Optimizing your website for search is a critical way of bringing visitors to your site. And you do that, in part, by matching the keywords in your site with the words that users type into their search engines. Sounds straightforward enough.

But finding just the right keywords? That’s another matter.

Tools like Google Adwords can be helpful in developing an initial list of targeted keywords and phrases. But there’s no way to predict exactly what phrases web users are going to search to find your site. And it’s difficult to predict what phrases Google will associate with your site.

The answer? Google Analytics.

After your site has been initially optimized and is up and running, you can use Google Analytics to learn exactly what phrases were typed into search engines to find your site. By regularly checking what phrases are attracting visitors, you’ll get a better idea of what phrases should be dominant on your website, and which to target. Often, Google Analytics will turn up phrases that would never have occurred to you on your own.

Here’s an example.

Say you’re a beanbag importer and you’ve optimized a page on your site for “Beanbag Chairs. ” But when you check Google Analytics, you discover that “Children’s Furniture” is unexpectedly attracting lots of web users to your site.

Now you have real-world data on how real users are getting to your site. Here’s what you do in response.

  • Search. The first step is Googling “Children’s Furniture” and locating the first page of your website that appears on Google. You’ll want to make this page your landing page for “Children’s Furniture.”
  • Adjust. Once you’ve identified that page, you can adjust the page’s meta data, content, headlines, images, and image alt tags to increase number of times this new phrase appears.
  • Observe. Over time, these adjustments should improve the Google positioning of your site when “Children’s Furniture” is searched, thus increasing the number of visits to your site.
  • Repeat. Monthly or quarterly, you should repeat this process, discovering what new phrases are taking hold and bringing visitors to your site. And you would adjust your landing pages and content accordingly.

This process is time-consuming and can be tedious, but it’s a critical part of a complete SEO process. Doing it religiously is the only way to ensure that your site stays aligned with what real users are searching for online.

By now, many of you many have heard about J.C. Penney’s epic fail: their recent attempt to trick Google and claim search superiority on a number of phrases you wouldn’t normally associate with Penney’s — phrases like area rugs and skinny jeans.

The story goes like this. Over the course of several months, at the end of 2010 and moving into 2011, Penney’s started appearing at or near the top of searches for a variety of terms: everything from dresses to home décor. The trend was spotted by the New York Times, who asked online search expert Doug Pierce to investigate.

What Pierce uncovered was what’s called “black hat optimization”; in other words, cheating.

Essentially, J.C. Penny (and its search engine consulting firm, SearchDex) engaged in a massive effort to game Google’s search algorithms. Their method of choice? Creating thousands of links to JCPenney.com across hundreds of sites across the web. Most of the referring sites were little more than “link farms”—sites set up for the sole purpose of creating outbound links to other websites.

According to the Times:

“There are links to JCPenney.com’s dresses page on sites about diseases, cameras, cars, dogs, aluminum sheets, travel, snoring, diamond drills, bathroom tiles, hotel furniture, online games, commodities, fishing, Adobe Flash, glass shower doors, jokes and dentists — and the list goes on.

Some of these sites seem all but abandoned, except for the links… When you read the enormous list of sites … the landscape of the Internet acquires a whole new topography. It starts to seem like a city with a few familiar, well-kept buildings, surrounded by millions of hovels kept upright for no purpose other than the ads that are painted on their walls.”

After the Times revealed its information to Google in February, the search giant went all medieval. Within a span of 10 days, Penney’s average position for 59 search terms dropped from 1.3 to 52.

When we talked about this scam internally, here at Atomic, we were surprised that such a major retailer could make such a stupid mistake. Trying to game Google might get you some short-term increases in traffic, but you’re going to pay for it in the long run. You’ll pay with a loss of customer trust, and you’ll pay big time when Google drops the axe on your search results, as it did in this case.

Zach Hensler, our SEO guy, noted that one of Penney’s goofiest moves was loading links on sites with totally random subject matter—like putting links to dresses on websites about fishing. Google’s all about content and context—a disconnect like this raises a big red flag for them. Especially when they see it multiplied hundredfold on link farms across the internet.

The big lesson here? Be attuned to Google’s SEO approach, and for goodness sake, don’t try to outfox their engineers. Focus on your customers and what they need, and fill your site with that content. If you’re providing valuable material that people want to read and share, inbound links will come naturally. And your search will improve as a result, now and into the long term. Inbound links are valuable but they should come from quality sites of similar subject matter.

Want to learn more about the right way to improve your search results? Contact Atomic.


Nearly across the board, we recommend that clients include customer testimonials on their websites.

Testimonials allow you to incorporate an objective perspective on your business as part of your marketing. They let you showcase how great your business is — without having to say it yourself.

Here are some other reasons why testimonials are so important, and some tips on using them successfully.

Don’t be a salesman.
Yes, you need to include compelling features and benefits on your site. That’s marketing 101. But Nielsen studies have shown that recommendations from people you know or opinions written by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising.

So readers will take your marketing copy into consideration when they’re making a buying decision. But they’re more likely to be convinced by product reviews and testimonials written by other consumers. That includes everything from reviews on Expedia and Amazon, to case studies that include customer comments,  to customer quotes in the sidebars of a B2B site.

Include  testimonials that resonate.
Another study, this one by Edelman, showed that people trust their peers as the best source of information about a company. And the individual they most trust as a company spokesman is “a person like me.”

So when you’re thinking about asking customers to write a testimonial, think first about the potential customers you want to reach. Which of your current customers are most like your target customers? Try to include testimonials from customers who your prospects are likely to see as people “just like them.” Those testimonials will be the most meaningful and have the most impact.

Include specific results.
Testimonials are at their most powerful when they include tangible details. Check out this testimonial, for example, from a website we built for Burton Pools: Our in-floor cleaning system …  is now the talk of the neighborhood because it is so efficient and keeps the pool looking so clean and inviting. Larry helped me draw the outline on the lawn and spent a lot of time developing what we had in mind to do, while staying within our budget. Grant, Robert, Josh, Terrell, and Mark worked harder in the heat of the summer than anyone I have ever seen. Jessie even got in the cold water to monitor the in-floor system without a complaint. I had wanted a pool all my life and this is truly a dream come true built by a “dream team.”

If you had to choose between a builder with that kind of specific testimonial on their site, versus one with no testimonial, which would you choose?

Be real.
If you’re going to the trouble to include testimonials on your site, make sure they’re from real people. Reading a glowing testimonial from “Susan T. in Florida” is meaningless—even if Susan actually exists. If you don’t have customers who are willing to stand behind their testimonials with a full name (and, even better, a company and title), you probably shouldn’t have testimonials on your site at all.

And one final caution. Don’t even think about asking your marketing staff to pen bogus testimonials or product reviews. One company who did this is now paying out $300,000 in penalties to the State of New York. If they weren’t sure customers trusted them beforehand … now they know.

Want to talk to Atomic about developing strong content for your website?

Google Maps’ APIs are one of the most functional tools out there for businesses. They let you embed Google’s vast amounts of location data in any website you create, whether it’s desktop or mobile.

The newest versions of the APIs have been improved to load fast on mobile browsers like the iPhone and Android. They’re also highly customizable. That means you can take a standard Google map and make it reflect your own brand identity. You can change the colors, incorporate animation, remove or add data, and add custom icons and text labels.

Google Maps APIs in action

Here’s a map that we created for Hageman Trucking, for example. You’ll notice that we laid a transparent map of 17 Ohio counties on top of a standard Google map, showing Hageman’s service areas. We also created custom icons (miniature Hageman logos) showing the company’s two locations.

Another example is what we did for Koehlke Components. We created a streamlined map of the United States showing only state names. States turn a Koehlke red when you mouse over them, and when you click on a state, a text box pops up showing that state’s sales rep. If you click on “Contact Your Sales Rep,” you can email your rep right from that page, without jumping to Outlook. We used jQuery to create that special feature.

For the developer

From the developer’s perspective, the Google Maps APIs are pretty awesome. Unlike other APIs, they are nearly always fast and available. That makes a difference, because if you embed a third-party API in your customer’s website – and that API is unreliable – nobody’s happy. Not your customer, and not their customers.

Typical of Google, the documentation for the APIs is very user-friendly. What you can do with them is pretty much limitless. There’s also a huge community surrounding each of their API platforms (Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Charts, etc.). So there are a ton of other developers writing about how to solve certain problems they run into, and offering up new ideas.

Finally, because this is a JavaScript-based technology, it works just as well on mobile devices as it does on a desktop. And that’s when you need a map most, anyway – when you’re mobile.

google adwords banner

Most people have a general understanding of AdWords—basically, any sponsored search results on Google.

But only a few people are AdWords Champions. I, apparently, am now one of them.

That’s because I recently passed Google’s Advertising Fundamentals Exam—a rigorous, strategy-oriented test that evaluates your understanding of how to manage an AdWords campaign. You get 120 minutes to answer 120 multiple choice questions, and you need 85% correct to pass. So there’s no messing around.

Passing the exam certifies me (and Atomic) as an expert on the basic aspects of Google AdWords as well as AdWords account management and the value of search advertising.

This expertise is important because more and more businesses are using AdWords as part of their marketing campaign. Because AdWords appear immediately on Google, they’re often preferred to organic SEO for businesses who need to enhance awareness or drive sales quickly. But because AdWords are becoming so pervasive, the keyword phrases used to generate ads are getting more competitive—making clicks more expensive.

So these days, you literally can’t afford to have a half-baked AdWords strategy. You’ll blow your budget before you even get started.

Our understanding of AdWords helps you to:

  • ensure that your ads appear on page one of Google for the lowest CPC (cost per click) possible.
  • ensure that your ads have the highest CTR (click through rate) possible. The CTR is the percentage of times an add is clicked when it shows on Google.
  • ensure that your ad clicks turn into conversions – whether onsite sales, PDF downloads, or contact forms.

In short, that means you get the most bang for your AdWords bucks.

I’m now on to my next project: pursuing certification in Google Analytics. I’m hoping to take and pass that test shortly after the new year. So for the holidays this year, I guess I’ll be studying. Merry Christmas, everyone, and talk to you in the new year.

web semantics

Have you ever wished that the web was more helpful—and less robotic?

Let’s imagine you’re traveling to Florida for Christmas.  You hop onto your search engine and query “christmas florida.” But the first eight results are about the city “Christmas, Florida” — not what you had in mind.

Wouldn’t it be cool if search engines could tell the difference between Christmas the city and Christmas the holiday?

Enter the semantic web. The semantic web is a development paradigm, part of the HTML5 proposal, that structures the content of sites so the internet can “understand” words based on context.

For example:

  • If you search for “house main character,” the semantic web would understand that you mean the TV show House, not a house where someone lives.
  • If you search for “green windows,” it would understand that you meant energy-efficient windows—not windows that were painted green.
  • If you wrote “I love Atomic Interactive – they provide excellent web development,” the semantic web would understand you mean that “Atomic provides excellent web development.”

In other words, the semantic web can understand the association between pronouns and the words they’re linked to. Wow.

How does this all work? The semantic web’s enhanced understanding of words is driven by microdata, one of many new tags in HTML5.

So if I were writing content about Christmas, Florida, I would include microdata indicating that I’m talking about a location. Conversely, if I were writing about celebrating Christmas in Florida, I would include microdata indicating that I’m talking about the location Florida, but the event Christmas.

Modern search engines like Bing, Google, and Yahoo take advantage of this microdata to keep your search results relevant.  In fact, Bing was built from the core up to parse microdata and associate content together. That explains why Microsoft markets Bing as a “decision engine”— supposedly, it helps you make better decisions by getting rid of superfluous search results.

The bottom line? If you have a data-heavy website or are having trouble with SEO because search engines are confused about your content, utilizing the semantic web can help. Atomic can help you take the first step in coding for this brave new web. Reach out to us anytime you want.


We live in a society that places an incredibly high level of importance on image. In this image-conscious, hyper-competitive business world we live and work in, using web design to effectively convey your company’s brand, corporate culture and values is essential for setting your business apart from your competitors. This makes your business’ website incredibly important, considering it’s the first place people go to learn about your company.

Is the design of your company’s website getting people excited about your products and services? If your website looks outdated, what message is being sent? Is the image your website is presenting accurate? When your potential customers, future employees or prospective investors visit your website, what is the design telling them about your brand?

Web design impacts not only your brand and how outsiders perceive your company, it also impacts how effectively your search engine optimization efforts will perform. You might be asking yourself what web design has to do with SEO. Well, Yahoo, Bing and the guys over at Google track how much time people spend visiting your site. So, when visitors land on your site and aren’t instantly engaged, they’ll hit the back button before they’ve even read a line of copy. Websites that can’t hold the attention of visitors, can’t hold the attention of search engines, either.

While the “love at first sight” factor is important, like any good relationship, you need to be engaging as well. Good design should have the end user in mind. A beautifully designed website that is easy to navigate and effortlessly promotes your brand attracts new customers and keeps them coming back. Quality web design could be the difference between building a new relationship and getting dumped.


One of our clients asked for advice on approaching different types of social media. She knew in theory that creating new content is good, but she wasn’t sure what content to put where.

“I have a blog, a Facebook fan page, and a Twitter account,” she asked us. “Should they all have different types of content? How often should I post on each one? Is there an easy way to replicate posts across different media?”

Starting from short content (Twitter) to longer content (blog posts), here’s our answer.

  • Twitter. There’s no real limit to how often you should post on Twitter. Things move quickly there, and it’s easy to miss people’s tweets, so posting frequently will give you a better chance of being seen and heard. In fact, it’s expected. If you’re not interacting pretty much every day, people will lose interest.Also, Twitter is supposed to be for socializing, so keep your posts conversational – people get pissed if you’re salesy. If you write business-related tweets, do it some 20% of the time, and make your tweets as un-pushy as possible.Because you want to tweet frequently, it’s fine to “push” your Facebook posts to Twitter (i.e., every comment you make on Facebook will show up on your Twitter account). However, it’s not a good idea to push your tweets to your Facebook page, because theoretically, you’ll have way too many posts. People get annoyed if you update your Facebook status 10 times a day – it’ll do you more
    harm than good.
  • Facebook. What you’re trying to do with Facebook is build a community around your brand. You want to start a conversation with your followers in the hopes that they’ll eventually use your page as a forum to talk about your company.To get the community started, about once a day, you can post thoughts, questions, polls, surveys, or anything that might get discussions started. If you can get to the point where you just monitor the page and chime in when questions are asked or problems arise, that’s ideal.
  • Blogs. Blogs are a great place to promote yourself and your company. The blog is on your site, and readers are expecting you to write about yourself. So you can be a little more salesy here.You should blog regularly –at least once a month, and ideally once every two weeks. Once a week is great if you have the time and content.Blogs can be used to answer FAQs, to talk about industry trends, or to announce new products, employees, or clients. Most importantly, blogs are great for letting your visitors and Google know that fresh content regularly appears on your site. If you have certain keyword phrases you’re going after, you can write entire articles about them, linking the phrases in the blog to the appropriate
    pages on your site.

    Pushing your blog articles to Facebook is a good idea. The content should be tied to the discussions on your Facebook page anyway, and the posts will sit on your page long enough to let multiple people see them. Pushing blog articles to Twitter is pretty much a waste of time –a one-time mention of a lengthy article will often be lost on Twitter users.

Overall, think of the different mediums as having different communication purposes. You can use Twitter and Facebook to interact with customers on a day-to-day basis, and then use your blog to talk less frequently, but more in depth, about issues that are important to them. With a good strategy in place and a little luck, you should soon have a strong following in each medium.

Atomic Interactive, A Dayton, Ohio website design agency is seeking a Search Engine Ninja to join our marketing team. We’re a fast growing, energetic team who loves to develop powerful online business tools, applications and strategies for our wide range of fun clientele. We work in a casual environment located Downtown in the Firefly building. If your passionite about your craft, love a collaboritive team, and can appreciate a good game of ping pong we’d love to talk more.

The Search Engine Ninja will work with the Search Engine Marketing Manager and Internet Marketing Team to create and implement creative search strategies and track the effectiveness of new and existing campaigns.

The successful candidate will have strong analytic capabilities with specific knowledge of online marketing analytics. The Search Engine Ninja is expected to produce daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly reporting; assigned analytic projects; and produce independent analysis to help search engine strategy.

Essential Functions:

Provide support and analysis for the Search Engine marketing team including:

  • Monitor, track, and report on paid search metrics, including trend analysis.
  • Provide support for search engine optimization recommendations.
  • Interact with copywriter and web service manager to optimize copy and landing pages for Search Engine Marketing.
  • Provide ad-hoc support for the Search Engine Marketing team including:
    1. Set up of new campaigns
    2. QA creative
    3. Assist in Keyword discovery and expansion
    4. Top keywords raking by category
    5. ROI by Campaign, Site, and Category
    6. Research and analyze competitor advertising links
    7. Back link strategy and implementation
    8. Directory submissions and revisions
    9. Internal link optimization
    10. SEO technical analysis and evaluation
    11. Website remediation
    12. Key phrase research
    13. META optimization
    14. Stay up to date on the latest industry developments

Job Qualifications:

  • 1+ years previous online marketing experience. Ad agency or online direct marketing background a plus.
  • Self motivated, detail oriented and able to prioritize daily work efficiently.
  • Exceptional communication skills. Show superior judgment and professionalism when corresponding with partners and team members.
  • Demonstrate a proactive work ethic when managing numerous competing priorities in a fast-paced environment.
  • Proven ability to accommodate evolving responsibilities and last minute changes.
  • Able to analyze metric data and convey recommendations appropriately to supervisors.
  • Proficient in MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Please email your resume to [email protected]. No phone calls please.


Internet marketing means more than just having a website, more than just having a fan page, it involves having what we refer to as a web presence. Developing a web presence requires a precise measurement much like a good suit…because one size does not fit all. This is also the reason why so many single-man operations cannot achieve the ROI that customers expect. As an example, think of an attorney. One attorney being proficient in all types of law is virtually impossible, there are simply too many variables at play; corporate law and personal injury law are altogether two different animals. To achieve proficiency in all types of law, law firms are assembled. Internet marketing is much the same.

Experienced web designers are needed to design navigation-friendly websites. Properly writing clean code requires highly skilled developers. Creating search engine friendly/user friendly text requires the skill set of a trained web-based copywriter. Developing a social media campaign that people will relate to demands the attention of someone with a strong marketing background. Also, having a project manager oversee all aspects of a fully integrated internet marketing campaign, ensuring that it reflects a given organization’s brand, is vital to success. While it’s possible that someone could go to school for 2 years of design, 2 years of IT, 2 years of copywriting and editing, and 2 years of marketing; it is impossible that a single person could stay up to date with the changes.

The internet changes everyday, some would argue every second or even nanosecond. Staying relevant in design, coding, search engine optimization, and social media trends requires a continuing education in each facet. It’s simply too much for any one person to handle…it’s also the reason why, as a team, Atomic has been able to create so much success for our clients. As we like to say, “The proof is in the pudding.” So, we encourage you to search for “dayton web design” or even “ohio web design.” As a 3 year old company competing in a 20+ year old business, we’re proud of the results we’ve created for ourselves, but more proud of the results our team has created for our clients.