Healthy Office Food

I was recently speaking with a colleague who also runs a small office and we were talking about what food we provide for our staff.
He said his staff had been buying doughnuts and had now branched out into breakfast tacos!

Five Blocks provides a light lunch – or rather we have a fridge with various ingredients from which one can make their own lunch.

Over the past few weeks I am trying an experiment, purchasing somewhat healthier food to see how people like it.

We are now buying: Fruits, Vegetables, whole grain bread, tuna fish, frozen fish, low-fat yogurt, peanut butter, humus…
We have long been avoiding: Sugary drinks, Sugar-free drinks (we have a water cooler – so people can make their own tea, lemonade, etc.), pizza, hamburgers, doughnuts

Our Nespresso machine is still pumping out great coffee in various varieties including decaf…

Jury is still out on pretzels, tea biscuits, crackers…

Having an influence over what people eat ever day means the company could actually be a good influence on people’s health – we’ll see about that.
The changes we are trying are actually also being influenced by several people in the office who are making a serious effort to eat healthier foods, some avoiding meat, etc.
So far people seem to be happy. I will keep you posted….

Big Company – Small Company- Rep Management for Exxon Mobil

In our various businesses we work with various sized companies – some huge ones and others tiny.
As we have grown from 2 people to 12 over the past 5 years, I am constantly aware of the potential pitfalls of growing too big. At 2 people we could make any change to our websites or strategies immediately – at 12 people we need to talk to various people in the group to make sure our changes match their plans, don’t ruffle any feathers, etc.

Big companies take a lot longer to get things done. This is something we need to avoid in the Reputation Management business. Time is everything. But sometimes it’s just inexcusable. Exxon’s oil spill in Alaska happened in 1989 but yet when you Google “Exxon” you still see, prominently displayed, negative results!

I can’t believe Exxon doesn’t care. Either they don’t know that you can use Reputation Management to promote your online reputation and cause these results to drop lower – or they know this, but they can’t get their act together.

So, if you’re listening Exxon Mobil … contact us and we’ll do the first month free! What we charge is chump change for you anyway!

What if Matt Cutts told you all his secrets?

On Saturday in Alon Shvut I tend to spend some time schmoozing in the park while my kids play. It’s one of the main reasons I enjoy living here. So yesterday someone asks me about Google’s secrets and how much it would help me if I just knew Google’s secrets.

My answer? Not that much. I don’t think that knowledge is the biggest issue in SEO Success. I feel like we know what needs to be done – getting real sites to talk about our company and products in the correct context – getting links from the right kind of natural sites etc. When we’re not doing these things we are trying to make it look like we did these things. The most interesting information that Matt Cutts and his Webspam team have is probably information on how people are trying to beat the system – all the shtick that people pull etc. But that stuff won’t really get you far because presumably those are the holes they are filling as they become aware. Also you can’t create a long-term business based on using some loopholes.

I don’t feel like there are secrets out there that would help me all that much. I think that SEO’s would probably do better just building their sites and doing everything they can to make them either popular or make it look like they are popular (hint: sometimes it’s easier to actually do something interesting than to pretend to do something interesting…) and leave the chase after Google’s secrets to someone who is bored!

It would be interesting to know what Bing has in store for us – I am personally hoping the after Bing and Yahoo combine there will actually be a significant competitor to Google in the Search Engine space. I never like all my eggs in one basket.

Increasing the Omega 3 in your Steak

A few weeks ago TED, that cool conference where people share ideas (watching all of those lectures is probably as valuable as going to college for a year..) held a Tel Aviv event called TedX Tel Aviv.
In any case, one of the speakers was talking about seaweed as being a key to cleaning carbon gas byproducts from oil refineries. He also talked about how fish are high in Omega 3 because they eat seaweed.

Anyway, the other day i bought a can of sardines to increase my Omega 3’s and while eating it – it wasn’t too tasty, I was thinking…

Why don’t we feed cows seaweed – I figure its more like grass than the corn we feed them now (at least in the US) and if they can get absorb the Omega 3 then the steak we eat should be more healthful. A quick search on Google shows that various people have already suggested adding seaweed to cow diets as a way to lower “gas emissions” from cows, which cause 20% of all greenhouse gasses…

Food for thought?

Thinking Outside the box – A cell Phone Example

See below from the Los Angeles Times today.

I think its a great idea…
I am wondering whether there are other ways to utilize the public and devices they are carrying for the greater good.
The free Mobile GPS App – WAZE uses crowd-sourcing to provide information on traffic jams (and speed traps).
Food for thought…

Teaching phones to smell danger

Today’s cellphones have the technology to take photos, record videos, check stocks and play games.

Now the Department of Homeland Security is teaming up with high-tech firms to develop a cellphone that could also thwart terrorist attacks.

The department’s science and technology arm is spearheading a plan to give cellphones the ability to sniff out dangerous chemicals. If successful, the phones could help detect chemical attacks at airports, train stations and subway stops, the agency said.

In 2007, the department called on companies to develop the danger-sensing technology. Now it’s pushing ahead, working with wireless technology developer Qualcomm Inc., camera lens specialist Rhevision Technology Inc. and NASA.

As they are envisioned, these cellphones would sound an alarm if they sensed a noxious gas such as chlorine.

But if the phone detected something more deadly, such as sarin gas, it could send a message directly to authorities, using GPS technology to pinpoint the location of the gas.

If the idea works, every person armed with a cellphone could become a sentry against terrorist attacks. Nearly 90% of the U.S. population owns a cellphone.

That’s about 277 million phones sniffing the air for trouble.

My Travels – A MEME (first time for me)

rules: Fill in the following questions

  • My best trip ever…
    2 week Kenya Trip with safaris with Ofi and Daniel (4) and Yonatan (2)
  • My worst trip ever…
    probably a transatlantic flight where they seated me in the very last row – back when the last few rows were smoking!
  • Most important thing I ever lost on a trip…
    nothing comes to mind
  • Most important thing I ever forgot to take on a trip…
    one of the kids?
  • Thing I miss most when I’m away…
    My family
  • Thing I miss least when I’m away…
    babies keeping me up at night
  • Favorite travel partner…
    My wife, Ofi
  • Place I hope to travel to someday…
    Japan

Sphinncon Israel 2010

Sphinncon SMX Jerusalem 2010
This past Sunday afternoon Barry Schwartz hosted a mini-SMX in Jerusalem, Israel. Vanessa Fox joined him from the US as well. A short, relaxed version of SMX. Nice event – loved that it was so close to our office! It was good seeing my friends and colleagues from various places in Israel who made their way through the mountains to Jerusalem on what turned out to be a beautiful springlike day!

I spoke about Reputation Management Pitfalls and I will share the main points.
Note: when I say reputation management I mean getting negative results for your keyword out of the top 10 in Google.
1) Understand what your client really wants – it’s not always what they tell you at first. Dig deeper.
2) The goal is to “own” the top ten in Google and other search engines by working with Google – create and promote sites full of relevant content and get authoritative and/or topic-relevant links.
3) Don’t confuse Rep Management with SEO – it’s not a good idea to overdo the linking process – you will end up making your job more difficult – you will need to compete with yourself to move more sites into the top ten.

I will post the presentation on Slideshare soon.

CES 2010 in Las Vegas – identifying naïveté

First time at CES – I decided to go in order to understand better what I can do to expand our offerings on YouNeverCall.com and our other cell phone and tech websites. We get huge amounts of visitors but dont manage to turn enough of them into customers – yet. We think this is for two reasons.

1) The site needs a major upgrade – which we are doing.
2) We dont have the products that people want – many people just want to buy a cell phones.

In any case the show was interesting and I saw a lot of interesting technologies. – especially related to 3D TV in the home.

But the event also made me feel old. I could see so many young companies banking their future on what could best be summed up as a cute idea. Reminded me of my first few tech jobs.

Some examples: a ball-shaped mouse, various iphone stickers to personalize your iphone, plastics to put on your TV to make it appear to have more depth etc.

I feel like I have a much better sense of how likely a company is to succeed than I did some years ago…

So I feel like I have been around the block a few times – enough to identify other people’s naïveté about projects that will fail. Interesting that I still get into projects of my own that are bound to fail!

SEO Dark Matter

For about a year my company has been utilizing a new set of techniques to help us in our online marketing efforts. While the techniques are not unique our results are in some cases singularly unique and valuable.

Even if you are new to online marketing you probably already know that some of the main “types” or areas of SEO are:

1. On Page – things you can do on your site to make your site rank better (think rich on-topic text, titles, descriptions, keyword choice, site structure, interlinking etc.)
2. Off Page – things that can be done on other people’s sites to make your site more popular (think linking and creation of pages and content on other sites that influence the search engines and push your efforts forward)

Aside from these, there are actually many other, sometimes equally important arenas where you can act to increase your site’s popularity and rankings for specific keywords. These include:

  • Properties of the website itself – the age and provenance of the site (getting the right site may involve finding an existing site with the right qualities and purchasing it from the current owner, or finding an expired domain that is either for sale or even dead and building it back up)
  • Redirects – taking sites or pages that are popular especially if they are popular for your target keywords, and redirecting them using linking 301 redirects or other redirects to concentrate their linking/power toward your target site
  • Behavior on tracked sites, search engines, etc. Search engines are capable of seeing lots of activities and inferring real popularity of a website- think bounce rates, CTR – basically the same things that Google uses to determine “quality scores” in adwords.
  • Location of of your site/server – this means IP Address, the identity of your domain registrar, the geographic location associated with your IP Address, Hosting neighborhood, unique IP vs. Shared hosting, Hosting and OS environment, and the like

Looking at this incomplete list, it stuck me that aside from the very visible link acquisition and site building activities there are a lot of very valuable activities that contribute to a site’s dominance of a keyword, but which are much harder to see. I call these activities SEO Dark Matter because we can sense they are there but we may have some difficulty actually detecting and monitoring them.

For example – if you see a site rise in Google’s rankings for a tough keyword like “contact lenses”, checking its backlinks and the pages of the site itself will not allow you to see that the strength came from an old on-topic website that you redirected to the new site – you wont see the 10,000 incoming links that give it strength and you will probably be fooled by the 20 incoming directory links that have been purchased for the sole purpose of fooling you.

Another example – imagine your site falls for a target keyword – even you may have trouble detecting that the reason was that someone was generating a lot of erroneous search engine traffic to your website and has suddenly stopped that activity – sending the search engines a clear signal that your website no longer deserves the rankings it has.

That’s SEO Dark Matter – it’s harder to detect and it’s the next frontier of online marketing. At least for me.