About Me

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I'm a digital marketer, programmer and entrepreneur based in Dexter, MI.  I've worked in the digital marketing and web development field for close to a decade.  Over the course of my career, I've become adept at areas of digital marketing such as programmatic advertising, SEO, email marketing, inbound marketing,  promoting businesses through social media.


I currently serve as Director of Marketing for Rankings.io, an SEO agency based in Southern Illinois.  We help attorneys, medical professionals, and small businesses rank their websites on the first page of Google.  Our core services include onsite and offsite SEO as well as website design and programming.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Get phones to start ringing, and others to stop

As I begin piecing together a strategy for Malloy to gain a more consistent and visible web presence, I’m finding that there is a lot of work to undo. Some ancillary projects that I have been working on include creating business listings in the digital space. Google places and Bing business listings just to name a couple.

In my quest to get exposure for the company in these channels, I was required to verify that I was a genuine representative or owner of the company. Anyone who has set up an account through these search engines or other online entities knows what I’m talking about but for the lay person, this involves a phone call to or from the entity that you are listing with or entering some type of verification code on the site. In Google and Bing’s case, you can either get verified by phone or request to have a post card sent to you by mail that has a pin code in it.

If you have ever tried to set up listings at some of the less popular business listing sites such as Manta.com, Local.com or similar sites, you probably ascertained that the information contained in such listings should be somewhat consistent if not exactly the same as every other listing you have. The problem I ran into is that there were multiple listings, dozens and dozens in fact, that had out-dated or inaccurate information about Malloy. Specifically there was one phone number that seemed to appear on every defunct listing that called directly into Paper Receiving where no one answered the phone if it was an outside call.

The problem became apparent when I tried to verify the Google Places account and the phone number Google already had on file for Malloy called into that department. When I talked to the person on duty there, he claimed that the phone rings all the time from the outside and they just never answered it. After searching with the company name with that phone number in the query, I discovered the multitude of listings with that phone number on random sites like b2byellowpages.com and cityclique.com. Some listings had no options to delete or modify the information without paying for a membership. I have had some success with contacting these entities and requesting that the inaccurate or outdated information be removed but it is proving to be a larger issue than I first anticipated.

Needless to say it is somewhat easy to get your business line ringing with these online listings but substantially more difficult to get an inaccurate or misrouted phone number to stop receiving calls.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tracking Submit Button Within A Joomla! Form

Tracking events and pageviews in Google Analytics is a great feature that allows you to identify when visitors are performing an action. The _trackEvent() function specifically is a very versatile piece of code that can be applied to elements where a pageview is not generated such when a visitor plays a video, listens to a sound bite, or clicks a submit button.

Installing the code can differ from scenario to scenario. For instance placement of the JavaScript tracking code is different when placing it on a link as opposed to placing it on a submit button. The following example outlines how to install the _trackEvent() function on a generic contact form that is normally installed from within the Joomla! interface.

Joomla! is a great content management system that allows users to build and manage a website with almost no programming knowledge. For programmers though, it can make you feel like a fish out of water. When a form is installed on a website from within Joomla!, it is commonly done with the Blue Flame Forms feature found under the components tab. Elements of the form such as text boxes, drop down menus, text areas and buttons can easily be added and rearranged. When it comes to installing code to track a button click this feature is of no help.

To install the _trackEvent() function on a Joomla! form, you must have access to the files of your Joomla! website through an FTP program. In this example I used Filezilla.

The document you must install the code on is named default.php and is located at the end of the path joomla\components\com_contact\views\contact\tmpl. The components folder may be within a couple other folders first but with only a little digging it is not too difficult to find.





Drag default.php over to your computer or some other location where you can open it. Using HTML editing software (I used Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2008) open the file. You will need to find the line of code pictured below. It should be on line 20 of the code or somewhere around there.



    <form action="<?php echo JRoute::_('index.php') ?>" method="post" name="selectForm" id="selectForm">
    <?php echo JText::_( 'Select Contact' ); ?>:
    <br />
    <?php echo JHTML::_('select.genericlist', $this->contacts, 'contact_id', 'class="inputbox"
    onchange="this.form.submit()"', 'id', 'name', $this->contact->id);?>
    <input type="hidden" name="option" value="com_contact" />
    </form>



Once you have located the code snippet, insert your _trackEvent() function. This data model is very versatile because you can assign different values that map directly into Google Analytics event tracking reports. For Google’s example of the code click here. For this scenario I only filled out the required fields which are “categories” and “action”. The code snippet looks like this.


onSubmit="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'contact-form','submit']);"



Once installed in default.php, the new snippet within the document should look like this.



    <form action="<?php echo JRoute::_('index.php') ?>" method="post" name="selectForm" id="selectForm"
    onsubmit="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'contact-form','submit']);">
    <?php echo JText::_( 'Select Contact' ); ?>:
    <br />
    <?php echo JHTML::_('select.genericlist', $this->contacts, 'contact_id', 'class="inputbox"
    onchange="this.form.submit()"', 'id', 'name', $this->contact->id);?>
    <input type="hidden" name="option" value="com_contact" />
    </form>


Once it is installed, save your document and upload it to your server through the FTP program. Do some testing to see if your code is working. It is incredibly easy to leave out a seemingly minimal piece of information such as a quotation mark or an angle bracket which will cause the code to not work.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Where do I get my Backlinks?

Backlinking for SEO is still one of the most popular methods for obtaining higher positions in SERP’s. What in the heck did I just say? SERP’s or search engine results pages, are simply the pages returned after a person types a search term or phrase into a text box and clicks search. The position that websites have on those pages is determined by a multitude of differing factors. The way the site is built, the relevance of the content to the user’s search query, the length of the URL, the content contained in meta tags and of course, backlinks among other factors. Backlinks are simply links on other websites that lead to yours. Just having a lot of sites linking to your website however is not enough to get a higher page rank. The sites linking to yours must be reputable or in some way important in the eyes of the search engine.

Ranking higher on these pages is less of a science and more of an art form. Backlinking is one of the best ways to get your site to appear as popular in the eyes of search engines and hence, get you more exposure. Once charged with the task of obtaining backlinks however, you may quickly realize that it isn’t as easy as installing links on your own site. You cannot just whip out an anchor tag and plop in a URL. Getting other entities to link to your site is the equivalent of getting them to put promotional fliers on their receptionist’s desk or to hang posters in their storefront windows. Some people may cringe when asked to do it. Or, they may be happy to do it but getting them to actually walk over and hang the sign as well as keep it up for an extended period of time is tricky.



  • Start with who you know

    The best place to start on finding other websites to link to yours is to look at who you are already affiliated with. If you have been in business for a while and have a good reputation, chances are you will not have to look far for customers, suppliers, industry trade groups, business associations and other entities that know you and your business. The first and probably best tactic to be employed for obtaining a backlink is to simply ask. Contacting entities, businesses and/or applicable customers and asking for them to link to your site may bear more fruit than you think. Of course it may take some concerted effort and perhaps more than one phone call or email to get them or their IT department on the ball. These are some of the best places to look for backlink opportunities because these groups already have a relationship with your company and putting a link on their site to yours is probably not the most valuable or difficult-to-do favor you have asked them for.


  • Link other web properties

    If you are looking into SEO in the first place, I’ll bet you are also hard at work developing a web presence. Claiming profiles for your company on social networks, business listing websites and other web properties is a great way to get more exposure for your business. Linking these profiles and listings to your main website will also count toward your backlink tally. While you may not be able to add dozens of backlinks with this tactic, every little bit helps. Just claiming profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and its various products as well as Yahoo and Bing gives you tons of opportunity to link to your site from other accounts that will count as votes for you or your company’s main website.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Obsessed with Analytics

I use the website tracking platform Google Analytics on a daily basis for my jobs as well as for my personal web marketing blog. I sort have become obsessed with tracking the different web properties that I am involved with. For instance my wife and I (mostly my wife) set up a blog about 4 years ago centered on our daughter who was born with metatropic dysplasia, a rare form of dwarfism. About a week ago I got the itch to start tracking the site to see who was viewing it. The first 10 days of data are very intriguing.

We have received visitors from the following countries

  • U.S. (states include New Jersey, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, California, New York, Michigan and North Carolina)


  • Poland


  • Cyprus


  • Germany


  • United Kingdom


  • Italy



The bounce rate for the site (percentage of users that leave after viewing only one page) is low for a blog at around 60%. Bounce rates are notoriously high for websites like blogs because most of the content is found on the home page and users read more of it simply by scrolling down. This is in contrast to traditional sites that have a home page with some introductory content but the actual “meat” of the site is found on other pages.

Keywords

The most used keyword was metatropic dysplasia however there were other phrases that people typed in to find the blog on Google including “lpa convention shoes off”, “”wears a brace” kyphosis”, “apple jacks”(whatever that meant), “and metatropic dysplasia dwarfism”. Most visitors found the site using the google search engine while others visited directly.

Other metrics that can be measured in terms of how people found the site include referring sites and other search engines however we don’t have enough data yet to see these things and I’m not sure how many people are actually linking to the blog from other sites.

I’m glad to see that people are making use of the information that we are putting out there about this rare condition. Those that would like more info or to connect with other families can view our list of followers on Kaela’s blog or visit metatropicdysplasia.org.