Cheerleading November 2012: Eagle Sharks

Silverfish Longboarding Eagle SharksHow kick-ass is this? By accident I came across a Movember team called the Silverfish Longboarding Eagle Sharks. Evidently, there is a company that makes sweet-looking long skateboards and the company has a Movember team. And their mascot is an eagle shark. Longboards plus shark-eagle hybrids plus Movember is like a trifecta of awesomeness that appeals specifically to me, and I don’t know how to cope with it. It’s a perfect storm.

Obviously, I prefer the one-word spelling of “eagleshark,” but that’s okay, these guys are still rad.

Donate to Movember for this team if you think eagle-winged, mustachioed sharks RULE!

SHARKBLOG: An Early Introduction To The Hideous Hybrid Menagerie

mega shark vs. crocosaurus poster

Finding myself alone for ten days while my wife & our baby spend some time out of state visiting relatives, I figure this would be the ideal time to catch up on my shark monster movies. Alas, my spare mailbox key does not work, so the Netflix queue I so carefully put together will have to wait until Devon gets home with our real key so I can get the DVDs. And then I have to wait until she leaves again, because for some reason, she doesn’t want to watch “Dinoshark.”

Whatever. No biggie, I can still start building the next important part of Sharkblog: the Hideous Hybrid Menagerie. It’ll be a place where I can run the following scientific experiment:

HYPOTHESIS: An online reference library of monstrous hybrids of fiction both realized and not-yet-realized will be a source of greater organic search traffic. Based on the experience of the past, and the continually revised algorithms powering search results, I expect to see an increase in visitors to this well-organized and keyword-rich hub of hybrid monster information.

EXECUTION AND MEASUREMENT: I shall build one page with a list of the names of each beast, and, where possible, reference links to more detailed websites for each. For each as-yet-unrealized beast that I invent (e.g. Barry Manilodon) I will create a more detailed page, hosted on this website, with links back to the main list and any blog posts that reference the beast in question. I shall measure the increase from all dates prior to the publication of the very first page, and segment the growth between publications of each new page. This experiment will be ongoing, but expect a report on findings sometime in Q2 of this year.

ANALYSIS: I will utilize Google Analytics & their new visitor flow chart to determine if organic search results lead more directly to Sharkblog-related pages and posts. I will keep track of time spent on the site, amount of visitors each day, bounce rate/drop-off rate, and number of pages viewed per visit.

The idea for the Hideous Hybrid Menagerie stems from the fact that a post from last March is still the #1 page viewed by organic search traffic. (Eagle Vs. Shark Vs. EagleShark, if you’re curious.) I realize there’s lots of information about hybrid monsters out there, and people need a central location where they can easily find resources to research these creatures. It’s library science…sort of.

This experiment is part of a new content marketing strategy I’m devising. It’s “marketing” in the sense that I want to attract an audience and see if they are able to guide themselves around the website, which will indicate interest, which in the real world would mean a sales lead. I have nothing to sell, but if were a brick-and-mortar store, I’d want people browsing the Sharkblog aisle. If I can demonstrate an ability to guide users to a certain section of a website and stay interested, well…bingo, that makes me a marketer. And I’d rather be a marketer than an account manager.

Account management bores me.


Sharkblog - it is on

Just in time for the Detroit Auto Show, I am ready to unveil the all-new 2012 – now with more Sharkblog!

Sharkblog is not only here permanently, but is now a much bigger priority, largely thanks to my friendly wife who occasionally reminds me that I lack focus and really shouldn’t bounce from project to project when I haven’t fully exhausted the potential of the first one I started.

Hence: rather than start a new project involving all the things I left out of Sharkblog last year, I’ll instead keep on Sharkblogging and go ahead & implement the things. All the things. And I’ll track it all using both Google Analytics and the new site stats that come with installing Jetpack for WordPress. (Tracking things is very important.)

The very nature of Sharkblog displays my natural tendency to split focus. It’s a two-fold project: blog about shark monsters, mainly shark hybrid beasts, and also blog about the SEO results of the blog about shark hybrids and monsters. It’s like having a two-person play where the other person is the actor’s reflection in a mirror.

So my New Year’s resolution this year is not a list of benchmarks to check off. It is one word: focus.

And I’ve decided that Sharkblog is worth my time and energy, so is now more devoted to high-quality shark monster hybrid content than ever before. The site has been redesigned to be more Sharkblog-centric.

On a related note, I’m also more devoted to getting a better day career than “account manager,” so I’m going to really boost the efforts to bring in more high-quality traffic with Sharkblog. I’m going to do one thing at a time, and do it well, and make sure I can show measurable improvements. I’m going to establish a definable Sharkblog universe. I’m going to track the progress and analyze every single little move. I’m going to focus the hell out of this portion of the website.

And I’ll still post about other random shit from time to time. Don’t you worry about that, no sir.

And luckily for everyone out there, I’ve made the switch from creating a new blog post from every tweet to simply having a Twitter sidebar widget (to your left), so you can subscribe by email & your inbox won’t get blasted with constant nonsense. You’ll just get the solid and the polished.

To sum up: a brand new direction for, and a bigger and brighter future for Sharkblog. More focus. More sharks. More better.


SHARKBLOG: 100 Facts About Sharks (A Book!)

100 Facts About Sharks | 100 Facts About Sharks.

Finally. A useful book on sharks.

Check this site often. Apparently, there is a promotional video in the works!

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated since October.

It’s a strange thing to contemplate – how do you continually produce fresh and relevant content for a printed book of facts, without giving away the product? And if you can’t do that, how do you market it in non-traditional ways?

And when you think about the product you’re selling…do you even need non-traditional marketing? Is a blog-style website design not even useful?

Hmm… Blog Blog.

Are you excited?  I am excited.  The Blog is here.

This excites me because I’ve been waiting for this site to really get going.  Even as I type, their library of infographics is becoming larger and stronger.  The addition of the blog will surely pull in more creative types who will use (and/or contribute to) the library.

I encourage folks to use this site as much as possible.  More than anything, I want this site to succeed because I want their “labs” to come online for me.  I expect a powerful graphic-creation tool.  I want it now.  I drool for this tool.  I dream about it.  I CAN. NOT. WAIT.

In the meantime, I will continue to quietly gather data on sharks and shark hybrid monstrosities as they relate to my own web traffic.  It’s all in the interest of learning, I swear.  It’s only partly about the fame.  Don’t want to get stuck in my current job forever, you know, gotta learn my own ropes before I manage someone else’s.

Created by Shark Lovers at

In other news, I heard StumbleUpon got a nifty new redesign.  I haven’t looked at it. I’m not a Stumbler myself, but I’ve heard good things, so I decided to help myself and StumbleUpon at the same time.  Now you have an icon down below.  Share away.

I also added Tumblr, because it rhymes with stumbler.

SHARKBLOG: Halloween

Late posting, but I believe it bears mentioning.

Yes, it’s true. We dressed our daughter up as Jaws for Halloween. I was Robert Shaw and my wife was Richard Dreyfuss.

And oh, how the candy did flow.

Not gonna lie, it felt good to dress up in costume again.  I haven’t been a proper actor in about a year.  I do miss it sometimes…

And I have to say: I think I expected more of a rewarding feeling from dressing Aliena up as a ferocious shark.  What I failed to take into account is that she’s too young to understand the pleasures of wearing silly costumes.  She wears several silly costumes each day, so really, to her, the shark outfit was little more than a cumbersome sleeper with a toothy bonnet, all in a boring gray.

We dressed her up for our own sakes, not for hers.  I realize this now.

But just you wait till next year.  Next year she’ll be on board. Next year we’re gonna blow everyone’s minds.  Nothing’s written in stone yet, and I know Devon will take some persuading, but I’m thinking of a Space Adventurer theme.  Stay tuned.

Sharkblog: Analytics Check-In, Keyword Analysis, October 18, 2011

Keywords are a pretty major part of my SEO “strategy,” so I figured I’d take a look at keyword performance. I’d never actually looked at that little section of Google Analytics before. I don’t know why. I think my thinking was that I’d just ramble for several months about anything and everything as opportunity saw fit, and then I’d do some retrospective analysis. By a strange coincidence, that is exactly what I’ve done.

To start, I assumed that only the most recent month was relevant. This assumption is not based on anything factual at all, I just didn’t want to go back any further. Call it laziness, call it what you will, but I’ll put all the effort I need to into backing this assumption as valid, so let’s just move on.

I’ve classified the various keywords I found into seven different categories: Shark hybrid-related searches, Shark non-hybrid-related searches, searches for me or some variant of my name, searches for up-and-coming artists I know in Chicago, searches for actual celebrities, car-related searches, and other miscellaneous random crap.

Since my site is not about celebrities per se, that category doesn’t count. Those make up about 12% of the total searches that led surfers to my site. So that’s 12% of my organic traffic that doesn’t count.

My site is, in part, dedicated half-assedly to miscellaneous crap, but since the keyword results that fall under that category all have a 100% bounce rate, that category also doesn’t count. I can justify this because keyword searches in this category are all pretty specific and somewhat long-tail, so I can safely assume these folks were looking for something specific that they didn’t find on my site. Searches included “content strategist title crap,” “narcissism experiment,” “anthropomorphization focus group,” and “god has a me-complex.” Obviously they were looking for something else. Anyway, that’s another 34.5% of my organic traffic that doesn’t count.

Up-and-coming Chicago artists aren’t the focus of my website, but since I know a few, I’m more than happy to drop their names left and right. They comprise a friendly 7% or so of the organic traffic. “Mishelle Apalategui” has brought in more traffic than “Bil Gaines” has, and my name is on every single page of this website. This means she’s already more famous than I am. The takeaway: I should talk about these people more.

Mishelle Apalategui Randall Colburn Jeremy Menekseoglu Chelsea Marcantel Nathan Robbel Ronan Marra Erin Orr Lance Hall Trevor Watkin Cupcakes. There, that should help.

What interests me most is that while is not wholly about Sharkblog, shark-related searches make up the majority of my organic searches. The non-hybrid-related searches are over 8.5% and the hybrid-related searches are nearly 26%. Together, that’s about 34.5%. The miscellaneous searches match that, and they don’t count. Everything else is thin slices. Also, the shark searches tend to get the highest average time on the site and the lowest bounceback rate. Takeaway: Sharkblog is the strongest driver of organic search to this site. This is pretty awesome, since I initially declared that Sharkblog is an experiment in SEO.

Bil: one; Universe: zero.

Of course, there’s room for improvement. Lots of room. Quantity matters (as I’ve recently discovered) and I have been slacking pretty hard in the Sharkblog department since Aliena was born.

Not to worry: Halloween is coming up soon enough, and yes, I bought that baby shark costume from Amazon. I can’t believe what an easy target I am sometimes.

Next up: Cyclops Albino Shark!

Sharkblog: Holy Crap, They’ve Got My Number

Sharkblog Shark Baby Costume

Geez, no sooner do I write this post where I just happen to link to a baby shark costume on than do I start seeing targeted ads from on other websites.  They are targeting me because they know I know about them and linked to them.  I have been behaviorally targeted.

Here’s the dumb part: they are trying to sell me the exact thing I already linked to.  Idiots.  How about showing me some other baby costumes?  Or perhaps some shark costumes for different ages?

But their timing was pretty awesome, because I actually saw this ad on the right hand side of a Search Engine Journal article called “5 Often Surprisingly Overlooked SEO Tactics.”  It’s a terrible title (it should be called “5 Surprisingly Often-Overlooked SEO Tactics”), but the content is good.  It’s about – you guessed it – SEO tactics.  What was my interest in this article?  Why, how to get Sharkblog‘s search engine results to improve, of course.  Fitting, then, that I would see a baby shark costume advertised here.

I have no particular content strategy other than to simply write the shit I would write anyway, and then tweak it so that Sharkblog gets organic search results better than any other independent blog on sharks or shark-monster hybrid creatures.  My process is kind of like throwing a net into the sea and hoping that I pull up not only a bunch of shrimp but also some gold doubloons.  It’s not terribly accurate and it’s not terribly predictable but the bonus is that I will eventually happen upon some things that are valuable, and that I hadn’t planned on getting.  Like maybe some silver or a nice pair of boots.

What I’m hoping to learn over time is how to find the water with the shrimp AND the gold doubloons AND all the other crazy cool stuff.

At any rate: Sharks + Human Babies = winning combination.  And for only $30?  You keep tempting me,, I may actually purchase that costume.  Baby’s first Halloween is only a few months away.

Focus Group: Sharks

As I’ve stated before, Sharkblog is a hybrid: one part freak shark museum and one part SEO experiment.  Given the latter, it would be ridiculous of me not to mention the Snickers commercial from the Super Bowl last Sunday.


As you can see, this Snickers commercial is full of hybrids.  Mash-ups.  Squash-togethers.  Snickers plus peanut butter?  Sharks plus focus group marketing?  Live action plus animation?  IT’S HYBRID MADNESS!  I love it.

Even the sharks themselves are hybrids between great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) and human beings (homo sapiens).

Actually, a hybridization of man and shark would be Sharkman.  That Snickers commercial is more like anthropomorphization  than hybridization.

So what I have here then is a complete bastardization of the definition of the word “hybrid.”  On the flip side, no dictionary appears to recognize the word anthropomorphization, so I think I just invented a new word.

Anthropomorphization © 2011 Bil Gaines.  $1.50 per use.  See Bil for details.