Posts Tagged ‘domain name’

The dilemma of a name, mine in particular

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

My name is Melissa Chang. That seems like a simple statement, but it really isn’t if you dig a little deeper. Some of you may know, for instance, that my name used to be Melissa Reyen – after all, it wasn’t so long ago that I got married and decided to take my husband’s name.

But the decision to change my name wasn’t a simple one. I had some credits to my name (although small ones, admittedly). I also have a strong love for my family and pride in my family name. (The Reyen Clan often breaks into chants of “Reyen’s Rule” at family weddings, BBQs and just walking down the street – hey, I said that we were proud, not that we were cool!)

But my wedding day was a solid year before I started my business and this blog. If it wasn’t, I’m honestly not sure what I would have done because changing my name to Melissa Chang was not a good business move.

The reason for this was raised by Ryan Healy today in the Employee Evolution blog. His article is all about controlling your name as your personal brand and figuring out how to dominate Google searches for your name as a keyword. As you might guess, it was simple to be ranked first for the term Melissa Reyen. In fact, just by writing the name Melissa Reyen a few more times in this post, it is entirely possible that this post will become #1 in Google for the term Melissa Reyen.

Reyen is a great name

But Melissa Chang is another story. In the U.S., Melissa is the 30th most popular first name and Chang is the 687th most popular last name. Expand the search to China, and Chang is the 5th most popular name. There are a lot of Melissa Chang’s out there, so it’s hard to stand out. I also don’t own the domain name www.melissachang.com, even though I own 500 other domains, including MadamChang.com (no, I’m not kidding).

Things are even trickier when it comes to managing my identity on social networking sites, especially when my user name is an important part of my profile. Mchang is never available; neither is melissachang. I usually end up going with mchang16, which is a combination of my name and my blog, but honestly isn’t very satisfactory.

But thankfully I didn’t think about all those issues when I was trying to decide if I should change my name. At the time I was more focused on leaving the name Melissa Reyen, which I was quite fond of, and wondering how many times people would make assumptions about me if I had the last name Chang. (Watch this clip from Seinfeld if you’re wondering what I’m talking about.)

Ultimately, I’m glad that I changed my name for all the reasons that mattered to me. But I’m very glad that I didn’t have to make the decision after I had spent time building my business and personal brand – because then things would have gotten complicated (although probably not as complicated as this).

What is SEO?

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

SEOSearch engine optimization or SEO is the practice of trying to get your Web site to appear higher in a search engine’s organic search results for the keywords for which you want to be listed. The idea is that if someone is searching for a term that is related to your business, you want to be listed at the top of the search results page because that person will be more likely to click on your listing and come to your Web site. Organic search results are the “natural” search results, or the listings that are free. More about organic vs. paid listings below.

There are many factors that contribute to where sites are listed in organic search results – the combination of these factors is called the “algorithm.” Only some of these factors can be impacted with SEO tactics:

  • Domain name – If your keywords are listed in your URL, you’ll have a better chance of being ranked higher in the search results for those terms.
  • Duration - The longer your site has existed, the higher you’ll be ranked.
  • Content – If you have high-quality content on your Web site, and the content matches the keywords for which you’re trying to rank, you’ll have better luck getting listed. It’s also beneficial if your site has frequently updated content.
  • Metadata – This is data that allows you to describe your Web site with a title, description and keywords. Metadata sits behind the scenes on your Web page and plays a factor in organic search results.
  • Incoming links – If your site has a number of other sites pointing to it, the search algorithms will determine that it’s of higher value and will list it higher in the search results. You will get an even bigger benefit from incoming links if the text that links to you contains the keywords for which you’re trying to rank.

SEO may sound like a relatively simple concept, but there are SEO experts who execute these tactics full-time and trust me – it’s more complex and difficult than it sounds. This post is just meant to be a starting definition of the term, and not a how-to or training guide in any way. For that info, follow the resources links below.

One quick comment about organic vs. paid search listings: All the various search engines display both free and paid listings on their search results pages. For example, if you type the term “SEO” into Google, the results that you get back will be a combination of organic (or natural) search results and paid search results. The screenshot below has the paid search results areas circled in red.

SEO google search

Let me say again that SEO can be fairly complicated and I am just scratching the surface with this definition. I definitely recommend checking out some of these additional SEO resources:

What does 16th Letter mean?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Hands down, the most frequent question I get about this blog is about its name and what 16th Letter means. I’m glad that everyone who asks thinks that it must mean something, but so far, no one has figured it out without me telling them. So here’s the scoop.

I love piI started a company this year called Pure Incubation. The naming process was difficult, but when Pure Incubation came up as an initial idea, part of the appeal of the name was that the initials are “PI” – like pi (or pie). The super-geeky part of me really liked some of the symbolically interesting things about naming a company after pi (the 3.14 version), if you read up on the listing in Wikipedia you’ll see what I mean, but here are the highlights:

  • Pi is related to math. I am not a big math-lover, so I like the irony.
  • Pi is “transcendental” – in math definition is too hard to explain, but its other definition is “surpassing all others” or “beyond common thought or experience.”
  • People often say that pi is infinite, but it isn’t – it’s “irrational.” This is another math term that means that a number can’t be written as the ratio of two integers – you cannot reach the end of trying to calculate the exact value of the number.
  • There were many people who worked extensively on calculating pi across many nations and cultures and centuries. The first was Archimedes around 250 B.C. Over the years, mathematicians from Greece, China, Babylonia, Egypt, India, Scotland, Germany and France dedicated their entire lives to working on the calculation. It was considered to be a great breakthrough in 1424 when a Persian calculated the number to 16 decimals. There was something so appealing about this number that people dedicated their lives to discovering more about it.
  • With the advent of computers, work on pi was revolutionized. In 1949, John von Neumann used ENIAC to compute 2,037 digits of pi – a calculation that took 70 hours. The current record (set in 2002) is pi calculated to 1,241,100,000,000 decimals.

That was likely more information than you ever wanted to know about pi.

After I figured out the company name, I needed to come up with a name for my blog. I wanted it to be related to Pure Incubation, but not tied so closely to it that it couldn’t stand alone. Finally, it dawned on me that pi is the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet.

Photo by jaqian

A bad Web design could kill your business

Monday, October 29th, 2007

If you have a company, you have a Web site. If you work for a company, it has a Web site. If you don’t work, you use Web sites. OK, you get the point – Web design affects everyone. (Aside: If you have a company and do not have a Web site, it’s time to get one. At this point, there is absolutely no reason you should be without. Go buy a domain name, and get started.)

Even though Web design affects everyone, this post is really directed at business owners, or anyone who is in charge of or has an influencing role in the development and design of the Web site at their company. You may believe that the design doesn’t really matter, that as long as you have a “Web presence,” that’s enough and your company will be successful. This is a myth.

Your Web site is your #1 face to the world, your primary branding vehicle. It doesn’t matter how wonderful your offline presence is, if your Web site isn’t as nice – or nicer – than your store, or restaurant, or software or service, you will lose customers. This is increasingly true as more and more people use the Internet to research everything, and especially as the younger generations who grew up with technology move into consumer roles. This generation grew up using the Internet, and they use it to research everything because they don’t want to waste their time driving somewhere or ordering something only to find out that it’s not what they were looking for, for goodness sake, what a waste of time.

But what if you do have the product that they are looking for, but they just don’t think so because your Web site isn’t attractive? This happens! Let me give you two examples. First, I treated a friend to a day at the spa for her birthday, and I sent her the links to two spas that I had been to before. In person, they were very similar, nice, upscale spas. Here are the links: Paula’s and Bella Sante. Which do you think she chose? Yep – Bella Sante. It was actually less conveniently located, but she picked it solely because the Web site made it appear that it would be nicer. Second example – I went to Bermuda this past summer and stayed at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort. Did you go look at the site? Go now. I would 100% recommend this place to anyone – it was beautiful and we had a wonderful time there, but I would 100% NOT send anyone the link to the Web site. The reason? Their photography is so outdated that it makes the place look cheesy, like it hasn’t been updated since the 80’s. There are no up-close pictures of the beach, arguably the resort’s best feature, and even the models look outdated with their clothes and hairstyles. If someone else hadn’t booked this resort before I saw the site, I would never have gone there.

Web design matters; don’t try to fool yourself that it doesn’t.