2011 Was a Hell of a Year!

I don’t normally write sappy, personal stuff like this, so if you’re here for SEO advice or a game review, sorry pal, but you’re out of luck. I’m gonna write about my personal year and while I will touch on some SEO/Search/Digital Marketing related stuff, this is primarily going to be personal, and (for me, anyway) sickeningly positive. I have a real, real bad memory, so I am going to use my Facebook timeline to remind me of what happened this past year :) Except the surgery. Don’t need any reminders about that!

Dominating the year was obviously the surgery I had back in March, a full-open colectomy to treat a case of congenital diverticulitis that put me in the hospital in November 2010 for 3 days and landed me back in the ER 3 times in February. Interesting to note is that in between the Doctor’s office and the Emergency room, I wanted to get a cheeseburger, but my wife wouldn’t let me- I am likely still alive only due to her stubborn refusal to accommodate. Love you babe! There’s nothing like surviving a disease that would have killed me 30 years ago and one that would have required a permanently restricted, altered diet to survive 20 years ago to remind you of what you actually have and what’s important. Playing with your kid is important, loving your family is important. Every single worry falls away when you wake up on the other side of a surgery and becomes totally irrelevant. No one wakes up in recovery and wonders about work, and no one on their deathbed wishes they’d gone to the office more. Your health really is the most important thing, so take it from a guy who survived something pretty serious- please, please, PLEASE drink a lot of water, eat a fiber every day, and try to exercise (walking is fine) for 30 minutes a day. That’s just so you don’t get diverticulitis like I did- I’m quitting smoking in 2012 as well; and that’s probably the single best thing you can do for your health period. I just don’t wanna linger when it’s time to go with lung cancer or something, or get a scary-ass tracheotomy. 19 years is long enough to smoke, and after Vegas, I’m done with it. Join me!

One other thing I did in 2011 that’s closely tied to my surgery is to both pick up and then rapidly quit as soon as I felt better, all of those stupid Facebook games where there’s no skill or fun involved- the goal of the game is just to play the game. I’m actually pretty embarrassed as a long time gamer to have gotten sucked into the trap, but when you’re laid up from surgery, even Civilization 5 seems like too much, and clicking those buttons can be cathartic. Sorry if I bothered you with some request for corn or muffins or something- I promise it won’t happen again. In fact, I went through and cleared out permissions for all the FB apps I hadn’t used in 3 months- I suggest you do, too. No reason to give away all that information to everyone FB supports, when FB already has all of it.

In April of this year, I left one job for another. I hadn’t been happy at my old gig for quite some time, but there were perks- I could come and go as I pleased, people looked up to me, I had some sway, etc. But when you sit down with the COO and they say “If you want, I’ll sign a piece of paper that states this company has let you down in the past and will again in the future”- well then it’s time to find a new gig. I implore you; if you are unhappy in your job- find a different job! You never know if you’re jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, and sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you don’t and ALL workplaces have their problems. However, we live in a time when career mobility, self-learning and entrepreneurship are all on the rise due to everyone’s expanded access to technology. (By the way, did anyone think to tell the 99% that you can set up a business on Google that will give you something to work on as much as you want, for less than $20?) Anyway, if you have an idea- go do it! You’ll never be as happy working for someone else as you will working for yourself.

In June, after Randy Savage saved everyone from the return of Jesus Christ and the Rapture by having a heart attack and crashing into a tree, which sated Jesus’ blood lust and as such the Earth was spared. I also started this blog, after C.M. Punk’s original pipe bomb promo inspired me – too bad that was so short lived. Google+ also launched- that’s not really personally significant, but I did spend a ton of time thinking and writing about G+ this year, so I am including it. Hell, part of the reason I do this blog is for rep management, so I guess I’m doing it partly directly because of Google+!

This was the year when I started using social media intensely- I had been dabbling in Facebook for a while (I joined in 2010 to play Fishville, I think) but also joined Twitter, foursquare and Google+ to try and carve out a niche some of those places. I’m still not convinced on the value of Twitter, I think I’m pretty savvy and it’s very difficult for me to get any use out of it. Foursquare, someone asked me “why do you use that to check in?” I didn’t have a really good answer for them. I originally got it to track how much (too much) fast food I was eating, but that’s since morphed into looking for other people’s recommendations at unfamiliar places, check-in deals, and participating in my friends’ adventures, at least in a tangential way.

Other notable events this year include founding an affiliate website with a good friend- there’s no product yet, but feel free to check out http://www.candysmiles.com as the year progresses- my family and I will have some fun working on that one- and discovering dubstep, which makes me embarrassed to admit to listen to, but also so viscerally happy when I do.

I’m looking forward to moving onward and upward in 2012. Have a safe and happy New Year, and we’ll see you on the other side- unless I win big in Vegas, in which case I am going to law and/or med school. Thank you so much for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars: The Old Republic Initial Impressions

So, I have been following The Old Republic, the new massively multiplayer online game from BioWare set in the Star Wars Universe, over the course of an 8 year development cycle. If that seems like a long time for a video game to be in development- it is. It’s BioWare’s first MMO and the second set in the Star Wars universe- the first was the sometimes contentious and soon-to-be-sunset Star Wars Galaxies, which I never got into, and my gaming friends tell me that’s for the best. What really interests me about this one is that BioWare is well known for creating 1-player RPGs that are usually considered the cream of the crop- some of their titles include Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect and Dragon Age. That’s quite a pedigree- but this is their first shot at an MMO. A fully-voice acted, story-focused MMO where the individual player’s story is supposed to be the main focus. Sounds ambitious, no?

I signed up on the forums for the game way back in 2009, and plunked down my $5 to pre-order the first day you could do so, back in July of this year. I didn’t have a functioning credit card at the time, so I called on my good friend Anwar Rodriguez- literally called him from the car on the way in to work- to reserve the game for me, which he did with his typical good humor and generosity. This means that I had entered my pre-order code into the website before 8 AM that day. I figured I would get an early beta weekend invite and I did, back in September- but I gave it to a guildmate and sometimes guest columnist on this blog, Brian DeWolf, as I figured he’d enjoy it more than I would. Also, I had just played the Deus Ex leak 3 times and as I started the actual game, was feeling quite bored with the first 10 hours. I didn’t want that to happen with TOR, so I have kept myself relatively virgin, even unsubscribing from the various forum threads I was watching back in early August. See, I don’t like hype- I like games, but I hate the hype- it’s why I doubt I’ll never attend Comic Con again, that is just a week of wall-to-wall “charging everyone up to buy stuff they had already planned to buy anyway”. I was resigned to (hopefully) start playing on 12/15, and thought that was pretty good- still 5 days early! However, I got my email at 4:23 AM yesterday and was able to put in about 2 hours last night (after my wife insisted we watch the Boardwalk Empire season finale because she was sick of people almost spoiling it). I don’t have the game in front of me, but from memory, here are my initial impressions.

The cinematics are absolutely fantastic. The game opening cinematic and my character’s class cinematic were basically so well-animated that I’m legitimately questioning whether or not we need actors any more. The cinematics were nearly Blizzard-quality, and if you play Diablo or Starcraft, you know that’s saying something. There’s not a ton of backstory given when you start the game as to the overall plot or your character’s individual arc, but I expect that to be fleshed out.

BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU SELECT A SERVER! I spent two hours playing a character on the wrong server last night because I mis-clicked the server my Guild was assigned at launch by a few pixels. There are both PvE and PvP servers available; my guild is on a PvP server and originally, this made me nervous- but from what I understand and can glean from the perma-testers I’ve run across, you really do kind of have to be looking for trouble to get in a scrap with another player, as the zones for the two factions (Empire and Republic) are kept pretty far apart. Why am I uncomfortable with the idea of open-world PvP? Well, I am a Grown-Ass Man with a full time job, some side stuff, and a wife and a daughter to give some time to, as well. I can’t have what’s maybe the 45 minutes a day I might get to game interrupted by some asshat whose idea of fun is destroying my fun. And trust me, if you read the thread at Something Awful about the game, the mix of young fans and people in their late 30’s could lead to some potentially grieftastic situations. I just want to have fun, not live an alternate life online or get ganked!

I’m going to be frank about the next item I experienced- character customization. How can I say this nicely? It sucks. There are 4 races available in Male and Female varieties per faction, with 4 body types. On my female Twi’lek Inquisitor, it seemed to be a choice between “waif” and “beast”, with little differentiation between the last 3 options. I also found the “head” customization option a little weird, maybe because I was a Twi’lek- but my face didn’t start looking different as I clicked through the available “heads” until I put makeup on my character. There are a total of 7 or 8 things you can customize, but there are weird things I don’t like such as “if you change styles of makeup, you can’t change the color- certain colors of blush and mascara and whatever other face stuff are tied to certain makeup patterns. There are only 8 eye colors, only 8 skin patterns, etc, etc- I think maybe I was spoiled by using Skyrim’s character creator so recently- that’s a pretty tough bar to leap over.  Anyway, I think it’s going to be very difficult to tell characters apart at low levels, until players start gearing up and differentiating themselves that way.

Star Wars: The Old Republic basically lets you know from the get-go that it is fairly standard as far as MMO’s go; you will literally get a fetch quest from your first contact less than 3 minutes into the game’s opening dialogue (at least as an Inquisitor, I did). I expected that though- but if you were hoping that BioWare had reinvented the wheel, I’m afraid you are out of luck. What’s cool though, is the combat. I was expecting the standard “whack away with your lightsaber and see numbers pop if you get hits” but was pleasantly surprised early on. I ran too far into a zone past an enemy and as I realized it I backed up. The enemy still swung at me, but my character actually parried with a situationally appropriate move- the game mechanics actually translated to the visual representation of combat, which doesn’t happen in games much, much less MMO’s. I was quite impressed!

Graphics are honestly nothing special, but I expect that from an MMO anyway. I have a fairly beefy i7 850 with 8 gigs of RAM and a (shitty) GPU that still allows me to run Skyrim on Ultra and get 40 FPS. I don’t think I was getting 40 FPS in TOR, but it was certainly enough to be serviceable. As always, the sound design in all Star Wars properties is amazing, and TOR doesn’t disappoint in this area either! Ambient music, blaster fire- even the clicks in the menus to customize your character are Star Wars, through and through.

More to come- give me a week to play this thing first! Happy Holidays, everyone!

 

PC Gaming- Skyrim Review

After spending 63 hours over the last month in Skyrim, I’m nowhere even close to completing what the game has to offer. However, I do feel that it’s time I wrote up a review. I’ve been looking for something other than SEO and social media to write about here, and this fits the bill nicely! No doubt you have already read a dozen or more reviews by now as well as forming your own opinion of the game; so hopefully, my take on things won’t bore you too excessively.

I would never tell the geeks on the message boards I hang around with this, but my first Elder Scrolls game was actually Morrowind on the original XBOX. I loved the game and couldn’t believe how it presented such a wide open world and just sort of let you treat it as a sandbox to do whatever you wanted. I spent many hours in the game, however, after the second time my 50+ hour save was corrupted I gave the game to a friend because I was so frustrated. He proceeded to play it for the next 3 years as he recovered from back surgery, culminating in an incident where he so over-enchanted his crafting gear that when he tried to make another potion, the XBOX gave him the equivalent of a BSOD and just quit out to the main menu. Now that’s powergaming!

Oblivion was the second iteration I played of an Elder Scrolls game, and unfortunately, was just a bit too ambitious for my hardware at the time. I bought the game and tried…gamely…to play it, however, FPS dropping to 4 every time a wolf attacks is not a good recipe for fun.  I got a new PC last November, and as such reinstalled Oblivion and the DLC as well as the Shivering Isles expansion. I proceeded to play maybe 40% of the way through the main quest about a dozen times with different toons, loving the intricacy and detail in the world but hating the way the plot “advanced”- and particularly hating the Oblivion gates, which were ugly and powerfully unfun. I still haven’t beaten the main questline in Oblivion, and probably never will. I have, however, looked up the plot synopsis and ending on Wikipedia, and it appears to be very good. The world was also beautiful and rife with possibility.

That brings us to Skyrim, my GOTY for 2011 barring The Old Republic being the best MMO since sliced bread. Skyrim places you in the series’ setting of Tamriel, a swords-and-sorcery high fantasy setting allowing for dragons, daedra, elves, orcs- all the standards we’ve come to expect from the genre. Much like the other games, Skyrim starts with you as a prisoner on your way to be executed, when Some Big Shit Goes Down and you are set free to make your own way through the world. TES games are unique in that you don’t distribute points manually to make your character get better- instead, you will find yourself becoming more adept at what it is you do most. So, swing a one-handed sword a lot and you’ll find your 1-handed skill going up. Pick a bunch of pockets, and it will become easier. Cast lighting bolts, Emperor-style, and your Destruction magic skill will go up. (Side note for series veterans: the Athletics and Acrobatics skills are gone from the trees, I guess Bethesda finally figured out that it’s game breaking to allow someone to tape down their space bar, jump for 3 hours while they watch a movie, and come back to their PC to have Spiderman in armor ready to go break stuff). This means that over time, you will feel your character get better at whatever their concentrated skill focus is- my Breton battlemage (lightning on the left hand, Ebony sword on the right) went from barely slicing the skin on orcs to sending enemies flying 40 feet with finishing blows and first-person decapitations for critical strikes. The player also gets Perks when they advance a level, allowing for rewards based on customization. Spread your perks too thin, and you’ll be getting things like a 10% increase to heavy armor. Specialize in one school of destruction and max out the perk tree, however, and that will lead to things like “double-casting lightning spells will disintegrate enemies. Pretty sweet, and it rewards the player for customizing their toon and not trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. This also increases replay value!

One of the other things that’s unique about Skyrim as opposed to some of the other RPGs you may have played in the past is that it is completely non-linear. As soon as the opening sequence ends (it’s pretty thrilling, for the record, but too long to sit through to roll multiple characters. Make a save before the game starts asking you to define your character so you don’t have to keep revisiting  the introduction) the player is free to do…whatever they want, to whomever they want. You can go anywhere, do anything, kill (almost) anyone, work on your alchemy, smithing, or cooking skills, or simply just explore the land. (Minor spoiler alert- you should advance the main quest at least to the point where you fight the first dragon; you will be missing out on a pretty major part of the game if you don’t. I kind of wish the game forced you to do that fight as it’s pretty crucial to having fun in the game that you do). There are several factions in the game- some of which include the returning Thieves’ Guild and Dark Brotherhood- and some new ones as well, including the Companions and the College of Winterhold. You complete a quest line ranging anywhere from 7 to dozens of quests long, and eventually come to be seen as a powerful figure within those individual factions. As with all Elder Scrolls games, Skyrim is not a direct, linear sequel to Oblivion, so there are newly introduced factions like the Empire and the Stormcloaks that see you through choosing up sides in a Civil War or the Greybeards, who request your assistance defeating an ancient terror that has returned to the province.

The graphics are honestly nothing special up close, the character models aren’t even as good looking or differentiated as they were in Oblivion; though you don’t have to zoom in on an NPC’s face to talk to them anymore, the game lets you converse at waist level like a normal conversation. However, the vistas and dungeons are spectacular- the feeling you get in a TES game of limitless possibility is definitely enhanced by the long draw distance and detail in the graphics. I found myself thinking “self, everything in Skyrim is so….bleak!”, and wishing for some beautiful lush vistas like those in Oblivion- but it just wouldn’t fit the setting. Besides, there are some hidden gems that will temporarily warm you up as you explore the icy reaches of Skyrim’s vistas. Don’t expect any awesome cutscenes, though- as is tradition  with TES games all of the story is told with in-game assets, and if you don’t pay attention you might miss a major conversation or event. The game definitely does not hold your hand, and you’ll find yourself looking up on the Internet why you’re doing a particular quest once your journal starts to fill up if you go too long in between play sessions. I’ve completed over 100 quests and still feel like I’m about half done with the game.

Combat is much improved from Oblivion but I have heard people complain that it lacks “meatiness”. For me, zapping enemies from range and then slicing at them with my one-handed sword has been a viscerally satisfying experience, but the one complaint I do agree with is that dungeons and areas may be filled with 90% mobs that you will easily defeat, and then the boss one-shots you. There could have been a bit more thought put into balance, there, and perhaps save scumming wouldn’t be so rampant. That reminds me, it’s also trivially easy to break the game through abuse of the smithing, alchemy or enchanting schools. You can forge a thousand iron daggers and improve them, and be walking around in full Dragonscale armor at level 1, which is sort of silly, but who am I to tell you how to enjoy your game? The biggest combat improvement is that enemies no longer scale as they did in Oblivion, which could lead to situations like a group of bandits on the side of the road wearing full glass armor. Bethesda seems to have listened to its’ player’s complaints that they want to feel more powerful over time, and that leveling up in Oblivion actually made the character weaker in relation to the scaling enemies. None of that in Skyrim though, if you enter a dungeon at level 8 the enemies are locked at level 8. Go ahead and come back at 30 and blast them into powder if you want- much like traditional TES games, the player becomes basically a walking god by the end. That’s a good thing, because it’s reported that a player needs from 200-300 hours to see all the content in Skyrim,.

My biggest problem with the game is trying to finish enough of the main quests that I won’t feel guilty putting it down when The Old Republic comes out, a week from tomorrow. My goal is to finish major story arcs (the game tracks for you how many you’ve completed) in time for TOR, then pick Skyrim back up when the first expansion pack comes out. See you out there!

 

What Do You Do After the Onsite Optimization Phase of an SEO Initiative is done?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone in the US!

It’s kind of a weird animal, working at a marketing agency and focusing on organic search. You never get to 100% focus on optimizing the site because you’ll usually have the responsibility of maintaining the client relationship, as well. That leads to a situation where SEOs are usually on the phone with clients more often than they’d care to be. Listen, agency clients, it isn’t that we don’t like you, or we don’t want to talk to you, or we’re antisocial social-media denizens- it’s that every time we agree to a meeting, you want to change the strategy, or question the strategy, or add something in to the strategy or in some way just throw rocks at our head while we try to work. Don’t you remember that analysis we prepared, when we outlined the scope of at least the first 3 months’ work? Didn’t you agree that it was a solid plan? Don’t you trust us? Then why do you want to change or question the strategy?!?!

Generally, the first couple of months of an SEO campaign are a flurry of activity, with a lot of analysis, reporting, and paperwork in general frantically flying back and forth as your noble SEO tries to fix programming errors, add social media sharing options, and tune the site’s content and metadata to start accepting incoming link equity throughout the rest of the campaign.

Just because that avalanche of paper stops after the first month or three doesn’t mean the SEO’s work is over. On Page optimization is simply one piece of the puzzle, and the most labor intensive and VISIBLE piece of the puzzle. You might not think the Tweets we write every week are important, but we agonized over them, taking into account your brand’s presence on the web, upcoming marketing initiatves and best practices for increasing Twiiter click through rates, as well as the best time of day to post them to have the maximum impact on your account. Yes, it looks like I just tweaked the title of your article and added a few inline links- that’s what SEO is, that’s what you’re paying for! Just because whatever you sent me to review isn’t marked up with a quart of red ink (or red pixels, digitally) doesn’t mean I didn’t carefully review it! We are working, it’s just not as visible.

After the Onsite Optimization phase is finished, SEO campaigns need to start moving into maintenance mode. This should include:

  • Writing content for Social Media channels
  • Monitoring competition to see what they are doing and if it’s working or if it isn’t
  • Monitoring the site’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to make sure there’s nothing technically wrong with the site on a daily basis
  • Advising on Social Media contests on Twitter and Facebook
  • Providing ongoing management of Social Media presences
  • Ongoing outreach to influential bloggers for back link acquisition
  • Ongoing bulk directory submissions for back link acquisition

Surely you can see the value in all of that above and beyond a weekly phone call (which is never a good idea for an SEO campaign, by the way- things just don’t move that fast, something I wish my PPC brethren would try to understand better)!

Let your SEO work. Trust me, they are working!

 

Rankings Are Deader Than Disco

What do rankings have in common with Disco? They’re both dead! Sorry, that’s in bad taste, but at least I got your attention!  If you still pimp getting page 1 rankings as your only skill, and that’s the only reporting you provide to clients on SEO campaigns, your day in the sun is past. The advent of personalized rankings means that rankings are only useful as a barometer of your site’s health- just like PageRank, they aren’t something to be completely ignored but they aren’t something you should be focusing on either. I don’t even know if there is such a thing as “rankings” any more- they are different for every User, on every machine, in every geographical location, dependent on history and browser- using rankings to track an SEO campaign’s success is a poor man’s measure. Incidentally, salespeople, if the only way you have to sell SEO is “we’ll get you front page rankings” you need to educate yourself. That type of SEO is so 10 years ago!

Unless you’ve got a good reason to want to be page 1 for a vanity keyword, there’s no reason to focus on just one keyword or keyword phrase for your site, in fact, you’ll be leaving a ton of mid and long-tail money on the table if you do. I had a client tell me, “We don’t care if we are making two or three times as much money being on page 2 for (insert keyword here). We want to page 1, for bragging rights, so that our salespeople can say we’re on page 1 for (insert keyword here).” That makes zero sense to me; why would you want to be page 1 for 1 word or phrase when you could take that same budget and go after mid tail keywords to show much, much higher ROI? In addition, you might suffer an over optimization penalty. If I didn’t work at an agency, and this was a personal client, now would be the time for a serious re-education- and if they still insisted on slavishly working on one keyword, I’d be looking to fire them as clients.

Let’s be reasonable about this- let’s say you sell a small selection of groceries on your site and the site is named “healthygroceries.com”. Well, you sell more pears than any other industry leader- how come you aren’t ranking first for the word “pears”? It’s because the other sites, the Ralph’s and Albertson’s and Farmer Jack’s and Krogers and Piggly Wigglys of the world have a larger contextual footprint, and because your URL doesn’t speak to your big seller. It’s because they have hundreds of thousands of backlinks that you will never catch up to. If you wanted to rank for “pears” because you have a high margin on pears or sell more pears than everyone else or whatever, you should have chosen “pears.com” or a more relevant keyword for your primary domain- you’re going to rank well for mid and long tail “healthy groceries” keywords in general, and trying to put all the link juice and focus on “pears” is a bad idea because that ain’t what your site is about. SEO is not there to fix your bad decisions (well we sort of are); we are there to tell you what the best possible case is for solving your problems so that you can decide where to spend your budget. Some decisions have to be lived with-  maybe you chose your URL to reflect your brand name and it’s a terrible keyword match- you have to decide to fix it, or not- your SEO is there to tell you how to do it right and what it should cost. They are not there to string you along, promising rankings- because here’s the dirty secret about SEO- there are no guarantees. People in the industry talk a big game and have a lot of swagger, but it’s all ultimately up to Google.

There are so much more important things to focus on- is the site getting more traffic? Is that traffic converting better? Which keywords lead to high conversions? What type of demographic spends the most on your site, and how can we keep them there longer? Are branded keywords working better than non-branded keywords? How can we increase time on site and decrease bounce rate, to signal the robots that our site is engaging and Users are finding what they need? How can we make pages load faster? How can we engage customers socially? Can we run a contest on Twitter or Facebook to drum up interest before the busy season? Is it worth the money to run a Klout perk?

See? There’s so much more than rankings to worry about!

Star Trek SEO and Our Connected Future

Bear with me today folks, this is gonna get pretty esoteric here; I’m about to do some near future prognostication and rely heavily on some sci-fi tropes you’re probably already marginally familiar with. I’ll be referencing anime too!

The ubiquitous Star Trek computer is coming! we’re all going to be Siri searching some day, I just hope we come up with a better command to start our request than “computer”; though it would undoubtedly make for some funny incidents as starship engineers travel back in time and try to use severely dated manual interfaces:

How long is it going to be until there’s a device that just plugs directly into our brain? Fiction quadrilogy Otherland already posits a worldwide neural network that’s accessible not only through traditional input mechanisms, but can also be accessed through the use of a “T-jack”- a neurocannular implant that allows the computer the User is connected to to feed information directly into the User’s nervous system Matrix style, resulting in completely believable virtual environments where with the use of a catheter and IV drip, the User can stay online for infinite amounts of time. Of course, this requires a massive infrastructure of kidnapped children’s brains managed by a telepathic fetus living on a satellite to produce hey, who says it can’t happen?

 

One of the only anime series’ I’ve ever sat down to watch takes that even a step further, with society’s wealthy and elite able to “cyberize” their bodies so that the only remaining organic part is the brain. This universe posits a mode where Users are constantly online and connected to each other and aware of each others’ activity. They even use the (apparently, in Japan, somewhat less un-PC) term “autistic mode” to describe a mode where the User’s data stream isn’t being shared with the rest of the network.

 

Augmented reality is making its way into the mix, too, we already have the Nintendo 3DS, which turns any kitchen table into a gaming environment. We’ve got these brilliant augmented reality Volkswagen ads, we’ve got apps that let us leave messages hanging in the virtual air over our favorite restaurant for our friends to see- it’s only a matter of time before it’s first built into every phone and tablet, then eventually a pair of innocuous glasses, and I’m quite positive eventually a bionic implant. Someday we’ll all be running around like Adam Jensen in Deus Ex: Human revolution: “augmented” to the gills with machine interface parts that will allow us to transcend our humanity.

So what’s the point of all of this? Who cares? This is way, way in the future, right? Well, if you ask Arthur C.Clarke, you’ll find that A) he’s dead and B) he doesn’t think there’s any technological feat we can’t accomplish in the next 200 years. The always-connected, machine augmented individual is going to be a reality. Search isn’t going to exist any more as it does. In a world when we’re always online and always connected, is advertising even really a Thing? What’s important to remember is that even as the gurus and ninjas and experts sound off about every single new innovation that comes down the pipe, we are still in the absolute nascency of the human-machine interface here, with Search. It’s an exciting field to be in and an exciting time to be in it. You may not realize it but if you work in SEO, you are on the bleeding edge of the study of humanity. Search behavior is human behavior and as such, SEOs are really students of humanity!

How about it, how will humanity change as technology advances? Will marketing and Search even exist as we know them? Sound off!

Twitter, Buffer and Patterns of Attention

I’ve been a bad digital marketer, I must confess. Though I have been working on SEO initiatives for clients for nearly 4 years, I only recently started using Twitter to try to do some proactive reputation management, and ensure that the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) show the picture I want to show when someone Google searches my name. I’ve been using Twitter to run social media campaigns for clients for years- even before we had any analytics at all and had to guess at the ROI of social media- but just never took the plunge personally, until recently. I’ve been using Twitter with a nice little free app/Chrome extension called Buffer (http://www.bufferapp.com) which allows you to trickle out your tweets in well, a buffer, so that you don’t bomb your followers with 15 links back to back in their Tweet streams, as you read your RSS feeds over coffee.  The nice thing about Buffer is that you also get statistics about how many times your links were clicked and re-tweeted- this got me to thinking about analyzing some Twitter data to see what effect Tweeting on different days of the week, at different times of day, using different categories and hash tags and personalizing my Tweets would have. The data is interesting and a little surprising, too.

First, here’s a little background about how I conducted this (admittedly non-scientific) test. Here’s my Twitter biography:

SEO Account Manager @WebMetro, where I work to build value for clients through Internet Marketing. I’m also a Daddy, Disneyphile, WWE fan and avid PC gamer. http://franirwin.com

So, this is definitely a public, promotional Twitter account and I watch what I say on here. Very seldom will I curse, I’m quick to thank people for re-tweets, and I keep things industry/work related and squeaky clean. The main reason I have this account is to drive traffic to my blog and also maintain an active social media presence for services like Klout, which gives me cool perks for sharing my opinion, and of course, just to keep up with the news for myself! I frequently am asked “how do you SEO’s keep up with everything that’s going on, especially with Google changing the algorithm so frequently”? The answer is, with Twitter and with a good RSS reader (Google Reader, in fact).

The period of time we’ll analyze runs from September 1, 2011 through September 30, 2011. Now, sometimes, I will actually use the Twitter interface to manually tweet about things and send messages- those types of interactions aren’t covered here. This piece refers solely to tweets scheduled with bufferapp to go out during business hours on weekdays. I do this purposefully- Tweeting is not something I want to do full time or even in my free time; so I have a pattern set up with Buffer to start tweeting at 5 AM PST- this is for my West Coast followers, so they have Tweets to read as they come in to work- and ending at a little after 5 PM PST, at the end of my workday. I tweet approximately once an hour, with a higher concentration around the beginning, middle, and end of the day. Sometimes, I will be at home reading something that seems worth Tweeting but, if it seems like it will “keep” to the next scheduled Buffer trickle time, I will just add it to my buffer, which has a max capacity of 10 scheduled Tweets. I’m too cheap to pop for the full version J (Actually, the free version works just fine for me; though you may want to pay the very inexpensive fee to get unlimited space in your buffer.

I mainly tweet about SEO related stuff, lots of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Klout posts, with some personal stuff about my hobbies- namely going to Disneyland and playing PC video games- sprinkled in. It’s about 90% “professional” Tweets though- I am mainly cultivating others’ content. I try very hard not to put things out there that I’ve already seen- for that reason, I’m always looking for the next obscure RSS feed loaded with great information to source. I don’t have a lot of followers, but I did gain about a 30% increase for the time period I’m discussing here.

Let’s summarize my Tweet habits, shall we? First, I sorted my posts as granularly as I could without being ridiculous, into the following categories (followed by the number of Tweets and total % of Tweets for the topic, in September):

Google

44

18.26%

Blog

3

1.24%

SEO

33

13.69%

Foursquare

3

1.24%

Industry News

27

11.20%

Hulu

3

1.24%

FaceBook

21

8.71%

Netflix

3

1.24%

Gaming

12

4.98%

Amazon

2

0.83%

Social Media

11

4.56%

Yahoo

2

0.83%

Twitter

11

4.56%

Advertising

1

0.41%

Electronic marketing

10

4.15%

Bing

1

0.41%

Self-Promotional

10

4.15%

Business

1

0.41%

Personal Interest

8

3.32%

Microsoft

1

0.41%

YouTube

7

2.90%

Nestle

1

0.41%

Technology

6

2.49%

Panda

1

0.41%

Video

5

2.07%

Politics

1

0.41%

Deal

4

1.66%

Sports

1

0.41%

Groupon

4

1.66%

We’re looking at a pool of 241 Tweets that got a total of 907 clicks and 3 re-tweets, an average of 3.73 clicks per Tweet and about a 1% re-tweet percentage. The raw numbers themselves don’t look great, but we’re going to dive a little bit deeper and look at what posts scored “applause”, meaning they somehow got attention from my followers beyond my adding them to my Twitter. I’m glad to see that most of my posts are on topic, with “Google”, “SEO”, and “Industry News” speaking for 42% of my total Tweets. Looks like I’m doing a good job, staying on topic.

For the rest of this post, Clicks will be the main metric by which I measure engagement. I’m making the assumption that if someone clicks a link, they are interested in what lives behind it. Here are the times when the most clicked Tweets were…tweeted:

2:20 PM

92

5:11 AM

91

11:42 AM

90

4:17 PM

89

5:09 PM

58

7:05 AM

49

12:47 PM

44

1:05 PM

33

5:11 AM

33

9:12 AM

16

Remember when looking at these numbers that I am on the West Coast of the USA and a lot of my followers who actually KNOW me personally are on the East Coast. There doesn’t appear to be much rhyme or reason to correlating the time of the post with its popularity, but we can see that I’m getting my heaviest concentration of clicks in the times around the beginning and end of work, and lunch breaks. This makes sense on its face because that’s when most people have some time to spare for social media, running down their Twitter stream in the elevator on the way to lunch or while standing in line for a latte. I have timed my Tweets specifically to try and hit these lulls in activity, and that’s also why I don’t Tweet on weekends. High rates of adoption aside, I just don’t know a lot of people that turn to Twitter to kill 5 minutes; they are using Facebook or playing a game during most of those times.

Next up, let’s look at personalization. In other words, does it make a difference if I add a personalization to the Tweet, or is the page Title and bit.ly link (which is what buffer tweets when you use the Chrome extension if you don’t modify it) enough? Basically, are my followers following my content or my comments? Let’s take a look at the most clicked tweets again:

Personalized?

# of clicks?

NO

92

NO

91

NO

90

NO

89

NO

58

NO

49

NO

44

NO

33

NO

33

NO

16

At least in my stream, it doesn’t matter if I add a witty bon mot or comment, or answer the question in the headline- my Followers want to read the content, not my take on it. In fact, here are the numbers for all of my personalized Tweets:

Personalized?

# of clicks?

YES

5

YES

5

YES

3

YES

2

YES

2

YES

1

Yes

1

YES

1

YES

Yes

Yes

Yes

YES

Yes

YES

Yes

YES

Yes

That’s…discouraging. My followers seem to prefer robotic re-tweets of the content that interests me. I don’t blame them, I get up from my desk for 5 minutes to get coffee and when I get back there are sometimes as many as 30 new Tweets in my stream. I’m not going to read all of those and it seems unreasonable to expect my followers to.

Now, let’s move on to days of the week. Here’s the breakdown by Day of the week, number of Tweets, and number of Clicks:

Tweets

Clicks

Ratio

Saturday

2

2

1.00

Friday

57

90

0.63

Sunday

2

5

0.40

Thursday

54

215

0.25

Tuesday

41

177

0.23

Monday

37

186

0.20

Wednesday

44

232

0.19

We have to take this data with a grain of salt as I really don’t tweet on weekends, but if we toss Saturday and Sunday out as having too small a sample size, it seems that Friday is the best time for me to Tweet something and get it clicked- this probably correlates with most offices’ relaxed Friday atmosphere, and the fact that people usually have more time to devote to secondary activities like social media as the week winds down. I also seem to Tweet more on Fridays, probably for the same reasons. Wednesday looks to be the worst day for me to Tweet if I want my message to resonate- maybe due to stress from the mid-week crush people just don’t have time for Twitter?

Next, I wanted to see if my followers are picking up the messaging I am putting out there. To check that, I will compare the number of clicks with the number of “on-topic” Tweets- that is, Tweets where I speak specifically about my professional area of expertise and where a stranger might be compelled to follow me, were they to see those Tweets.

Posts Clicks Ratio
Industry News

27

70

0.39

SEO

33

86

0.38

Facebook

21

86

0.24

Google

44

200

0.22

Total

125

442

0.31

 

So for Tweets that I am actively trying to get clicks for, namely, the self-declared topic of my Twitter, I have about a 30% click rate which I feel is very good. However, this is right on pace with the overall click rates on my general pool of Tweets, so I can’t (as much as I’d like to) attribute this to being an outgrowth of my fabulous Twitter content curation skills.

Next up, hash tags. I want to ask two questions here about hash tags: does using a hash tag make a difference in your click through rate, and which hash tags get the best click through rates? (I have an inkling on the answer to the second question but we’ll let the number play out and then I’ll make an observation later. Of the 241 Tweets I made in September, 176 of them or 73% contained at least one hash tag. Those tweets resulted in 556 clicks, whereas the posts without hash tags resulted in 351 clicks. That’s a rate of 2.3 clicks per Tweet, compared to 5.4 clicks without a hash tag. It seems that not using a hash tag will actually result in a higher click through rate!

Facebook- 20 Tweets resulting in 86 clicks

Google- 42 Tweets resulting in 94 clicks

SEO- 31 Tweets resulting in 73 clicks

Twitter- 8 Tweets resulting in 183 clicks

The takeaway here is that if you’re posting information about Twitter, on Twitter- you’ve got a highly engaged audience! Social Media topics do well on Twitter because of the service’s high rates of adoption among those that live and breathe the topic. Speaking of Social Media topics on Twitter…


Hey, that’s not cool! At least 30 of my followers liked my Tweet well enough to click on it twice, but not one single re-tweet?!?! I’d be willing to bet that at least a few of them simply copy/pasted into their own Tweet stream- but savvy social media Users, like the ones that would click on a link about Klout, appear to be pretty stingy with the re-tweet love! This spotlights one of the problems with Twitter- people aren’t as altruistic as they tell you you should be. I will re-tweet things that I think are particularly funny or amusing, or that I haven’t already seen before- but I’m generally not LOOKING for things to re-tweet, either. It’s sort of like no-following a link on a page- sure, the link out doesn’t hurt anyone, but why give away my expertise/time/attention currency for free? Next time I get a similar topic, I’ll try an experiment- I’ll put the same tweet out twice, once with “PLEASE RT” added to see if that makes a difference in people’s generosity.

According to my (admittedly limited in scope) research, my best chance for getting a Tweet clicked is to post non-personalized Tweets that are specifically about Internet Marketing industry news, with no hash tags after lunch on Fridays.  What do your Twitter statistics look like, and what do they tell you?

Turntable.fm- A Love Letter

I get kind of jaded surfing the web as much as I do; I mean I probably use Google Search 500+ times a day and I’ve seen the best and the worst of what the web has to offer. As such, I get pretty excited when a new site or service comes along that I can actually use- and man, did I start using a doozy, just last week. The site is called turntable.fm and it filled a niche in my online life so perfectly that I felt the need to write a droolingly effusive post about their service.

Let’s face it, I’m getting old. I’ll be 36 in February, I have a 4 year-old, lots of bills to pay, and much less free time than I used to have. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for me to do something I really used to enjoy- keeping up with new music trends and acts. I can’t listen to the radio because the banality of the advertising kills me and while iTunes can make suggestions as to what I might like based on what I’ve purchased from them, a 30 second preview snippet might not be enough to determine if the song is worth my hard-earned $1.29.  So what’s a guy to do? Luckily, turntable.fm already thought about this and had one of those one-in-a-million ideas that makes me say “I should have thought of that!”

I signed up for turntable.fm months ago but tried to log in a few times and found that the Facebook connect service just wasn’t working all that well (I wish I had tried harder as some of the other DJ’s on Turntable have quite a head start on me now- more on that later) so I sort of lost interest. However, logging in at http://www.turntable.fm these days is a seamlessly perfect experience. The way the app is set up, when you first log in, you choose yourself an avatar as a virtual representation for the various genre-based listening rooms. You fill out your profile with as much or as little data as you want, and then you’re free to choose a room from the lobby. From there, you choose the room you want to visit and are taken to that room, which looks like this:

You’ll notice at the top of the screen there are 5 Users whose avatars are facing the rest of the crowd. These are your DJ’s! Moving from left to right, each DJ gets to play one song- the topmost song in their queue, which is listed right there on the right. Underneath those DJ’s you will see the name of the song that’s playing along with the artist and time remaining in the track. If you mouse over that interface, you will see buttons that pop up that allow you to:

  • Add the current song to your turntable.fm playlist- you can play it later if you heard it, even if you don’t own and didn’t upload it!
  • A button that will allow you to buy the mp3 of the track right from Amazon (if they have it)
  • A button that will allow you to buy the track right form iTunes (if they have it)
  • A button to add the track to last.fm
  • A button to add the track to Spotify
  • A button to add the track to rdio.com

Underneath the DJ platform interface, you’ll see avatars that represent the other listeners in the room. Occasionally, chat bubbles will pop up above their heads as they chat in the interface on the right-hand, bottom side. It can be tough to identify yourself in a crowded room, luckily, avatars aren’t super important at this time. You can even earn better avatars through playing music that people like, which brings me to a very prominent feature of the music rooms- the Lame/Awesome meter. Stabbing the “Awesome” button gives the DJ a point that can’t be taken back and causes your avatar to bop their head to the beat. In theory, if enough people stab the “Lame” button the song gets skipped, and if a DJ has too many songs skipped in a row they get booted from their spot. However, the “Lame button” isn’t working right now. Hopefully that gets fixed in the future, Raffi’s “Banana Telephone” mixed in with dubstep can be more than a little jarring.

Turntable.fm also allows you to upload your own MP3s to use in addition to the existing library, which allows you to search for songs to play when it’s your turn to DJ if you haven’t uploaded anything. There are also improvements coming in the future to allow better sorting of the playlist, allow DJ’s to interact with their fans, and my most anticipated feature- DJ battles!

So why do I love this interface so much? Aren’t there several sites doing the same thing? I love it because it allows me to keep up with trends in music while I work- instead of opening up iTunes, I just let Turntable.fm run in a background window- I do pop in to add a track I particularly like to my playlist or “Like” a song so my avatar bounces to the beat. The best part, though, is how easy they make it to buy something I really like- it’s all right there, integrated into the interface, and I can buy a song and be in and out of iTunes seamlessly. I’m not sure exactly why people sharing this music is okay from a copyright perspective, but the system does limit songs to no more than 3 songs from the same album within 4 hours. However, if I were a music publisher, I wouldn’t be worried about that- I’d be worried about how I was going to thank them for getting my artists’ music in front of so many people, and providing such an easy interface!

Love the site guys. Keep it up! I’m gonna be DJing in the dubstep and Phish rooms whenever possible to get one of those awesome Daft Punk Superuser avatars. See you on the site!

 

 

In-House Dreaming- Ideal SEO in 40 Hours a Week

I’ve always been an agency SEO (as opposed to an in-house SEO, unless you count my own side projects for friends), but before I was an agency SEO I was a middle school teacher. Teaching is a job where you really do work 24 hours a day, even if they aren’t in the classroom, a good teacher is constantly looking for “teachable moments”- real-life situations that can be used to illustrate concepts taught in class. (Think “I’m sitting here watching MythBusters and they just exploded something real nice- wonder how I can get my kids’ attention with that?”) Good teachers also constantly think about their students, as their success drives the teacher’s value. It’s the same with SEO- we think about our clients all the time and are constantly evaluating how we can apply our latest piece of knowledge to help them be more visible and therefore more successful. As an SEO, I pretty much work 24 hours a day, too (though the 6 AM white-knuckle drives to work on black ice I experienced as a middle school teacher back in Michigan’s harsh, harsh winters are largely a thing of the past)- I’m always on social media, always keeping up with my RSS feed, Twittering and Liking and +1ing and commenting away to keep myself relevant.

The first thing I do in the morning is check my social networks and work email, and during the day one of my 2 work monitors is dedicated to G+, Reader, Facebook and Twitter (not to the point of distraction, mind you, but it does get tough sometimes). Many a time have I come home from a bad day at work and…done more work to get myself out of the funk. Many is the time I’ve sat down to play a video game and three hours later find myself deep in keyword research for a new client. There’s no such thing as a 40-hour-week in the digital marketing world, but I did have a chance recently to think about how I would spend my SEO time if I had just one client. Beyond trying to integrate myself “horizontally”- meaning, to get the organization to think of SEO as something that needs to be baked in to every project and decision, rather than SEO as a project to be initiated, worked, completed and marked off on a checklist- how would I fill the time?

We all know there’s no such thing as a site that’s been fully “SEO’ed”. Even if the directory structure is pristine, every title and description are unique, every image alt tag is perfectly optimized, every page has 1,000+ words of absolutely original, scintillating content, the client’s Klout score is through the roof, the site loads in a half second flat, and there are hundreds of thousands of relevant, anchor-text appropriate inbound links there’s always plenty more to do. For the sake of this exercise, here is how I would spend a 40 hour work week as an in-house SEO (hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?) for a well-established, well-ranking site. Some of you might say “what the hell do they need SEO for if they’re doing so well already? Well, there’s always plenty of time for:

Link Building- 8 hours a week. I would spend this time looking for quality links from relevant sources, and communicating personally via email, Twitter and phone with potential link candidates. The goal when link building shouldn’t be to say “I am going to find the cheapest 1,000 links I can during the time that I have”. It should be to find a few really good quality links. If you ask me, an 8 hour day of link building that results in 3 or 4 very high quality- meaning PR 4 or above- links is a productive day and a good use of time. It might not be tangible to someone on the outside, but building a relationship is what gets you links, not buying in bulk or blasting out a form email to tens of thousands of people you’ve never met. Think about it- do YOU ever read those crappy emails?

Meetings with IT, Sales, and Marketing- 8 hours a week. No one likes being in meetings, I don’t at least, I feel that people’s strong creative visions can get shouted down by the groupthink mentality and that good ideas can get lost in a sea of conformity. However, for SEO to successfully take off within an enterprise, clients have to stop thinking of SEO as something you do once, and then it’s done. SEO needs to be integrated horizontally across the enterprise; and ultimately SEO should have a seat at the table any time a new initiative is undertaken. This cuts down on the “we’re almost ready to launch this new subdomain, can we have the SEO guys take a look at it?” fly-by-the-seat-of-one’s-pants atmosphere that bafflingly exists in many large organizations. To be frank, some of the larger organizations I’ve worked with are absolute train wrecks, where none of the departments talk to each other and there’s no rhyme or reason or plan to their digital marketing initiatives, every department works in a seeming vacuum. An in-house SEO needs to make themselves a part of every single conversation about anything related to digital marketing- the Twitter background image, what subdomain to use for the new promotion, how the monthly email newsletter should be written or how to construct that press release about a new product offering. SEO has a place in the discussion about every single one of these seemingly disparate elements if true digital marketing success is the goal. Also baked into this 8 hours a week is time to review new initiatives for SEO compliance.

Community Management- 8 hours a week. This is a big category and there’s no way to spend only 8 hours a week on it, unless you turn off your computer and your brain every night when you leave the office and live in a vacuum until you get back to work the next day. Community management entails a lot of things- creating and curating content, monitoring Twitter and Facebook for community sentiment and responding to all kinds of feedback, moderating blog and or forum posts, and generally making sure you put the best foot forward for the company. In fact, community management is basically a full-time job but if you go to a CEO and tell him you want to pay someone $60k/yr to be on Twitter all day you’ll probably get a look like you just grew a third ear in the middle of your forehead. Besides, in the interest of bringing social media signals closer to SEO, I’d prefer to have control over community interaction anyway. It’s just easier to monitor and respond to trends if you don’t have to get it through someone else’s filter.

Blogging- 8 hours a week. I think it’s important to blog, the spiders love it, readers love it, it’s a great way to showcase things happening at a company without having to be in a totally formal or rigid style, it can be a chance to reach out, personalize, have fun- a blog can be used for whatever the organization wants and it’s great for SEO. I think 4 hours apiece for 2 blogs a week is a reasonable amount of time to spend. This should give enough time to think of something compelling (it’s not always easy to think of something interesting to write about- trust me), research the topic and find some supporting citations, write the content, find some good images to make it compelling, SEO optimize it with links, titles, tags, and categories, edit and publish. 4 hours sounds like a lot of time for what might end up only being a 4 or 5 hundred word blog post but it’s quality that’s important when it comes to blogging, not quantity.

Analytics and Reporting- 8 hours a week. Various divisions need various reports, but I would spend plenty of time tying the SEO and social media and other digital marketing initiatives to the various Analytics we have available. Ideally, I’d have a manager smart enough to realize that rankings do not equal SEO, and also the freedom to let the site collect data for a few months while taking action. Lots of time spent on reporting ensures a good analysis of the data and also makes sure that your position when you propose new initiatives is solid.

So, any in-house SEO’s out there want to tell me I’m crazy? Sound off!

Best Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Recipe…Ever!

I decided to make a chocolate chip cheesecake tonight for my friend Kristi, who was kind enough to hook me up with an early invite to one of my favorite (upcoming) PC games, Diablo III. She also got me into the Starcraft II beta last summer, so this is a bit overdue. I’ve actually made this cheesecake several times in the past, mainly to bring to work for sharing, but most notably the first time I came to California to meet my wife, Denyse. Baking is a lot easier than “cooking” is, so guys out there, try this one; it’s easy, sorta like chemistry and guaranteed to impress. The only real tricky part is the crust, and the fact that you’ll need a springform pan.  Here’s the ingredients list (dairyphobes and fatophiles beware):

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted (or left out on the counter a while to soften)
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese (better if it’s also warm and soft)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
First, heat up the oven to 350 degrees. Make sure that the oven is at 350 for a good long time before putting the final mix in there; don’t throw it in as soon as it beeps. My point is, the oven needs to be hot! Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter and cocoa:
I am lucky enough to have a nice Kitchenaid mixer, and I use the whisk attachment for this step:
Dump the result:
into the middle of your springform pan, and using either a pestle or your fist, smoosh the crust mix down until it’s relatively flat on the bottom and relatively high up the sides of the pan. I like a thick crust on the outside so I tend to press it very thin on the bottom so it’s higher on the sides:
Then, set your crust aside and wash out your mixing bowl, you’re going to need it again. If you’re using the same mixer I am (the countertop Kitchenaid) I also recommend switching to the bread attachment for this next step:
it’s a little more heavy-duty. Throw all the cream cheese in there:
…beat until smooth:
Gradually add in the sweetened condensed milk and beat well. Add the vanilla, then the eggs:
Beat on medium speed until smooth. Take a third of your chocolate chips and toss them with the flour (this is so they won’t sink to the bottom of the cake in the oven):
then fold into the smooth cream cheese mixture:
Pour that into your crust:
Sprinkle the top of the crust with the remaining chocolate chips:
Place the cheesecake in the oven for one hour. Then, turn off the oven but do not open the door, and leave the cake in the oven for another hour. Then, take the cake out of the oven and let it cool completely. Finally, chill in the refrigerator overnight until ready to serve.
Original chocolate chip cheesecake recipe was spotted on Allrecipes.com.