Archive for October 2009
image by DolliaSH
Written on September 15, 2009
Is the content on your site linkable? Does it need to be beefed up? Do you deserve to be ranked on the first page? No, yes, no? We’ll use Austin Restaurant Week to illustrate the idea behind creating sumptuous, linkable content to garner incoming links. Google is hungry and you need to feed it.
First, what is Austin Restaurant Week? Between September 13th- 16th and September 20th – 23rd, those fortunate enough to be in Austin can visit a number of fine dining establishments to feast on a delicious menu set at an affordable fixed price, between $25 – $35. Call in a reservation to ensure you and your significant other a seat and eat up (if you’re looking for a date idea, I think this fits the bill perfectly)!
Second, how does this have anything to do with SEO and beefy content? Rewind to last night. I’m sitting in my living room nearly comatose from the pizza and football I’ve gorged myself on for the past few hours. Of course, my mind’s nose picks up the scent of Austin Restaurant Week and I head to the website. I click the links of two places I’ve not been to,Roaring Fork and Green Pastures Restaurant, and notice links to their respective menus:
Now, like I said, I’ve never been to the Roaring Fork and am making no assumptions about the quality of their dining. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard nothing but good things. When I mentioned this blog idea to a co-worker, she said, “Roaring Fork is one of my favs.”
However, looking at these two menus, which one has you salivating? Which one has beefier content? Which menu would you rather link to? Which menu provides the most information about their offerings? I think the information provided in the Green Pastures Restaurant menu makes their food sound much more enticing – they didn’t even dress up the language with adjectives – and I’d be more inclined to link to their menu.
If I or a search engine only had the information provided by the menus, and could look at the popularity of each by way of incoming links, to determine the most relevant menu for a search term such as “austin fine dining” or “austin restaurants,” then who would likely rank in first position?
The same idea should drive your analysis of the content on your own site: if someone came across my site, would the information I’m providing them about “Software Development Life Cycle” be enough for them to link back to my site? If I visit a competitor’s website and notice they’re providing beefier content that likely attracts incoming links, then why should I be ranked ahead of them?
To summarize, be honest about the quality and/or quantity of the content on your site: Is it informative? Should more be added? But not simply added to attain a mythical keyword density. Is it linkable? Smoked salmon or The Upland Game Plate: Quail, Quail and Some More Quail? Serve your visitors with healthy portions of information.
And, in case you’re wondering, I’ll be making a trip to The Melting Pot tonight.
Synopsis of an article, of the same title, written by Peter Drucker in the Harvard Business Review (1989). Point F is incredibly poignant considering the growth of search (write for your customers, optimize your site in their language so that it is found and ranks well) and social media.
a. In two areas, nonprofits practice what businesses preach: strategy and the effectiveness of the board
b. In the most crucial area, the motivation and productivity of knowledge workers, they are pioneers
c. Management is vital to nonprofits as they are not motivated by the “bottom line.” This serves as both a blessing and something of a curse. Good intentions still require organization and leadership, for accountability, performance and results. Training ground for future managers
d. Non-profits are more money conscious than business. There is never enough money. Employees are business savvy with regard to effective saving and spending
e. Non-profits do no base their strategy on money or make it the center of their plans. First and foremost is the mission. This involves looking outside the non-profit and focuses the organization on action. It defines specific goals, how they will be attained and, consequently, a disciplined organization.
f. Remaining mission focused with an eye towards the world outside the organization, non-profits are always seeking and listening to the “customer” to be. It is, after all, what the customer wants – and even more so in the internet age.
g. A clearly defined mission facilities and encourages innovation
h. Emphasis on training, training, training of new volunteers means the organization must make use of the current volunteers expertise. Training is absolutely necessary. Knowledge workers demand responsibility – above all, for thinking through and setting their own performance goals. They expect to be consulted and participate in the decisions that affect their work and the work of the organization as a whole. In addition, opportunity for advancement is a requirement so long as their performance warrants such responsibility.
i. Non-profit workers expect their work to be evaluated against pre-set objectives. They expect those workers who do not make the grade to be moved to a different position that takes advantage of their skillset or even encouraged to leave.
j. The move from volunteer to unpaid professional “may be the most important development in society today.”
k. Finish with a quote,”This development also carries a clear lesson for businesses. Managing the knowledge worker for productivity is the challenge ahead for American management. It requires a clear mission, careful placement and continuous learning and teaching, management by objectives and self-control, high demands but corresponding responsibility, and accountability for performance and results. There is also a clear warning to American business…The students in the program for senior and mid-level executives…most of them also serve as volunteers in nonprofits…When I ask them why they do it, far too many give the same answer: Because in my job there isn’t much challenge, not enough achievement, not enough responsibility; and there is no mission, only expediency.”
I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the past few months about the recession, trying to figure out exactly what happened in order to understand various why answers that have been thrown out there. Something I’ve noticed about the recession, and that generally bothers me, is the use of science, math, numbers, equations (whatever) to create models of prediction – models that attempt to predict human behavior. I’m sure certain models do quite well, but to fall in love with an equation? Crazy. How do you turn happy, sad, greedy, desire, depression, irrationality into an equation? The numbers in these equations are not all rational actors. That’s a strategic point of view.
Certainly, on a tactical level it seems the crisis is very much about how our banking/economic system functions (housing is only a part of the problem!), but, again, on a strategic level it’s about how we regulate ourselves – through politics, government. If we concede our irrationality and desire to do what’s best for me, then I don’t understand the view that we do not need to regulate our markets.
The equation is enticing. It’s final. It’s complete. It gives you hope and security. But what happens when people start to act all too human? Makes me think of this passage from Notes from Underground:
…Stay, gentlemen, I meant to begin with that myself I confess, I was rather frightened. I was just going to say that the devil only knows what choice depends on, and that perhaps that was a very good thing, but I remembered the teaching of science … and pulled myself up. And here you have begun upon it. Indeed, if there really is some day discovered a formula for all our desires and caprices; that is, an explanation of what they depend upon, by what laws they arise, how they develop, what they are aiming at in one case and in another and so on, that is a real mathematical formula; then, most likely, man will at once cease to feel desire, indeed, he will be certain to. For who would want to choose by rule? Besides, he will at once be transformed from a human being into an organ-stop or something of the sort; for what is a man without desires, without free will and without choice, if not a stop in an organ? What do you think? Let us reckon the chances; can such a thing happen or not?
From Karim Rashid‘s manifesto on how non-professional designers can incorporate design sensibilities into our lives.
1. Don’t specialize
2. Before giving birth to anything physical, ask yourself if you have created an original idea, an original concept, if there is any real value in what you disseminate.
3. Know everything about the history of your profession and then forget it all when you design something new.
4. Never say “I could have done that” because you didn’t.
5. Consume experiences, not things.
6. Normal is not good.
7. There are three types of beings – those who create culture, those who buy culture, and those who don’t give a shit about culture. Move between the first two.
8. Think extensivesly, not intensively.
9. Experience is the most important part of living, and the exchange of ideas and human contact is all life really is. Space and objects can encourage increased experiences or distract from our experiences.
10. Here and now is all we got.
Website usability is design. Robin Williams’ four basics of effective graphic design fits flawlessly with effective website design:
Contrast. “If the elements (type, color, size, line thickness, shape, space, etc) are not the same, then make them very different.
Repetition. Repeating visual elements “helps develop the organization and strengthens unity” or your website, brochure, etc
Alignment. “Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily. Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page.”
Proximity. “Items relating to each other should be grouped close together.”
Written on September 26, 2008
There’s a scene in the HBO sitcom Lucky Louie where the main character Louie is going to apply to flight school. He heads down to the library to make a copy of a document and, once finished with the difficult task of pressing Copy, ship out the application – flight school there he goes. However, when he gets to the library, he finds out the copy machine isn’t working. Louie says screw it, that’s too much effort. He doesn’t apply to Flight School. That does not happen in real life, does it? It does, sorta…
Who else out there has stumbled upon an interesting website, your finger kicks into high-gear, click, click, click, you notice a mouth watering link within the website, click, click, boom! The last click takes you to a form. You need to fill out a form to join the website (read the information, play the game). Form? The arrow on your screen darts up to the StumbleUpon extension and you’re whisked away to the world wide web once again. No flight school for me.
Well, according to recently released research from Google on Federated Login:
when users are presented with a traditional signup page that asks for your E-mail, password and password confirmation, it is quite common for 30% – 50% of users to not finish the process.
In other words, the words of Michael Jackson, you are not alone. Google, please count me among that 50% (I already know you’re tracking my behavior anyway, so I probably don’t need to tell you that).
I know what you’re thinking, “Wait a minute, so what you’re telling me is that I’m losing customers because of a measly form?” So it would seem, particularly because it asks for e-mail, password, and password confirmation. Ring a bell?
And, “What the heck is Federated Login? How will it affect my business?” Well, let’s take a real world example to explain the basic premise of Federated Login.
According to the OpenID website, “OpenID eliminates the need for multiple usernames across different websites, simplifying your online experience…OpenID can stay with you, no matter which Provider you move to…For businesses, this means a lower cost of password and account management, while drawing new web traffic. OpenID lowers user frustration by letting users have control of their login.” Federated login is the elimination of the need for multiple usernames across different websites. In this example, OpenID is merely one protocol currently in use that eliminates this need across a number of websites.
Rather than continuously creating more and more accounts across numerous e-commerce websites, for example, all you would need to do in order to log in is provide your email and your identity would then be validated and the appropriate information would be provided to the website. Google has been testing user interfaces similar to those found on Buy.com:
The report on Federated Login states that federated login has been the “holy grail” of the identity community, but has failed to find a model that:
- is simple for end users
- had a reasonable trust model between the the website and the entity that will identify you to the website
The study is a testament to the potential that lies ahead for the online world – specifically the business side of the online world – in terms of usability. Equally, businesses with a presence on the internet should also look to this study as more evidence that while increasing rankings and traffic is absolutely necessary to accomplishing your goals, once that traffic hits your website it needs to be usable and effective.