TIL: February 16, 2013

TIL Javascript. OK, I’m not an expert in it yet or anything. But I woke up early this morning and couldn’t go to sleep, so I ended up falling down the CodeAcademy rabbit hole. I have been putting off learning any more than basic Javascript syntax for a long time, so I’m glad I finally got things rolling. Next up, adding thousands of pop ups to my blog. Enjoy!

Entrepreneurship: Born or Bred

It’s always great to see a fellow alum from the OU Entrepreneurship program chasing after their dream. A dear friend and classmate of mine, James Simpson, has been starting businesses since he was 14 years old. He was one of the few that was born with a drive to create the things he was passionate about, instead of simply consume the product of someone else’s work. After making countless successful online games and managing huge communities of users, he is making the transition right now from just building products to building a company. Right now, he is raising funds for a new game called Casino RPG, and is trying to push the limits of HTML5 game development with it.

James has been building things for nearly half his life. How does someone get to this point, and what was the seed that started a life of creating? What makes entrepreneurs take on crushing debt, defy all the “you can’t”s and laugh in the face of failure? Is the drive to create and innovate a genetic characteristic, personality trait created through surroundings and experiences, or is it a personal decision backed by hard work and courage?

This isn’t going to be a blog post with an answer. This post is more an introduction to the other aspect of this blog- entrepreneurship and creativity. I am not an entrepreneur. At least not 100%. I have the drive to create, along with genuine excitement and passion for new ideas, innovation, and creativity that all entrepreneurs need. At the same time I struggle with taking big risks. My personality isn’t loud and bombastic like a lot of entrepreneurs. I’m more introverted, thoughtful, and calculated than the standard image of an entrepreneur. The goal of the entrepreneurial side of this blog is to test if entrepreneurship can be born or bred. As I continue to develop new ideas and my aptitude for calculated risk, I’ll check back in here periodically. Whether it’s innovation within a company, or stepping out on my own to build something great, you can find my thoughts here on how to cultivate creativity in my daily life and take advantage of these opportunities.

How to Make a Quick, Dirty, and Free Rank Checker

Keyword rank tracking software like SEOmoz is great, but sometimes you need to quickly see where your website or a competitor lands in the SERPs for a specific keyword. Software like SEOmoz won’t really help you with that, as it doesn’t collect SERP data on demand. To fill this need, I use a google docs spreadsheet that generates Google queries, scrapes the results pages, and lets you know where your target domain pops up. Here’s how you can make your own too:

Step 1: Create Input Fields in your Google Docs Spreadsheet
In order for things to work properly, you’ll need a cell devoted to inputting a keyword and another cell devoted to inputting the domain name you’re looking for in the results pages.

Step 2: Create an ImportXML Sheet
If you haven’t heard of the ImportXML function for Google Docs, this function basically turns your spreadsheet into a site scraper. Using this function properly can increase research and prospecting efficiency ten fold. First things first, though. You just need to create another sheet named “SERPs” or “XML Data”. Something like that. This is where your importXML function will throw your data after it grabs what you need.

Step 3: Keyword References
To make things a bit more understandable if you’re going to be checking multiple keywords at once, you need to add cell references to your keywords for the entire first row.

Step 4: Create your Google Query URLs
From here, you’ll want to use the concatenate formula to generate all the query URLs you will be using the importXML function on. Here’s what your formula should look like, just substitute <> with the location of the keyword the URL should be querying.

=concatenate(“http://www.google.com/search?q=”, <>, “&pws=0&gl=US&num=50″)

Step 5: importXML Shenanigans
After this, throw the importXML function in the cell underneath the Google Query URL you just generated. The piece of importXML that can be a bit confusing is finding the correct Xpath. Xpath is basically a code that tells the function what part of the website you want to grab. I’m not going to go over Xpath right now, but you can read all about it here. The Xpath that I use for Google queries is “//h3[@class='r']/a/@href”.