Blog Themes and Widgets

Customizing a blog is so much easier today than it was just 1-2 years ago.  It was a headache back then.  The separation of content and design (CSS movement) has played a big part in this.   So has the ability to customize and use custom domains on third-party hosted services like Blogger and WordPress.com, as well as the use of “widgets” which enable you to add code elements and other components without directly editing the source files.  Man if I had that ability just a few years ago!!!

As of today I am re-purposing JonPayne.net.  It will now be more of a general site just about… well… myself.  Arrogance aside, I’m doing this b/c I simply don’t have the time to maintain this blog, and honestly its not been very coherent in general.  I’ll still post occasionally to this blog, but my new blog on lead generation will be my “main blog”.  This will be more of a profile site about yours truly, with the occasional post about whatever.

PS – I found my snazzy new WordPress theme thanks to this guy’s blog.

Oh yeah, another blog (Lead-Gen SEO)

Just created one on Lead Generation & SEO as a way to test out Blogger, and it seems as though I’m taking an interest to it. I don’t have time to manage one blog, much less two… but I’ll figure this out as we go along. This site may turn into more of a professional “about me” sites, with the occasional post… whereas the other blog will be more topically-focused.

SEO Popularity & Being Famous – Comments re: TopRank, SEOmoz

I found this post on SEOmoz which referenced this post on TopRank’s blog and posted a comment. As I’ll do from time to time, I’m going to steal my own content and paste it below… my thoughts on “being famous” in the SEO community:

Lee – excellent post. I know many SEOs who spend 50-75% of their time or more doing things to “be famous” in the community – writing blog posts, commenting (ummm…), creating articles, etc. As you have suggested, the expectation is that by doing those activities they will get new clients and make money.

But what about if you already have alot of clients? If you don’t need new business than it doesn’t make sense to spend 75% of your time on business generation activities (getting famous). Instead, how about spend time differently…

BILLABLE TIME!

Yes that’s the key to making money. The key is doing work that you are paid to do. The more paid work (for agencies) or more work spent doing your own projects (affiliates, others) the more you will make.

But what about the “being famous helps you get bigger clients and raise your rates” argument?

Perhaps. But so too does “doing a good job for your current clients” and then getting solid referrals that produce bigger projects.

I think there is a ton of waste with all these newbies spending time blogging and writing articles. There’s too much to read, and not enough time to read it… or much less actually GO DO SOME WORK PEOPLE!

With that, I’m off to start doing some actual work :)

There isn’t enough room for everyone to be a celebrity in the SEO field. Nor does achieving that matter much, IMO. You can have a very successful career (as a consultant) by:

doing great work, producing great results
giving your time and attention to your clients
growing with your clients
getting referrals from your clients

Several years back I used to spend alot more time with SEO-related blogs, forums, articles, etc. I wanted to be famous in the community, to some extent. The day I stopped spending so much time on that is the day I started doing better work, having more time for clients and started making more money. Imagine that. Do actual (billable) work. Get actual clients. Make actual money. A novel idea!

Both Rand and Lee referenced an idea I do strongly – that its far more important to be “famous” for SEO outside of the SEO community than inside of the SEO community. I totally agree. I have a few good relationships in the Baltimore area with various marketing agencies, PR firms, etc. and among them… I’m famous, sort of. Enough for them to refer work to me, and that referral typically means bigger clients than I’d get without the referral, as well as a better close rate.

To me, I believe this is more valuable than having a bunch of newbie SEOs blog about you and get your article posted on Digg, which results in 10 service solicitations for crappy projects that have no business model.

Now concludes my 30 minutes this morning of non-billable work. I’ve made no money so far today. Thus, don’t expect another post for probably another 4-6 weeks, at which point I’ll reference my own comments on another blog again or copy/paste my reply to a client’s question on this blog to “get more play” for something I already wrote.

Fin.

Our Comcast Nightmare – Comcast SUCKS!

Executive Summary: Six months after we moved out of our old office and “transferred” our Comcast internet service to our new office, we were still receiving invoices for the old office… plus those for the new office. Finally they’ve stopped sending those invoices, though we’re still waiting on the refund we were promised. To make things worse, we just got an invoice for Cable TV at the old office. That’s right, we’ve been gone from there for 6 months but somehow we decided to order Cable TV for that office? Unbelieveable.

Detailed Timeline:

Timeline of Comcast’s Ineptitude:

Continue reading

Lazy People Looking for Marketing Jobs

I normally don’t even bother responding to generic emails that indicate a person is looking for a job when they are too lazy to spend enough time on my website to learn my name and at least a rough idea of what the company does.  However, every once in a while I get in one of those moods where I want to take a stand on the soapbox and spread the word to the people.  Here is an email conversation I just had to that effect (this is me leveraging existing content).

— Job Seeker First Email —

Subject: (None)
To: info@(mywebsite).com
Good Afternoon-
Please find my resume as an attachment above.  If there are any positions I am qualified for feel free to contact me at (phone number).
Thanks and make it a great day!

(Name)

— My Reply —

Mass-emailed resumes are not appreciated.

— Job Seeker Reply —

My submission was NOT a “mass email”. I do apologize if you were offended. I live in (town) and am interested in getting my ‘foot’ in the door of a marketing firm and I wasn’t sure how to contact your company.

You have a good day just the same.
(Name)

— My Reply —

Generic then at best – you didn’t even take the time to put a subject in the email or address it to anyone at the company.  You didn’t do anything to express any knowledge of or interest in what our firm does.

In fact, it looks like you found our site in MSN and then only viewed the first page you were on for a few seconds before clicking directly on the “contact” page.  Had you taken 5 minutes to look around the site you would clearly see my name and then could email me personally, which I would have been much more receptive to.

I normally just delete these b/c I get dozens each week looking for a job, but every once in a while I take a stand on the soapbox and try and help people out.  My advice is to focus on quality rather than quantity.  If someone sends me a personal email that shows they spent a little time learning about my firm, and can address me personally than I’m more likely to give them a few minutes of my attention and consider what they have to say.  If you want to get your foot in the door with a marketing firm, as you said, I suggest you begin to understand that effective marketing is about targeting and reaching your market in a way they are receptive to.  If you fail to do this and instead think the best way is to spend 30 seconds on 100 sites, just long enough to get their contact info and then send then a non-personalized email than believe me – you won’t have much luck.  That’s the essence of marketing – reaching your market.  If a business owner or hiring manager of a marketing firm is your market, than you’d better prove your ability as a marketer and reach them via something more than a generic email.

— Job Seeker Reply —

I have to say… I’m glad this didn’t work out.

— My Reply —

The most basic element is being able to market one’s self.  If someone makes a weak generic pitch to me for a job, I’m certainly not going to consider hiring them.  If they can’t market themselves how are they going to market clients?

Anyhow, best of luck in all of your endeavors.  I was merely trying to provide a little advice.  Take it however you may.

— End —

Sometimes I just get in funny moods, especially when it comes to solicitations – sales people, job seekers, spam emailers, etc.  :)

Blog Comment Moderation

Well I’ve got a few nice anti-spam plug-ins and other features in place now and thus I’m re-opening comments on this blog for the first time in well over 6 months.

** crosses fingers **

One of the methods required that I register with WordPress.com and get yet another blog. Well, I did. It will never be updated, but here is the link nonetheless.

Growing a Web Marketing Business

I have recently been inspired to grow my one-person (well, sorta…) SEO and web marketing shop to a slightly larger venture. The reason: larger projects. Larger projects and more projects – strangely enough – require more time. Apparently there are only 24 hours in one day, no matter how hard I try to reject that fact. As such, I ran a few numbers and am now reviewing office space in the area and also looking to perhaps make one or two “hires” in the next couple of months.

Its both exciting and a bit nerve-racking, as up until now I’ve been in control of the entire show. I am also making a bit of a strategic shift along with the operational and physical shift, in that I plan to offer a “higher end” service that truly focuses on the primary goal of improving websites to help them produce results. That may mean organic SEO, it may mean PPC management, online publicity campaigns, research, site re-design and conversion analysis, etc. Make a better site that delivers more value and produces greater results. That’s what we’ll aim to do for our clients.

If you know anyone with solid analytical skills that is interested in either part-time work or possibly an SEO / Internet Marketing Internship in the Baltimore, Maryland area feel free to send them my way. I won’t put my email address here but if you’re interested and have some basic internet research abilities you should be able to find it fairly easily.

Increasing Website ROI Through Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I’ve just completed a white paper in collaboration with Scott Johnson of Rock Creek Creative. Scott and his team actually wrote the bulk of the paper, while I did some editing, revisions and made some suggestions for additions. The white paper is titled “Increasing Website ROI Through Search Engine Optimization (SEO)“. That link is the HTML version.

There is also a PDF file if you’d prefer to download and print it out available on Rock Creek’s whitepapers page, or you can use the direct link to the PDF.

Its certainly pretty “high level” in its approach, but still a good resource in my opinion. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

Blogs, Reach, Authoring

I just stumbled upon this post by Sadish of WPThemes.infohttp://simpleinside.com/posts/2005/10/03/the-arrow-and-the-song/. In the post, Sadish references a poem while discussing his thoughts about blogging, lack of interest/response, etc.

THE ARROW AND THE SONG
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

What a great take on so many things. As applied to blogs, for me blogging is more about my need to vocalize myself on occassion, and really to organize my thoughts more than anything else. I don’t monetize this blog – probably couldn’t really if I tried. I don’t blog for traffic or actively promote it much more than the very, very basics. In a very sellfish way, its not so much really about the reader for me – but rather its about pushing whatever thoughts I choose to push. Its about writing for the sake of writing – or in my case spewing unedited content while attempting to complete a post without once pausing my fingers on the keyboard. If the idea were highest quality, perhaps I’d change that. Its not.

In fitting with this poem though, I can say that some of the truly rewarding experiences are when you have someone tell you they’ve added your blog to their reading list, or that you’ve helped to address or explain an idea to them. That’s great stuff.

That all being said, I’ve long since closed my comments section – the one area that one occassion allows this great feedback. Why? Comment spam. Ironically, the most recent post from Patricia, Sadish’s partner at WPThemes.info is a post on comment spam.

Posting ones thoughts (leads to) Nice feedback (leads to) Popularity of post/site (leads to) Comment Spam from people trying to take advantage of your work (leads to) Jon saying screw them at the cost of everyone else. I don’t have the time to mess with it.

By the way – Sadish and Patricia – if either of you happen upon this post, my two cents is not to sell that domain name for anything less than $10,000 or so (US) as mentioned. That is a ready-made perfect domain for SEO, and it would be robery for someone to get it for less than that. High PR, lots of quality inbound links, already high rankings for terms that can have monetary benefits, etc. Its your work – so I won’t tell you to keep or sell – that’s your personal decision – but definitely don’t sell cheap. That’s too perfect a domain, that is too well established right now.

Pardon the Dust, I’m Re-Doing the Site

Just a quick note to apologize for any issues over the next week or two, as I’ve upgraded my WordPress and am sort of redoing the site. As such, it may have CSS issues and whatnot. My time working on this site is very limited, so I’ll do the best I can with a few spare minutes here and there. I’m planning on transitioning it to focus more broadly on internet marketing in general, and also create a few self-indulgent pages for the ole’ resume, “about jon”, etc. :)

A Name Change…

I just changed the official title/name of this blog. Formerly the Jon Payne (.net) Search Marketing Blog, its now the Jon Payne (.net) Web Marketing Blog. Notice “Search” was replaced by “Web”. A very small change, but important nonetheless.

Why the change?

With each day that goes by I am more and more convinced that the advances in search engine technology, the aptitude of general internet users, and adaptation of internet marketing into mainstream marketing plans are also causing the distinction of SEO as a stand-alone form of internet marketing to be blurred.

Indeed, to rank well in the search engines it used to be about “optimizing” the on-page factors of a site. Then came “link building” – which really is a once-legitimate basic promotional technique that is really no different than old-fashioned PR. It has since been used, abused and discussed to death, so I’ll leave it at that.

Later, everyone in the SEO community got article and content-happy. Generate lots of content they said. Write articles. Start a (cough) blog. Now we get articles and content about the most random, obscure and niche products that we’ve in many cases never heard of, and certainly don’t want to read about. Information overload!

So let’s get it straight now. To effectively optimize a website we often see people do the following:

  • build a site with clean code, using CSS and HTML text
  • continually add valuable content to the site
  • notify related sites and request that they link to you when and where appropriate
  • link out to other good, related resources that may or may not link to you (here’s one)
  • register with applicable directories and resource sites
  • focus on attracting targeted traffic, and generating solid conversion rates by giving the visitors what they want
  • balance with an effective, measurable PPC campaign

How’s that not just good web marketing? As the SEO game gets harder, the search engines devise ways to cancel out all of the low-hanging-fruit, or SEO-specific tricks, shortcuts and such used to get high rankings. What we’re left with is just plain old solid marketing. Build a great product (site), treat people well, generate publicity, target the right market, etc. You might as well call most of the SEO efforts for what they are – web marketing. Through in an affiliate program and perhaps a few banner ads and opt-in email campaigns and you’ve essentially outlined all the major web marketing tools at our disposal in today’s environment.

My First TV Appearance

So I just had my first appearance on TV – on Business Connection on Maryland Public Television (MPT/PBS). I’ve been filmed many times before, but typically just in producing historical copies (I film each lecture I give to try and evaluate myself – although rarely do I actually do the evaluation, but that’s another topic…). Anyhow, the show just aired this evening and will also be re-broadcast early Friday morning (6 am EST) and Sunday at 11:30 for those of you in the Maryland or DC area.

It was about a 10 minute segment with myself, Chris Boggs from the G3 Group, and the host – Jeff Salkin. A very basic and high-level overview of sorts. It was also good meeting Chris, whose firm I am well aware of as in a sense I suppose they are one of the stronger regional competitors of my business. I don’t really think of them – or any of the other local SEO firms I communicate with – as competition though. My firm is small – too small right now to take on much (read: any, unless you’ve got some deep pockets or are in an industry that I’m quite interested in) new business any time soon – plus there seems to be plenty to go around right now. Chris also happens to be a moderator in the Search Engine Watch forums.

Anyhow – obviously this isn’t exactly earth-shattering news, but rather my self-indulged rambling. If you want breaking news, check out SEO Book or Search Engine Roundtable. If you want opinionated, wordy and hastily published narratives on last week’s web marketing news – well, I can deliver that! :)