Small Business SEO Case Studies

I have been working my behind off learning SEO.  I’ve been reading as much as I possibly can about best practices, trends, and black vs grey vs white hat methodology..and a lot of rather technical stuff in between.

I’m no expert and I do not claim to be.

However, I am learning some really cool ways to make a difference for your small business.  Im not talking about the gal that wants to sell things online.  I’m talking about the gal that runs a small business on Main St. and wants to take advantage of the internet as a lead source.

I can hear my father now..”Why on earth would you boot up the computer, log on to the internet, bring up a google screen and search for a hardware store? When you can just look it up in the yellow pages..”

There ain’t no helping him.

But for the rest of us, that love simply recycling, trying to tear, and using their fresh Yellow Pages as a target, we know that the internet, specifically Google, is the place to find relavant information.  And its not only searching amongst e-businesses like Itunes and Amazon, but also where to find the best place to eat or where to fix your car or the address of the hardware store.

I think about my parents and my grandparents.  How did they find a business to patronize? They looked in a directory or yellow pages and they asked a friend for a referral.

Yellow Pages and newspaper classified ads are dying to more relevant and more easily changed web based directories and Craigslist has all but killed the classified revenue stream for the Papers.  In the digital age we live in, it is easier to find a dozen or so reviews on Yelp and Urbanspoon on what is hot and what is not, that easily take the place of the referral from many a moon ago.

So what does all of this mean and why am I talking about it?

It means that if you run a small business, whether a plumbing company or a lingerie shop, in Garner or London, claiming your land online is paramount to your success and longevity.  And you wanna know what’s so cool about it..its damn near free!  (more on that later when I spell out exactly how to do it).

If you own a business or work for one that falls within this sort of criteria, feel free to reach out to me.  I would like to speak with you about how you might be able to rank higher within the search engines.  My advice is free, however I may ask to use your success as a case study in a product I am developing.

The Monthly Bug Is Back

I know, I know…its been a while. In fact, I think its been 16 months since the last installment of The Monthly Bug.

Yes, I miss you, too.

Some of you may ask, “What is this bug all about and why have I received it?” To which I reply, “Keep on reading..”  A handful of others might exclaim, “Where have you been? We missed you and your Monthly Bug!!” To which I respectfully thrust a rock star fist into the sky and yell, “It’s good to be back!  What’s up with you these days?”  And a dreadful handful of others might say, “Dammit!  I don’t want anything to do with you or your bugs.  Get me the hell off you list!” To whom I point at with out stretched finger and laugh at with all the compassion and genuine love I can, to alas, bid farewell.

The Monthly Bug is about me, Aaron Loring Davis.  Its about who I am as a man, what I think about, what I’m up to, where I’ve been, where I’m going, and how we might be able to interact on a deeper level.  The Bug also serves to let my circle know of ways in which I wish to be of service.  They include all things:

Los Angeles Real Estate
Business  Start Ups and Finance
Online Education and Learning
Internet Technology and Development
Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing

If you have a question or an idea about any of these concepts, or even think you do, try me.  You might be surprised at the direction the conversation might go or the door that begins to open from our dialogue.

You’re receiving it because our lives have intersected at some point and I have saved your email address.  Don’t worry, most editions of this news letter do not have all of this mumbo jumbo, but it has been a while, so I figured a refresher was due.  Now, on to whats bugging me..

I’ve been busy.

Thinking back over all that I’ve experienced since we last connected, I find it hard to build a summary that can be read in a sitting. Where to start..

Near the time the Bug went on hiatus, I went back to my college roots.  I needed to be around fun people, a good vibe, and tasty libations thus hitched a gig working behind the big oak bar of Air Conditioned Lounge in Santa Monica for a few months.  That was pretty cool.  I’ve always enjoyed working late in a classy joint.  Part mixologist, part tease, part psychiatrist, part “I’m going to tell you like it is and you’re going to like it”, being a bar keep is some what of a right of passage in my eyes.

I went on a soul searching journey. I spent a month in some of America’s best national parks. Big Sur, Bonneville Salt Flats, Lake Tahoe, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and parts of the Appalacian Trail…unreal! A number of factors said, Aaron, you need to take a break. You need to get out of Los Angeles for a minute. The teeth of the city can be sharp sometimes. So, I listened to myself and it served me well. I’m a better man for doing so.  Watch the video here.

I got certified as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). I feel that no matter what I do or where I go, knowing how to save another person’s life (or my own) is good information to know. I took my course at Cape Fear Community College and had a blast.  Since taking the course I have assessed two strangers in distress in the street before the paramedics arrived and may have made a difference.  It gives me peace of mind to know I can help another.  Read the whole story here.

I’ve started a campaign to reconnect, personally, with each and every contact I have.  Its gonna take a while, but the results so far (and i’ve only started) have been most interesting and fruitful.  Some of you may have already been contacted by me in some capacity, however it might be next spring if you name is Zohan..hahaha (I wish I knew the Zohan). Here is the whole enchilada.

I’ve been sailing with my neighbor and travel agent extraordinaire quite a bit and look forward to taking a class to get certified (so that I rent a boat for the weekend and such) later this year. The freedom and exhilaration of the sea excites me like nothing has in many years.  Here is a synopsis of my latest excursion.

I’ve tried to get on the yoga mat as often as I possibly can.  I actually went 12 out of 15 days last month and my body hasn’t felt better in a long time.  I realize I am a fortunate soul to live so close to Power Yoga and Exhale and able to learn from Bryan KestErich Schiffmann and Annie Carpenter.  Allowing my mind to quite has been a most interesting challenge.

I was asked to model for Bed:Stu shoe company. My dear friend Nicole Beltrami is their publicist and asked me to work it work it for an afternoon.  That was fun..and I got some killer shoes out of the deal.  We got some press here and here.

Despite retiring from top level rugby in 2007, I did strap on the boots in Jan and April of this year. The results scared me a bit. I had not been working out. I’d had more than one cheese burger, cigarette, and sleepless night since I’d been training with the egg twice or more a week.  But, I strapped the boots on any way. They say once a rugby player, always a rugby player and I guess they are right. Despite it being a rag tag team on a completely drenched summer day and not speaking the language, I borrowed pair size 12 boots (i wear 14′s) and my squad won the championship.  Click here for the whole tomato.   In April I traveled to North Carolina for my annual college alumni game.  On game day I woke up with a beer in my hand and donned a pair of pink slacks for a day in the sun.  I purposely did not bring my cleats or mouth piece or shorts, because I knew how tempting it would be to run around a bit…but my buddies egged me on and the the devil got the best of me..I borrowed a buddy’s cleats to get in a little jog against the current university side.  Not only did the alumni beat their asses, but I got MVP for the day.  I had so much fun playing ball with the boys at UNCW, I felt compelled to build them a simple website and managed a fund raising drive that raised $1,385 (to date). I’m so proud of myself for that one  (the money, not the retarded running around in pink slacks) This is what scares me a bit. The devil on my shoulder tells me that at 32, I’m faster, stronger, and more knowledgeable about the game than I ever have before.  Given I understand the game so much better now coupled with my growing belly and increased laziness, I am so much more efficient on the pitch its down right silly. My back, on the other hand, tells me to take up ping pong. We’ll have to see how things shake out.

I spent a month in South America. I made friends with some of the coolest humans I’ve yet to meet, sailed, played rugby, visited amazing museums, attended ridiculous outdoor parties, lounged on beaches listening to music I didn’t understand, observed some of the most beautiful people I have ever witnessed, sculpted pottery, did yoga for the first time in a class taught exclusively in Spanish, and reconnected with a limb from my family tree that had not been scene in nearly 40 years. Argentina in a word: AMAZING!  I wrote a ton about it, whereas the start is here and the summary is here.

I took my families company, InternetCE, online. My father has spent nearly 20 years building a successful professional education company and over the last year I’ve digitized our systems and curricula to deliver our course materials on the internet. To date we are approved to do business online in North Carolina and Maryland.  California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and South Carolina are pending approval and we look forward to being able to be of service to the rest of the United States by years end or sooner.   In the mean time, through a partnership with national providers, Webce.com and examfx.com, we are able to afford prospective students an incredible library of accredited, relevant course work with which to renew their insurance, security, and capital markets licenses. My role with the company is technology and sales. I know just enough about coding to really break the site, but my knowledge base for search engine optimization is really starting to take off.   I have been asked twice to volunteer at the prestigious SMX conferences in Silicon Valley and Seattle this coming month.   My other hat, all things sales, is just starting to hit stride and I’ve been fortunate to secure several national insurance brokerage houses and a few more insurance service companies, as clients.  I’m proud to say that we’ve experienced growth every month since we launched the site and it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.  I asked a fellow while in South America about his awareness of the usage of the internet for learning and his answer was a resounding “No!”  Sure, the sample size was small, but I believe that given the overall presence of technology in Argentina, his view was probably not far off, if at all.  Talk about a market?!?  While the physical classroom will not be going anywhere any time soon, as tech gets cheaper and cheaper, the restrictions on growth for online learning are nearly inconceivable. I’m syked!!

The real estate market is starting to breathe clean air..a little bit. Its starting to take shape.  Increases in value are yet to be realized in any sort of recordable capacity, however deals are ripe for the picking.  Understand, that while I believe this is the trend across the country, I can only speak to the specific markets in which I am intimately familiar.  Those markets are Venice, Santa Monica, Brentwood, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, and the Sunset Strip.  When I say that deals are to be had, allow me to explain.  Even in this market, where the media and your neighbor continue to talk about a sky that is falling, there are still sellers that want to sell and buyers that want to buy.  People are still  having babies, getting married, having the in-laws move in, thus need more space..which means they may need to buy, which means they also may need to sell.  The other side of that reliable coin are those families that send a child off to college, get divorced, or get laid off and need less space…which means they may need to buy, which means they may need to sell.  You see, the dynamics of living life do not change.  A home may not be the revenue source for families like it was 5 years ago, but people still need a place to live.  Inasmuch, given the rarity of a buyer that is poised and able to make a purchase coupled with the genuine need of some sellers (I’m not talking about the seller that has defaulted on 3 loans..I’m talking about the guy that just got transferred and has 60 days to find a new place in another city), there are deals in this marketplace.  There are deals where everyone wins.

Now, given the pulse of the market, a lot of eligible sellers are not publicly advertising their homes for sale.  In fact, almost every single transaction I’ve been fortunate enough to broker over the last 2 years has been private.  For this reason alone, it is essential that one enlist the service of a broker that is connected to the market place when searching for or attempting to sell property.  A lot to soak in, I know.  Chew on it a bit.  Think about how individuals and families have used real estate to not only build wealth since the beginning, but relish in coming home.  To make a physical structure a place they can call their own..  Think about how you might be able to take advantage of opportunities that are quietly presenting themselves.  If you are toying with the idea or just are curious where to get started, feel free to drop me a line.  I would be honored to be of service.  If you retain assets and may be interested in divesting in order to put those funds elsewhere, feel free to connect with me in confidence.  I can very quickly let you know if my network of buyers and investors might be a match for your property.  It is also ok to tip toe.  You do not have to dive in.  Test the waters.  Interview different people and ask advice from those you trust.  Get a feel for the person you are working with.  Listen to your gut.  In fact, I might not be the best fit for you and your interest, but I am happy to help where I can.  And even if you’re not in Los Angeles, I may also be able to furnish a solid referral via my network of colleagues that span most major metros in the world.

In any event, I love real estate.  I think its cool.  I an fascinated by it.  I love the way property can used for so many different things.  I love to watch a house become a home.  I love the numbers and finance that go hand in hand with real estate.  I love being a part of the transfer of important properties on the West Side of Los Angeles.  If any of that makes your ears turn up a bit, let me know.  The conversation will probably be fruitful.

All in all, its been an interesting year or so. Ive been fortunate to be able to travel, learn, grow, and meet a most interesting collection of people from all over the world. Now, I’ve settled back in my home in Venice, Beach California and my schedule is taking on more structure, however if history repeats itself, that probably will not last to long before the next adventure peeks around the corner.

Whew! That was a hell of an email.  I like to write, but that was a lot, I know..To recap:

I’ve missed you
I’m thankful to be back
I’m open to talk Internet, Real Estate, & all things Fun
I live beautiful life and want to share it
I hope your life is beautiful and hope to be a bigger part of it

With all of that in mind, if more time has elapsed since we last connected than you are comfortable with, please give me a jingle. I love to debate, discuss, advise, learn, and engage in thoughtful conversation. The door to my home and office is always open.

Some other ways to stay in touch with me are to:

Subscribe to my blog
Friend me on Facebook
Link to me on Linkedin
Follow me on Twitter
or, for the love of all things easy, call me 310-663-2865

Stay close,

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ps – I’m working on uploading all past editions of The Monthly Bug (almost 2 years of writing) to my site as we speak for your reading pleasure.

If you like to wear silly hats and have more than one oddity and want to unsubscribe, click here

The Sea Calls To Me

Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up. ~ Henry David Thoreau

My neighbors and dear friends, Larkin, Sommer, and Simon Jones, invited me to join them for the weekend to Catalina island aboard The Indigenous, a sea worthy vessel of 30′ and 1985 vintage.  They moor the craft in Marina Del Rey (next adjacent neighborhood to me in Venice, both of which make up greater Los Angeles).

Thursday afternoon was spent grocery shopping and gear stowing. Talk about bringing out the kid in me..Simon and I hit the grocery store with skipping and general rough housing. You know the mischief that would have most certainly raised the voice of your mom when you were a kid and it was the night before going on vacation. Tripping your friend in front of strangers, throwing rolls of paper towels at each other from one end of the isle to the next, tapping the opposite shoulder of a stranger and blaming it on a your buddy and they can’t keep a straight face to save their life. It made it even more fun that we were creating those shenanigans in the rather straight up and down, if ya know what I mean, Marina Del Rey supermarket on a Friday afternoon. We got snarels from cougar and silver fox alike, whereas we promptly laughed at them often times with a pointed finger. You see, Simon is an Aussie and his fair complexion, teenage boy like build and soft accent is completely disarming. He’ll argue about all these facts, but of course he loves nothing more than a good argue and an opportunity to take the piss out of someone who doesn’t have the cannons to take the heat.  So, back to the store..we bought my cronchy food (it tends to be a bit bland, given I don’t cook to often), Simon and Sommers fabulous steaks and accoutrement (they’ve done this before), and lest not forget Larkin’s treats (cookies, yogurts, fruits, juices, etc.).    Sommer, Simon’s wife, is a 5th generation Californian (the only one I know) and loves a glass of white wine and a big laugh. Larkin wasn’t 6 months old when I moved into my place in Venice beach nearly 5 years ago. Immediately upon meeting him I started calling him the Lady’s Man. Blond straight hair, big blue eyes, and a self proclaimed pirate, Larkin Spike Jones is/will be the quintessential lady’s man. It was all cool until he started to introduced himself as that.  Sommer was thrilled with me ;)..

After the store run we packed the boat. Food and gear got stowed in every conceivable cranny. The boat is plenty big at 30′ but we still played one hell of a game of tetris to get it all to fit. We stowed the sail covers, installed the auto-pilot, secured The Indy (the dinghy), checked all systems, fueled and watered up, and drank one celebratory beer before heading home. The Indigenous was ready to set sail.

Morning couldn’t come fast enough.

We were at the coffee shop at 5:30 and leaving the harbor at 7am.

It was a bit grey. 55 degrees and a 10-15 knot wind from the west with 3-5′ seas. A small craft advisory stood for the late afternoon. We had a 6-7 hour sail ahead of us. If everything went right, we’d be moored in Twin Harbors , the leeward side of Catalina island right at 30 miles from Marina Del Rey, before the heavy winds picked up. After some light breakfast and about an hour to sea I found a nap, curled up in the stern cabin. The tossing of the vessel helped. I was a little concerned as to whether I’d be able to sleep or not but quickly realized I would not have any trouble at all. As I drifted in and out of consciousness, my mind raced between work and family and a woman and health and sailing and rugby and swimming and habits…essentially it, my mind, would not shut up. Then I checked my phone. I was surprised that I had signal and smiled. I thought ‘I’ll be able to work on the sailboat!’ Then I switched my thinking..I was a little embarrassed with myself for even wanting to do so. I’d just spent the last 20 days getting ducks in a row so that I could leave for a couple days without having to grind. Right then, I vowed not to turn on the phone for the weekend. I never don’t turn on my phone. So this was going to be good.

I recalled some recent yoga classes with Erich Schiffmann where he described one’s mind as an etch a sketch. “When a thought enters the mind, swooosh, wipe it clean. Having a still mind does not mean you’re left with nothing. Try it. Still mind.” So there I wiped my mind and thus my positive energy level spiked. I dazed into a sleep that was amazing. Not only did I feel great when I dozed off, I was due a bit of rest, having gotten to sleep around 3am the night before. 3 hours later I woke to the sun dancing on the galley walls. The stainless steel oven unit was reflecting a different sky than that of hours prior. I brushed my teeth and threw some water on face emerging from the cockpit to clear skys and a thrilled Simon at the helm. Off to the port side of the ship, due east, was  Palos Verdes and to the starboard side was pacific blue for nearly 2500 miles to Hawaii. Beyond that is another 6000 miles, minus a couple minute specks of land, to Asia. I thought to myself, “I want to make this sail.”  Back to the present.  Simon at the helm, Sommer reading a novel, and Larkin sort of roaming about the salon looking for things to be told not to mess with.  We would be moored by 3pm.  The evening was easy.  Sandwiches, cold beer, big laughs, early to bed..

I woke at day break.  The orange of the sun reflecting and refracting off a still sea was breath taking.  There were quite a few ships moored nearby, however no one else was up.  I made myself a cup of coffee and sat in silence for nearly an hour before deciding it was completely ok to go back to sleep, which I did for another couple hours.

It had been some time since I last slept in like that and I needed it.  When I finally did wake, the cove was buzzing.  I took Larkin for a short ride in the “Larkin Dinghy”, an inflatable raft that was most exciting.  I splashed the cold salt water onto my body and breathed deep.  Upon getting back on the boat, Simon started to give me the lay of the land.  That over there is so and so.  Over here you can see this and that.  On the windward side of the isthmus is another cove that takes this long to reach, but is oh so nice.  I like to call him Falcor (from Never Ending Story fame) because he likes to spin a good yarn.  I like the stories he has to tell.  So the miscellaneous tasks of the boat began to take shape.  Sommer was starting to prepare an early lunch, Simon was fiddling with all sorts of fasteners and lines and pulleys and cleats, pieces foreign to me, as my boating experience has nearly exclusively been on power boats. Larkin was watching the fish frolic underneath us throw clear cold water.

After lunch I took a ride with Simon to the harbor on the Dinghy to take a hike alone.  I needed a couple hours sans 5 year old.  I walked due west across the isthmus toward Cats harbor and took the trail to the south toward the mouth of the inlet.  I found myself on the last point of navigable land where I sat down to breath deep.  Across the inlet was a cragged piece of rock jutting up from the sea and narrowly connected to the greater island.  I realized that this was the edge of the world.  There was nothing between that piece of rock and Hawaii, nearly 2,500 miles due west.  The thought of that fascinates me.  What is it about the adventure, danger, and unknown that calls to me so about even attempting an adventure like that.  Even the thought of sailing that distance excites me, never mind the actual note taking of what it would take to make the journey in my note book.  Telling myself that, “Yes,  I could do that.” Who the hell do I think I am..hahaha.  Kinda makes me chuckle.  So I’m sitting there just staring at this rock and the vastness of the blue that stretches beyond the horizon when I see a bird circling.  Granted, this particular rock is about 250 meters away, meaning that in order for me to see this bird, it would have to be big.  Real big.  So I am watching it closely and then I thought about the camera my oldest and dearest friend, Nick Greenway, gave me only a month earlier.I was able to borrow a pretty sick lens from another pal, Andrew Whitelaw, so I was all set.  As I drew the monster camera from its bag, I began to get excited.  This wasn’t just any bird.  I could make out its white head and tail feathers from 250 meters.  I was fortunate enough to spot and photograph a Bald Eagle for the first time in my life, on Memorial Day no less.  So freaking cool!

A few conversations with hikers as they passed by and a few hours later I hiked back across the island to meet Simon and Larkin to ride back to the boat.  Larkin was all smiles with an ice cream in hand.  Happy boy 🙂  We easily cruised back to the Indigenous to find Sommer preparing some eats.  We boarded the vessel and relaxed.   I mean, nothing is more important that putting one’s feet up and enjoying a good book and just taking it easy while on a sail boat.  I witnessed my surroundings and wrote this poem

Im floating in the water 🙂

Salt on my lips and its good.
Face hot from the sun and the strong part is now coming from the sea.
I can hear the cannons with my chest.
The Lady’s man is a whirling dervish and Si is up first and down last.
Our matriarch has patience like the cliff’s aft our vessel.
My life is good.

Again, I dosed off early after a solid meal.  Again, I woke with the sun, alone and in peace.  My mind began to explore the possibility of sailing around the world.  What would I need to do in order to make it happen?  What would I need to learn, before embarking on such a journey to insure I would not perish, at least at the start?  How would I finance it?  These questions quickly left my mind as the day started and the routine started.  Coffee, cereal, eggs, sausage, OJ, fresh cold water, more coffee.  It was all so good.  The day passed easily and we discussed our trip back home.  Simon liked to discuss the weather and Sommer and I enjoyed picking on him for doing so, over and over again.  In the afternoon, Sommer and Simon took a ride alone leaving Larkin and I to fish.  They chastised me for wanting to fish, but really, what was I to do?  The fish underneath the boat seemed to tease me as they circled to and fro.  Schools of sardines and small mackerel teamed together to swoosh one way only to swoosh back the other way.  I had bought some frozen squid earlier to test the water and was happy to share the time with Larkin.  It wasn’t long before he pulled in his first fish ever.  I was proud to be a part of it.

The only trouble was the fact that Sommer wanted nothing to do with any sort of fish, which we learned upon her return.  So, upon her instruction, dumped the bag full of fish back into the sea, which created the only melt down of the weekend.  Larkin was crushed.  Why, on earth, did we have to throw them back!, he exclaimed.  Never mind the fact he didn’t/doesn’t/won’t eat fish..they were his and he was pissed.  It didn’t last long and before long, he and his dad were pulling them back out of the water for sport.  It was fun indeed!

The sail home was easy peasy and we did it under sails for most of the trck.  It was awesome in the sense that we were like a huge regatta, with boats of all shapes and sizes, traveling back to Los Angeles from the long weekend.  Cutters, schooners, sail boat, the Catalina Flyer (the municipal ferry), power boats, cigarette boats, and massive yachts all cruised back toward the shore.  Even from the sea, one was able to make out crowds of people that lined the shores on a beautiful weekend.  We were back in Marina Del Rey by 5 and had the boat washed and packed away by 7.  I would be asleep by 8:30, thoroughly exhausted and thankful.

I believe I have found a new passion..