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SEO – It’s the Gift That Keeps on Giving



Holidays and SEO

The holidays are once again upon us as, are all of our favorite holiday movies.  One of mine is “Christmas Vacation.”  I laugh until nog almost comes out of my nose every time I watch it.  But, did you know that besides being funny, the Griswalds can teach us a few things about Search Engine Optimization?  It’s true.

“Dad – that thing wont fit in our yard.” “It’s not going in our yard, Russ. It’s going in our living room.”

Clark Griswald understands that with Christmas trees, just like our Web sites – it’s all about the content.  The more quality content you have, the more likely you are to attract and hold on to visitors.  Also, just like Christmas trees, the flashy blinking things may pull people in, but it’s what is under all that flash that will get your visitors to stay around for a while.  If you can provide each of them with a gift – the gift of the information they want – you can be sure it will not be soon forgotten.

“If you scratch his belly, Clark, he will love you till the day you die.”

Even dim-witted cousin Eddie knows that you have to do whatever it takes keep your visitors happy and give them what they want.  Don’t make them have to stick their nose in uncomfortable places (AKA: awkward site searches).  Reach out to them and make them feel special.  Ask them what they want.  Surveys and polls are a quick and easy way to connect with your audience.  You should be monitoring your site’s search logs – find out what people are searching for and give it to them.  Keep track of your search engine referrals – hopefully people find what they want, but sometimes they land on a page that is barely related.  Use that information to create what they want.

“I’m going to put it in a bag, and smack it with a hammer.”

Poor Clark was fed up with that darn squirrel. Many of us feel that same frustration with the Google-bot.  We see the pesky critter in our Web logs, but he taunts us by jumping from page to page and not getting the entire site indexed.  If Clark had taken the time to create a clean, easy-to-navigate path for the little guy he may not have been so much trouble.  How can we help the Google-bot?  The same way give him a clear path.  Clean, logical site links on our content pages, Alt tags on image links so he knows what they lead to and certainly a site-map would be quite helpful.

“Can I get you anything else? Can I drive you out to the desert and leave you for dead?”

That rascal Eddie sure can get on a guy’s nerves.  Much like those competing sites that have better search rankings (that we wish the vultures would start circling).  No need to resort to kidnapping of Web designers just yet.  We just need to understand what makes these sites tick.  Use Google’s link checker to see who is linking to them and search Google for the Web address to see who is talking about them.  Review the content and code to see how you can improve yours.  It takes time and research, but you can figure it out if you try.

“It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

Once again, Eddie is right.  Although, not about the Jam of the Month Club.  Good site design, well-planned content, logical site structure and a thorough SEO strategy is the gift that keeps on giving. Each day your efforts will continue to bring more visitors to your site.  With some hard work and a bit of luck next year all your competitors will be able to say is, “If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now. I don’t know what to say, except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.”

Happy holidays everyone!

Jack Leblond is a SEO/SEM professional working for a large corporation full time in Austin, TX. He is not a Realtor, he is our in-house SEO expert. Jack is the Director of Internet Strategy and Operations for TG ( In addition to managing the team that develops and maintains the company's multiple Web sites, he focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), e-marketing and Social Media. Jack's background ranges from Submarine Sonar Technician/Instructor for the United States Navy, technical writer, pioneer in internet/intranet creation for McGraw-Hill and Times Mirror Higher Education, former Adjunct Professor for two Universities teaching web-related courses, has served as a city council member and co-founded Net-Smart, a web design and hosting company, where he managed networks and oversaw the development of hundreds of Web sites. As a free-lance SEO consultant, Jack performs SEO Site Audits for small/medium businesses that want their web sites to perform better in the search engine listings.

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  1. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    December 6, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Jack – my hat goes off to you once again (even if I don’t wear one). So many of us are so worried about a good SEO strategy and don’t realize it starts with defining an audience and giving them quality content.

    If I knew a year ago what I know today, my site would be in a totally different place – and just to think of what I’ll know in a year from now can be bit intimidating. THANK YOU!! 🙂

  2. Matt Stigliano

    December 7, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Jack – I would have read this article regardless, but once I knew that it involved one of my favorites, I read it even more deeply. Thanks for teaching me something AND reminding me that I need to watch it again…and again.

  3. Steve Krzysiak

    December 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    This is my favorite holiday movie, thanks for making an informative blog that is entertaining as well.

    Btw, my favorite line is “Are you serious Clark??” in regards to the news spotting Santa’s sleigh over NY!

  4. Toby & Sadie

    December 8, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Amen. Funny. Just got off the phone with a new lead that was commenting on my dog and how much she enjoyed my Web site. Why? Because it gave her insight into Delaware, Ohio and helped her when she visited her ill father to find a place to eat and relax.

    Now, she’s buying a house in town to be near him. Eventually, hopefully in many years, he’ll pass and they’ll sell both homes. So I could get three deals thanks to having a well-defined Search Engine Optimization.

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Business Marketing

The rise of influencer marketing and its effect on digital marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) More businesses are planning to invest a larger part of their marketing budgets on more relatable, branded content and influencer marketing.



Influencer speaking to camera for marketing segment.

The digital age has created more savvy consumers, and the barrage of advertising on top of the plenitude of content online can be a lot. Many consumers have learned to hide ads or they simply scroll past them to their content of choice. Most business owners know that digital marketing is a crucial part of any ad strategy, and branded content and influencer marketing continues to grow in the market, because consumers see that it’s different from traditional advertising.

Hardly anything stayed the same in 2020, and traditional advertising also has shifted. Advertiser Perceptions reported on the trend for 2021, based on a survey from late 2020.

“More than half of advertisers using paid branded content and influencers say doing so is more critical than it was a year ago. Throughout the second half of 2020, 32% increased spending on branded content and 25% spent more to back influencers. They’re now putting 20% of their digital budgets into the complementary practices, which is more than they put into any other digital channel (paid search is 14%, display 13%, paid social 12%, digital video 12%).”

The benefits of branded and influencer content are that you are speaking to the consumer where they already are, when you choose an influencer. The people who follow their accounts are more likely to trust that the influencer would only share something they like or use themselves. The best matches are when the influencer marketing fits nicely into the kind of content, the voice, and any specialties they already deal with.

The word “influencer” as well as the concept rubs some people the wrong way. Marketers see the value, though, as influencer marketing can be effective if done well, and the cost to hire them is often less than a traditional ad campaign. If I want to know about food in a city, I’ll follow the hashtags until I find a local food blogger or micro-influencer whose style I like. Then I’ll seek out those restaurants when I visit. Sure, some of the meals are comped, but the truth is that food bloggers and influencers like to share their food recommendations. I have been influenced this way more than once, and not only for food. I am not alone in this, either, which is why it’s an important part of a marketing strategy.

In influencer marketing, the content creator is then given free rein to create within their own style, voice, and persona. They need to connect with their audience in an authentic, familiar way without creating a dissonance for their followers between their public page(s) and the brand. The level of trust is fairly high with influencer marketing, and many influencers realize that promoting something crappy or something outside of their area of expertise or recognition hurts everyone involved.

The power of storytelling comes into play here, as with all good advertising. Branded content is specifically all about the story, often the story of the business’s philosophy or some lifestyle aspect that goes with the brand’s vibe–or is so off that it goes viral. Some branded campaigns join into or build off of conversations already happening in the wider world. The purpose is to have people engage with the brand, with the content, build awareness, encourage conversations, sharing, comments, all with the long term goal of fostering a positive image of the brand so that down the line, they will become consumers.

Think of 2004 Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, based on a study showing that around 2% of women saw themselves as beautiful. The widely studied, award-winning campaign featured women of all backgrounds and body types, without airbrushing and Photoshopping them into a narrow vision of “beauty.” While some people hated it, many loved it and applauded the brand for treading into traditionally uncharted waters. Among haters, fans, and people who weren’t sure what to think, the Dove Real Beauty branded content campaign generated conversations. The campaign also encouraged women to feel good about themselves and lift up other women. One could argue that the campaign you could argue that the Real Beauty campaign was a forerunner to the currently popular body positivity movement, which started gaining traction around 2012. Dove increased sales by at least $1.5 billion in the first ten years the branded content campaign ran.

The goal of branded content is to raise awareness of the brand, but the path from point A (creating the content) to point B (brand awareness, ultimately leading to better sales) is not a straight line. Brands are paying attention to grabbing attention, aka building brand awareness via more upper funnel marketing than lower funnel.

One thing that marketers are looking for now, however, is almost eliminating the funnel. With the mind-boggling increase in e-commerce since the beginning of the pandemic, clickable sales capability becomes important in any kind of marketing, including influencer and branded content. It pays to listen to customers, to find an influencer who meshes with your brand’s purpose, and to create thoughtful branded content that isn’t out of line with your core product or service.

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Business News

Are Gen Z more fickle in their shopping, or do brands just need to keep up?

(BUSINESS NEWS) As the world keep changing, brands and businesses have to change along with it. Some say Gen Z is fickle, but others say it is the nature of change.



Gen Z woman shopping outside on a laptop.

We all know that if you stop adapting to the world around you, you’re going to be left behind. A recently published article decided to point out that the “fickle” Gen Z generation are liable to leave a poor digitally run site and never return. Now of course we’ve got some statistics here… They did do some kind of due diligence.

This generation, whose life has been online from almost day one, puts high stakes on their experiences online. It is how they interact with the world. It’s keyed into their self-worth and their livelihoods, for some. You want to sell online, get your shit together.

They have little to no tolerance for anything untoward. 80% of Gen Zers reported that they are willing to try new brands since the pandemic. Brand loyalty, based on in-person interaction, is almost a thing of the past. When brands are moved from around the world at the touch of your fingertips there’s nothing to stop you. If a company screws up an order, or doesn’t get back to you? Why should you stick with them? When it comes to these issues, 38% of Gen Zers say they only give a brand 1 second chance to fix things. Three-quarters of the surveyed responded saying that they’ll gladly find another retailer if the store is just out of stock.

This study goes even further though and discusses not just those interactions but also the platforms themselves. If a website isn’t easy to navigate, why should I use it? Why should I spend my time when I can flit to another and get exactly what I need instead of getting frustrated? There isn’t a single company in the world that shouldn’t take their webpage development seriously. It’s the new face of their company and brand. How they show that face is what will determine if they are a Rembrandt or a toddlers noodle art.

The new age of online shopping has been blasted into the atmosphere by the pandemic. Online shopping has boosted far and above expected numbers for obvious reasons. When the majority of your populace is told to stay home. What else are they going to do? Brands that have been around for decades have gone out of business because they didn’t change to an online format either. Keep moving forward.

Now as a side note here, as someone who falls only just outside the Gen Z zone the articles description of fickle is pompous. The stories I’ve heard of baby boomers getting waiters fired, or boycotting stores because of a certain shopkeeper are just as fickle and pointed. Nothing has changed in the people, just how they interact with the world. Trying to single out a single generation based on how the world has changed is a shallow view of the world.

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Tech News

Google is giving back some privacy control? (You read that right)

(TECH NEWS) In a bizarre twist, Google is giving you the option to opt out of data collection – for real this time.



Open laptop on desk, open to map privacy options

It’s strange to hear “Google” and “privacy” in the same sentence without “concerns” following along, yet here we are. In a twist that’s definitely not related to various controversies involving the tech company, Google is giving back some control over data sharing—even if it isn’t much.

Starting soon, you will be able to opt out of Google’s data-reliant “smart” features (Smart Compose and Smart Reply) across the G-Suite of pertinent products: Gmail, Chat, and Meet. Opting out would, in this case, prevent Google from using your data to formulate responses based on your previous activity; it would also turn off the “smart” features.

One might observe that users have had the option to turn off “smart” features before, but doing so didn’t disable Google’s data collection—just the features themselves. For Google to include the option to opt out of data collection completely is relatively unprecedented—and perhaps exactly what people have been clamoring for on the heels of recent lawsuits against the tech giant.

In addition to being able to close off “smart” features, Google will also allow you to opt out of data collection for things like the Google Assistant, Google Maps, and other Google-related services that lean into your Gmail Inbox, Meet, and Chat activity. Since Google knowing what your favorite restaurant is or when to recommend tickets to you can be unnerving, this is a welcome change of pace.

Keep in mind that opting out of data collection for “smart” features will automatically disable other “smart” options from Google, including those Assistant reminders and customized Maps. At the time of this writing, Google has made it clear that you can’t opt out of one and keep the other—while you can go back and toggle on data collection again, you won’t be able to use these features without Google analyzing your Meet, Chat, and Gmail contents and behavior.

It will be interesting to see what the short-term ramifications of this decision are. If Google stops collecting data for a small period of time at your request and then you turn back on the “smart” features that use said data, will the predictive text and suggestions suffer? Only time will tell. For now, keep an eye out for this updated privacy option—it should be rolling out in the next few weeks.

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