Reeher Window

When I was at Syracuse University, one of the things I did was to help put together a conference for the Center for Digital Literacy focusing on Democracy and the Internet.

It was summer 2004, and Howard Dean was making waves in the online fundraising and organizing world, thanks in large part to Meetup. We had one of Meetup's co-founders; Joe Trippi, a top Democratic strategist; and a bunch of other great speakers.

Among the co-coordinators of the conference were the authors of Click on Democracy. One of those authors, Grant Reeher, has recently launched a new public affairs blog, Reeher Window.

Grant is open to guest posts and suggestions, so please go over there and be active.

Incidentally, he's also hosting The Campbell Conversations on WRVO each week; he's done everything from interviews with local politicians and political candidates to having a really interesting discussion with Lakshmi Singh, who is the mid-day newscaster for NPR.

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Social Media Newbie Night and Conference

Here's an interesting event in Syracuse (press release). It's aimed at small business owners trying to find their way into social media (if you're well-established, this probably isn't for you).

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Have you attended the one and two hour social media sessions and find yourself wanting more? Have you been tweeting but not getting followers? Have you been maintaining your fan page but it’s still just your friends who are fans? Syracuse BizBuzz won’t leave you wanting more. Read On.

This conference features keynote addresses, case studies, workshops and discussions that provide strategic knowledge, insights and real world examples on how to successfully plan, implement and manage your social media efforts to achieve your business goals.

Social media platforms are fundamentally changing the sales, marketing and operations process.

It is redefining the way businesses:

* acquire customers:
* generate leads and customer response;
* create competitive differentiation and brand awareness;
* and manage crisis.

Register today at SyracuseBizBuzz.com

Follow the conversation at #syracusebizbuzz

The Syracuse BizBuzz Social Media Conference is a gathering of newbies, dabblers, users, and power users who are interested in what’s possible, what’s working, what’s now and what’s next in the business use of social media.

This full day conference (8:00 am to 5:00 pm), explores the impact social media has on marketing, advertising, and the tools used today to engage the public. Social media is dramatically changing how traditional marketing media is used for brand development and sales. Syracuse BizBuzz will explore how social media is successful today through case studies from local companies, but will also delve deeply into the practical methodologies of each tool.

SyracuseBizBuzz is a production of The Events Company, Site-Seeker Inc., and Digital Vertical with partners Syracuse University's iSchool, Falcone Center, Center for Career Services, Newhouse School of Public Communication, Syracuse.com, CNY Business Journal, Visual Technologies, Plus Sign and Graphic, and Syracuse Chamber of Commerce.

A Newbie Night, presented by Syracuse University'si ISchool, will be held on May 26, 2010, will provide business professionals the opportunity to learn the basics and to network.

SEO 099: What you need to know before SEO 101

So you've got a business and you've got a website. You've heard about SEO. You've seen a zillion things called SEO 101 (OK, so more like 10.9 million – close enough to a zillion for me). But before actually undertaking the SEO 101 campaign of your choice, there are some things you need to know, and some things you want to ask.

Huh?

SEO means Search Engine Optimization (or, alternately, a Search Engine Optimizer, as in someone who does the optimization). If someone goes to Google and searches for something related to your business. There are thousands or millions of results for their search. To get to be one of the first results returned, you'll probably have to do some sort of SEO campaign.

But someone I think is really smart and who has a website told me that SEO is snake oil.

One of a few things is happening. (a) SEO comes naturally to that person, possibly thanks to the way their website was built, and they don't realize it. (b) They're not trying to sell anything on their website. (c) They have different competition from you. (d) They're not as smart as you think they are.

OK, but what would make them say that?

There are some pretty slimy people out there who call themselves SEO experts (or gurus or ninjas; you get the picture). Some of them are very successful just long enough to collect some money and disappear before your site visitors disappear and Google realizes that your site is trying to trick it and punishes you for it. We'll get to this in a minute, but there are what we call "white hat" and "black hat" techniques – white hat being honest, hard work, and black hat being quick and dirty techniques.

I get the feeling you're one of those "SEO gurus" who's going to try to sell me something with this post.

I do SEO for a small publisher, and I do some freelance design with SEO services. I understand that SEO is an evolving process, and you're not an expert, or a guru, or a ninja, unless someone else considers you to be one. I have a lot to learn in the field, and there's a good chance I don't have time to do an SEO audit for you. I'm just trying to give you some tools for your own use here.

If it's an evolving field, are there any experts?

There are people and companies I would consider experts in SEO. I'll let you know who they are when you ask me about some reading you should be doing.

What was that white hat and black hat stuff you were talking about?

White hat SEO is a long process with delayed rewards. It can take months to implement, and then you might not see results for another few months after it's implemented. And you have to keep evolving with the search engines. Black hat SEO is a quicker process with a fast payoff that can get you kicked off search engines down the road.

What kind of things go into each, and if I could get kicked off a search engine, why would I even consider a black hat campaign?

Some of the white hat processes involve research into how people are searching for your products, writing about your products frequently and well, making some code updates to your pages, and in general providing value. Black hat processes could involve buying links from other sites to your own site, scraping/stealing content from other sites, and making your site look different to search engines than it does to humans. You might undertake a black hat campaign if you had a lot of domains that you intend to make you some quick cash but then you'd just abandon after a few months. Also, you might be the sort of person who punches babies and kicks puppies.

Do I need to hire somebody?

Not necessarily. SEO should be built into the initial design, and if your designer did his or her job, you're already on your way. You should have a blog up and running, and if not, you'll need one. If your site is large and no one did anything from an SEO perspective, you'll need to hire someone to get you on track, and depending on how much time you have on your hands, you could do it yourself or pay someone to implement the campaign.

Who are these experts and what should I read?

If you want to be really smart about this, you should be familiar with what the following people are saying. You can learn enough from them to do your own campaign. In alphabetical order, they are:

» Bruce Clay Inc
» Outspoken Media
» Search Engine Journal
» Search Engine Land
» SEO Book
» SEOmoz

Link exchange? How about better SEO?

I won't lecture you on link exchanges and search engine optimization. Instead, I'll tell you one way to fish for more work (and possibly end the link exchange requests).

I received this email the other day:

Dear Webmaster,

We sell health products at [a vitamin site] and are interested in exchanging links with your website.

Regards,

[person's name]

This email is NOT sp/\m. It only ever gets sent to each website once. If this is not the case please let me know.

Rather than deleting it, I decided to write back.

Hi [Name],

The new social web is adamantly against link exchanges, so much so that search engines like Google and Bing recognize link swaps that don't appear to make sense (e.g., I don't write about vitamins, supplements, or even health with the rare exception, so why would we link to each other?) – and worse, they penalize sites for such exchanges, sometimes even de-listing them entirely.

I am available to help better optimize your site for search engines and improve the usability on your site, if you are in need of such services. Please see this page for a description of what I do and a current portfolio.

Best,
Josh

I'll let you know if they take me up on the offer. Cuz that'd actually be pretty cool.

Introducing the Maidel and the Faigel

I've been dying to introduce one of the simplest sites I've done in a long time because the content is just hysterical. After I did a little tweaking to aSweetPeace a little while back, I met Hinda Mandell, who recently approached me about creating a blog.

We went back and forth on design ideas and settled on the very clean, easy-to-edit Miscellany WordPress theme from The Cloisters. She drew a cartoon, I found some header backgrounds, and we were off and running.

The overall site, Little Chicken Media, will someday morph into a site covering a lot of cultural issues from a Jewish perspective, but the first project is called The Maidel and the Faigel. In Yiddish, that would be The Single Woman and the Gay Man.

They talk about heritage (her ancestors are Polish Jews; his are Polish Catholics), upbringing, sex, love, food, and Nigel, the maidel's Lhasa Apso. They are pretty damn funny. Also, they are roommates, so they definitely have some insight into each other the rest of us don't get.

They are also on Twitter and Facebook, so go say hi!