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Archive for September, 2009

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Kitchener-Waterloo

September 29th, 2009 1 comment

There was a time, not very long ago, when there were few or no search engine optimization companies in Kitchener. Kitchener SEO is best handled by professionals. But as with the industry everywhere, companies seem to be coming out of the woodwork,  nomatter how spammy their backlinking strategy is.

If I google and look around at search engine optimization companies in Kitchener, I see a few names that I know among the results. I know Nardo Kuitert of fergus-ontario.com, (okay, so technically in Fergus), from a few years ago, back in the day when we were both freelancing for a company called Geosign. I barely know Ashish Kothari, only because he found me on linkedin.com.  I do not know who SEO Expertise is in Cambridge, nor do I know who runs Just Say On. (What is that supposed to mean, by the way?) There’s some company in Waterloo called Local Search Engine Marketing.  (Apparently their area of expertise is listing companies in Google’s Local Business Results?) Of course, just down the road from Kitchener-Waterloo (home of the Blackberry!) the inimitable Rae Hoffman makes her home in Guelph. (…At least the last I heard.) Other results include AroundKW, aka Kim Burnett, the extremely helpful web host for a number of sites I own…. and as well, some company with the interesting name of Lift Media.

I have little doubt that the area can sustain this number of search engine optimization companies. And I am still of the opinion that Kitchener Waterloo companies are by and large quite ignorant of the web (part of a national pattern, apparently). Also, the area still really lacks a strong web publishing presence, in spite of the area’s supposed designation as the Technology Triangle. (For my part, I am working on increasing web publishing in this area.) Most of the technology in this area is still software or software-based.

To further argue this, let me point out that there have been no great web successes in Kitchener-Waterloo; no Diggs, no Flickrs, not much at all…. just a RIM …. and a Geosign.

Anyway, search engine optimization (SEO) in Kitchener-Waterloo is – just as it is everywhere – still in its juvenile phase. (That sentence, with its silly link, and this post, with its silly subject and title both exemplify how juvenile SEO still is, currently). But anyway, to all my competition, I say, may the best SEO company in KW win the most business!

Good Lessons for the RIAA (+ Review of Matthew Good’s Vancouver)

September 18th, 2009 No comments

To me, free music on demand has always been one of the very best things about the Internet.

In fact, I would have to admit that downloadable and freely listenable music was a definite turning point in my relationship to the Internet. For one reason, in one word: Napster. (I’ll get back to Napster, later.) The music industry and its relationship to the Internet has been old news for ten years now, but we still hear too much about the RIAA, if you ask me.

A while ago, recording artist Mathew Good began a campaign to maximize the sales of his next album, Vancouver, to be released in a month. Aside from blogging about the process and tweeting about things going on during production, he began streaming the album a month before its official release. I’ll get into musical reasons that make this an album everyone should buy in my review of Vancouver below.

I want to point out what Good does that the RIAA does not seem to understand. His process goes like this: make a really good CD of music that you think people will like. Give it to them in a way that they can’t steal. Use this whole scenario to build and strengthen your fanbase so they will be on your side when the album is released and they will go out and buy the album, already certain they will like it. This is the same strategy he used last time to sell Hospital Music. As he boasts in the link, he understands “the reality of what can be accomplished through unconventional means utilizing new technologies without having to endure the resistance of those that haven’t the foresight to realize their importance.” Well, that’s pretty much everything I want to say in this blog post: “those that haven’t the foresight to realize their importance” being the RIAA, etc.

I suspect that we will see once again that Good is right about how to get a musical message to the masses. I am sick and tired of the Metallicas and the Offsprings of this world worried about a few albums being downloaded. Try showing some loyalty to your fans and they might have some loyalty to you. Radiohead has it right. Even Coldplay has some things right. As of today, Pearl Jam has it right (as we might expect). Lots of artists have it right, and Matt Good is definitely one of them. I am preordering or certainly picking up Vancouver the day it comes out. Because I’m a loyal fan who feels that his loyalty is repaid in kind.

To go back to Napster, for a second, I want to say that I am one of many people who think that Napster was critical to the success of the PC and Internet revolution in the late 1990’s. Until Napster, I was content to have a three year old machine and the slowest Internet connection I could get; never since then. And I know I’m not alone in that. I knew so many people who upgraded or bought more disc space or bought several computers, so they could download and hold more music. That doesn’t help the music industry to know that, but if everything was fair, they would have gotten some royalties for all the computer equipment sold during that time.

But alas, the RIAA and its minions are picking the wrong battle, one they will fight to the death. (Which they almost certainly are facing.)

I know that many people will also point out that this (allowing free music) is easy for an established artist to do and new artists may not have the resources or the buzz-building ability to let people listen for free then try to sell albums later. But everyone is going to have to adapt to the new reality. Fighting it is definitely the wrong thing to do but that is still the RIAA’s one-note strategy, one they presumably pass on to young, recently signed bands.

van-digi

CD Review of Matthew Good Vancouver

Now, after a few listens to the album online, let me offer a review of Matthew Good’s new album, Vancouver. I’m not going to confess to being a fanboy – but that’s because I think that’s irrelevant. I’m a fan because I like good music, and Matthew Good has made a lot of really good music.

Matthew Good’s latest album is one in a series of his sonic-pleasure old-fashioned “music albums”… you know, a disc of music whose existence is not predicated on one song that “kids’ll go for.” Personally, I think his best album is the last one he put out, Hospital Music, one of my favourite albums of the decade, certainly. Among his other great albums, Good has produced Avalanche in his solo career and mammoth ’90’s rock albums Underdogs and Beautiful Midnight.

There are highlights on this album certainly, but on the whole there is no bad track here, nothing I would have thought about erasing. Good’s tendency to sample is kept to a minimum here and used very judiciously on the unsettling rock track “Fought to Fight It.” After a couple of listens, I wonder if this song is up there with some of the best rock tracks he’s ever done. As with Avalanche, Good employs strings and orchestral arrangements throughout the tracks here and often this is really pleasant stuff, especially on the closer “Empty’s Theme Park.”

Other highlights? “Great Whales of the Sea” really grabs, a paean to Vancouver’s national animal. “The Vancouver National Anthem” is a seven minute epic that fans of later Good have come to expect. It’s full of timing changes as any song this length must be. The “we all live downtown…step over ourselves” chorus, backed by a violin and Good’s friend Pete Yorn, is definitely haunting. Then they extend this for a good two minutes. The song winds around here and there, too, a kind of microcosm for the sound of the entire CD.

“Us Remains Impossible” has a great loping guitar riff that pulls you into every verse (and that you will find hard to get out of your head) even if the chorus is a bit too low key for me. “Nights Like Tonight” rises early in the first verse then goes into some odd directions before dropping back to a listenable acoustic riff. Like all great bands, Good is very good at playing with song structures and listener expectations just enough to intrigue on all his original material.

Throughout this album, you have to marvel at Good’s ability to know what sounds are worth drawing on, to make a song truly worth playing and listening to. That he has so many weapons in his arsenal – a great voice, great song subjects and some true talent on the guitar – only makes this so much easier to do.

There are aspects of Matthew Good’s music to detract. Occasionally he does seem to have been influenced a little by fellow Vancouverite Bryan Adams – just ever so much, in very small corners. The only time I hear bit of that on his new material is on the song “Bad Pennies” which is left off the final track list; it’s a tiny bit Bryan Adams and a whole lotta Good.

Still, some might dismiss Matt Good’s music as “ordinary.” I am certain that not one of these people has ever listened to one of Matthew Good’s five best albums from start to finish, though. Vancouver is certainly one of those five.

Categories: social media Tags: ,

Ask yourself why you should be number one.

September 13th, 2009 No comments

Todd Friesen has written a good piece on the ridiculous assumption so many website owners seem to have, that they should be #1, whether they deserve it or not. It’s worth linking to: You Don’t Deserve #1.

Categories: SEO, the SEO industry Tags:

Ideal SEO architecture

September 11th, 2009 1 comment

A while ago, Rand Fishkin gave a great whiteboard on flat site architecture. Implicit in his discussion was the fact that you can create a one million page site with every page very visible to search engines – if you execute the architecture correctly.

I did a redrawing of his flat site map for a client today. My graphic skills suck. But the concept is definitely smart.

Ideal SEO architecture with a million pages reasonably close to site root.

Twitter is 90% Crap

September 10th, 2009 No comments

Here we go with another acerbic-sounding title. But bear with me. I allude here, as some people may recognize,  to Theodore Sturgeon’s assertion that “90% of science fiction is crap, but then again, 90% of everything is crap.” The last part of that sentence has since become known as Sturgeon’s Law.  Let’s note that Sturgeon was in fact defending science fiction (and I love science fiction, of course), so maybe this is not all bad for Twitter, to be 90% crap.

Twitter is 90% overratedTwitter is a phenomenon, there can be little doubt. As we all know , though, the short history of the web is already full of fantastic shooting stars that have long-since passed into complete irrelevance.

There are many people who hate Twitter, think it is overrated and overhyped or who simply ignore it. It has a fail rate of 60% or more, in percentage of users who never use it again. Failwhale goes up often, as we all know.

One thing I definitely do not like about my Twitter friend feed is that many of the people who use it only use it for marketing; I know, maybe I know the wrong people or at least I think I should be following people I really don’t like a whole lot. I hate the whole, “Let me be the first to tweet this” mentality that is a byproduct of Twitter’s immediacy.  Twitter would do well to start figuring out ways to get rid of commercial interests who are only interested in promoting themselves. Should Twitter ideally only be used to share thoughts, ideas  – and links – that are valid, then? I have an okay-hate relationship with that concept. I find it very annoying to read tweets about nothing. I.e.  Please don’t tweet that you are just stepping into the shower, especially if you are not terribly attractive. But actually, I find links most annoying. I have followed some people who do nothing but post links to news items or blog entries in their industry, all day long it seems. My impression of you, ex-following people, is that you do not have an original idea in your head.

I haven’t quite covered the 90% crap of Twitter… but there are some things about Twitter that could make it last.  It provides acces to some celebrity news that is unavailable elsewhere, for one example. Although I really could care less about Liz Taylor tweeting from her hospital bed, my fifteen year old says she uses Twitter to keep up on her favourite bands.

I don’t think I will ever really like Twitter. I do not feel, though, that this is necessarily because I don’t ‘get’ Twitter. I think the real problem with Twitter is that it is just far too thin a concept to really have any legs.  I think Facebook still has far more potential because it is so much more robust and I think Zuckerberg’s concept of a social graph will still be developed into something with massive enough revenue to rival Google’s, someday. As was shown today, Facebook could very well have the means to completely swallow Twitter (its lamprey, of sorts). I still love wasting time on Facebook far more than I ever will on Twitter.

But let’s never forget Twitter’s (difficult-to-understand, for us detractors) popularity and its still untapped potential. Twitter’s suggested feeds is one way in which Twitter might be able to leverage itself into generating revenue. There are rumours that Twitter is developing something that will generate significant revenue before the end of next year. So the jury is still really out on whether Twitter will really ever matter for any length of time.

But really, if you ask me, Twitter is 90% crap.

Fun with keyword searches

September 9th, 2009 No comments

One of the things I have always loved about search marketing is the insight you get into people. Check that. It’s also taught me things about people that I probably didn’t want to know – for example, the plethora of porn terms you will find associated with just about anything.

Hitwise’s Bill Tancer’s blog touches upon this quite often. But, still, SEOs seldom discuss this. Is there anything that lets you know more about ‘what makes people tick’ than deep research into keywords for any subject or industry?

I’ll never forget looking up video game keywords a few years back, and trying to parse out keyword searches related to the then-hit (and since made into a movie) Hitman game. I found it really hilarious that there were at least 50 searches a month for ‘hire a hitman.’  I found out there were even sites devoted to the subject of hiring a hitman that supposedly protected identities and “set you up.”  I suspect that  howhirehitman.com/ might very likely be a sting operation, but in 2004, South Korean police arrested a college student who offered assassination services by operating a ‘killer-for- hire’ web site.

According to Yahoo’s keyword tool back then, the number of people typing the keywords “hire a hitman” into a search window was 50 per month. According to Google’s keyword tool (I just checked) that number is now 1900 per month.  Now what does that tell you about the world today?

It’s interesting what you learn about people when you are doing research…… just one of the reasons I absolutely love being in this industry.

Ever notice Google’s own description in a Google SERP?

September 9th, 2009 No comments

I never have, either…. but I was looking for what Google must think is the ideal description tag. Mind you, this is a site that ranks #7 in its own results for its main search term, “search engine.” This begs the question, “Google, have you ever thought about hiring some SEO help?”

Google’s description reads as follows:

iGoogle | Search settings | Sign in. Google. Advanced Search · Language Tools. Search: the web pages from the UK 

In fact, the web page does not have a description tag.  Just terrible.