Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Oct 25, 2007 11:54:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 Google Updates If you’re involved in Internet Marketing, chances are, you have read the news about the recent updates Google has made to it’s Toolbar PageRank number (this is the publicly available PageRank number). Much of the current discussion has been the loss of PageRank by some high-profile sites in articles like “Digg Favorites Slapped by Google” and “Google changing the PageRank Algorithm?” There has also been a fair amount of speculation as to the cause of this PageRank loss for these popular (and in many cases, highly regarded) websites.(For those of you who don’t know what Google PageRank is, check out The Importance of Google PageRank.)The most common speculation is that these sites lost PageRank because they were selling links, and that this is a “penalty” being imposed by Google rather than just a “normal” update of PageRank. I don’t have a strong opinion (yet) as to whether this was indeed the cause, but I do have some facts related to this recent news. As it turns out, we have access to the Google PageRank data for over 139,000 websites. This data was collected via our free SEO tool called Website Grader. Website Grader looks at a number of factors about a website as part of its evaluation — including Google PageRank.So, here are some of the insights drawn from this database. Disclaimer: The following was derived from some quick database queries and should be used for amusement purposes only. I’m not going to try and defend the points below. You don’t have to believe me. Also, I’d suggest using some of the numbers shown as relative measures indicating trends — not absolute numbers you’d hang your hat on.What You Can Learn About PageRank From 139,000 Websites1) Contrary to what some believe, this recent update did not just reduce PageRank for some number of websites. There were sites that have increased in PageRank as a result of the recent update. A quick scan showed at least a handful of sites with PR5 or higher than rose to PR6 or higher. (As you would expect, there were also improvements in PageRank for a lot of lower ranked sites as well).2) Overall, the average PageRank (across all sites) seems to bounce around a little. If we ignore sites with PageRank 0, the average PageRank for the home page of websites submitted to Website Grader was around 4.59 in March 2007. This increased to about 4.77 in April 2007. Coincidentally, there was a Google PageRank update in that month. I always suspected that the April update was reasonably “liberal” in its allocation of PageRank, now the data seems to back it up. Note: Technically, PageRank is assigned to individual URLs (not websites). What we tracking is the PageRank of the home/default page of a website as that is what most people talk about as a measure of the overall weight of their website with search engines.3) Currently, the average PageRank is about 4.22 in October 2007 (it was 4.16 in September 2007). So, it would seem to me that there has been a drift downward in PageRank overall since the peak back in April.Dharmesh Shah contributed heavily to this article. In fact, he might have even posted it himself if he were not locked in the basement writing code for HubSpot right now. (To any law enforcement officials reading this, don’t worry, he is not being held captive against his will. He has a big smile on his face and is working on “really cool stuff”.) Topics:
“…well known executive at one of the largest sites on the Internet. The author has requested to remain anonymous…” mvolpe The Time Has Come To Regulate Search Engine Marketing And SEO How to interact on Twitter: @ Webinar: How to Use Online Video for Inbound Marketing Best Buy Values 250 Followers Doing It Right! “Imagine,if you will, that the entire Internet is contained within a singlecontinent. That continent is filled with countries, states and cities.Each jurisdiction is autonomous, relying on visitors to cross on totheir turf to engage in commerce. Now, imagine if the only way to getinto this continent involved just two methods: SEO and SEM. Let’sfurther imagine that the borders to this continent were controlled by asingle company….The only real solution is disclosure. Transparency.Those traffic generators that use rule-based algorithms to determineresult sets must publicly disclose their methodologies. That is themeans by which all businesses can compete freely in the organic andpaid search marketplaces.” www.HubSpot.tv Closing Subscribe in iTunes: karenrubin “Usocialleads the web as the premier Twitter for hire market. At Usocial, thegoing price for 1000 followers is $87, meaning a potential Best Buycandidate could turn up for work having only invested $25 to help theirchances.” Forum Fodder Google is not regulated, brush up on your SEO and deal with it*.* HubSpot Announces Blog Grader Free Marketing Tool @ , @ Inbound Marketing.Com Forums: Need Help in Keywords Baby Got Leads: New Music Video Episode Length: 23 minutes, 38 seconds Marketing Tip of the Week Outbound marketing is not totally ineffective. In 1900 horses werestill the main mode of transportation, but I wouldn’t want to rely onthem for my business for too long. Spend your limited time creating and promoting great content and the links will come! http://itunes.hubspot.tv/ Debunking Social Media Myths Wordtrackr, Google Keyword Tool, SemRush.com, HubSpot Trial, SEOMoz, Microsoft AdCenter in your tweet. Fran: “I’m in desperate need of help to find keywords for my business. I sell attachments to go on to liquor bottles.” Anthony: “You definitely need tofigure out who your buyer and demographic is before proceeding and whattype of valuable content you will need to attract, inform and convertthem.” Marketing Takeaway: The Social Influence Marketing Report Mailbag How do you get started with YouTube, video podcasting, live streaming, or viral videos. Buy a video camera and give it to the craziest employees you have and see what they come up with. Marketing Takeaway: In terms of hiring, influence or authority is a better measure than raw number of followers. Marketing Takeaway: or Pete:”I’d recommend that you step back from trying to find keywords for theproduct you sell, and ask yourself, “What content will attract mybuyer?”If your buyer is a bar manager, than you need to create contentthat will attract that type of person. for example, you might write anarticle, “10 Ways to Save Money Running your Bar” or “Most Common LocalBar Startup Mistakes”.” Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Is Social Media Easy, Free and Cheap? Encourage everyone at your company to get involved in social media onbehalf of the company and reduce the need to build a social media army. Baby Got Leads on YouTube “six out of 10 consumers don’t bother to seek out opinions of brands via social media” http://www.pcauthority.com.au/News/150048,follow-this-twitter-emerges-as-job-qualification-for-major-us-retailer.aspx “Best Buy put out a job advertisement recently for a marketing graduate with at least 250 followers” Should You Spend Your Time on Link Exchanges? Episode #49 – July 17th, 2009 How many Twitter followers does it take to get a job? “Google’s official advice: “The best wayto get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to createunique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in theInternet community.”” “LargeInternet companies spend millions on consultants and technology tryingto get their sites to rank among the highest results on Google.Everyone else has to rely on the poor man’s search-engine optimization:the link exchange.” Intro Should Google Be Regulated “afundamental truth to social media that many organizationsunderestimate–being social means having real live people who activelyparticipate in your initiatives.” : Shut Up! @BostonLogan is on twitter? How cool is that? HeatherMargolis Headlines Marketing Takeaway: Blog Grader Missed last week’s episode on July 10, 2009? View it here: Link exchanges: The poor man’s SEO Download the free webinar Marketing Takeaway: Should Google Be Regulated? “Consumers view TV ads as more trustworthy than ads on social networks.” How many Twitter followers does it take to get a job? to learn how to use online video to grow your business with inbound marketing. Originally published Jul 18, 2009 9:50:00 PM, updated July 04 2013 Make Content Creation Your Super Power
What do you think: (a) Is Madison Avenue going to grow over the next few years, (b) is it going to stay flat-ish, (c) is it going to shrink slightly, or (d) is it going to crater? Vote below in the comments section. The whole business model of their industry is still centered around the “30-second (TV) spot.” It sounds like they traditionally had made their money as a percentage of their clients spend on advertising, but that most of them had moved to a retainer type model that is closer to how law firms and consulting firms charge. while the Madison Avenue-ish firms were trying to hold onto the traditional marketing models. transformation of marketing If you are an ad agency, a PR firm or a marketing services firm and think that the “Times Are A Changin,'” I’d encourage you to check out the marketing services transformation webinar. Last night I had a fascinating dinner hosted by the Massachusetts Interactive Technology Exchange that featured Google’s VP of Platforms, a bunch of senior executives from Madison Avenue-ish firms, a senior marketing exec from a Fortune 500 company, a marketing analyst and myself. The conversation was really rich and enjoyable. I felt like it ended up being HubSpot and Google arguing for the complete They were all exceptionally charismatic and convincing — Don Draper in the flesh. I could see how these modern day Mad Men built huge businesses for themselves. Regardless of what happens to their industry, their ability to sell will serve them well. Originally published Feb 18, 2010 9:33:00 AM, updated July 11 2013 I said that I thought the bright spot for Madison Avenue is that despite what many people say, I think creativity is more important than ever. Back in 1970, if a 30-second spot came on the air, you basically had to watch it no matter how bad it was because you only had five crappy stations (a couple more with rabbit ear manipulation), no clicker, no cable, no DVR, no Hulu, etc. In 2010, the content you create needs to be fantastic in order to get watched, get linked to, get shared on social media sites, etc. I think the creativity bar today is an order of magnitude higher than it was 40 years ago. Madison Ave has the talent to create remarkable content that will break through the clutter and this will serve them well through what I think will be a very rough decade. – Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack I was a little overshadowed on the charisma meter, but I made a couple of points that I didn’t think were half bad: I don’t know a lot of Madison Avenue bigwigs, so I learned a bunch of things that I’ll share with you below. I’m hoping to create a dialog around what folks think the future of Madison Avenue looks like. Learn how HubSpot’s software, methodology and special programs for agencies and freelance marketing contractors can help you grow your business. There is a massive amount of consolidation going on in the industry by the big boys, but the valuations they pay are small multiples of EBITDA. It struck me as odd that the big boys haven’t been more aggressive in buying some recurring revenue companies like Eloqua, Reachlocal, QuinStreet, etc. One exception seems to be WPP, who has done some small investments in some really early (risky) startups — not sure why Sir Martin doesn’t swing a bit harder on getting recurring software revenue as it could give him a major competitive advantage. These recurring revenue streams would smooth out the revenue/people lumps and dramatically improve their valuations. on our Company News Blog about our new marketing services transformation programs or download the slides from our I sat next to a great woman from one of the more forward looking Madison Ave-ish firms and part of her job was to manage her firm’s relationship with a major Fortune 100 client. For this account alone, she had 80 people on her staff working on it. From this conversation, I now understand why it is such a big deal when they lose a big account! It would be hard as hell to backfill those 80 people on a new account as it is really unlikely they are going to bag an elephant of that size around the same time as losing one, and it’s also going to be hard to spread 80 billable people around to other accounts in the meantime. I suspect this type of situation must create major anxiety for managers and workers alike. @bhalligan Download the slides and audio from our webinar Download the audio and slides from our webinar where we relaunched the HubSpot partner program with significantly more benefits for marketing agencies. Webinar: Learn about the Benefits of Partnering with HubSpot I said that I thought Madison Avenue firms were going to have to dramatically change their business model. In order to do so, they are going to have to dramatically shrink and then grow again. My perspective is that they ought to do it willingly and proactively — rather than die by a thousand cuts like the newspaper executives are doing. Joey Parson For the most part, they all seemed to be in different states of denial about the demise of the 30-second spot. They used clever lines like the only way the car companies are going to “move steel tonnage in volume” is by mass TV ad purchases. Some convincing stats were spouted that sounded counter to everything I’d been reading, but they were relatively convincing. To me, the denial feels like the newspaper industry denial 3 or 4 years ago, but I may be dead wrong about that. announcement I made today Photo Credit:
Originally published Jun 25, 2013 7:30:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Topics: Anyone been to Google today? It’s paying homage to architect Antoni Gaudi, who is most famous for designing the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona (and may or may not be the origin behind the word “gaudy,” according to some in my friend circle). If you haven’t Googled yet today, the image is to the right — now you’ll understand why it was hailed by Mashable as “barely recognizable.”Anyway, there are more important things going on today than goodles (Google Doodles … think we can make it stick?). There are super moon snapshots galore. Apparently Saturn’s going to be making an appearance soon. Obama’s singing Daft Punk. There’s just a ton of big things going on, you guys. Here are the biggest news stories from the world of marketing.Instagram Is Totes Cramping Vine’s StyleCharlie Warzel over at BuzzFeed is postulating that Instagram’s new video feature, which is integrated with Facebook (obviously), is kicking Vine’s butt because Vine showed up first. Wait … what? Well, the idea is that Instagram sat back and watched Vine, learning from their mistakes.”Looking back, old App Store reviews now read like an instruction manual for the Instagram team, with the most negative reviews calling for nearly all of Instagram’s new features, like filters, better privacy settings, longer clip lengths, and the ability to upload previously recorded videos,” Warzel reports.I buy it … though the Topsy data showing Instagram link shares surpassing Vine link shares doesn’t convince me this is a permanent trend. I think it might just be people getting excited about this shiny new toy. We’ll see, though. Personally, I will continue to use neither, and let the more creative people out there rock it.Watch a Shark Eat a Cute SealOh … oh my … NO! Discovery Channel put out a commercial to promote 2013’s Shark Week, also known as the best week of television and the week I’ll be conveniently “working from home.” But then there’s also an adorable baby seal in the ad, and … well, yeah, just watch.It’s obviously meant to be funny (and it totally is), but I’m sure there are some seriously shocked seal fans watching out there. Either way, kudos to a job well done on your advertisement, Discovery Channel. As our regular readers know, I’m a big fan of well-executed ads, and Discovery Channel is one of the few that delivers A+ content on a consistent basis.QUICK! What’s Your Phone Number?Doctors in South Korea have identified a huge uptick in something called “digital dementia.” It’s prevalent among so-called internet addicts, and in short, describes the inability for people who are extremely digitally connected to recall basic details because of the ease with which they can typically access information. A few years ago, I was most worried about carpal tunnel as a side effect of my office work, but as an inbound marketer I can’t pretend this affliction hasn’t crossed my mind, too. What do you think marketers — do you forget details more easily than you used to because of your constant internet use?Elizabethan Facebooking, Tudor TweetingSounds like my kind of social networking. The New York Times published a piece around the ongoing debate about the impact of social networking on our society. Are we getting dumber? Are our attention spans dwindling? Are we killing the economy? Yes! Unequivocally! Death to all the social networks!Well, the piece puts this debate into perspective by going back to the 1600s, in which similar fears arose around the social network of that day — the coffee house. It’s a fascinating read, especially if you’re a history buff. Check it out.On Viable Career Opportunities and Tank Top WearingWe hear a lot of hoopla about millennials struggling to find jobs. But luckily, The Onion has helped shed some light on popular summer jobs so you know where to look to make some cash.Alternately, you could apply to a real job, like the one we just published today for an Associate Editor. Only it’s not a summer job … it’s like, full time. For real. Like, you can work here for a long time. That kind of thing. Oh, and to clarify, it’s not only open to millennials. So if you found a typo in this blog post and you’re itching to comment about it, perhaps check out the job posting instead? #productiveoutletsWhat other amazing stories did we miss today? Keep us all in the loop! Inbound Marketing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Most people have the same experience with clickbait.You stumble across it in your Facebook feed or Twitter feed. It reads, “13 Problems Every Blonde Bostonian Working at a Marketing Software Company Has.” You recognize it’s pandering to you … but it’s just so perfectly intriguing, you have to click. You click, resigning yourself to scrolling through for just a minute because you’ve got work to do. You get to the first list item — it’s roughly on point, so you continue.Download 195+ visual marketing design templates to use for social media posts, infographics, and more. Suddenly, 10 minutes go by — you’ve scrolled through the whole article and realized it’s a load of crap that was meant to waste your time. You hate yourself a little. You get back to work, telling yourself you won’t get duped again. You’re too smart for that … but sure enough, an hour later, the whole clickbait-shame cycle continues. Don’t be upset — it’s happened to pretty much everyone. Clickbait has been around for over a century, and it’s remained a common tactic for content creators because it works. As a content creator, it’s one of those ethical grey areas you have to navigate. To help you figure out which side of the clickbait debate you fall on, we put together this post — hopefully, by giving you some background into the history, science, and ethics of clickbait, you can make a decision on how you’re going to create content for your company. A Brief History of ClickbaitClickbait isn’t something BuzzFeed, Upworthy, Viralnova, Distractify, or any other viral content site invented. It’s been around for over 100 years. If you want a more in-depth version of clickbait history, check out this post on io9 — below’s the quick and dirty version. Back in the late 1800s, newspapers were really concerned with increasing their circulation numbers (kinda like the way most media companies care about pageviews today). One easy way to increase circulation was to have a popular comic strip that pandered to the largest number of people — people would buy the paper to read those cartoons, not hard news. One such comic was all about the adventures of Yellow Kid — a poor kid from the slums wearing a yellow nightshirt who’d say weird things, kinda like modern day LOLcats. Like this:Like today, people got up-in-arms about journalism being tainted by the Yellow Kid inflating circulation, and the term “yellow journalism” was born. Since then, media companies have all used “yellow journalism” techniques to get more people reading their content. And sometimes it’s had disastrous effects. But the moral of the story here is that clickbait is nothing new — technology and the increasing amount of content on the web has just made it much more prevalent. And for the people using it to get more views and comments on their posts, it’s working. Why You Click on ClickbaitEven though you know a headline is just clickbait, it’s tough to resist — your brain is programmed to click on it. Why? It all boils down to curiosity. Studies have shown that curiosity is a cognitive form of deprivation from realizing you have a gap in your knowledge. And when you have that deprivation, you’re gonna try really really hard to reverse it. So when you’re presented with a title that makes you curious — something like, “This 4-Year-Old Decided to High-Five Every Person They Passed on the Street That Day. You’ll Never Guess What Happened.” — you’re overcome with a desire to click on it. Even if you guess that pretty much every person will high-five the four-year-old back (seriously, who wouldn’t high-five a four-year-old?) … you’ve got to click to make sure. But how do content creators get people to be curious enough about their content to click? They’ve got to make the most of their headline — and research from a professor and a communications staffer at BI Norwegian Business School suggests piquing interest in headlines all boils down to asking questions that reference the reader. Forbes describes the experiment as this:”They tested three kinds of headlines: One was a simple declarative headline. Example: “The hunt for status in the advertising business.” Another posed a question: “Why are advertisers so obsessed with winning prices?” They also contrasted simple headlines like “Power corrupts,” with self-referencing headlines like “Is your boss intoxicated by power?” They got on average 150% more clicks for the question headlines and 175% more clicks for the headlines that used the second person. One caveat: The question headlines used more enticing words, like “obsessed” and “intoxicated,” than the simple declarative headlines.”So the reason you can’t help but click on clickbait is simple: It’s piquing your curiosity, usually through a question, a self-referential comment, or both. Media companies and content creators know this already. But should they use your brain against you?The Ethics of Clickbait There’s been lots of discussion on the internet about clickbait. Some for, some against. Some just poking fun at it. And I hate to spoil the end of this post, but there’s really no answer to the whole debate. People are still going to click on clickbait — they have for over a century, and my guess is that they’ll continue to do it. Heck, they’ll probably share the clickbait, too, whether or not they realize what it is they’ve fallen for. It’s up to you to decide if you want to go the clickbait route or not. Maybe you’ll do whatever your company asks. Some companies already have policies and metrics in place to reward or play down clickbait. Some companies have already decided to play into the clickbait because sheer volume of unique visitors is their main metric. Some have decided to take a modified approach, rewarding writers for getting repeat visitors, not just uniques. For someone trying to stay employed, you’ll probably choose something aligned with your company’s policies. But still, there’s a personal responsibility to either embrace clickbait in all of its pandering glory or eschew it in favor of “higher quality” content.In my opinion, neither of these is a better path. As long as the headline accurately describes the piece inside, and the piece inside is a quality piece of content (which is a whole other debate), you’re serving your audience the right way.You just need to ask yourself one question: What will you do for a click?What do you think about the clickbait debate? Do you use clickbait headlines in your marketing? Weigh in in the comments below. Image credit: Upworthy, io9 Topics: Originally published Jun 12, 2014 12:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Marketing Psychology
Originally published Oct 31, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated October 08 2019 Images If you knew something as easy as adding images to your blog posts would increase your readers, subscribers, followers, and leads, wouldn’t you do it every single time? According to Jeff Bullas, articles with images get 94% more total views than articles without images. Ninety-four percent! If I were to tell you that you could expand your reach by 94% by doing something fairly simple, I’m guessing you wouldn’t think twice.Of course, “simple” is relative. I don’t mean you should take five minutes to scope out some stock photos and then insert them randomly into your posts. To get more eyeballs on your blog, you’ll have to be more strategic than that — and this blog post will help you get started with that strategy.Follow the eight tips below to learn data-driven tips that will help you squeeze the most value out of images in your blog posts.Download 6 Free Blog Post Templates Now8 Data-Driven Tips for Using Images in Blog Posts1) Use images of real people.In one of Jakob Nielsen’s usability studies, he discovered that pictures of people are one of the most engaging forms of web content.Nielsen’s data showed that users spent 10% more time looking at pictures of people on a page than they did reading the biographical content associated with the pictures. Even though the text content took up 316% more space, and was thus more quantitatively dominate, users preferred looking at the pictures.But Nielsen offers a critical disclaimer: Some types of pictures are completely ignored — typically the generic images that are purely decorative. To show this, he analyzed the image on the Yale School of Management website and discovered that the stock-style photo on the right side of the page received very few eye fixations:Describing it as “pure filler,” Nielsen advises using images that are relevant to the user experience. Images used in an article just for the sake of using an image can be unhelpful.But if the image has a purpose, like helping to explain a concept, emphasize a point, translate to an external page or email, or show personality, then it can only help you. For example, I use a headshot in my website because it’s a professional courtesy and an engagement marker.2) Combine photos and text to increase viewer retention and engagement.In a study conducted by Socialbakers, researchers discovered that images on Facebook constituted 93% of the most engaging posts, compared with status updates, links, and even video.Although this data is specific to Facebook, the principle holds true for blog content as well.The appeal of pictures is known as the “picture superiority effect.” According to the dual-coding theory, the human memory has two main forms of retention: verbal and imaginal (directly related to the word “image”). Images encode concepts onto our memory in a concrete way, rather than the abstract form of verbal concepts.This video from Digital Splash Media explains the picture superiority effect, making an overwhelming case for the importance of images.3) Optimize your images so they load quickly.Even though the days of dial-up sluggishness are behind us, we still crave quick load times. As you’re probably aware, quick load times are important for SEO — and the source of greatest lag are often clunky plugins and huge images.The optimal load time is still being debated. A study by Akamai says that two seconds is the “new threshold of acceptability for ecommerce web page response times.” According to their data, 47% of viewers want a two-second load time.In another study by the Nielsen Norman Group, users in a test were asked to look at a page with a large header image that took up 23% of the page. The picture below shows a gaze plot of a user looking at a landing page. The slider image (yellow) took eight seconds to load; as a result, the user spent a mere 1% of their time looking at the image.When the image loaded quickly, the user spent 20% of viewing time looking at the image.Surveys indicate that slow load times are one of the most-hated features of a website. Not only will you lose the value that the image could provide, but you’ll also plain old tick off users.A few seconds is all it takes for a user to lose interest and completely ignore the slow-loading image. You can’t control the user’s connection speed, but you can control the speed of your own website. Note: Hubspot recommends that photos should be smaller than 100KB in order to load quickly.4) Present information in visual formats, like infographics.Many studies have found that the human brain processes images much faster than text. This data coheres with the picture superiority effect, and its impact upon marketing is huge. Your readers will absorb your content far easier if you put it in picture form.According to Mike Parkinson, “the human brain deciphers image elements simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner taking more time to process.” Showing is better than explaining in many cases.Let’s take a look at an example. Which of these is easier to understand?Most of you would say the leftmost depiction. It’s common to say, “I’m a visual learner,” as opposed to someone who learns better by reading or listening to information. The fact is, all of us our visual learners — our brains are wired that way.This data is one of the reasons why I’m a major proponent of using infographics as part of a comprehensive content marketing strategy. (Here are five free infographic templates in PowerPoint to get you started.)5) Use high quality images to establish credibility.In case you think that pictures are simply a way to increase engagement or interest, listen to this point: According to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, overall visual design “was the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the presented material.” There are a lot of factors involved in “visual design,” but good quality images need to be present.6) Use images to support persuasive copy and in calls-to-action.A study from the University of Minnesota School of Management and the 3M Corporation analyzed the effectiveness of presentations that contained visual elements and those that did not. The presentations containing visual elements were 43% more effective at converting users to agree with their point of view.Ecommerce is all about the art of persuasion. We as marketers are trying to compel people to take a viewpoint, click a button, or make a purchase. Let’s not forget that we can become far more persuasive simply by using images.7) Position your lead image to the right or left of the first paragraph in your post.According to Buffer, people are more likely to read an article that have an inline image to the right or left of the leading paragraph.The pattern looks like this:Why is it effective? First of all, people are visually attracted to images. An image positioned in this way will invite eye paths to the image and the nearby text. Secondly, people are more likely to read short lines of text than long ones. When compared with lines of text below the image, the lines beside the image seem short. This means that people will be more inclined to read them. As Buffer stated, “The fewer the characters, the easier the text is to comprehend and the less complex it seems.”8) Use one image per 350 words.How many images should you have in your posts? I would suggest you use as many images as you need to in order to communicate your concepts clearly and accurately. According to a study by Blog Pros, in 100 of the highest ranking blogs on the internet, there was at least one image for every 350 words.We live in the age of the visual. From flat screens to smartphones, images are everywhere. As Lori Kozlowski commented in Forbes, “It’s likely we’ll only see a deeper connection to video and to visuals on the Web in the next few years.” People are connecting with your content not only based on what it says with text, but what it says in images, too.How are you using images in your content? Share with us in the comments below!Image Credit: NNgroup.com, NNgroup.com, Socialbakers, NNgroup.com Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! 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Originally published Apr 17, 2018 6:00:00 AM, updated April 17 2018 Don’t forget to share this post! Topics: Google Sheets Google Sheets can be used for a lot more than just storing and organizing your data. With the right add-ons, you can streamline your reporting process, collect big-picture data predictions and analysis, and even send emails — all from your spreadsheets.Learn how to run effective marketing campaigns using Google.Before we dive into the 12 Google Sheet add-ons, here’s a brief overview on how to download a Google Sheets add-on:1. Open new or existing google spreadsheet2. Click add ons in navigation bar → “get add ons”3. Hover over an add-on and click “free” button4. In the pop-up window, sign into your google account and click “allow”4. The add-on is automatically installed5. To manage or remove add-ons, click “manage add-ons”6. If you want to remove the add-on, click the green “manage” button, and then “remove” Important note: You’ll only see these add-ons on a desktop, they don’t work on mobile. Also, most add-ons work for both Chrome and Safari, but some are only designed for Chrome. Now that we’ve got that covered, here are 12 Google Sheet add-ons that can streamline your entire reporting process.Email1.autoCrat: When you’ve finalized a spreadsheet and want to send it to someone else, this add-on enables you to merge your spreadsheet data into a document and email your data as either an attachment. Autocrat can also mass-generate personalized documents.Image credit to autoCrat add-on.2.Yet Another Mail Merge: This tool automates email campaigns, tracks emails, and lets you personalize emails for specific contact groups. To do this, you simply import your contacts into a spreadsheet, and choose a Google email template. You can send one generic email to all your contacts, or customize emails for different contact segments.Image credit to Yet Another Mail Merge add-on.3.Gmail Scheduler: Gmail Scheduler allows you to schedule emails for later. After writing your email in Gmail and saving it as a draft, your spreadsheet will automatically send the email at the appropriately allotted time. Image credit to Gmail Scheduler add-on.Organization:4. Document Studio: If your data is spread out across spreadsheets, Excel sheets, Google Form Responses, and CSV files, this add-on makes it possible to combine all your miscellaneous information into one clean document. Among other things, Document Studio assists you in creating highly sophisticated marketing pitches or business letters. It’s your choice whether you want your final document in PDF format, Google Sheets, Docs, or Slides, Microsoft Powerpoint, Word, or Excel, HTML or Plain text, or an ePub eBook.Image credit to Document Studio add-on. 5. Power Tools: Power Tools is a useful all-in-one service to cleanup data, reformat it, combine sheets, split columns, customize formulas, and more. If there’s one service in Power Tools you use a lot, you can even save it as a favorite. The add-on also automates mundane tasks, like adding or removing text by position.Image credit to Power Tools add-on. Visuals:6. Table Styles: If you want to use your spreadsheets for presentation purposes, Table Styles helps you achieve a sleek style. With Table Styles, you’re able to add custom or predefined styles, fonts, borders, and colors to your sheet. If you were presenting a spreadsheet at a marketing conference with company data, for example, you could use your company colors for a professional look.Image credit to Table Styles add-on.7. Awesome Table: This add-on gives you the option of viewing or analyzing data in other visual forms. Awesome Table transforms your data into charts, maps, cards, visual tables, or other custom interfaces.Image credit to Awesome Table add-on. Data Analysis, Calculations, Predictions:8. Solver: Solver helps you maximize profits, minimize costs, and deal with budget allocation, which is particularly useful if you’re in charge of budgeting multiple marketing campaigns at once. Solver can calculate and model your data, and provide solution optimization, as well.Image credit to Solver add-on.9. BigML: Conceiving predictions with your data is often tricky, time-consuming, and inefficient. This add-on solves that problem by extracting value from your known data and filling the blank cells in each data row with predictions. It also assigns confidence levels to predictions, and populates lead score values.Image credit to BigML.com. 10. AdStage: If you’re employing paid marketing strategies, this tool incorporates your paid marketing performance data directly into your spreadsheet. It provides tools for A/B testing, so you can determine your top-performing campaigns or ads. It also enables you to gather cross-network SEM data in one table, and more.Image credit to AdStage add-on.Publishing and Sharing:11. AppSheet: Building a new mobile app has never been easier — this add-on allows you to fill your spreadsheet with data including contacts, products, inventory, property, and anything else you want tracked, and then automatically converts that data into your new mobile app. If you’re interested in creating a custom app to distribute to employees or customers, AppSheet works effectively within minutes.Image credit to AppSheet.com. 12. MarkdownTableMaker: If you’d prefer seeing your data in a Markdown table, this add-on converts your spreadsheet (or individual columns) into Markdown. You’re also able to save the Markdown conversion to Google Drive, or copy and paste it anywhere else you want.Image credit to MarkdownTableMaker add-on.
TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Ex-Dinamo Zagreb chief Mamic: Levy included price for 5 shirts in fee for Spurs Modric dealby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveFormer Dinamo Zagreb chief exec Zdravko Mamic has recalled selling Luka Modric to Tottenham.The Real Madrid ace moved to Spurs in 2008.Mamic recalled to Four Four Two magazine: “We already had an agreement for Modric to move to London. I asked Levy (Daniel, chairman) for five Spurs jerseys and he told me that he would give them to me, but that at that point Tottenham would pay a lower sum for the player’s transfer, given that from the agreed €21m it would be subtracted. “Levy is the best negotiator in the world. This story made me realize how much he values every single euro coming out of Tottenham’s coffers.”
Tevin Coleman Hoosiers Trading CardTevin Coleman played three years of football at Indiana, and was one of the top running backs in the Big Ten his last two seasons. He was selected in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons after leaving school with one year of eligibility remaining.Three years was plenty of time for Coleman to establish himself as a star on the gridiron, but apparently not long enough for him to learn to spell IU’s nickname. Trading card company Panini America includes athlete artwork in its packs, and Coleman’s sketch featured a misspelling of the word Hoosiers.Tevin Coleman’s 1 of 1 art card for Panini pic.twitter.com/5bJA1ZrCXj— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 15, 2015Ouch. That’s a pretty bad mistake by Coleman, and kind of odd that Panini didn’t want him to correct it. The IU faithful probably won’t be happy to see this, though we’re sure they’ll still accept Coleman due to the yeoman’s effort he put forth on the field for a sub-par team.
AUSTIN, TX – OCTOBER 27: A cheerleader of the Texas Longhorns show Hook’em Horns during the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium October 27, 2007 in Austin, Texas. Texas won 28-25. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)Texas wide receiver Daje Johnson recently released a rap single titled, “Dealer,” and, well, it’s focused on a topic you don’t want a student-athlete to be rapping about. The single, appropriately titled, is about dealing drugs. The track opens, “If you lookin’ for the dealer, I got the plug. Probly catch him with the reefer.” Here’s the full song. It contains lyrics that are not safe for work. Johnson has had somewhat of a troubled career with the Longhorns, catching just five passes for -7 yards in 2014. Reaction to the single getting released was expectedly critical. The 5-foot-10, 184-pound senior later apologized for the song. I apologize for my prior post Dealer. I assure you that I’m still focused on my goals this season…… I just make music for fun— Daje’ Johnson (@BL4CKM4KO) July 8, 2015Texas opens its 2015 season Sept. 5 against Notre Dame. [Burnt Orange Nation]
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Former premier Danny Williams told the Muskrat Falls inquiry on Monday that the wildly overbudget megaproject was in Newfoundland and Labrador’s best interest — and critics who attack him for championing it are “reckless.”Williams maintained “good intentions and good faith” were behind the planning of the hydroelectric dam that has doubled its estimated cost, leaving the province’s ratepayers worried the endeavour might be paid out of their pockets.“This is something we can be really proud of,” the boisterous former Tory premier said of the Labrador project.“The fact that the project is getting disparaged reflects on all the people who worked so hard in order to put this together.”The independent inquiry, led by provincial Supreme Court Justice Richard LeBlanc, is looking into cost and schedule overruns of the $12.7-billion dam on the lower Churchill River.The 824-megawatt hydroelectric dam, being developed by the Crown-owned Nalcor Energy, will send power to Newfoundland and later Nova Scotia through subsea cables.During his term, Williams championed Muskrat Falls as a form of energy independence from Quebec, before retiring from politics shortly after announcing the plan in 2010.The dam near Happy Valley-Goose Bay has since been described as “the greatest fiscal mistake in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history” by current Liberal Premier Dwight Ball.Williams, a businessman and lawyer, was comfortable and confident on the stand on Monday – but he didn’t mince words when addressing criticisms from his detractors.Commission co-counsel Barry Learmonth asked Williams to respond to criticisms that he pushed the megaproject through for the sake of his own ego and legacy.Williams called such criticisms “reckless, irresponsible and shameful.”“Nothing, I’m under oath, could be further from the truth,” said Williams.Williams maintained that his government “turned over every stone” by researching financial and legal options before his successor as Tory leader and premier, Kathy Dunderdale, sanctioned Muskrat Falls in December 2012.Williams also praised a paper that historian Jason Churchill presented to the inquiry last month. It found that Quebec’s stronghold on the Churchill River’s resources has long blocked Newfoundland and Labrador from accessing elusive energy markets.Williams detailed his own frustrations with Quebec, including the long-standing debate over Labrador’s borders — which, according to commission exhibits, are not reflected in some Quebec maps.Williams also referred to former premier Jean Lesage’s 1965 comments that any electricity passing through Quebec territory would “become property of Hydro-Quebec.”“They will do whatever they can to cut us off, it’s shocking,” Williams said. “(But) I need to point out that we still tried.”Learmonth asked Williams about testimony from megaproject scholar Bent Flyvbjerg, who said last month there can be an increased risk of cost overruns when those overseeing the project have less experience in hydroelectric projects.But Williams said he was “not at all concerned” the Nalcor Energy team was underqualified to oversee a hydroelectric project, despite mainly being experts in oil and gas projects.He said he had no reason to believe Nalcor staff had misrepresented cost estimates in communications with him.Williams also dismissed the “rumours” that he continued to influence Muskrat Falls management decisions after he resigned as premier in 2010, attributing such comments to “Danny haters.”“The day I went out the door, I was done,” said Williams. “Whoever is putting that out there is putting it out there for the wrong reasons.”Williams said concerns over doubled power rates are the result of “fear-mongering,” and the project’s long-term benefits will outweigh rate increases that Williams said were on the horizon anyway.“Critics can’t throw all of this on the back of Muskrat Falls,” said Williams. “I can guarantee the people of this province that these rates will not double as a result of Muskrat Falls.”The former premier said Nalcor will become more profitable over time, and its profits will help mitigate the costs.“There was never an understanding that we would get this for free,” Williams said of Muskrat Falls.Williams will continue his testimony Tuesday.
Approximately 32 grams of Methamphetamine10 Fentanyl tabletsApproximately 1.5 grams of Fentanyl8 grams of CocaineTwo license plates Additional weapons A stolen vehicle 2 Firearms GRANDE PRAIRIE, A.B. – On the evening of Friday, May 10, the Grande Prairie RCMP Crime Reduction Unit executed a search warrant at a residence located in the City of Grande Prairie.The search warrant was in connection to a possible stolen vehicle to the residence.According to RCMP, one individual has been charged, and the following items were seized and recovered as a result of the investigation; Facing charges is 35-year-old Shane Anthony Haugen of Grande Prairie.Haugen is facing the following charges:Possession of property obtained by crime x 6Unsafe storage of a firearm x 2Possession for the purpose of trafficking x 3Possession of a weapon for a dangerous purposeObstruction of a peaceUnauthorized possession of a firearm/ammunitionHaugen remains in custody and is scheduled to appear at Grande Prairie Provincial Court on May 13, 2019.
Kolkata: A stray canine, rescued by the police, has become the first street mongrel to join the elite dog squad of West Bengal Police. Asha, as named by the Kolkata Police officers who rescued her from stone-pelting kids on the city streets, has been trained in the last one-and-half years to become member of the dog squad of the West Bengal Police Training Academy, Barrackpore, deputy inspector general of police Dipankar Bhattacharya said. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellers”Initially, we did not have plans to train her or include her in our dog squad as we never had any street dog in the squad. But the then inspector-general (Training) K Jayaraman thought of providing training to the stray dog and see if she could be included in the canine squad,” Bhattacharya said. Asha who will be joining “pedigreed” members such as German Shepherds and Labradors in the dog squad, has proved to be a good sniffer dog in detecting explosives, the DIG said. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja “I am happy that Asha has proved that not only pedigreed dogs can be part of a police dog squad. She has proved herself to be as smart and intelligent as pedigreed dogs. “We are proud that we are successful in training a stray dog to handle situations. She is ready for work and will join the squad soon,” the IPS officer said expressing his willingness to try to include more street mongrels in the squad after training them. “Asha is a well-mannered dog. She picked up very quickly and started following instructions on how to heel and walk, crawl, lie down, roll over and salute just like others pedigreed dogs,” another senior officer in the West Bengal Police’s dog squad said. “But if you ask me, I will tell you that Asha was very good at training and most of the times, she was better than the pedigreed dogs. She is the fastest runner dog in our squad and quite clever. That’s her mettle,” the officer said.
Lucknow: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Wednesday said she will not contest the Lok Sabha elections. “Keeping in mind the current political situation, I have decided not to contest the Lok Sabha elections,” Mayawati told the media.
New Delhi: TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, who is spearheading an effort to cobble up an anti-BJP front, Friday said not only the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) but any outfit which is against the saffron party are welcome to join a grand alliance after the election results are declared.Naidu has stepped up efforts to bring together parties which are against the BJP ahead of a possible meeting of the grand alliance after the election results are declared on May 23. The Andhra Pradesh chief minister met CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Aam Admi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Friday and discussed with them about the possible tie-up in the post-election scenario. According to sources, Naidu is likely to meet Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the national capital and BSP chief Mayawati in Lucknow Saturday. “We welcome not only the TRS but any party which is against the BJP. We are welcoming all such parties to be a part of our grand alliance,” Naidu told reporters after meeting the Election Commission of India (ECI) here. He was responding to a query if a Congress-led grand alliance will join hands with the TRS, which is trying to bring together all regional parties to forge a non-Congress, non-BJP front, after the election results are declared. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra Singh”I am meeting everybody. Will chalk out a plan after discussing with all leaders,” Naidu added. In the meeting with the ECI, the TDP president said that he requested the poll panel to take a serious note of the series of complaints filed by his party including against the repoll ordered in Chandragiri Assembly segment in the Andhra Pradesh and counting of votes in the entire constituency if discrepancy found in VVPAT slips with five mandated Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in any part of the country. “As on today, the ECI’s decisions are very controversial, one-sided, pro-establishment and pro-government. During the entire election, they were supporting the government. It is unfortunate,” he told reporters after the meeting.
The NFL playoffs begin Saturday, and if recent reports are any indication, this season could mark the end of the 12-team postseason era. In March, the league will vote on whether to expand its tournament field to 14 teams for the 2015 season — after which the floodgates may open for further expansion in subsequent seasons.This is not necessarily a bad thing. The NFL playoffs are a TV ratings bonanza, and it doesn’t seem as though our appetite for football is waning (despite a trying year off the field). Plus, teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans — all of which missed the playoffs this season despite winning records — make a case for creating more playoff spots. (And the 7-8-1 Carolina Panthers hosting a home playoff game makes the case for re-seeding the field.)But which expanded format is best? As I’ve done in the past, I’ll take the perspective that the best format is the one that sees the most deserving team win the most often, using a Monte Carlo simulation to test playoff fields of various sizes.More specifically, I generated random preseason Elo ratings for every team (based on the historical distribution of real-life preseason Elo ratings) and simulated the real-life 2014 regular season schedule 1,000 times — an exercise similar to that performed by Doug Drinen in this classic post at the Pro-Football-Reference.com blog. For each of those simulations, I tracked the regular season standings, seeding the teams within each conference using simulated point differential as the tiebreaker.The preseason ratings represent the starting talent levels for every team, but they can go up or down depending on the simulated game outcomes, in accordance with the Elo formula. For instance, a team assigned an initial Elo below the league-average mark of 1500 could tear off an improbably great regular season and finish above 1700. That would be used as the team’s strength rating going into the postseason.For potential expanded fields of 14, 16, 20, and 32 teams, I tracked how often the most talented preseason and end-of-regular-season Elo team won the Super Bowl, as well as the average preseason and pre-playoff Elo ratings (and rankings) of the simulated Super Bowl champs. For comparison, I also ran this test for contracted fields of 2, 4, and 8 teams, as well as the current 12-team setup.Here’s a little more to help decipher that chart. When the playoffs contained just 2 teams, the average simulated Super Bowl winner had an Elo of 1565.3 before the season, which gave it an average ranking of 9.2 among the NFL’s 32 teams. Also, 12.8 percent of those Super Bowl winners were ranked No. 1 in the preseason. After the regular season was simulated, those teams averaged an Elo rating of 1690.1, with an average ranking of 2.5 within the league, and they led the league in post-regular season Elo 44.7 percent of the time. Finally, following the Super Bowl the average winner from our two-team-playoff universe had an Elo rating of 1711.6.Comparing those categories across all formats, the irony is that a BCS-style two-team playoff produces the most talented champion from the perspective of both preseason and end-of-regular-season Elo ratings. But since that’s clearly neither realistic nor desirable, it appears the 14-team bracket is the superior option. On average, it yields the most talented team of any expanded format, and enables that team to win the Super Bowl with quite a bit more frequency — perhaps due to first-round byes only being given to the top seed in each conference.Interestingly, a 14-team bracket also yields the best average post-Super Bowl rating for the champ among any format tested, expanded or not. (Granting that the current 12-team setup sees the better regular-season team win more often.) Based on this research, then, a 14-team playoff seems to strike the best balance between letting teams settle things on the field and putting the most deserving teams in a position to succeed.
Blake Bortles25.41411+3 WINS Matthew Stafford21.71927-8 Cam Newton23.02726+1 All newsletters Derek Carr25.82322+1 Carson Palmer20.72625+1 Ben Roethlisberger21.03028+2 Alex Smith18.82730-3 Philip Rivers24.42218+4 Eli Manning23.52523+2 Andrew Luck24.22821+7 Matt Ryan24.32925+4 The Saints offense does occasionally sputter, and for those games, the team’s chances of winning are solely reliant on the defense — in other words, virtually hopeless. In games when the Saints scored less than the league average, they went 2-14. Brady’s Patriots went 5-6 when they failed to best the league average.The Saints head into their season opener in Minnesota tonight determined to finally turn around their defense. Head coach Sean Payton said he’s “optimistic” about the unit. Players are even hoping a preseason stretch of eight consecutive quarters without allowing a touchdown will prove meaningful now that the games actually count. We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe It’s not Brees’s faultThe difference in win total for quarterbacks if their actual defense was replaced by a league-average defense in each game, 2014-16. Among the 47 games Brees started in the past three seasons, the Saints would have won 10 more games (technically, they would have won 12 games they actually lost and lost two they had actually won, for a net increase of 10). In both 2014 and 2016, Brees’s record would have been 11-5, and New Orleans would have made the playoffs. To be sure, this is just a back-of-the-napkin calculation, and several variables can distort this expected-win statistic — for instance, Brees and the Saints probably wouldn’t have scored as much if they hadn’t been constantly losing.But when you look at all the non-Brees starting quarterbacks who also started from 2014 to 2016, the connection between clearing the league-average point total and winning games is quite strong: The quarterbacks in our sample average 0.97 wins for every one time they clear that bar. Brees, on the other hand, registered 0.68 wins for his better-than-average offensive days. Matthew Stafford is the anti-Brees in this regard: The Detroit Lions’ QB has 27 wins since 2014 despite leading an offense that beat the league-average point total just 19 times. QUARTERBACKAVG. OPP. PTS/GAMEEXPECTEDACTUALDIFF. Joe Flacco20.32321+2 Drew Brees is in a league of his own statistically. He has led the NFL in passing yards three years in a row and seven times as a Saint (no other player in history has hit that mark more than five times). He has topped 5,000 yards five times — all other quarterbacks in history have combined for only four such seasons. Brees’s New Orleans offenses have finished in the top 10 in scoring in six straight years, and his nine consecutive seasons of 30 or more TD passes are nearly twice as many as the next closest QBs (Brett Favre 1994-98 and Peyton Manning 2009-14). Brees’s passing résumé would force the office printer to run out of paper.But there is one reasonably important statistic that Brees struggles in: winning football games. The Saints last had a winning season in 2013, finishing 7-9 for three straight years. And in the 16-game era, no quarterback has started every game and missed the playoffs more often than Brees, who has done this seven times. Even some Saints fans are asking whether Brees is merely a compiler of gaudy passing numbers who can’t deliver in the clutch.But Brees isn’t the reason the Saints have lost 27 games in three seasons — the defense is. Among all 32 teams from 2014 to 2016, the Saints ranked 28th, 32nd and 31st in points allowed per game, respectively. Over those three seasons, the Saints gave up 28.2 points on average in Brees’s starts — that’s practically a touchdown more than the league average during that time (22.7). No other current starting quarterback in this time period has nearly this high a hurdle to clear to get a win.1For this, we looked at the 18 quarterbacks who are currently starters and also started for any team in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The three quarterbacks with the most wins during that time — Tom Brady (35), Aaron Rodgers (32) and Russell Wilson (32) — have defenses that have allowed an average of 18.6, 22.1 and 17.1 points per game, respectively.2Only counting games in which they started.Let’s pretend for a second that New Orleans had an average defense — not even a good one — over the past three seasons. If the actual points surrendered by the Saints in each of the 47 games that Brees started in 2014-16 were replaced with the league average for the season, how many more games would Brees have won? Andy Dalton19.72526-1 Aaron Rodgers22.13532+3 For current starting quarterbacks who also started in the 2014 through 2016 seasons. Expected wins are based on whether the opposition team scored the NFL average points per game for a given season.Source: pro-football-reference.com Russell Wilson17.13032-2 Jay Cutler26.11112-1 Drew Brees28.23121+10 Tom Brady18.63335-2 The Saints need a defensive awakening to happen soon. Although Brees plays as though he’s ageless, he’ll turn 39 in January. He doesn’t even need his defense to be good for the team to be successful. The Saints have finished 20th or better in points allowed just five times in his 11 seasons in New Orleans, and Brees has led his team to the playoffs in each of these seasons — averaging 12 wins. Alas, those are his only winning seasons for Payton and his rotating cast of defensive coordinators.Check out our latest NFL predictions.
Let’s flashback to 2008. USC trounces Virginia, 52-7, and Ohio State escapes embarrassment with a fourth quarter rally to top Ohio University, 26-14. The following week, the Trojans pounded the Buckeyes 35-3, further eroding the Big Ten’s waning credibility.Hop out of your time machine and skim through the results from Week 1 in 2009. DéjÃ vu. OSU narrowly avoids an upset at home to the Naval Academy, while USC smokes San Jose State, 56-3. Which team feels more confident heading into the rematch at The Shoe? That might not be as important of a question as one would think. If asked which team’s fans feel more certain about Saturday’s meeting, then the answer would clearly point toward Hollywood’s enthusiasts.When Navy had a chance to tie the game with two minutes left, it wasn’t about potentially losing to the 22-point underdog at home to kick off the season. No, it was more about the clear lack of confidence that the Buckeye faithful now have heading into a must-win match against Southern Cal.But, while history points to Navy’s near-upset as a precursor to another OSU letdown, I’m here to tell you it means next to nothing. USC might beat Ohio State by 30, but it will have little to do with how both teams fared in their openers.Pete Carroll’s gameplan against lowly San Jose State was to get true freshman Matt Barkley as comfortable as possible. But how much experience does a quarterback get under his belt in just one game? And in that one game, he played just three quarters, and played them against a team that was shutout at home last year by Louisiana Tech. Barkley finished just 2-4 for 20 yards in the first quarter. The Spartans led, 3-0, after those first 15 minutes.The rookie finished 15-19 for 233 yards and a touchdown. So, Barkley got acclimated to the college game, but it took a quarter to find a rhythm against a far inferior opponent in front of 84,325 Trojan warriors at The Coliseum.Barkley won’t have as smooth of a transition in front of 105,000 in scarlet and gray under the bright lights at The Shoe.It’s up to the Buckeyes’ defense to make his life miserable, though.Navy had its way with the OSU defense for much of Saturday afternoon. But how much can really be drawn from defending a style of offense the Buckeyes won’t see again for years?The triple option attack that the Midshipmen employ demands a defensive scheme that OSU won’t use against USC. The Buckeyes lined up in many 5-0 and 3-4 sets, with linebackers and defensive ends gearing up to stop the run, and only the run.Against a much more balanced Trojan attack, the Bucks can implement whatever defense they’ve been working on throughout the summer. By opening with Navy, Jim Tressel was allowed to hide every one of his defensive ploys up his sleeve. Unfortunately for him, his team obviously was looking ahead to the USC contest as well.When getting down to the basics, the Buckeyes still played very poorly in the final quarter against Navy. Repeating many of the mistakes they committed against Navy in this weekend’s bonanza will result in an outcome similar to the 35-3 thrashing that still burns in the minds of Buckeye backers.But no matter the result in Saturday’s rematch, draw fewer conclusions about Week 1 when predicting what will happen in Week 2.
“Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.” That obscure “Men in Black” quote illustrates the past month or so of Buckeye football. Constant breaking news has surrounded Columbus’ favorite sons: Tattoo-gate, player apologies, players pledging to return for senior year, an assistant coach leaving, an assistant coach almost leaving and, of course, all kinds of reaction from the outside world. Thus, there’s no flying under the radar for the Vest and his boys. The stakes are lofty for OSU. Arguably no other team in college football is under more pressure to win its bowl game. Some people are infuriated that the Shameful Six are allowed to participate in the Sugar Bowl. Others aren’t. I’m apathetic, mostly because the NCAA is making up rules as it goes along. So, I’m not going to waste my time judging players who may or may not have broken those rules. Tattoo-gate has overshadowed the game and OSU’s opponent come tonight: Arkansas. And in case anyone’s forgotten, the Bucks are 0-for-9 against the SEC in bowl games. That said, for OSU to get a victory against the Razorbacks, it’ll have to come together as a team. Only those associated with the program know if Tattoo-gate divided the team. The players will never come out and say it, but some must be wondering if some of those suspended are getting preferential treatment. Speaking of the players, there couldn’t be more weight on their shoulders. They’ve already experienced trials and tribulations in past bowl games. Although not many of them experienced the two BCS title game losses, the impact of the two colossal flops still weighs on the program. Plenty of them were there for the heartbreaking loss to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. And nearly all of them were feeling rosy after beating Oregon last January. Meanwhile, Arkansas has been marginalized, which is, I’m sure, just how Head Hog Bobby Petrino wants it. The Razorbacks only lost to Alabama and Auburn this year. There’s no shame in losing to the Cam Newton-led Tigers and a Crimson Tide team that dominated and embarrassed co-Big Ten champion Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl. Petrino has the Arkansas program on the rise. Two vastly different teams will enter the Superdome tonight with different mindsets: One will be trying to salvage its season; one will be trying to vault itself into the national spotlight. Imagine what could happen tonight.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman waves to the crowd during the Super Bowl Parade Feb. 5 in Seattle.Courtesy of MCTIn the two weeks between the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XLVIII, every person who encountered any type of sports media likely learned the name of Richard Sherman.The third-year cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks stole headlines from many other worthy story lines heading into the biggest sporting event of the year.Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning breaking single-season passing records and leading the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl in his second season after returning from a career-threatening neck injury?The NFL’s best offense squaring off against the NFL’s best defense in a true test of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object?How would the Seahawks’ offense, with running back Marshawn Lynch arguably being the only player who would rank in the top 10 of NFL players at his position (Lynch finished with 1,257 yards on the ground, good for sixth in the league), keep up with the prolific scoring of the Broncos?All of these buzzworthy topics took a backseat to the controversy surrounding the 25-year-old defensive back’s on-camera reaction to a sideline reporter’s questions after the Seahawks’ Jan 19 victory.Sherman’s deflection of a pass intended for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree into the waiting arms of linebacker Malcolm Smith sealed the NFC Championship victory and a Super Bowl berth for Seattle.With the attention of the football world on him, Sherman had set himself up for a potentially huge payday and possibly some new endorsement deals.After Sunday’s game, Sherman’s name did not make the front page of many newspapers after he turned in a quiet but efficient performance in Seattle’s 43-8 victory over Denver.He was credited with three tackles and one pass deflection in a game where his most noticeable effects on the game were the two times play was stopped while Sherman sprawled on the turf in pain.Sherman was carted off the field during the fourth quarter with a high ankle sprain, but returned to give a relatively subdued interview — a far cry from the outburst that garnered so much attention two weeks prior.He had practically forcibly grabbed the spotlight while enthusiastically proclaiming himself to be the “best corner in the game” in the postgame interview with Fox’s Erin Andrews after his team’s 23-17 win.Despite not making any spectacular individual plays or boasting an impressive stat line, Sherman played an integral role in a team effort that held Denver and its NFL MVP quarterback to one score in the entire game.Manning never looked comfortable in the pocket, and he often checked down to short-yardage passes. He threw two interceptions, lost a fumble, was sacked, was involved in a safety after his center snapped the ball over his head, and had eight of his passes batted down in a disappointing outing.Sherman might not have earned a spot on the Super Bowl highlight reel, but at least he did not turn in a dud like Manning.Most importantly, Sherman added “Super Bowl Champion” to a résumé that already includes being a two-time first-team All-Pro and Stanford graduate.Hopefully, his calmer postgame demeanor this time around will silence his critics, at least temporarily. Social media exploded with derision and racial slurs directed toward Sherman after his outspoken on-air rant in the Andrews interview.Despite being loud, Sherman does not have any obvious character flaws or negative history and would actually make a great role model for young athletes.He was salutatorian of his high school class of Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif., and attended a college known for academics instead of athletics, graduating after five years with a degree in communications and starting a master’s instead of leaving early for the NFL.“I really wanted to make that known to people that you can go to Stanford from Compton,” Sherman said when he was drafted.After the deciding play in the NFC Championship Game, Sherman congratulated Crabtree by saying “helluva game” and extending a handshake. Crabtree reacted by shoving Sherman’s facemask, which presumably was the catalyst for Sherman’s now-infamous rant.The world should judge Sherman on his credentials and achievements instead of his volume in one interview. He’s proven himself to be one of the best corners in the league, if not the best, as he claimed. Or, if Sherman goes off on another rant, maybe he can rant about his support of academics, good sportsmanship and opposition of illicit drugs. It would be hard to call him a “thug” after a rant like that.