EJM Designs Limited Blog

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kill the Idontwannas

You've been there before: getting out of bed, waking up, answering the phone, checking your voicemail because you didn't answer the phone, running your business, making that meeting that you can skip...

I don't wanna...

I've mentioned this before about your thoughts defining who and what you are. When you hear that coming from inside your head, you need to snuff it. You need to step up and do what you know you need to do.

The Idontwannas will break you, and spill poison into your business and your life.

So get up, get a move-on. Make action your success, make motivation your mission. Live like you know you need to, even if - some days - you don't want to.

And if you can change that switch, even if you have to flip it every day or even every few hours, do it.

Make your life as beautiful as you think it can be. You're driving the bus. You're the one in charge. So do it. As Captain Picard said: Make it so.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wendy's Fried Linguistics

You may have noticed that since November, Wendy's has been offering slimmer, skin-on fries called -- well, let the branding speak for itself:

Wendy's Fries

At first glance, you notice the rustic/artisan patina print, "Natural" and "Sea Salt!?" OMG - Wendy's is going all natural, must be organic or something. Must have!

They did an amazing job on their branding for this because that was my first, subconscious reaction as well: Yay! Wendy's goes natural, go green! Ah, but it is not to be so.

Quick review of the language

Natural-Cut: This is not "Natural, cut" but natural-cut, literally meaning cut naturally. Now I can imagine a few horrific scenarios where you might see potatoes being cut and exclaim "Oh, how unnatural!" but seriously: how do you cut things unnaturally. That's like advertising "Coherent-Reality Chips." When wouldn't they be? And if they went through such extensive pains NOT to call their fries natural, what are they exactly?

Fries: Lest you forget amongst all the magical potato language and graphics, these are french fries. They are fried taters. And while fried taters may be delicious and varied in taste and preparation, they are NEVER good for you.

Sea Salt: Yes, sea salt is different than table salt, especially the micron-powdered stuff they used to coat the fries with, but it's still salt. You ever hear a doctor tell his/her heart patient "The table salt is killing you, but if you can switch to sea salt, I think you'll be just fine."?

The Truth

Based on some preliminary articles, Wendy's missed the boat on this one. Despite appearing more appealing to foodies or naturalists, "the new fries will pack more sodium - a medium size fry goes from 350 milligrams to 500 milligrams ... and calories jumps 10 to 420."

Caveat emptor, my friends. If something looks too good to be true, ...well, you know.

(And on a personal note, I do think the new fries are pretty tasty.)

Unfortunate Ad: HISCOX

I saw this ad over at The Oatmeal, a site full of witty and insightful web comics, seated amongst similarly-sized comic links like "How to Pet a Kitty" and the like.


Then I clicked it 'cause I was all like "OMG - thorough, well-thought-out joke site by which I may waste my time!" But I looked and I looked. And I couldn't find the funny fake-ness I anticipated it to be. And then I saw the figurative, tall, angry HR lady in a pant-suit looking down upon me with the disappointment of a sister in a habit, making that sad clicking noise out of the side of her mouth before barely audibly sighing "And what did you think would be so funny?" *

Did I mention I grew up with Cox Cable in the house?

* While I made a point of dramatizing it a bit, I am a professional when it comes to usability; the ad size tip-off, pre-click, to a quick scan and click-through of the target site lasted less than six seconds.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Do I Need to Adjust My SEO Every Month?



Sorry. Allow me to elucidate.

I get the question all the time and not everyone likes my answer. The question generally comes from a client or potential client who heard from someone something to the effect of: "Yeah, Google's always adjusting its algorithm, so you've got to mix up that SEO every single month to keep up."

The Plan

Say you or a service provider puts together an all-inclusive, rear-kickin' SEO plan and executes it perfectly. Every page has a definitive focus, reinforced by the page title - h1 - copy Holy Relevance Trinity. Your meta data is tuned (if not always used), alt and title attribute tags are playing some killer backup and your copy is sufficient but not overkill, readable but keyword-dense.

What then?

Well, assuming the necessary submissions, robots.txt, autodiscovery are in place and nothing is done to accidentally sabotage the outcome, you've got a pretty good chance Google et.al. will begin indexing your pages or raising your rankings. After a couple weeks to a couple months, that is.

The Someone Quote

"Yeah, Google's always adjusting its algorithm, so you've got to mix up that SEO every single month to keep up."

The first problem with that general idea is the timing. Yes, you can be certain that the good folks at Google don't take one day off making tiny changes to the algorithm. But as we just mentioned, it may take a couple months to get moving. So what were you tweaking?

The second problem with the quote is the absolute arrogance it encompasses. That Someone does not know a whole lot about the algorithm, let alone the little adjustments; if they did, they would be busy on a yacht.

The last problem is necessity. If you already have a clear focus on your pages and a solid search engine optimization setup, how much can you accurately make that better by small tweaks from month to month? The answer is: you can't.

The Con(clusion)

The person who tells you that you need SEO adjustments every month either does not understand search engine optimization or is lying in order to perpetuate that myth - and perhaps even rope you into an unnecessary, expensive 12+ month SEO contract. Their gain, your loss.

In a worst-case scenario, you're looking at a never-ending game of ghost cat-and-mouse: "Sorry about the lack of any measurable results, but we're doing everything we can and Google keeps switching it up."

(Can you guess which parties do not appreciate my answer?)

A Recommendation

Search engine optimization does change, but except for the HUGE revisions (hint: they have names), the little tweaks aren't going to drastically affect your rankings, and the little tweaks that would be done to your site monthly are something a small- or medium- sized business has absolutely no need for.

After I explain this to a client, I give them a realistic recommendation: Yes, Google does change, but your focus does not, not by much. So after 90 days we'll take a look at analytics, at rankings, (at no charge) and if we see something that could increase your rankings, at THAT time we'll put together suggestions with justification into a proposal for additional SEO work.

In my professional opinion, anything else is either ignorance or deception.

(Sidenote for another post: Be wary of anyone separating web design from SEO, e.g. "And this is our SEO Package." "SEO Friendly" is what you get if you don't choose that package, which generally means "If you want it later, we'll tear out the drywall in your house to add the electric. Until then? Nothing, and we'll wait for your call.")