expert” can POSSIBLY advise you unless they have listened, because every situation is different. Experience helps us recognize patterns, but solutions are always individual. If they advised before listening, or if they insisted that they were right without hearing your objections, then they did not listen, and you are free to walk away and find someone who will listen!

I’ve had clients who wanted to approach a problem from a different perspective than I did. In the end, the client is the boss – but each of those situations was also very unique. Sometimes they knew something I did not. I had a chance to learn from them to increase my expertise. Sometimes I knew something they did not, and either could, or could not, help them understand it. But there is also usually MORE than one “right” way to do something. So it isn’t like if it doesn’t go my way that all hope is lost. And if you choose not to heed the advice of an expert, there may be an equally successful way to do it.

Most really good consultants will offer you a range of suggestions, and be willing to discuss the pros and cons of each, to help you think through your options. There is tremendous value in that, and one hour with a skilled consultant can save you hours and hours of trial and error and research. Like tapping into someone else’s experience for a short time – it empowers you if they have the right experience.

But if you consult a logger about baking bread, chances are you aren’t going to get the answer you need!

Looking Out for Client Interests When Customers Stop Spending

As a web service provider, I share a responsibility for the well-being of many of my clients’ businesses. When recession hits, I can either schlump along hoping that things will get better, or I can learn enough to help my clients pull through. By helping them, I better my business along with theirs.

In order for that effort to be successful, I have to learn some things:

  • I have to be familiar enough with my clients’ target markets to understand how they are likely to react in regards to the product or service that my clients sell.
  • I have to learn strategies for cost effective optimization, so they can be implemented when need is great, but money is tight.
  • I have to think creatively and logically, to help them find product or service adaptations to help my clients successfully adjust their business to keep it healthy. Generally, if I understand their business well, I can help them with this.
  • I need to help them devise ways to alter their marketing to reflect the changes, or to change their target market enough to help compensate for loss of revenue from their current market.

Mostly, it is a matter of learning how customers think in relation to various products or services when money is tight, and then thinking of ways to help a business compensate.

It is also important that I keep in communication with my clients, offer help when needed, and help them spot trends early that may indicate that a recession is affecting their business. Sometimes they will know something is off, but a good stats analysis can help them define where the problem is – whether people have stopped visiting their site, or whether they are still visiting, but just not buying.

To a certain degree, whether my clients survive in a poor economy, is partly due to my efforts.

Spotting Growth Potentials in a Weak Economy

Many of my colleagues are noticing a slowdown in some types of work, as people assess their resources and put off purchasing upgrade services. Even within a slow economy, there are growth potentials. Finding them can help a business weather the storm, and be one of the survivors instead of one of the sinkers.

It is important that you begin the process with the basics in place – good optimization which was prioritized to your level of growth, combined with a solid marketing plan. If you go into an economic slump with those elements in place, you already have the edge. If you don’t, then trying to put those in place when you are already hurting is very difficult. It is easier to maintain a position if you are already on top than it is to fight your way up against a double challenge.

This means, if you feel that a recession is coming, get a good marketing assessment, make sure your site is performing well NOW, and implement a long term marketing plan to keep it growing. Once that is done, you can watch for signs of flagging customer response within your market, and you’ll be well positioned to respond in effective ways.

Certain things gain ground when the economy is tight, and having a basic understanding of how the market changes can help you be prepared to adjust should the need arise:

  • Frugal solutions
  • Cost effective marketing services – IF they can be proven to work, or carry a guarantee
  • Work at Home solutions – the spirit of gambling increases in this arena, but so do the sincere startups.
  • Businesses that have been coasting as a sideline may need to pull their weight, requiring purchase of services.
  • Do it Yourself options increase in popularity.
  • Free informational and instructional resources gain ground.
  • Necessities continue to be purchased, though at a lower price.
  • Some kinds of entertainment gain ground due to escapism behaviors, but prices may need to be lowered.
  • There is more scope for creative solutions, but people are less willing to pay for it.
  • Guarantees, reliability, durability, proof of efficacy, full value, payment plans, and other factors become more important, so offering them can increase salability of your product or service.

People don’t STOP buying in a weak economy. They spend less, or they economize more, but they do still buy. The key is to analyze your business, and determine where the money is transferred to, or where people want to economize, and then offer them that option.

Refusal to change, or changing in the wrong way, will kill your business. The earlier you adapt, the more likely you are to continue to adapt, and hold your ground against your competition. Watch your business trends. If you have declines where you usually hold steady, or plateaus where you usually gain, taking into account seasonal trends, then you may need to assess the changes within your target market, and find a way to adjust your product or service offerings to the needs of your customers – or find a way to attract a new customer base that is migrating from another area in the market.

You’ll also need to adjust your marketing materials to reflect the differences in what you are offering, and who you are trying to attract. Most changes are subtle, not dramatic, but they make a big difference in how people respond. Marketing assistance IS available that is affordable, provably effective, and which can help you make those small changes in a way that pays for itself and more.

So far several of our clients have discussed the potential recession issue with us. And those who are watching for it have largely just gone through a series of marketing adjustments anyway. They are not seeing signs of flagging business, but rather, are experiencing growth due to the prior changes in their marketing and website promotional strategies. They are already well-positioned to hold their own, because they optimized their site and developed a solid marketing plan prior to facing potential downturns in customer purchasing.

There is no reason yet to make a pending recession a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if you own a business, it is certainly time to prepare if you have not done so, and to keep a sharp eye out for changes if you are already prepared.

It’s Never What the Client Wants, No Matter How Good it is

Redesigning a site is always exciting. I get to think about what the business is, who the target market is, and what kind of visual message will display it well. Then I get to go create. It is a lot of fun – unrestrained creativity!

Finally I have it completed – something that looks good, coordinates, and has that snap of class. But at that point, it isn’t done, because the client has to approve it – and they NEVER do!

No matter how good a designer you are, it is almost never right on the first try. And it isn’t because you aren’t good at what you do. It is because the way you see their business, and the way they see their business, aren’t the same. To truly do a good job, you have to find that blend in between the two.

Ego really gets in the way – you send this out, and it is a little like sending your firstborn to school for the first time. You don’t know if the other kids will like them or if they’ll come home beat up. Sometimes your design comes back beat up – totally wrong. Usually it isn’t totally wrong, usually it is just a little off.

So you morph it a little, get it a little better, tweak it some more, and it is finally right. Not quite what you envisioned, but still good. Often MORE than you’d have done on your own. Sometimes less. Because people see things differently, like different things.

The real difference between a pro and an amateur is NOT whether or not they can get it right the first time. It is whether or not they accept the preferences of the client and gracefully make the changes required. A true commercial artist knows that ultimately, the goal isn’t to produce a masterpiece, much as we’d like to think it is. The goal is to please the client.

One of our clients is also a designer of a different sort. As we were building her gallery, she sent a shot of a project she had done, along with the description. She said, “Funny, I’ve never known if that one was better before, or after the job!”. I told her it did not matter – because it wasn’t about HER preferences, it was about what the client wanted. She wrote back and said that was true, and the client had LOVED it.

Sometimes we don’t think it is as good as it could have been. But if the client is pleased, the job was done right. That is hard when we know we are capable of so much more, or when their preferences seem to get in the way of good presentation. Success is built on more than just our talent to produce amazing things – it is also built on humility and kindness in dealing with clients and their own visions.

Over and over we do this – put all we have into it, then go back and change it to make it into something else. Over and over we graciously tell the client that we’ll make changes, and keep at it until they are satisfied, even when they hate our favorite part.

Because that is what professionals do.

Declaring War on the One Page Website!

Back in the dark ages of the internet, when HTML was new, people could slap up a web page with a quick overview of a business, and stand back and admire the fact that they had a new website.

Ever watched old cartoons? I mean the REALLY old ones… with bad sound tracks, lame story lines, and black and white characters. We look at those now, and we wonder why anyone ever bothered to watch them. They seem so cheesy, and so absolutely devoid of humor or value. They put it on the screen and made it move and talk. They weren’t expected to do much more than that, because it was new and fascinating just because it was new. The standard of expectations today is much higher. We expect color, we expect something clever, and we expect a PLOT!

The web has evolved in the same way. Anything at all used to be good enough.  Not anymore. We expect color, certain pages to validate credibility, good organization, and we expect certain things to be in certain places so we feel comfortable there.

One page websites have none of that. Legitimate businesses just do not use them anymore. In fact, only two kinds of businesses use them:

1. Scammers. A one page website is the surest sign I know that the product being sold is not going to do what it says it will!

2. Inexperienced business owners. Some business owners still believe the tale the scammers tell, that a one page website is effective. Experienced business owners on the right side of honesty simply do not use them.

They don’t work except to bully the greedy or the inexperienced buyer into buying something that the buyer HOPES will actually do what it says. You really have to lower your principles to get them to work in the first place, and even then, scamming is a saturated market, and hard to compete in, should that be your goal!

My real issue with one page websites is this:

1. Some web designers are still selling one page packages as a way to “get a start on a website presence”. Given that a one page website, or ANYTHING less than about 6-8 pages, will HARM your business more than it helps, I find that such a tactic is itself the next thing to a scam.

2. What is being sold on them. They invariably contain info-products or software that is worthless, or even harmful. The exceptions to this are so rare that as a guideline for judging quality, you can follow the rule of avoiding anything on a one page website, and never miss anything of genuine value!

As a business owner, I do not want to sell something in a dishonest manner, nor do I wish  to be lumped with those who do. I’ll avoid both the practice, and the appearance of the practice.

A one page website won’t help a business to grow. It will hinder the progress and make cautious and intelligent people shy away. I would not build one, nor would I recommend one for any business.

Personal Photos on a Business Website

I recommended to the real estate agent that she put a photo of herself on the home page of her website. Two days later, someone on a forum we both participated in posted a long article about how putting photos on a home page was tacky, and how no real business did that. The woman I recommended it to gave me the email equivalent of the pitying look, and went elsewhere.

I still recommend a home page photo to real estate agents, and to a few other select business professionals. I do not recommend it as a success tactic for most businesses, though I do recommend that they use photos of themselves on the site where appropriate. Yes… it makes you look like a Mom and Pop business. But guess what? People LIKE Mom and Pop businesses! The key point is, to use the photo in the right way for your business.

You see, a photo on the home page for a product sales business, or even most services, makes you look overeager, and self-promoting. But for some businesses, and some purposes, photos of the business owner or personnel are highly effective.

  • For microbusinesses, the only advantage you have over a corporation is personal attention. They can outgun you on just about every other front, but you can be more personal than they can ever be. So placing a photo of yourself on the about page, (not on the home page!) or photos of your employees, gives the business a face and conveys that message of personal touch. That’s something large corporations cannot really do, though they really try to imply that they can.
  • For personal service businesses like real estate, or insurance, where the agent IS the difference, a photo actually belongs on the home page. If they want impersonal service, they go to Realtor.com. When they want a real person, they look for a real estate agent’s own website. Putting a face on it right up front helps to reinforce the message that they found what they were looking for. The agent’s personality is HUGE with that kind of website, and a photo, if done well, helps to appeal to the kind of people the agent wants to be working with. Without the photo, the site loses that moment of instant message of a real person being behind the agency. In this instance, the agent IS the purpose of the website, so the photo is an integral part of the purpose of the website, which is, to introduce the agent.

Unless you are emphasizing that you are a family business, leave off the kids and the dog. But get the human touch in there. It helps you to compete with big business in a way they just can’t touch!

It’s Official! Pre-Launch Sneak Preview is LIVE!

Ok… that was SO full of hype! Truthfully, I am genuinely excited about this, because we’ve been working on MicroWebmasters Alliance for about 4 months now, getting near launch, but not quite far enough along to really announce a date. Well, we’ve got the date now!

March 1, 2008, MicroWebmasters Alliance will be officially live, open for business, and accepting paid memberships. Until then, we are running a pre-launch preview, free of charge.

If you register before March 1, you’ll get a 1 month free membership. We’ll do our best to make it value packed and full of good stuff. The site has over 100 pages of instruction, tools, and some good marketing benefits. Every single page of content has been screened for quality and usefulness – this isn’t a “free for all” article directory! If it isn’t good, it doesn’t get onto the site!

Check it out at: http://www.microwebmasters.com/?a_aid=9d5e23fc (Yes, that’s an affiliate link – members can also enroll as an affiliate if they choose – we’re using this one for tracking purposes.)

MicroWebmasters Alliance encourages cooperation between MicroBusiness Service Providers, and provides training materials to help you learn to provide more affordable services for your clients, while increasing your own profit margins. Tried and true success strategies, useful business tools, recommended productivity software (a lot of it is legal free software), and help in streamlining business tasks. You’ll get a good marketing benefits package also!

Membership is open to Web Service Providers, related Service Providers, and Do It Yourselfers. If you aren’t a web service provider, but want to learn more about serving MicroBusinesses, you can get an Associate Membership, with all the marketing benefits, and all the MicroBusiness specific resources from the site.

This organization is totally unique in the Trade Association world. We aren’t just giving you a few marketing benefits. We’re offering a ton of strategies and tools for doing business more profitably – no hype or scam there, this is the stuff we’ve practiced that has had to measure up against our ethics standards. We are out there actually DOING what we recommend. Our goal is to have at least one “ah-ha” moment in each instructional page of the site.

You have to actually QUALIFY for membership! We don’t take people who are not actively trying to uphold good business practices, and who are not actually serving a MicroBusiness market. We offer a Junior, and a Professional level membership. To get Professional status, you have to be able to demonstrate a certain level of experience. If you cannot, then you get Junior membership – but it is still VERY high value, because if you get designated as a Junior member, you also get training assistance, to learn the stuff you need to learn to get Professional status! We’re talking personal, helpful assistance that improves your skills in a very profitable way! No other trade association offers that!

We’re setting out to change the MicroBusiness Web Service world. We’d love to have you along with us!

Bad Ugly Man

The class was talking about how the search engines or Google AdSense may key in on phrases you did not think they would. One of the students spoke up and asked if he could tell a story about that. I said, “of course!”. This was his story:

He had put a web page up, which addressed a technical topic. It had a photo of himself on the page. He watched his traffic, and soon found that he was getting a lot of traffic from Google Images, for the term, “bad ugly man”. He then discovered that if he searched on that term, his picture was the top item returned.

Turns out, his technical topic was “(subject), The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”. Google paired it up with his photo in an unexpected way! A simple disallow tag for his images folder in his robots.txt file solved the problem, but his illustration was priceless.

AdSense and search engines both do sometimes pull out keywords that you do not expect. This can be a good thing in many instances, because it means that you do not have to worry about overanalyzing keywords or calculating keyword density to mine the long tail of search terms. Rather, you just write well, be descriptive in what you say, and the natural result is usually very good.

Once in a while though, you have to tweak a page. A page on Christian Infertility called “Leah After Judah” pulls all sorts of ads about Judaism and Judaic symbols. It isn’t at all what the page is about. So tweaking had to be done to eliminate or selectively target the right phrases on the pages.

When creating a product catalog, take advantage of the search engine’s propensity to catalog everything – write visual and evocative descriptions. You’ll benefit two ways: You’ll help people want the item more if they read the description, and you’ll just naturally include another series of relevant keywords that will get picked up and used in a way that may surprise you.

The descriptions need not be long, or complicated. Just imagine you are describing the item to someone who cannot see it, and who may not know what it is for. Include colors, features, and some phrases to get them thinking about how to use it, or how they’ll feel when they use it. For example:

“Soft and snuggly throw rug. Cuddle up by the fire and enjoy a winter evening with someone you love. Forest green and black colors give this blanket a woodsy feel. Cotton polyester blend is itch-free, soft, and easy to care for.”

Nothing remarkable about that description. It gives an emotional setting, an accurate description, and some adjectives. It will increase the appeal of the item to both search engines and people.

Of course, if you find that you come out on top for searches on the term “itchy blanket”, you’d want to change something. Otherwise, you can probably sit back and watch something unexpected and good happen, just because you took the time to write something natural, and thoughtful.

Update: This page is now pulling search engine results for the term “ugly man”!

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.