Blog Posts About Public Speaking

How James Dean Helped an SEO Class

By Ava Naves, Principal, The Online Strategy House


James Dean helped an SEO Class

Most people wouldn’t think that there’s any link between vintage cars, Hollywood legends, and Information Architeture. That is so, but little did I know that my teenage crush on James Dean would come in handy at one of the SEO and Web Analytics classes that I’ve taught at the University of British Columbia.

I’ve been strangely fascinated by the actor ever since I was around 12 or 13, and that has led me to memorizing several bits of what, until recently, I deemed to be useless trivia. For example, I know that he…

  • Was driving a 1955 550 Porsche Spyder when he died
  • Had his fatal accident on September 30th, 1955
  • Played the violin as a young child

The course that I’ve taught at UBC, here in Vancouver, presented best practices in SEO and Digital Analytics that can guide the optimization of new and revamped sites. One of the topics of the first session was how Information Architecture (specifically site hierarchy and structure) affects SEO.

When I first developed the materials for that class, I somehow had the idea of using a fictitious site for a reseller of vintage car parts as an example. Fast forward to a few weeks later, during this term’s first lecture. When I got to the part where I talked about SEO and Information Architecture (IA), I mentioned Porsche as the theme of one of the make-believe directories in the site. The next step would be to explain that one of the subdirectories would include information on parts for Porsche classic cars, like the convertible that James Dean was driving on that fateful September afternoon. But then… I forgot the model of the vehicle! I usually like to include that in the example because it is unexpected and students often find that amusing.

By that point it was around 8:30 pm, and I was cognizant of the need to to keep the students involved so that they would understand those important IA and SEO principles. And my coffee was… not kicking in anymore. So there I was, staring blankly at the white board, saying outloud: “Right… what was that car that James Dean was driving…”

To my surprise (and relief), one of the students  jumped off his seat and came to my aid. Very enthusiastically, he said: “A 1955 550 Porsche Spyder!” That was a moment when everyone in class realized that learning about SEO, IA, and Digital Analytics can actually be enjoyable.

When that class was over for that evening, the student paid me one of the dearest compliments I’ve ever received. He said: “I was dreading this class but this was actually fun!” I know that students sacrificed personal and family time to attend that three-hour course every Wednesday evening, so I very much appreciated that.

Thank you, Jimmy!

P.S.: Maybe you’re part of a company that could benefit from a custom online marketing workshop. Give us a shout… we’ll make it fun!

Search Engine Optimization: Much Better as a Team

By Ava Naves, Principal

SEO is a team sport

The Online Strategy House recently presented a search visibility workshop to the staff of the British Columbia Patient Safety and Quality Council (BCPSQC). That experience really drove home the importance of teaching search engine optimization basics to a team — in this case, to the people who will create any content for their site, or those who, by virtue of their responsibilities, frequently come across opportunities for link building.

Optimally, several people will contribute blog posts to an organization’s domain. At the same time, those companies often have partnerships with others in their vertical, aside of taking time to participate in or sponsor industry events. When a team learns the relevant principles of on-site search engine optimization, from that point forward they see their day-to-day activities as opportunities for SEO. Those SEO principles then become ingrained in their modus operandi. For example:

  • Next time a manager contributes a blog to the company site, she will know that this is a chance to write a post according to the content strategy delineated in the organization’s online marketing plan. She will also be cognizant of the importance of incorporating the keyphrases that the online strategy has specified as relevant to that post.
  • The event coordinator will be aware that, by sponsoring a conference, there’s a prime opportunity to ask the organizer for a link to his employer’s site. Once adopted as a routine, this practice will help the company amass a good number of on-topic, high quality inbound links — the sort that will help build their online visibility.

When a group understands that individual, small commitments to search engine optimization amount to a large victory for all involved, they get excited about search engine optimization. The Online Strategy House makes a point of presenting SEO and online marketing workshops that are fun, and that engage even those who are not tech-oriented.

Employees are thrilled when analytics show that their blog posts received visits because they followed SEO best practices. They see they have made a tangible difference. And then, the enthusiasm is contagious.

The Crossroads Between Social Media and SEO: Upcoming Presentation at IIMA

By Ava Naves, PrincipalCrossroads Social Media SEO

A couple of weeks ago I was invited by the folks at the International Internet Marketing Association (IIMA) to speak on the same topic that I presented at IMC Vancouver 2010: “The Crossroads between Social Media & SEO”. The event will be at 6:00 pm on this coming Wednesday, October 13th, at the 4th floor of the YWCA Vancouver (535 Hornby Street).

To say that I’m excited is really an  understatement. Having been to several talks at IIMA by respected professionals such as Darren Barefoot, Jason Billingsley, Warren Sukernek and Richard Goossen, I feel honoured that I’ve been chosen to join the roster of speakers at IIMA.

For those not familiar with IIMA, they’re an organization now in its twelfth year. Their goal is “to bring marketers, agencies and professionals together to discuss the capabilities and potential of Internet marketing”, and judging by past events I’ve attended, they have certainly been fulfilling this mandate.

Below is a sample of  what you can expect to learn from the presentation:

- How a well-planned social media presence can increase your search engine visibility.
– The steps you’re probably already applying to search engine optimization, and which can be transplanted to your social media outreach for a stronger presence  on Google and Bing.
– How strategic Twitter updates, blog posts, Facebook statuses and YouTube videos can help your search engine rankings.
– Facebook changes that affect search.

I owe a big thanks to Jose Uzcategui, John Hossack, Charity Robertson and all the folks at IIMA for promoting and making this event possible. I’m sure there are other names that I’m failing to mention.

If you’d like to join us, book your ticket online here.  The cost for this IIMA is quite reasonable (CAD$38.25 for IIMA member, and CAD$45 for non-members)

I’m sure that many of us will get together at a pub nearby to continue to network and “talk shop” after the event, so feel free to join us there as well, and allocate some extra time for a pint!