A Portrait of The Marketer as a Young Man

January 11, 2014

young marketer

This post was originally published at Medium: A Portrait of the Marketer as a Young Man.


Recently, I read a great post on the Kapost blog by Anne Murphy. Anne’s post was titled “3 Things You Can’t Learn from a Content Marketing How-To Article” and included a paragraph titled “How to Write.” Anne wrote:

“For 18 years, I lived with one of the best writers and editors I know. Her name is Nancy Murphy. I call her Mom.”

Not only did Mom help shape Anne’s writing, but she (Mom) taught her that “good writing takes constant work.”

Today, I’m a marketer (at DNN) who does a lot of writing. My degree is in computer science, not history, communications or political science. I spent the first 14 years of my career in Information Technology (IT). So how did I come to be a marketer? Anne’s post inspired me to consider my own journey.

Careless Mistakes in Second Grade

If there’s such a thing as a crisis in elementary school, then I was in one. Both of my parents had been called in to a meeting with my second grade teacher, Mrs. Trout. I had been making careless spelling mistakes and the pattern was only getting worse. Spelling errors were understandable, but Mrs. Trout was concerned about my consistent pattern of carelessness.

I took that meeting to heart (well, as much as a second grader could). I addressed the carelessness and improved my spelling each year. In fact, by the time I reached fifth grade, I’d be entered into the grade-wide spelling bee.

This second grade crisis helped shape my marketing. It’s put a certain lens around everything I do: writing an article, reviewing an email promotion, writing a webinar description, reviewing a white paper, etc. I have an ability to catch my own mistakes, as well as spot errors in others’ work. I harken back to my days in second grade and know why.

Editorial Independence

The Call of the Wild

Image source: User cdrummbks on flickr.

I’ve now reached fourth grade. We read Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” in class and I was writing a book report at home. My dad briefly looked over my work and thought that I wrote the report all wrong. As he tells the story, I became very upset, insisting that I had written the book report according to specifications.

Based on my strong insistence, my father allowed me to proceed and I handed in the book report “as is.” It turned out I was correct: I received a good grade on the report. From that moment on, my dad gave me full editorial independence in my grade school writing projects.

This feeling of independence can be empowering. If every sentence I wrote could be inspected for corrections, the experience wouldn’t be as enjoyable. And while editorial oversight is important and necessary in many contexts, the independence is one reason I enjoy blogging so much.

Reading about Sports

Also in fourth grade, I developed a love of sports. Starting in high school and continuing into the present day, I read a lot of sports articles.

Best American Sports Writing

Image via Amazon.

I like to read the beat writers who cover my teams and I love human interest stories (i.e. long form articles) related to sports. I adore “The Best American Sports Writing” series. My dream job? To be the beat writer for one of my favorite teams.

I’ve tried my hand at sports writing. At my current job (and at past jobs), I’d write summaries of company softball games and soccer games and share them. My colleagues would tell me that I missed my calling as a sports writer.

Because of all the reading I’ve done, writing about sports came so naturally to me. As I sat at my keyboard, words would emanate and flow like those of more experienced sports writers. It’s similar for the B2B content I write at work: I consume so much of other people’s content that it helps inform and guide my own.

The High School Poetry Magazine

For a high school English class, I submitted a poem that depicted a cold, wintry night from the view of my bedroom window. My English teacher liked it. She managed the school’s poetry magazine and encouraged me to get involved.

So I wrote more poems, attended a poetry conference or two and helped assemble the school’s magazine. I’ve come to realize that marketers are much like poets: we need to assemble words in a way that makes an impact with our audience.

So when I compose tweets, Facebook posts, subject lines, calls to action and promotional copy, I look back to my high school days and realize that my dabbling in poetry helped a great deal.

But Where’s the Beef?

Where's the Beef?

Image source: User xxxbadfishxxx on flickr.

There’s a difference between eloquence and substance. At an early age, I discovered that I had a knack for putting words together. But I didn’t receive consistently high marks on my papers, whether it was AP English (in high school) or Literature Humanities (in college).

The issue? I was missing the beef (i.e. substance). This realization helps inform my B2B writing. Whether it’s a blog post or a white paper, I try to spend as much time (or more) researching as I do writing. The content must be well planned, well researched and well thought out. Words can always sound good, but they must be backed up with information and insights that provide value to the reader.


It’s been fun to consider how childhood events and developments helped shape the marketer I am today. When I graduated from college, I never considered the possibility that I’d be in marketing. I wonder what I’ll be doing ten years from now. Perhaps you’ll find me online, reporting on last night’s Yankees game.

Improve Your SlideShare Marketing with These 10 Fun Facts

November 16, 2013

10 Fun Facts About SlideShare


At DNN, we produce 1-2 webinars per week on topics ranging from online community to content management to website optimization. Recently, we created a SlideShare channel to host all of our webinar presentations. It was a convenient solution for distributing slides to our webinar viewers. And, it would help widen the reach of our webinar content.

Results Have Exceeded Expectations

In the three months since launching our SlideShare channel, our presentations have received 40,000+ views, 47 Likes, 186 downloads, 317 Facebook shares and 180 tweets. One of our webinar presentations, in fact, generated 10,000 SlideShare views during the first week it was posted.

Let’s consider ten fun facts about SlideShare that can help inform your SlideShare marketing.

10 Fun Facts About SlideShare

1) SlideShare has 60 million monthly visitors.

According to their “About” page, SlideShare has 60 million monthly visitors and 130 million monthly page views. They’re among the top 200 most visited websites in the world. It’s a no-brainer, folks: extend the reach of your content (for free) to a potential audience of 60 million people.

At DNN, our webinars might reach thousands of people. With our SlideShare channel, we have the potential to reach millions. As a bonus fun fact, more than 10 million presentations have been uploaded to SlideShare. Check out a neat infographic from SlideShare that marked the occasion.

2) Hyperlinks (in slides) are clickable.

It’s true that Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird have changed the dynamics of SEO, but links are still a primary currency of the web. When creating your presentation, be sure that any links become true hyperlinks. I’ve found that hyperlinks (on SlideShare) are not clickable on Slide 1, but are clickable on all subsequent slides. On the DNN SlideShare channel, our presentations have generated 95 clicks to external pages.

3) Infographics are liked 4x more than presentations, and 23x more than documents on SlideShare.

Earlier this year, SlideShare announced support for infographics. Since then, they’ve published data points that compare engagement and interaction between infographics and other content formats. Just save (or convert) your infographic to PDF, then use the standard “Upload” process in SlideShare. It will detect that the uploaded document is an infographic and place it in “Infographics” tab in your SlideShare channel. We recently published an infographic, “Top 10 Blogs Every B2B Marketer Should Read.”

4) Your URL is derived from your presentation’s filename.

The structure of your URL is important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SlideShare auto-generates the URL of your presentation and you’re not able to edit or change it. So name your file to match your desired URL.

I like my SlideShare URL’s to match the title of the presentation. You’re not guaranteed to get your desired URL: if another presentation has the exact same title, SlideShare will append a number to the end of your URL (to make it unique). Don’t name your presentation “My webinar deck with edits from Jon v2”.pptx unless you want those words to appear in your SlideShare URL.

5) You can link to a specific slide.

You’re already using your social channels to promote your SlideShare presentations. Let’s say you wanted to share a surprising statistic on Slide 7, however. It’s not a great user experience to tweet about Slide 7, then drive users to the Slide 1 of your presentation.

SlideShare has an easy solution: to permalink to Slide 7, just append “/7” to the end of your URL and you’re done. Once users land on Slide 7, they can still navigate backward or forward. SlideShare explains further on their blog. In the spirit of sharing a specific slide, here’s a fantastic quote on community management (from a recent webinar).

6) SlideShare supports audio in the form of Slidecasts.

You can upload an MP3 (audio) file and synchronize it to your slide presentation. Side note: I’d like Morgan Freeman to narrate my presentations. SlideShare provides step-by-step instructions on how to do this.

By grabbing the audio track from your webinar (and then doing the synchronization), SlideShare can be a convenient place to host on-demand webinars!

7) You can easily embed SlideShare presentations on web pages.

You can embed any SlideShare presentation onto a web page, including those published by others. By embedding your own, you play the role of promoter or syndicator. By embedding presentations from others, you play the role of curator and commentator.

When viewing the presentation on SlideShare, simply click the “Embed” button at the top of the player. Copy the HTML code for use on your site (or blog). You can also copy a “shortcode” for WordPress.com blogs. Using embedding, we generated 10,000 SlideShare views in one week (for a webinar presentation).

8) You can link your SlideShare account to your LinkedIn account.

By linking these two accounts, activity on SlideShare gets fed automatically to LinkedIn and seen in the Newsfeed of your LinkedIn Connections. As you upload new presentations or “Like” existing ones, your LinkedIn Connections will know. Check out how you can use this to share social media content in five minutes a day.

9) You can share your videos on SlideShare.

Presentations, infographics and audio, oh my. Now comes video. Yes, you can share your videos on SlideShare, too. Check out this FAQ on videos (from SlideShare) for further details.

10) SlideShare PRO gives you some premium features.

After seeing early results with SlideShare, we decided to upgrade to SlideShare PRO Silver, since it gave us the ability to embed registration forms, as well as a deeper view of analytics. The Silver plan costs $19 a month, so it was a no-brainer. Have a look at this SlideShare for more info on PRO.


We hope you liked our fun facts as much as we liked documenting them. Beyond the fun, we hope you can apply many of these facts to become a more effective marketer on SlideShare. Sixty million visitors are waiting.

Related Resources

  1. The DNN Software SlideShare page.
  2. A Twitter chat I participated in: Tips for Using SlideShare in Content Marketing
  3. Prior post: How a Webinar Presentation Generated 10,000 SlideShare Views in 1 Week

Originally published on the DNN Software blog.

All I Know About SEO I Learned in Kindergarten

September 28, 2013

Photo credit: Flickr user woodleywonderworks via photopin cc


I attended kindergarten at Zena Elementary School in Kingston, New York, where my teacher was Ms. Silvernail. Back then, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) didn’t yet exist. Search engines didn’t exist because the web was not yet invented. Mainframes dominated the computing landscape and PC’s were a decade away from invention.

Despite the lack of tablets, apps and the web, I sure learned a lot in kindergarten. It was my first formal setting with other kids my age and Ms. Silvernail taught us a lot about manners and other social norms. When I look at today’s “white hat” SEO strategies – that is, those that follow search engine rules and guidelines and focus on the “human audience,” I see a lot of similarities with the concepts I learned back in kindergarten.

Let’s consider how kindergarten helped give me the foundation for today’s SEO practices.

Respect authority. “Listen to what the teacher says.”

Prior to kindergarten, we learned to respect the authority of our parents. In a school setting, we had to learn how to respect our teacher, along with other authority figures at the school.

With SEO, the search engines are authorities who hold a lot of “power.” In fact, they determine your effectiveness, in the same way that teachers determine your grades. For optimum results on Google, for instance, a good first step is to use Google Webmaster Tools.

Google will use this tool to send you “Messages” about your site’s availability, as well as instances where it suspects that link spam is pointing to your site. If a teacher asks you to sit up straight, you do it. If Google finds link spam pointing to your site, you investigate and resolve it.

“If you get something that’s not your’s, give it back.”

A classmate hands me something that’s clearly not mine. I’d tell Ms. Silvernail, explain that it’s not mine and she’d take it away from me. There’s a similar arrangement with SEO. Let’s say Google finds links to your site that violate their quality guidelines. You’ve never heard of the site linking to you and don’t understand why they’d want to do so.

You can use the “disavow links” feature in Google Webmaster Tools: “In other words, you can ask Google not to take certain links into account when assessing your site.” (read more at Google’s disavow links page). For expected turnaround time on the disavow, Google says this:

“It may take some time for Google to process the information you’ve uploaded. In particular, this information will be incorporated into our index as we recrawl the web and reprocess the pages that we see, which can take a number of weeks.”

“Play within the rules.”

Whether it was in the classroom or on the playground, we played by Ms. Silvernail’s rules. If we strayed from the rules, there were consequences to pay. Google has posted its own rules: a detailed Webmaster Guidelines that includes a number of sections. Pay close attention to the “Quality guidelines” section.

Also, have a look at a useful video from Google’s Matt Cutts regarding the Google Penguin 2.0 update, which deployed on May 22, 2013:

Alternatively, read a summary of the Cutts video, posted by Search Engine Land.

“No cheating.”

Truth be told, I can’t recall whether the concept of cheating surfaced in kindergarten (for me). But it was certainly introduced during elementary school. Google has a page detailing link schemes, which “includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.” Carefully review the “forbidden” practices listed in this article. And know that for SEO, it never pays to cheat (Ms. Silvernail said so).

“Be honest. Say what you feel.”

We were taught to be honest in kindergarten. The web, on the other hand, has seen shady practices that were implemented to “game” the search engines. For the most part, these practices are no longer effective: keyword stuffing, unnatural anchor text, etc.

Write content for your audience (of human beings) and not for search engines. Write clearly and “say what you feel.” Read your page content aloud to confirm whether it sounds natural. Search engines now reward quality content over “crawler optimized” content.

If you’ve been punished, correct bad behavior and let the teacher know.

Let’s say your website traffic fell off a cliff. Perhaps you can trace it back to May 22, 2013, when Google deployed Penguin 2.0. Just as in kindergarten, you work on correcting the “bad behavior,” then let the teacher know.

While a teacher explicitly tells you what you did wrong, the search engines aren’t nearly as direct. So the biggest challenge may be identifying the (perceived) bad behavior. Titan SEO has a good article on the “road to resubmission” that lists things to investigate. The article notes that after correcting issues, you can submit a reconsideration request to Google.


While the details of search engine optimization may seem complex, they’re based on principles that we learned in kindergarten. Follow guidelines, avoid tricks and be honest. And if you do stray from the guidelines, correct past wrongs to get back in the good graces of the authorities.

Unlike kindergarten, the rules and guidelines of SEO are constantly changing. Google makes more changes in a given day than your kindergarten made all year long. So keep up to date with changes from Google and the other search engines.

And if you’re reading this, Ms. Silvernail, I hereby disavow the free lunch that I received from the cafeteria on the first day of kindergarten.

Related Webinar

Titan SEO did a webinar titled “Google’s Latest Algorithm Update! What You Need to Know.” You can register to view the webinar replay. In addition, we’ve included the webinar slides below:

This post was originally published on the DNN Software blog.

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