Since Q2 I’ve started building out my portfolio of investments. I’ve started the process of building a data product because seeds I’ve planted have started to sprout and hopefully by the end of 2016 will bloom fully. It’s finally getting some development love and traction it needs. I’ve started to build out web properties with partners and I’m hoping they will become the brands I see them becoming in 2016. I’m building a portfolio of businesses and investments I feel are the culmination of my dreams. Only one more on the checklist (more on that another day).
Unfortunately, over the last year I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries: Calf strain, a torn tendon/cartilage in my left ankle that I thought was a mild ankle sprain, stress fracture in my right foot, and a knee issue over the last two months that has been extremely frustrating. Because of this, my weight bounced around a lot which I vowed not to let happen again. This was really tough on me emotionally and it’s been tough all year to get in a real rhythm work out wise and basketball wise. My lower back pains have come back in a large way because of injuries too.That said, I think this really has been a blessing in disguise because I’ve slowly cut a lot out of my diet (outside of cheat days, obviously!). I’m a foodie and I love cooking, but my biggest downfall is my sweet tooth. Slowly, I’ve cut this WAY back and I’m continuing to do this. (P.s. friends, don’t lie to me, tell it like it is. call me out if you see me cheating). Not being able to work out really makes you realize how food is 80% of your health and fitness. I already knew this, but, it really brings light to it. It forced me to put things in check. For the last few weeks I’ve gotten back in the gym and out on the basketball court. It has felt AMAZING. I almost passed out during a workout, but, it feels nice to push myself again. I started shooting around and feeling like I haven’t regressed too far is really refreshing too. It’s going to take work a lot of work, mostly related to back issues, but, it’s all about taking things day-by-day, week-by-week. The pain is there with every work out, with every day I wake up, but, it’s motivating me more than ever. But one of my favorite quotes from this inspirational video I’ve watched explains it all:
If you quit now, you’ll never be where you want to be. You’re already in pain, get a reward from it.I’ve learned a lot about my body but listening to it and understanding the effects about what goes into it. Fitness wise, I want to take a big leap in 2016. Health wise I want to cut out a lot of excess. Some of this is a working plan that is in progress and some of it is hard goals.
If you’ve ever started a brand new site, you’ll know that getting organic traffic is extremely difficult. Sure you can buy traffic through Adwords or various other media buys and/or you can use PR to get you spikes. The question I like to ask people is, do you have longevity? Developing a holistic marketing strategy should be your first and foremost priority because it will help guide you every step of the way. It will help you drive the decisions you make about the paid traffic, publicity, and how you use social.
SEO is the “down in the trenches” traffic stronghold you can use as a baseline for traffic efforts.
For some reason, startups (and frankly, all businesses) don’t invest enough in organic search traffic from the beginning because it’s not a priority. I get it and understand it because when I started Eventup, it wasn’t a priority for me either. The most important thing at the time was shipping product, launching the company and iterating.
It doesn’t mean we forgot about it entirely, we still built in some core principles from the SEO strategy I put together. The way we did this was adapting tactics into the product as we built it. As you’re defining the core infrastructure of your site, can you define SEO alongside that? The answer is YES.
For example, let’s look at a case study where we didn’t have the time to think of all the URL variations for getting the site up and running pre-launch. We got it up so we could start signing up venues, start seeding it, and talking about it to friends.
In December 2011 we had 74 unique keywords driving traffic. In February 2012, we updated the URL structure and our long tail traffic went up an order of magnitude (10x) literally. The thing is, we know it was not just because of the launch buzz, because it wasn’t just traffic, it was number of unique keywords driving traffic. This
For someone like me, it really isn’t that difficult to get the basic SEO best practices built into the site architecture. I’ve seen the variations for startups and small businesses to high volume sites like Yahoo! Sports to Myspace.
That said, not every startup or company has someone that has spent 10+ years doing various forms of Online Marketing. I figured I would put together some of the stuff that I put together for either businesses I create or clients that I’ve worked for.
This should be the first step of everything you do. I know it sucks, it’s tedious, it’s time consuming, but, if you have no idea what your audience, users, or customers will be looking for, you’ll be left in the dark. Developing a solid set of keyword research is essential. Start by thinking of your topic as a whole and asking yourself, what do users search for. My favorite example of this is the automotive space, because, let’s be honest, how many times have searched for “automotive” or “automobile” — that’s right, you haven’t — because people search for “cars”.
I wrote about SEO keyword research 5 years ago and to this day it’s a good starting point for how I do keyword analysis and breakdown what my audience is looking for. Putting this definition together is the core of everything I do going forward in my SEO requirements, definitions, and guidelines for content on the site.
Bonus: For clients, I like to put together an “Assessment” or analysis as well that gives them a breakdown of not only the keywords, but the competition they will face in search (and, only search) and what steps it will take to rank for those keywords. If you have the ability to do this, it can help you make decisions going forward.
On-Page SEO consists of a variety of things like your page structure, the keywords you use in the content of your site, the page meta data, etc. While a lot of these tactics are debated very widely amongst folks in the “SEO Industry” I believe there is one core tenant that will always remain true: relevancy. The pages you create should be relevant to anyone and everyone, and, when a new visitor comes to your site, they should understand EXACTLY what they are looking at. Search engines work in the same way, when they look at a page and see common themes, that page then becomes relevant for that theme, or in this case, keyword or key phrase.
I’ve written an article on Core On-Page SEO principles, but, at a high level, there are a few things that you’ll be building into your site anyway, that you can quick define (and if needed, iterate on) when launching your site.
<title>%Player Name% Stats, News, Highlihts | %Team Name% | %Brand Name%</title>
At the end of the day if your Page Title, URL, and Headings are very relevant to one another, you have a good baseline for content. Yes, these are basic SEO principles, but, if you have a page about the “Chicago Bulls” and it is not mentioned in any of those elements, no matter how many links you get or tactics you try, you’re not going to see the traction needed because that page is not relevant.Relevancy is key.
Get WordPress set up as your blog, preferably as a subfolder (e.g. tonyadam.com/blog) or as a subdomain (e.g. blog.eventup.com). Start by writing a blog post weekly. Increase it to a couple blog posts a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Before you know it, you’ll be up at writing multiple posts per week and hopefully daily.
The reason this is important is because you want to be domain relevant for the market you are working within. The more content you create, the more relevant you become for that topic. The more people read that content, the more relevant you become. The more people search for you and that topic, the more relevant you become. If you’ll notice, there is one consistent element here: Relevance. The key is becoming the most relevant around a given topic as a whole. When your domain becomes relevant around a given topic, it is that much easier to rank and drive traffic for keywords related to it.What do you build into your marketing strategy? Is SEO at the core of it? If not, what is? Let me know on twitter
This week, I had the unfortunate opportunity to experience what is the 4th layoff round, but the fortunate side is, I somehow made it through without being laid off, again. It was quite a relief to know I wasn't going to have to look for a job or find a job during a tough economic downturn. Even as hot the technology scene is in LA, and quite frankly all over, it is never fun to have to look for a job.
After the tough day that was the layoffs, I was able to sit down with someone that I care about, over dinner. I feel like it was perfect timing for me. I was going through a lot of introspection lately and trying to understand, "what is my value?" Lately, it's been on my mind, am I valuable outside of being an SEO? Is being an SEO good enough for the long term? Is it time to continue the diversification of my skill set? The answer to this question whenever I think of it, is always an emphatic yes.
Over the last couple years I've spent much of my time outside of SEO learning how to get visibility with social media, learning the basics of business development while building relationships and partnerships. It has seriously been some of the best experience I have had in my career, and helped me to diversify my skill sets of being really good at product, project management, SEO and technology. Diversifying yourself as a technologist, marketer, and overall as someone that works on the web is extremely important, especially as you continue to grow and move forward in your career.
So, back to the question, am I just an SEO? I have had to think long and hard about that. As I mentioned, I've made sure to diversify. Something that you should be asking yourself as well. You should be asking yourself, "What makes me different from the guy sitting next to me?" Being a standard anything just isn't good enough, the web changes so fast and that knowing a skill at it's best 2 years ago, just isn't going to cut it now, let alone 3 years from now. Don't get me wrong, you can make a great living and you'll find a job...but...that isn't what we are talking about here. What I am talking about is killing it and realizing your full potential as an individual that contributes to innovation and online technologies. What I am talking about here is making a name for yourself, becoming someone that people look to, being someone that people ask for advice. Being average is not going to
run of the and ask yourself if you are okay with that? Many careers and skills online, are important to be honed in on and learned to perfection. If you have and really enjoy what you
"What makes me any different than anyone else that does SEO?" So, while I was pondering this I realized that I am not just an SEO person, nor am I just a marketer. It reminded me of a conversation that I had with a former colleague 2+ years ago about how we both took great pride in being generalist. The reason I thought it was important that I realized this tonight is that it was like an awakening, I realized tonight while talking to earlier mentioned individual, my value is that I know more than just SEO. That I do have experience in all facets of web businesses.
I bring all of this up because it's important to understand your skills, how you apply them, and the confidence you have in yourself. Once you realize your potential and are confident in your abilities, people feel it and embrace it. The important thing is not to let it get to your head and stay humble about your abilities.
If you are doing SEO of any form, you'll know one of the biggest and most important challenges is finding links. A quick and easy way that I recommend to companies that I work for or with is to guest blog on various sites. It's even better when you know about a site like Ranker, where it's extremely easy to create content and links that not only have an SEO benefit, but also, a traffic benefit to your site.
I've watched Ranker create a fun and easy platform for the creation of lists of all times, from The 10 wackiest lawsuits ever filed to Top Celebrity Homes on the Market in LA. It's been great watching it grow as a product and having used it, I know how quick and painless it is to create lists of all types that will not only create links to external sites but also generate referral traffic. Also, each post has a link to your twitter account, so, it's also a great way to get an increased following on social.
Ranker is a site about lists – all kinds of lists – that launched in August 2009 and now has well over 2 million monthly uniques. The best part is there is no one to reach out to at another website to sell them on being a guest author, it's completely UGC. Basically, just create an account, start posting, and start promoting the content. And, we all know how easy it is to create a top 10 list that's somewhat relevant to your site, anyone can do that, even my 1 year old nephew. :)
Obviously like anywhere and anything else having to do with content on the web, if you create a list that sucks, it's not going to get much play. But, create an awesome list like Top 10 Celebrities Who Have Had Weight Loss Surgery and next thing you know, you've got powerful pages linking back to your domain from an external site. Again, it's not just that, but, if it's an effing amazing list and the team notices it, you're likely going to get a good amount of referral traffic as well.
It's super easy to make a list. You name your list, have the option to choose a category (or you can do an open-ended list), and build your list using a Netflix-esque drag-and-drop-with-autosuggest interface. If your list is in a category (like People, or TV, or Companies), the items you add to your list will likely already be in Ranker's database with preloaded images.
Even if you have content that doesn't fit nicely into their existing categories that gets lost in the algorithmic shuffle, interesting lists and effing amazing lists usually do fine regardless. So, if you have something like 9 Most Requested Celebrity Noses, even if there isn't a "plastic surgery" category, you can do what this guy did and use the "people" category instead to give it that extra boost. ;)
There is a "site:" field in Ranker's list editing screen where you can add a backlink with anchor text without even having to know any HTML. The link is high up enough on the page – right below the title of the post and to the right of your Ranker username. The links are dofollowed and are prominent enough that they can drive some traffic to your site, of course, you still need to have great content to get clicks. The other positive is if other viewers of the list have a site, tumblr, etc. it's possible to get second order effects of linking from them as well. aka more seo goodness.
Note that the "site:" link is somewhat hidden in Ranker's list edit platform – you can find it on the right side of the page to the right of the area where you describe your list. As an added bonus, you also get to put links on your Ranker profile page which is automatically generated - a good opportunity for either a slightly different anchor text term, or an entirely separate link (and if you have a Twitter or a Facebook fan page they have a link slot for that as well).
If you're worried about this becoming another shitty seo wasteland like squidoo used solely for backlinks, try throwing up a page with just a single link up and see if you can find it without going directly to the URL. Ranker has built some pretty intelligent algorithms that hide obviously-spam or clearly rushed content pretty quickly – while your post won't be removed, it also won't be linked to on many pages. Again, if you have shitty or no content, it's worthless, just like anything else on the web.
So if you take a few minutes, put together a decently interesting list, give it an intro with a few sentences (this is another area you can use for promotional copy), add tags so it appears in more places on Ranker, etc, your post could get thousands of views and be a strong addition to your social media arsenal. You can also add videos or images without having to wrestle with embed codes. Ranker has a direct search portal into YouTube and an image API. I also highly recommend posting your list in "Blog View" (this is not the default view) unless you make a really long list. And title your list something clickable.
If you create a decent piece of content, odds are it will get views and rise in Ranker's algorithmic content blocks, and perhaps Ranker's editors will tweet it or add it to their Facebook stream. The better it does, the more search juice the post will have, and thus pass back to your site
(Disclaimer: I am an advisor for Ranker, and, I've been sitting on this post for a while because the site was a lot clunkier about a year ago, and, the traffic has gone up more than 10x. Also, while it seems like agenda pushing of my own, how many other guest blogging opportunities come with 2+ million uniques on quantcast. I've used it myself and I know others that have done so successfully as well (see above links), if nothing else, for the traffic benefit alone.)
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