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2012 College Football – Pre-Season Rankings Summary

Let the smack talking and chest thumping begin in earnest, as the countdown to college football’s 2012 season is underway. Will the big bad SEC continue to run roughshod over the competition in their quest for yet another BCS Championship, or will this be the year they get knocked back down to size. Here’s a look at the top contenders for pigskin glory in 2012:

1) Southern Cal- The Trojans feature arguably the best quarterback in the college game in Matt Barkley, who has completed 64% of his passes for 80 touchdowns in his three year career. Lane Kiffin’s team played very well down the stretch last season and is loaded with talent.

2) Alabama- The defending champs are a recruiting juggernaut under Coach Nick Saban, and should be able to reload their defense (1st in points allowed in 2011) despite losing 6 starters. Junior A.J. McCarron returns to lead the offense.

3) Oklahoma- The key to Coach Bob Stoops’ squad will be the successful return of RB Dominique Whaley from an ankle injury, and improvement from a porous secondary.

4) LSU- The Mad Hatter’s team is ranked #1 by some polls, but it says here their lack of explosiveness on offense will keep them from playing for the national title.

5) Oregon- The Quack Attack will once again unleash their high octane offense on the opposition, but will need to improve their middling defense (24.6 PPG allowed) to play for the national title.

6) Georgia- The Dawgs return 10 defensive starters and a capable offense spearheaded by QB Aaron Murray. With a very manageable schedule, one that doesn’t include LSU or Alabama, Mark Richt’s troops are a legitimate sleeper pick to win it all.

7) Ohio State – You could make an argument that the Buckeyes are too high, and if you want to really make a few people upset, you could make a case that they shouldn’t be ranked at all. After all, aren’t they banned from the postseason? Why do they deserve to be ranked when they won’t even be able to participate in a bowl game this year? This is an entire new coaching staff with Urban Meyer stepping on campus. He’s installing his notorious spread offense, but you can bet it’s going to create a few growing pains throughout the season. The plays won’t be as vanilla as they were last year, and it’s going to require a lot of players to learn a lot in a short amount of time.

8) Michigan- The Wolverines are coming off a Sugar Bowl high and should be the class of the Big 10. They get tested early with a opening game tilt against Alabama, and will also have to deal with a resurgent Ohio State under new head coach Urban Meyer.

9) Florida State- The Seminoles boast a loaded defensive line that should torment ACC offenses with regularity. If the young offensive line comes together, Coach Jimbo Fisher’s team could make it to the BCS promised land.

10) West Virginia- Coach Dana Holgorsen’s second year at WVU sees his squad escape from the anemic Big East and land in the rugged Big 12. The Mountaineers boast a potent offense (6th in NCAA Passing Yards).

My Favorite SEO Tools

This is for my fellow SEO / Computer geeks out there…

There’s a couple tools I use on a regular basis that I really think help me in day-to-day operations. Some of these tools are free, and some of them have a small monetary cost. However, the cost is miniscule compared to what you would pay to hire somebody, to run the program. All of these tools are extremely user-friendly, and come highly recommended from others in the search engine optimization community.

My favorite SEO Tools are…

  1. WordPress – Do you need a blog for your website? How about a new website altogether? WordPress is hands-down the easiest content management system to use, and heavily favored in the eyes of search engines. My agency is constantly converting old static HTML sites into WordPress. The business owners love it because they can actually go in and edit content, as opposed to having to ask their webmaster to do so. It’s also free!
  2. Wufoo - Cool name huh?! Besides being fun to say, Wufoo is a fantastic way to create forms for your website. Once a contact form is submitted, you can set-up various rules and notifications. Creating forms is fast and easy. Best of all… it has a free version!
  3. Twilio - Do people come to your website, and are not filling out contact forms, but you swear your visitors are just picking up the phone and calling you. Well, Twilio will enable you to create custom phone numbers, so you can easily track visitors who found the number through your website.
  4. Open Site Explorer – A product of SEOmoz, OpenSiteExplorer (OSE) allows users to get in-depth information about a websites backlink portfolio. For example, if you want to see where your top competitor is getting all of their links from, go ahead and throw the domain name in OSE, and viola, you will have an abundance of information. However, to get complete access, you need to be a member of SEOmoz, which is about $99 / month.
  5. Google Keyword Tool – I share this tool a lot with people who are just interested in getting ‘keyword data’. For example, if you want to know if more people are searching for ‘seo agency’, or ‘seo company’, by using this tool, you will be able to get insightful information regarding search volume for various keywords.
  6. Hootsuite - If you are focused on Reputation Management, and want to monitor any online chatter in regards to your brand, use Hootsuite! You can create feeds based on keywords, so you can see if anyone ‘tweets’ about your company. Additionally, it’s a great source to manage all of your social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  7. Mailchimp - Have you ever done an email blast (or wanted to)? Mailchimp is extremely easy (and fun) to use. You can use one of their templates, or use your own. Best of all, it’s free up to 1,000 recipients! I use it all the time!
  8. Google AnalyticsThe ultimate Free SEO Resource. You can spend days digging through insightful information in regards to visitors to your website. Whether you want to know which city a visitor came from, what pages they clicked on, or what keyword they used to fill out a contact form, Google Analytics has it all.

Want more?! I have a couple, but I’m keeping them a secret. If you want to talk about it, shoot me an email at joe [@] stonefishmarketing.com. Cheers!

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