Happy Halloween 2012 – Costume Origins and Ideas

Happy Halloween!

This spooky day isn’t complete without costumes, candy and having a good scare. But have you ever thought about the origins of Halloween costumes? This all began as a season of celebration (and superstition), as people in ancient Celtic culture would dress up to scare spirits away. These costumes often involved spirits, ghouls and other frightening things. Over time, Halloween and the idea of costumes became more popularized to be more child and pop-culture friendly. Aren’t we lucky that people everywhere can now enjoy Halloween in their own different way?

Here are some online marketing-themed spooky costumes:


Black Hat SEO (also available in white and grey hat)


Google (other options include: Bing, Yahoo, AOL, DuckDuck Go. You can also bring back the oldies like Ask Jeeves and Dogpile!)


Evil Penguin (also available in evil panda)

Sleazy salesman (Cold-caller selling questionable SEO services… enough said!)


Content scraped (Hit by bots that crawl and steal your content while slapping on spammy affiliate links? You’ve been scraped!)

Let us know if you have any other good ones!

Online Marketing Lessons to Learn from 3 Scary Movies (Part 2)

Happy Halloween Eve! Get ready for some more lessons from scary movies:

4) Gremlins
Gremlins and links – what do they have in common? One is cute and cuddly (Gizmo/white hat) and the others are just plain nasty (Mogwai/black hat). In the movie, the bad gremlins multiply quickly and can cause havoc if left to their own devices. (If it were only so easy to kill bad links with bright light…)

As we know, there are different types of links and automated services might not be the best. Links should be earned a few at a time and not by the dozens or hundreds one day out of the month to catch up. Even Google recently said that website submission services can be harmful to your site. Proceed with caution and just like having your own Gizmo, some people just aren’t ready!

5) The Fly
In this cult classic by David Cronenberg, Dr. Brundle turns into a human fly in an experiment gone awry. His ultimate wish is to be fused with his wife and unborn child to become… you know, the ultimate fly-human-hybrid. After his plot is foiled, he begs his wife to put an end to his misery – which she does.

Does this sound familiar to your website? Some owners can go overboard with content, design, over-optimization, thin content, and questionable SEO tactics over the years. Pair that with an exact match domain and you’re bound to be buried by Google in the post Panda and Penguin world. There’s a time for it and some people just need to know when to end it all… and start over new. This means 301 redirecting your content or affected URLs to a new domain and starting fresh with new content. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. Don’t let the monster consume your pride and work things out before things get any worse.

6) Friday the 13th
At the end of the film, just when you think the masked killer is dead, there he is! Not only does Jason live but he also survives 11 other sequels including trips to space, hell and an intense battle with Freddy Krueger. The same goes with SEO. Many people claim that SEO is “dead” but it has really taken a life form of its own and is constantly changing to adapt to the evolving search marketing landscape. You can go on and on about how search engine optimization is a dying art but at the end of the day it comes down to the truth – SEO lives (and so does Jason Voorhees)!

Read our previous post here and let us know what you think!

Online Marketing Lessons to Learn from 3 Scary Movies

Halloween season is finally upon us! And even though the weather is in the upper 80’s here in Los Angeles, it’s always fun to get into the fall spirit by conjuring up some scary movies and see what we can learn from them. Scaredy-cats, be warned!

1) The Exorcist
In horror movies, it’s particular disturbing to see things that are distorted from things we see in everyday life. What might seem normal in an advanced yoga class isn’t so cool when it’s in the form of a possessed, 12-year old girl spider walking downstairs! That’s why certain angles and even slight changes to regular features are so scary.

Keep this in mind when designing your website – even with the most basic things such as having a Home button towards the left-hand navigation and Contact Us to the right. It’s not smart to tweak traditional design elements that can confuse customers and cause them to leave. In some cases, it can be downright spoOooOoky.

spider walk

2) Killer Klowns from Outer Space
If you haven’t seen this cult-classic, you’re really missing out. Evil alien clowns terrorize a small town with popcorn and cotton candy guns. Did I mention that they drink their victims through a silly straw?

Much like SEO, clowns get a bad wrap. Clowns can be creepy (Pennywise from IT and clown doll from Poltergeist) and SEOs can be deceptive (hidden text and content scraping). The origins of clowns come from a  happy, positive place… which so happened to fall down a deep, dark place over the years. The same thing goes for search marketing. There are ethical ways to go about online marketing and then there are methods that are 100% designed to manipulate search engines.

So the choice is yours… are you going to be a good (whitehat) SEO or dabble in blackhat methods that could get your site penalized?

3) Twilight Zone Episode: “Button, Button”

Ok, so this isn’t a movie but it’s too good to be left out. The storyline is as follows: a couple receive an offer from a strange man – a box with a button. If they press the button, they’ll receive $200,000 but a person who they don’t know will die. They end up pressing the button, receiving the money WITH the ominous warning that the box will be reset and give to someone else who they don’t know!

As always, the lesson learned here is that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of any internet marketing firm who promises you X amount of #1 rankings. Or “social media gurus” who promise you business from thousands of “fans”. When it comes to marketing your business, it’s best to use your common sense and not to be greedy. Online marketing is slow, persistent work that pays off in the long run. There are no shortcuts and those who choose them will face consequences sooner than later.

Make sure to stay tuned for 3 more scary movies and their takeaways!

Dreading Google Updates? 4 Memes You Might Relate To

If you’ve noticed that your website traffic and/or search rankings were significantly down this week, you might have been affected by Google’s EMD and Panda 20. How convenient of Google to release these updates right before the weekend and so close to each other that site owners will have a hard time figuring out what went wrong. Like the Panda and Penguin algorithm, the exact match domain updates will also be reoccurring in the future.

During this tumultuous time, many webmasters are becoming increasingly frustrated with keeping up with acceptable SEO best practices. Here are 4 memes that may properly convey the emotions that you can’t quite put into words:


1) Derp guy best represents owners who are clueless about their website and Google’s quality guidelines. Many businesses have websites that are built, optimized and forgotten. Even though it might not seem like that long ago, the SEO world is always evolving. Recently, it’s constantly changing at an even faster pace than most SEOs can keep up with. Some search marketing companies provide clients with quarterly or semi-annual reports. Don’t wait! In the midst of all these algorithm updates, if you haven’t heard about the state of your website recently, it’s time to ask and get informed. No more herp-derping allowed.


2) Rage guy knows exactly how you feel. Your site was a well-ranking exact match domain that virtually disappeared from SERPs overnight. All because an exact or partially matched domain that was purchased years ago? Why, Google… why? It’s too early to tell exactly what the factors are but sites from all different industries have been affected. Dr. Pete’s early analysis of 1000 sites showed that even credible, established sites like the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA) can take a hit, all because of the “exact match” domain – charterschools.org. While your rage is warranted, it’s best channeled into productive activities. This means not trolling search marketing sites and leaving negative comments about Matt Cutts or Danny Sullivan, but rather researching them for your plan of action.


3) Challenge accepted guy can relate to rage guy, but differs in that he’ll do something constructive about it. Sometimes, you just need to ask for help or have a different set of eyes look at your website, back link profile, quality of content etc. Who says that you have to go through this alone? Many companies are available for consultation, you can get training and learn from webinars/seminars. And there are also helpful forums (like Google Product Forums) for free feedback. Challenge accepted guy isn’t going to let Google discourage him from regaining his rankings, especially before the busy season of the holidays. Let’s do this thing!


4) Forever alone guy is feeling alone. He just can’t take it anymore! After Penguin’s massive hit in April, his site traffic has virtually dried up. No clicks, no calls and no emails. Visitors that make it to his site aren’t even sticking around and his bounce rate is high as ever. Social networking? Forget about it… this guy has no interest in social signals. But then again, what loner does? Don’t feel too bad for him though, he might just try his luck on loneliness with Bing or Yahoo. At least then, he won’t feel so alone…

Was your site affected by the recent algorithm updates? Feel free to share the meme that best describes your feelings.

5 Things Nerdist Industries Can Teach You About Marketing Your Business

What began 4 years ago as a blog by Chris Hardwick has transformed into the giant that is known as Nerdist Industries. The site is pretty much a one-stop-shop for nerds on all things pop culture. In recent news, Legendary Entertainment has acquired Nerdist (read more about that here.) So, just exactly how did one comedian’s idea blossom into an acquisition of a major production company? This is no small feat and certainly not an overnight success. Find out how Nerdist has become so successful and what your business can learn:

nerdist

1) Find a niche and go for it: Even within the “nerd culture”, there are different types of people and interests. Things usually associated with the word “nerd” include video games, computers and technology. But in fact, Nerdist has expanded on that limited mindset to also include: movies, music, food, comedy and even sex/health.

If you look at it compared to marketing, it’s the same way. Marketing is a very general term and there are so many different areas to expand on: traditional, email, newsletters, viral, direct mail, print, online, etc. Being a generalist is helpful but being a specialist can make your business stand out.

2) Appreciate your fans/customers: Nerdist provides free content via podcasts, articles and video clips. In a world where everything has a price tag, it’s nice to see something made with passion be put out for free for fans to consume. It’s also not surprising to see the hosts/comedians also respond to fans by comments or through Tweets. This personal touch makes fans feel more connected to the community and more likely to attend live shows.

Nowadays, social media provides a channel for companies to showcase the human side of their business. Personal interaction is crucial for repeat customers and to help establish a trustworthy reputation. As for giving things away, the Freemium model works well for many businesses, especially when it comes to digital goods.

3) Enlist the help of your friends: What makes Nerdist podcasts so great? When comedians invite their friends, of course! These conversations provide an inside look into the industry on a personal level that can’t be found anywhere else. And not to sound superficial, but it all ties back to promoting yourself but not at an in-your-face kind of way. After all, this is a business and there is money to be made. For example, in Doug Benson’s dining podcast, each episode focuses on a local eatery such as the Grilled Cheese Truck and the Let’s Be Frank hot dog cart. This is a great form of promotion that is interesting and relevant to foodies and comedy fans alike.

Cross promotion is a great way to gain exposure in a different audience… especially if it’s closely related. As a small business owner, there’s great opportunity when you combine efforts with friends or other local businesses. Bringing on others will help with networking in the industry and it will also force your business put out better services/products.

4) Make your branding memorable: Part of what makes Nerdist so recognizable is its consistent branding. Even though there are over 20 different podcasts, each of them still feels like they belong to the Nerdist family. Part of finding your individual voice in the crowd also means personalizing it, even if it is with a sign off catch phrase like “Enjoy your burrito” or “Keep it crispy”.

Does your business have a consistent look and feel? Branding is an important part of effective reputation management and building a credible repertoire. Whether you’re a small business or a large company, it’s important that consumers find your brand and logo memorable so that they keep you in mind for their future business needs.

5) Work hard and don’t lose sight of the big picture: Not just any comedian (or anyone, for that matter) can create a unique business model as Nerdist. Many people even question how Nerdist can even monetize the free content that they’re putting out but believe it, they are making it happen. This passion and desire for hard work didn’t just come from anywhere. After all, Chris could have been a washed-up former MTV host turned alcoholic if he didn’t turn his personal and professional life around.

There is no quick short cut to success and Nerdist is a perfect example of that. If you want your business to run like a well-oiled machine, the only way to do it is to get down and dirty and do it yourself. But no matter how much effort you put into things, remember to never lose sight of your integrity and remember why you’re in business in the first place!

What Highlander Can Teach You About Online Marketing

By some inexplicable feat, Highlander has become a cult classic. The 1986 has been deemed a “confusing movie that makes no sense” by some and “a top 10 fantasy film” by others. Regardless of your opinion, there are important things this film can teach you about online organic marketing. Let’s take a look:

“There can only be one” – This catch phrase is repeated throughout the movie, especially when one “immortal” is about to be killed. This memorable quote has stuck by the movie for over 25 years. Now, that’s branding! Take this into account with your own brand message or mission statement. It’s important that this message accurately represents your business and is something that you can relate to for years to come. And remember, some of the most famous taglines are the most simple.

Attract attention in the right ways – What makes sense about having a Frenchman (Christopher Lambert) playing a Scottish warrior? Or having a Scottish man (Sean Connery) play a Spaniard? These bizarre casting choices brought Highlander attention, which has earned its place in cinematic history. If the internet and memes existed back then, you bet that bloggers would be all over this film! Attracting attention is important and sometimes, it doesn’t entirely make sense. Viral videos, anyone? The point is, these precise choices were made to raise awareness and interest in the film.

Re-work and re-write for remakes – Audiences love remakes and reboots, so it only makes sense that Highlander is slated to be restarted with Ryan Reynolds. What better way to get the public interested in an old franchise than with a handsome, young star? If you apply this strategy to your content, it only makes sense. It can be difficult to decide whether to trash a page that doesn’t rank well or to try and fix it by re-working it. As we know the value of older domains, it’s helpful to keep strong, SEO-friendly URLs whenever possible. Instead of starting over completely, you can use the page/topic as a starting point to come up with something newer and more relevant to your customers.

Sometimes, we can find inspiration in the strangest places. Let us know what you think about Highlander and all things internet marketing!

Porn Sites, PageRank & Popularity

Porn sites debunking SEO myths. Say what? Today, we take a look at a video by Matt Cutts explaining just that:

Is PageRank determined by popularity? Yes and no. Your site’s popularity is a factor in your PageRank but it’s not the only one. Among many other things, PageRank also includes reputation. Matt explains how even though porn sites are highly popular, they are often not linked by reputable sources like CNN and The New York Times. This explains why .gov and .edu sites (other reputable sources that aren’t as popular) have a higher PageRank than lower quality sites that aren’t reputable (porn sites).

Are porn sites (and other low quality sites) penalized by Google? The video shows that the porn industry isn’t necessary targeted as a whole to be penalized but there might be some other explanations. The question also brings up a good point, since porn sites often feature many link exchanges, ads and affiliate links to other low quality sites. As a whole, Google frowns on this.

What does Google consider trustworthy?Reputation, trust, and authority are all words in Google’s vocabulary in ranking high quality sites. Google trust includes PageRank although Matt claims that it’s not really an algorithm, but more of a way how Google determines the usefulness and relevancy of a page. In other words, Google looks at pages in the eyes of an average visitor and judges the page on whether it’s delivering what it’s promising and in what manner.

What do you think and does this video help clear up the often misconceived notion that PageRank is solely based on popularity?

Arcade Fire: Social Media and a #1 Album

As Katy Perry, Drake, Eminem and Lady Gaga dominate the summer music charts, it was nice to see a change at the top spot. Congrats to Arcade Fire! But what really helped them get there? Good music, unique live performances, loyal fans or a focused social media marketing plan? How about all of the above? Earlier this month, the band even played a live show from New York’s Madison Square Garden, which was streamed in real-time on YouTube.

A look at Arcade Fire’s social media profiles reveals that they are effective because they are so well-maintained. It’s also refreshing to see a band expand beyond just using MySpace. All the profiles are linked to their main site, where fans can find tour information and buy the new album. Over 97,000 digital sales have also helped Arcade Fire secure the #1 spot.

The ease and shareability through social media has given Arcade Fire (and tons of other bands) an opportunity to reach new fans that they wouldn’t have otherwise. A new Arcade Fire fan reveals, “I just found out about this band today and I must say, I’m quite impressed. They are amazing.” Isn’t this glowing review an example of what any band or business would like to have said about them?

‘Modern Man’ is currently my favorite track off the album. Check it out!

Thoughts from Prince & Kenny G: Is the Internet Dead?

Prince Slams the Interwebz
In a recent interview, Prince talks about how he has turned his back on using the internet and iTunes to promote his music. Instead, Prince is opting to give the UK’s Daily Mirror readers FREE copies of his new album. The interview also shows that Prince has shut down his own official website. This doesn’t come as a surprise to me, coming from a man who shut down his biggest fan site a couple years back. But what exactly is his logic behind this? This is what he has to say:

“The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else.”
“The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.”
“Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

Kenny G Loves the Internet
Don’t worry, Kenny G is ready to stand up for the internet. Like Prince, he’s also promoting a new album but admits that he isn’t too “Internet and download savvy”. In a short interview with the sax master, Kenny states:

if the Internet is dead “then I must be dead, too, ’cause I use it all the time.”

So, whose side are you own? I don’t really get why Prince is alienating what’s left of his fan base… You can’t just completely blast the entire internet and say that it’s no good. That’s like people who claim that they don’t watch TV or read books. Really? With all the choices out there? I doubt that Prince will do any backpedaling now but we’ll see how his new album does.

PS) Did you know that Kenny G was one of the original investors of Starbucks?