Tag: Signal

Plurk is Twitter on METH *

* Phrase stolen from Snoop Bloggy Blog‘s Plurk Page.

Ok, I know I was just posting some BS about Twitter, and how you all need to follow me there.  But today the flavor of the day is PLURK.   It’s another micro-blogging social media platform, like Twitter and Pownce.  But this one is SIIICK.  So far no slow down (we’ll see how long that lasts) and the features are cool.  Super crazy ajaxy coolness.

Everybody, I changed my mind.  Follow me on PLURK instead.   Or at least until I change my mind again.  Or at least try it out for a bit to see if you like it, since there’s too much to explain about it and my attention span is shortening by the sec…


Micro-Blogging; Come Follow Me on Twitter!

If you’re like me (a completely A.D.D. web geek) your attention span is probably really shor..

So short I couldn’t even finish writing that sentence…

So let’s get to the point then.  Come follow me on Twitter.  Micro-blogging.  Fast.   Click here and win fabulous prizes!


Enough with the SEO Fundamentalism!

According to my last check on Wikipedia, fundamentalism is a “deep and totalistic commitment” to a belief… usually of religious or moral nature. But what I have seen in the SEO community far too often is a “holier than thou” thumping of the general SEO population, that is by nature, narrow.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have morals. I stick to my personal set of ethics, both in my personal and professional life. They might not be the same as your values, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong.

Last week I stumbled (social) on a very entertaining story (bait). So entertaining in fact, I thought I would share it with some friends (viral) not realizing it was written by an well known SEO (bad ass). The story was about a 13 year old who stole a credit card to play halo with hookers. Who doesn’t want to read about that? It’s HILARIOUS! So hilarious in fact, it ended up getting mainstream media coverage from the likes of Fox News and such.

The story did not claim it was actual news, or even true for that matter. It was an entertaining anecdote, and people ate it up. Except for a whole bunch of SEOs who reacted harshly to it. Reading the sphinn comments on the story really started to test my patience. It felt like I was hanging out with my neighbors who always try to save me and take me to their church… which I am not a fan of BTW if you are reading this Eric.

Sentiments like “Social Media is ruined forever” and “SEO sunk to a new low” are preachy, at best. Jill Whalen, you and me go way back from my days at HighRankings, and the last thing I want is for you to feel offended here… but I don’t want to go to the SEO Church of Link Morality or subscribe to somebody else’s code of ethics. Establish your own, that’s fine and respectable. Just don’t thump us with them. We can all decide own how we choose to operate.

There is no black and white. Everything is shades of gray. We all must way the risks and rewards for our own actions, and think laterally. Sure, there are times I do wish others would up their own set of personal or professional ethics, but I’m not going to be the one preaching it to them. I’ll do what I do, you do what you do. Just don’t tell me what to do and we’ll be cool. Cool?


Corporate SEOs: Time to Give Yourself a Raise

Salaries for Corporate SEO Professionals vary drastically. So how do you know you’re getting paid what you deserve? Let’s explore a few ways to look at it, and at the end of this post, a one size fits all solution to bring to your higher ups for getting that raise!

First, let’s look at profitability. As a marketing guy, you probably have a pretty good idea how much is spent on promotions, and how much revenue your company generates from it. You might even be privy to information about fixed operating costs. In the best case scenario, your company even posts it profitability. If the company you work for is a cash cow, you can probably use profitability as a good selling point on getting an increased salary. ESPECIALLY if you can track it directly to your own individual efforts.

Let’s say your company nets 100 million annually, and you drive 30 million in profit while only spending a few million. There’s probably no good reason you should be making 50k yearly. If you work for a smaller company or a start up, chances are good you’re not producing hundreds or tens of millions in net revenue. In this case, check out the trends in your specific industry, and especially your company’s profit.

If there’s a big upside on the horizon, but little money going around at the moment, here’s your move: Sit tight at a lower salary for a while, but talk to your boss or CEO and plant the seed. Let them know you are OK with working at a lower salary temporarily, because you intend on helping to grow the company and to reap the benefits when that growth happens. From that point, track your performance (you should already be doing this anyways). If your company turns a corner and starts posting larger profits, and you have been doing more than your share, it’s probably a great time to remind your boss or CEO about your previous conversation and try to schedule a meeting.

Next, get a good idea about how much others who perform your specific job function earn, especially in your zip code. Salary.com is your friend. There are some awesome charts you can print out and keep on file. Use these on the big day when you approach your boss or CEO. I just performed a quick search on Web Promotion Specialist earnings in my zip code. Do the same for your exact title, or closest match.

As a rule of thumb, hiring managers are usually comfortable hiring new professionals in the 25% to 50% range according to Salary.com. If you want to demand more than that, you better know your stuff inside and out, have some concrete evidence or prior performance, and have a darn good sales pitch prepared. Oh, and people love pretty graphs and / or pie charts. Make some from your previous job(s) and keep them on file.

Another more risky technique of getting a raise is to feel out the market for YOU. Even in economically repressed times, there are always companies looking for web gurus. If your boss or CEO isn’t very receptive to chatting about your eventual raise, look for a job. Get an offer, and present it to your boss or CEO with the opportunity to match (provided you want to stay at your current job). If they cannot match, you can always jump ship to the next company willing to pay more.

But be careful, this is a higher risk technique. Both companies could look at your differently, possibly negatively, if you play hard ball. Do not use this technique if you think you can make headway in the politically correct way, or especially if you are somewhat easily replaced. Nobody want a high maintenance individualist on their team.

Even if there are valid reasons that you cannot have a pay increase, there’s always title. Getting a better title sometimes is easy if you pitch the company that you won’t cost any more. The better your title, the more likely your next job will pay better. Especially if the company you work for is not a start up. (side note: Titles at start ups, very small companies, or family businesses don’t usually carry the same weight from a hiring manager’s perspective. I can’t even count how many times I have interviewed CEOs from their own web design firm or music label who are looking for an entry level position.)

And finally, here is your one size fits all solution. 60% of the time, it works every time (thanks Anchor Man). But be forewarned, this magic formula will ONLY work if you can provide results. You MUST drive more volume than your current level. If you do, you have a raise. And without further ado, here is your formula.

Take your current salary, and cut it an half. Take your current performance metrics (hopefully sales volume or profitability) and devise a pay for performance monthly bonus structure, which sums up annually to half of your salary. Make sure you have a few versions of your bonus plan just in case your logic is disputed, make sure you have accurate reporting already in place. You want this plan to be bullet proof before you present it.

Here’s an example of the plan in action. Let’s just say you drove 100k in directly trackable profit for your company last year and you are currently paid 50k. Why not change your salary to 25k with a 25% profit share for volume you are pushing through your channels? This would show that your new plan would pay you exactly the same as last year.

Now here’s the kicker… If you drive 200k next year, your performance means you got an automatic raise to 75k. If you post a cool million, you just made yourself 275k. If that happens, and you used this method of negotiation, I’ll gladly accept checks for 10% of your earnings increase, made payable to Chris Hooley. No seriously, I’m OK with it. Email me. We’ll talk.

“I want my salary cut in half, and a fair bonus ONLY based on my performance” is not a hard pitch. For top level execs, it’s easy to swallow because you cut your fixed costs and only pay out if you are earning more. It’s a win-win situation.

Before you schedule your meeting, have those pretty graphs and charts printed out. Have your Salary.com info on hand. Look good, get plenty of rest, and put on your salesman hat (the one with the extra charm and wit). Be confident. Then go in and tell your boss you want a paycut, and that you only want to be paid if you provide results.


Relevence is KEY, Even Off-Page!

You know the importance of themes, relevant content, and relevant website links. But do you understand the value of staying relevant offline, or even what that means?

Ask yourself this question: Are YOU really relevant?

Does your website properly reflect who YOU are, who your company IS? If the answer is no, you might be trying to rank for the wrong phrase. You might not be transparent. You might be faking it, and it’s only a matter of time before everybody, including Google, figures that out.

Google knows who I am. Lately, I haven’t been the crazy guy at conferences that many of you have come to know me as, because now I am a corporate SEO. I was relevant to conference junkie SEO types, with loud stunts and what not. Now I don’t even make the list, where less than a year ago I was a shoe in.

Why do YOU think that is? Is it because I don’t blog like I used to? Is it because I am no longer whoring all the blogs and forums? Is it because I am underground, or maybe even the exact opposite of that? Sold out?

The answer is simple. Lately my focus has been on my business, my corporate SEO gig, and my family. This is where I am relevant now. I rank for phrases that ARE relevant for me, and for my business. I’m not going to rank for SEO Blogger, SEO Blog, Captain Thundercock (yet) because I am currently more focused, thus relevant, in different areas.

The new key is transparency. 5 years ago links could be programmed or harvested rather easily, today you have to be who and what you are talking about. It’s easier that way anyways.

Don’t chase a false dream. You don’t wanna be that guy. Be the guy who IS what you SAY you are, even off-page, and the rest will be easier.


Corporate Web Design Project- SOOOO 2.0!

For y’all who didn’t know, NextStudent is having a web design contest worth $2,000 for the winner. I was thinking… (which hurt a little but I digress) this project is actually pretty web 2.0-ish. Think about it… Here’s some neat buzzwords and how the relate to NextStudent’s current web design project:

  • U.G.C. – User Generated Content: Dude, the DESIGN for our company’s new makeover will be generated by the PEOPLE! That’s soooo social!
  • Social Voting: The PUBLIC can VOTE on the design they want to see as the new face of NextStudent
  • Blog: The NextStudent Redesign Contest Website is actually “just another wordpress weblog!” (that’s a play on words for the default blog description in WP, in case ya didn’t know)
  • S.M.O. – Social Media Optimization: The winner of the contest with get a link on NextStudent.com, but more importantly all accepted design submissions can get a link on the design site itself and on my blog and a few other mentions. Blog links are sooo what S.M.O. is about!
  • Networking: Everybody who participates is AUTOMATICALLY my best friend. Unless you hate me in which case you don’t have to actually be my friend. Ok that aint much of a prize but who cares I wanted to put it in there.
  • Money: Ok not exactly 2.0, money is pretty old school but you can still make a bunch of it ($2,000) if you win the contest!
  • Awesome: Hell yeah it is. And you ah too.

So hey do me a favor eh, tell some people about this contest. Especially if you think they’ll participate OR talk about it (especailly if they talk about it on their blogs and stuff, that’s always awesome)

w0rd.


NextStudent’s Web Marketing Team

Web Marketing at NextStudent. For those who don’t already know, I am Chris Hooley, Corporate SEO, and the guy who runs the NextStudent Web Marketing Department. Just thought I’d get that part out of the way so this post didn’t seem so random…

It’s been a crazy year in Student Loan Land, with the big banks and federal government putting the shake down on student lenders (at the expense of students, and much to the chagrin of financial aid officers). Kids are going to have a tough time finding money to pay for school this upcoming semester because of the perfect storm of bad legislation, tough credit markets, and a virtually lifeless capital market. Big banks are looking at this as a boon, a perfect opportunity to swallow up market share. So they are spending MORE despite the fact that the loans are losing them lots of money right now. I’m even watching them trying to work their SEO, and (cough! choke) get social.

Imagine that, fighting off the big banks with deep pockets every day… Feels like Rocky vs. the steroid guy from Russia.

Well fortunately for NextStudent (and all borrowers who find out how great we are!) the Web Marketing Team is holding it down. We’re the big guys around here on the interwebs! We’ve been training like Sly Stallone and we’ll never give up! Get off my Google B of A. Keep up the Chase, Wells F. The web is My Citi!

Ok enough of the bad plays on words. It’s Saturday Night, I should save the bad jokes for my attempt at getting social (aka going to Santisi Bros. with some buddies).

The deal is, the webmarketing team at NextStudent is a powerhouse. We’re more than strong at all of our core competencies, we’re a collective ROCKY. You might be able to get some licks in, but we never give up and we are always on the top. The people I work with are some of the slickest, smartest, and most motivated people I’ve ever met. All aspects of our web marketing repertoire are handled by the best and the brightest. We’re corporate, we’re out there, and we’re helping define the edge that bigger guys can hardly even fathom. Good luck monetary monoliths. BRING IT ON!!!

Rocky – OUT!


Don’t You Have Anything Better to Do?

It’s election year… time for smoke and mirrors!

I was hoping to catch some ESPN before heading to work, and instead of seeing “The Plays of the Week” I am watching a congressional hearing.  About baseball.  Not Iraq.  Not the recession.  Not about the so called “Economic Stimulus Package”.  About BASEBALL.

And two weeks ago, we had senators snooping around NFL Football.

And a few years ago we had all the media talking about a blow job.

Wanna know why they are talking about this stuff?  So the masses don’t look closer at what’s really going on… like the “War of Terror”.  The fact that the Democrats screwed up student loans so bad that kids won’t be able to get into school this upcoming fall.   The fact that Republicans screwed up consumer finance so bad that people can’t buy houses.  The fact that our dollar is doing so bad that vacation spots won’t even accept it any longer.

We’re going to hell in a handbasket here folks.  Hold on tight, times is gonna get real rough!

Maybe we should be doing one of our world famous “pre-emptive strikes” on a few select morons who are running this country into the ground…


Frikkin Yahoo! I Just Want My flickr and MyBlogLog Accounts Back!

Yahoo! – “chasing Google and frustrating users since 1998” (TM)

I bought a premier flickr account and I haven’t been able to log in for MONTHS. Why? Because they switched log in systems, and nobody inside flickr is responding to my desperate pleas for help. I paid good money for my premier account, and I can’t even manage MY OWN PHOTOS. Photos that rank well in search engines for MY OWN NAME. I am helpless to remove some personal pictures that I no longer really want up there… photos that I paid to manage on their site.

You might ask “Chris, why did you take so long to blog about this? The most recent pictures are like 6 months old!” – You’re right. I forgot all about how mad I was about flickr until I decided to log into MyBlogLog account, which again prompted me to use a new log in that I don’t even have. Now I can’t get in there either.

Now I’m frustrated as hell trying to create a new Yahoo! ID, but my name is already taken (likely by some spam bot since there are only a handful of Chris Hooleys in the world). And once I settle on a user name that I don’t even want, I have no idea how to get those linked to my flickr and MyBlogLog accounts. It’s just stupid. And typical.

Hopefully somebody from Yahoo! reads this post and can get me some kind of help… but I doubt it.

In the meantime, my iGoogle, GMail, Adwords, Adsense, Optimizer, and bazillion other Google gadgets I am using are still working flawlessly. An I have Googlers calling me pretty frequently (even got a Googler visit coming soon) to make sure everything is still working. Just thought I’d throw that out there…


Affiliate Summit and Elite Retreat

I’ve never actually been to Affiliate Summit.  I’ve had a few people offer discounts to get into the event (I can’t for the life of me recall who was offering me passes, if you still exist HIT ME UP!)  I’m still teetering on the edge here.  Should I go?  Should I bring my affiliate peeps?

As for the Elite Retreat, people already know I am a HUGE advocate of this event.   If you are thinking of going and you need some info about it, feel free to contact me directly.  I’ll gladly explain why I am such a huge fan and what it has done for me personally.   If you are defintely going and you haven’t bought your tickets yet, hook a brother up and buy it through my affiliate link so I can make a few bucks!


The FASTEST Way to Lose Momentum on Your Blog

Tired of all those pesky readers on your blog?  Sick of all that annoying traffic?  Had enough of building a community, getting links, or comments on your blog posts?  Well I have a revolutionary solution!  It’s simple, easy, and FAST!  It’s a secret I’ve utilized on several occasions; EVERY time it resulted in a drop in traffic, subscribers, readers and all those other problems that come with owning a popular blog.

The secret?  *looks both ways* sshhhhhh…. (it’s easy, just stop writing for a while).  60% of the time it works EVERY time!

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Are you WITH Me or AGAINST Me? The Terrel Owens Factor

I like to think of Corporate America like it’s professional sports. Marketing, Sales, Operations, Finance, and IT superstars are no different than professional athletes with year round free agency. Some demand a high salary, some are lunch pale hard workers who roll up their sleeves, some are loud and brash and can make or break any company depending on their mood.

Like Terrel Owens.

T.O. is one of the best receivers ever in the history of the NFL, but his constant demand for the spotlight and bad attitude when he’s losing was like a cancer to prior teams. He moves to another team that allows him to be himself and enables him to work the way he wants, and next thing you know he’s the role model in the locker room and he’s doing everything he can to help his team win. He’s a player that needs an organization to bend a little to make room for his ego, and rewards that organization if they do.

On the other hand you have an organization with strong and strict leadership that does not bend; the New England Patriots. They would NEVER hire T.O. because HE won’t bend to their will. But their system can make known malcontents (Randy Moss, Cory Dillon) successful and happy players who conform and become part of the team. And they win. Big time.

Corporate America is no different. Some organizations have such strong leadership, and such great vision, that employees work twice as hard to keep up the winning tradition. The scary thing is however, that some employees are so good at what they do that they can single handedly change a corporation and it’s future. And sometimes, there are employees who are cancer. It’s scary when you have a sueprstar like Terrel Owens who can propel your team to the highest highs, or crumble the foundation of the organization.

The question is how to handle something like that? Do you pamper him like Dallas (seems to be working, right?) or do you fire him and look for people who can conform? And think, do you want to face that guy on the field if you do let him go?

There’s some thinkbait for you execs and CEOs who have stars in your corporation. Is your team strong enough to do without your star? Can you afford to pamper your execs who deliver on a consistent basis? Is it even worth it? Do the rules change when somebody is that important? Is ANYBODY that important?


Bulldozer with Ballerina Shoes

Today’s advice for you corporate climbers is short and sweet. Be a bulldozer with ballerina shoes. If you KNOW you are right, you KNOW your decision is best for your company (and yourself) then you can’t accept a “no” right? Problem is that egos, agendas, and personalities can sometimes cloud a company’s decision making ability. And as a good get-along-guy or get-along-girl (which is what you need to be to get anything done in executive management) you must understand how important it is to keep people happy… or better yet how to NOT piss people off. Sometimes you need to dance.

Sometimes it’s tough when your decisions face opposition. But when your decision is right, you need to push forward. There IS no “no”. Become a bulldozer with ballerina shoes. Dance around what you can, roll over if you have to, but push forward no matter what stands in your way.


How to Launch Dozens of Blogs

There has to be a better way.  I have dozens domains that I want to create sites out of.  Free templates that I can edit myself.  Access to tons of awesome writers.  But creating the sites takes hours!  Set up hosting, configure, upload files, configure, install database, configure, etc etc etc.  It’s a pain in the arse.  Then once the sites are up, they crash from too much traffic (third host in 6 months, all the same problem)

These sites don’t have enough income potential to spend big dollars hosting them, but if I launch them all and keep my writers pounding out awesome stuff and driving traffic eventually these sites will be worth the effort.  But for now, no upsidedown-ski on hosting costs.

Anybody know a better, more efficient way to pound out lots of real wordpress blogs?  I am not looking for splog software, I just want to build out my sites so I don’t have all my chickens in one basket so to speak.


Playing to Your Strengths

“You know Tiger… you’re pretty good at Golf, but you suck at swimming. You need to practice swimming. You’re already good at golf anyways.”

-stupid person talking to Tiger Woods.

In SEO, business, and life in general, there are two ways of thinking about strengths versus weaknesses. One train of thought says to work on your weak points, the other is to work on the strengths. Both have valid logic behind them, but this chicken / egg controversy can have crippling effects on your plans if you aren’t careful.

I’m saying today, right here right now, that there is ONLY one way to look at this. Play to your strengths.

Let’s apply this to the world of SEO as an example.

On one hand we have a programmer; keen at logic and finding loopholes. You should be the person writing the bots, developing the dynamic content systems, analyzing the metrics, etc. You shouldn’t be writing that linkbait article or trying to force yourself to be to social butterfly online.

On the other hand; we have a writer or communicator. You should be the one creating social pieces, making buddies and networking, and using your programmer’s scripts to publish and push this content. You shouldn’t need to develop the scripts yourself.

Just think if famous football coach Bill Belicheck thought to manage his team by playing to his weaknesses. “I know Tom Brady can throw, but he sucks at tackling. He will be practicing at noseguard this week. Vince sucks at throwing, so he will be working with the quarterback coach.”

Ridonkulous.

So what’s different about business? The answer is nothing. You are wasting your time if you are trying to spend all day trying to make everybody understand all aspects of your business. That’s your job when you are the boss. Your management team might need to work on their weaknesses, since they are working with your future superstars, but don’t distract your superstars from shining in THEIR jobs by giving them the same distractions! FOCUS!

Point black you play to your strengths and hire for your weaknesses. Let the strongest people work their magic. Let positions build themselves out of your people’s talent. Don’t waste everybody’s time by distracting those who are strong in certain areas.


Work is Hard

Running a web marketing department in Corporate America is hard work! I’ve been here for about 15 minutes so far and I’ve already had to sign 4 documents! FOUR! I even have to READ these things before I sign them. I get paid to LEAD not to READ! Now granted, today is a light meeting day (only 3 scheduled) but seriously they better have bagels and / or donuts ready because all that listening and talking is gonna be SO HARD!

Decisions don’t just make themselves!

And now that I’m on the subject, let’s talk about these darn parties conferences, dinner parties off-site meetings, and vacations business trips. Getting paid to have a drink and laugh discuss business with friends business partners and coworkers is really difficult. Really.

…uhm I hope you’re picking up the tongue in cheek tone of this message…

[transition]

Honestly, the differences between upper management and professional services amazes me to this day. The more I climb up the ladder… the more I explain, communicate, decide, and delegate, and the less I actually do. It amazes me that I actually do less of the doing, but I become more important. Such a weird mind shift.

When I first started in web marketing, my job was to do EVERYTHING. I ran my own web design and marketing company, MCP Media. I had to learn it all, and get it all done myself. Nobody to delegate to. This was great training, because now I know at least a little of pretty much every aspect of web marketing, I even know a real lot about some key aspects.

As my career matures, I have become a mentor, a decision maker, a trainer, a coach, a motivator, and the guy who takes responsibility for others’ actions. But I do less actual work work… it’s so weird. At first I felt guilty about it. It was such an odd transition from being the only one I trusted to do any task to having everybody else do things I need done. I’d go home at the end of the day and I felt like I didn’t have my hands right in there for the entire day. It didn’t feel like work. But I still had no time to breath because I was busy pushing others to succeed and keeping things running.

Has anybody else felt this type of guilty feeling when learning to delegate instead of doing it all? Have you had difficulties in trusting others to get things done right? Have you been in that same quandary, you do less but you’re needed more and paid better? Do you spend all day meeting with people instead of designing, developing, number crunching, and things of that nature? Do you sign things all day?

I wanna hear from people who have experienced the same weird feelings I have about moving up the corporate ladder so I can assure myself that this type of feeling is more normal than I think.


Guess What I’m Gonna Do! I’m Gonna SPAM Digg… BAD!

They have it coming. I have been a good user / member for years. Never did anything I wasn’t supposed to, contributed to conversations, dugg stuff I liked, rarely submitted a thing, almost never dugg stuff down, and they banned me anyways.

My attempts at getting my account back have been ignored. Because they decided to screw with me, I have decided I don’t need my old account. I don’t even want it. Instead, I will be letting my new bots submit the crappiest content ever. I think we are due for a little auto register bot as well to help automate this crap submission. I’m even writing a bot to auto bury which will have targeting capabilities.

Digg, there was no good reason for you guys to ban me, I did nothing wrong. Now you got it coming. Mess with the bull, you get the horns.


Banned by Digg? What the Hell!

I haven’t logged into Digg for a few weeks, so I thought I would see what the YTMs are buzzing about these days. Saw a story I liked, clicked the digg button, it prompted for log in, then boom. There it is. A big ugly red error mesage saying my user account has been disabled due to misuse.

Now I am not by any means a big digger. I don’t really respond to those group digg requests that SEOs are now infamous for (don’t have the time, and sometimes don’t have the interest) . I occasionally digg up a story I like, and I never submit stories. I use it very sparingly, as an actual user. Not an SEO.

So why the Hell am I banned from using Digg? Is it because I talk about search optimization on my blog? Is it because I digg stories from other SEOs friends when I see them? Is it a glitch?

I have no idea. I sent a message to support@digg.com and got no response.

So this got me thinking… and you know what I came up with? F*#% Digg. F*#% iPhone stories. F*#% ubuntu. F*#% Kevin Rose. F*#% Democrats, Republicans, Green Party Ists, Separatists, Leftists, Rightists, Centerists, Photoshop crap, Ajax, and whatever else these punk kids deem worthy.

Digg has roughly 60% of the traffic it generated in December 2006 for a reason. Maybe it has something to do with the fact they ban people for who they are. I am an SEO, not a spammer. I’ve never spammed Digg or misused my account. I am now an internet user who USED TO use digg to find stories I might like.


Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

A wise man once turned me on to the theory that all movies ever created can be categorized into 7 different plot types. This got me to thinking… perhaps there is some taxonomy that can be applied to every decision related to business, and maybe even life.

Suits and schmoozers listen up, this is for you. Corporate America, pay attention. Here are your instructions for the rest of your climb up the ladder…

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way.

Simple.  But it isn’t always just black and white. No true leader can only lead. True, a leader must have the courage to hold the torch. But it’s more than that. A good leader must be smart enough to follow, and humble enough to get out of the way when it makes sense.

Just ask yourself, are your business decisions are based on fear instead of opportunity? Get out of the way. Do you fancy yourself a good leader, but you are losing ground? Follow. Got something burning inside? Lead.

People like to be led. People like to lead. People don’t like to be led by people who can’t lead, and people don’t like to lead people who can’t be led. Seems simple enough, right?

If you’re a true leader, lead me in the right direction and I’ll be right there following.  If you are a follower, come follow me and I’ll push you as far as I can.  If you are neither, just get out of the way and watch trails blaze.


Canonicalize Yo Shizzle with .htaccess EVERY TIME

URL Canonicalization is making sure that each page is accessed in ONLY one uniform way.

Now, if you have a website, it probably has a home page. (If it doesn’t that’s just weird but I digress…) That home page can probably be accessed via the following URLs:

http://domain.com
http://www.domain.com
http://domain.com/index.php
http://www.domain.com/index.php
https://domain.com
https://www.domain.com
https://domain.com/index.php
https://www.domain.com/index.php

That’s 8 DIFFERENT URLs for ONE PAGE.

Now imagine if you had 80 links to your site, but they are split equally over those 8 variations. That essentially means you have 10 links to 8 pages according to Google, AND a duplicate content problem to boot.

So what’s a web developer to do? People will just link to whatever they want right?

Right.  BUT you can FORCE canonicalization, and it’s REALLY simple when you have an apache server (running PHP) – so all you blog junkies, listen up.

At the public root on your website, there is a file called .htaccess. This file controls the configuration of your server on the domain level. There are all kinds of tricks you can do with this file, but I am only gonna show you ONE trick that you should use EVERY TIME you set up a new website.

Check it out and do this every time

  • Open up your .htaccess file.
  • Add the following code (to the top or bottom, it doesn’t really matter)

    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^chris-hooley\.com
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.chris-hooley.com/$1 [R=permanent,L]

  • Replace chris-hooley with the name of your site, and the TLD (the .com) with the TLD of your site if different (for example, .net, .org, etc)
  • Now open up a browser and try typing in your address without the WWW.

You can’t. It’s that easy. All link popularity now hits ONE SINGLE version of your domain name.

This trick can be expanded upon to eliminate secure calls to your site and also to eliminate direct page access, but the main thing is that your domain is clean and canonicalized.

So… happy blogging people, and from now on part of your SEO site launch routine should involved a 45 second update to your .htaccess file.

w0rd!


NEW YORK F#CKIN CITY!

After getting back the SES New York, I realized something huge. Last week was probably one of the best weeks of my entire life. The SEO industry is amazing; so many cool people who genuinely want to help each other succeed. I’m still gathering all the pics from the craziness, and a long awesome update complete with pics, links, stories, and other awesome shizzle is on it’s way.

Props to NYC for being so dope.


The Effect of Blogs for SEO in Low Competition Markets

One single post from a good blog can have a huge impact on natural search rankings. Some SEOs already know this, and a few companies (ReviewMe, SponsoredReviews, PayPerPost, etc) have built businesses around the idea.

I recently posted about my experience with Acapulco Pools, a pool builder in Arizona, and told my buddy Adam to watch the Google ranks for “Arizona Pool Builder“. Keep in mind, this was only a few days ago. He ranked #12 at the time, and already he’s at #9. I also told him to watch “Fiberglass Pool Builder” where he was at #3. Now he’s at #3 AND #4 and my post is #5. Not too shabby.

The trick is, and always was, the appropriate use of anchor text, page titles, and content. This does NOT mean I am saying start up a million splogs. It means having a good blog post linking to you from a blog that has some trust and some backlinks can have a serious effect on natural rankings… especially if your keyphrases aren’t that competitive.

On a related note, if anybody else would care to mention Acapulco Pools (www.azpools.net) or this post on their blog(s), I bet it would dramatically change the above SERPs. If you choose to do so, make sure I know about it so I can show your blog and track the results as well.


*update – our friends over at Tailored Consulting read this post and decided to join in and post a link. Thanks Brendon! Let’s watch the SERP to see what happens!*nother update- the Affiliate Profit Center popped a linkeroo to Adam’s company too – this is cool!

*yet another- Web Hosting Report popped a linkie in therrrr too- and according to my most recent search, the site is now at #5.  SWEET!



A New Student Loan Tax?

There’s been some buzz at NextStudent about the proposed student loan taxes and related legislature coming down the pipe.  For those who want to hear the inside scoop on the subject, I found a pretty cool site.  Check out StudentLoanTax.org.

Take a stand against this thing- email your senator, congressman, etc.  It’s going to make it harder for kids to get to school, it’s going to raise the cost of student loans for students, and it could hurt, mabe even eliminate,  the industry I work in.


The War on Student Loans: Politics before Policy

I am not the type who usually talks politics. In this case, I can’t hold back. There is a reason people do not trust politicians.

  • Student loan interest rates will be cut in half
  • The nation will save $20-30 billion
  • More free money for students
  • Higher education will be accessible for more people

These sound bites are hard to resist. They sound great don’t they? Propaganda at its best convinces the masses to blindly believe ideas or concepts that they don’t even understand. In this case, it’s the bill known as HR5. Here’s a quick run down of what this bill is, how it flew under the radar, why it has so much bipartisan support, and why it is a bad, bad idea.

HR5 – The Hidden Student Loan Tax

Those who crafted HR5 see banks and student loan companies as middlemen in the federal lending program (FFELP). This part is true. Private companies receive government subsidies to get federally backed and regulated loans into the student’s hands so kids can pay for school. The main idea is to slash these subsidies to lenders, and increase fees to generate and / or hold student loans to save the government a ton of money. These “rebate fees” are essentially tax, since the government is taking a percentage of each loan already when they are created, and yearly as they are held.

The politicians who are pushing this bill don’t even understand the industry, and through their actions, they are likely to eliminate an entire industry created to help kids get money for school. Private lenders compete against each other in the free market. Because there is competition, companies must do their best earn business. The term “Student Loan Benefits” is the process by which private lenders give back money to students who borrow these federally backed and regulated loans. These benefits are often rate cuts, cash back rewards, and similar types of incentives. By adding additional fees and increasing the tax on these loans, they are making it impossible for the entire industry to offer these benefits to students any longer.

The Department of Education (D.O.E.) offers the same exact loans as private lenders, however, they do not offer incentives. The D.O.E. runs their student loan business in typical governmental bureaucratic fashion- think the DMV handling your finances and your keys to your education. If you don’t qualify or you miss a date, no service, you don’t go to school.

Student loan companies give back to the students, and also compete in terms of value add services and even on customer care. It is an industry that truly saves students a ton of money.

The government is screwing up their budget trying to fund a war, they are now pointing fingers at an industry they created, and pushing a juicy propaganda campaign to garner public support before election time. This is a democratic bill, but it even has the Bush administration’s support (because to do otherwise would be political suicide) – the sound bites are just too good.

Sound Bites Reviewed, Lies Revealed

If you look at the claims then read the bill, you see some huge glaring problems. Let’s do a quick step through and explain how these lies might really hurt our nation’s higher education system.

Student loan interest rates will be cut in half
The only student loans that have cut rates are fully subsidized Stafford loans, and the rate drop is a 0.5% drop for 7 years straight before it is reset to 6.8%. Fully subsidized means that the government pays the interest while the student is in school. Since rates on these loans are variable and reset every year, they only affect students who graduate in the golden window right before rates go back up. Think about it, the government is ONLY cutting rates on the loans it is responsible to pay for.

Furthermore, these loans are usually only attained by the lowest income level families. So to give itself a break, the government would be cutting its OWN rate temporarily. But when students graduate, they are right back into the same boat as before. Taking money from the middle class to give to the poor plays well for certain segments of voters and sounds oh so good, until you realize that over half of those who receive federal aid are not eligible for these loans. If you are middle class, you are getting screwed harder and might not be able to pay for school because of it.

The nation will save 20-30 billion
Where is this money coming from? Politicians are trying to to make it sound like the student loan companies will be paying for it, but think. If the cost of milk goes up, so does the cost of ice cream. These politicians will try to demonize private lenders if they do not continue to provide aggressive student loan benefits, but how can they? They could be put out of business, and you’ll have to trust your student financing with Uncle Sam.

More free money for students
This bill does include an increase in Pell Grants. THAT part is good, but it is a mere pittance. The increase is around $260 – enough for a book for two. This is not even CLOSE to the range of the cost they will be taxing to private lenders.

Higher education will be accessible for more people
This is a sound bite with no merit. Federal student loans are not any more or less easy to qualify for. Almost anybody can get some kind of funding and payment is not due till after graduation.

In fact, the opposite may happen. By doing an industry wide shake down and socializing an entire industry like student loans, you eliminate the only other group besides schools who are motivated to get students the funding they need. And if you put private lenders out of business, the screwjob is even worse. You can only borrow a few thousands per semester in federal student loans, and the average cost of attendance is close to 20k a year. People will NOT be able to pay for school if the industry is shaken up. Students NEED private student loans to supplement the limits on government loans. Fewer students would be able to pay for school if the FFELP lenders didn’t thrive.

Socialism or Capitalism? Who do you trust handling your student financing?

If this bill passes, the student loan industry would be crippled, leaving the Department of Education in the driver’s seat with your finances and education at stake. Get in the bread line, you are getting, bread… because there is no other choice. Imagine that, the same entity that runs the DMV handling my finance. Not only is that creepy and big brother-ish, but it is simply not the American way. Capitalism and free trade is what makes this company tick. Markets are self regulating when there is sufficient competition, and the consumer decides who best serves their needs and reinforces their choice.

Socialism, and socializing finance, is not in the best interest of students or our country. What do you think? Sounds like “The Great Student Loan Screwjob” if you ask me.


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