Hummingbird & Search Query Unknown

So, Google’s been altering the way it works as usual.  Let’s talk:


So, Hummingbird just released (okay, it was announced released – it’s been around for a month).  For our sites, we’ve seen a small drop off in traffic – not enough to say it had to do with Hummingbird rather than general movement.  However, interestingly enough our page views have gone up which shows better engagement so it might actually be Hummingbird doing a better job.  Conversions took a drop but not significantly, which could be attributable to any one of a milllion things too.

Overall, Hummingbird seems to be a non-starter since it targets longer tail words anyway; and those have always been harder to focus on when you are an e-commerce business like ours.  With so many new products appearing all the time, it’s just tough to generate any good in-bound links to a product.  Worst, more often than not those links just disappear anyway.

Search Query Unknown

What has been worst for us is the complete rollout of the (unknown) search query use by Google.  That hurts – a lot.  Sure, other non-online marketers have been dealing with the lack of data forever, but we’re online – we get data damn it.  It really is frustrating, and will make SEO so much harder in the future.  Not knowing what the number of search queries for a term and whether it’s worth going for makes it more a blind guess.

Mind you, Adwords is doable and combining search rank data with page data will help; but that’s a lot more work.  Doable work, but more work.  Joy…


Friends & Family – Working Together

So you own a business.  Now you’ve grown to a point where you might want to hire or outsource some parts of your business.  And oh, look – Bill’s an Accountant.  You like Bill. He’s been a friend for the last 5 years.  Maybe you should hire Bill…

Maybe not.

The Pro’s

  • Culture fit.  Sure, people are different in a professional vs social situation; but you have a good idea of his personality already.  And theoretically you socialise well together already, so he should fit your culture (if you brought your own personal values into the business that is).
  • Less ‘search’ time required – hiring someone new always involves a level of ‘searching’.  This way you cut that out.
  • 3rd party references might already be something you have – friends of friends, your sister, etc.
  • Backdoor access. Sometimes, some of the most talented people out there are happy with their current jobs / workload.  However, as a friend you might be able to drag them out of their comfort zone to work for you.

The Con’s

  • Social =/= Professional.  Just because he might be a stand-up guy in a social setting does not always translate to a professional setting
  • No skill assessment.  As you know them on a social level only, you haven’t assessed them on their actual workplace skills.
  • Future awkwardness.  What if you have to fire them? This could easily ruin your non-professional relationship.
  • Fraud.  A lot of fraud happens because we apply different standards for ‘friends’ compared to employees.  Things we would jump down an employees throat for, we might allow in a friend, which can create situations when fraudulent activity could easily take place.
  • Favoritism.  This is a dangerous one, especially if your friend is mildly more competent than your other employees.  You can start favoring them significantly more than other employees, over and above their actual skills because of this.

So, what should you do?

Hire them the same way you’d hire a total stranger.  Ask for references.  Get their resume (and check it over!).  Do an interview.  Treat them as if they are any other potential employee.  This not only sets the tone of your professional relationship, it also ensures that you have done as much as possible to ensure that they are the right people for the job.

SEO Musings

So, I wrote a blog post on Starlit Citadel’s blog on SEO.

Figured I’d cross reference here since I see no reason to write it twice.  I’ll add that there is a 4th option, not covered in that blog post.  Start creating your own properties now.

Obviously, this main blog is one of our attempts at creating our own property.  It’s something I should probably pay more attention to, since I obviously can and should add more information as we develop the company but finding the time between developing two major e-commerce sites is challenging.

Still, if you are interested in starting an e-business; developing a tertiary property that can be linked and thus pass authority through is an important step.

Something I should have done with FG a while ago. Bah!

Business Mind

I’ve been talking (and have talked) to a few people about running their own business or taking an idea or current business to the next level.  The more recent pair already had existing businesses and were looking at expanding to a more formal setting.  It was interesting discussing matters with them, partly because I own and run a mildly successful business and partly because of how it illuminated the things I had learnt the hard way.

I never had a mentor when I started this business, partly because I felt I knew or could learn everything I needed to run it and partly because I had a strong network of friends who could provide guidance and information when I needed it on specialised topics.

One thing they didn’t teach me was the title of this post – a Business Mind.

What Is It?

Ever walk into a restaurant / grocery store / other business and then, just for fun, start scanning the business as an entity? Do you count the number of customers? Guess at their average transaction value? Take a stab at their expenses to figure out their revenue and expenses? Maybe even consider what processes / sales / marketing approaches you’d take.  All the with knowledge that this is idle speculation?

Yeah, that’s what a business mind is.  It’s a way of looking at the world that sees dollars and cents, processes and people and it’s something that’s hard to shut off.  Even in a random conversation with strangers, I find myself falling into that state of thinking.

For the Greater Good

When you start analysing businesses, especially those outside of your own area you are attempting to pick up new ideas.  Oh, sure – you might want to invest in those businesses later if you are rich and successful.  Mostly though, as an entrepeneur you are looking at these businesses for ways to make yours better.  It’s why it’s hard to turn off – any little good you can eke out can be applied to your business.

In addition, it’s a puzzle.  Perhaps because I’m a Geek, my mind likes puzzles.  Business is the biggest, most challenging puzzle there is.  The rules constantly shift, the players are numerous and unknown at times and there’s no set ‘win’ condition.  You can just keep playing.

Pieces on the Chess Board

Unfortunately sometimes you get too carried away.  You get drawn into your own world, and start forgetting that the people you are analysing are more than chess pieces.

You forget that not everyone has the same win conditions in their mind as you do.

And as a businessman, you always look for the downside.  You are always looking for the problems.  Which can be weird when you are talking to friends and family who just want some help.

Sometimes, turning it off is your best call.