Monthly Archives: March 2016

Basic Search Engine Optimization Tips

In my last blog about Search Engine Optimization I talked about content being king, and 40% of the SEO equation.  In this blog I’ll talk about keyword selection.

Each page (or blog post) you write for SEO purposes should have a keyword focus.  You want to not only be specific in that selection, but realistic.   If you are a local Pizzeria, you most likely will not rank high for when people search simply for “pizza”.   It’s just too broad a topic, and people have been working to obtain ranking for that keyword for years.

In essence you have to go after the “low hanging fruit”.   Think about terms your customers might actually use when searching for you.    When you find the phrase that brings up your closest competitors websites, you have perhaps found your keyword target.   In the example of a pizzeria, you need to work on ranking for “pizza in charlotte” as it’s a much more specific and narrow target.   This is called a “long-tail keyword”, because it’s more than one word.

Then you want to write your content legitimately using that keyword phrase as often as you reasonably can.   Be genuine and real in your writing.  It might be appropriate to use that phrase, just like that a couple of times on a page.  But if you try to use it 15 times on the page, it won’t read like a human will write, and the search engines will figure it out and you’ll actually get penalized for it.  It’s essentially spamming your keyword in the page.

In my next blog, I’ll go into some of the other technical things which help with SEO.

>> Joshua Pettit is Lead Developer and Project Manager at Sunrise Marketing.



Basic Search Engine Optimization Tips

One of the biggest buzzwords in web development is SEO… Search Engine Optimization.   Everyone wants SEO for their site, so that their website shows up more frequently, or closer to the top of search engines.

Back in the day there were many dubious tips.  You could alter your META Keywords, or put hidden text on the page, and totally manipulate the search engines to list your sites.   Today, search engines are incredibly more complex.  Millions of dollars and thousands of developers work to make their algorithm as smart as possible, to try to show searches the most relevant information possible.   So the tricks of days past, no longer work… and in many cases can actually hurt you.

Today, content is king. Really and truly, if you don’t have any decent content at your site, you most likely will not rank well for anything.  You content can be up to 40% of the SEO equation, so the old programming expression “garbage in = garbage out” has never been more true.  First and foremost, before you do anything, come up with some decent, well written content which provides value in some form to someone.

In my next piece, we’ll explore keyword selection and how that relates not only to your content, but the rest of the SEO equation.

>> Joshua Pettit is Lead Developer and Project Manager at Sunrise Marketing.




What is a WordCamp


A few years ago, as I began to expand my use of WordPress with my clients, I was longing for a way to connect to other WordPress users and developers.   I began to search for seminars or training opportunities for WordPress, and I discovered a thing called WordCamp.

WordCamp is an official conference for people who use WordPress.  They are non-profit events run by local WordPress user groups, and they appeal not only to experienced WordPress developers but even the most novice user just getting started.

They are held frequently, and all over the world, and are typically one or two day events held over a weekend, very reasonably priced.   Many cost around $40 and include lunch and a T-Shirt.

As the event date nears, the schedule or speakers is finalized and there are often different “tracts” to choose from.   I have been to some with as many as 4 tracts (Beginner, Designer, Content Creator and Developer), but most have 2 (Beginner and Advanced).

The beginner tract will often start with the basics.  Things like installing WordPress, basic security, how to install a plugin.  Things like that.

The advanced (or developer) tract will often include topics like creating WordPress plugins, advanced API’s and even working on the WordPress core code itself.

The designer tracts will focus on themes and CSS. Being able to create and/or modify a theme to change the styles, colors and fonts of your site.

Lastly the content creator tract will focus on the blog writer.  Often this will talk about writing styles, basic search engine optimization and tips to grow your audience.

To find a WordCamp near you visit:

>> Joshua Pettit is Lead Developer and Project Manager at Sunrise Marketing.




Boost Your Confidence By Clearing Your Head

ConfidenceHackConfidence levels fluctuate with all of us. When we’ve nailed a presentation or tackled a difficult work challenge, we feel like we are soaring above the rest.

We’ve all had those less than stellar days when our self-confidence plummets back to Earth. Perhaps it was a business meeting that didn’t go as planned. Maybe you lost a client or suffered a setback with a vendor relationship.

These events are bad enough when it occurred, but often times we relive the experience time and again. This form of ruminating prolongs the feeling of pain, rejection and self-worth — tarnishing your self image in the process.

One of the confidence hacks outline by says it’s about regulating the thoughts you allow in your head.

According to the article, Goal Auzeen Saedi, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist who practices in Portland, OR says ìitís important to remember that our thoughts are often a running dialogue of negativity, very little of which is true.

ìItís one thing to notice and identify a thought, and another to believe it. The more we internalize these external events, the more they can bring us down.î

So, what can we do to break the negative thought spiral. Distance from your thoughts.

Reading a book, going for a run, visiting with a friend or even baking can help focus your thoughts on something other then the broken record of past events.

Thought diffusion, or methods to consciously refocus your thoughts such as meditation or breathing techniques, help to silence the hurtful thoughts.

The first step towards changing your mind’s habit of dwelling on the past is to be aware of the negative pattern. When you start ruminating on what occurred and you feel the knot form in your stomach, take a moment to acknowledge that you are in fact ruminating. Then take action to distance yourself from the hurtful thoughts. Then, move forward.

Learn from the past. Don’t live in it.

For more confidence hacks, visit

Well Written Code


If you write any kind of computer “code” (HTML, PHP, JavaScript, C++) then learning to write clean well written code is imperative.   At a conference once, one of the speakers said when you’re finding your coding style, always imagine the next guy looking at the code is a psychopath who knows where you live.   In other words, you don’t want to torque that guy off.

Well written code is not only understandable, but well formatted and documented.   You can not over document your code.   The documentation will help, not just the next person who might need to look at your code, but it will help you if you end up returning to the code years later.    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve returned to something years later, and had to re-educate myself as to how it was done.    Good documentation makes that much much easier.

Good code is also “done right”… it doesn’t just “work” but you understand what it does.  It’s what separates a “hacker” from a “coder”.   When I started working with code, I taught myself by modifying message board software. By looking at the code, with a little knowledge, I was able to figure out what certain parts did and tweak it a bit to alter it to my needs.  This “worked” but wasn’t always the best way.  As I grew in my knowledge and transitioned from hacker to coder, I began to think things out a lot more clearly and write cleaner well thought out code.

Your code should also be extensible… easy for someone (or you) to add a feature or improve upon.  When I’m creating a function to do a certain task, I try to think through possible future needs, so that what I’m building is flexible enough to grow with the needs of the website.

Lastly, use function and variable names that make sense.  Why use $var1 when you could use $totalusers as a variable name.  Properly named functions and variables are almost self documented.  You can look at $totalusers and pretty much guess that would be the number of total users in the system – but you’d have no idea what $var1 is.

>> Joshua Pettit is Lead Developer and Project Manager at Sunrise Marketing.