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. (Observer.com)

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 Moz.com of course. There’s free wisdom on Moz.com, 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 30-50 zone, 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 be worry-free.

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. (Observer.com) 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 Observer.com.

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 (SmallBizTrends.com) 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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Guest writer bio boxes with ZERO social media. Umm, why?!?


Maybe I’m crazy or not comprehending something but it seems like Gravatar hasn’t kept up with the changing times??

I took screenshots from four contributor/author pages I’ve seen around the web.

(#3 below is mine and shown as an example which is somewhat better than #1 and #2, but not as good as the 4th example.)

Let me ask you: Of the below author boxes below (there’s 4 of them), which one seems the most modern?! . . . If you said #1 and #2, I think you need your head examined. Why? Well – They’ve got no social links!

. . . And this is the social age. WTF.

Mine (#3) is tolerable because it’s got some social at the bottom, but LET’S BE REAL – the best of the bunch is #4. Look at how it has neat tabs for the person’s contact info, bio and latest work and it has social media icons. Very modern and attractive, don’t you agree?

I just don’t get how some pages don’t include social. Well, maybe the author didn’t want that. Who knows.
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#1 – Where are the social links!?!?!????

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#2 – Pulls from Gravatar, I believe. I again ask: Where are the social media links??

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#3 – Pulls from Gravatar but at least 2 social links are included, 3 if you count Skype (Look at the bottom part. Likely included manually)

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If you preferred any of the first 3 instead of the final example (shown below), I’d love to know why. The most compact and arguably the best-looking interface is the final one. Take a look!

#4 — the winner: Me but on a different site

Yes #3 above is also me, but it’s from SocialWebCafe. #4 is from GrowMap. (I write for different blogs) . . . Look carefully and notice that they’re different in structure

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Look at it again:

It has neat tabs for my latest posts and bio

You can see the social media icons clearly, in a cluster

Anyway, just my opinion. 🙂

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Who is the Hangout Queen? An interview with Deborah Anderson

tech-influencers-IWI-lands0PR-friendly

Alex Yong: Who’s the Hangout Queen? Who is Deborah? I consider you a modern-day Renaissance woman so I figure I’ll start with a toughie!

Deborah Anderson: Wow. That is a tough one to answer. Like I tell many people, “Deborah wears many hats.” I used to keep all of the different facets of Deborah separate, to prevent confusion, but these days, I pretty much combine all of the business, internet, social media, technology, video producer side of me into the “Deborah Anderson” profile and the musician, humanitarian, and even my psychology degree into the “Deborah E” profile. Fortunately, more and more people are learning that the two people really are one person with a lot of experience in many areas. The HangoutQueen idea came from the fact that my husband and I own a sound and video studio.

The sound studio is where the “Deborah E Albumette” album was mastered in Los Angeles. My husband is also a trained, experienced, professional photographer, so adding the video studio, with all of the green screens, backdrops, lighting, etc. was a piece of cake for us. I was hosting and running and coaching at least three hangouts a week, back when many people hadn’t even heard of Google+ hangouts. I became the “go to” person, behind the scenes, for many people and decided to create the brand for training people who want to take their hangouts to “the next level.” Hence, HangoutQueen was born.



Alex Yong: Nice, but I know you gave the abridged answer of who you are and your talents. Anyhoo, it was cool meeting you in person in New York City at #AWXI. Would you tell the readers about your stint in New York?

Deborah Anderson: My HangoutQueen training and coaching took off and was booming in 2013 and I decided to take that experience and contribute it to Internet Marketing Ninjas, in New York. My entire 2014 was spent there, in upstate New


York. In fact, in a couple of the podcasts (and accompanying videos) of the iHeart Radio Marketing Momentum show, you can hear me talk about how much Internet Marketing Ninjas would benefit by having their own show, recording from Google Hangouts.

[Alex interrupts] And did they? Occasionally I’ll see Internet Marketing Ninjas’ G+ posts on my firehose feed, but other than that, I’m not super familiar with any of their experiments on YouTube or whatever.

I really thought that Jim Boykin, from Internet Marketing Ninjas, hired me to start what I had challenged him to do. I had suggested the “Internet Marketing Ninjas Show” on those two iHeart Radio MM episodes. I thought that was what caught his attention to hire me. Instead, there was a gap in project management at IMN and I started the Project Management Office for the ninjas and did not actually contribute my Hangout Queen skills to them at all. See what I mean about those many hats sometimes getting confusing?

[Alex interrupts] Yes, it’s always tricky for a multi-faceted person. There’s a saying that the greatest distance between two people is misunderstanding. Or something to that effect. I saw that on Instagram and I think it’s even “more true” for multi-talented people.


Alex Yong: So you know I’m familiar with most of the faces around G+. I’d love for you to talk about what’s different and what sets you apart, y’know, compared to other G+ experts.

Deborah Anderson: The key things that set Michael (my husband and partner) and I apart from other experts is our sound experience and Michael’s lighting experience. One of the key things for our hangouts is the quality. We also started a trend of having set-up calls for all of our interviews and shows (and casual hangouts) by giving advice to the Hangout participants on what they could do to improve their sound and lighting quality. Michael has a gift of being able to find household tips to help our participants so they don’t need to go out and spend money. Of course, when our participants do ask for tips on what they could purchase, he is always ready with an answer that fits their budget. Obviously, for the hangouts that involve a come-as-you-are feel, where people just show up, the set-up portion is not always an option. However, even with those, we open our hangouts 15-30 minutes early and invite people to come in and get free advice from Michael, before we go live. I don’t think they realize what a value that is!

But, that is okay, because it is about helping people and not tooting our own horn. This also helps people feel at ease as Michael also provides help on how to use the Google platform. He acts as the “answer man” during that time in what we call the “green room.” People have been so impressed by how we do this that they actually have been known to copy, verbatim, the verbiage on our green room page, to use for their own hangouts.

[Alex interrupts] And how did you feel about that?

Well, I contacted the person and asked her about it and she told me she assumed it was “fair game.” In a way, I was very flattered, but it also bothered me quite a bit because of the creativity and original ideas in that post. I get that copying saves time, and it tempts our weaker side, but bottom line, it’s still unethical and can hurt people. Anyway, it’s history. It’s just one of those things. I learned to be a bit more communicative about that type of thing and I also used it as an opportunity to demonstrate where imitation is a form of flattery.



Alex Yong: What challenges have you found, with being the “Hangout Queen”?

Deborah Anderson: The biggest challenge I have found is that I am not technically a “bragger.” In other words, our quality for our products and services are actually so much higher than the web norm, that many people do not realize it, and because I do not go around bragging about it, it goes unnoticed. Those that have experienced it generally see that difference. As with all things, there are many experts out there and it is a “fake it until you make it” world in social media marketing. That isn’t necessarily all bad, either. However, for our brand, we really are the real thing.

[Alex interrupts] Well, considering your brand and the nature of video, it totally has to be the real thing.

True, true, but the authenticity discussion is beyond over-used, already. To me, we keep offering the quality and those who want to stop and smell the roses will see that; while those that are rushing through life too quickly will find what their minds are open to. Most of these people will choose the quick, but not necessarily quality route, and that is okay.



Alex Yong: Let’s talk about niches. I feel if I didn’t have my niches, I’d probably just bow out of social altogether. As saturated as social is, I guess a lack of niche could be one reason we see “Twitter quitters” and such. What advice could you give to people wanting to find their niche (or one of their niches)?

Deborah Anderson: My advice is to stick with it. Find what makes you feel good about yourself. Even though it is not about you, it is still good to feel good about what you do. If basket-weaving is what makes you feel good, by all means, go do that! Then, find your little corner of the world, and if basket-weaving is something you want to share with others, share it!

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Thanks Deborah!
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Thoughts on overseas guest writers


Rework content for your LOCAL audience

Here’s an instance of me hosting a guest here – he’s a British blogger. The blogger’s copy contained a number of pricing references in U.K. currency (£) – I wasn’t in the mood to convert the pricing, but I knew I had to keep my readers in mind – therefore, I included a relevant link up top so the reader can convert to American dollars at his or her convenience.

Could I have done the conversions and then published them? Yes, but I’m letting you know there are alternatives. What I chose to do is better than being totally inconsiderate of my mostly American readers. Plus, the conversion link I provided serves more currencies beyond just British and American ones, and not every visitor to my site is American.

How do you feel about foreign bloggers?





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