Illegal Prescription Drugs on My Face

If you are viewing my blog in a web browser, sickness it looks completely normal. However, diagnosis if you are a search engine spider, all the text has been changed to be about various prescription drugs that you can buy online. My WordPress blog has been hacked. To fix this, I need to reinstall WordPress. If I have to waste a few hours, I will be switching blog software. Stay tuned.

Talking Product

Talking Product I recently presented my company’s new feature to The Product Group: http://tpgblog.com/theproductgroup/.

Seated with me is my esteemed colleague Jim, our creative director.

Good Content is a Great Start

I haven’t posted in a while, but I have been dabbling in a bunch of new technologies both at work and personally. My brother and sister-in-law have been writing original recipes and taking lots of beautiful photos, so I helped them set up a blog: FoodieLawyer.com. It’s a real pleasure to work with people who already have tons of great ideas, enthusiasm, and most importantly, tons of quality original content.

After trying our Tumbler, Blogger, WordPress.com, and Typepad, we went with WordPress hosted at Dreamhost. That option provides them with automatic security updates, but also allows custom plugins and flexibility. To get them started, I added a custom theme, Google Analytics, Google Website Tools, SEO optimization, Feedburner, a Facebook widget, Askimet comment spam prevention, Google AdSense for Content, Amazon affiliate program, and a nice plugin for integrating Picasa photos and albums. To be honest, because of so many available tools, it only took one line of custom CSS and two lines of PHP to get them going with a feature rich site. Well, it also takes tons and tons of content production by them, but at least they aren’t bogged down with the How.

Good Article On Failed Projects

Lessons learned from 13 failed software products

It seems like the main take aways are to listen to the users and that, mind yes, we do need marketing.

The Puritan Gift – A Great Read

The Puritan Gift

The Puritan Gift

I’m almost finished with The Puritan Gift: Reclaiming the American Dream Amidst Global Financial Chaos by Kenneth and William Hopper, and I heartily recommend it to technology professionals or managers anywhere. It’s a study of the history of successful business practices or qualities that stem from the Massachusetts Bay Colony:

  1. A conviction to create Heaven on Earth (or a limitless sense of optimism for progress)
  2. Placing a high value on mechanical aptitude
  3. Working for the benefit of the group, not the individual
  4. The ability to marshal resources and organize on a massive scale

Along with those attributes, the Hoppers credit the Puritans for respecting ‘domain knowledge’ and listening to the folks on the factory floor. As someone who comes from an engineering background rather than a business management, I can see a lot of value in the lessons of the book. I also am learning a great deal about management practices that I never learned while coding.

The Hoppers don’t rest on their laurels with The Puritan Gift as a dry business history text book. The hook is the delightful way they intertwine wit and historic connections while telling the American tale. In fact, it reminds me of an episode of Connections.

The book was a gift from my in-laws and they even were able to snag an autograph from the author. Thank you so much for a great gift!

Beware The Astroturfing

Astroturfing” is a term that refers to generate fake grass roots effort by actually paying people to pose as everyday citizens. The term was coined by Lloyd Bentsen, the same gentleman who told Dan Quayle, “You sir, are no Jack Kennedy.”

In the Internet business, astroturfing mostly refers to posting fake comments, “I LOVE Brand X! – Joe Schmoe.” I’ve dealt with a few marketers who wanted to try it and I consistently tell them not too. There are many reasons, but the main one is, you will get caught. While your marketer is working for a paycheck, many forum moderators are doing it for the love, and thus will spend more hours trying to catch you than you can trying to evade.

Now there is another new reason. It’s against the law and you can be fined thanks to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. $300,000 for a few false comments is not chump change. I think the fines and anything else that discourages the practice is good for consumers and Internet businesses.

My Google Profile

http://www.google.com/profiles/seantconrad

Google announced a new feature today that let’s you share a page of public information about yourself across Google sites: Google Profile. It’s a very cool features, especially if you want to affect how you appear in Google searches. However, it does raise issues of safely and easily people divide their public and personal information. I wrote a post about this when I first branched this blog from my personal one.

My policy now is that anything associated with my name should be written as if it were going to show on my resume. This means Facebook is only good for viewing other people’s posts. Anything personal, I post to a blog using a pseudo name. However, I stick by the overarching policy, anything that you don’t want the world to know, don’t post it on the Internet. Period. I think Google could do a lot of good teaching people that with their default feature sets and instructions.

Making The Internet Easy

I just talked my mother through creating her new website on Blogger. This is after she somehow created and lost a domain name with Microsoft “Live” or whatever brand name that world is now. For all I know, her credit card will be automatically charged for that until it expires. Via a NetworkSolutions whois, I know who the registrar is, but I haven’t had time to wait on the line.

For some, the Internet is not easy. For others, it is not easy to make it easy. Especially over the phone.

Ingredients vs. Stew

A friend just told me a version of an often heard story in tech. Her marketing company built a site without the ability to track key metrics of the ads. The tech people responded, “It wasn’t in the specs,” which may be technically accurate, but is not comforting or productive.

I think a lot of projects like that fail for a reason that can be described in this metaphor: The tech people make water, beef, and tomatoes in a pot. And if you ask them what they make, they say, “water, beef, and tomatoes in a pot.” The business people want stew.

You need to make sure that everyone on the team knows that you are making stew and that someone is responsible for ensuring that happens. Unfortunately, that person has to be tri-lingual, speaking marketing, tech, and English.

10 Tips for Your Small Consumer Web Site: SEO, Buzz, and More (in no particular order)

My friend Lisy is selling personalized cuff links on line: http://fingerprintcufflinks.com. They send you a kit with a putty that allows you to capture your children’s fingerprints. After you return, Lisy crafts a pair (or 3) cuff links that forever capture your kids prints. She called tonight and asked me for some technical advice. I manage a tech team for a company that does a very large SEM (search engine marketing) spend, which is not quite right for this company yet. I did jot down 10 quick things that she should try.

I probably forgot a lot of obvious tips, so c’mon people, show me up in the comments.

10 Tips for Your Small Consumer Web Site: SEO, Buzz, and More
(in no particular order)

1.) Validate your HTML & CSS: Mostly good is good enough.
2.) Create good Meta tags: http://www.webspresso.com/metatag.htm Good <title> tags too.
3.) Start a blog on the site. Many hosting providers have a one-click way to install it at yoursite.com/blog. Link it to it from all pages. Write one or two articles a week about how things are going. Write posts about how cufflinks would be great for St. Pat’s Day. Ask customers to email their photos and stories and post those. I recommend WordPress with the Akismet plugin for comment spam.
4.) Add http://google.com/analytics code to all your pages so you can see how your efforts are doing.
5.) Host all the customer pictures and site pictures on Flickr. Add lots of tags. Link back to the site in the descriptions.
6.) Post your product on eBay every week with the Buy Now option. Link back the site in the eBay description.
7.) Join every social network you can as the site, create groups, get everyone you know to friend you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites
8.) Get anyone you know with a site to link to your site. Here you go: An awesome gift idea, cufflinks with your kids fingerprints! FingerPrintCufflinks.com!
9.) Investigate an Amazon Store: the Individual account is transactional, while the professional is $39.99 a month. You could test for one month to see if it covers itself.
10.) Don’t astroturf (put fake comments on other sites) or send out form emails. Personalized emails to editors of shopping and gift blogs may get you a write up, though.

After all these are done and you’re selling lots of cuff links, consider Search Engine Marketing. You need to have good books and accounts. If you can determine your average profit per sale, you can use the Google interface to manage your spend to an Effective CPA for the percent return on investment you want. Jewelery, gifts, and kids are all rather pricey keywords, but you might be able to generate some traffic with some more long tail terms like “memento” or “french cuff.” You know, I think we should all get a beer to discuss SEM in person.