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Having a Healthy Relationship. . .With your Website

A website is a great thing to have.  Some people, however, don’t know how to treat their website properly.  True, a website isn’t a real person, but you can apply the same rules of a human relationship to your relationship with your website.  It still needs to be treated correctly, especially if you’re expecting your website to give you something in return.

In my experience in internet marketing, I find that most people understand that the ROI on a website can be well worth the money.  Where the understanding starts to drop off is when people try to understand the steps it takes to make a well performing website.  Kind of like a relationship, people understand that having relationships can bring a lot of happiness and joy to their lives, but they fail to understand how to approach day-to-day issues to keep the relationship going.

Here are some tips when you try to approach your website relationship a little differently.

  1. Admit when you need help.  Trust your website to a knowledgeable internet marketing firm or a good internet marketer.  Reading one web design book isn’t going to make you an amazing web designer/internet marketer.  Like a relationship, nothing is wrong with getting help from a trusted source to get it started.
  2. Once you have something good, appreciate what you have.  Don’t spend your time looking at other sites and wishing that yours was more like that one.  Putting your eyes and time on something that’s not yours can get you a slap in the face…figuratively if you do it to your website…literally if you do it to your girlfriend.
  3. Be proud of your website.  Show off your website whenever you get the chance.  With a human relationship, that means going out with them, introducing them to your friends, putting a picture of them on your phone and at work, and talking about how great they are whenever possible.  With your website, this is the basis of proper link building.
  4. Don’t allow your website to mingle with other sites that aren’t trustworthy.  Would you let your girlfriend hang out with the guy down the hall who has a bad reputation for always having to many girls around him?  No right? So why would you put your website onto other sites that seem to be deemed untrustworthy by search engines?

Whether you’re looking to start a new website, or you’ve had a website for a while, it’s never a bad time to get a new outlook on your relationship.  With a little work, you’ll find that your website will begin to bring qualified traffic in return for your efforts.
Story of Inspiration: Framing your SEO

A Plan to End Discrimination

Growing up in the inner city, has it’s pros and cons.  A definite plus is the lack of obvious race issues.  In school and on my block, I don’t ever remember being picked on because of the color of my skin.  My clique represented all races/cultures imaginable.  If someone had a problem with me, it wasn’t because of my skin.  This same plus quickly became a negative when I went to college.  All of a sudden, I really was ‘the minority’.  I felt like people questioned my character and my abilities simply because of my race.  For the first time in my life, it was hard for me to find common ground with people. And for people to find common ground with me.

Well, long story short, I quickly learned that even though it was harder, there were friends to be made.  One friend, Jonathan “Jojo” Rosario, made an impact on me that carries on even after we’ve both graduated.  I was talking online with him and he said, “Did I ever tell you my plan to end discrimination?”  Intrigued…I got him to explain it all to me.  Here are the details

Jojo’s Plan to End Discrimination

When a person applies for anything, a job, credit card, loan, apartment….anything, there’s usually a way to get possibly discriminatory information about these people.  Jojo’s online system will attempt to hide those possibly discriminatory pieces of information while providing the decision maker all the information they truly need to make a decision.

Step 1:Person decides they need to apply for something.
Step 2: Person goes to http://www.jojo’sawesomewebsite.com and creates an account with the site.
Step 3: http://www.jojo’sawesomewebsite.com assigns the person an ID number that a person would put on an application in place of any real identifying characteristics.
Step 4: The decision maker will only look at the information directly relevant to whatever application they are reviewing.
Step 5: The decision maker will then submit a yes/no answer to http://www.jojo’sawesomewebsite.com.
Step 6: http://www.jojo’sawesomewebsite.com will then contact the applicant to give the decision.
Step 7: If the decision was “yes” or “approved”, then contact information will be exchanged to both parties via http://www.jojo’sawesomewebsite.com.

This would be a proposal for anyone interested in using this system for their application process. (tax incentive, special services/rates, etc.)  The government may need to get involved to create some real business incentives, but I think there’s some really good ideas in this plan.

What do you think? [Disclaimer: This is just an idea with a lot of holes and ‘what if’s’.  We are still interested in hearing what have to say, but please be nice with the comments. Thanks.]

Mobile Marketing – R U Ready?

I L-O-V-E Starbucks.  Nothing beats sipping on a Venti Shaken Black Tea Lemonade Sweetened.

Therefore, imagine my excitement when I saw the facebook event for Starbucks Free Pastry Day: 1 free pastry with the purchase of any drink.  I saw that you needed a coupon to get the free pastry, so I was about to click on the link to get the printable coupon when I saw the next line.

“Or open this page in a mobile device and show your barista”

OMG! I could use my awesome phone (THE Blackberry Storm) to 1. Get a free pastry from Starbucks and 2. Save a tree by not printing out a coupon.

Being both a Starbucks fanatic and marketing nerd, Starbucks’ use of mobile marketing really excited me.  Other countries, such as India and China, are already avid users of mobile coupons.  I was wondering when I would see a major company make use of mobile coupons in the US.

Like all marketing ideas, if a company wants to explore the possible impact of mobile marketing on their company, a plan needs to be made first.  Gregg Stewart of Search Engine Watch lays out a great foundation of a mobile marketing plan.

As mobile devices with browser capabilities become more popular, (i.e. – The current touch screen phone battle between the iPhone & the Storm) I see the demand for mobile coupons increasing in the United States.  According to a study by Deloitte, 57% of consumers are already asking for more mobile coupons.  Before the demand really takes off, however, now would be a great time for companies to test the waters and gather the resources needed for successful mobile marketing campaigns.

Source of Inspiration: Mobile Coupons Offer Multiple Benefits & Free Pastry Day from Starbucks

More Than Just Love Lessons from the movie ‘Twilight’

So I fall into the category of people who got dragged by a friend to watch the movie Twilight.  Personally, I didn’t even want to watch it, but it was Thanksgiving break @ school so mostly everyone was gone that weekend.

Now before all the die-hard Twilight fans get defensive…I want to say that I DO like the movie.  I’m a total sap for romantic movies & Twilight is definitely up there when it comes to romance.

There is one part that I could never get over though.  It’s the part where Bella & Edward are in the woods, and Edward is explaining to Bella why he can’t go into the sunlight.  He claims that he turns into this monster, so I was excited when Bella insisted that Edward show her what he looked like in the sunlight.

Now, I’m excited because when someone says “I turn into a monster”, I’m thinking Edward turns green, grows horns, loses teeth…stuff life that.  Therefore, imagine my disappointment when Edward steps into the sunlight, turns to Bella, and the only thing that changes is the sparkles in his skin.

“WTF!” is the first that comes to my mind.  Edward Cullen doesn’t look like a monster!  He looks like someone pushed him into a bin of diamond dust!  I couldn’t let that go for a loong time.

In fact, I brought it up to my sister the other day.  I explained to her what I just explained to you, and instead of laughing and reacting the way I did, she made a simple statement.  She said, “I wonder if that makes a statement about the issue of self-image and society’s view of beauty.”  Dang my sister is smart!

This got me thinking.  Often times, pop culture dictates the standards one needs to achieve in order to be deemed beautiful.  Print & broadcast media surround us with men and women that are “beautiful” and tell us that this is how we need to dress and act to be accepted and considered attractive.  A lot of money, tears, and stress is put into trying to work toward almost impossible goals.  The source of the most harsh criticism, however, comes from within a person.  Often times, you can read the news or talk to people and be completely in shock as to the self-esteem issues people deal with on a day to day basis.  It reminds me of a piece of wisdom I’ve heard my whole life:  It doesn’t matter what people think of you, it only matter that you think highly about yourself.

Going back to the Twilight example, this is what Edward Cullen went through.  His non vampire world put this immense pressure on him to look a certain way.  Yes, diamond skin is not the norm, but definitely not a stock picture of a ‘monster’.  It didn’t matter though.  Edward’s own interpretation of his self-image was far worse than any…..  I believe that it was his failure to meet his own standards of beauty, not the world’s, that kept him obsessed with staying out of the sun.

The moral of the story…be your own biggest fan!  Know that you are beautiful, no matter what people may say!

“Always keep a smile on your face, because you never know who may be falling in love with it.”

When Link Consolidation Won’t Work

The world of SEO was rocked a little while back when Google announced that PageRank sculpting no longer works.  The amazingly smart people over at SEOMoz wrote a blog post (link is at the bottom of this post) about this new thing called Link Consolidation.   From what I gather, your website can still impact the amount of “PageRank juice” that flows throughout your website by consolidating related content onto one page.  An example would be combining a company profile and employee information onto one page. What would’ve been two pages splitting available PageRank, now becomes a single page.  I think that this is a great idea. Not only does it help with SEO & crawlability, but it could also improve the user experience by simplifying the navigation and reducing the number of times the visitor needs to click on something before getting to the content that he/she was looking for.

Please be aware, however, that link consolidation does not trump keyword rich content.  Not all sites are open to link consolidation.   Make sure the pages you consolidate do not dilute the content of your page so search engine spiders can figure out what that page is about!  For example, if your an e-commerce site that sells home furnishings, don’t change your site so you have a lloonnnggg page with your couches, beds and outdoor patio furniture all on the same page.  This could ultimately make search engines think that your pages aren’t relevant enough for any of those keywords.

Another thing to keep in mind is what is most important to your business.  Whether is be a certain brand name, specific product or competitive advantage, make sure that you keep it front and center on your site.

In the end,  link consolidation definitely has its merits.  It has the ability to improve your site’s search engine performance AND make your site more user friendly.   Just make sure you think before you make any drastic site changes.  A second opinion about your specific case could benefit you tooo.  If you want, you can even ask my opinion too!  I’ll be happy to help.

Story of Inspiration: Link Consolidation: The New PageRank Sculpting

The Art – or Science – of Creativity

Have you ever met a person who was super smart, but equally boring?  Or…Have you ever met a person that could tell stories for days but couldn’t tell you how to boil water?  These people are the proof that smarts and creativity are not gauges for each other.

Dean Rieck of Copyblogger wrote about creativity as a muscle.  He’s absolutely right.  It’s true that some people are born with different levels of creativity, but these levels can change.  Some people further develop these skills and move on to become awesome writers, thinkers, actors, poets…the list goes on forever.  Others, however, see themselves as doomed to live uncreative, dull lives.

Which person are you?  When I read Dean’s post, it made me think about what makes a person creative.  Here are the top 3 things that I thought of:

  1. Creative people are naturally inquisitive.  Learning how something works is the 1st step in trying to figure out a way to do it differently.  Ask questions. Read. Talk to people.   It’s hard to find a very creative person that doesn’t enjoy doing 1 of those 3 things.
  2. Passion. Passion. Passion.  Not all things would make a creative person excited, but once you hit that button…there’s no stopping ’em.  Creative people usually specialize one thing or another.  Ask them their opinion on that topic and your stuck with them for a good while.  My sister is a great cook.  She LOVES food.  Take 1 trip with her to the grocery store and she’ll sound off recipes and nutritional value for anything you pick up. What’s your passion?  If you need help figuring that out, here are some ways to discover your passions:
    • Look through your browsing history on your computer.  What sites do you spend the most time on?
    • Next time your flipping through the channels when your usual shows aren’t on, what catches your eye and makes you stop and watch for a while.
    • This is one that I discovered last night…If you’re laying in bed and ready to get some sleep, but some thought comes to mind and gets you out of bed to think about it some more…that thought is more than likely a source of your passion.
  3. The final trait of a highly creative person is a reiteration of one of Dean’s qualities. Well, more like a combo of some of ’em. Creative people are motivated by tasks, and are willing to try new and different ways to complete the task. Creative people aren’t driven by the possibility or praise and awards. Instead, creative people are satisfied when the work is done, and they can look back and say, “Damn, I’m good.” [hopefully that’s not just something I do. 🙂 ]

Feeling like the creative type yet?  Yea? Good. No?  Don’t worry.  Dean and I both agree, creativity is something that is learned and developed.  If you find your passion (#2 on the list) then it’ll flow out of you.

Posting for Inspiration: 11 Traits of Highly Creative People

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Mary Peng


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