Rank on Bing

Bing-vectorA couple of years ago I started using an SEO assistance software (UpCity.com) that helped me capture some online directories and other beginner SEO tactics. Being a novice at SEO at the time I didn’t really understand the importance of ranking on any other search engines besides Google. Bing and Yahoo have merged their directories and even though you still need to have a listing on both Yahoo and Bing, Yahoo is where you will increase your rankings on Bing believe it or not.

Similar to Google, Bing has their own algorithms to help throw off all those black hat SEO cowboys. But for us white hat SEO people, I’ve discovered a fairly simple way to help increase your rankings on Bing/Yahoo. Even if it is short lived, Bing will pull down your ranking numbers if you are not consistent with your traffic, so keep this in mind. I first discovered my ranking on Bing when I set up my UpCity SEO software. I chose my industry keywords and I automatically indexed very very high (100+) with my chosen keywords, but ranked in the mid 20’s with Google with those same keywords. I just thought this was good enough, being naive to the importance of online diversity and search engines. However, slowly this number started to bother me and I began to do some research and reworked some of my website content, but still nothing. Then one day, I noticed someone wrote a review about our office on our (free) Yahoo local listing. Two days later I opened up my UpCity and noticed my numbers dropped below 100 and we were sitting at 55, which is a significant difference. At first, I didn’t realize that the impact of the Yahoo Local review but as I looked further I noticed there were two reviews.

yahooThis was no coincidence. Yahoo and Bing are lumped together, like Google+, Yahoo local is a place where people can post reviews, and Bing does not have a review platform, so they point everything over to Yahoo Local. For testing purposes, I let some time pass and after not soliciting any reviews to our Yahoo Local page I noticed that our ranking on Bing went back up to 100. Over the next couple of weeks, I solicited a couple more reviews from satisfied customers that had Yahoo accounts. The ranking went back down to 65 with one review. I updated our content as well and put in some keywords in our description and it went down a couple more points too.

Bottom line, similar to Google, Bing wants fresh content on their sites. This is understandable, and this is good and basic SEO. It’s the simplicity of SEO practices that we so quickly disregard, so don’t forget about the simple things. Content is always king and raw data and content such as reviews should never go untouched or undervalued! If you are not collecting and asking for reviews, chances are people will not partake and this is your easiest way besides blogging to create original content and authority. It’s a lot to ask someone to take time out of their busy schedules to write a review about your business. So, make it enticing for individuals to write about you online by offering a small reward for doing so.

PRO TIP: One other point, if you have not set up a Bing Local (Places) account or Yahoo Local account, do so! Also make sure to index your website through Bing Webmaster Tools. One of the biggest mistakes I see with clients who are managing their own websites and SEO, they never index through Bing. Big mistake!!!

NOTE: Yahoo Local is one of the most confusing and frustrating directory listings on the web, however it is important and essential to your business and online authority. DO NOT disregard Yahoo and do not pay for a listing with them. Use the free business listing but keep in mind every time you change something on your Yahoo local listing, it has to be approved by Yahoo. And it can sometimes take up to 7 days for it to be approved. They want you to use their paid listing, but in my opinion, I’ve used the $10 month premium upgrade listing and you still have to wait almost 7 days for change approvals and if you don’t have a yahoo account, it can be tricky to login and find your local listing. Use your Google account to login instead of creating a yahoo account, it will keep things congruent and easy to remember.

Links and Likes

Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing Places/Local
Yahoo Local
UpCity SEO
Google Webmaster Tools

Think You Know Detroit? Think Again…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt wasn’t until I read the eye opening article in Food and Wine magazine about the culinary culture shift in Detroit and the number of full of flavor cafes and restaurants popping up in Detroit’s southwest side. As I thumbed through the 3-page piece I started to undergo a sense of enthusiasm and wanderlust. As a quasi native of Detroit (I grew up North of Detroit and lived in Detroit Metro for a brief time in the mid 2000’s) this article came as an amiable disclosure. I read about this extraordinary coffeehouse called Astro Coffee, an incredible BBQ joint called Slow’s Barbecue and a savvy cocktail bar who makes their own bitters called Sugar House, my curiosity was unquestionably peaked. Was this a shifting deluge for the Detroit we have all written off and considered befallen to ashes and dust with no resurgence in sight? Yup, you betcha!

After reading the article I began a mad mission to comprehend more about this urban resuscitation in the country’s most economically distraught city. I started to ascertain what others were saying about this revival to be true, Fast Company Magazine wrote an extraordinary article about Detroit echoing these same sentiments, then it was National Geographic’s Travel magazine’s article, a segment on NPR singing the same song, “Detroit is the next big boom-town and tech start up city”. Being the curious individual I am, I had to see this all for myself and come to my own conclusions. So headed home to Detroit, to see my family and allotted myself 3 days in Detroit.

My younger brother bought a house in the exceptionally sought after and now up and coming progressive Detroit neighborhood of Ferndale. Ferndale nestles neatly on the 9 mile and Woodward Avenue corridor. It is chock full of cafe’s, bars and boutiques, it is also considered Detroit’s gay neighborhood, unlike the Castro in San Francisco it definitely has more of a neighborhood charm and buzz unlike its condition 10 years ago. It has developed into something Royal Oak was only capable of accomplishing. The restaurants have certainly upped their ante to 4 star qualities with culinary genius and creativity. Considering its close proximity to 8 mile, the Ferndale neighborhood is humming with creative buzz with its cleanliness, renovated neighborhoods with reconditioned bungalows, donning crisp green lawns, with sheltering mighty great oaks peppering their landscape. My brother bought his house right before the financial crisis in 2008 for $42,000. He chose wisely as the current market has risen enormously in his favor. These are things you are not reading about in your Wall Street Journal’s and New York Times. This is the real Detroit, the one that is emergent and becoming a viable, habitable city once again.

After exploring Ferndale, I headed into downtown Detroit to capture some urban renewal photography. Mind you, it has only been a couple of years since I’ve been in downtown Detroit, as I am frequent lover and supporter of this misrepresented city (my favorite haunts: Magic Stick, DIA, Greektown’s, MotorLounge, Pegasus’ Tavern, St. Andrew’s Hall, City Club & DEMF).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI exited off I-75 onto Warren Ave. drove past the DIA (Detroit Institute of Art) and hooked a left onto Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s “main drag”; as I am driving I noticed people on the streets, walking, on bicycles, there are cafe’s, coffeehouses, bars lining the avenue, the shiny new Whole Foods with a gleaming Starbucks beacon directly adjacent to it. As I crossed into the threshold of downtown closing in on Comerica Park on my left and the Fox Theater on my right I couldn’t believe my own eyes as I was stunned by the dramatic physical transformation of the city; the trash-less, vagrant-less streets, refreshed boulevards, flower boxes, green space, clean parks, a City Square with an active fountain and outdoor performing arts stage, people walking on the street, sitting on park benches, riding bikes. Where there were once vacant skyscrapers, there are now gleaming restaurants, such as the 5 star Westin and it’s 5 star restaurant Roast accompanying it beautifully. A handsome

City Center Ernst and Young

City Center Ernst and Young

Ernst and Young modern glass building dons the city center with a pinnacle Hard Rock Cafe, city center fountain with flowers and green space, a well manicured park across the street coupled with the beacon of corporate hope, the Quicken Loans building which has recently taken up headquarters in the downtown Detroit and at the 1001 Woodward Avenue building a striking example of change, a sign that assert “Outsource To Detroit”! I turn right onto Michigan Avenue and head toward Corktown,Detroit’s Oldest Neighborhood home of the original Detroit Tigers Stadium (now reduced to rubble) and the oldest neighborhood in Detroit (est. 1834).

The boulevard is clean, trash less (unlike it’s state 4 years ago), I see Astro Coffee, Slow’s BBQ and of course one of my favorite Detroit icons, the vacant Central Station Train Station and Hotel, an architectural masterpiece

Central Station, Detroit

Central Station, Detroit

and also the center of the hotly debated topic of removal for years. I drove into the neighborhood of Corktown, feasting my eyes on clean neighborhoods and beautiful graffiti art and an artist painted building sign that says “Welcome to Corktown!”

This is not the Detroit I grew up in, and it most certainly is not the Detroit that is being nationally depicted. This is the NEW Detroit. This is far from anything that is being proclaimed in all of the downbeat media surrounding Detroit. However, the Fast Company, Food and Wine and NPR articles were all correct in their appraisal of Detroit, as it is clearly undergoing an impressive metamorphosis that needs to be shown to the world .

After snapping various pics of Corktown and the iconic train station, I opt to head to Brush Park, which at one time was one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Detroit, and became a ghost town over night following the 1967 riots. Since, Brush Park has been an iconic run down dangerous area, with vacant and abandoned brownstones taken over by vagrants and squatters. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver time, gradually, the city has removed some of the broken down homes which has now opened up the opportunity for more green space and city lots for re-purposing and rebuilding. As I pulled onto Brush Street I saws something beyond belief, life. Someone was actually mowing their grass and the homes that are remaining were stunning, renovated back to their original state, complete with crisp manicured lawns, flowers coupled with restored original

Brush Park 2013

Brush Park 2013

coach houses and wrought iron fencing. This is the Detroit many do not get to see nor know exists, but I’ve seen it at its absolute worst and now during its renaissance. The proximity to downtown is marvelous because you can literally see Comerica Park and the Towering Renaissance Center towers. Just when I didn’t think it could get better I decide to peruse Cass St., the main drag of Wayne State University – Cass is on block west of Woodward Avenue. This neighborhood has always been suspect for years and not a place a young female photographer should be flashing her expensive camera. Cass Street was striking, amazingly well groomed and updated. Restaurants, pubs,

Cass St.

Cass St.

bakeries and cafes lined the street. Renovated brownstone apartment buildings gleamed, as did the neighborhoods they sit in. I pulled into a bakery off of Cass St. to chat with some locals. ON this street there was a bakery, dry cleaners and hair boutique as well as a newly built loft apartment building with brownstone apartment buildings being renovated across the street. I sat with one of the locals briefly and asked if he lived in the neighborhood as I imagined he did with his Detroit Tigers T-shirt and very large German Sheppard at his side. He said “yes I live in these lofts right here, my partner and I moved here 3 years ago wanting to be a part of this movement” I asked him about the cleanliness and lack of vagrancy in the city and how this was happening given the financial state of the city he said “the city has nothing to do with this, we the people of this movement are creating neighbor associations and cleaning up the city, making it livable again. When we have an issue with something that might involve the police we call Wayne State University Police Department who usually respond within 2-3 minutes; but we usually do not have many problems that warrant the police, they are few and far between.” He directed me to check out the Canfield Historical Home District just a block over and Mario’s Italian Restaurant, both Icons of Detroit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I drove to 2nd St. to check out Mario’s, I never even noticed this before it had been here since 1948 and as I drove through the historical district of West Canfield(Detroit’s first official historical district) the cobble stoned street led me to a beautifully unimaginable gem, reconditioned brownstone mansions, with once again, clean manicured green lawns, renovated coach houses with 100 year old oak trees lining the yards and streets, I felt as if I had stepped back into to time. It was a site, one that most will never see even Detroit natives, had someone not told them about it, it was a side of Detroit I had never experienced.

West Canfield Historical District

West Canfield Historical District

When I left Detroit I felt a sense of purpose as an entrepreneur. I began to feel like I wanted to be a part of this infectious movement, a movement that is being defined by the people of the city of Detroit, the people that are literally moving there to help rebuild this once incredible city. It is exciting to see Detroit progress into this urban revival that cannot only be defined by what is going on but more by what has already been set into motion, change, BIG change. When you hear about companies like Quicken Loans moving their offices to Detroit, you can’t believe it until you see why. “If you build it they will come”, and let me tell you, they are coming and they are coming from everywhere!

Le Nouveau Detroit is coming!

Tiny Tips About WordPress

Guy-pushing-wordpressWeb/blog design can be overwhelming, especially in the beginning, you wonder where to start.  Most of us back in the day landed on blogger and as blogger evolved so did so many other “blogger” type sites. Over the years, I stayed true to Blogger, up until WordPress took over the blogging scene and started flexing its superhuman design muscles.  I became captivated by the quality themes, design options, affordability and robust functionality all wrapped up into one neat little package. And the rest is history…

When prepping for whichever blog/website you do choose to design, you have to elect a domain name, you can do this through any site really, but WordPress manages to keep everything in house right down to hosting your site and giving you the option to select a free WordPress domain name or the option to purchase a premium domain name as well, sans WordPress part of the domain:  www.mywebsite.wordpress.com. I love WordPress because it keeps things simple and fluid. Check it out!

WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

When you first start dabbling in the lovely world of WordPress you will find that there are two different sites, WordPress.org and WordPress.com. This is simple discernment. WordPress.org is for building websites and robust blogs and WordPress.com is for building a free simple blog which is also indexable through Google, Pinterest and Bing.

  • WordPress.com benefits: Free, easy to setup, secure, your content is automatically backed up on hundreds of servers.
  • WordPress.org benefits:  Ability to upload custom themes, plugins and if you are HTML savvy you can customize code.

Choosing a WordPress Theme

Choosing a theme is like choosing a pair of shoes. You try them on, walk in them for a while, and you love them, hate them, or add them to your collection of shoes. Themes in reality are very similar. To start with, WordPress  gives you several default themes, such as the twenty-ten, twenty-eleven, twenty-twelve and now just released the twenty-thirteen default theme. These are great starter themes to acclimate you to using WordPress and the back end functionality of this very robust yet simple CMS (content management software). In addition to these default themes, WordPress also affords you the option to select from a large array of FREE themes as well. Surprisingly, the list of FREE themes grows everyday and some of these themes are incredibly beautiful, functional and easy to use for your blog/website and most of these themes are good for either a blog or your website. You also have the option to purchase premium themes as well. Premium themes usually have more styling options and custom CSS. Premium themes will cost you though, typically between $25-100 depending on the extensiveness of the theme. It’s ok to collect themes are try out different ones and their functionalities.  You also have the option within the pre-download portion of the theme to look at it live as well, a great way to try it on quickly to see if it fits your style! TIP: Info-Way inkthemes.com is a great place to download theme packages for very little cost, they have excellent forums and customer service!

How do I….?

When initially trying to learn WP, you are faced with an interesting challenge; you are either here for a simple blog design or a website design/extensive blog. The disparity between the two can be vast but learning WordPress is very similar on either platform. WordPress manages to keep things reasonably balanced in regards to blog vs. website design. My suggestion, if you are a beginner and trying to learn WP, start with a blog and get your feet wet there first. And of course, it is good for any entrepreneur to blog anyways, this is a great way to learn WordPress and to launch your first published work!  Another suggestion is to purchase “WordPress for Dummies”  keep in mind there are two versions, make sure to take notice, ”WordPress” for Dummies & “Wordpress Web Design for Dummies”, both are outstanding resources  and  will take you through WordPress step by step. It will also reveal some great secrets of WordPress and give you tips and tricks as well.  I still reference these books to this day and as WordPress and the world of CMS are constantly shifting I continue to get the updated versions on my iPad.  Note: WordPress also has a great support page and a forum page as well. Both will help you with most any issue or question with WordPress.

Plugins

One thing you will see and hear a lot of is the word “plugin”.  Wordpress.org presents an array truly incredible tools for you to download, install and diversify your WordPress powered website  these are called plugins. What is a plugin you might ask? Plugins are undersized programs, or combination of programs rather, that sit on top of your WordPress system and enhance the function of your website dependent on the chosen desired plugin(s). Basically the way plugins emerged were from programmers wanting to give WordPress sites that little kick and capability to do one more extra thing or element without having to alter the code, and voila the plugin was born!  Now, there are over 23,000 different plugins all used for different purposes, and when you start looking at the list of plugins, it’s easy to get a little lost and beleaguered. But a word to the wise, make sure you do your research and read reviews and ratings about plugins. One plugin can crash your entire site, and this is no joke. Don’t be cavalier about what you decide to download onto your site; and before you start getting crazy with plugins always make sure you have good back up of your website.  But don’t be deterred from using plugins, if you do your research and download from reputable sources, then you are good to go and honestly there are some plugins you just can’t live without! Here is a list of must haves:

  1. All in One SEO Pack -Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog (Love this one!)
  2. Google XML  Sitemap -This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog.
  3. WordPress Database Backup
  4. Google Site Verification -One-click Google verification for your website – This is great for veryfiying and indexing your blog on Google. Make sure you have a Google Webmaster Tools account (it’s free)
  5. Bing Site Verification- Same as Google
  6. Contact Form 7
  7. Google XML Sitemap for Videos – same as above but specific for video sites
  8. Simple Pull Quote – This is just a really cool way to pull out certain text and put it in cartoon-like quotations.
  9. Thank Me Later – An automated “thank you” to anyone who comments on your blog, great for your blogger on the go!
  10. Ultimate Google Analytics – adds JavaScript to each page (without making any changes to your template) so that you can track outbound links, downloads from your own site, mailto: links, and more without requiring you to install the code manually. (you must have a Google Analytics account – this is free)

Social Media

WordPress also gives you the option to add all or some of your Social Media pages to your blog/website. Take advantage of this option because this is your way of reaching the outside world, outside of your WordPress family.  And if you don’t have social media pages setup in your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ then do so!  You are missing out on the internet’s biggest party and a key function to SEO! With just a few clicks you can quickly reach numerous audiences and besides what good is a published work if no one can find you and read what you are writing!?

There is a learning curve to all of this WordPress stuff, and at first it might feel overwhelming almost like learning a new language, but in the end if you are willing to get past some minor nuances you will find that this very robust CMS is compelling and intuitive. WordPress is dominant because it gives you a toolbox full of tools, you just have to learn how to use them, when to use them and where to use them. This is something that will come quickly, if you are willing to put in the effort and hours it takes to learn WordPress. Once you’ve done that, the rest is cake! Trust me, learning WordPress will be the best investment in your blogging/website future. WordPress has changed the face of CMS and things are changing rapidly so get on board and be a part of this incredible ride!