Paul Thomson’s Marketing Banter podcast: May 25, 2018

Alex Yong NYC biography
P. Thomson: Alex, would you introduce yourself?

A. Yong: I’m Alex Yong, a journalist at the New York Observer. (

On the side I also teach organic social media to solo PR consultants. Heavy metrics and non-obvious metrics can often scare people in the PR industry, and so whenever I can teach useful stuff to help their day-to-day work, I do — I’m a unique bridge for them, because I understand their lingo, plus I hang out with marketers and so I speak that lingo too. I see the overlaps.

P. Thomson: For anyone listening that doesn’t know, what is a Google Penalty? What are some things Google doesn’t like?

A. Yong: Let me start off saying that over the years, educated guesses have led to some basics, like, marketers now know overuse of exact match anchor text and keyword stuffing are bad. SEOs who’ve gone deeper found that if you guest write but you treat some blogs as “just too small” to be associated with, Google is aware that you have that very intentional approach, and they frown upon it — I have a screenshot about that and I’d like to show it to you.

A. Yong: Marketers have noticed that Google algorithms often reflect how “real life” works. Like the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps didn’t come out of the womb with gold or even bronze medals, he had to build up to all that. So applying that same realism to brand-building, Google knows it’s tough to get featured, or to have bylines or even plain-text mentions in the Washington Post or the New York Times or other big legacy media sites — and so if you appear on lots of small blogs, whether by citation or by being a guest writer, well that’s the way “real life” is. . .

Public relations agencies (well, I should say their clients mostly) are frequently guilty of wanting to “be on the big sites only” and that creates the bad straightline cliff on the chart. And I’d say 95 percent of PR professionals don’t know this, sadly, even though it was written about in 2013, albeit on a marketing site that’s rarely visited by PR professionals because most of them feel it’s too advanced — I’m talking about of course. There’s free wisdom on, why not take advantage of it?! It’s not JUST for marketers. So back to the charts, most brands should avoid being caught with their pants down in some absurd scenario such as having 33 percent of their footprint on sites measured at DA 30, while the same footprint shows absolutely nothing lower than DA 30, that’s ridiculous; that would be like Michael Phelps coming out of the womb with Olympic medals around his neck!! Bronze medals in this example, but still.

And yes, while some brands do catch sudden fire, the legit ones can truthfully say they have DA 90 and higher backlinks, through organic coverage from major media, not from a formula to game-the-system. And they’d most definitely have a footprint on small sites, so, on a data viz you see that gentle slope, in other words what Google would consider “natural” linkbuilding. But, if your backlinks are clustered in the DA 30-40 zone and overweighted in the low 30’s, you create that straightline cliff, indicating discrimination against sites you/clients judge as “too small”. Unwittingly, by being too contrived, you’re opening a pandora’s box to Google Penalties . . . You know the saying: There are no straight lines in nature.

So when Google’s penalty algorithm sees a straightline cliff, it flags the offender as a site that should be scrutinized, then a human employee at Google investigates, and based on his or her judgment, you’ll get a penalty message in your GSC! This is just one penalty example; there are others.

A penalty message in your GSC, also called a manual action, is real aggravation, it’s no joke: to undo the manual action, you’ll need to do Google-sanctioned correctional legwork, and then you’re allowed to appeal. Your penalty might not even get removed after you appeal, so just avoid penalties; you seriously don’t want the pain of experiencing one. I have many marketer friends, and I’m in many marketing Slack groups and Skype rooms — this is how I know.

If you do things the “goody two shoes” way, or if you guide your clients to stick to a strategy of high integrity, your footprints will be natural, and you can worry far less.

Oh, and if a brand or an agent says your site’s not big enough, you can throw the Finlayson charts in their face, nicely of course, and say something like “Smart marketers don’t discriminate, and by being realistic and putting ego aside, a brand benefits by aligning with the way Google sees the real world.”

For example I have a site that’s not even DA 29, but because of the Finlayson finding, it has a ton of cool guests dating back as far as 2013. It has more guests than you’d guess or expect from a site of its size and stature, including a gentleman formerly part of the Clinton administration, the woman who invented The Webby Awards, a former NFL star, and the ex-Googler who put Google Earth into Audi vehicles. For a small new site or even a not-so-new site stuck in a lonely rut, the Finlayson info can be extremely valuable; you just need to work with brands and agents who comprehend it.

I’m Alex Yong, a journalist at the New York Observer. ( Most people don’t know that that media brand is the birthplace of Sex And The City before it was made into a TV series and a few Hollywood movies, meaning Sex And The City was a column by writer Candace Bushnell in the 1990’s in the New York Observer. . .

If you grew up in New York City like I did, you’d remember the New York Observer stood out on newsstands because it was printed on colored paper like the Financial Times. The print version was discontinued a few years ago, so now it’s just

I spent more than a decade on Wall Street, mostly in equity research compliance, for nearly 9 years. The other time was in human resources. Many of the announcements that make it onto CNBC go through equity research compliance; you can think of the job I had as sort of an “air traffic controller”, but we weren’t controlling planes, we were controlling short reports, or “notes” as they’re called in equity research. Sending a note 3 minutes late was infinitely better than sending a note a minute early. The premature sending of notes has cost firms millions but that’s another conversation for another day. In a sense we were also like proofreaders — but not the “Oxford comma” type of proofreading; it was MUCH more specialized. A newbie needs at least 3 months of training to know about the crucial things to look for. Thankfully those things were for the most part standardized. Having come from human resources, I was a newbie to the equity research world, but I had the most awesome trainer; I couldn’t have asked for better than him; even after 6 months he was still refining me with his easy-to-understand explanations, so I really lucked out. Fast forward to today and I’m also with Small Business Trends ( which is older than Facebook. 14 years without a Google Penalty.

On the side I also teach organic social media to solo PR consultants. Heavy metrics and non-obvious metrics can often scare people in the PR industry, and so whenever I can teach useful stuff to help their day-to-day work, I do — I’m a unique bridge for them, because I understand their lingo, plus I hang out with marketers and so I speak that lingo too. I see the overlaps.

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FAT news — From Around Twitter and the Internet — 2018, week 15

⬇”Research at NVIDIA: AI Reconstructs Photos with Realistic Results”

“A walkthrough of how to set up Windows 10 to never bother you unnecessarily again.” ⬇⬇⬇

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Spotify says it will begin trading shares on the NYSE on April 3rd

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FAT news — From Around Twitter and the Internet — 2018, week 10

If you’ve been optimizing your YouTube video descriptions, good on you. A positive surprise might be coming your way.

The initial version of Google Clips requires effort, isn’t cheap and has many shortcomings, according to The Verge:

And these pics have GOTTA BE green-screened, amirite? If you know, email me at

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FAT news — From Around Twitter — 2018, week 8

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Attention NYC: If you don’t have cable TV and you can’t get an over the air signal, look into


David Goodfriend is an attorney and advocate in Washington, D.C. He is a former Clinton Administration aide, where he served as Deputy Staff Secretary to the 42nd American President. Goodfriend was a legal advisor to FCC Commissioner Susan Ness. He graduated summa cum laude from Beloit College and is co-host of “Left Jab” on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio. Goodfriend is also the founder and Chairman of Sports Fans Coalition, a coalition of sports activists, fighting to give sports fans greater voice in public policy impacting professional and collegiate sports. Goodfriend was a co-founder and EVP/General Counsel of Air America Radio, and was Vice President of Law and Public Policy at DISH Network, EchoStar Satellite LLC (DISH Network).February 9, 2018

Q: I feel free TV is one of those things people hear about but many folks don’t act on it — because we sometimes question whether we’re dancing with illegal groups if we do, etc. What are the statutes about free TV and accessing it?

David Goodfriend:

There’s actually a very thorough, well-reasoned legal argument that’s been presented to me and to members of my board by an outside law firm that’s very well regarded in the copyright field. What they told us is, the copyright statute itself, since 1976, has had a provision that says any non-profit can retransmit a broadcast signal provided that the non-profit doesn’t benefit directly or indirectly financially, and if it charges a fee, it only charges enough to cover costs. That’s it. That has been on the books since 1976, and it’s that provision that so-called ‘translator stations’ have always used for more than four decades to justify what they’re doing.

Q: So we should think of it like an antenna? Is it easy?

David Goodfriend:

A translator station is just an antenna, basically, that receives the TV signal and then boosts it, sends out another over-the-air signal so that the broadcast signal can reach the outer extremities of a market, and that’s been done by non-profits under this statute for decades, since 1976. It’s never been challenged by broadcasters or anybody else; it’s never even been litigated. The statutory provision just sits on the books and has been used, and no one’s ever had an argument over it.
Sports Fans Coalition formed a New York chapter last year called Sports Fans Coalition New York that’s organized under the non-profit corporate laws of New York, and we started our own translator service. The difference is this is over the internet instead of over the air. We restrict access to only people within the New York City five boroughs.
If you’ve got a computer or a smartphone or a tablet, go to The site shows a channel guide; you can click on a channel and watch. The name locast is from “local” and “broadcast” put together. There are 15 stations for New York being streamed to New Yorkers, and the goal is the exact same goal the translator stations have always had which is: broadcasting is supposed to be available for free or at minimal cost to the public – everybody in the local market. And if you cannot get an over the air signal, and you don’t subscribe to cable, we’re the answer.


Q: Who’s on your board and what do they bring to the table?

David Goodfriend:

Well, in the New York non-profit there’s three [board members] — there’s myself, Habiba Alcindor, and Phillip Berenbroick, who’s a public interest attorney based in Washington. All three of us also serve on the Board of Directors for Sports Fans Coalition, the main non-profit that’s been around since 2009. So, the New York chapter currently has a board which comprises a subset of board members from the national chapter.
I really was hopeful Habiba would participate, not only because she is local but because she cares so much about non-profit advocacy and non-profit activity. She’s really been a sort-of ‘keeper of the flame’ for what it means to have a non-profit mission. So, for example, we’re increasingly reaching out to residents of public housing in New York City to say: ‘We’ve got a lower cost option for you, if you don’t want to pay for cable and you can’t get an over the air signal, we have an option.’ And she’s been a really good evangelist, if you will, of that proposition.

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FAT news — From Around Twitter (and YouTube) — 2018, week 3

short wide break utility

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