Archive for January, 2006

Unique hiring practices

Friday, January 27th, 2006

I was sitting thinking about the election results the other day, and how it will affect the lives of the average Canadian. I then started to follow a very interesting chain of thought. Being a politician is a very unique hiring process.

Lets start at the beginning and look at getting nominated and elected. It is a tough, gruelling process and also starts a long slide. Lets face it, you can’t get elected without campaign funds, and obtaining those funds is inherently corrupting. You don’t get given money for nothing, and the people or organizations which donate to your campaign are doing so for a variety of reasons, and not all are altruistic.

By the time you take your seat in the house, you have a long line of favours you owe.

This is where it gets interesting though. Let’s say that you form part of the governing party. Currently the ruling party in Canada has 124 seats, of which 30 or so will form part of the Cabinet.

So, statistically speaking you have a one in four chance of being in control of a major or minor portfolio, all things being equal. Those aren’t bad odds when compared to the odds that an average person has when applying for a plumb position.

The rules for selection to these portfolios are never stated, but they include many factors other than skill. They will include proportional representation based upon geography, ethnicity, gender and many other factors. Any single group that can be identified will be screaming if they don’t have their representation in government and rightly or wrongly will be claiming bias.

You can try and tar and feather me here, but the current government has 14 elected women MPs out of the 124 total, so there will be immense pressure to appoint a significant number of them to Cabinet. There will also be pressure to represent all areas of the country, so if you are one of the 10 MPs elected from Quebec, it will also increase your chances. I’m not even going to get into ethnicity, but you can see where I’m going here.

The bottom line on this is the talent pool is pretty limited and realpolitik limits it even further. If you were a shareholder in the largest company in the country would you be happy that the members of its executive were selected this way?

RIP Paul Martin

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

The election results are in and now we have a Tory minority government.

This has been an extremely long election, and its good that it is finally over before the electorate collapsed under the weight of the combined BS being shovelled by all of the major parties.

I’ve a few observations to make.

Paul Martin has tendered his resignation. After a lackluster campaign, highlighted by more negative comments about his opponents than positive statements about his vision for Canada I think that he should move over. I had high hopes for Mr Martin when he first came to office, but those have not come to pass. Mr Martin showed some signs of life towards the end of the campaign. If he had shown that earlier in the campaign, maybe he wouldn’t be resigning.

Negative ads don’t work. There have been some extremely negative ad campaigns run during this election - the worst of these authorized by the Liberals. If even a small proportion of them were true, you would expect Steven Harper to eat babies and burn gays and lesbians as a spectator sport. Now while you may not agree with all of Mr. Harpers positions, painting him as the devil incarnate has backfired, and all I can say is shame on you for even trying.

Finally, there seems to be an urban/rural split in the voting, with the rural areas going Tory and the urban areas going Liberal. I’m going to sincerely hope that Mr. Harper has one eye on the future and does not disenfranchise the urban vote. Reality says that you “dance with the one that brought you”, but if he does not want to be a one term premier he will certainly have to reach out the olive branch to the urban areas that did not agree with his policies. Mr. Harper - you have an opportunity here - don’t squander it.

The Canadian Election

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Well if you ever thought that Toronto was out of step with the rest of the country, all you have to do is look at todays election results to be completely convinced of this.

The general election is showing a Tory tide across most of the country, other than the little pocket called Southern Ontario. Well, I suppose that is a little unfair, but the concentration of Liberal seats in Toronto is significantly higher than anywhere else.

What does this mean. Well, in my humble opinion, there are a lot of downsides to this for Toronto. Hopefully the new Conservative government will not be completely spiteful, but you have to expect some political payback. Additionally, your powerbase drives your agenda, so don’t expect Toronto’s issues to register on the political map.

Furthermore, our very telegenic, but not very bright Mayor David Miller has made a fatal mistake in even getting involved in this election. He should have kept his nose out of it, but didn’t and this will cost Toronto big time. You want infrastructure money, have a bake sale. You want money for roads, ride a mountain bike - after all you keep claiming to be green. You have a garbage problem, oh thats just too bad, maybe you should recycle more.

I can’t believe that a politician that had been in office for more than about 6 minutes could make such a stupid mistake, but then Major Miller keeps surprising me, and usually not in a good way.

I suppose Torontonians have to learn the hard way - and I believe that lesson is about to commence.

Have search engines lost their way

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

I’ve got an espresso machine and it has gone a little wonky.

So I’m off to find resources to help, and boy did I ever receive a shock. When I went searching for the term “delonghi” which is the make of this slightly erratic piece of equipment, I didn’t get much joy. I was using Google, for those of you interested.

Fine, refine the search….. lets try “delonghi espresso”

The results, to put it mildy, are all over the place. The first item on the list had some relevance to my search, but the rest of the list was almost completely useless.

A significant number of the search returns were either irrelevant entries in E-bay, Amazon or pages of links to somewhat unrelated services, or sites that were completely SPAM.

I tried another couple of search terms and had similar results, before I gave the whole thing up as a bad job and reverted to the Yellow pages.

So what is going on here?

It seems Google, in its attempt to detect relevancy has gone overboard. Its weighting algorithm for determining relevance seems to be slanted so heavily toward site activity and links that it overwhelms any other factors.

Additionally with the search that I did, a good proportion of the results were out of date - the coffeegeek site mentioned in the results is not active for example.

Most disturbing, there were also a significant number of SPAM sites, and these were in the first 2 pages.

I can’t explain this, other than to say the tuners and tweakers seem to be ahead of Google here.

Unless there is some activity on Google’s part, then their billion dollar empire is going to come crashing down around them. The key to their whole existance is relevancy, and right now they seem, at least in this example, to have lost the plot.

If you would like a quote for SEO, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

SEO linking

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

You have spent the time and money getting your site tuned up from the SEO perspective. Your keywords have been well thought out, your text and tags reflect those keywords, and you are actively adding content to your site on a regular basis.

Congratulations - you have made a great start, but there is one more area that requires your attention. It is called back-links.

What these are are other web sites or web resources that link to you. The closest analogy I can come up with in the real world is networking.

When a search engine looks at your site, it tries to figure out how “important” your site is, and one of the ways it does this is by checking to see how many sites point to yours. The more links there are, the higher your site ranking.

Well almost….

Over the last few years, SEO pro’s have been exploiting this and there are many sites that have pages and pages that contain nothing but links for the purpose of establishing what is called reciprocal linking (I’ll link to you, if you will link to me)

I’ve seen sites with literally thousands of these links, and quite simply, it doesn’t work anymore. The people that program the search engines have noticed this phenominon, and have changed their ranking procedure to check for this to the point that if you get involved in this sort of activity, you may well find your ranking dropping, not improving.

So what sort of links are good?

Well - honest ones is the short answer. Web sites that regard you as a business partner, rather than a link enhancer will have your link on pages without thousands of others - those sorts of links will have a positive effect. Another source of links is from professional articles and the like. If you publish articles in any of the on-line resources and they contain a byeline linking to your web site, those will be positive.

The list of potential links is endless, it just takes time and creativity to come up with good targets. It also takes time to cultivate those relationships.

In other words - there isn’t any difference between networking in the real world and in cyberspace.

Best of luck coming up with a great networking strategy

If you would like a quote for SEO, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

SEO campaigns

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

And just how much money do you want to spend?

SEO campaigns can consume an aweful lot of budget very quickly with very little return in the short run. Lets face it, there are a lot of things that need to be done and time is money. So what are the tricks to a successful (and cost effective) SEO campaign?

First - establish a benchmark. If you don’t know where you are starting, you won’t know if you are winning the battle.

Find out how you rank on the search engines of your choice for your most cherished keywords.

Now choose carefully - you want to pick one or two search engines and a handful of keywords. Each search engine is different and while some will like your SEO tuning, others will hate it and your rankings may drop, so it is very important that you make a concious decision as to the ones you want to improve on.

Once you have done that - then look at your competitors, and see what they are doing. If they have been successful, then by emulating them, you too will be successful.

Now go and make your changes - update your copy, your meta-tags, your titles, your image texts - all of the things that a decent SEO tune up will do.

Now for the hard part - have patience. It will take somewhere close to a month or maybe more for those changes to have any effect, so there is no point in making changes on a Monday and expecting a shift in your rankings by Tuesday. It is simply not going to happen - so get back to your regular business and make a note in your diary to re-check your rankings in a month.

Rinse and repeat on on a monthly basis.

Simple isn’t it - well not quite, because even if your site is fully SEO’d there are other factors that you need to work on, and those are called back links. I’ll talk about those in my next article.

If you would like a quote for SEO, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

Lets talk graphics

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

Everyone is a web designer……unfortunate but true, and those that aren’t are web critics.

And unfortunately there is a lot to be critical about.

I spend my time looking through web sites for clients that want “a little tune up”, and sometimes what I see sends shudders down my spine. Web sites that flash, spin, play tunes and have little figures dancing about, and that is all on the first line.

Your web page is your corporate identity, and unless you are in the business of selling drugs your web site should not look like a hallucination from a bad acid trip.

By all means make it striking - but do so in moderation - after all isn’t the idea to get people to return to your site, not to reach for the aspirin bottle.

Keep your visuals on message - if they aren’t supporting your product or service, toss them. If they obscure your message, toss them. If you can’t look at them 5 times in a row, toss them.

Be critical and put yourself in the place of the client that is visiting your site for the 10th time. Are they going to enjoy the experiance or are their teeth going to grate?

It will make my life a little easier and I’m sure your clients will appreciate it too.

If you would like to discuss web design, feel free to contact us for a free quotation.

Have patience

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

We are so used to having the world at our fingertips through e-mail, text messaging, cell phones and PDA’s that the one thing that seems to be disappearing is patience.

When do you want it? “Yesterday” is usually the response.

Well I’m here to tell you that there are still areas that don’t work that way - and SEO is one of them.

When you first develop a web site, it takes time for search engines to find it. I’m not talking minutes or hours, I’m talking weeks and potentially even months. Sure, there are things that can be done to speed that up, but its still a long process.

When you improve your site through SEO, those changes don’t reflect very quickly. One of the most difficult things to do in SEO is to truly determine the success or failure of site changes. Your ranking may not change for weeks or even months depending upon timing and activities such as the Google Update.

When you are thinking about setting off on an SEO tune up for your site - bear that in mind. Expect results - yes, but don’t expect them tomorrow.

If you would like help on SEO for your Web Site, feel free to contact us

Canadian continued….

Monday, January 16th, 2006

I am so disillusioned with politics.

We are in the middle of a General Election and are being bombarded with TV advertising for the various parties. That is to be expected, but the tone and tenor of the adverts are just so wrong in my view.

Rather than saying what they are going to do, each of the major parties simply seems to be trying to demonize each other…. and I mean demonize

It is a wonder that it hasn’t sunk to the level of posting pictures of the leaders with horns and a tail impaling babies on a pitchfork.

Gentlemen, and I use that term loosely, this level of behaviour would be unacceptable in a schoolyard, never mind a national debate. Show some class!

Grumpy old men

Friday, January 13th, 2006

There is a British TV series called Grumpy Old Men, which provides a forum for men to grouse about the things that are driving them up the wall.

Great Idea!

Well I think I will start a category on this blog just for that.

And here is my first……

HACKERS

This blog has been subject to continual posting of comments that are attempting to link to either poker or various and sudry drug resale sites. It got to the point that there were about 200 of these A DAY.

To that end I’ve had to shut off the ability for people to reply to the posts and that means if you want to post a reply you will have to e-mail me. That is such a shame, but necessary.

I’d personally like to staple a notice to the eyelids of these idiots that simply says “GO AWAY”. I’ve tried reporting them to ISP’s etc, but it really doesn’t seem to help so for now - you can’t post directly to this blog.

Shame on them!!