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Video Professor Update

I just approved a few new comments and posted a few more links on the Video Professor post I put up about a year and a half ago.  This post has stirred up alot more attention than I thought it would have when I originally wrote about it.

On another note, not many posts lately as things are a-changin’ again with my business.  I’ll post an update in the not-too-distant future.

FindLaw’s Templated SEO Services & How Its Not Custom, Top-Shelf SEO

I was recent asked to evaluate a FindLaw contract for a firm I work with, who has a prospective client that uses FindLaw and is considering more custom SEO services from another vendor. Specifically, I was asked to discuss what the contract included and what is what lacking with regard to SEO. While this is specific to this one instance (and I cannot share the contract for privacy reasons), I think there are some points here that go across the board for all of these law firm online marketing services.

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Google Checkout

So I just tried to order a couple of Google T-Shirts through the Google Store.  Not surprisingly, the store uses Google Checkout.  To my surprise, however, it does not seem to want to work – at least not in the IE 6.0 browser I tried it in (which is what like 80% of the internet world uses, though 9 times out of 10 you’ll find me using FireFox, this was that 1 time out of 10).  Frustration.  Anyone else have issues with Google Checkout?

FindLaw, Template vs. Custom SEO

Its been a while since I’ve written, as I’ve been swamped. Here’s an excerpt from an email I replied to the other day with regard to how custom SEO services are different from those provided by a larger firm with a template approach. In this case, FindLaw.

_______(removed)_______ is right on. Just to add my two sense, SEO boils down to three things:

1) Technical / Site Structure Issues (10%)
2) On-Site Content (30%)
3) Off-Site Components aka Link Popularity (60%)

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Craigslist Scam – My Personal Experience

Its always a bit discomforting when you realize someone has tried to scam you. Sure I get the normal load of tons of emails from Princes and Kings in Nigeria who want to give me $5 million in exchange for assisting with the money transfer needs. Those are easy to spot as scams. Why in the world would they email me to do that? Why would they offer so much money? Even if all that was understandable, how would I explain the unusual income spike to the IRS? Clearly an easy scam to spot.

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Marvelous Link Bait / Online PR Idea

Brett Tabke’s Bot Blog.  Its his robots.txt file which has a blog in it as a .txt file.  Dorky, yes.  Old school, yes.  Terribly interesting and different.  Indeed.

The blog is about bots and blocking them, etc. (which is most commonly done with a robots.txt file), so what more appropriate way to launch a blog about it than to feature the blog in that file rather than just another typical blog template… Genius.

Its been up over 6 months and I’ve just noticed it, though I’m not really into that particular topic.  Yet, I still link.  Genius.

Quick, Easy CD/DVD Burning

I’m not a CD or DVD burning power user by any means.  Basically I just occassionally burn a music CD and try to regularly backup important files, etc.  Not a power user.

Anyhow, I wanted to make a bit of a recommendation for BurnQuick, an application that is very lightweight, easy to use and cheap (under $20, free trial).  If you are looking for something like this b/c you just want fast, easy (and aren’t into a whole lot of bells and whistles) than give it a shot.

Marketing ROI & Digital Dashboards

Paul Ward has a great post about digital dashboards and various marketing metrics. He discusses how a corporate CEO is not necessarily the best person to keep tabs on some of these metrics, as in many cases they do not necessarily understand them – nor do they care about them as much as other metrics which they are more directly evaluated on (by investors).

Excellent insights. Only issue: Paul – please allow people outside of blogger to add comments!

New Time Management Idea

Time management, and moreso project/time organization, is always a challenge for me.  I want to make sure I get “everything” done and don’t let anything slip through the cracks.

As far as I see, there are two ways to approach the scheduling of my time as related to “client work”.  For my purpose, “client work” is around 30 hours per week that is dedicated to handling work specifically for my clients under this new system.  In addition that that, I’ve got about 10 hours per week in handling and responding to email, and a few additional hours for some miscellaneous things, administrative work, etc.

About six or seven months ago – right after I moved into my new office location – I created a schedule on a piece of poster board.  It lists from 8am to 5pm, M-F.  Its divided into 1-hour blocks, and each block has an item or two in it.  For the most part, this plan was based on function or activity.  That is, it looks at the types of things I do and organizes that way.  For instance, I spend some time managing pay-per-click campaigns.  As such, there are a few blocks of time dedicated to pay-per-click management.

I think I kept to that schedule for 2-3 days, tops.  Since then it just sits about my desk, taunting me.  When anyone comes in the office they remark at how organized I must be – citing the clearly posted schedule.  But alas, its a fraud.

New plan.

I’ve decided to now try and organize my time around my clients.  I’d say this is more customer-focused than internally-focused.  I’m sure there are alot of great marketing  and management academic lessons that would support this, but my motivation is much more selfish.  I clearly wasn’t adopting the old plan.

So now I’ve got about 45 hour blocks outlined each week.  I’ve got my time for email and communications, which I will fight to limit to 2 hours each day.  If you are reading this and are planning to send me an email, its my goal to only be checking and responding one hour in the morning and one right when I return to the office from lunch.  Otherwise email is an all-day thing and nothing else gets done.

Anyhow… each client has one or more hour blocks per week, depending on my commitments to them.  I will then take the 2 hours for Client A, and do whatever is needed to maximize my time spent on their behalf.  If that is PPC management, than that’s what it is.  If its adding new content to their site or helping to revise a press release, than that’s how the time is spent.  The scheme to organize by client rather than activity.

Major Google SERPs Subdomain Issue

So I just did a search for maryland seo and noticed that everything from listing #6 through page 50 is all the same site – subdomain pages for freelancedesigners.com.  Example URLs:

  • ellicott-city_md.marketing.freelancedesigners.com/
  • columbia_md.marketing.freelancedesigners.com/
  • clarksburg_md.marketing.freelancedesigners.com/
  • elkton_md.marketing.freelancedesigners.com/ .

You get the idea.  Imagine that X 500.  In fact, it may go well beyond page 50 – I got tired of looking.  Looks like a considerable issue, as all those subdomains are really just pages that all have the exact same template/content etc.  They clearly are not different or unique enough to pass Google’s usual test of what constitutes content and a page different enough to warrant another listing.  I’m guessing its just a temporary thing and that they’ve probably noticed the issue through other queries.  Let’s hope!

GREAT Web Hosting Company

Need a fantastic Windows hosting company?  There is one firm I’ve used for several years and I pretty much insist on for any SEM clients who I’ll be working on for a long period of time.  Who is this legendary company?  Millennium Systems.  Yes, they’ve even made it to my firm’s oh-so-prestigous partners page.

Doing what I do, I’ve dealt with alot of online service providers:

– hosting companies

– domain registrars

– web stats providers

You name them, I’ve probably dealt with them.  For each of these I’ve found one firm I love and thus I’ll no longer work with anyone else in that field.  Millennium Systems is my hosting firm, and has been for a couple of years now.  If you read this blog frequently you probably know who my web stats provider of choice is, and for domain registrations I’m a huge GoDaddy fan – good prices, they actually answer their phone, and nice online interface.

Why am I writing this?

1) I do honestly, truly, as sure as I sit in front of my computer screen for 12 hours a day absolutely love their fantastic customer service.

2) They are doing a little giveaway where they are offering a rack of cash.  To be entered into the contest you’ve got to refer someone to them.  I am in the midst of a period where I’m not really taking many new projects, and thus am not likely to sign many people up myself.  I want the cash though, and I love their service.  Its my hope someone reading this will check them out and give them a shot.

If you do, PLEASE for the love of all things holy put my name – Jon Payne – into the “Heard about us from” field on their quick signup form

Their strengths:

  • ridiculous personal support.  real people.  much faster than other firms.
  • nice windows hosting product selection
  • good rates
  • very reliable uptime

Their weaknesses

  • poor name

Come on guys – “Millennium Systems”???  I bet that was a great idea in 1998!  :)

I should really be one to talk though.  Ephricon Web Marketing?  How the heck did I come up with that?  There is no answer.  One of these I’ll create a neat little story.  Truth is I was on the spot from a prospective client to make my business official.  I needed a name.  I needed a name with an available domain.  That’s tough.  I kept putting letters together until I got something for which I could register the domain.  I also liked the fact that there were no other meanings of the word… so I could search on “ephricon” and find any and everything mentioning my firm.  I’ve since thought about changing it quite a bit.  I registered a domain (.net version, unfortunately) for “Clear Focus Marketing”.  Thoughts?

Anyhow, go sign up with Millennium Systems if you are absolutely in love with your current hosting company’s ease of support and I promise you’ll stick with them.  And again, mention “Jon Payne” in the “heard about us from” field.  Daddy needs a new pair of shoes!  :)

Random “SEO” Snakeoil Solicitation Emails

Happy 4th of July!  I’m only in the office for the morning mostly to do some work for my class… wanted to share this though.

These are crazy.  I get like 2-3 each day, usually never respond.  Today I did:
—–Original Message—–

From: Shane Tedford [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Tuesday, July 04, 2006 7:29 AM
To: xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Placement SVC

xxxxx@xxxxxxx.com:

Our Company can place your web site(s) in the top positions of the major search engines.  Want a free estimate?  Reply to us If you are interested in getting top positioning in the major search engines. PLEASE INCLUDE THE URL(S) or WEB SITE ADDRESS you want quotes on and the best way to reach you.  Examples and references can be provided.

 

Thanks for your reply,

Shane Tedford

MY REPLY:

You guys are hilarious.  You do searches in the search engines to find websites to email about your snakeoil services.  Has it ever occured to you that the sites you find in the search engines are the ones who obviously don’t need your help?  You should focus on the 99% of sites you don’t find in the search engines and send them the emails instead, they are your target market.  Sheesh!

MySpace Search Using Overture?

So I’m either way late or way early or just flat out missing something, but I just was on MySpace and I tried a search without specifying a site-search (i.e. full web search).  I was looking for the page for The Shins, which I could probably guess the URL for in about 10 seconds but I was being lazy and figured I’d do a site-search and click the link…  Anyhow, I came to this results page which is basically a huge Overture PPC page with no organic results whatsoever.

Two thoughts:

1) Were they not using Google up until recently to feed both sponsored and organic search ads?

2) Wow with all those sponsored ads they must be making a fortune!