Sharing my island is a joy. How could it not be?

Oahu, home to Honolulu, is blessed with breathtaking beauty, welcoming weather, a rich culture whose inspiring story continues, vibrant dining, entertainment and shopping options … and some of the best beaches in the world. Surf’s up!

For more than 30 years I’ve been producing visitor magazines and TV shows. These media remain viable, but three years ago — late to the game — we introduced our website,

One impetus for this was the acknowledgment that millions of visitors were using their phones and laptops to learn about Hawaii. Another was that what they were learning wasn’t quite right.

One top-rated site urged me to go to the Don Ho show, when Don (a fun golf partner) passed away years ago. Another claimed to be trustworthy because “I spent three weeks in Waikiki in 2007.” Other sites only beseeched me to buy things, and some were giving five-star ratings to places that I know personally are unworthy of valuable vacation time.

We wanted something better. Accurate. Timely. Reliable.

We wanted to be a “trusted messenger” — a bona fide friend sharing information responsibly. So we built a site. At the controls was Michelle Ann Carino, a local web designer remarkably sensitive to our aims. In a reasonable amount of time, for a reasonable amount of money, she had us up and running.

A super-simple WordPress dashboard now lets us do pretty much everything on our own, though my webmaster Michelle continually tweaks the architecture and expands our options. is what I would want on my MacBook Pro and iPhone6 if I were planning a trip to Oahu or already here. The content is meaningful, albeit not exhaustive. Navigation is simple. The writing is heartfelt, and the photos are superb. To keep things simple, categories mirror our successful print efforts: dining, nightlife, sights and activities, shopping, family travel and maps.

I loved the site. But Google didn’t. never popped up where I thought it should be — and I was still being told to visit Don Ho. (Someday I will, believe me.)

Enter Jamie Turner.

I am a longtime 60 Second Marketer devotee. Jamie is a trusted messenger himself, and what I have learned from him is priceless. I remember my thrill in listening to a podcast of his in the summer of 2015. In it, he outlined his P.A.D.S system for attracting customers — Pedigree, Authority, Diagnostic Tool and Specialty. It resonated with me big time, articulating precisely what I had been trying to put into words myself.

The 60 Second Marketer community beyond Jamie has no shortage of experts. Erik Qualman’s explanation of “flawesomeness” fed my hungry business soul, yet another delineation of basic communication truths to live by.

Early last year I talked to myself about Jamie. ”I have a problem,” I said. “Maybe he has the solution.” Contacting Jamie via email was easy. His reply was immediate and compassionate.

Enter Jeff Millett from

I love a guy whose name says it all. Jeff is not only “The SEO Whiz.” He is the SEO whiz, if you know what I mean. (I have not Googled “The Five-Foot Golf-Putt Whiz” yet, but I should.)

When Jamie recommended that I reach out to him, I did so without hesitation. Full disclosure: I had spoken over the years with about a half-dozen SEO “experts,” and never did I feel comfortable with what they were saying. Maybe it was me, not them. In any case, given Jamie’s reference, I was pretty sure that I couldn’t go wrong with Jeff. I didn’t.

Jeff and I were in sync from the get-go. His appreciation of our content and aspirations was genuine, and I knew that my trust wasn’t misplaced. Immediately he was able to identify some of our key issues.

How We Did It

Google, it seems, was having a hard time indexing us on their SERPs (search engine result pages), because we hadn’t fully optimized our web pages. More specifically, we had an excessive number of h1 and h2 tags headlining our content, and our meta titles and descriptions were not optimized. The list went on and on, but our main issue was that we were not using targeted keywords or phrases within our on-page SEO elements.

We went to work.

First: We Identified Our Target Audience (and Keywords)

Jeff and I are three times zones apart, but that didn’t matter. Connecting was easy, and over several meetings we identified our target audience and determined exactly what would-be users are looking for. Jeff referred to this as “keyword research.”

“Things To Do In Oahu Today” became our main keyphrase.

As I mentioned, out-of-date information drives me a little crazy, whether it’s a shuttered restaurant or a friend no longer here. Not only was “Today” relevant to my site, it also is a word (according to Google’s Keyword Planner) that Google users actually include in searches.

Second: We Optimized My Meta Title

My meta title is what shows when my site comes up in Google’s search results. Unbeknownst to me, this feature plays an important role in Google’s algorithm. Like the cover of a book, this title tells Google what a site is all about.

My original meta title was simple, “Oahu Today.” While informative, it lacks key details. Replacing it with the new main keyphrase “Things To Do In Oahu Today” allowed Google to place my site in a category where I felt we belonged.

Third: We Optimized My Meta Description

Also VERY important to Google.

These are the brief description that appear just below your meta title in Google’s search results. According to Jeff, these are helpful in two ways. First, they give Google another reason to offer your content to users. Next, they tell your users that yes, we offer the very information you’re looking for. This enhances your “click-through rate,” which also can have a positive effect on rankings.

Fourth: We Optimized My Page Title

A page title is basically the big words you see at the top of your web page or blog post — the “title.” Often these titles are used haphazardly and without real purpose to say things like “Welcome To My Website” or “Welcome to TodayOahu,” like I did (oops).

As it turns out, page titles are an important SEO element, regarded by Google much as meta titles are. Google needs to know that your page topic, or title, represents the information users are looking for, letting Google send them to you in confidence. The very best way to do this is by using your targeted keywords or phrases as the title itself.

Lastly: We Added Rich Content

The last step in our micro site-overhaul was adding lots of rich, unique, informative content.

I already had plenty of reviews of a variety of popular island venues, but Jeff wanted more. He asked me to write 500-word articles for each of the pages we were to optimize. Coupled with my lists, he said, the articles would add great value to my pages, giving them more weight to Google and potentially spurring better rankings. I do everything Jeff tells me to do — and the work paid off.

The Results: Only A Few Months Later

Now, after only a few months, we rank No. 1 at Google for “Things To Do In Oahu Today,” and as a bonus, “Things To Do In Oahu Tonight.” Building on our success, we have initiated a more labor-intensive SEO campaign that will encompass a number of other target keywords and phrases as we move forward.

As we say in Hawaii, mahalo nui loa, 60 Second Marketer community!

About the Authors: Peter Gellatly runs and Jeff Millett is … the SEO Whiz.