Guest post by Elahn Zetlin.
When Dean said he was going to revive his jokes.com.au website the first thing I could think of was “How can Hitler help?”
Hitler, for those of you who don’t know, was a very funny man. He was also German, which is a huge contradiction to him being funny. Most Germans are not funny. Take this short joke - “Warum hat das Huhn die Straße? Weil ich es gekickt.” A little giggle, but that’s all.
While most SS guards were hired for their brutish chest size and capability in absorbing bullets aimed at Adolf (Ado to his mates), the furthest they ever got in entertaining him was the regular Wednesday night game of strip twister. This was of course after a few shots of cherry schnapps. I mean, you’re in a bunker being bombed to shit, what else are you going to play? Backgammon? Come on.
Brainstorming was never a problem for Ado (not to be confused with the Biggest Loser winner). He was most capable of instant brain farts and trains of thought unheard of by the best comedians. His writings for the Berlin version of Mad magazine “Madder” were warmly received along with his stand-up routines at the Shultz Lounge. He was of course able to choose from his pick of comedy groupies lining up at his change room after the gigs. This is where he met Eva Braun, the then cynical lesbian poet. Unfortunately her poems were funnier than angry, and she quickly gave up for Ado.
Later, in his memoirs, “Mein Komedy,” he would say being with Eva was like high school all over. She would go smoke in the girls toilets and he would have long hot showers with the boys after gym class. I honestly don’t get this but I’m sure it’s a German “thing”.
So it came to be that I would revive jokes.com.au with the help of Ado, or Hitlo, or Ads, Hit That or The Drude. Thanks to a popular online meme taken from the film “Downfall”, which shows the last few days of Hitz in the bunker, I was able to quite literally make Dean wet his pants laughing. Score for me. The video -
was made simply by editing new sub-titles over a particular scene. Numerous others online have used the same scene.
Everything from real estate -
Adam Sandler movies -
and even problems with Windows Vista -
The wonder of modern “do it at home” editing applications and DVD ripping software now allow any of us to make Dean wet his pants. A lot try, a few do. If only it were an Olympic sport and I was the team mascot. I’d be a giant ball of belly-button lint called Linto.
Jokes.com.au, he told me, will be a beacon for all to come to when the darkness of night falls. All those thirsty for a 2am pick me up, after getting some “munchies” after a session of bong hitting. All those teeny–whatsit Y-Gen-ers hoping to impress their MySpace friends with the latest viral video of a cute fucking kitten. All those Nigerian scammers bored while waiting for some decent replies that don’t ask them to perform the Dead Parrot Sketch from Monty Python in exchange for some money.
Plus I could finally see a way of getting paid for doing what I do anyway.
Over the years I’ve managed many attempts at making Dean wet himself. A lot of the time this was by photoshopping images with him in it –
With me in it –
... and me again (tastefully in the background).
And with his friends –
Thus my acceptance in helping Dean help many other people wet their pants looking at jokes.com.au’s pages of funny shtuff. (not a typo)
The logo, I told Dean, needed to be refreshed. We should get a new design. Agreed, he said. We then proceeded to overlook locally brilliant and expensive designers for the underrated brilliant and cheap stock of the world wide web via crowd sourcing site 99designs.com. Here we started a competition for a new logo design (see it here –
In a world becoming smaller and smaller, competition for work is becoming fiercer. That makes it easier for us to offer a prize of $150 US and not feel bad about it. It’s not like we’re getting a logo designed by a child labourer from India. I mean, to be a good Illustrator designer you’d have to be at least 12, the age Indian kids are married and old enough to bet on the cock fights (Have I gone too far? Send your complaints to Whodeani on Twitter.)
So my new job starts now.
It may mean long days locked in my bedroom with the blinds pulled down, surfing the net for hilarious content, feet up on the desk, not getting out of my pyjamas, yet finally getting the respect of my industry peers, fellow webmasters, Oprah, Ashton and of course the hot chicks and VIP treatment at computer swap meets one expects from running a jokes portal. I put all my confidence and trust in Deano, or Whodeani, or Deanski, or The Dood. He’s never let me down and I intend to never let him down either. I just look forward to many more opportunities in making him wet his pants.
As you may have noticed from my previous updates, I’ve been very busy of late establishing and developing many varied projects.
But help has arrived and it couldn’t have been better timing!
Lindy Waldeck (my previous PA at Ansearch Ltd.) has officially started as my EA (Entrepreneur's Assistant) early last week, Tuesday April 14th, 2009.
Lindy will be actively supporting all things Whodeani allowing me to free up some much needed time to venture into new projects and do more with existing projects.
In addition to this I will be working with Lindy to bring to life two very exciting ideas she has bought to the table.
They’re still rather hush hush and in the early developmental stages but she has let me tell you one is a form of travel aid which will probably have you saying “why didn’t i think of that” and the other a funky re-design of the standard wine bottle, that works in a way yet to be seen or heard of.
Both very, very clever ideas.
With Lindy now with us, and the next phase of Whodeani’s development in motion, now is as good a time as ever to provide a quick recap of ‘some’ of the more interesting projects I am working on currently…
Quick Whodeani project re-cap
- My father and I recently launched the Better Sports ‘Golf Guide’, as an iPhone application and the response has been positive. The printed version of the Golf Guide is also now available and we are in the process of preparing the product for retail sale (POS display packaging etc.) Both versions are available on the Better Sports Golf Guide website.
- Real Time Search Engine. The Real Time Search Engine (which you may be familiar with from the recent blog post here) is set to go live in a matter of days. I will of course update this blog when the site is launched so stay tuned.
- Some of you may remember my mention of developing an 'action movie'. It’s been a dream of mine for many years and last year whilst holidaying on Calicoan Island in the Philippines I set myself a deadline to have a script written by the end of 2009. Just recently I returned from a 6 week working retreat in Bali where I was joined by Tim Giles who is co-developing the script with me. The ball is now well and truly rolling. Stay tuned for more exciting updates, maybe even a casting call or better yet casting couch...
- Another exciting project nearing completion is a book I am co-writting with two good friends of mine, Richard Mataska and Tim Giles (yes, the same Tim working with me on the movie project.) We don’t as yet have a title for the book however much of what the book is about has been covered in very basic form in a recent blog post of mine titled ‘The 4 Pillars of Measurable Marketing’. In essence the book will cover anything and everything needed to get more ROI from your businesses online marketing efforts.
In addition to the projects mentioned above, Lindy will be helping me bring the Whodeani brand to life including development of the Whodeani logo.
Being that the brand is the essence of me personally and professionally we need to to bring to life a brand that I’m absolutely passionate about.
With considerable research over the past 6 months or so, I now have a very clear idea of how the Whodeani brand will be represented. The design brief is almost completed and I will shortly launch a competition on 99 Designs, as I did previously for 'Real Time Search'.
Following the completion of the logo/branding project, the official Whodeani website will then be set for launch. (Currently www.whodeani.com houses a basic temporary website.)
So that’s some insight into just a handful of projects circulating within the Whodeani space. Watch this space for further updates.
If you cant wait for the next blog post to learn more about whats happening at Whodeani, feel free to follow us on Twitter. @whodeani.
Some of you may have heard of a little social medial startup called Twitter.
I say little facetiously as Twitter is growing explosively... over 1000% during the last 12 months with no sign of slowing down.
SOURCE: Techcrunch 'Whoa Twitter Mania'.
Twitter is easily the hottest site/platform around and will likely disrupt the order of things within social media... maybe even within the broader internet (check out http://search.twitter.com to see what I mean.)
Over the past few months I have been using Twitter more and more to the point where (and I should say a lot of people are moving this way too) I am using Twitter more than LinkedIn and Facebook. My usage of those 2 sites has dropped to less than 20% of where it was as little as a few months ago.
Twitter has become an important way for me to communicate with friends, family and business colleagues. Over time, I'm predicting Twitter will be seen as a vital communications tool in its own right in much the same way as we now view the mobile phone, SMS and email.
Twitter has become so popular that like domain names before it, people are 'finding' Twitter profiles by typing in what they think they will be directly as a URL, as opposed to searching for them.
For example, if you were looking for Twitters page for me, Whodeani, you could simply type in http://www.twitter.com/whodeani. If you were looking for Yahoo, you could type in http://www.twitter.com/yahoo and so on.
Unfortunately, a lot like the domain name landrush of the late 90's, many people are 'already' seeing their brand names or actual names being taken up by the Twitter equivalent of Cybersquatting. There has in fact been a steady increase in disputes over whom has the rights over a Twitter URL. Is it Twitter, the official brand holder, name holder or someone else entirely speaking about the brand/person in question.
Unlike the domain name disputes so prevalent of the late 90's, early 00's, the disputes thus far with Twitter URL's have usually been settled amicably, privately and with Twitter having the final say. As Twitter continues to gain in popularity, the number of disputes will increase, they will become far more public and more than likely these disputes will spill over into the courts.
If history has taught us anything from the domain name disputes of the past it is that it is far easier to secure a name 'early' (that is legally and rightfully yours) than to have to fight to have it returned at some later date.
So whats the point...?
The point is this, even if you are unsure as to wether or not you will be using Twitter in the future, you should secure your personal name, business name and/or brand(s) as a Twitter URL 'now' to ensure that if you do decide to use the service, you have a Twitter URL that is easy to remember and clearly associated with you.
To see if your name is available simply type it in as follows... twitter.com/yourname
If its available... it will return 'This page doesn't exist' (as below).
A little over a week ago (Saturday March 21st, 2009), I posted a 1 week competition to develop a new logo for a 'Real Time Search' engine that I am currently developing. The prize for this competition was set at $150 USD and would be awarded to the winning entry (only.)
The summary brief for this project follows...
Over the past 3 - 6 months, there has been an explosion in interest in 'social search'... more specifically 'right now' search or 'real time' search.
In essence, Real Time search is where the search engine provides search results from what people are saying 'now' about a particular topic as opposed to what was archived by a major search engine yesterday, last week or last month.
I wish to develop a simple (to start with) search engine providing real time search results for Australian users.
All up there were over 100 designs submitted from 31 different designers.
As per my previous post on this competition I was not only keen on finding a quick and affordable way to develop a logo for a new project I am developing in the 'Real Time Search' space (called appropriately enough, 'Real Time Search') but I was also keen to use so called 'crowd sourcing', the heir apparent to traditional outsourcing.
What was especially attractive about the particular service on offer from 99Designs (http://www.99designs.com) was how their model resolved what was for mine one of the inherent weaknesses of other 'crowd sourcing' models, most notably sites like eLance.
With eLance you post a project on the site and service providers bid for your work.
This usually means service providers from all over the world bid against each other to win the job. And by bidding against each other this often means one party undercutting another.
The winning service provider is most likely a combination of being cheap (sometimes the cheapest), has a good folio of past work completed, is well established and has good customer feedback.
While someone's folio of work, the price they quote you and their aggregated feedback score may point you in the direction of a particular provider, who's to say they will 'get' your particular job and create something as good for you as their previous work that helped you chose working with them in the first place...?
So the issue for mine with sites like eLance for creatively driven services, is that you may chose someone that on paper is perfect for what you require yet the work they end up doing for 'you' isn't what you were after.
Don't get me wrong, I think eLance is an exceptional resource for many services (and in fact I will be using eLance shortly for some web development) however I think it isn't a good fit for creatively driven services, ie Graphic Design.
99Designs' model (and others like it) is for service providers to provide design work for you on spec in a live competition where you, the competition owner can rate and provide feedback on designs developed for you in real time.
While admittedly this isn't an ideal process for designers (and there have been many posts from designers up in arms over these sorts of services) it works brilliantly for people requiring basic, easy to brief design work.
In my particular case I developed a basic brief and posted it to the 99Designs site Saturday March 21st, 2009.
The initial set of designs were very professionally developed but not 'on message'.
As the site allows for, I modified the brief to include more of my personal wants and don't wants for the competition. I also provided detailed feedback to the contest as a whole 'and' to individual designers on submitted designs both to weed out those that weren't appropriate and to hopefully have those designs that I liked, improved and re-submitted.
This particular part of the process is the knock out punch for these types of services and what really sets them apart from early crowd sourced sites operating in the space.
The quality of designs being submitted improved (in my opinion) markedly over the week of the competition as did their appropriateness vs the brief.
With 3 days to go I I had narrowed the process down to 3 designs from 3 different designers and was at that stage satisfied that with some further revisions, one of those 3 designs would go on to win the competition.
With only 48 hours to go, I had a flood on new designs submitted, including several by a 20 year old designer going by the name of Hagios whom would eventually go on to submit the winning entry (number 75 as shown below.)
All in all, an extremely positive experience and one which I am confident will be even more so with the next competition I post (and there will be many more.)
I came across a tweet from Stefan Voinea earlier today as follows...
"What Google thinks about Twitter: http://twitpic.com/2hnji" (you can see more of Stefan's Tweets here.)
Basically it is a screengrab of the 'suggested' search terms that Google thinks you may be looking for, which Google presents directly below the search box in real time as you are typing.
Stefan's pic shows Google's suggested search terms for the term 'Twitter is'.
Why stop there. What does Google 'think' for other popular terms.
Here are a few I entered into Google today (Friday March 27th, 2009) from Bali, screen-grabbed them and posted them below.
What Google thinks 'World of Warcraft is'...
Top suggestion, 'World of Warcraft is down'.
What Google Thinks an 'iPhone is'...
Top suggestion, 'iPhone is it worth it'.
What Google Thinks 'Apple is'...
Top suggestion, 'Apple is better'.
What Google Thinks 'Microsoft is'...
Top suggestion... 'Microsoft is dead'.
What Google Thinks 'America is'...
Top suggestion, 'America is not the world'.
What Google Thinks 'Australia is'...
Top suggestion, 'Australia is known for'.
What Google Thinks 'Hotmail is'...
Top suggestion, 'Hotmail is down'.
What Google Thinks 'China is'...
Top suggestion, 'China is the future'.
What Google Thinks 'Kevin Rudd is'...
Top suggestion, 'Kevin Rudd is a communist'.
What Google Thinks 'Facebook is'...
Top suggestion, 'Facebook is down'.
What Google Thinks 'Blackberry is'...
Top suggestion, 'Blackberry is the best'.
What Google Thinks '1 + 1 is'...
Top suggestion, '1 1 is 3'.
What Google Thinks 'Google is'...
Top suggestion, 'Google is a number'.
Lastly... What Google Thinks 'Life is'...
Top suggestion, 'Life is good'.
I have uploaded all of the above images to TwitPic here.
If you have any amusing 'What Google Thinks...' results, screen-grab them, upload them to TwitPic and post the TwitPic URL(s) here in my comments.
Several weeks ago, I noticed a trend towards users using Real Time Search engines (ranging from Twitter Search to those embedded within the major Social Media sites) when looking for information that was more time sensitive. Things like a review of the new Watchmen movie to reviews of the latest Audi Q5 to what's going on with Andrew Bolt.
The sorts of things that are better suited to social media's vast, regularly updated repository of user generated information than traditional search where the information is days, if not weeks out of date in some cases and the content skews more towards those sites that are deemed more authoritative (read into that what you may.)
After playing around with some of the Real Time Search sites out there, I decided that I would build one focusing on Australian user generated content for an Australian audience. This project will be hosted at realtimesearch.com.au (domain not yet live.)
During the week I received a proposal (which I have accepted) for the outsourcing of the sites development, earlier today I uploaded a design brief for the logo element to 99Designs.
The brief for this job follows...
Over the past 3 - 6 months, there has been an explosion in interest in 'social search'... more specifically 'right now' search or 'real time' search.
In essence, Real Time Search is where the search engine provides search results from what people are saying 'now' about a particular topic as opposed to what was archived by a major search engine yesterday, last week or last month.
I wish to develop a simple (to start with) search engine providing real time search results for Australian users.
I require a simple design that will work a) alone, b) as the main feature of a search engine front page and c) a top a list of search results.
For context, this simple search engine is part of a broader search project (including the eventual development of a US based site.)
For now the site will be very basic and will feature real time search results using Twitter's API with a focus on results from Australian Tweeters.
Once that basic user experience has been nailed, we will then move to expanding search features and data sources.
* Preference for 'Real Time Search' logo to stand alone and not include the full URL (that is I want 'Real Time Search' as a logo... not 'realtimesearch.com.au' as a logo.
* Would like it to be colorful, warm and fun.
* Very fond of many of the logo's/brands that exist in the broader 'Twittersphere'.
* Visually needs to convey difference between 'real time' and (for want of a better term) 'regular' search.
* Do not want the logo to look like any existing search or social media brand. As per 'What I Want'... I would like a logo that looks like its DNA is from the broad social media space... but not a copy or something that too closely resembles an existing logo.
This contest has been pre-paid with 99designs. The winner will be paid directly by 99designs for the full prize amount, excluding any third party transfer fees.
The competition has only been online a few hours and already I have had 5 entries. As you will see by my comments on the site, the initial batch of logo designs have not been what I am after, but I am confident that by providing timely feedback as designs are submitted, the quality and 'appropriateness' of the designs will improve.
The design contest runs for 7 days and is binding (that is I have pre-paid the prize and will need to award a winner when the competition closes.) I will update this post when the competition closes.
Having a logo or website designed in this way is not for everybody, nor suitable for any and every job.
I should point out that I have owned/managed several graphic design, web design and programming businesses. I appreciate more than most quality design and website development and until this particular job I have 'always' used professionals.
This job however is a bit of an experiment both in terms of dipping my toes into the Real Time Search space (ie I don't want to spend a lot of money this early in the project) and also in finding within my projects, one appropriate for testing these sorts of services.
I will be posting regular updates on Twitter for this and you can follow me at http://www.twitter.com/whodeani if interested.
Wish me luck...
*** Update ***
Real Time Search competition now closed.
To view the winning submission go here.
Have also updated my blog with a post titled 'Real Time Search Log Competition - The Results'
Over the past year or so I have been progressively moving from my prior 'life' as a full time employee, working towards managing a portfolio of different ideas, businesses and investments.
A good friend of mine (Neville from Best Fit Directors) nick named this concept as being a 'Portfolio Entrepreneur'. I suggested it be termed the 'CEO of Me'. Both descriptions work.
As this whole 'shift' has progressed, I have spent considerable time not only selecting and fine tuning the various projects that I would be working on (a partial list of which can be found on my temp Whodeani web site )... but on how I would actually end up working across all of these various interests 'operationally'.
This in itself has been quite a challenge.
For one, I travel a lot so everything had to be portable.
Data security is also critical, made more problematic than it need be by my being out of Australia in aggregate around 6 months of the year and often in countries and/or regions with less than ideal telecommunications infrastructure.
Further, as the number of things I wanted to do continued to grow, and those projects I was being 'asked' to do (or be involved with) was also growing, it became apparent that at some point I would need some assistance.
So not only did I need to get operational issues sorted for myself, I needed them robust, portable and accessible enough to support 3rd party help. 3rd party help that for the most part would be required 'remotely' (as in, even if they were working for me, we would often be in different countries.)
I'm still working on many of these issues but have made considerable progress in the last few weeks.
I'm currently in Bali (this week, writing a movie script with a friend) and prior to this particular trip I decided I was going to employ a less ad-hoc method (read: am currently using lots of DVD's) for backing things up.
This led to me buying an Apple Timecapsule which in turn led me to signing up for Apple's 'MobileMe' online platform.
I have to say that MobileMe has been a revelation, addressing many of the issues outlined above, including those that would be relevant to taking on assistance (or an assistant.)
Through MobileMe I now have a basic web presence for 'Whodeani', blog integration, online calendaring, mail, web based syncing to my iPhone and over the last few days, MS office style docs including the ability to share and collaborate online with word processing documents and spreadsheets. (I might do a separate blog post on running a business in the 'cloud' later.)
With operational issues now resolved (or at least resolved enough) this brings me back to something I mentioned earlier, namely that if I am to achieve the things I have set out for myself this year (and beyond), I'm going to need some help, an assistant if you will.
So I have decided to hire an assistant and not the so called typical 'Executive Assistant' (EA) or 'Personal Assistant' (PA) but something more. I require an Entrepreneur's Assistant.
Stay with me.
I say Entrepreneur's Assistant as I am after more than simply someone to run errands, manage my diary and look after my business interests.
While all of those things are important, and required, I am after more of a right hand person. Someone whom can assist me creatively as well as work together with me on many of my projects (in fact as you will see following the link below, I'm happy for them to have their own projects that we can work on as well.)
Earlier today I posted this role on Linked In Jobs.
I have also attached the role in PDF form to this post for any of you that might know someone that fits and would be happy to forward it to them.
Wish me luck...
*** Update ***
Am pleased to report that the Entrepreneur's Assistant role has been filled.
Am even more pleased to report that Lindy Waldeck has secured the role and will start working with me in around 4 weeks time (about when I return from Bali.)
For readers of my blog that have known me for some time, you may recall that Lindy was my PA a few years back.
I had tried unsuccessfully to lure Lindy back to the Whodeani fold some time back and she declined.
As luck would have it, likely a combination of the role on offer and Lindy's own personal circumstances, she saw the role shortly after it was posted and applied for it.
Aside from helping me working on my projects, I'm also looking forward to working with Lindy on some of her projects. Am particularly keen on a Travel idea she has that could work both in printed and iPhone app form.
Will post more on that here as things progress.
Linderella and Whodeani... 'Take 2'.
Late last year over a few beers with friends I decided I would enter the iPhone App market, that is to develop 1 or more mobile phone based applications to sell on the booming Apple iTunes store.
A few more beers later and I had come up with more than 10 applications that I would at the very least like to further develop conceptually, with a view to then building out... then commercialising the better ones.
I decided that the first app should be relatively straightforward to develop yet contain content that users would find valuable enough to want to 'buy'.
Some time ago I developed with my father a compact guide to the Rules of Golf in printed form (see below) that I believed would both work 'now' as a printed guide and an iPhone application.
To convert (and update) this guide to work on the iPhone would be a relatively straightforward exercise from a development point of view 'and' a great way as it turned out to learn the ins and outs (and there are many) of developing and submitting an iPhone application for sale in the Apple iTunes store.
Aside from developing the application itself we had to contend with Apple's terms of service, what pricing 'tier' the application should reside in for the various regions it would be sold in, how we would manage support (including being required to provide a separate support page within the applications website)
On the development side my father and I decided to hand the projects conversion from content to a working iPhone application to a family friend in the space... Paul Wilson.
He runs a web development business in Melbourne (you can visit his site here... http://www.sct.com.au) and despite this being his first iPhone application, I reckon he has done an amazing job... not just on the application itself but also in managing for us the process of working the application through Apple's approval process. No mean feat as anyone whom has developed an iPhone App will tell you.
The iPhone application was recently completed and uploaded to Apple's iTunes Store.
If you are interested in Golf and would like to have the most commonly used rules of Golf handy on your iPhone, then you can purchase the 'Better Sports Pocket Guide to the Rules of Golf' iPhone app for $1.19 AUD or $.99 USD (is also available in other regions for a similar price converted to 'that' regions local currency.)
Simply visit the iTunes store directly http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=305594968&mt=8
... or you can visit the 'Better Sports' website here...
... and click on the iPhone link to take you to the iTunes store.
Once downloaded, the app will look as per the following image.
If you like the Golf Guide app once downloaded, please post a positive review. Much appreciated.
I recently moved house (from west of Melbourne to a 5 acre property east of Melbourne in Park Orchards) and while unpacking, came across boxes of old discs (with midi files on them), DAT's (Digital Audio Tapes for the under 30's), CD demo's and old audio tapes (what you used to play in your 'walkman' pre iPod for the under 20's).
I cam across a whole heap of musical stuff I had worked on ranging from old mid files from the early 90's to early demo recordings through the mid 90's on CD's to professionally recorded demo's on DAT's.
In this mixed bag of stuff I came across '1' of the demo versions recorded of Mr Disco's 'Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again' (complete with the obligatory, 'No Way, Get Fucked, Fuck Off' refrain in the chorus. Classy.)
I first mentioned this track here
Now for your listening pleasure, here is Mr Disco's take on the Angels classic... Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again (AIEGSYFA).
N.B. Apologies for the quality... as this was recorded on a very basic bedroom set up in the late 90's.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is often referred to as the group of online marketing activities used to enhance or improve the chances of a website being shown among the top results of organic listings within a major search engine (when an appropriate search is undertaken.) These techniques primarily involve link and website content/structure strategies leveraging off targeted keywords (and phrases.)
The fundamentals of SEO have not changed much over the years. If anything, the cleverer major search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN Search and Ask get with the way they index and retrieve website content... the more relevant the so called 'basics' of SEO have become.
In simple terms, SEO involves modifying your websites various pages (and associated content, images, video footage etc...) to ensure that the major search engines index them appropriately against keywords and phrases relevant to your industry, products/services, individual web-page goals etc.
When considering embarking on modifying your website for SEO, there are 2 key things to address... namely Page(s) Content and the relative importance of your website against your competitors.
For Google your sites 'importance' is referred to as PageRank... all of the major search engines employ a similar construct to 'rank' sites.
Given the dominance of Google amongst the major search engines, with more than 70% of all searches conducted using Google in most regions, we will focus our SEO efforts on how to best set up/modify your site to improve your standing with them.
Importantly as mentioned above, most of Google's competitors employ similar indexing and ranking methods to Google... enough so that the advice to follow will help improve the performance of your website with all the major search engines... not just Google.
Your sites content tells the search engine how to treat your pages when someone goes into a search engine looking/searching for sites like yours.
The fundamentals here are to research the various keywords/phrases that are appropriate to your site and then modify your sites content appropriately. The 2 best sources here are your competitors websites and your current SEM (Search Engine Marketing) campaigns.
PageRank is a number between 0 and 10 that Google assigns a page within a website that tells Google how important that site is... 0 being not important... 10 being most important. This scale is logarithmic so there are millions of sites at the lower numbers... very few at 8 and 9 and fewer still at 10.
PageRank is a moving feast so far as how it works but essentially it rewards a higher number to websites/pages that appear to be authoritative and relevant for the space they operate in and have lots of similarly authoritative sites linking to it (many people will tell you its about the volume of websites linking to you but these days the 'quality' and 'relevance' of sites linking to you is more important than quantity alone.)
To check on your sites PageRank (or individual pages PageRank) go here...
(There are plenty of other websites that do this and even toolbars that automate the process of telling you the PageRank for each and every web page you visit... this particular site however has been around for sometime and I find it very straightforward to use.)
When a user goes to Google and types in a keyword or phrase,web sites/pages are basically returned in order of the most relevant (content) combined with highest PageRank. Importantly, the power of PageRank can mean that a site that you may see as not as relevant as yours, may rank higher in Google if they have a better PageRank.
Equally a high PageRank site with poor keyword relevance/optimisation may rank lower than yours. The combination is what counts.
How do you do it... that is optimize your website to get more traffic from the major search engines like Google?
Despite what many of the 'experts' will tell you (or more appropriately try and sell you) about SEO, most of it comes down to some very simple rules... especially for most websites operating in local, foreign or niche markets.
Paid/3rd party SEO help can be useful in highly competitive online verticals in large, established markets such as Travel, Real Estate and Classifieds in the US, where an incremental improvement can deliver a substantial boost in marketing ROI.
If that refers to your business, and you therefore are considering using a 3rd party to help with your SEO efforts, ensure that what ever work they provide does not require your continual, ongoing payment to continue receiving the benefits of their work.
Also ensure that they are reputable (seek references of their work) and do not employ so called 'black hat' SEO techniques (sometime these black hat techniques can harm your efforts leaving you in a worse position than before you hired outside help.)
Lastly, before you commit to paid SEO, negotiate minimum targets that you want to achieve from their efforts (ie a minimum increase of 'X' unique visitors per month) and ensure that part of their payment is tied to reaching these minimum targets.
OK... here are the basics of SEO...
As mentioned above you need to address 2 key areas... Site Content and Page Rank.
First you should research the most relevant keywords and phrases for your site... and your sites pages... that is to find keywords and/or phrases that you believe people looking for your products and/or services would use to find your products and/or services.
As above, the 2 best sources for mine are your competitors websites (here you can learn what words/phrases work... and more importantly 'how' they work)... and your SEM campaign (I will cover SEM... Search Engine Marketing... in a separate post.)
On your competitors websites... do a search in Google for some of the keywords and phrases that you think are appropriate for your space.
Note the websites in your space (your competitors) that seem to appear often near the top of the results for these terms.
Once you have these sites, review them noting keywords and phrases that appear often amongst the pages Title, Navigation, Headings and Body Copy. Importantly, the most relevant terms are usually nearer the top of the page... and/or to the left of any given area/sentence. (Look also at Image Names and Alt Tags if you really want to go deeper on this.)
So when reviewing someone's Page Title for example, pay special attention to the first word, then the 2nd, then the 3rd etc... in any given area. Same would apply to reviewing Navigation (menus), Headings and/or Body Copy.
As I said earlier... the basics of SEO come down to some very simple rules... one key rule in fact.
The fundamentals here are selecting the right words (relevance), for the right location on the page (position), the right number of times (frequency.)
The content element of SEO therefore = Relevance + Position + Frequency.
Lets say you were an online marketing business specializing in SEO and SEM located in Australia... and the top 3 keywords/terms you wanted to be found by (note 'wanted to be found by' not necessarily the most popular terms) were 'Online Marketing Australia', 'Search Engine Optimisation' and 'Search Engine Marketing'... then your 'Page Title' may read something like this...
"Online Marketing Australia, Search Engine Optimisation & Search Engine Marketing. Australia's SEO and SEM experts... Marketing Magic Melbourne" (Note: in some industries you can get rewarded for repetition (within reason) within key areas like the pages 'Title'.)
In the above example I have used the word marketing 3 times and Australia twice... and referred to Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing by the full terms and their associated acronyms (SEO and SEM.)
Importantly however the above doesn't 'look' like it has been written purely for the search engines. Any content you place on your pages needs to both be appropriate for search engine indexing and ranking... and also be readable.
Overly optimising your sites content can have the reverse effect both turning off users and in some cases, flagging the site as inappropriate and cause your position (ranking) within the search engines to fall. In some cases it may even get your site removed from the search engines index altogether so it is important to strike the right balance when reviewing and re-writing your content.
One other thing to note in the above example was that I included the company name, 'Marketing Magic Melbourne', at the end of the optimised sentence. This was done deliberately as while the company name is important, important enough to include in the title for sure, in the main people that will 'find' your website in a search engine are more likely to be searching for terms related to your industry and not your company name.
You would assume that people already familiar with your business would already know how to find your website be it from memory... or by simply typing in
If you were looking for Adidas as an example... many people would first try 'Adidas.com'... or type in 'Adidas' into a search engine... and not try looking for them specifically by typing in 'sportswear' or 'jogging shoes'.
This content creation methodology, as shown in the Page Title example above, works for all page content, not just the stuff you can see. You need to ensure keywords/phrases are built into Meta Tags, Alt Tags, Image Names, Links etc...
After getting your sites Page Title's right... you should next focus on the naming of the various pages (and then move to Headings, Body Content, Image Naming, Meta Tags etc...)
Here you focus on including your company name and key words and phrases within each pages URL.
As an example...
For the Product line above... if you were a hardware store selling 'gum boots' (as a sub set of a 'safety wear' category) then it might look like this...
When it comes to Image Names and Alt Tags... its pretty straight forward.
Again using the hardware example above... an image named gum_boots.gif will help your optimisation efforts much more than image1.gif or 11234333.gif. Equally, an Alt Tag of 'Gum Boots' will work better for you than no Alt Tag at all (remembering of course not to over do the inclusion of any keyword or phrase on a page.)
Another great source of keywords and phrases for your SEO efforts can be found within your SEM campaign (assuming you are running one)... that is your Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing online advertising campaigns.
A well executed SEM campaign will have a large list of keywords and phrases ranging from the broad to the long tail.
Of the 100's... if not 1000's (or 10's of 1000's) of keywords and phrases used in your campaign, a small group will deliver most of the paid clicks to your site.
Importantly, both Yahoo and Google's online advertising platforms allow you to measure the performance of your campaign... right down to what elements of your campaign actually delivered an 'action' (be it an e-commerce sale, a click-to-call enquiry or a completed online subscription.)
From this 'ranked' information you can determine what keywords and phrases are working best on the 'paid' side... and use this information to build out the SEO side (or 'free' side.)
Most importantly you should focus on what has 'converted' best (on whatever conversion metrics are appropriate for your site) within your SEM campaign and not just on what delivered the most visitors.
Wikipedia defines it as such...
PageRank is a link analysis algorithm that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of "measuring" its relative importance within the set. The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities with reciprocal quotations and references. The numerical weight that it assigns to any given element E is also called the PageRank of E and denoted by PR(E).
A higher PageRank is usually given to a site that has a lot of other websites linking to it but as above... a smaller number of more authoritative sites linking to yours can be more effective.
With the relentless efforts of people trying to game the system (and the efforts of 'black hat' SEO's)... Google focuses far more these days on the quality and relevance of sites linking to you than the quantity.
So for example, a highly relevant, high quality (and high PageRank) site linking to you appropriately (that is with the link in text using keywords relevant to the page being linked to) could be worth more than 10's if not 100's of unrelated, low quality (and low PageRank) sites linking to you.
Several ways to research appropriate 'targets' for linking to you.
- Research sites currently linking to you and either a) approach them to improve the 'relevance' of the link (such as the text used within the link itself) and/or b) seek out similar sites to those already linking to you. Visit here to learn more of the sites currently linking to you... ie for this new blog... http://www.google.com/search?as_lq=blog.whodeani.com&btnG=Search
- Use competitive analysis tools like Hitwise, Nielsen, Compete, Alexa and Comscore to research leading sites in your space and the sites linking to them. You could also simply enter your competitors URL's into the Google link just mentioned above.
- SEM research. Get a feel for the types of users being delivered to your site by the terms being used to find you. Look for sites that may not be in the same space but may share a similar audience.
- Analytics. Review your current analytics to see where you are getting traffic from. Again, speak with those currently linking to you to improve the 'relevancy'... look at other sources for 'clues' as to the types of other sites you can approach.
Its worth repeating that this post is very much about the basics of SEO. As I said earlier... there are certain verticals, niches and regions whereby achieving a significant improvement in the performance of your site with the major search engines will require the assistance of a 3rd party... BUT it has been my experience that most of the benefit you can gain from SEO... for most types of web based businesses can be had through following the simple rules of this post.
I was going to talk more about Search Engine Marketing (and its connection to SEO) in this post however its pretty long as is.
Will provide more information on SEM in a separate post.
One last thing... if your looking to improve the performance of your site through Search Engine Optimisation, I would recomend you get your broader marketing efforts in check first. I wrote about some of the things you should look at in a previous post called 'The 4 Pillars of Measurable Marketing'.