What Some People Will Compare – Keep and Evernote?

There have been articles and blog posts out the wazoo over the past few days, after Google released Keep, it’s new note taking add-on to Google Drive. The bulk of them have been comparing Keep to Evernote, pondering whether the Big G’s new feature is an Evernote killer.

It’s amazing what people will use to put a story out.

Now look, I’m a big fan of Google (although I also have lots of reservations about them) and I use MANY of their products. I have 5 Gmail accounts that I can remember. Drive, docs, calendar, Play music, Now, on and on – Google surely knows my life better than I do at this point. Keep is a tool I’m sure to use – for something. But replace Evernote? Really, have you even used Keep?

Bicycle vs Cadillac

Keep is handy, no doubt about it – if you are a Google devotee, and use Drive regularly, and have an Android device. Otherwise, it’s really pretty weak. As a standalone note-taking app, I can probably think of around 10 or 12 others off the top of my head that are better. And when I say better, I mean way better. You can’t even sort your notes in Keep other than with different colored tiles. No tags? Come on.

Evernote is confusing to some people because of the extensive features it does have, and because a lot of folks still haven’t grasped the use of or power of tags. I guess G released Keep in the basic form that they did to attract those very people. But the bloggers comparing it to Evernote are not fashion writers for goodness sake, they’re tech writers, which can mean only one thing: two big names in one article gets readers.

Keep is a Huffy bike compared to the Escalade that Evernote is, and a bike with training wheels at that. It’s embarrassing to see the likes of Wired, the Huffington Post, ZDnet, and PC World considering whether Keep is an Evernote killer, regardless of their final analysis. At least Gizmodo stated in their article title that it’s a non-starter issue.

The Future Isn’t Here Yet

I’m also not stupid, and I’m fairly up on consumer tech, particularly web and mobile apps. I know how Google plays their game, and Keep could very well become a player in the extreme noting world, if they continue development based on adoption. Otherwise it’s still very useful, it’s just not what everyone’s saying it is.

So wait until there is a comparison to make before you start making comparisons, Mr. tech-writer-for-a-big-site. Until then, you aren’t helping the public, you are fishing for hits on your site. Stop it.

As a post-script, I have been pondering running a series of posts about tech, mobile/web apps, and related items. So, since I value the opinions of both readers of this blog :), would it be out of place or distracting to to do this here, or should I start a new wp site for this? Let me know what you think.

SEO, The Rachel Maddow Show, and my computer

What do the three things listed in this title have in common?

They’re all crappy. But let’s leave my computer out of this, it’s just old.

Fake Hype

On seeing a news item this morning about the aforementioned *ahem* “news” person, my blood began getting hot all over again about a subject that drives me nuts – SEO. Before I elaborate, let’s discuss what I read.

Apparently the obnoxious program host or the floundering network she works for has been maintaining hundreds of spambot Twitter accounts posting the same messages in an attempt to boost her show’s visibility. This is not surprising, given that in economic terms the network should have gone under years ago. Thankfully Twitter has suspended the accounts. This the same day that another essentially un-watched show from the same network reportedly has hit the lowest viewership since it’s inception.

The question arises: Why the need to artificially inflate the visibility? The answer is simple: no one watches it because it’s just not a good showIf it were, the viewership would be better than, say, the average YouTube video. But it’s not. So the solution, according to the geniuses at MSNBC, is to fake it.

A Fake by Any Other Name

Which brings me to SEO. There is nothing wrong with using tags or keywords in order to help people find content that they may be searching for. Unfortunately, this is not what SEO means anymore. It has become a game of “push it to the top” in order to make money. There is also nothing wrong with making money, and a good product or service will do that without “faking it”.

We are living in a time when scruples are usually near the bottom of the list of marketers, if they make the list at all. I do believe, thankfully, that this is being minimized with newer and ever changing algorithms on search and with the rise of thought leaders like Seth Godin and Chris Brogan, who emphasize real connections and “permission marketing”.

The results of faking it are the same as any underhanded method of promotion: short-term gains, long-term reputation failure. It eventually come to light (content mills, are you listening?).

I give advice based on principles, not dollar signs – although the two are not mutually exclusive by any means. I’m also not leading the marketing for a Fortune 500 company, so take it as you will.

The bottom line is that if you create good content and promote honestly and with human connections, you will succeed. If you can’t succeed that way, please find something else to do and stop poisoning the airwaves and screens with crap just so that you don’t have to find something that you are actually good at.

Your about.me Site is Boring

Not really, I don’t even know who you are yet. However, I can still give you some advice if you’re willing to read a little more. Oh good, let’s continue.

I’m no expert, but…

In all candor, I only set up my about.me page 5 days ago. So why listen to anything I have to say? I’ll tell you why: it’s been a whirlwind 5 days, and I’ve learned a lot.

Two days after setting it up, I had 30-40 views. Then, they listed my page in their directory under the “inspirational” section. Don’t ask me why. In fact, go look at it and then tell me why, I’d love your opinion. The views took off. This morning it had recorded over 1050 unique visitors in 5 days. Subtract the first two days and you see what I mean. Why has it been a whirlwind? Because I have viewed and/or responded to every single visitor. That makes for a busy time. I clicked through so many pages in such a short time, I learned a few things that will help you.

The First Few Seconds are Crucial

If I were to read everything that everyone wrote on their pages, it would have taken me weeks. With so many pages, I had to move quickly to get through them. Some grabbed me right away, others I closed within 2-3 seconds of opening them. If you are going to use the site (and I think it’s a good idea), then at least consider the points that I will oh-so-bullet-pointedly list below.

  • Don’t use a stock image as your background. They have some great photos to choose from, don’t get me wrong. But I’ve now seen all of them multiple times, and they get old quick. Be original with your images. Photos of you or that you have taken are best, but at least use something that no one else is using. If I see the freaking ferris wheel picture one more time I’m going to do something un-nice.
  • Use a unique headline. “Something manager at somewhere” or “something major at so-and-so university” is boring. Why would I want to read further, unless I’m looking for that specifically? (chances are they’re not)
  • Don’t write your life story in your biography section. You can add tons of links, apps, and sites to your profile, so don’t spill all the beans up front. No one wants to read a page-long story on what is essentially a business card. Keep it short and sweet – make them want to find out more about you.
  • Don’t make your biography section your resume. You can add a link to your resume. There also places to add education, work history, and whatever tags you want. Again, too much to read up front loses interest. See the previous point.
  • Include some information. The opposite end of the spectrum is one that has driven me equally as nuts as having too much on the page. I’ve seen some great designs that left me cold because they had nothing but a picture and a name. Minimalism is wonderful, but you have to give folks something to get them interested.
  • Make it readable. Again, I’ve seen some pages that I thought were really good, except that I could barely read what they wrote. Make sure that your fonts are colored in a manner that doesn’t blend in with your background. It’s insufferable. Arrange the page to be easy on the eyes, not a puzzle to be deciphered. Separate your paragraphs (if you write that much) to make them readable, not one continuous stream of words.

In summary: Good photo, enough information but not too much, readable, and interesting. Look, you can tell that I’m no graphic designer by looking at this blog, but if I can make my page on about.me follow the advice above and look decent then you have no excuse.

Below are some of the pages that I think look great. Make sure you click the Thumbs Up to compliment them. Love to hear your thoughts on all this mumbo-jumbo.

Brian Virgo, Lemuel Recopuerto, Jeremy Snooks, David Kim, Evan Wiebe, Med Bukey, Oliver Mason