07 Sep 2009

Are you a FAT ASS?

No Comments people management

burro-704091In Flagstaff, Arizona, there is a problem of obese donkeys being fed by tourists.  And in Spanish, “burrito” means little donkey.

Makes you want to go get some Chipotle now, doesn’t it?

Then sit down to watch Super Size Me.

And wash it all down with some Acai Berry tea– or join a weight loss site.

07 Sep 2009

Are you a Chief Executive Officer?

No Comments people management

20090127gtdDo you run your own company?  Doesn’t matter if it’s just you.  Some people like to say that everyone is an “executive”, since being one has nothing to do with title or how many people are “under” you.  After all, if you are the Chief EXECUTIVE Officer, your job is to execute– to get things done better than anyone. And anyone can execute.

Thus, even if you’re a peon in big company, you can still be an executive.  It’s not about fancy suits, big offices, and private jets– it’s about getting things done with massive efficiency.

03 Sep 2009

Want to be a well-known affiliate blogger? My interview with Murray Newlands

9 Comments affiliate marketing, Guest Posts, promoting yourself

murrayheadI was able to catch up Murray Newlands, a famous blogger. We were able to have nice about his work in affiliate marketing, and the secret behind site, Murraynewlands.com, an affiliate blog that came from nowhere and is now everywhere in Google and twitter. Not only has he some great content on his blog, but is getting picked up and noted all over the blogosphere. Google Famous Blogger and you will see his name, I even hear he is working on Celebrity Blogger!

Murray, what ideas are interesting to you at the moment?

Chris Brogan’s writing on Trust Agents hit a chord with me. I have been very successful as a blogger since launching my blog earlier this year. My SEO is great, and a large reason for this is the links that people give me. I put this down to the content which people do like, yes, but there is more to it than that. I get lots of links from some great people I know in the industry become they want to help me. I always try to help other and I have found that truly what goes around in the blogosphere comes around. You want to connect with people who will engage with you and you soon learn who can fulfill that need with you and who will not. Once you get a reputation being engaging and helping others, you are soon introduced to more people who will also interact with you. It is a virtues circle of people who help each other, and these people swim in schools.

Who are some bloggers I should be trying to connect with?

Greg Rollett http://www.rockstarlifestyledesign.com

Drew Benskpark.com

Heather Smith boatinginbeautifulbritishcolumbia.com

Joetech Joetech.com

Steve Hall Adrants.com

Shawn Collins blog.affiliatetip.com

Connie brainfoggles.com

Chris Brogan ChrisBrogan.com

Eric Schechter www.ericschechter.com

Missy Ward www.missyward.com

Rax www.raxraxrax.com

How does blogging fit in with your affiliate marketing work?

Well, I blog about my work, and writing is a great way to explore ideas and concepts as well as share industry news. It is also a good means of making new contacts within the industry many of whom I now do business with.

What fears do you have with blogging?

When I first started I was worried about what people would say about my blog, my writing, MY SPELLING. Now I am not so worried about that, what I do worry about is the people who I forget to say thank you too and the missed opportunities. There is so much going on and so little time. I also have other projects which are getting more demanding and taking me away from my blog. I am not giving up.

Footnote: Murray knows how to draw positive attention. He ranks on Dennis Yu via just one interview with me.

02 Sep 2009

Print headline sells the news, optimized web headline tells the news

49 Comments Guest Posts, internet marketing training

This is a guest blog post by Ahteram Uddin, who runs online marketing for the Times of India, the largest newspaper in the world. Yes– bigger than New York Times.

If you are into News aggregating business or your website has an industry specific News section you stand a chance to drive additional traffic from the Google News Search, which is very powerful yet simple tool to make it work for you.

I am going to tell you how to invite Google News Bot and rank your news in the Google News Search. I will try to talk about all ranking factors, best practices for the News optimization and answers to some frequently asked questions.

SEO for News

All right, so where do you find your News listed – On Google.com (or .co.in) like the one below

bls1

And on the Google News

bls2

I am sure you must have wondered at some point of time – how do these articles appear on Google and how does this work?

Well in one line I can say “Google crawls it, groups it and then rank it here” but this isn’t fair if I don’t tell you what exactly helps your News qualify for the listing and get that Free traffic and audience base. I am going to make an attempt to cover each factor in as much depth as possible.

How does Google discover my News articles?

CRAWLING- Much like Search bot, Google has these News Bots who are gonna go out to the news sites to look for the news articles. There are two ways Google retrieves these articles

  1. Discovery crawl – Google sees new URLs and makes a crawl and indexes it.
  2. News SiteMaps – This is a unique method of telling a News bot about your new content by including all your new URLs

If there are some articles or content that you don’t want Google to index and crawl you can always use a robots.txt file to ask them not to do so. Google respects the protocol, alternatively you can also use header tags for the same.

bls3

GROUPING- Once the articles are crawled they are brought back to the Google’s database for the grouping phase. Google has its own content classification idea, if you look at the below articles from TimesofIndia.com

bls4

In case of the above news Google looks at “Business, Sensex, BSE and Nifty” words and determines that this article belongs to business section and similarly looking at “India, Mumbai and Bombay” it makes out that this is geographically targeted to India. That’s how Google populates different editions like US, UK and India. The sections in Google News like entertainment, politics and health are also populated in the same fashion.

NEWS CLUSTER RANKING- The story ranking algorithm decides which story to place higher and then on the subsequent ranks. Once the Google is ready with the news clusters (group) it ranks them basis “Aggregated Editorial Interest”.

What (t.f.) do you mean by Aggregated Editorial Interest?

bls5

In the upper diagram what you see is small news that makes an impact on the smaller region or group of people. For example an N.G.O. is distributing free umbrellas to the poor people in New Delhi. This is a great human interest story this might be covered in a few local newspapers and a few news agencies might pick up.  This is still a small story and not showing much aggregated editorial interest as compared to the announcement of Congress (I) forming government in the center, this will not only be covered in the local newspapers, will be covered by many news agencies globally, picked up by op-ed and there will be loads of follow up articles.

Therefore due to the larger aggregated editorial interest this news cluster will be picked up the Google to be placed above the news about NGO distributing umbrellas in Delhi.

ARTICLE RANKING- Article ranking helps Google post a cluster of news articles, so let’s say if there are around 300 articles about “new government in Delhi” Google has a way to determine which one to rank first and which one to second and so within the cluster. There are several factors for an article ranking but I am going to talk about the few most critical ones-

  • Fresh and new – It’s essential for the article to be recent, substantial, and original and focused to the topic. Op-ed, satire, press releases and subscription are not eligible to lead the cluster.
  • Duplication and novelty detection – Google always tries to give credit to the original and the novel content. Let’s say there was an article originally done by the economictimes.com and later another article on the same topic gets published by financialtimes.com with a reference to economictimes.com original article saying this story was broken by ET and mention it as their source of information.  So now this article from ET might start ranking higher now because other people are sending reference to it quoting it as the original story.
  • Local and personal relevancy – It is given weightage by section and story and more credit is given to the local sources which are likely more relevant to the news article. For example the news about NGO distributing umbrellas Google would prefer to choose Delhitimes.com rather than expressIndia.com which has all India reports.
  • Trusted source – Google uses its historic data to decide what type of source works best for which section or geography. So if there are 5 stories published in a particular section and most of the people clicked the 4th one then Google records it in its database as the most relevant source for that type of news.  Therefore over a period Google starts building a database of what type of news from what publication work best for which geography. This must be kept in mind that the trust weightage is allocated at the section level at not for the entire news source. For example economictimes.com may be more reliable source for Google news when it comes to the breaking business news but moneycontrol.com may be its favorite for the stock related searches. Similarly, WSJ could be a reliable source for the finance related news in the USA but not in India.

Q. What about News SiteMaps? What the advantage of submitting one?

Well, Google says they are not only useful to News Bot but to the webmasters as well for the following reasons:

  • Provides greater control over which of your articles get publish over Google news that’s because as I mentioned above also they compliment discovery search. It tells Google exactly which articles are new and the ones to crawl.
  • It helps you give Meta information about your each individual article. You can provide things like:

1. Publication date
2. Keywords – which help target your article both geographically and section-wise

This is very beneficial to large News publishers.

Q. Can Google bots visit our News URLs more than once?

The answer is YES!

Google Bot comes back to the article to find any updates, there are different crawl rates allocated to different websites depending upon their reliability, audience size, genre and geography. Google has confirmed this that they come back to find any update to the article within 12 Hrs of the first discovery.

Q. I have News content which is not just the text. I have videos and images too. How do I optimize them to appear in the News section?

Optimizing multimedia content:

Video content – You can create a Youtube video channel. Google says that they are in the process of supporting other platform like Metacafe etc. but it may take a while. Youtube is a trusted source therefore if you get visitors your videos would rank on top of the Google news as well.  Remember to include rich textual description and transcripts every time you submit a video to Google as it helps them identify the category and geography of the video.

Images – There are five tips Google gave for the image optimization to get them included in the News Search

1. Use a large size image with good aspect ratio
2. Descriptive captions and alt text
3. Keep the image as close as possible to the title
4. Keep it Inline, don’t make it a clickable one
5. Google prefers JPEG

Q. Does it help to achieve better ranking in news searches if I have higher PageRank?

Google says PR plays a very small role in deciding the rank for a news article as compared to what it does for the regular web search. There is a simple reason for this – it really doesn’t make sense to compare the linking structure an article which was published minutes ago with the one which has been floating for years. PageRank has been used in determining a news rank but very delicately. These are those other factors we spoke about earlier like timeliness, freshness and relevancy to a category etc.

BEST PRACTICES – Here are couple of best practices indicated by the Google

1. Keep unique permanent URLs with at least 3 digits
2. Do not break up the article body, keep the entire news on a single page
3. Put date between the article and body
4. Titles matter, always keep an extremely indicative title of the story
5. Separate News articles from the press release by using a directory structure
6. Publish unique and informative content, if you get news from an agency try re-writing in your own words

29 Aug 2009

The Twitter and Facebook Highway

1 Comment facebook marketing and advertising, promoting yourself, social media

TFBHW

You may have heard the phrase “Kill two birds with one stone”, regarding taking one action to produce two results. Twitter and Facebook have teamed up to create a highway directly to one another, allowing users to update one status and be published to both sites. Most people are aware of how you can have your Twitter updates post to your Facebook status. Some people know that you can hide people who spam your stream, but not many know you can post your Facebook statuses to Twitter.

Would you like to talk about efficiency? This productive measure comes at no cost, sending your statuses via fiber optics at “status per 100 milliseconds”. The highway is perfect for users with high social networking priority that would like to save time and have more flexibility.

One AWESOME example:

StatusUpdatesYou may have Facebook mobile, but you do not receive status updates via text message. This is where Twitter has an upper hand; those subscribed to a “tweeter” via mobile device will now be notified of posted Facebook status. This is a win-win situation, because this highway has two lanes and can also travel the opposite direction. For example, you text your tweet to the designated number registered with your phone, and it shows up as your Facebook status aswell. This is perfect for non-internet browsing mobile devices.

StatusUpdates2Looking for customization? Feel free to share everything between Facebook and Twitter, but lucky for us picky folks you can choose what information you would like to share. You have options to share status updates, links, photos, notes, and event creations. Statuses and updates via Facebook and Twitter are very important to keep your friends, clients, fans, and coworkers informed. Hop online and buckle up (for safety), because you’re about to experience the smoothest and fastest ride social media has to offer.

Businesses can benefit from this, too. Online sites like BidFire, a Real-time auction website like eBay, are primed  for these quick transactions. Twitter allows access to their APIs that can be used to post messages when a user does something Like buy a Nintendo Wii for $10, which then can be automatically posted to Facebook with a neat URL to your website. When users link to their social network accounts, you can dramatically increase visibility just by simply offering a way for people to tell what a great deal they received. People like to brag to their friends, so why not tap into that?

18 Aug 2009

$250,000 salary making PPC campaigns

8 Comments local advertising

Do You Want to Live in Mumbai?

If you’re willing to live where Slumdog Millionaire was filmed, you can make a lot of money.

ReachLocal has 25-30 folks in Mumbai, India making PPC campaigns for their US-based customers. They need someone to manage that team.  Read the job posting here.

This also includes setting up landing pages, which are just a reverse proxy of the customer’s website. This allows ReachLocal to avoid the hassle of trying to get access to the client’s site, dealing with an incumbent webmaster, or messing with non-scalable SEO.

12 million rupees, by the way, is $250,000 a year. And in Mumbai, that’s a lot of money– as most people who do PPC professionally make $1-$2k a month– we know, as we’ve hired a few folks from the biggest firms with only limited success.

Interesting what you can learn about competitors by reading their job postings. When we bid against the mega agencies such as iProspect and iCrossing, we’ll take a look at their job postings to determine how they structure their teams, what they pay people, and how their processes work.  Read carefully and you’ll be surprised what you can learn!

Alternately, if you want to remain in the US and work for a killer company doing PPC in the local space, contact me– dennis@blitzlocal.com.  We don’t offshore any of our PPC, as quality control is so important.

17 Aug 2009

Ultra Light Startups: Local Edition in NYC

1 Comment affiliate marketing, local advertising, search engine marketing conferences

5529_114722184203_504429203_2136919_5911464_nThe day before Affiliate Summit East in NYC, last Thursday, I attended a ULS get-together on Local. There were almost 100 people there– perhaps half from start-ups looking to network or pitch their product.  Entry fee was $20, but $10 if you do a 60 second pitch.  I am cheap, so I did the pitch.

After the pitching, there was a round table with Court Cunningham, CEO of Yodle– then the CEOs from outside.in, growthspur, and 8coupons.  Clearly, I was there to meet Court, as he is a competitor in the local space.  Panelists agreed that:

  • the local space was a growing share of the $500 billion dollar advertising market
  • the weak economy and low cost to make a website was initiating entrepreneurship on a scale never before seen
  • the traditional media channels (radio, TV, print) are getting hammered, as ad dollars shift to local
  • the cost of producing content is decreasing– we don’t need union writers, as anyone can blog.  Consider the Iranian revolution broke via twitter, not the traditional media

I was overall impressed with the quality of the networking– at the same level as Silicon Valley, with a touch less pretentiousness. The free pizza, provided by Seamless Web, was also a nice touch.

WorldLogoAfterwards, I had the pleasure of meeting Graham Lawlor, founder of of Ultra Light Startups The concept of being ultra light is that you don’t need venture capital– just a couple folks with a great idea and a lot of resourcefulness. Looking forward to seeing how these informal groups (including TechStars and YCombinator) help young entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.

If you’re looking to start your own business, want to network with other startups, or perhaps need a bit of inspiration, I’d recommend that you attend one of these events.

14 Aug 2009

Social Media is a Lie We Perpetuate

13 Comments promoting yourself, social media

I started and completed a 260 page book in my 4 hour flight between Washington DC and Phoenix today.  It’s Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.  I average a page a minute for light content—half a page per minute for dense, textbook-like content.  The lie is explained later in this post, by the way…

open_bookDo you read books?  If you don’t, you’re not building your knowledge as completely as possible. Blog posts are great for little tidbits, but deeper knowledge takes hours and is usually the area reserved for books.

Odd that Brogan would write a book about social media, any more than you’d create a painting about English literature or write in Braille about how to dance. The links in his book were footnotes—as opposed to clickable blue anchor text.  Weird.

That aside, it’s a good primer should you want to learn the basics of social mediaNothing shocking— write about what you’re expertise is, develop real friends online as opposed to a ton of auto-followed friends, your reputation is built upon trust as opposed to auto-dispensing business cards, set up monitors such as Google Alerts for your name and business, customer service on twitter is another helpdesk, and so forth.

It’s basic networking tactics with an online twist, which I believe are better-stated  in books such as “Never Eat Alone” (Keith Ferrazi), “Think and Grow Rich” (Napoleon Hill), “How to Make Friends and Influence People” (Dale Carnegie), and “Swim with the Sharks” (Harvey Mackay).  If you haven’t read these classic books, you should.

However, Brogan is a top 100 blogger, so he’s doing something right. And he does admit that publishing a book is really just a 2 inch thick business card—something to give you instant credibility.  And I did read it word for word, start to finish, so it did keep my attention.

It was also free, by the way.  All attendees of Affiliate Summit East got a free copy.  I almost didn’t grab a copy, as I was laden down already with free T-shirts, squeezy balls, and other conference schwag.

The lie of Social Media

crossed-fingersWhat I’m afraid will happen is that people will read this book and believe that if they start blogging about what they passionately believe in, plus start going crazy twittering and Facebooking all day, that they, too, can become popular bloggers.

He references Michael Jordan, who says that his secret to being so good is to keep shooting.   I could shoot baskets 18 hours a day for 10 years and still get my ass kicked by some teenager who never practiced.  Like the movie “Rudy”, the lie is that anyone can make it with some hard work.

The latest Malcolm Gladwell book talks about the 10,000 hour rule—that if you look at people who are at the top of their game, it took them 10,000 hours of practice to become pros. Somehow having put in the time would lead to success—although correlation is not causality, for those of you who remember first semester statistics.

Not denying the value of hard work.  Look at Robert Scoble, who is arguably one of the most popular bloggers—part of the “bloggerati”.  He became a famous blogger while at Microsoft because he openly denigrated Internet Explorer in favor of Microsoft.  Thus, an authentic voice—a guy at Microsoft willing to say a product sucked.

However, were Scoble not at Microsoft and wrote the EXACT same posts, his voice would be unheard among the thousands with the same opinion. Think about it.  Change one variable and the “success” goes POOF.  Thus collapses a whole string of further successes that stemmed from that initial lucky break.

The biggest factors in success are being lucky and well-connected. If you know me, you’ll know that I’ve been fortunate in several instances not because of my skill, but because I was in the right place at the right time—a great situation with a great network.  And if you look at the others who are successful in Internet marketing, you’ll see the power of their network—how they leveraged those connections to the max.

If you don’t have a network of powerful friends that will promote you and link to you, your blog could be the most informative site on the planet and still get no traffic.

I’d place that sentence right at the beginning of the book, were I the author and dispense with all the stuff about making sure to make eye contact with people you meet, to smile and say thank you, to try to be helpful to friends, or to use PPC to drive traffic to your site.  I am not kidding, each of those points are whole paragraphs or sections in the book.

On page 256, they list 5 reasons why people might trash the lessons in the book- that the lessons are not implementable, not that simple, not measurable, amateurish, and time-consuming.

draft_lens2365301module13389380photo_1231547514dr_laura_feather_pillowReason #6, which is mine, is that most of the 260 pages are fluff—almost no actionable content for someone who wants to earn a living as a professional blogger—or to even make enough money to pay for their hobby.  The exception is page 12, where there are 2 pages on how to set up “listening posts”, which are alerts on yourself.

On page 117, they mention how Donald Trump made money in on-line real estate (he actually went bust a couple times) to then leverage that fame into “The Apprentice”.  The success of that program, he used to do Trump University—a series of online course and then a conference circuit with Robert Kiyosaki (the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” guy)

It’s like those people who are famous for being famous—or make money by selling books teaching other people how to make money. Well, I did get a $24.95 book for free, so I am grateful for that.

If Chris Brogran or Julien Smith ever read this post, I’d be curious to hear their opinion about whether I should express honestly (as I have here), give faint praise (as most book reviewers do, as most have never read the books of their friends), or not say anything at all.  You’ve elevated Scoble for his honesty in calling out Microsoft’s weak IE browser, so my post is either on target in that respect or perhaps ill-informed.

My other feedback is that the scope of this book  (“using the web to build influence, improve reputation, and earn trust”) was too broad, at least not without more focused examples, far less pedantic advice on how to be friends with people, and reciprocal promotion of friends that promote you (consider multiple over-the-top references to Beth Kantor and Greg Cangialosi).  By putting forth an honest review, whether informed or not, may burn bridges should I ever need a stunning review from these guys when my book comes out.

But who will read a sycophantic (ass kissing) positive review? And, to the book’s point, will your colleagues trust you when you’re shamelessly promoting something that you don’t believe in?

Mark Twain once said that the key to success is to be genuine—fake that, and you’ve got it made.  That’s one of my favorite quotes.  Hence the inherent lie of Social Media based on principles in this book.

If you want to actually see steps on promoting your brand and to drive traffic, I’d recommend checking out the guides at Blitzlocal.com.  They are on-line and also free.

07 Aug 2009

2 Keys to Getting A GREAT Massage

No Comments Guest Posts, local advertising, people management

A guest blog post by Velina Lujan, a Boulder massage therapist and BlitzLocal client.

 

 

Questions to ask Yourself before interviewing Massage Therapists:

  1. What do I want out of the session?
  2. Do you want to just de-stress, work out some really big knots, focus on an injury or a  combination of things?
  3. Do you like to chit chat or do you want to be silent and just let go during your session?
  4. Do you like to feel nurtured and cared for in a session or are you a no-nonsense client that just want to get the work done?
  5. Every therapist has their strengths and weaknesses and just like in romance, there is someone for everyone in the bodywork world.
  6. Getting clear on your needs and desires before interviewing will give you a much better chance to finding that perfect therapist.

 

spa_massage_mastheadAs a massage therapists who hires therapists for my business, and a very picky client, I always look for these qualities. Having been highly successful myself in my practice offering these qualities, I believe that this is what delivers a great massage, every time!

 

 

 

First and foremost, are they warm, open-hearted and confident, yet humble? The worst massages I ever got were from therapists who had every certification in the books and many years of experience but were cocky, rigid and ego-centric. They had their way of giving a massage, their idea of what worked and what was best for me and didn’t listen to what I was asking for. Some of the best massages I have received were from therapists that just graduated or went to alternative training. They listened openly and were flexible and willing to do what it took to make me comfortable. Years of experience and a diverse background are wonderful and that can bring a lot to the session if they are service-oriented and attentive.

 

Ask the therapist what their ideal client is. This may throw them off but will give you a good sense of who they are and how they approach their work. If the answer is too rigid and doesn’t sound at all like you, that is a good clue that it is probably not a good fit.

 

caringTrust your gut. This is a person who will be touching your naked body for a full hour or more. Do you like the sound of their voice and the feeling that you get when you talk with them? Do they sound genuinely interested in you and what you are needing? Are they asking you questions and listening to your answers?

 

The truth is, you can’t be completely sure until you actually get the massage, but the biggest mistake most people make is that they don’t tell the therapist what they want or how they are feeling, such as “OUCH! Don’t do that! It hurts!!” Or, “OH YEAH!! DEEPER PLEASE!!!”

 

Just remember, the therapist can’t be expected to read your mind, and no body is the same. So if they are a good therapist, they are going to want to know. They are at your service, and you are probably paying them a lot of money. You are the boss of your body and they are there to honor you and your needs, not be the expert and do their thing.

 


Wishing you a wonderful massage experience.

 

Velina Lujan, MA, CMT, CDH

Owner

Stress Management Services

04 Aug 2009

Who says twitter is a waste of time?

No Comments facebook marketing and advertising, promoting yourself, social media

A few days ago, I posted a Facebook status message, asking “Who wants a free SEO analysis?” 23 people responded and I chose one winner. Yesterday, I chose the winner and posted the analysis here.  And now, not even a day later, I do a search on Twitter and see pages and pages of people re-tweeting the blog post.

dennis_yu_seo_analysis_twitter

Funny thing is that I never promoted this on twitter to begin with. It started from just a Facebook status message and then a post of my blog.

You should search on your name to see what comes up.

You might be surprised.
You might learn something.

For example, look at who is mentioning me by typing this:

http://twitter.com/#search?q=dennis%20yu

Given the popularity, I think I’ll probably offer on free SEO analysis weekly. If you want one, just fan me on Facebook at facebook.com/dennisyu, then add your site to the list.

Update:

I now do a search on my name on twitter every few days to see what’s happening.  Now I see 100 mentions every time I do a blog post, even though I don’t mention it on twitter.  That means bloggers like us have to pay attention to twitter whether we like it or not.  At conferences, we get to see the live twitter feeds to get a sense of audience interest.  Quite lively!