Planned Failure

Perhaps the most overlooked success tactic is planned failure.

We seem to proceed with themes and projects as if they’ve already been embraced by our audience before our audience has ever seen the theme or project. Then, when our themes and projects underperform, we walk away because failure was not part of the plan.

When failure is part of the plan, you get this wonderful thing called iterative learning where audience feedback is applied to a theme or project and successful improvements are made.

It’s a wonderful thing and makes everyone feel talented and smart . And if there’s one thing talented and smart people need it’s constant reassurance. Without it, their skills atrophy, they leave for other opportunities or otherwise begin to suck. Then you have sucky people working on ill-planned projects and, well, you don’t have to plan to fail in that case because it’s almost a certainty.


Planning over resolutions

Results are created when plans are executed

Facebook Marketing 2014 Wrap Up

Here’s a wrap-up of what Facebook has said to marketers over the last year. I’ve paraphrased below.

FB only tells you about big updates. There are many smaller ones you don’t know about.

Each of your posts competes with, on average, 1,500 other posts. FB will prioritize 300 of those.

FB has a “high quality” algo. This is used to push stories up in your news feed and is based on over 1,000 factors.

Media sites such as Buzzfeed are rewarded by FB with greater reach, due in large part to their abilities to publish large amounts of content that generate large amounts of engagement daily.

Clicks on links matter. FB monitors them closely in hopes to understand what quality content is.

FB expects organic reach for your posts to decline (unless you get a heck of a lot better).

Get to a certain level and reach isn’t solely dependant on engagement. FB white lists sources (sites) as being high quality.

If you are a Page, don’t post a text-only status update.

For more engagement, use a link-share instead of sharing a link.

For more engagement, Pages should tag other Pages.

Stop like-baiting. Asking for a share or a like is a FB no-no.

Google Pigeon and Local SEO

Google’s Pigeon update affects those whose queries are local in nature. Problem is, Google is seeing more and more queries as being local in nature.

For example, “pizza” is probably the most demonstrated local search query. Google knows you want pizza and knows you want it now, so it doesn’t bother showing you results from But now, more and more queries are behaving similar to local queries. Google sporting goods to see what I mean. Do you want sporting goods now? Maybe. But maybe is big change from no.

Enter Pigeon

To me, Pigeon seems like an effort to share mobile and desktop experiences. It makes sense, from Google’s perspective, to standardize these experiences as people using their service use the device that’s most convenient for them and not for the device that’s most appropriate for their location. Just because I’m at home and my desktop is on doesn’t mean I’m going to search using my desktop. And just because I’m connected to my home Wi-Fi network on my iPhone doesn’t mean I want national results because my IP isn’t issued by a mobile provider.

Image quality now a conversion factor

With Pigeon comes a reduction in Google’s use of the local 3 or 7 pack and an increase in use of the image carousel. That means the quality of the images you upload to Google Plus / Google My Business can influence conversion rate. Also, carousel images are shown side-by-side instead of top-to-bottom which diminishes the perceived ranking of one result above another.

Your star rating could be your new SERP ranking

Because carousel results are shown side-by-side, your star rating could be just as important as whether or not you rank at all. Best ways to increase your star ranking

  • Don’t suck
  • Treat your clients or patrons kindly
  • Ask for reviews on your home page and inside your email marketing

Do your NAP work

Local directories such as Yelp can do wonders for your company’s ability to rank locally. Be sure to standardize the appearance of your company’s name, address and phone number (NAP) across relevant directories. Use to audit yourself.

Don’t suck

This is literally my favorite piece of SEO advice ever. Focus on making your business great before ever thinking about how to get business from Google. The technical stuff can be easily fixed but a poor business model, poor service and/or a poor product cannot.




Before you write new content, take a look at your old content

As a writer, blogger or copywriter, you may be relying heavily on the belief that well-written content is enough and therefore, cannot be significantly improved once published.

Rather than constantly churning out page after page of content, I suggest you look at your top pages and look for ways to improve them. If your bounce rates on top pages are high, chances are you’re not learning enough from your logs and will just create more pages with high bounce rates.

This never ending tea poppin’ doe

My suggestion is that you think multi-dimensionally. It’s not just the words on the page, it’s the total user experience. Here are just a few of the many dimensions you can address:

Length – the widely held belief now is that longer is better, but I suggest that you be respectful of people’s time get to the point
Usefulness – trim the filler and expand upon what’s actually useful
Tone / Voice – try being positive, negative, sarcastic, optimistic, elitist or a commoner
Ease of use – make readers work less


Ease of use is really the big one. Writers, bloggers and copywriters have only recently started taking ownership of UX.


  • Maybe what you’ve written is great but you’ve overestimated readers’ attention spans / time available to consume / commitment to your clients’ brands  (especially in cases where you’ve written big / long content)
  • Visuals make content easier to digest, provide visual breaks and increase scan-ability
  • How can you make your content interactive?
    • Is there a plug-in to add comment boxes inline with article content similar to Medium?
    • Can you mimic this behavior using existing tech like forms placed inline with content that act as micro lead generators?
    • Can you add CTA breaks that ask commenters for their thoughts mid-way through?
  • And don’t forget … video, video, video

All these things can increase time spent on page and lower bounce rate.

What have you learned from your bounce rates?