Posts tagged starting

Big Data’s Fence-Sitters Are Starting To Experiment

Big Data may finally have arrived. Not “arrived” in the sense that everyone is swimming in data lakes and discovering actionable insights and other buzzwords. After all, most companies, including yours, are still baffled by Big Data and how to derive value from it.

See also: Oh, Go Jump In A Data Lake, Says Fed-Up Gartner Analyst

But for the first time in years, the Big Data fence-sitters have decided to get into the action. According to recent Gartner data, Big Data experimentation has hit 73% of enterprises, suggesting that too much is at stake with big data to sit it out. 

The trick now is to learn how to optimize those Big Data projects so they can fail, fail and fail again—and yet produce useful lessons for improvement with each iteration.

More Companies Jumping Into Big Data

While some signs point to a slowdown in Big Data-land, like this tweet from Gartner analyst Nick Heudecker—

—other data suggests the opposite. Some of it, ironically, from Gartner.

For example, for the last few years Gartner has been asking survey respondents,”Which of the five stages best describes your organization’s stage of Big Data adoption?” From 2012 to 2013, the number of naysayers remained roughly constant:

Source: Gartner, 2013

But this week Gartner released its newest survey data, and the percentage of respondents declaring they have “No plans at this time” to embrace Big Data declined considerably:

Source: Gartner, 2014

That’s a seven-point drop in the “no plans” contingent, swelling the ranks of those investing in or planning to use big data projects to 73% from 64% in 2013.

That’s a big deal.

Learning To Try

Of course, many organizations continue to struggle to put their data to good use, which is why a mere 13% of organizations have actually rolled out Big Data projects. That’s a nice leap from 2013, but still indicates that technology vendors haven’t done nearly enough to simplify their products and that many organizations have the wrong approach to Big Data to begin with.

The gap between “want to work with Big Data” and “actually work with Big Data” is also captured in this 451 Research chart:

Source: 451 Research

Part of the problem is that we’ve confused what Big Data actually means—volume is rarely the most important problem to solve; variety of data is—and we think of it as a discrete project rather than as a core component of a company’s culture. 

Cloudera co-founder Mike Olson nails this in a recent interview with Bosch’s Internet of Things group:

We talk to a lot of people who are fascinated by the technology of [Big Data]. They are excited about Big Data as Big Data. Those are bad people for us to work with, because they are not fundamentally driven by a business problem. It’s important when you start thinking about [Big Data] to think about why it matters…. The “shiny object syndrome” of engineers who want to play with new technology—I totally get that, I am one of those guys, but those projects generally fail because they don’t have clear success criteria.

The key, as I’ve written, is to set up an architecture of experimentation. This involves a heavy reliance on open-source software, cloud-based hardware and a multi-faceted team that understands your business and the right questions to ask of your data. 

It’s clear that many organizations don’t follow this practice, or we wouldn’t see nearly half of CIOs surveyed by Deloitte saying they have inadequate budget to fund innovation. Innovation isn’t a matter of big budgets; it’s a matter of little iterations. 

By embracing this more agile approach to big data innovation, more organizations will discover how to turn big data tire-kicking into big data success.

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Developers Are Starting To Chase After Apple’s Swift

Apple really wants developers to switch to Swift. And it looks like the feeling is mutual.

Six weeks after Apple unveiled Swift, the new programming language for iPhone and Mac applications is attracting a noticeable level of interest from developers. Phil Johnson at IT World crunched the numbers, and at least on GitHub, developers are picking it up.

See also: Apple Wants Devs To Love Swift, Its Shiny New Language—But There’s A Catch

Swift is now the 15th most widely used language on GitHub, with more than 2,600 new Swift repositories created since June, according to Johnson’s study. More significantly, Johnson believes that interest in Swift is directly replacing interest in Objective-C:

“From the beginning of January through the end of May, developers created about 294 new Objective-C repositories per day on GitHub. Since Swift was released in early June, that average has dropped to about 246 repos per day. That drop of 48 repos per day is pretty close to the average number of new Swift repositories created per day since its release and initial spike in interest.”

Apple has shown a marked interested in getting developers to adopt Swift, even going so far as to launch a surprisingly open and friendly development blog.

See also: Why Apple’s Blogging About Swift, Its New Programming Language For iPhones And Macs

From Apple’s perspective, Swift is a simpler, safer, faster-to-run alternative to the somewhat clunky and error prone language Objective-C now used to write apps for iPhones, iPads and Macs. But even if Swift is the magic bullet Apple conveys, it’s still going to have to rally developers to switch from the old way of doing things to an unproven new language.

The GitHub data shows that at least some developers are turning a new leaf.

View full post on ReadWrite

Sean Si on Starting a SEO Company the Right Way [INTERVIEW] by @AkiLiboon

On June 21, Search Engine Journal’s Philippine team had the privilege of attending a one day marketing conference called SEO Summit 2014. I interviewed one of the hosts, Sean Si, about his company SEO Hacker and its humble beginnings. You mentioned at SEO Summit that your company, SEO Hacker, started out as a one-man team before becoming one of the leading SEO companies in the Philippines. Can you share a brief history of your company’s journey? Yeah, sure! I started providing SEO services as a side job in January of 2010–one month before I graduated from college. I studied IT but I was a really bad student […]

The post Sean Si on Starting a SEO Company the Right Way [INTERVIEW] by @AkiLiboon appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Lessons from @Buffer in Starting Small: v1.0s of Google, Facebook, YouTube by @BelleBCooper

“The best things we know and love started as tiny things.” — Joel Gascoigne Buffer’s CEO, Joel, wrote a post not too long ago about the importance of starting small with new projects. He makes some great points about how easy it is to see the finished product of someone else’s hard work and forget about how long it took them to get to that point: “It’s difficult to understand how the evolutionary process of products and brands contributes and is vital to what they are today.” Joel goes on to say that success is more likely when we execute on small projects. Start […]

The post Lessons from @Buffer in Starting Small: v1.0s of Google, Facebook, YouTube by @BelleBCooper appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Search is the Starting Point for 60% of Travelers, While Social Informs [Study]

Kenshoo has released an industry spotlight report on the travel sector that shows 58 percent of leisure travelers and 64 percent of business travelers begin with search, with one out of four tablet users converting by booking air travel on a tablet.

View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest

Starting A Shopping Campaign In AdWords? Forget All You Know About Keywords!

Now that Shopping Ads and Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are getting more prominent positions on the SERPs (and taking away traffic from search ads); I’ve started to focus on them more with my clients. I found that working with Google Shopping campaigns is a good deal different from working with…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Starting Over, Part 3 – Optimize

Posted by Dr-Pete

This post is a part of the “Starting Over” series, the story of starting a blog (MinimalTalent.com) from scratch. See the end of the post for links to the rest of the series.

In parts one and two, I showed how I got my blog off the ground, indexed by Google, and just starting to rank. Now, it’s time to dive in and sand off any rough edges, before they cause future SEO injuries.

(1) Spot-check the SERPs

Marketing automation tools are great, but sometimes we get so enamored with those tools that we forget they only offer a window into the big picture. Early in a site’s life, I’m a big believer in actually typing in searches and seeing how your results look in the wild. The first time I started ranking for the phrase “minimal talent,” it looked something like this:

On the bright side, the site was getting picked up on Google+ (thanks, Jeremy!). Unfortunately, Google was creating a snippet from my first blog post. Why? Well, I hadn’t actually specified a Meta description. Sometimes, even the professionals forget the basics. Once I fixed the problem, I kept watching and eventually saw this:

There’s a wealth of information in this one image. I learned that Google was using my Meta description, but that it might be a bit long (note the odd jump to mid-sentence). I learned that Google was picking my authorship attribution and displaying my profile picture. I learned that my title wasn’t getting cut off. I learned all of this by just opening my eyes and looking.

(2) Google Webmaster Tools

Ok, now that we’ve at least made a few sanity checks with our own eyes, let’s see what the tools have to say. First, is Google indexing the site the way we’d like them to? Since I set up an XML sitemap, I can just go to “Crawl > Sitemaps”, and see something like this:

I’ve submitted 8 pages, and all 8 were indexed – so far, so good. Of course, the “indexed” count on this page only tells you which of the URLs in your sitemaps have been indexed. To get a glimpse at Google’s full index stats for your site, go to “Google Index > Index Status”:

The total count is right in the ballpark of my sitemap count, which, at least in my case, is good. Of course, Google didn’t index any pages before the site existed, so the graph really isn’t that useful. Over time, though, it can show you any unusual trends.

Keep in mind that, for large sites, you can’t expect every single page to be indexed, and that’s often not even desirable. The more you break up your sitemaps, the more you’ll be able to spot problems. If you see your total index count really take off, or you know it’s just way too large (your site has 500 pages, and Google has indexed 25,000), then this could be a sign of runaway URL parameters and duplicate content.

Finally, let’s make sure I don’t have any obvious crawl errors. Go to “Crawl > Crawl Errors” and you should see an overview like this:

I’ve got two “Not found” (404) errors, which really isn’t bad at all. I’m a bit concerned that my initial WordPress “Hello World” post is popping up, so let’s click on that:

The “Error details” aren’t particularly useful here, so I’ll go straight to “Linked from” and can see that the bad URL was on the page itself (a non-issue) and the home-page. Looking at the home-page source code, this link is now gone. So, Google just crawled the site a bit too early, and this problem should take care of itself.

(3) Moz Analytics

While Google Webmaster Tools has a lot of useful information, there can be pitfalls to getting the story from just one point-of-view (especially when it’s Google’s). Let’s look for any crawl issues in Moz Analytics, starting with “Search > Crawl Diagnostics”. Toward the bottom of the page, I get this summary:

Problems are sorted (left-to-right) from high priority to low priority, but my job this time around is pretty easy. I have 38 occurrences of one error, “Missing Meta Description Tag.” This is problematic not just because of the error, but because I really don’t expect to have 38 pages of the site crawled. So. Let’s drill down and look at a few sample pages…

A quick spot-check of the site reveals that these pages do not, in fact, have custom Meta descriptions. While this isn’t mission critical just yet, I should add them soon for my main pages.

As for the 38 crawled pages, it looks as if Moz Analytics is crawling my comment/reply pages. Looking at the source code, these pages have two Meta Robots directives and a rel=canonical tag in place, which is probably giving the crawlers some grief. It’s probably not a big issue, but let’s make sure that Google isn’t indexing these pages, by using the “site:” operator with “inurl:” on the comment/reply URL parameter. Entering the following into Google…

site:minimaltalent.com inurl:replytocom

…results in no documents found. So, at this point, it looks like Moz is being a little overprotective. It may be worth removing either the canonical or Meta Robots down the line, to make sure I’m sending Google clear signals.

Now, let’s look at what really matters – have my rankings improved? Or, at the very least, are they stable?

It’s looking good. I took the top spot for my brand name (“minimal talent”), kept the #1 spot for my tagline, and have even moved into the top 10 for “minimalism 101″. I don’t expect to be ranking for “minimalism” or “yahoo logo” any time soon – these are stretch goals at best. What’s important is to see gradual progress, even if that progress isn’t always as fast as you’d like.

(4) Google Analytics

Are these rankings helps my traffic? Honestly, only a tiny bit. Here’s the graph of sessions for the first couple of months:

It’s not a bad graph, as graphs go, but the spikes correspond with blog posts and almost entirely with traffic from social media (at this point, primarily Twitter). The small increase in traffic between posts toward the right side of the graph is a good sign, and some of that is coming from Google.

I think this graph really illustrates the dilemma of modern SEO. You aren’t going to get search exposure without first building traffic and interest somehow. For me, social is one obvious tool, but for the first few months of a project that means a sustained effort on an established network. For someone with no network at all, the build-up is going to take even longer.

Recapping Parts 1-3

I hope this short series has at least given you some insight into getting started and how the pieces can all come together. I hope it’s also not entirely bad news – ranking in 2014 isn’t easy, but it can be done, and getting the basics right does still matter quite a bit.

We’re going to put this series on hold until something interesting happens to Minimal Talent that’s worth talking about. If anyone has specific questions about getting started or about the site’s successes or failures so far, please chime in.

Read the full series

Use the links below to explore the entire “Starting Over” series:

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Starting Over, Part 2: Launch

Posted by Dr-Pete

This post is a part of the “Starting Over” series, the story of starting a blog (MinimalTalent.com) from scratch. See the end of the post for links to the rest of the series.

Launching a new site is exciting, and it should be, but we sometimes let excitement get the best of us. After months of building and planning, it’s understandable to want to finally pull the trigger, but launch is important and rushing it can delay real success. This is the story of how I got Minimal Talent off the ground.

Goods news and bad news

Online marketing has evolved a lot in the past decade, and changes to search and social have brought good news and bad news for webmasters. First, the good news – it’s relatively easy to get a new site indexed in 2014, and even ranking for long-tail terms. You don’t have to wait for Google to discover you or pay a search submission service (remember those?). Unfortunately, the bad news is that ranking on real, competitive terms has gotten harder, and it takes longer. Why am I telling you this up front? You need to have realistic expectations, or launch will be an unpleasant and ultimately unproductive experience.

Alerting the bots

You can’t win if you don’t play – if you want to eventually rank in search, you need to get indexed. In part 1, we set up Google Webmaster Tools and created an XML sitemap, which can be great for discovery. Next up is to submit your site.

Yes, submissions services may be [mostly] [hopefully] dead, but Google does allow direct submission of new pages. Go to Webmaster Tools, select the “Crawl” menu and click on “Fetch as Google” – you’ll see something like this:

To submit your home-page, just leave the field blank and click [FETCH]. Your URL should show up at the bottom, and your “Fetch Status” should soon return “Success”. Once it does, just click [Submit to index]. There is a limit to how many pages you can fetch, but typically I only use this to launch a site or refresh a page that is outdated or isn’t getting re-cached.

Within minutes, I was showing up for a “site:” search (site:minimaltalent.com), with seven pages indexed (which was about right):

I promised this series would be transparent, so I have to admit that I messed up a little here. Apparently, Google had managed to crawl the site prior to my official launch, and had actually cached it a few days earlier (checked with
cache:minimaltalent.com).

For me, this was no big deal, but it bears warning that, if you don’t want your site to be out in the world prematurely, you may have to take steps to keep Google from crawling. Google has a way of finding new sites, which can be good and bad, depending on your plans.

Later on launch day, I was also ranking for my tagline (“Misadventures in Minimalism”), on page 1 in the #2 position:

I’d highly encourage you to track a few non-competitive, long-tail phrases (and, if you’re a Moz customer, set them up in Moz Analytics). They may not seem sexy, but you’ll see progress much sooner than with competitive phrases. It’s important to know that your site at least has the ability to rank, in order to detect any issues early.

Link chickens & Search eggs

Which came first, the link chicken or the search egg? Ok, let me try again. If you want to rank, you’re going to need links, but you can’t get natural links if no one can find you to begin with. This is the fundamental problem of modern search marketing.

Yes, you can manually build links (and there’s a place for that, done well and in moderation). Sometimes, though, we get so hung up on the mechanics of SEO that we forget that there are plenty of other channels to get the word out.

Alerting the humans

In other words, it’s time to tell people you launched. I’m not one to broadcast every post I write to my friends, family, and tax guy, but launch is different – if you’ve created something you’re excited about, then tell people. Who did I email?

  • Friends (IRL)
  • Industry peers
  • Co-workers
  • Private mailing lists

In most cases, the email was customized to the list and even the individual. These things are worth the effort. As a marketer, emailing my peers isn’t just about a few pageviews – it’s a way to seed social sharing and potentially even drive links.

The other way around the chicken-and-egg problem is taking full advantage of social. We tend to obsess about whether or not social signals (Tweets, Likes, +1s) have a direct impact on ranking, and when we do that we miss two important points. First, sharing equals visibility, regardless of what happens on Google. Second, sharing can drive links, and better yet, those links are editorial, or as we call them, “natural”.

I shared the initial site and blog post on my main Twitter, Google+, and Facebook accounts. Since this project naturally has a visual aspect (the parody logos), it was well suited to Google+ and Facebook sharing, which tend to benefit from strong visuals.

I’ve wanted to put some time into Pinterest, so I set up a new folder just for the blog in my existing account, re-organized that account a bit, and then pinned some of the logos from the first post. Again, this project is visual, so Pinterest was a good fit.

My social screw-up

Ironically, I did on Pinterest what I tell everyone not to do on social media. I went to an account I rarely use and just started posting my own content. Since I’m not active, and I’m not sharing anyone else’s content most days, guess what happened? That’s right – absolutely nothing. A social media account is not a dumping ground for your crap. I failed to participate, and it’s going to take time to make up that lost ground. Luckily, I’m more active on other networks, but give-and-take matters quite a bit.

You may be thinking that, because I have a strong existing network, success with a new project on social is guaranteed. I wish it were that easy. A year or so ago, I launched a personal project that soundly flopped. Part of that was in my execution and commitment, but part of it was that the topic was a bit far afield for my existing audience. One of my goals with Minimal Talent was to find a topic that could tie minimalist design into something my existing audience was already interested in – in this case, branding. Be aware how your audiences overlap (or don’t).

Monitoring results

It can be hard to wait for results to come in, and patience is not one of my virtues. Luckily, Google gave us real-time analytics. While watching your numbers in real-time is an exercise in vanity most days, it can be very useful on launch day and during other big events. Are your social shares resonating? Which networks (if you stagger them in time) were most effective? Is it worth re-sharing on any particular network? Your real-time numbers can help make these calls.

I’m happy to say that I could actually see the needle move on launch day:

Fourteen active visitors isn’t going to make me rich, but it was definitely a start. At least I could tell that my social shares were leading to actual visits.

As the days went by, traffic from my launch and first post showed a pretty normal pattern:

Opening day was solid, with 383 visits, there was a tiny bump a couple of days later, and then little or nothing (the bigger bump on the right is the second post and sharing). This is the reality of most launches – sustainable traffic comes later. For now, you’re fighting for traffic post by post. If you expect launch day to be a benchmark of your day-to-day activity, you’ll be in for a very rude awakening.

I especially liked Moz Analytics overview of my first week’s traffic:

That’s right: PLUS INFINITY AND BEYOND!

Finally, I set up
Fresh Web Explorer (available to Moz Pro subscribers) – FWE lets you track fresh mentions of your site and keywords. Unfortunately, my brand “Minimal Talent” contains common words, and can trigger false alarms, but FWE also lets you track things like root domains. Here’s how I set that up:

You can use the “rd:” operator to find new links to a root domain. On the main FWE screen, just click “Show search operators” to see a full list of options.

It felt good to be finally off the ground, and now I had the tools to start measuring my progress. Next time – how I handled initial SEO problems I discovered and finally started ranking for more interesting terms.

Read the full series

Use the links below to explore the entire “Starting Over” series:

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Starting Over, Part 1: A Pre-Launch Checklist

<p>Posted by <a href=\”http://moz.com/community/users/22897\”>Dr-Pete</a></p><p>
Writing about marketing can be a full-time job, and there comes a point when you risk losing touch with the day-to-day challenges of actually being a marketer. A while back, I had an idea – what if I started over? What if I launched a new blog completely from scratch and told that story? No best practices, no wisdom from on high, but a blow-by-blow account of having to be a content marketer all over again.</p><p>
Everyone agreed that this was a perfectly interesting idea, except for the part about building and maintaining an entire site just to write a few posts about the experience. So, I kept putting the idea on the back burner, until there was something that I wanted to write about enough to make the project worthwhile.</p><p>
This is a story of beginning again. This will not be a polished, Photoshopped portrait of best practices – it’s going to be an honest account of my choices and mistakes. I’m not going to tell you what you should do, but why I made the choices I did and what happened when I made those choices. Welcome to part 1: pre-launch.</p><hr>
<h2><img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/534357fc7bd466.65871257.jpg” style=”font-size: 14px; color: rgb(97, 97, 97);”></h2><h2>
<hr>
</h2><h2>Table of Contents</h2><h4>
<strong><a href=”#section1″>(0)&nbsp;Concepts & Choices</a><br>
<a href=”#section2″>(1) Domains & Branding</a><br>
<a href=”#section3″>(2) Hosting & Platforms</a><br>
<a href=”#section4″>(3) Social & Plug-ins</a><br>
<a href=”#section5″>(4) Analytics & Tools</a>
</strong></h4><p>
<a name=”section1″></a></p><hr>
<h2>(0) Concept & Choices</h2><p>
<strong><em>TL;DR </em>–</strong><em> It all starts with a choice, so choose something. You can spend a year making up your mind (I did), or you can start building and see what happens. If the risk is low, then get moving.</em></p><p>
Before you actually build anything, you have to make the choice to build something. It’s sound obvious, but that choice may be the hardest part of starting any new venture, whether it’s a blog or a business. I can’t tell you what to build or even how to make that choice, but I can tell you how I made this particular choice.</p><p>
Honestly, this project sat on the shelf for too long, a victim of perfectionism. I wanted the perfect idea, that I was passionate about, that would make great content, that would tell an amazing story, and that would all somehow magically be easy to do. No pressure. Simply deciding to move forward probably took over a year.</p><p>
The core problem is that the idea was just too vague – I wanted to start a new blog so that I could blog about that blog. Even that sentence bored me. I needed to connect to the project. I’m not going to throw out a bunch of clichés about passion, but the simple reality is that I couldn’t just write a blog for the sake of blogging, or I’d hate this project in record time.</p><p>
For a while, I’ve wanted to dig deeper into minimalist design, but design isn’t something I have a lot of time for and I’ve worked with enough great designers to know that I’m not one. Finally it occurred to me – why not just embrace that and write a blog about being a lousy designer? I may not be a great designer, but I am good at making fun of myself.</p><p>
I finally landed on the idea of a parody blog about branding. I would redesign big company logos in the minimalist style, even though they never asked me to, and I’d suck at with style. It was concrete, it had a repeatable theme, and it would be fun.</p><p>
<a name=”section2″></a></p><hr>
<h2>(1) Domains & Branding</h2><p>
<strong><em>TL;DR </em>–</strong><em> Don’t get hung up on a domain. Find something that clearly reflects your concept, make sure it’s available (of course), and then do a little background research to not step into anything embarrassing. Once you’ve registered something, lock down how you’ll represent your brand and URL.</em></p><h3>1A. Register a domain</h3><p>
Most marketers could spend a lifetime picking the right domain, only to find that the domain was registered 75 years ago and the internet was now accessed by drinking a series of pulsating purple tubes. Throw in trying to optimizing your domain for SEO, and your great, great moon-children may be able to enjoy your perfect domain as a grape-flavored cocktail.</p><p>
This was a personal blog, so I decided to keep it simple and riff off of the initial concept. The basic idea was that I would do unsolicited, minimalist redesigns of big brands, exploring (and mocking) corporate branding along the way. Ultimately, I tossed around dozens of domain names, but I’m going to narrow it down to five that represent the journey pretty well. I started with the overly literal…</p><p>
<strong>(1) MininimalLogos.com<br>
(2) MinimalistLogos.com
</strong></p><p>
If possible, I was shooting for a .com. I came up with option #2 because I was concerned about two l’s in a row in #1 – I still remember having to spell unruly domains over the phone, and so I try to limit confusion. Ultimately, both options felt too literal, a bit restrictive, and like they wouldn’t be much fun. So, I came up with…</p><p>
<strong>(3) HeresYourNewLogo.com</strong></p><p>
The idea was simple. Each post would be titled something like “Here’s Your New Logo, Yahoo!”, and it would be a sort of running joke. While the overall concept might have worked for a while, the domain itself seemed too generic and hard to brand. Plus, I’d be tied into that one, very narrow concept forever. Up next was…</p><p>
<strong>(4) MinimalEffort.com</strong></p><p>
It had a shout-out to minimalism, it wasn’t too restrictive, and it was in the self-mocking style that comes naturally to me. Only one problem – yep, it was already taken. I should say that I like to brainstorm first, before I look up availability. It just feels more natural. I liked this direction, though, so I kept working at it until I found one:</p><p>
<strong>(5) MinimalTalent.com</strong></p><p>
It had minimalism, it made fun of my abilities (and set expectations low about my design skills, which I considered to be critically important), and it was unique enough to brand. Don’t spend weeks sending your domain to friends and getting all of your third cousin’s opinions, especially for small projects – it’ll drive you crazy and just delays getting your project off the ground.</p><h3>1B. Double-check your name</h3><p>
My choice was more about branding than keyword research, buy I don’t want to give the impression that I think keyword research is unimportant.. If you want to see an in-depth keyword research process in action, I highly recommend
<a href=”http://moz.com/blog/the-8step-seo-strategy-step-1-define-your-target-audience-and-their-needs”>Laura Lippay’s 8-part series</a> – yes, all 8 parts. I’d also recommend Todd Malicoat’s comprehensive post on <a href=”http://moz.com/blog/the-exact-match-domain-playbook-a-guide-and-best-practices-for-emds”>choosing an exact-match domain</a>.</p><p>
Bare minimum, you need to make sure that your new name doesn’t have unexpected connotations or an embarrassing history. A quick Google search revealed that most references to “minimal talent” were about a musician named Matt Minimal, and his track called “Talent”:</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329fe7cde5529.94205038.jpg”></p><p>
Just as a sanity check, I also fed the brand through Moz’s
<a href=”https://moz.com/researchtools/keyword-difficulty”>Keyword Difficulty Tool</a>, and got back the following (note: this is a paid tool, and I’m only showing partial data):</p><p>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329fe9209f531.89579239.jpg”></p><p>
So, the search volume was hardly exciting, but the difficulty level (39%) was promising. The bottom graph shows that, after a few average pages on high-authority domains (like YouTube), the competition fell off pretty quickly. I should be able to rank for my brand phrase.</p><p>
I probably should’ve thought a bit more about trying to displace an artist with an actual album, but, hey, mistakes and all, right? The important thing is that I made a choice and the closet seemed skeleton-free. My domain was new, so I didn’t have to worry about domain history. If you’re buying a domain, I highly recommend checking the
<a href=”http://archive.org/web/”>Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine</a> and digging into the domain’s link profile.</p><h3>1C. Pin down your brand</h3><p>
As I was finishing graduate school, my advisor gave me a good piece of advice – decide how you want your name to read and use it consistently. Part of that was just practical, a result of early academic search engines and their poor matching abilities. Ultimately, though, this piece of advice made me choose to use Dr. Peter J. Meyers consistently for years, and that serendipitously led to being called “Dr. Pete”, one of my better accidental branding decisions.</p><p>
There are many way to represent a brand online – spaces, no spaces, all caps, all lower case, etc. I decided to go old school and just use “Minimal Talent”. Make this decision early, because it’s going to impact your design templates, your copy, your social profiles, your anchor text, and on and on. If you start changing it around 6 months later, you’ll make a mess.</p><h3>1D. Pick a canonical URL</h3><p>
This is also a good time to decide on a canonical version of your URL. I opted to drop the “www” and just go with “minimaltalent.com”. I don’t have strong opinions about whether or not to use “www”, but consistency is absolutely essential. Make a conscious decision, set up canonicalization and redirects early (“www” to non-www or vise-versa), and use one format every time you link, display, tweet, email, print, or in any way share your URL.</p><p>
<a name=”section3″></a></p><hr>
<h2>(2) Hosting & Platforms</h2><p>
<em><strong>TL;DR – </strong>If you ask 12 people what the best hosting and CMS are, you’ll get 13 opinions. Try to narrow down to a few choices quickly and then go with what fits your project requirements and budget. The same goes for themes. If it’s a personal project, make the final choice yourself.</em></p><h3>2A. Decide on a platform</h3><p>
It was time to actually start building something. I’m not going to dive deep into my choice of platforms – I decided early on to go with WordPress. Put simply, I was overdue to dive into WordPress and I knew many of our customers still use it, so that choice just fit the project.</p><h3>2B. Pick a hosting company</h3><p>
I went to Twitter for advice on hosting companies, which is always an adventure, but managed to narrow the choice down to a few candidates. I’m not endorsing these companies or making a list of best choices – again, I’m just walking you through my own decision process:</p><h4><strong>(1) Web Faction (<a href=”https://www.webfaction.com/”>https://www.webfaction.com/</a>)</strong></h4><p>
Web faction is focused on hosting for developers, and their pricing seemed pretty good for what you get. I wanted this story to be accessible, though, and so the technical focus was actually a downside for me this time around. Web Faction was a good fit for me on a normal day, but just not a match for this project.</p><h4><strong>(2) Web Synthesis (</strong><a href=”http://websynthesis.com/”>http://websynthesis.com/</a><strong>)</strong></h4><p>
Web Synthesis is about as close as I’ve seen to an enterprise WordPress hosting company. They seem to have serious firepower, but they also have the price-tag to match. Their suggested (“Professional”) plan was $97/month (to be fair, they have a “Starter” plan for $27/month), and that just didn’t fit the scope of Minimal Talent.</p><h4><strong>(3) DreamPress (<a href=”http://www.dreamhost.com/dreampress/”>http://www.dreamhost.com/dreampress/</a>)</strong></h4><p>
DreamHost is a large, discount host, and I’ve used them for a couple of projects with relatively decent results. Like any big host, they have good and bad reviews. They were a known quantity, though, and I was intrigued by their DreamPress offering.</p><p>
So, ultimately, I went with the company I knew and tried DreamPress. I opted to spend $19.95/month and go with a packaged WordPress solution, even though basic hosting can be had for cheaper rates. I tend to believe that you get what you pay for, and if a project is worth doing, it’s worth some investment. You have to do what’s right for you.</p><h3>2C. Choose a theme</h3><p>
Next up was theme-shopping. One of the things I like about using a themed platform (like WordPress) is that you can narrow down what you like and use that to inform your design decisions. Personally, I find that a lot less intimidating than staring at an empty page waiting for inspiration. I’m not a designer by trade, so I need a starting-off point. Put simply, I don’t always know what I like until I see it.</p><p>
I hit Twitter and Google, looking for minimalist themes. Theme shopping is a bit like choosing a toothpaste, and it’s easy to get overloaded. Do you want cavity preventing, tartar control, extra whitening, or cavity reducing, tartar fighting, extreme whitening? Sometimes, you lose track of the difference.</p><p>
The best I can say is cast a wide net, find a few themes you like, bookmark them, and come back later with a clear head. After a couple of days, I narrowed down my choices to three:</p><h4><strong>1. Hipster (hat-tip to </strong><a href=”https://twitter.com/brandondud”>@brandondud</a><strong>)</strong></h4><p>
I was looking for something clean, but ultimately decided that
<a href=”http://themejug.com/theme/hipster/”>Hipster</a> was probably a bit too minimalist for my tastes. Here’s a screenshot, just to give you an idea of what I was looking for:</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329ff6d41eac3.67299602.jpg”></p><h4><strong>2. Centita (hat-tip to </strong><a href=”https://twitter.com/Charles_SEO”>@Charles_SEO</a><strong>)</strong></h4><p>
<strong></strong></p><p>
The
<a href=”http://wp-demo.indonez.com/?theme=Centita”>Centita theme</a> gave me a bit more options, but I ultimately felt that it was more geared toward a company site. I was really aiming for something more blogging-focused.</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329ff828770a6.38838777.jpg”></p><h4><strong>3. Sixteen Nine (hat-top to </strong><a href=”https://twitter.com/meinck”>@meinck</a><strong>)</strong></h4><p>
I was familiar with StudioPress and had actually wandered across the
<a href=”http://my.studiopress.com/themes/minimum/”>Minimum theme</a> first, but then dug around a bit more until I discovered <a href=”http://my.studiopress.com/themes/sixteen-nine/”>Sixteen Nine</a>. This had just the right amount of flexibility for me, while still being clearly focused on blogging:</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329ff9277c285.65569875.jpg”></p><p>
This led to another decision, though. The Sixteen Nine theme was part of the Genesis framework. The price tag ($99.95) wasn’t a big stumbling block for me, but it would mean committing to that framework.</p><p>
Luckily, I was familiar with some of the folks at StudioPress (the makers of Genesis) and had heard a lot of good things from the SEO community. Since this was my first WordPress effort, I felt that a framework would help me overcome some of the early pains of customizing WordPress. Of course, it would also mean learning the ins and outs of the platform.</p><h3>2D. Tweak your design</h3><p>
Once again, perfectionism reared its ugly head. While I’ve had good experiences with Genesis so far, there’s a learning curve even to WordPress. I wanted to tweak things that first-timers probably shouldn’t tweak, and sometimes even just finding the right page of code or style sheet took hours. The first couple of weeks were a frustrating experience.</p><p>
I decided not to go too crazy (70% of the way toward going crazy) – I left the layout and dark color scheme alone, and made fairly small changes to font choices. I wanted to replace the author photo with my logo, which meant some resizing – this turned out to be much more of a challenge than I expected and actually took a few days of part-time messing around. It took me about a day just to figure out how to flush the built-in Varnish cache, but I’ll leave out the gory details.</p><p>
My launch design ended up looking like this (
<a href=”http://minimaltalent.com/”>yes, the site is live</a>) – not earth shattering, but it got the job done:</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329ffd9676d88.50064882.jpg”></p><p>
I’m not going to dig deep into logo design. Branding is a personal and sometimes perilous journey, and there are many options. I’ll just say this – don’t let logo design keep you from launching forever. Yes, a professional brand image is important, but a logo isn’t imbued with magical powers. Ultimately, you have to build a brand, and the sooner you start the sooner you’ll get established.</p><p>
I decided that having someone else design a logo for a blog about designing logos seemed like cheating, so I tackled that project myself. The theme gave me guidance, and I stuck with a mostly gray scheme. I ended up with this:</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/532a000de424d5.48790210.jpg”></p><p>
It’s designed for a dark background, but it fares reasonably well on white (make sure your logo works on a variety of backgrounds and at a variety of sizes). The left of the lower-case “m” forms a pencil. The only stroke of color is the red eraser, which I meant as a subtle way of saying that my design efforts require frequent editing and occasional creative destruction.</p><p>
<a name=”section4″></a></p><hr>
<h2>(3) Social & Plug-ins</h2><p>
<em><strong>TL;DR –</strong> Register and protect your social accounts ASAP and set up authorship via Google+. Pin down your social links and SEO plug-ins prior to launch.</em></p><h3>3A. Register social accounts</h3><p>
One of the dangers of platforms like WordPress, in my opinion, is that you can get plug-in fever, launching with every possible function imaginable. This includes social networks – it only takes minutes to enable sharing on hundreds of networks.</p><p>
The reality is that you’ll quickly dilute your efforts and you’ll never be able to spend time building those networks. So, I decided to focus on just three: Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest. Choosing the right networks is well beyond the scope of this post, but I’m already active on Twitter, I feel that Google+ has some SEO advantages (even if they’re indirect), and the design focus of Minimal Talent made Pinterest a natural choice. I’d also been meaning to dig into Pinterest for a long time.</p><p>
I chose to use my personal accounts, but I also decided to claim the Twitter account @MinimalTalent. I don’t think you have to register everything under the sun, but protecting assets you might use later is often a good idea. While I chose to do this manually, I recommend
<a href=”http://knowem.com/”>KnowEm</a> for checking and claiming a large number of social accounts.</p><p>
I also connected my Google+ and Pinterest accounts to the site. Connecting your Google+ account to establish authorship varies with the platform, but here’s a good guide to
<a href=”http://www.copyblogger.com/wordpress-google-authorship/”>setting up authorship with WordPress</a>.</p><h3>3B. Set up an RSS feed</h3><p>
Next, I connected my RSS feed (for WordPress, it conveniently exists at
<a href=”http://example.com/feed”>http://example.com/feed</a>) to Feedburner. I know RSS is probably dying, and Feedburner is a hot mess, but the reality is that nothing viable has really replaced either one. So, for now, I decided to include an RSS feed.</p><h3>3C. Pick your plug-ins</h3><p>
Finally, I set up social and RSS icons on the site itself. I used
<a href=”http://wordpress.org/plugins/simple-social-icons/”>Simple Social Icons</a> for the logos on the left column and used JetPack’s built-in tools to display social icons on my individual posts. There are a mountain of social plug-ins, and I barely scaled the foothills.</p><p>
Since I was using the Genesis framework, a lot of my core SEO needs were already integrated. If you’re going with straight WordPress, though, I’d recommend
<a href=”https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/”>Joost de Valk’s WordPress plug-in</a>. Many CMS systems have a bad tendency to create duplicate content and spin out ugly URLs and META data (or generic data, including titles). Solve this problem before you launch, or it could bite you later.</p><p>
<a name=”section5″></a></p><hr>
<h2>(4) Analytics & Tools</h2><p>
<em><strong>TL;DR –</strong> Set up your analytics and monitoring tools before you launch. You can’t recreate lost historical data. Use Google Webmaster Tools to help get crawled and indexed quickly.</em></p><h3>4A. Set up Google Analytics</h3><p>
Since my needs were basic and my budget was tight, I went ahead and stuck to
<a href=”http://www.google.com/analytics/”>Google Analytics</a>. Whatever complaints I have about Google, it’s hard to beat GA’s feature set for absolutely free. Don’t put this off – if you luck out and your blog takes off, you can’t back-fill the data. I’m not going to dive deep into GA, but I’d recommend opting for the new, universal analytics. It’s going to give you more options going forward.</p><h3>4B. Set up Google Webmaster Tools</h3><p>
I’d also set up Google Webmaster Tools right away, since one thing it does very well is help with discovery and getting your initial site indexed. I’ll get into that topic a bit more in the next post (which will be focused on the launch itself).</p><h3>4C. Create an XML sitemap</h3><p>
Create and link up your XML sitemap. I used a plug-in called
<a href=”http://wordpress.org/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/”>Google XML Sitemaps</a>, and it seems to be working well enough. In Google Webmaster Tools, go to “Crawl &gt; Sitemaps”, and you can submit your sitemap URL. If you’re working on a large site, I’m a big fan of <a href=”https://www.distilled.net/blog/seo/indexation-problems-diagnosis-using-google-webmaster-tools/”>tiered sitemaps</a>. For this project, I really only needed the basics.</p><h3>4D. Set up Moz Analytics</h3><p>
Part of the point of this project is to get back in the trenches with our customers and do a better job understanding our product as a marketer. So, I set up a new campaign in Moz Analytics, and I connected my Google Analytics account right away (which is an option during campaign creation):</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5339a2e1ad3647.99815389.jpg”></p><p>
You’ll also want to set up at least a few initial keywords, especially branded keywords, so that you can quickly see if and when you’re getting established. I decided to set up a small list that covered a range, from essential to aspirational:</p><ul>
<li>site:minimaltalent.com</li> <li>minimal talent</li> <li>misadventures in minimalism</li> <li>minimalism 101</li> <li>minimalist logos</li> <li>yahoo logo</li> <li>minimalism</li></ul><p>
I decided to set up a “site:” operator as a keyword, just to tracking that the site site is being indexed. After that, I went with the brand name and my tagline. My tagline is pretty specific, so if I’m not ranking for that fairly soon, something may be wrong. After that, I cast a wider net, just to have something to shoot for over time.</p><hr>
<h2>Next Time: Launch</h2><p>
I’m going to be telling this story over a series of posts, as the blog itself unfolds. Up next, I’ll be talking about the mechanics of actually launching, promoting your launch, and initially getting indexed and (hopefully) ranking. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to hear about this process along the way, please let me know in the comments.</p><p>
<em>Special thanks to&nbsp;<a href=”http://moz.com/about/team/abeschmidt”>Abe Schmidt</a> for putting together the pre-launch graphic, and thanks to everyone who’s supported the Minimal Talent blog so far. It’s been a lot of fun.</em></p><br /><p><a href=”http://moz.com/moztop10″>Sign up for The Moz Top 10</a>, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!</p>

View full post on Moz Blog

Google’s Smartwatch Is Starting To Look Like A Reality

Google smartwatch patent

Google smartwatch patent

The probability that Google is working on a smartwatch in conjunction with LG is now fairly high. New leaks revealed its alleged specifications and the presumed timing of its announcement—which, as previously noted, is likely to be at the Google I/O developer conference late June in San Francisco.

Notorious gadget leaker @Evleaks tweeted today partial Google smartwatch specs. It will sport a 1.65-inch LDC display with 280×280 resolution, 512MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage. Unknowns at the moment include the processor and battery size. Both the processor and the battery will be key to how the smartwatch performs, what capabilities it entails and how long it lasts.

By comparison, the actually announced Gear 2 smartwatch from Samsung will feature a 1.63-inch screen with 320×320 resolution, a 1 GHz dual-core processor and a 300 mAh battery that will purportedly last three days without a charge. Like the Google watch, the Gear 2 will have 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage.

Beyond The Specs

What really remains to be seen are the practical uses to which these tiny, wrist-bound computers can be put. Roughly speaking, the current wearables market consists of fitness devices on the one hand—er, wrist—and notification/communications devices on the other.

A few companies like Samsung are trying to bridge the gap, so far without much success. Emerging rumors from Apple suggest that it’s been meeting with the FDA, possibly about some type of health application for its iPhones and a wearable device.

Google has a couple of items up its sleeves to help define wearable computing on its terms. First, it has Android, recently reconfigured to fit on devices with limited memory and battery life with the 4.4 KitKat update. Second, Google has reportedly been working on a fitness application programming interface that will help people track and organize their daily activity; that interface could be spread throughout the Android app developer ecosystem for smartphone fitness apps and presumably smartwatches as well.

Sundar Pichai, the Google executive in charge of Android, Chrome and apps, recently said the company will release a wearables software developer kit within the next two weeks. Pichai said that Google is only “scratching the surface” of wearables at this point.

The implication is that Google will push Android for wearable devices in the same way that it has done so with smartphones, tablets and televisions (with varying degrees of success in each market). Google has all of the tools ready for a smartwatch. In the end it is just the specific hardware, features, apps and performance that will decide whether Google has a real future in the smartwatch Arm Race.

Lead image via Shutterstock; patent image from a Google on a smartwatch concept

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