Sunday, November 27, 2016

Snippets in Google Search Results

It's always a challenge to figure out how Google picks the snippets it puts into search results.  Of course, this isn't an academic exercise, the purpose is to build your pages and content and code so that the most user friendly snippets are chosen not in general, but for each specific search.

The reason that I'm interested in this right now is that I do NOT like seeing results which mess up a trademark.  The name of the site, a registered and valuable trademark, is "VocabularySpellingCity" Registered Trademark.  Why is Google often providing: "Spelling City" as a result? Where the heck are they getting this from?

I think the problem is that in grabbing text, there is a statement relating to a site wide logo which reads this way:

<div class='site-logo'><a href='/title='Vocabulary Spelling Cityrel='home'>

Somehow, Google grabs this code and uses it. And since the word "Spelling" appears separated from "VocabularySpellingCity", this opens the door to them grabbing it. BTW, I can't really seem to think through the logic that would have them grabbing that but since this is the only place where I can see that they can find: "Spelling City" written like that, it seems the easiest way forward is to fix this random poor use of our name and see if that ends the problem with the snippet that so annoys me.

BTW, I'm going to use figurative language as a test case.  This seems appropriate since we're looking for a needle in a haystack, it's like one of Hercules tasks. It's an endless battle to keep our site managed in a way that supports Google protocols for being a good white hat site.  Was that enough figurative language for you?


Search on "vocabulary spellingcity"

VocabularySpellingCity | Build Literacy Skills with Vocabulary and ...

build vocabulary, literacy, phonics, & spelling skills with VocabularySpellingCity. Improve vocabulary, a core reading skill, with gamified context-rich.

The homepage result is now 2nd but it appears to the user like this:

Spelling City

build vocabulary, literacy, phonics, & spelling skills with VocabularySpellingCity. Improve vocabulary, a core reading skill, with gamified context-rich.

A search on "figurative language spellingcity" produces:

Figurative Language - Spelling City

Figurative language can be part of reading, writing, comprehension, and vocabulary instruction. Grade-level teachers include similes, metaphors, personification, idioms, and hyperbole in their lesson plans.

A search on "figurative language" produces:

Figurative Language Overview | VocabularySpellingCity

A student who blurts out “I'm so hungry, I could eat a horse!” right before lunch may not realize he or she is using figurative languageFigurative language ...

Monday, June 06, 2016

Online subscription pricing and management

I write a lot so I really like to read books about writing, especially writing style guides. I like them because they need to be "self-exemplifying" - they need to demonstrate the principles that they expound otherwise they have no credibility. For instance, one of the most effective self-exemplifying edicts is: "Avoid unnecessary words!"  

Another might be (and this one is original): "Some repetition for effect is acceptable. Some."

I am far from the first to cite writing style guides as delightfully self-exemplifying.  Steven Pinker's book on writing talks about this in a wonderful way. However, I might be the first to write about whether online marketing service firms are effective at demonstrating the use of effective marketing for their own services. And I'm most likely the first to pursue this into the niche of online marketing firms specialized in pricing of subscription services.  So here goes some original content on subscription pricing services.

Why do I care? I care because  I run an online subscription service that charges $19.95 per month for the first child. The second child is discounted. It's only $14.95. Same for third or fourth or fifth children, their subscriptions are only $15.95 each per child.

We did some analysis. We found that we have a disproportionate number of single child families. Or at least, we don't have the statistically representative number of families with lots of kids. So now we are studying subscription pricing. Here's some potential help that we've discovered:

  1. Zuroa
  2. ConversionXL
  3. slides
  4. White paper on subscription pricing
  5. Google "subscription pricing strategy" for a gold mine of ideas...
  6. Price bee or something 

I Pop Up in Peace
I Pop Up in Peace

As best I can tell,, Zuroa has a subscription middleware platform that supports companies with subscription business models. It's a billing platform, an A:B multivariate testing technology, an integrated credit card processor, and a bunch of other things too...

Zuora is a subscription management platform that spans across commerce, billing, and finance. - See more at:

 Zuora has been enabling the Subscription Economy by building the next generation commerce platform. Zuora’s subscription management software has enabled 21st century businesses around the world from startups to enterprises in any industry to launch and monetize any subscription products and services.

There's also ConversionXL. They have articles like this: When it comes to subscription product pricing, you’re not just guessing…are you? A while ago, an HBR study famously claimed that a 1% improvement in price would increase operating profit by 11%, making it the most effective thing you can tweak for increased business performance. Pricing is important. It’s also one of the most difficult Ps of marketing for folks to wrap their heads around. It can be one of the more technical aspects of marketing. Then, when you bring subscription pricing models into the mix, things get even more complex. First Thing’s First: How Do You Determine Value and Price?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Prefer to Suck at Optimization?

I thought this was a hysterical choice. Get free book to master the essentials. Or to suck at it.

Master the Essentials of Conversion Optimization

Learn how the pros do it. 
Get our ebook for free.

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I prefer to Suck at Optimization

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Relevant Selling

I had a small disagreement with my wife this morning which is why I'm doing something that I know will not be productive. I'm trying to
cull some books from my bookshelves. At least it's unlikely to be productive in the ways that she thinks it will be.

This is why I'm sitting on a bright Sunday morning on a stool in the corner browsing through Relevant Selling by Jaynie L. Smith. The inscription page has a handwritten note: "To John, Best Wishes, Jayne L. Smith."  I went to the back cover and stared at a picture hoping for a flash of recognition or remembrance.  But, my memory is now pretty reliable about dishing up...nothing. At least she is (are memories feminine?) when I'm trying to remember something.

Relevant Selling  makes the point that must of us in business sell somewhat blindly with little to no real understanding of what matters most to our customers. In fact, she states that most companies don't even have an internal consensus on what matters most to their target audience never mind having an internal hierarchy of customer concerns that aligns with customer reality.

This Relevant Selling book seems to me to be dead-on.  

There's one chapter that points out that prospects and customers have different criteria which I would also agree with. In our business where we sell  annual subscriptions to our website and app to elementary schools to help their students build vital vocabulary skills, the keys to retention are clearly different than the keys to acquiring customers.  

I guess my wife is going to get some success from this exercise after all. I'm going to take Relevant Selling to the office and pass it around. 

Bottom line: One book culled from the home library for my wife, one more post on one of my many blogs for me, and a new set of ideas to inject into the already overwhelmed set of priorities of my staff.  And since I'm so pleased with this little post, I'll probably now spend a few minutes giving it some social media attention.

Jaynie, you out there?  BTW, I have a 70 person company right here in Ft Lauderdale.

Perhaps she was the speaker who talked one evening at a alumni event about sales (and then management skills and personal issues) simplifying down all the four quadrant stuff down to a simple continuum which was was so powerful and relevant that about a third of the business audience had quivering voices as they gave personal testimonials about the insight that it was giving them on their own sales and professional persona?  If not, who was that speaker? I've been looking to find here and bring her into my office.

Or what she the Big Breakfast speaker who talked so effectively about getting us to get serious about understanding our customers. I suspect the latter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

SEO 2016: What's Hot?

These six points are worth remembering as we write for SEO on our resource and game pages:

I'll summarize;

1. Be thorough, write a lot. 1900 words is the average page winning on Google. Put lots of paragraphs on SEO pages, perhaps folded into open/closing paragraphs.

2. Links are key. Keep getting them.  I think anchor text pointing to the page matters a lot.

3.  Schema: minor, don't worry about it.

4.  Don't stuff. I'm adding: DO write with content vocabulary.

Bad description: "While sometimes confusing, figurative language can often be powerful and illustrative" - Google won't find much here to go on.

Good meta description: "Figurative language, such as metaphors and similes and personifications, can make your writing more powerful"  - Lots of contet vocabulary there and it starts with the keyword!

I'm also adding: each page gets a unique meta description and meta keywords

5. Site speed matters!!!!

6.  Reduce your bounce rate, increase time on site.

I'm adding:
- responsive matters
- local addresses matter
- social media matters
- grouping of pages into a cluster on a common topic matters. And google can think in n dimensions. A figurative language page can be part of multiple clusters by both linking and content such as:
    - literary writing: similes, metaphors, reading, writing, personification
     - education and standards, classes, schools, students, teachers, grades, educational standards, CCSS etc
   - grade level 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Facebook Shares: Strategically Done

Like many, I have sites cluttered up by social media icons. They don't give very impressive results.
I have long dreamed of doing this well.
Is this a good example of a well designed Facebook share following registration for an EventBrite event?

awesome Facebook Share
awesome Facebook Share

Monday, April 18, 2016

Surviving Termination

All provisions of this Agreement which, by their nature, should survive termination, shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, and limitations of liability.

The above is an actual provision in the T&Cs (terms and conditions) of a Silicon Valley venture-backed company. Our experience with their customer support, their technology, and their communication is that they are all screwed up.  Noticing the details of their contract further confirms this view. As in, who is to decide if the nature of a provision is that it should survive termination. For example, does the  indemnity that they required of us survive termination? Of course, it doesn't, I think.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Regions Bank SEO

Really funny typo by the Regions Bank. Notice that it's important to pay attention to the Little. Sic.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Adwords Haiku

Many of in school learned about a type of poetry that comes out of Japan which is short and highly defined by number of syllables and lines.

The format of haiku is strict:

  1. Only three lines
  2. The first line is 5 syllables 
  3. The second line is 7 syllables 
  4. The third line is 5 syllables
And those are all the rules. Capitalization and rhyming are not required and are at the poet's discretion.

In the modern world, I think of writing Google Adwords copy as Haiku.

The format of Google Adwords text ads is strict:

  1. Only three lines of content plus one with a URL
  2. The first line has 25 characters (character count includes spaces)
  3. The second and third lines have 35 characters
  4. The URL line can be 35 visible characters. It doesn't need to exactly match the URL but does need to have the right domain name.  So it could be: whereas the underlying URL could be
For more info:

PS. Writing successful Adwords poetry is probably a lot more lucrative than writing great Haikus but in both cases, it's all about the user reaction, right?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

WordPress Site Traffic Statistics

I just looked at the stats on one of my WordPress blogs and I saw these unbelievable numbers. 

To be honest, I just don't believe them. There is just no way that I had 67K visits yesterday!  Anybody have any idea what might be causing these aberrant numbers? 

Also in the realm of unbelievable, there  seem to be seven thousand comments all  of which appear to be spam, all blocked by Anti-Spam by CleanTalk.

Traffic Statistics for one of my WordPress Blogs
The WordPress Site Statistics on one of my blogs, Unbelievable!
I got curious about this blog and decided to check out my Google Analytics which have also been set up for this blog. They're  a much more reasonable number. This is for the same period. What the heck is wrong then with the wordpress statistics? I would guess from the fact that some bots are spamming the site and the high Wordpress visitor traffic that the WordPress stats counts the spam bots as visitors whereas Google Analytics does not. This is only a guess, I have no idea how to research this.

Google Analytics for the WordPress Blog
Google Analytics for the WordPress Blog

BTW, I thought that I would peek at the statistics on this blog (ie Blorum.ifo, the blog that you are now reading). . It's of course a Google Blogger blog. Here's the Google blogger stats.

Blogger Blog Statistics
Blogger Blog Statistics