Protect Your Online Reputation

The internet marketing agency that I work for has been looking to hire an SEO/PPC specialist for a few weeks now, but we’re having a hard time finding the right person.  We’ve been posting ads and getting a decent amount of responses, but not too many people are qualified enough for what we’re looking for.

Today I received the resume of a person who seemed to have just the right amount of work experience and knowledge.  Before I attempted to schedule an interview I decided to Google his name and see what comes up.  There was the usual- links to his LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest accounts (which always rank high), his blog, a popular SEO site that he’s probably mentioned on and his mug shot.  Wait, mug shot?

Guess who just missed out on a job opportunity.  Especially being a search marketing professional and all, the least I expected from the guy was to have a clean online reputation.

At least once in your life, someone important will look you up on Google.  There’s a good chance it’s already happened, as search insiders estimate that that non-celebrity people searches account for more than 10% of Google’s search volume.

Admit it; you’ve Googled yourself at least once just to see what came up. But who else has?  Recruiters and hiring managers will likely look you up on search engines before offering you an interview or job. Colleges have been known to look up students before accepting them.  In my single days I wouldn’t go on a date without Googling the guy first.

Having a person Google your name is something that’s going to happen (again) in your life. If there’s something negative that might come up and hurt you, it’s up to you to fix it.  Here are four easy things you can do to manage your online reputation.

Google Yourself

If you haven’t done this already, start by going to Google and typing in your name.  Make sure you’re logged out of Google so you see standard results rather than personalized ones. Consider the first page of search results for your name your own personal home page. Studies show that about 75% of search engine users never click past the first page, so it’s extremely important to use that real estate to your full advantage.  If you have a common name and share it with some scandalous characters, I would start using a middle name or initial on job applications, your resume and social media sites.

Own Your Name

The term “own your name” refers to “owning” all of the domains that come up in the search results.  I’m lucky- there are no other Casey Kurlanders in the world that I know of, so I don’t have any competition.  But if you look, every search result on the first page for my name is something that I created and pretty much have control over.

SERP

Here are some tips on how to own the first page of results for your name:

  • Get your Linkedin profile to show up first by making sure you have a custom URL with your name.  For example, my LinkedIn URL is www.linkedin.com/in/caseykurlander/ and it always ranks high because the URL matches the keyword searched and LinkedIn has high SEO authority.  To create your own custom LinkedIn URL, go to the “edit profile” section and it’s right there.
  • Google-owned properties like Picasa, YouTube and Google+ often rank high, so make sure to utilize them using your name.  Google+ is great because it’s free and it offers lots of options for providing links, photos, and information you may want to highlight
  • Start a blog and make your name the title.  Also make sure that your name is in the URL.  I recommend using WordPress, as it’s the blogging platform that seems to rank the highest.  It’s also free and extremely easy to use.
  • Be mindful of what you use as your default photos on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn- those also rank high and are often one of the first to show up in Google Images. This also applies to photos that you post on your blog, as many of them will come up.

Fight back!

Depending on the website, the instructions for removing or hiding results vary.  However, information that’s been indexed in Google’s database cannot be extracted from Google search results.  Google has ownership of its database and will not act on negative publicity.  Even if the offending article is removed by the publisher, the content still exists in Google’s database and could be found in a search.

One of the places that you can fight back is Facebook.  There you can mark specific content as public or with varying levels of privacy. To protect yourself, it is best to keep Facebook content limited to friends only. If your online reputation is really bad, you can always give us a call at BMI Elite to remove negative or undesired content associated with your name.

Prevention

The best defense is a great offense- don’t wait until there’s something negative in the search results to improve your online reputation.  A great defense strategy is to have an abundance of positive content on the first page of results.  Go ahead and tweet, post, comment and blog!

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How Profound

Today, instead of writing something new about internet marketing or my crazy life, I’m going to share a great message that I just re-stumbled across.  It was written by George Carlin shortly after his wife passed away, and if it doesn’t make you think at least a little bit you should definitely re-evaluate your life.

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much , and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait . We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete…

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

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YouTube Now Gets 1 Billion Unique Viewers a Month

When asked to think of a video sharing site, chances are the first one that comes to mind is YouTube.  For almost a decade we’ve gone there to watch, share and be amazed by videos created by all walks of life.  There’s no doubt that YouTube is the biggest video sharing site around, but just how big is it?

On the YouTube Blog, the YouTube team just announced a new milestone: the site is now getting more than 1 billion unique visitors every month.  To give us an idea of what a billion tuning into YouTube looks like, the YouTube team gave some comparisons:

  • Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube.
  • YouTube’s monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly 10 Super Bowl audiences.
  • If YouTube were a country, it would be the third largest in the world after China and India.
  • PSY and Madonna would have to repeat their Madison Square Garden performance in front of a packed house 200,000 more times in order to reach an audience the same size.

With this said, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite YouTube videos of all time- ones that have made me laugh or feel happy over the years.

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How I Planned a 250-Person Party

Since I started at my job last year, I’ve worn many hats around the office.  My official title, the one printed on my business cards, says that I’m a search marketing specialist, but at times I also do the work of a copywriter, project manager, publicist and event planner.  Planning events for the company has been one of my favorite things to do, and I just recently pulled off my biggest one yet.

On March 1, BMI Elite celebrated its third birthday with a big party and open house of our new Boca Raton office.  I was in charge of making everything happen, from getting invitations created to hiring everyone that we would need to make the party a success.

The first thing I did was make a huge list of everything I needed to plan for. There’s the obvious: i.e. food, drinks, and cake.  But then there’s plates, cups, silverware and serving utensils for the food, drinks and cake.  And then tables to put this stuff on, as well as linens and napkins for the tables.  I tried to think of every little possible thing and write it all down.  Once I made a list of everything that we would need, I called around to local caterers, bar services, party rental companies, florists and more to get estimates so I could compare prices.  I am going to break the rest of this article up into sections based on how many different companies I hired, and I will share my experience with them and everything I learned about party planning.

Food & Drinks

I figured that this was going to be the biggest thing to plan for so I got to it first.  I called around to every local caterer and bar company in the area before my boss told me about Empire Pizza, which had come highly recommended to him by a family member.  I called them up, spoke with Sandy Levy and immediately felt comfortable with her.  Unlike some of the people I spoke with from the other catering companies, Sandy seemed genuine and calm.  She knew her stuff and how to sell it, but she wasn’t pushy or aggressive in any way.  She also informed me that Empire Pizza could handle the open bar as well, which was a huge plus.

Empire Pizza has a restaurant near Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale, so I made a reservation for me and my boss to go for a tasting and to meet with Sandy in person.  The food was delicious and her prices were unbeatable.  But best of all, I trusted Sandy to do a great job with our party.  She was so full of ideas and paid so much attention to small details that make a big difference.  I was sold.

As part of the deal that we made with Sandy, we had to provide our own alcohol and soda mixers.  Empire Pizza provided the juice mixers, garnishes, and little bar tools.  For our part, we went to Costco and loaded up on liquor, wine, beer and champagne.  In all, I’d estimate that we spent about $2500 there.

The night of the party couldn’t have gone smoother when it came to the food and drinks.  Sandy and her team of five servers/bartenders did an incredible job and our guests left full, drunk and happy.  If I ever need to hire a caterer again, I’m definitely calling Sandy.

Furniture & Glassware

Figuring out what I needed to order from the party rental company was probably the hardest thing to plan for.  The list changed so many times, but Better Party Rentals was patient and efficient.

After I hired Empire Pizza and figured out what they do not provide, I was to make a list for Better Party Rentals.  In all, we ended up renting high top tables, tables for the bar, linens for all tables, three types of glassware, a red carpet, and coolers.  They delivered the goods the day before the party and picked it up the day after.

Flowers

We didn’t go too crazy with flowers, but we wanted something pretty to put on some of the tables.  Originally we were going to get little arrangements for each of the 12 high tops, but after we increased the high top amount to 20 tables I flowersscratched that idea.  It would be too expensive, and I didn’t want it to look like flower overkill.  We ended up getting six medium-sized flower arrangements to put on the coffee tables throughout the office and one big arrangement for the lobby.

The florist I hired was Field of Flowers of Boca Raton.  They do beautiful work for affordable prices- the smaller arrangements, called the Classic Collection A, were just $36.95 each.  They delivered the flowers on time the morning of the event and I received a lot of compliments about them.

The (major) problem with Field of Flowers is that that almost NEVER answer their phone.  I’ve probably called them about 40 times, and they’ve answered about three.  This is SO frustrating, and I have actually moved on and used other florists because of this on other occasions.  Field of Flowers, if you are reading this, ANSWER YOUR DAMN PHONE!  I guarantee that you are losing a ton of flowers2business (not just mine) as a result of not picking up the phone.

Cake & Balloons

Publix got some extra business as a result of Jeanette, their event planner’s upselling efforts.  After I ordered a cake, she sent an email reminding me that Publix could also provide balloons, cold soda, deli platters, etc. She got to me right as I was contemplating whether to attempt transporting blown-up latex balloons in my car or buying a helium tank and doing it myself in the office.

For about $150 Publix blew up 100 latex balloons in the colors of my choice and delivered them right to the office.  It was perfect.

Backdrop/Step & Repeat

Every big party has one disaster, right?  For me, this is where it happened.

Since we were getting the red carpet, we decided that we needed a backdrop where everyone could be photographed as they entered the party.  I hired CB Signs because they offered me the best deal on an 8’ x 9’ step and repeat, also known as the white banner with the company’s logos all across it.

So I ordered this banner through CB Signs and was told that it would be ready a few days before the party.  Little did I know that they outsourced it from a company in Minneapolis, and that this company would mail the wrong banner to CB Signs just hours before my party.  When Christine called to tell me this, the correct banner was lost in UPS and nowhere to be found.

Christine apologized a million times and swore that they had never had this problem before, and promised to do everything she could to find our backdrop.  The night before the party, our backdrop was located five hours away in Jacksonville.  I told her to call me the minute she received it.

The next morning, I called CB Signs about 15 times before finally just getting in my car and driving to their office.  When I got there, the “Out to lunch” sign was on the door.  Christine returned about 15 minutes later and smiled when I introduced myself.

“You’re going to love this story,” she told me.  I’m glad she said that immediately because I was about to kill her.

Apparently she had spent the whole morning having a new banner hand made for me locally.  Right as that was finished, UPS showed up with the original one. Although she didn’t call me and tell me that any of this was happening, I appreciate her efforts and dedication to getting the job done. I also walked away with two banners that day which was nice.

Me and some of my girls on the red carpet

DJ

The DJ was the one thing I didn’t need to worry about because he was the brother of one of our employees and a good friend of my boss.  One less thing to worry about J

Magician

My boss insisted on hiring a magician to entertain our guests.  I hired a local named Gary Goodman, who I was told was one of the best in the area.  I was running around like a crazy person for most of the party, so I did not get a chance to catch his act, but I heard good things from those who did.

Gary Goodman working his magic

Photographer

The photos were taken by Sam Laskey, a freelance photographer who was a friend of my co-worker.

Jeremy and I having a good time at the party

Jeremy and I having a good time at the party

suzy sasha dan

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Mark Zuckerberg is Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEO

It’s been a bit of a rough year for Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, following the social network’s disastrous IPO last May.  The company’s stocks have dropped and Zuckerberg has had to deal with some harsh critics.  But he must be doing something right, as he has defeated Apple’s Tim Cook as the highest rated CEO.

According to Glassdoor’s 2013 Highest Rated CEOs index, Zuckerberg received a 99% approval rating from his employees, which is a 14% increase from last year.  While Zuckerberg’s approval rating went up this year, Cook’s went down 4%, from 97% to 93%.  This was enough to not only push Cook out of the top 10, but all the way down to the 18thslot.  Cook’s decline comes about a year and a half after the death of former CEO Steve Jobs and as the Apple’s stock has tumbled almost 40% from all-time highs.

Glassdoor is a free jobs and career community online that offers an inside look at jobs and companies.  The site features “employee generated content” – anonymous salaries, company reviews, interview questions, and more – all posted by employees, job seekers, and sometimes the companies themselves.

To compile its list of Highest Rated CEOs, Glassdoor surveyed hundreds of thousands of employees across many industries.  CEO approval ratings are calculated much the same as presidential approval ratings.  Employees were asked questions such as “Do you approve or disapprove of the way your CEO is leading the company?”

One unnamed Facebook employee told Glassdoor that Facebook possesses “an open community from Zuck on down.” There is “mutual trust companywide and a sense of community and drive, instilled by our CEO who we all truly respect.”

After Zuckerberg, the rest of the top 10 included, in order:

  • Bill McDermott & Jim Hagemann Snabe, SAP (99%)
  • Dominic Barton, McKinsey & Co. (97%)
  • Jim Turley, Ernst & Young (96%)
  • John E. Schlifske, Northwestern Mutual (96%)
  • Frank D’Souza, Cognizant Technology Solutions (96%)
  • Joe Tucci, EMC (96%)
  • Paul E. Jacobs, Qualcomm (95%)
  • Richard K. Davis, U.S. Bank (95%)
  • Pierre Nanterme, Accenture (95%)

Click here to see the full list of Glassdoor’s 2013 Highest Rated CEOs.

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Mistakes That Can Render Your Website Worthless

When I started this blog almost a year ago, I didn’t really have a vision or goal for it.  I just wanted to use it as a place to put my thoughts and to write and document what I’ve learned about the internet marketing industry and life.  I’m up to about 66 followers (thank you, guys!) and the stats tell me that my site has visitors every day.  However, I’m not seeing as many visitors as I had in the beginning and I know it’s my own fault.

The most successful bloggers know that it takes a good amount of time and dedication to keep users coming back to their sites. One of the biggest mistakes that many bloggers make is putting in a ton of work in the beginning, and then kicking back and counting on the website to perform all the work later on.  If you do this, expect to see your traffic decline.  If traffic is your goal, avoid these mistakes that could render your site worthless.

Not Posting Enough

This is where I have gone wrong.  Work, family and life have got me really busy, and I am not updating my blog nearly enough.  Essentially, blogs should be updated with unique content at least once a day, and the most successful ones are often updated multiple times.  For SEO purposes and the sake of keeping people interested, you must generate new articles as often as possible.  Skipping a day here and there is not a huge deal, but posting at the rate that I have been (once every week or two) can kill your site.  Luckily it can be brought back to life, if you commit to putting in the time and work and make it a habit.

Going Overboard With Ads

The goal of many bloggers these days is to generate profit through their site.  However, if you are going to put advertisements on your website, make sure that you are careful not to go overboard.

There’s nothing wrong with a few well-placed ads that provide visitors with links to sites that are relevant to the content on your site. But promoting everything under the sun on your site by filling it with banners and ads is not a good idea.

A Sloppy Appearance

Looks matter.  If your website looks like a lot of work and thought went into it, your audience is much more likely to take it seriously. If you want to attract a decent amount of traffic to your site, give users something that they’ll actually want to look at.  If you have the money, I recommend hiring a web designer to help you build it.

Going Overboard With Images

Just like banners and ads, there is a such thing as too many photos.  A few are good to have, as they add visual interest to your site and can actually help to bring in visitors.  But if you make the mistake of going overboard, it can have the opposite effect and push visitors away.  Don’t use more than a few images for each post.

Posting Offensive Material

Think about who you may be offending before you type!  I cannot stress this enough!  This rule applies to your entire internet life, way beyond just your blog.  This applies to social media, discussion forums and any other articles that you may have written.  I’m careful what I say through emails, even when I’m just talking to close friends.  I have seen first-hand how things that you said long ago can come back to haunt you down the road.  I’d avoid posting content about religion, politics, gossip, and strong opinions on any other controversial topics.  I also recommend being careful about the jokes and pictures you post.

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My New Food Blog

As you may or may not have noticed from some of my other blog posts in the past, I love food.  I love it so much that I decided to start another blog devoted to giving my recommendations of the best restaurants in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade County (and maybe occasionally others when I go on vacation).

On this site, which I’ve named Wine Me, Dine Me, South Florida, I have a list of some of my favorite restaurants in each county for every price range.  I’ve also already got a few articles up about the following topics and I will continue to add more as I grow the site.

Cheap Eats in South Beach

Fish Shack in Pompano Beach

Bash Wine Cafe and Catering in Sunrise

Best Happy Hours in Delray Beach

To check out the articles, just click on the links and if this blog interests you, please like and follow it!

Thanks!

Casey

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Why Search Engine Rankings Vary From Computer to Computer

Yesterday morning I was going through the Google search engine results pages, creating a bi-monthly online reputation management report to send to one of my clients.  This client is a large company that’s been around for over two decades and has about seven years’ worth of negative posts from disgruntled customers floating around the internet.   It’s a big project, to say the least.

When I was searching and creating my report yesterday, I was glad to see that two of our sites that we created, optimized and have been posting positive content to are ranking on the first page.  I happily reported to my client that one site was in the #3 position, and another was ranked #6, pushing two pages with bad stuff down to the second page… or at least from what I could see on my computer.

About 30 minutes after I sent the report over, I got an instant message from my client saying that she was on Google, but she wasn’t seeing our sites rank for the positions that I reported.

It’s never a good time when your client thinks you may be lying to them.  I immediately sent over some screenshots that I couldn’t have possibly photoshopped that quickly to show her what I was seeing.  I also tried to explain some of the possible reasons why SEO rankings vary from computer to computer.  Here are some of the most common ones:

Browsing History

This was the most likely culprit, as search results are personalized.  Google doesn’t forget about the sites you’ve visited in the past and often shows them higher in search results.  The search engine is simply trying to customize results to give you what it thinks you may be looking for.

Location

Google shows different search engine results based on your location.  In this case, I am in Florida and my client is about 9 states away.  Search engines try to provide the best results based on where you are, and the results will be slightly different and the order may change.  I have even noticed differences in results from my office to my house (which are about the miles apart).

IP Address

Google tries to custom tailor results, so if you have a different IP address from another computer or phone it’s possible that you may get different results.

Google Plus

Twitter has been known to influence search results for some time, and now it appears that Google Plus is as well.  The little +1 buttons that you see all over the web are similar to “liking” something on Facebook.  These +1 buttons could affect what you see in search results because Google remembers what you “plused” and will likely show these sites ranking higher.  There are rumors that these “pluses” not only affect your search results, but having a lot of them could also help your website rank higher.

 

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Valentine’s Day Spending

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  While today is no Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it is still a major retail and e-commerce event, and a boost for stores and shipping companies early in the calendar year.  With the help of the National Retail Federation, UPS , Ad Age and the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey, I’d like to present you with Valentine’s Day by the numbers.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend $18.6 billion overall on Valentine’s Day gifts.

Jewelry is the big-ticket item for gift givers.  $4.4 billion will be spent on diamonds, gold and silver.

$1.9 billion will be spent on flowers today.

$1.6 will be spent on candy; 51% of those surveyed give sweet treats to their loved ones.

Who would have thought- $1.5 billion will be spent on gift cards.

$815 million will be spent on the ones who love us unconditionally- our pets.

UPS will ship 95 million flowers for Valentine’s Day, with the bulk coming from Latin America on UPS temperature-controlled aircraft from Ecuador and Colombia (big rose-growing countries).

6,000,000 are expected to get engaged on February 14; that number is up from 4 million in 2012.

3,000 TONS of flowers will move through a massive refrigerated warehouse in Miami that UPS has set up to keep flowers fresh.

Can you guess what the average U.S. consumer plans to spend on candy, cards, gifts and more this year?  The answer is $130.97- up from $126.03 last year.

So how much is the average woman spending on today? About $88.78, which is less than half of what men are estimated to spend (an average of $175.61 on jewelry, flowers, and a romantic evening out).

40.7% of smartphone owners are estimated to have used their handhelds to shop for gifts.

26.3% of Valentine’s gifts are found online, up from 19.3% last year

29% of those surveyed said they’d post sweet nothings on Facebook.

Americans spend an average of $8.49 on friends for Valentine’s cards and gifts; they’ll shell out an average of $5.12 on colleagues.

7% of consumers who in a survey said they send their Valentine’s message via Twitter in 140 characters or less.

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Happy Belated New Year!

I never did get to wish everyone a happy new year on here, so if you’re reading this two weeks into 2013, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Better late than never, right?

I rang in the New Year in several great ways.  With friends, we had a really fun house party with lots of good food and drinks.  It was nice to be with a smaller, more intimate group of friends rather than a bunch of drunk strangers at a club or bar.  We also didn’t need to spend a ton of money or worry about parking and traffic.  It was definitely win-win.

At work, my bosses nominated some of us for awards, which the staff then voted on.  I was voted the Best New Employee, which felt especially nice because it came from my peers.

All in all, 2012 was a pretty great year.  I graduated with my Master’s degree, got my first job in the real world, quit bartending, and traveled to New York City, Seattle, Portland, Willamette Valley, the Bahamas and Key West.  I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for me!

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