Ryan Jones Blog – dotCULT.com Ryan Jones Blogs About Internet Culture, Marketing, SEO, & Social Media

October 27, 2010

BlueGlass Florida Live Blog

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:22 am

Just a quick note to say that I’ll be live-blogging the BlueglassFL conference next week from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino outside of Ft. Lauderdale. Thanks to a generous prize from Ann Donnelly I was able to attend at the last minute. The agenda looks exciting.

If you’re going to the conference, make sure you familiarize yourself with some of the local Florida Laws before you go. You don’t want to end up being arrested for singing while wearing your bathing suit at the Hard Rock’s pool.

If you’re lucky enough to “hook up” remember that in Florida, only the missionary style is legal. Also, sex with porcupines is strictly forbidden – so you’ll have to find another animal. Be careful though – while it is legal to have relations with an elephant, you will be fined if you leave it tied to a parking meter.

And Ladies, don’t even think about parachuting on Sunday.

Once you get to Blueglass, look for me by the blackjack table and let’s talk SEO over a beer. If you’re not, you can find my live blog coverage of Blueglass Florida below, and you can find even more coverage on my Twitter Feed

Online PR: The art of getting your business talked about

Domaining: The Art of Domains

SEO for Enterprise Level Business

ORM Online reputation management & defending your brand in search

October 21, 2010

Fixing Detroit’s Problems

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 10:53 am

It’s not often I get political like I used to, so I’ll try to keep these types of posts rare. I’ve been writing about SEO way too much lately though, and I never intended that for this blog – so it’s time to go in a slightly different direction today.

Listening to talk radio last night, they were discussing a new Detroit schools proposal. Basically, in an attempt to get parents more involved in their child’s schooling, they’ve proposed criminally charging parents who don’t attend teacher conferences.

It’s clear that the city is desperate, but this isn’t the answer. Statistics clearly show that children with a parent in jail do worse in school. Locking up mom isn’t going to help (besides that, there’s already a shockingly high number of Detroit school children who already have one parent in prison to start with.)

Detroit has several problems, but three of the biggest ones are clearly related. We have the worst schools, the highest unemployment rate, and the highest percentage of people on government assistance. It doesn’t take much to connect those lines. Not finishing high school makes it very tough to find work, and not having work makes you very likely to apply for welfare. It’s a vicious cycle, so how do you stop it?

To stop the cycle, you get tough. Very tough. You definitely don’t start by throwing people in jail, and you can’t just cut off welfare either. Like the cartoon above you have to throw a drowning man a life preserver – but when he gets out of the water he takes it off and learns to swim. Currently, we have a bunch of people still walking around wearing water wings and counting on somebody else to pull them out if they fall overboard. We’ve got to teach these people to swim – one way or another.

Doing that requires tough love, which I’ll explain after this little anecdote.

Years ago when I was in college I worked full time as a Wendys manager. It was a great job for a 19 year old. $30k/year, tuition reimbursement, free food, and flexible schedule. Eventually I was given a nice raise in exchange for working at what we call the “section 8” Wendys. The store was completely surrounded by government housing projects – which also seemed to be the only source of employees we could find willing to work there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the following conversation:

me: “Hey, XXXX, I know you’re only part time working 10 hours per week, but I’ve got a full time spot open for 40 hours every week and overtime if you want it. It would mean $1 more an hour too. Do you want it?”

employee: “(grabbing calculator and doing some quick math) No thanks, if I did that it would only be about $200 more per month than my welfare check – which I’d lose, so I’d rather just work the 10 hours.”

That’s the problem I’m talking about. Currently, most people on welfare make more than full time employees at fast food places, Walmart, etc. There’s no reason for them to care about school or work.

That’s where the tough love comes in. The first step is to make a high school diploma or GED required in order to receive welfare or food stamps. If you don’t have one, you can still get assistance but only as long as you verify that you’re attending classes. If you miss class, your check stops coming. The same applies for recipients with kids. If your child isn’t attending school, your check gets severely reduced.

The second step is work. If you’re on welfare or food stamps, and able to work (obviously this wouldn’t apply to disabled, mentally ill, etc) then you must be actively looking for work. Something like 3 job applications per week – and it will be verified. If you refuse a reasonable job offer (equal to or more than what you’re getting from the government) then your benefits get taken away. You can re-apply in 6 months. Also, until you do find work, you’ll be spending 10 hours per week picking up trash on the side of the freeways. We have no shortage of trash to pick up in Detroit.

So how can we do this? That’s where part 3 (and the jobs part) comes in. Establish a larger welfare office – just like a probation office. Welfare recipients will meet with their welfare agent on a monthly basis. The WA will check up on their job applications, schooling, child’s schooling, etc. Hiring these agents should create plenty of jobs. Not to mention the people we’d have to hire to drive and supervise the road cleanup crews.

Similar programs exist in Europe, and countries that employ them (like Germany) have pretty low unemployment rates. Of course, the countries with the lowest unemployment rates are those that don’t offer any type of government assistance, but I don’t think that’s an option.

The current situation in Detroit is one that sees no value in education or hard work. That’s the attitude that needs to change before the city can even start to turn itself around. Unfortunately, the only way to do that is with tough love. It may take a generation or two before it happens, but it will eventually happen.

October 19, 2010

Enterprise SEO is Different

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 4:10 pm

As I was reading through the comments on Lisa Barone’s latest blog post one thing kept jumping out at me: There’s big differences in SEO thought processes based on the size of the client.

The post itself was about whether SEOs should focus on ranking and traffic or on conversion – and the commenters on the post were strongly divided. What I noticed about the divide though is that many of those who have fortune 500 clients were on the traffic side of the debate while SEOs with smaller “mom and pop” style clients took the conversion side.

Are you tired of spending countless hours staring at a blank screen, trying to come up with the perfect words for your next blog post? Look no further than Copymatic, the AI writing tool that promises to create high-quality content in minutes.

And that doesn’t surprise me one bit.

I’ll get to my thoughts (if you haven’t already read them in the comments yet) but before I do I want to talk more about the divide.

While the basic components and strategy of SEO (good content, clean code, lots of links, etc) remain the same no matter the size of the client, much of the thought processes and focus points differ vastly when it comes to larger SEO clients.

Link building, for example, makes a much bigger difference for smaller sites than larger sites. In my work with Ford, link building rarely comes up at all. That’s not to say link building isn’t important, I just don’t have to worry about it as much. There’s enough fan base, interest, and news coverage already in place to ensure that good quality links keep coming in regardless of what we do. We still have to ensure that pages are discoverable and able to be linked to, but we don’t spend any time submitting the site to directories or emailing people asking for links. It’s one of the benefits of being a large site.

Content is another one of those areas. Look at the websites for the top brands in the world: Coke, Nike, McDonalds, etc and you’ll notice a shocking trend: There really isn’t any content. It’s all pretty images and flash.

At the corporate level, SEO isn’t as important as branding, image, recognition, etc. It doesn’t need to be. SEO is still important, but sometimes it has to take a back seat to other considerations – considerations that smaller sites don’t have to worry about.

Rishil says that small business SEO is about education – and he’s right. I’ve worked in small shops, startups, and fortune 100 environments. Small shops are all about education; not just about what SEO is but why it’s needed as well.

With several larger clients I’ve worked with, SEO isn’t so much about education as it is about balance. Most clients already know they need SEO, they want somebody to deliver the strategy, recommendations, insights, and analysis. On top of that, they want somebody to balance the creative requirements with making the site findable. If you’re planning to apply for freelance SEO jobs, SEO certification programs could help you step up your game and land more clients.

So what about Lisa’s post? Do you measure SEO with rankings, traffic, or revenue?

The answer is all of it.

According to this SEO agency named King Kong, SEO is measured by traffic AND ROI, no matter what level – it’s the focus and importance that differs.

When I did SEO at a smaller shop it was easy for me to change content on pages, add or remove links, or run tests to optimize content. It’s often the case where the small shop SEO can simply open up their FTP editor and make the changes themselves. I’ve worked in that type of environment before.

At an agency though, content changes are a little more complicated. While the recommendation may start with an SEO, the content goes through a copywriter, information architect, project manager, and legal review – all before it even shows up in comp or wireframe. Does it fit with the brand image? Can we legally say it? Is it confusing to customers? Does it fit in the allotted space? Does it use terms people are searching for? Brands have to answer all of these questions (and more.)

And that’s where the difference in metrics comes in. An enterprise SEO not only needs to recommend changes, but he’s got to sell them to the PM, IA, creative team, optimization team, and client – and the change has to make sense for all departments too, not just for SEO.

With many big brand clients it’s not always appropriate to measure the success of an SEO campaign by revenue or KPIs – not because they aren’t important (they are) but because there are too many teams involved in determining what happens once the visitor finds the site.

What does success look like in SEO? I generally start by measuring things like traffic from search engines, unique keywords, & visibility (not just rank.) From there, the next step is to look at revenue and KPIs. Then you can see the whole picture and make decisions. Low conversion could be due to several things: poorly targeted SEO, bad navigation, high pricing, confusing funnel or shopping cart, etc. Those things are outside the realm of a typical SEO, and it may be difficult for the SEO to influence change in those arenas.

The important takeaway though (as Danny Sullivan notes in one of his comments) is that even if the SEO isn’t doing the optimization or on page analysis – somebody has to.

I measure SEO by traffic and visibility, but I measure the overall website by conversion. I think we can all agree that conversion is the right metric for most websites to be measured on, the only difference seems to be whose job it is to take the site from traffic to conversion.

October 12, 2010

The Social Network Movie Experience

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 12:22 pm

Last night after seeing the reviews on Flixster I decided I wanted to go see The Social Network movie. I quickly found a date on OkCupid and we headed to the theater. Upon arriving I quickly pulled out my iPhone and twittered that I was planning on seeing the movie. Then I opened up Facebook places and checked in my new friend and I before updating my status to let everybody know I was about to see the movie of the year. I also checked in on foursquare, where I was made aware of a coupon for free popcorn.

I logged into Groupon to take advantage of a ticketing deal, and paid with my debit card so that the purchase details were instantly available on Blippy (and also tracked on Mint.com) Then I took a photo of my date and I and uploaded it to DailyBooth and Flickr.

Unfortunately, by the time I did all of this the movie was over. I set my MySpace mood to disappointed dissapointed and headed home.

Of course, you probably caught all of that on my friendfeed right?

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