Shoemoney Does It Again

For those of you who know me well, you’ll know that I’ve been a Shoemoney Fan Boy for years now. I started following Shoe online and then have had the opportunity to meet him many times over the years at events like SES San Jose, Think Tank, and Affiliate Summit. I tried to find the post that I originally saw years ago but DK updated his site and must have pulled it. DK was friends with Shoe and they were running a contest for a free flight and ticket to SES I believe. I already had plans to be at SES that year(2008 I believe?) but I was curious who this DK guy was and how’d he become friends with Shoemoney! I searched him out, found out he was a chiropractor who got flamed by a bunch of people at Pubcon and got into the whole SEO space as a result. Essentially DK met the who’s who of the SEO world and networked from there. I was fascinated by his circle of friends and I decided to reach out to him.

You have to understand this time in my career, I was just into maybe my 2nd year working in SEO and I hadn’t been to a major conference yet, nor did I know anyone “internet famous” in person, I just followed them online, from Shoe to Chris Winfield to Dave Naylor to Greg Boser to TheMadHat to SugarRae to Todd Malicoat and many more I’m sure I’m forgetting. These were the people who I aspired to be and looked up to. Long story short, DK had met and was friends with most and I was just flat out curious.

Back to how I met DK… I reached out to him on Facebook of all places, looking to connect and really get more information. I was completely nervous and flat out told him what was on my mind. Not knowing DK prior, his response took me completely by surprise! He was probably the nicest guy I had ever met and after some dialog offered to help me and introduce me since I was such a big Shoemoney fan. I ended up hanging out with a bunch of my idols that year at SES and it was priceless, I can’t thank DK enough for that and everything he’s done for me since.

shoemoney

I only briefly talked to Jeremy at SES but I remember him asking me where I was from and I replied “Ohio”. He got this weird grin on his face and said something about having spent some time in Ohio but said it was in a small town I probably hadn’t heard of. At the time, I could tell there was more to the story but didn’t want to pry. Fast forward 5 years and now I have had the great opportunity of talking to Jeremy many times over the year and I now have most of the story about Ohio that he released in his new book “Nothings Changed But My Change: The Shoemoney Story”.

Whether you know Jeremy or not, I highly recommend his book. I read the whole book in a day, it was that captivating. His stories and schemes are hysterical. You quickly find out in the book, as you do on his site, that what you see is what you get with Jeremy. He’s straight to the point and delivers it however he feels.

Here are two of my favorite quotes from the book:

Be willing to do what other are willing not to do.

When you accept the impossible you start to find solutions.

Thanks Jeremy for everything you’ve done for me and everyone else.

You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

I always like to know where quotes come from, and it looks like a variation of that saying was said by Cicero, a Roman philosopher. Over the last year, Cicero’s statement “You Are Your Own Worst Enemy” has come up in a few different ways, both professionally and personally. I can’t express how many things can be learned by continuously assessing yourself or having people around you who respect you enough to give you advice on things they see from the outside.

We as humans all have flaws. These flaws, if not carefully acknowledged, can hold us back from achieving the things we “say” we want. I put the word “say” in quotes because we verbally or mentally tell ourselves things like “we want to get in shape”, “we want to get a better job”, or “we want to make more money”, but ultimately we get in our own way. I want to break down some of the reasons I’ve observed over the last few years.

Fear
Fear is one of the biggest dream killers. Fear can enter in a lot of different forms like doubt, uncertainty, worry, inadequacy, etc. We hold ourselves back by holding on to fear and it then restricts us from making a decision or progressing forward.

Fear of the Lack of Control
Over this last year, one of the reoccurring fears I’ve had is the loss of control. I tend to try and hold all the cards until there are so many in my hands that stuff starts falling and it has even gotten to the point where I’ve almost dropped the whole stack. I’m not sure who coined it but someone smarter than I said something to the effect that “the first principle of leadership is delegation”. My partner has helped me work through this and it would be something I challenge everyone to just try. Give up control of all the projects on your plate, everything. The process is liberating and you’ll actually get more done. A month or so ago I came to another one of these points where I had all the cards and I didn’t know what end was up. It wasn’t because I sought all the projects out, but through some transition in our company all the projects came back to me. Instead of realizing I was taxed, I attempted to run each and everyone of them, without completely relying on my team. Once my partner realized the state of things, he quickly helped me push everything off my plate. I’m still working through the transition, but my team has been great, we’ve gotten more projects done, things are much clearer and I have more time for the higher level projects that really need my attention.

Fear of Failure
The fear of failure is another moment where someone can be like a deer stuck in the headlights. All of us handle failure different, some of us embrace it while others panic. The unknown can be intimidating and if we don’t take a step back and assess the situation, we’re likely to not act and push through it. One of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is safety. Failure to us isn’t safe by nature and our individual risk tolerance can then dictate how “uncomfortable” we’ll allow ourselves to be. There have been times where I’ve tried to perfect something rather than just sticking it out there and going for it. I’ve been able to learn that failure helps perfect things in a way that if I tried to do it myself, I could have never done it as well. The best advice I can give is to take a project just far enough that it can come to market, release it into the wild and let the marketplace be the judge of it. You’ll learn things about your products or services that you would have never thought of during the time you wasted trying to make it perfect.

Laziness
I don’t mean for this one to be offensive, but I really just think some people are lazy. They might not be consciously doing it, but they just don’t have the drive or motivation to change their current state. I’m not a believer in the lack of options. If someone on really wanted to change something, there is a way to do it. I think everyone has different pain thresholds that we self impose on ourselves. Someone might feel pain and discomfort making $30k a year and they seek ways to change that while others aren’t labored or are perfectly comfortable making that and just stay there.

Low Goals
Just in this post, I’m sure you’ve noticed I like quotes. One of my all time favorite songs is Imagine by John Lennon. The chorus goes like this:

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

We all need to dream and we need to dream big. If you don’t have your sights on the sky, you’re setting them too low. Anything is within your reach if you’re willing to go and get it. If you set your long term goal to only make $30k a year, that is all you will ever make. If you are ok with being a C student and that is where your goal is set, you’ll be an average C student. Having low goals can be a result of many things, maybe one is fear. We set our goals within reach as to not fail. Failure is the best learning experience and the best way to grow and move forward.

Ultimately we’re all at different stages of our lives and careers. The biggest thing I try to do every day is be aware of myself. Where are my goals? Where is my time spent? What am I accomplishing? What are my priorities? Asking my self these questions and more helps me frame my current state and realign things.

I’m Back to Blogging

I know, I know… we’ll see how long this lasts. It seems like once a year I have this great idea to start blogging again, and lets be honest, I normally get caught up in the shuffle and this becomes a distant thought. Really, I just like jacking my site up once a year and changing the themes back and forth :)

I come into it with high aspirations and to let people know whats going on which me, my family, and my businesses. Brain Host has exploded and that is really the motivation behind why I’d like to make this a habit. I want to share a bunch of what I’ve learned, the good, the bad, and the funny. We had an amazing first year in 2011 and are positioning ourselves to have another good year this year. We have a handful of awesome projects that we’ve been planning since the fall and they are starting to take shape quickly. We’ve also been growing internally in regards to our staffing. I’m truly excited with the direction we’re going and ultimate it will help our customers much more.

So stay tuned… or maybe I’ll fall off the horse here in another week 😉

I Can’t Find My Website On Google

One of 2 questions arises when a lot of people venture into the world of search engine optimization or when they get one of their first websites. Both of these questions mean the same thing but are slightly different:

I Can’t Find My Website on Google

or

My Website Doesn’t Show Up on Google

Many people ask one of these 2 questions because they don’t understand some of the basics of SEO. The first question that needs to be ask is what are they searching for that their websites isn’t showing up in Google or one of the other search engines. A lot of times website owners “assume” that just because they now have a website and it is on a specific subject or topic that it should immediate show up in the search engines. They go to Google and search for “XYZ widgets”, the topic of their website, and they don’t see it and assume that it can’t be found or it just isn’t showing up.

Search engine optimization takes time along with a bunch of other basics I’ll outline. One of the quickest ways to see if Google has found your website is to use the search operator “site:”. Here is an example on how to format this in Google and an example of Twitter’s index:

site:domain.com

This will show you if Google has your site in their index. Notice right below the search box there is a line that says “About 1,230,000,000 results”. That means that Google has index around 1.23 billion pages from Twitter.com. The search engine’s index is their catalog of the pages they’ve crawled on a particular site. Crawling and indexing are the first steps to getting your website to rank. Once the search engines have your site in their index, the search engine can then run the pages through their algorithms to determine where they rank amongst all the other pages on the internet that are similar. As long as the number that Google displays is 1 or more, then Google has found your website!

Now, that only answers half of the problem because you’re probably more interest in why your site doesn’t show up for the general phrases or keywords that the website is about. This is a little more complicated to diagnose right out of the gate because there are a lot of factors that go into this like the content of your website, the number of links and the quality of those links that are pointing to your website and all the other SEO basics. Two easy ways to find out if your website is ranking for more general phrases would be to either using a ranking program or checking your analytics.

Ranking Program

A simple ranking program is called Rank Checker by SEOBook.com. Its a Firefox plugin that allows you to put keywords into it and run them to see if your website is found. If it finds your website ranking for a particular keyword or phrase, it tells you the position of that ranking. The key here is that you need to know they keywords that your website is ranking for, or the keywords that you’re targeting.

Analytics

Analytics is a better way to see what your website is ranking for. Most hosting providers give free stats with your hosting service. The stats would either be AWStats or Webalizer. These stats programs will give you a very basic look into what people have found your website by. There is a keywords or a search engine section that shows you the referring keyword terms. Another analytics program that you can get for free is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a little more robust feature wise that the other 2 programs and can be installed fairly easily.

These 2 things should show you if your website is showing up for general keywords and phrase. If not, go back to the basics with creating unique content and building links to your website.

My Top Android Applications

Android has really grown as a mobile OS in the last year. I’ve had a few android devices including a Droid, Droid 2, Droid Charge and the Motorola Xoom. My current 2 devices and the Samsung Droid Charge and the Motorola Xoom. There are a few applications I run that are indispensable. The nice thing about Google’s Android operating system is that the applications I have on one device, easily install on my other device.

Evernote

Evernote is an amazing application for notes and To Do’s! I’ve tried a bunch of applications for To Do’s and note taking, and I haven’t liked any as much as Evernote. With Evernote, it syncs with just about everything including my Mac. It also has browser clipping that will actually take a snapshot of an entire webpage. I’ve replaced(mostly) my Google Bookmarks with Evernote since I can read the whole page in the note, just in case the page goes down or goes away.

Links for Evernote:

TweetDeck

TweetDeck, which was recently acquired by Twitter, is my Twitter client of choice. Like Evernote, it not only syncs with both my Android devices, but it also syncs with the desktop on my Mac.

LastPass

I’ve used Chrome and Firefox’s internal ability to remember passwords for a long time. For those that know me, I’m an abussive internet user. I normally have at least 10+ Chrome windows open, each with multiple tabs. Throughout the day then, I use different browsers for different tools, or for different Google account sessions. The problem becomes that I then have to have the passwords in both locations, which initially becomes a royal pain. Why I explain that, is because when I’m mobile, I then have ZERO access to those password. That’s where LastPass came in! It saves passwords, fills out forms, similar to that of what Chrome does, but it has cross browser capabilities and its Android ready!

Trillian

I’m not 100% sold on Trillian, but it has been a solid im client for both my Mac and my Android. The cross device sync, again, has been clutch for me being that I’m mobile a bunch and need access to not only my AIM contacts, but Jabber and Google as well.

TouchDown

Android has built in email support for Exchange, but I needed something with a little more features. TouchDown has been really good. The first time I tried it, it seemed buggy, but ever since upgrading the the premium version, I haven’t had any issues.

DropBox

DropBox is a newer tool I’m using but it’s been great! Getting files while on the go is a must, and I had been relying on Google Docs for most of it. DropBox has also come in handy with moving files from my desktop to my server.

Everyone is a Social Media Expert

In this day and age, anyone can be a social media expert. Jeff Foxworthy of Blue Collar Comedy does his famous redneck jokes. Here are the social media expert versions:

You know you are a social media expert if….

  • You’ve played with Twitter for 5 minutes
  • Your friends, coworkers, or bosses forced you to join or learn Facebook and you created one of those, you think
  • A blog is state of the art and your pages still end in /?p=123
  • You’ve uploaded a video of your pet to YouTube
  • You can rattle off 5 social networks with out stuttering… those are social networks, right?
  • A bookmark is something you literally still put in a book
  • You’re learned how to create multiple social profiles, have them all linked together and post the same message to all of them at the same time, every time.
  • When someone asks you for a digg you ask where the hole is
  • All your social media strategies consist of just Twitter and Facebook
  • You went to a chamber of commerce meeting and knew more than everyone there about social media
  • After attending a 1 hour social media bootcamp, you now can teach others everything there is to know about social media
  • Your Twitter ratio is 50 followers to 1,000 following, maybe they will recognize you and follow back
  • All of the posts you make on Twitter are to your own stuff, and as always, you’ve posted the same thing to all of your profiles
  • You use the words Facebook and Twitter so much in conversation they end up losing their meaning
  • You say I just joined ‘insert latest and greatest Twitter-killer social network name here’  more than once a week
  • A website is optional in your social media strategy, you have Facebook, right? Who needs a website then.
  • You’ve charge anything for the creation of a free Facebook page, the value is in just having one, people will just find it then
  • You have your own workshop or seminar that you promote and teach the same stuff over and over again
  • Your previous careers were either insurance, recruiting, landscaping or you just graduated college with a marketing degree and now you do social media marketing
  • You approved a comment on your blog where someone let you know your RSS feed was broken in Google’s Chrome browser when it first launched and you thanked them and then spent 2 hours trying to fix it
  • There is nothing in the social space for you that is older than 14 months

Social media is constantly changing and there is always going to be something new. Just because it is new, doesn’t mean its going to work either. Its fine to jump on the bandwagon and learn a new social network but to promote it too early wouldn’t be fair to whoever ends up using it thinking its going to be effective. There is a lot of wasted time in social media because people are either on the wrong social network, promoting to the wrong people, or using social media improperly. There isn’t a wrong way with social media, a strategy may work for someone, but it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. There are a lot of best practices you can find online but take everything you see or hear with a grain of salt. You need to test and prove everything for yourself with your situation, product, industry, etc.

A social media expert is a really hard title to hang your hat on. I feel I know a TON about social media, and have been referred to as a social media expert at times but I feel I’m more of a social media enthusiast over anything else. I do join all the latest and greatest social networks when I can, I do try to participate and everything else. With my new role at Upright, I’m slightly removed from the day to day need of keeping up like I used to, but I still do it because its a passion. You can tell when someone really knows their stuff by digging deeper past the buzz words and the facade that people put on.


Bonus: A good friend of mine started an AWESOME hash tag on Twitter, right when I started writing this post. He has some hilarious tweets about the social media challenged. #youmightbeSMchallenged

5 Ecommerce Website Launch Must Nots

I’ve been working with a fair amount of ecommerce websites lately and there are some themes I notice all too frequently when dealing with them at the time of the website launching. Most of the problems are on the development side of things and can easily be avoided.

Some of these are fairly broad topics with ecommerce website and there can be a lot of different scenarios that people miss. Here are a few I’ve seen come up:

  1. Robots.txt disallow the whole site
  2. You laugh because this seems simple but it happens ALL of the time. Developers might have a robots.txt on their development server and forget to take it off of the newly launch live website. Total FAIL.

    As an SEO consultant, it’s important that you check the site over at launch and ensure you know what you’re looking at. It would be a shame if you reviewed the site, saw the robots.txt disallowing the site but didn’t know how to read it to know.

  3. Don’t have a payment gateway or payment processor setup
  4. The entire point of an ecommerce website is to sell product, right? With that in mind, to be able to purchase, you need to be able to take a payment, right? I’ve seen sites launching with either poor or no payment gateway which means you cannot check out and you cannot make any money.

  5. Forgetting analytics
  6. This one might be less obvious to some if you aren’t thinking about marketing your ecommerce site at the time of launch but it is pretty vital to have. Information from your analytics is vital down the road even if you don’t plan to use it initially. Google Analytics is a free option, throw it on there to at least track something.

  7. Shipping
  8. Free shipping for all products – This isn’t a terrible thing but sometimes a client or site owner loses money with free shipping. There are many situations where a site can get into trouble and the biggest reason could be by not knowing the margins on the products. A site will say “Free Shipping”, the shipping costs them $10 and they were only going to make say $5 or $10 dollars on the sale.

    Shipping not tested properly – Shipping cost can be determined through an API and if you don’t have something setup right and you don’t test it, it could be bad news. I saw a site auto defaulting to overnight shipping on at least 75% of the site’s products. On a $10 to $20 item, no one is going to pay $60+ on overnight shipping. Shipping cost is the #1 reason why people don’t purchase online or why they abandon a cart.

  9. Little to no products
  10. This is another one of those head smacking moments. Ecommerce websites are meant to sell so if you launch them, ensure there is product in the store. Some clients have ecommerce functionality added to their website after the initial website is built and that is fine. Since it isn’t the main focus of their site however, they have a store page with little or sometimes no products.

The best advice I can give when launching an ecommerce website or any website is to audit the site before launch, even to the point of having a check list. Sometimes the simple things are the most over looked. If you’re a developer, help your clients out by pointing some of these things out. Let them know that if they launch an online store with only a handful of products that their expectations of success could be missed by a long shot. People could be making a sizable investment in their website to add ecommerce and will not make it up with out the right things in place.

Social Media Step 1 – Know the Lingo

Social media is an ever evolving part of internet marketing. There are thousands and tens of thousands of social networks out there with sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Digg being some of the bigger players. A lot of companies want to just run head first into social media without having any sort of plan. One of the first steps someone should take is to learn the lingo. Twitter is the best one to use as an example since there are things like URL shorteners, hash tags and tweets.

Before jumping into a social network, or maybe even signing up, start running through the public timeline. See how people are structuring their messages and pick out things that aren’t familiar. If you quickly scan Twitter, you’ll see messages with things like this:

  • # – Hash tag, used for tracking and other things
  • bit.ly or ow.ly – Examples of URL or link shorteners, allows you to fit a longer URL in your tweets
  • FollowFriday – used to tell your followers about people on Twitter you find useful
  • @ – Use this followed by someones handle or username to reply to them
  • RT – Stands for Retweet, passing on or forwarding someone else’s tweet

These are just a handful of unique things to Twitter. If a scan had be done, someone could pick these out and find out what they mean so they use them properly. It would be embarrassing for something to jump in and start tweeting to then use the lingo wrong and look silly. Something as simple as saying “FridayFollow” when the correct terminology is “FollowFriday” can put egg on someone’s face and let everyone on Twitter know they’re a newbie.

How To Ruin SEO Traffic – Robots.txt

As most know, SEO traffic is something that gets built up over time. You spend upfront time doing research, picking your targets, then getting your hands dirty with the details. It is very rewarding to be able to take a site and start making improvements to see the traffic increase from the search engines. The #1 most annoying thing that can happen is a robots.txt gets uploaded that starts to tank your search traffic. To give some background, a robots.txt file is a simple text file that gives the search engines instructions like where to find your sitemap and what not to crawl. You might use a robots.txt file to disallow a search engine from crawling your content management system’s (CMS) admin or another password protected part of your site.

An example of a robots.txt file that would disallow a WordPress CMS admin would look like this:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /wp-admin

Sitemap: http://www.domain.com/sitemap.xml

If I didn’t want any search engines crawling my site, I would do this:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /

That simple little / can get a whole entire site removed from the search engine results pages (serps). Time and time again I’ve seen sites fall to this terrible problem. One of the ways I’ve seen it happen is the development company uses a server where they test new features, code, etc. They use a robots.txt to tell the search engines to not index the development site since it would be a duplicate of the live site. When they finish their programming, they copy files from the development site to the live site, forgetting about the robots.txt and taking it live. Weeks or even months later, someone is putting something together and finds the site not ranking for even their brand name.

What Has Corey Been Doing

All I have to say is 2010 is going to be a crazy year! I can’t believe its already July! I wanted to post an update on what I’ve been up to thus far and where I’m going next both personally and professionally. I’ve been away from my blog for some time, but I’m going to try to keep posting more frequently. There were circumstances up until this point that I just refrained from posting in my free time. I’ve been thinking of topics and just creating draft posts, even if I don’t finish them right away. I’ve even been posting these from my Moto Droid with the WordPress app so I don’t forget the topic or idea. Hopefully this will help me keep on track and be able to share more ideas as they come up!

Personally

Some know I got engaged last summer and am getting married in a little less than a month! July 24th is the wedding day and I’m super excited! It has been a lot of planning and preparation, mostly taken on by my fiance Lisa.

Besides wedding planning, Lisa and I have just been getting everything set for life after the wedding. We also added 2 members to the household, first Murphy and now Weazy our bearded dragons. I’ve ALWAYS wanted lizards, ask my mom. For the longest time I wanted to get an Iguana and she would never let me, which is probably good because fresh vegetables every day would be a pain.

Oscar, the beagle, is still here as well. He’s about 5 years old now and still very active. He ceases to amaze me and seems to be getting smarter and more mature. He always had trouble listening and over the last year has started to behave better and be calm. His new trick is escaping from the kitchen after he has slowly destroyed one of the gates.

Professionally

I have recently left The Karcher Group (TKG) as of July 2nd. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at TKG and learned a lot in the process. It was a hard decision to leave but ultimately for the best. I’ve taken the position as COO of Upright Publishing. I’m so excited about this opportunity to continue to grow and develop. This kind of takes me out of the day to day SEO game which I’ll miss, though I’m sure I will still keep up on things and be working on my skills. Upright will still keep me in the internet marketing space though. At TKG my primary focus was on organic SEO and social media where as now, things will be more diverse and it’s not an agency.

I’m really excited not only for this month (July 2010) but for the rest of the year! Look for more posts to come as well, I hope I can start sharing things I’ve learned and continue to learn!