September 30, 2009

Ranked Number Two and Loving It

Avis was #2. They tried harder.

And Hertz had a field day with them.

When the theme of your ads is that you’re almost good enough, it’s not hard for competitors to knock back. Hertz mocked Avis for having half the locations and half the selection, and turning it into a selling point. If you’re #2 even though you try harder, that makes you an underdog—but it’s also two reasons to assume that the competition is better.

Not so for search engines. If I could, I’d rank #2 for every query I’m targeting.

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September 28, 2009

Hiring a Blogger for a Writing Job: Five Mistakes to Avoid

Four years ago—four years ago?—I got an email from a total stranger. He’d read my blog, and wanted to know if I was interested in an internship at a hedge fund company in New York. I didn’t get the internship, but I did decide to move to New York.

I got my first serious job from someone who liked my blog. And the internship that turned into my current position also got started when I submitted a writing sample, which I took straight from the blog.

So I know a thing or two about getting hired based on having a blog. I also know why writing a blog made me waste time, alienate customers, and feel the whole time like I was accomplishing something.

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September 25, 2009

Bit.ly’s Next Feature: The Other 99% of the Internet

The first few times I tried to use Twitter, it was enormously frustrating: here’s a fairly cool tool that lets me instantly communicate—with nobody.

Using bit.ly means a different kind of frustration: if you’ve ever posted a link to Facebook and Twitter, and watched in real time while the clicks add up, it can get annoying to post a link without using bit.ly. Which is why I think I can guess bit.ly’s next feature. The feature that, in a few months, will make people forget that it was ever a URL shortener.

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September 24, 2009

LinkedIn’s SEO Strategy: Own Names

I’ve already mentioned how Amazon and Wikipedia own most proper nouns, but there’s one category I ignored: full names. That’s currently a fight between LinkedIn and Facebook. Facebook has more links and more profiles, but LinkedIn has more tricks up their sleeve.

But first, an experiment: Google the full names of half a dozen of your coworkers. You may find personal sites. You may discover that some of them have the same names as famous foreign athletes. But you’ll mostly see their LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. How can it be that Facebook’s 464 million links can’t consistently beat LinkedIn’s 30 million links?

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September 23, 2009

A Better Stimulus Plan: Drug Dollar Amnesty

Now that Fortune, Time, NPR, and New York Magazine are all talking up marijuana, it’s time to answer the eternal question: why are illegal drugs recession-proof? The answer isn’t just physiology (since marijuana is not physically addictive, any argument about inelastic demand is going to have to hold true for, say, Starbucks or Hagen-Dasz).

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September 22, 2009

Paul Arden’s Surprisingly Thoughtful Motivational Tract

It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be is another title that most people would naturally tune out (especially if they’d actually enjoy the book).

Arden’s book is short and tightly edited. The features big text, lots of whitespace, sudden pictures, emphatic headlines—it’s like a really, really good Tumblr.

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September 21, 2009

Hugh MacLeod’s “Ignore Everybody”: How to Be More Creative Than Necessary

Ignore Everybody is Hugh MacLeod’s manual about staying sane while you do stuff you don’t really love, and trying to figure out what it is that you do love. MacLeod wrote the book in New York (of course) where he worked in advertising (of course!) until he was successful enough to stop. He also made comics.

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September 18, 2009

Swagapalooza is the Next Big Thing in PR: An Audience of Dozens With an Audience of Millions

I just got back from Alex Krupp’s inaugural Swagapalooza. Swagapalooza is a little like the movie theater, or the compact car: it’s what you get when a recession forces people to be creative about what they don’t do.

Here’s what Swagapalooza didn’t do:

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September 17, 2009

Reddit.com is the Future of News (And Not for the Reasons You’d Think!)

A week ago, I wrote an article about a fairly low-level SEO technique. As an experiment, I posted it to the SEO section of reddit.com. I was startled by what I learned. Even though I’ve been using reddit since a few months after it started, I didn’t realize until now why the site is like no other—how it encourages the best behavior from people who do their marketing through the site, and how it represents the real future of news.

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September 16, 2009

Facebook is Profitable. Again.

Facebook just announced that they are, more or less, profitable. Money coming in exceeds money going out. This is not the first time: in a 2005 interview, Mark Zuckerberg discusses how the company made a profit before they decided to focus on growth.

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