SEO as a key ingredient for growth

Startups that are not focused on organic user acquisition in 2014 and beyond are dead in the water. 

I am being serial.

Think of how many new users are coming online everyday.  They are all searching, they are all, for the most part using Google and as Android continues to increase it's chokehold on the device market it will be baked into  nearly every device on the planet in 2-5 years.

So it matters.

Let's use the dirty word here... SEO.  We are talking about SEO.  Do you have to go have a shower now?  Feel a little dirty?  You probably do, but I don't know why.  It seems like overnight SEO got relegated to the back lot along with the man eating chicken, glass eater, and the bearded lady.  People started smelling snake oil, and snake oil smells like shit.  Nobody wants snake oil, but everyone wants free traffic so where does that leave us?

Exactly where we were in 2002-2003, when I got started with SEO.  When it was as simple as having a good title and meta description tag.  I am serious, that's pretty much all it took.  And fast! You could start ranking for a keyword almost as fast as you could upload your website to your FTP in Dreamweaver.  Ah Dreamweaver, turning crappy programmers into "Web Professionals" since 2001.  Hence where the problems crept in.  Back then, few people truly understood PageRank and Google, but they knew about the title and meta description trick.  Add yourself to DMOZ and you could charge $200 / hour to be a search engine "expert".

So that's where the problem was and where it still is today.  You get these J-holes who are trying to sell you snake oil and it stinks!  You get these "business guys" who read an e-book about making money online and low and behold they become SEO consultants.  When you hire them, they give you the ol' title and meta description speech.  You really hope that they have more than that, but alas they don't.  Maybe they throw in the URL trick, put your keywords in the URL too, that REALLY works.  No shit sherlock!

Here's the dirty little secret that no one wants to admit...

It's still all about the fucking title and meta description tags!  And links. But it's always been about that  Thats what is so frustrating.  SEO really hasn't changed much in the past 10 years if you have been playing by the rules.  If you are a link farmer / spammer then ya, you have had a bumpy ride.  Your link exchanges and scraped content got found.  Google and their legion of PhDs outsmarted you, but for the rest of us, the honest people, nothing has really changed.  Panda, Penguin... just animals at the zoo.

Here is SEO in 3 simple steps.

1) Think about Lucky Charms.. you are the Lucky Charms!

All good SEOs are also great marketers.  They understand that every time your page appears in the SERPs you have a chance for a click!  It's like the Mom walking down the cereal aisle... you've got her attention, you've got the context, now impress the hell out of her with your box and packaging!

You are Lucky Charms and your title and description is your packaging.  Make it good!  Make it look delicious and healthy.  

Pro tip: If you say you are healthy and delicious and you are not, then she probably won't buy you again.  So if you are full of sugar you have two options, one more ethical than the other.  1) Tell her that you are full of sugar but hope that's what she's looking for.  2) Don't tell you aren't full of sugar, but don't tell her you are.  Tell her how much fun her kids will have when they are eating you.

2) You need links

Re-read what I just said.  I didn't say you need to buy links.  Don't ever!  EVER! Buy links.  That's the sign of a shitty product.  Buy Ads sure, buy a placement... fine.  But so help me god if you buy a link that will sit on some directory.  That game is over.  Google won and it was a shitty game to begin with.

You need real links.  How do you do that?  By making things that people want!  Or by talking about things that people want.  Or by injecting yourself into conversations where people are talking about things that people want.

This is not rocket science.  But it's also NOT LINK BUILDING.  It's just good marketing.

Stop calling yourself a link builder and do yourself a favour, call yourself a digital marketer.  If you are link building then you are doing it wrong.

3) Step on that long tail

Even if you have found a way to make solid gold shoes that are not heavy, allow you read people's minds and give orgasms to people at will and all for the low low price of $4.99 you will not rank for the word shoes.

Don't try. Don't waste your time.  Nike, Amazon, Zappos! et al. will mop the floor with your orgasmic, mind reading shoes.

Buy a subscription to Moz and SpyFu and spend some time understanding your keyword space.  That's a fancy way of saying, put yourself into the mindset of your target customer.  Do some searches, then do some more.  Write down what you see.  Ask a lot of questions.  Stay curious.

Unlike the snake,  if you chase the long tail you will absolutely find it.

So that's it.  I am done this educational rant.  SEO isn't dead and it won't be for a long time.  The rules haven't changed all that much.  Snake Oil salesmen have been around since the silk road and most of them got poisoned or stabbed.  You are a marketer! Be proud and act like one.

Since I am a good marketer I will leave you with a sales pitch.  

If you are looking to have an experience that you can't pull off on your own like: Renting a wicked party boat for a weekend, finding a sweet Airbnb up in the mountains, or maybe going indoor skydiving, then you should use Crowdtilt to organize and collect money from your group to do it.  Our tagline is pretty amazing, here it is.

Crowdtilt - Collect money from your group and make something happen.

Because I like you, if you signup using this link, you will get $20.  This is an example of incentive marketing.  It's different than SEO.

Thank you for reading.

The Well of Lost Ideas

Did you invent it? Did you come up with it? Did you start it? Really?

Then where is it? Show it to me.

You can’t can you? Because that’s all you did. You thought, you talked, and you dreamed. These are all good things, all very, very important things but you forgot the most important step.

You forgot to build it.

In 2009, Charoo and I built Viewpointr. It was ahead of its time and today, Biz Stone and co, launched They seem to have got it right… time will tell.

Am I mad? Hell no! We tried. We built it. We even got Ogawa to fund it. Does it hurt a little to see others succeed with an idea you had more than 5 years ago? Sure it does. It stings a little, but not as much as it would sting if we hadn’t tried. If we hadn’t of stuck our necks out there.

When other people ‘steal’ your ideas remember a few things.

  • They were never your ideas
  • Ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is where the dollars lie
  • Some of your ideas must be good. The next time one comes up, stop thinking, stop talking and start doing.

If not, it will find its way into the well of lost ideas and that my friends… is a cold and lonely place.

Have I told you lately… that I love you?