#DumpDrumpf

7 May

Here’s the thing. The Drumpf movement is just making fun of somebody’s name that changed when they immigrated to the United States. I have many friends with “weird” names, or whose Americanized/Anglicized names aren’t the names their ancestors had a few generations ago. Should we make fun of their names? Are they worth less because of their idiotic names?

It was suggested to me that the Drumpf movement had something to do with illustrating how crappy Trump’s stance on immigration is. I’ve never heard anyone suggest that subtext until yesterday while trying to defend “the movement”. …And the connection certainly never came up in the original John Oliver segment.

When John Oliver dug up Drumpf, he was looking for laughs, and a way to debase Donald Trump. There are so many better ways to poke at that asshole. It’s akin to birthers “making fun” of Barack Obama because of his name. Is that the best they’ve got?!

I will not defend Donald Trump’s words or stances, but we Trump detractors can do better than Drumpf.

It’s in the last three minutes of this segment. The previous 20 minutes are great.

The ABCs of SEO for 2016

28 Mar

I’ve seen a few articles titled ‘The ABCs of SEO’, but most of them either continue on to the DEFs and trudge all the way through Z, or ditch the metaphor altogether after the headline. Dear SEO reader, that’s not me; I won’t do that to you.

My understanding of “The ABCs” gels with the definition:

plural noun:
the rudiments of a subject.
“the ABCs of emergency heart-lung resuscitation”

One might add to the summary-fun by sticking to three topics starting with letters A, B, and C. …Which also lends itself to “legs of the SEO stool” and various “triangles are the strongest shapes” and “3 is the magic number” tropes, too. Sure, let’s do it!

  • A is for Algorithm
    Yes, this starts us off on a weird foot, but you have to start with “A” and Google’s algorithmic whims rule the roost. Ignore seemingly silly phrases like “Penguin update” & “Panda update” at your SEO’s peril. …We’ll stick some of SEO’s other technical bits in this category, too. CMS platforms, hosting, microdata, valid code, etc. They, and many other elements, play a part in the Google algorithm.
  • B is for Backlinks
    A website can’t thrive in a vacuum. Googlebot is a web crawler. Crawlers follow links. If nobody’s linking to you, Google knows. Similarly, when many authoritative sites link to yours, Google knows. Oh, and Google cares! Social Networking and other engagement fits nicely here, too. It’s all about the connections. …Well the B-section is all about connections. But shouldn’t that fall under “C“? No. Don’t get confused.
  • C is for Content
    Content is king. Let’s type it again. Content is king. (That first link is better, though.) A client once wanted me to optimize their site without changing or adding any text. That relationship didn’t last long. Fresh, interesting, relevant content–unless you’re lucky enough to find a weird niche–SEO can’t thrive without it. Keyword research falls under this “C” umbrella, too. You can’t have good SEO content without appropriate keywords.

SEO ABCs Epilogue

There is no D in the ABCs of SEO

D is for Design

Haute designers usually loathe SEO best practices because SEO cares little about bleeding edge design, and design best practices often spit in the face of SEO efforts. Sometimes, emphasis on design goes hand-in-hand with the sentiment that “lots of text doesn’t look good.” That’s not un-true; optimized content usually isn’t sexy. …But it helps us rank better.

I wrote this post today because I whipped up a small section thereof in response to a first look at a client’s new site mockup. It’s pretty, and they’re paying a lot for it, from a big name. …Which is why I fear they’ll make my SEO work harder in the near future. No matter. SEO gets harder every year with or without their “help”😉 I advise. We carry on.

It’s a dance. Pick your priorities and get good advice. Start with the ABCs of search engine optimization.

 

Dan Dreifort consults on UX and SEO. He accepts no more than six new clients per year. His client waiting list is mercifully short right now, but for some reason, he doesn’t make it really easy to contact him.

I am white privilege

16 Jan

What is white privilege?

I was born in 1973. With a bachelor’s degree, I am the least educated person in my immediate family. My parents had a computer in the house before most people knew that personal computing was a thing.

pics-from-slider-201203 032

Our author’s great bangs

I was sent to “enrichment camp” five days a week the summers after third and fourth grade where I learned to code in three languages, how to write poetry, speak French, and other smartypants stuff.

When I was 11, my maternal grandparents, both immigrants, died and left my mom about $60,000. We moved to a new home in a better school district. The high school had a planetarium. I never finished my junior year of high school.

I got my GED and applied to and was accepted by two colleges.  In college, I met other geeky, white people and helped start an Internet service provider where I worked for ten years.

Now I work from home, staring at palm trees from my sit/stand desk, helping companies with esoteric niche digital marketing concerns.

I am white privilege.

2015 in review

31 Dec

2015 was dismal for dandreifort.com blogging. The report’s well done though! If you’re a fan of data visualization, you’ll like it! Enjoy, and happy new year.  -DD

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Firing SEO Clients

27 Nov
yourefired

Try to say, “President Trump” without gagging.

I’ve blogged about canning clients before (because of payment and/or privacy problems,) but this recent blog post by Marvin Russell made me want to do it again!

I accept up to four clients every year. I don’t accept every potential client, and because I have the luxury of excellent word-of-mouth, I seldom respond to RFPs and the like.

I’m picky about who I work for.

Six qualities I look for in a potential SEO client:

  1. Quickly groks what I do, the pace, etc. Can I quickly shape their expectations?
  2. ROI-minded, with the data/analytics to back it up. Or empowers me to quickly set it up!
  3. Willing to sign boilerplate mutual NDA.
  4. Big enough to potentially benefit from my minimum monthly retainer, currently six hundred and fifty bucks. I don’t like wasting money.
  5. Eschews unneeded gloss and superfluous meetings/conference calls. Appreciates concise communication and reporting. Doesn’t want excess overhead.
  6. Provides communication conduit to fast decision-makers in the organization, so great plans don’t linger in development hell. Am I talking to somebody who can affect change?

Though they passed that top-six litmus test with flying colors, I encountered problems with two clients over the past couple of years. Both were related to other third-parties on the clients’ marketing teams.

Please, won’t you tell me about your wonderful web/branding team?

The first problem was an unresponsive, and then slow web team. After six months of hair-pullingly frustrating non-progress, I threatened to quit. Client finally whipped their web team into shape and it’s been (mostly) smooth sailing ever since. I look forward to their switch to a new developer and CMS in the near future.

The second, more recent problem, was when a client’s branding agency communicated poorly and repeatedly wasted my time.

The branding agency wasn’t willing to communicate via email and only scheduled phone calls in four daily time slots via a web calendar app. Good luck finding a conveniently timed opening in their tiny schedule! “Can you squeeze a five minute call in? Just call me any time, all day!” Nope. Only four a day.

The last straw: they missed a call I managed to schedule. When I called them out on it and asked for demanded other lines of communication, they finally started responding to email, by calling me “unprofessional” and defending their (lack of) communication, saying it was typical of agencies. (I work with several agencies. These jokers were the worst, by far.)

They got nastier. I told the client, “I’d rather have my dignity than the aggravation and money. I won’t work with them.” (The branding agency is in Dallas. That’s all you’ll get from me!)

Rough Ride to a Happy Ending

That client now insulates me from the branding agency’s bad mojo. When taking the branding agency’s advice lead to a >90% drop in organic sales, the client quickly reverted to the old site and told the branding agency to act on my recommendations. Rankings, traffic and sales recovered. I don’t think that agency will be in the picture much longer.

I’m glad it worked out.
I like all of my clients. That’s the idea.

Though I’ve come close, I haven’t fired a client since my first and only firing, the one mentioned at the beginning of this blog post. #gettingbetter

Reduce Facebook Ads the Supai, Arizona Way

13 Jul Soylent Facebook
Soylent Facebook

IT’S PEOPLE!!!

UPDATE:
I should note, days after this post, Facebook demanded I prove my identity. As my name is not Danakin Skyjacker, I was unable to satisfy their idiotic documentation criteria. They closed my account. I switched to one of my other fb accounts, with an even goofier name. The good news? Even less advertising. That fb profile has never had a hometown or a current city associated with it and it had “liked” almost nothing. Pure minimal-ad Facebook experience achieved. If you don’t want to open a new Facebook account, stick with the method below.

Original post follows:

I’ve been increasingly inundated with advertisements on Facebook, especially on their iOS app.

Cause 1: Facebook continually finds new ways to monetize its product. (You. You’re the product!) (Go on, click that link. It’s fun!)

Cause 2: Until today I’d told Facebook I lived in Honolulu, one of the most hip, expensive, and cosmopolitan cities in this hemisphere. (I don’t.)

Minimize Facebook Ads

So I changed my current city and hometown to Supai, Arizona, the most remote town in the United States. It’s not even accessible by car! Supai is the only place in the United States where mail is still carried out by mules.

RESULT: Fewer advertisements on fb. I am no longer ostensibly part of a cherished target demographic. (I never was.)

Sure, I might start seeing ads targeted to native Americans, and if Facebook advertising is on its game, I might even see ads related to sprucing up my imaginary new home in Supai. So far–worth it.

Concerned about your privacy? …Or just tired of ads?

Won’t you join me in Supai?

When not generously providing free table tennis lessons to hacks at the Triple Crown Pub, Dan Dreifort consults on SEO, user experience, and other aspects of digital marketing.

Help Lucy Get a Cat Stroller

9 Apr Give me a cat stroller!

Dearest Blog Reader,

Lucy’s a cat. …a boy cat. He can’t go outside anymore because–

Ah hell. I’m not going to spoil the whole story. Please give a buck or two to Lucy’s gofundme cat stroller campaign.

All extra dough goes to one or more great animal welfare organizations. (Sorry PETA, not looking at you.)

Thanks for giving!

-Dan

Give me a cat stroller!

Lucy back when he could still go outside😦

Beware Donating to Collectibles with Causes

4 Nov Collectibles with Causes might not want to reimburse your shipping expenses even when you follow their instructions.

Keen readers will notice my last blog post discussed parting ways with my beloved comic book collection. I painstakingly entered each book first into a spreadsheet and then into an online database. If I’d carefully packaged and sold the lot, spread out into a hundred or so auctions, I probably could have received $5,000 or so.

Collectibles With Causes Legit? Unknown. Sketchy? Yes.

Collectibles with Causes, also known as With Causes, Works of Life International Ministries, and dozens of other names, is a charity that accepts collectibles, sells them, and then uses proceeds for good works, When I found them in August 2014, I did my research, like any good donator would. While I found nothing indicating proceeds would be used for hateful/exclusive causes, their EIN (26-0903224) appeared in neither the California nor the USA register of charities. I called the IRS and they confirmed that they had no record of their non-profit standing. Furthermore, none of the charity rating services have an entry for them. Not a deal-killer, but cause for concern.

The only third-party mention of With Causes/Works of Life I could find pertains to their Christmas 2011 gift of a house to a large family whose house had just burned down. Here’s an article/video. Works of Life is still milking it; one of their most recent (2014) Tumblr posts gives a shout-out to this same charitable effort.

Nonetheless, I was attracted to Collectibles With Causes. I really liked the idea of a win-win-win. I get a tax write-off for my comics and don’t need to spend dozens of hours selling them. The charity sells them and my beloved comic books find new, loving homes. Finally, people benefit from the good works/proceeds of the sale. Three wins–at least! But is it too good to be true?

Communication Problems

Collectibles with Causes might not want to reimburse your shipping expenses even when you follow their instructions.

Collectibles with Causes might not want to reimburse your shipping expenses–even if you follow their instructions.

I sent them the details of my donation on September 3, 2014 and received a canned response thanking me, providing shipping instructions, shipping reimbursement instructions, and other information. I asked for clarification on 9/7/14. On 9/9/14 I still hadn’t received a response so I pinged them again. Later in the day, no response forthcoming, I called them. Ginger finally checked the info@withcauses.org inbox and responded.

Five days later, on 9/16/14, I shipped eight boxes/about 280 pounds of comic books to:

Works of Life
ATTN: Collectibles with Causes
1175 Shaw Avenue #104-135
Clovis, California  93612

Their canned reply mentioned that, “The best method for shipping a volume of comics is USPS PARCEL POST or MEDIA MAIL …costing only approx $25.00 per long box and less than half of that for a short box.” Alas, you’re unable to ship anything with advertising via media mail. (Newsflash: comics have ads.) The plot sickens: USPS Standard Post (known as Parcel Post, until May 2007,) is much more expensive than $25/box. My shipping bill totaled $484.49. I sent them the original receipt as requested.

I notified them of the shipping cost and problems with media mail, and asked them how long it would take to get reimbursed the large shipping outlay. Amazingly, I got a reply the same day, 9/18/14, “Shipping is reimbursed once we receive your books and the shipping receipt. I will let you know once the books arrive.”

Tracking information let me know that the books arrived on 9/26/14. Ginger did NOT let me know. I sent an email on 9/29/14 asking if the books arrived. No response. I sent another email on 10/8/14 asking for an update on shipping reimbursement. No response. On 10/27/14, I emailed again. No response. (I should note that I called a couple of times in that month-long period too.) I then called on 10/28/14 and was told Ginger no longer worked there and that I’d receive a call back in a couple of days. That didn’t happen.

I called on 11/3/14, and they’re now apparently reluctant to reimburse shipping, because actual expenses don’t gel with the dream-world figures in their horribly out-of-date canned response. They asked me to scan and send another copy of the receipt. I did. Again, they said they’d get back to me. …24+ hours later, I’m not holding my breath.

Is Collectibles With Causes as Scam?

I’m not sure if Collectibles with Causes is a scam. …They might just suffer from personnel and communication problems.

If I don’t receive shipping reimbursement within a week I will contact the California Attorneys General, the BBB, the IRS, their local news media, and anybody else I can think of. I’ll pass along every bit of information I have about Works of Life and how they’ve (so far) reneged on the implied contract presented on their website, in their emails, and via phone. …I’m pretty sure that’s a crime. They are messing with the wrong dude.

I strongly urge you to find another charity for your donation. I will revise this review if they eventually make things right.

Update:

It’s 11/17/2014. After nearly two months staying on them, I have a shipping reimbursement check in hand. (They paid up!) Did this blog post have anything to do with it? I don’t know.

If you’re going to incur considerable postage expenses when you ship something to any With Causes charity, note that you might have to wait and/or fight for reimbursement. If I had to do it all over again, I’d donate to a local charity instead. Lesson learned.

Update:

2/16/2015:  Very unofficial response from alleged former Collectibles with Causes volunteer is in comments. While it’s entertaining, I smile more when I read my response to it. Enjoy.

Dan Dreifort is a professional part-time complainer. (In lieu of donations, send his wife earplugs.) He consults on web optimization and usability for fun.

Selling my comic books :(

18 Jul

File under boring, self-serving blog posts.

After more decades than I care to admit, I’m finally moving to another state and I don’t plan to haul my comic books with me.

1,679 comic books spanning more than 60 years.

This little link comics-for-sale-all takes you to a spreadsheet listing them all. Sort it as you will. Don’t judge me. Please share with comic collectors you know. I’m currently only looking for offers on the entire collection.

I’m willing to take a huge loss selling the collection in one fell swoop, but if I don’t get a good offer, I’ll sell the 100 or so most valuable comics individually on eBay and then donate the rest.

If you want me to expand this post to discuss materialism, letting go, and a history of lists–let me know😉

Pizza Poem

3 Apr pizza
pizza

Avalanche Pizza’s Pesto Chicken Pizza

A member of my stalwart Wednesday evening badminton crew introduced me to fifty cent slice night at a local pizzeria. It reminded me of a pizza poem I wrote circa 1998. I think it’s a metaphor, or something.

I ate a slice of it for lunch
I’d like to have some more
I can not get enough, you see
I am the pizza whore

To eat a slice is not a sin
To waste one is a crime
I think I ate too much today
I do it all the time

And if the oceans ceased to crash
And the sun did cease to rise
I’d sit back and gorge my huge fat ass
On a million pizza pies

Flying Mantra adapted parts of this ode into a song we affectionately called, “Serpentine”. Excerpt available here.

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Ethan McCarty

Digital strategy | Social business | People-centric biznology

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