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Yearly Archives: 2007

2007 Reading List Wrap-Up

Last year I made it a New Years Resolution goal to read a book a week. I’ve actually had that goal for the past several years now but it wasn’t until this year that I started documenting all my reading so I’d actually know if I hit my mark. I did.

So if you ever want to know what a person like me reads, here you go. This list incorporates all my business and personal reading. The links will either go to my reviews of the books which I have already posted here on the blog or directly to the Amazon product page.

  1. How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must): The World According to Ann Coulter, Ann Coulter
  2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
  3. Quantum Business, Bobbi DePorter with Mike Hernacki
  4. The Winning Attitude: Your Pathway to Personal Success, John C. Maxwell
  5. The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, John Grisham
  6. The 7 Best Things Happy Couples Do…plus one, John and Linda Freil
  7. True North: Discovering Your Authentic Leadership, Bill George
  8. Developing the Leaders Around You, John C. Maxwell
  9. Viral Copy: Trading Words For Traffic, Brian Clark (30-page printout)
  10. Which Sells Best: A quick Start Guide to Testing for Retailers, Bryan Eisenberg & Anthony Garcia (45-page printout)
  11. Knock Knock, Seth Godin (41-page printout)
  12. How to Increase Keyword Saturation (Without Destroying the Flow of Your Copy, Karon Thackston (34-page printout)
  13. 365 Ways to Motivate and Reward Your Employees Every Day – With Little or No Money, Dianna Podmoroff
  14. Next, Michael Crichton
  15. Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others, John C. Maxwell & Jim Dornan
  16. No B.S. Business Success: The No Holds Barred Kick Butt Take No Prisoners Tough and Spirited Guide, Dan Kennedy
  17. A Mind for Pool: How to Master the Mental Game, Philip B. Capelle
  18. Persuasion Architecture: Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing, Future Now, Inc. (60-page printout)
  19. Coaching Your Kids to Be Leaders: The Keys to Unlocking Their Potential, Pat Williams and John Wooden
  20. Search Engine Ranking Factors V2, SEOmoz (43-page printed web page)
  21. The Professional’s Guide to Link Building, SEOmoz (40-page printout)
  22. Deception Point, Dan Brown
  23. The Conversion Expert’s Workbook, FutureNow
  24. Guerrilla Marketing: Secrets for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business , Jay Conrad Levinson
  25. The Professional’s Guide to Keyword Research, SEOmoz (70 page printout)
  26. The New Art of War, Tactics, and Power, Rodney Ohebsion
  27. How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
  28. Save the Sale!, Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg (32 page printout)
  29. The Illustrated Guide to Building a Search Friendly Website, SEOmoz (35 page printout)
  30. Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines, National Cancer Institute (73 page printout)
  31. A Business Case for Usability, E-Consultancy (18-page printout)
  32. Online Lead Generation (B2C) 2007, E-Consultancy (32-page printout)
  33. Blog Profits Blueprint, Yaro Starak (55-page printout)
  34. People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present (P.S.), Howard Zinn
  35. The Usability Kit, Gerry Gaffney and Daniel Szuc (350 page binder)
  36. Leadership, Rudolph Giuliani
  37. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, Orson Scott Card
  38. Arrogance: Rescuing America From The Media Elite, Bernard Goldberg
  39. The Cluetrain Manifesto, Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger
  40. Reframe Your Life: Transforming Your Pain into Purpose, Stephen Arterburn
  41. Breaking the Idols of Your Heart: How to Navigate the Temptations of Life, Dan B. Allender & Tremper Longman III
  42. Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You, Max Lucado
  43. Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian Worldview, John MacArthur
  44. The Power of Simple Prayer: How to Talk with God about Everything, Joyce Meyer
  45. Deliver First Class Web Sites: 101 Essential Checklists, Shirley Kaiser
  46. The Perfect Post: Advanced Writing Skills for Pro Bloggers, Bill Hilton (50-page printout)
  47. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell
  48. S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life, Erik Rees
  49. Skin, Ted Dekker
  50. Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
  51. Social Media Daily, Michelle MacPhearson (26-page printout)
  52. Professional Search Engine Optimization w/PHP, Jaimie Sirovich and Cristian Darie
  53. The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class, Keith Cameron Smith
  54. Holy Discontent: Fueling the Fire That Ignites Personal Vision, Bill Hybels
  55. Teaching Sells: Forget everything you know about making money online… and start making some, Brian Clark (22-page download)
  56. Social Media Optimization Strategies, SEOmoz (55-page download)
  57. Angels & Demons, Dan Brown
  58. Do It Wrong Quickly, Mike Moran
  59. Seinfeld on Marketing: 7 Marketing Lessons From the Cast of “The Show About Nothing”, Bill Gammel (14-page download)
  60. Blink, Malcolm Gladwell
  61. Online Retail 2006: User Experience Benchmarks, E-Consultancy (85-page download)
  62. Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right: How One Side Lost Its Mind and the Other Lost Its Nerve, Bernard Goldberg
  63. Search Engine Marketing Kit, Dan Thies & Dave Davies
  64. Personality Plus, Florence Littauer
  65. Viral Marketing and Linkbait on the Web, SEOmoz (46-page printout)
  66. The Shining, Stephen King

It’s quite the long list so I think this year I’ll start posting these reading lists monthly. If any of the links above are broken, just let me know so I can get it fixed. Happy reading in 2008!


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5 New Year's Resolutions for Copywriters

As difficult as it may seem to believe, 2007 is nearing its end. Where the frick did the time go? As a writer, it’s time for me to look back on the last year and to start thinking about some resolutions to ring in the new year.

  1. Read. It is often said that the best writers are great readers. In order to master the language, you have to read it and fully submerse yourself in it. Subscribe to other writers’ blogs to get tips, subscribe to Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day emails, and just read anything to expand your mind. One of my favorite books about how to be a better writer is Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing. Make this the top of your list, and you’ll be sailing through the year with plenty of ideas.
  2. Write. As simple as it sounds, sitting down and writing can be an arduous task for some. Set aside time every day to master your craft. Keep a journal or tape recorder with you at all times to note those fleeting ideas as you drift off to sleep, wait in the doctor’s office, or sit in traffic. As a writer, you constantly have ideas jumbling through your brain, and by getting them down on paper or on tape, you can visit them at a later time when you’re ready to create your content.
  3. Accept. No one likes to hear negative critiques, especially if it is in relation with something you’ve poured your heart, time, money, etc. into (i.e. your writing). The only way to grow as a writer is to accept criticism and revise your work. If you have a relationship with your editor, the community, etc., perhaps you can ask for feedback by getting the praises first and the shortcomings second. Don’t look at the critique as an act of faultfinding; rather, look at it as an opportunity to improve your craft.
  4. Connect. By joining critique groups, attending conferences, and meeting up with other writers, you will be able to talk with like-minded people that share the same interests as you. Plus, depending on their areas of expertise, they can offer insight into your frustrations with content development. While you may be frustrated by not being able to come up with ideas, those who are closest to you (spouses, coworkers, friends, etc.) may be getting equally as frustrated in their inability to help you.
  5. Overcome. While writing may seem easy to some (my wonderful coworkers say I’m just a typist), it can be quite formidable at times. This gets increasingly more difficult with writer’s block, negative criticism, and rejection. Overcome all the fears that we face as writers, and just sit down and write. Stephen R. Covey said, “Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.” Develop your writing muscles by overcoming your fears.

I hope these help you to become a better writer in 2008. I know I plan on sticking to these resolutions, and I plan to enlist the help of my friends, family, and I guess I’ll even ask my coworkers to make sure I’m following my own advice. And you, my dear readers, can ask me anytime whether or not I am too.

Here’s to wishing you a prosperous and productive 2008!


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Review: Viral Marketing and Linkbait by SEOmoz

This is the last of my book reviews for the year. I had a pile of completed books that I hadn’t had a chance to write up my reviews of them until this week. Hence the all-review-all-the-time thing we got going on here at EMP this week. Next week I’ll be publishing a complete list of all the books and documents (not counting blogs) that I’ve read in 2007. That’ll be a treat for all you readers out there.

Anyway, on with the show. I got a chance to read SEOmoz’s Viral Marketing and Linkbait on the Web document. Yes, you need a subscription to read it. The document does a great job of explaining the broad strokes of link bait, starting with the audience. They outline who they are, where they are, and how you reach them, and why you want to do this in the first place.

The document takes you through a variety of options for linkbait concepts with a number of illustrations, examples and ideas along with. They also address the ever-important protocol for putting together a successful linkbait campaign, covering everything from domains to server load issues. Finally, they touch on measuring your link bait success to ensure that your hard work can be measured in some form or another.

Viral Marketing and Linkbait prints out to just under 50 pages and is worth taking the time to read, especially for anyone struggling in the world of link baiting. I think that if there was one drawback of this document is that it assumes that you already have the social media profiles in place to leverage a successful linkbait campaign. That is one thing that we’ve found to be a near requirement, though there are always exceptions.

After having read all of the SEOmoz premium content I have a few simple requests. 1) Create a cover page and a table of contents, the latter being of most importance. 2) Add page numbers. Some of us like to print things out rather than read on the screen and page numbers help keep the document organized and make pieces more easily bookmarked for future reference.


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Nielsen//NetRatings Search Engine Market Share November 2007

Nielsen November 2007 Search Engine Market Share

Google
November: 57.7%
October: 55.5%
Change: +2.2

January: 53.7%
Change: +4.0

Yahoo
November: 17.9%
October: 18.8%
Change: -0.9

January: 22.7%
Change: -4.8

MSN
November: 12.0%
October: 13.8%
Change: -1.8

January: 8.9%
Change: +3.10

AOL
November: 4.5%
October: 3.7%
Change: 0.8

January: 5.4%
Change: -0.9

ASK
November: 2.7%
October: 2.9%
Change: -0.2

January: 1.8%
Change: +0.9

Source: Nielsen//Netratings

Note: As of October 2007 Nielsen changed methodologies. Due to these changes they say previous results “cannot be trended with current results.” Please take this information with a grain of salt.


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Review: Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself

Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding YourselfPersonality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself
Author: Florence Littauer
Paperback: 208 pages
Cost: $10.93
Published: 1983

Years ago, and a few times since, I took a personality test that was unbelievably accurate at describing me and how I act, react and respond to life situations. For the past ten years, I’ve been looking for that test and finally found what I was looking for with Florence Littauer’s book Personality Plus.

Littauer classifies the four primary personality types: Popular Sanguine, Perfect Melancholy, Powerful Choleric and Peaceful Phlegmatic. Most every person fits into one of these personality categories, while some (like me) are near equal parts of two of the personality types (bet you can’t guess which two!).

Personality Plus starts off with a quick quiz that will allow you to determine your primary personality. Then the book begins to go through each of the personality types, outlining the strengths and weaknesses and the positives and negatives of each.

This isn’t just about understanding your own personality but about the personality traits of others. Littauer teaches how to recognize the different personality types in different people and talks about each personality and how they interact with the others. She explains how your personality might be more sensitive to other types when conflict arises.

The book provides a fascinating study of the human personalities and is an essential read for any office environment where there is a collection of different personality types. It’s also a great read for parents to better understand their kids, though Littauer does have versions of this book targeted specifically for parents (Personality Plus for Parents: Understanding What Makes Your Child Tick) and couples (Personality Plus for Couples: Understanding Yourself and the One You Love).


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Review: Search Engine Marketing Kit

Search Engine Marketing KitUpon first glance, The Search Engine Marketing Kit, authored by Dan Thies and Dave Davies, appears to be a more daunting read than it really is. The material stands about three inches thick complete with 4-inch three-ring binder. The thickness is deceptive in that the pages are printed only on one side. But running at over 350 pages, the SEM kit is no slouch in dishing out the info.

Designed to be the go-to manual for all things SEM related, the SEM Kit successfully delivers. The kit, which includes a CD loaded with documents, covers search engines, SEO basics, advanced SEO, PPC, and link building; giving the reader a well-rounded knowledge base for developing successful SEO and SEM strategies. The authors have even included a chapter on running an SEM firm, which can be particularly insightful at understanding the various strategies and options available to anyone running, or thinking of running an SEO business. Normally I’m not one much for interviews, but I did find the interviews chapter to be particularly worthy of a read (I’ve copied the pages and passed them around the office.)

There wasn’t a chapter in the kit that I didn’t find useful or engaging. Though the dual authorship created some minor confusion when referring to things in the first person, I often wasn’t sure if it was Dan or Dave speaking at that particular point. This is the only major flaw in the kit, they need to clean up the author speak in order that when referring to a particular author we know which author is speaking. But other than that, the SEM kit is a fantastic read and great office resource that we’ll keep referring back to for a long while.


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Book Review: Google's PageRank and Beyond

Google’s PageRank and Beyond: The Science of Search Engine Rankings

Google Page RankAuthors Amy N. Langville & Carl D. Meyer did a fabulous job with this book. Their writing allows you to actually visualize something that is extremely mathematical and complex, not an easy thing to do. It also incorporates illustrations that go along with the text and algorithms to make it easy to understand. This book gets into the nitty gritty of page rank from crawling and indexing methods to the algorithms used to figure out page rank. Now I will admit that the the algorithms were a bit confusing for myself but if you just read through the mathematics of it this book it is still very informative. The book caters to two very different audiences from one angle it covers the curious science reader and the technical side of page rank. For those of you mathematicians it covers your intellectual interests allowing you to explore mathematically how exactly everything fits together.

Amy N. Langville is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. Carl D. Meyer is the Professor of Mathematics at North Carolina State University. He is the author of Matrix Analysis and Applied Linear Algebra. Langville and Meyer have other documents about page rank and search engines such as, Deeper Inside PageRank, The Use of Linear Algebra by Web Search Engines, Updating PageRank with Iterative Aggregation, etc.

I wouldn’t recommend this book for employers to give their link marketers right out of the shoot. I would give them the option to read it once they’ve had some experience and become truly interested in how page rank works. The first 4 chapters are a good read as a business owner trying to get a general understanding of pagerank without getting too deep into the algorithms.


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comScore Search Engine Market Share November 2007

ComScore Search Engine Market share November 2007

Google
November: 58.6%
October: 58.5%
Change: +0.1

January 2007: 47.5%
Change: +11.1

Yahoo
November: 22.4%
October: 22.9%
Change: -0.5

January 2007: 28.1%
Change: -5.7

MSN
November: 9.8%
October: 9.7%
Change: +0.1

January 2007: 10.6%
Change: -0.8

ASK
November: 4.6%
October: 4.7%
Change: -0.1

January 2007: 5.2%
Change: -0.6

AOL
November: 4.5%
October: 4.2%
Change: +0.3

January 2007: 5.0%
Change: -0.5

Source: comScore


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Writing Effective Headlines to Increase Conversions

Christmas WindowIn copywriting, the headline is one of the most crucial elements. If effective, it will get your reader’s attention and cause them to want to read on; obviously, if not effective and well written, you’ll lose them before you even get them. Similarly, holiday window displays exist solely to get shoppers’ attentions and make them want to go in the store. If a window display is boring and lifeless, shoppers will most likely walk right by without even a glance.

In order to be effective, headlines (and even holiday window displays) must do the following:

  • Grab the attention of your target audience. It’s one thing for a headline to grab attention, but if your target audience wouldn’t find it interesting, you’re essentially barking up the wrong tree. Similar to how social media marketing needs to target the audience, you want your headlines to be relevant to your readers. If you’re content is about a sensitive subject (like understanding cancer), you wouldn’t want to write a funny headline. Your readers will become upset and lose trust in you once they realize what they’re reading about.
  • Appeal to your audience’s needs. You have to know what your audience needs and then have to give them a reason to want to read on. By exposing their need in the headline, you’ll pique their interest and get them to want to read more, and in the text itself, you can tie their need to the benefits of your products or services. An effective way to do this in the headline is by asking a question, and then you give the answer in the body text.

There are many different ways to write headlines that get read:

  • Use a scare tactic. While this can sometimes be effective, it’s important to use it sparingly. By playing off of readers’ fears and insecurities, you can get them to want to read more. If you’re selling mortgage loans, you can write a headline like, “How to Keep From Getting Foreclosed.” Because that’s a genuine fear for many homeowners (especially in today’s topsy turvy real estate market), chances are that many will read on.
  • Inform them. People love to read top lists and how-to articles. For a site selling cloth diapers and organic bedding, you can write “Top Ten Ways to Become a Green Parent”, “How to Become a Green Parent”, or better yet, combine the two “How to Become a Green Parent – Ten Easy Ideas.” The only potential downside to this approach is that many writers are using this type of headline, and yours may get lost with all the others.

To get your readers to want to read on (and for businesses that want to get shoppers in their doors), it’s important that you get their attention at the earliest opportunity. For copywriters, that opportunity is with the headline. You’ll never get conversions if your copy doesn’t get read.

Make it interesting, make it useful, and make it stand apart from the rest.


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Team Reading List 12.20.07


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