How do you test knowledge? A simple trick

I had been interviewing people for last 3 to 4 years. There are various qualities that you look for but sometimes for an experienced position you look for some good knowledge. This is a simple trick that has worked for me. This will work as this is scientific :). Say if you are interviewing a person for SEO expert position:

You: Give me the top 3 tough areas from Search Engine Marketing/Search Engine optimization that you feel you have mastered it.
Ok, it tough but let me get some,

  1. Trust rank.
  2. Canonicalization.
  3. Link Building.

Now ask him to explain trust rank to a layman. If he is able to explain it in simpler terms then you can be sure of his understanding but if he tries to complex it with Google complex algorithm, then call the next candidate. Generally a good candidate will start from the basics of rankings (in very short sentences) and will try to fit in the role of trust rank in it. Why it was needed? How it is helping Google to achieve the goal etc will be a part of his explanation.

I am on SEOMoz

Ok, I am a little busy these days designing the whole new department work. I will get some more time next week (I am very optimistic, as always). I am an alltime WMW member, SEOMoz is doing work these days. I liked some of their articles but most of their articles are too long and less scanable, one need to scan through to the hidden knowledge from most of the articles. I have started reading them. Also I am using their videos and articles for training new guys in the department.

Just wanted to share that I am on SEOMoz, see Don’t forget to register at SEOMoz and add a small comment :). I will appreciate that and so will Rand :). Happy Weekend!

Why content writers have no future?

Oops, I did step on some toes. May be it wasn’t well communicated but let me put it in better words. Hey, no biggy fights, I have too much work to worry about. I will certainly put my thoughts to clarify it. Was pending for quite sometime. Many have raised this, many objected and I stand with the responsibility to explain it.

Some ground work before I answer the many concern, “Why did I say that content writers have no future?”
no future for content writers

Some traits that are always useful:

  1. Public speaking.
  2. Writing.
  3. Listening.
  4. ….. few more.

Writing is a trait that is always useful, with or without the tag “CONTENT WRITER”. Before jumping into conclusion lets visit some of the points.

Let’s define “content” using content categorization:

  • Easy learning topics: There are some topics that can be learned easily and are not connected with many things, like say education. We all have some knowledge/experience and more importantly an opinion about this topic.
  • News/Events/Moments coverage: There is one event that happened, 80% of the information can be gathered from the event itself, no background/previous knowledge required. Just the right skills to present it artistically.
  • Connected subject: IT, Finance, Marketing, HR and major topics fall under this. THIS CAN’T BE LEARNED EFFECTIVELY IN ONE DAY. One need to develop an opinion about it. The problem with this category is its connectivity with many things. Lets take an example, if one need to write about “Web site usability”, he/she must know how web works, how pages are rendered etc. Lets take a better example, say if you need to write about refinance, it is very easy to write what is refinance and different aspects of it but if you really need to write an article that will be used then you need to pen down in a practical format (which is almost impossible to learn for a content writer, it needs long experience or help from experts).

What does industry say about content writers (in general) and how they work?

A topic (generally connected type content and sometimes easy learning topics) is given to them to write about it. They will search across the web and will gather enough knowledge to pen down an article. Deadline 1 to 2 days (max 3 days), amount paid $1 to $10 (max). As Kamanshish said, “they are suppose to write something about the topic, thats it“. As he said, “it is not possible to produce quality work in that short time or with that budget“, just check out some of the freelance websites and their work. THEY ARE PURELY MAKING SEARCH ENGINES more spammy and thus OUR LIFE DIFFICULT. THEY ARE SPAMMING THE WEB with unwanted/useless content.

Then there are technical writers (background education required), financial writers (CFAs and other financial degrees), Person development writers/trainers and topic-expert writers. They do a wonderful job with their field. A technical writer is not a good financial writer and vice-versa.

Simple Acid Test to check content writer quality for that topic

One and only one acid test to determine your present standing as a content writer on any topic.
Do you have an opinion about what you write?

  • Yes – Carry on and enjoy a future as a topic-specific writer.
  • No – Sorry you will die off as a content writer, please don’t spam. Either you study enough or buy two ox and two cow.

How to become a content writer designer?

There are many technical, financial and topic experts with immense knowledge about the subject but they don’t know how to put their experiences using words. A good content designer can help these topic experts design their content, this is a pure blend of engineering and art. Example: I have a great logo designer, he makes amazing logos but when I asked him to pen down an article on logo designing tips, he wasn’t able to frame it properly. Moreover people like us are grammatically incorrect most of the time. A good content writer is the one who:

  1. can write useful content on easy learning topics and news/events etc.
  2. who can work with an expert to produce a good content for connected topics.
  3. understands how people read content and knows current trends of writing.
  4. who can simplify the content.
  5. who has confident grip over linguistics.
  6. who knows how to check the performance of their content and follow up to achieve the goal.
  7. who can arrange/rewrite the content in a more logical way.

This wasn’t an easy post for me, it took me more time than I thought.

Video: Http Vs Https – Duplicate content issues

The solution using htaccess

# Redirecting the robots.txt file for htaccess to stop https crawling to avoid duplicate content.
RewriteCond % 443 [NC]
RewriteRule ^robots.txt$ robots_ssl.txt [L]

There are other ways of solving it too like

< ?php if ($_SERVER["SERVER_PORT"] == 443) { echo "< meta name=" robots " content=" noindex,nofollow " > ";

You can even do canonicalization but it is not always possible as you want both the urls to be accessible.

AjiNIMC suggests Chidambaram for above 9% Growth

I am a big fan of PC, our FM, our FinMin. I missed his speech at NDTV Profit Business Leadership Awards but managed to get a copy of it recently. (I am a fan of NDTV and Pranab’s leadership but their websites really sucks, can’t open 50% of the time. Plz do something about it.)

I also liked Sunil Mittal’s interview but PC’s speech was far more impressive.
Some points from PC’s speech that impressed me:

  • The Rule of Three – He said that becoming top 10 is not sufficient, we need to be #1 or atleast be in top 3 (as per the rule of three). He asked Dr Reddy’s, Tatas, Mahindras and other companies to strive for it. At business level we are also trying to be #1 and proudly at #1 for few global communities. Its not only about the achievement but about your vision to be there. Dream big, Dream different.
  • Accountability – Are politicians accountable? His speech was soft but honest. He said, he is not only accountable to media but also to the village girl who asks, “where is my school“, to the old lady asking, “where is water and electricity for my village“. He said, “I am accountable to all the voters“. I appreciate it very much. As a leader you are accountable to everyone who works with you and also accountable to their families.
  • $12.1 billion Tata-Corus deal making Indians proud in spite of extra debt on Tata. I wanted to write about this for some time. I saw a billboard “No Indian can ever set up a steel plan“, this was a statement by British steel, Corus’s predecessor company, to Jamsetji Tata. (After some years)Today Jamestji’s company Tata owns Corus, WOW. Indians are rocking.
  • What is after 9% growth rate? I liked his vision/daring to achieve a growth rate of above 9% when most of us are trying to sustain the existing growth. He wants to dream and challenge the growth to a higher level.
  • Then he talked about need of inorganic expansion for a growth rate of above 9%. He also offered all possible help for such global acquisitions.

I agree with Finmin about inorganic expansion but here are some simpler steps to make above 9% a possibility:

AjiNIMC advices Finance minister P Chidambaram finance minister

AjiNIMC suggests P.Chidambaram

  • Govt should encourage investment in web entrepreneurship: Web business is a pure brain business (India is rich with brain power) and investment is comparatively very low. Encourage web entrepreneurship at different levels. Even a small kid can make some cool stuffs with web. I suggest offering some free hosting and domain names through some preliminary filtering. This will give exposure to this growing sector which can generate enough revenue for more experimentations.
  • School level training for entrepreneurship: Now I often collide with young entrepreneurs at malls, parties, churches and other places, some of them are in early twenties. Paul Graham says, “The three big powers on the Internet now are Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft. Average age of their founders: 24. So it is pretty well established now that grad students can start successful companies. “. One of my dreams with SOCH was to introduce this thought to school kids.
  • Small companies will kill bigger ones: Even Sunil Mittal mentioned this point in his speech. You will see more smaller teams coming and challenging bigger companies. An idea with 2 people created a rich Google, which is now investing everywhere. Support smaller companies (esp web related) that they can grow and challenge bigger companies at global level. In web an idea can change a smaller company to successful one. There are many examples, be it,, ….
  • Web has a global reach: You don’t need an inorganic growth with web (most of the time) as Internet in itself is with global reach. Internet is converting the world to a local village, India should get its share.
  • Research oriented people are required: For innovation you need more research oriented approach but our universities (except some like IITs, IIMs and some more) are not well equipped with this attitude. In my journey as a student I was more appreciated for redoing the wind mill than for the attempt to create a hatching machine (which destroyed a dozen of eggs). Web allows you to do more experiments with a very low cost of failure. Creating more research oriented environment for further entrepreneurs is must for our growth.

In simpler words, to sustain the growth rate and to get a higher growth, the roots of Indian business needs to be strengthen. Research oriented education, risk taking attitude and entrepreneurial opportunity should flow to the roots of India. Also PLEASE ALLOW SMALLER COMPANIES To GROW, WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT (with special tax benefits). In order to grow (esp in IT sector) we need to hire the best talents and need to pay much higher than the bigger branded companies to retain such talents. Tax benefits will allow us grow a little faster and to create the infrastructure to retain the talent. We need more web companies working at product level else Indian web estate will be sold out cheaply to other nations. Help us in this Gold Rush, there is much to gain here.

How many friends do you have?

Happy Friendship day! Am I late for it? I guess no. Friendship cards, friendship shayerri, stolen messages, common message, smses and emails. Oops! blog posts as well. Everything is happening on the F day. Thats so great and here is my post for THE day.

Orkut Friends count How many friends do you have?
One, two, three, ….

Do you remember one of the most frequently asked childhood question, “Johny Johny(change it with your name for personalization), how many friends do you have?” and then you started counting on your fingers, one – Tommy, two – harry, four – popy and ……Also jane and pinky … uncle, I have so many friends!

Get into the time machine and ask this question at different phases of your life, when you were not so moma’s kid, when you were not so young, when you were really young and now when you want to stay young. What would have been your answer?

In past had problems in counting friends? Don’t worry if you haven’t counted your friends in past, here is a way to do it (and once again it is by Google):
orkut making the count easy
Wow, it is even arranged further like best friend and so. Great, not bad at all. I think undoubtedly orkut can be voted as the best friendship tool for the era. Does the count matters? Does the intensity matters? Hey, I don’t know, neither did I ever bought a friendship barometer to measure the intensity nor did I ever borrow an abacus for the count. I have some wonderful friends and I thank life for being so kind to me. Life is so short and don’t bother to categorize, count or measure friendship. Don’t define friendship and let it happen its own way with:

  1. One unplanned smile.
  2. One eye accident.
  3. One unwanted fight.
  4. Many years of silence.
  5. ………….

Life is so short, so be happy with undefined friends and live friendship to its fullest. To be a friend a mine ignore all the above para with one sentence “Be yourself, Be imperfect for a perfect friendship“.

Happy friendship day, happy friendship week and happy friendship year!

How much content is enough?

Our new team member, a man with a lot of doubts, Mr Doubts is asking an interesting question, “How much content is enough?“. He is touching a different dimension of it, let me go my own way and I will go the visitor way. My Google experiment is also somewhat related to this. I asked, how many pages are needed in SERP?

Lets ask this question again, How Much Content is Enough Content?
Here is a simpler answer to it. If a visitor is able to find the needed info within

  • 0 click+ 15-30 secs (You have enough content)
  • 1 click + 30 – 1 min (you have average content)
  • 2 clicks + 1 – 3 mins (not enough content)
  • above 3 clicks + above 5 mins (You have no content at all)

How much is enough?
(Does more mean more satisfaction? atleast not for content, right content is imp than more content)

So its not about how much info you have but about availability of info for your visitor at needed time. This is the foremost reason why we search Google in Google. I liked Norvig’s comment, which says, “Data mining is more about data“. Content management is also about content.

Here are sms type hints
(I wish I had more time)

  • Forum -> Content generation (cluttered and unconnected)
  • Blog -> Content generation (Consolidated but still unconnected)
  • CMS based article -> Expert Content management
  • Wiki -> Crowd Content Management
  • Smart Search -> Avoiding extra click. I call it a link-less navigation. It takes care of cluttered and unconnected content.

I don’t like reading forums for information as it is too much of work for my brain but most of the time I am without an option. Forum+Wiki+Search makes a deadly combination for content but still a Forum+Search or Blog+Search can give you a better ROI. I am back to morning exercises, have fun. Happy Wed(n)(es)day!

SEO a curse for Content Writers

Oh God! Back to SEO topics after almost 6-12 months. I am not a big fan of SEO (anymore). SEO can really be harmful to many, esp talented (web) content writers. They end up learning the worst way of presenting good content. Is your content making tom cruise ugly? This post will help you understand why SEO can be a curse for content writers. Also this will help you design an exclusive SEO training session for Content Writers.

SEO a curse for content writers (Thank God, we can’t do SEO on an image)

  • Are you a content writer?
    No, but why did you ask?
  • Why are you then putting your nose in?
    (Laughing with Anger &^%$%$^$ ) A very good question to start with. I am a Maths wonk, a computer nerd and an align to English Linguistics. IMHO mathematics can create better brain friendly content than plain English Linguistics and Computer can make it organically interactive. Moreover I have always believed in the following equation:

    Value of content = Value of Author (information) x Productive Time Spent x Platform Used.

    An experience Author can bring in the simplicity but a hardworking author can compensate for his inexperience. Moreover a good platform (e.g. wiki) can bring in more collective intelligence. This needs a complete new post and will be doing it soon. Most of the time users are in need of information. As 70% of programming is algorithm and understanding the need, writing content is also about understanding the user requirement. SO I WILL HAVE MY SAY :).

  • Ok, ok, :). Why do you feel SEO is bad for Content Writers?
    I know my SEO post is due but let me put my SEO equation:

    f(SEO) = a x f(onpage Optimization) + b x f(offpage optimization) + c x (some minor factors).

    Here I will be exclusively talking about Onpage Optimization. Many companies teach (excessive) Onpage optimization to their content writers. Such onpage optimization is killing the real content representation skills.

  • I know you will be writing a post on SEO but can you brief Onpage Optimization?i
    Yeah, sure. Search Engines rank the pages on the basis of many factors including the content of the page. Based on the keyword occurrences, its placements and its representation, the page can appear under the Search engine results (SERP) for the resp keyword search.

    Onpage factor (may) includes (who cares):

    1. Keyword in URL, Domain name, title, meta (kw, desc) tags
    2. Keyword density in content section (SEs can separate the real content and the template content.)
    3. Keyword in headings (h1,h2,h3,…). (Many follow the following pattern, one h1 for main section and h2’s for other sections).
    4. Keyword font sizes. (Bold, italics etc)
    5. Keyword proximity, phrase order, prominence (placement, earlier the better).
    6. Keyword in alt text, anchor text of internal and external links. (Learn why a link is called a hyperlink. As that text becomes hyper text).
    7. Freshness of the content, Page Theming, Keyword stemming, Applied Semantics, LSI and blah blah ..
  • Thanks
    No probs, Now have a look at the following quality content (written by an attorney with over 30 years experience) on chapter 13 bankruptcy:

    “A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is useful in following three cases:

    1. If you own a house that is near to be foreclosed upon, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop such foreclosure, and allow you to repay mortgage payments during the 3 year plan.
    2. If you have a large amount of taxes due, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you force the IRS to take a 3 year payment plan without any additional interest or penalties.
    3. If you need chapter 13 bankruptcy protection due to some lawsuits or other creditor issues, but don’t qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or want to avoid a Chapter 7 bankruptcy for other reasons. Some choose this approach because of their ethical viewpoint to pay their creditors something rather than nothing.”

    When you are asked to review such highly paid SEOed article, you have no option other than offering a prayer to Internet Lord’s rep Matt Cutts. Content writers need to follow the following points:

    1. You need to make a content scan-able.
    2. You need to establish the credibility to get user’s permission for further marketing.

    SEO has corrupted the art of decorating a content. We have started pleasing Google over users. Let me redo the above content.

    A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is useful in following three cases:

    1. If you own a house that is near to be foreclosed upon, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop such foreclosure, and allow you to repay mortgage payments during the 3 year plan.
    2. If you have a large amount of taxes due, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you force the IRS to take a 3 year payment plan without any additional interest or penalties.
    3. If you need chapter 13 protection due to some lawsuits or other creditor issues, but don’t qualify for a Chapter 7, or want to avoid a Chapter 7 bankruptcy for other reasons. Some choose this approach because of their ethical viewpoint to pay their creditors something rather than nothing.”

    I have removed some excessive use of “bankruptcy” word as chapter 13 will imply chapter 13 bankruptcy. Now you decide which is more appealing and scan-able. Also you can see writers using links unnecessarily to get additional boost.

  • Thanks, so do you mean a content writer should not go through SEO course at all?
    No, as I mentioned there should be a white-hat SEO course for content writers. When I say white-hat I mean the actions which will help you avoid the unwanted penalties and will help the dumb Bot understand your content.
  • What will be the course?
    I think this post is already too long to cover another topic, I will cover it in my next post. good night

What is your opinion about teaching a SEO course for Content Writers? What will you cover in that?

Make your product talk – Cow coloring – part I

ideas that spread wins“, “the purple cow is noticed” and the product that can talk, can market itself. Being normal is boring but trying different is risky and not allowed most of the time (unless you are at Google or Grmtech). So, what is the safest way to try risky cow coloring.

  • What do you mean by talking product?
    Oh, any product that can make other talk about it is a talking product. Its presence is felt and talked about. Also it keep shouting, “talk about me! talk about me!”.
  • How does it help?
    Recently I met an ad doctor and he explained me a common disease with among of the new born kids, a blindness, ad blindness. Most of us have developed blindness toward ads. We know how to ignore ads; the billboard ads, the tv ads, the banner ads and online ads. Even the adsense is ignored, I don’t remember clicking on any ad for last few months. Interrupt advertising is going less and lesser effective. Some are taking the Permission marketing route. I still feel evangelistic marketing is the right way. We just need to make our products talkable to help these evangelists/consumers.
  • Aji, wow but too confusing for me. Can I have an example?
    Oh yes, why not. Let’s take an example. I am off today so was in kitchen, so lets take an example from kitchen itself. Let’s talk about Pillsbury atta.
    Pillsbury atta

    Is this product talkable?
    No, as it is hidden in kitchen and we don’t host more than 5 dinner gatherings in a month (I doubt Chappaties being a part of such dinners. Even if Chappaties are there, we will still have many other topics to talk about. People will always complement Mom’s special fish fry or chicken curry). How to make it talkable? Here is my 5 mins idea, how about giving a dough boy free with every Atta pack.

  • Aji, but every other company is giving free items. How will this make it talkable?
    In fact a very good question. You are absolutely right, this is not creating the purple cow effect to the expected level. How about giving size#1 dough boy with every pack. With pack number #2, you can replace your old dough boy with bigger one, size#2. And a bigger one with the next pack and a bigger with the next and so on and on. Let there be dough boys of 150 sizes and when your dough boy reaches a noticeable size, people will start talking about it. It will surely spread.
  • Hmm.. Interesting but it is risky too
    Oh yeah, everything new is risky and everything old is boring. You need to be a market leader to achieve something. You can’t follow Australian team and beat them too.
  • But?
    Sorry, just to add one point here. People talk more about my red leather cut shoe (Rs 200 only) than my other Nike shoe (Rs 5,000). It is about how talkable you are. I still love to talk about the comfortable provided by the Nike shoe but hardly I get the opportunity to do so. With the red leather shoe, every other person is forcing me to talk about it. I saw this leather cut shoe in our office and order one from the same person. I think that day itself the shoe had 4 sales. I wanted more :).
  • What all products can be made talkable? Can all product do this?
    No, not all. It can be categorized into different categories. In one word non-commercial products (or add-ons) will be talked. I think I should do another post to complete this subject.
  • Why not today?
    Today, I had a sleepy day. Also I has to stand 3 hrs to process my voter ID card to next level. Now its drizzling outside and I have taken an off to sleep and sleep. First sleep -> 1 am – 11 am, second sleep -> 3 pm – 7 pm and again going for one :). Don’t be jealous I can sleep for continuous 24 hrs. I don’t want to think before going for sleep. Please post the comments and encourage me for part II.
  • What all will you cover in Part II?
    I will be covering following topics:

    1. How to make your commercial and boring product talk?
    2. How to use web platform for loud talks (bigger reach)? (I have seen many companies doing it, Sunsilk, ponds and now Pepsi). I will also give an idea for Pepsi web.
    3. Can we give incentives for talking? (On web many have tried to poison the talking, I am against it. See my post on “Pay per post is a sweet poison for bloggers“.
    4. Why people talk this way? (As they are born this way)
    5. Will this stop ads? (No, ads will be used to introduce an idea. Ads will create a little more talking nodes. People will start using ads to create viral stuffs than for sales.)

Add comments if you liked this post and do ask related queries.