SEO Costa Rica

3 Common Search Marketing Mistakes You MUST Avoid

Search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search marketing can be highly effective traffic drivers for your website. They can be a core aspect of your marketing mix. For some companies, Search can even be responsible for driving the vast majority of revenue.

So, how can Search potentially hurt a business, and actually do more harm than good?
If you haven’t built a rock-solid marketing foundation for your business first, Search could be driving prospective customers to a poor experience. In these scenarios, Search would be creating a crowd of people who dislike your brand, meaning you’ve lost them as prospects – both now and in the future.

To fix this and ensure your Search initiatives are teed up for success, avoid the following three common mistakes in launching Search campaigns:

Mistake #1: Launching Search with Weak Branding
What does your brand represent? What differentiates you from the competition? What’s your positioning in the market? Is your brand “likeable” among your target audience?
You think of Apple, and you think it’s a great brand. Now, think of your own brand. Is it a great brand – or just OK? Is it clear who you are and what you stand for? Are you likeable and relevant to your target audiences?

Building a strong brand – one that really sells – is important. With each incremental visitor that you touch with your brand, you must ensure a great experience or you risk losing customers (and possibly even your reputation). With solid branding, the business results from your Search efforts will improve dramatically.

Mistake #2: Launching Search in a Silo
Some companies dive head-first into Search, believing it to be a magic pill. However, Search is a capture mechanism, and typically only serves as one step in the overall marketing funnel. If you ignore the other steps in the funnel, you’re probably going to under-perform, no matter how exceptional you are at Search Marketing execution.

In other words, even if your Search efforts are driving traffic, you still need to be a good marketer, period. Consider:
How are you building awareness?
How are you generating word-of-mouth?
Is your messaging attracting the right audience, at the right time?
Have you explored everywhere you need to be, online and offline?
Have you integrated your marketing across channels, vehicles and customer touchpoints?
Have you nailed the close – have you given potential customers every possible reason to select your company’s products or services?

Are you doing enough cross-selling, upselling and post-sale marketing…

Mistake #3: Launching Search with a Weak Website
Is your website the ugliest thing in the universe? Is it hard to navigate, with a frustrating “maze” of information? Is “inconsistency” the only thing that is consistent about your site? If so, it’s time for a site overhaul.

When assessing your site, look at your website’s conversion rate. If you need a microscope to find that number, you’re not ready for Search. Why invest money in driving traffic to a site that’s underperforming? Instead, first focus on conversion optimization, ensuring that you’re matching your visitors’ needs. Once you know that your design, messaging and calls-to-action will lead to boatloads of conversions, it’s a great opportunity to invest your time, energy and money on Search.

Remember, Search Marketing can drive a great deal of traffic to your site and conversions for your business. However, you need to first build the right platform for your Search initiatives so that campaign results will effectively propel your business forward.

By Tom Shapiro

SEO Costa Rica

Google+ Reviewed

By Jacob S Strandlien (c) 2011

Social networking has grown steadily in scope and importance over the last decade, and over the past few years, Facebook’s position as the top dog of social networking services has been solid and unquestioned. Enter Google+. Google’s attempts to step into the realm of social networking have been plentiful and almost undeniable failures, but Google+ is undoubtedly their strongest showing yet, and has the best chance of success. It is growing steadily in popularity, but how well does it work and what sets it apart from its competitors?

Social Networking, Google Style

Google has a long, tumultuous, and mostly unknown and ignored history with social networking. The following is a rundown of their previous attempts.

Orkut: As far as I am aware, this is Google’s earliest and (until now) most successful attempt at a social networking platform. It didn’t ever gained much popularity in the United States, but it is huge in Brazil to this day, and it also has a following in India and other various countries.

Open Social: Launched in 2007, it’s not technically a social network in and of itself. Open Social is Google and MySpace’s attempt to create a common programming interface that can be applied across several social networks, allowing programmers to easily integrate these networks into websites and other applications. This has largely been drowned out by Facebook.

Friend Connect: Launched in 2008, Friend Connect was Google’s next attempt at a Facebook or MySpace style social network, but it took the approach of using various open standards (including Open Social) to create this network across different types of accounts and websites. I had not even heard of it until I started researching for this article.

Google Lively: This was Google’s attempt to create Second Life style 3D environments that could be installed onto any website, where users could log in with their personas and interact with each other. It only lasted for a few months before it was discontinued in 2008.

Google Wave: This was a communications format that was intended to combine features from e-mail, message boards, and social networking schemes to enable a conversation-style information exchange (or wave) that could include various type of media added by various networked contributors. Google has basically abandoned the project, but it still exists under the name Apache Wave.

Google Buzz: A social network that has been integrated into Google’s e-mail service, Gmail, since 2010. It allows people to share information with one another in a social networking format right inside the Gmail interface. Ironically, Google Buzz has barely generated any buzz at all.


Circles are the core concept of Google+, and the key feature that sets it apart from its competitors. Anybody you wish to communicate with goes into one or more of your “circles”, or groups of people you know. You can have a circle of friends, a circle of co-workers, a circle of family members, etc, and nobody but you can see what circles you have or who is in them. Then when you write a status update, you also choose which circles to share it with. This makes privacy a breeze, a fact that sets Google+ firmly apart from Facebook, where privacy settings are terribly complex to manage and seem to change every few months. Even better, when you’re setting up your personal information in Google+, there is a place in every field to specify with which circles that information is shared. For example, I have my phone number set up to only be visible by friends and family, but I have my profession set to be visible by all my circles. It’s a snap. Then when you go to look at status updates that others have posted (which is in an interface similar to Facebook in basic appearance), you can filter the information by circles with just one click. It works extremely well, and you can color me impressed.


Another unique feature in Google+ is the concept of a hangout. A hangout is basically a video chat room, where you can invite friends and talk freely amongst each other. Webcams are becoming very widespread, and are even built into laptops and netbooks. It sounds great, but it is not without its setup. To even get started with hangouts, you are asked to download and install the “Google Voice and Video plugin”, and then you have to find a fríend who is on Google+ (and is in one of your circles) who is willing to do the same thing. However, once you’re done with all that, the streaming video seems to work flawlessly so long as you have a good internet connection. Even through the limited resources of a netbook, I didn’t run into any hiccups. Once again, I’m impressed.

Missing Features

With all of its clean look and smooth operation, there are some features that are conspicuously missing from Google+. Most notably as of the writing of this article, Google+ lacks any way to set up an account for a business or organization (called “Pages” on Facebook). In fact, Google is actively taking down standard user accounts that are set up for organizations. They claim that they are working on some sort of platform for business accounts, but demand is high, so they risk alienating new users if they take too long. Another conspicuously absent feature is a way of setting up an event, or any sort of calendar entry for that matter.


Google+ is definitely a top-quality effort by Google to break into the social networking field, but only time will tell whether it can topple Facebook from its position as top dog in the pack. For my money, though, it has a good chance. It doesn’t have all the features yet, but with its clean interface, simple no-brainer privacy, and fun methods of interaction, I highly recommend checking it out.

SEO Costa Rica

SEO Keyword Tips

a chart to describe the search engine market
Image via Wikipedia

Whether you’re running a PPC (pay per click) campaign or doing SEO (search engine optimization), having a keyword list that describes your product(s) or service(s) is an essential element for getting your website discovered on search engines. These tips will work the same whether their for blog posts or other content on your website.
For the purposes of this article a keyword will be referred to as a single word or string of words that a user will type into a search engine.

You know your business inside and out, but how do you know what keywords everyday people are using to find you online? This blog will outline several online tools that will aid you in building your keyword list.

1) Google AdWords Keyword Tool
This tool is not just for AdWords, it’s also useful for organic search engine optimization as it gives you related keyword searches that real people are actually using. You’ll also get a snapshot of how competitive the keyword is (in AdWords, but it’s also relevant for organic optimization). The number of global monthly searches for the keyword and local monthly searches are also displayed.

2) Word Tracker
The free version of Word Tracker will provide you with a limited list of keywords and the volume of searches for each keyword. It’s not as extensive as the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, but it’s worth a try since it does come up with different suggestions for related keywords.

3) Keyword Eye
Keyword Eye allows you to create a list of related keywords and view them in different visualizations. You can view keywords in a cloud map (as shown below); red denotes highly competitive keywords, yellow indicates moderate competition and green means low competition. You can also view keyword search volume share represented in a pie chart. Lastly you can view them in a grid that will tell you the search volume, competition, competition score, match type, country and language.

4) Google Analytics
To use Google Analytics you’ll have to install the embed code on your site. To make sure your analytics code is installed correctly try using our GPablo analytics code scanner.
Google Analytics won’t suggest keywords for you, but it does let you uncover the different keywords by which people discover your site. You can then gear additional content around some of the popular searches people are doing to find you.

5) Google Insights for Search
Although still in Beta, Google Insights for Search lets you see what people are searching for. With this tool “you can compare search volumes patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties.” You can also compare how your keywords do seasonally and geographically.

This seems like a really obvious solution to finding alternate keywords for your site. For those of us who can’t fire off 10 synonyms for every word they know, a thesaurus is a great way to uncover other words that people may be using to search for your products or services.

In Conclusion
So there you have it, my top 5 free online tools for helping you build your keyword lists. On a side note, Google used to have a tool called the Wonder Wheel that looked like a tree with each keyword spawning a new set of branches and keywords. It would have definitely been a part of this list, but unfortunately Google shut down the Wonder Wheel earlier this year.

As useful as keyword tools are, it’s important to do some good old fashioned brainstorming. Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and thinking like them will go a long way in helping you uncover valuable keywords. Use these free SEO keyword tools to aid in your own brainstorming and critical thinking.

SEO Costa Rica

On-Page Blog Optimization Techniques

A SPN Exclusive Article By David Jackson (c) 2011

On February 5th, 1956, a science fiction movie titled “Invasion of the Bódy Snatchers” was released in the US. The movie is about a small-town doctor who discovers that the population of his community is being systematically replaced by emotionless alien duplicates.

Fast forward to today, and life is imitating art, with a real life version of Invasion of the Bódy Snatchers being played out. But it’s not just happening in one small town. It’s happening in cities and towns all across America. Only it’s not bodies that are systematically being snatched, it’s our individual right to privacy.
“If you win this case, then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day, the public movement of every citizen of the United States.” Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

I just read a disturbing article on the BBC News website titled How Much Privacy Can Smartphone Owners Expect?

Among other things, the article discusses how The US Supreme Court could soon make a ruling allowing police to monitor the movements of US mobile phone users without a warrant – which legitimately begs the question, now that most of us carry sophisticated tracking devices in our pockets, how much privacy do we have a right to expect?

Because if authorities get their way, they won’t have to ask “Where’s Waldo?” They’ll know exactly where he is, because they’ll be monitoring his smartphone.

The Erosion Of Privacy In America

As American citizens, we have the constitutional right not to be subjected to unsanctioned invasion of privacy by individuals, government or corporations. And while those rights are supposed to be protected by the constitution, the truth of the matter is, the erosion of our privacy has been occurring for decades.

And it hasn’t been occurring in a vacuum either. The media has been reporting on invasion of privacy stories for as long as I can remember. In fact, I distinctly remember a huge media story from twenty years ago about a government agency that used thermal imaging devices to locate a marijuana growing operation in Oregon.

On January, 27, 1992, Oregon authorities arrested a man named Danny Lee Kyllo, who was tried and convicted of illegally growing marijuana. Authorities located the marijuana by placing thermal imaging devices outside of Kyllo’s home. However, in 2001 in Kyllo v. United States (533 U.S. 27), the conviction was overturned because it was decided that the use of thermal imaging devices that can reveal previously unknown information without a warrant does indeed constitute a violation of privacy. (Source: Wikipedia)

SEO Costa Rica

The Biggest Web Design Trends of 2011

By Stephen Loates (c) 2011

Since we are over seven months into the year I decided it was time to give my take on what may happen in web design in 2011. (At least I thought I should probably write it before the year was over.)

So, over the past several weeks I have read a number of my favourite web design magazines, web design blogs and articles and viewed a number of cutting edge websites, particularly outside of North America, so that I could share some thoughts about what appears to be some of the major trends in website design for 2011. There is nothing scientific contained here, just some observations.

1. Less Use of Flash

It is not the fact that Flash is not a great technology…(when used appropriately it is)…but in the past year or so it has been over used, misused, abused to the point that it has developed a bad reputation. Certainly, the ongoing shenanigans between Adobe (creator of Flash) and Apple (iPhone and iPad) are not helping the situation. Today, websites need to have a clean, uncluttered design, fast loading and above all must be Search Engine friendly. This is a problem for Flash and now with the coming of the new web coding languages of HTML5 and CSS3, together with the explosive growth of web surfing on mobile devices perhaps it is the beginning of the end of Flash in web design.

2. Simpler and Cleaner Design

Simple. Minimal. Uncluttered. There’s nothing quite as “attention grabbing” as an honest, straightforward message on a quiet backdrop. Quiet can be interpreted several different ways. Forget black and white or shades of gray, although these are still very popular in certain industries. Think of green, yellow, red or even blue as your primary color. However, limit your palette to two or three colors. Work within the shades of each color for variety and depth. It can be truly remarkable what a few colors can do for effective messaging.

3. Mobile Ready Design

Smartphones, tablets, netbooks, the list goes on and on. There’s a dizzying amount of mobile products available to the consumer in 2011. This means your web design must be responsive to multiple devices. Creating a mobile ready website is not simply removing the bells and whistles from your existing design. One of the most important advances is that you can design a whole site and allow your coding to conform to the user’s viewing medium. It may be tempting to just create a dedicated mobile site, but that may no longer satisfy your audience. Increasingly, mobile sites include the option to visit the original site. If you do not offer this option or if your original site is not optimized to mobile standards, you are simply not ready for 2011. Forecasters predict that smartphones will outsell personal computers this year, and by 2013 more time will be spent surfing the internet on a mobile device than on a personal computer.

4. Large Photographic Backgrounds

Large scale backdrops will surge in 2011. These images will be high resolution, and covering the entire site. Large photos are an instant way to grab your audience. Massive images were once taboo for web designers, but thanks to better image optimization, faster internet connections, and smarter loading methods, designers can gain a lot in some sites by pushing image sizes to the maximum. Trends also point to soft and slightly transparent imagery that does not overshadow your content, but harmonizes with it.

5. QR: Quick Response

You may have noticed those square barcodes (looks like lots of squiggly unrelated lines) popping up on business cards, magazines or elsewhere, so you may already know that they are a hot trend for 2011. These barcodes are called QR, short for Quick Response. And how exactly does QR translate into web design? Quite well, in fact. Simply take a photo of the unique barcode with your camera phone. Like magic, your phone will call up the website associated with that barcode. The beautiful thing about QR is the flexibility. Feature your QR on your website, in order for site visitors to have a shortcut to your mobile site. 2011 is all about mobility and it will be smart to take advantage of this new medium.

6. Thumbnail Design

Our good friends at Google have introduced the average internet user to thumbnail browsing. The days of clicking through to see the content of a website are now gone. Now, you just click on the magnifying glass and hover. And just like magic before your eyes is a glimpse of what waits on the other side of your click. This is another issue for Flash-based design that is definitely going to be a problem. The preview will not display those elements of your design. As the average internet surfer becomes more internet-savvy in 2011, expect to see more people navigating by these means.

These are by no means a complete listing of all the trends. In fact, we could probably write an entire posting on the trends in the use of different fonts alone.

Drop me a line and let me know what trends you have noticed and what you think of them.