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  • Pardon Our Dust…

    I’m sure you’ve heard the story of the cobbler’s children not having any shoes. Well, this website has been a bit like that.

    Been so busy improving clients’ websites, and helping them rank, that this website has been rather ignored. In fact, it hasn’t changed much graphically since 2009.

    Now, with the impending Mobilocalypse from Google, it’s time to update the site so that it is Responsive.

    Part of doing this is putting a new WordPress theme in place. Sure, I could probably alter the existing theme, but WordPress theme’s in 2009 were missing many of the bells and whistles that are common now. For instance, many of the links and menus were coded by hand, rather than using WordPress’s nice menu system.

    Updating the theme would arguably take as long, if not longer, than installing a new theme would.

    But, still, many things are broken (or breaking) as I update the site. I decided to make the changes on the live site as:

    1) It’s faster than building a test site
    2) I’ll learn a lot about working on a live site
    3) It’s my site, so any impacts are mine own alone. I can’t say that about client sites.

    The downshot is that things will look a bit funky for a while, and even when things look good on the surface, there will likely be bugs running behind the scenes.

    So, that’s a fancy way of asking you to pardon our dust as the site is updated.


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  • PubCon Austin 2015 Coupon

    Austin’s best internet marketing conference, PubCon Austin, is happening on April 20th in 2015. I can’t recommend this conference more. It has arguably the best content in the industry, and is also one of the best values.

    But, I can make it even a better value with a coupon for 20% off.

    Just use the coupon code:

    rc-6488520

    when registering. The discount code is good until March 20, 2015.


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  • Reviews of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital

    In case you’ve been living in Tahiti the last few weeks (it’s a magical place), Texas Health Presbyterian is the hospital in Dallas where Thomas Duncan, a native of Liberia, became the first person diagnosed with Ebola on US soil on September 29. By their own admission, the hospital made mistakes in the way it handled Duncan and the situation.

    Let’s take a look at how Yelp and Google+ are handling the reviews coming in from all over the country from people who’ve never stepped in Texas Health Presbyterian. All data is as of October 24, 2014.

    Yelp
    25 reviews showing total.
    2 reviews since September 29th. They are positive, and look to be legit.
    7 reviews filtered. None of these since September 29th.
    8 reviews removed for violating content guidelines or ToS. 6 of these are since September 29th.

    Google+
    68 reviews total.
    37 reviews since September 29th. 26 are clearly from non-patients. 7 appear likely legit. 4 are hard to tell.

    I’d love to look at more review services, but there just weren’t any others that had numbers worth looking at for Texas Health.

    In any case, here’s what these numbers say to me…

    I’ve certainly been critical of Yelp’s reviews in the past (both on this blog and definitely on panels), but I like their approach. Assuming the data is accurate and compete, showing what has been filtered and what has been removed is appreciated. I’d prefer it if I can see the actual reviews that were removed, but I can understand why Yelp doesn’t show them.

    And also to Yelp’s credit, there are no reviews showing that don’t appear to be from an actual patient or family member of a patient. I looked at Yelp’s review corpus a week or so ago, and there were several that didn’t appear to be legit, but I assume these are now in the Reviews Removed bucket. I suspect some of the filtering is being done by hand, but they seem to be giving it real effort.

    Google gives no information on what reviews have been filtered. For all we know, Google may have filtered out hundreds of them. I doubt it’s that many, but they give us nothing to base things upon.

    What I can look at is the reviews they show. 70% of their reviews since September 29th are clearly illegitimate. That’s appalling.

    Especially after Google has publicly and clearly stated that they want Reviews not General Commentary.


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  • Content versus Ads

    My wife and I have been season ticket holders for the University of Texas football team for years. No, I’m not here to talk about a 1-2 start and a painful rebuilding process.

    I’m here to compare the usage of space between the real world and the online world.

    Like most stadiums, Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium has a jumbotron. The current version was introduce in 2006, and measures 25 meters tall by 41 meters wide. For about a week, it was the largest high definition television in the world.

    We quickly dubbed it Godzillatron.

    The problem is that most of the screen is used for advertisements, not showing the game or replays. We began referring to it as Adzillatron.

    Here’s a picture I took walking into the stadium before the BYU (I know. Don’t start with me.):

    Click on the picture to see a larger version.

    While this was taken before a game, it’s the same layout that’s used throughout the game. As you can see, much of the screen is taken up with advertisements.

    I thought it would be interesting to compare it against a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). I choose the keyword:

    los angeles personal injury lawyer

    Huge city and very competitive keyword. Google would have no shortage of potential ads to fill the space.

    My screen was set to 1280×1024, and I expanded my browser to fill the screen. Here’s the SERP that resulted from the search:

    Then, I categorized each section of the each picture into one of three buckets:

    Content: Directly of interest to the viewer/searcher. Either about the game or free search listings. I included the map as content.
    Advertisement: Some paid to get onto the screen.
    Other:: Everything else. Navigation, building name, etc.

    Lastly, I calculated the number of pixels used for each of sections, totaled them up, and compared them against the whole.

    Our beloved Adzillatron was 66.18% Content and 22.51% Advertisements. To be honest, I thought the ad percentage would be higher.

    The Google SERP was 29.04% Content and 21.46% Advertisements.

    So, as a percentage of the whole, each has about the same amount of advertisements. But the Google SERP has a great deal more space devoted to navigation and white space.

    If you’re looking at content versus advertising strictly, Adzillatron is about 75% content, while Google is about 60% content.

    So, what’s the point? Not sure there really is one, but I thought it was interesting to compare something that has so many ads that we make fun of it with something we see every day.

    Adzillatron doesn’t seem to have so many ads, at least in retrospect. Maybe we should go back to calling it Godzillatron.

    Note: Carousel results have much less space dedicated to advertisements. Perhaps that’s why they seem to be going away.


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  • How Not to Advertise Your Law Firm

    An attorney in Los Angeles, Svitlana Sangary, faces a six-month suspension by the California Bar for posting doctored photos on her website that suggest that she mingles with well known politicians and celebrities.

    Sangary failed to show for numerous hearings, and missed some of the deadlines in the case. In an 18-page decision last week, Judge Donald F Miles said that Sangary had…

    …committed four counts of misconduct. Miles said they included one count related to posting the photographs, two counts of failing to cooperate with state bar investigators and another count of refusing to forward a former client’s legal file to the client’s new attorney.

    Source: The Los Angeles Times

    As of Monday, September 22, the photos remained on her website, and could be found under the tab, Publicity. The pictures show Sangary hobnobbing with many of the upper crust, including:

    • Barack Obama
    • Joe Biden
    • Hillary Clinton
    • Bill Clinton
    • Donald Trump
    • Anne Hathaway
    • Arnold Schwarzenegger
    • Ellen DeGeneres
    • Jennifer Garner

    And many, many more. Amazingly, Sangary seems to have the exact same facial expression in every single picture..

    In one of Sangary’s filed responses to the charges, she said:

    Also with regard to false statements and misleading advertisement, none other than Natalie Portman comes to mind. The online media extensively covers the controversy surrounding Natalie Portman’s performance in the film Black Swan. The ballet dancer who performed in the Black Swan, Sarah Lane, has come forward to revel [sic] a “cover up” and says that Natalie Portman’s head was superimposed onto Sarah Lane’s body, and that Natalie Portman lied…Despite the foregoing, Natalie Portman has won an Oscar for her performance in Black Swan.

    Ummmm… Ok?

    Pretty much every state bar has differing and complex rules and regulations for advertising by attorneys. I suspect that Sangary has run afoul of more than one of these, but that will ultimately be up to the California Supreme Court to decide.

    In the meantime, her website is a wonderful example of many improper approaches to local SEO.

    First of all, her domain: CaliforniaCivilLawyer.com. She clearly picked this domain for some supposed SEO benefit.

    I’ll admit to a bias against keyword domains, as I much prefer branded domains that can build real value.

    But even if you stipulate that there is a benefit, this goes about it wrong. Few people search for services at the state level, especially in a state the size of California. If I’m in San Francisco, an attorney in Los Angeles does me no good, so why wouldn’t I search on the word “San Francisco, rather than the word, “California.”

    In fact, most searches will use a city or region name, not a state name, in composing their search.

    Next, the most important page on most sites is the homepage. It has the most links coming into it, and is therefore the most powerful for SEO purposes. So, you typically want to target your most important, most competitive keywords there.

    The single most important element on a page for SEO is the title tag, and the words to the front of the title tag are more important than those at the end.. On Sangary’s homepage, it is:

    Los Angeles, California Civil litigation lawyer — Svitlana E. Sangary

    If we used variables for the elements of the title, instead of the actual words, we’d have a form like this:

    Geography Keyword — Company Name

    In other words:

    Los Angeles, California = Geography
    Civil litigation lawyer = Keyword
    Svitlana E. Sangary = Company Name

    Let’s look at each piece…

    Geography
    I already discussed the lack of importance of the word “California” for this sort of search. I would dump it entirely, as it’s not needed for clarity, and it’s wasting valuable real estate.

    Also, Los Angeles is such a large area, that nearly every local keyword is incredibly expensive. I often recommend to clients that if they’re in one of the areas around Los Angeles, use that city name as your target geography instead of Los Angeles itself. It’s better to get some traffic from a bit less competitive name than no traffic from the big one.

    But Sangary appears to be located in Los Angeles proper, so that doesn’t really apply here.

    Keyword
    This dips into branding territory, but I’m not a fan of “civil litigation lawyer” as a keyword. People will tend to search for a specific practice area, not the general category. For example, here are some search volumes I pulled from the Google Keyword Planner (using her practice areas as an input):

    Keyword Searches per month
    civil litigation lawyer los angeles 10
    business lawyer los angeles 170
    real estate lawyer los angeles 140
    discrimination lawyers los angeles 40
    wrongful termination lawyer los angeles 110
    los angeles personal injury lawyer 1,600

    Other than personal injury (an extremely competitive term in a geography like this), none of these has a whole lot of search volume. But the “civil litigation” keywords have almost no traffic to speak of.

    As of this afternoon, Sangary’s site has the first organic result for [civil litigation lawyer los angeles]. Congrats. I doubt that’s helping her business any.

    Company Name
    What she has is fine, but you want to include either the attorney’s or the firm’s name, so that if people are searching directly for it, they find it.

    Plus, it helps strengthen that page as a citation for local SEO calculations.

    Be sure to put the name at the end of the title tag, like is being done here. But don’t use two characters (dashes, in this case) to separate it. Again, real estate in a title tag is premium space.


    The rest of the site isn’t any better. In fact, it’s worse.

    Most pages have a useless title tag such as “Svitlana index4″ or “Practice Areas”, or do not have a title tag at all. Sub-pages should be used to target your secondary keywords.

    Every page on a local site should have the company’s Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) on it. Sangary only has it on the homepage and Contact Us page.

    Put your company’s NAP in the footer of the site, so it’s there on every single page by default. Not only is it good for SEO, it’s there for users to find it if they want to contact you.

    The lack of a privacy policy on the site, and some questionable grammatical choices probably reduce the site’s trust in Google’s eyes. But I’m not sure trust is high on Sangary’s priority list.

    So, keep these things in mind as you work to optimize your site. And, if you need further help, drop me a line.


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