The holidays are the perfect time to slow down and take a look at all the blessings that have come your way throughout the year. I love Christmas time – probably more than your average dad who pays the credit card bills for presents stowed upon two spoiled kids. I say I, we (Liz, my wife, and I), are truly blessed to be able to pay it all off before Santa comes next year – seriously, that’s what it feels like, giving a new meaning to “celebrating” Christmas every day of the year.
Sawfish Online is taking a break from business today. There won’t be any quips about content marketing and SEO or boring stats on analytics. This is Christmas, dammit! So let’s trade our favorite Christmas stories and Santa Claus right here, whether they’re sappy, funny, nostalgic, sad, whatever the story, share it. I’ll share a couple of mine since it feels as if there are two forms of Santa Claus, when you believe in and when you become Santa Claus.
First, I’ll tell you when I truly believed in Santa Claus (and I still do). Little did I know when I was 6 or 7, that Santa Claus is a spirit, a real life feeling and idea that good will be delivered. Since this one Christmas when I was little, it’s always been my thing to help other people whenever I could, whether it’s Christmas or not. It happened one year when my dad wasn’t working. He worked for Caterpillar building tractors. It was about 1980 or 1981, and things were real slow. And, if I remember it right, my dad was laid off from work a little before Christmas. I remember there was a lot of quiet discussion in the house because we didn’t have a lot of money, and there wasn’t any guarantee that presents would be under the tree Christmas morning. I know that would have openly destroyed my mom while dad would have been the quiet, stoic person he is while it killed him inside.
Then the magic of Christmas happened. The local union hall dad was a part of with Cat had a toy drive for all the families that were out of work, and delivered gifts to all of us kids along with a turkey for dinner. Indeed Santa Claus delivered, solidifying my belief in him and trust in people that there will always be more good than evil in this world, only if we believe. After that Christmas, things were more “normal” for us, and Santa would bring train sets and dolls, but nothing could ever beat the soccer ball and footie pajamas that Santa gave me that Christmas.
Now to present day of being Santa Claus. It was early December of this year as Liz and I stayed at a fancy, historic hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. It was fun but way too quiet without both kids being with us on the trip, so the last morning there, we hurried up to pack our bags to check out.
When the elevator opened on the lobby floor, there he was, Santa Claus with three elves setting up his chair with gifts for little kids to come see him in this beautiful lobby. Being the kid I am, I dropped my bags, yelled “SANTA!” and walked over to give the jolly ol’ St. Nick a hug. Now, being 40 years old, I obviously know that wasn’t Santa himself, but one of his helpers. C’mon, right? But holy crap, it was still Santa, and Santa was just excited to see a kid my size (and let’s just say I make Santa truly look like an elf) come over and give him a squeeze. It was magical, and you can see the big grins on both of our faces in the picture Liz took of us. Santa thanked me for all cookies I left him throughout the years. I explained, in detail, what the kids wanted this year, and then Santa asked what I wanted. I told him this year was different, that I have everything I need, and I was going to leave him an extra special gift on Christmas Eve.
“What’s that?” Santa asked.
“Santa, I’m going to leave out the good scotch just for you,” I told him. You can have as much as you want. It will keep you warm, you know?”
Santa broke out laughing.
“Ho ho ho, young man that will be between you and me,” he said. “I won’t tell Mrs. Claus.”
We hugged, shook hands and as Liz and I headed home while Santa probably stood there thinking “who the hell was that and is he drinking already?”
And I know for a fact that Santa is bringing everything the kids wanted. Ahhhhh … the magic of Christmas. Merry Christmas from Sawfish Online!
P.S. Here's a little Christmas Cheer...
And Then Someting Totally Pointless
That’s a headline I’ve always wanted to write, but the right opportunity seemingly never comes along, so I thought I’d make my own opportunity. Why not, right? If you’re a lover of irreverence such as I, then you probably know the headline is a take from a famous line in the movie “Caddieshack” where Rodney Dangerfield yells out a famous line to end the movie after Noonan sinks a putt to win a tournament.
I bring this up because, yes, I’m watching “Caddyshack” as I write stuff, and I’ve been really getting into LinkedIn lately. Wait…what?! Seriously, in my mind, it all makes sense so hold on there, Judge.
First of all, I’d like you to know that according to this numbers puzzle that’s been floating around my LinkedIn news feed, I am a genius (says so right there) … so I got that going for me. There’s also an article mentioning a prediction that 2015 is the year our salaries will start to rise like the good times we once enjoyed as if they would never end. Merry Christmas!
There’s also another blog that gives great insight into content and the bottom line (you can read it here: http://linkd.in/1C6e3pp). The line that really struck me was how consumers make a purchase decision more than half time before engaging the vendor. Sometimes that percentage, according to Forrester Research numbers quoted in this blog, can be nearly 90% of consumers trust content such as blogs, product pages, user manuals and other documentation. Product reviews, of course, are huge.
What does it all mean? Well, to me it means the one with the best content wins. Sure pricing and reputation do come into play, but you can have the lowest price in the solar system, but with no content to support the product or service, then people won’t trust it – if they find your product at all.
Fine, then, if everyone’s content is All-Universe how do you stand out?
Great question and thank you for asking it! This is where (hopefully) this blog comes together and you get a sense at what I’m saying. No. 1 thing beyond good content is to have that content support your personality and brand. So many times I’ve had a client or vendor approach me and say “so-and-so is doing this, why aren’t we?” Well, because you are you and they are them and I am me, we’re all different and need to be unique. Besides, those other people could be failing miserably and you don’t even know it.
For me, my brand is my personality or else I’d just as soon work at Sears or something, but putting your personality out there can be daunting, scary and dangerous – if you do it wrong. You can go too far, of course, and I’m here to tell you I’ve sailed that boat more than a few times. You can also (to keep with the sailing theme outta nowhere) run aground – fail – miserably and come across as a know-nothing-egotistical-arrogant-hack that thinks he’s clever … or funny. Soooo not the case.
Be yourself. Make content that drives your, or client’s, brand’s personality, and guess what, you’re gonna get paid. Guarantee it. I declare 2015 to be the year content is no longer destined for the stiff bin. It’s time to take chances and make this shtuff swirl.
And now for something totally pointless: http://bit.ly/1C3uR3e
Merry Christmas you crazy kids!
Recently, we at Sawfish Online were asked to participate in a content marketing survey from contently.com. As much as I (Larry) wanted to really be a wise guy and skew the numbers for the sake of getting giggles out of the 601 marketers in the survey, I didn’t. Actually, we took it pretty seriously because, after all, content marketing is a big thing we do here at SawfishOnline.com.
Before I get to the numbers just handed out, let’s just say when Forbes declared “Content is King” for 2012, it was just the beginning. Since then, content, and original content that is unique, personal, personable, engaging, attractive, and, most importantly, good, drives almost everything in business. When I say “almost everything in business,” it’s about the website, customer and user experience, interactions with customers and so on. Basically, if your business doesn’t have a good website with good content with a good customer and user experience with good interactions with the customer to make them feel noticed and special, then you’re business if going to struggle to say the least.
Yes, the numbers. The findings of the survey were interesting but not very surprising. I’ll hit some highlights for you and then give you the link to the actual study in case you want to peruse the details.
Here’s the newest trend: disruptive banner ads are gone
Creating good, unique content doesn’t come easy or fast, either.
The best types of content for ROI are still sort of a jump ball, and there’s a pretty good explanation for that which I’ll get into in a few minutes.
What’s really interesting is, “I don’t know” came back in the middle of the pack with 17.77% of marketers saying what content is best for ROI. “I don’t know” also scored 17.44% when asked what content is more effective licensed or original (original won overwhelmingly with 69%). When you’re asking perhaps $100/hour or even more for your content marketing business, “I don’t know” isn’t good.
For me, personally, at Sawfish Online, how to measure ROI is the absolute hardest thing to do. It’s also the most expensive since any software worth its reputation is going to cost some real dollars. And then trying to learn it? Oh man, I’d rather go back and sit through an entire semester of Psych 101. Forget it!
Which leads me to my final thought: you can’t push a button and say “there you go, there’s your ROI.” Nope. Content marketing ROI is much like building a skyscraper. It’s going to take time, money, intense thought and planning, patience, creativity when you least expect it, and persistence. And when you do content and do it right, the marketing is almost like it’s on autopilot, and the ROI will be a loyal audience that enjoys a long-lasting, two-way relationship.
You can read the entire content marketing survey here: bit.ly/sawfishonlinecontentroi
Sorry for the rather long post, but there's a lot of important information to think about and digest. I hope you're finding joy so far this holiday season. Now go deck the halls.
It’s hard to imagine, but sometimes we get lost in our own ego – our own thoughts of importance and knowledge that we write or say something and then we move on as if that’s the end. In our line of business, content and online marketing, that can no longer be the way. In fact, if you write something and let it go (yeah, I started singing it, too) whatever you put out there will most likely die a lonely death and your client or customer will say something on the order of “what am I paying you for?”
Your content has to be nurtured and curated like fine museum pieces – dusted off before the dust is noticeable, straightened before anyone sees it’s crooked, and my God, comment back to people on social media.
Stagnant content is annoying and can be detrimental to your site. It shows you’re either not paying attention or don’t care about your content or your site. Not commenting or participating in discussion on social media is downright rude. It’s social after all – a two-way conversation meant to evoke dialog, whether it’s “deep” or in emoticons. By never responding or discussing, you’re pretty much saying you don’t care about the people who take the time to care about you, you’re site and your cause.
Even if someone is just chapping your rear end and being an annoying smarty pants, play along if you must and use it as an opportunity to market something you offer in your voice or personality. It might take time and talent, but it gets easier and faster the more you do it, and it is definitely worth it.
A lot has been going on around Sawfish Online lately, and it's a wonder for two reasons. The first reason being it's amazing to get anything done around here with two awesome kids who love adventure and fun at every turn and see their dad as a great big lumpy jungle gym (it doesn't help when he lays on the floor to watch football). The second, I just did an audit of our own site and found that none of the title tags we wrote months ago were showing up.
For those who don't know, title tags are quite possibly the most important piece for good search rankings. They send the largest signal to Google to quickly explain what a page's content is supposed to be about so Google can quickly judge if your page is relevant in a search query. It's more involved and complicated than that, but essentially the title tag is the overall theme to your page and the content on the rest of your page best match up to it or it's curtains for you!
The closer a title tag is to what a person is searching for, the more your page gets Google's attention. Then Google goes into its index and checks to see what content is on your page with that title tag and url. If Google then thinks you're more relevant than all others, you're ranked No. 1.
For some reason our title tags were reading "Content" and "SEO" and "Rum" (silly me). Well, that would certainly explain the drop in analytics we've been watching lately. The only people who type "Content" or "SEO" into a Google search are the same people who type 55378008 into a calculator and then turn it upside down.
OK, who just turned their laptops or tablets upside down?
Of course there's a lot more to good SERP rankings than title tags. There's something beyond 270 signals that we know of that Google looks for to determine who ranks where for what. What you can do to make sure your site ranks the best it can on Google or Bing is start with good -- NO -- great content that is unique to you and you only.
If you search for rum and Sawfish Online comes up, click on the link and drop by and say hello. That would be a real kick to know we rank for rum. Finally get something in return on my rum investments beyond a headache, ticked off wife and an empty wallet.
Perhaps I should get back to fixing the title tags.
This morning was perfect for coffee on the back deck as the sun came up. It was perfect to catch up on reading some industry news in the quiet before the day became full of emails, ringing phones, inevitable discussions of home add-ons and home improvements, and finally a whole bunch of work that, oddly enough, I look forward to doing.
There was one thing that stood out to me while reading this morning. It was a rather small, but powerful, quip on Twitter, and it read “marketing is nothing more than making sure something doesn’t die, so why are you so serious?”
That is why I love content marketing. Other than being a standup comedian, I don’t think there’s another profession where your personality can be so prominent in your work. Of course there are times that call for seriousness, and Lord knows I’ve shown the fun side of myself and my work at the worst possible professional moment, but truth is, we all have, and we all live, and we all move on. And yes, I’ve been told to quit having so much fun at work before. After the stun wore off, I looked at my boss and said “that’s kinda like asking the Pope to quit praying so much. Why would you do that?”
So, whether you’re a serious work ‘til you drop type, a happy go-getter, a fun socialite who craves group interaction, and whether you own your own business or work for someone else, let yourself come out in your work or else you will never live.
Live life you wonderful you,
It was a Friday night, late fall or sometime like that. It was at least dark. We were sitting on the couch watching the TV in what we called the sun room, which is now the kids’ play and craft room. It was the sun room since three of the four walls were all windows which let all the sun in on sunny days but let a good bit of heat out during chillier dark nights. That’s important to know since I believe it played a large role in naming my company, Sawfish Online.
As the wife would tell you, when the temperature drops, I tend not to put on more layers, and I certainly won’t turn up the thermostat and watch the dollar bills flutter up and out of the chimney. No, I do the manly of manly things and that’s grow a beard and drink scotch.
This particular night, Birdy (the pre-Sam Birdy) was playing on the floor. We were sitting on the couch watching some mindless TV – I vaguely remember an Alaskan airplane show or something (I always wanted to be a pilot). The wife was getting bored (she never wanted to be a pilot) so she started talking about the content marketing and SEO company I started to develop earlier in the year while on vacation at her parents’ house in Venice, FL.
If you look in the history books, or Google, you’ll find that Venice, FL, was once the sawfish capital of the world. Well, I didn’t know that at the time. Pure coincidence, honestly. I know it as the shark tooth capital of the world, which to me, means there’s a lot of pissed off sharks swimming off the beaches of Venice, FL.
However, this fateful night of airplane shows, pizza, scotch and sawfish came tumbling together to the perfect, yet highly imbalanced, ball I call Sawfish Online. How, you are still wondering? Easy enough. Birdy has a bath toy, this hard rubber – almost plastic feeling – sawfish with a real saw for a snout on it. She got it on her first trip to Venice, FL, I believe from grandma who found it in a thrift store and gave it to Birdy as a bath toy gift. With a total length of about a foot long, this thing is a nasty one. No kidding, it’s probably from the early 1980s or even the 1970s before anyone really cared if their kids hurt themselves with toys.
So, my wife asked what I wanted to call my company. I didn’t know. I was only thinking of getting myself another glass of warmth and cheer. I said “I dunnnnwooo.” Then she pointed at this cool print of sport fish from the Gulf of Mexico hanging on the wall. I stared for a few minutes and finally had a solid lock on the sawfish that was somehow dancing around. That moment, with the tail of the toy in her firm grasp, Birdy then whacked me right in the hand with the snout of the sawfish. Everything coming together like that, how could I not choose Sawfish.com for my company name? The wife said, “that’s terrible. How about something like SawfishOnline.com?”
Feeling a little chilly,
Yesterday, I briefly sat down with a couple of friends who own an established new & used car dealership to talk about some web content opportunities. Their situation is unique is some aspects because they deal with an e-commerce business, but it would be an incredibly rare moment for someone to buy a vehicle on the internet and not visit the actual store to look over the car, kick the tires, test drive it, negotiate a price and all the other things you do when purchasing a car – at least, I’m assuming that.
However, a full-blown, fanatically enriched website is a must for a situation like this for many different reasons including being an information hub, building customer trust and most importantly visibility.
The guys know this fairly well already, and know the importance of competing in the Google rankings, but we all know and understand competing organically can be slightly more than overwhelming and leave us awake at night (BTW, take two aspirins, and call Sawfish Online in the morning).
During our discussion one of the guys asked a very good question: “If we rank No.1 on Google for a particular car and a customer clicked on that link and it went to our home page, that’s not good, right?”
Right. The worst thing you can do to a customer or a potential customer is promise to be the best (you’re No.1 in Google after all) and not deliver on that promise. Do not make them search for the car on your website. They will bounce fast than a tossed into a tub. This is called your bounce rate in web analytics, and when your bounce rate is high, it means you have a problem – people are getting to your site, but they don’t like what they see. You aren’t delivering the content. You aren’t encouraging your visitors to stay on your site and gain trust and purchase something.
We didn’t really talk about bounce rates in our meeting, that’s not much of an issue that I know of right now with my friends (thankfully), but focusing on getting high search results that point to the wrong and/or misleading item is a much bigger problem than many business owners realize or even know about.
Here’s how I think of it: Organic search like the example above is much like fishing without bait on your hook. A fish might bite, but if that fish gets off, who knows how much longer it could be before another one comes along and falls for the same thing.
Sincerely thinking about going to Florida to do some fishing now,
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I write this to you because chances are, in the future, whether near or distant, some or many of you may work for websites. It could be for anything. You could snoop on competitors. You could program html or whatever it is we are using in the future. Fact is, we will all stare into a computer and collect a paycheck.
So, without saying much more, when that day comes for you, and you find out that your website is doing something it shouldn't there should only be two options for you to take. I will list them here:
1. Fix it.
2. Email someone and ask if they can or know someone who can fix it and mark it with about a billion "!!!!!!!"s
There should be no third option of writing a note in your html copy on your website that ranks No.1 on Google stating that your website is screwing up and you don't know why like this:
<!-- causes a refresh loading the page twice and killing back button functionality, not sure what this should be doing???
I do oh so dearly want to write the web address of this company down here, and thankfully, it is not a client of mine, but it is a competitor to good friends of mine who could one day be a client of mine. So I will take the high road and offer this advice because you will never ever know who is snooping around your website for what.
I don't care if you be good (except my two kids), but be cool,
As Google does away with authorship and rel=author when it comes to search rankings relevance, it’s a good time to brush up on what Google is looking for on a page to make it rank high in searches: Good content.
When it comes down to it in my opinion since good content is what I do 16 hours a day, attaining higher rankings seems to be a bit more simple than it used to be. Well, actually yes and no. The content has to be good, like the best-good-content-ever-content. Like, if-you-were-going-to-church-you-were-going-to-the-princess’s (a real princess not your drama queen sister)-wedding-conducted-by-the-Pope-and-you-better-dress-for-it content. That type of content is not easy to create.
So what do you do, especially if you’re trying to write item copy for a small business that is competing with some pretty sizable competition? Seriously, what do you do, because for once, I’m stumped.
First, you employ your kids to finger paint pictures. While studying their brilliant swirls and stuff, you think, pfffft, paint outside the lines.
The most amazing content is just like all the other content – except it’s better. It’s fresher. It’s more engaging. It’s more fun. It’s more everything.
You take chances and spread your wings and let go of convention while hanging on to convention. Makes sense, right? Well, you have to still play by the rules, but try and bend them as far as you can, and you will know when you have gone too far when you read over what you wrote. I’ve already mind-marked about 75 things my editor-in-chief here at Sawfish Online will red pen me on, and I will fight to near death to keep everyone of my words. Why? We’re different here. We play different rules.
Be different. And whatever you do. DO NOT COPY/PASTE/REPEAT. Do not rubber stamp your copy. You might as well hang a sign on your website and tell all your customers to just shop at Walmart then.
Be creative. Be Cool.
Larry is a content marketing professional, an experienced copywriter, avid fisherman, amateur sailor, teller of kinda funny jokes, pancake connoisseur and an overall OK guy who founded Sawfish Online.