Tony Adam

Entrepreneur, Marketer, Aspiring Polymath

Content Marketing
Holistic Content Marketing Helps All Marketing Channels
January 14, 2016 0
home-office-336378_1920 Content is king. We've been hearing this for years, and, to this day it is still the truth. But, the type of content and mediums to promote it have been different and can vary. But, while I was working with one of our clients on marketing strategy, I realized how important it can be to their business. I like to think about things holistically and how each channel helps each other. I've proven this method to work really well when put to use with clients, companies I've started, and/or advised. As an example, just creating an infographic doesn't mean it's going to drive traffic and awareness. But if you know people are searching for the information included, that bloggers want to use that content, etc. it could drive more than you even expected. Having a holistic plan and more than just a single use for your content can be a huge win for the company. There are many ways this can work. If you're an e-commerce company or retail business moving online, this can go a long way in terms of driving down your blended CPA. As an example, you could be a retail or e-commerce company that sells a variety of name brands or major brands. You might be thinking of how to educate the customer on why they should be Gucci shoes over something like Steve Madden. You might want to do something like"Why high end brands are more cost effective than cheap ones in the long run." (or something a long those lines). While putting the content together you could do some industry research about the longevity of a pair of high end shoes vs. a pair of cheap ones. Doing a full study and putting a few charts together would really help educate the customer. What this also does is creates a relatable and personal feeling for your brand to the online shopper. Writing that post tells them you're looking out for their best interest. Educating the customer here is really the goal and hopefully this post achieves that with the data and facts you've provided. Along with educating the customer, they might have needed that last tip to just convert them to a new customer. Reading the content might have made them go "okay, im sold, I'm here, where do i buy them." Another thing, assuming they aren't ready to purchase just then would be to browse the site for more content or more products, to really validate the brand. Whatever the case, you're providing a resource customers are interested in. Along with customers, bloggers and journalists could be interested in this, promoting this content could lead to multiple people writing about it citing your content. They might not only be interested in it, they might actively be search for this. For example, I might be googling "steve madden vs gucci pricing" or many long tail variations of this. I might be really concerned about spending $500 on a pair of shoes vs. $79 and not truly understand the difference in the craftsmanship and quality. After understanding this, the customer could be sold (as mentioned above). The great part is, by creating this post, you've driven organic search traffic to your site and now you might have possibly converted that customer. Okay fine, that might be a perfect world scenario, but, that isn't the only way to convert them. There are two other methods that could potentially lead to a customer buying from you in a more cost efficient manner. One of those is methods is retargeting. You just got a new user to visit your site through search traffic, them clicking a link in facebook, or a blog post that cites your content. Again, the key here is now this piece of content is already being used in many ways. But, now you've got a visitor to your site, that's being retargeted and will be reminded of your products. Converting this customer over time will be way more cost effective than paying for Adwords or Facebook ad clicks. (that's not to say we don't want you to do them, we highly recommend it as well.) Finally using this content to help email marketing efforts is just another method to help drive new conversions, as well as repeat revenue from existing customers. The first and simplistic thing you can do is have an email / newsletter sign up on your site. The person that came to the site might be so interested in the insightful piece of content you created that they might be interested in more content from you. Also, if they get to site and they find the content interesting but don't take any action, you can have a modal window (aka pop up) appear on the site that could catch their attention, a service like Picreel will achieve this for you. Here is an example of how we've used it on David Kind's Blog (p.s. they are one of my favorite companies!): picreel-signup-david-kind Now that they have signed up, you can continue to market to them over email through a welcome series, newsletter series, and continue to promote content, the brands, offers, etc. from your company. Speaking of that newsletter, the blog post you created, we're coming back to it here because you might have customers that didn't know the difference or would be interested in it. Or people who have signed up to the newsletter or welcome series that have yet to convert. You can highlight this content (or any other content you create, for that matter) within this newsletter and yet again use it to you drive a new conversion or repeat revenue from existing customers. Finally, using services like Taboola or Outbrain, you can use this content and promote it using low cost advertising on a variety of content sites that might be relevant to your brand. An example of this is companies like Harry's or Dollar Shave Club, who I see all the time when I'm reading about one of my beloved Chicago Sports teams. Here's an example of how they use the ads to drive customer awareness and also new customer acquisition: dollar-shave-club-harrys-taboola-ads With all the methods we just listed above, you just drove down your blended CPA. All of this was done with one single piece of content used across various channels and mediums. Now, I know that was a lot to cover, but, think about it. The possibilities are endless with content. So you should be mapping it out and creating an entire content strategy for your business and not just creating blog posts for the sake of creating them. Think about all the different ways you can use this content to drive new traffic, new users, new conversions, new leads, etc. Visible Factors is always here to help when you need a Content Marketing Strategy for your company. And, we'd love to hear your thoughts about content marketing below in the comments.
Setting my intention for 2016 and what led me here
January 4, 2016 0
I had so many thoughts to share about 2015, the past couple years, and most importantly, looking forward at the future. I would say that 2015 was very much up and down, very volatile in terms of personal and professional achievements and relationships. Looking back over the last few years, the one thing I’m very excited about is my growth, across the board. I’ve matured so much and found out so much about myself and what is important to me. Relationships, always being the most important. Coming out of 2013, which might have been the toughest year of my life physically, mentally, and emotionally. The year was filled with so much adversity, from the first day of the year to the end. I went into a little bit of a personal depression by the end of the year. I was exhausted, depressed and unsure of what would come next. I felt like a failure and like I hit rock bottom. At the end of the year, all I remember saying to myself was: “I just want to be happy again.” I tried to numb the pain in so many ways, some I’m not proud of, but, all the adversity helped me grow.

2014 was dedicated to discovery

I dedicated 2014 to taking a step back and figuring out what was next for me. I worked on trying to build an app, I considered taking a couple full time jobs at startups, but, nothing really fit. Towards the middle of the year, I was still feeling a little lost. By the end of the year, I did feel like I had found my “mojo” and I was back in my zone. I spent a lot of time having a lot of conversations with people over coffee, drinks, or meals. (btw, If you took the time to catch up, thank you, it was really helpful!) What I learned and realized more than anything else: Failure meant I went down swinging, trying my hardest, and giving it my all. Saying “what if” meant I didn’t even try at all. I realized my career wasn’t over and I could actually get things done. Most importantly, I realized that what was important to me wasn’t the money I made or the size of my bank account. It was my personal definition of success driven by relationships (family and friends), financial wealth, working with great people, loving what I do, travel, evolving as a human being, and continuously striving to be healthier and more athletic. Don’t get things confused either, I’m even more ambitious and driven thanks to my experiences. I have so many goals I still want to achieve and my answer to making 8 figures will always be “damn right I want that.” But again, I know what happiness looks like and having come from nothing, the superficial items in life don't define me. Sure, I love nice things (especially cars, watches, etc.), but, I’m not motivated by them. I’m driven by building great things and great relationships. My goal, for years now has been to build a legacy that lives on forever.

2015 was dedicated to laying the foundation

I knew I didn’t want to say “what if” ever in my life. I went into 2015 hungry, excited and encouraged. There were a lot of bumps and bruises. But, more than anything, I grew in 2015 more than I have ever grown in my life. And, I felt like I hit my stride. Visible Factors has become something I never imagined it could. I love our client partners because they challenge us and we work so hard to see them succeed. I love our team because they have humbled me more than ever thanks to how smart they are and how good they are at what they do. I’m encouraged, excited, and motivated every single day of the week. More than anything, I’m hungrier than ever. By the end of Q1 I knew I wanted to build Visible Factors. A couple friends actually said things to the extent of “So, are you finally admitting you’re building a digital marketing agency.” And, yes, I did. But, it was more than than just Visible Factors that I was building. For me, it was building a portfolio…VF was the start of that. After speaking at Quickbooks Connect, I attended the Oprah keynote out of sheer coincidence of wanting to sit down because of my knee issues. But, it was almost like I belonged there because of what she said. There was a constant theme about “setting your intention” and it spoke volumes to me. Because as I’ve started to set my intentions and really focus on what I want vs. what every tells you, it’s a big change.

Focusing on building the portfolio

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).

What about Visible Factors?

And, oh by the way, that side project Visible Factors that I decided I wanted to grow has grown to service over 30+ clients in 2 years. We have worked with some amazing brands like Ticketmaster and Children’s Hospital LA, fast growing startups like Luxe and Blue Bottle Coffee, and some really companies like David Kind. Going into 2016 we have some new clients I’m looking forward to digging into with the team. The team has grown and we’ve expanded from simply top of the funnel channels like SEO and SEM to now being able to offer any online and offline advertising as well as content marketing to grow a business. Expanding further, we have spent lots of time growing our offerings around retention and re-engagement with Email Marketing (newsletters, design, and triggers/drip marketing/automation) and Conversion Optimization. Check out our clients and a couple small case studies about some of the work we've done, I'm really proud of it: http://visiblefactors.com/clients-case-studies/

Growing personally was important too

I was finally able to travel to Europe, I had a great relationship that I learned so much from (sadly, it came to an unfortunate end), and I was able to take a much needed break with good friends in Cabo. It was nice to do things I never had (or gave myself) the opportunity to do. I kept expanding and testing on my health with food, eating, and fitness. I stepped up my cardio on the stationary bike from 10–12 minutes to 30 minutes and removed strength training. I wanted to focus my on circuit training routines and mix in interval training. The results have been amazing, I’ve actually gained weight but clothes fit me better.

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.

My intentions for 2016:

After taking time to relax and reflect over the holidays, I wanted to set my intention for 2016 and I figured it all out. This year will be about growth, strength, and progress. I want to keep growing Visible Factors and it’s about respect and achievements, not for the number of clients we have. It’s because of the work we do and the companies we’ve grown. Because, of the clients and partners that truly enjoy working with us. I will launch of initial portfolio of sites and start getting them off the ground and a couple of those include commerce elements. We won’t know until we try, but, we’re going to try, test, and iterate. I will get the data product moving forward. We have an initial set of screens and data pulls put together, but, it’s now time to turn it into a working product. I’m very excited about this and will be carving time against it weekly. (Anyone know of an Armenian or Eastern European Dev shop?) Real Estate is intriguing to me and making an initial investment here is important. This will be just a start, but, I am dying to do this more than I ever have. I will become the fittest and healthiest I have ever been. I still am now more than I have ever been, but, I want to take it a few more steps forward. My goal is to lose the excess fat I’ve been holding on to. I will truly be cutting out the excess in the diet and getting my work outs really dialed in. No shortcuts this year. By the end of the year, I want to be the best at basketball I’ve ever been, it’s a sport I’ve loved since I was 5 years old and always will. I’ve started writing again and having the confidence to put stuff out there has been hard because I’ve been away from that consistently for so long. Along with that, towards the end of the year I started speaking at conferences which I want to do a lot more of in 2016. Everything I do moving forward will be driven by the intentions I’ve set for myself and whether or not it fits in my core values. Sticking to my values and my intentions this year will be the only way I will truly grow, become stronger than ever, and see the progress I want to see. Success is in my future and it can be in yours too, no matter what it means to you, if you truly dedicate yourself to it. Let’s get it.
Online Marketing
Quickbooks Connect: Growing Your Business Online Presentation
November 4, 2015 0
At Quickbooks Connect I presented on all the available methods to help small business owners grow their business online. I discussed SEO, SEM, Content Marketing, Facebook Ads, and Email Marketing.
The Snowball Effect: Getting Started and Gaining Momentum
July 30, 2015 0
setting-plans I've been thinking about the "snowball effect" for a few weeks now and reminded myself how important it is to get started. It led me to wondering what we're doing at Visible Factors in terms of growth and optimization for companies. We've been working through a lot of the service business and plan to offer more in the coming future, but, I've been saying this for a couple months. One of the things I've always know, execution is key. Getting things done is the most important thing. Granted, you don't want to do work, just to do it. But, just starting somewhere and getting going is the single best thing you can do. Because, once you start getting some traction, it has this snowball effect you can't measure by data. When we work with companies, we meet a lot that have very little going in terms of a blog. Our recommendation is, "start somewhere." Let's start with one blog post a week, then up it to two or three, then hopefully within a couple months, you've got a blog post going out every day. Then, you can really optimize and start creating a content plan that will grow the business. You'll start noticing SEO traffic increasing. The snowball effect is there. After you've started, you can start to see themes, use data to drive more content development, and come up with new concepts based on old. The key is starting somewhere and setting up goals. Whenever I'm starting something new, whether it's getting back into writing content OR starting a new sales program, I always try to dedicate a block of time to it. Usually it takes me adding it to Wunderlist or a Google Calendar item. But, the key is I've set a plan and dedicated a block of time to it. Once you have things started, and you've dedicated time to it, you just need to keep yourself on track. After that, the momentum will carry you forward. You'll not only be dedicating the time to what you're working on, but, you'll be excited about it. This same effect is true when building companies, you have to start somewhere. Once you've started, there is no better, more intoxicating feeling than feeling the wheels turning and letting the momentum take over. Once you've got a start, once you have things moving, once there is some traction...there is no slowing down. That's why I call it the "snowball effect." Being able to find this sort of traction is an amazing feeling and you'll never want to look back. What do you do to gain momentum? Would love to hear about it in the comments or on twitter. Check out how we've been able to gain traction and momentum for the companies we've worked with. 
Online Marketing
Must have online marketing tools when starting your business
July 28, 2015 0
online-tools-opt Over the years I have used tons of tools for marketing programs and campaigns I’ve created. But, I get a lot of people that ask me “what do you use for email marketing?” or “what did you use for analytics?” I thought about companies I have started like Eventup and Visible Factors, among others, and every company I consulted for, these are the products/tools I set up or recommend consistently

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a no brainer, before you start promoting or doing anything, make sure you have Google Analytics set up correctly. I’ve walked into many engagements where this was not done correctly and the tracking and measurement was completely off. Also, if you are in E-Commerce or have some sort of conversion flow, make sure your funnels are set up correctly. There are a variety of ways to use google analytics for conversion tracking, using regular expressions, as well as email/reporting. Google Analytics can be as simple or as robust as you want it to be. Take the time to put all the right tracking in place so as you start creating campaigns, you know exactly what you are getting out of them.


I love Mailchimp, just because it is easy to set up. You can use their APIs to tie it into your user sign up flow and add them to specific lists. You can manually create lists that are s of your full list fairly easily. Admittedly, there are other companies like sailThru doing way better at automating, but it is more expensive and not as easy to set up. Create customizable templates, design your own, use their HTML editor, etc. You can create campaigns and schedule them for later dates, integrate Google Analytics, you can test the look of the email on various clients like Outlook, Gmail, etc. And they have spam testing tools as well. You can get more advanced later, for now, start sending emails right away.


WordPress is the most powerful blogging platform, hands down. The CheezBurger Network runs off wordpress and does millions of uniques monthly, so it is definitely able to handle the traffic. Personally the reason I love it is because of how extensible it is with tons of options for frameworks like Thesis or Genesis. Along with that there are tons of themes out there on sites like WooThemes orThemeForest. And, don’t get me started on the countless amounts of plugins there are to extend wordpress. For SEO, my buddy Joost De Valk has some amazing stuff on his site, including the best WordPress SEO Plugin. Also, for caching, to ensure your site can handle the traffic, use W3 Total Cache.

Crazy Egg

I love tools that give me insight into customer behavior, and Crazy Egg does just that. I love heatmapping and having the ability to see where users are clicking the most on pages. Also, it's fun to see large amounts of clicks on things that aren't clickable. (e.g. images) Really helps you understand how to cater to your customer and change your site to help this. I’ve been in situations just like this, where we had static images on pages users thought they could click on and there was no link. After changing this, click through rates and engagement on sites increased dramatically. After adding Crazy Egg, I was able to understand users/customers better and guide them to the content they were looking for.


Being able to make sense of your customer and user behavior is cool, but, when you can track and test variations of that, it is even cooler. Optimizely lets you create A/B and Multivariate test of all sorts, from Engagement to conversion events. You can use this for things as simple as button color and button text to placement and variations of content on pages to see what converts best. We’ve been able to nail down various landing pages using Optmizely to test out all of the above.


From an SEO standpoint, getting a Pro account on Moz is a no brainer. They offer a variety of pretty simple tools like rank checking (although, Bonus tool shoutout:Authority Labs is way better at Rank Checking), an On-Page Grader, and Open Site Explorer to check links. Along with all of that, they have a great amount of resources for paid pro members, like their Q&A section.

Google Webmaster Tools

I always set up Google Webmaster Tools once I set up Google Analytics because it allows me to track the “SEO Health” of the site. Understanding the pages crawled, crawl rates, indexing and time spent downloading a page. Also, they have tools that alert you if your site is not crawlable, there is malware, or any other sort of blocking and tackling issues.

Bonus: Google PageSpeed Insights Tool

The Page Speed Insights tool is good to understand site speed inefficiencies on your website. This is important because I’m a huge believer in quick page load times from a user experience standpoint. It’s proven to be part of Google’s Ranking Factors, but more importantly, user experience increases as page load times decrease. At the end of the day, these are all tools to help you with marketing campaigns. They won’t run the campaigns for you, there is no magic here. And, many people have different opinions on the tools to use. I can say that, in my opinion, these are the best bang for your buck products and tools to help get your company going in the right direction from an online marketing standpoint. Are there any must use online marketing tools in your toolkit? How do you use these tools when starting campaigns/websites/companies? I’d love to hear your feedback and follow me on twitter to keep the conversation going.
SEO Gone Wrong: Best Practices That Need More Attention
July 22, 2015 0
iStock_000002651930Small A lot of companies tend to over-think or over-engineer their SEO efforts but they forget things like keeping the site up, site speed etc. After working with over 20 companies in the last year or so and having been in-house, I've seen a lot of these issues first hand.
Here are eight of the most common technical issues that I've seen or that companies regularly overlook:
1. Site Speed: A few years back Google announced they were including site speed as a ranking factor. On the many sites I've worked on, like Ranker, once we decreased the time it took a page to load, we saw and increase in pages crawled and indexed. You can get your site speed information in Google Webmaster Tools, but, they also have a PageSpeed Tool  as well. The page speed tool will give you a score out of 100, tell you what you'll save in terms of page size, and how to fix items.
2. Sitemaps: For large e-commerce sites or content sites, sitemaps can be extremely important to ensure all content is being crawled and indexed in a timely manner. Along with that  prioritizing important content and the crawling and indexing of that content. Make sure you set sitemap prioritization and crawl rates based on the importance of the content.
3. Crawl Efficiency: For similar reasons to sitemaps, finding out you have too many pages open to search engine robots can eat into your crawl budget. Meaning, search engines typically assign a budget to sites in terms of pages indexed, etc. An example of a fix to this is low value pages that are being crawled by search engines on a regular basis. You can remove those pages through either applying a <noindex> tag or disallowing the content via robots.txt
4. Javascipt/CSS issues: I've seen companies either make mistakes or forget to build progressive enhancement into their site architecture. What happens then is that things like filters, on results pages end up being text instead of links for search engines to crawl into deeper content. Here is a quick read on how to build with progressive enhancement in mind:
5. Duplicate Or Missing Meta Data (Titles Tag / Meta Description): I think with every client I have had, when we dug into their Google Webmaster Tools account, I've found missing or duplicate meta data. Many times, if the content is there, it doesn't truly describe the page they are on. For example, we had one client who had "credit cards" as the title tag for all of their credit card product pages rather than the name of the card. Once we switched to the name of the cards we ended up ranking top 10 for many of the card names within 30-90 days.
6. Capitals in URLs: Capitals in URLs can be tricky or lead to issues because they are seen as a different URLs and can lead to multiple pages being indexed for no reason. For example somedomain.com/SomePage.html would be seen as an entirely different page than somedomain.com/somepage.html and this could lead to a loss in crawl efficiency and also lead to duplicate content concerns.
7. Soft 404s: Another example of a status code issue is serving up a soft 404 that delivers a 200 OK status code when it should be delivering a 404 not found status code. You can find these in Google Webmaster Tools and address the problems on a case by case or sitewide basis pretty easily. Here is some more info from Google's webmaster blog:
8. Canonical Tags: After the canonical tag was released, a lot of websites implemented the canonical tag. The problem then became, countless sites actually implemented it incorrectly. They were implemented incorrectly on things like product pages, category pages, pagination, and so on. A quick template to think of would be <link rel="canonical" href="http://somecompany.com/product1/" /> and any variation with query strings, etc. would be directed to the original url.
What do you think are the most commonly overlooked SEO Best Practices? Leave a comment or let me know on twitter. Let Visible Factors help provide SEO Services & Consulting so you can build your SEO Program today!
Online Marketing
SEO as a core startup marketing strategy
July 20, 2015 0

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

Putting SEO into Practice

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.

Keyword Research (and Assessment)

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

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.

  • Page Title:Arguably the most important of the on-page SEO elements this is important in defining the relevancy of your page, it’s generally one of the first pieces of content you see in your HTML documents markup and what a crawler will use to define that page. Here is a baseline template I’ve used for Football player names (variations depend on the content/industry):
<title>%Player Name% Stats, News, Highlihts | %Team Name% | %Brand Name%</title>
  • URL:Another element that you’re going to need to create a template for in some way, so, make sure this is very similar to your page title and H1 on the page to create consistent and relevant naming scheme. For URL templates, it really depends but, if we assume the above example:
  • Headings:Debated by many but still generally a good practice to have a very well structured set of headings from a semantic standpoint. I will usually have my main keyword in the H1 of the page and sub keywords in the subsequent H#’s on the page. Again, sticking with the same example in the URL and Page Title:
<h1>%Player Name%</h1>

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.

Content Marketing

Start writing content. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

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
Online Marketing
In The Last Year, I Built A Company Without Knowing It
June 10, 2015 1
A little over a year and a half ago I resigned as the CEO of Eventup, the company I founded and loved with all of my heart. I thought my career was over, and I tried to put aside my depression of not turning Eventup into an extremely successful company. I've never failed at what I do -- every situation I had gone into, I found a way to win (i.e. drive growth). This was new and it was hard to stomach for me. But the adversity I went through was a growth experience that I never realized could be so positive. Building Eventup from a concept to a reality in over 12 cities and booking hundreds of events built a lot of confidence. Leaving it was a character builder and humbling experience. I knew I would learn a lot, but, I learned way more than I could have imagined. Overall, you have to look at the positives or you could get caught dwelling in the negatives, so I fought through and remembered all of my favorite things. 1. I met a lot of amazing people. From the investors who were there for me in the process, I can’t thank them enough. Not only for the investment and taking a chance on me, knowing I would give it my all, but also for the advice throughout the process and helping me grow as an entrepreneur. 2. The Eventup team. I loved EVERY, SINGLE, PERSON, that worked at eventup. Through all the chaos in building the company, the trials and tribulations, arguments, and awkward moments, it felt like family and I am truly looking forward to the next time I am able to experience that same joy. I wish I could have done more for the team, but everyone should pat themselves on the back for all the hard work put in. 3. Learning from mistakes. Let me tell you, I made a lot of them. I tried to learn as quickly as possible, but frankly, shit happens. No matter what, know that you’re going to make mistakes and hopefully you can figure out how to correct them as quickly as possible. 4. Growing. I grew so much and learned a lot throughout the process. My ego was fairly big going into it, but I was humbled by all the people much smarter than me who I met along the way.

Moving Forward. Great Things To Come.

As I took my next step, I badly wanted to start building another product, because it’s what I love doing. But, I also wanted to figure out what would make me happy over the long run and how I could be the most successful. Taking time to reflect and think through things helped a lot. As I started to tinker with product concepts and ideas, I had a lot of support, but one after another, people kept asking me to help grow their startups or work with their companies. While doing this, I realized I was founding my next company, a consulting collective called Visible Factors. And, in a little over a year our team has worked with 20+ companies. We’ve helped some amazing companies achieve some great successes. Some examples include helping Luxe launch and increase reservation volumes by over 600% and Grokker has increased their SEO traffic by 500%. Recently it’s been a new experience and total inspiration working with Children’s Hospital LA. (Take a peak at more of our clients and case studies) We started with just SEO Consulting and our team now has the capabilities to fill the top of the funnel with a variety of channels like SEM/PPC, Facebook (web and mobile installs), and content marketing. We’ve also started helping companies re-tool their on-boarding and increase conversion rates, retention rates, and returning customers with conversion optimization. I bring this all up because, just like Eventup, I never imagined how much I would learn and how quickly we could grow. And, again, thanks to an amazing team of people that works together so well, we are doing impactful work with tangible results for our clients. But, nothing clarified it more for me than a quote I saw at a charity event I attended last week: “Alone we can go fast … together we can go farther.” Those words spoke to me because it encapsulated everything I have been thinking and what I had learned over the last few years. I believe the team is the most important thing to building. I’m thankful and humbled by how smart the team at Visible Factors is because we’ve been able to do so much in such a short period of time.

Where do we go from here?

Honestly, I still yearn to build product. I want to reach more people and grow further so I’ve started tinkering again. I know there are two things I love Marketing and Marketplaces. The next logical step for me is something we have already started - building automation into our services. I believe strongly in what we are doing.  Right now, the team, the partners/clients, and everyone I work with at Visible Factors has my mind, my heart, and I could not be happier. Growing traffic, revenue, and ultimately companies, is something I love more than anything and I am having the most fun I’ve had in my life. We are all excited about the company as we move deeper into 2015 and beyond. p.s. If you have a minute, check out our new site to learn more about what we do, who the team is, and who we have helped grow. And, you can get in touch to find out how we can help your company grow too!  
Knowing and realizing your value
June 15, 2014 0

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.

Save Time Guest Blogging, List Away
August 4, 2011 0

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. ;)

The way you get back links

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).

Spam gets filtered out

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.)