Free Beer? Not From Most Brochure Sites

Yesterday Cre8asite had a brief fling with free beer.

I believe that the ability of a title tag and description tag to pull an unusual number of clicks in the SERPs is one of the most powerful parts of SEO. It can certainly yield traffic, put people in a certain mood… and the search engines might count it as part of the ranking algo.

Here are a couple ideas for “Eliciting the Click”… I hope that each person who reads this thread will ad at least one or two more.

Eliciting Clicks: Free Beer While It Lasts!

“Beer” sent me straight to musing about wanting German beer and a few other things to go with it.

Beer. German. Dark. Yum. With a slab of good cheese and a big chunk of that sour whole wheat bread with the great crust.

Today, wow oh wow, I am having cravings for German beer, a slab of good cheese and a big chunk of that sour whole wheat bread with the great crust.

I would so click on the right beer, bread and cheese title if it were in front of me now.

If I were to put [german bread] [location] into Google and get a good looking local search result nearby, I would so be there to pick up some lunch makings. [german deli] may also do it. An eat-in place or a bratwurst stand would do, too, and some of that warm German potato salad would be nice. I’m ready to buy. Sell it to me.

The wrong landing page would send me back to whatever I already have in my fridge.

Show me the beer, already!

If I were writing a beer, cheese and bread title to target myself today, the cravings title would be a little different than the curiosity title or the research title, and the content would be different, too. Different target audience = different content.

How many small business people who would like to sell me on their beer and cheese would give their web designer latitude to tempt viewers like me, viewers who may have almost pre-sold themselves on becoming customers? How many web developers would go toe to toe with the business owner and tell them that the brochure page they’ve requested is not going to bring home the bratwurst like more and better content could?

Pet peeve alert – Small business web sites being what they are, SERPS are likely to serve up brochure sites that are more about the business than my craving.

A basic brochure site is by nature egotistical. It is about the business. A basic brochure destination might be for a German deli that has a map to their door and a list of their services. I want to assume that a brick and mortar already has a location and business hours, at least. Giving them to me online is offering a convenience, not a strong selling tool.

This is different than a page that would get me in there to the beer and bread and then inspire me to tell others about what a cool thing I’d found. I wouldn’t be going there to worship at the altar of their map and list of services.

I’d want facilitation of temptation. Selling to me is about me and my hunger. Period.

Often, there simply isn’t enough room for a good, deep sell on a brochure site.

Sell me on Satisfaction

You want to sell me a beer and a sandwich? To sell me the sandwich, sell me the satisfaction I crave. Show me satisfaction. Puleeze don’t stop at showing me that you sell sandwiches and have a map to your door. Telling me how good your business is won’t do it either. Show me the sandwich. Show me you believe in that sandwich.

Got both sandwiches and traditional German potato salad? 101 other menu items? Pick a few. Hit me with your greatest hits.

Describe the scent, the sourdough tang, the old family recipe. Tell me you kept looking until finding cheese with just the right old world characteristics. Tempt me with your mustard and gherkins, and tell me why you care about the beer. I want luscious details I can taste, and don’t forget the pictures, baby. Lay it on, like the product would if I was hungry and there in person talking to a sandwich evangelist at your door. Do whatever it takes to give that landing page a quality of experience for the viewer.

While you’re at it, also make it easy to find the map and notice that you can set up an entire beer garden at my next event. The brochure stuff may facilitate, but the greatest hits are your selling points.


Added — Little did I know I was channeling Seth Godin’s blog post from earlier today. He cautions against getting hooked on traffic, and makes some of the same points from my post.

I think it’s more productive to worry about two other things instead.

1. Engage your existing users far more deeply. Increase their participation, their devotion, their interconnection and their value.
2. Turn those existing users into ambassadors, charged with the idea of bring you traffic that is focused, traffic with intent.

From Silly Traffic


No Rest For The Dyslexic

Yesterday, or earlier today, or at some point before I got going this yesterday morning… scratch that. Starting over: I re-set my clock for daylight savings time. Or I thought I did. In reality, I set it an hour behind when I was supposed to set it an hour ahead – looked about the same to me.

I’m used to going to sleep at about 1-2:00 am, which at this moment also happens to be the “real” and correctly adjusted time. Until I discovered my error a few minutes ago, clock time at my house was set for two hours earlier. My brain knows I’m not here now. My body disagrees. My body wins. I’m going to write for some amount of time equal to less than two hours, and then head to sleep.

I’m inviting whoever reads these things to come along for a little trip inside my thought process.

Pea Planting Time

Ed Hume, regional gardening great, was on the TV exactly a month ago saying that early February is the perfect time to make a first planting of snap peas and garden peas in my area. The weather was uninspiring, to say the least. Sleet, wind, rain, more sleet and frozen sheets of goosh on the streets, and Ed said it’s time to plant the gems of my early Summer.

Sugar Snap Peas

These are last Summer’s sugar snap peas. Yummy!

I always want more peas, as early as possible, so I took Mr. Hume’s advice on trust. That day I bought seed and checked out the pots that had been stacked and waiting since last Fall. The very next day I planted the first peas. Six pots of possibilities now hang from my eaves; I see them every day and am encouraged.

Blogging is like that for me: I started on faith in uncertain weather. Before I started blogging here someone suggested I get going before I know where I want to end up, and use my explorations to build a readership that can support where I go with this in the future. Making content without a purpose or a target audience was counter intuitive, but “readership” sounded like “community,” and a few posts later the writing bug bit.

Blogging tonight is like that, too: the opportunity was different than the plan. I wanted to go to bed early(ish,) but life handed me a couple hours and I’m here getting this done instead, and I’m not obsessing about how to get creativity out of my tired turnip head and onto the page: I’m getting it done.

Have I turned a corner? Tomorrow I’ll dig up a couple peas and find out: if they’ve sprouted I’m on the right track. If not, I’ll need to look at if I’m just unlucky, or if I’m swimming against the current. As for the writing and identity-building I wanted, I feel like I’m making progress: I’ll know better after sorting through some seeds of ideas and ideals.

Solutions And Their Counterparts Are Everywhere

I like to grow my snap peas in hanging pots up and away from hungry slugs. Living in the Pacific Northwest means I get endangered native slugs, ravenous European interloper slugs, and small gray mountain climber slugs that I’ve regularly seen as much as four feet up off the ground.

Hanging my pots of peas doesn’t eliminate slugs; it does limit slug slime to whatever critters are already living in the dirt. Also, I know from previous experience with hanging pots that slugs tend to hide out in the damp dirt at the bottom, just inside the drainage holes. They commute from those holes, usually emerging at dusk, traveling up the outside of the pot to the foliage above. They’re not as good at climbing up and down a hanging vine, and slugs at eye level are easier to pick off and toss. Regular slug picking comes close to completely cutting out slug slime, which brings a nice, pesticide-free peace of mind to my treasured Summer morning snap pea munch.

Addressing any barrier to productivity is a little like moving slug picking up to eye level.

When natural conditions and goals don’t match up, barriers to achievement are like the sea over a sandcastle: something has to give. If natural conditions for growth are also natural conditions for undesirables, no amount of dedication and hard work will make the undesirable parts go away.

Find And Use The Flow

I can’t undo my error of setting the clock behind instead of ahead. I accept that I do that sort of thing sometimes. I chose to treat the outcome like a two hour bonus instead of a two hour setback, and I can sleep in tomorrow, whatever “tomorrow” is at this hour. This isn’t as much about having a positive attitude as it is about being an opportunist: I have been staking a claim.

I feel better now.

Good night, world. :-)

Creative Blogging: Plans Versus Experience

In my past life there was a time when I drew every day. I had dedicated studio space where anywhere from ten to thirty drawings would be tacked to the “good light” part of the wall that was reserved for work in progress. A series of drawings or paintings would start off unified by a general concept – artifacts, Vivaldi, morning light, seashells as instinctual organic architecture – and as I worked on them they’d progress together or diverge to different parts of the wall.

After a few days or weeks on the wall some would feel finished, and some would get recycled as collage parts for other work. A few would hit ye olde circular file – not many, because I like layers and there is a lot that can be done with recycling.

Sometimes, even before drawings were more than a curve in my imagination, notes, bits of poetry, color swatches, pages from magazines and whatever else felt like relevant fertility-builders would get pinned to the wall in groups, like bookmarks or folders in a RSS feed reader. The effect, for me, was a primordial soup of possibilities and landmarks, like a translation of what my mind feels like when approaching an idea. I’d face the wall, breathe, pick up the tools, and GO.

Somewhat unexpectedly, visitors were fascinated by the work wall. At times, having it exposed was too much “naked,” and I’d cover it with big sheets of paper, like a burqa between private and public dreams. I found that the need to focus creativity into a discrete and finished piece would lose its concentration if unfinished treasures were too public, too discussed. Too much “burqa” would make going public difficult, and cut out possibilities for the joys of dialog and reaction experienced with friends and detractors. I balanced where I wanted to stand, between vacuum-private and the tsunami feeling of being uncovered.

Art was dance, balance, and experience translated on a daily basis.

I’d like to blog that way.

When I started this frequent posting thing I wondered if blogging might have some overlaps with the old art-me. This is where I am with that hope today:


  • WordPress’s drafts folder is always in “burqa.”
  • 30 drafts feel more like 30 to-do lists than 30 possibilities. Not good.
  • Computers are too self-contained for the kind of art wall I’ve been missing.
  • Writing needs more structure than art.


  • Do more display of my own personal bonzo. So far, people seem to relate to my think-different self. Life is short. Dancing out on a few limbs could be invigorating, but will it ever pay the bills?
  • Post less. Would giving myself more time help a group of my 30 drafts become real posts with beginning, middle, and end?
  • Burn some trees. Print out the drafts and pin them to a wall at home where I can see them and doodle. My bookcases can live elsewhere – like computers, they store and enclose.
  • More structure. Could backfire, depending on what I “goal” for. A low-variable goal of baking x dozen cookies for a potluck generally results in x dozen cookies. A goal of coming up with x dozen new cookie recipes in a year could take off in almost x dozen different ways. Goodness knows what a goal of learning about food chemistry through cookie baking would produce, but it could be infinitely more interesting than simply baking x dozen cookies.

Does this tale of WordPress ring a bell with any of you? Please comment.

Random Bytes On Naked Blogging

How much self disclosure is too much?

Some is essential, because readers need a degree of background information, and not only on the facts and logistics of a non-personal issue. As long as I want to communicate why I care, there will be times when I’ll need to reveal myself.

I worry that speaking too much from my “me” place might turn off readers, for two main reasons:

  1. Readers would be bored as hell. Why would someone who wants me to get back to my WordPress walkabout (or whatever) want to read stories about my feelings?
  2. Too much of the wrong information is a distraction. Once I start getting naked, every layer of disclosure presents new questions about how much is too much, and too much is… LOL… well, let’s move along.

Getting Into Trouble

There is such a thing as not enough of a good thing. Just to the not-far-enough side of self indulgence I would get into trouble with myself if I did not dig into own voice, for two main reasons:

  1. I’d be bored as hell. It’s not only about the reader. I’ve got to be engaged, too, you know.
  2. The guilt would not be inspiring. I’d feel like a spammer, adding more junk to the heap of what’s online.

Writing For An Audience Greater Than Three

For those of you who don’t have magical insight to my thought process, an audience greater than three is anyone more than me, myself and I.

One good thing talking to myself is that I already, hopefully, understand my own frame of reference. If not, that frame of reference may be too loosey goosey to hold together in sentences and paragraphs. It may be like a half-finished sculpture that needs to be rolled down a hill to knock off the a few problematic parts. I won’t know until I take a chance on turning it over a few times.

Sometimes I find out what I’m really thinking after I start to write.

The minute I write something down I’ve got issues. Grammar and the “spellchucker” vie for attention like wild toddler twins playing trampoline on someone else’s bed, while just around the corner the imagined “someone else” lurks, wondering what’s going on and how long it will last.

If I try to placate the lurker I lose the idea.

Some ideas remind me of my uncle attempting to wink charmingly while saying to my aunt, “your baby needs changing.”

Herding The Feral Idea Virus

No, I didn’t know what I was going to write after that heading. It just popped out somehow, and then there was a little feeling of spark. Good spark. I can work with good spark, and, like compost, it doesn’t have to smell good to lead to something good.

I may not want to share the sources or products of all my good sparks, but if I can avoid getting sidetracked into too much personal information, letting *some* of my personal crap out to play can help get the writing rolling. If I am willing to expose myself to the elements I can start on no spark, stir the compost and watch for signs of rebirth amongst the afterbirth.

Sign: this is what might happen next.

Sign: honey, you’re not going to say that in public.

Sign: *why* you’re not going to say that in public is… excuse me…

Sign: *why* is. Is is is.

Written with a pair of “compost” kickers and ten gallon tip of the hat to Jonathan Fields Strip Blogging: how naked will you go?, and a grinning honorific to my talented friend Miriam and her encouragement for my writing.

Protecting Customizations to WordPress Default

So, it’s time to install an important security upgrade. You back up your database, but forget to back up your customized version of a theme that comes with WordPress. When performing the upgrade, the new Default files overwrite the old ones, and your work on WordPress Default is lost.

There are two lessons here. The really obvious one is to back up everything before doing anything, but you might also want to look giving that customized Default theme a new home.

How To Start a New Theme

It’s very simple. Very quick. Very easy.

Step One: Back up your theme

Now that there is a copy sitting on your computer, you’re free to play.

Step Two: Add a new theme name to style.css

Open style.css with a text editor. At the top there is a list of information, between comment tags. Every theme must include a style.css, and the top of style.css must provide details about the theme in the form of comments. Some lines are required, some are optional. No two installed themes should have the same Theme Name.

Here is an example credits block:

Theme Name: Theme Name
Theme URI: the-theme's-homepage
Description: a-brief-description
Author: your-name
Author URI: your-URI
Template: use-this-to-define-a-parent-theme--optional
Version: a-number--optional
General comments/License Statement if any.

WordPress uses “Theme Name” to identify each theme in Presentation > Themes. Spaces and punctuation are fine. If your theme name is J@ne’Z Custom GiZmo BiZ, your Theme Name line might look like this:

Theme Name: J@ne'Z Custom GiZmo BiZ

Feel free to add your own information to the rest of the credits. When building on top of someone else’s work, it’s good form to leave some of their credits in place, at the very least in the general comments area.

Step Three: A new folder for a new theme

Change the folder name to something that fits your version of the theme. Purist that I am, for J@ne’Z Custom GiZmo BiZ I’d probably use a folder name like jane-gizmo. IMHO folder names (“directories” for us nerdy types) are best left plain jane. Avoid spaces or punctuation, and stick with lower case. Instead of spaces, use hyphens. The directory names my-theme or mary-theme is better than the directory names my theme or Mary's Theme.

  1. Upload your newly named folder to /wp-content/themes/ along with the rest of the themes
  2. Open Presentation > Themes, and voila, you’ll see your new theme name with the original Default screenshot.

Step Four: Add a screen shot

A screen shot is a nice touch, though not essential: the theme will still work without it.

Replace the file original WP Default theme’s screenshot.png in your theme dolder with your own screen shot of the same name and file type. Common screen shot size ranges from 200px to 500px at the widest point. File size is usually between 10kb and 50kb, though they can be found at over 100kb.

Breaking the Mold Without Breaking Myself

Creativity is a bit like a butterfly net. A butterfly net can be a tool, an unused artifact, a source of silly visual jokes and metaphors – determining its significance requires perspective. Most of us don’t have a butterfly net on hand at any given moment, and a net doesn’t do much on its own.

Someone needs to pick it up and be ready to act, and then there are always more questions:

  • Where are the butterflies?
  • Am I going after the right butterflies?
  • Should butterflies be caught, mounted in a collection, bred in captivity… or in this case are they better admired in the wild?
  • How many is enough?
  • What is this other thing that landed in my net?
  • Is running around waving a net really the best use of my time?

Weekend Off? Wax On

This is post 23, published on day 31 of my goal of 101 posts in 101 days. I’ve been writing every day and posting almost every day. Along with publishing 23 new finished posts, I’ve saved about 12 new drafts and made about three more “draft” pages that are lists of ideas and links I like, and my “ideas” notebook is beginning to fill up.

At about post #10 I noticed that writing was getting easier, though writing something finished every day was harder. I decided to try posting twice in one day once in a while, still working on drafts when I wasn’t going to post that day. That may not be the best path for me: the need for a day off got stronger, and finishing things got harder.

Part of the problem was feeling like I’d let go of discipline by not posting every day, though sometimes, hey, the fruit is on the tree but not ripe for picking, if you know what I mean. I decided to experiment with purposefully taking time off from posting and writing, to see what would happen between my ears. Would I get better results from “I will take this weekend off,” or from “I will do all I can and take a day to myself if I need it?” Not posting for a day, no matter how purposeful, didn’t feel much different from slacking off because of burnout. Something was missing.

A couple of weeks ago I forced myself not to post over the weekend, and it was a surprising experience.

During that two days I had a sudden flood of creative ideas and even some practical ones. I felt like I’d experienced something wonderful about balancing pushing myself with leaving open space, and I was eager to get back to work. Then, that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were exhausting, like pulling my own teeth while under the influence of not enough anesthetic. I was more tired than before giving it a rest.


  • Change of pace is good for creativity.
  • Getting self-discipline going after a break is hard.
  • Balancing the two is challenging!

Discipline Is Good For Learning and Building

Achieving something when creativity comes to call requires that skills and tools are in place ahead of time. Skills and the use of tools requires practice, practice and more practice – like exercise. Every exercise that requires effort builds something.

Working out is like making art

Drawing every day improves coordination. Hand-eye coordination, small muscle coordination, and the big stuff of muscle memory are all grown in the brain and the body, through practice and desire. Instinct may be inborn, but the ability to do something with it or even to notice opportunities is not automatic and doesn’t happen over night.

Art students are sometimes advised to put their heart into every drawing, but not to expect to be making precious objects. Draw every day for the experience of drawing, and expect the first hundred to be throw aways. After the first hundred, drawing is a little more likely to occasionally result in art. Experimenting with CSS can feel much the same way. ;-)

Regular practice is essential. Without daily practice the coordination starts to go, and then the would-be artist is left with hope and vision, or hope for a vision, or maybe just insecurity and desire: one of the side effects of practicing through clumsiness is a quiet bravery.

Bravery comes in handy. The creative process can be ruthless and klutzy, like a kid running around with a butterfly net.

The Plan

The goal is still 101 posts in 101 days. If I need to go to six posts a week to stay human, that’s OK, but the existing goal is still 101 posts in 101 days. At the end of the road will be a sense of identity (brand) for this space.

The plan is to post daily except for weekends. Though it’s Sunday evening here, you’re hearing from me today because I felt like it. Weekends are mine.

Insert evil laughter?

Who let that blogger out without a net?

Seriously, though, here’s a forecast for the week to come:

  • Three more tutorials
  • An interview with the delightful Dazzlin D – we’re going to talk about community. Yum.
  • Between two and four other I-don’t-know-whats, to include a drawing of some sort.

Is this hasta la vista, or how can I hasta la forest for the vista of the trees, from my viewpoint of this rectangular screen where we meet? Either way, trees are cool and I’m up for a good walk.