The shunning

Shun the people who have transgressed against cultural norms.

And shun the people who have stood with those people.

Shun the people who have a different solution to an urgent problem.

Shun the people who didn’t invite you.

Shun the people who aren’t shunning the right people.

Shun those who have slighted you.

And shun those who didn’t realize that they should be shunning those that you’re shunning.

Not much left.

Shunning is a powerful tool, it is a sanction that society uses to maintain norms. But it’s an absolute tool, a final resort.

It’s possible to connect with people without endorsing their worst actions. In fact, the best way to undo negative actions may be to engage with people to persuade them that there’s a different way forward.

Where’s the freakout line?

Giving a talk to three people is easy. No sweat. Giving it to 100 costs you a night’s sleep.

Sending an email to six colleagues is normal. Sending a note to a list of 400 is cause for concern.

Where, exactly, is the line?

Is an audience of 21 different from 24?

If you spend some time looking for the line, perhaps you’ll discover that there’s rarely a reason to freak out. It’s just one more than the number you’re fine with, after all.

The Dungeons & Dragons Guide to Digital Marketing

I just gave this presentation at UtahDMC’s 2019 Digital Marketing Conference. It’s nerdy. It’s full of marketing stuff. It’s hard to explain. Have a look, and see the links further down this page:

The Dungeons & Dragons Guide to Marketing from Ian Lurie

Here are the links:

Me, Me, Me

How to find me:

Cool Stuff

Dungeons & Dragons Related

You know you want to learn more:

  • The home of D&D. Be sure to look at “New to D&D.”
  • Critical Role is a podcast where a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors play D&D. I stole that description from their Dungeon Master Matt Mercer. Give this a listen, but note that you’ll get addicted. The stories are rich, the actors are hilarious one moment and deadly serious the next, and you’ll learn a lot. Oh, also: If you play video games, you’ll recognize the voices.

The post The Dungeons & Dragons Guide to Digital Marketing appeared first on Portent.

Reckless, fearless and generous

I’m going to do a live QA and rant today at 10 am NY time. Topic: there’s a difference between reckless, fearless and generous, and once you see it, it’ll help you move forward. You can watch (and chime in) live, or see it once it’s archived (the insta version is only available for 24 hours).

You can follow me on Instagram (Check it out… Taylor and the team are working with me to do some innovative things in this medium) and we’ll be simulcasting on Facebook as well.

Also, as long as we’re talking about other places, don’t forget to check out my podcast Akimbo, now in its fifth season.  Here are some examples of favorite episodes.

Thanks for tuning in, wherever and however.

What does it feel like when you say “later”?

What does it sound like when you put something off?

All of us have a catalog of voices in our head. We’ve got the one for feeling behind, the one for not feeling good enough, the one we use when we’re trying to avoid a sore spot.

There are good reasons to decide to wait until later.

Waiting for later keeps our options open.

Waiting for later helps us avoid the short-term hustle.

Waiting for later feels safer.

Too often, waiting for later also keeps us from leaping, from leading and from making a difference. It keeps us from moving on, moving forward.

The feeling of “later” doesn’t go away. it actually gets harder and harder to leap as the time goes by.

It’s easy to turn waiting for later into a habit. It’s a great way to hide from the work we truly care about, especially if it’s uncomfortable.

Today’s the last day of 2019 to apply for the altMBA.

It’s possible that you’ve heard about it, read the case studies, seen the impact it’s made on the thousands of people who have completed it, but perhaps you decided to wait until later.

Today is later.

Today’s the last day to apply at our current tuition. Our upcoming session is this October, and after that, we won’t be back until 2020.

Now is usually better than later.

How do I make CX management successful in my business? Practical tips to overcome silo limits.

Practical tips to overcome silo limits.

More and more companies are pursuing customer-centered approaches in the context of digital change projects. But where is the customer located in the company? How do I measure his or her behavior? Which feedback sources do we have? How can I analyze and visualize a cross-system journey? And: what do I conclude from this? A new position is created: The Customer Experience Manager (“CX Manager”). People with this job description are faced with a multitude of questions.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud SEO Gotchas and Optimizations

Updated on August 22nd, 2019, to include new examples and insights.

I’ve been seeing a lot of e-commerce brands moving to Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC) these days. When I first heard about SFCC, it seemed like the brand came out of nowhere. It didn’t though, it’s just good old Demandware but rebranded after Salesforce acquired it in 2016.

It’s not hard to see why large retailers are moving to Salesforce Commerce Cloud and away from their old self-hosted Magento carts. It’s fast, flexible, and hosted in the cloud. It’s a pretty good system as far as enterprise CMSs go, and it’s backed by the cloud CRM juggernaut.

There are problems with the CMS though. For SEO, it’s still Demandware running under the hood. The funky SEO problems that have always pestered digital marketers working on Demandware are still present, and Salesforce hasn’t done everything they can to fix them. That’s why this article, as a rewrite of Ian’s original from 2012, covers much of the same ground but with some new tips thrown in.

Easy SEO Wins for Salesforce Commerce Cloud

If you or your web management team maintains Salesforce Commerce Cloud, you will likely find at least one of these optimizations helpful to you:

Use Default Values for Titles and Let Users Overwrite Them in the CMS.

There’s an enigmatic problem that occurs for pages that don’t have tags defined in SFCC, and it happens for quite a few brands. SFCC uses strings like “Sites-SiteId-Site” as placeholder text for things that aren’t defined. Without using a safe default, your pages could end up like this in the SERPs:

Screenshot showing SFCC placeholder title in SERPScreenshot showing SFCC placeholder title in SERP

Check Error HTTP Status Codes.

It looks like SFCC is defaulting to 410 status codes instead of 404 for pages that don’t exist. Which is fine, Google uses them the same way. However, I’m also seeing brands returning incorrect status codes or directing to their homepage. Here are some examples of “soft 404s.” Search engines don’t like it, so don’t make the same mistakes:

Make sure your site is returning a 410 or 404 HTTP status code for your error page, and while you’re at it, make it a good-looking and helpful custom 404 page.

Use Canonical Tags and Make Sure They Have URLs.

Demandware did a weird thing where it would add junk query parameters to product page URLs on its product listing pages (PLPs). The legacy lives on with SFCC, and we will need our canonical tags set to keep incorrect URLs out of search engines.In this screenshot, you can see that Hibbett Sports has PLPs that link to products with junk parameters in the URL. Luckily, their canonical tags are correct, and Google’s index is correct, but they shouldn’t have links like these.

Screenshot showing PLPs with junk parameters in the URLScreenshot showing PLPs with junk parameters in the URL

Use Automatically Generated XML Sitemaps.

Run the sitemap job in the middle of the night, or when your conversion rate is the lowest. Salesforce Commerce Cloud has a feature for automatically generating XML sitemaps on a schedule, and it’s a feature I like very much.Unfortunately, there are websites out there not using this feature and they are doing themselves a great disservice. You can check your site by checking the sitemap index at /sitemap_index.xml and looking at the “Lastmod” date. If the date is far too long ago to be relevant, you probably aren’t running the sitemap job on a schedule.

Screenshot showing SFCC sitemap scheduleScreenshot showing SFCC sitemap schedule

Depending on the size of your site, this job can take hours to complete and consume significant server resources. That’s why you should schedule this to run when your customers aren’t shopping.

Screenshot showing SFCC consumer activity graphScreenshot showing SFCC consumer activity graph

Automate image ALT Attributes.

Automate image ALT attributes. If at all possible, use the name of the product as the image ALT text when you’re importing products. If you can’t, at least make sure your product images are getting ALT attributes set when you’re adding new products to the CMS. If you want to get technical, have your developer make product images default to the product name when there is no value in the CMS.

What you want to avoid are blank, or nonsense alt attributes, like this SKU:

Screenshot of a PLP with a nonse SKU alt attributeScreenshot of a PLP with a nonse SKU alt attribute

Site Speed Optimization

Site speed isn’t just an SEO factor; it’s an everything factor. We repeat that to the point of cliche on this blog, and we’ll probably keep repeating it until we’re dead because it’s important. If you want to get the best rankings, conversion rate, repeat customers, lower bounce rate, and so on, your website must be blazing fast.

Minify Your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Somehow HTML generated by SFCC uses far too much whitespace. Why inflate your total page size with nothing of any value?

Screenshot showing HTML whitespace in SFCCScreenshot showing HTML whitespace in SFCC

Luckily for you and everyone visiting your site, there is a built-in feature to auto-minify HTML, CSS and JS. It says optional, but in a better world this would be default.

Compress Your Images to Make Them as Small as Necessary.

Compress your images to make them as small as necessary. I don’t mean as small as possible, that would look terrible. There needs to be a balance. We all want brilliant, high-quality images of the products we’re selling, but no one wants to wait around for a 2 MB image to download on a 3G mobile connection.

Screenshot showing a list of uncompressed image sizesScreenshot showing a list of uncompressed image sizes

What we’re aiming for is a smart application of image compression that makes images as small as they can go before sacrificing quality. We have an in-depth post about this in our Ultimate Guide to Page Speed. Ideally, you would be optimally compressing your images before uploading them.

If it’s not feasible to reupload optimized images immediately, SFCC has a built-in feature for image compression you can use. It’s not great because it’s not targetable and there’s no control over the type of compression used. Use it as a stop-gap measure but never a long-term solution, no matter what anyone tries to tell you.

Use Inline CSS and JavaScript for Rendering Above the Fold.

Put everything else in an external file. You want to inline the code that’s critical for rendering the content users will see first. It helps users, and it yields better scores in Google’s site page speed tools.

What you don’t want is blocks of code, hundreds of lines long, buried deep in page source:

Screenshot showing blocks of code buried deep in page sourceScreenshot showing blocks of code buried deep in page source

Use Lazy-loading for Your Images

Use lazy-loading for your images. Does a browser need to download an image before users can see it? For most images, the answer is no. You can seize even faster page load times when you let your pages tactically postpone image requests. It’s a neat trick, and we go into the technique more in our Ultimate Guide to Page Speed (yet again.)

Tougher Stuff

These optimizations are harder. They’re technical, they require a developer to implement, but they have huge payoffs if you invest. Be advised; I’m also going full technical SEO nerd in this section.

Use Friendly URLs in Faceted Navigation.

Back in the Demandware days, there was a decision made to inflate the number of product listing page filter URLs to the point of absurdity. Such a thing looks like this, and it’s only for three PLP filters:

Each product filter a user applied to a PLP adds 1-2 query parameters with names like “prefn1,” “prefv2,” “pmax,” and “srule.” Combine those parameters with the number of filters and options you have, and you have a major crawl budget problem.

The solution to this is to form nice looking URLs for sets of filter combinations. This accomplishes a few goals for tackling faceted navigation problems:

  • The URLs become human-readable and descriptive
  • We can separate the URLs we want to index from those we don’t
  • The URLs we keep in the index are now landing pages for long-tail queries

Here’s an illustration: which of these URLs is best equipped to compete for the term “men’s grey running shoes?” Each is using Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and they’re using basically the same filters:

My bet’s on adidas to win this race. It’s concise, readable, keyword-relevant, and fully displayable in a search snippet. The New Balance URL is a mess, but it contains “men,” “running,” and “grey.” Puma looks pretty good, but the URL fragment trick they’re using to manage their crawl budget cuts off the filter for the color grey.

Since Google ignores everything after the hash sign (#) in a URL, Puma is missing out on copious long-tail traffic. If they just formatted their URLs more like adidas, they could have landing pages targeting queries for men’s grey running shoes, women’s grey running shoes, black, white, red, etc.

Keep API URLs Out of the Index.

It’s surprisingly easy for Salesforce Commerce Cloud developers to link to URLs like /on/, and they shouldn’t.

These URLs aren’t pages. They’re hooks for executing scripts on the backend for doing things like logging in or showing the contents of a shopping cart. Because they’re not real pages, letting Google find them wastes crawl budget and could create a thin content issue.

Screenshot showing API URLs in SERPsScreenshot showing API URLs in SERPs

The go-to solution I see happening the most often is adding lines to robots.txt that look like Disallow: /on/, and it’s incorrect. You cannot use robots.txt to remove things from the index.

Control the search index the right way with either of these approaches:

  • Don’t link to API endpoint URLs
  • Configure SFCC to add X-Robots-Tag: noindex, nofollow to the HTTP response headers for these URLs

Find Instances of “Sites-SiteId-Site” in Content and Fix Them.

In an earlier recommendation, I said you need to set default page titles to prevent this from showing up inside <title>. This string can show up in all sorts of places users can see: H1s, meta descriptions, content, navigation, and so on.

Each instance of this takes you further away from perfect. It’s a bad code smell that indicates there are other issues you need to address to get your infrastructure in line. To quickly hunt down “Sites-SiteId-Site” problems get your SiteId from a developer or CTRL-F for “siteid” in your page source code. Then do this search in Google:

Screenshot showing how to search for your Site Id in GoogleScreenshot showing how to search for your Site Id in Google

Since the string is like a default error value, it can show up in weird places. Be aware, however “Site-SiteId-Site” is in each API call URL and is not a problem. Doing a search over page source to find this will result in a lot of false positives.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud is Pretty Good

Flexibility is a double-edged sword. The possibilities that cause so many SEO problems in SFCC also make it capable of incredible customization. Overall, I like it significantly more than other enterprise CMSs out there. I would use SFCC if I were a big retailer.

Part of why I like SFCC so much is familiarity. We’ve been working on Demandware/SFCC websites for a long time and its quirks are well-understood. Our Mothership even has a dedicated e-commerce team that works on SFCC frequently.

The other part is that we like solving gnarly problems. If you have a vexing SEO issue with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, hit us with it. We’ll help you untangle.

The post Salesforce Commerce Cloud SEO Gotchas and Optimizations appeared first on Portent.

Sooner or later, the shark gets jumped

Short-term thinking repeated again and again doesn’t lead to long-term thinking.

Rand Fishkin shares a thoughtful analysis about a trend that now affects just about everyone: Google is hoarding more and more traffic.

When I worked at Yahoo, there were 183 links on our home page. The stated strategy of the company was to build more and more internal content and services (Yahoo mail, Yahooligans, Yahoo Finance) to keep as many surfers on their site for as long as they could. The math was simple: if you’re getting paid by the impression, having someone stay for twenty or thirty clicks is way more profitable than encouraging them to leave and go to another site.

Google blew this status quo wide open. Their model was very different: “come here on your way to somewhere else.”  There were only two links on their home page, because the only place they wanted to encourage you to go was wherever a good search led you.

If you were a company or an individual with something to say, this hub and spoke model was essential to your ability to make a difference online. The web is a very big haystack, but if your needle was sharp enough, the promise was that you could get found.

And if you were someone looking for information, commerce or connection, you could rely on Google to take you there.

This, as much as anything, enabled Google to draw huge amounts of traffic away from Yahoo. It didn’t take very long for surfers to realize that they wanted to see what else was out there, not be shunted around a walled garden.

Year after year, driven by the short-term (shortsighted) demands of the public markets, Google has been losing its way on this effective (and community-based) strategy. In the most recent data Rand quoted, we see that more than half the time, a search on Google leads to someone either clicking on nothing (because they found what they needed without leaving the search results) or visiting a property Google already owns.

On a regular basis, Google makes changes to their UI and algorithm that destroy companies or industries in order to keep more time and clicks from the person who was expecting to find themselves somewhere else after visiting Google.

If you’re a fan of the open web, this is bad news.

If you’re an individual or business that’s hoping to be ‘found’ via a search, this is bad news.

And if you’re a Google employee or shareholder this is bad news as well, because monopoly is a tempting place to extract cash and drive the stock up, but it’s not stable.

The resilience of the connected open web is one of the shining lights of our modern culture, and my hope is that we can avert lock-in before we calcify around the current status quo.

Every monopoly seems like it’s going to last forever, until it doesn’t.

Steps to Ensure Smooth Networking at a Business Event

Networking is one of the most important things about any business event. If you get it right, you can generate new clients and partnerships to help grow your business. If you fail, however, then the event will have been a waste of time and you might have potentially scared away a profitable customer. 

If you are looking for some tips to improve your networking activity at your next business event, Staff Badges Direct have you covered with this article. 


Design a Professional Badge 

As experts at designing high-quality name badges, of course we must start with this point! Making a good first impression is one of the most important factors you need to get right. If you make a bad first impression, it’s all downhill from there. When you first meet someone, one of the first things they will see is your name badge. The name badge is a representation of yourself and your business. It should be professional and reflect who you are, what you do and the style of your business. Poorly designed badges will leave a bad taste while failing to have one at all will make it impossible for you to stand out. 


Hand out a Business Card 

A name badge is just one step of networking and it primarily involves being in the moment. But what happens when you depart the event? The relationships you build at the event should be able to grow afterwards. It’s vitally important that you design a business card. Like a name badge, the business card should reflect you and your business in a way that’s most suitable. Always take more business cards than you think you will need in case of a larger turnout than you predicted. Carry your business cards in a sensible way that allows you to hand them out on the fly instead of fumbling into cases and bags. Ideally each person who is representing your business should have a selection of cards to hand out. 


Blend Personal with Professional 

The key to a smooth networking performance is the ability to balance your personal side with your professional approach. Try not to be too serious but also don’t act like the class clown! Building a network requires effort from both sides of the discussion. Show that you are interested in learning about the other person’s professional and personal life. Likewise, don’t be afraid to open up when someone approaches you with similar questions. It’s always good to listen in to a conversation before jumping straight in. Don’t make the conversations all about you and your business. Don’t forget to smile! 


Take Notes 

When there’s potentially hundreds of people at the event and your itinerary is packed with activities to keep you occupied, it’s perfectly acceptable to understand that you won’t remember every person and conversation. After a meaningful discussion with a person or a group of people, take a moment away to note down who was involved and what was said. This will make it much easier when following up on chats in the following weeks and months. 


Follow Up 

Last of all, make sure you follow up with your new connections as soon as possible. Once you’ve returned home and are back in the office, drop them a message. The later you leave it the more likely the connection will drop off and lose interest in connecting with your further. 

Ask a busy person

You might know one.

The busy person has a bias for action, the ability to ship, and a willingness to contribute more than is required. The busy person is wrong more than most people (if you get up to bat more often, you’re going to have more hits and more strike outs, right?). Those errors are dwarfed by the impact they create.

Being a busy person is a choice.

It might not work for you, but you could try it out for a while.

We need more busy people.