(Last updated: 11-May-2011)
I recently completed a job application that wanted to know what websites I read & pay attention to. Here are some of the websites & web pages I provided:
John Battelle’s Searchblog – The man who wrote the book on Search. His blog on the online industry is continually sharp & thought-provoking. Battelle writes really well. I don’t always agree with what he might be saying but that is a healthy thing.
Wired – Do you ever wish there was a daily newspaper just about tech? This is probably the closest thing to it.
Search Engine Land – It is kind of an unfortunate name. But they have a number of good search marketing writers & Danny Sullivan knows search better than anyone I know of.
Google blogs – There are a lot of these so I’m just going to list them:
Conversion Rate Experts – the leaders in conversion rate optimisation. Particularly worth paying attention to for their case studies which give useful insight into their conversion optimisation process.
SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog – While some of what SEOmoz says publicly is often couched in caveats e.g. “this may mean”, “this might suggest”, the need for this is partly driven by their highly visible position in the SEO industry & the trouble with stating absolutes. Their blog is essential reading for SEO news & tactics.
NYTimes – US-centric news but it is better than, say, Fox. Their Magazine section occasionally does great long form pieces. The Critics Best Of videos are good too.
Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik – Avinash is a Google Analytics Evangelist but he also seems to do things like consulting/speaking on web analytics/writing books on web analytics. He is a guru on web analytics & his blog posts over the years have been critical to educating me about Google Analytics, metrics to ignore & metrics to pay attention to.
(Spotted this on Unbounce.com today)
1. Chuck Norris doesn’t need a call to action. Action needs a call to Chuck.
2. Chuck Norris doesn’t click on banner ads – banner ads beg Chuck Norris for permission to be clicked.
3. The conversion rate on ChuckNorris.com is whatever Chuck says it is. And as a general rule, it beats the industry average by infinity.
4. When Dana White asked Chuck Norris to design a landing page for his latest Pay-Per-View campaign; Chuck took out a crayon, artfully sketched a roundhouse kick on the octagon canvas and caught the UFC president in a Rear Naked Choke… from the front… fully clothed. (True story)
5. Chuck Norris generates leads by pointing at people. If he points at you twice, you lose the right to unsubscribe and your first newborn will be named “eBook” by default.
6. Chuck Norris purposely re-designed a landing page for Vin Diesel and gave it a bounce rate of 200%.
7. At a spelling bee in 1947, a young Chuck Norris was asked to spell “optimization”. When the competition judge awoke from his Chuck-induced coma on April 21, 1993, he was swiftly roundhouse kicked in the face by Walker, Texas Ranger… Coincidence? I think not.
8. If Chuck Norris visited your landing page, you’d be f’d. Chuck is not the answer to your traffic problem. Chuck is your traffic problem.
9. When Chuck Norris says a form field is required, he @**#&#! means it. You’ll know when it’s required by the giant fist icon, Chuck has no respect for asterisks.
Source: 9 Reasons Why Chuck Norris Shouldn’t Work In Marketing
Q: “It used to be that I could limit what strangers saw about me to almost nothing. I could not show my profile picture, not allow them to “poke” or message me, certainly not allow them to view my profile page. Now, even my interests have to be public information. Why can’t I control my own information anymore?”
Answer from Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy at Facebook: “Joining Facebook is a conscious choice by vast numbers of people who have stepped forward deliberately and intentionally to connect and share. We study user activity. We’ve found that a few fields of information need to be shared to facilitate the kind of experience people come to Facebook to have. That’s why we require the following fields to be public: name, profile photo (if people choose to have one), gender, connections (again, if people choose to make them), and user ID number. Facebook provides a less satisfying experience for people who choose not to post a photo or make connections with friends or interests. But, other than name and gender, nothing requires them to complete these fields or share information they do not want to share. If you’re not comfortable sharing, don’t.”
Link: Facebook Executive Answers Reader Questions [nytimes.com]
I posted my takeaways from this year’s Webstock on the First Rate blog so I’m just going to repost the critical part of it here. Duplicate content FTW!
Here’s what I learnt online businesses need to be doing this year:
- Iterate. Listen to your customers, watch your analytics, learn what needs improving and optimise like a crazy person. The website that is most agile will win.
Don’t be late to the mobile party, be early. How does your online audience want to engage your business via mobile? Does that exist? Is there a business case for it?
Be wary of “gut feel” or “I just know” interpretations of data by your staff or your third-party providers. Expect empirical evidence that backs up that gut feel.
“If you review the first version of your site & don’t feel embarrassed, you spent too long on it” – Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn.com
For Barack Obama’s US presidential campaign, his online team were tracking how dollars spent on online ads were turning into dollars received via fundraising. If a campaign that complex can achieve it, no-one has an excuse for not knowing their ROI from online spend.
Jeff Attwood’s description of social software was very good: “tiny slices of frictionless effort, spread across an online community”. A good reminder that to leverage user-generated content you need your users to want to contribute and make it super-easy to do so.
I thought Daniel Burka’s recommendation that “subtraction is iteration too” was a good reminder. Don’t be afraid to subtract.
Source: Things I learnt at Webstock 2010
In June 2008, roughly around the time when Google made Trends for Websites available, I wrote a post about some sites & their trends. Mainly just trends I found interesting. It’s now June 2009 so I thought it would be fun to revisit the same graphs.
This time I’ve limited the graphs to ‘last 12 months’ as opposed to all-time.
ALL GLOBAL TRAFFIC: The rise & rise of Facebook
I’ve put Twitter in there just for fun. I wonder though if Google can’t see all the Twitter ‘views’ that occur on feed readers, iPhones, smartphones, etc.
NZ TRAFFIC ONLY: Bebo hangs in there
I am actually surprised Bebo isn’t showing more of a decline. I suppose it’s that tween/teen demographic I kind of don’t really care about (sorry!)
It’s tight in E-Commerce
I get to answer my question! We might assume Ferrit’s sale didn’t help because Ferrit is now gone. I think their press release at the time was a combination of “this idea was ahead of it’s time” & “we’ve moved online business in New Zealand forward with Ferrit”. It just sounded hollow. What is that analogous to? The Titanic? The Hindenburg? Thanks for coming Ferrit.
What is that thing they say about slow-moving giants?
I actually find this the most interesting graph. Compare it with a year ago. For TradeMe, let’s call that roughly a 15% decrease in traffic on the average in 2008. Still, I don’t think anyone would be predicting their traffic to drop off over the next 12 months.
The irrelevance of Slashdot
As noted by John Gruber. People are obviously still visiting Slashdot but it is a shadow of its former self. I think it needs editors choosing & writing up its news rather than republishing user submissions.
Google Trends for Websites is an approximation of the amount of traffic Google thinks your site is getting. So while not 100% accurate, it provides some interesting insights.
The rise of Facebook
But for NZ traffic only, it’s all about Bebo
Ferrit’s sale is seemingly helping their traffic (but is it helping their bottom line?)
TradeMe is bigger than the internet
This is TradeMe compared with some signicant international sites. And it dwarfs them.
The fall of Slashdot
I am not, when it comes to computers, a model power user. Like a lot of people I have my idiosyncratic ways of using Windows XP and the software I have running on it. I am rarely one for stopping how I do something to see if I can do it more efficiently, I’d much rather get it done. But I’ve come across something that has made a significant & noticeable improvement to my work flow, my ability to concentrate and “get stuff done”.
At minimum I get maybe 5 – 10 emails every hour in a working day. Let’s assume the busy end of the scale so that’s approximately 80 emails a day. 400 emails a week. It sounds like a lot, of course it depends on your role but in mine these can be anything from news to large job requests that require hours of work. I was finding that while instant messages could be easily answered and then forgotten about, email wouldn’t go away as easily. Sometimes urgent requests would cause immediate disruption or difficult questions would intrude into my thoughts on whatever I was trying to work on.
My reasoning was that urgent messages needed to read as soon as possible so automatic send & receive in my email needed to stay on. So I tried to find ways of flagging emails with “Urgent” red flags and setting aside time during the day to “Do Email”. But the problem of difficult questions intruding on my thoughts still existed. Closing email solved the problem of getting new email “Ha! Try and email me now!” but email is so embedded in how we work nowadays that I was constantly opening email to reference saved and sent messages. And of course, as soon as I opened email I automatically pulled down anything new.
So the obvious presented itself. Turn off automatic send & receive. The notion of this seemed very “Mum & Pop” to me, I preferred email coming in on its own and going out as soon I clicked Send. Clicking Send and then Send & Receive? Every time? It didn’t seem very sensible. And I just knew I’d start clicking Send and forgetting to Send & Receive and end up with time-critical emails sitting in my Outbox. But I thought I’d give it a try. My Inbox was out of control and I was starting to fear every new email, I was willing to sacrifice time to try and fix the problem.
The improvement dawned on me slowly. Sometimes I was forgetting to click Send & Receive to clear my Outbox. But I noticed I was getting more done, my ability to concentrate was vastly improved. I was impressed, I hadn’t realised email had been disrupting my work as much as it had been. And I noticed I was coming to natural points during the day when I would take a break, reply to any new messages and then move onto the next job. Being able to write email without replying was a pleasure too. During the day reasons to send email would come up so I’d compose an message and put it into my Outbox for the next Send & Receive. This worked better than considering new email (and new questions) at the same time.
I think this solution is probably specific to the type of email I get and high level of concentration I need to do on a daily basis. And I know there are those out there who can just block out pressing concerns and focus on the task at hand. I am not one of those people. So my advice: reduce the intrusion email makes during the day. And those urgent messages? If it’s really urgent you will get phone calls. Trust me.