Monday, October 28, 2013

My Obituary Will Not Be Written

May each of us have a good life, a good death, and a good after-death.

My obituary will be simple.

Date of birth, date of death.

Nothing more. No photo.

The people who already know me know everything they want to know about me. Trust me, even those closest to me already have too much information. And I tend to tell the same story at least ten to twenty times to any given victim, I mean listener.

Those who don't know me, don't need to know where I worked, what my hobbies were, who my nearest kin are, what clubs I belonged to, what supernatural feats I performed for clients, what sound experiments I indulged in at my music lab, and what bleak and lonely hermitages I founded.

Let word of mouth carry my legacy to future generations who won't, and shouldn't, care about it.

Why would anyone want to publish what actually amounts to a posthumous advertisement about their life? Isn't that what an obituary is? As an ad writer, I don't want my final memorial to be an ad.

I'd rather have people think: "What WAS that? He's gone now, but when he was here, things happened."

I'd rather be a breeze that passed by and mischievously vanished than an ornate monument that pigeons relieve themselves on.

Let my lack of statement be a statement that rings loud and unclear.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Dark SEO: Goodbye Keywords, Hello Hummingbird

SEO just had its lights turned off. How do we do organic SEO in the dark? What we need now are new guide lamps.

Welcome to the (for some) bizarre new landscape of SEO, without keyword data and with more focus on intent, semantics, stories, social signals, page level data, video, voice search, image search, conversions, conversations, and context.

Recently Google killed their Adwords Keyword Tool and encrypted their keyword search data, so you can no longer know which keywords are driving traffic to your website. The best we can know is what webpages are the most popular.

Instead of knowing which keywords are being typed into search engines by customers, by volume of search queries, we must look at the webpages that are receiving the highest numbers of visitors.

What is it about that webpage that could be attracting customers?

You can't with any certainty say, "Such and such keywords." So perhaps that webpage is an incredibly complete but concise, well-written explanation of a timely issue that in itself is already viral. It has credibility, it's easy to read, and it's interesting,

But more importantly, it answers a question that a lot of customers have.

Without keyword search data from Google, how can we set up website content for organic SEO? Are we flying in the dark now? Are there any bright lights that can illuminate our way toward high organic search rankings for good quality websites?


We shift our focus from keywords to intent, conversation, and new search behaviors, like local search, mobile search, voice search, and clickless searching (when a query is answered by Google without the user needing to see any search results for the search term or visit any website).

Let there be no misunderstandings here. We Are In A New SEO World.

Keyword data: gone.

Hummingbird: here.

The new Hummingbird algorithm update is shifting the focus into more new realms of SEO specialization.

Hummingbird is Google's recipe for finding content that:

(1) answers actual questions of customers, both typed and voiced

(2) uses lively customer language with strategic keyword usage, not "we-oriented" corporate-talk sprinkled with keywords

(3) matches the intent or goal of the customer's search query, rather than strictly the keywords used

(4) aligns with every word of the query, rather than only keywords

(5) answers keywordless search queries by knowing context of query

(6) is authoritative, original, credible, timely, trending, dealing with a topic or news item that is already viral, complete, concise, well-written, unique, idiosyncratic, not generic

(7) is Liked and Shared by social media friends of the searching customer

(8) is optimized for mobile devices

(9) is easily shared on social media, with embed code and/or social sharing links

(10) is conversational, tells a story, rather than cold Power Point bullet points

(11) is accompanied by relevant photos, audio, video, and other interactive media.

While we can't know which keywords customers are using in their searches, that doesn't mean we are completely clueless as to what keywords are the most popular. We can read popular press articles, journals, blogs, social media conversations, trade sites, and other resources to stay current with the language in current usage.

Maybe it's time to meet and mingle with actual warm body customers and interact with them on social media, instead of hiding in the manager cave or just grinding out sales messages on Facebook and Twitter.

The more intimately we know our customers, the more keywords that will naturally be circulating in our conversations and marketing communications, including websites.

You'll discover the best keywords as you gain a true grasp of your industry, customer psychology, social signals related to your products, and terminology employed when expressing customer needs and describing how your product solves their problems. It all begins with knowing how customers talk about their frustrations, lack, and desires.

SEO is maturing in a sudden, quantum leap.

Instead of manipulating keywords on a webpage, while keywords still play a big role, it will be a deeper understanding of product benefits and customer behavior that will be the solid core of today's SEO practice.


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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Usability Diagnosis of Obamacare Website

The Obamacare website is a usability nightmare.

Like many companies with complex, high traffic websites, they must have not conducted adequate user observation tests or functionality checks. Although server overload is the primary problem, various aspects of the site are broken.

Web developers should watch and learn from this unfortunate situation.

Here are the things the developers should have taken into consideration to facilitate user success.

(1) load testing

(2) make sure all your javascript and AJAX are functional

(3) keep the client code, server code, error messages and instructions in sync

(4) user experience should be tested for usability, velocity, validity, simplicity, navigational path clarity, understandability, and error recovery.


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Friday, October 4, 2013

greeting a customer who enters your store

When greeting a customer who enters your store, there are 3 basic ways to welcome the customer:

(1) UNCARING/PUSHY: "Hi. Can I help you find something?"

Translation: "I want to get you paired with a product then out of this store as quickly as possible."

(2) UNCARING/LETHARGIC: "How are you doing today? If you have any questions, or need anything, please let me know, okay? Have fun looking around."

Translation: "I'm not really interested in identifying and empathizing with your needs or interests. In fact, the only thing I'll respond to is a question or a request involving an immediate purchase. I'm tired of talking to you now, and bored, so I'm going to retreat back to my comfort zone."

(3) CARING/INVESTIGATIVE: "[OPTIONAL: Welcome to ______________. ] What brings you into the store today?"

Translation: "We're proud of our store. We also want to understand your immediate need, so we can share our expertise and guide you to the best product to solve your problem."

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