The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
The mirror has been my best friend lately. That sounds pretty vain right? Well, the mirror is my best friend because the mirror holds the one opinion lately that I actually listen to: my own. If I like who I am when I look at myself in the mirror, I’m doing pretty good right?
Ever since we moved into our downtown office a lot of people have been super complimentary, it’s like suddenly we have 500 new friends. There are certainly folks we talked to before but when we “made it” and started hiring and started expanding it brought with it a lot of attention. I wanted to write this to really look back and talk about where we’ve been.
In April of 2009 I moved to San Antonio and knew one person in the whole city. We started with his realtor, we moved on to his realtors interior decorator, from there we worked with home cleaners and landscapers, we grew. We spoke to anyone we could. I was living in a little one bedroom apartment and doing my best to keep the lights on. It was the Wild West and I loved it, every day was an adventure.
Eventually I decided that I should peel back, hold onto as much cash as humanly possible so I could invest more in the business, more trade shows, more seminars, more training, etc. I rented a room for $200 in a house with three other guys. Geeky guys not unlike myself, gamers, we had a good time. I liken that time to living in a frat house.
People tell me I’m in demand, they tell me I’ve changed, I’ve been asked what the secret was, that one move was probably the most important. It’s all about footprint. How big is your cost of living footprint? When I reduced my cost of living to pennies of what it was, it freed up so many options for me that I hadn’t considered.
For the first time, I’d had the funds to go to those conferences, take that training, enroll in that online class, or sign up for that Pro Membership. I had the funds to better myself, because let’s face it so much of the best educational resources out there aren’t free. You can’t exactly go to school for SEO as by the time you graduated the information would be out of date.
Reduce your footprint, go without TV, go without those fancy things and just like Dave Ramsey says “Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else”. I’ll tell you, I went without for so long that I second guess every purchase even now. It’s fantastic, I save a fortune.
I am sitting on my Mac Mini right now typing this in my living room, the Mac Mini is plugged into my TV and I’m typing from a Bluetooth Keyboard on my lap, on the couch. Feet up and all. I didn’t need to buy a big computer for the house, I didn’t need to get another laptop, I just needed access to the internet in some form. I did what I needed, not what I wanted, and it freed me up to do other things with those dollars.
Yesterday I paid off 90% of my worldly debt. Old credit cards, some student expenses, you name it. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t peeled way back. So when you ask me why things are working out for Image Freedom, when you’re curious why Matthew has that big stupid grin on his face, it’s because I decided that only my opinion mattered when it came to my life.
Don’t worry about appearance, don’t worry about the shoes you wear or the car you drive, worry about taking action, about being the example of excellence you want to set. Make a product, offer your service, plant your flag and declare yourself for who you are. The second you stop, the second you look back, or God forbid let someone SHOULD on you, that is time you’ll never get back.
Pick a direction and act. You’ll fail only until you succeed.
What are you waiting for?
It is right now 11:26pm on Sunday May 2nd. Today we moved into the Broadway Bank building downtown. Out of my living room and into the sky. Image Freedom, as most know, has been a network of contractors coordinated by myself to provide easily followed Search Engine Optimization consulting.
I’m very proud to say we’ve moved into the Broadway Bank building, just down the hall from our friends at Blue Clover Studios. Tomorrow, Monday May 3rd we start off at 9am here in our new space with two new full time staff members joining the team. New Project Manager Sarah Godfrey who will make sure nothing slips through the cracks and our new Operations Manager Steven Addison who will ensure it all gets done.
I’m here, and I’m awake, because I’m too excited to be anywhere else. Looking out over downtown, the businesses that have been here before, the history around every corner. From the Spanish Governor’s Palace to the Alamo itself, legends have risen and fallen where I sit right now. I’m told this office used to belong to some local Rackspace bigwig. I’m very honored to be here.
People have told me that they’ve watched me change over this past year. It was April 20th of 2009 that I packed all of my worldly possessions into my car and drove for 28 hours straight until I arrived in Alamo Ranch. Image Freedom was Egan Image, the California company, now reborn as a Texas LLC. It has been a full year.
I am very blessed, and very thankful for the support we’ve had in this last year. I want to especially thank Alicia Arenas from the Sanera People Development Company who hosts Sanera Camp, Michelle Poteet from Reclaim Order, and Colleen Pence from Social Media Mentoring. Having these three in my life has been a huge blessing and I know staying on the right path, making these right decisions that lead me here are thanks to their guidance and support.
I better get some sleep. We have a full schedule this week and a lot to cover. Welcome to the new Image Freedom HQ, we promise to grow, but never to change.
Stay with me on this one.
Ten years ago a band called “(Hed) Planet Earth” created an album called “Broke”. On this album was a song that made it to #23 on the Billboard Mainstream Charts called “Hey Bartender”. Unfortunately for (Hed) Planet Earth this song is often attributed to the band Linkin Park and to this day if you search for “Just Want Your Company” (the main chorus of the song) you’ll see it still attributed, ten years later, to Linkin Park.
How does something like this happen?
Back in 2002 some fans of Linkin Park created an album called “Under Attack” which featured old Linkin Park demos and music that was deemed similar to Linkin Park and of interest to their fans (like me). So I came across the album back before Kazaa was even around and we were all still drinking the Napster koolaid. This song, titled “Just Want Your Company” was thus attributed to Linkin Park to thousands of fans who had no way of knowing any better. Linkin Park apparently had a rare song called “Just Want Your Company” and until today I had never heard of (Hed) Planet Earth.
This is an example of search engines distorting facts and re-writing history based on what the social community decides. In this case, it was entirely by accident but early MP3 software let us mass label our tracks for easy listening and so I’d imagine every track on “Under Attack” was attributed to Linkin Park.
Would (Hed) Planet Earth have gone farther if they’d had proper attribution in this fan album? Had we known of this second band with a sound quite complimentary to Linkin Park would we have also sought their music? Would they have had greater success than they did? Not to put down (Hed) Planet Earth but judging by their Wiki’s they never reached the level of fame that Linkin Park has reached. Could that be because they weren’t credited for their creation by these fans?
What are you not being credited for? When someone searches for your business, are they finding someone else? These are the cases where the most basic SEO best practices come into play. You deserve credit for your creations, you deserve to pop up in a Google search when someone is searching for you. Don’t let the Linkin Park’s of your industry take all the credit for your businesses beautiful music.
Optimize your web site. Write your own history.
I’ve been knee deep in Header 1 Tags and Meta data for the better part of a month now. Well, if all goes well I should always be knee deep in these things as an SEO but the debate over keyword density (the volume of keywords on a page) is always of constant discussion.
I’m of the camp that if content is king, the content must be readable, as all the traffic in the world won’t bring you business if the visitors can’t read the actual content. We’ve talked about this before but I really want to drive the point home again, find the keywords you want to target and work those keywords into your Header 1, include them in the first four words of the Title, and reference them and similar terms in an easy to digest 165 character Meta Description.
Recently I sat down with a friend who has a WordPress blog not unlike my own and we were able to change her site so that the right keywords were in the right place, the Header 1 had the right content etc etc. Within 7 days she moved from Page 3 to #8 on Page 1. Odds are good your web site has juice it isn’t utilizing because your onsite factors are seriously lacking.
Target your keywords in those places we talk about, the Header 1, the Title Tag, Description Tag and whenever possible as part of the links URL. Be ungeneric! Get optimized!
Social Media is a pain in the ass. Writing a blog, posting actually RELEVANT stuff to your Twitter page, getting fans to care about your Facebook page. These are all important things! The problem is, you wind up doing them for a while, they generate some buzz for you, your business grows and you lose the free time you had being without clients, to keep all that crap updated.
Hire a Ghost Tweeter you say? Don’t mind if I do!
Just kidding. I’ve been neglecting my blog a lot lately, and I think it comes from that perfectionist paralysis monkey on my back. Sometimes it’s hard to publish ANYTHING for fear of it not being a hit with my massive (read 34) subscriber base.
I need to get over it, need to get back on the horse, or back on the tweet, as it were. There is so much going on, we’ve been busier than we’ve ever been and I know I owe that to our social media efforts. One of the things I’m working on right now is getting approval from our clients to start sharing their success here on the blog.
That can be a tough sell at times because you don’t want to share too much of what you’re doing in your marketing plans, if that gets out to the wrong people then by essentially bragging you’re helping the competition. On the other hand, screw em! Knowing what you’re doing is only part of the equation, and without knowing how to counter it there isn’t much gained by learning what would have been obvious sooner or later anyway.
So yea, working on that as what is a blog if not the rantings of an overshare.
On the personal front, I’ve moved from my home in Alamo Ranch to a new place in Olmos Park. I love Alamo Ranch and there are a ton of great shops and resources there in town BUT it is just so far from everywhere I go on a daily basis. The Olmos Perk on McCollough for example, is a good forty minutes from Alamo Ranch. Now I’m within walking distance of the Perk and only ten minutes from downtown San Antonio.
Hardwood floors are fantastic, and as someone who spends a lot of time in his home office, it is just so important to be comfortable in that space. Big beautiful windows surround my home office and I couldn’t be happier.
Plenty of good news lately, some that I can talk about, some that unfortunately I am sworn not to mention, BUT I’m back on the horse here in the blog and returned to the focus of making SEO approachable to business owners of any experience level.