Keeping up with Google: How to pick through the nonsense


Ok, so it’s not just trying to keep up with Google, it’s keeping up with the entire Web. That includes search engines, social media, today’s trends, the newest applications, and within all of that, trying to figure out how it all applies to you. In this ever-changing digital landscape, it can be difficult to pick through all of it. After four years of actively running everyday to keep up, here are just a few things I’ve learned:

Start Following & Subscribing

I get most of my Google updates from Google’s own Matt Cutts, world news from my favorite media outlets, and my SEO updates from Moz, Mashable, Search Engine Land and plenty of others. I am all over Twitter, Facebook and industry sites everyday, and everything I find relevant I save and decide what to read more in depth later.

Don’t Get Caught Up in the Details

Google is updating all the time. It’s impossible to know every single update they make, mostly because they don’t even report all of them. Instead it’s important to look at the big picture of what Google and most importantly, its users are looking for. And that is quality. As long as you are always producing relevant, unique, share-worthy content that is optimized, you will be fine. If you’re out trying to buy links (I sure hope not), doing anything spammy, or any “trickery” then you probably should be worried. But as long as your focus stays on quality you will survive the updates.

Highlight What’s Important

Highlight common themes in the updates, like speed, mobile-responsiveness, schema markups, etc. If you keep seeing it everywhere, that probably means you should pay attention.

Don’t Ignore the Technical Stuff

Just because you don’t do anything with code that doesn’t mean it is not important. The structure of a website is just as important as the content you are sharing. Make sure to use Google Webmaster and other developer tools and take note of the improvements that they are recommending.

Don’t Freak Out When Something Changes

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve logged into a Google account or a social media advertising platform and the whole thing has changed. It’s important to always be ready to adapt and more importantly not to ignore your account notifications. Most of the time account notifications will not only pre-warn you of updates, but also teach you more about them. Even if there wasn’t a notification provided, don’t worry Google has great help forums and on-going training for products like Google Analytics.

Remember that in order to stay competitive, you must stay relevant. Although keeping up with the changes can be a full-time job in itself, I’ve found that making it a priority to consistently read new articles helps to organize the chaos. Because let’s be real, not acknowledging change is just plain nonsense!


Happy 313th Birthday Detroit!


Days of birth only come once a year, or is it once in a lifetime? Our beloved city only turns 313 years old once. Nobody appreciates the coincidental numerical significance of the age also being the area code more than we do.

Detroit has had it’s ups and downs. It’s a hero city to those across the globe. And boy, does Detroit know how to throw a party!

We did the Cupid Shuffle in the middle of the street, got a bite to eat and met plenty of Detroiters excited to celebrate the birth of their city. The air that downtown Detroit brings is contagious. The city gives off the inspiring vibe of young and passionate people who are invested in making great things happen. For those of you who couldn’t make it, check out some snapshots of our Motor City escapade:

Motor City Adventure IMG_6698 Detroit 313 Birthday Motor City Downtown Adventure Downtown Detroit Adventure

Click thumbnails to enlarge.

SS Digital Media Tries The “Papple”

SS Digital Media Tries A Papple

Nick Skislak was walking through the new Cantoro Italian Market in Livonia. As he walked through the produce section, something caught his eye. What is this? He stopped. Is it a pear, or an apple? Is it both? “I stared at it for 5 minutes. I didn’t know what to do. My wife was there with me.” he says. He purchases just one. After all, you can’t walk past a Papple and not buy it.

The next day he brings it in to show the team. Everyone is in awe at the contradiction living inside this seemingly simple fruit. The results are interesting across the board.

See What The Critics Have To Say:

“It tastes like an apple thats a little over-ripe to me. Like an old apple. You know? It’s got that texture.” – Jon Cumberworth

“I don’t even know what to think about it. I like it. The texture…” – George Hester

“Is it like an apple that’s supposed to be a pear, or a pear that’s supposed to be an apple?” – Mandi Partello

“I don’t know. I just don’t know. It’s pretty good though!” – Nick Skislak

“Somebody made this in a lab. Maybe the dude who came up with the Liger” - Michael J. Taylor II

Overall, the Papple has brought this team an insightful and rewarding experience. How come this hasn’t been around for hundreds of years? Why are we just finding out about it now? The world will never know.

Logo Design – How Simple Can Be Tough


A simple logo is just easy – easy to read, easy to pick out of a crowd (or perhaps on a busy magazine page), and most importantly, easy to remember. Simple is not always easy to make however. A truly great simple design can often be more challenging to create than a detail heavy one. Simplicity can ride a fine line between “a child could have done that” and “boring”. The middle ground, though difficult to achieve, can produce a breath-of-fresh air, often nostalgic, appeal and message. It is of no coincidence then, that the most identifiable and time enduring brands have a great simple logo behind them.

Brands - both established and new - that exemplify how a great logo looks and feels.

Brands – both established and new – that exemplify how a great logo looks and feels.

Design is like many other things in our culture – ever changing and often cyclical. Not unlike fashion, the look and feel of an earlier time is something that seems to always come back around in the world of design. What’s popular today can be outdated tomorrow. What was popular 50 years ago can be popular tomorrow. It is hugely important for your logo to be current and contemporary, while still maintaining a timeless and long-term sustainability – all without appearing old-fashioned. Sounds easy, right?!

Logo design has seen a dramatic shift over the past few years. The glossy, 3D beveled and embossed look of the early 2000’s has given way to minimalistic flat vector based principles. You don’t have to look much further than arguably the biggest brand in the world to see this movement:


You will change your logo. It is just a fact. Almost all of the biggest brands have tweaked their logos over the years. The key here is they are often just minor changes that avoid damaging the true values of it’s design. Having a solid core logo from the beginning is thus critical to avoid a future overhaul which may put your brand, and it’s relationship with your audience, at risk. Brands such as Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, Shell, Walmart, and Pepsi have all successfully done this throughout the years – because their original design allowed for it.

So whether you’re a startup looking for your first logo or an established company contemplating a new look, be sure to think broadly about about the sum of the parts and how your decision now could affect you down the road.

Is Your Smart Phone making You Dumber?

Here’s a quiz: Can you recite the top 10 phone numbers  you frequently call without your phone in hand? If so, you’re likely in the minority. A recent report stated that nearly 1 billion smart phones are in global circulation and 143 million of them are used here in the U.S.  As a kid I can remember being able to quote dozens of my friends phone numbers, birthdays and even street addresses. But today my smart phone makes it incredibly easy to just hit a button and recall any piece of info.

“More than 50% of mobile phone users, use mobile as their primary Internet source”

Now before you dismiss where I’m headed, let me give the disclaimer that I’m an avid user and fan of my smartphone, smart car, smart toothbrush or any other device that helps me get through the day efficiently. But our dependence on our devices begs the question, “Is your smartphone making you dumber?” As a creative for a branding and advertising firm I’m always looking for ways to increase exposure and engagement between a product and consumer. And our ability to now provide relevant and actionable information to the fingertips of those looking for it is a game changer.

Consider the following:

  • Mobile consumers spend 15 hours a week researching products, deals, and services.
  • 81% of smartphone users will make instant and spontaneous purchase.
  • Only 58% of PC or Laptop users will go on the spur of the moment.
  • $31 billion will be generated by mobile commerce by year 2016.

So, Is your smartphone making you dumber? If you’re not taking full advantage of the business opportunity it provides maybe the answer is yes.


Sources: RichRelevance, Forrester Research

images: Nielsen/Google

What Being An Entrepreneur Means To Me

So typically I write my blogs about the latest tips or trends in the digital advertising industry, but today I wanted to just take a few minutes to really talk about what being an entrepreneur means to me.

Growing up, my biggest role model was always my grandpa. He really had it together, I thought he had it all–boat, nice big house, multiple cars, property… I was always so proud. The one thing I’ll never forget is that he told me that he had never been rich. Ten-year-old me thought that was crazy. But it was the truth. He was a musician who dropped out of college, but he was also a sailor, a veteran, eventually a graduate, and a business owner. The point in all of this is that he was smart and had a great business mind. He saved, he invested and essentially he succeeded.

Now, I find myself surrounded by a lot of the same type of people. People who don’t always go by what society says, people who think outside of the box, and most of all people who take risks. I don’t think being an entrepreneur is about college, your job, punching a clock or even what someone can teach you or tell you what to do. It’s a lot bigger than that. I think it’s about people who can see something out of nothing, who will work for what they want, and continue to break barriers.

What Being An Entrepreneur Means To Me

It definitely starts with the little things. It’s about showing up early to work, not because you have to but because you want to. It’s about talking about work more than anything, not because you hate it but because you love it. It’s about coming up with new ideas or addressing concerns and not just talking about them, but actually doing them. You take the extra responsibility at work, not because you are going to get a raise or a bonus, but because you actually want to do it. I find myself very passionate about the digital advertising industry, and I think the passion stems from helping other businesses grow and succeed, and truly being a part of it.

In the four years that I have been with SS Digital Media (or what used to be Skislak Digital Advertising), I have seen some amazing things happen. I have seen individuals succeed, the company succeed and overall I believe we’ve made an impact. What once was just me and Nick has grown into 3x the accounts, 3x the revenue, more employment opportunities (at our firm and at the companies we work for), more students with real-world experience (and actually getting jobs!) and limitless possibilities for the future.

Entrepreneurs Are a Different Breed

Someone close once told me that there are two kinds of people in this world. Doers and talkers. People who talk about doing big things and people who actually do big things. I am definitely a doer and I think that’s what my grandpa was, and who the people I surround myself with today are.


Welcome to 2014 Where Digital Marketing Is the New CRM

There are two different types of people in the business world, people that understand why digital marketing is a must and those who just don’t understand it.  First, the people that have identified the value of digital marketing are way ahead of the game.  We are the early adaptors of the Internet who saw a global market and jumped in headfirst, and continue to work with the constant changes of technology. Then there are those who have not truly seen the value of what digital marketing actually is. Digital marketing is engaging with your customers before, during and after your sale. You have a continuous store front that stays open 24/7 all while branding your business. Digital marketing is the new CRM because it provides analytics, engagement and real time data. Customer relationship management was originally created to help organizations understand customer behaviors, but social media, Google Analytics and other digital marketing tools have taken this to the next level without the pricey software.

Identify, Engage and MAKE MONEY

1. No Identity Crisis Here: Digital Marketing identifies who your market is, what their interests are, and what they’re searching for.  Tools that can help you are Google Analytics, Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner.  

2. Say “Yes” To This Engagement: All the social media channels that are available allow you to engage with your audience at all times. You can connect with your customer and potential customers like never before. Target their interests and connect; not only does it build trust it helps keep your brand fresh.

3. “Mo’ Traffic Mo’ Sales”: The more you build your online presence the more likely you are to increase sales. Your Web page can help build your reputation to result in an increase of sales, and brand loyalty to keep your customers coming back and spreading the word!

Customer relationship management has kept businesses flourishing for years.  But, with technology comes change, and although CRM is still important the dynamics have changed. The concept is still to understand your customer behaviors to create brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, but without the pricey CRM software. Your customers are now digital and so should you.

3.14 Things I Love About the Internet

3.14 Things I Love About the Internet

Serious number significance is happening as I type. In honor of Pi Day, I’ve thought about this blog for 3.14 hours, & have typed it in 314 characters (spaces included, I’m not crazy) per paragraph. So whether you’d prefer your Pi apple, cherry, octo, or pizza; here are 3.14 things that I love about the Internet:

1. The Internet makes anything possible. The World Wide Web is at your fingertips, literally. The possibilities are endless. If I felt the need to exist in the forefront of people’s minds as Carol the 27 year old yoga instructor from Missouri, I totally could. I wouldn’t, but I could. Catfishers, I’m looking at you.

2. The joke’s on you – and you, and you, and me. Rumor has it that average joke intake per human lifespan has increased. But seriously, I can’t think of a better source for positive things existing in the world today than the people online who create all of the interesting, funny, punny, and clever jokes. Thank you!

3. What does Britney Spears look like with a dinosaur body? Now you can solve all of life’s greatest questions. There is no longer an excuse to leave your mind void of information. We are curious & nosey creatures. We just need to know things. Google doesn’t judge, it’s okay. Go for it. Usually, you don’t regret it.

4. This

The Art of Getting Clicks

After hours of slaving away creating the wittiest and most well-researched blog post EVER, it can be disheartening to discover that all of your hard work resulted in a whopping total of one or two clicks. You could write the most clever, interesting and entertaining post of all time but if no one is clicking on your links, sadly all of your efforts have gone to waste. With the rapid supply of information floating around on the Internet, getting any clicks at all can be a difficult thing to accomplish. But if you utilize a few simple strategies, pretty soon readers won’t be able to STOP clicking!

Choose Titles Wisely

When writing a piece of content, people tend to not put much thought into the way the title is written. But this is actually a key factor in how people determine whether or not they want to click and read more. The point of a title is to open up that gap in knowledge and make the reader wonder and want to learn more. Titles must never be too vague or too specific. And for SEO purposes, try to incorporate keywords whenever possible. The writers of Buzzfeed, one of the dominant forces when it comes to viral content, actually make a list of 25 different title ideas for each content piece before voting on the best one. This may seem excessive, but clearly it works!

Don’t Let Your Images Tell the Whole Story

When it comes to selecting thumbnail images to place alongside your title, it is important to peak the interest of the reader without giving away too much information. An image that represents the article topic too literally is predictable and will not entice the reader to click and learn more. For example, if you are writing an article about how vegetables are good for you, readers will move on when they see a static image of fresh vegetables in a bowl. Try thinking outside the box and opt for images that relate to your topic without giving it all away. Also, your title and thumbnail image should always play off each other.

Keep Them Wanting More

When constructing social media posts, never give everything away right then and there. If you are posting a link to your blog post on your Facebook page, do not post a 5-sentence summary of your article within your Facebook post. If you do this, you have already given them a synopsis of what your article is about so they will feel that reading your entire article is not necessary. Instead, try to leave the reader hanging. Build up the excitement and give them a reason to click and read the full story. Give the impression that you have something of value to offer your reader and that the information you provide is worth seeking out.


To Charlie LeDuff from Nick Skislak

american autopsyFirst off, I have to admit; I’m not a true ‘Detroiter’. I grew up just north of Grand Rapids in the country. I moved to Royal Oak after college in 2006. But, as so many people do, I told all of my family and friends I was moving to Detroit. Their replies were all the same, “What the hell are you moving to Detroit for?” The reason was the only logical reason anyone would move from safe small town, Grand Rapids, to heat packing wild west Detroit, a woman. I should mention, it wasn’t just a woman, it was my wife. I didn’t tell many people truth about that, I told them I was going for the opportunities. I’d received my degree from WMU in advertising and told everyone that there was more opportunity over here, which is true. Thinking back I was naive, but very hungry, ready to work. Moving here was very intimidating for a kid from the country. The traffic, the culture, and all the people overwhelmed me. It took me two months of diligent phone calls to Campbell-Ewald before they finally hired me, I think so they didn’t have to listen to my phone calls and voicemails any longer. I lasted a year, got another gig for a smaller agency in Royal Oak, then started my own agency in 2008. I was 25 years old and didn’t have a clue about anything, about life, business, Detroit, nothing. I was just hungry and motivated and most of the time that is plenty. I remember making cold calls from my one bedroom apartment trying to drum up business, while the whole world was falling apart around me. I remember watching the news and feeling embarrassed, my friends from back home would call me after seeing Mr. Kilpatrick on the news and ask me what the hell was going on. I didn’t know, I just knew it wasn’t something I was proud of. Sex scandals, text messages, people dying, fires burning, housing market plummeting and the big 3 taking private jets to Washington to get money, I know, Ford went for support.

Somehow, I slowly became a part of it, and it felt good. I, as most business pros, have a certain level of self-torment we put ourselves through, never happy with the job we are doing, always feeling like we aren’t doing enough or doing it right. The misery going on in Detroit gave me something more to worry about, something to attach myself to, something I started to become apart of. Twisted, I suppose so, but I got a lot of satisfaction talking to my peers about the situations that were going on, and as you know, there was a lot to talk about.

As I read your book, I had to give myself breaks, so I read a few chapters and then picked up the Bible to reverse some of the effects. As I was reading, I remembered living through these events, there I was, 25, putting everything on the line to build a business and a life for my wife, and myself and the city of Detroit was making a mockery of it, a mockery of my work, my persistence and my new life here. When it was happening I told myself Detroiters did this to each other. My perception was that everyone was ripping each other off and now it was coming back around. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The pain, the damage and the corruption didn’t come from the people of the city of Detroit. The people Detroiters trusted to steer them in the right direction stabbed them in the back. That is one thing everyone in the country should grasp from this autopsy, it wasn’t on the people of the city. Detroiters have been stripped of everything, not just jobs and neighborhoods; I’m talking about pride, hope, love and community. These things are necessary to live. When people lose hope, people lose themselves. And when people lose themselves horrible things happen. These are the things we are working to restore today. This is why I’m still here. This is the Detroit of today, battered and broken hearted but hopeful thanks to the people of this city.