Takeaways and Tidbits from Searchfest 2011

Yesterday I attended the fantastic SEMpdx Searchfest conference, which I’ve made sure to attend at least the last 4 years in a row, maybe 5. I always attend this event because some of the best in the industry show up from all over the country to share the latest trends in Search Engine Management and Marketing. Each year I feel like there’s at least one major takeaway that I can apply immediately for my clients. Here are some notes from this year that I found interesting from attending the ‘advanced search track’:

– Google personalization is always on now, signed in or not. That means that the search results shown for given terms are specific to you based on your location, persona, and browsing history, and search results will vary for everyone. In fact one presenter noted that 6 of 10 results displayed are personalized!

– Twitter plays an alarmingly large role in the ranking of pages now. A couple of presenters noted that links that were tweeted and retweeted, especially by highly valued Tweeters, got significant ranking boosts.

– Page load times were also noted to be a part of the ranking algorithm now as well.

– A few presenters talked about the growing importance of mobile web, but I have to be honest, I’ve been hearing this same story for the last 6 years and I’m still not convinced. Especially with stats like by 2013 there will be 5.8B mobile users, but only 30% will have smartphones…

– Google is always updating their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) and now that they allocate so much related content at the top (like images, news, local, etc…) there are new sitemaps that they’ll accept that will help you appear in these areas; most notably image, video, and news sitemaps.

– “Content farms”, or sites that exist purely to create web content to rank well in SERPs, are now being penalized by Google. Being a content authority is becoming more important than just well written, keyword laden articles. One way to see how Google views your authority is to filter results by reading level.

– An often overlooked detail is how your result looks in the SERPs, meaning you may have a high ranking, but if no one is clicking on it because the presentation falls short, who cares? Make sure to have a quality snippet shown, that uses all 3 lines, and has strong anchor text.

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Shopping for a Virago and Stopping by the Portland Historic Races

This blog post could also be titled, “How to Get an Awesome Sunburn on a Perfect Sunday in July”… Who would’ve guessed that not wearing suntan lotion on a partly-cloudy July afternoon and being in the direct sun for about 5 hours (at least) would do any more than add a little color. You’d think I was 14 or something.

Part 1

I started the day by driving the S2000 up to Portland (top up actually) to meet friends who were shopping for their first motorcycle. I was coming up to help out with the test ride and once over for overall condition. Twist my arm right?

{Mark 10:00am: Dropped the top after a quick stop for a bottle of water.}

Danno wanted a beginner bike that was somewhere between a standard and a cruiser. We went to look at a 92 Honda Nighthawk 750 and an 82 Yamaha Virago 750. To be honest, the Nighthawk looked pretty promising in the ad and I was secretly pulling for this one over the Virago — mostly because it’s newer, I know a guy who’s put a ton of miles on one, and it’s more familiar in terms of the riding position I’m used to.

Unfortunately as is the case with many Craigslist sourced leads, those re-sized (and generally crappier) photo’s they host for you make it difficult to tell just how nice the bike really is. In short, the Nighthawk was generally not well cared for. Maintained just enough that all systems worked ok, but in general needed a thorough service front-to-back to be right. At $2000 it didn’t feel right to me. One sentence review of riding experience: Even though it’s power is pretty good for it’s age, the bike didn’t feel well balanced and in fact felt pretty heavy and a bit awkward during transitions.

So we decided to consider this bike as a ‘maybe’ and decided to break for a quick breakfast since it was still only mid-morning at this point. A quick stop by was needed at Fat City Cafe in Multnomah Village, where we were quickly served a great breakfast. Now we were ready to check out the next potential ride.

Next up was the Virago which was actually in Vancouver across the river. We met a nice retired man who had probably 6 Japanese bikes of this vintage in his garage, all in mostly good condition. Initial impressions were really good as the bike had obviously received some recent care with good tires, new starter, and very clean overall. Compared to the Nighthawk that had a brutally filthy chain, peeling paint, and a leaky caliper, this bike was ready for sale: clean, similar miles at under 15K, and was priced at only $1200. Granted it’s ten years older and power was no comparison to the Nighthawk, it was really easy to ride. It can’t weigh much and dipped into corners with ease. The riding position was somewhat new to me and I actually put my feet on the rear pegs the first time I sat on it. But after riding it for 15 minutes, I see the appeal. It’s totally relaxing and I’ll be damned if those vents on the front of your jacket don’t work 100% better when air is actually hitting them head on instead of getting the leftovers just above the tank!

My advice was to sleep on it and offer $1000 the next day. Danno replied, “I’ve got a thousand on me right now…” and then walked back to the front door and made a deal. We’re going back next week to get it. Congratulations guys, it’s a great first bike!

Part 2

Then I continued top-down in the Honda to the racetrack for the Portland Historic Races around 1pm. This is a great event in our own backyard, and Bob and Joe from Sports Car Shop were racing as well. I was looking forward to putting the 70-200 F4 L into the field again and the weather was perfect.

Sports Car Shop got a great spot for their team and was in the parking lot just behind the clock tower. Plus their close friend decided to add to the general Feng Shui of their pad with his recently acquired Ferrari F430! Beautiful car!

I then puttered around the paddock and club parking areas while grabbing a quick bite to eat before Joe and Bob went out in back-to-back sessions between 3 and 4pm. Once they were out, I grabbed my favorite spot at the track even though the light was facing me. Nonetheless, it was worth the full frontal sun assault considering some of the resulting pictures:

Leaving PIR with the top up, I washed up in the bathroom before hitting the road and when I saw myself in the mirror, my cheeks were definitely a little pink, but not bad. But now that I’ve cooked dinner (on the BBQ outside, doh!) and sat down to edit photos and blog about the day, I’ve gone from pink to full on red — all over. Like an idiot I failed to remember, like I do every year after the first good drive with the top down, that when the top is down = you’re outside and getting burned. Maybe I’ll remember next year…

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Partial Gallery of 2010 Portland Historic Races Sunday Afternoon

Our Visit to the 2010 Portland Auto Show

Nearly two weeks ago now, Shana and I made a day of the Portland Auto Show. We used to go every year to fantasize about new cars, but have missed the event in recent years. It’s fun to check out everything up close and personal without the hassle of a salesman crawling down you neck.

We started our day by hitting up the S2ki Forum Hillsboro Honda meetup for S2000 owners. I only got a couple of quick pictures but it was fun to finally meet some forum members I had met online numerous times but never connected with in person. Great job getting 30 cars to come out in the middle of winter Ira! Check out all the pictures on S2ki.

We were fairly rushed at the meet because we had an appointment after that to check out a used Infinity QX4 for the missus. Looked promising in the pictures, but was a little too rough for us. We’re actually having a pretty tough time finding a suitable car for Shana because we’re so used to enthusiast vehicle shopping, which usually results in clean and documented cars to shop for. We were thinking of going with a more dependable Japanese variant, but they’re just not cared for like the European rides we’re used to looking at. Now we’re thinking of going back to European shopping in the form of a Land Rover Discovery. We’re back in Portland this weekend, so we’ll probably stop and look a few then.

Then it was on to check into our downtown Portland hotel, Hotel Lucia. What a beautiful place and fantastic service! Not to mention it was in the center of everything we had planned and easy Max trip to the Convention Center for the show. Can’t wait to stay there again!

After freshening up, it was on to the Portland Auto Show. Tickets were reasonably priced at $10 and at the ticket window we were reminded that many major manufacturers were not there due to cutbacks and slow sales. This was a bummer as BMW, Saab, Mercedes, and many others were definitely cars we were looking forward to jumping into.

{warning: really crappy images ahead. I’ve been too busy to post-process these but wanted to put up what I had.}

Ron Tonkin brought out a few new cars and a couple older ones from his collection. These were all front and center outside the main conference areas:

Ferrari Daytona Spyder Ferrari Enzo Maserati Ferrari F430

MotoCorsa was also in attendance with the latest Lotus and Ducati offerings. The black Sport 1000 was exactly like the demo bike I rode a couple years back.

Lotus Evora Silver Lotus Elise Ducati Sport 1000 Aprilia RSV4

Then it was on to the Audi and Porsche areas. I have to admit, I wanted to check out the Panamera because it looks so bad in pictures. It didn’t disappoint, it’s ugly and HUGE! First the blasphemy that is the Cayenne and now this abomination. So sad that a more true to spirit business model couldn’t have been used to get them into the 21st century.

Audi Rings

Audi Q7

Porsche Panamera

Porsche 997 Turbo

The local SCCA chapter also had a nice area set up. There were several car corral areas that usually aren’t present, likely due to so many manufacturers pulling out this year.

Porsche 996 race car VW Beetle Race Car Porsche Moby Dick 935 Race Car

And here are few more random snaps. You’ll notice how crowded Saturday afternoon was. I think every Dad in town got babysitting duty as there were lots of kids running around. Reminds me that we prefer going on Thursday mid-day when it’s super quiet!

After the show we met up with our good friends Danno, his wife Angie, and our close friend Julie who also happened to be in Portland that day. We had a fantastic dinner at Mother’s Bistro just a few blocks from the hotel. What a meal! Plan on leftovers no matter how big your appetite is!

And by chance, another friend of ours was in town for a whirlwind 48 hour tour, my close friend Ed. He lives in Atlanta now, but amazingly we’ve managed to meet up several times in the past few years. We met for a nightcap at Pazzo and then stumbled upstairs to crash after a very long day.

We’re heading back up to Portland for a wedding at Edgefield this weekend. That makes about 4 trips up there in 5 weeks. Maybe we should get a condo!

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2009 Portland Rose Cup Races Recap

Got a chance to hang out at PIR for an afternoon with Paul, Ed, Bob, and Brenda for the Rose Cup races, featuring the Trans Am series. The weather was a perfect high 70’s and cleared up nice by the time the main event was on. Congratulations to Tommy Drissi for his authoritative win in that Jaguar!

Here’s my quick pics from the event {yep, they’re over Photoshop’d, sue me!}:

A Mazda RX-2 Custom
Mazda-RX2-at-PIR-Rose-Cup-2009

An exceptional Porsche 951
Porsche-951-at-PIR-Rose-Cup-2009


Congratulations to Tommy Drissi!

Tommy-Drissi-PIR-Rose-Cup-Trans-Am-Winner


The Chicane at Portland International Raceway:

Chicane-at-PIR-Rose-Cup-2009


The Sports Car Shop support rig with the race cars:

sports-car-shop-transporter

Check out the entire gallery, unedited:

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A Behind the Scenes Look at SpeedyMoto in Portland, Oregon

I recently got the opportunity to catch up with an old friend from my childhood, Christian Hansen, who now happens to being making performance parts for Ducati motorcycles — right up the road in Portland! SpeedyMoto manufactures custom triple clamps, clips-on’s, rear sets, and many other billet aluminum pieces. Christian explained that what started as a business making custom clutch covers five years ago has grown every year and expanded to provide numerous parts for the discerning Ducati enthusiast tuner.

Here are some pictures from my SpeedyMoto tour:

Christian kicking back at the SpeedyMoto office.  That's their Ducati Monster development bike in the background and to the left is a custom 250 MotoGP frame on the conference table.
Christian kicking back at the SpeedyMoto office. That's their Ducati Monster development bike in the background and to the left is a custom 250 MotoGP frame on the conference table.
Here is a SpeedyMoto triple clamp development piece that they were working on the day of my visit.
Here is a SpeedyMoto triple clamp development piece that they were working on the day of my visit.
Christian showing me the rapid prototyping machine that spits out an ABS plastic prototype pieces after clicking 'print' from the workstation.  He said this piece took about 8 hours to build.
Christian showing me the rapid prototyping machine that spits out an ABS plastic prototype piece after clicking print from the workstation. He said this piece took about 8 hours to build.
As we started to walk through the production area we stopped to check out a lot of recently produced bar risers for Ducati SuperSports.
As we started to walk through the production area we stopped to check out a lot of recently produced bar risers for Ducati SuperSports.
At the far end of the shopping, Christian pointed out the raw aluminum stock as delivered, which will eventually become clutch covers.
At the far end of the shopping, Christian pointed out the raw aluminum stock as delivered, which will eventually become clutch covers.
And here are the clutch covers in mid-production form.  The aluminum stock is first cut into 3-4 inch discs, and the shapped on each side as seen here.
And here are the clutch covers in mid-production form. The aluminum stock is first cut into 3-4 inch discs, and the shapped on each side as seen here.
On our way out of the production area, Christian pointed out this vintage 1960's P&H welder.  It was originally used in Portland to build IndyCar race car frames and has always resided in a race facility in the Portland area.  He tells me they're like vintage guitar amps.
On our way out of the production area, Christian pointed out this vintage P&H welder. It was originally used in Portland to build Indy Car race car frames and has always resided in a race facility in the Portland area. He tells me they're like vintage guitar amps.
Here are the SpeedyMoto showroom bikes.  These bikes feature lots of custom SpeedyMoto parts and are not show queens but hardcore development machines.
Here are the SpeedyMoto showroom bikes. These bikes feature lots of custom SpeedyMoto parts and are not show queens but hardcore development machines.
A SpeedyMoto Pressure Plate on the custom Sport Classic on display.
A SpeedyMoto Pressure Plate on the custom Sport Classic on display.

As we wrapped up the tour, Christian had two pieces of exclusive news for dancrouchblog.com readers. First that there will be a special edition 848 model coming from Ducati later this year and it will feature a few pieces made by SpeedyMoto! And in other news, the SpeedyMoto crew is excited to see their first product on the big screen in the new Transformers Movie: Revenge of the Fallen. Check out the triple clamp on the Ducati in the movie!

SpeedyMoto in Revenge of the Fallen Transformers Movie

It was great catching up with Christian and something tells me this won’t be the last time he’s mentioned on this blog as we’re planning to meet up again soon.

If you have a business that should be featured on this blog, shoot me an email and let’s talk about advertising.

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Ducati Demo Day: A Kid in a Kick Ass Candy Store

Ducati Demo Ride May 2008 007

Paul and I did the Ducati Demo Day at MotoCorsa in Portland this past Saturday. It was completely awesome! Their facility is a very cool place to hang out anyway, but getting to sample their brand new bikes was really amazing. It’s a guided group ride with a dozen or so brand new bikes that riders can preview at no cost. Sharp marketing too because if I had a spare $12-15k for a new bike, I would’ve signed immediately upon our return. Later that night, Paul and I were still trying to convince ourselves it might be doable!

Before heading up, I checked the Ducati website for the current offerings and to make my pick. I wanted to try something vaguely similar to my 750SS, but in a brand new flavor. And the Sport Classic was my pick. I was very excited to find out they had not one, but two openings for Sport Classics for Paul and I to sample at 2 o’clock. His was the up rated S model with Ohlin’s forks, full fairing, and full Termignoni pipes. Mine had the stock pipes, which were way too quiet. When Paul cracked the throttle on his, everyone noticed immediately and sounded much more the business. They really should come this way stock.

Ducati Demo Ride May 2008 012

Ducati Demo Ride May 2008 013

While we waited for our turn, the reality started setting in. If I scratched this thing, I would own a second Ducati, costing 4x as much as mine and with a big scratch to fix LOL! That’d be fun explaining to Mrs. Rubley! The butterflies started to swim around in my stomach… I was briefly comforted watching the earlier group leave with a couple of noticeably novice riders who came back unscathed.

Once underway it was a total breeze. There were many similarities to my own bike, and I was at home right away. Riders were guided at a very smart pace and given a great 20 mile tour of the Portland hills. Tour guides front and back made sure we stayed together and stopped traffic at intersections to keep us together. Fantastic route and great planning. By the time we got back, I was grinning ear to ear like it was Christmas morning. I won’t miss it again!

My 20 minute review of the Ducati Sport 1000:

Ducati Demo Ride May 2008 005

Pro’s – Classic minimalist styling with a comfortable seat, spoked rims, cafe racer clip on’s, and retro decals. Nice modern amenities like fuel injection, 6 speed gearbox, and the refinements that are now found in modern Ducati’s.

Con’s – Not so great on/off throttle response, a gas tank that’s a tad uncomfortable to sit against, and those stock pipes are obviously engineered to be lame so you can upgrade to the Termi’s. But other than that, she was a wonderful ride with very approachable power and controls.

A huge thank you to Ducati MotoCorsa for hosting and Ducati NA for generously loaning me a beautiful new bike that absolutely made my day!

Ducati Demo Day at MotoCorsa 2008 Gallery

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