All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Using Tragedies To Promote Agendas

I had planned on putting out a post on Monday morning, then decided to put it out on Monday afternoon, and then put it off when I heard about the bombing in Boston at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. For Americans it’s hard to conceive of someone deciding to do something like this on a very patriotic day at an event where people from all around the world either competed for a prize or just wanted to be with many others who enjoyed running as much as they did. I’ll admit that I can’t conceive of watching a marathon in person or even on TV but there were literally over 100,000 people around there at one time watching it, many more stopping by after the Red Sox game.

Whenever I hear of things like this, if I haven’t written something earlier to post automatically, it makes me pause and think about what’s happened, and I try to reflect on what it means to everyone, not just the people who got hurt or killed. It’s proof that this is a dangerous world, that we never know what’s coming or when, and that we should work on finding ways to find joy in the world, improve ourselves and live life to the fullest without taking chances with our lives.

And yet, in a short period of time, people with agendas were starting to take over the airwaves and social media. I read about guns; I read advertising pitches; I read people saying things about the U.S. deserving what it got or being spoiled because we expected others to care about our problems when they have lives of their own. Frankly it all irritated me and reminded me of why I’d stopped watching the news and why I block a lot of things I see on Facebook.

Anyway, it prompted me to create the video which you see below; yes, I had to rant. I’m going to be making a lot more videos, and this is the first of 5 consecutive days of videos on my YouTube channel, not all of which will show up on the blog. Just thought I’d mention that; and now, my rant:
 


 

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Decorum And Censorship

Those of you who have read this blog for a long time know that I often talk about bad behavior, proper decorum while being online, and how there’s really no such thing as freedom of speech. So many disagree and try to get away with things and I guess that’s the human way, always trying to set your own rules. Hey, that’s life; doesn’t mean that the rest of us will always agree with it or tolerate it.

Dad - Vietnam Day

Dad; always about decorum

Two weeks ago I wrote a post called The Scam That Is Smartphones. I added a video to that post, which obviously sits on YouTube as well. And I got a couple of comments on it; that’s never a bad thing. Until this time.
Continue reading Decorum And Censorship

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Google Analytics And Your Blocked Keywords

About two weeks ago I read a post by our buddy Darnell Jackson of youronline.biz titled Is Google Blogger Blocking? His premise was that if you look at your Google Analytics and check to see what keywords you’re being found for that your highest number will be blocked and thus Google’s withholding critical information all of us who do SEO work or try to optimize our content for certain words and phrases can’t fully get the job done. He also sees it as a monetary thing of sorts, and he points to the reality that you could be number one for your search term but if someone ponies up the bucks they’ll actually show up ahead of you.

Bank of America security trying to prevent me from taking a photo during the Iraq war protest
Steve Rhodes via Compfight

It’s a post that should be read, and I did leave a comment on it. However, I was getting ready to go out of town for a conference and didn’t have time to really look at it. That’s what this post is about, and it’s not pretty. I agree with Darnell on a lot of it, but I’m not so sure about the money side of it all; here’s my thoughts and research.

I decided to scan the net to see what others were saying about this. I came across many articles for when this first started occurring. What Google determined to do was not show searches for people who were signed into their Google account. They would count the search, but wouldn’t reveal what terms were being searched for. Matt Cutts also stated at the time that this figure would end up being a single digit percentage, which was his way of saying that this information wouldn’t be all that pertinent to us anyway.

You know I had to check that. I went into Analytics and looked at this blog. The terminology Analytics uses is “not provided“, and the percentage of terms it accounts for… 78%! I’m thinking that doesn’t look like a single digit percentage to me. I had to look at my other blogs. My business blog: 85%. My local blog: 55%. My finance blog: 92%. My SEO blog: 74%.

Kind of staggering isn’t it? The remaining search terms make absolutely no sense; there’s nothing one can do with most of them in knowing what to try to work on.

I wondered if it only had this type of effect on blogs, although I was betting the answer would be no. My thinking was that it’s possible that because there’s so much content on blogs when compared to regular websites that maybe the figures would skew differently. The numbers? Main business site: 51%. Secondary business site: 56%. Medical billing site: 34%. Anti-smoking site: 69%. Sales/marketing site: 51%.

This indicates that overall the numbers are lower with regular websites, but they’re still quite punitive aren’t they? Do you think this is helpful at all? What’s the point of having something called Analytics if you can’t get any Analytics? For that matter, why hide search terms when you’re not going to identify the person whose using those terms?

On this front I totally agree with Darnell. It’s unfair and illogical and I’m surprised more people aren’t up in arms about this. Actually that’s not quite true; lots of people wrote about it when it first occurred, but the numbers were much lower then. There are some folks who are writing about it now along with Darnell and myself, such as this article from Website Magazine, but it’s hard to find new stuff. It seems that most SEO folks have resolved to live with it or find another way around it. I have to admit I haven’t paid much attention because I use a Firefox plugin called Rank Checker & type in search terms I’m trying to rank well for on many websites.

Where I don’t agree with Darnell as much is that it’s about money. People have always been able to pay their way to the top, and that hasn’t changed one bit. Instead, what I believe is that Google is working harder on authorship and search related to people we know when we’re signed in.

Over the past couple of years Google seems to have been pushing for “relationship marketing“, if you will, and one of the things I’ve talked about is how you can search for something and see things people you know have either written or recommended in some way before almost anything else. I’m adding the word “marketing” because I think their initial intention was that people would review restaurants and stores and then Google could find ways of contacting those stores, showing them the numbers, and then getting them to pay for extra advertising.

At this point I doubt it’s working quite that way, but I think that’s where they’re going, and though it touches upon money, I think it’s more about relationships, at least right now.

Overall I don’t like it, but other than use something like I’m using there’s little anyone can do about it. Have you checked your Analytics lately? Are some of you using other programs to check statistics with?
 

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An Interview With Roger Madison, Founder Of iZania

Last year I did a series on black individuals and businesses online called Black Web Friday. In the second post of the series I highlighted a site called Izania, which is a black business networking website created by Roger Madison, whom I originally met on Ryze. Last week was the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and I had hoped to have this post ready by that date but it didn’t work out. So, one week later, I’m proud to share this interview with Roger that I hope you read because I think it’s important; at least it is to me.

1. Tell us a little bit about your site.

Black on Black-6

iZania.com was envisioned to be an online community to connect Black entrepreneurs, professionals, and consumers and help us to act in our self-interests and descendants of Africa.

2. What was your motivation for creating this site, where did the name come from, and how has it changed over time?

The motivation was inspired by the three years we spent living in South Africa from 1995 to 1998 – immediately following the transition to a democratic government. Nelson Mandela was a great inspiration in his expression of the “Spirit of Ubuntu.” Based in the South African philosophy of Ubuntu, (“I am what I am because of who we all are“) and the idea of consensus building, the concept perceives society as a community to which all individuals belong and is built on close relationships and group interactions. The community is held together by a feeling of mutual security and harmony. In this way, we hold to the traditional African values.

The word “iZania” is derived from a combination of Internet and Azania, which means the people of Africa. So, iZania means connecting the people of Africa via the Internet.

3. Do you get the same type and volume of activity that you did when you first started?

Our online activity has changed with the evolution of access to the Internet. We now derive our traffic from a number of sources – Our weekly newsletter, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), and our online group marketing initiative at iZania Market (www.izaniamarket.com). Initially, all of our traffic was based on visits to our main site. We have grown to more than 9,000 subscribers.

4. Last year I did a series called Black Web Friday because I was of the opinion that black Americans are not only under-represented online but that most people, including each other, don’t know about them. What’s your thought on my perception?

Black people are definitely laggards in adopting online engagement. This has a lot to do with income and access. The rapid expansion of smart devices has changed that a lot. Some studies indicate that Blacks are more active users of smart devices as their primary access to the Internet. By definition, this defines the type of activity – texting, FB updates, YouTube videos, Pinterest, Instagram. These types of activities are reactive, shallow, impulsive. Black businesses don’t use many of the online business tools to leverage their success – marketing analytics, financial management, customer retention and acquisition, supplier management. Additionally, they need to use the same channels to reach consumers that the consumers are using. This will help them to become better known.

5. Do you think your site prospers or is held back somewhat by the niche you’ve created?

We have chosen to focus specifically on helping Black-owned businesses succeed – first by connecting them to Black consumers, and leveraging their success to compete in the mainstream marketplace. However, by defining our niche – not a supporter of minority business, but Black-owned businesses – we realize that we are self-limiting. In spite of this, we are committed to helping our people because we need more help. We believe we can succeed by helping other Black-owned businesses succeed. We have had only modest success in ten years as an online community.

6. Do you see a lot of engagement on your site? Do a lot of people find ways to end up working with each other?

We really don’t see much engagement at our site. However, the most active and fruitful engagement that we have participated in with members of our community happens away from the site. The online connection serves primarily as a means of introduction. The hard work of producing results comes in activity out of the public view.

7. I’ve never had the opportunity to go, but have you ever been to the Blogging While Brown conference? If so, what did you think, and do you believe conferences like this are important?

I have never attended this conference. Any conference can be important if it provides value for those who attend. Whenever people of like-minded interests can provide value for one another, it is a good thing.

8. What more do you think has to be done to highlight black Americans online so that, when people and organizations like CNN are putting together lists of top bloggers, more black people are included on them?

Major news outlets and cable stations serve the larger mainstream market, and occasionally capture stories of special interest from various interest groups. Bloggers who can cross all boundaries in generating content of interest to a wider audience will be more successful. Black bloggers must earn their way up to the top of those lists by focusing on what their audience is focusing on.

9. I wrote one of the first articles on iZania many years ago; how many articles do you think your site now has, as well as how many blogs do you think people have and actually write on your site?

There have been thousands of articles over our ten year history. Our challenge is quality. We chose not to monitor and filter except for gross violations of the interests of our members. We now have a problem where some “bloggers” simply post content they have copied from somewhere else. We don’t get as much original content and valuable input from serious thinkers. We are beginning to do some selective filtering and deleting content that is clearly not authored by the poster.

10. Take some time to tell us what you see coming for Izania.

We are planning a major revision of our website to include converting all of our content to a “responsive web page” so that our content is more easily viewed on mobile devices. We will also do a major revision of our content – eliminating content that is no longer relevant. We have conducted regular surveys of our members to gain insights into what is most important. We want to become a more effective virtual facilitator for transforming the efforts of Black people – economically, socially, educationally, politically – to affect positive outcomes in our communities.
 

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The Scam That Is Smartphones

Yes, this is a bit of a rant post, but I decided to make it easy on you by creating a video about it. However, you’re probably wondering where I’m going to go with this sucker right? I’m not giving up all the goods, but I’ll give you something.

Have you ever wondered why you have to sign 2-year agreements when you purchase a smartphone plan? Have you ever wondered why you get some phones for free and others seem to cost you a bunch of money? Have you ever had a phone so long that you have problems finding components for it, such as batteries, cases, or even electric cords?

I don’t talk about cellphone plans in this rant; no sense going there, even though it turns out that one of the biggest scams we all deal with is having to pay for text messaging, which costs the carriers nothing to provide to us, even if we’re sending lots of pictures through.

What do I talk about? What do I consider as a major scam? Check out the video; you’ll find out:


 

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