Only When the Words Outdo the Silence

Marketing, Media and Minutiae

Archive for May 2010

Hire the Better Writer

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I recently picked up a new book called Rework based on a blog post recommendation by a friend of mine.  Or, it might have been a tweet.  Who knows these days, right?  Right.

Seth Godin is quoted on the cover – “Ignore this book at your own peril.”  From what I’ve read so far, this isn’t surprising.  The chapters are anything but chapters.  They’re short, crisp ideas lacking any sort of fluff.  Straight to the point.  Wisdom in scarcity.  Finality of tone.  Extended proverbs?

There is a chapter entitled, “Hire the Better Writer,” that made me raise up and say, “Yes! I agree!”  If two candidates are equally qualified, then I choose based on the better writer.  I’ve heard many people say, “Cover letters are a waste of time,” but I entirely disagree.  You can fake a resume.  You can load it up with all of those action verbs and business buzzwords.  That’s easy.  But you can’t get around being a poor communicator in a cover letter and, as the chapter states, clear writing is a sign of clear thinking.  Basically, good writing shows good, structured thinking

Hire Great Writers

If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer.  It doesn’t matter if that person is a marketer, salesperson, designer, programmer or whatever; their writing skills will pay off.

That’s because being a good writer is about more than just writing.  Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking.  Great writers know how to communicate.  They make things easy to understand.  They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes.  They know what to omit.  And those are qualities you want in any candidate.

Writing is making a comeback all over our society.  Look at how much people e-mail and text message now rather than talk on the phone.  Look at how much communication happens via instant messaging and blogging.  Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.

Good writing and clear thinking is needed in a field like search.  Everyone plays within the same rules set.  We all play in the same sandbox.  The difference in quality from one company to the next is in the emphasis of the different facets of on-site and off-site SEO, for example, and the creation and application of unique ideas.  It’s knowing what to omit from a report in order to make your successes easier to understand.

One last note on writing and jobs involving the internet.  If you’re applying for a job that involves the internet, it would behoove you to create a WordPress, Blogspot, Tumblr, Typepad or et cetera blog with your name in the URL.  That way, when you’re Googled the blog pops up and allows the employer to get a better idea of how you think, what you think about, what you think about the things related to your potential job and who you are as a person.

Written by Cory Barbot

May 18, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Burnt Apple

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Lappé’s counter-argument centered on a number of scientific studies indicating that it is indeed possible to feed the world using a variety of organic and agroecological methods of farming. She pointed to a multi-year, multi-disciplinary study by Catherine Badgely and colleagues at the University of Michigan, which concluded that a hypothetical worldwide alternative agriculture system could produce between 95 and 157 percent of the calories presently produced—without agricultural expansion and with no net increased use of resources. Researchers at the University of Essex who analyzed 287 projects in 57 countries found similar improvements with a transition to less resource-intensive agriculture. And the seminal IAASTD report—engaging 400 scientists and development experts from 80 nations over a period of four years—also determined that “resource-extractive industrial agriculture is risky and unsustainable, particularly in the face of worsening climate, energy, and water crises.”

On: Words and phrases whose inclusion in this paragraph, considering the topic, strike me as tasting like burnt apple

  • number
  • scientific studies
  • agroecological
  • multi-disciplinary
  • hypothetical worldwide alternative
  • agriculture system
  • percent
  • produced
  • agricultural expansion
  • net
  • increased
  • analyzed
  • development experts
  • resource-extractive industrial agriculture

Written by Cory Barbot

May 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Minutiae

Predicting the World Cup

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Written by Cory Barbot

May 11, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Content Strategy by Karen Halvorson

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Huge fan of slide 84. It’s one of the initial seeds I like to plant during the kickoff phase of an SEO engagement – it’s all web content.  All of it.  PDFs?  Text it.  Create pages.  Processes?  Talk about them.  Make it a prominent feature?  No.  Make sure your CTAs are solid, in prominent positions; their presentation is consistent.  But create the plan and build it out.  Build it out entirely. Don’t let those branded keywords as the top traffic drivers fool you.  How did they find your company initially?  Probably a mid or long tail keyword.  Check out this deck on content strategy by Kristina Halvorson.

Written by Cory Barbot

May 10, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Social Media Revolution 2

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Written by Cory Barbot

May 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Ratings in PPC Ads

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Google and Bazaarvoice recently announced they’d be teaming up to bring ratings to the world of search.  I just came across a number of ratings in PPC ads for a few keyword searches, but it doesn’t look like the work of Bazaarvoice.  Check it out:

ratings in ppc ads

Written by Cory Barbot

May 5, 2010 at 9:50 am

A Random Walk Through the Cloud

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On: Exciting Evenings Entertaining Yourself
(Or, the first entry in the “Minutiae” category”)

I’m lying on the couch reading an article by favorite “public intellectual” – Nassim Taleb. From reading his stuff, I’m sure this label would bother him; awesome. Specifically, I’m reading an article by him the Edge website and came across this passage:

“Mediocristan corresponds to “random walk” style randomness that you tend to find in regular textbooks (and in popular books on randomness).”

My thought process:

1) Random walk. Hmm, I wrote a blog post for work with this phrase in it.

2) I should go to Wikipedia – there must be more to this phrase than a clever bit of imagery.

3) From Wikipedia. Random Walk:

A random walk, sometimes denoted RW, is a mathematical formalization of a trajectory that consists of taking successive random steps.

4) Rereads blog. Sees Dr. Larson link. Wants to check out Hendrix website.

4b) But first, brain juices slosh back to paragraph just above random walk phrase:

In Mediocristan, exceptions occur but don’t carry large consequences. Add the heaviest person on the planet to a sample of 1000. The total weight would barely change. In Extremistan, exceptions can be everything (they will eventually, in time, represent everything). Add Bill Gates to your sample: the wealth will jump by a factor of >100,000. So, in Mediocristan, large deviations occur but they are not consequential—unlike Extremistan.

Think consequential link building, link baiting, versus non-consequential link building, junk directories.  Think white hate versus black hat.

4c) Hmm, Google looks at the web and how to provide relevant search results through the Mediocristan lense? Microsoft says, nooo, nooo, nooo (c), we must look at how users interact with a website once they’re there – length of stay, click through path – because itdoes matter; it’s Extremistan. Determining relevant results (website rankings, of course) is not binary – we should care about how true it is that someone found a website useful outside of merely linking to a website. How did he or she interact with the website. How true is it that website A should be ranked number 1 for keyword X?

Think Google’s recent announcement that page load time is a factor.  Take that idea and run with it.  What is the meta keyword of “page load time”?  It’s website effectiveness or website conversion or conversion rate optimization.

5) Clicks on Dr. Larson link. Reads update on The Village @ Hendrix.

6) Thinks, that was random…

7) Heads back to Wikipedia.

8 ) Reaches See Also section of Random Walk entry. Markov Chain…this word has been bandied about by a coworker. Click.

9) From Wikipedia. Markov Chain:

In mathematics, a Markov chain, named after Andrey Markov, is a stochastic process with the Markov property. Having the Markov property means that, given the present state, future states are independent of the past states. In other words, the description of the present state fully captures all the information that could influence the future evolution of the process. Future states will be reached through a probabilistic process instead of a deterministic one.

10) Why not follow the random walk further back? Take into account links to determine the probability a user will randomly come across site X by clicking link after link after link on the web as well as on-site metrics like time on site, page load time, navigation path.  That or I’m completely off…

11) As I’m recollecting my thought process, I’m actually adding onto “what I thought.” What a liar. Voluntary memory.

12) In Search of Lost Time

13) I’m tired

Written by Cory Barbot

May 5, 2010 at 12:12 am

Posted in Minutiae


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