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Welcome to my Stale Blog

Wow! It’s been six years since I’ve written a single word on this blog. SIX YEARS!!

Time to resurrect this stagnant piece of ancient history. 

Stay tuned for future posts.

Note: I initially intended to delete all of my old embarrassing ramblings and start fresh but, ends up, I didn’t cringe at reading them like I had expected. So… they are here to stay. 

And while you’re waiting with bated breath for certain-to-be pearls of wisdom, feel free to queue up The Black Eyed Peas or Nickleback (only one of which I will respect you after) and take a walk through the 2000s.

Is Google Building the Social Web?

For a long time Google has been criticized for not getting involved in the “social revolution”. Yes they released Orkut in January 2004 (before Facebook, by the way), but their entry into social media completely lacked the commitment of social giants like Facebook and Twitter.

With Google being such an Internet visionary, we have to step back and ask, “What are you doing, Google? ”

There’s no doubt that sites like Facebook and Twitter are gaining an enviable portion of the social traffic and face time. What I want to ask, however, is this… Are Facebook and Twitter REALLY doing it right? In other words, is this really the best we can do in terms of social interaction on the Web?

The Internet has a lot of things to see and do, but do we have to go somewhere to be social? In real life we can be social without going to a destination. We could simply be social at home, in the car, at a bar, on the phone, etc, etc. In other words we can be social anywhere we want. We aren’t limited to a few select locations in which to be social. This is not the case when it comes to the Internet. Currently, we have to go to a destination. We still  have to go to a URL.

In order to do it right, we can’t just build a social destination (AKA. To do it right, we have to make the whole Web social.

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Don’t Ignore Google AdWords’ Content Network

Many of you may have been like I was …Ignoring Google AdWords‘ Content Network because of low click through rates and low conversions.  The problem with the content network, I eventually discovered, has nothing to do with the quality of the network and everything to do with the way these campaigns need to be setup.  A properly set up Content Network Campaign can add a lot to your search engine marketing ROI.

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SEO: Going from Good to Great! The Four Core Skillsets.

A heated conversation broke out on Sphinn yesterday that centered on whether you need to know HTML to be good at SEO.  Frankly, I’m surprised that’s even a question.  It’s a kin to asking if you need to understand the human anatomy to be a good doctor.

I’m not trying to be belittling, but if you only have an academic knowledge of SEO factors (book smarts), you can’t be great at SEO.  You only think you are because [1] the smallest changes can have big impacts and [2] you don’t know what you don’t know. Let me explain.

In this article I’m not going to focus on the negatives.  I’m going to focus on some constructive ways to go from being a good search engine optimizer to being a GREAT search engine optimizer.  The following are the four core things, as I see them, which you need to be good at if you want to go from good to great in terms of SEO. read more…


Today was a sad day for me. An old friend has died. Tomorrow, February 27th is the last edition of the Rocky Mountain News. Denver, as well as the rest of the nation, will not be the better for it.

Working for E W Scripps, the Rocky Mountain News has been a big part of my life for the last year. Although a late adopter of SEO, they were quick to see the benefits of its common-sense principles and adopted it more fully than most any other paper within the company. Some of the things we have been able to accomplish over the last year have been profound, and the plans for the future held even bigger SEO success for the paper …a future we will never see.

One example of their success was our SEO initiative around the Democratic National Convention. During a period of heavy news coverage and other web resources covering the Democratic National Convention, the Rocky Mountain News was able to hold first page Google coverage, sometimes out-performing the official DNC sites and Wikipedia …and always outperforming CNN, MSNBC, and the rest of the news giants. Even today you will find them as a first page result for Democratic National Convention.

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I’m a Search Geek!

I just got my letter regarding the SMX Biggest Search Geek Contest.

Dear Paul,

Thank you for participating in the SMX Biggest Search Geek Contest, sponsored by Marin Software. We are pleased to inform you that out of nearly 1700 entries, you scored in the top 10% – a truly great achievement!  You can view where you scored in relation to others at

To recognize the contest?s top achievers, we have created the attached badge, with code that you can place on your website.

Search Marketing Expert

To read more about our Biggest Search Geek Winner, Keri Morgret from San Mateo, CA, please visit:

Thanks again for participating and we hope you join us again next year!

Natalie Clifford Cann
Director of Marketing Communications

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SEO Keyword Organization

Foundational to good search engine optimization is the understanding that every search is someone asking a question.  Someone who searches for “George Washington’s birthday” is asking, “When was George Washington’s birthday?”  Someone who searches for “chicken soup recipes” is asking, “Where can I find chicken soup recipes?”  Every search is a question, and every searcher has a unique job to be done.

When we understand that every search is a specific question and every searcher has a unique job to be done, it should change the way we think about creating, organizing and optimizing our web pages.  Our pages can’t simply be a collection of facts on a page.  Our pages have to become answers to specific questions and solutions to unique jobs to be done.

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The Future of SEO is User Experience

Last week AdAge reported that Google CEO Eric Schmidt, while speaking with a group of magazine executives, referred to the internet as a “cesspool”.  What is even more noteworthy, to us a search engine optimizers, is his statement that “We don’t actually want you [as SEOers] to be successful [at gaming the system]”.

The vast majority of us, as SEOers, are still stuck in 2006 when it comes to our SEO practices.  We’ve generally ignored that the search engines have built countermeasures to our SEO tactics.  As producers of real content have slowly moved up in the results, system gamers have moved down.  So what is the solution?  Better title tags?  More links?  In my opinion, it’s none of these.
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CTR and Quality Score Decoded

The more time I spend in the forums, the more confusion I see about Google AdWords’ Ad Rank (CPC bid × Quality Score). I’m going to try to break this down, not by what Google says it is, but what it actually is.

According to Google:

A keyword-targeted ad is ranked on a search result page based on the matched keyword’s cost-per-click (CPC) bid* and Quality Score.

Ad Rank = CPC bid × Quality Score

The Quality Score for Ad Rank on the search network is determined by:

  • The historical clickthrough rate (CTR) of the ad and of the matched keyword on Google; CTR on the Google Network is not considered
  • The relevance of the keyword and ad to the search query
  • Your account history, which is measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account
  • Other relevance factors

The more you think about this, the more your head hurts. In reality, the formula is quite simple: Ad Rank = How much revenue your ad generates for Google. The more revenue your ad generates, the higher your Ad Rank.

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