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Image Optimization

  • Choose the right format
    • GIF and PNG are best for small images with few colors and transparencies, such as logos, icons and design elements
    • JPG is the most common but we are moving toward NextGen formats such as WebP and JPG2000
    • Caveat: Most content management systems do not accept NextGen uploads. Use a plugin such as Short Pixel, EWWW Image Optimizer or Smush Pro (all WordPress).
  • Size images to scale: Upload images to the exact size you want to display.
  • Reduce quality to minimum size (Save for Web legacy tool in Photoshop)
  • Change filename to something descriptive
  • Use alt text, content describing what is in your image
    • g., dog jumping over log
    • At least one image on your page should have your targeted keyword in your alt tag
  • Use a caption
    • Google scrapes the content on your page, not the images. The content around each image, including a caption, creates context for what the image is.

Optimization Checklist

  • Meta title
    • This is generally the same as the headline on your page or post. It should entice people to click on your link and read your content.
    • Include your targeted keyword or keyword phrase and try to use it toward the beginning.
    • Keep length to less than 65 characters.
  • URL structure
    • Use your targeted keyword
    • Avoid special characters, symbols, punctuation (except hyphens), etc.
    • Avoid stop words (common, short-function words such as the, is, at which, and, on)
    • Use hyphens to separate words
  • Heading tags
    • Use only one H1 tag per page (in WordPress, this is your title tag)
    • Highlight sections of your content with subheads
    • Use a hierarchical structure: H2, H3, H4, H2, H3, H3
    • Don’t overdo it. Use H tags to break up your content and give your reader’s eye a break. An engaging H tag can signal “read this” to your reader.
    • Use your targeted keyword or keyword phrase in at least one sub H tag.
  • Meta description
    • Write a unique and relevant meta description that includes your keyword or keyword phrase.
    • While this is not a signal to Google spiders, it does appear under your link on a search engine results page and can entire the reader to click through.
  • Media
    • Ensure your post or page has relevant images, graphics and videos to break up or highlight text.
    • They can help to engage or inform your readers, keeping them on your page longer.
    • Images require special optimization tactics (see Appendix ii, Image Optimization Checklist)

Make sure your fur baby is microchipped

microchip pets

We called him Buddy.

Turned out, his name was Frankie.

microchip dog

We took Bella for an evening walk about a month ago, strolling around our Spokane Valley neighborhood, when I saw a loose dog. He seemed friendly, but he was a bit scared. And he had an open wound on his left forepaw.

He had no collar and, hence, no tags.

I have a thing for stray dogs. I don’t want to see any dog hurt or harmed and, if Bella got loose, I would want a neighbor to show her kindness.

We knocked on a few doors. It was cresting 9 p.m. and no one was answering the doorbell. The few folks we found didn’t recognize Buddy at all.

So, we corralled Buddy and got him to our backyard, just a couple blocks away. Buddy was playful with Bella and quite affectionate with me. To ensure husband got a good night’s sleep, I stayed downstairs with the dogs for the night, planning to keep them from causing a stir.

Off to the vet

I scoured the SCRAPS and Craigslist lost dog sections before drifting off to sleep with Buddy on my stomach — much to Bella’s consternation.

Then the next morning, I made a poster I was going to place on the local mailboxes. (Hubby’s idea.)

But first … what if he’s microchipped? Isn’t that the easiest route?

Yes, it sure is, said MaryAnn, one of my favorite people around here and the patient care coordinator at Pet Vet Hospital and Wellness Center.

Hooray! We jumped in the care and rushed off to Pet Vet.

Sure enough, Buddy has a microchip and, although his information wasn’t updated, MaryAnn tracked down his owner, who was thrilled to learn Frankie was safe and sound.

Worth the time and money

The breeder through whom we found Bella had all the puppies in her litter microchipped. I don’t know how much the installation costs, but registering Bella’s chip with AKC Reunite cost $17.50.

It’s a small price to pay for the security of knowing your fur baby can be found. And if there’s anything I’ve learned by teaching Bella to be off-leash, it’s that anything can happen!

Why do I tell you this story?

The American Veterinary Medical Association has designated today, August 15, as National Check the Chip Day.

It’s a gentle reminder for all pet owners to get their fur babies microchipped, be they canine, feline or anything else (can you microchip a snake? ew …)

Because according to the American Kennel Club, one in three pets go missing in its lifetime. Since many of them aren’t microchipped or licensed and tagged, they don’t find their way home.

Accidents can happen. Gate hinges come loose, holes get dug under fences, and some dogs — like Frankie — are bred to jump.

Pet parents aren’t perfect.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary

Yeah, that’s me … contrary, right?

Except for one thing: I have a garden.

Me. City girl. Couldn’t wait to get out of a small town to live in an apartment and experience all that a big city could offer.

Lights! Busy! Excitement!

Then I got a dog. And life started to calm down.

Then I met a guy. And I started to think about a home.

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More waiting

This should have been us today:

green card movie screenshot

OK, slight role reversal. Gerard Depardieu is playing my character and Andie MacDowell is in the role of My American. Also, we go without the subterfuge, since we were in love from Day 1.

In any case, when we left the U.S. Federal Court House in downtown Spokane this morning, we should have been celebrating with sunshine, lollipops and rainbows … everything! (R.I.P. Lesley Gore)

Instead, we left our Green Card interview with an RFE, a request for evidence.

It’s all my fault.

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Looking back

I kept getting an error message on my phone.

Low storage.

I had to clear up space somehow. Without deleting valuable apps (and shaking my first at HTC for its bloatware), I knew I had to do one thing.

Delete pictures.

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The light at the end of the tunnel

It finally happened.

I called the National Visa Center and — after almost 80 days of multiple redials and hours left on hold — the sweet voice on the other end said “your case arrived today.”

Then on Wednesday, Max had our case number for us.

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The waiting is the hardest part

I get discouraged.


Mostly because I’m not a patient person.

Every day for the last three weeks, since we received our second Notice of Action from U.S. Customs and Immigration Services, I have been calling the National Visa Center.

When I get a positive response, our case number will be sent to the U.S. consulate in Vancouver and I will start the K-1 application process.

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My beautiful ring

I’m engaged.

Your first thought is, “uh yeah, we know.”

But if you look at my hand, it’s missing one engagement ring.


I get to wear my ring when I visit My American in Spokane.

Every time I leave to return to Canada, I take my ring off and put it back in its box, next to the matching wedding band I’ll be wearing in the new year.

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