Keratin Cut Color

Thank you to long-time clients Brandau Brandau and Halo Blow Dry Bar for giving me unusually controlled hair!  My usual is an unruly mop of curls and frizz.

Ten days ago, I got a Keratin Treatment at Halo.  It has totally changed my hair – I can see why so many women are obsessed.

Before that Kerrie Brandau gave me the great colour and today George Brandau gave me a cut and blow out.

Thanks also to Halo for the Jane Iredale lips and mascara and SkinSpirit for the face make up.

Love that I get to enjoy the services and products of so many of our clients.


ENT Doctors Business Cards

We’ve recently been working with our long-time clients at Ear, Nose & Throat Associates of San Mateo on updating their brand.  They still like the logo we developed for them a decade ago, but have updated their print items and we’re wrapping up a new responsive website.

ENT Business Ad



Clothing Boutique Photo Shoots

Thank you to Susan Graf and her fabulous team for hosting two successful photo shoots – one in Healdsburg, one in Palo Alto.  Their hard work in preparing the boutiques made the projects look great.  And their personalities made it a really fun time for me.

One highlight for me was twilight in the Healdsburg Plaza as I took shots of the store windows growing brighter as the daylight faded.  I discovered if you ever wish to chat with strangers, set up a tripod, stare intently at a subject, and start taking photos.  So many people approached to ask me what I was doing.  Some offered tips.  Several also had curious dogs.

If you are ever in Palo Alto or Healdsburg on the plaza, don’t miss Susan Graf Limited – the clothing is fabulous – men’s and women’s.  Check back soon as she’s got a new web site under development.  Below is one of the graphics we’ve pulled together for the men’s department.  And here’s some of my favorite shots…

Clothing Boutique Web Site Header



Video for Websites

Yes, getting video on your site can help search engine optimization (SEO) and visitor experience, but done wrong, it can hurt SEO and the impression you give to visitors.  This post will hopefully answer frequently asked questions about using video on a website.

You may also be interested in our post on creating your own YouTube Channel – a must.  As soon as you have a video for your site, also post it to your YouTube Channel.

(See the videos in our header graphic at:


The best code to use to play the video on your site is your own.  But this requires development time and money.

Many developers save time and money by using YouTube’s free embed code.  It’s very fast to copy and paste this into your site, but there’s a big downside.  Once the video finishes playing, recommendations on other related videos hosted on YouTube will be displayed.  This can drive visitors away from your site, and even worse, it can recommend video by your competitors, driving visitors to them.

As you can see, we recommend avoiding YouTube’s embed code for a good reason.  But we know that budget also has to be taken into account.  One idea, if budget is an issue, is to use the YouTube embed code and then as soon as the budget allows, switch to your own site’s code.


We’ve ranked five main ways video can be used on a website – number one is the optimal and most beneficial – to number five, the anti-SEO, bad, bad way.


Develop your own, original, and unique videos, upload them to your server, and place them on your site using either of the code options mentioned above.

Unique content reigns as the king of SEO due to the high ranking search engines (including YouTube) give it.  It’s also going to provide your visitors with a true idea of your business and add credibility.  Of course, the downside is the high cost of video production, although with an iPhone/Pad and basic video editing software, just about anyone can produce their own video content.


Use video with permission, upload them to your server, and place them on your site using either of the code options mentioned above.

An example of this is using the video created by a vendor and downloaded to your possession with permission – say with granted access to their brand box.  Since the content is not unique, the SEO value is slim.*  But it is still valuable for user experience and adds credibility and caché to your site.


Use YouTube video without permission. Using YouTube’s “embed” feature, grab the video code and place it on your website. (Note that some video content producers turn off the embed feature completely so this might not even be possible.)

This opens you to lawsuits – or at least a cease and desist letter. YouTube does actually seek out and punish copyright infringement.  Since the content is not unique, the SEO value is slim.*  You’d have to feel strongly that the content will have great user value before following this path.


Use non-YouTube video without permission. It is possible to “lift” video off of other websites, but it usually is not easy and requires advanced HTML and video skills.

Again, this opens you to lawsuits – or at least a cease and desist letter.  You’d have to feel really strongly that the content will have great user value before following this path.


Linking to the video on another site, including YouTube.

By doing this, you are driving visitors off your site.  Who knows what they may be distracted by on this other site – including your competition.  You also have no control over the page containing the video.  If the video’s URL is changed, you’d have a dead link on your site.  If the video is moved, you could lose the content.  Out-going links have no SEO value.

Did we miss something?  Still confused?  Ask John.

*One way to help SEO if you go this route is to put the video on a separate web page, rather than putting it in-line with other content.  At the least, that additional page will increase the size of your site which can help SEO.




South San Francisco

We enjoyed a trip to South San Francisco last week to photograph a property for our home-owners association management client, Tri-State Enterprises.  Some of the apartments had this view, which even in the rain, looked amazing.

These photos will be used on a new website, currently in production.  Thank you Tri-State!

One of the highlights of this property is the fabulous succulent garden:

Cactus and Succulents


Partnership Marketing

First of all, credit where it’s due.  This fabulous corporate head shot was produced by Lisa DeNeffe Photography – a business we are lucky to work with from time to time.  The model is one of our long-time and favorite clients, Rosemary Camposano of Halo Blow Dry Bars and G3 Strategy.

Lisa and Halo have put together their services in such a great way.  Halo is offering a discount to Lisa’s clients on hair and/or makeup styling before their photo session.  And Lisa is offering Halo clients a discount on a corporate head shot package.

Both Halo and Lisa will send an e-mail campaign to their clients, so Halo will be introduced to potential new clients and vice-versa.  There will also be printed collateral for display and hand-outs and the web page version of the Halo e-mail campaign can be linked to from blogs and social media.  At the least, each business is generating new in-coming links from credible sites to their own web site for a nice search engine optimization boost.  A few such links are below – you’re welcome!

Partnership marketing is a win-win situation.  Your business’ clients win as they get an introduction to a new service or business and they get a nice deal.  Your business wins with exposure, added brand recognition, and SEO.

MPS wins too!  We have the opportunity to work with these great businesses and we developed the e-mail campaign Halo will send.  Here’s the landing page version: Professional hair and makeup + professional photographer = best headshot ever!

And my Facebook post for Halo that reached eighty Facebookers in the hour after being posted.

TIPS! Think about the types of services that would compliment your business and would be of benefit to your clients.  This is such an excellent sample – what could be better than hair and makeup right before a photoshoot?  Find a partner:

  • with an over-lapping target market to your business,
  • with a nice-sized e-mail list and/or blog following,
  • with the ability or contractor able to bring about a quality e-mail campaign and print collateral,
  • and with your level of energy and commitment to work to maximize all possible marketing pathways to make the partnership a success.

Be sure to check out:

Lisa DeNeffe Photography • Town & Country Village • Palo Alto •

Halo Blow Dry Bar • Burlingame, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Palo Alto •

Thanks for reading – Rachel


Donated Graphic Design

We are pleased to support the Montalvo Arts Center by donating graphic design and printing costs to the Montalvo Service Group.  It’s the most local of the non-profits we support.  Each time we visit, we feel good knowing we’ve contributed to the preservation of this beautiful villa and grounds.

This year, we’ve produced two designs for the mothers’ day brunch fundraising event.  Wonder which they will choose?

If you would like to treat your mum to brunch this May 8th, you can call the box office at 408 961-5858 or keep an eye on their website’s calendar.


Artist's E-mail Campaign

Abstract artist, Lou Bermingham as been a client of ours since 2008.  We’ve enjoyed each new work of art he has produced, visits to galleries and museums to see his work (and sip some wine at the opening receptions), and making a few web sites for him.  There could not be a person more deserving of succeed in this competitive field.

We also send out e-mails to his quickly growing e-mail list.  We keep them simple – just an image of one of his works and text to the right in an area which fits nicely into a smartphone screen without side-scrolling.

Lou is the idea client with an ideal audience to include a “share to Facebook” link on his e-mail campaigns.

With an average list of a few hundred friends for each Facebook account, there’s a huge potential to get your product and brand under the noses of possible new clients.

Below is a sample of the above e-mail shared to the MPS Facebook page.

Interested in Lou’s art?  Visit his MPS website.  And here’s the e-mail campaign.