There Is No Them: The SEO of Connections & Relationships

There Is No Them: The SEO of Connections & Relationships

We are Us. [connected]

There is no Them. We are all connected.

We thrive alongside and rely on each other for our success and for the deep and interesting ride we can take together.

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” C.G. Jung

The more we are able to not place and then restrict ourselves to our own self-created autonomous container, operating without a conscious awareness of how critical our connections are to all aspects of our existence, the better equipped we’ll be to achieve what we’re hoping to achieve.

That’s what I’m getting at when I say “There Is No Them”.

This applies to our emotional well-being, personal growth, marriage, partnership, friendships and to our business success… Doing business and marketing our business is more aligned with the other aspects of how we live than ever before.

Ho·lis·tic
adjective \hō-ˈlis-tik\ : relating to or concerned with complete systems rather than with individual parts

Everything is interconnected and connections run deep and wide. This is especially true on the web. Who we are and the actions we take cycle back, re-connect to us in ways beyond what we can easily and humanly perceive and if we do what we do intentionally and consistently it’s additive and hopefully effectual. With technology and Holistic SEO this is especially true: Outreach and receptivity. Connections. Relationships. The company you keep. Transparency. Trust. Linking up, down and sideways naturally.

“…the real characteristic of the semantic web and, with it, semantic search is that it is transitioning from a web of websites to a web of people”
David Amerland, Google Semantic Search

Twirl that around in your thoughts for a moment. Our humanity plus our human connections are important to the health of our online presence. They are what will ultimately make it work.

If you think that creating and fostering an ‘us and them’ approach will bring you success. Think twice.Click To Tweet If you have that regard toward your customers you are creating a gap between you. If you find that you constantly have that regard towards your competitors you are creating a bigger gap than what already exists between you. Because even if you’re competing for the same business, the thing is, you are each adding to the space and are respectively learning something and gaining in some way from each other. If you have that regard built in to a hierarchy within your own company you are creating division that is likely to be unnecessary and counterproductive.

Interdependence and crediting connection is useful, growth-filled and energizing. How we are related? Why we are related? When and how do we utilize our relations? How do we continually create new relations of value? These are all pertinent questions. Handy to be aware of.

Something That’s Always Fun To Consider

There’s always the fact of six degrees to reckon with     …or ZERO as the case may be.

Joining Forces To Make Something Big Happen

1985, Boston, Massachusetts

We were living and making art in a loft on the top floor of an old leather factory in the leather district in Boston (South Station). Classic; 5 story walk-up, (mean, tall factory risers; think 8-10 foot paintings up and down not to mention groceries), 14 foot ceilings, massive arched windows, bed on the floor, blankets practically dragging into the paint and turpentine, tiny, borderline make-believe kitchen in front of the freight elevator that was too small to be of much use to us, wood plank floors you could see through for all the gaps; funky and glorious. We got married there.

Sadly, the “artist lifestyle” caught on, civilians moved in, movies were made, the area was gentrified, rents soared, condos were born. This meant that the artists, those of us who’d quietly ventured into the dismal, dark street wasteland and turned it into a desirable locale were getting squeezed out. It was an urgent situation. We accidentally dripped paint onto the new downstairs neighbor’s perfect white couch in her perfectly white living room one day. She was forgiving because she was a kind person and enamored with artists but it was time to go. We couldn’t afford to live there anymore anyway.

Guerrilla Artist-Housing and Grass-Roots

I was lucky and got to team up with the perfect dear friend and gallery-mate to solve our big dilemma. Where could we go? We needed those high ceilings, big space, cheap rents but nothing was available; artist-housing-shortage. So we went DIY.  We searched and scoured every crevice of every potential building within a half hour radius of Boston (even as far as Providence, RI, in one desperate shift of focus) to convert into artist live/work space for ourselves while accommodating stops at every trash heap for materials my friend could use in her sculptures and installations. She was the one with the car.

As it unfolded, we instigated and spearheaded a powerful grass roots movement and convinced some powers-that-be that the city was in jeopardy of losing one of its most valuable natural resources: its artists. We weren’t precisely the first. But we were the first of our kind. There was one existing artist live/work cooperative in the city developed prior to this and that lent courage and legitimacy to our actions. We also learned by example what we hoped to avoid from some of their pitfalls.

By exposing some of the overwhelming broader concerns, the continual lack of housing and work space and bringing the issues further to the fore we were injecting the campaign with concerted time and effort relying a lot on our reputations as serious artists with a track record. We were trusted and already held in some high-esteem publicly and that helped. We were fortunate to able to lead, be spokespeople for the artist community at large.

We were variously supported by the Press, then Congressman, Ed Markey, then State Representative Salvator DiMasi, government agencies including the BRA, local galleries and other high profile individuals including some of our collectors who took an interest. We received a small seed grant and know-how technical assistance from the Massachusetts Council for the Arts and Humanities.

Where The Movement Took Us

The full story is long and complicated but here’s the skip-to-the-end version. We purchased a surplus city school in the affluent suburb of Newton by becoming designated developer (that means we received permission to purchase by vote of the city council) after a laborious year and a half of lobbying (and yes, that suburban thing was something to reconcile in our predictable urban artist mindset).

It was an education in local politics and town meetings, door-to-door, phone campaigns, red tape, insane bureaucratic nightmares, hopes and disappointments. Unending patience, strategizing and re-inventing. We appeared in the New York Times -big photo and all. We also became a model artist housing project nationwide. I fielded calls from across the country from artists looking for advice. The whole thing; no mean feat, took three long harrowing years.

In our first meeting, the Mayor told us it was impossible because he needed extensive resources from the sale of this building which he wasn’t going to achieve that from a project like ours. He was hoping to fulfill his dream, his legacy; a brand new Newton city library (he got it anyway and it’s amazing). Don’t try that “impossible” tactic with me, by the way. It doesn’t work.

But What About My Website, You Ask?

A website doesn’t function in isolation. Nor should you in relation to your website. It needs connection and relationship with other entities (people and things) to succeed. So often there’s a false belief that when a website is launched the project is done and it’s time to walk away and let it do its thing. Sure. Breath a sigh of relief and enjoy your accomplishment of a job well done.

But launch is only the beginning. The tool is ready to be utilized now but the opportunity is only in its infant stages.

The next step is where you’ll see your work come to fruition, this will be when the website becomes a living, breathing object because of the relationship you have with it. It will require that you reach out and connect with those you may have thought of as “Them”: your customers, your users, other web properties, your other web properties, the connections you make on social networks to being the relationships you grow and feed. Re-frame that thinking. There is no ‘them’. These connections are what will bring life to your website.

The Place Wasn’t Re-Built In A Day (or two)

The former Claflin School, a cement block and glazed tile classic 50’s structure on three acres in an abandoned granite quarry turned bird sanctuary, turned elementary school (crow headquarters on the rock faced cliff towering over us at the back edge of the property) had been closed and left vacant sometime in the mid seventies during which time it was duly graffitied and vandalized. This is the place we put all our hopes and dreams towards.

Terry Gross, interviewing us for one of her early NPR Fresh Air shows, accompanied and spoke with us while the city official removed the big, heavy, fat chain padlock holding the doors shut all those years and walked with us over the threshold into the building for the first time after almost two years of effort. There was one more year to go.

What we did

We developed the building into fourteen artist limited equity live/work condominiums that will remain so in perpetuity and three low-income family (non-artist) subsidized housing rental units (supported by the city and state) and named it the Claflin School Studios. We negotiated original art works as a portion of the purchase price. One home run in our effort to make it affordable.

We had gathered up a group of artists along the way so we had the necessary team forces for the sweat equity of it and eventually we purchased the building as an incorporated group and sold the units back to ourselves individually. We managed to make it affordable for all of us.

I was the Co-Founder, with the commitment, sustained energy and the drive to work it full-force from start to finish. It was crazy. I was crazy. I was so naive I didn’t even know what a mortgage was when I took this on but let me tell you, I had learned a lot in those trenches by the time we occupied in February 1988; artist turned real estate developer. My first phone call to a bank president was a thing to behold. This story may be lacking humility but truth be told, this is an achievement I am very proud of.

The Troops We Concocted

We built a community together – almost like a tiny village. We collaborated, we cooperated; amongst ourselves, with the city, the neighbors, local organizations, attorneys, architects, the builders, the banks, we voted on stuff. We argued, we sulked, we celebrated. We formed a condo board which seemed such an anathema to us. It was often complicated and annoying but it was also beautiful. Thirty some odd individuals living together inside the vision we made together. Babies were born.

As a perk my friend and I received first pick of the classrooms to convert into our respective condos. We went around and around finally settling on exactly what felt right and in our own two vertically stacked classrooms we transformed side-by-side, next-door neighbors, our new life began. Many of our lifelong friends still live and work there. We left to move to Santa Barbara 18 years ago.

So what does this have to do with our online presence, our websites? Directly? Not much. But it’s the back-story to something I’m leading up to. It’ll come around.

Applying Life To SEO

Let your real life experiences guide you. There is more wisdom there than you may think and the logic is more relatable to SEO than you might imagine.

“This real world vetting mechanism is based on the Small World theory where connections from any point to any other point are no more than a few degrees of separation away. This also has a direct correlation to the online world because it’s based on the idea that you can vet reputation by inferring it from sources. Because semantic reputation networks are essentially social networks, they have the Small World properties of connection…”

“For a business or brand building reputation online, the “plan” begins to become clear:

  • Form as many relevant social connections as possible
  • Leverage your staff to become connection points in the social network marketing of your business through the establishment of authorship
  • Create transparency that will allow the establishment of trust and reputation parameters quickly.
  • Establish a multilateral web presence that makes full use of the social dimension.”
    David Amerland, Google Semantic Search

1995: Santa Barbara, California

We arrived in Santa Barbara to help care for my terminally ill father in a fairly frenzied crisis state displaced and lonely for our home, community and friends (my parents had moved here from NYC the previous year). Thankfully, my brother’s ex was living here at that time and we had always maintained our close family relationship with her so we had one friend dialed in to the community. Shortly after our arrival, she arranged a dinner to introduce us to a handful of her closest friends. Shell-shocked and shy, we arrived and took our seats at the restaurant table.

And then we had the following conversation with the woman who sat across from us:

Lovely Woman: Welcome to Santa Barbara! Where are you from?
Us: Just outside of Boston.
Lovely Woman: Oh. I lived around there a long time ago too.
Us: Oh wow! Where?
Lovely Woman: Cambridge.
Us: Cool. We live in Newtonville.
Lovely Woman: Oh! Really? I worked in Newtonville in the early 1970’s.
Us: Huh! What did you do?
Lovely Woman: I was an elementary school teacher.
Us: Really? Where?
Lovely Woman: Oh, an old school that isn’t there anymore. The city closed it down.
Us: Seriously? (chills starting to climb up our arms) What was the name of the school?
Lovely Woman: It was the Claflin School. Do you know it?

As if that wasn’t enough, wait till you hear what came next. Not Only had she taught at the school, but as it turned out, her classroom was the very one we picked after that long deliberation. Here we were, ten years beyond when our saga began, across the country in a new place, having dinner with strangers and learning that our lives were explicitly linked through very seminal experiences. Literally linked in cement block and glazed tile. She made tie dye banners to dance on the lawn with her students and we later cleaned up the vandals trash and graffiti, renovated to suit our needs and made art and love in her classroom.

If that’s not a connected small world, what is? (And just as a note of interest, my former sister-in-law knew nothing of this connection prior to dinner.)

Six degrees. Zero degrees. Everyone counts in the big picture and valuing our connections is the gold of alchemy.


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Photo Credit: Gina Fiedel

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    By: Gina Fiedel

    Gina Fiedel is the co-founder/owner of Fat Eyes Web Development. After a successful career as an artist and transitioning into electronic media in the early 90’s, she then founded Fat Eyes in 1998 to bring those skills to the web with her husband, Doug Anderson. Being engaged in business has created gratifying opportunities for communication and new inroads towards making a contribution that counts. You can learn more about Gina on the Fat Eyes Who Are We? page and Gina Fiedel Story.

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2 replies
  1. Matthew Kaboomis Loomis
    Matthew Kaboomis Loomis says:

    Hello to my zen friend, Gina!

    You are a valued online connection to me because you always remind me how much we should treasure our digital relationships. They may remain digital all our lives but that doesn’t mean because we never met in person they aren’t valuable…Your writing also brings me a sense of internal peace, so that’s why I call you my zen friend. 🙂

    You are a wonderful example of what transparency and authenticity look like online. I appreiciate your blog posts like this one…they are truly a unique experience in the blogosphere filled with sameness.

    Cheers Gina

    Reply
    • Gina Fiedel
      Gina Fiedel says:

      Thank you so much Matthew, for your kind words. It’s gratifying that my work has that effect on you and pleases me no end. All of that, but even more, it’s thrilling that you feel I set a tip of the iceberg example of what transparency and authenticity can look like online. (I love when you call me your zen friend).

      Reply

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