Battling copywriting rigor mortis

You can’t decide what to write for your next blog post.

So you do a list.

Then you do another list.

Then you do a list of ways to write a good list.

I fall into that trap, all the time. If it’s not lists, it’s sarcastic posts about marketing fads, or cute analogies, or something else that’s cool once, useful twice, and annoying after that. I call it content rigor mortis. Creativity dies, and your writing locks into a contorted rigidity resembling a corpse. It’s contagious, too: Your readers will avoid you lest they get infected, too.


by ianhttp://www.conversationmarketing.com/2010/10/copywriting-rigor-mortis.htm

content-rigor-mortis.jpg

You can’t decide what to write for your next blog post.

So you do a list.

Then you do another list.

Then you do a list of ways to write a good list.

I fall into that trap, all the time. If it’s not lists, it’s sarcastic posts about marketing fads, or cute analogies, or something else that’s cool once, useful twice, and annoying after that. I call it content rigor mortis. Creativity dies, and your writing locks into a contorted rigidity resembling a corpse. It’s contagious, too: Your readers will avoid you lest they get infected, too.

Leer más “Battling copywriting rigor mortis”

Can we do content like Apple does hardware?

Apple’s example

Apple sells gear that almost everyone wants. Every laptop, phone and other gadget they design has… something that just make folks happy when put their hands on it. No one can say exactly why, but I suspect a lot of it is the fact that their devices are designed and built with a very specific user in mind. They cater to that user, tailor the entire design around her, and then launch the product.

The iPad is a perfect example. I own one, but I usually skip it in favor of my Kindle – I’m more of a hardcore reader. But I’m not the user Apple was thinking about when they designed the iPad. They were thinking about folks who don’t need a full-fledged laptop, want an easier form factor and touchscreen simplicity.

They designed it carefully, released it, and now it sells in quantities that would make Bill Gates jealous.

So, can we do the same thing for content? If we could, it’d be a lot easier to gain rankings, get attention and maybe even get compensated for the stuff we produce.


Internet Marketing with Ian Lurie

by ian

A thought that’s been germinating in my head for some time: People want content that does the same thing. If you can produce online content – text, ebooks, video, whatever – that makes folks want to read it the instant they glance at it, you can get a major internet marketing win.

Apple’s example

Apple sells gear that almost everyone wants. Every laptop, phone and other gadget they design has… something that just make folks happy when put their hands on it. No one can say exactly why, but I suspect a lot of it is the fact that their devices are designed and built with a very specific user in mind. They cater to that user, tailor the entire design around her, and then launch the product.

The iPad is a perfect example. I own one, but I usually skip it in favor of my Kindle – I’m more of a hardcore reader. But I’m not the user Apple was thinking about when they designed the iPad. They were thinking about folks who don’t need a full-fledged laptop, want an easier form factor and touchscreen simplicity.

They designed it carefully, released it, and now it sells in quantities that would make Bill Gates jealous.

So, can we do the same thing for content? If we could, it’d be a lot easier to gain rankings, get attention and maybe even get compensated for the stuff we produce. Leer más “Can we do content like Apple does hardware?”

PageRank explained, without math (really)

PageRank is a precious resource

The real lesson: PageRank is precious. Don’t waste it. You can steer PageRank around, just like you can pour water through pipes. Smart site architecture sends PageRank (authority) where you need it.

You want as much PageRank as possible flowing to your most important pages. The more links you have on every page of your site, the less of this resource you’ll have getting to those pages, and the less you can control it.
Links leak PageRank

If you’re a client, or a 10Things client, you’ve heard me say “you’re leaking pagerank” more than once. Now it should make a little sense. Links ‘leak’ Pagerank – they draw away some of the authority of a page, leaving less authority to ‘flow’ to other linked pages.

So link wisely, and consolidate links whenever possible. For example:

* Say you have a blog, and a monthly archive list on the right-hand side of every page that extends back to 2008. That’s almost 36 links on every page. Instead combine 2008 and 2009 into a single link for each year. Then list all posts for the relevant year on the target page. You just reduced 24 links to 2 links instead. That’s a lot of closed leaks.
* Combine your ‘privacy’, ‘terms of use’ and other legal links into a single ‘legal’. That’ll turn three more links you’ve got on ever page into just one.

So remember: Home page is a bucket. Like water, PageRank is a limited resource. You control the pipes. Be smart about it.


PageRank-hi-res-2

by ian

Whenever I try to explain the concept of true Pagerank – not the fake number you see in the Google Toolbar – I find myself going into all sorts of metaphorical gymnastics. PageRank is like a tree… no, it’s like a fountain… no, wait, an electrical grid… or is it a squid…?

At long last, I’ve hit on a metaphor that works. It requires pipe, water, and some goldfish.

Stay with me… Leer más “PageRank explained, without math (really)”

Social media and the multiplier effect

The multiplier effect: Each additional quality friend or follower in your network increases the value of all other people on your network.

I came up with this concept whilst grinding my teeth to nubs over demands like this: “I only have 500 followers. My competitor has 50,000. Get me more followers!”

See, most social media campaigns devolve into spamfests. It’s like the early- and middle-age of e-mail marketing. More = better, therefore let’s send crap out to every sucker we can find. It’s accumulation marketing [blast from the past alert]. And it never works for long.
Where social media spam comes from

Spam – particularly social media spam – comes from a long-time belief that a bigger network of potential customers is always better.

That belief comes from a traditional marketing formula: Add another person to your network of potential customers, and best case is that each member of that network keeps the same value.


by ian | http://www.conversationmarketing.com

Marketing nerdiness alert! This post has some heavy-duty marketing geekination in it. You have been warned.

(…)

The multiplier effect: Each additional quality friend or follower in your network increases the value of all other people on your network.

I came up with this concept whilst grinding my teeth to nubs over demands like this: “I only have 500 followers. My competitor has 50,000. Get me more followers!”

See, most social media campaigns devolve into spamfests. It’s like the early- and middle-age of e-mail marketing. More = better, therefore let’s send crap out to every sucker we can find. It’s accumulation marketing [blast from the past alert]. And it never works for long.

Where social media spam comes from

Spam – particularly social media spam – comes from a long-time belief that a bigger network of potential customers is always better.

That belief comes from a traditional marketing formula: Add another person to your network of potential customers, and best case is that each member of that network keeps the same value.

Say I have a network of 1,000 potential customers, with each customer worth $1. Then I add another person to the network. Conventional wisdom says that the best I can hope for is that each network member remains worth $1. It’s likely that, as I add more people, the background noise and accidental addition of people who have no interest in my product at all will reduce the value of every individual network member:

individuals decrease in value

So, goes conventional wisdom, if your plan is to grow sales and customer base, you need to expand your network exponentially to make up for the lost value. A massive network is always better than a small one, and individuals are worth less and less.

That’s why otherwise intelligent people still click on messages like this:

more-followers-spam.gif

And it’s why I crack molars.

But it doesn’t add up. If a massive network is always better, why is it that someone tweeting to 50,000 people gets me 3 clicks, and someone tweeting to 5,000 gets me 10,000 clicks?

Go figure. Leer más “Social media and the multiplier effect”

10 (almost) ironclad arguments for SEO


White hat seo symbolizes good ethic techniques...
by ian

SEO. What’s the deal? Why do marketing VPs, IT teams and CFO’s flee, screaming, at the mere mention of search engine optimization?

I have no answers.

However, I do have a few points – data-driven or otherwise – that I’ve used to sell SEO in the past. I’ve tested extensively, and I can tell you that these all work far better than threatening to give your client a lederhosen wedgie. Leer más “10 (almost) ironclad arguments for SEO”

Internet marketing due diligence: Checking the plan

I’ve heard it sooo many times:

“But I didn’t know!!!!”

That comes shrieking forth shortly after this chain of events:

1. CEO hires a Guru to develop their web marketing plan.
2. Guru comes in, collects check and nods sagely while saying stuff “Engage your audience”.
3. Guru writes down a plan with steps like “Get good links”.
4. CEO hands plan to marketing department.
5. Marketing department, afraid to tell the CEO she’s an idiot, executes the plan, which also happens to execute most of the company, too.
6. A year later, CEO has no marketing budget left, a lot of unhappy customers and zero results.
7. CEO says…


by ian
I’ve heard it sooo many times:

“But I didn’t know!!!!”

That comes shrieking forth shortly after this chain of events:

  1. CEO hires a Guru to develop their web marketing plan.
  2. Guru comes in, collects check and nods sagely while saying stuff “Engage your audience”.
  3. Guru writes down a plan with steps like “Get good links”.
  4. CEO hands plan to marketing department.
  5. Marketing department, afraid to tell the CEO she’s an idiot, executes the plan, which also happens to execute most of the company, too.
  6. A year later, CEO has no marketing budget left, a lot of unhappy customers and zero results.
  7. CEO says… Leer más “Internet marketing due diligence: Checking the plan”

Great marketing is honest. Not fair.

by ian

Lisa Barone’s post today about a tax on business bloggers, and the squawking and flapping that ensued thereafter, got me thinking about ‘fair’ versus ‘honest’. Especially in the world of marketing.
In marketing, ‘fair’ doesn’t exist

I find that when folks start talking about ‘fair’, what they mean is ‘fair for me and mine.’ Or maybe ‘easy’.

‘Fair’ is relative: I’m a cyclist. I drive a Toyota Prius. So raising gas prices to $5/gallon and doubling the size of bicycle lanes seems perfectly fair to me. You, on the other hand, are getting ready to let loose a tirade of car-loving American outrage in the comments section.

I’ve had potential clients tell me I was ‘unfair’ because my prices were too high for them. While I sympathize (I’d love to buy a Fisker Karma, but it’s out of my price range), it has nothing to do with ‘fair’. It’s about the value I deliver, and whether it’s worth it to you.

God, I’m starting to sound like a Republican. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are Republicans…

Anyway, in marketing, don’t look for fair. Marketing is not about fair. It’s about crushing every other competitor in the room in horrifying, brutal fashion, while you all smile at each other.


Lisa Barone‘s post today about a tax on business bloggers, and the squawking and flapping that ensued thereafter, got me thinking about ‘fair’ versus ‘honest’. Especially in the world of marketing.

In marketing, ‘fair’ doesn’t exist

I find that when folks start talking about ‘fair’, what they mean is ‘fair for me and mine.’ Or maybe ‘easy’.

‘Fair’ is relative: I’m a cyclist. I drive a Toyota Prius. So raising gas prices to $5/gallon and doubling the size of bicycle lanes seems perfectly fair to me. You, on the other hand, are getting ready to let loose a tirade of car-loving American outrage in the comments section.

I’ve had potential clients tell me I was ‘unfair’ because my prices were too high for them. While I sympathize (I’d love to buy a Fisker Karma, but it’s out of my price range), it has nothing to do with ‘fair’. It’s about the value I deliver, and whether it’s worth it to you.

God, I’m starting to sound like a Republican. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are Republicans…

Anyway, in marketing, don’t look for fair. Marketing is not about fair. It’s about crushing every other competitor in the room in horrifying, brutal fashion, while you all smile at each other. Leer más “Great marketing is honest. Not fair.”

Google algorithm change – big brand bias?

by ian

Google just announced a change to their algorithm: They’re now going to show more pages from a single domain for certain queries.

You’re tempted to run out into the street, strip naked with sheer joy and yell OMG all our troubles are over reputation management now a cinch!!!


Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

by ian

Google just announced a change to their algorithm: They’re now going to show more pages from a single domain for certain queries.

You’re tempted to run out into the street, strip naked with sheer joy and yell OMG all our troubles are over reputation management now a cinch!!!

Wrooooong. Stay inside. Keep yer clothes on. Google’s webmaster blogging team is as detailed as ever (cough). They use the query ‘exhibitions at amnh’ as their example, and sure enough, that turns up 7 results from from amnh.org:

amnh-exhibitions-search.gif

Leer más “Google algorithm change – big brand bias?”

Link building techniques: Risk vs. reward

# Search engines do not consistently apply the rules. You may see your competitors doing something and getting away with it. You try it a few weeks later and bam: Penalty.
# The rules change. What’s safe one week might not be safe the next. That’s life.
# Your competitors are going to report you. If they’re search-savvy, they’re watching for anything they think might be a bad practice, and they’ll report you at the drop of a hat.


by ian

Link building is all about risk management.

There are lots of ways to build links. But search engines do not like to be manipulated. They work constantly, with lots of really smart people, to find ways to filter out links secured purely for SEO purposes.

That makes many forms of link building risky, because:

  • Search engines do not consistently apply the rules. You may see your competitors doing something and getting away with it. You try it a few weeks later and bam: Penalty.
  • The rules change. What’s safe one week might not be safe the next. That’s life.
  • Your competitors are going to report you. If they’re search-savvy, they’re watching for anything they think might be a bad practice, and they’ll report you at the drop of a hat. Leer más “Link building techniques: Risk vs. reward”

SEO worst practices: The content duplication toilet bowl of death

50% of SEO (search engine optimization, in case you live under a big rock, or you’ve never been to this blog before) is staying out of the way, staying out of trouble, and letting search engines find everything on your web site. It should be easy, but people seem to constantly create new ways to get in the way. Here’s one of my favorite examples: The exploding URL, AKA…
The Duplication Toilet Bowl of Death

There are lots of little problems that can generate duplicate URLs. But the worst is the Exploding URL, aka the Duplication Toilet Bowl of Death.

URL stands for ‘uniform resource locator’ – the unique address for any one page or file on your web site. It’s very, very important that you have one unique URL for each page – read the canonicalization series for the in-depth explanation, or read my Search Engine Land article on the same subject for the digest version.

Say you have a site that delivers different content to people who live in different cities. You let folks choose by clicking on a map. Once they click, you add a query string like “?city=seattle” on to the end of the URL.

Good so far.


by ian

omg.jpeg

50% of SEO (search engine optimization, in case you live under a big rock, or you’ve never been to this blog before) is staying out of the way, staying out of trouble, and letting search engines find everything on your web site. It should be easy, but people seem to constantly create new ways to get in the way. Here’s one of my favorite examples: The exploding URL, AKA…

The Duplication Toilet Bowl of Death

There are lots of little problems that can generate duplicate URLs. But the worst is the Exploding URL, aka the Duplication Toilet Bowl of Death.

URL stands for ‘uniform resource locator’ – the unique address for any one page or file on your web site. It’s very, very important that you have one unique URL for each page – read the canonicalization series for the in-depth explanation, or read my Search Engine Land article on the same subject for the digest version.

Say you have a site that delivers different content to people who live in different cities. You let folks choose by clicking on a map. Once they click, you add a query string like “?city=seattle” on to the end of the URL.

Good so far. Leer más “SEO worst practices: The content duplication toilet bowl of death”

Free = Worthless: Information Can’t Be Free

by ian

Oh, the humanity. I owe Chris Anderson an apology for this one. After rereading it this morning, I was horrified. Did I really write this? Don’t get me wrong: I do NOT think ‘free’ is a good idea. Nor do I think ‘information wants to be free’ will win out over ‘information wants to be expensive’. But I singled out Chris’ book because I happened to listen to it. What I write below makes a lot more sense as a general argument against ‘free’ as a business model. However, I’ll leave this up, so you can all enjoy my embarrassment. Now I’m going to head off to chew on my foot a little longer.

In ‘Free: The Future of a Radical Price’, Chris Anderson says ‘information wants to be free’ and goes on a utopian tirade about how wonderful things will happen as free information hits critical mass.


by ian

Oh, the humanity. I owe Chris Anderson an apology for this one. After rereading it this morning, I was horrified. Did I really write this? Don’t get me wrong: I do NOT think ‘free’ is a good idea. Nor do I think ‘information wants to be free’ will win out over ‘information wants to be expensive’. But I singled out Chris’ book because I happened to listen to it. What I write below makes a lot more sense as a general argument against ‘free’ as a business model. However, I’ll leave this up, so you can all enjoy my embarrassment. Now I’m going to head off to chew on my foot a little longer.

In ‘Free: The Future of a Radical Price‘, Chris Anderson says ‘information wants to be free’ and goes on a utopian tirade about how wonderful things will happen as free information hits critical mass. Leer más “Free = Worthless: Information Can’t Be Free”

SEO is a Tactic, Not a Strategy


by ian

SEO is no more a strategy than printing business cards.

It’s a tactic that forms a large and essential part of your internet marketing strategy.

I had a phone call today that went like this:

Page 2 Leer más “SEO is a Tactic, Not a Strategy”

10 more ideas for blog posts

by ian

I spend a lot of time worrying about writer’s block, and an equal amount of time coming up with ideas for blog posts and articles.

Here are 10 more I’ve used a few times:

1. Write about the latest silly thing a celebrity did. If Mel Gibson just stuck his foot in his mouth again, write about it. Connect it with what you do: If you’re in customer service (who isn’t?) maybe tell folks they should always pretend they’re being recorded. You get the idea.
2. Answer the buttheads. Someone out there said something that ticked you off. Answer them. Don’t do it like me, though. Do it nicely – I don’t want your firing on my hands.


by ian

I spend a lot of time worrying about writer’s block, and an equal amount of time coming up with ideas for blog posts and articles.

Here are 10 more I’ve used a few times:

  1. Write about the latest silly thing a celebrity did. If Mel Gibson just stuck his foot in his mouth again, write about it. Connect it with what you do: If you’re in customer service (who isn’t?) maybe tell folks they should always pretend they’re being recorded. You get the idea.
  2. Answer the buttheads. Someone out there said something that ticked you off. Answer them. Don’t do it like me, though. Do it nicely – I don’t want your firing on my hands. Leer más “10 more ideas for blog posts”

10 statements that make my head explode, and what they really mean


Google Analytics v2.0
Image by vrypan via Flickr

by ian

Every now and then, someone says something that passes cringe-worthy and goes straight to neural overload. At those times, I get a temporary case of Exploding Head Syndrome (it’s real). I’ll skip the political stuff like “Global warming isn’t real” and “Get your government hands off my Medicare” and stick to internet marketing: Leer más “10 statements that make my head explode, and what they really mean”

The 18 most abused phrases of 2009

Shoutout to LyndiT for pushing me to write this via Twitter.

The year’s not even over but we’ve already beaten the crap out of so many phrases I figured I’d better get started. So, in no particular order, here they are:

1. Engagement. Marketing isn’t combat, or marriage. Stop trying to tell me I need to propose to every single potential customer who comes to my site.
2. Twitterverse. Just. Don’t. Say. It.
3. Tweeple. You KNOW you’ve got a winning media platform when you can generate two hated terms in the same year.


Shoutout to LyndiT for pushing me to write this via Twitter.

The year’s not even over but we’ve already beaten the crap out of so many phrases I figured I’d better get started. So, in no particular order, here they are:

  1. Engagement. Marketing isn’t combat, or marriage. Stop trying to tell me I need to propose to every single potential customer who comes to my site.
  2. Twitterverse. Just. Don’t. Say. It.
  3. Tweeple. You KNOW you’ve got a winning media platform when you can generate two hated terms in the same year. Leer más “The 18 most abused phrases of 2009”