No I will not alter links in a 4 year old post to help you optimize search results

Hopefully this isn’t too harsh.  I received a request today to alter an old blog post in a way that I can only assume is all about Search Engine Optimization.  The communication was mostly generalized flattery with a pass at being respectful of the integrity of my writing, but not enough that I think they actually took time to read through that specific post or any of my other writing.  I figured that the initial communication and my response might be interesting to those who’ve never had interaction with SEO folks.  Names and info removed.

 


From: [removed]
To: me
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2011 18:10:32 -0400
Subject: Contact Request: Link in Blog Post

You have contact request!

Link in Blog Post
From: [removed]

Hi Rick,

I hope this message finds you well. I’m currently working on cleaning up [company name].com’s online presence and noticed you have a link to our site in your blog post. First off, thank you for finding us valuable enough to link to – we appreciate it! Part our clean-up process includes adjusting links to match the current title we’re using on our site outside of the [company name] brand name.

Your Post with Link: [link removed]

If you could please change the current link text from saying “[company name]” to “[company name] [important industry keywords]” it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for taking the time. Let me know if you have any questions on this change seeing as I fully want to respect your blog post as is as well. I look forward to hearing back!

Sincerely,

[removed]


Hello [removed],

I am not a big fan of altering links just to serve Search Engine Optimization. If your request below is really about cleaning up branding, I would gladly change the link but if I do so I would also add a nofollow tag. If [company name] prefers not to be linked to in this manner, or the original form from the blog post I wrote over 4 years ago, I’d gladly change the post to remove the link.

Just as a side note if you don’t know already, many bloggers are going to be defensive about this sort of thing. I’m not trying to be difficult, but taking time to edit a post just to serve your employer’s search rankings isn’t on my list of priorities.

I am a bit curious what sort of success rate you have with this type of request.

Regards,

Rick Hallihan

Moving Contacts From a Verizon Feature Phone to Hotmail for Windows Phone 7

First, I have to explicitly state that the following process is not endorsed or supported by Microsoft or Verizon.  I have used it a couple of times successfully, but I can’t guarantee that your phone won’t spontaneously combust or otherwise cease to function if you follow the steps below.  If you have trouble, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help.

I have heard several stories lately from folks who are finally taking the plunge into the world of SmartPhones on Verizon (with the AWESOME HTC Trophy).  Some Verizon reps simply state that you can’t move contacts from the old to the new phone, but they helpfully print out a hard copy of the contacts from the old phone.  Others point to the Microsoft Article on Syncing Outlook Contacts with Windows Phone which isn’t very helpful if you don’t have or use Outlook.  I figured it would be worth putting up a post on the process I used.

The first step is to make sure your contacts are backed up with Verizon’s Backup Assistant from your old phone.  The process is different for different phones, but should be similar to the following.

On this feature phone, you select MENU, then Contacts, then Backup Assistant, then OK, and finally Backup Now. If you have not used Backup Assistant previously there are a few extra steps to set up a password, but they are pretty self explanatory. Verizon also has a great deal of documentation on their website at http://verizonwireless.com/backupassistant

1contacts2backupassist

3loading4backupnow

Once your phone shows “Pending: 0” that indicates that all of your contacts have successfully been updated to the web.  You then need to sign in at http://verizonwireless.com/backupassistant 

If you haven’t already signed up for Verizon’s online account access, there will be extra steps here.

6signin

7signin2

 

After signing in you should see a screen listing your contacts.  Click on “Select All”

8selectall

Now click the drop-down next to “Select All” and select “Export Contacts”

9exportcontacts-closeup

You will be prompted to select a file download type, select “Outlook (CSV)”.  We’re not actually going to use Outlook, but this is a file format that Hotmail can import.

selectfile

Your browser may prompt you for permission to download the file, select “Save” and make a note of the file’s location.

downloadprompt

Once you have the MyContacts.csv file saved, go to http://hotmail.com and log in.  You will need to use the Primary Live Id that was first associated with your Windows Phone during setup.  From the main screen, select “Contacts”

a1hotmail

On the contacts screen, select “Manage” then “Import” on the Menu. 

ManageImport

On the next screen select “Outlook”.  Again, we’re not actually using Outlook, that’s just the common language that both Backup Assistant and Hotmail know how to use.

a2importscreen

Next click the “Browse” button and locate your MyContacts.csv file, then click the “Import contacts” button.

a3selectfile

If everything has worked as expected your Hotmail Contacts should now include all the phone number from your previous phone.

a4success

A few points to note.  If you are using a Live Id that is not a Hotmail Address, you can still log in at Hotmail with that Live Id to access the contacts section.  Also, if you have been using Hotmail for a long time your Contacts folder might have a large number of entries that you no longer want.  The web interface has some good options for cleaning up and combining duplicate contacts, and is also a good place to sort through and clean out unwanted contacts.  Any changes you make on the web will be synced to your new Windows Phone.

Reading List: Linchpin

During some recent travel I had enough time to read Seth Godin's Linchpin, cover to cover in one sitting.  Well actually it was two sittings back to back with a layover in Dallas Fort Worth, but close enough.

Looking back, I almost wish I had stretched this over several days since the concepts take a bit of time to bake. Godin appropriately points out early in the book that the ideas will meet with resistance in your mind. In fact, one of the main premises in the book is this idea that we are all basically of two minds. Our creative social mind, and a nicknamed "lizard brain" that resists risk and sometimes sabotages our ability to put forth our best effort. My lizard brain was on full alert as I crammed through the book, but strangely that helped me to at least validate some of the theories in the book in real time.

This book is different from the other Godin books that I have read in that it wasn't prescriptive in how to accomplish a goal, reach an audience, or spread an idea. It was more of a manifesto, a plea for the reader as an individual to be different.  The different that Godin is pushing for requires breaking the rules of conformity and abandoning the repeatable cookie cutter factory-like methods that so many industries cling to in the name of quality.  He asks the reader instead to focus on human interaction and emotional nuance and makes a compelling argument that this will allow the reader to stand out, do more, and become indispensable to the organizations they serve.

Godin rounds out his argument with anecdotes of modern successful linchpins, historical perspectives about why the current career landscape encourages cookie cutter behavior but actually favors certain types of rule breaking, and even gives some basic evolutionary neurology backing for his theories.

This book is a great read if you are looking to stretch your mind a bit about what it takes to stand out, be successful and make a difference.

Reading List: Outliers

It took me two attempts to get through Outliers.  The first time I started reading this book, I had trouble getting past the fact that everyone focuses on the “birthday” success factor when talking about the book, and outside of sports I tend to think that other factors are more important to success.  I’m glad that I decided to re-tackle this book on the plane because the latter part of the book covered some of my own preconceived ideas about success, and added several new facets as well.

If you have heard of Outliers have most likely heard the correlation between professional sports “stars” and their birthdays.  Basically Gladwell highlights a correlation between those who are the oldest players  in a year-group, and those who grow up to be successful athletes.  This correlation is provable across many different sports, and Gladwell argues that the attention these players get from being just a bit better due to physical advantages means that they get more playing time, more praise and more practice, and that this cascades and accumulates, ensuring that they have more opportunity to excel and become experts.

The later part of the book brings in many other factors that drive “Outlier” like success.  There are a few other circumstance type drivers, such as the year when someone is born, or the historical experiences that a culture shares.  Gladwell also points out several Outliers that had happenstance advantages, such as being given a unique opportunity at a key point of personal development.

Gladwell revisits the idea of “time spent practicing” later in the book, but in more of a comparative way instead of the “10,000 hours to excellence” that was highlighted earlier in the book.  One such comparison was academic achievement in different countries, compared with the lengths of their school year.  This highlighting of marginal differences was much more compelling to me than the first part of the book.  I also appreciated that the end of the book discussed some ways we can eliminate the biases that our “normal” way of life imparts on us.

The last running theme that struck a chord with me was that success is not a matter of personal will, but rather a mixture of will, chance and opportunity.  I do paradoxically wonder what happens when more people are given the knowledge of what it takes to become an Outlier, and they set their will toward making it happen.

Reading List: Pleased But Not Satisfied

This small book by David Sokol holds some interesting perspectives about managing change, from one of Warren Buffett’s chief lieutenants.  A lot of focus is placed on the Plan, Execute, Measure, Correct cycle, and after reading this book, it’s very easy to notice the absence of the “Measure, Correct” portion of the cycle in many change initiatives.  Too often as leaders, we have a tendency to stick to the plan simply because we are committed to our decisions. 

Sokol makes judicious use of personal and business anecdotes to highlight the points he’s making, but doesn’t belabor the reader with too much domain specific detail.

If you can get your hands on a copy, it’s an excellent quick read.

Buy from Amazon.com

Reading List: Googled

Ken Auletta has written a great book about the changes that are happening in advertising and in media, against a backdrop of Google’s rise to prominence, with some interesting insights into the Google culture.

Auletta seems to have enough proximity to some of the major players that he paints a vivid picture of the personalities and motivations of high-level Googlers, specifically highlighting why Google is different from most major corporations.  It would be interesting to hear an inside opinion of how accurate the portrayals were.

This book is a worthwhile read, whether you are involved in the tech industry, media, or even as a consumer who wants to understand more about why and how “free” really works on the Internet.