VinSolutions Websites Forms 2

In my previous post about custom forms on VinSolutions websites I mentioned requesting a global css change that should fix the forms created by VinSolutions.

—-   I have moved this blog post to:
visit that site to read the entire article. —-


VinSolutions Websites Forms 1

Just over a month ago the company I work for switched a few of our websites to VinSolutions.  The forms on the entire website looked like crap and needed to be fixed.  As with any CMS there is a learning curve.  I downloaded their CSS files and attempted to figure out if they were using any kind of standard.  There were a bunch of css files and they all appeared to be randomly coded with very little commenting.

—  This post has moved to:

Visit that link to read this entire article . . . note there is helpful code information that you may want to implement on your VinSolutions website.

The War on Spam

Anyone who has tried to fight spam knows that, unfortunately, the spammers are better at getting through spam filters than the companies we want email from.

Last month I wrote a short tutorial on my blog about how I’ve learned to configure SpamAssassin to combat spam.  While I am blocking about 9,000 spam emails every day there is still enough coming through the filter that the business owner is still complaining.

For this post I figured I’d list a bunch of spamming domains that were (they are not anymore) making it through my SpamAssassin filters.  Most recently I’ve been seeing a bunch of .xyz domains:

The other TLD that started showing up as .click:

From time to time I will update this blog with domains that are causing me a bunch of extra work and lost productivity.

Web Design & SEO

I’ve been making websites since 1992.  A lot has changed over the years but a lot has remained the same.  Onlinemarketing and shopping is still in the growth stage of market development.  This is very obvious when I look at the amount of businesses in Saginaw, Bay City and Midland that don’t have websites.  I remember a few years ago reading that any business that doesn’t have a website will be obsolete.  This is not the case yet but I do see that businesses with a good online presence are poised for the future and are getting business that they may have missed.

I’ve decided to get back into the website design business and also start utilizing my SEO (search engine optimization) knowledge for other businesses.

New River Roar website designed by David Defoe

New River Roar website designed by David Defoe

I’ve been the Internet Marketing Director at Labadie Auto Company for over 6 years.  The Labadie websites are huge and require a vast amount of skill and knowledge.  My exposure through Labadie has allowed me to develop a new site for the Bay City River Roar and I’m now working with the Labadie Pig Gig website.

Do you want your business to shine on the Internet?  Contact me for web development!  Does your Saginaw or Bay City business have a website and no one can find it?  Contact me about SEO.  The Internet is still the cheapest way to advertise and the growth is still in an upward curve.

Internet Growth

I’ve been working with websites and the Internet since 1991.  I remember working for a major publishing company and suggesting that we put our content on the Internet (at that time a graphical bulletin board that was dead 6 months later because of the browser).  When I suggested it to the president of the publishing company he turned me down saying, “I don’t see how we’ll make any money.”  Well this guy is no longer the president of the publishing company but the Internet continues to grow.  In fact today more and more newspapers and magazine are stopping print copies and going to completely digital.

So here we are 16 years later and I still hear businesses say that they don’t understand how they will make any money being on the Internet.  Forrester is predicting an 11% increase in online sales for 2009 which in a down economy is huge!  They predict that this online shopping growth will come at the expense of physical stores because people are shifting where they get their information.

You don’t have to be a retail store to understand that if you’re not on the Internet you need to be.  With the 30 and under crowd most don’t even have a phone book in their house or apartment.  They want information – they look it up online.  How about TV?  Most of the younger generation is now watching TV shows online.  With sites like Hulu what is that going to do to your local TV advertising?

If you have any type of business and you do not have an online presence you need one.  This information sounds like deja-vu from a few years ago but we are still in the same place.

Need a website?  Have a website and need to get it advertised on the Internet?  Contact me.

Car Repair

I was doing some work on the Labadie Buick GMC Cadillac website.  Today my concentration was on the body shop.  The manager of the body shop asked me to get some new pictures.  Of course I wanted action shots . . . cool stuff with sparks flying and such.  The before and after pictures are great but they are a little borning.

Every once and a while there is an image that everything just seems to come together.  This shot from the body shop today was one of those images.
Auto Body Shop Worker
I had the Olympus E500 camera set to auto (I didn’t want to look through the lens at the welding flair) with ISO and 100 using the Olympus FL-36R also set to auto.  There was a minimal amount of tweeking in Lightroom.

Moving WP Blog

I posted a little while back about SEO and WordPress experiments (  Even though I’ve had better SEO results with keeping a blog on WP I’ve decided to move my restaurant review website to my own server.

I exported the posts from the WP Dashboard and then loged into the WP account on my server and completed the  import.  The entire process was very smooth and I didn’t loose a post.  The only weird thing was that the users were not created on the new account so I had all the posts default to being posted by admin.  I should have duplicated the reviewers first and then did the import.

I haven’t tried to move the domain name yet but I’m hoping that will go just as smooth. vs Own Domain

I was recently speaking with the sales rep for a SEO company.  There products and services were great and I’m seriously considering using their service for at least one of the websites that I manage.  One of the topics that some of my websites ranked low on was our blog.  I have been using WordPress for the blogs instead of housing the blog on a sub-domain of the site.

Like usual this presented me with a challenge.  I have used WordPress successfully to get links on Google within 24 hours but what will  happen with I use a sub-domain blog with WordPress?

I have been using the domain of for just over 8 years.  So this is an established domain name.  I created the sub-domain of, installed wordpress and started to make some posts.  I also made a post on this blog to try to generate at lease an initial look by Google.  The WordPress blog announcement worked.  Google visited the site and I got a listing within 24 hours.  I have made a new post every day for the past few days and checked the traffic and placement on Google for the posts.  Almost no hits to the blog and I can’t find the new posts within the first 12 pages of google.  Perhaps I need to take some pictures around the city of places that are more obscure and see how the Google placement shows.

Google Search Results for

Google Search Results for

Now contrast this blog experiment with another less established domain name.  1 year ago we registered the domain great-gm-deals.comand really didn’t promote it or do anything with it.  This domain is for a car dealership.  The automotive industry is very competitive when it comes to SEO and search engine rankings.  We knew that on January 1, 2009 we were going to launch this domain as the primary domain to change from a domain that has been in place for 12 years.  Major challenge – right?

For the launch of I started blogging in November (there was a working site on the domain).  I only used a blog on WordPress ( and nothing else.  The domain quickly shot to the first page on Google for a lot of the keywords for the site and is still above the fold for most of the keywords.  This clearly shows that Google gives more weight to a blog housed on

Google Results for Buick Bay City

Google Results for Buick Bay City

I understand that we don’t really want people leaving our domain to get more information.  But is that necessary?  What we want is customers and eyeballs.  If my blog is found by people that would never visit my main website and they find information they like AND it gives me better placement with Google than my own domain . . . well I’m going to keep blogging on

SEO Challenge

In recent posts I’ve mentioned working on new websites for Labadie Auto Company.  The new sites are up and running (,,, we need to optimize for search engines.  I’ve been doing a lot of study over the past few years and some of the basics still work.  However, because we are using a site template from an industry specific company this causes some issues.

I do not have the ability to modify all the “alt” tags on the site.  This is a little area that I’m not sure exactly how much weight that Google gives to but I know that it increases keyword relevance.  The biggest issue here (in my humble opinion) is the vehicle images.  Even though the entire inventory page says what the car is I would also like the “alt” tag to show the vehicle year make and model.

The page titles I do have control over.  Here’s the question about page title:  How many words/characters are to many?  I have read that you should have no more than 7 words, in another place I read no more than 66 characters and yet another say up to 70 characters is OK.  So perhaps I should just assume that 66-70 characters is OK.  When I looked at that the website template company created it was almost 240 characters!  OUCH!  So I have been trying to whittle down the number of characters and it is hard to limit to 70.  The new technique that many sites are employing seems to be using the | instead of frivolous or “stop words”.  Stop words are words that make a complete sentance but have no searchability such as in and the. 

My first draft title on one page was, “Labadie Toyota mid-Michigans #1 Toyota Dealer | Bay City Toyota | Saginaw Toyota | Midland Toyota.”  Using www.websitegrader.comthis title is 97 characters that makes it to long for optimization.  In doing some more study it probably is not a good thing to repeat the keyword of Toyota because this could be a black mark on Google making it look like we’re trying to load the keyword.  So I decided to go with “Labadie Toyota mid-Michigans #1 Toyota Dealer | Bay City | Saginaw | Midland.”  Still 6 characters to long!  Well at this point I’m keeping it and we’ll see what happens.

This one I think is important for more than one reason.  This is the text that is displayed for the description of the webpage on the search engines.  I want this to read well because it will make people decide whether they want to click on my link.  It’s one this to get to the top of Google but I also want clicks.  My first version of the description was, “Labadie Toyota is a BAY CITY Toyota dealer with Toyota sales and online cars. A BAY CITY MI Toyota dealership, Labadie Toyota is your BAY CITY new car dealer and BAY CITY used car dealer. We also offer auto leasing, car financing, Toyota auto repair service, and Toyota auto parts accessories.”  This was actually the description that the website template provider software came up with.  It looked OK but not great to me.  Again I ran it through and I get a warning that the description is to long.  The recommendation is that the description be no longer than 150 characters.  So I changed the home page meta description to be, “Labadie Toyota is mid-Michigan’s #1 Toyota Dealer.  We are a full service dealership serving Bay City, Saginaw, Midland and the surrounding communities.”  This is 152 characters.  Again is this to long?  Is it going to effect my search engine optimization because we have 2 extra characters?  I don’t know so for now I’m leaving it as-is.

Here is a big one.  In the past (and I’m talking about years ago so in Internet time it’s the WAY past) web-designers simply loaded up the meta keywords and called it good.  This is again what the template company did with our new sites.  There were 79 keywords loaded into the meta tag by the template.  Www.websitegrader.comrecommends only 10!  Only 10?  WOW what is a website owner to do?  So far I have been only talking about the home pageof the website.  So here is my idea.  In the homepage put the most popular but under used keywords to drive traffic.  Use more specific keywords on the internal pages.  This is a lot of work but each of these elements need to be changed for each internal page anyway – so be prepared to spend a lot of time.  Perhaps this is why good SEO is expensive!  Here I used the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find out what keywords ge the most amount of volume.  Because we sell regionally I was looking for things specific for mid-Michigan – like city names.  The manufacturer names are to generic and they are going to appear many times on the website anyway.  Another pointer here; you company name is also going to appear somewhere on almost every page of your website also so don’t waste valuable keywords on your company name.  People that search your company name will find it.  We are trying to get the people that don’t know the company name and want our products or services.

Keeping with the company name issue I also decided that the only page that should use the very valuable title tag characters with the company name is the home page.  Because the title is one of the most important tags for search engine relevance I decided that this was where I was going to spend a lot of my initial energy.

These sites are to new to see what difference these changes are going to make.  However, when I compare these sites to our competitors (again using we are already ranking better than our competition.  And our competition is paying a lot of money for a “so called” SEO expert.

Cadillac Website Work

I’m working on some more website stuff again today. Once again I’ve decided to use WordPress as my engine for the site. I was creating a new site for Labadie Cadillac in Bay City. This is not their main page but a site that features only Cadillac vehicles and information. I was using the Revolution2 Streamline theme without the Content Gallery plugin. I have just started the customization on this site. Since Cadillac does not have a large line of vehicle this should not take to much time to get the basic information up and running.