The Magic Elixir of Search Engine Optimization

I had the occasion on the job yesterday to have a fairly in-depth conversation about something known as search engine optimization. When it comes to this topic as a Web geek, I tend to get quite cranky.

At the previous job, they brought in a guy, a “specialist,” to improve their Google results. I spent weeks hanging two dozen “specialized” web pages on a space that was optimized for CMS generated content rather than straight files. I spent those weeks editing those pages at the “specialist’s” insistence and was blamed for the errors even though the “specialist” was the one who generated the content. Aside from this monkey-level involvement, I was kept in the dark about this project and essentially told to fuck off if I happened to ask about it. To this day I have no idea what the results were of my work. More important, it was not thought of as important to keep me in the loop on the matter even though what we were doing could have easily been pertinent to the overall Internet presence of the organization, for which I was responsible at least in title.

Bitter? Me?

So any time these days I am approached regarding “search engine optimization,” I tend to flare up like a pissed-off cat. I was always of the opinion that my former employer had gotten taken by a snake oil salesman. Sure, the “specialist” might have been able to sit in a meeting with my former bosses, type certain terms into a search engine and show that their Web site came up higher when people searched on that term and then smile proudly as they golf-clapped and patted the “specialist’s” back. Still. It is in my opinion an artificial and unstable way to achieve such results.

Want better search results? HAVE A BETTER WEB SITE.

Fresh, interesting, compelling, and irresistibly relevant content. Beautiful design. And make it both intuitive and fun. Offer content that users will not be able to get anywhere else, period. Accept that at least 60 percent of your Web site’s success has nothing to do with the tech. Stop wringing your hands over meta tags and key words. HAVE A BETTER WEB SITE and Google will not be able to keep its mitts off of it.

Proper Modulation

Now it is time to write about Proper Modulation.

I adore the radio.

I do. I think radio is one of the most interesting things in the world. More interesting than television. I think if I were interested at this point in my life in doing something I loved for a living—a move which, I have found more often then not tends to make you HATE that thing and leaves a poopy taste on it for the rest of your life, so you may be better off anyway doing something for a living you can merely tolerate—one of the things on that short list would be to be in radio somehow.

Fortunately, thanks to the Internet, I get to pretend.

I’ve been a Live365 customer for a few years now. And it’s an okay way for a schmo like me to run a radio station. But it has so many limitations. You have to use their proprietary software to update. Listeners, I’ve found, find it frustrating because they need an account to listen. They recently changed their Web site, and the new version is awful. They have yet to update the iPhone app for multi-tasking. And they generally suck.

So the other day I’m looking for something else. And I find Loudcaster.

You can update using FTP. Anyone can listen just by browsing to the site. You can get listed in Shoutcast without lifting a finger. Which means on iPhone you can use Tunemark.

So. My station is called Proper Modulation, which is of course an homage to the King of All Media. G’w’on over and listen. I’m having a blast.

Life is a Series of Dogs Eating Squirrels

I wonder how funny that must have looked.

I mean, if you had been driving by our house you would have seen me dump all the mail all over the driveway as I attempted to wrestle with the mail, the rolling trash bin, and the two recycling buckets to bring them in from the street and keep walking as if I still had everything completely under control, leaving a pile of envelopes scattered in the driveway like a boat’s wake, I think you probably would have laughed.

It’s not the most stupid thing I’ve ever done. And, by the way, I think that when a person types that sentence, he should be allowed to write “it’s not the mostest stupidest thing I ever done,” just for contextual impact. But. I thought, as I was walking back to the end of the driveway to retrieve the mail, I was trying to save time, and I ended up wasting more time.

How often is life like that? How often do shortcuts bite our asses?

I am better in this regard than I was when I was 20. Am better at a lot of stuff than I was when I was 20. Am better at waiting. Am better at living here and now. Am better at counting blessings (look…see…there goes one now…). Am seeing for real and true how much youth is wasted on the young. I know of some people in my high school class who apparently knew then what I know now. Not many of them though.

Meanwhile: We are on beast lockdown here at the farm.

We’re not sure if the dog attacked the squirrel and rendered him stunned or if the dog found him that way. We’re liking to think the latter. Probably was. From the way the dog set the squirrel down and sat to look at it, I reckon he probably just found the thing that way. Regardless, it was clear the mongrel didn’t know what to do with it. Now if the little one had gotten to said rodent, that would have been a different story. That’s how it tends to work. The big dumb one finds the wilderness toys, and the little one, he steals it from the big one and proceeds to do his part for entropy.

Actually, I’m told that’s probably not how it happened. I’m told that, indeed, what probably happened is that the little one caught the squirrel unawares and disabled him, and that the big one then played through. I will still continue to imagine that the poor thing had some sort of diving accident and that the beasts simply found him that way.

So here we are this afternoon on my Saturday. I know. It’s Friday. But Career #7 requires that I work some funky hours. Not that I’m complaining. It’s the best day of the week and I’m writing this in the living room. Most people are at this moment wishing the clock would move more quickly. And I’m here with Charlie the Persistent Pain in the Ass Dog. Whine whine whine. Please let me out to eat the squirrel corpse. Please please please can I go eat the squirrel corpse. Please, sir? Please? There is carrion out there, and I would very much like to help myself to it. Please? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE? Oh good grief, here he goes again.

I reckon there’s not much to take from this little episode except maybe that, you know. Sometimes you’re the dog. Sometimes you’re the squirrel.