Categories
Ideas

Breaking the cycle: Why I’m voting for a 3rd party candidate.

This is an old problem

Politics in America bend to the will of two parties: Democrats and Republicans. Why?

  1. Money. Big dollars bank roll these two parties. It takes a lot of money to keep your agenda in the news and part of the culture. Brain-washing is expensive. Which brings us to reason number two.
  2. Exposure. They are the loudest parties. They get the most press time and overall attention from major media companies.

Affiliation with, or much less voting for, a party that is neither blue nor red seems foolish. Everybody knows the president is going to come from one of the two big parties. If your values, principles, knowledge of history, or opinions about who would be best for the country bring you to the conclusion that your ideal candidate is not part of the two-party system, you must choose the lesser of two evils, right? It’s the only strategic move, right?

Wrong.

The way out = Principles + Money + Votes

If we continue to vote for the least evil candidate, there will never be other options. Someone must decide to open the door for a more diverse political landscape. The Federal Election Commission allows any party that receives at least 5% of the general election to gain access to federal monies specifically set aside for presidential campaigns. http://www.fec.gov/press/bkgnd/fund.shtml

Since no third-party candidate received 5% of the vote in 2008, only the Republican and Democratic parties are eligible for 2012 convention grants, and only their nominees may receive grants for the general election when they are nominated. Third-party candidates could qualify for retroactive public funds if they receive 5% or more of the vote in the general election.

Some say the electoral college really chooses the presidential election winner so the popular vote doesn’t really matter. But the popular vote does matter. Even if it’s just a bit. Just enough to give a third-party the wedge they need to get into the public’s spotlight a little more.

If your principles line up more with a third-party, then don’t give up hope. Support the candidates you believe in. Vote for what you believe in.

How do you know which candidate lines up with your principles?

I use tools like  VoteSmart.org, ISideWith.comBrigade.com, and OnTheIssues.org to learn who actually makes decisions in favor of things I value. I use FiveThirtyEight.com to keep track of the polls in real time.

Find the candidate that aligns the most with your principles, opinions, morals, economic philosophy, or whatever you really believe would be best for our country. Vote for that person with a clear conscience. You’ve done your part.

The END of the WORRRRLD!

I know, I know, every election is literally the end of all humanity if the other candidate is elected. Remember in 2000 when the Earth exploded upon the election of Bush? Remember in 2008 when the Solar System vaporized when Obama was elected?

Nope.

But maybe this time it really is the end. Maybe if Dollary Clump, or Honald Trinton,  gets elected the galaxy will finally lose hold of itself and collapse deservedly into its own blackhole.

And of course, Aliens

Either way, the newly elected president will obviously walk directly into a meeting with the secret aliens to accept his marching orders. So… why not go down in history as voting for what matters to you!

[Updated for 2016]

Categories
Experiments Ideas

Actions do more than words.

 

Use words to source actions.

As an independent contractor/freelancer I’ve realized that selling plays a critical role in business. Like it or not, it’s a necessity, but it’s not my strength.

In an effort to learn more about sales I signed up for a sales-related email newsletter filled with quotes, inspiration and advice on sales productivity. Today’s quote applies to business as much as life in general.

One’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.
Florence Nightingale (1820–1910), English pioneer of modern nursing

What if I created instead of tweeted the next time something inspired me?

I want to post more content on my blog, so I’ve created a new rule for myself. Before I post something on twitter I ask the following question:

Could this work as a blog post?

This idea started by accident when I installed a Twitter plugin on my website and it started creating posts from everything I tweeted. After several posts were out there in the open, I realized that I had broken through a mental block and transformed my publishing cycle.

My old publishing cycle

  1. Get an idea.
  2. Save a draft.
  3. Let it sit for a week, month… year.
  4. Review list of saved drafts every once in a while.
  5. Edit a draft.
  6. Save more drafts, pushing old saved drafts farther down the list.
  7. Edit a draft.
  8. Publish something not even saved as a draft.

New publishing cycle

  1. Get an idea.
  2. Publish it.
  3. Feel the pressure of something being exposed to the public.
  4. Reopen the editor, start tweaking things, adding more photos and editing text.

My goal isn’t to create a life-changing epic piece of literature every time a write a blog post. This new method is more of a personal development exercise. I’m still trying to find my “writing voice”, as they say. Part of that process involves simply writing more.

So lately, every time I feel a tweet coming on, I start writing about it. I get in a flow, and even if it’s not blowing your mind right now, it feels good.

Categories
Experiments Ideas

How does social media impact SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization

…and yes, social media does affect SEO. To better understand how SEO works, let’s look at the story of Billy Joe Awesome and his Pappy’s Comb.

Pappy’s Comb

Billy Joe Awesome needs a new comb to stroke his cherished mullet. The houndstooth-patterned mullet comb that Pappy gave him was lost in what his family members now call the “Squirrel Incident”.

Hoping to replace Pappy’s comb and regain his family’s respect, Billy Joe goes to Google.com and types “houndstooth mullet comb” in the search box. Moments later, Google magically presents Billy Joe with a list of pages about houndstooth mullet combs.

Delighted, Billy Joe Awesome clicks the first link, finds the perfect comb, pays for it via PayPal, and restores his reputation as the only guy in town with a mullet sheen brought on by the expertly-milled teeth of a houndstooth mullet comb.

The End.

What can we learn from Billy Joe Awesome?

This story leaves me asking a few questions:

  1. How did Google decide which web pages would show up in the list?
  2. How did the first website get to the top of the list?
  3. Where can I get my hands on a houndstooth mullet comb?

The process of answering the first two questions is called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Let’s look at these questions one at a time.

Question 1: How does Google decide which web pages would show up in the list?

Answer: As soon as Billy Joe Awesome typed “houndstooth mullet comb” into the search box, Google went to work behind the scenes looking for pages on the internet with the phrase “houndstooth mullet comb”. The pages with the the best content and code make the list.

In other words, these pages are the most relevant to the search phrase.

Question 2: How does the first website get to the top of a search result?

Answer: After finding the most relevant pages, Google decides which page is the most important, via an instantaneous and always-evolving series of algorithmic calculations. That doesn’t mean much to Billy Joe Awesome — he just wants to know where to get his coveted comb. The importance of a page within a search engine’s system is determined by how many other relevant pages link to that page.

Question 3: Where can I get my hands on a houndstooth mullet comb?

Sadly, the houndstooth mullet comb does not yet exist. When it does I will link to it here.

Relevance and Importance

Among the hundreds of variables a search engine examines when deciding who to list at the top of a search results page, the two main things considered are Relevance and Importance.

For Billy Joe Awesome, Relevance to him means finding a website with houndstooth mullet combs similar to the one he lost. In the same way, Relevance for search engines is measured by how the content on your page (text, images, links, rich media) relates to the keywords being searched for.

While it is “important” to work the knots out of Billy Joe Awesome’s mullet before Sunday’s big family reunion, Importance within the context of SEO is measured by how many other relevant web pages give links to your page. The best links come from other important pages and contain relevant text in the middle of relevant content.

How does Social Media affect SEO?

Social Media helps build the importance of a given web page by generating organic relevant links from social networks to your website. Every time someone shares a link from your site, Google sees that as a “vote” for your website.

The more interaction between your website and social sites the more links generated, meaning your site is more likely to show up on search results pages.

Google has also started integrating Twitter into some search results, giving yet another reason to join the tweeting masses.
When creating content for your website consider these questions:

  1. How relevant is the content on your page to what a potential customer might use in a search box?
  2. How important is your page compared to your competitors’ relevant pages?
  3. Have you shared your website’s content on popular social websites?
  4. Could Billy Joe Awesome find your website if he was looking for your products or services?
  5. Should you try to corner the houndstooth mullet comb market?

Super Secret SEO knowledge

The exact formula used for deciding who shows up where in search results is only known by the search engine creators themselves. Here are some of the other known factors taken into consideration by search engines like Google when analyzing a website.

  • Is your website’s code properly written?
  • How fast does your website load?
  • How close are you to the zip code of the person searching?

All of these things, and more, can affect your performance in search results.

Mission Impossible?

Improving your website’s listing on search results pages may seem like an impossible task. However, a good Search Engine Optimizer can help you beat your competition by keeping a well-trained eye on your website’s search engine performance.


* I originally wrote this piece for SM Agency’s blog to help clients understand some of the services they offered. The blog has been retired, so I republished the article here.