Tuesday, November 3, 2009

University of San Francisco's Advanced Web Analytics Course

A video of me (Joe Laratro) discussing the University of San Francisco's new Advanced Web Analytics Certificate Program

Monday, November 2, 2009

Local Businesses are not using Social Media

The social media conundrum is an interesting one. Should you do it? How much resources should you allocate to it? Does it pay off?
Mediapost put out this article today: Small Business not into social media for leads

In my opinion Social Media Marketing (SMM) is more for branding and reputation management that direct lead generation. That being said, I have seen very creative ways for Social Media to promote leads / sales.

Look up the Blendtec. Checkout what they did on a shoestring budget to create a Youtube Sensation.

On Facebook, I follow a former SEO workshop attendee who designs jewelry. She posts her new designs for all her followers to see (and buy!).

Social media really cannot be ignored because it covers so many sites! Yelp is a form of Social media, and you better believe people use it to research your company.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why You Should Not Hire a Cold Calling SEO Company

This is a great article on why not to hire a cold calling SEO company.

I would go a step further and not even take their call. Nothing is more annoying that when one of my clients calls me after being ear banged by a moron about how bad their site is. Then I have to explain why cloaking or link farms will get them banned in Google. Even worse is when someone sells hard that they have backend access to "Inktomi" to change the rank of the site. Seriously? Inktomi has been gone for years!

Work with someone you trust and build a relationship with for SEO services. And make sure you keep ongoing communication happening to ensure the long term success of the relationship.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Blog A Day - Yahoo Shutters XML Feed

I am going to try to write a Blog a day. I keep reading about Twitter killing blogging. Twitter is awesome, but Blogging still had its place so here we go.

Yahoo announced they are shuttering the Search Submit and Search Submit Pro programs by the end of the year (2009). It is the end of an era in SEO. I grew up on Inktomi trusted feed and value of the XML feeds. For those of you who were not familiar with the program, it was a direct feed of a Web site to the backend of a Search Engine. It was treated as "trusted" content and could be manipulated for search rankings. It was a great achievement in the SEO world. Early spiders sometimes had difficulty crawling sites. This feed resolved that issue.

In the end, the Yahoo spider was certainly good enough of a crawler to make the Search Submit program obsolete. They did not stop it, because it was a money maker. Now that we know the end of life date it does present a few interesting points:
1. Google was right, we don't need "trusted spam"
2. SEO companies that depended on this need to find a new sales pitch and source of revenue
3. Looks like the press releases were correct and Yahoo really is going to can Inktomi search technology for Bing
4. Looks like the timeline of the Yahoo / Bing integration may be sooner that we were first told (Summer of 2010)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Guilty Pleasures of Social Media

My buddy Owen Weed put this on his Facebook and I had to share!

Great work Bud with Lime!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Go Canes! Back in the top 25

I only had the chance to watch the first quarter and a half from the President's Club in Tocumen Airport, Panama, but it was great! I asked the custom's agent if Miami won when I landed and received a play by play breakdown of the best game of the year! Glad the Canes won and look forward to a challenging Georgia Tech game. I have a few Blog posts coming up: University of San Francisco's Advanced Analytics and Measurement course, Copa Airlines Training, my Flight on Copa (Wow), My local move with All My Sons, and more!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Joe Laratro Named To Top 40 Under 40 List

I was named to The South Florida Business Journal's Top 40 Under 40 List. It is quite an honor.
Here is a link to more info about the event: http://southflorida.bizjournals.com/southflorida/event/5071

Friday, May 8, 2009

Very Conflicted About Star Trek Movie's Ending

I have to start by saying the movie was spectacular. It was probably one of the best of the entire franchise. I would put it right up there with the last Transformers movie, but with even more action.

Spoiler Alert!!!

I have a problem with Timeline movies. I do not appreciate walking out of the movie and thinking "So that last 20 years of my life watching Star Trek movies and TV shows just got thrown out the window because of a major timeline change?"

What if Anakin Skywalker did not become Darth Vader at the end of Star Wars Episode III? We would have to trash the original 3 movies (Parts IV, V, VI).

I could take the timeline change to save the whales.
I could sort of take the timeline change where Data sacrifices himself to save Picard, but leaves behind his memories in a Data twin.
I had a hard time with Enterprise's massive killing on Earth, but so far all things things maybe did not affect the future that we knew.

Now, at the end of Star Trek, there is a new timeline. No "Next Generation", no "Deep Space 9", no "Voyager", No original Star Trek movies.

Poor Gene Roddenberry

We are left with a new vision of Star Trek. I think I will like it. I may even love it. But I am left conflicted - The Star Trek that I know is now gone.

I will write more about this after I see how other's respond to the change in timeline. It is only SciFi.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Google's Ad Auction from Google's Chief Economist (Quality Score)

This is an excellent video from Google about the Adwords ad auction and how some of the variables like bid, click through rate, and quality score affect the price of the click.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Google Adds Small Dots to Map Results

I always encourage my clients to learn about about SEO and stay up on the latest trends and information. Larry from Hallandale Law came by my office today and pointed out a relatively new feature in Google Maps. He was searching for Hallandale Realtors and stumbled upon more information on the map. Now there are "little" dots. You can double click the little dots, see information about the listing and even see the source where Google Maps is getting the info. Pretty cool!

Local SEO Todos:
Check the map for your geocentric search terms.
Make sure you are showing up.
Poke around and make sure your site is listed on any / all of the sites where Google Maps is pulling data from.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recovery.gov - Cool

We are in the midst of very historic times. President Obama just mentioned a Web site in his speech for the US public to visit to see where the money is going. I wonder if that is the first time a president has done something like that? (direct traffic to a Web site, I mean).


The site works! I thought it would have crashed from the traffic. It was better thought out than the Simpsonize Me campaign. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Speaking At The MIT Forum On Social Media Marketing at UM This Evening


I will present a very short educational few slides on the types of Social Media sites that exist today and a little about using them for link building and reputation management. This should be a very interesting topic at my Alma Madder, the University of Miami!

A Little Salute For My Pal, Adam Ura In Iraq

Adam is one of my dearest friends since High School. He just sent me this link from Iraq. http://www.iaff.org/comm/spotlight/iraq.html

He is the bald one crouched down. We are all proud of him and wish him a safe trip home!

Thank you for serving your country.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Google Correctly Counting Links With Tracking Information

A major SEO rule has a cool solution thanks to Google. I am not sure how public this is, but I have not heard anyone talking about it. Tracking URLs cause problems when it comes to passing link value (part of all the major Search Engine’s algorithms today). Sometimes these tracking URLs use a third party redirect. Sometimes they just put a variety of variable strings at the end of the URL (www.domain.com/?ref=52&site=linkingdomain.com). With the help of Time For Learning, a Homeschool Curriculum Provider, we found that inbound links using standard Google Analytics tracking are being counted correctly as backlinks. This was verified through Google Webmaster Tools.

Historically, a tracking code like “?ref=52&site=linkingdomain.com” may be for tracking, but it could also be part of a dynamic Web site. That code may be a query string that helps populate the page with content.

Google Analytics tracking uses very defined variables in their tracking URLs. It makes perfect sense that Google could correctly recognize those variables and appropriately pass “link juice” to the root link.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Love Disney World's Marketing!

When I first heard about the Disney World promotion about getting in free on your birthday, I was in complete awe! Imagine the amazing data the collect at probably $0 expense. If you come on your birthday to take advantage of the deal, you are probably not coming alone. You may be staying on property. You will definitely be eating in the park and buying keepsakes. That $75 waived fee probably equals $500 in profit! (or more)

Today I received an email about my 2009 Laratro Family Vacation (that was the title...). It was very well put together and even requests joining their SMS for a promotion "texting MAGIC to DISNEY (347639)". Again, I love it! I already get emails from them, now I may start getting text messages. I am a Disney nut. My 2 year old has already been too many times to mention. It is nice to escape to the happiest place on earth once in a while, probably in more so right now when the world around us is a bit gloomy.

Back to the free entry on your birthday... Imagine getting a personal email from Disney every year inviting you back (free or not). Very cool.

Now if they could just get a Web based system for ride time updates via your mobile device (I did hear this was coming).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Why Don't The SuperBowl Advertisers Get Online?

Here are my winners for great commercials that drove users online:
MSN / Hulu

This is about it from what I remember (and I only had one beer). $3,000,000.00 for a 30 second spot and the advertisers do not think they should drive traffic to their Web sites? I don't get it. I will be checking out those Godaddy videos (BTW, they even mentioned they were not rated). I may try to submit to that new NFL job that Monster created. And I know I can go to Hulu to watch all the commercials again. Great job guys, your commercials were a success!

I like Clydesdale horses and all, but what is Anheuser-Busch could collect 10 million email addresses instead of prancing horses around?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Giant Google "this site may harm your computer" bug?

Lisa Buyer just called me and let me know about a very scary Google Bug. Check out the screenshot. Hopefully this gets fixed pretty quickly. Matt's blog is one of my favorite sites.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cash4Gold, Cockeyed Blog, and Me!

I thought I was going to take a Friday off at the end of the month for a little break before an adventurous couple of months. Next week I am teaching a Search Engine Optimization course at Nova Southeastern University. The following week I am presenting at SMX Santa Clara. March will bring me a second son! And… Pubcon Austin!!! Woohoo.

I get back from fishing this morning (did nail 3 dolphin before the cold front swept in) and see all these tweets and emails about my name in a Cockeyed Blog post. Matt Cutts brought it to the world’s attention with a little Tweet. It is only going to get bigger after Cash4Gold’s Superbowl commercial (remember when Godaddy was not a household name).

I had the opportunity to work for Cash4Gold for about 11 months. It was a great engagement. I really learned a lot about working with a company that had exponential growth. That had a great management team and it was always both fun and challenging work with them on a day to day basis. I am no longer a vendor for Cash4Gold, they have moved on to a company that can better service their needs.

One of the projects I was working on for them was a Reputation Management campaign. They get a bad rep. Cash4Gold does not give the highest payout for gold, but they are the most reliable company to work with for this type of transaction. The sheer volume is amazing but lends itself to a proportional number of complaints. There are also devious competitors utilizing tactics that would make porn and Viagra marketers cringe. At one point competitors were using the title “Official Cash4Gold Site” in the PPC ads before the trademark was registered. (Seriously!)

Cash4Gold made a concerted effort to make client satisfaction goal number one. They reached out to unsatisfied customers and tried to rectify the problems. They joined the RipoffReport Advocacy program and went through rigorous work with them to meet their quality standards and customer service standards (sorry, there was no bribe).

I personally reached out to the Cockeyed Blog to see if there was something we could do for him to have him take down the post or massage it a little to reduce it’s rank on the branded search. I never heard back, so I assumed that was the end of it. Well that changed this morning. My emails about this subject have been made public. I still stand behind them. I did not hide behind an alias. I offered to discuss it on the phone to find a solution. I even offered donating to a charity in the Blog’s name. That ranking is pretty powerful and I tried a stand up approach. I completely respect the Cockeyed Blog’s reasoning for not taking it down, so we move on.

There are plenty of “Not So Nice” ways to do reputation management. There are tons of blackhat tactics… I am long removed from anything like that. (Although one of my original claims to fame was being personally named on Inktomi’s leaked Blackhat list.) I have a strong reputation in the Industry and would still pursue a personal approach any day to resolving a lackluster situation.

If you are interested in any Search Engine Optimization services where you get to work directly with the expert, please send me an email and we can open a dialog! jlaratro@tandem-interactive.com.

Best Wishes for Cash4Gold and their Superbowl Commercial. I hope it is a hit guys!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Reputation Management Speech at ShoptoEarn Leadership Conference

I had the pleasure and honor of speaking about reputation management and social media marketing for the ShoptoEarn leadership conference at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center this past weekend. I am part of the The Buyer Group's team and certainly a member of the Shop to Earn / Shop to Earth family. This was certainly one of my largest crowds! It was truly amazing to see the caliber of people in the room. I could smell success as soon as I walked in the door. This was an energized crowd that is thriving in a down economy by working with Shop to Earn. It was a great experience and I look forward to doing more intensive workshops / seminars / and training on how we can utilize reputation management and social media to evangelize the Shop to Earn opportunity!