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User Experience and SEO

I’ve read a lot recently about how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often at odds with User Experience (UX). It’s even being sold to marketers that SEO is a “natural-born” enemy of UX.

UX vs SEO not good
Not really sure what Nebo was thinking with this LinkedIn ad. Definitely not true for anyone with knowledge of SEO or UX. 

Usability.gov breaks UX into six core components, all of which have overlap with core SEO terms. Today, I’ll go over three:

Useful

Content is pretty much meaningless if it doesn’t support the reason that people came to your website. Google and other crawlers reward highly relevant, highly authoritative content.

The days of spinning thin content are over. Contextual, relevant, and authoritative content will always win in the longrun. Write your content, keep it under a high school reading level, and make it easy to discover.

Usable

Whether or not your website is easy to use ties to nearly every influential SEO factor based on design, information consumption, and internal linking. Bottom line: if you have good usability, your SEO will certainly benefit.

Desirable

Desirability on its face does not have a direct tie to SEO. Google doesn’t care about the emotion of your website. I would equate this to the Greek persuasive term pathos. A relatable, emotional page of web content is worth linking to and worth sharing. In 2017, backlinks are still your SEO trump card.

Think about fake news for a second. Why do people share inflammatory social media articles without thinking whether they’re true or not? The pathological experience tied to the “facts” presented. Even Aristotle explained this as “awakening emotion (pathos) in the audience so as to induce them to make the judgment desired“.

Pathos drives action. Pathos drives shares. Pathos drives backlinks.

Sip by Sip: Rittenhouse Rye

Last week I stopped by the liquor store, and to my surprise, they had Rittenhouse Rye in stock. I had never seen it stocked in the state of Ohio (thanks, Ohio Liquor Control), and grabbed it on sight.

Now I’m not much of a rye drinker; the extent of my rye knowledge starts with Canadian Mist (blagh) and ends with Bulleit (essence de pickle juice). But damn, Rittenhouse is good stuff. For the less than $25 price point, you I’d recommend it over and over. My dad and brother, both of whom are casual drinkers, both enjoyed how sweet and light it was.

How to Actually Make It In Digital Marketing

I see posts all the time about “making it” in marketing. For me, “making it” meant getting paid to do something professionally that I really enjoy. The first job where I “made it” was at Crane Renovation Group as a Digital Marketing Manager. I love stats, I’m super competitive, it was a great fit. Now, at McGraw-Hill Education, I get paid to tweet and pin stuff; it doesn’t get better than that. Here’s my guide for how to “make it” in digital marketing.

If you don’t learn anything else, learn Excel.

This is applicable for every marketing job that uses a computer, but advanced (or even just competent) at Microsoft Excel goes a long way in setting you apart. Excel is the one tool that every service/platform/software/SaaS has in common. Know conditional formatting, v-lookups, filtering, and pivot tables. Boolean logic in Excel goes a long way in creative problem solving.

Make your own website and build a portfolio.

Buy a domain, buy hosting, and build your own website (WordPress is good for this). Make it look pretty. Accidentally break it and fix it. You’ll learn a lot and have a cool place to call your own. If you do something awesome at work and succeed, throw it on your portfolio (if your employer is cool with it).

Learn an applicable skill and get really good at it.

For me, the first thing I really got good at was WordPress. By the time I was a sophomore in college, I knew WordPress inside and out. My skills and freelance work landed me my first internship, so I could get some professional/real experience.

Expand based on what you’re good at.

During that time, my volunteer work and involvement led me down the social media path, which helped out tremendously for my second internship (which later led to a fulltime offer). Along with WordPress came experience in HTML/CSS (which was amazing once I actually understood how the code interaction works) and experience with Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is an easy, trump-card skill to learn.

Experiment a bit with your own website, then pass their certification exam. I knew GA for a while before I was certified, but the certification is a FREE thing you can throw on your resume.

Don’t wait, start your internships early (like your freshman year of college)

During college, I completed four internships and one part-time job:

  • 1st internship: web design @ SiteInSight (quit abruptly in second year due to burnout).
  • 2nd internship: web design/seo/logistics @ Copperhead Clothing (actually concurrent with the 1st).
  • 3rd internship: social media and content @ McGraw-Hill Education (landed 2nd FT job).
  • 4th internship: all digital marketing @ Crane Renovation Group (landed 1st FT job).

The experience and networking you get from interning is invaluable. You get what amounts to a free pass to hone your skills, build your portfolio, and grow your network.

Network with your peers, your bosses, your boss’ bosses, and their bosses.

This does not mean simply hitting connect in LinkedIn. Make a good impression on them, keep in touch with email or social media (outside of LinkedIn). Get to actually know them. Even the loosest connection can lead to big time offers down the line. Your networking is your foot in the door.

BONUS: If you get the opportunity to learn Salesforce, do it!

Salesforce is the gold standard for customer relationship management SaaS’ at the moment. Being good at Salesforce is arguably the best skill you can put on your resume.

WordPress Pharma Hack Fix (init.php/wp-config.php driven)

Over the past week I’ve had an interesting problem with blocko.org. A couple of years ago, I redesigned blocko.org for for the largest student organization at Ohio State. Anyway, like any WordPress site that didn’t have automatic updates enabled, it inevitably fell victim to an exploit.

Malicious pharmaceutical links were published on the site and in pages; luckily I was quickly alerted from Google Search Console about the hacked content. Here’s the symptoms and the fix.

Symptoms

  • Pharmaceutical links on your website or fake pharmaceutical pages. Mine were about Viagra and Cialis, which is pretty cliché.
  • Use the Wordfence plugin to scan your site. If it confirms the existence of a new init.php file within your /wp-includes/ folder, you’ve got a problem. Don’t delete it, yet. You can check by FTP-ing into your directory folder then checking your /wp-includes/ folder for a large init.php file.
  • If you delete the init.php file, your website breaks and throws a 500 error.

The Fix

  1. Find (or guess) as to where you’re being exploited. For blocko.org, it was actually two weakspots: the existence of timthumb.php and an old version of revolution slider that was exploited.
  2. If you need to guess and check, I highly recommend the Triagis Security Evaluation plugin.
  3. Once you’ve patched your exploit, you need to remove the line of code that breaks your site. This pharma hack injects a line of code into your wp-config.php file. Remove the line of code near the bottom of your wp-config.php file that forces the inclusion of /wp-includes/init.php. For me, it was the second to last line of code.
  4. Delete the /wp-includes/init.php file and change your passwords/DB password.

Landing page vs Organic page for PPC Traffic

Pretty frequently I answer digital marketing related questions across the internet. I post the best snippets on my blog.

Original question:

What would be the better option? Sending traffic to a squeeze page or to the organic listing? The organic listing is optimized, very optimized with a good CTA, would it have negative effects for organic?
Example:
site.com/organic
or
site.com/paid-campaign
A pro vs con list would be great

My Response:

I would never send PPC traffic to anything but a landing page. PPC is usually about conversions. You should have a landing page designed for each of type of conversion, with ad copy aligned to what you’re trying to accomplish. You shouldn’t be sending traffic to a distracting regular page with a ton of stuff going on.

The one case where PPC traffic should be sent to a regular page is very broad brand building, but even then it would be smart to use graphic, programmatic display ads instead of PPC.

What should I wear for an interview?

Pretty frequently I answer fashion related questions across the internet. I post the best snippets on my blog.

Original Question
So, tomorrow, I’m being interviewed for a position at a Moore’s, which as you may or may not know is a Men’s Fine clothing chain. I was wondering if it would be appropriate for me to show up wearing one of my Moore’s suits, or if I ought to show up in something more… casual. I’m caught between the suit, and say, a collared shirt and jean combo.
Thoughts?

My Advice

Some business formal ideas.

Generally speaking, business formal is almost always the correct interview attire. Better to overdress than look like a shlub. If it’s an exceptionally casual environment or if you’re unsure, ask the HR manager what sort of attire is expected for the interview. You’ll come across prepared and know for sure!

How to Stop Social-Buttons from Visiting Your Site

Social-buttons is another SEMALT type referer that causes tracking and reporting issues for many sites out there. If you use Google Analytics or any other tracker, there’s a good chance your sites have social-buttons traffic. So how do you block it? Simply add a little bit of code to your .htaccess file.

The .htaccess file is a hidden text-based file in your public HTML folder, you may need to select an option to view hidden files.

Here’s the code:

RewriteEngine on

# Options +FollowSymlinks

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} social\-buttons\.com [NC]

RewriteRule .* - [F]

Similarly you can block SEMALT’s bot from visiting your site.