So if you’ve talked with me for any bit of time you’ll quickly learn that as much as I love playing on the internet, social media, etc., I think there is tremendous value for online marketers in getting together in-person and having a chat.  Meetups, Tweetups, Networking Lunches… whatever.  All good stuff.

For the past week or so I was totally psyched to attend the most recent meeting of SEMCLT (Search Engine Marketing Association of Charlotte / Charlotte SEO Meetup Group) – which was held last night.  I RSVP-ed maybe two weeks ago… then on Monday I flipped the calendar to June and saw I was already committed!!!  My wife and I have friends that came into town last night and are staying for a couple of days.  So sadly, I had to change my RSVP to a no.  #crushed

So this morning while my wife and our out of town guests are sleeping, I’m on the computer (of course).  I hop onto Twitter and see a zillion (like 6 or 7 or something) @jonpayne replies talking about “my cake”.  Huh?  What cake?

This cake:

The cake was for me!!!  And I was not there.  How incredibly thoughtful!  And how bad I feel for not being there…  Its probably a good thing though, as I may have pounded the whole thing before anyone else got a taste.  I can put me away some cake.

The references to “Master” are a funny little play on my perfectly acceptable request that everyone refer to as either “Master Payne” or “Jon Payne, MBA” following my completion of the MBA program at Loyola and recent graduation.  Just “Master” or “Supreme Being” will also work.  I was just trying to be funny by saying that… but its starting to stick!!!

So anyhow please accept this blog post as my humble “thank you” and expression of appreciation.  What an unbelievably kind gesture.

Many thanks to whoever was behind this (I have my suspicions…) and sorry I missed you @NC_SEO, @keithschilling, @LesPorter, @FredSexton, @DavidKyle, @RoyMorejon, @CoreyCreed, @learningSEO, @ericfransen, @MaggieHyde, @brettbum and everyone else who attended.  I won’t be a no-show next time!

– The Master


This is just a beautiful thing.

I’ve somehow started using Twitter again after our recent SEO Meetup about social media.  At the event, @george_murphy and @timstaines convinced me (@jonpayne) there was a business benefit – a way to leverage it for traffic and leads.

Anyhow, today I was looking for a good URL shortener that also does 301 redirects.  Why?  Well let’s suppose I post a URL of a page on one of my sites – like this blog post for example.  In Twitter, since I’m limited to 140 characters I need to use some sort of URL shortener or I might not have enough room for the long URLs typically associated with blogs.  Until recently, I had been using, mainly b/c I just liked the “is good” reference.


So what if – by rare occurance – someone who visits my page actually likes it and wants to link to it?  If they copy the URL in their browser post-rediret than I’m fine, they’ll link straight to my site.  But what if they copy the URL shortener version and then they post that in their blog or elsewhere?  I’ll get the traffic, but no link juice… and those are the perfect, real, natural “editorial” type links Google is really looking for.  I should get that credit…

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Today I made two or three mistakes and misjudgements concerning an issue with our SEO Meetup group, and then made several follies when trying to fix the problem.  I’m a mess.  What a disaster!

Here’s the basic situation:
The group has a mailing list where any member can email all other members.  In the past 9 months there had been maybe one or two times this was actually used, with little fanfare.  In the past 2-3 weeks its been used twice and what has happened was that all email replies to the original email ended up going to everybody.  Many people complained that they were getting bombarded with tons of email that they did not want… basically two people might have a string of emails back and forth but another 90 people were getting CCed on it.  A mess.

Here’s how I tried to handle it:
I created a new policy that basically told everyone they could email the group but then all subsequent replies should be addressed to the individual, not the group.  Problem is there is not a setting I can find in to configure it that way… it seems many emails have the group’s address as the standard “reply-to” field.  Several people posed a better idea to me… a Forum.

Here’s where I was really stupid:
I tried to send an email to one group member apologizing for making them look like the villain here when really that was not the case.  However, I was a complete idiot and sent my personal reply to the entire group.  Clearly, I’m incompetent when it comes to mailing lists and basic email management.

Here’s where I was lazy:
I didn’t do 30 seconds of research before sending out the email about the “new policy” to see that in fact there is a message board built-in to the site… I just had to “enable” it.

Here’s where I’ve hopefully fixed it:
1) I’ve decided to enable the message board. This was easy.  I just didn’t know it existed and I rushed to address the issue before doing my homework.  Dumb.

2) I’ve decided to disable the ability for members to email all members via the email list.  Instead if they want to broadcast something they can either send it to me and I will send it (at my discretion) or they can post in the forum.

Here’s why my fix might not work:
At this point I’ve sent a gillion emails with a new policy, and then “psych, there’s actually a NEW new policy”.  If I were receiving all these emails, I probably would have started to completely ignore them by now and thus would not see the new “solution”.

Hopefully someone learns something from this!

The SEO Meetup Group I organize typically gets a few new people applying to be members each week. I “approve” about 50% of them. I used to auto-approve everyone and it made for a nice impressive number of “members”, but most of those people weren’t really “SEO people”. They were either looking for free advice for their one website, or free basic training, or they were recruiters or meetup groupies or who knows what. Just under half were legit.

Anyhow, maybe almost a year ago I paired down the member list and put in place a speed bump. You have to answer a few basic questions about SEO. You don’t necessarily have to work for a local agency or have 10 years in the field…  But if you don’t even answer the questions, I will assume you aren’t the type of person our group is looking for. A description of the purpose of the group and who the right type of person is is provided, and judgment is up to me. You don’t have to be an expert, but just not someone who is going to waste everyone else’s time trying to get free advice on your meta tags.

Okay with that aside, I got an email from a guy I recently approved. Seems like a very nice guy, and has some level of experience with affiliate marketing, SEO, eBay and various other online marketing concepts. He wrote me an email basically wanting to see if the group would provide the type of benefit he is looking for. I appreciate this. If you are looking for something that is not what our purpose is, than its best not to waste everyone’s time. Our group is for people in the Baltimore SEO community to network, share ideas, etc. Its not free advice for small business owners. Its not free SEO training.  Since we’ve put this in place our meetups have really improved in their quality and relevance.  More depth and value.

So here is an excerpt from this guy’s email to me:

…Hope this is enough for you to get an idea of where I’m coming from, and can tell me if we can mutually profit from me coming to your meeting???

and then here was my response:

<begin response>

Happy to hear from you.  I’m glad you are doing well with your various online ventures and wish you continued success.

Not sure I completely understand your goal in what you’d like to get from the SEO Meetup… but let me share my take on this…  I would suggest that you view this group more as a networking opportunity rather than a place to get training or free advice.  That’s not really what its for.  If you are looking to meet other people in the SEO industry in the Baltimore area, have a drink and talk shop than its worth your time.  If you are looking for recommendations for your specific website(s) or training than that’s not really what our group is all about.

Most members in the group spend a ton of time reading SEO blogs, using social media apps like Twitter, etc. so they already have lots of places to get news and read tips, etc.  Our meetups are for making connections and meeting people.  Networking.  Sure some nice ideas and tips can come from that, but typically only after you make a connection.  If you go up to somebody and say “Hi I’m Joe… what’s your best link building secret” you aren’t likely to get much from that.  If instead you make a connection and form a true relationship then down the line you might find yourself with a question or idea you want to run by someone and now you have a larger network of professionals in the SEO industry that you can leverage to help you out.

<end response>

Was that tone a bit rough?  What are your thoughts on in-person networking events in the SEO industry?

We had an initial question via the SEO Meetup group mailing list today about Web CEO, which has spurred quite a discussion of that and many other tools. Perhaps a good topic for an upcoming meetup would be a discussion and quick tour of a number of tools.

Interest? How about interest in any of the following topics?  Edit: Please choose ONE or two of the topics you’d most like to discuss and whatever is the most popular choice will be our topic.  We’ll then discuss other topics at future meetups.

a) SEO software, tools and plugins
b) pricing, sales and contracts SEO projects
c) project management, tracking results and reporting to clients
d) link building show & tell
e) site review panel
f) understanding black hat tips and tactics
g) overviews and opinions of SEO conferences
h) social networking and social media
i) blogging and SEO
j) comparison of various analytics services

Maybe 60-90 minutes of interaction discussion about the above… and then over to a nearby bar to have a drink, network and casual small group conversation as per usual. Thoughts?

Please let me know your opinions or preferences. Now is the time to “voice your vote” otherwise you have no right to complain about next meeting’s topic 🙂 You can either email me or post a comment below with your thoughts.

I’m thinking maybe first or second week of November.

Edit: So far I’m getting mostly emails rather than blog comments as replies… but I’ll share an update later on about what the topic will be for the next event and also what the top requests were.

“Meet the Baltimore Internet Marketers” was the theme of last night’s Meetup event held at the ETC in Canton, thanks the kind donation of space from R2i (thanks Page!).

This is the first event I’ve organized in roughly six months for this group, which was way overdue (I’ve been busy) but better late than never, right? Anyhow, we should get that back on track now.

We had a great turnout. I didn’t count exactly, but we were in the 25 to 30 attendee range. I think it was 3 ladies and the rest were a bunch of scruffly guys (myself included)… which was actually more gender-diverse than previous meetups. Poor Lori and Kathleen.

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If you are outside of the Baltimore / DC metro area than this post will be of no interest to you. If you are in the area then consider checking out the next SEO Meetup we are having. Its been like 6 months since our last one, but prior to that we had been getting together roughly once every month to six weeks or so. I’ve been swamped finishing up grad school and getting things with work running a little more efficiently. That’s my excuse.

The agenda will consist of roughly 45-60 minutes of “who the heck are you” type introductions, where each attendee has maybe 2 minutes to share who they are, what type of work they do, if they are hiring or looking for partners, etc. Then – if time allows – we may have a little link building tips discussion followed by a few drinks and perhaps a bite to eat at the Austin Grill located in the same building as where we are having the event, the Emerging Technologies Center in Canton.

So far in attendance will be myself and approximately 20 other local internet marketing people (skewed heavily towards SEOs).

Disclaimer: I blatantly stole the idea for the “meet the local internet marketers” from Keith and Corey. Oh well fellas, that’s how the web works 🙂