It's Fixed in the Next Release

Observations on Everything

Fun with “sansoftonline.com SEO Company”

Every once in a while I get a Skype connection from someone trying to sell Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services. My standard rebuttal is to show them how my business ranks higher than theirs on a search for “search engine optimization”. We do relatively well because years ago I posted a very basic article on Realistic SEO. Generally speaking, the site isn’t particularly authoritative on the subject, so the search has the link down in no mans land on page 22 or so (for a search done in Canada; if you’re outside the country your results will probably place it on page ten million or so). If you add “realistic” to the search then it comes up much higher, but still in desperation land (page 2 or 3). Read more

On Content Marketing: It’s about Content, Stupid

gold_flickr_digitalmoneyworld_180x180For the past few years, the leading edge of online marketing has been “content marketing”. As advertising becomes increasingly ineffective at driving sales, and as most lead generation tends to come via search engines, marketers have figured out how to produce content that ranks well in search, which brings traffic, which converts to sales/revenue/whatever.

The problem is that as more and more people buy into this, there has been a subtle change. Now the industry is engaging in “marketing content” rather than “content marketing”. The result is a flood of low quality content. Ten thousand blogs, all rehashing the same information in slightly different ways. So much duplication and plagiarism that it’s impossible to tell who had an original idea, if anyone. Read more

Bye Bye Blogger!

Okay so it’s been a long time since I’ve made a post here. There’s lots of reasons for that, but one of them has been that I just couldn’t tolerate Blogger anymore.

After looking at a variety of solutions, I finally stumbled upon Serendipity (www.s9y.org), and it looks like it’s going to do the job very well.

There’s still a few things to take care of, a few broken links and style tweaks to get into place, but it was easy to install, fairly easy to extract data from Blogger, and it generates decent HTML.

We’re back in business!

More on That Little Block on the Top of the Page

It’s always fun to try to decipher how an algorithm works. It’s going to be even more fun to write this post without biasing the results: the requirement is to be abstract without being obscure. It seems now that the main page is responding to content, but only that near the top of the page. All linked content pages are still responding as previously described.

This suggests that the top of a page is what’s important, which is an interesting observation, both for those seeking higher placement and for those viewing results. The old adage of "put what you want to say in the introduction" holds true more than ever. I suspect "the top of the page" is the text below the second level header.

If the results no longer trigger off topics related to biochemistry, we’ll know this is true. What’s missing is a way to discover when an indexing event has occurred.

“Sensless” AdSense?

If there’s still a Google "AdSense" banner on this page, then this post is less relevant. I’ve had the banner up for a day or two on a "hey why not try it" basis. So far, all the ads have been related either to blogging, or how to make quick cash from AdSense! Talk about self-referential. If this keeps up, I’ll take it off the site (I might try moving the site to another domain just to see if there’s a change).
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Let’s Stop Boring, Self-Referential Journalling

Making the transition from thinking "hey, I can do a blog" to actually doing it is a bigger jump than one might expect. It’s much like maintaining a paper journal at a level that wouldn’t bore all but the most self-obsessed, except the potential audience isn’t a fiction anymore. Who wants to read a bunch of poorly written posts about nothing? For that matter, who wants to read well written posts about nothing?

So now the requirement to write posts that actually say something is a little daunting. The hundreds of allegedly interesting things I wanted to say have evaporated.

Apologies and rationalizations aside, there’s some content to this post. First off, I find it interesting that the "Blogger Profile" section lists a number of instant messaging networks, but Google Talk isn’t one of them. Considering blogger.com is a Google property, this is quite the oversight. Also there’s this assumption that people use just one IM network. With several cross-network products like Gaim available, and with Gaim’s lead developer now a Google employee, this is also surprising. These are good indicators that Google has grown beyond its capacity to effectively integrate all of its initiatives. It’s also a good sign that Google isn’t (or soon won’t be) a "cool" place to work anymore; organizations that have grown too fast tend to compensate by putting systems in place with the intent of ensuring that everything works as a great monolithic whole. Of course those are the very systems that stifle innovation and creativity. The best way to get a nice uniform public face is to change as little as possible. If I had shares in Google, I’d be selling them off sometime in the next year or so.

This reminds me of a much smaller company that I once did some contract work for. The company rode a wave of innovation in small telephone systems (PBXs in telecom parlance) and grew from zero to annual revenues over $100M in a few short years. But as they moved into larger systems, they stumbled pretty badly. Partially this was simply because larger projects need a different management approach, and the corporate culture was deeply opposed to that.

A large portion of the staff had been recruited from a much larger organization, tempted by the opportunity to work for a more flexible, more innovative company. Implementing the controls and checks that a large project required was just not in their conceptual plan, and they paid a great price for that. I came very close to convincing them to hire me in a role that I think every rapidly growing company should have: Executive Vice President of Everything Else (although these days it would have to be "Chief Everything Else Officer" — gag). The idea was that someone with a fair bit of authority should be mandated to go stick their nose into everything that was going on in the organization, looking for redundancies, opportunities, and innovations that might otherwise be overlooked. In the case of the telecom company, I had talked to two independent groups that each had teams of about five engineers working on two board-level components that were about 90% identical. Despite the fact that the boards were going into a standardized chassis, and that it was early in the development cycle, neither manager was willing to knock several person-years off their project by sharing the work. What they really needed was someone to come in, gather requirements, develop a specification that met the needs of both groups, and then have them coordinate development. And it needed to be driven by someone with sufficient authority that it would have taken an appeal to the company’s President to overrule them. Of course the flip side to that is the person in the VPEE role had better be pretty good at making the right decisions.

I think this is something Google needs. Rather than building systems to track all the loose ends at the cost of organizational inflexibility, charge a few really bright people with finding the points where things can work better, and then give them the power to make it happen.

Another interesting blogger quirk is that if you want to provide a profile picture, you need to provide an external URL, yet you can add images to posts. There’s a simple solution to this little contradiction: