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Mature Professionals Are Dead Stars

Hubble

Why the internet shuns mature professionals

Pulsars are the remnants of a star, now dead, that has exploded in a supernova. Interestingly, though sometimes a mere few kilometers in diameter, they play way above their weight in the surrounding neighborhood, spinning very fast with enormous density so a teaspoonful of would weigh trillions of kilograms.

How apt. Once bright shining stars, when mature professionals venture into the online universe we are seen as the burnt out vestiges of a former glory. But like pulsars we also play way above our weight, and our density is the product of decades of experience in our professions.

As I explain in my eBook, I began my middle-aged journey to online content marketing as a result of a failed joint venture:

A while ago I had a small epiphany. Sitting at a conference table with a group of website designers and consultants, I realized my presence that day was largely superfluous. Not much of a revelation, you might think, we’ve all had that feeling in meetings. Except that I was the architect of the online product under discussion, and a lot of money was being spent in pursuit of its development.

This is fairly common experience for those of us who have suffered through endless consultations with IT professionals who revel in an arcane language and poor presentation skills. As I realized in that meeting, my presence was at best annoying, my questions a hindrance to the process, and my age (fifties) a matter of some unexpressed but not entirely hidden derision:

At that meeting I realized the consultants saw the product mostly as a means to showcase their expertise, which was reflected in conversations that largely disregarded the needs of the ultimate customer, the end users who would source it online. Though these consumers would be the final arbiters of its success, the IT consultants pursued an agenda of ever more demanding and time consuming technical “fixes” that in fact seemed to needlessly impede the usability of the product.

There was clearly a disconnect here. As a lawyer and writer (and let’s face it, the architect of the product!) , I understood that the product was all about the end users. For the consultants who bandied around state of the art analyses of SEO and meta tags and other technical issues of website design, every meeting seemed an opportunity to consult with each other. I was ignored not because I was older, but because I was irrelevant.

Mature professionals know more than they think

Mature professionals – 45 or 50 or 55 or 60 – are disenfranchised in the online world. You can argue about this till the digital cows come home (to your homepage of course), but it’s a fact. How do I know? Because I am one of them.

In my profession, the law, contrary perspectives are not unusual. It is an interesting dilemma of discrimination laws as to where the liability for prejudice lies – is it an objective test or are the subjective “feelings” of the victims to be the benchmark? Let me be clear, when it comes to this form of discrimination, my experience is that ageism is alive and well in the online world, and many peers confirm these feelings.

Of course it’s not only the fault of clueless commentators, most of them far younger, who do not know how to communicate with mature professionals. Many of those professionals also fear to move beyond a comfort zone where they have spent decades in a soothing limelight. But it’s not as though content marketers and other internet marketing specialists lay out the welcome mat. It’s therefore a real pity that there are few peers, and I am trying to be one of them, to facilitate the entry of fellow mature professionals into the world of online content. In part, that’s why I launched this website.

The big secret mature professionals keep to themselves

You won’t learn this in a book about web design or content marketing, but mature professionals who feel alienated from online marketing sometimes have the most to offer and to gain, because we come armed with decades of professional experience. For us, mastering the technology is the easy part.

Why is this a secret? Because those mature professionals don’t believe their expertise can encompass online content management, and content providers are more motivated by a need to emphasize and sequester their proprietary skills.

So how about a meeting of the hearts and minds?

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Google Has No Clothes Part Four

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Google Changes And What They Mean To You

Google algorithm changes

The main game is content content content

Yes, making sense of the changes to the Google algorithms is helpful (though I think this is only really possible by experts), but from everything Google tells us, the main game is now content, content, content. If it was important before, it is now the crucial determinant of your online success.

This is where your experience as a mature professional comes to the fore, and where the trajectory of Goggle intersects with the hard-earned relationship skills of so many mature professionals, especially smaller firms. It is also where smaller firms can use content marketing to leverage that experience into greater word of mouth that elevates them and distinguishes their firms from the more anonymous larger players.

Google encrypts search

Another setback to technical search analysis is Google’s decision to redirect all traffic to an encrypted search. This means that you can no longer determine how a person comes to your site i.e. what keywords they use to get there. This has been a trend at Google since late 2011, but it is now entrenched. In other words, you can find out how many visitors came to your site, but you don’t know what they were searching for. As you might imagine, this is a significant blow to any sort of useful analysis.

The Google Hummingbird update is the latest in a long trend of downgrading the supremacy of mechanical keyword analysis. I’ve written about keywords and how they affect the Google ranking of your firm, but in short, historically keywords have been central to the whole SEO enterprise, and like it or not, had to be addressed if you wanted to be found. For years proper keyword research has been touted as the difference between the rankings of website pages that are architecturally and structurally similar.

There are myriad tools to find appropriate keywords, there are many more SEO companies happy to do it for you. If you looked at SEO a few years ago you would have known you needed a keywords strategy, which would have been either developing a talent for the use of keyword tools or outsourcing to the experts or doing nothing – most likely the latter. Keywords analysis was king – and queen, rook, bishop and knight. But no longer.

Predictably,SEO companies feel betrayed by Google’s latest changes. As one SEO expert and provider succinctly concluded:

For many SEOs, this sort of change might feel like a betrayal of the symbiotic relationship Google has had with website owners where Google makes copies of website content and then organizes it into search results so they can then run ads next to it.  In return, Google provides various services and access to data for free – like organic search keywords data. Not any more. (TopRank)

As a smaller professional relying on free keywords tools, and without the resources to look to professional SEO, you would be entitled to feel the same. The Age newspaper’s brilliant tech writer Charles Wright (a hero to writers) calls this “the most devastating of these technology-induced disorders”

He’s right. You might ask yourself, “if professional SEO companies are struggling to overcome Google’s movement away from keyword analysis, what hope do I have?” In that case you would have a point. Wright describes the symptoms of a friend as SEO Syndrome:

Like most people in the grip of SEO Syndrome, his attempts to master the complexities of improving the performance of a website in Google’s search results heightened his feelings of alienation, particularly when he became aware that all his efforts could suddenly be made worthless by radical, and apparently random, adjustments to the algorithms that determine a site’s visibility.

Are you too suffering from SEO Syndrome? Does the thought of more changes down at Google HQ send you running to the bathroom medicine cabinet?

In Part Five I’ll look at the answer to this emerging syndrome, and drugs are not part of it.

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photo credit: Will Lion via photopin


Google Has No Clothes Part Three

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Google Changes And What They Mean To You

Google animals run wild

Then along came Panda. Why does Google choose the names of fauna for their updates? Here apparently is the answer:

Believe it or not, Google named the 2011 quality update “Panda”, not after the endangered animal, but after one of the engineers responsible for the algorithmic breakthrough – Navneet Panda. It’s unclear how they came up with the name for the over-optimization update of 2012, but it seems they just decided to stick with the animals starting with the letter “P”, and so the Penguin was born…. er, hatched.

This Google algorithm update in February 2011 banished low quality sites from the Google realm. Penguin, released in April 2012, then went to town on sites that boosted their rankings with the use of dubious linking methods (content farms and the like). They also targeted keyword stuffing – which is exactly what you imagine i.e inelegantly cramming keywords into your posts – and duplicate content (using the same or similar content in your site again and again).

This is why SEO providers which offer “affordable SEO” supplying backlinks and developing comments should now be avoided more than ever. Be careful of anyone who does not have legitimate industry experience and keep an eye on their geographical location – I think it is best to deal with a domestic provider, although many Indian (as an example) companies do great work. As a rule, you will get what you pay for.

Quick change algorithms

The good boffins down Hubspot estimate that Google changes it’s algorithms 550 times a year (!!!). I don’t know how this is possible, because it suggests some very dedicated algorithmic-centric (obsessed) people at Google are tweaking their backsides off ten times a day seven days a week. This should at the least make it clear that you have no control over the situation. As the Buddhists have known for eons, sometimes it’s best to accept the relentlessness of change and let it all go – in other words, resistance is futile.

It does serve to again prove the point that good online writing, especially reader-oriented articles that are genuinely helpful, have a very long shelf life and represent a far better place to invest your energies. And honestly, if you concentrate on rankings, which are subject to fluctuations for reasons beyond your control, it really will drive you crazy! But worse, it detracts from the main game, and for professionals that is enhanced client relationships. For smaller and mature professionals, it is only content marketing that both helps your clients and helps your rankings.

Why should you care?

Look, if you are a regular reader it’s more than likely you are a mature professional, the principal in a small professional firm, or both. So the question you are entitled to ask is, “should I care about any of this stuff?” The easy answer is no. If you are a professional with a small firm (that’s most professionals in Australia) then you already know what your clients want – good information and good service. For you, good content is good SEO. So stay right away from the SEO hucksters who promise the world but will more likely see you penalized by Google.

Which means that there is essentially good news for smaller professional firms in all of this. You already know what drives business your way – it’s word of mouth. And the drivers or word of mouth are well known – the extra effort that enhances client relationships; the means to broadcast a reputation based on earned trust; giving clients an holistic experience, including added value information or appropriate referrals to other professionals; plain English information that makes the decision-making process much easier and promotes trust; exceeding client expectations.

In Part Four I’ll look at the good news in all of this for mature professionals and smaller professional firms.

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photo credit: Chi King via photopin


SEO Hucksters And Professionals

SEO for Australian professionals

Beware SEO experts – offer part one

SEO (search engine optimisation) experts are going to chase you. How do I know? Because if you are a professional, and you have a website (and you MUST have a website) then at some point your name will appear on a list kept somewhere in cyberspace and the phone will ring with an offer. This is the gist of the offer – “Hi, my name is Neil, and looking at your website I wonder if I could share with you a few ways it could be improved”. No obligation, of course. That’s the Offer Part One.

No doubt you will want to find out how you Neil can improve your site. Well, let me count the ways. Look, this is being facetious, because there will be ways your site can be improved, but it is likely your gracious and oh so friendly caller Neil is going to focus on the technical aspects of the site, and just as surely, it is those very technical matters that characterise where you have virtually no knowledge. Have you been to the service station and nodded sagely as the mechanic explained what is wrong with your car, when really you have no idea what they are talking about? It’s a lot like that.

SEO offer part two

Now the Offer Part Two  – “we can get you to the first page of Google” or “we can get you to the number one spot on Google”. No they can’t. At least not in any way that is legal in the eyes of Google and does not open you to the possibility of a severe penalty.

SEO is a complex and obtuse topic. You can do some research about it, and learn a lot on your own, but there’s no doubt that at an advanced level it is a domain that is best handled by trained consultants – however, there is a vast difference between the expertise of SEO consultants. And as a general rule, hang up on anyone who makes Offer Part Two. However, some basic research will hold you in good stead whether you hire an SEO consultant or not.

Nevertheless, this analysis ignores the real issue, an acknowledgement that the most you can do to help the ranking of your website, and keep eyeballs on your site, is to write great content. And then write some more. So if you have a restricted budget, and that will be most Australian professionals, then be careful where you allocate your resources. Believe me, you can learn a lot about online content on your own, and that will take you a long way to a favourable place in Google’s heart. Google, certainly the dominant directory for your prospective clients, increasingly looks to high quality website content as the primary determinant of search engine rankings.

Content is everything

There are mature strategies and beginning strategies. As a foundational strategy, you are best to allocate your resources where they have the greatest return (the bang for your buck). That’s content. That’s where to start. If you want a lot of ideas check out our MatureMedia Guides, or just get in touch for a chat (free) or ask a question.

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photo credit: SEOPlanter via photopin


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