Monthly Archives: November 2010

My Fear of Stairs – Part Two

Published in Geek Health by

Post written by Matthew Egan. Follow Matthew on Twitter.

In February of this year, I wrote a blog, “My Fear of Stairs” about my Air Force injury and how certain factors in my life were giving me a reason to climb the stairs, to even run up stairs, because what was at the top of the stairs was worth more than the pain that typically made me fear staircases.
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VIDEO: The ‘set and forget’ website mistake

Post written by Matthew Egan. Follow Matthew on Twitter.

We’re all under a deadline. We deal with there not being enough hours in a day or, as Dave Ramsey so perfectly puts it, there’s not enough “month at the end of the money.” We all have limitations.

When companies create their website, they may be intimidated by the time and money that could be involved in creating a quality, vibrant presence on the web. Knowing that not having a website makes a company virtually invisible, but being paralyzed by the fear of a limited website budget, these companies simply throw a generic site online and call it a day. “At least we have a website,” the underachieving company tells itself.

This leads to websites being created with the “set and forget” mentality. This kills me. A website is your digital business card. It’s your handshake when you can’t meet a client face to face at first. Your site could also be the second impression a potential client gets of you after meeting you in person. No matter how someone arrives at your site, it should truly represent you — the “you” that will shake their hand when they sign the deal.

This “set and forget” mentality stems from not knowing what to do, or from fear that if the website budget isn’t managed perfectly, the sky will fall and all will be lost. There are so many really cool free ways to improve your web presence, to share something that makes you unique and worth talking about.

There are websites out there that haven’t been updated in ten years. You talk to these folks and improving their website is always on their list. It’s something they intend to get to “someday”.

When I look at some of the websites created by our friends at Blue Clover, I know these sites exceed anything that was possible even a few years ago. The artistic and branding expression possible today is astounding and sites that integrate fresh, beautiful designs with rich and engaging content are going to be the sites owned by the future drivers in their industry.

You wouldn’t half-ass your handshake. You wouldn’t half-ass a smile. So why settle for a half-assed web site?

Matthew Egan is the President of San Antonio SEO consulting group Image Freedom. When not dancing to the blues, Matthew helps web pages like yours get more traffic through content driven Search Engine Optimization.

Talking about SEO will not get you a date

Post written by Dan Sealana. Follow Dan on Twitter.

SEO people: Have you ever tried to explain your job to, ya know, normal people?

Thank God I’m not single and looking for love. “What do you do for a living?” (a polite substitute for “How much money do you make?”) will inevitably come up in the initial conversation with a woman. Explaining the ins and outs of search engine optimization and analytics to a slightly buzzed girl at a bar while Flo Rida is pulsating loudly on the speakers in the background may not be too productive.

At least when the girl’s eyes glaze over and she finds an excuse to leave her barstool (Umm… but wait! You forgot to take my number!) I can blame it on SEO not sounding super exciting.

Lately, I’ve found myself explaining SEO to laypeople like this: “If you hire our company, we help make your company’s website show up higher on search engines.” Unfortunately, this type of explanation may leave people to believe that you spend all day coming up with shady ways to snooker Google.

SEO guy: “But, you see, I’m a white hat SEO!”
Normal person (innocent bystander somehow stuck in this conversion): “What?”
SEO guy: “Never mind.”

Until recently, I was just like the bored girl at the bar or the normal person who’s never heard of SEO and doesn’t appreciate its value.  I was new to the SEO world and previously had no idea that this geek subculture even existed.

I had originally thought people just put up websites and the best ones ranked better because, well, Google just somehow magically knows which ones are best.

But, after delving into it, I was immediately struck by how competitive and complex this religion of pleasing the gods of Googlotry really is. The internet seemed to be bursting from the seams with tips and tricks of the SEO trade.

And here’s one thing that’s scary about searching the web for SEO tips: Who controls the search results? SEO people! And, of course, not all of them are reputable. It takes a little work and common sense to separate the real experts from the people who want you to think they’re experts.

But, luckily, from day one here at Image Freedom, I’ve been encouraged to devour the wisdom of sites like SEOMoz.  Checking the SEOMoz blog is part of my daily routine – right up there with incessantly tweeting and deciding to quit coffee “after today.” I would definitely recommend SEOMoz to anyone who’s jumping head first into the SEO pool. SEO newbies will appreciate that the site’s writers and comments are generally friendly and don’t have the intimidating or condescending attitude that some tech experts portray.

For me, learning SEO has been like learning a new language. You can’t wait until you become the world’s greatest expert in your second language before speaking your first word.  Instead, you practice. You study. You make mistakes and embarrass yourself at times. You get advice and feedback from others. You watch SEOMoz Whiteboard Friday videos even if you only understand 30% of what they’re talking about at first. You study more.  You practice more.  You jump in and do your best to keep your white hat bright and clean.

I’m not the sharpest guy in the world.  But even I am getting this SEO stuff, little by little.  No matter how much I learn I doubt I’ll ever call myself an “expert” and I’d never embarrass myself with the pretentious self-label of “guru.”  All I can do is learn as much as I can, work as hard as I can and do my best to avoid being seduced by the SEO dark side.

The girl at the bar would be proud… if she didn’t think I was a total dork.

Dan Sealana is an SEO Analyst for San Antonio consulting group Image Freedom. Dan has a background in both print and broadcast journalism and uses that content expertise to help web pages like yours get more traffic through content driven SEO.

VIDEO: The Grey Hat SEO Myth

Post written by Matthew Egan. Follow Matthew on Twitter.

Optimizers like myself are often lumped in with some less scrupulous folk.  These are the guys who cheat the system.  They analyze the way Google scans the web and find ways to hide keywords, purchase links to artificially inflate their linking authority, or utilize other “black hat” methods to manipulate the Search Engine results in their favor.

Sometimes these “Black Hat SEOs” like to pretend they’re not so bad.  They like to go by the title “Grey Hat” and pretend that they’re only evil sometimes.  To be frank, that’s a bunch of bull.

You can’t be “kind of evil.”  Once you break the rules, once your web site has violated Google’s policies and is caught manipulating the search results, you run the risk of being penalized by Google or even removed from Google’s index altogether.  That’s just not even an option!  We’re all in this for traffic, whether it’s customers for an e-commerce site or visitors for our blog, no one wants to be removed from Google.

This morning on Facebook, John C. Maxwell shared a quote from Tom Peters: “There is no such thing as a minor lapse in integrity.”  What better quote to represent this topic!  You can’t walk over that line and break the rules, violate your integrity and then quickly hop back over the line.

Breaking the rules is breaking the rules and I certainly doubt Google is going to take the “I’m only evil sometimes” excuse when you are asking them to remove a penalty from your site.

Focus on what makes you worth talking about.  Focus on what makes you unique.  Be the “purple cow.”  Be the exception.  If you’re worth talking about, you’re worth linking to.

The risks associated with cheating are too high, so just don’t do it.  Give people a real reason to visit you and they will.

Matthew Egan is the President of San Antonio SEO consulting group Image Freedom. When not dancing to the blues, Matthew helps web pages like yours get more traffic through content driven Search Engine Optimization.

Groupon Finds Success in ‘no BS allowed’ Social Media Philosophy

Julie Mossler isn’t out to trick you.

Mossler, Groupon’s PR & Consumer Marketing manager, openly admits that the groundbreaking deal-finding website has no ingenious master plan to manipulate the social media world.

“Our social media strategy is to not have a strategy,” Mossler said. “It stems from our corporate attitude: Treat customers the way we want to be treated. Be transparent. And no BS allowed. We try to surprise customers and engage them quickly in a way that’s natural and fun.” Read the rest of this entry »