December 3, 2012

SEO Endorsements on LinkedIn

I just want to say a personal thank you to all my clients who have endorsed my work on Linkedin.

One of the most rewarding things in my line of work is when clients show their appreciation by providing you with a testimonial, either written or video.

In as much as I know what I am good at, its great to see the affirmation from the business community that I am involved in.  So from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.

Easywebsites has been operating in the Cayman Islands for the last 4 years and in that duration, we have never had to do any elaborate marketing campaign.  During our first year of operations I remember paying for ads on "Whats Hot" because I wanted to educate the readership on SEO. But that is the extent of advertising we have done.  Through the last four (4) years our small company has grown from 1 employee to a total of 15 with two (2) offices: Main office is the Cayman Islands and our Satellite office in Eastwood Cyber City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

Without the referral business we have gotten from our client-base, we would have closed shop in our first year so thank you Dear Clients!  We hope to continue on this road of assisting businesses conquer the online realm of Internet Marketing.

October 30, 2012

Losing a number #1 position on Google

I was one of the presenters for the Arts Cayman photography contests and when I was there I touted my website as no. 1 in Google for "cayman photographer" - sadly I no longer have this position on the Search Engine giant.  Google Penguin was launched between then and now.

I haven't updated my personal photography website, www.fevisyu.com for atleast two going on three years now and since the last two years have seen the launch of two major algorithms (Google Panda and Google Penguin), my website has suffered from not being updated.  I also haven't updated any content (text) or photos for it so seemingly - my website is comparable to New York during the wrath of Hurricane Sandy - a ghost town.

Currently, my personal photography website is no. 5 in the Cayman Islands for "cayman photographer" - see screen capture below:
Dropped SERPs on Google because of the Panda and the Penguin 
So many of you might be asking, why I dropped rank but the more learned Online Marketer will know precisely why already since I mentioned it in the previous paragraph... it was because I haven't updated my website for almost three years now.

I am currently mulling the idea of updating my website but at the same time, because I get many inquiries on it and never reply to them, I am thinking the smarter move would be to actually make that my real personal website that talks about SEO - my first real love.  I haven't completely decided yet but when I do, it will be obvious - my site will either jump back to being no.1 or be no. 1 for a different keyword altogether.  

For the folks who have sent emails on my personal photography site, I apologize for not getting back to you and hope that you have found another competent photographer.

October 18, 2012

Celebrating Ada Lovelace

Celebrating Ada Lovelace day in the Easywebsites Philippines Office
A celebration of women in science, technology, engineering and math happened this week so we celebrated this in the Philippine office by providing a free lunch to our women developers on Ada Lovelace day.  The guys got muffins!

When we started our operations in the Philippines over four years ago, I remember, we didn't have any women developers.  Its been four years since and now half of our development team are women and thriving.

Anyway, we hope that women in technology all over the world celebrated this momentous occasion and we hope that more and more organizations (big and small) decide to hire women in their workforce.

May 8, 2012

Radio Cayman presents SEO Basics with guest Fevi Yu

I was recently a guest of Business Buzz in Radio Cayman.  Business Buzz is presented by the Cayman Islands Department of Commerce and Investment and is an hour long show every Tuesday and Thursday from 7.30am to 9am.

Atty. Richard Barton is the host of the show and he led a very interesting discussion on basic Search Engine Optimization and what small businesses have to be aware of when they are going online.   Here is the entire hour long radio show.  Big thanks to Lesley-Ann Thompson who is the Head of Marketing for the DCI who invited me and provided the audio of the show.

Here is the entire audio transcript which I uploaded to youtube.com and inserted photos.



Please note that this is the entire radio show so the video is over an hour long.

May 7, 2012

Why we are a better Web design and Internet Marketing Company

Easy Websites is the name of our web design and internet marketing company and we have been in business for the last 4 years in the Cayman Islands.

Not just Web Development
After our first year of business, we started integrating search engine friendliness into the development process of the websites we created.  The results speak for themselves.  As soon as we launched a website with a fairly decent domain age, it would appear on the first page of their keyword.

Click to Enlarge  
A prime example is the Wharf's website.  When we took over this website, it was invisible on google for its major keywords and was only appearing for searches for "the Wharf Cayman" - within a month of launch it started on the bottom of the page and has now inched a mid level result on the first page.   This website now appears on the first page of both "cayman restaurant" and "cayman restaurants" - two keywords that net over 4,000 searches per month. It also appears on the first page of 'grand cayman restaurants" - keywords that their users search for when looking for their business.



Click to Enlarge 
Another example is when we launched the Blackbeards.ky website.  Not having a major keyword that users where searching for, I decided to let it show up for "cayman wines" the most relevant keyword for its target market.  It is now on the first page for this keyword and I believe it is on the top three rank.  Again, no optimization contract, just search engine friendliness integrated into the web development procedure.  How effective was our decision to decide on this keyword?  Well, the Marketing Manager of Blackbeards informed me that they had tourists who told the cashier that they found the company online.

Not just SEO
Is it enough to be found online?  No.  We don't stop at Optimization. Your website needs to conform to the scrutiny of your online users. What is the point of being found online if your users are not using your website?  Usability is a strict adherence to scientific data about how Users behave online.  All our web design projects have been coursed through a usability guideline that enables each and every one to have a low bounce rate, a high click through rate and a high level of engagement.  Here are the definitions of each:

Bounce Rate - when a user enters your a page within your website (usually the homepage) and then exits on the same page without clicking through to another page.  A high bounce rate usually means that the page is not user friendly.

Click-through-Rate (CTR) - when a users enters a page within a website (usually the homepage) and then clicks through to another page.  A high CTR usually means the web page is effective.

Level of Engagement - when a user clicks on a web page and either clicks to contact or reserve.  An engagement is when a page element is enough to get the user to click on it.

Not just a Website
When web usability is integrated into the web development process you create not just a website but an online business tool that is going to help your business succeed.  Your website should be able to answer all your users questions even if they are surfing your website at 11pm at night.  In that way your website is able to bridge the gap between buying decisions.

For more information about our business and what we can do for you, please email us at info@easywebsites.ky or call our office at 1-345-943-8188

April 9, 2012

Cayman SEO: The Food Games vs. The Hunger Games

The Food Games Poster
I am about to write a book called, The Food Games.  (Will possibly get The Food Network to 'Sponsor')  This is a story about the future of humanity.  Sometime in the future, the US is going to be divided into 12 districts.  It will probably come about because of some stupid war.  Each district represents a race.  ie. district 11 is all black, district  8 is all asians (because I'm asian and my favorite number is 8).  There will be two representatives from each district that will be picked randomly.  Of course, unlike the Hunger Games, everyone will want to volunteer because its an eat all you can contest.

Anyway the plot line is that the Asian girl from district 8 out-eats all the other participants.  Everyone is surprised because she's so skinny.  There will be a short flashback to a part of her childhood when she was a voracious eater.  That should explain her awesome eating skills.

And that is enough creative writing for me!  If you have watched the Hunger Games then you know exactly what I'm talking about and if you haven't... well, you should.   The Hunger Games is the first official movie that has taken the social media world by a storm.  A huge storm.  Its actually the first movie I have wanted to watch because of its social media presence.  Wow.  If you haven't heard of it, here is a link to an article that talks about how they did the social media campaign for the Hunger Games.  It is awe-inspiring.  Imagine having to create 13 Facebook accounts, each representing a district.

This week, the Hunger Games surpassed over 300 Million in US domestic sales and over 460 Million in world wide sales.  Thats crazy and its not even a sequel.  (Here's hoping the Food Games will do as well!)

I wrote this article for all the naysayers in the Cayman Islands who still haven't picked up the importance of Social Media.  If after reading this creative blog you decide that this is something your business can benefit from, please do it the right way.  Define your online goals and plan to implement them properly.  The immediate thing to understand about Social Media is that your audience is attentively right there and if you make a mistake in the beginning it will be harder to salvage than to start off from scratch.

I hope everyone has had a restful long Easter weekend.  I know I have and I've enjoyed the last 3 days shore diving in one of the best dive destinations in the World.  If this movie of mine, The Food Games, ever gets to the big screen, the location should definitely be the Cayman Islands because we have such amazing food here.


March 23, 2012

Welcome the "King of Facebook"

Nick Pitman Joins Us
For some time now, I have felt that it wasn't enough to just build websites.  I knew so much more had to be done in order to fill the large online void that everyone seems to be feeling with the advent of Social Media.

My problem was/is that human cloning wasn't a viable option.  I just didn't have the time to go into Social Media myself and bridge that gap.  If I did that, I don't think I would be able to provide the same value to my clients in SEO and Web Design as I would be spreading myself too thinly.


When Google and Bing both integrated social signals into the Search Algorithm,  I knew I could no longer wait.  It was no longer a 'perceived' void but one that was very real.  Social Media was here to stay and traditional marketing would be the next dinosaur.

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend and was ranting about the amount of work that I had to do.  She recommended that I talk to Nick Pitman.  He was once referred to the 'King of Facebook' and he was/is perfect.  On the day that Nick called and confirmed that he was coming on board it was as if a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.  Finally we could provide a full service Agency for the Cayman Islands. A agency whose goal was/is to hunt down dinosaurs.   (Link goes to Nick's blog)

Welcome to the team, Nick!

March 9, 2012

A Survival Guide for SMX (Search Marketing Expo)

One of the Conference Halls
Why write a survival guide for SMX?
This a guide for fellow SEO Professionals who have never attended an SMX - Search Marketing Expo.  Below is a list that I have put together to help  provide a better experience.  These are the things I wish I knew before I attended the Conference. SMX isn't cheap so the more you know before hand, the better prepared you will be.  Some of my tips are just common sense but hopefully provides amusement.  The big question you probably have is one that I had before clicking on the registration button and that is, 'is it worth the money?' the best answer to that question is ask you another question, 'Can you afford not to go?'

Brief SEO Background 
I started in the SEO business around seven years ago but started in PPC over 10 years ago.  I fell in love with SEO because it gave so much value to our client's websites.  For the last 4 years my small web design business which started in the living room of my previous home has grown from just me to 15 full time employees and yes we have an office now. In fact, two offices. The reason we have grown is because I believe we provided that additional service that most web designers don't want to worry about.  After all time is gold, if the client doesn't ask for it, why provide it? In the last four years, my awesome team and I have integrated SEO strategies into our web development process to help our client's websites rank. In true form, within a month of any redevelopment launch (old domains) these websites would be on the first page of their keywords.  We have done this over and over again and we have built a solid reputation or providing value for our clients money over the past 4 years.  So much so that in late 2011 I knew I would have the budget to go to an SMX event, which costs around US$ 2,000 for an early bird registration (including a training session).  As a small business owner, I was hesitant at first, I mean, its not like money grew on trees and the sad state of the economy wasn't helping any.  But in my mind, it felt like affirmation.  If you can afford to go to an SMX event: cost of conference + ticket + accommodation + pocket money = over US$ 5,000, then it must mean you are doing something right.

Survival Guide before SMX
1.  Definitely get the early bird price of the event, which is around US$ 700 less than the actual price.  I booked my conference tickets way back in December - at least two months in advance.  This price included the workshop.

2.  Book the hotel that is suggested by the Event Committee. In this case, it was the Marriot in San Jose.  Being the Scrooge that I was I didn't want to spend over US$ 150 per night so I looked for a more inexpensive hotel and figured I could do with the walk.  I ended up taking the taxi, of course. You are too tired to walk and being in the hotel next to the conference will actually let you meet other SMXers during the event as you would probably run into someone familiar during breakfast/dinner or out in the lobby.  Because I stayed in a hotel that was filled with hockey fans (There was a hockey game at the HP Pavillion, San Jose on the same week), I made a few hockey-fan friends... I totally missed the boat.  Point is this:  You have already paid for the event, don't go cheap on accommodations and stay in the hotel where they recommend!  I am planning on attending an SES event towards the end of the year and will definitely plan on staying at their recommended hotel.

3. Know the temperature of the city.  I come from the Cayman Islands where 80F is already cold for me.  I don't own thermals or coats or have boots so thank goodness I have an amazing sister and friends who lent me the clothes.  During the entire week I was wearing four (4) layers of clothing.  I felt heavy and slow but at least I was warm.  There was a girl in the conference who didnt bring a jacket and she had to buy one from the hotel boutique store.  She bought it for US$ 29 and the same jacket was retailing at the airport for US$ 11.99. If the Cayman Islands ever hosts an SMX, I strongly suggest you bring bathing suits ;-)

4.  If you are not from the US then I suggest you bring a big luggage so you can go shopping in Costco. This has nothing to do with SMX but is just an FYI. I'm not certain if anyone outside the US attends an SMX event but just in case, bring a big luggage!  In the Cayman Islands a medium sized tube of Sensodyne costs US$ 10, In Costco it costs around US$ 19 for four large tubes of Sensodyne.  Wow!  I think I bought enough to last me an entire year.

5. Use Yelp.com to check out the City.  Being the explorer that I am, I wanted to check out San Jose whenever I could.  It was my first time to go and I found Yelp very helpful.  Download Yelp on your iPhone before going, make sure you know what the zip code is.  There is another app I found helpful, Around Me (This link will take you to the iPhone App store)

Survival Guide during the Workshop and SMX 
With Bruce Clay
1.  Attend the Bruce Clay Workshop. If you are like me and you did your entire research online, one of your early heroes would be Bruce Clay, the man.  Even if you think you already know everything, like I did, its so inspiring to just be in the same room with him and his, "Raise your hand if you think Google is in the business of making money" questions.  The training session alone costs US$ 800 and it was the one thing which I thought of dropping to save money.  In the end my business partner convinced me to attend.  Was it worth it?  Yes.  If I was in University I think that he would have been one of my favorite professors.  He is very strict and he had a reason for everything.  During our lunch break he let us out five minutes early because he wanted us to be first in line to eat. How thoughtful is that? ;-) He also introduced a lot of new concepts to us that are not normally found online.  Concepts, that we are attempting to try with the new projects we currently have.  Thanks Bruce Clay, you are still the man and you were right, I did have a massive headache at the end of the day.

2. Decide on your Sessions before going to the Conference.  Which I did and indadvertedly left my notes at the hotel, which was a 3 miles away. [sigh]  There are four Sessions going on simultaneously during the conference days and each and everyone of them is interesting to a serious SEO.  During the conference there is so much excitement in the air that you forget why you chose what topic. During this particular morning, I had planned on going to "Solving Problems & Seeing Success in Google Places" but instead went into "Don't Panic, A Hitchhiker's Guide to Surviving SEO Changes" - and you can see how I would get confused.  Anyway, it was an interesting Session nevertheless, even if it wasn't in the plan. 

With Danny Sullivan 
3. Danny Sullivan hums while trying to pick out questions.  Ok thats not so much a guide but a side note.  Its amusing to me because I only "know" Danny through Seachengineland.com  articles and because I follow him on FB and Twitter.  To see him, in live and in person and seeing him having fun while moderating a session is, well, fun. He also has an endless supply of sensible questions and answers and what i respect most about him is he is not afraid to say, 'I don't know' - which is pretty cool.   He is one of the Search Engine Rockstars of our time and for him to say he doesn't know says a lot about his character.

4. Bring a laptop or smartphone or iPad so you can ask live questions during the seminar.  I love the way technology has revolutionized Q&A and instead of standing out and speaking, you can easily tweet your question to the panelists.

With Shari Thuow
5. Do background research on your Speakers.   You would have to be pretty darn special to be a speaker at the conference but not all the speakers have a focus on your area of specialty.  We at Easywebsites.ky are a web design company and our core focus is developing Search Engine and User Friendly websites -  I wish I had done my research before hand and perhaps I would have attended SEF Web design instead of the hitchhikers guide session (by accident).  Anyway, its a good thing SMX provides all the presentations of the speakers so I can at least see the presentations I missed.  Had I known Shari Thurow before the convention, I would've attended all her talks.  She is an awesome speaker and her focus is what our company does so definitely a right fit for me.  She has already suggested that I take the humanfactors.com certification exam and its now on my list of things to do.

6. Ask Questions during the Sessions.  I come from a small, very small island in the middle of the Caribbean and in this place, everyone knows everyone.  At the conference, you will be in the company of other people who don't know you.  Its going to be very hard to stand out and have anyone remember you, especially when you have such an odd name. Ehem.  What I should have done before going to the conference was write all the questions I had about Web Usability, SEO, IM or SMM.  In that way I could've asked the questions during one of the sessions.  Its hard to ask impromptu questions because when you are at the conference, you are busy thinking of being in the conference and you sorta forget some of the issues you encounter when working on a project.  So, write all your questions down, make sure they are sensible questions and ask them when you are at SMX.  This is probably the best advice I can give to survive and conquer SMX.

7. Don't be shy now.  A lot of tech people are shy.  Or at least I am. In fact, there are some instances where I prefer the company of my mac than other people.  Well, you just spent over US$ 5,000 to go to this convention and for you not to make any contacts would be plain silly.  In fact this is one instance where smoking is good for you if you aren't sociable to begin with.  I'm sure I'm going to get flack for saying that but its true, at least for me.  We, smokers, all tend to huddle outside and talk to each other.  In that social place, the social walls aren't as high and when someone asks if you have a light, thats already a conversation starting point.  Now I am not saying go and start smoking...  that would be irresponsible.  All I am saying is try to find things in common with other people, a conversation starting point that can open doors for others to share their opinion. But at the same time, don't stress about it and don't let your shyness be an obstacle for you to go to an SMX.  Even if you don't make friends, you will learn a whole lot more than researching online.

8. Arrive early and sit in front of the Stage area.  During the first day of SMX I would sit in the back and just prop up my laptop on my, well, lap.  (Wondered why they called it a laptop?) I figured they didn't have tables.  Towards the end of the day I noticed they had tables but only at the front of the stage.  Hah.  It is more comfortable to have your laptop in front of you than on your lap even if it is called a laptop.

I'm sure I will think of quite a few more survival tips for the SMX but in the mean time I have a meeting to prepare for.  Thanks for reading.  If you have any questions or clarifications, feel free to drop me a line @easycayman on Twitter.

February 15, 2012

SEO's help Google understand Websites

I was in a meeting recently and the client asked me a question that made me think of how people perceived us, SEO Professionals.  He asked, "Do you guys [meaning SEO Professionals] try to cheat the Google algorithm?" So it made me realized that perhaps some people perceived us in the wrong light. No, we don't try to "cheat" search engine results.  In fact, we try our best to work within Google's guidelines.  The more information that an SEO has, the better equipped, he or she has in understanding what to do to help your website increase rank.

I chanced upon this article SEO: A force of Good from Search Engine Watch and wanted to add some important aspects of what we do to ensure your website is "Google Friendly" In the same article was this video of Matt Cutts (a Google Engineer)...  here he explains the role of an SEO in helping them [Google] understand where to properly categorize your website.



Because we are a pioneer of building websites that are search engine friendly for the Cayman Islands business community I wanted to add that most Web Developers are just that, they just build websites without consideration of Search Engine requirements.  Because our team is a fusion of web developers and SEO Professionals, we have managed to create a standard in the way we develop our websites.

As soon as we redevelop and relaunch a website with an old domain (ie. a domain that has been around for longer than a couple of years) it naturally shows up for search results.

A prime example of that is the Stepping Stones website (www.steppingstonescayman.com).  They are vying for the keyword, "cayman jobs" and when you type that in Google you will see that they are currently no. 6 for that keyword.  We have done no Optimization for the website, we just built it according to the specifications of Google.  We develop websites with algorithms already incorporated in our web development process.

Most of the websites we develop also show up for the first page of their industry keywords. Another example, www.wharf.ky shows up on the first page of "cayman restaurants".  www.blackbears.ky just launched last month already shows up for their industry keyword, "cayman wines".  An important reminder is this, brand new domains have a more difficult time climbing to the first page of search results, it takes longer. But we can help hurry the process.

So when we develop your website, you already have an advantage over your online competitors because you will be found not just for your company name but also for your keywords.

Hope that helps understand what we do.  We are trying to help your website rank, not cheat Google results.

January 30, 2012

Cayman SEO: Search Engine Friendly means Business Friendly

At the end of the last week of January 2012, I was feeling a bit worn out.  I had arrived from Manila two weeks prior and honestly, I was exhausted.  While I was in Manila I had gotten sick first with the flu and then fever over the New Year Holiday.  I hadn't recuperated from that yet and then had to travel back to Grand Cayman.  As soon as I arrived here, obviously, I had a lot of work waiting for me and have been meeting our clients left, right and center since then.  Its been an exhausting two months to say the least.

So when I received this email last friday, it made all the difference to me as a service provider.  This is one of the most meaningful testimonials I have received and it came at a time when I needed to know that what I was doing was worth it.  It is from our only client in Little Cayman, Brenda of Scooten! Scooters!  She writes...


 
Now that I am over the stress of figuring out the banner photo change, I want to tell you that we have had seven reservations come from our web site so far.  That may not sound like much to you but, to us, it is significant, particularly because each one has been a long term rental of a week or more.  Before the web site, most of our rentals were referrals from the resorts but they were usually only half day rentals.  The web site customers have used our web site to plan ahead and rent a scooter instead of a car.  Bottom line, we have already paid for the investment in the web site.  Thank you!

Thank you for writing that in Brenda!  You don't know how much that means to me.  We want to know that our websites are making a difference so when we receive a testimonial like this, it makes all our exhaustion melt away and makes us ready to face new day.

If you are looking for scooter rentals in Little Cayman, please don't hesitate to contact Scooten! Scooters!  Aside from the fact that they are excellent Clients, they also care about their customers and I can vouch for that!

January 27, 2012

Happy New Year!

I haven't really had the time to update my blog in over a month.  Up to now I can't even find the energy to write about anything because there are so many things that have happened.  Way too many.  A major thing thats happening right now is how Google has turned evil.  On that same link is another important facet of 'search' and that is breaking news accuracy.  Very interesting and it makes me glad that I am in the Cayman Island's search industry not in the news industry.  I agree, it does matter who breaks the news first.   The only problem with being first is the accuracy of the news.

In the Search Industry, I have been very lucky in that I have the time and the 'tools' to practice on alot of theories of Search related Algorithms.  We manage over 100 websites now and yes, I admit, sometimes when I am testing a theory, I 'play' around with the websites but never at the expense of my client's ranking.  If their rank does get affected, I make sure I put everything back in order.  But I am lucky in that I am able to test theories and what-nots and I can validate what other SEO professionals are doing.

One of the most respected SEO professionals is Bruce Clay and I just received a newsletter from him and in it was one of his most recent articles.  16 Predictions for 2012.  It caught my attention because, of course, like everyone else, I would like to be prepared for 2012.  Fortunately for me, I don't have to agree or disagree right away because I'm not in the News industry.

In his third point, 3.) Conferences see massive popularity as companies fight to learn the IMO (Internet Marketing Optimization) disciplines... I just wanted to mention quickly that I am attending my first ever SMX West at the end of February.  I am, of course, very excited.  I will be charging my camera to ensure I get as many photos of some of my SEO 'Heroes'.

I think I will also be ready to do some predictions for the Cayman Islands Internet Marketing industry for this coming year.  I just have to buckle down and do it.  A little more difficult for me as I don't just do SEO, I am in usability as well as Project Management on a daily basis.  But whenever I do come up for air, I enjoy updating my blog.  There have been over 7,000 hits to my blog and since SEO is not a major industry in Cayman, that is a very cool statistic.

Yes, Ronnie Anderson, from Semrush, I have not forgotten you!  I will get around to writing a blog about your software.  Very interesting to tell you the truth but limiting for someone in the Caribbean to be honest.  I will get more involved in the dedicated blog though.

Anyway, apologies for the delayed greeting - Happy New Year Everyone!  Thank you for choosing Easywebsites.ky to be your partner in your online efforts.  As we approach another year in Search please do not forget to frequently update your website with content.

If you need additional training on how to maintain your CMS, pls get in touch with us.  We are always happy to help.  Have a great Year of the Water Dragon!