21st Century Renaissance Man

Aug 15, 2013

Fishing Charters

We do a lot of work for fishing charters.  I decided to draw a little comic for one their Facebook pages.

Unfortunately all my kids fall into the kid on the left's category.

Time for a road trip!

Aug 14, 2013

Content is King

Originally for my companies blog.

I get asked everyday "What will it take to get my site on the first page of Google?" and most of the time I confidently answer with "content is king".  I stand by that answer emphatically. The implementation of the answer is where people usually get bogged down. We often find ourselves creating what I call "filler content": blog posts, social drips, and wordy product descriptions in the hope that Google will identify our site as relevant enough for the coveted page one spots.

Once we have all this content, we set out to find back links in an effort to entice Google to ordain our site an authority on the subject and rank us higher in its algorithm.

Sounds simple right?

The part missing in the above statements is this: Google is constantly trying to make their search engine think like a human.  They want the search results users get to be relevant to not only the keyword, but also the essence of what the user is actually looking for.  Furthermore, they are taking it even further by trying to make results relevant to each specific user.  They take into account the device you search from (mobile or desktop), the location the search originates from (geographical data), user specific data (previous searches and other collected data) and then combine it with the sites PageRank, keyword relevancy, back links and I am sure that a chicken gets sacrificed along the way before finally displaying your results.

This system is not perfect, at least not yet, but as thousands of young engineers work diligently to refine this complicated, one-day-sentient behemoth of a creature we call the Google Algorithm one thing stands out in my mind as the key to successful Internet marketing: "Content is King".

The creation of content produced with humans in mind is paramount. As in any marketing effort, you have to start with the question "How do we engage our target audience?". What are the hopes, fears and desires of our future customers, and how can you tap into those feelings and, with a little creativity, convince them your product will help make their life better?

I call it "soul marketing" but it is more commonly known as Brand Recognition.  You must identify who buys your product and produce content that will be relevant to them, and not just when they are looking to buy!  To be successful in marketing you must insert your company name into the ethos of your product or services industry.  Subconsciously you want potential clients to associate their keyword search with your specific brand.

Most of us will never substitute our brand for a common term (search/Google, tissue/Kleenex, drink mix/Kool-Aid) but we can associate our brand so closely to the term that it becomes associated closely with it.  For instance, when I say "Let's get coffee sometime," I am really thinking, "Let's meet at Starbucks."

Online, this can actually work for a small business or niche company if you work diligently to insert yourself into the industry.  If you can create meaningful content that is shared or highly interacted with as people search for a product you sell, they will keep bumping into you as they do their pre-buying research.

The more places your content appears, whether explicitly placed or through being shared, the more your company will become known as an authority to the actual user or potential client.  Google is trying to make a search engine that thinks like a human (in particular the actual human performing the search) so it will display results that make the end user say, "that is exactly what I was looking for".

Just like when I say, "Let's get coffee," and then search my iPhone for the nearest Starbucks, Google wants their algorithm to know what you want even when you are not specifically saying it.  And when they cannot identify your customized exact result, they will choose the next best thing: sites with a history of being the useful to others looking for the same. They will determine this the same way we as actual humans would: who else is buying, what is being said about it (what do our peers say about it), where is the company located, how does it compare to similar products (reviews), what is the reputation of the company and when can I get it.

The adage remains true: "If you build it, they will come."  Create an online presence (or brand) that is unique, helpful and creative (hopefully just like your company) and you will accomplish what the question "How do I get on the first page of Google" is really asking: "How do I make my company relevant to potential customers?"

Ultimately these two are the same thing.

Aug 12, 2013

The importance of spell checking

I have always considered myself somewhat of a decent speller.  However, I have been struggling as of late due to the extremely frustrating inability to edit posts on Facebook.  Why they continue to leave this function out I will never know.  They could at least let you make changes and annotate that "this post has been revised" along with a link to the old post.

On top of this, I have made some photoshop spelling errors and uploaded them to Facebook as well.  Once a post gains traction (meaning it starts getting likes and comments) I can't find it in my heart to delete the pic and upload another.  Again, no ability to edit.

I would complain and say it is all Facebook's fault, but instead I will strive to not be lazy double check my work.

Note: If there are spelling errors above, let me know and I will edit them.

Aug 8, 2013

The art of self promotion

I'm today's fast paced world social media has become the defacto way to keep up.  More people get their news, information and even find products and services through this new age media.  But you have to be relevant.  Just posting for the sake of being on social media is rapidly becoming the way to get ignored.  This defeats the whole purpose of being on the internet all together.

I have been experimenting with relevancy and it is very difficult!  How do I post content that people want to read, interact with and share?  And how do I do it everyday without resulting to re-posting other peoples re-hashed spam?  These are the questions I have been working out over the last few weeks and I am slowly finding new and different ways to be relevant:

A comic I drew was tweeted by the reporter on Oregonlive.com.

Another comic I drew was used in a Facebook campaign and has been well interacted with. I learned that it is not possible to edit a post so I need to double check my spelling!

I signed up for Pintrest: not sure yet how I am going to use it to be relevant, but there are a lot of people there so we will see.

I am trying to write quality blog posts for my customers and have quality blog posts on our Portland Advertising Agency site.

These are just a few ways I am striving for relevancy, but it is a learning process and I hope to improve with time.  Look for better blog posts, new comics and other great content as I improve.  Ultimately I hope to position myself and Side 2 as a dominant content creation ad agency.

Aug 7, 2013

PortlandFlash.com

I am building a new site: Portlandflash.com and we are looking for a couple local (Portland) businesses to help us with some amazing deals they want to promote.  Did I mention it is free while we beta test?


Aug 5, 2013

Write the punchline

I have created a comic and asked people to write the punch line, you can be a part by clicking the pic:



Aug 1, 2013

Keep Portland Beard


Social Media and Contests

We are really cranking up our social media at Side 2 - there is a lot of great content that can be generated for our clients.  After two weeks of working on Bloging I have turned some attention to attracting a fan base and driving social media traffic.

We are running some tests and I have started playing with viral content.

My first viral attempt:


And now a contest: https://www.facebook.com/1800doorbell/app_204169126292521 on Facebook.

I will be testing more the rest of the weekend to see what draws traffic.

Jul 31, 2013

HootSuite

We utilize Hootsuite for our social media management and it is a very powerful tool. Brian Paxton who works with me a Side 2 Integrated Marketing is a certified professional and has been teaching me to utilize better.  Currently I have 10 of my personal social media accounts linked into one screen along with our companies and clients feeds as well.

The great thing about it is it gives you a unified "overhead view" of all your social media and allows you to manage and track a plethora of data.  It also helps us track the pulse of our clients customers and react quickly to hot trends.

I think we have only scratched the surface of what we can do with Hootsuite but already it has become a valuable tool in our belt for reputation management, social media campaigns and more.

Jul 30, 2013

Google SEO

If you are "in the field" then the name Matt Cutts may sound familiar.  He is the head of Google's Webspam team.  He writes a blog and it is filled with rich information.  Check it out: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/

Jul 29, 2013

1800Doorbell.com Campaign

I have continued to work on the 1800doorbell.com campaign.   Producing original or pertinent content is often a challenge, sometimes you resort to funny:   Knock Knock Jokes and sometimes to the random: Ode to Doorbells.

Of Course you often will write articles for a site hoping that the content is good enough to get picked up and included among the posts you have content about your product: Summer Home Projects.

I also continue to put up quality content on the sites blog.

Then there is the social media: Facebook, Twitter, etc...

I am working on an affiliate program and of course our viral videos will soon be done.

"To seek to find and never to yield" - I will continue to fight the good fight and get my client the search results his sight is worthy of!

Jul 26, 2013

Forums: Back on the Rise?

It has come down the grapevine here at Side2 that in certain cases forums are coming back in to SEO relevancy. There are reports of people coming in 5th, 7th, 10th in the SERPs, where the top four or eight results are forum posts dating from as far back as 4 years ago. It appears that for certain search terms relating to lists or answers, Google is starting to value user-collated content more, and that means forums and pages like Yahoo! Answers and Stack Exchange. Even a recent blog post with Google Authorship and a high page rank may come out below forum topics in these sorts of searches. Does that mean everyone needs a forum for a successful website? Surely not, but if you plan on building a community, a forum certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Here are some (free!) forum software to get you started:
*Vanilla is free software, but hosting and support costs money. Luckily you can get one without the other!

Jul 24, 2013

For Faster, Easier PPC Use Adwords Scripts



Running an Adwords campaign can be a lot of work. Sometimes if feels like a constant job, making sure that budgets aren’t hit too early while still getting your ads the up-time you need them to have.

At least, it would feel that way, if AdWords Scripts didn’t exist. Google provides an API, implemented in JavaScript, that allows you to automate many of the functions that take up most of your daily work. You can use them to do anything, from as simple as pulling data down into an easy-to-manage spreadsheet, to implementing “smart” alerts and decisions to your campaigns. With a little knowledge of JavaScript, really anything that might take you hours manually can be done on an hourly basis automatically.

Google provides this API to AdWords users for no extra cost, so really there isn’t any reason not to take advantage of this great tool. If you want to learn more, you can head on over to see some tutorials Google has set up, or see this article from SearchEngineWatch.
FreeAdwordsScripts.com lets you dive into usefulness of AdWords Scripts even if you know nothing about JavaScript. It’s a blog that posts regularly, so it can’t hurt to follow it just like you do ours.
A new blog post I did on 1800Doorbell.com:  Business First Impressions.

Jul 22, 2013

Things I did around the net today:


Still Working on the 1800doorbell campaign.  Got a new video idea we are working, it is going to be awesome!
So, blogging....  I have started many times to blog but when you have to write content for a living personal bloviating takes a back seat.   So, here is one more try.

May 29, 2013

What You Can Do About the Penguin 2.0 Update

With Google’s new Penguin 2.0 update, many small businesses were dinged hard for “thin” or “spammy” backlinks and poor site crawlability. Those affected are clamoring for some sort of clear cut strategy to avoid more penalties in future updates. They feel that they can’t be competitive without blackhat techniques when their companies have only a small operating SEO budget. But there’s a better solution.
The best source for quality backlinks is online buzz. People will share things they are captivated by, particularly images and video. A short, budget minded, professionally produced video package can run anywhere from $800-$5000 dollars (depending on design medium, e.g. animated, pro shot, etc.), but the results can be immediate and lasting. They’ll also change the way you think about online marketing and search engine optimization efforts.
What was GEICO before the Caveman? Or DollarShaveClub.com before their viral video blitz? Answer: practically invisible. Even mega corporations roll-out viral video inspired advertisements on television and online to spark new activity. A small business owner may not be able to afford traditional air time, but luckily for us, Youtube remains as free as the sidewalk.
Our team at Side 2 has access to years of professional film production experience, a recording studio, and entertainment writers. Let us make your next viral video campaign a hit! Don’t fear the Penguin when you can put sunglasses on it.

May 24, 2013

Professional SEO Services Are Becoming More Valuable

A recent Search Engine Land article, in conjunction with a Portent study, shows that Google is tightening the belt on link quality. Now, if 50% or more of a site’s incoming links are deemed to be spam, those sites will be penalized. While Search Engine Land appears to be casting this trend in a negative light, claiming that 4 of the Web’s top 50 sites are in danger of being penalized under the new criteria, SEO professionals should take heart from all this. It’s not uncommon for SEO newcomers to fall into old blackhat advice or sign up for services that generate nothing but spam links. By pursuing higher standards, Google is making the work of optimizing and maintaining a site that much more valuable. It should be well established that simply accruing links will not help your ranking, but there is now a growing demand for managing existing backlinks, ensuring that sites are not being referenced by harmful sources. As Google’s Penguin updates continue to alter the landscape, the true cost of owning, operating, and optimizing a website will come down to the creativity and tenacity of its webmasters.

Apr 23, 2013

Enhanced AdWords Integrating with Social Media & Apps

As part of Google’s ongoing transition, Enhanced Campaigns have received a number of tweaks, making it easier for them to work in tandem with social media. Users with Enhanced Campaigns now enjoy automatic integration with their Google+ account if both page and ad are linked to the same valid URL. Previously, social annotations had to be employed and manually setup, but with Enhanced Adwords, your follower count on Google+ is always posted alongside your ad without additional cost. There are, of course, criteria to meet: for most businesses, this will mean at least 100 active followers and recent posts that are both content and quality rich.
Perhaps the most important, though understated feature, is the new ability of Enhanced Campaigns to target users while they are engaged with their apps. These in-app adds will have similar controls as regular AdWords, with managers being able to bid for time, place, and context.

Mar 19, 2013

Free Websites and You, a Guide for Non-Designers

Having a successful website is no easy task, but even getting one to look good can be a major obstacle for non-techies. Companies hire programmers and designers for this reason, but Web work requires specialized knowledge, which does not come cheap. As a result, “free websites” can look tempting to entrepreneurs who just want to get online. It’s an understandable goal. Below, let’s look at three areas in which “freemium” services fail.
1) Customization and Accessibility
Arguably, the most important feature of any website is its capacity for change. The Web is not a static entity and no successful website goes without revision. Having direct access to the files on your allotted web space through FTP is a great boon, but this is not a feature that most freemium services provide. Certainly, their backend is sophisticated enough for you to manipulate and upload files, but you can’t transfer them to your computer for editing, something that would be vital for a developer. Everything must be done through the service’s software. The features of your website are thus limited, and more importantly, it means that any website you build cannot be moved to a different service in the future or thusly upgraded by a third party.
2) Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is not a process that can be standardized across a large system, though some Freemium services talk as though it can be. They will often have a built-in SEO system, but these tools are quite basic, sometimes even spurious (WebStarts, for example, with their One Hop “technology”). Weebly, Yola, and Wix all have “suggestions” for boosting SEO, which come down to conspicuous keyword placement, directory submission, and getting a Google Webmaster account. These are labor intensive answers with the potential for harm (if pursued improperly). Moreover, without paying for premium features, your free website is basically invisible.
3) Professionalism
Unless you want your website to appear as a subdomain of the service (.wordpress, .weebly, etc), there’s usually only a small fee for having a dedicated domain name. Beyond that, however, there are still many signs that your site was built for free. Despite the large number of themes that such services will offer, there is still an underlying template that is easily recognizable. Within its scope, customization is very limited and the structural similarities are easy to spot. Creating a dynamic template also requires a great deal of scripts and files, which means that whatever site you build is carrying an enormous amount of dead weight. Depending on what service, you may also find your site being built in Flash, which by this point in the Web game, is a disastrous language for any site that isn’t relying on a multimedia aspect. Flash files cannot be indexed by search engines, require a Flash plugin to play, and appear dated to most users.
In the end, there’s no such thing as a “free” website. There is a level of convenience and reliability (freemium services provide hosting, DNS, and design all in one company), but you are coming up against some strong disadvantages right out the gate. All freemium services rely on the built-in liabilities and limits of their product in order to upsell, and if you’re going to spend money on Web development (which you should if you’re serious about your website), then there’s no point in limiting your most important options.

Jan 11, 2013

Penguin 2.0 and How It Didn’t Change Everything

Panic in the SERPs
        The recent update to Google’s search algorithm, a continuation of the early 2012 Penguin update, has certainly ruffled a few waterproof, insulating feathers since its late-May introduction. Like its predecessor, Penguin 2.0 focused on increasing the quality of search results by penalizing sites for spam, keyword stuffing, and other “black-hat” SEO techniques. As with previous updates, many sites that were on the front page in the search engine result pages (SERPs) found themselves kicked down, to the second, fourth, even the seventh page. This has obviously caused a somewhat panicked reaction among those who’s job it is to keep their clients on the front page as much as possible. Some have even bemoaned the death of “old SEO” or hailed the coming of the Age of Aquarius “new SEO” in the form of a quickly trending buzzword: “content marketing”. What we’ll show you in this post is that content marketing is really just the same as regular marketing, and the Penguin 2.0 won’t be changing the business as much as some would like to think.
What is this Penguin 2.0 business?
        Simply speaking, Penguin 2.0 focuses on the same aspects as the first update of its line: ensuring that websites with low-quality user experiences didn’t rank as high as those with a more user-centric outlook. Rather than broadening the amount of information of the search engine’s algorithm takes into account, Matt Cutts and his team deepened it. In essence, Penguin 2.0 attempts to see beyond shallow facades of “content” in an ongoing attempt to merge the previously separate worlds what is attractive to search engines, and what is attractive to users of said search engines.
        One of these attempts to get a deeper grasp on what makes a user-centric site, the new update takes the penalization of duplicate content a little farther. Rather than just counting pattern matches, Google wants its algorithm to identify content that is similar to each other, to find content that, while it may be “unique” to a computer, would look and feel remarkably similar to a user. Sites may have taken a hit from this aspect of the update due to content that has become outdated, or pages who’s purpose has been outmoded or duplicated elsewhere on the site. One of the steps they could take to recover from this would be to see what needs to be removed, consolidated, or redirected with a permanent 301.
        Other factors that have been a focus of this update include: the use of quick-fixes and band-aid solutions over lasting changes to increase the use of best practices, leading to penalizations, sites that are more diverse in focus being placed lower in priority than sites that are more tightly aimed in their subject matter, frequent changes in SEO strategy being made a signal of over-optimization to Google, and even sites that are too slow will suffer in the SERPs as Google focuses on sites with better UX.
So What Should We Change?
        It depends on what is meant by ‘we’. If by ‘we’ you mean a site that has been struck by the changes made in the past month by Google, then there are a few things you could be doing. Planning your content around expertise, focusing on user experience, and making sure your website is running fast and clean are all good measures to take to be ahead of Penguin and other updates. If by ‘we’ you mean the SEO business as a whole… not a lot. All the strategies of good SEO right now are still applicable and will be for a long time. A strong, easy-to-use website design, natural link-building, and steady streams of content are all still very, very relevant. Google’s Matt Cutts claims that these changes are to improve the average Google user’s experience, so the search-engine giant is going to want to emphasize websites that meet that high standard. Show off that somebody’s home and somebody cares about the user, you’ll see your SEO strategies fly.