"You'll biz it up" with other IT business pros and develop your network of like-minded bloggers. That was certainly the theme of yet another succesful Yulbiz bash at cafe Melies, as dozens of Montreal business bloggers. Here's the low down [and dirty] on the cool people I chatted with at Yulbiz October 2007.
You need to read through to the end to make sure you hear about all the coolest people that matter in Montreal marketing and tech! (And then leave a comment.)
Sebastien regaled us with the story of how his girlfriend (conjointe gets lost in translation to English, please excuse me Sebastien) and he set up a screen capture movie on Second Life with actors playing out part of her youth/children's book. This genius marketing tactic was apparently a big success at a book fair in Sherbrooke. It's on sale at Mosaique.
Pascal's company has a great name, where I'm concerned: Never Stop Improving - NSI. Pretty appropriate for a company that is in the business of offering reviews and constructive criticism! And I need to give them my compliments for using a blog as the basis for their website!
Speaking of blogs, Vincent's company is selling them big-time! They've come up with a new CMS oriented to banks and conservative companies not at ease with open-source software and that prefer a proprietary solution. Thus, the multiple media content manager. We didn't get a chance to discuss it in much more depth unfortunately, but hopefully next Yulbiz we can speak about it some more!
Around the time I was hanging out with Vince, Pascal and Seba, Claude Malaison of emergence web and I traded a few words. You might recall that I couldn't remember his name from a previous Yulbiz... Well, I got his card this time! Claude is organizing Webcom (amongst others) and is excited as he's bringing in some great speakers!
Edit: I didn't get Jacques's card, but he wrote me his name and specialization in my agenda. Jacques Warren is an analytics expert and former reseller for Web Trends. He's got a handful of blogs, which, when updated, offer some good material. Consider this one (in French) on analyzing visitor paths.
Same Edit: Similarly, I didn't get Julien Niquet's card but what I did get was much more significant: a sneak peak at the future of banking. He's working on Colektivo. I'd say more, but I think it's hush to avoid getting the idea stolen. Julien and his project are absolutely a pair that need to be kept an eye on, because they're doing big things!
Soon afterwards, I was chatting with Olivier Niquet and Jean-Philippe Wauthier of Cent Papiers (a french play on words that I can't translate properly...). Consider it the french equivalent of Gooruze, Squidoo or Youmoz. (If you have no clue what I'm talking about, google those words.)
Another fascinating conversation was the one I had with Sophie Lachapelle of Infopresse. She's working on an article on how Quebec marketing and ad agencies make use of social networks. (I'll have a case study on SEO ROI about my own efforts and discuss other peoples' ad efforts on the site soon enough. Sneak preview: CTR is terrible! Stay tuned...)
Jonathan Stoikovitch and his friend Nico Stinghe got in a word edgewise (Nico handing a card over: "photographe" lol), but we didn't have very substantive conversations. Jon's got some interesting software for co-browsing available in any case.
And last but far from least (perhaps the most enjoyable conversation on the night) was with Nicolas Cossette. He's joined ranks with the enemy (kidding about the "enemy" thing... what I meant to say was "evil empire" haha - OKOK, relax, I'm joking ) but is nonetheless a very friendly guy. He commented on my SEO ROI blog a little while ago and we finally got to meet and have a chat :). I'd keep my eye on him, fellows, because he's a clever guy and I'm a fairly talent judge.
(I also need to mention Philippe Martin and Michel Leblanc, who, as usual, were the cool and courteous organizers of this month's Yulbiz. Also, a cheery-o to Geoffroi and Alain whom I saw but didn't get to chat with.)
Besides writing grandiose openings with questionable grammar, I've got a laundry list of reasons why I'm the biggest Rockstar WebGeek (specifying webgeek, because when you're going to a conference by and for webmasters ... well, Dave Navarro isn't about to show up) and why I should be selected to party with Shoe et co. in Vegas.
If you're totally clueless about what I'm talking about, this is an entry to Shoemoney's Rockstar contest. Warning: there is some adult oriented humour and a liberal dose of sarcasm - if you can't take a joke for what it is, please don't read any further.
Also, for my regular readers, this is a more personal post not quite related to the regular content of this blog, so take it for what it's worth (some young adult type humour) and not as a reflection of my professionalism.
Why are you still reading?
For starters, I spent a month and a half travelling this past summer in the Middle East. Not only did I not get shot or blown up, I actually took shots and threw up! Err, wait, scratch that. I partied like a rockstar, swam with the fish, charmed the chicks (a little chopped corn will go a long way towards pleasing the little furry future chicken filets... no, seriously). And besides being a pimp and having a damn good time of it, I'm rocking this SEO game like stoning was legal!
Let's have a look at each of those points.
1) I got more partying done this summer than Paris Hilton's done advanced calculus! Or more than Matt Cutts, whoever's smarter/done more. (My $500 are on Paris.)
Here's yours truly crowd surfing at 2 am on his tour bus (in the blue shirt and grey boxers).
Are you ready for some more? (Crowd: "Oh yeah!" Rapper: "Are you ready for some more?" Crowd: "Oh Yeah!" Rapper: "Cuz you know I want to feel it, and you know I need to feel it." Lol, don't know why that lyric just popped into my mind, but I couldn't help slipping it in there.
With a friend, I tamed a bucking camel (while wearing short shorts) and propose to repeat the ride on Jeremy's back in the Nevada desert (harder too, because he's got no hair to hang on to!).
Further to that, I went incognito, Indiana Jones style, through water tunnels wearing what turned out to be a day-glo turban (Did you know white Ts make good turbans? Bet you didn't! Next time you hear someone make a racist "towelhead" remark, call them on their ignorance ... the term is "Tshirthead".)
Did I mention that when I party and get rowdy, the people around me get their smiles rearranged? You contest judges wanted to talk about fighting, well check this out:
OK, OK, so maybe it was a fossilized piece of junk from an archeological dig and not some guy's jawbone that I ripped out. Still, I think hanging out with me would be very beneficial to our judges, each of whom seems to have some issues with their smiles. I mean, consider:
Dax is actually frowning! If I had my picture taken with my pants around my ankles, I'd be doubled over laughing!
It seems that Rebecca, Neil and Shoe also have an issue with smiling, as you can see from them hiding their pearly whites...
Shoe's got his arm around a Hooter's hottie! And he's not smiling! And then he's holding a massive cheque while again, his cheekbones aren't the slightest bit perky!
Rebecca's a little more subtle with it. She's in disguise here with a mustache so she can plausibly deny it was her. But we know she's hiding that grin just the same!
And Neil's slurping on a beer bong. Looks like the social communities of college fraternities is what he's really studying!
Greg ... well, let's just say that with a smile like that he makes a hockey player look good... A for effort at least!
The only judge who does a half-decent job (and has a nice smile - props to your dentist) is Dave Dellanave:
The relation between this and PubCon is simple. By making fun of the judges I'm getting them - by means of reverse psychology - to secretly want to be my friend and invite me to go with them to PubCon. If you're going to socialize and network (and maybe even pick up a girl or two), a little bit of charm is essential - and your humble servant has plenty of that. Which brings us to point two:
2) Picking up the girls. If you're going to party like a rockstar, you're not just going to be getting wasted. You're going to be macking the hell out of a room. In my month and a half of travelling this past summer, I picked up no less than 5 girls and was offered to join the mile high club on my plane back home by a sixth.
Have a look:
Here's your favourite rockstar taking a short break from dancing to smile for the camera with the cute girl he picked up over the weekend. Note also the white pants, like a certain rockstar who's popular in Vegas wedding ceremonies.
And like any self-respecting rock star knows, it's not sufficient to just pick up one girl a night.
Heh, my eyes look so conniving/evil there. Sure sign of a party animal rockstar ;).
Following that, there was another cutie who I unfortunately did not get a chance to take pictures with, and whom you'll have to take my word on. Next up was this delightful young thing from Toronto, which just goes to show that even Toronto can get some things right. Did I mention this was a Montreal SEO blog?
The story here was that I was walking back from a cafe and saw this girl and her friend. I thought they were cute, recognized the uniforms they were in as being from an organization I'd had an interest in and chatted them up. Next thing you know I've got a hot date Friday night! Fun in the [setting] sun, as they say.
Note also the smiling! (This image wasn't cropped, it was just self shot from very close.)
I then met a girl who had an awesome personality and whom I was dating until just a few weeks ago.
We were walking along and saw a harpist and just had to take a picture - I mean, when do you see a harpist street performer around? I thought it was funny that as a harpist, she also harped about getting a donation before she'd let us take a picture with her. If you're keeping count, this is #5. And still more smiles.
The airplane girl I won't post a picture of because it might upset ms. #5. But fyi, I turned her down as ms. #5 and I were still dating at the time. ("How un-rockstarish and boring! How non-controversial!" I know, I know... )
Bottom line: Pick me to go with you to PubCon and not only will we party, you guys will get a crash course on smiling, keeping up the smile as much as possible without getting tired and making smart conversation to pick up girls (or guys, for you, Rebecca). And for you Greg, until you see a dentist, I'll teach you to be a good listener ;).
At the end of the day, most girls and guys aren't expecting to date supermodels (though if you're a self-confident and only occasionally own-horn-tooting, wink-n-a-smile-ing, easy-chatting p-i-m-p like yours truly, you can have that expectation). They want someone friendly, who'll smile and listen to what they have say with interest while making them feel good about themselves. Like your humble servant, moi.
3) I'm an SEO rockstar.
Consider a couple of the things I've written, results I've achieved and some of the research I'm undertaking.
1) Sitelinks research project: What in the algo triggers the attribution of sitelinks to a site?
Besides that, I'm #1 and #6 on Yahoo for SEO Montreal (was #1 and #2 earlier in October, but the SERPs have just changed very recently).
My SEO ROI .com referrer logs already show top 50 rankings on SEO consulting, and it's only been actively promoted for a few months.
I'm a multi-disciplinary fellow. I have:
Planned and supervised the design of my SEO ROI site from A-Z this summer, including graphics and code;
Re-wrote the copy and some html code on the landing page for this Montreal hotel which increased their conversion rate, an impressive feat considering it was already above the industry average;
Ranked this blog top 20 for Local SEO and this site often comes up in Map results for Montreal SEO on Google when the SERPs have Maps integrated (it would be awesome to attend the PubCon local sessions!);
Built a domain portfolio that counts awesome generic KW domains including a handful that have 6 figure + Overture results (not to mention LinkBuilding.ca ;) ). Do I care if they're .ca? Not so long as Google etc. don't.
Scored a minesweeper best time on expert of 120 seconds, or ~1.2 seconds a mine.
So if you can excuse the hard-selling, excessive bragging and weak self-deprecating jokes - I may be a rockstar, but I'm a n00b at this contest stuff - I think you'll find in me a fun guy to hang out with and one who's happy to listen to you :). Bring me to PubCon!
Google attributes certain websites "Sitelinks" and at the SEW forums, I found an interesting discussion on what it is that causes this. It's all speculation though, so I've decided to start a research project on what factors in Google's data/algorithms might cause these Sitelinks to appear.
The first thing I've done has been to establish a methodology of possible factors to test for. Second, I've created a sample set of 100 sites that have Sitelinks. Here is the list of sitelinked sites:
Atu2 Kidsastronomy General Motors McGill University of Toronto Kraft Omniture Insurance.com Sierra Club MSN Yahoo Goog SEW SEL SEObook SEOmoz Squidoo TD Canada Trust Parliament DoubleClick 24/7 Real Media Loblaws Xbox360 Forum Loreal KidsDinos Biology4kids CoolMath4Kids Genealogy.com Ancestry.com PlentyofFish Problogger Vistaprint Logos.it Blue Host Hostgator Mortgage101 Tiger Direct Law.com Microsoft Adobe PlanetPhotoshop W3C ScienceMag Journal of Medicine Journal of Psychiatry Journal of Biological Chemistry American Bar Association Beckett Alibris Digg Stumble Upon Media.com Fox TV Canada.com Conservative Party of Canada Liberal Party of Canada Green Party of Canada Food Network Scholarships Canada Standford newspaper London England – VisitLondon.com comes up below news results and below Maps results with Sitelinks. Toronto Canada – Toronto.ca below maps CollegeHumor Download.com IGN.com Counter-scipt.net – Counter-strike scripts Feedreader.com Newsgator CTV – CTV.ca comes up after a futher query link to Google finance and stock info TSX.com for Stock Berkshire Hathaway Mohawk College – Mohawk How Stuff Works Kids Health Victoria’s Secret Myspace Alexa Facebook LinkedIn Technorati Sitepoint DigitalPoint V7n Compete Bargain.com HaAretz Yediot Ahronot Pajamas Media Vertrue Consumer Reports Shareasale CJ.com Namepros Olive Garden Gardeners – Garden Supply Shoppers drug mart (but not Pharmaprix) Creditcards.com ISEdb Pandia WebProNews
It's a pretty prestigious group, I think we can agree. I'll be conducting tests over the next weeks and months to figure out what the Sitelinks attribution factors are. Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, try typing in the name of your favourite site into your Firefox address bar. You'll find that those sites that have sitelinks will see their site show up right away; some others will return a Google results page (there's a grey area where sites have no sitelinks but they do get returned automatically in Firefox.
Black Hat PPC is an application of the black hat approach - read the rules, test the rules, bend and test the rules then stick with what works - to Pay Per Click marketing.
My first readings on the topic are for a man who, inter alia, is familiar with how the top dogs rank for Poker queries. That is, he is the absolute elite when it comes to ranking for competitive search terms, largely because he's got an in-depth knowledge and understanding of blackhat SEO. I'm referring to Mr. Mikkel deMib Svendsen.
Mikkel wrote The Art of Black Hat PPC Management. I think it was one of the most influential things I've ever read and perhaps one of the best written as well. What's particularly interesting is his point about blackhat PPC being virtually risk free. SEs won't ban an infringing advertiser; at most they'll temporarily remove his ads. The reason is that they want the advertiser's money.
In a more recent bit of reading (Mikkel's article was written for the now defunct E Marketing News, back in 2005), the unnamed author of this PPC blog has written a sort of update/refresher (without saying so explicitly) on blackhat PPC. Some of the ideas are original, some are the same Mikkel was advocating 2 years ago. In particular, his article is geared towards affiliates looking to flaunt network and merchant rules on PPC bidding. His inspiration comes from the SEWatch, apparently.
Greg Sterling is a local SEO with a lot of knowledge, an ability to write heaps of quality content and some good stories on local search to boot.
First things first: Greg is the man behind Screenwerk.com. (Which for some reason he's hardly optimizing? Edit: Correction, he's optimizing Gesterling.wordpress.com just fine but Screenwerk.com is the professional address of the site - just like Montreal SEO .ca for this one. The screenwerk domain gets you slow loading times though, Greg, and is possibly inhibiting less savvy people linking at your individual posts, imho.). It's a great blog with a variety of excellent information on local search marketing (this one on Yodle and co. competing with the Yellow Pages is a pretty good one, imho)
Second, Greg's got some fascinating data up on the percentage of people using local search, according to Nielsen. He's added further analysis at his Locals Only column at SEL. One highlight: 86% of people said they used the Web to find a local business, vs last year's 70%, and 78% say they use it more today than they did before. By contrast, 52% of people use the Yellow Pages less, according to the same data. (Looks like a bright future ahead for Yodle et cie.)
Finally, it's occurred to me that Greg has mastered something that we don't get to see very study in internet marketing - story telling. And I'm not talking about "Let me tell you the story of how I made $10,583 in one day" stories either. I mean stories like you'd read in the local business press. Consider this story on mothers, social media and their influence in the East Bay Area. Or consider this most recent post on a coffee shop telling members of the social media site Yelp to keep away. It makes the whole thing a lot more interesting than when you just read about a social media site or about generic data.
10 points on the originality and quality of your local search content, Greg!
As part of my regular reading, I've come up on some great interviews with SEO experts recently. I'm also preparing some of my own with local SEO experts, including Mike Belasco, Stoney deGeyter and others.
First of all, I need to link to LinkJuicy's interview with Michael Gray. Link Juicy is a solid blog and the interview touches on some excellent points. In particular, he has some good points on varying your methods for attracting links and discussed paid links as well, in some detail. There's some good tips on linkbaiting, though I heard the Stumble Upon advice from Muhammad Saleem first, who perhaps should have been credited. However, Michael might have known that stuff independently.
Second, SEObook's got an excellent interview with Eli of Blue Hat SEO. I've been reading Eli consistently and he's in my feedreader. There are some juicy nuggets in there, particularly a disagreement between Eli and Aaron on Google's algorithmic focus-du-jour.
Finally, I'm preparing a Local SEO Ranking Factors document, using much the same methodology as SEOmoz's document on the regular Search Ranking Factors. I'll be interviewing some of the top pros in the field. The two above have agreed so far, and both Sharon Odom Fling and Mike Blumenthal have expressed interest. I know this is going to be a huge thing if the other local SEO experts and myself handle the methodology and promotion right! Stay tuned...
This Montreal SEO's schedule has been fuller than Homer Simpson after a free all-you-can-eat buffet of late, and I've got some great news. First of all, Facebook Camp Montreal (like the Toronto event, but better), is being organized by Sylvain Carle and company. Second, a Youmoz blogger may have discovered an additional local SEO ranking factor. And third, there are some cool local SEO posts I've seen around that I want to share!
First things first: Facebook Camp Montreal is being organized on this wiki. Yours truly has put his name down to speak on the opportunities for advertising on the Facebook platform. I'm fascinated by Facebook's marketing opportunities and hope to give an interesting presentation! If you think you've got something interesting to say, why don't you put your name down too?
Second, a Youmozzer nicknamed Jaz thinks he's discovered a new Local SEO ranking factor: targeting the State-wide keyword to improve your ranking on the city-wide keyword. He's seen some results, but they're as yet inconclusive.
Similarly, I recently rewrote the copy and some of the code on the Hotel de Paris's homepage, which included using a provincial abbreviation in the title. I'm waiting to see what the results are with regards to city search. In the meantime, I've brought up rankings for other keywords we previously weren't on the first page for, which is always nice!