John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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November 19th, 2012 by john andrews

Preparing for the Google Apocalypse

The Currency of Search Marketing is Influence (and Zombies)

We all seem to appreciate the use of Zombies as models of “enemies”. If there’s one real power zombies have, it’s the power to influence people. I don’t know a single human who is aware of the nature of zombies (fast ones that can fly, slow ones that never stop advancing, all of them eat you alive, etc.) who would not run away from a zombie without second thought. More than war, natural disaster, disease or random acts of violence carried out by crazy psycho killers, to us zombies define a complete lack of “humanity”.

For years the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) experienced difficulty getting Americans to prepare for any potential disasters, partly because we live in denial and are always pursuing “dreams”. We tend to ignore anyone who suggests things might come crashing down while we’re building wealth and moving up the ladder. That shit happens to OTHER people. But when they produced “How to Prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse”, people paid attention.

Ammunition maker Hornady successfully re-branded one of its powerful self-defense handgun rounds as “Zombie Max”, which it promotes as a way you can “supply yourself for the Zombie Apocalypse”. Of course the same product in a different box, now costs more.

Gun advocates have always had trouble picking “targets”. If you shoot for sport or as part of training in weapons handling, you shoot a target. Usually it’s paper. Range operators face complaints from advocate groups when they allow people to shoot the targets they bring with them to the range (an evil-looking street thug with a gun, who is almost always black or Hispanic; a picture of a uniformed police officer; a picture of Obama, etc). Yet when they tack up a picture of a bloody-mouthed zombie, nobody cares.

Zombies are persuasive.

The currency of SEO is persuasion, not traffic or rankings.

This is not a new realization. Many of us have studied persuasion for almost as along as we’ve studied SEO. Recently a major search conference featured an author/psychologist focused on persuasion and “the power of influence” as the keynote speaker.

But what might be new to you, is that currencies can and are manipulated on a regular basis by governing powers, which includes governments, banks, and political entities. If you can manipulate the currency, you can control the economy.

The same way we’ve seem nations “manage” currencies (China, Brazil, US, GB, etc) we see Google managing the currency of the Internet (”traffic”, via “rankings”). Traffic reflects earned attention and raised awareness, and drives commerce. We can expect Google to manipulate the currency as a means of controlling the economy. We can expect similar behavior of any large, powerful, forward-thinking, profit-oriented entity.

But the currency of SEO is not traffic. Can persuasion be manipulated?

As we prepare for “zombie apocalypse” where the currencies in play in our society face manipulation (and perhaps collapse), how will you survive? If the dollar is devalued, if massive stores of pure gold are discovered on a nearby asteroid, if Google takes away your traffic, how will you survive?

Think about your personal influence and the influence you can manage without dollars or gold or permission from Google. Think about how people throughout history have sought karma, invested in social credits, and injected good will into their communities, as a way to “prep” for disaster. Think about it.

We may be “search marketers” and “search engine optimizers” who work within the confines of an economy controlled (manipulated) by Google, but our currency is persuasion. Persuasion within a market niche transcends Google.

If you’re not preparing for a “Google Apocalypse” and hoarding persuasion instead of rankings or keyword relevance, you may find yourself walking the streets stunned and directionless, searching for your next meal. And no one will care about you.

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August 9th, 2012 by john andrews

The BlueGlass Conference Opportunity

A few frequently-asked questions with my answers, because the Blue Glass search conference is about to open for ticket sales. They only sell dozens of them, so best be decisive and act swiftly if you want to go.

No, this is not a sponsored post, and no one asked me to write about Blue Glass. I’ve been to 3 of them myself, conference traveling on my own dime as an entrepreneur/small business owner (I’ve been completely self-employed for almost 10 years now).

Q: Is the Blue Glass conference worth the costs and travel effort? 

The Blue Glass conference is among my favorite travel opportunities related to my search work, but refreshing enough to qualify as a true break from the grind. For some reason my travel schedule is always crazy busy right up to the Blue Glass meetings, but when I check in I get a total relaxed vibe. Breaks like that are needed to stay creative in this field.

For reference the other travel opportunity I rank up there is sport fishing for tuna in Miami Florida with some friends who are more thrilled by catching big fish than telling the world how great their fishing charter is… more of that same passion for the actual work, not just the marketing of it.

Maybe some day I’ll attend Blue Glass in Tampa with an excursion down to Miami for night fishing for swordfish on Marauder out of Dinner Key/City Hall. That’d be perfect!

Q: Is BlueGlass better than Pubcon? 

Yes, hands down. I started going to Pubcon back in 2003 or 2004, and loved it. The gathering of people was unique… and the tracks were good. But the low-budget nature of Pubcon has always annoyed me, and the simultaneous tracks ruined the educational experience for me.

BlueGlass is small - a few hundred, and a single track of sessions involving something like 20 speakers/hosts per day. They run one session at a time, and everyone experiences the same knowledge transfer depending on how well they listen and pick up non-verbal cues. And that makes for great between-session conversation.Where Pubcon has like 10 simultaneous sessions and everyone splits up hoping to meet up later, at Blue Glass we are all in the same pool.

Blue Glass is interactive. You can raise your hand and ask a question. The speaker will stop… and address it. But nobody does that unless they have real value to add or real clarification is needed. Why? Because of respect. The audience is professional, and the speakers are worthy of respect (and everyone can tell).

And the non-technical aspects? I despise the box lunch deli meat sandwiches put out as “food” by Pubcon. I am always annoyed by the low-budget food service at snack times, since I try and meet people during breaks and often end up getting late to completely decimated hotel snack trays and empty/burned coffee urns (”nothing but crumbs”).

BlueGlass treats attendees like professionals. Catered food, vegetarian options that actually taste good and are sometimes inspiringly seasoned, and obvious care put into snack planning, food selections, etc. It’s a pleasure to be a guest of the BlueGlass conference.

Q: Are you going to this Blue Glass Conference? 

Not this time. I would go if it were more convenient for me, but too much on my plate right now and I was at the last one a few months ago.

Q: Is the Blue Glass conference “ADVANCED”?

Bue Glass is way more “advanced” than SMX Advanced, which is billed as “advanced” when compared to SES, SMX, and Pubcon.

The reason is that the Blue Glass people are active search people. They work every day trying to get search marketing results, and then they take a break and participate in Blue Glass conference. That is a HUGE difference from the many of the speakers at SMX and SES and Pubcon, who are really “professional speakers” and part of the sales/marketing teams of their companies, paid to visit those meetings to represent their companies and drum up business.

It’s obvious to me that the Blue Glass organizers use their conference as an interview platform: they invite the best of the best to come and speak, and that provides an opportunity for everyone to meet them, interact and explore them as professionals, not just speakers. As an attendee, I get the same access (during the 9-5 and during the 7-9 dinner/cocktails) and sometimes the 9-12 parties.

I won’t name drop here (you know who you are), but at Blue Glass I’ve met personally (and now consider friends) Wordpress technical experts, market research experts, SEO strategists on my “short list of people I’d like to spend 4 hours with talking shop”, and a domainer I consider a consummate domain speculator/professional. That is in addition to people I just happen to like for their personalities and perspectives on this crazy search world we all study. Note that I don’t use the term “expert” loosely.

Q: Are there things you would chance to improve Blue Glass conference? Could it be better?

Ha ha yes, of course. I’m forever a critic, and an optimizer. But I won’t disclose my comments.

One of the things that makes any conference better than the rest is the unique individuality of the meeting, which comes from those who organize it and the response of those who attend and experience it.

If your goal as an organizer is to please everyone, you will almost certainly disappoint the 10% that seek the best they can get.

if your goal as an attendee is to experience what you expect to experience, you will surely miss the 10% of content and nuance that is the gold.. the stuff your competition missed, and which can give you an edge.

I hope the Blue Glass people keep trying hard, stay a little paranoid of their competition, and keep using Blue Glass as a way to push the boundaries of search conferences. I hope they keep exploring what may be the best of each topic area that they know from their hands-on involvement in every day search marketing is important going forward. As long as they keep doing that, it’s a steal at the reg fee price.

Where else can you tap into knowledge of what the experts believe is the next important topic, and listen to the worlds best at that topic explain it and answer questions about it? If you know other good places to get that, clue me in with an email or skype or twitter or comment below.

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July 20th, 2012 by john andrews

Google Execs Take a Break from Marissa Mayer, Lend Her to Yahoo!

There. Someone had to say it. I waited nearly a week. Doesn’t anyone have the balls to speak the obvious, or has Google’s troll-like man-handling of the search marketplace got you all tongue tied?

Google needs Yahoo! to exist and look viable, or else Google is “a monopoly”. Everyone knows Microsoft would drop out of search if there was a good reason. Without Yahoo!, Microsoft is actually keeping Google safe! How long could that be left alone?

And Marissa…. ahh, well, we can just as safely assume Larry & Co. desire a break from her, as we can assume she’ll be back at Google later if she doesn’t achieve incredible amazing success as a woman CEO at Yahoo!, or have that stint lead to the CEO position at HP or eBay or IBM or something else equally as Epic. She’s the Goo Girl… it’s who she is.

“If you love something, set it free; if it comes backs it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was.”

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John Andrews is a mobile web professional and competitive search engine optimzer (SEO). He's been quietly earning top rank for websites since 1997. About John

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Recent Posts: ★ Cloud Storage ★ Identity Poetry for Marketers ★ PR is where the Money Is ★ Google is an Addict ★ When there are no Jobs ★ Google Stifles Innovation, starts Strangling Itself ★ Flying the SEO Helicopter ★ Penguin 2.0 Forewarning Propaganda? ★ Dedicated Class “C” IP addresses for SEO ★ New Domain Extensions (gTLDs) Could Change Everything ★ Kapost Review ★ Aaron Von Frankenstein ★ 2013 is The Year of the Proxy ★ Preparing for the Google Apocalypse ★ Rank #1 in Google for Your Name (for a fee) ★ Pseudo-Random Thoughts on Search ★ Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or a Blog ★ The BlueGlass Conference Opportunity ★ Google Execs Take a Break from Marissa Mayer, Lend Her to Yahoo! ★ Google SEO Guidelines ★ Reasons your Post-Penguin Link Building Sucks ★ Painful Example of Google’s Capricious Do Not Care Attitude ★ Seeing the Trees, but Missing the Forest ★ Search is a Task; Discovery is Fun ★ Why “dot everything” is a Good Idea (and ahead of its time) 

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