Search Engine Optimization tools

At least once a month, I'll have a friend-of-a-friend or relative or acquaintance ping me and ask me how they can show up at at the top of Google search listings for particular keywords...

I'd say the aggregate knowledge over the years has definitely gotten better ...Nowadays people usually know that I, personally (or any one person for that matter) can NOT make their websites show up with a better ranking.

Typically - I will give the very basic overview of how search and PageRank generally work - and then will usually give a tip or two that is sure to improve their site SOMEHOW ... (sometimes it's just renaming URLs) ...

Well - I stumbled upon a blog post that did a very thorough job of listing all of the relevant and free SEO tools that folks can use to improve their rankings. Not only did I want to share it with my loyal blog readers - but I wanted to document it on my blog so I can send people to this post when they ask me how I can help their sites with better ranking. ;)


Moneyball for Business

Micheal Lewis is in my top 2 favorite writers/authors (Malcolm Gladwell and him go back and forth). He originally got me hooked on his style and insight with the book, Moneyball. I am not a particularly quick reader (both in dedicated time and actual pace of reading), but I think I read the 300+ page book in a 48 hour period.

Moneyball is about one baseball General Managers' (Billy Beane) statistically focused approach to a sport, which traditionally tracks stats, but often mis-used these stats to make decisions... The book was revolutionary in a lot of ways. First, 5 years after it was published, it's fair to say that almost all of the Major League Baseball teams reconsidered their approach - and many hired quant guys to fill top positions rather than the traditional baseball guys. Secondly, other industries and sports began to think how they could apply the practices to their worlds. In particular, Bill Simmons talks incessantly about the MIT Sloan conference last year where several owners/GMs etc. of various sports leagues (the NBA in particlar) spoke about how they all have terabytes of data that help them make decisions - but different from Billy Beane and the A's ... they're choosing to keep their strategies private.

Now ... I work for a company that is notorious for believing that fast is better than slow and that most importantly DATA TRUMPS OPINION. In the classic business world - it's my belief that this is NOT the norm. Opinion and tradition are the reigning rulers - and there is always some way to cut metrics where they can partly defend such opinions...

I've had somewhat of a new role the past 6 months at work which is trying to QUANTIFY the tangible business impact (sales lift) that online media has on offline sales. We have sucessfully done this - and it's really exciting to see. I get to interact with a lot of smart Quant people - and I get to see some truly amazing ways that data metrics CAN be used to help make decisions... The challenge is getting people to buy-into the fact that DATA SHOULD TRUMP OPINIONS.

For Major League Baseball, holistic buy-in was attained through the success of a book. What is it going to take for the Marketing/Advertising/Media business to follow-suit? We shall see .... Maybe when it's all said and done - I'll need to play the role of Micheal Lewis, but for now, I'm merely on my soap box saying that this is the next big thing. Data models/algorithms/sophisticated math is 100% the way that successful businesses will make decisions in the future.


Scruff is in (?)

I was hanging out with 2 of my single guy friends last weekend. They are both more on the "metro" side vs. typical "guys guys" ... but even so ... I was still pretty surprised to hear that they both have a strategic planned out implementation for their facial hair... Having a method for one's madness around shaving isn't that crazy - each person is different (Example - I like to shave in the shower every morning as I feel like a get a better shave that way).

However, their strategic plan revolved around ensuring that their "scruff" was at optimal length for the weekend. And unfortunately for these two guys - it takes 5 days for said optimal length to materialize... But let's go back to the original premise ... Chicks dig scruff?? So much so - that it requires an orchestrated plan in hopes to look optimally scruffy for the weekend...??

Lucky for the two of them, I guess, they both have jobs which don't require a daily shave.

Maybe my beard is different from theirs - or maybe I feel differently because I've rocked a goatee for 10+ years, but after 5 days of not shaving, my face gets itchy and I feel like my face looks like it has dirt on it (which my grandma used to tell me about my goatee).

I'm not questioning their methods at all -- I just felt the need to ask my loyal blog readers if they, too, have found that "scruff is in"???


What do you want for your birthday?

My birthday is next week (June 12).

I’m a man – so friends don’t really buy presents for one another at this point in our lives outside of either big number birthdays or perhaps a goof-type gift that one may stumble upon…
Parents and relatives, though, still buy gifts for their children, son-in-laws, etc...

This said – without fail EVERY year – I get asked the question, “what do you want for your birthday?” Now, when I was 9 years old – this makes some sense. There is no way for a parent to know exactly what to get a 9 year old in the sense that 9 year olds could have temper-tantrums if, say, their parents bought them the “not cool anymore toy” for their birthday. So - my parents would ask me what I’d want – I’d say a skateboard or Colecovision (the smurf game was my favorite) and assuming the gift wasn’t too costly and I had been a good kid (which to be honest – I almost always was) – I’d receive the answer to the question "what do you want for your birthday?"

Fast forward over 20 years later – and the same rules do not apply.
  1. I will not have a temper-tantrum if you buy me a present that I didn’t necessarily have my heart set on.
  2. I have my own money to buy things if I really really want them. When I was a kid, it would take me all year to accumulate $50 in weekly allowance in order to buy the new Donkey Kong game – so getting the game for my birthday was the best way to get it. That’s not really the case now. I’m not saying “I’m rich bitch!” – and I can afford anything I want – but yes – at this point I can afford something in the range of where parents spend money on birthday gifts (say $50-$100) if I really really want something…
  3. When I was a kid – for some reason even if I said that I wanted a skateboard, there was a mystery if I was really going to get it. I didn’t have a sense of if a skateboard cost $50 or $5,000 and so, I really would still be surprised if I got the skateboard. Now – if I tell you that I really want the new Micheal Lewis book – and you buy me said book, that’s not much of a surprise. It’s not really as much fun if I tell you what to buy me. (I don’t think I’ve ever written a post on registries – but trust me when I say I could easily fill up some space with my thoughts here)
Sadly, I just thought of this response, but had I thought of it 2 weeks ago when both my parents asked what I wanted for my birthday, I should have said that for this birthday – I wanted them to never ask me what I wanted for a gift ever again. (I would have said it nicely - and tried not to sound like the wise-ass the response COULD read as - but is not intended)

I don’t want to come off as a brat. I understand why my parents are asking me the question: They would rather spend money on something I really want – rather then something I may not desire or use very often. And I get this – but at this stage of my life – I have greater appreciation of the thought given to the gifts then the actual gift/value/etc.

This all said – if anyone wants to know of a can’t miss gift for me …. An iTunes gift card is a great idea. For some reason – I enjoy buying $1.29 songs a lot more when there is already a balance in my iTunes account versus when there is not. So- - If my parents bought me $50 each of iTunes gift certificates – they would essentially be buying me “Music of my choice for a year.” That sounds like a great thing for me!

I don’t know if everyone agrees, but the reasons above is why I really try to never ask anyone what they wanted for their birthday.