Why you should follow the lowest of the low

A beloved raspy throated entertainer, Jimmy Durante, affectionately know as Schnozzola for that trademark nose, once said:

Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down.

Jimmy Durante, 1893-1980It's true.

Some of the most grounded marketers, commentators and successful people in all walks of life out there, are at the top of their game because they listen to all people no matter what their rank.

You see you need to be reading content that is relevant, fresh, and unheard.

Unheard?

Why how absurd?

You see when it comes to finding great advocates about inbound marketing, there's little to compete with the thousands of inbound.org members.

Yes, there's nearly some ten thousand members in a little under a year of full activity.

The least active and lowest influential users also have karma and upvotes assigned to them and in some cases they score negatively.

Now you might, for a split second, dismiss low scorers from the depths of any league table, or infact any social network as made up of bots, spammers, charlatans, trolls, chancers, snake oil, MLM, and other assorted bottom feeders.

However while scraping the barrel of karma it occurred to me that such users are possibly misunderstood.

I did a little - actually a lot - of digging into their online presence, and here's what I found.

These people actually are not what you think.

Hear me out.

You see, in this oh so often misguided metric world, we are all too quick to judge a book by it's cover, a person by their score or rank and hey who can blame us right, we're all too busy busy and we all crave our filters right?

Well in a kind of hippie utopian way of looking at things, I think there's a little bit of beautiful magic in everyone and yes, sometimes the numbers do actually lie.

So here's a not so scientific closer look at some of the lowest of the low.

You decide if that adds up.

The lowdown on the Inbound.org low

as of November 5th, 2012

Nº 9065. Paris Childress | 0 Karma | 0 Upvotes | Web: hop-onilne.com | Twitter: @parischildress | Google+

Paris ChildressThe magnificently named and not unlike Seth Godin looking Paris, is a Bulgarian based New Orleans native CEO of an SEO agency in Sofia. Paris' firm is listed as an SEOMoz recommended company and counts the Everywhereist as a trusted client.

I particularly admire how he uses the lesser used but wholly valid LinkedIn technique of embedding Linkedin cards to display the credentials and connectedness of his staff.

Paris uses a live Skype button on his contact form and eschews captcha's to detect spam instead prompting users to multiple choice the definition of SEO with false answer choices such as Silent Elephant Oozing. 

Oh and Paris' first link on his agency homepage is to inbound.org.

Not too shabby.

Nº 9064. Jamie Steven | 1 Karma | 1 Upvotes | Web: seomoz.org | Twitter: @jamies | Google+

Jamie StevenJamie is the VP of marketing at SEOMoz. He has dabbled in some WBF's in 2010 and recently whipped up a deft post about Google Analytics and Google Docs mashing.

He has admitted on Twitter that he inserted an F-bomb into a Moz press release and he is the possessor of a couple of Cameroonian short URLs.

Jamie has an illustrious online career with some nearly four years as a product manager at Microsoft in the halycon days of Encarta.

Nº 9055. Kipp Bodnar | 0 Karma | 0 Upvotes | Web: b2bsocialmedia.com | Twitter: @kippbodnar | Google+

Kipp BodnarKipp was promoted to Director of Marketing at Hubspot six months ago after spearheading the content at their eponymous blog during nearly three years, and we all know that Hubspot is the spiritual other half of the origins of Inbound.org.

Kipp is the co-author of The b2b Social Media Book and one of his last posts on his personal blog a few years ago stated how he wanted to change the world.

From 2008 to 2010 his own blog was a hive of activity and his tenure at Hubspot seems to have put a brake on his non Hubspot output ever since.

You can hardly blame him for that though, in this video he explains how Hubspot publish marketing materials up to three times a day.

And with a $35 million in a fresh funding round of investment for international expansion just announced, Kipp and crew are due some huge congratulations.

The Inbound chunky middle

At this point, I should stress that the selections that continue were on the basis of a random finger in the air of who's next that has the slightly less least amount of karma, whereby if the above hadn't yet neither upvoted or accumulated karma then what would be of the bunch that had been bestowed with a unit of at least 1 karma point.

And it turns out that until I paginated to upper eighteen hundreds, everyone was pretty much on the same score of double zero karma and upvotes.

That's a lot of marketing inertia right there in the middle Inbound dot org managers. People who signed up, had a quick peek and perhaps a vote and were never to be seen again.

I waded in deep and pushed on for something of note, and came across Chris.

Nº 1798. Chris Gilchrist | 1 Karma | 2 Upvotes | Web: hitreach.co.uk | Twitter: @hitreach | Google+

Chris GilchrisChris is the MD of the Scottish outfit Hitreach.

Like many a mid town SEO agency - hey no offence to people of Dundee - Chris has mulled how to attract the attention of fellow SEOs from afar.

So most recently his agency produced a match the SEO tatoo to the person competition, and featured a host of SEO hotshots and their own body ink.

Chris also lobbied recently to uncover the avatar of fellow linker James Agate on Inbound, but alas was not as successful as a bloke called Jon from Florida who managed it this week in between lectures and classic blog posts.

Hitreach are also prolific Wordpress plugin makers and released an allow PHP in Wordpress plugin two years ago.

The blog post about it has recieved over 414 comments to date, including some tireless support from Jamie Fraser of Hitreach, and the plugin itself has been downloaded more than 68,000 times.

Nº 909. Ani Lopez | 5 Karma | 2 Upvotes | Web: dynamical.biz/blog | Twitter: @anilopez | Google+

Ani LopezAni Lopez is a Spanish marketing strategist based in Vancouver, Canada.

Ani is a fine proponent of multilingual SEO and advanced Analytics with a host of SMX speaking gigs to his name and is now the inhouse analytics advocate of the delightfully named 1-800-GOT-JUNK? claiming his role involves mastering "Garbage in, Insights out."

Ani previously translated and published a spanish eye tracking and SERPs study into English on his blog which was warmly received, proving that advanced SEO abounds not just in English.

Nº 734. Chandra Clarke | 7 Karma | 9 Upvotes | Web: chandraclarke.com | Twitter: @chandraclarke | Google+

Chandra Clarke

Chandra Clarke is a founder of scribendi.com, a proof reading company in Canada that can safely boast: "trusted with more than 604 million words."

There are few outfits that can carve a business podcast niche about the proper use of parentheses like Chandra's.

As a seasoned wordsmith and evocative blogger Chandra has a strong distaste for pink, for mompreneurs, and has ardently blogged about styrofoam peanuts.

There is a huge pool of talent within the member pages of Inbound irrespective where you look.

And whilst the pareto rule most probably applies to the karma and upvotes across the board, it doesn't really tell the full story.

Numbers cannot evoke

It doesn't really tell the full story because numbers may indeed indicate but they can't evoke, like words do, like stories do, like story tellers do, like people do.

So next time you're evaluating marketing effectiveness, be it rank, score, grades, DA, PA, Likes, Tweets, the whole shebang of metrics, and the left hemisphere is in full swing, remember to counter balance it with some right brain evaluation.

Marketing and persuasion are inextricably linked and persuasion is a powerful force. Only right now, two men are putting that to the test in a $5.8bn gamble.

Maybe they should just cop an ear to the vaudeville Schnozzola before it's game over.

ps. with thanks to Mark Traphagen of Virante for the inspiration of this post.

Claque SEO is out

History will teach us nothing....so sang a Geordie teacher who long since donned a yellow and black jumper.

Indeed I was equally intrigued as Christian Payne, aka Documentally, of the parallels that Matt Locke - founder of the outfit named StoryThings - spoke about during a lecture about the History of Attention.

Of course attention and applause is an elusive goal that all publishers and companies strive for.

Matt explains that during the 19th Century opera era, aplause was a metric of attention for the business of opera, something that is not too removed from percieved marketing success metrics of today.

Claque Monsieur?

Claque agencies sprang up in Paris some two hundred years ago to serve up large dosages of canned enthusiasm with neatly defined roles for the chef de claque (leader of applause), the commissaires (officers/commissioner), the rieurs (laughers), the pleureurs (criers), the chatouilleurs (ticklers), and the bisseurs (encore-ers) all intent on generating ROI for their clients.

It's tempting to cruelly draw parallels with a SEO agency job positions or indeed any marketing specialists but that would be perhaps a cynical step too far.

Listen below to an excerpt of an interview Christian did with Matt.

In the audio clip below Matt explains:

the economy around content in that era was built around applause, because it was economically important there were ways of cheating it, there were ways of gaming the applause, just as there was payola around radio and TV, around music...

Can hollow content echo?

So technology apart, not much has really changed since then.

Marketers still yearn for big breakthroughs and crave attention as much as the chef de claques and their paymasters did then.

Whilst the lacey bonnets of yesteryear may have been replaced with racey miniskirts of today, in essence the motives and human methods have not really shifted.

During the last World Cup in South Africa a Dutch brewery avoided official sponsorship by deploying a classic guerilla advertising tactic of ardent blonde applause in minimal attire.

However with the advent of the Games this summer, the inexorable proliferation of content, spam, and competition for attention it's getting ever harder to succeed.

If you are a marketer you face stark choices.

Run the Olympic risk of incurring the wrath of the legislation and branding regulation around the Games by going guerilla?

Continue deploying outdated SEO practices that fuel the myths and misunderstandings of SEO and risk the severe penalties that are being handed out?

The fat lady is seoing

Over time the evolving concert etiquette of opera rendered the Claquers obsolete and the art moved on.

And these days, despite protests by the SEO all too often navel gazing community, the search updates by Google, most recently Penguin - attacking thin links, and before that Panda, taking out sites with thin pages, the search results have generally improved for the wider public.

Despite the scaremongering about negative SEO and complaint about effects of business being wiped out because of sudden deindexation, there is little celebration of the counter side of the recent changes that have equally rewarded business who have flourished as a result of dramatically changed rankings.

Marketing is moving on.

It's not all about claque nowadays, the truth is if you plan to succeed your marketing needs more than just a sting.

Google Drive is a lexical anachronism

What's in a name?

Quite a lot I would say.

Thankfully when they decided against Backrub as it was initially called, the Google founders choose well.

Since then, they have flirted with all sorts of naming conventions for Google products, but I do not regard yesterday's choice of Google Drive as the zenith of product naming inspiration.

Take Dropbox for example, it does what it says on the tin. The analogy works for most people.

Even for non english speakers.

And that is where my beef of contention is with Drive.

It reeks of geek. Yes I know we all have a C: Drive and assorted other alphabetical ones but even my non geek english speaking friends cannot relate to a Drive.

When Google launched Wave, some argued it was a peculiar name to give it although the product was so ahead of it's time and regular users that it defied easy definition anyhow.

A soul of silicon and the logo of a british bank

But Drive? I mean even Microsoft have used Sky as in SkyDrive in some way making that, heaven forbid, fashionable association with the Cloud.

Why not Disk Google? Surely even that name is more universal than Drive, or would it infer a too much of a physical item or be a remanant of CD Discs or even floppy disks from yesteryear?

So Folder is not a contender because that way of thinking is the anti-thesis of search and carries far too much MSOffice connotations.

The people at the Plex have done everything to distance themselves from the Folders ways of thinking in the hope users would follow suite. Remember it's dubbed collections in Docs.

So how about Space?

Everyone wants space, more space and space is far more multilingual than Drive.

Was space given the elbow because of fear of association with MySpace?

And while we are on the subject of design, please don't get me started on the logo. For the brits among us, Google Drive has the logo left overs of a famous high street british bank.

What would your mum say?

You see my mum, that acid test of computing, well she is spanish and even Maria Josefa Alburquerque Lorencio, Fifina to you and me, cannot emote with Drive.

I talk with her about stuff, places, spaces, boxes, folders, and hey even computers and stuff I do on the internet to make money for a living.

Mostly in spanish, and not just limited to that simple vocabularly. You get my gist.

Directories I try to avoid and Drive I reserve only when referring to the Renault or the Fiat on the parked on the driveway.

Here's one Google Drive however I do want and could readily emote with.

Lastly, if like me you have tried your level best to emote with Drive and have been greeted by such a cryptic message like so, then there's a Google Group for that - which of course you are welcome to join.

With your Google Account of course.

Vroom, vroom.

Algo Columbo

If you've ever asked two SEO professionals a probing question, you're likely to have recieved at least three different answers.

Search is never truly a precise science, because it's conditions are set, not just by the mighty G force, but also by the behaviour of everyone else using their services.

And because neither Google or its' users are never still, it makes for a compelling adventure, intellectual headscratching and a fair amount of good ole detective work when things don't pan out.

And in some quarters recent Search events have not panned out as expected.

How could it be that a highly respected SEO agency from Philadelphia would succumb to some sort of Google search maelstrom that would result in it being obliterated in search results so suddenly?

Every half decent SEO pro possesses an inate curiosity and of course this statement by Wil set off a whole chain reaction from SEO people as to the cause and remedy for Seer Interactive's plight.

Was it a result of the parked domain slip up recently admitted by Matt Cutts?

Was it the result of nascent Negative SEO?

Heaven forbid, an over optimised title tag or the velocity of link acquisition?

It could be some or none of those, one of the equal joys and frustrations of Search is that it's not straight forward to conclusively prove a theory either way.

Wild goose chases and red herrings are all par for the course.

And often that leads to drastic action being taken.

So what did Seer Interactive do?

They acted fast and reading between Wil's blog lines and comments we can definitely see two actions Seer took to specifically combat the situation.

  • A 301 redirect from the previous company name of Seer Interactive was ruthlessly severed, taking with it years of legacy backlinks, of all sorts.
  • And a link to a client site was also removed from Seer Interactive.

Forgive me if I have a rummage with some SEO tools to delve a little more.

Using Link Detective the classification of links to Seer are itemised for the current domain and their legacy one.

It's revealing to see at a glance, may I stress, the emphasis of link strategies that the company has pursued over time.

Previously, the back links to Seer were very much SEO keyword focused, and what looks like the deliberate departure of that tactic is evident with a very different proportion of anchor text links for seerinteractive.com

Let's be clear though, this is only one of probably a plethora of checks and tools that evidently the Seer lieutenants and close pals would have used to diagnose matters.

After all, three eyes are better than one.

Baggage and ties

In severing that 301 redirect, in one swoop Seer may have disassociated themselves from their baggage and simultanesouly removed the effects of a mixture of probable quality and lesser quality links.

Some of the quality of those legacy links may well have deterioated over time and with the advent of an algorthmic change by Google recently, may have tripped a certain threshold, and possibly an attempt by Google to penalise abnormally low volumes of branded anchor keywords.

Put another way, there may have been insufficient naturally worded links to the Think Seer domain in the past, using the keyword term Think Seer.

Thin links to big sites

The other action Seer did was remove this page from their blog.

This screenshot cache is a quick blog entry with a link to a prominent client of Seer Interactive.

During the intial frenzy of SEO excitement many friends of Wil were looking up if seerinteractive was ranking for it's own name.

Yet often it's worth looking at things from another perspective all together.

That famous supplier of email marketing software has on the face of it, a huge link profile with some of the highest scores possible.

How could it be that such an industry stalwart has a page 2 position whilst a lesser known rich snippet spammer occupies the number º1 spot?

Is the SERPs for email marketing software as obtuse of that for SEO companies?

At that point I've not dug any further. Others will do so.

However I find this particularly fascinating that Seer chose to remove this somewhat thin link.

And yet in some respects, Seer have with immediate effect and by (mis)fortune of circumstance, actioned of much of what SEOMoz's latest white board friday video championed, that is:

  1. Use Authentic Titles
  2. Avoid manipulative internal links
  3. Forget crappy footer link stuffing
  4. Don't cram irrelevant text with links on the page
  5. Avoid links from penalty likely sources
  6. Get links from distinct pages not near clones

To rename or to rebrand, that is the question

One of the most significant wider issues to rise from this SEO event is the implications for marketers with respect of any rebranding exercise.

Too often the term rebrand is substituted for the the word rename, when they are wholly a different order of magnitude.

It's something I have raised with SEO agency colleagues and I do question how effective or risky any such exercise is in future.

A mere name change of your domain with classic 301 redirects in place, may not be enough, indeed it may, subject to your link profile be somewhat risky, compared to a full scale true rebranding exercise where you do amass branded keyword links.

Of course, Seer could revisit and cherry pick modification of the most significant legacy backlinks with a view to preserving some of their weight to the power of their domain, but that is a huge exercise with questionable outcome.

It's an interesting dilemma that far from begs of a formulaic answer.

Negative SEO or The Perfect Storm

Of course speculation, informed or not, never ceases online and even more so when SEO is involved.

Wil refers to Negative SEO as something to be aware of in his blog post, but does not infer this was directly a cause in Seer's case.

I'm less inclined to believe Seer were explicitly a target, but perhaps if anything, an inadvertent victim of the same effects of Negative SEO rather than any malicious intent.

In any case there are other targets, including ones cited on this page openly courting attempts to bowl them.

If SEO navel gazing industry talk about Negative SEO does one thing, it is to disproportionately steal attention of the positive Search successes that have come out of the last few weeks and reassociate marketing minds with shady SEO practices yet again.

That is not to say you should turn a blind eye to it.

Of course if you are convinced of the adverse effects of Negative SEO, you'll speak up and show the evidence, much like Seer did with their heads up sharing of their short lived predicament.

And forget not what Peter Falk did in his pre Columbo days when playing baseball as recounted to Cigar Aficionado magazine.

"I remember once in high school the umpire called me out at third base when I was sure I was safe. I got so mad I took out my glass eye, handed it to him and said, 'Try this.' I got such a laugh you wouldn't believe."

Some people really have to see it for themselves.

So if you have overwhelming evidence about Negative SEO, bring it on.

That's when Search marketers can revel in the detail to test theories and prove/disprove notions.

Oh, just one more thing...

I've detected a Columbo spirit in many SEO characters and a penchant for detail.

Take this last quote from the actor Peter Falk himself:

"I have an obsessive thoroughness. It's not enough to get most of the details, it's necessary to get them all. I've been accused of perfectionism. When Lew Wasserman (head of Universal Studios) said that Falk is a perfectionist, I don't know whether it was out of affection or because he felt I was a monumental pain in the ass."

The Search marketer is an intellectually restless animal.

Don't ya think?

Death, pets, children and renewal

I am melancholy.

My wife and I just took the decision at the veterinary clinic to put down one of our two cats.

Maasai was a fantastic Seal Point Birman.

Like many cats of his breed, at the age of twelve, Maasai had developed a kidney dysfunction which had rapidly reached a chronic stage, and after two days under care it was apparent his condition was irreversible.

Regardless if you are a dog or cat person the loss of a pet companion is a wrench. If you've gone through similar with your pet, you may know how awful it is. 

This pic is when he was only a couple of months playfully old at the start of the millenia.

Stuck for a name at the time we acquired them, we named the pair of Birman cats we bought in London, Maasai & Mara, having recently returned from a trip to Kenya.

That second picture is Mara - the titanium hip plated sister to the 6+kg Maasai - atop a hot router.

Children and the idea of death and renewal

It's not my first time I have experienced this situation, as I unhappily recall the moment as a child, however this time the ordeal was as a parent which was even more testing with a nine and three and half year old accompanying my wife and I at the vets.

My son Alexander (9 years) was old enough to comprehend the situation yet evidently sad about it. I feel it important that the notion of death is not concealed in his upbringing.

He is at the age where curisosity abounds in anything he learns and is immediately pondering and querying aspects of the cat's final moments.

He has developed logic and yet can be abstract in thought and exercise wonderful imagination.

My daughter Olivia, at three and a half years old, was expectant we would return home from the vets with Maasai and naturally was bewlidered, upset and yet equally rapidly distractable.

Guilt about guilt

The relationship between human and animal is a strange one. We develop affections for a pet animals while they depend on us during their lifetime for food, shelter and attention and yet the majority of us, myself included, comfortably remain meat eaters for example.

What has played on my conscious though has been putting this episode into perspective in the midst of far greater difficulties that afflict our life and that of many others in these times.

I know that family health of other relatives is more important and recent news has certainly reminded me of that.

It can seem absurd to mourn yet as the vet explained, you've spent all that time being attentive to an animal who devotes and seemingly adores its' owners and the loss evokes memories of past stages in your life that you cannot easily dissociate.

Today I feel guilty about feeling guilty. I am confused. Is that wrong?

Children are your love

Can you really love an animal?

Language carries a lot of weight and whilst a bond is developed with a pet, it never surpasses a human relationship.

If there was one moment of joy today, it was the indefatigable inadvertent humour that a three and half year old brings to your world.

As I talk spanish with my already bilingual daughter, I explained that Maasai was sadly not coming back home as he was going to heaven.

And heaven in spanish is cielo, meaning sky.

Alas, Olivia nonchantly replied to me:

Maasai is not going to heaven, he doesn't have wings papa.

No papa, Maasai no puede ir al cielo, no tienes alas.

This picture was snapped just moments after she convincingly told me that.

Love family.