Humanized Branding Solutions

My journey into relevance and usefulness on the Semantic Web

Marketing Journey In The 21st Century

More than 6 months have passed since I’ve posted on this blog, then bridging the gap between my agency experience and the corporate world.

I hit the ground running as I threw myself into a brand new world of concepts and decisions, marketing from the eyes of the entity itself, creating new ground where there was none, translating every traditional method with non-conventional approach.  Waking up every morning only to roll out of bed, having coffee while anticipating in my half conscious mind the next conversation that can take us to the next level, creating awareness for the brand with a brave face, one day at a time.  It is exciting!

I find myself in familiar territory, but looking at the glass partition from the other side where my clients and customers used to sit, pondering on the next idea that will spark a larger conversation, clamoring for completion of edits, wondering when bugs will ever be fixed, and cheering for the end of the week while craving for the arrival of Sunday for Monday starts the whole process all over again.

My human predilections have empowered me, my experience serving me well with sensitivity rarely seen in traditional marketing.  I find strength and stamina in who I have become as a person and a professional in my career.  In my core confidence I relish the path I am taking, each turn an opportunity for growth and a destination of its own, undulating to the rhythm of the marketing strategy we have created for the first time in the firm’s history.  A new direction at every arrival takes my goal to a higher level, unfolding before my eyes where I have never been before.

I am continuing to grow from instinct and practice.  I welcome the challenges before me and places it takes me, bridging the gap between vision and execution, building that which starts in the creative mind and fellowship, and marketing it to many with measurements that aren’t made to serve predictability but agility.

This is my journey, each day a destination on its own.

Happy Sunday!

Filed under: Agile Stories, Creative Writing, Marketing and Advertising, Personal Growth, Travel

Everything a Non-Marketer Needs to Take a Business from Zero to Hero Online

Many thanks to Oli Gardner of Unbounce Marketing Solutions!  See canonical page at

The Noob Guide to Online Marketing INFOGRAPHIC

The Noob Guide to Online Marketing INFOGRAPHIC

Filed under: Article Marketing, DNS, Facebook, Google Analytics, International Search Marketing, Internet Marketing, LinkedIn, Marketing and Advertising, Network Administration, New Media, PPC, Semantic Web, SEO, Social Media, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Twitter, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web Analytics, WordPress

How To Leverage eCommerce for SEO

Strategized on marketing objectives clearly and built properly, online product catalogues and ecommerce shopping carts can be a rich source of supplementary content for optimizing Landing Pages, increasing the relevance of keyword-rich, copy-intensive marketing pages with specific calls to action to make a purchase and close a conversion or a sale.

Case in point is MVP Athletic Supplies in British Columbia, Canada.  The company defines itself as “your one-stop softball equipment, baseball equipment, football supplies and athletic supplies store in BC, Canada.”

Searching for athletic supplies on results in the following ranking pages from the top as seen in figure below. Top 4 SERPs for athletic supplies Top 4 SERPs for athletic supplies

MVP Athletic Supplies Product Catalogue | Football Supplies / Equipment | Football Gloves product catalogue subcategory page appears in Page 1, Position 3 preceded only by canonical pages from the same website in Positions 1 and 2, the Home and Our Products pages respectively.

The product catalogue itself is a dynamic, database-driven web application that utilizes product classification based on ontological definitions of keywords and keyphrases of the website’s over all marketing strategy.

Searching for football supplies on depicts similar results, this time MVP Athletic Supplies Product Catalogue | Football Supplies / Equipment | Football Cleats product catalogue’s subcategory page takes Page 1, Position 3 SERP, notice even the non-detrimental, moot effect of missing keyword-rich anchor text in the product catalogue’s URLs. Top 3 SERPs for football supplies Top 3 SERPs for football supplies

This is a real world example of Google measuring and delivering relevant static and dynamic pages to searchers based on the interoperability of the ecommerce product catalogue with its native support for product taxonomy in the Semantic Web, also made available to search engines through sitemap feeds in multiple formats.

We are leveraging the usefulness of our ecommerce resources for increasing the relevance of our Landing Pages and website altogether, resulting in greater visibility of our products and services to our targeted customers.

Increased availability of multiple high ranking pages in consecutive order empowers our customers to make better choices from search offerings within our realm of influence, not to mention increasing traffic to open a wider funnel of opportunities to generate leads and close a conversion or a sale that we can fulfill.

How do you leverage your ecommerce resources for SEO purposes?  Feel free to post your reply below.

Filed under: ColdFusion 9, Ecommerce, Emotional Intelligence, Internet Marketing, Rapid Application Development, Semantic Web, SEO, Software Development, Web 3.0

Kanban: A Management Framework for SEO

Turnout was awesome at last night’s Agile Vancouver Group Meetup on Kanban: Visual Feedback and Incremental Improvement at Sophos.  Chris Simmons’ presentation based on real-world experience at Sophos reinforced my appreciation and understanding of an agile framework that is best suited for work environments with plenty of interruptions, great for C-level meets and mashups with the downstream team, Operations, and Production teams doing both development and maintenance, or working from home, for that matter.

Following up on my previous post on Why SEO Needs A Framework, I’ve come to the conclusion that Kanban might just be the perfect fit.  With inter-disciplinary technologies and rapidly shifting best practices that become obsolete almost overnight, Kanban offers a visual process for delivery of the SEO workflow.

Backlog Ready WIP Done Done Done

There are 2 processes in the Kanban system, “an upstream and a downstream process, where the upstream process supplies parts (items) to the downstream.  In order to supply products to the final customer, the process needs to produce parts and make them flow to the downstream, but not too much, as overproduction is considered the worst waste.  So to prevent overproduction, the upstream doesn’t push finished parts to the downstream, but instead it is the downstream that actively pulls (fetches) the parts from the upstream.”  See Kanban Applied to Software Development: from Agile to Lean by Kenji Hiranabe on InfoQ.

Overproduction reminds me of the running joke in the social space, retweeted many times over.

“So this SEO expert walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish bar, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…”

There are no iterations in Kanban.  “Iteration meetings” or conservations and discussions are intended to communicate the information and uncover bottlenecks for process improvement purposes.

The team maps the value stream and establishes a pull system, limits work in progress, and makes the workflow visible to the team and the customer.  See Why Kanban? by Troy Tuttle, Project Lead Consultant at AdventureTech.

Kanban systems can also be used in a waterfall-like process model as Kenji Hiranabe’s Kanban Applied to Software Development: from Agile to Lean illustrates, at which time during the Q&A session of Chris’ presentation the group roared into laughter upon mention of “waterfall itself is the bottleneck in the waterfall model.”  My earlier blog post on The Waterfall Effect comes to mind.

Do you employ a project management framework at all in your SEO projects?  What works and what does not work for your purposes?  Feel free to reply below and engage this post!


Filed under: Agile Stories, Emotional Intelligence, Internet Marketing, Kanban, Project Management, Rapid Application Development, Seeds of Thought, SEO, Software Development

Social Media 101: Meeting New People on the Social Web Takes a Little Bit of Practice and Courage

When we were kids, it was easy to hang out with other kids as we jumped right in to play, parents and caretakers in tow saying, “Be nice.”  Now that we’re adults, we become the manifestation of our life experiences, made complicated by our own doing at times and unraveling at the seams some of the time, and relate to other people much differently.  We carry with us our preconceptions and expectations of others based on our circumstances.

We normally have something in mind when we think of approaching another person but stop short of actually taking the first step.  When we get lost in the city or on the road, why are we so bad at stopping and asking for directions?  What is it with men and asking for directions?  Is it because of our pride and instinct to be in control at all times that we clam up next to a total stranger?  Is it so uncool to admit to being lost or are we so much in denial that we’d rather go around in circles indefinitely?

We arm ourselves with all sorts of gadgets and data plans before stepping out of the house to make sure that we’re always on track.  We buy the top of the line cars equipped with built-in GPS devices to navigate us around.  We buy the latest smartphones and apps that can do all that, except driving us to our destination, unfortunately.

Why do we feel so embarrassed when we lose our way?  We think we’re so evolved and self-sufficient in every way that these things never happen to us anymore in public.  When we do get lost, we struggle with the thought of interrupting someone within arm’s reach, another person who just might be able to tell us how to get there.  And all we need to do is ask.

What if the stranger tells me to take a hike because I’m stupid enough to get lost?  What if he doesn’t speak English?  What if…?

All sorts of barriers from conflict to rejection cross our minds, blaming ourselves further for getting lost in the first place and digging ourselves deeper into our own perceived humiliation, believing in it so much in our minds that it becomes our reality.  We spend so much time getting lost, we never really get to arrive at our destination.

Oh, stop the incessant overthinking already and ask for directions, nicely!  The stranger not two feet away from you just might be able to help you.

Reaching out to other people on the social web is no different.  The tone of our language in writing can evoke a powerful force of persuasion to invite other people to come to know us, or reject us, for that matter.  It is this fear of rejection that holds us back, holing us up and incapacitating our first hello.

That’s right, just like picking up the phone when it rings and saying, “Hello,” while the other party acknowledges you and says, “Hello,” then makes their intention known.

You can get past your fear and start a real conversation on the social web!

Making social media work for my intentions

While looking for my next career opportunity, I have begun to build my professional network by inviting other professionals to enrich my network on LinkedIn.  By reviewing other member profiles, I have discovered many things in common with hundreds of them.  Finding familiar grounds of expertise and deferring humbly to the generosity of esteemed mentors on theirs, I have found the confidence to reaching out and making my intentions known for a potential connection.

“Where there is passion there are relationships.  How one paves the way for clarity of intentions shows one’s true character in the context of others.”

All it took was a little bit of practice on my language and courage to ask for a little bit of acceptance – the right words put together for a convincing read, hoping that many will pause for a minute from their busy schedules and review my profile.

Many have since accepted my invitation, spawning a flurry of conversations here and there, including some talk about the weather, a most benign subject to get the conversation started.  The experience has been socially uplifting, buoyed by kindness and appreciation for the community I serve with others.

Who knows, I just might find my next career from the next invite I send.  That would be a great result indeed by any measure of conversion!

After all is said and done, there is no price for being nice.

How do you engage and carry a conversation with others on the social web?

Filed under: Creative Writing, Emotional Intelligence, Internet Marketing, LinkedIn, Marketing and Advertising, Seeds of Thought, Semantic Web, SEO, Social Media

How To Optimize Your Domain Name System or DNS for SEO

Search Engine Marketers for the most part do not engage in the hands-on, technical level of configuration for domain name registration and Domain Name System (DNS) setup associated with website hosting.  Unless your in-house IT administrator or service provider is aware of your SEO objectives and up to speed with network best practices, you may want to check in with them on the status of your DNS settings for your top level domain names.  Be nice.  ;-)

DNS Yard offers a freely accessible networking tool with a simple interface for domain name WHOIS, LOOKUP, PING and TRACE from your web browser.

Let’s use SEOmoz’s domain name as it depicts the real-world example for my purposes here.  Enter in the field below LOOKUP and click the LOOKUP button.  You will get the following results.


Next, remove the www. and submit only using the same form.  You will get the following results.


The results above mean that the network administrator or service provider has configured both and with the same A record resolving to the numeric IP Address at

The A record is the top level, numeric representation of a machine in the “hierarchical naming system built on a distributed database for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network.”  (Wikipedia > Domain Name System)  There must always be an A record for the machine before aliases or CNAME can be added.  The host name of a machine that is stated in an A record is called the canonical, or official name of the machine.

Other records pointing to the canonical name are called aliases or the CNAME, allowing the machine to be known by more than one hostname.  In other words, it always resolves to the A record, spawning an additional network process or layer of request on the name servers, the execution time of which can be measured only in milliseconds.  Therefore, using an A record is slightly more efficient than using a CNAME to deliver the same page on your website.

The A record configuration of both top level, canonical name (e.g. and aliases (e.g. does not predicate the overall page speed at which your pages are executed by search engine crawlers for indexing.  Obviously, there are many variables that come to play when measuring page speed such as network latency associated with a database query from a dynamic page, image compression, encryption, etc.

Having an A record for your www and non-www or base name will not make or break your SERPs per se.  Making it part of your overall SEO pre-launch checklist is not a bad idea either.

Combined iteratively with all other best practices, optimizing server resources such as your DNS settings makes for an improved user experience from the web network to the browser overall.  Together with relevance and usefulness, it contributes to better SEO performance for better SERPs.

What is your experience with DNS settings that works or does not work for your network performance and SEO purposes?  I’d like to hear from you. appreciating your time and participation on this blog.

About The Author: Timothy Serrano has migrated hundreds of accounts involving thousands of domain name records and lines of code with a team of network administrators and web hosting partners during his 5 year tenure as Production Manager & Senior Web Developer at Think, a Vancouver Internet Marketing firm specializing in SEO, custom website development, ecommerce, web analytics and other marketing related services for the B2B and B2C markets.

Filed under: Agile Stories, DNS, Internet Marketing, Network Administration, SEO, Software Development, User Experience

To Secure or Not to Secure Pages, that is the SEO Question

User experience comes front and center when deciding whether or not to use HTTP or HTTPS on any page or section of the website.  Since the intention of this thread is SEO, it serves our purposes well to address user experience in our attempt to serve quality and useful websites to our targeted users and customers on the web.  To do this, we need to address user experience among “all aspects of the user’s interaction with the product: how it is perceived, learned, and used” subjectively.  See User experience design from Wikipedia.

How many times have you been dismayed and decided to leave the website instinctively as a user upon encountering a non-secure form requesting for your first name, last name, email address, phone number, home address, birthdate, Social Insurance/Security Number, or your Mother’s maiden name?

Protecting one’s private and confidential information is paramount to many users in countries and territories where laws are passed and enforced in order to protect the integrity of such information from malicious intent and nefarious activities.  Therefore, securing specific resources of the website where personally identifiable information is transmitted is not only mandatory for compliance with the law of the land but also becomes a matter of perception for inspiring confidence.

For example, a marketing page or Landing Page per se need not be secured for optimized load times, but when paired with a call to action as it should, the paths to the form and its processor, whether it be a Contact or Login/Sign up, from the Landing Page must be secured.  Doing so facilitates transparency and identity of the website owner in the effort to protect the customers’ best interest.  In return, we reward the owner for good behavior by continuing to engage the website with our personal information.

Another good example is a shopping cart with a clear path to secured pages from the basket to checkout, departing at no point during that process to a non-secure page the result of which can be detrimental to conversion as it will likely result in shopping cart abandonment, the visitor initiating the checkout process but leaving before completing the purchase.  Will you submit your credit card information to make a purchase over a non-secure connection?

Awareness of the difference between a secure and non-secure page may not be easily known for some people due to inexperience, presenting an opportunity for learning that can only pave the way for the corresponding behavior to engage the website with confidence.  The Privacy Policy page typically contains legal documentation declaring the company’s policy on the collection of aggregate information and protection of personal information with high grade encryption in accordance with the law.  The language on this page should promote education among its users and customers in order to bridge trust between the user and the website owner, not a wall of legal jargon that defies ordinary human comprehension.

Perception of lack of security triggers a higher bounce rate from users abandoning the conversion process and leaving the website altogether.  On the other hand, perception of security and integrity results in a lower bounce rate and a higher rate of returning visitors, engaged subsequently in potentially higher conversion rates for lead generation and repeat business.  The user experience thoughtful and optimized website will outrank a competitor’s that does not appear to deliver the same quality in SERPs.

“Google’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience.” See Webmaster Guidelines from Google Webmaster Tools.

It also suggests that fast sites increase user satisfaction and improve the overall quality of the web.  Therefore, knowing when and when not to employ secure connection appropriately and discriminately on any page of the website will produce great results in improving not only the overall speed of the website but also user experience.

Filed under: Internet Marketing, SEO, Software Development, User Experience

How To Prepare Canadian Ecommerce For Semantic Web And Google Product Search

Last night I had the pleasure to attend my first Meetup with the Vancouver Search Engine Marketing Group organized by Jose Uzcategui and Ani Lopez at the Ceilis Irish Pub on Smithe Street.  The scene was set, the beer was cold and preliminary introductions to new friends and contacts were made.

Aaron Bradley presented a “terrific, high level stuff,” in Ani’s own words, on SEO, the Semantic Web and Information Discovery, the full transcript of which can be found on Aaron’s SEO Skeptic blog entry with the same title.

Prior to the Meetup, I had the privilege to come across and read the Introduction to: Linked Data from the’s website, giving me a refreshing appreciation for structured data and its application in ecommerce.

Linking Open Data cloud diagram, by Richard Cyganiak and Anja Jentzsch.

Linking Open Data cloud diagram, by Richard Cyganiak and Anja Jentzsch.

Bringing Aaron’s presentation and the concept of semantic web home and into context, we admit to far reaching implications of the emerging Web 3.0 on the global information space, where valuable bits of information become interlinked data for public consumption.  In ecommerce terms, the possibilities and opportunities are enormous for the Canadian merchant and marketplace.

At the time of this writing, Google can use detailed product information to display rich snippets (for example, price, availability, and review ratings) right on SERPs in the U.S. only.  However, Google claims to be “working hard to make them available everywhere.”  See Marking up product information from Google Webmaster Tools Help.

Furthermore, Google Product Search is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Japan, and China.  See About Merchant Center in Google Merchant Center.

Are we already on the move in Canada to leverage our product inventory and shopping carts online for deployment when the technology becomes available to us on  What are we doing to prepare for making our shopping rich snippets appear on Google SERPs?

Perhaps now is a good time to plan for and scale the required learning curve and deployment of work in rich, agile iterations with our teams from assessing existing database structures and content management systems (CMS) for adaptation to the new RDFa semantic web standards to reworking our SEO strategies for Landing Pages with embedded URIs of keyword-rich product items, making them more visible and readily available for purchase by consumers online.

As we realign our product categorization according to acceptable ontological definitions, we may consider the availability of product items in multiple categories while ensuring that canonicalization and duplicate content issues are prevented as upstream as possible from the CMS application itself.

“Of all these pages with identical content, this page is the most useful.  Please prioritize it in search results.”

In this case, the original product item belonging to the primary category among others will serve as the canonical version or the authority for that product item.  All other occurrences of the same content of that product or non-canonical versions appearing in other categories will defer to the canonical version of the page.  Add the <link> element with the attribute rel=”canonical” and absolute path of the canonical version of the page for the attribute href=”; to the <head> section of the non-canonical pages.  See About rel=”canonical” from Google Webmaster Tools.

Google Webmaster Tools provides documentation on the Product Type Attribute, including the Google product taxonomy, a tree of categories that describe product families, and text/XML formatting.  Google also supports hProduct (microformats) and GoodRelations product properties, listing equivalents for the Google Product vocabulary.

Eventually, the ideal scenario from Aaron’s presentation will occur indeed upon proper implementation of structured and interlinked data on the web.

“If you have a profile in FOAF (friend of a friend) at a University Entomology department, follow insect enthusiasts on Twitter, and subscribe to Bug Girl’s Blog, one day Google might never sully your search results with pictures of guys in white throwing wooden balls around when you type ‘cricket’ in the search box.”

How are you using the semantic web for ecommerce in both organic SEO and PPC strategies?  I would love to hear from you on this thread, particularly from our Canadian colleagues.  Feel free to leave a reply below.


Filed under: Agile Stories, Business Transformation, Ecommerce, Emotional Intelligence, International Search Marketing, Internet Marketing, Semantic Web, SEO, Software Development, Web 3.0

How To Prevent Canonicalization and Duplicate Content Issues for SEO

I posted this comment to SES Conference & Expo group discussion thread on the subject with the quoted title below on LinkedIn – Sign in to LinkedIn and join SES Conference & Expo Group!

How to do SEO for SSL/Https site?
If site have all pages with HTTPS then how to work on this? any redirection for general pages which no need security (like Home page , About Us, Services, Faq’s, Contact us..etc)…”

Preventing canonicalization and duplicate content issues when secure certificate is installed on the website

An SSL certificate installed on the website can pose serious canonicalization issues if not handled properly.  Both HTTP and HTTPS ports are accessible to search engines for crawling pages found in standard ports 80 and 443 respectively.  The website then becomes 2 distinct websites, one in non-secure mode and another in secure mode.  You will evidently have a case of duplicate content, pages loading from multiple URLs – a conundrum for search engines as to which version of the website they should show to searchers – splitting up the popularity of pages and diluting the relevance of each page, adversely affecting SERPs.

The solution is to prevent search engines from indexing your secure pages, if that is indeed your intent, the object of which is to have one set of unique URLs for your website of indexable pages of content.

If your website is installed on an Apache webserver with mod_rewrite enabled, you can redirect secure requests for the robots.txt file to a secondary file which will exclude your secure pages from indexing by web crawlers.

First, create and save the robots.txt file in the root directory of the website, listing specific file names of pages that should be disallowed from indexing.  Examples of robot exclusion can be found at

Second, create and save the secondary robots_ssl.txt in the same directory, disallowing all pages from being indexed by search engines, the contents of which is shown below.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

Third, add the following rewrite condition and rule to your .htaccess file also created and saved in the root directory of the website.

RewriteEngine on
Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} ^443$
RewriteRule ^robots.txt$ robots_ssl.txt

Essentially, this condition checks the request for secure connection on port 443 to the website and, if true, the rule directs the request for the robots.txt file to robots_ssl.txt, disallowing indexing altogether on that port.

To test your new configuration and using as a sample domain name only, browse to the URL of robots.txt in non-secure mode at and you will see the contents of that file.  Finally, browse to the URL of robots_ssl.txt file in secure mode at and you will see the contents of robots_ssl.txt file.

Preventing search engine indexing of pages from multiple domain names of the same website

While we’re on the subject of preventing canonicalization and duplicate content issues, you may want to check whether or not your website can be browsed from both and  (Notice that www is the subdomain of as configured in your DNS settings.)  If it is, then you need to make only one version of the website available for all requests, including indexing by search engine crawlers.

Let’s say you want all requests to your website at only.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301,L]

The above rewrite condition checks if the request is made at and, if true, the rule redirects permanently the request to  Therefore, search engines will only be able to index pages at and serve only one version of the website to searchers, thus preventing another case of duplicate content.

See also:

Filed under: Apache, Internet Marketing, SEO, Software Development

A Breakthrough from Watching the World Junior Hockey Championship Game Live via Video Streaming on My iPad

Today marks a leap in multimedia entertainment as we watched live the entire IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship Game on my iPad over streaming video from’s website.

2010 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship Game (Canada vs. Russia) begins with the drop of the puck

2010 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship Game (Canada vs. Russia) begins with the drop of the puck

Why such a big deal?  For starters, the sports network listened to the consumers, taking notice of us brandishing our newly gifted or purchased iPad tablet and iPhone/iPod touch mobile devices from the recent holidays.  Whether video compression was delivered in H.264 QuickTime format or not, TSN made its viewers happy today, particularly the fans of Team Russia who won the Gold.  I rooted for Canada and am still reeling from the shock.

My point is that TSN today gave us the option that we have been looking for quite some time, the ability to watch live streaming videos from the devices we already own, not 2-5 years from now when HTML5 is expected to develop and mature, but now.  Regardless of the mudslinging between Apple and Adobe on the Flash debacle, those of us with iPads, iPhones and iPod touches have been able to watch the gut-wrenching game over live streaming video for the first time from our devices.

Live Coverage of The World Junior Hockey Championship on TSN Mobile

Live Coverage of The World Junior Hockey Championship on TSN Mobile

For once and hopefully the beginning of many, we have not been denied the experience by either Apple or Adobe for rendering Flash video embedded content unusable on our devices.  We have witnessed a major breakthrough worth celebrating after several years of broken user experience.

Cheering for the win or grieving for loss in the World Junior Hockey Championship Game, today the audience wins.

Filed under: Seeds of Thought, Software Development, User Experience


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