Facebook has announced new updates to its privacy features that will give users more control over the way things are shared.
Some of the new changes are similar to Google Plus’ Circles, making it possible for users to decide exactly who can view shared items like posts, photos, tags and other content.
These changes moved some of the privacy controls inline from the settings page, so now when posts are created, users will also decide who will be able to view specific posts with a dropdown menu that is located below the post. The dropdown menu gives the options for posts to be shared with everyone, friends of friends, friends or the ability to customize who will see the post.
Improvements have also been made with tagged photos. Instead of logging into Facebook and being surprised by random tagged photos that have appeared on your wall, users will now have the ability to approve tagged photos before they are displayed.
Additional changes include the ability for users to view their profile as another person with a “View Profile As…” button, as well as better options regarding location.
Previously locations could only be added through a smart phone, but now location can be added to anything— including previous posts. Soon the “places” option will be removed from smart phones.
Lastly, we noticed this change a few weeks ago— a recommendation option on business pages. This option provides a little box that is visible on the right-hand side of a business page, which allows someone to leave a recommendation.
By making a recommendation, consumers are sharing their comments with their friends and that business’s fans. The feature kind of brings back the “share” feature that allowed someone to share a business with their friends.
Take advantage of this feature by visiting your favorite business pages, and feel free to drop by our page and recommend us.
How To Make Search Engines Love Your Website?
The search engines play a crucial role in sending traffic to your website. In fact most of the websites depend on the search engines for their staple dose of traffic although these days it is advised that you should target other websites, blogs, social networking websites, three article directories, online directories, and online forums too.
In order to derive maximum traffic from various search engines you need to make your website search engine friendly and properly communicate to their algorithms what key phrases and keywords are important to your website. Let us quickly go through a few steps that can help you make search engines fall in love with your website.
* Write for the people and not just for the search engines
Some people have this misconception that you need to manipulate text in order to rank well on the search engines; partially this is true but most often it is not. The best way to fair well in the search engines is to write and organise your content in such a manner that it is best suited to human reading. The more human-friendly content you have the more search engine friendly content you have. The search engines want you to write relevant, well-organised content so that they can present quality results to their search engine users.
* Research your keywords in the beginning
You should be very clear about what keywords you want traffic from the search engines; focus on the wrong key words and all your effort will go to waste. If you’re not sure about what keywords to focus upon them go head and hire a consultant but never underestimate the importance of keyword-research. Don’t postpone the selection of your key words until the completion of your website because during many stages you will need to know what relevant keywords your website is trying to target.
* Organise paragraphs under headings and subheadings
Headings and subheadings quickly tell your human readers as well as the search engine crawlers what your pages all about. The headings and subheadings often represent the gist of content so be careful what words you use when you formulate your headings and subheadings; preferably use your keywords and key phrases when writing them.
* Emphasise your important words
When you highlight or emphasise your important words it conveys both to your readers and the search engine crawlers that these words are important to understand your message.
* Give distinct titles to your web pages
Just as your name is important to your existence, the page titles are important for your web pages. Never have a single title — your company name, for example — for all your pages. Your page title should a property represent your web page and in fact use the central sentence of your web page as your page title. Avoid creating esoteric and confusing titles although they may seem attractive. Always use a title that clearly defines the message of your web page. Preferably use your keywords with creating your title but make sure you don’t unnecessarily stuff the title with all your important keywords: this will end up spoiling the effect of your title. Organise your keyword-distribution carefully Although he shouldn’t manipulate your content for the sake of search engines you can arrange your keywords without seeming spammy. For instance, use your main keywords a new title, in your headings and subheadings, twice or thrice in your first paragraph and then at least once in every paragraph, highlight your keywords once or twice on your web page, use your keywords as hyperlink text when you link to other pages of your website and when you are organising your thoughts using bullets then use your keywords did to.
* Submit your link to niche directories
There are online directories available to all niche markets and some of these online directories are highly trusted by the search engines, that is, if your website appears in one of these online directories than it automatically gets a higher ranking in the search engines. There are many business and consumer directories; very carefully select the most appropriate category and then submit your website under that category.
* Publish a blog
Not having some blogs is so passé; a blog is such an effective marketing, branding, combination, awareness and SEO tool that it is highly recommended that you have a blog for your business. Highly targeted blogs are quickly indexed by the search engines and whenever you post your blog posts they get the text quicker than your normal web pages. Also somehow the blog posts get ranked higher than the normal pages for the same sort of content. There are many other numerous benefits of publishing a blog but here are just talking in terms of SEO.
* Use bread crumb navigation
Bread crumb navigation is a system that you often come across on category-based websites. Take for instance a directory listing: initially ago on the homepage, then you click one of the categories, then you click one of the sub-categories, then you click one of the sub-sub-directories — and so on — until you arrive at the desired page. On top of the page you will see something like Main->Clothes->Shirts->Men->Large->Striped. This type of navigation system allows you to click on a parent directory and immediately move to another section of the website. This is good for your SEO.
* Search engine friendly URLs
You get an SEO boost when your URL contains some of your keywords. The search engines don’t appreciate dynamically generated URLs much; they prefer URLs that make sense in the real language. For instance, doublespark-seo.co.uk/search-engine-optimisation/ is always better than doublespark-seo.co.uk/page.php?p=34. Manually it is easy to achieve but if you are using a content management system that make sure that your content management system generates search engine friendly URLs and not dynamic URLs that require a parameter to access a page.
There are many different modules available in Drupal that help provide e-commerce solutions for websites.
Below are examples of a few of the best modules to help with the functionality of a Drupal e-commerce site:
Commerce Guys just released a new version of Drupal Commerce— Drupal Commerce 1.0. The new version of the e-commerce platform is compatible with Drupal 7 and features product content management, order management, payment processing, personalization and product search. Other aspects of this module include the ability to create product types with custom attributes, dynamic product displays and the availability of discount pricing rules.
Ubercart focuses on three categories: store configuration, product and catalog creation and order administration. This module has many customizable options and features single page checkout, automatic account generation and simple order creation and editing. Additionally, it has the ability to fully integrate your store with the rest of your site and can be enhanced with other modules and themes. It’s a great solution for stores that sell physical goods, digital product downloads and site memberships.
The Amazon Store module is desirable for anyone selling through Amazon. After installation and activation, the user must sign up for an Associate ID— in order to receive commissions based on purchases made through your store. This module allows for searching, provides product pages and manages a shopping cart.
Encoding.com, a video encoding service provider, has recently announced the launch of Vid.ly Pro, the commercial version of Vid.ly.com as well as a partnership with Wowza Media systems, a media server software company.
This new solution provides content publishers with a powerful and simple platform for serving video to every user on any browser or mobile device.
"I know how challenging it is today for video content developers to deliver cross-platform video," says Christian Heilmann, HTML5 evangelist for Mozilla. "Vid.ly is an elegant solution to this problem and makes it easy for any business to publish videos."
Publishers simply upload source videos, which Vid.ly converts into a variety of formats and bitrates appropriate for all popular desktops and mobile devices. Then Vid.ly gives a short URL and embed code for easy publishing. When visitors click on the URL, Vid.ly delivers the appropriate format based on the visitor’s browser or device.
Some of the professional features that Vid.ly Pro includes are custom output formats with adjustable bitrates, Adaptive bitrate streaming for Apple iOS devices and unlimited source video file size.
Pricing for Vid.ly is based on the number of videos, storage and streaming that is used, but a free trial is also available.
Wowza Media Systems
The partnership between Wowza and Encoding.com provides Wowza customers with custom Encoding.com presets that simplify the preparation and transcoding of videos into the best formats for adjustable bitrate delivery by the Wowza Media Server.
"Wowza has done an amazing job simplifying the very complex process of streaming video to the plethora of devices and platforms,” says Jeff Malkin, President of Encoding.com. “This partnership expands that notion by leveraging Encoding.com’s custom Wowza transcoding presets, so Wowza customers can remove yet another complicated component in their video workflow.”
Wowza Media Server supports live and VOD adaptive bitrate streaming, however by utilizing Encoding.com’s cloud-based encoding solution, Wowza customers can take advantage of new presets to produce other common adaptive bitrate files from a variety of source file formats.
Skype has launched an app store, with apps ranging from business to productivity tools.
However, the "app directory" currently only contains about 25 apps, which is far away from Apple’s more than 425,000. Yet most of Skype's apps are geared toward business users— with features like call recording and screen sharing.
The top paid downloaded app is currently the InnerPass Screen Sharing app at $4.95. This app gives users the ability to share their screen with up to 50 Skype contacts.
The Free top apps include VodBurner Video Call Recorder, a solution for recording and editing calls, Zaplee, a cloud-based company phone system, and PamFax for Windows, an app for sending and receiving faxes.
The categories that Skype currently features in its app directory include business, call recording (audio and video), call recording (audio only), desktop and whiteboard sharing, faxing, integrations with popular software and mobile video communications.
As summer starts to fade away, the holiday season is quickly approaching and businesses are already contemplating what strategies will be the most effective for maximizing sales.
According to a survey from Bizo, 65 percent of executives claim that social media is the most important aspect for the upcoming shopping season, followed by e-mail at 46 percent and content marketing at 45 percent.
The survey also shows that 55 percent of executives measure social success based on their number of followers, and 19 percent of executives claim that they’ll improve content offers over the next quarter.
Here are a few options to take into consideration when preparing a social media campaign for the 2011 holiday season:
• Sales - Publicize sales through social media that are specifically related to the holiday season. For example, post about early-bird specials, Black Friday deals or daily gift ideas. Suggesting gift ideas is a good way to get consumers thinking about what items they still need to buy on their gift lists.
• Links - Posting links to your website through social media during the holiday season is crucial. The links will drive traffic to your site and help maximize sales.
• Stay Interactive - Although the holiday season is a time to focus on sales, don’t forget that social media is a way to interact with your audience and create brand loyalty. Post holiday related questions or polls to keep your fans and followers interested. For example a toy store could ask, “What’s your favorite toy that you ever received for Christmas?” or “What toy do your children want this holiday season?” The consumer interaction will keep your fans thinking about your brand.
• Contests - Promote contests that will get your page more fans, bring consumers into brick and mortar stores and steer them to your website. Examples for contests could be, “Recommend our page to your friends for a chance to win a gift card,” or “Be one of the first 100 guests to make a purchase in our store tomorrow and receive a free gift.” These contests will get consumers attention because everyone likes free things, especially during the holiday season.
• Give - It is important to remember that the holidays are about giving. Use social media to promote what you will give back to the community during the holiday season. Raising money for families in need or setting up a toy drive are a few options to think about.
In light of the changes that are brewing over at Apple, here is a look at how Steve Jobs has built the company to become one of the most profitable and dependable companies for businesses, and people, in the U.S. and around the world.
Many moons ago, most businesses didn’t even use computers, believe it or not, but that all changed in the 1980s thanks to a host of innovations coming out of Silicon Valley in California, many of which were pioneered by Jobs and Apple.
Today, Macs are the go-to standard computers for many industries and have been for well over a decade.
The innovations that Jobs and partner Steve Wozniak made in personal computing during the late 70s and early 80s are widely known and often imitated, and many of their creations have helped to popularize personal computer usage.
Of course, as the story goes, Bill Gates and Microsoft won the Silicon Valley War of the 80s and Windows was unquestionably the dominant name in technology during the 90s. However, in 1996, Jobs returned to Apple and re-imagined the company’s future. The result would, as Apple found itself doing many times in the coming decade and a half, permanently change the way businesses use computers.
Today’s Macintosh variants, known as the iMac, run on Apple’s Mac OS and offer business owners many unique and inventive features.
The computers use an iPad or iPhone-like interface (which, at this point, is familiar to almost everyone, even those who don’t own either device) that handles a variety of applications that can be relevant to almost any business. Among these applications are some Apple standards that prove to be both simple and useful: Safari, their built-in Web browser, iCal, a calendar app that lets users maintain schedules, appointments and to-dos, Address Book and Time Machine, which allows you to easily back up your data in case of an emergency. Macs can also be integrated with little to no effort with iPhones or iPads, two of the most widely-used smartphones and tablets, respectively.
The Mac OS Dashboard allows users to easily track everything that is running on their computer at one time, which makes navigating through and keeping tabs on everything you’re doing much simpler.
Part of why Macs have caught on for many businesses is because of their strong, natural defenses that are built into them. Apple’s safe and secure design protects them against almost all types of viruses or malware by providing in-depth security at all levels of operation, from hardware to OS to apps. Macs provide businesses with a simple and cheap method of keeping their hardware functioning and their data safe.
Macs also offer compatibility with the always popular Microsoft Office line of software, which is usually the default software used by businesses who start out using PCs. This makes the transition from PC to Mac mostly seamless and helps Mac users by giving them an option for sharing files among customers or coworkers who may be using Office. What makes this unique to Apple is that they build their Macs with the intention of being Office and PC-file compatible, so there is no messy transition and data can be easily transferred among the two.
iPhone and iPad
Just like anything Apple does, these two products have changed everything.
When the original iPhone was released in 2007, the mobile industry did not know what hit them. Consumers gravitated from feature phones to smart phones the same way that bees gravitate to flowers.
The iPhone soon became a top pick for people within the business world, not only for its email, calendar and GPS capabilities, but also because of the compatible software like iTunes and the App store.
As newer versions of the iPhone are released, better features for businesses have also arrived, such as apps that allow for sharing, editing and viewing documents like Pages, Quickoffice and GoDocs. Other apps like Dropbox, Evernote and WebEx Meeting Center, also prove valuable with features that make keeping up with online meetings, managing to-do lists and accessing business data on the go easier. However, these apps are only a glimpse of the more than 425,000 apps currently available in the App Store.
This brings us to the iPad— the mother of all tablets.
This tablet, originally released in 2010, is only in its second generation, yet it already has been implemented into many businesses. It has the app power of the iPhone, yet with the web-surfing capability of a laptop. The iPad can be valuable to almost any type of business, with abilities to share Keynote and Powerpoint presentations, view and edit important files and access CRM databases.
Most recently, United Airlines has even implemented the iPad into their cockpits by giving all of their pilots iPads to replace paper flight manuals. Additionally, the iPad has been a good tool for the e-commerce world. With apps like Catalogue from The Find and Google Catalogs, the iPad has given e-commerce merchants a new avenue to display and sell their products to consumers.
Both of these products have changed how media works. From iTunes to the App store, these devices and their software have stayed unique and innovative— and the proof is shown in Apple’s earnings— With more than 20.34 million iPhones and 9.25 million iPads sold.
Though the revelation of the iCloud is a fairly recent one, signs point to Apple’s foray into cloud technology could have major implications for businesses in the future.
Many forecasters see the iCloud as being especially useful for businesses and professionals who often find themselves out of the office or on site and who need immediate and easy access to various data, such as documents, images or sound clips.
In short, iCloud could allow businesses to put all of the electronic data that they need in one place, which could be especially useful for small business owners. The cloud will work like a hard drive that businesses can use to store data in, but that can also be accessed from numerous devices.
Of course, as is the case with Apple, their own products and hardware will be the most easily integrated with the iCloud. Business owners who use Macs, iPhones, iPads or all three will have easy compatibility and access to the iCloud, eliminating the hassle of trying to manage all of their data among multiple devices and locations.
What really sets Apple apart from other computer hardware and software companies, though, is their support. They offer one of the most knowledgeable and helpful support staffs available on the market, because even those owners who fancy themselves to be highly computer literate may be lacking in some areas. Besides that, business owners, especially those running a small or medium-sized business, are always busy and may not have time to sit down and hammer out a hardware or software problem. Since Apple integrates all of their own products rather than bringing in a different OS to run on their devices, any and all questions that an owner may have can be answered in one convenient location. This saves both time and money for business owners in need of a quick computer fix.
Fits.me, a virtual fitting room provider for online clothing retailers, is breaking barriers with innovative technology that has already caught on through parts of Europe.
The company claims that the aggregation of Fits.me with an online clothing retailer can increase sales up to 57 percent and reduce returns and costs up to 28 percent.
According to Fits.me, the largest e-commerce category, apparel, only sells 7 percent of clothing online. This is considerably lower than the 50 percent of computers and 61 percent of books that are sold online.
However, Fits.me claims to solve this dilemma with the virtual fitting room, which solves one of the biggest problems that apparel e-commerce faces— the lack of being able to try clothes on.
In order to virtually try on clothes, a user simply needs to know their measurements. No web cam required.
Most recently Fits.me teamed up with Barbour By Mail, a British heritage and lifestyle clothing brand. Yet several British and German retailers have already implemented the fitting room into their sites and have seen positive results. Additionally, Fits.me has also launched recently in the U.S.
It seems that once solutions like Fits.me’s virtual fitting rooms and other augmented reality technology are perfected, they may be more widely used in the future of e-commerce.
The interactive testing solution used by video-based in-home marketing and advertising customer research service Userlytics just got a whole lot better for marketers, brands and businesses.
Userlytics' core offering, a solution that allows agencies and brands to qualitatively test and refine their marketing campaigns and creative with relevant audiences worldwide, will be receiving a pretty significant upgrade that will include a comprehensive new suite of demographic targeting capabilities.
The company claims that these new abilities will provide a level of granularity to the participant recruitment process that was not possible before.
While before testers could only be selected based on limited criteria like country, gender, age, education, employment status and family status, Userlytics clients can now filter through a variety of new, user-specific demographics at no additional charges.
The new demographics that can be studied by Userlytics include: salary/household income, cellular phone/tablet usage (e.g. iPhone, BlackBerry, iPad), service subscriptions (e.g. cable, Netflix, DirecTV), electronic devices (e.g. TVs, cameras, printers) and service providers (e.g. Comcast, Verizon, Sprint).
Along with the launch of these new demographics, Userlytics is also going to be launching new targeting filters that will allow companies to recruit test participants at any level of demographic attribute specification and located anywhere in the world, which can be done at a fraction of the cost and time required by traditional research methodologies.
Do you use Userlytics to study your video-based marketing strategies? Do you think that these new changes will be useful or beneficial to your business or brand?
A digital asset management (DAM) solution can make managing content in a multi-channel environment easier, by providing easy ways to catalogue images, as well as search and distribute content.
However, cloud-based DAM’s may be an even better solution. They are able to provide unlimited storage, are accessible from anywhere and are a secure place to store content.
Anyone looking for a better way to store and manage content should check out these cloud-based DAM providers:
This solution doesn’t require any technical knowledge. It allows all assets to be accessed anywhere at any time, without the installation of additional software. Media assets are also backed-up multiple times so that it is impossible to lose content. Other features include organization of data through cascading levels, the ability to crop and reformat images and a customizable user interface.
This web-based digital asset management software suite features easy ways to centralize, retrieve, transform and distribute digital media. Features can either be bought individually or bundled around the DAM product. Features include digital asset management, video asset management, project collaboration, dynamic media building and catalog publishing.
This platform can meet the needs of small businesses and large enterprises. It provides secure management and distribution of media and audio content to Internet-connected devices. The newest version of the platform also provides full 3D support and gives the ability to export to any file format such as AVI, WMV, MP4 or ISMV. Content can conveniently be distributed internally or publicly and is protected at multiple levels to ensure security. This solution also provides real-time analytics and reporting.
Whether the end goal is a steady stream of traffic, off-the-chart sales, endless hours of engagement or all of the above, creating effective Web designs can be a very personal endeavor that is best left to the proven tactics of the artist.
However, even the most creative designers occasionally suffer from their own version of writer’s block, which is why the Web is filled with communities to help one another through the toughest of times. Below are five such resources that invite discussion, offer advice, encourage competition and, most importantly, get those creative juices flowing again after the well’s run dry.
A fairly new community for Web developers and designers, Forrst provides a forum in which creative professionals can critique each other’s work and foster new ideas, share their knowledge and expertise to help build better-looking websites and mobile applications. Forrst is an invitation-driven community in that current members are responsible for inviting new members each month, and members are limited to an allotment of invites based on their participation to the community each month.
Positioned as the Twitter for creative professionals, Dribble is a show-and-tell for Web designers and developers. Members can post screenshots onto the site at maximum sizes of 400 x 300 pixels to be viewed by other members (referred to as “players”), as well as from “spectators” (no comments allowed) and “prospects” (those looking to join the community).
Basically a search engine for creatives, Designspiration helps designers work through their blocks by showcasing thousands of images, colors and schemes based on the information they include in their queries. For instance, if you’re still unsure about your holiday design strategies, type in “Christmas”, “Holidays” or “Hanukkah” on Designspiration and you will most likely find some fresh ideas.
This site is beyond cool, whether you are a Web designer or not. For those of us that embrace competition in the spirit of a better Web, this is one for the bucket list. Competitors swap files back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing on each other’s work. Each artist gets fifteen minutes to complete a “volley” and the work is then posted to the site, and a third participant provides play-by-play commentary on all the action as it is happening. Matches last for ten volleys and when complete, fans offer their opinions of each designer’s work.
While Forrst and Dribble require invitations to join, and Layer Tennis requires a certain amount of moxy to participant, there are dozens of freely accessible social networks that can help the inspiration process along for Web designers. The most notable and useful are, without question, Tumblr and Quora, which both have significant portions of their users ingrained in the design community, and Twitter is another excellent resource for finding solutions related to both Web design and fairly high-level development.
Do you have a really great advertisement or video that you just went through all the work of filming, editing and preparing to go online only to realize that you don't have a way to put it up on your WordPress site?
Video plugins are the easiest way to host your own original content on your website. Whether it's a high-dollar, CGI mini-masterpiece or a 20-second product video, you can easily publish it to the Web using one of the many plugins available.
However, WordPress does not have a video player already built-in to its system, so if you want to host it you're going to have to find a plugin that will host your video. There are plenty available and most of them can integrate easily into some of the top video-hosting sites on the Internet, most notably YouTube and Google Videos.
These plugins range in price, size, simplicity and customization, so if you want to add a player that actually matches the neo-noir theme of your Bogart fansite, you should make sure that your plugin has customization options.
Here is a list of four of the most popular:
All in One Video Pack
Here's a deal! For free (up to 10 GB), the All in One Video Pack plugin includes all of the video and rich-media functionality needed to record, upload and import videos to your pages, as well as edit and remix content online, enable video responses and more. You can also manage and track interactive videos through the management console, enable video advertising and are given complete administrative capabilities, meaning you are in charge of deciding who can add and edit videos. The plugin supoorts over 150 video, audio and image file formats and codecs and owners can choose their preferred video player style for each player embedded, as well as its size. And on top of it all, it's totally easy to install and use.
YouTube is, far and away, the most widely used video platform on the Internet. With millions upon millions of users, it would almost be silly not to have your videos on YouTube, and this plugin is a great way to get those videos onto your site, as well. It's a simple tool that is designed to be fast and small and provides customization options for colors, borders, full screens and so on. You don't have to stop at just one video, either, because Smart YouTube allows you to publish whole playlists. They can go on your RSS feed, your blog posts or your site's comments section. It's a super great plugin for people who want to utilize the simplicity (and millions of users) of YouTube without having to establish another method of embedding their videos on their sites.
This is quite possibly the most popular and well-reviewed video plugin on the market. If you can't tell, this tool exists to make it easy to embed videos into a blog post. They can be exported from other places, like YouTube, dailymotion or Google Video, or uploaded from a server. Once embedded, you are able to add a link to the video on the video portal page or make it so that a download like to the file can be automatically generated. Not a lot of bells and whistles with this one, but it is tops as a generic video player.
WordPress Video Plugin
Contrary to what its name would have you believe, this is not the only WordPress video plugin, but it is one of the best. It acts as a filter for your site that allows for easy video embedding from supporting sites like YouTube, Google Video and Brightcove. Like Embedded Video, it's very easy-to-use and simple, not relying on frills but rather solid performance to satisfy the user. Definitely worth checking out, especially if all you need is a manageable and straightforward way to put up videos on your site.
Using one of these handy plugins should turn any WordPress website owner into Chad Hurley in no time.
For more information about WordPress plugins, check out WordPress Plugins from A to Z.
Behind every good business website is an even better analytics program. For WordPress users, however, that means going out and finding a plugin that will match their analytic needs.
WordPress offers very little in the way of site analytics from the core for a site's administrators, and so trying to figure out exactly how well your site is doing, the kind of measurements that are crucial to conducting a business online, can be really rough and incomplete using WordPress' built-in analytics. The need for such a tool has inspired the existence of a number of different plugins specifically designed to study the efficiency of your WordPress site.
Below are three of the most popular WordPress analytics plugins:
All in One Webmaster
This great plugin is helpful because it can integrate Google Webmaster Tool, Yahoo Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Central into your website or blog. This gives you really great access to information from the revered GYB Triumverite. You can also include a single-click sitemap to Google, Bing, Ask and Yahoo, add tracking codes from Google, Clicky and 103Bees analytics and add Meta Tags for Google, Yahoo, Bing, Alexa and BlogCatalog. In short, it's a fabulous tool for integrating all three major search engines, and quite a few of the "lesser" engines, and get a really comprehensive look at your sites stats.
Super simple plugin here that collects information about page views, popular articles and/or pages and traffic flow. All of the real necessities of site analysis. It will also give you a link to a dashboard so that you can see all of the stats on a single page. This is a very barebones, to-the-point analytics tool, but isn't that really all that most website owners need? If you're not looking for a tool with a ton of features that you can easily install and use to get the most essential of information, WordPress Stats is highly recommended.
For more information about WordPress plugins, check out WordPress Plugins from A to Z.
Google added a new, very extensive feature to its popular +1 button on Wednesday, allowing users to share links to the Web pages they like with their Google+ circles by simply clicking the button.
Now, when a Google+ user decides that they like some online content enough to give it their +1 seal of approval, a box will open up on their screen for adding a comment that other users can see. In addition, it lets the user customize the piece of text (aka a "+Snippet") and image(s) that will show up in his or her stream.
The user also has the option of including in-line annotations, like with the Facebook "Like" button, so that the names and faces of Google+ friends who have affirmed the worthiness of the content in question with their trusty +1 buttons will be available to the rest of the original user's circles.
The +Snippet is a nifty feature that bestows upon your feed all of the information that you could want to share, including a link, image and description of the content, which makes sharing on Google+ really easy and really customizable. This allows a Plus user to surf the Web freely and, when he or she comes across favorable content that they want others in their circles to see, he or she can quickly and efficiently post a short review, include an image and link back to the content without ever having to enter G+. This mimics a Facebook user's current ability to share links on their profile, with the added bonus of not requiring users to go to their profile.
Factor in the information just recently released on Google's blog, that their +1 button is linked to over one million sites that get viewed more than 4 billion times a day, and the potential for the +1 button as a marketing tool becomes even more pronounced.
Does this mean that the +1 button is now becoming the more sought after click by those who provide content online? After all, if a user can easily share something without ever even leaving the original Web page, won't they be more likely to use that service over the one that requires a brief jaunt all the way to their profile?
If Google+ continues to roll out these types of features -- you know, the type that make you go, "Why didn't anyone think of that before?" -- they're going to start to win over more and more people. It seems obvious that Facebook will soon offer some type of similar feature to keep up, as well, so this is really a win-win situation for people who operate online. Now, having your business or brand shared and discussed will become quicker and simpler, greatly increasing the likelihood that online social network users will rant and rave about your great brand or content to their friends or circles.
It's hard to deny the power that social media plays in the general makeup of the Internet. As part of running your site, you are going to want to connect to the Web-based world around you.
One problem with WordPress, however, is that it doesn't immediately provide users with a way to include bookmarks to the biggest social networking sites on your blog. If you're trying to promote a business or market yourself on the Web, you need to be a part of social media and you need to start as soon as possible.
So, if you're going to use a WordPress platform to create your site, your best bet would be to download one (or more) social media-specific plugins to help get your social engagement off the ground. Here are three to consider:
This plugin is all about using social bookmarking to generate traffic. Sociable will automatically add links to your favorite social bookmarking sites on all of your posts and pages, as well as into your RSS feed. It allows you to choose from 99 different social bookmarking sites, such as Twitter, StumbleUpon and Digg. What's really helpful is that Sociable allows for easy bookmarking in any browser, so it is very user-friendly. It also gives you an email tab and is easily integrated with Google Analytics. This is a very popular plugin tool with many WordPress users.
I Love Social Bookmarking
The designers of this plugin really went for it with that title, didn't they? What really sets this particular tool apart is that it lets users vote on your blog posts using a drop down menu that allows them to select which social media site they will vote from, keeping less icons on your blog and eliminating clutter. The goal is simplicity, for the site owner and their readers. According to the site, they want I Love Social Bookmarking "to run with minimal system resources, and to look good whilst she’s at it." They accomplish this by making it very easy to customize.
This is another vote-based social media plugin, only Share This lets you choose which particular sites you want to target and then has readers vote for you using the plugin. Essentially, it's job is to provide an unobtrusive way for visitors to post your content to social bookmarking sites or send an email link to a friend. Again, it's highly customizable, allowing you to change its colors to match your website. Also, it provides you with tracking reports, which is a feature many social plugins lack.
For more information about WordPress plugins, check out WordPress Plugins from A to Z.
SEO Client Relationships: Tips
Communication between client and service provider is a vital part in the success of any campaign, or indeed any business relationship at all. Due to the nature of SEO, many clients will have quite a lot of questions and these should be dealt with right at the early stages, before a campaign has even begun. It is really important that clients are made aware of the fact that it can take a long time to see results, especially for new domains. It is also highly advisable to discuss suitable measurements of a campaigns success, for example traffic numbers, search engine results and so on. These will all have to be tailored to the work in question and every job will have its own individual needs and challenges. This article aims to point out five common questions, and how you can deal with them effectively.
1. Why Don’t I Have More Traffic?
Many clients simply don’t know what they can expect with regards to traffic numbers. This is no fault of their own, but sometimes they can be disappointed by the traffic they receive from seemingly good search engine positions. Traffic estimates should be based on search volume and it’s important to clearly explain the huge difference in click through rate between a number one position and a number four position.
2. Why Don’t I Appear for This Keyword?
When clients first engage in SEO activities, it must be clearly explained that in order to even begin to rank well for certain keywords, each page must effectively target its own keyword. If you try to focus a page on too many different keywords, it will dilute the message and leave the search engines confused as to what the page in question is talking about. Therefore, unless you have a large website, there is a limit to how many keywords you can expect to rank well for.
3. My Local Directory Listing Is Outranking Me, Why Is This?
This is particularly troublesome for new and small websites. Quite often when a search is carried out for a chosen keyword, not only will you see your website come up, you will also see your directory listings appear. Sometimes the directory listings will actually outrank you. This is due to the fact that the directory probably has a lot more authority than you, and work will have to be done to boost the importance of your website above that of your page on the said directory. You could also try changing your directory listing to reduce its competitiveness.
4. How Long Do I Have To Wait?
Probably the biggest question of all, how long will it take and how long will I have to pay you for? It’s vital to make this clear right from the start. You have to explain that it will take time for your work to bear results. Honesty really is the best policy here. I would recommend preparing a client for anywhere between at least six to twelve months with a thorough check of progress being carried out every three months.
5. How Will Doing More Help?
This is a big one, especially if you are not getting the results as quickly as you may have expected. You may be going back to client several months down the line and suggesting yet more site improvements or link building efforts. Marketing a website should be approached with a long term view. If results aren’t going so well it may mean you have to revisit some of the website structure and address any technical issues that may be causing issues. Explain the from the offset and you should avoid digging yourself into any unnecessary holes.
Welcome to WordPress Wednesday at WebsiteMagazine.com.
Since WordPress is an open-source platform for creating a blog-based website, it doesn't come with very many specific features. Rather, the site builders are expected to customize on their own, which is a way to keep the platform easy-to-use and doesn't let it get bogged down with specialized features that many owners may not use.
That is why today we are going to focus on the plugins that will best help you create the most efficient site possible for your specific needs.
Anyone in the Web world can tell you that SEO is a necessity, and many of those same people will also tell you that it can be cumbersome and difficult -- especially when just starting out. There are whole books on the subject, and a significant portion of the work we do here at WM is devoted to helping people navigate the turbulent waters of search engine optimization.
Luckily for those who may be unfamiliar with the best SEO practices, WordPress offers a wide array of plugins that will help you increase your visibility on the Web. These plugins add to your site by providing you with many different methods and options for using Meta Tags, optimizing your URLS, using no-follow options and many other great practices to help get your website to the top of the search rankings.
Here are three of the top WordPress SEO plugins:
All in One SEO Pack
The name says it all. This is one of the most popular SEO plugins available for WordPress. It's pretty simple, not a lot bells and whistles to be found on this plugin, but it is key to helping drive search engine traffic to your site. What really makes All in One SEO great is that it's easy to use and install, which makes it perfect for beginners or those who are new to SEO, but it is also able to be customized and fine-tuned for more advanced users. It also helps you to avoid duplicate content, a problem often associated with WordPress blogs, automatically optimizes your titles for search engines and generates Meta tags for you, allowing the website owner to have superior control over titles and meta descriptions. This plugin gives you a lot of hands-on control over how your blog's pages are indexed in search engines. It's probably the most highly-praised and trusted SEO plugin available.
SEO Smart Links
There are a lot of cool features that come with SEO Smart Links, which provides automatic SEO benefits to your site with the inclusion of custom keyword lists, nofollow and more. This plugin can automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts or comments with corresponding pages, posts, categories and tags on your blog. You can also use it to set nofollow attributes, open links in a new window and set up your own keywords and set of matching URLs. SEO Smart Links is a great tool for interlinking your blog posts or adding affiliate links to other sites, and it's nothing to go in to control and edit the plugin's options from the administration settings panel.
Sitemap Generator is an excellent plugin that, believe it or not, generates a sitemap for your WordPress site. It's strength is that it is highly customizable by offering its own options page in the administration panel. Among the features it offers are multi-level category and page support, category and page exclusion, multiple-page generation with navigation, permalink support, the ability to choose what to display and what order to list items in and showing comment counts and(/or) post dates, along with many other great options. This is plugin has been very well-received by many WordPress users thanks to its rich features and capacity for customization. This particular plugin is made by Dagon Design, but its very "descriptive" name makes it really hard to find, because it seems like every developer has designed X's Sitemap Generator, so if you don't find it by clicking the link in this post, make sure that you track it down by its designer so you don't end up with a lesser version from someone else.
For more information on WordPress plugins, check out WordPress Plugins from A to Z.
7 Tips to a High Ranking Site
So you would like your site to rank higher in the search engines. Below are some tips to help you achieve your goal.
1. Before building your website decide on which keywords you want the site to rank high for. Keywords are words or phrases that people type into search engines to find websites. Your keywords need to be related to your product or service so that you get targeted traffic ( There is no point in having “buy flowers online” as a keyword if you sell “houses”) Your keywords should also have as many people searching for the keyword and as fewer websites competing for the high rankings. I would not get overly worried about this. There are several tools out there to help (Just google “Keyword Effectiveness”) but I would concentrate more on the relevance of your keywords.
2. Once you have decided on your keywords you can start to build your site. The look of the site needs to be good to convert visitors into customers but will not help with getting a higher ranking. I would concentrate on getting a high-ranking site and then worry about the look and feel of the site later. (There is no point in having a site that looks wonderful if nobody can find it and it therefore has no visitors). Remember when you start to build your site that what the search engines are looking for is content. The content you have also needs to be rich with your keywords.
3. A very common mistake people make is the links between pages on their own site. The links need to be “spider friendly” i.e. a spider needs to be able to follow them easily. A graphic button with a rollover effect using an active X control might make the site look wonderful but a spider will be able to follow a text link far easier. This is important, as unless the spider can follow the links only your Index page is likely to be included in the search engine.
4. There are certain important elements of your site that can be added after the site is built. Title Tag – H1 Header Tag – Keywords – Meta Description. All of these should include your most important keywords and phrases. Your Meta Description should be a short paragraph about your site including your keywords and phrases in the text. It should also encourage people to take a look at your site.
5. Alt Image Tags – These are tags that you attach to an image so that when the mouse hovers over an image the text is displayed. So any images on your site should have Alt Image Tags that are rich with your keywords and phrases.
6. Links – One of the ways that a search engine decides which pages are to be located at the top of the rankings or be a higher ranking page is that it looks at the links that are pointing towards the site. It is not just the number of links but also the relevancy of the links and the type of links that point to the site. Also the type of site that is linking to your site is important. In other words a text link from a high-ranking site that uses your keywords in the link is a far more important link that a picture link without keywords from a low ranking site. – So you want to have as many relevant links from high-ranking sites as you can. There are several ways to achieve this and the more links that you have the more important the search engines will believe your site to be and therefore the higher your site will be ranked in the search engines. The search engines are working on the presumption that if you have lots of high ranking sites that want to have a link to your site then your site must have some valuable content otherwise they would not want to link to it and potentially send their visitors onto another site.
7. You can also help to keep your site high in the rankings by adding new content to your site and updating the pages as the search engines are looking for current content. Not a site that has been built and just left.
Once you have built your site and got some links to it you will need to tell the search engines about it (This is called submitting your site). You can manually submit your site to the search engines but there are several good programmes you can buy to do this for you. Just do your homework before you decide which one to use. ( I use addwebb but its quite expensive)
Google’s new extended Sitelinks are sending Webmasters scrambling to find out how they too can secure more virtual real estate on the world’s most popular search engine – now estimated at well over 60-percent market share. So, are there any tricks to making sure your site is returned with the highly coveted extended Sitelink? Yes, there are. Let’s expose the secrets to getting extended Sitelinks.
It is difficult to know what signals Google uses in its Sitelinks algorithm, but a close inspection of the search result pages for queries which return an extended Sitelinks – and a thorough look at the Google Webmaster Guidelines – do provide us an opportunity to make some reasonable assumptions. There are in fact several signals that websites should consider addressing if the allure of extended Sitelinks is too much to ignore.
Based on the current research, it seems that whether Google includes Sitelinks is heavily dependent upon the behavior of users. Since search results page listings include tracking info, Google can/could easily determine which pages or categories of your site are most frequently visited. Thanks to this click stream data, Google is able to improve its search results and give users direct access to the sections of your Web property which are of the greatest interest or importance. Google generates sitelinks automatically but with a little strategic thinking, it is possible (somewhat) to influence extended sitelinks. If you don't already know the most popular sections of your website, it's time to dig into your website analytics.
Perhaps most noteworthy within the Webmaster Guidelines is the recommendation to make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. If Google cannot understand what sites or individual sub-pages are about, it is unlikely that extended Sitelinks will appear. To increase the likelihood of extended Sitelinks appearing for your site on important queries, consider rethinking navigation.
For example, consider refining the navigation to include but a handful of the most important links. Fewer navigation choices will help you funnel users to specific destinations, and giving Google enough click stream data to make some choices on your site’s behalf. Take a look at Apple.com’s navigation, and then at the extended sitelinks Google has returned on the search results pages, and tell me that there is no correlation between navigation links and the sitelinks that returned.
Google needs not look very far for perhaps the strongest signal of a page’s worthiness to be included in Sitelinks. SEOs should focus much of their energy on the quality of page titles (keeping them brief but accurate) and doing the same for the actual file names of pages as both are strong signals that specific pages are of importance. Take a look at the Ameritrade example below. See how the titles are short in length? That is certainly one good indicator. But dig deeper into the “Rates & Fees” Sitelink and you’ll see that the page itself is named ratesfees.html. If the aim is to obtain extended Sitelinks, considering a site’s naming conventions (titles and pages) is a vitally important task.
Another opportunity is to ensure that the internal links within your site and external links pointing to your site from third-party websites use an appropriate keyword anchor text. The aim should be to identify which pages are most representative of the site in question, and to set about acquiring a mixture of links with the keyword or key phrase anchor text you want to have your site appear with extended Sitelinks.
Extended Sitelinks are obviously a new addition to the search results pages of Google, so expect development to continue over the next several months and years. As it stands today, the sites of well known (established) brands are those which are receiving the extended Sitelinks. Take the necessary steps today to acquire extended sitelinks and you will likely be pleased at the virtual real estate you secure on the search results pages.
Why didn't anyone think of this before?
After working at Apple for three years, Paul Canetti left to work on a series that would train businesses on iOS development. He's since turned his attention to MagAppZine, a new service that he co-founded that will make it much easier for users to publish content on the iTunes App Store.
MagAppZine's makeup is relatively simple, it is a white label, do-it-yourself platform that, as of now, is limited to allowing users to upload PDFs, make website viewing available in an in-app browser and let users offer in-app sales of multiple issues of any publication.
What really makes it a great service, however, is its simplicity and accessibility. The service began just last spring with the goal of evening the playing field for online app publishing, mimicking the strengths of blogging on the Web in an application-driven era.
Having your content available in the App Store means that your work is published on the world's most famous destination for applications, and with the total dominance of the iPad in the tablet market, that's a pretty good place to be. iTunes provides you with a central location for consumers to search for your app, download it, read reviews from other users and discover related materials.
The company is expected to roll out a new pricing schedule in September that starts at $99 per month, thanks in part to the soon-to-be released MagAppZine 2.0.
"Our most basic app package launched in April of this year," says Canetti, "But in September we are re-launching MagAppZine 2.0, which will include the new links and multimedia, an InDesign tool, and integration with Apple's upcoming Newsstand feature. We're also rolling out a new tiered monthly pricing structure that has plans starting at $99 a month."
While this product obviously hasn't reached its fullest potential yet, MagAppZine 2.0 sounds like it is going to be a very big step in the right direction. Those who have simple, print-based content that you want to get distributed to a larger audience (retail catalogs, perhaps?) should certainly consider application publishing, and as of now, MagAppZine seems to have that niche covered.
How to Play Russian Roulette with the Search Engines
Want to play Russian roulette with the search engines? Try these techniques:
1. Link Farming
You have probably seen those sites with a directory page that contains hundreds of links. The problem is they bear no relation to what the actual website is all about. Putting up links about mortgage loans, acne, the history of wastebaskets etc when your site is about the quality of fishing in Great Falls Montana would be an example of link farming. There was a time when the search engines were okay with this but as is usually the case, people went overboard with it.
Make sure the links on your directory page relate directly or indirectly to the content on your website. In fact save yourself the time and effort by focusing on getting one way links to your site. A couple of quality one way links are worth way more than thousands of links unrelated to your niche.
2. The Sybil Attack
One of the most famous TV movies of all time is Sybil: The Girl with 16 Different Personalities starring Sally Field. This is the blackhat foundation for setting up mirror sites.
By creating multiple web sites with the exact same content but different domain addresses, blackhatters are able to trick the search engines into ranking their main website higher. Sybil attacks can also turn quite nasty and take control of large scale computer networks including peer to peer systems which are quite vulnerable.
Cloaking software was an underground rage a few years back. The concept is to present two types of content: One for the actual visitors to your website, the other was for the search engine spiders that crawl your web pages looking for updating content that has been keyword optimized. This was an elaborate way of getting the search engines to show a page they normally would not.
All of this may sound ridiculous and totally unnecessary. Yes on both counts. The easiest way to stay on the good side of the search engines is to give them exactly what they want; namely a website with good content (preferably unique) that grows at a more natural pace.
This maybe a slow way to success for some people but it’s safe and it works. You are building a business which hopefully will be successful for a very long time. Do not let anyone talk you into putting it at risk by using blackhat techniques.
Online video continues to grow, with 180 million U.S. Internet users watching video in the month of July according to the latest report from ComScore.
The study averaged the watched video content at 18.5 hours per viewer, and showed that the total U.S. Internet audience set a record by watching 6.9 billion videos.
Google Sites ranked as the top online video content property in July with 158.1 million unique visitors, thanks in large part to YouTube. Second place went to VEVO with 62.1 million, and Facebook came in third with 51.4 million viewers.
Additionally, Americans viewed more than 5.3 billion video ads in July. Hulu produced the highest number of video ad impressions with 963 million, followed by Adap.tv with 674 million and Tremor Video with 639 million.
Other findings showed that 86 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video in July, the average online content video lasted 5.3 minutes and video ads counted for more than 12 percent of the viewed videos.
It's been almost two months since the launch of Google+, and reports vary as to how much praise we should be heaping onto Larry Page and the teams behind the new social networking service.
On the positive side, by attracting over 25 million users in just over a month, Plus has earned the title as the fastest-growing website ever. Detractors, however, claim that the site's popularity has already peaked, making its lifespan as a significant tool for Web users limited at best.
Additional opinions have been fueled by a new study from Bime Analytics that reported that 83 percent of Google+ users are inactive, citing figures from an online directory that collected the data from "a voluntary sample of around 10 million Google+ users."
The Bime study describes an "active" Google+ user as someone who has posted publicly on G+ at least one time. However, there is a high margin of error for this particular set of data as it does not take into account those who may use their profiles to post privately on the site, nor those who may choose to comment on others' posts without making any of their own.
That said, the study revealed some interesting data about the earliest users of Google+, such as the fact that most are students and nearly three-quarters of them are male. But keep in mind that Google+ has yet to truly open its doors to Web businesses, which is when we can begin to learn what kind of value the service really has for marketers.
Below is the infographic from Bime's study:
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' (ICANN) decision to approve the creation of generic top-level domain (TLD) names has been rife with controversy, but recent opposition from the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) and the adult entertainment industry has reignited the debate.
The first statement came from the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), a trade association of the adult entertainment industry, advocating adult trademark holders to attempt to protect their brands from being sold on .XXX domains to third parties. The concern of the group is that the expansion of the .XXX domain extension is going to blackball all sites using it on the Internet, and could ultimately hurt the image of the industry in the long-run.
These fears have been somewhat validated by the release of information that only about 20 percent of businesses registering for the .XXX domains are adult content-related, meaning most businesses are registering to keep their brands from becoming associated with a .XXX domain.
4As also recently announced that they are cooperating with other marketing and advertising groups to "strongly" oppose the proposed changes in Internet domain names. They are asking ICANN to reconsider its decision for fear that the new registration will disrupt the ideal of the online global marketplace by diminishing the trust of the consumers that the quality and history of a product or service will continue to be accurately reflected on the Internet, making it harder to make important marketplace choices and decisions.
The recent statements illustrate some of the major concerns that various industries have about the proposed changes to TLD registrations. There are many questions about the impact that these changes will have on brands, especially smaller ones that don't necessarily have the capital to procure secure and relevant domain name registrations.
The Criteria For Improving Your Website Ranking
Any website owner wants their website to be ranking well for those keywords which will mean that targeted visitors arrive on their website and possibly turn into customers or clients.
A website’s ranking on search engines (especially Google) is quite important when you take into account the following important statistics:
- 90% of users don’t go past the Page 1 of Google
- 42% of users click on the website on position 1, 12.5% on position 2 and only 8% on position 3
* What does this all mean?
This means that if your website is not on Page 1 of Google and in the top 3 positions, then you are effectively missing out on more than 60% of potential visitors (and customers for that matter).
If your website isn’t currently in a good position on the search engines, don’t panic! There are many things you can do to move its rankings up. Below is a list of website ranking factors from the most important:
If you want to rank for a certain keyword, it’s absolutely vital that you have that keyword in your domain name. If you feel tempted to use your company or brand name instead, keep in mind that the goal of ranking at number 1 for your main keyword will only get much harder if you do so.
* Domain Age
If you register a brand new domain name, you are going to be starting from scratch. However, a start is a start and as the months and years go by, your website will benefit immensely from this factor. On the other hand, you can get a head start by purchasing an expired domain name which does not currently have an owner. Just make sure that it hasn’t been banned by the search engines before purchasing.
* Title Tag
Having the keyword in the title tag of your home page is a MUST. There are many websites which still use their brand name or company name in their title tag which make ranking for target keywords even harder. This is a ranking factor that is applicable to all pages on your website.
* Page Structure
Optimize each page on your website for just 1 keyword. Every page on your website should only be optimized for one keyword. Any more and ranking for your target keywords will be that much difficult. Your home page should target the main keyword while other pages should target related, long tailed keywords.
* Keyword Density
It’s important that you mention the keyword you are targeting on the relevant page. A good density to aim for is 3% which means that your target keyword only makes up 3% of the text on the page. Any more and your page could be seen as being spammy.
You’re probably wondering why backlinks is at the bottom of the list when it is an important factor in getting website rankings. The reason why I put it down there is to emphasize getting your website set up right first before getting backlinks. Getting hundreds or even thousands of backlinks to a website which is incorrectly optimized will diminish the value of each link in getting rankings.
On the subject of backlinks, it’s important that you get them from a variety of sources while using a variety of anchor text.
The key to a successful website in terms of getting targeted traffic and customers is all in this article. Read it many times over if you have to. Simply get these website ranking factors right and you will have a immensely successful website before you know it.
Infolinks, an in-text advertising network, has announced the launch of a new self-service in-text advertising marketplace.
The new service allows for advertisers to quickly create an in-text advertising campaign that includes various target options. Some included features in the self-service marketplace are real-time reporting, keyword selection, keyword bidding and advanced optimization.
“Infolinks' new self-service model now makes it easy for anyone familiar with Google Adwords to quickly launch an In-Text Advertising campaign,” says Tomar Treves, chief marketing officer of Infolinks.
“Other services match advertisements to relevant keyword searches, the entire context of the website or the interests of the user. With Infolinks In-Text Advertising Marketplace, people are actively choosing to open the advertisement in a contextually relevant environment making them much more open to the advertiser's message.”
Use of the new service costs $5 a day. On average, Infolinks delivers in-text advertising campaigns across 250 billion pages and reaches 350 million unique visitors each month.
Use Robots.txt: Save the World
Robots.txt help the search engines learn all about your website
There is a growing interest in the little known file that every website should have in the root directory: robots.txt
It’s a very simple text file you can find all about at the robotstxt.org website Why should you use it ? Here are some good reasons for you to consider.
* Controlled access to your content
With a robots.txt file you can “ask” the search engines to “keep out” of certain areas of your website. A typical area you might like to exclude is your images folder: If you aren’t a photographer, painter and your images are for your website use only, there are good chances you don’t want them to be indexed and showing up on image search engines, for people to download, or hotlink.
Unfortunately grabbers and similar software (such as Email harvesting applications) will not read your robots.txt file disregarding any indication you may provide in this respect. But that’s life isn’t it, always someone being disrespectful to say the least …
You can keep search engines away from content you wish to keep out of sight, but remember your robots file is also subject to attention of hackers seeking sensitive objectives you might inadvertently list: keeping out the robots while inviting the hackers – keep this in mind.
(cont. from front…)
* The growing importance of robots.txt
At SES New York a robots.txt summit was held where major search engines (Ask, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!) participated, sharing interesting information on this file. Here are some numbers.
According to Keith Hogan from Ask:
a) Less than 35% of websites have a robots.txt file
b) The majority of robots.txt files are copied from others found online
c) On many occasions robots.txt files are provided by your web hosting service
It looks like the majority of webmasters aren’t familiar with this file. This is going to play a major role as the size of the web continues to grow: Spidering is a costly effort that search engines tend to optimize. Those web sites demonstrating optimal command (which in turn determines efficiency) will be rewarded.
During the summit, all search engines announced they will identify (or autodiscover) sitemaps via the robots.txt file. In essence search engines are now able to discover your sitemap via a link in the following format:
Sitemap: <sitemap_location>, where <sitemap_location> is the complete URL of your Sitemap Index File (or your sitemap file, if you don’t have an index file).
* Being compliant to Google Terms of Service
Robots.txt can help prevent you getting banned or being penalized by Google. In a move to eliminate search results pages because “web search results don’t add value to users” Google has recently added the following sentence to their terms of service:
- Use robots.txt to prevent crawling of search results pages or other auto-generated pages that don’t add much value for users coming from search engines.
* How to implement a robots.txt file
If your website doesn’t support a sitemap and you do not have any areas to exclude, include an empty robots.txt file in your root directory. By doing so you are acknowledging full spidering of your entire site.
Carefully review the robots exclusion protocol available at robotstxt.org. If you must exclude numerous areas of your website, build your file in a step by step manner and monitor spider behaviour with a log analyser tool.
Test your robots.txt file with a few online tools and keep in mind that every spider has a different behaviour and spidering criteria.
* Avoid useless spidering traffic
When your website grows to a significant size and achieves optimal visibility, spidering significantly increases to hundreds (if not thousands) of hits per day and will put your server and bandwidth to the test.
Recently I was called on to examine a blog burdened by a very unusual and extremely heavy spidering activity: the log file I examined reported an excess of 8 Gbyte of invisibile (spider) traffic over a 1 month period. Given the reduced amount of daily visitors (less than 200) and the reduced size of the blog (less than 100 posts), there was something wrong in the architecture.
It took just a few minutes to identify the problem: There was no robots.txt file.
At each request for a robots.txt there was a redirect to the home page of the blog triggering a complete download of the blog home page. Each download of the home page was approximately 250 K. There were thousands of unnecessary hits on the home page. This was causing a spidering frenzy that ceased when an empty robots.txt file was created and uploaded to the server. Traffic is now down from 8 Gbyte to 500 Mbyte.
* Keep the spiders informed, help save the world
The web is growing by leaps and bounds, the use of a robots.txt file helps the search engines effectively allocate their resources and is a tangible sign of respect and courtesy. If you don’t have a robots.txt file on your website set one up now. Use it to inform the crawlers on how your site is organized, and how often it is changing. I think we should all do our part to avoid waste of resources, saving energy and helping to save the world.
Six Simple SEO Techniques to Improve your Search Engine Ranking
1. Title Tags
The title tag is contained within the ‘HEAD’ tags of your HTML, before the ‘BODY’ tags. This states the title of the page, and must contain the major keywords of the page. The contents of your title tag do not appear in the text of the page: its purpose is to inform the search engine spiders what the topic of your page is, and what words are important (i.e. your main page keyword). For example, the TITLE tag of a page based on this article would be “SEO Techniques – Improve your Search Engine Ranking”.
2. Description Tags
The description Meta tag is used by Google, and other search engines, in the search engine listings. I have tested this with them all and Google uses it as is, while Yahoo uses part of it. You should provide a description of what the web page is about, and a simple check of the descriptions in other sites using your keyword on Google will show you how many words you can use to have the whole description included. About 20 words are fine.
3. Keyword Tags
Search engines rarely use the keyword Meta tag: Google ignores it completely. However, it doesn’t hurt, and can help in a small way. Include your brand name and your own name. That way some engines might show your pages if somebody is looking for your name. The other Meta tags have no SEO value, and do not help to improve your search engine ranking whatsoever.
4. Heading Tags
Heading tags (H1, H2, . . .) are used by Google to determine the importance of the text contained in your headings. Use H1 tags for the main title of your page (you also use it in the TITLE tag, but that isn’t seen by readers, only by the spiders). Put subtitles in H2 tags. You can change the font size of the text within these tags.
5. Text Formatting
Text in bold, italics and underscored are seen by the search engines as having greater weight, and so will be used in determining the relevance of your site. Always bolden your titles, and it also helps to underline it if it doesn’t make it look out of place.
6. Writing Style and Content
Do not write for algorithms (spiders): write for your readers. Always write for humans and you won’t go wrong. If your page content reads well, and has good vocabulary relating to the topic, then it will have a better chance of a higher listing than if you stuffed it full of keywords. I rarely use more than 1.5% – the keyword densities of the terms ‘SEO’, SEO techniques’ and ’search engine ranking’ (the main keywords) of this article are 1.5, 0.87 and 0.87 respectively. Too many keywords is bad SEO, and could result in a poor listing for your page – if it is listed at all.
So there you are: six simple SEO techniques to improve your search engine ranking. It is surprising how many experienced webmasters fail to apply all of these: there is no excuse, and they are failing to get the nuts and bolts properly fitted and tightened on their web pages.
Apply these to every page and not only will you improve your SEO, but also your chances of a good search engine ranking. It is amazing how many web pages lack these basic SEO techniques.
SEO: How To Research For Free
The first step of any online campaign is deciding what you want to be known for, particularly when aiming for a stronger presence on the search engines. These terms or search phrases that you wish to be seen for are called ‘keywords’. Researching and implementing these keywords into your website is crucial to the success of your website. It is vital that you look into both the search volume of each keyword and also the competition levels. By conducting a bit of research first you will gain a good understanding of how your market looks online, and also what keywords you could realistically achieve good positions for.
There are many ways you can conduct keyword research. The internet offers different tools, both free and paid for, and in addition to that there are some commands on the search engines that will also give you some clues. Free tools such as Google’s Adword’s keyword tool give you a basic look into monthly search volumes and competition levels, however it is sometimes questionable as to how accurate these figures can be. If you want to step it up a notch, you could try paying for software such as Word Tracker. Word Tracker will give you a much more thorough analysis of each word and ultimately give you a better view of the market.
For most people, using the free tools and search commands are enough to give a good idea of what keywords you should target with your website. Listed below are a few useful search commands that you could use to do a little research:
1. “In URL : ‘keyword’”
By typing this into a search engine and replacing the word ‘keyword’ with your keyword, you will get a list, and more importantly a number, of websites that are using your keyword in their URLs. This will give you a solid idea of how many websites are directly targeting your keyword.
2. “In title: ‘keyword’”
2nd most important to the URL, the meta title is vital to targeting a particular keyword. By using this command you will be able to see how many websites are using your keyword in their meta titles.
3. “In text: ‘keyword”
This command will give you a really good rounded view of the market. It will produce a list of websites that are talking about your keyword. The perfect keyword is one that has a substantial amount of traffic, yet a relatively low competition level. Of course, the keyword must be highly relevant to your website and business to ensure that any traffic that comes from the search engines is looking for exactly what you offer.
You will probably find that when you start to look into keywords, by varying the phrase slightly you can find keywords with high traffic levels and low competition…this is exactly what you are looking for. Also, don’t ignore keywords with low search volumes; if these keywords are relevant to your website the traffic they could bring could be a lot higher in quality if you are targeting a niche area.
10 essential components you need to create an effective squeeze page for your ezine
1. Domain Name
Pick a compelling domain name that accurately describes the result of opting into your list or the nature of the list to which the visitor is opting into. You’ll want to forward this domain to a hidden page on your site that is not accessible via your navigation menu. Don’t mask the domain when you forward it (i.e. hide the internal URL to which the domain is forwarded — your domain registrar usually offers this as an option). If you use this domain in your resource box when you syndicate your articles, you want to reap the rewards of strong inbound links from high-traffic article directories, and that won’t happen if you mask the domain name of your squeeze page.
2. Client Attraction Device
The most effective way to entice a visitor to opt into your list is by giving something away. Typically this giveaway, or what I call a Client Attraction Device, is in an electronic download format and helps solve a major issue faced by your target market. Many savvy online business owners put several electronic downloads together into a kit (audio, ebook, and checklist, for example) for their giveaway, as the expectations have increased as to what visitors expect when exchanging their contact info for free information.
3. Graphic of Giveaway
The adage of “a picture is worth a thousand words” rings quite true in the Internet marketing world. Have a graphic representation created of your giveaway, as that increases the perceived value of what you’re offering.
4. Value of Giveaway
Placing a monetary value on your giveway is another strategy to enhance the importance of this free item in the eyes of your visitors. Don’t be outrageous in your pricing — determine what you might actually charge for your giveaway if you were selling it as a product on your site.
5. Compelling Headline
A headline that grabs your reader’s attention will go a long way in convincing them to hang out long enough to finish reading the content on your squeeze page. Appealing to some emotion of the visitor is the most effective way to construct a compelling headline, like fear of loss, greed, vanity, lust, pride, envy, laziness…you get the idea.
6. Captivating Copy
It’s no longer sufficient to simply invite a visitor to opt into a list. Most visitors have become too savvy for that. In order to convince them to opt into your list, you must answer the “WIIFM” question, or “What’s In It For Me?” This means that you need to take a page out of the copy writing playbook and essentially create a short sales letter on your squeeze page. Outline the benefits they’ll receive if they opt into your list for the giveaway.
7. Enhance with Audio and Video
It never hurts to appeal to all information intake styles of your visitors. Record a quick audio or video that convinces your visitors that your giveaway is something that they cannot live without. Verbally instruct them how to opt into your list, as well.
Reading (or hearing) glowing reviews of how others liked the giveaway will often serve as the deciding factor to get a visitor to take action. Request written, audio, or video testimonials from others who’ve received your Client Attraction Device or from those who’ve purchased other products and services from you. Testimonials go a long way in convincing visitors that opting into your list is worth their time and energy.
9. Opt-in Box
You need an email marketing service to help you create an opt-in box to capture your visitor’s name and primary email address. If you plan on doing direct mail marketing in the future, you may also request their mailing address and phone number as optional fields. You’ll be surprised at how many visitors will complete the entire form with all of their contact info, even if the name and email address are the only two required items.
10. Informed opt-in
Let visitors know that they will also be receiving a complimentary subscription to your ezine when they opt into your list. Don’t hide this fact from your visitor. Give them a bit of info about your ezine, like how often you publish it. You may want to create a graphic image of your ezine to add to this page, as well.
A squeeze page for your ezine is an effective way to triple the opt-in rate to your email marketing list. Follow these 10 steps to skyrocket the size of your list today!
Monitoring Search Engine Positions
Since search engines are the first stop for people on the Internet looking for goods or services, the position your website appears in search results is an important factor. If your URL shows up far down the results list, the chances of the consumer never finding you increase incrementally. Once you achieve a high search engine position, it is essential that you make sure you maintain the high ranking you have worked so hard to achieve.
This means you must come up with a strategy to monitor your search engines positions. This strategy is crucial to the success of any marketing campaign. Think of your search engine positions as your online portfolio. Would you let your stock portfolio be ruled by chance and market fluctuations, or would you keep close tabs on your stocks so you could buy and sell when the time is right? This is the way you must consider your search engines positions.
Be aware that at first, after you have launched your search engine campaign and done all the right things to increase your rankings, you will most likely see a continual upward climb. What you need to be on the lookout for is the moment that upward climb reaches a plateau. When this happens, your search engine position campaign moves into stage two, the monitoring and protecting stage.
In stage two, do not be concerned about the short-term fluctuations in your positions. These are similar to the subtle rising and falling of stocks in a portfolio. Short-term movement is an integral part of the whole process. It’s the long-term changes that you must watch for and prepare to act on immediately.
Analyzing the long-term trends of search engines positions is imperative. The way in which search engines rank websites may change at the drop of hat. If you are unaware of these changes – many of which are subtle yet can be deadly to your ranking – your position may drop to the bottom of the list before you can get your bearings. To prevent this kind of precipitous drop, you must create a system to monitor your positions on a monthly basis. Devise a chart to keep tabs on your top ranking positions or your top pages, and make sure to watch “the market” closely.
Each search engine uses a formula to compute website rankings. When a search engine changes this formula in any way, it may raise or lower your ranking. Some search engines use a number of different formulas, rotating them so that a formula doesn’t become overused or outdated. Depending on which formula is being applied, your search engine position may suddenly drop or rise in rank significantly. Therefore, you must check your positions frequently in order to catch when a search engine changes formulas and what effect it has on your positions.
You must also deal with your competition – a crucial factor you must always be vigilant about. Your competitor’s position may suddenly rise, automatically lowering your position. Or their position may drop, pushing your position higher. Each month, expect position changes due to the continual changes that are occurring in your competitor’s position, and be prepared to adjust your marketing strategy to compensate for decreased rankings. Monitoring these fluctuations will also give you vital information about how to improve your website to increase your position in search results.
Of course, you must discern what the most popular search engines are in order for your monitoring efforts to be effective. Right now, there are ten popular search engines that direct most of Internet traffic to your sites. The challenge you face is that these top ten may change from month to month.
This means that your must not only monitor your search engine positions, but you must also keep track of the ranking popularity of the search engines you are monitoring. Find out which search engines people use most frequently every month and be sure to live in the present! People are fickle about their favorite search engines, and it takes constant vigilance to follow their dalliances. The search engines they loved when you first launched your campaign may be old news in the next few months. You must adjust your list of engines according to the whims of the Internet users. Check out http://www.searchenginewatch.com/reports/netratings.html for a current list of website favorites.
Another factor to monitor carefully is a sudden drop of your positions in all search engines. This is not the same as monthly fluctuations – this is a neon red warning sign! It could mean a number of different things.
It all your search engine positions have plummeted, it may indicate that search engines spiders – those sneaky programs that seek out your site and rank their positions – have found some type of problem with your website. If you have recently changed the code, for instance, the spider may become utterly confused and consequently drop your positions disastrously. If a spider creeps up on your website when it is down for adjustments or changes, you may actually disappear from a search engine index entirely. Or a search engine may drastically change its formula, and suddenly all of your website come up as irrelevant. If that search engine is a current favorite, it may create a domino effect, causing all of your position to drop in all search engines.
Some search engines rely on the results from other search engines, and it is vital that you know which engines these are and keep track of all the engines they influence. The biggest problem here is that search engines will sometimes change affiliations, and this can create a major shift in the geography of the Internet. For example, recently Yahoo decided to display only results gleaned from Google. So you must not only monitor your own positions, but you must keep abreast of seismic shifts in the landscape of the Internet as a whole.
Finally, pay attention to your keywords. Keywords are the foundation bricks of the entire search engine system, and they demand individual scrutiny in your monitoring efforts. If you have found that a number of your positions have plummeted, it may mean that a page of your website has become invisible or inaccessible to search engine spiders. Or the competition for that particular keyword or phrase has recently rocketed into outer space. In either case, you must act quickly and efficiently to regain lost ground.
Your search engine marketing campaign is an investment. If costs you time and money on a continual basis. Protect this investment as diligently as you would your financial portfolio. In the same way, track your positions from an objective perspective, and monitor your positions on a regular basis. Make sure your time and effort reap rewards by keeping your eye on the big picture – your long-term marketing campaign.
How to Get Your Article to the Top of the Search Engines
There are millions-if not billions-of articles on the internet. No matter the topic, people have already written about it online. So it can be difficult to get new articles to the top of the search engines. But, it can definitely be done.
It isn’t enough to select a topic people about which people will want to read. Let’s say that you went over to Google’s AdWords (or another website that determines which keywords are the most popular search terms at the moment) and then decided to write about one of the latest trends. While this does improve your chances of ranking higher on the search engines (and it is, in fact, a worthwhile step to take), it alone will not guarantee success. Instead, you will need to make your article stand out somehow.
- Tips on Writing Your Article
Writing about the current buzzwords and trends-also known as viral marketing-is a great start. But you can definitely take other steps to make sure that your article rises to the top of the search engines. These are some ideas that you might try:
* Choose your keywords wisely: Let’s say that you did research and found that a certain brand of candy bar was a big trend that a lot of people were talking about because of a contest that was going on. Keywords for your article could very well be ‘candy bar’ and ‘contest.’ The brand name could also be a keyword. Don’t, however, choose something extraneous, such as ‘chocolate’ or ‘nougat.’ For this type of article or articles, you won’t need to describe the candy bar.
* Select keyword placement wisely: You should include your keywords in the headline of your article. You should also make certain to include them in the body of your article several times, toward the beginning and the end.
* Keep keyword density in mind: Keyword density is the number of times your keyword appears relative to the number of words in total. Your density should be no more than 5% to 7%. Any more than that, and most search engines may regard your article to be spam.
* Include links to high-ranking websites (or other articles on your own website): Links will help you to achieve high search engine rankings, especially if they are links to popular websites.
* Remember: Content is King. If the quality of your article isn’t good, no one will read it-and, therefore, no one will click on any of the links. Make your article interesting and readable.
- What to do After the Article is Written
Once you have finished the article, there are still a few ideas you can try that can help to get your article to the top of the search engines:
* Submit your articles to the several article directories.
* Submit your article to ezine editors that accept articles on your topic.
* Look for blogs related to your topic, and ask if they accept outside articles for submission.
* Post a link to the article on Twitter and Facebook.
* Submit the article to social bookmarking websites, such as StumbleUpon and Digg.
How to Protect Your Search Engine Rankings
If you have a web site that you have been maintaining and updating on a consistent basis for several years, chances are, you have acquired some decent traffic from the search engines. The thing that most webmasters don’t consider is that once they have that search engine traffic, it doesn’t mean it will stay forever. There are things that can happen with your web site that can cause it to drop out of the search engine rankings. So what is a web master to do in order to keep their search engine rankings?
Some very legitimate high quality sites are being hurt by some of the actions taken by the search engines to ban the spammy sites created by less than above-board webmasters. There are some things a webmaster can do to reduce their chances of their legitimate site being mistaken for a spam site.
1) Take care in who you are linking to on your website
While it is good to have links that are helpful to your web visitors, you need to be careful who you are linking to. If you link to sites that are considered “bad neighborhoods”, you will certainly see a drop in your search engine results. This is because the search engines will assume that you are linking just to increase your search engine ranking. Avoid linking to sites and pages that are mostly a list of links. Many of these sites are somewhat spammy and also link to many other “questionable” sites. If you want to put your link in a link directory, go for high quality link directories, especially if these directories require a reciprocal link back to their site. Sometimes paying the few bucks they ask for to get listed could be worth it as it will filter out all of the spammers. The penalty hit is from an action on your part of linking to the bad neighborhood so you can control it by not linking to one in the first place. If you aren’t sure if the sites are in bad neighborhoods or not, you can easily check it out by using online tools that tell you if your website is linking to a bad neighborhood. Tools like bad-neighborhood.com give you detailed information about the websites you are linking to.
2) Make sure your keyword density isn’t too high
Your keyword density is also a factor that affects your search engine rankings. Search engines determine the relevance of your website to a particular subject by the use of keywords in your web page text. The higher the density of the keyword, the more relevant the web page for that keyword subject. However too high a keyword density, and the search engines will consider you trying to spam the search engines and will penalize your website for keyword stuffing, or keyword spamming. Content with a conversational tone or a natural editorial flavor can produce a premium keyword density and leave you with good quality content. The old rule of thumb is that your keyword should never appear in more than half of the sentences on the page. A better approach is to have your keyword not appear in more than 1/3 of the sentences, yet use synonyms and other related keywords on the page as well to add relevance. In total, you don’t want your keyword density to be above 3%. Tools like keyworddensity.com can give you a quick reference to web page keyword density.
There are some simple things you can do to keep your legitimate web site above board and not have it mistaken for a spam site so it doesn’t lose rank in the search engines. These 2 are some of the easiest and quickest things you can do to keep your website above board and ranking well in the search engines
SEO Secrets: Fighting Against the Domain Age Tide
So you’ve bought your Dreamweaver, an eternity later worked out how it works, started to build your site which is targeting your chosen niche or promoting your affiliate product and after what seems like forever you have added quality content. You’ve bust a gut to get this far, but this is where the real work begins. You need to get your site seen by as many people as possible. You need to drive as much traffic as you can whether it be through a pay-per-click campaign or via organic traffic.
Let’s say you decide to target organic traffic. You need to get a high ranking in the search engines. During your website construction you have already been using a keyword research tool and a SEO Tool and spending the midnight hours mulling over the chosen keyword phrases your research has indicated you should be targeting on your pages and using in your URL. Your whole site from headings to meta-tags, to meta-descriptions and anchor text are all optimized taking account of semantically related words, keyword density and the long tail.
Next you begin your back link campaign spending hours trying to get quality back links to your site. Social bookmarking takes over your life for days on end, you post on relevant blogs and all relevant forums, you set up your own blog, submit articles to article directories and then submit your entire site to SEO friendly website directories.
Yet more analysis follows, as you now study your competitors’ websites. You investigate what keywords they are targeting and study the links that they have developed and you develop strategies to be better than they are. Slowly but surely your site climbs the rankings. You constantly update your site adding quality content and before you know it your site is fast approaching the first page. A steady trickle of traffic flows on a daily basis. At this rate you should soon be top of the rankings and then… the sky’s the limit!
Unfortunately it doesn’t usually quite work like this. Yes it is true that if you have picked some long tail keywords to target you may be able to get somewhere near the top of the rankings or indeed even to the number one spot. In most instances however the traffic won’t be great and you would need to get each page of your website targeting a different long tail phrase and getting to the top of the rankings for that phrase each time for the total traffic to be lucrative. It’s certainly possible but does require a lot more graft.
For very popular keyword phrases it proves incredibly difficult to dislodge the top sites from their positions, even though in theory you may know that you have better back links and better content. Without the top positions the mass traffic will never be yours. It is just so frustrating as you probably know. I certainly do. So you go away and you research again and you analyze again and you spend days poring over the detail and you
work and you work and you know what, it makes not one jot of difference. You just cannot crack the top spots. Why not? How many times have I asked this of myself?
Now perhaps your tactics aren’t quite right. Perhaps the phrases you are targeting are the wrong ones or perhaps you’re back links are not quality back links. Do you have the quality of content on your site that you think you do? Yes, yes, yes, I hear you say. So what is going on? Well it could be something as simple as the age of your domain.
Google places a lot of trust in back links, especially quality back links to your site, but it also places significant trust in sites which have been around for a significant period of time. This is especially true if they are frequently updated. In many cases the top ranked sites are trusted sites as far as Google is concerned because they have an authority status due to their back links, but also due to the length of time they have been operating. If your site is an equal to a competitor’s site in terms of content and back links, but it is a far newer domain, there will be little chance of you dislodging your competitor from the top slot. The site that has been there for five years serving the web community carries a lot of trust with Google.
To dislodge these sites requires tremendous effort to create quality back links and sometimes you may never achieve it. It can be done however, you just need to be aware of what is going on and keep persevering. Some internet marketers have resorted to buying old domains in an attempt to overcome this challenge in building the website around the domain. I’m not entirely sure how Google reacts to this, especially if you are adding new content on a continual basis. Does the domain itself carry an inherent trust because of its age or is it the content that carried the trust from the old website?
Either way it’s worth exploring as one of the tactics along with keyword analysis and building back links that you could adopt in an attempt to get higher rankings and hence higher rates of traffic.
How Much is Too Much to Pay for SEO?
How much is too much to pay for SEO? (…or should you try to do it yourself first?)
Yes, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be an excellent way of getting leads.
Yes, good SEO can level the playing field between you and competitors.
Yes, you should do some level of SEO.
…but how much is too much?
Too much? Good question.
You’ll find that everybody that uses the word “Internet” is going to suggest that you engage in SEO and many will make you an offer to do it for you. There’s nothing wrong with that as far it goes. But what you have to decide is how much you should pay for having it done.
* Some Perspectives On Paying For SEO
Here are a few important tips to help you decide the answer to that question:
(1) First, make sure you really do need outside assistance. If you’re looking for better SEO placement for relatively unique or so-called “long tail” key words (e.g. “pine street rental condominiums” ) it might be worth trying it yourself before you involve an SEO consultant or SEO firm.
(2) SEO is not rocket-science. Mostly it’s monotonous drudgery. So what you pay should not be about hiring “expertise”. The SEO effort is more like 90% drudgery, 8% experience, and 2% expertise and you should compensate accordingly.
(3) The value of SEO boils down to “clicks” – preferably clicks that result in a sale conversion. SEO should be measured on the same cost-per-click basis any search-engine-marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click (PPC) campaign would be – i.e. the basis of ROI. If you don’t know how many clicks or orders you want, do not engage SEO until you do.
(4) SEO is not static and optimization is competitive. You may be on the first page today but your competitors aren’t necessarily going to sit still forever. You could be bumped at any time. So if you’re not prepared to maintain an ongoing and strategic SEO effort – no matter what the competition does – then save your money.
(5) Search engine “secrets” are just that – secret. The search engines aren’t telling them and anybody that claims to know the secrets is just guessing. It doesn’t mean they can’t help but it’s not as if they have some special advantage. Impossible.
(6) Frankly, from the search engine point-of-view, if your site doesn’t have enough useful and relevant content to be on the first page, ethical SEO notwithstanding, eventually it won’t be. This is the objective of the search engines and there’s little likelihood that the SEO “expert” pitching you is going to out-think Google, Yahoo!, Bing and others in the long run.
* Is Doing SEO Yourself An Option?
It’s almost always worth taking a first crack at SEO yourself. Often only a little effort can make a significant difference. If you do want to make the effort, invest a few dollars in a do-it-yourself SEO guide and try to adhere to the following minimum suggestions:
(1) Focus on keywords that are realistic. You’re not likely to get a good placement with a keyword like “real estate” but you might get first page with a keyword like “Hill street real estate”;
(2) Make sure your keyword is mentioned in the link to your page. Instead of saying “click HERE” make sure the text for the link says something like “for more information about HILL STREET REAL ESTATE”;
(3) Make sure your keyword is mentioned in your page title, your keyword list, your page content, bolded page content;
(4) For every keyword you’re interested in, make sure you have an appropriate page to focus on it (and that it complies with #1, #2, and #3 above)
(5) Register with search engine webmaster accounts so that you can submit your site to them quickly and efficiently (search for “google webmaster”, “bing webmaster”, or “yahoo webmaster” to find the details).
* Don’t Forget Links
Lastly, if you going to make an initial stab yourself, understand that quality links to your site are a vital factor in your ultimate placement. The more the merrier. To get a head-start on building links to your site, do the following:
(1) Enroll in all relevant local or regional directories – (search “free directories” to find lists of these); many will be free, some will want nominal fees or backlinks. You decide.
(2) Ensure that any press releases and announcements you make refer to your site and specific pages within it.
(3) Post pages of your site to delicious.com or to digg.com and to similar bookmarking sites.
(4) Ask local friends and business acquaintances if they will exchange links with you.
(5) On the other hand, DO NOT sign up for paid links without the guidance of someone experienced in Internet marketing.
* Do these things sound particularly difficult? No.
And well worth taking a stab at by yourself. From there you can decide whether its desirable or worth the cost to pay for SEO services from a 3rd-party.
* No Matter What You Do…
You need to think in terms of what kind of return you are going to get on your investment. The calculation is simple: Divide the total SEO cost (yours or a 3rd-party’s) by the number of orders/sales you’ve received as a result of the effort. Then compare that cost-per-sale against your margin-per-sale. If you have margin left over, you’re in the right territory. If you don’t, you’ve got a problem.
The bottom line is that when you talk with any SEO service provider, you must think in terms of ROI. Not in terms of “secrets” or first pages or top spots, but ROI. (Note: it is theoretically possible to be on the 3rd page and still get a positive ROI – not likely, but possible) If the ROI doesn’t work, then search engine optimization may not be for you and other Internet marketing methods might yield better results and a better ROI.
Optimize Your Images On Search Engines
Starting competitive advantages in the business is vital both in online and offline aspects. If you are a business organization, you need to distinguish your organization from the competition, especially if your business is not on commodity products. You can easily distinguish these advantages on the internet because of the already established fundamentals of the business.
For some companies, they get their edge from targeted advertising from high-traffic websites. For others, it is through social media marketing.
But one relatively easy way to drive relevant traffic to your website without too much effort is to optimize your images for search engines. Think of it as a tiny webpage within the website structure. It is recommended for you to include an anchor text, descriptive tagging, and URL structure to maximize results.
* Search for the Right Image
Successful bloggers, writers, and website owners know the value of using the right image for their text content. It adds another dimension to articles and enables readers to appreciate their webpage even more. However, many fail to use images for search engine optimization purposes. It is in fact a good way to drive backlinks and visitors. There’s no need to upload your own pictures. A lot of stock photos are available from free from sites like Flickr and iStockPhoto among others. It is also a good idea to use Google Search to find good photos. Make sure that you are not violating any copyright if you do this (look for Creative Commons licensing).
* Make Proper Use of Keywords
Keywords are an integral part of any search engine optimization effort. It is used to optimize all kinds of digital assets from videos to podcasts. You will really benefit if you use keywords wisely for your images. Rename the image because having “012345RR.jpg” as the file name isn’t going to help. It is a very simple step and can go a long way in helping your website rank better.
* Use Descriptive Text
It is important to use descriptive tags, file names, and alt text for your images. This is because search engines cannot read images and would use its surrounding text as reference. Make use of this feature by adding keywords on the descriptive text, anchor text, and any other tags (related to the image). Bear in mind that anchor text is one of the most important elements to optimize your image effectively so take advantage of it.
As you can see, image SEO is a straight-forward process that provides tenfold benefit from your efforts. Follow the guidelines outlined above and you’ll see your more traffic coming in from image search soon.
Easy Ways to Improve Search Engine Ranking and Drive Traffic
To learn how to increase search engine rankings and drive website traffic you need to understand the concepts that govern the way the search engines work.
Without an understanding of these principles and a system to incorporate them into everything you do online, you will not get the success you are seeking.
On the other hand, learn how to effectively utilize them and you will start dominating niches all over the Internet driving thousands of visitors to your site on a daily basis.
So what are the principles that rule search engine rankings and how do I improve mine? Here they are:
Relevancy is something defined as having relationship to. For example if your website was about golf, related content would include information about such things as golf clubs, golf courses and golf lessons.
Content about anything other than the topic of the website or related topics would not score for relevancy, thereby having no chance of ranking in the search engines. Search engines check your site for relevancy.
You need to be right on topic for whatever it is you are targeting with the content you create. A final word of caution about relevancy: Relevancy alone will not rank your site. You could have the most highly relevant, best original content ever written posted at your site, however if there are no sites pointing to it, it will never rank in the search engines. Relevancy does not work without the concepts of popularity and original content.
The first step is to choose the keyword or keyword phrase you want your content to target. Let’s say you’re trying to get a higher ranking for this keyword phrase, the topic I am currently writing about, “Improve Search Engine Ranking”. First, you would want to find what people are searching for and specifically target that keyword if you want your content to rank for that phrase.
Make sure you include the keyword phrase in the title of the article. For example, your title could be “Strategies To Improve Search Engine Ranking”. Always try to put the keyword or keyword phrase as the first few words of the article title. Always remember to use the keyword phrase, several times throughout the article. Finally make sure your content remains 100% relevant to the keyword phrase.
Popularity works together with relevancy to improve search engine rankings. Popularity is based on two key measures:
a) How Many Sites Link to Your Site
A site’s popularity is measured first by the number of sites that directly link to your site.
To demonstrate popularity let’s take a quick look at YouTube. YouTube is one of the most popular sites on the Internet, Why? All links and embed codes taken from YouTube and embedded on other sites, whether on Facebook, Myspace, a blog, a sales page or a website, create automatic links back to YouTube where the video is hosted. Every time someone shares a YouTube video a link is created.
With the number of videos shared, Youtube gets thousands of new incoming links daily. This is one of the reasons why YouTube videos rank very highly on the search engines. Their site is super popular.
b) The Popularity of the Sites Linking to You
The more popular the site linking to you is, the better the score given by the search engines.
The more incoming links to your site the more popular it is. It is therefore always important to syndicate the content of your site (with a direct link to the content on your site), to as many sites as possible. The Internet presents a host of sites where you can post your content for free to increase your search engine rankings, including popular high ranking sites like article directories, blogs, social bookmarking sites, video sites, press release and social network pages.
Originality basically refers to unique content. In simple terms the search engines ask the question, is this same piece of content all over the Internet? As an example, if I took a highly relevant and popular article from my site and posted it to hundreds of sites it would not rank high in the search engines as it would no longer be deemed unique.
There is no doubt that spreading your unique content across the Internet is important for driving traffic to your site. The secret is to make several unique versions of the same information all with a backlink to your original article posted on your site. Spinning is a popular term used to describe the process of changing the titles, key words and phrases throughout your article to make several unique versions. Placing these all over the Internet with a back link to your site will improve rankings.
Follow the steps above and I promise you will see an increase in the number of visitors to your site.
Your Website’s Financial Success Will Rely On Search Engine Optimization!
One of the difficulties that internet business proprietors encounter is obtaining enough traffic and revenues for their products and services. The financial success of a site is driven by the amount of targeted traffic that it gets, and the chief source of traffic nowadays is top search engines like Bing, Google and Yahoo!. Search engine optimization can either offer you an increased rating if done properly or make your online business fail if done erroneously.
It is estimated that around 85%-90% of web surfers go to websites via search engines. Moreover, most folks would click on the websites which are included in the very first page of search engines’ listings. If you wish to get even more targeted traffic, sales and recognition, your target should be to secure an improved page rating for your site and get it to be included as among the leading results for numerous web queries. Having a website without audience is pointless, so it’s vital that you compel individuals to go to your website and see what you are selling them. A lot of search engine optimization methods will help you realize this goal.
There are a few basic search engine optimization aspects that you ought to keep in mind when you try to make search engines notice your site. Several website owners feel that the only thing they have to undertake is send their URL to many search engines, then sit back and expect their traffic to improve. While search engine submission could help you get an improved ranking and also put you on page 1 of search engines’ results, it must be supported by other SEO tactics.
The search engine optimization process is as follows: after submitting your web address to search engines or allowing them to come across it by themselves, search engines would dispatch crawlers that will index and examine your website. All your web pages are going to be ranked through complex algorithms and a sophisticated combination of factors. These bots’ purpose is to find the most appropriate pages that they can offer their searchers for specific subjects, so they must ensure that every single link they include in search engines’ listings actually possesses the needed information or details that accurately fit the users’ keywords. Search engines will then rate your website based on how valuable they determine it to be.
The highest target for your web-based business and website is to have it on page 1, not page 10 or 20. Thus, generating applicable keyword phrases, accurate labels and also related content is truly important for your success! Your keywords must be painstakingly planned and also researched. It’s incredibly crucial to find out what words or phrases visitors often enter to look for certain products and services. In many instances, it’s best to stick to the basics instead of attempting to be too creative with your keyword phrases. To illustrate, if you sell pet products, refrain from using words like canine because this is not the first word that folks use when looking for a dog collar.
Another good SEO technique would be to utilize a web address that reflects your products and services rather than using a business name, except if your brand is already established. Using the previous example, the phrase ‘dog collars’ ought to be a part of your web address if that is the product that you’re marketing. Aside from that, you should have corresponding or related words in your webpage titles as well as throughout your site. Developing titles and copy that do not correspond with each other will confuse your customers and you wouldn’t secure the positioning that you want.
In addition, your page titles should be thoughtfully made in order to mirror the material that appears on your site, and your material has to be unique, helpful as well as enjoyable. Your website cannot look like a twin of other websites; you want to make your own web presence and be
known as an expert in your selected niche.
It is tough to trick contemporary search engines, so don’t even bother having a go at it! Keyword stuffing, which calls for placing popular search phrases on websites that are totally unconnected to those keyword phrases, is a technique employed by Internet business owners who desire great outcomes without undertaking search engine optimization correctly. This specific strategy will lower your page rank or even get you banned from search engines’ listings permanently! Search engine optimization ought to be done correctly for it to make your internet business and website successful.
Create Professional RSS Feeds
More and more companies are using RSS as a means to communicate, so having an RSS feed that is professional and well polished will help differentiate your company from your competition. What makes an RSS feed professional? Follow these simple steps to polish your RSS feed and take it to the next level…
1. Feed Image
Add an image to your RSS feed. The image will be displayed by many feed readers each time your feed is displayed. This will help build and reinforce your brand or image in the minds of people who read your RSS feed. Adding an image to an RSS feed is relatively easy, and adds a level of professionalism.
2. Images And Links
Add images and links within the RSS feed. The process of adding images and links to the description field of an RSS feed is really quite simple if you are using software to manage your feed, while it may be somewhat complex if you are hand-coding your feed. Incorporating images or hot links in the feed’s content will allow your readers to explore further and dig deeper into your content. The added benefit, of course, are the additional web links back to your site from any sites that choose to syndicate or display your feed’s contents.
Properly formed code is important, in order to ensure that all RSS readers can read and display your feed. But it is also very important for another reason… nothing is more embarrassing or unprofessional than an RSS feed that is broken or stops working. Use software to manage your feed creation, and validate your feed on a regular basis.
4. Easy To Subscribe
Make your RSS feed easy to subscribe to. Include the traditional RSS icon, or an indicator site-wide, so that website visitors can easily locate and subscribe to your RSS feeds. Include basic directions on how website visitors should subscribe to your RSS feed.
5. Auto Discovery
Add “auto-discovery” code to the HTML header of your website. Many RSS aggregators include an auto-discovery feature, which allows them to automatically detect when a website offers an RSS feed. So, if your website visitors are using one of those aggregators, they will instantly know that an RSS feed for your content is available from your website.
Instantly create auto discovery code – http://www.feedforall.com/autodiscovery.htm
Add a “favicon” to your website. Favicons (short for “favorite icons”) are typically a tiny version of a company or Web site’s logo, and appear in the URL bar of the user’s web browser. When a user bookmarks a specific Web page that includes a favicon, that Web page loads the customized icon into the user’s browser. Because the favicon is usually displayed next to the web site address, it can act like a small logo or an icon that visitors can use to remember the web site or the site address. Feed directories and RSS Search Engines will often use a favicon beside an RSS feed’s listings. So be sure that you have one on your website; otherwise, you’ll have nothing but a generic icon beside your feed. Webmasters can establish branding by creating a favicon for their website. Here is a free service from HTMLKit: http://www.html-kit.com/favicon
7. Subscribe To Your Own Feed
Always subscribe to your RSS feed, so you can see what your website visitors are seeing.
While it is not essential to incorporate the above elements in your RSS feed, the additions will result in a more professional and polished RSS feed that stands apart from competitors in news aggregators and RSS directories. Spending a few extra minutes here could easily draw more attention to your feed.
If you’re joining us at SES San Francisco during Connected Marketing Week next week, we are looking forward to welcoming you to the event and hope you are already getting involved with our Twitter stream. We now have an extra incentive for you to join in the conversation and post insightful tweets once SES San Francisco gets underway!
We are excited to announce our tweetwall competition, featuring 5 different categories and the chance to win a copy of the book: I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 by Doug Edwards. The winner of each of the following categories will win a copy of the book:
All the winners will be announced at our Open Mic: Black Hat, White Hat unconferenced session hosted by Search Engine Watch on Wednesday 17th August at 5:45 – 6:45 in the Second Floor Foyer. To ensure that all your tweets are counted, make sure you add our hashtag, #sessf to all your tweets! We will keep you updated throughout the event on movers and shakers on the leader board via @sesconf and @sewatch.
Good luck and we look forward to reading all your tweets and joining in the conversation!
Honing The Art Form of SEO
In the world of SEO there seems to be an article on everything from “how to get more backlinks” to “getting that #1 ranking on Google.” The more you read up on SEO tactics, the more you realize many people seem to give the same advice: write great content, submit it to social bookmarking sites, and be consistent.
Although all of these are great points, the one thing missing from many of these articles is that it isn’t that simple. You can write a great article, get it up and have it go viral-but you need to focus on the ART form that is SEO as well. Google is always changing the game for SEO experts, and you have to know how to go with the flow.
The fact is no one knows for sure what Google is looking for. We can guess, run case studies and be pretty sure on many things, but giving the same advice over and over again isn’t going to get any of us anywhere. So what else can we do?
* Build Relationships
We hear this a lot in the social media world. But the more relationships you build with site owners, bloggers and reporters the more likely you can get your articles out to the right audience. Creating a funny infograph or article is great, and you could get a lot of link juice from it, but what about the next week, month, or year? The more relationships you build the more likely you can get your great content out to the right
* Reach Out To Other Writers
Obviously your company needs to come up with great content-for both your site as well as others. But another way to get back links is to have other people write about your business. One of the reasons you create content is so people will link back to it-so start reaching out to writers and give them information they will want to write about.
Press releases are one great way to do that, but remember reporters get tons of press releases and phone calls from PR pros every day. This is where you need to get creative and figure out a reason why someone would want to write about your company.
* Fresh Ideas
Having a great plan is, well, great, but just as Google is consistently changing, so should your plan. What works great one day could work against you on another day. This is why you need to consistently think of new ideas to get backlinks, viral content etc. This is much easier said than done however. If it was easy we would all have great PageRank, and not need to read up on SEO every day.
Mind mapping tools and weekly meeting to brainstorm are a great idea. One idea could morph into many and the next thing you know, you could have the next few months of content ideas in just a few meetings.
* Trial and Error
SEO is also a game of trial and error. You won’t know what works until you try it. Don’t be afraid to take chances and see if your theory is right. Good or bad, it is a learning experience. The tools are out there, and writing great content and submitting to social bookmarking sties can work-but there are other ways to get exposure. It just takes some creativity and hard work.
Just like with other art forms, sometimes you have to create a mess before you can start creating masterpieces. This isn’t to say you need to bomb your SEO efforts completely and lose revenue, it just means you can stumble a little on new efforts while you’re hitting home runs with your “tried and true” efforts.
RSS Revisited – Why You Still Need RSS On Your Site?
One of the very first articles I ever wrote on Internet Marketing had to do with RSS and it was entitled “10 Reasons To Put RSS On Your Site.” That was in 2004 and RSS was somewhat new and many webmasters were just beginning to place blogs and RSS feeds on their sites. If you do a search in Google, you can still find that article on around 2,000 sites.
Most people now refer to RSS as “Really Simple Syndication” – although it originally stood for “Rich Site Summary” and was a very simple way of summarizing and syndicating your content in real-time to all interested parties.
RSS had its early beginnings with Netscape in 1991 which introduced the first version of RSS (RDF Site Summary). Later versions would be introduced and made popular by Dave Winer of ScriptingNews and Userland fame who is considered by many to be one of the major founding fathers of RSS.
Most people today associate RSS with blogs and blogging. You can read RSS content by using an RSS feed reader or “aggregator” which can be desktop or web-based. Some common feed readers include FeedDemon, My Yahoo!, iGoogle and Firefox (Live Bookmarks). You subscribe to your favorite RSS feed by clicking the small icon on your favorite blog or site and then when fresh content is published via RSS your reader can immediately retrieve and display it for you.
RSS is a very simple way of keeping up to date and in contact with your favorite site or topic. It makes staying informed easy to do and it provides site/blog owners a simple way of distributing their content.
* One can’t but wonder has RSS lived up to all that early hype?
Perhaps that question can only be answered by looking at the popularity of blogging and the role it now plays on the web. No one can deny blogs and their accompanying RSS feeds carry tremendous weight, no matter which way you measure it. Can anyone now imagine the World Wide Web without blogs?
But the importance of RSS goes beyond just blogging, we tend to forget how important it is for all the new social media sites like Digg, Technorati, Reddit… and not to forget fast growing applications like Twitter.
People also forget RSS feeds play a major role in online retail and affiliate programs. For example, you can get an RSS feed of all the latest Amazon products to place on your site. Many major online companies now have these product feeds to help promote and sell their wares.
XML and RSS have blended so seamlessly into many browsers and operating systems most users are blissfully unaware they’re even using RSS. Maybe that’s how things should be; with RSS, the ever-present workhorse, quietly doing its job behind the scenes.
RSS is just as important now as it was five years ago – actually its influence and presence has only grown stronger over the years. If you have not fully embraced RSS and placed it on your site and in your online marketing you’re missing out on one of the best opportunities to spread your message on the web.
RSS is here to stay and even has its own advisory board to help with the technical and programming side of RSS. They also list a very handy “RSS Best Practices Profile” for any webmaster wishing to create their own XML-based RSS documents. http://www.rssboard.org/
* Why should you use RSS?
Well, the list of reasons is quite long but RSS can help you: syndicate your content in real-time, sell your products, build your list, gather fresh content, promote your company and boost that one vital element everyone needs more of on the web – traffic. For those who have taken full advantage of RSS it has delivered in more ways than one for it has truly turned into that Golden Goose with the Midas complex. RSS has simply proven beneficial to those users who have fully embraced it.
Search Engine Optimization: Help Your Business Grow
When someone has a question, many times these days the first thing they turn to for an answer is the Internet. Just about anything and everything can be found online. From the most basic answer to the simplest question to in depth research about complex topics — it’s all available on the Internet.
As a business owner, the Internet can be a valuable tool for you to utilize in your marketing efforts. You need to make sure that when people type in a search phrase related to your business that your website comes up on the results pages. The process of search engine optimization (SEO) enhances your website to make it more appealing to the search engine spiders that crawl your site and when done properly, improves your website as a whole.
* SEO as a Business Strategy
The top three search engines are Google, Bing, and Yahoo so these are the sites that you should target in your SEO efforts. Since Google is undoubtedly the leader in the search engine industry, they set the standards and they are the site to target with your SEO efforts.
If your business is not optimized for the search engines and your competition’s website is then they will rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERP) and thus people will more likely click through to their site and do business with them. The higher you rank on Google and the other search engines, the more traffic your site will receive and if you have a good website, the more conversions you will make and your profits will increase.
* Editing Your Website For SEO Purposes
In order to properly optimize your website for the search engines, you will need to perform some basic tasks.
First, you need to make sure you pick around 10-15 keywords that you should use as the meta tags for your website and focus on 3-5 as your main keywords. Meta tags consist of the title of the page, the description of the page and the keywords of the page.
Search engines use the meta description tag as the description of your website in the SERPs. The keywords are used as search terms or phrases so that when someone searches for those terms, your website appears as a result.
You want your site to be as friendly to the search engines as possible in order to rank higher for your targeted keywords. You want to repeat your keywords but not too much. You need to keep the keyword density to no more than 1 keyword per 100 words of text.
Being at the top of the results pages for targeted keywords is an extremely important part of business in today’s world. Making your website both user-friendly and search engine friendly by performing website editing tasks like regular content updates and the use of meta tags.
Payvment, a free ecommerce platform for Facebook, claims that its users see their first sale in less than three days after launching their store on Facebook through the Payvment platform.
The fast turnaround is due to social promotion as well as features that enable sellers to attract new shoppers to their storefronts, even shoppers that are outside of their fan database.
Another reason for Payvment's success is its ability to keep users on Facebook. Customers can purchase their items within the merchant’s page and without being redirected to the merchant’s website.
Payvment claims to be Facebook’s largest ecommerce platform with over 60,000 storefronts and 400 new stores opening each day. The platform also features a Shopping Mall, where you can search over 2 million products and view items that your friends like.
Visit Payvment to learn more about setting up your free Facebook store.
Keywords are a crucial part of digital marketing campaigns, yet identifying the words consumers are most likely to use when searching is something that digital marketing teams have difficulty with.
According to a white paper published by Hydra, digital marketing teams don’t have the resources to conduct thorough investigations, which lead to more successful keyword results. Additionally, a bigger problem may be monitoring and keeping up with terms that change so frequently.
“Keyword research makes the difference between the vendor’s goods and services being immediately visible to the searcher or their being swallowed up and lost in the myriad of returned search results,” says Ruth Zohrer, solutions consultant at Hydra. “Ultimately, the lack of thorough keyword research can prove costly as it leads to vendors failing to maximize on the online opportunity both in terms of directing potential sales leads/traffic to their site and garnering revenues from the online channel.”
According to a Hydra survey, less than half (42 percent) of digital marketers felt they were keeping up with key word trends. Furthermore, over half of the study’s participants (55 percent) claimed they don’t know which new words or expressions are worth spending time and money on. Yet over 70 percent of participants agreed that they would spend more time on reviewing keywords and phrases if possible.
Solutions from Hydra’s white paper includes beginning new natural search projects with a discovery phase that includes keyword research and keyword-mapping, which shows how sites connect with target keywords as well as any gaps that may need to be fixed.
After each keyword’s demand is known, they can be prioritized based on the results.
Web acceleration solutions provider FastSoft has announced that NetDNA, a leading content delivery network (CDN) and Web advertising delivery provider, has selected the company’s E-Series origin content acceleration (OCA) appliance to improve content delivery speed across its entire product line.
NetDNA delivers CDN solutions such as small file acceleration, advertising delivery and full high-definition media streaming to thousands of customers worldwide.
The company installed the FastSoft E-Series appliance to increase the reach of its edge locations in order to maximize its performance through an efficient infrastructure footprint. Through this integration, NetDNA is able to accelerate content delivery between its datacenters and between its datacenters and end-users.
"NetDNA is in the speed business and after installing the E-Series, we saw a noticeable and measurable improvement in the speed of file delivery,” says Chris Ueland, President and CTO of NetDNA. “This has resulted in substantial performance improvements for our customers and FastSoft is now a core building block of our network.”
FastSoft’s E-Series is based on the company’s origin content acceleration (OCA) technology, which accelerates the delivery of dynamic and non-cacheable data that is delivered from origin servers. When these servers are located far from the end user, a significant transport latency delay can often greatly slow content download speed. OCA augments CDNs and front-end optimization (FEO) technology to provide complete web performance optimization.
“CDNs are facing a need to evolve with a market that is becoming increasingly personalized with more and more content being dynamically generated,” says Ed Snyder, FastSoft CEO. “The addition of the E-Series to the NetDNA network allows the company to accelerate end-to-end content delivery for a satisfying end-user experience, regardless of whether it's a popular or longtail video, or a static or dynamic file.”
Elance has released its quarterly Online Employment Report, revealing strong momentum in online work during a tumultuous summer for the U.S. and global economy.
With a current run rate of 600,000 jobs posted per year, demand for talent from companies ranging from startups to enterprises have increased over 61 percent year over year. Online contractors earned a record $34.3 million, up from $30.7 million in the previous quarter. Businesses hiring online and freelance professionals sparked a 23-percent increase in a single quarter in both the population of contractors and employers working online.
The record-setting amount of work completed was fueled by increasing demand across the board, including content creators such as illustrators, designers, writers, content moderators and programmers with hot skills such as Android, WordPress and Magento. You can review the full Elance Online Employment Report here.
Notable hiring trends this past quarter included the following:
High Tide for Content Creators
The proliferation of digital businesses, in social media, search engine optimization and online marketing, continues to drive demand for high quality content that increases customer acquisition and engagement. The demand for business writers is peaking this summer with a 21-percent increase, jumping 9 spots on the charts to No. 23. Blog Writing also saw a 9-percent increase in demand as businesses look to keep customers engaged in unique ways.
Infographics are the New Black
Demand for Infographics jumped a whopping 148 percent in one quarter. This growing trend of visual representation led Illustrators to a 27-percent increase in demand, causing a 9-position climb in Q2, and Photographers saw a 30-percent growth in demand.
WordPress Leads in the Content Management Race
More people than ever are turning to robust Content Management Systems (CMS) as their platform of choice when creating a new website for business. While demand for Drupal and Joomla! Programmers both saw a 5-percent increase in demand, WordPress programmers accelerated their lead with a very strong 11-percent growth and maintained the No. 2 slot on Elance for the third consecutive quarter.
Gearing up for the Holiday Season
Even though the summer heat still lingers on, some businesses already have their sights set for the holiday season and are now expanding their online stores by hiring a multitude of e-commerce Experts. Magento, recently acquired by eBay, is one of the fastest-growing, open-source e-commerce platforms in the market. On Elance, Magento moved up 10 slots to No. 48 with a 21-percent jump in demand in Q2.
Mobile Battleground: Apple on Fire
Demand for Android skills rose by 15 percent while the demand for Blackberry skills increased slightly by 3 percent and Windows Phone declined by 37 percent. However, the big winner this quarter appears to be Apple, as demand for iOS and Xcode skills showed impressive increases of 20 percent and 35 percent, respectively. It’s possible that the recent announcements at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) contributed to the increase in demand.
Average Commute: 1,167 Miles
Unconstrained by geography, the average telecommute for U.S. Elancers is 1,167 miles. California has the highest number of businesses hiring online, with Texas and New York following close behind. However, New York continues to be the U.S. capital for online work, claiming the No. 1 spot in IT and marketing and No. 2 in creative.
MBO Partners, a leader in the $250-billion independent consulting sector in America, has unveiled a comprehensive program aimed at supporting independent professionals who want to start and build professional service businesses both online and off.
The multi-pronged program features a new, dedicated operating unit, a proprietary platform and educational tools, as well as a team of highly-trained business managers focused on the success of each independent consultant and micro-business enrolled in the program.
As part of the new program initiative, MBO will offer the following:
Dedicated Operating Unit: The new operating unit will be dedicated to the support and service of independent consultants. This includes an expert team of independent business advisors to assist both experienced soloprenuers as well as individuals exploring the growing trend of independent consulting for the first time. The new unit will enable the company to effectively communicate the latest trends, responsibilities and benefits of building an effective independent consulting practice.
Education: MBO will also launch a dedicated State of Independence website that will deliver insights into what it takes to build a successful independent career. All resources are designed to enrich and educate those living the independent lifestyle, from a company that specializes in the unique challenges and opportunities of being independent.
Platform and Tools: To effectively service its independent consultant customer base, MBO Partners will feature an updated user experience and functionality within the MBO Business Center, a critical and proprietary practice management platform for the independent professional and their clients.
The new unit will provide consultants with the tools and resources needed to succeed in the new project economy. Independent consultants can visit MBO for more information.
Search marketing software and services provider WordStream has launched a new, free program called AdWords Performance Grader, which is designed to help marketers evaluate the performance of their AdWords campaigns based on an array of different criteria. This will help these online businesses and advertisers decipher just where and how they need to make improvements in their AdWords campaigns.
Among the many features of AdWords Performance Grader are discovering an effective use of negative keywords to control spend, determining a Quality Score for text ads and the keywords targeted, checking clickthrough rates and impression share for ads, providing long-tail keyword, text ad and landing page optimization, and providing PPC best practices information.
The program will also give marketers benchmark data to let them know how their campaigns perform when compared with other companies that have similar advertising budgets.
“At WordStream, we have worked with thousands of small and
medium-sized businesses to build out keywords for their AdWords campaigns.
We’ve witnessed how many hands-on marketers have not yet mastered fundamental
best practices of PPC ad campaigns,” says Larry Kim, WordStream founder
and chief technology officer. “We built this free tool to provide advertisers
with an easy way to digest snapshots of how their ad campaigns are performing and to
tutor them on how to make changes that will boost their performance and save
Visit WordStream for more information on the new AdWords Performance Grader.
Aéropostale has joined
forces with technology platform provider Usablenet, a company that focuses on multi-channel
customer engagement, for a fully-integrated online store on Facebook.
Usabletnet’s technology platform is known for combining e-commerce and social media, and now it will extend full functionality
Facebook ecosystem, turning the retailer's fan page into a one-stop shop for all clothing
needs. The new store also allows
users to Like and share items and purchases with people in their networks and to instantly review products.
Usablenet has helped numerous organizations extend their brands and websites across multiple channels, including mobile phones and apps, tablets, Facebook, in-store kiosks and others. Among the company's distinguished clients are Macy's, Walgreens, Tesco, FedEx, Victoria's Secret and Coach.
With Aéropostale, however, Usablenet has helped the clothing retailer put its entire inventory up for purchase on the world's largest social network.
“Aéropostale has 5 million
Facebook fans that are engaged and connected to our brand,” says Scott
Birnbaum, Aéropostale's senior vice president of marketing and e-commerce. “The next logical
step is to give them the opportunity to shop while in this environment.”
Web.com (WWWW), a provider of online marketing services for small businesses, has bought Network Solutions, a top domain provider, for $560 million.
The deal offered Network Solutions $405 million in cash and 18 million shares of stock.
If the rumored price of what Go Daddy sold for is any indication ($2.25 billion), it seems that Web.com was on the better end of the bargaining for this deal.
As a result of Web.com’s new acquisition, trading shares have increased 24 percent, making the deal valued around $600 million.
Web.com’s domain growth continues with the attainment of Network Solutions, which is currently the fourth largest registrar. Web.com also already owns Registrar.com, which is the tenth largest registrar.
But although Web.com has gained more than 6,000 domains with the purchase of Network Solutions, Go Daddy still remains the largest domain provider with more than 30 percent of the domain market share and more than 40,000 domains.
The romantics among us are probably familiar with Teleflora,
the world’s leading online flower service that offers hand-arranged and
delivered bouquets by local florists. Of course, the beauty of online flower
shopping is that it is quick and convenient, requiring little work on the part
of the user to complete a transaction.
That is why it’s a pretty big deal that
they have just announced a partnership with Maxymiser, the global expert in
conversion rate optimization solutions.
Teleflora is looking to enhance the speed and performance of
their website through Maxymiser, which would help give them a considerable leg
up on their competition, like 1-800-Flowers.com. Maxymiser will assist the
online floral retailer by conducting testing and segmentation for their
Maxymiser, for its part, already has a pretty strong
foothold in the retail industry and boasts top-tier clients such as Sony, HP and TimeWarner. The company is
considered one of the global experts in conversion management solutions.
Through this deal, Teleflora plans to utilize Maxymiser’s
MaxTEST, which deals with A/B testing and multivariate testing solutions, as
well as MaxSEGMENT, which is all about behavioral targeting and segment
Teleflora was previously using Autonomy Optimost but made the
switch to Maxymiser based on two things. The first was the company's impressive
reputation in the retail industry, and the second was its OneTouch
integration platform and expert support system.
“Maxymiser’s track record of success and proven results,
specifically in retail, are impressive,” says Van Vuong, vice president of e-commerce for Teleflora. “Additionally, their OneTouch integration
process is unmatched in the marketplace, giving our team complete website
control by eliminating the need for our IT department to perform content
changes and testing. This will help make it easier for Teleflora to quickly
adapt our site to consumer preferences and seasonality, which are essential to
the success of our business.”
Democracy reigns supreme for companies that use social networking to market themselves and their products. A new study by Performics reveals that most users agree that the voicing of opinions on social networking sites can influence the business decisions of a company or brand.
Called S-Net, The Impact of Social Media, the study found that 52 percent of the respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed that voicing opinions on various brands, companies or products on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can influence business decisions.
Eighteen specific industries were included in the study, including apparel, appliances, automotive, education, electronics, entertainment, financial services, food, healthcare/pharma, household, magazines/newspapers, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, personal care, restaurants, sports, telecommunications and travel. Performics also discovered that educational institutions, sports and entertainment were the most discussed categories on social networking sites.
Below is a list of best practices for marketers looking to utilize social networks based on the results of the study:
Understand customer desire for brand interaction in the relevant category
The study revealed that 74 percent of people who purchase entertainment products will go back and discuss them on social networks. Hey, everybody’s a critic.
Create and adapt marketing strategies to cater to participation expectations and desires
Over half of the respondents (53 percent) admitted that they will follow travel companies or brands on social networking sites in order to get coupons or discounts. With the price of gas these days, who can blame them?
Allocate time and resources to the most relevant and appropriate social networks
Forty-two percent of those surveyed said that they will discuss automobiles on social networking sites as a way to compare prices.
Regularly monitor and measure social network activity
Thirty-two percent said that they have made a sports-related product purchase because of something they saw posted on a social network. In fact, I’ll even 'fess up to purchasing a Pittsburgh Steelers Snuggie while browsing Facebook.
Adjust strategies and tactics as necessary to optimize engagement
As with travel companies, electronics companies on social networking sites don’t have a lot of fans who like them based on personality alone. Forty-three percent of respondents said that they will follow electronics brands or companies on social networking sites for offers or chances to win points or online currency that they can redeem for products.
While social media can offer unlimited exposure and huge potential for Web marketers, there isn’t yet a perfect solution for analyzing and evaluating consumers' responses to the messages that businesses and brands are sending out. This study is a great start for those who want to get a solid, industry-specific look at how important social media interaction can be for their particular audience.
“Customers expect, and are already participating in a two-way dialogue,” says Daina Middleton, CEO of Performics. “It’s imperative for marketers to listen to customers and adopt strategies that engage them in every channel of their media mix – across all platforms, devices and screens.”
Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Web services division of the e-commerce juggernaut,
has dropped some big news about some new capabilities for customers that are designed to
help support the security, network management, dedicated connectivity and
identity management requirements that enterprises need when they install mission-critical
applications in the cloud.
One huge change taking place is the expansion of Amazon
Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) to all AWS regions. This will allow
enterprises to launch their Amazon VPC ecosystems around the world, including from the east and west coasts of the United States, Europe, Singapore and Tokyo, as well as the multiple AWS Availability
Zones within each region.
With Amazon VPC, businesses can now procure a private
section of AWS and then open their AWS resources in a virtual network that they
define and control. This includes selecting the IP address range, creating
subnets and configuring route tables and network gateways. Now, businesses
have an easy method of leveraging AWS while keeping the same security and
management controls already familiar to them.
AWS also announced AWS
Direct Connect, which will allow enterprises to bypass the Internet and deliver data to and
from AWS by using a private connection, which will help increase bandwidth
throughout, reduce networking latency and costs, and provide a more consistent networking
experience for when enterprises need to move data between AWS and their data
AWS Identity and Access Management (AWS IAM) also got an
overhaul, adding new functionality that enables “identity federation,” which is
the ability for enterprises to use their existing corporate identities to allow
users both secure and direct access to AWS resources without having to create a new AWS identity for them. Because of this, enterprises can
programmatically request the necessary security credentials that grant their
corporate identities access to AWS resources that are controlled by that
Both Amazon VPC and IAM can be accessed through the AWS
Management Console. Console support for AWS Direct Connect will come along
later this year.
Tracking an ad’s performance just became easier with the new Sites Report available in the new AdSense interface.
Manually created URLs won’t be necessary anymore to track your ads. Instead, a detailed report will show your ad’s effectiveness under the Performance Reports tab.
Performance data is tracked for content, mobile content, feeds and domain data. Another feature available is the multi-dimension reporting, which analyzes your site’s performance by topics such as ad type, targeting type and platform.
Data from dates prior to the release of the Sites Report will not be available. Visit AdSense Help for more information.
E-commerce technology company Shopatron recently released the results of its “2011 Retailer eCommerce Study,” which shows that retail-integrated e-commerce continues to grow in popularity and boost sales for both brands and retailers.
Shopatron is considered the world leader in retail-integrated e-commerce and uses a patent-pending solution that allows brands to sell online and pass those sales directly to their authorized retail partners for fulfillment.
The company’s survey was answered by almost 1000 of their retail partners and it gives some real insight into how the growing world of e-commerce affects a consumer brand’s online and in-store sales. Analysis of the study would seem to say that those branded manufacturers who are considering direct-to-consumer e-commerce may want to think again.
Let’s break the survey down by the numbers:
- 46% of retailers claimed that they buy more from brands that send them orders generated online. Meanwhile, 36% of retailers said that they actually sell more of a brand in-store when they are able to bump up stocking to fulfill those online orders. These results reveal a correlation between retail-integrated e-commerce and the impact that it has in how much brands sell, both online and through their retail partners.
- 52% of the surveyed retailers buy or consider buying brand that send them orders, which they receive through Shopatron’s retail-integrated system. This is important for brands looking to expand distribution, especially considering that a number of the retailers said they immediately place an opening order after a brand launches with Shopatron.
- 62% of the participants verified that the additional sales they make through retail-integrated e-commerce have impacted their profit. This many be the most telling, and important, data of all. It’s not a shock that 59% of the retailers said that Shopatron is either “important” or “very important” to their business.
- 64% of the dealers said that they would likely reduce how much they buy from brands who sell direct to consumers. This number is up 13 points from a similar survey conducted by the company in 2009. This shows how quickly retailers are adapting to the retail-integrated e-commerce format, as well as how enthusiastic they are about it. In addition, 10% of respondents said that they would completely stop buying from brands that sell direct.
Commission Junction UK has announced a partnership with 7 Billion People.
The partnership will allow Commission Junction UK to offer their clients 7 Billion People’s MarketMaestro software, which has provided clients conversion rate increases up to 50 percent.
The MarketMaestro software is designed to give e-commerce merchants insight into customer behavior. It displays buying behavior and recommends website changes such as modifying content, layout and design. The goal is to turn visitors into customers.
“In this challenging economic environment it is even more important for e-commerce retailers to maximize the opportunity to convert every customer they bring to their website,” says Daniel Powel, solutions and operations director for Commission Junction UK. “We are keen to provide our clients with the tools and capabilities that can help increase revenue, turning browsers into buyers.”
MarketMaestro is now available to all Commission Junction UK customers.
In a world that is slowly being taken over by DVR, the Nielson Company have found new ways to use their very select skills. Known for being the group who work on gathering television ratings, Nielson are branching out and teaming with social networking giant Facebook to offer a ratings service for their ad campaigns.
This new project will emphasize "gross ratings points," which muliply the reach of an ad by the frequency that the audience sees it. This new system will replace traditional online metrics that have been somewhat unreliable in the past, such as clickthrough rates or impressions, and will allow marketers to buy ads for Facebook in the same way they would buy ads for print, television, and other online sources.
Nielson's Online Campaign Ratings system was first announced last September and is now planning on beginning the service on August 15.
Though Facebook is probably a solid (and obvious) choice for a first data provider for the service, Nielson made sure to say that Online Campaign Ratings is not specific to a single site.
Currently, Facebook is set to take the number one spot in US display advertising revenues according to eMarketer.
Just a month ago, the social networking website began working with digital business analytics company comScore on a similar measurement system to track the reach and frequency of their display advertisements. That system also measures the efficiency of Facebook activity through gross ratings points.
Facebook is also developing Insights, yet another marketing tool that measures traffic and activity through gross ratings points.
These big changes in Facebook's advertising schemes could alter the way in which companies promote themselves on the site. At the very least, it could change the way they pay to do it.
Businesses are rushing to protect their identity from the new .XXX domain names that will be available soon.
According to Easyspace, one of the UK’s largest Web hosting companies, 8 out of 10 businesses that are pre-registering their interest in the triple X domain names are not part of the adult industry.
“As we expected, the early indications are that non-adult industry businesses have realized the need to protect trademarks and brands in dot XXX. As an officially accredited registrar of the new domain we are encouraging businesses to pre-register with us so we can submit their claims to ICM Registry quickly and efficiently,” says Sarah Haran, managing director of Easyspace.
The new domain name registration will take place in a series of controlled phases starting in September and running through December.
“To increase your chance of securing .XXX it’s important to pre-order your preferred domain before general availability begins,” says Haran.
Yesterday, the widget-based site creator announced Weebly Designer Platform, a white label content management system (CMS) that will combine everything from website design to hosting to client management into one centralized interface.
Designer Platform will be based on Weebly’ s easy to use drag-and-drop website builder interface and will provide designers with all of the tools they will need to create their site’s faster, manage more clients, and, not to be forgotten, make more money. Not only that, but it will help out clients by giving them the ability to easily update their own websites using a special portal that will be branded with the designer’s logo and colors.
Still, designers will have full control over their clients’ sites and permissions. They will also be able to authorize additional staff to speed up the development of the websites and to help support more clients, if needed.
Also a part of Weebly Designer Platform is an integrated solution that will not require clients to purchase hosting from any third party web hosts, because the hosting will be provided by Weebly’s data center redundant, cloud-based infrastructure that currently powers over 7 million websites. Thanks to this, designers will be able to generate additional revenue from clients through monthly recurring hosting fees.
Here are some of Weebly Designer Platform’s key features for those of us who like lists:
- Re-brandable CMS Portal – Web designers will now be able to manage all of their clients from a centralized interface, branded with their logo and colors, that gives them full control over each client and their permissions.
- Intuitive, Drag-and-Drop Website Builder – After selecting one of Weebly’s hundreds of potential themes, content can added to a page by simply dragging and dropping on things like text, pictures, or video. Designers can also manipulate the site’s theme with Weebly’s theme editor.
- Reliable Cloud Hosting – Weebly’s very strong, data center redundant infrastructure, which is already powering millions of websites all around the globe, will provide secure and dependable hosting.
- Easy Client Editing – Surely many designers dread handing over their creations to clients much the same way parents fear handing their 16-year-old the keys to the car, but with Designer Platform clients can log in to check stats and make changes to the site based on the permissions the designer sets.
- Website Previews Link – During the development of a site, designers are given a special preview link that they can share with their clients for free in order to gather feedback and collect payment before Weebly charges anything.
- New Revenue Opportunities – Since designers can now charge clients for hosting directly, they can also start to generate recurring monthly revenue that they would have normally paid out to a hosting company. And, since they can also start to build and manage sites faster and more efficiently, they’ll also be able to support an expanded base of clients. That should help bring in some cash.
- Affordable pricing - Website Designer Platform pricing plans begin at $7.95 a month per website. Building the site will be free and designers are only going to be charged when client sites are published live. Their plans are all in-line with standard hosting rates, but there are no upfront fees and designers are able to charge clients any monthly price that they want.
Publishing Your RSS Feed Internet Wide
So you’ve created an RSS feed and it contains current cutting edge information in your field of interest. Now how do you get the word out to other webmasters who might be interested in putting the content from your RSS feed on their site?
Just how easy, or hard, is it to publish your feed and have other webmasters pick it up and publish it on their site?
If you’ve created your feed and validated it then most of the hard work is complete. Now you’re going to get the word out about it being available.
* So what should be your first step?
I think I would first give the search engines the easiest path to find your feed and index it. To get the search engines to do this you should add this short piece of html code to between the tags on the webpage that has a link for your feed.
Be sure to replace http://www.yourdomain.com/rss.xml with the URL to the RSS feed.
Next, I would be sure to display the Feed on your website using a graphic. The basic RSS or XML graphic in bright orange rectangles, will lead people visually to the feed.
Here’s an RSS graphics tool that will allow you to customize a graphic for your site:
Now that you have it on your site I would begin submitting your feed to all of the RSS directories and search engines you can find. The last time I reviewed them there was well over a hundred (that I could find).
There is a large list of RSS directories located here: http://www.rss-specifications.com/rss-submission.htm
By submitting to directories and search engines you will be helping to increase the link popularity of your feed and your site.
You can also use email to promote your RSS Feed. Simply include the feed url in your sig file on all outgoing mail. If you have an ezine be sure to include it in each issue. I would also go so far as to provide a link to a either or both a desktop RSS reader and a website reader for those webmaster who may want to use your content on their site.
Another way to promote your feed is to include the feed on a personal my.yahoo or my.msn home page. This is probably the fastest way to have your feed spidered by Yahoo and MSN. If you don’t already have an account and a personal webpage go to each site and create one. After you have created your account add your RSS Feed. In Yahoo, go to your personal page click on Add Content, then add the URL of your blog RSS feed into the Find Content box.
A good point to keep in mind is to have content available in your feed before you add it to either of your personal webpages on the SE’s above.
To keep the search engine spiders coing back you can implement a simple strategy to let them know you have posted new material and it’s time to come back. This strategy is simply called ‘pinging’.
You can let the main RSS/blog directories know you have placed new material by “pinging” them. Now you could go to each of the directories individually or you could automatically ‘ping’ all of them at once by going to this site:http://www.pingomatic.com
You type in your rss/blog URL, Click Submit and Pingomatic will send your ping to all of the large directories available on its page. Doing this will bring the spiders back to your site almost immediately!
Be sure to add relevant content to your RsSS feed as often as you can as the more often you add new content the more likely you will be to develop more traffic.
Once you’ve started implementing these ideas and strategies you should be well on your way to getting more recognition for your RSS Feed.
Business advice start-up BestVendor released the data from a survey they implemented recently and it provides an interesting picture about the web tools that businesses are using.
Small businesses and start-ups can find it tricky to maneuver their way through the various Web-based tools available to them in areas like communication, productivity, finance, and IT. With new products constantly being launched in all of these areas, BestVendor wanted to aid these companies in their search through a seemingly endless amount of options to find those tools that will work best for them.
The survey was conducted by asking 550 start-up executives and managers (all of whom work in companies with 100 people or less) which tools they preferred for various business and business-related functions. Almost half (45 percent) of the respondents work in Tech companies. As BestVendor's own chart says, after compiling the data, "a few themes clearly emerge."
Google Apps, at only $5 a month, was considered one of the leading service providers when it comes to running a business.
More and more, small businesses seem to be moving away from on-premise software to on-demand Web applications that can be accessed directly from a browser.
Overall, the results weren't spectacularly alarming. Broken down by category, Google Apps was the most popular for company email, Quickbooks won out in accounting, Google Analytics was considered the best for Web analytics, Salesforce was the mostly highly accepted for customer relationship management, Adobe CSS was the best for website design, Dropbox triumphed in the storage/backup/virtualization category, and PayPal came out as the top tool for payment processing.
The chart also includes a few "hidden gems" to help the office run a bit more smoothly, such as IdeaPaint, HipChat, and Pandora or Turntable.
The study also breaks down some of the categories further. More detailed results from productivity, finance & accounting, development & IT, design, and Web operations can be found in BestVendor's offical chart below.
Foursquare pages can now be created by any brand, organization or publication.
Originally, a template was setup by Foursquare when Intel became the first organization with a page on the site in 2010, and approximately 3,000 organizations obtained a page after that and followed suit.
But now companies can create their own pages. Pages can gain followers, share tips, check-in and reach fans. Some brands that already have pages include MTV, the New York Times, NASA and Tiffany & Co.
Brands can market themselves with check-ins, which can be pushed into Facebook and Twitter (although, how often do most companies check-in anywhere?). Another desirable feature for bigger companies is the ability to make multiple people brand managers.
Once the page is created and some tips are added, the page is featured in Foursquare’s page gallery. Visit Foursquare to sign up for a page with your company’s Twitter account.
Google announced it has already attracted 25 million
visitors to Google+, which some reports say could make it the fastest growing social
networking service of all time. With this rapid growth in the social sector,
it’s hard to imagine that Google won’t soon combine the amazing success of its
latest initiative with that of the company’s first – the good old search engine
(and, of course, advertising).
The easiest way to leverage the sharing activity of millions
of users would be for Google to include “+1” data into its search algorithm
(the use of social signals already plays some role in determining search result
placements), and websites have been springing up like weeds offering services that
would allow users to buy +1s in bulk.
Not that this is anything especially new, as similar
opportunities have existed for some time now – with third-party sites offering
to sell Facebook Likes and Twitter Re-Tweets and followers, among other
These sites offer packages that range in price and scope, such
as being able to buy 50 +1s for $19.99, 250 for $69.99, or 2,000 for $359.99 (some
of the more brazen companies offer 1000 +1 clicks as their lowest package
and one site, Buy A Follower, offers up to
10,000 clicks). Most of the sites, like Google Plus 1 Supply,
also promise that they do not use bots, proxies or fake accounts, but have real people giving out real +1s for a fee, because apparently
that makes it more legitimate.
Of course, many of these groups appear to be aware of the
negative implications of buying +1s, especially when trying to influence Google
search results, a company that works hard to curb attempts to game the system.
Just look at the purchasing agreement at Purchase Plus One, which informs buyers
that they may get banned from Google. That’s why these sites
promise to slowly deliver all of the +1s over a period of time (usually 1-2
weeks) to more accurately reflect the realism of the +1 process.
The biggest concern is that these sites are clearly aware of
the negative ethical implications of buying fake fans and scamming Google. In
fact, one such site, Plussem, even has the phrase “cheat the
search algorithm” written out plainly in its product description. Nonetheless,
these service providers are becoming increasingly common, especially as Google+
continues to expand so rapidly.
As little more than a new way to spam the search engines,
paying for the attention of non-relevant, disinterested users to “like” or
“+1” Web content only succeeds in corrupting the social ecosystem. Besides,
what’s the point in spending hundreds of dollars to have someone follow you but
who will never actually pay attention to your message or buy your products?
In the end, not only could you potentially be banned from
Google for knowingly defrauding the system by pretending to have fans that
don’t exist, but you could also be really embarrassed. Just ask Newt Gingrich.
New software is now available to e-commerce merchants using the Magento Commerce and AspDotNetStorefront platforms.
After successfully completing a beta stage, Aten Software has released a product data feed submission that automatically submits product data to shopping search engines on a daily basis. The end result seeks to drive traffic and increase sales on a retailer’s website.
The software reads product data from merchants’ catalogs by using a product data export script that is copied to the store’s server. Then the script generates raw data that the system uses to create more than twenty different feed formats.
By submitting the feeds, online retailers are able to obtain free clicks from shopping engines that don’t charge for listings such as Google Product Search, TheFind, Bing Shopping and GoShopping. Cost-per-click (CPC) advertising can be done in other shopping channels such as NexTag, PriceGrabber/Yahoo Shopping, Shopping.com and Shopzilla.
There are also additional features from the feed service that may help with product listings, for example integrating with third-party analytic tools like Google Analytics.
The charge for the feed service is $21 per month for the first feed with an extra $12 per month fee for additional feeds. A feed is defined as one store and shopping engine combination, which includes unlimited products and submissions.
The “study” that claimed Internet Explorer users are not as intelligent as other browser users seems to have been a hoax.
The company that supposedly performed the study, AptiQuant most likely isn’t even real.
This conclusion came after the discovery that AptiQuant’s website hasn’t even been around for a month and is very similar to Central Test, a French psychometric testing company. The staff pictures on both sites are even the same, just with different names.
Central Test has released a statement saying they are aware of AptiQuant’s fraudulent activity and reserve the right to take legal action.
The hoax managed to fool many news organizations— including us, the BBC and CNN.
While the unknowns behind the scam are still at large, at least Internet Explorer users can hold their heads high again.
5 Useless Internet Marketing Tactics You Should Avoid
Knowing what doesn’t work can sometimes be more important that learning what does. Here are some things you should avoid when marketing your web site.
It’s easy to get confused with all of the various ways that you can be marketing your web site. Over the years I have tried just about every one and have learned some things along the way. Here’s some real time and money wasters that you can safely avoid doing.
1. SPAM Don’t waste your time on trash
You don’t like getting spam in your email do you? Neither does anyone else. Don’t send unsolicited commercial emails to try and promote your web site or product. (Out of all of the things listed here, I have never gone this route and won’t).
You risk getting your site shut down if your Internet Service Provider gets enough complaints. You can also be “blacklisted”. This means your email can be labelled as spam and be blocked by a lot of service providers.
Spam is stupid and a very poor decision for a business to make.
2. Free For All (FFA) Links
There are some sites which let anyone list a link to their own site. Sometimes you are required to put your own FFA link page up on your site. This tactic does not work. The only people reading FFA sites are other sites looking to post their own link. It is totally untargeted towards any potential customer.
Additionally, some search engines will penalise you for having FFA links on your site. They basically equate them as being garbage and not something a legitimate site would do. I can’t say I blame them.
3. Banner Ads
Once upon a time (in the late 1990’s) banner ads were very common and fairly effective. They don’t work very well at all anymore. I have read statistics that the click through rate is down to a mere percent of what they used to be.
You will have a much more effective chances of getting a visitor to your site by having a legitimate endorsement. You should also avoid having banner ads on your own site unless it is for your own products. Why on earth would you want to be sending people away from your site when you could be earning a higher profit if they stick around?
4. Classified Ads
Online newsletters commonly offer low priced classified ad spots. You can pay a few dollars and have your 4 to 5 line ad listed at the bottom of some newsletter when it gets sent out.
Generally these ads don’t work too well. I don’t read them. Do you?
5. Anything That’s Not A Solo or Top Sponsorship Ads
As a follow up to the classified ads, it is worth mentioning that not all ads are bad. You should try for a more prominent ad if you are going to go the newsletter route.
I recommend the Solo Ad or as second best, the Top Sponsorship Ad.
A solo ad is just that. Your ad is run all by itself. You have the reader’s full and undivided attention to your ad. The downside is that you will be paying top dollar so you want to track your results. If the ad was profitable, then keep running it until it is not anymore.
A top sponsorship ad is the very first ad in a newsletter. These can be pretty effective. They are a good alternative if you don’t want to take the plunge to buy a solo ad.
When it comes down to advertising in a newsletter I stick to either solo or top sponsorship. Otherwise I don’t even bother.
Knowing some of these tips can help you to avoid wasting your valuable time (and money) on ineffective marketing tactics.
by Jason Peck
Social media affects many aspects of business, including product development, customer service, sales and marketing, and for many businesses, the discussion is no longer whether or not to use social media. Instead, some people are wracking their brains to figure out how they can measure the effectiveness or their programs to see what’s working and what’s not working. Others have not been as focused on the measurement of their initiatives, because they have never had a formal strategy (including a specific budget) for social media.
If you’re using social media in your business, it’s likely requiring time, resources, and technology. You need to have overall business goals so you can use social media to support them, and you need to be measuring results. Since social media can have an impact on a variety of areas in your business, you should use a mix of social and non-social data to evaluate your progress. In your online marketing efforts, pay special attention to how your social media initiatives are affecting other programs, such as search marketing and email marketing. You should decide exactly what you want to measure based on your own goals, but here a few ideas.
You should definitely be tracking which conversions come from your social media marketing efforts. It’s possible to link social media initiatives to business outcomes and see which content/channels are influencing new leads, sales, subscribers, and donors. This involves using a social media analytics tool to group all content you’re creating into various campaigns (e.g., tweets with links to blog posts about green shirts, links to videos on your site about red shirts, etc.) to see if one type of content is driving more results than another type. This tool should let you see which conversions are attributable to social media, regardless of whether or not social is the last click.
If you do not properly tag and track links your posting to sites like Facebook and Twitter, a lot of the traffic from your social media campaigns will show up in your web analytics tool as “Direct” (since many people click links and view content from their mobile devices) and you won’t be able to properly see what’s going on and attribute conversions to social media.
You may also want to be tracking other sales-related data to see how it changes after implementing a social media initiative. The data can include number of items bought per customer, average order size, purchase frequency, customer retention, customer referrals, etc.
The real-time nature of social media has led many companies to provide customer service through social media to quickly help current and potential customers. If you’re going to engage with people and provide customer service through social media, you should be tracking your efforts. Look at the number and type of questions answered, and see how your efforts are affecting the number and type of questions your customer service reps are getting through the phone or through email. Providing customer service through social media may help you save money on phone-based customer service and it may help identify important questions that should be added to an FAQ section of your website or that require overall business process changes.
If you’ve built solid relationships with your audience on social media platforms, it’s easy to get ideas and opinions for new products – all you have to do is ask. Based on what it would cost to obtain ideas through a traditional focus group or survey, assign a value to new ideas and keep track of:
• number of new ideas shared
• number of people sharing ideas/opinions without being prompted
• number of people giving you feedback on ideas after you ask
• number of ideas that you’re developing
After sales, marketing is probably the reason you decided to try social media in the first place. From a marketing perspective, there are a few buckets and different social and non-social indicators to keep track of to see how your social media initiatives are affecting things over time. Some of these are hard to put a value on, so they can be used in conjunction with metrics that can be valued.
Here are a few things to track to see how social media is affecting your awareness:
• share of voice (number of conversations about your brand in relation to your competitors)
• website traffic and searches for brand terms
• number of views on your content
A good social media monitoring tool should be able to tell you the sentiment (positive, negative or neutral) around mentions about your company. Automated sentiment analysis is definitely not perfect, but it is helpful to use as a general indicator to see what people’s conversations reveal about how they perceive you, and how this changes over time based on your social media initiatives.
Engagement is the extent to which people interact with you and your content. Some signs of engagement include:
• likes and shares on specific Facebook posts and content
• blog comments
• @ replies on Twitter
Influence is the likelihood that what you’re doing inspires people to act. Some signals of influence include:
• number (and quality) of inbound links to your content
• average number of likes per Facebook post
• average number of retweets and/or @ mentions per Twitter post
• average number of like and shares per blog post
Reach is essentially the number of people who have the potential to see content that you’re creating and engage with you. Here are a few signals of reach to look at and see how your social media campaigns are affecting them:
• number of email subscribers
• number of likes on Facebook
• number of followers on Twitter
• number of subscribers on YouTube
These categories should give you some ideas for how you can measure the impact of your social media campaigns using social and non-social metrics.
If it sounds like a lot to keep up with, try to pick three to five key metrics that align with your overall business goals as a starting point. Make sure to begin tracking these metrics before you start a new program so you can understand how your numbers are changing over time.
About the author: Jason Peck is a social media manager at eWayDirect, where he helps clients implement successful community and social initiatives and manages eWayDirect's own content and engagement efforts.
It was recently announced that social networking leader Facebook has purchased Push Pop Press, a digital book software company founded by Mike Matas and Kimon Tsinteris, two veterans of Apple. Moreover, Matas is the primary designer of many of the key interfaces on the iPhone, iPad, and Macs that most people who use these devices interact with on a daily basis. Push Pop Press is most widely known for creating a highly interactive iOS version of Al Gore's book Our Choice.
Facebook did make a point to let people know that they don't plan on getting into the e-book publishing business. In stead, they purchased the company so that "some of the technology, ideas and inspiration behind Push Pop Press to
become part of how millions of people connect and share with each other
Push Pop Press is highly focused on interface design, which shows in their publication of Our Choice, which has a slick user interface similar to a Flipboard, as well as interactive infographics and animations.
And now Facebook owns all of that design and engineering talent, as well as the e-book publishing technology. Likely, much of this will be used in the social network's tablet apps, though other ways they may find to integrate it into their produts have yet to be seen. This is similar to many of Facebook's other acquisitions in that it was a way for them to grab up new talent and technology, such as their purchase of Hot Potato in 2010.
From here on out, Push Pop will no longer publish e-books, although Our Choice will continue to be sold.
It should be interesting to see how other major Internet players, and e-book publishers, such as Google and Amazon respond to this decision.
While the initial hype surrounding the purchase is just that, hype, the procurement of this new technology could vastly change the way that Facebook and its users operate. In time, it's not inconceivable to imagine those who use the social networking site to promote their products or services could soon be publishing online, interactive peridoicals for their fans to read.
That being said, businesses or companies using Facebook should be on the watch for the ways in which they can incorporate this technology into their Facebook pages.
Twenty-six percent of employers think that workers are less productive in the summer, according to a CareerBuilder survey.
A few reasons attributed to the loss in productivity include nicer weather, vacation-fever and kids being out of school.
But despite the less productive summers, 30 percent of employers think that workers are more productive since the recession began. According to employers, reasons for increased productivity include fear of job loss and downsized staffs.
A possible reason for the summertime decrease in productivity could have to do with the actual workload. Seventy-seven percent of employees said they were burned out at their jobs, while 43 percent said they were stressed out.
But when it comes down to it, summertime is no time to slack. This is a time when businesses can be focusing on big projects.
Here are a few projects to focus on: checking how your host is performing by load testing, accessing your advertising campaign’s effectiveness, retooling social profiles, conducting user experience surveys or training employees how to do new tasks like managing content production.
E-commerce is a rough game, and that is a lesson that the Chicago-based daily deals website Groupon is learning first hand. Over the last two days, they've seen two of their primary competitors in the daily deals business partner with Internet powerhouses Google and Amazon, respectively.
The first big bombshell dropped on August 1, when Google announced that they had acquired Dealmap, a site that compiles local offers and then displays them for users on a Google-powered map. It's safe to assume, then, that this agreement will lead to deals being blended with the traditional Google Maps site in the near future. As many have noted, Google have a number of location services at the moment, but none of them really sync up to create a cohesive experience for users. The acquisition of Dealmap should help to expand on Google Offers, the company's current daily deal site, as they continue to expand their mobile and social platforms.
Interestingly, just last year Groupon rejected a $6 billion acquisition deal from Google.
It is also important to note that Groupon offers are actually among the many deals displayed on Dealmap.
As if that wasn't enough, just one day later Amazon came out with an announcement about Amazon Local, their own venture into the world of daily deals. And to add insult to injury, Amazon Local's initial rollout will take place in Groupon's hometown of Chicago.
LivingSocial, Groupon's closest competitor, has signed on to be the sales force behind merchant partnerships with the service. Though Amazon plans to eventually hire its own sales force, at the beginning they will outsource sales to help quickly get the project off the ground.
In December 2010, Amazon invested $175 million into LivingSocial, so by enlisting them as its sales force, they will begin to see some of that investment come back to them.
While Groupon has thus far been successful in thwarting the attempts of smaller start ups like LivingSocial, Gilt City, and Zozi, they will likely have their hands full with the onslaught of these existing large companies with a huge Web presence. Companies like Google and Amazon (or AT&T and American Express, who also expressed interest in pursuing daily deals programs) will have to pay far less than start ups for user acquisition, as the users already exist; it just becomes a matter of extending an offers channel within the site's existing framework.
What does this mean for Groupon, or more importantly, for future retailers who use their service? Only time will really tell, but it's certainly something many people are going to want to keep an eye on in the near future.
Pros and Cons of Using RSS Feeds
If you are struggling with the decision of whether to implement RSS feeds or not, consider the following pros and cons for webmasters who use RSS feeds as part of their content and communication plan…
A) Benefits (Pros Of Using RSS)
The benefits for a webmaster who opts to implement RSS feeds on their website are numerous:
1. Saves Time
RSS feeds save time. RSS subscribers can quickly scan RSS feeds, without having to visit each and every website. Subscribers can then click on any items they are interested in, to get additional information.
RSS feeds are timely. RSS feeds will automatically update themselves any time new information is posted, so the information your subscribers receive via their RSS reader or news aggregator is timely.
3. Spam Free
RSS is free of spam. Subscribers don’t have to worry about wading through huge amounts of spam in an attempt to get to the information they are actually interested in.
The RSS subscriber chooses what they want to see, and what information they wish to receive. Knowing they have full control, and that they do not have to provide any personal information to subscribe, they will be more likely to opt-in.
5. Unsubscribing Is Easy
It is also easy to unsubscribe from an RSS feed. If they do not like information contained in an RSS feed, they can simply remove the RSS feed from their RSS reader or news aggregator in order to unsubscribe.
6. Alternate Communication Channel
RSS provides you with an alternate communication channel for your business. And the more channels you provide, the more opportunities you have to connect with your customers and potential customers.
7. Expands Audience Through Syndication
The very nature of RSS is that it is designed specifically for syndication (i.e. publication by others). And wide-spread syndication can expand a company’s reach and strengthen the company brand.
8. Can Increase Backlinks
When an RSS feed is syndicated, it can increase the number of links back to the original website. And additional incoming links will often help a website rank better in organic search rankings.
9. Increases Productivity
RSS increases productivity, allowing people to quickly scan new posts and headlines, and only clicking through and spending time on the items of interest.
Whether you decide to implement RSS feeds or not, your competitors likely will. So one way to remain competitive is to implement RSS feeds and other web 2.0 technology, and not allow your competition to get ahead of you.
B) Negatives (Cons Against Using RSS)
1. Not Widely Adopted Yet
Outside of technical circles, RSS has not yet been widely adopted. While it is becoming more and more popular, it is still far from being a mainstream technology.
2. Content Can Easily Be Copied
Content contained in an RSS feed can easily be copied and replicated, regardless of whether you want it to be or not. Few aggregators respect the copyrights of content contained in an RSS feed.
3. Tracking Subscribers Is Difficult
It is very difficult to accurately track the number of subscribers who read an RSS feed or the items contained in an RSS feed. This is due in part to the fact that at its heart, RSS is all about achieving the widest syndication possible.
4. Source Origination Difficult
It is sometimes difficult to discern the origin of an RSS feed item. When an item is syndicated, the source is not always indicated. The metrics available are not always reflective of the traffic received.
Weigh the pros and cons of implementing an RSS feed as a communication channel, and determine whether the benefits outweigh the risks in your own situation.
When it comes to lead generation in the education (college and university) space, few things matter more than the quality of leads. With commissions and referrals very substantial in the place, it is often a well-known haven for, well, less ethical marketers.
PerformLine, a provider of marketing compliance monitoring technologies, announced the launch of its PerformMatch™ Private Link Service (PLS) today which aims to tackle the complicated issue of marketing compliance and referring URL privacy in the education lead industry.
The system provides education marketers and lead buyers with automated referring URL compliance transparency. That is a complicated way of saying that the service evaluates each referring URL from affiliates and sub-affiliates against a PerformMatch rules set which identities misrepresentations as outlined by the Department of Education.
PerformMatch™ PLS also protects lead sellers (affiliates) and their proprietary and confidential marketing information, including the identities of sub-affiliates and the key word lists used in paid search that are used to drive traffic.
So how does it work? According to the announcement, “Evaluated referring URLs are assigned compliance scores with a corresponding violation summary and then reported back to the education institution or their partners in a unique and anonymous fashion. Compliance managers can then notify non-compliant affiliates of the necessary corrections that need to be made to their landing pages and/or creative.”
“PerformMatch™ PLS solves the friction in the marketplace caused by both maintaining the confidentiality of proprietary assets of the lead sellers as well as ensuring compliance for the lead buyers,” said Alex Baydin, founder and CEO of PerformLine. “We listened and solved the problem by creating the only independent verification solution that enables lead sellers to provide the compliance monitoring data that schools are demanding while still keeping their vast array of affiliate referring URLs concealed though the PerformMatch™ PLS service. It’s a win-win for all.”
Advertisers have long been puzzled by how to get rich people to respond to their work. Traditionally, the wealthiest American consumers, which usually means those who live in homes that bring in at least $100,000 in annual incomes, are the hardest group for marketers to reach through media like television or radio, but a recent study released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) shows that these consumers are flocking to embrace digital media, and the ads that come with it.
Attracting affluent consumers through online advertising is critical for two reasons. According to the survey, affluents currently comprise 21 percent of US households, but own 70 percent of all consumer wealth and spend 3.2 times more than other Americans on their purchases.
In addition, they are also far more technologically savvy than their counterparts. Currently, 98 percent of affluent customers use the Internet, while only 79 percent of the general population is online. Comparatively, affluents spend 26.2 hours on the Web, and only 17.6 watching television and just 7.5 listening to the radio. The general population, however, spend 34 hours watching television and 16 listening to the radio, while spending just 21.7 hours on the Internet. Affluent consumers are also twice as likely to own smartphones and nearly 80 percent of affluent Americans polled said that they have become "intertwined with technology" over the past decade.
"Affluents have long been one of the hardest to reach and most important
consumer groups," said Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President of Industry
Services, IAB. "They're now more important than ever – not only do they
control most consumer spending power, but they may be the key to leading
our economy out of the recession. And the new research shows that when
it comes to digital media, the old paradigm has been superseded: the
wealthiest Americans use digital media far more than their less affluent
The study in question, which was conducted for the IAB by Ipsos Medelsohn, who have been surveying the affluent market since 1977, found that not only does this affluent target group use the Internet more, but they are also more likely to recall ads that they see. They also tend to be more award of advertised brands, products, and services. In the survey, 88 percent of affluent customers recalled being exposed to at least one digital advertisement in the previous week, compared to just 84 percent of non-affluent users. Moreover, affluents could remember 21.1 ads on average, whereas non-affluents only recalled 20.2.
IAB also reported that affluent consumers were more likely to be aware of new products, companies, and websites after seeing digital ads for them.
Perhaps most importantly for advertisers, however, is that 59 percent of affluents in the study said that they took action based on a digital ad that they had seen over the past six months.
number doesn't differ significantly from other Internet users, it is of
great significance to advertisers seeking to reach this elusive, yet
important, market segment," said Mane. "The combined reach, exposure and
influence of digital as an ad vehicle to affluent households is simply
Affluents were also reported as being more likely than non-affluents to share information about themselves in order to "get a more customized online experience." What they really want, according to the study, is a customized experience that contains ads relevant to their current shopping interests, no matter where they are scouring the Internet.
“Affluent consumers have increasingly come to desire relevant and
customized experiences, in part because they are living
technology-infused lifestyles,” said Bob Shullman, President of Ipsos
Mendelsohn. “Virtually all the affluent are online. Their ownership of
tablets and e-readers has increased by 50 percent over the past six
months, and shows every indication of continued growth. They have come
to expect the benefits of digital media, even if it doesn’t alleviate
all work-life pressures.”
Armed with this new information, advertisers and businesses can now try to find new ways into the pocketbooks of America's most wealthy.
Banner ads never did receive much in the way of click-throughs and as such advertisers (and the publishers that support them) are on the look out for anything that might reverse the long and tedious slide of display into obscurity.
Advertising technology (media buying) company SiteScout is on the scene today, releasing a rather unique system to create dynamic display ads that are integrated with social media widgets out of the box. SiteScout’s AdBuilder aim to increase engagement, add “social proof” (social validation) to a campaign and leverage the inherent viral nature of social networks.
"We are extremely excited to be offering this new tool to our advertisers." says Paul Mokbel, SiteScout CEO, "We think that both brands and direct response marketers will get tremendous value from this new breed of ad."
SiteScout’s AdBuilder tool is available exclusively on its RTB (real-time bidding) platform.
Following on from a successful launch of SES in Asia last year in Hong Kong, SES is also heading to Singapore this year.
Taking place in the Grand Hyatt on 22 – 23 November 2011, SES Singapore will feature sessions covering PPC, SEO, keyword research, social media, local, mobile, link building, duplicate content, multiple site issues, video optimization and usability, plus networking events and more!
Registration is now open! Click here to find out more information…..we look forward to seeing you there!
A new report shows that local businesses are obtaining more non-locals than locals with their Facebook audience.
The Roost report showed that only 15 percent of local small business fans are from the same city as the business, which poses a problem since usually much of a small business’s target audience is local.
A solution to this problem was created by Roost with the Roost Scorecard, which determines how many fans of a business are from locals.
“With small businesses’ livelihood at stake when it comes to attracting local customers, we designed the Scorecard not only to evaluate a business’ local presence, but also to provide recommendations on how to improve their social marketing efforts in their local market,” said Alex Chang, CEO of Roost.
Other ways a small business can receive more local “likes” on Facebook include directly advertising to current customers, implementing promotions via social media and including a link to your Facebook page on your website and e-newsletters.
Getty Images has expanded its partnership with Flickr by launching Flickr Select.
Flickr Select is a curated, rights-managed collection that represents some of the most creative and dynamic professional photos from the Flickr Collection on the Getty Images website.
Flickr Select debuted with almost 6,000 images, and new pictures will be added on a monthly basis. The content within Flickr Select is chosen by Getty Images’ editors from images available on Flickr’s website.
Getty Images originally launched its partnership with Flickr in March 2009. As one of the biggest names in the photography business, images are sold all over the world by Getty Images for commercial and editorial use.
“What sets Flickr Select apart are one-of-a-kind pictures hand-picked by our editors and art directors that illustrate life as it’s being – real moments captured by everyday people,” says Andrew Delaney, head of content at Getty Images.
For more information or to purchase photos, view the Flickr collection at www.gettyimages.com/flickr.
Continuing their undying effort to take over the Internet, Google Chief-of-Staff Matt Waddell came out with a list of great new updates to the company's new social networking site, Google+. Here are a few of the most important new features.
- Mobile Circles: Users can now re-order their circles by simply dragging them to the left or right on the Circles page. Once done, they will stay in that order consistently all across Google+. There is also now an option to crew new circles in-line from the "Add to Circle" menu, which is also all across Google+.
- Huddle Up: Google+ will also provide more choices when it comes to group video chatting. Users can now choose who can start a huddle with them: anyone, their extended circles, or just their circles. This selection can be made by visiting "Google+ Settings" on the desktop or G+ settings on Android.
- Photo Feature: The names of photo albums can now be edited by users directly inside of Google+ by simply going to the "Photos" page, clicking "Your Albums," choosing an album, and clicking on its title.
And, as if that wasn't helpful enough, they've also added a "What's new in Google+" page that will keep track of new features and fixes that take place in the future.
Keeping up with these changes and features that are taking place with Google+ could prove to be very helpful for businesses and companies looking to join the new social networking site when that option becomes available to them in the future.
Most students won't see the inside of another classroom until the end of the month, if not later. But for online retailers, there are just a few days left before the peak of the back-to-school shopping rush is upon us.
That’s why WM felt that a crash course in the latest data and expectations for the 2011 season was necessary, helping merchants better target their audiences, price their products and fine-tune their promotions. Dozens of research firms and countless marketing analysts have been working hard to paint an accurate picture of what retailers can expect this year, and below we have shared the most valuable points of data from numerous comprehensive studies.
What to expect
This year’s consumers are still very budget-minded, as they have been the past four years, and a survey by the National Retail Federation reveals that shoppers will likely hold back on their spending on school supplies in 2011.
The study indicates a decrease of 0.5 percent in overall spending from 2010 – meaning that most families are expected to spend a little more than $600 on back-to-school supplies this year. Other studies have that number closer to $800, and one as low as $300, but the total spending is expected to surpass $68 billion – so the opportunity is there.
Online spending is expected to overtake brick-and-mortar spending this year, however, partly because of higher gas prices and the propensity for bargains on the Web. So get your promotions out now, and offer customers increased benefits for shopping online, i.e. coupons and discounts as well as free shipping and loyalty rewards.
When to act
Right now, if not yesterday. Thirty-five percent of respondents from the NPD Group’s annual back-to-school spending report are starting their shopping on August 1 – today – or have already begun. Sixty percent will begin their shopping before September 1, and a scant 5 percent will begin after September 1.
So, offer time-sensitive deals to every group – the early birds, the later shoppers and the procrastinators. Nothing makes consumers feel better than getting a great deal for having beaten the rush or having gotten in just in the nick of time.
Who to target
Every retailer knows that moms are the primary back-to-school shoppers, but a recent study has concluded that men will spend more than women on school supplies in 2011. The reason is two-fold, and it comes with a footnote for retailers.
Traditionally, men buy more technology items than women, which accounts for a high percentage of back-to-school spending. However, e-tailers should also know that women do more than 60 percent of the online searching for back-to-school items – excepting the computer and electronics category – and then send their spouses out to do a lot of the brick-and-mortar shopping. So, don’t forget to include dads as well as moms when targeting your back-to-school audience.
As for age demographics, the 35-49 group is more focused on clothing and apparel while the categories most popular with people under 25 are text books and college dorm room-related furnishings.
What you can do
According to the NPD survey, school supplies (77 percent) were the runaway winner over apparel (58 percent) and footwear (45 percent) for what this year’s shoppers will be purchasing. Following those were school bags (30 percent), electronics (27 percent), accessories (17 percent), beauty products (13 percent), bedding (10 percent), calculators (8 percent) and small appliances (5 percent).
More data from that survey tells us that 2011 back-to-school shoppers place value (82 percent) higher than anything else on their list, including if the item is required (45 percent), needs to be replaced (30 percent), if their child just wanted it (22 percent) or if it was just plain trendy (12 percent).
With August 1 the official start to the back-to-school season, here are a few more quick things to consider to make sure your Web business thrives during this peak time. Expand your keyword list to include every back-to-school product in your inventory and be sure to create relavent promotions and new advertisements specific to this fast-approaching season.
7 RSS Traffic Tips for Small Business Owners
If you have a blog, you have an updates feed, most likely in the flavor of RSS feed, but quite possible in Atom feed. This is the file that’s linked to the weird-looking orange button you see on many frequently updated websites, such as blogs. These tips apply to both types of feeds.
Your feed’s job is to talk to other machines about your site on your behalf. Those bot to bot conversations increase your traffic and help more people see your site, either directly through feed reader subscriptions and listings, or indirectly by helping your search rankings. Do at least these basics to take care of your feed.
1. No one loves RSS, okay? I never actually liked it much, but I always understood that it was necessary to grow my site. Stop trying to hug it, and start having a basic understanding of how it helps your business.
2. If you don’t have a site newsletter, you can use RSS to make your blog posts into email newsletters, then put the email subscription box at the top right of your site, or otherwise unobtrusively remind people to subscribe. Aweber will create both the newsletter and the web form for you automatically.
3. About once a week, make sure your feed is validating. Sometimes all it takes is a rarely used character in the title to break your feed. FeedValidator.org will help you with that for free.
4. Submit your feed to the top RSS search engines and directories. There aren’t hundreds of them as there once were, but for the good ones remaining, like Syndic8, the links can’t hurt you.
5. RSS is what helps your site speak to social media sites automatically, but what if you aren’t sure what is helping and how often? Try FeedBurner. It’s my opinion that the service has been on the decline since Google took it over a year ago, but before you judge by that, take into account the height it was at when the fall began.
It’s still does a pretty decent job of tracking your traffic, and there’s no need to direct ALL your traffic through FeedBurner if you don’t want to, just use it to track sites that you give permission to repurpose your feed, like Twitter and Facebook.
6. Google Reader. Yes, that’s the whole tip. Of the minority of people who use a Feed Reader to follow blogs rather than email, Google Reader is the top choice. Stick the button on your site, glance over your headlines in Google Reader now and again. Wouldn’t hurt you to share some items over there too.
7. Should you use full-feeds or partial-feeds? It’s a controversial issue. I won’t go into as much detail about how my private findings differ wildly from conventional wisdom, just suffice it to say this. My solution with new sites is to offer both, and let readers choose when they come to your site, and allow the short feed to be syndicated by anyone, with a link at the bottom of each short feed post letting readers know you offer full text as well.
Learning about RSS may not be as big a deal as it once was, but don’t forget that your site’s feed is instrumental in helping your site grow.
A study by eBridge Advertising showed that most small business owners aren’t sure of their advertising’s effectiveness.
The study surveyed over 13,000 small business owners, which were not clients of eBridge. The results showed that obstacles business owners face when advertising include profitability and documenting results. In fact, 63 percent of respondents claimed they don’t know how many customers $100 of advertising brings in.
Sixty-four percent said that receiving customer phone calls is their most important measure of advertising effectiveness, followed by walk-in customers (20 percent) and web visitors (16 percent). And 68 percent of the business owners surveyed said they face “very” or “extremely” competitive business competition in their particular space.
One conclusion drawn from the study is that performance-based advertising, which allows business owners to pay based on the effectiveness of their ads, poses the best option for businesses watching their advertising dollars.
“Performance Advertising is advertising that is measured by dollars per response; and closing the loop by tracking how many calls, walk ins, or website visits are required to actually produce a profitable customer,” says Dan Caulfield, managing partner of eBridge Advertising.
Most performance-based advertising is done online because it is easy to track results, but the Web provides many other options for affordable advertising such as link exchanges, social media and e-mail.
Link exchanges allow similar businesses to exchange text links and ads to increase traffic, while social media can allow a business to connect and build relationships with a large audience for free. Lastly, e-mailing promotions to customers can bring in sales and be easy to track.
Hopefully, you aren’t using Internet Explorer while reading this. If you are, it may be time for a change.
A new study from AptiQuant, a psychometric consulting company, suggests that users of Internet Explorer aren’t as intelligent as their peers that use other browsers. The study offered free online IQ tests to over 100,000 people and plotted the average IQ scores based on the browsers with which the tests were taken.
Internet Explorer users’ IQ scores were below the average while Chrome, Firefox and Safari scored a little better than average. Camino, Opera and IE with Chrome Frame had the highest IQ levels.
The study appears to indicate what many Web professionals already think – Internet Explorer is a pain to work with. For years, IE’s reputation with IT companies has been tagged with a lack of innovation and the most current Web standards, especially with older IE versions— which makes developers’ and designers' jobs all the more difficult.
It’s just one study, but with the increasing emphasis on website speed and usability, online businesses and professionals may want to rethink how much time they put into supporting older browsers.
Yahoo, Alibaba Group and SoftBank have reached an agreement in which Alibaba Group will continue to participate in Alipay’s future financial performance, including a future IPO or other liquidity event.
The agreement is consistent with the two agreed-upon principles established at the outset of the negotiations: to structure the inter-company relationship between Alipay and Taobao in order to preserve the value within Taobao and, by extension, within Alibaba Group; and provide that Alibaba Group is appropriately compensated for the value of Alipay.
The agreement establishes the following:
• The agreement preserves the existing relationship between Taobao and Alipay. Alipay will continue to provide payment processing services to Alibaba Group and its subsidiaries (including Taobao) on preferential terms.
• Alibaba Group will license to Alipay certain intellectual property and technology and provide certain software technology services to Alipay and its subsidiaries. Alipay will pay to Alibaba Group, prior to a liquidity event, a royalty and software technology services fee, which consists of an expense reimbursement and a 49.9% share of the consolidated pre-tax income of Alipay and its subsidiaries.
• Alibaba Group will receive no less than $2 billion and no more than $6 billion in proceeds from an IPO of Alipay or other liquidity event. The exact proceeds to Alibaba Group will be determined by multiplying the total equity value of Alipay by 37.5%, subject to the foregoing floor and ceiling amounts.
Alipay provides payment processing services to Alibaba Group and some affiliates, including Taobao, and to third parties. Taobao is China's largest online retail website.
Alibaba Group’s principal shareholders include Yahoo!, SoftBank and Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai. In May, Alipay obtained a license to operate in China from the People’s Bank of China following the restructuring of Alipay. The license will enable Alipay to continue serving Taobao and its other customers in China.
E-Commerce software provider ChannelAdvisor announced record global growth for the second quarter, topping first-quarter revenue and adding 320 new customers.
ChannelAdvisor also experienced significant growth in industry sectors such as apparel and automotive, sectors that grew at a rate of 35 percent year-over-year. The company was also recognized as the top vendor for the Marketplaces and Comparison Shopping Engine channels among the 500 largest Web merchants in North America based on annual web sales.
ChannelAdvisor was also listed by retailers as the second highest vendor for Paid Search and third highest for Rich Media. As retailers begin to prepare for the holiday season, they should stay tuned to ChannelAdvisor for an exciting new webinar series focused on holiday preparedness across all e-commerce channels. Watch here for forthcoming details.
ChannelAdvisor powers more than 3,000 retailers globally, including some of the largest, most successful brands such as Dell, Victoria’s Secret, Under Armour, Staples, Crocs, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Jos. A. Bank, Urban Outfitters and more.
As part of its continued global expansion, ChannelAdvisor is hiring around the world, offering dozens of open positions for sales, engineering and services personnel.
Tips For Launching A Successful Email Marketing Campaign
If you’ve ever considered launching an email marketing campaign, you probably very rapidly discovered that there are two main road-blocks between you and email marketing success. The first is the question of how to get your hands on an email subscriber list. And the second is once you have begun building your list, what should you send them? This article will focus on those two fundamental tasks of email marketing.
List-building is not as hard as you might imagine. All it really takes is the effort of asking people you are already coming into contact with to join your mailing list. You can do this in person if you run a restaurant, dealership, or other brick and mortar venue. At a retail store, the cash register is the best place to offer a free membership. If you are trying to convert your existing web traffic into email subscribers, you will want to create an attractive sign-up form and place it very prominently on your web site. You will also need to provide a good explanation of the value that people can expect to receive by being subscribes to your mailing list.
We all know that high quality content is not cheap. And when you’re dealing in email marketing, that is likely to be the primary expense related to your campaign. So you want to make that investment worthwhile by getting as many potential buyers as possible signed up for your mailing list. Take advantage of your existing web traffic by making your subscription form a central feature of your web site. It should almost always appear above the fold, and almost always on every page of your site. Keep in mind, email list subscribers convert much better than one-time web site visitors, so you should not be afraid to lose a sale or two in the short term in order to collect a large number of subscriptions that will become valued clients over the long term.
When you think about designing content for your email list, there is a very important question you should ask yourself: What will people in my target market be happy to receive? What value can I provide to them? Because the first task of an email list is to ingratiate you to your subscribers. If the list is ultimately going to convert into sales, then your subscribers must trust you and see you as someone who provides things that they value. Once you have developed the unique proposition for your mailing list, then you can begin developing content to fulfill that promise.
These two basic steps are all it really takes to build an effective list that you can continue to improve upon indefinitely. The list and the techniques that you use to market to the list will evolve over time along with your overall business strategy. But the long and the short of it is simply this: create a mailing list that offers a real value to your market, and then ask people to sign up for it. Everything else simply improves on this basic, winning formula.
Raven has added two new tools to its platform that aim to help Web marketers uncover SEO keywords and website pages that are performing well even if they’re not getting much attention.
The new Keyword Opportunities tool and Content Opportunities tool can simplify decision-making about keywords and content to promote for bloggers, SEOs, social media marketers, community and brand managers, content marketers — just about any Web professional.
Raven combined website analytics data from Google Analytics with a formula that gives preference to keywords and content that have little traffic but high engagement and/or conversion rates. The tools then sort the keywords and content accordingly, based on the formula’s perceived level of opportunity.
The new tools are part of a rapid expansion of the Raven platform and team. The company also recently released the free Schema Creator and announced that it had doubled its staff in less than one year.
Visit Raven Internet Marketing Tools to learn more.
Social media enables marketers to increase awareness, educate an audience, and eventually develop trust with fans and followers.
What can’t be done with social media?
The ultimate aim of participating for both brick and mortar and virtual (Web only) businesses, however, should be sales and conversions For success in that regard, the importance of having firm social media processes in place is vital.
The approach to social media participation differs for every company and every individual. Message tone and style are often best left to brand strategists, but it is the execution that obviously matters most. Different processes often lead to inconsistency – breeding distrust and perhaps even disloyalty – which is particularly harmful for brands both personal and professional.
To ensure your social media participation does not lead to a similar fate, consider implementing a social media posting schedule which covers how each day (or day of the week) should be used as it relates to sharing content and collaborating with those that support the brand. Let’s call it a social media posting timeframe. Heavy social media users can look at the timeframe as one day, whereas the timeframe for medium or light users of social media may be a week or even a month.
To that end, below you will find a social media posting schedule which could be employed by your social media team. While the volume, tone and style of posting will differ considerably between organizations, following along with these general tactical approaches will yield opportunities to influence the conversation and drive revenue through social media participation.
Most likely, you would not walk into a room and start demanding attention from everyone, and you should not do that within social media channels, either. Greeting an audience signifies your arrival, your presence and, more importantly, your availability. Conditioning social media workers – those posting and actually participating – to be sensitive to their roles in the existing conversations will go a long way toward establishing respect and credibility in the minds of consumers.
Once you’ve made the availability of the brand presence known, it is time to start listening to the conversations occurring within social media channels. What feedback have you received from fans and followers since your last social media engagement? What news or events are happening within your industry? Knowing this information will position you well in the next step of sharing content.
Once the listening phase has begun (it should technically never end), you can start sharing content. What content can be shared? Whatever you have available! From new product pages or microsites, to blog posts and formal announcements, anything can be shared as long as it is supportive of the brand's underlying objective. Aligning the content shared with the trends and topics currently circulating in social media channels, however, will aid in resonating the message.
Without actual relationships, the Internet really is just a series of tubes. It is the conversations occurring between brands and consumers that establish trust, loyalty, respect … and sales. Designating a period of the social media participation timeframe to engage in direct outreach will yield new followers and fans and broaden your membership base. The opportunities afforded to those with larger audiences can’t be underestimated.
All work and no play makes for a really lame social media profile. Sharing stories of staff members or loyal users, running contests, giveaways or surveys, are all ways to show the personal side of your organization and increase engagement with a business or brand in social media channels.
Realize that social media participation is never complete – it is an ongoing conversation which requires near-constant attention. Providing a strong finish to specific timeframes provides yet another opportunity to get in front of an audience, tout accomplishments (sharing content), make a few shout-outs (making firmer social connections) and deepening engagement by summarizing the events of the day.
In-text advertising provider Infolinks is introducing a new program called Tag Cloud.
Tag Cloud is a departure from traditional in-text advertising services and so could be financially appealing for affiliates. Infolinks publishers during testing saw a 20-percent increase in earnings after applying Tag Cloud to their websites. Not only was the increase instant according to testers, but also sustainable over the two month trial.
“Infolinks follows the notion that advertising works best by reaching out to webizens when they are most engaged, but without distracting them from the golden content of the page they are reading,” says Tomer Treves, the CMO of Infolinks.
Tag Cloud uses keywords, which are chosen by an Infolinks algorithm and ensures the highest paying ads appear. Publishers are paid per click, and when a tagged word is clicked the reader is taken to the landing page of that advertiser.
Tag Cloud is also customizable with four different color schemes: crystal, daylight, evening and seashore. The availability of color schemes allows for a more aesthetically appealing and cohesive site.
Sample of the InfoLinks Tag Cloud below:
Real-time software and e-commerce analytics provider LiveChat is integrating with Facebook’s massive, 750 million-plus user database in an effort to take online support to a whole new level.
By integrating Facebook Connect, LiveChat can present the name, picture and email address for each website visitor, along with any additional data made available from the visitor’s Facebook profile. Businesses can know exactly who their online visitors are and what their Likes are, turning these virtual interactions into deeper connections between seller and shopper.
Once a customer signs into LiveChat using their Facebook credentials, they will automatically be recognized by LiveChat on any other website that has the product installed. This creates a network effect and an additional value for merchants using the LiveChat platform.
E-commerce sites are able to tap into the vast amount of data in Facebook profiles to get to know their shoppers better and tailor the support, shopping and marketing processes to the unique interests and needs of each consumer. Below is an example from LiveChat of how the integration can work for retailers:
A high school football player named John is looking for a new pair of football shoes online. He’s undecided about which shoes to buy and an invitation to chat with a support representative pops up. With one click, John logs into LiveChat with his Facebook credentials. The operator he’s chatting with can instantly access John’s Facebook profile and learn that John plays as wide receiver for his high school team and that he’s a short, quick guy. The operator then makes a personalized suggestion for the best shoes for John, along with a discount offer on warm-up gear in John’s team colors.
LiveChat starts at $36 per month for a single agent, with discounts available for larger plans. Mobile applications including iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Windows 7 apps are free for active LiveChat customers.
E-commerce merchants have found an innovative way to build consumer confidence in augmented reality. While not nearly mainstream there are some interesting integrations happening right now.
Online jewewlry vendor Boutique Accessories just launched Virtual Mirror, an augmented reality application to let shoppers try on jewelry before they buy it. The application, created by AR developer Explore Engage, uses the customer’s webcam and lets them try on necklaces, bracelets and earrings through the website.
Although AR has not hit critical mass, many big companies are exploring its use including eBay which uses AR for a fashion and sunglasses app.
There is still a lot of room for growth with this technology, but it could be powerful technique for converting indecisive online shoppers. Some of the other companies we found that create augmented reality software include Zugara, Total Immersion and Metaio.
Boutique Accessories Virtual Mirror:
MailChimp has announced a new integration with the Drupal content management system that brings MailChimp’s feature set directly into the Drupal user interface. Drupal users can also now send emails using MailChimp’s Simple Transactional Solution (STS).
After install, there’s a MailChimp API key input, and the integration is ready to go. It supports an unlimited amount of mailing lists, anonymous user signup, increased subscription options (such as signup during site registration) and support for MailChimp’s STS that allows for sending and tracking email via Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) within Drupal.
MailChimp STS overlays MailChimp’s tracking and interface on Amazon’s SES, so users can benefit from Amazon’s reliable delivery and massive scale, all channeled through MailChimp’s interface. The front end is all MailChimp, the back end is a lot of Amazon, and users can do it all within Drupal.
The plugin also features a complete user interface overhaul that unclutters workspace and makes it easier to work with individual lists while managing the newly expanded list support. This module will continue to expand its features per user feedback, and complements the array of features offered by Drupal.
Drupal is a completely customizable and scalable CMS solution that stresses its constantly growing list of plugins and modules. The MailChimp platform provides email marketing and publishing features that are affordable enough for small businesses and powerful enough for larger companies.
By Roy Chomko, Adage Technologies
To say your business’s website is important is nothing new to most smart owners. But as technology increasingly allows potential customers to access your website on the go, your online presence is becoming increasingly essential to success. With the growth of smart phones and tablet PCs, consumers now have the ability to compare you and a competitor almost immediately. This means an engaging website is quickly becoming your most useful sales tool. Essentially, your website is your resume. And just like your resume, there are some key tips you should be aware of in order to stand out.
Just like potential employers, you have a short window of opportunity while your potential customers are looking at your web site. They will decide if they want to hear more about your business based on only a few pages of content. Today’s websites are more than just a place to list your business’ name and address. They need to interact with a customer before he or she even reaches out to you. They need to get you that lead, that interview. Here’s how to do just that:
• Send the right message: A good resume needs to show employers that you are the right fit for their company. A website must do the same thing, giving potential customers or clients confidence that your business can solve their problem. To make sure this happens, first take a step back and decide what your company messaging will be. Your logo, branding, content and design should all work together to create an impressive and engaging user experience.
• Stick to the point: Sometimes web designers get too caught up in extravagant design elements, causing your message to get lost in the noise. Be straightforward as to what you do and why you are the most qualified. Remember, it doesn’t matter if your website has the most entertaining features, only that your customer understands the message. Used correctly, cool features can be incorporated but you should weigh the value of doing so against getting to the point. Draw customers in but don’t overload them.
• Use a content management system (CMS): No one would ever write one resume and never make changes. So why do some businesses choose websites that can’t be upgraded or edited easily? Without a CMS, businesses are held hostage by developers charging for constant minor changes. Changes are at the mercy of others and can even add costs. With a proven CMS, managers themselves can make quick changes to consistently keep customers up to date as the market changes.
• Keep content current: Of course just because you have the ability to make changes, doesn’t always mean you will. It’s important, however, that you make periodic updates to your site. Not only does it give you a way to update your customers on recent happenings with your company and upcoming events, it also helps position yourself as an expert in the field. Features like blogs, articles or news sections spur a more casual conversation with customers, allowing you to consistently demonstrate your knowledge of the field.
• Provide easy navigation: Resumes are meant to highlight key points like your past experience, education and contact information. Employers should be able to find this information quickly and easily. The same goes for a website. Consistent navigation, naming, themes and colors help users understand where they are on your site and how they got there. Potential customers will want to find basic pages like “about us” or “contact us.” Make sure this type of information is up front. If it’s hidden on inside pages, customers will simply move on to someone else’s website.
• Be mobile friendly: This is a more recent initiative but one that is becoming increasingly important. With more and more customers able to check your website from a mobile device, you need to make sure your website can adapt. It only takes a few seconds for a potential customer to hear about your business, look up the website on their phone, see that it is not mobile compatible and move on. Converting to a mobile friendly site can be easy and cost-effective, so begin a conversation with a developer today.
Remember, like employers sifting through a stack of resumes, looking for a reason to eliminate a potential candidates, buyers are doing the same thing. Don’t let your dated and poorly structured web site be the reason the final decision maker decide to skip over your company.
Just like your resume, if your website isn’t doing its job, consider making some improvements. The tips above are a good start. It may only take a few small tweaks to change your website from a few boring pages to an engaging sales tool. Whether you are starting a brand new website or simply upgrading your current one, find an experience development partner to get you started on changes today.
About the Author: Roy Chomko co-founded Adage Technologies in 2001, combining a passion for technology and the desire to build a company focused on driving business value through the web. As President, Roy's energy and customer centric approach have helped to grow Adage to a well respected web and software development firm. Roy has over 20 years of experience in technology sales, consulting, and development. Prior to founding Adage, Roy was a principle of a Cisco VAR and a web development firm in the late 1990s. Roy has also held business development positions with Wolfram Research and GE Capital.
Landslide Technologies has announced a new three-tiered CRM service and pricing structure targeted toward small to medium-sized organizations.
The new structure is designed to make business-class, sales-focused CRM services accessible to a wider range of organizations, affording them the ability to choose the appropriate level of service for their business at a reasonable price. The new offerings are available in the following three packages.
The Silver level is designed for small installations of up to five users and includes Contact and Lead management tools, Outlook and Gmail integration, mobile access, and Web-to-lead form tools. The Gold level adds more sophisticated features such as added storage, an integrated email marketing tool and seamless integration with QuickBooks. The Platinum level adds even more storage and functionality with the addition of several powerful features including the iO Channel collaboration tool, a developer sandbox, scheduled imports, and advanced reporting.
Silver pricing starts at $29 per user per month while Gold is priced at $49 per user per month (with optional VIP Sales Assistant Support available for an added $10/user/mo). The Platinum level delivers the full suite of Landslide CRM services for $79 per user per month.
A new hosted service from Google will analyze the performance of your website’s pages and rewrite the code to make them load faster for users.
Page Speed Service fetches content from your servers, rewrites your pages by applying Web performance best practices and serves them to end users via Google’s servers. To what extent your website’s performance can be improved depends on a variety of factors such as the content on your pages, browser, geographic location of access, bandwidth, etc.
Google predicts that most pages will see increases of between 25 and 60 percent. Page Speed Service is currently being offered for free to a limited set of website owners. Visit the site to learn more and to gain early access to the service by filling out an application.
Eventually, says Google, the service will be open to the public and competitively priced, and those details will be forthcoming.
Have you ever had a domain stolen? While not all that common, it is for many domain name owners – both buyers and sellers – a serious problem in need of a solution.
New service DomainTheft.org, founded by domain name investor Morgan Linton, aims to curb domain theft, one of the Internet’s most serious cybercrimes.
DomainTheft.org is a centralized database of stolen domains which are verified by a proprietary algorithm called DTVS or the Domain Theft Verification System. DTVS does an initial check to ensure that the theft being committed is valid (by looking at when the last Whois change took place) and then sends it along to a member of DomainTheft.org’s task force for investigation. No thefts are added to the database as Verified Stolen unless they are verified manually by a member of the investigative task force.
Registrars and domain name marketplaces have tended to avoid the situation in the past and law enforcement has taken the same approach. Whether there is a valid need for such a service is anyone’s guess but even if it stops one crime from happening it will be worth it for some.
“If every marketplace checks our database before listing a domain for sale it will not only dramatically reduce the number of stolen domains, but also improve the chance of recovery,” says Linton.
Singlewire Software, a developer of voice applications used for mass notification (e.g. emergency communication) has released a virtual appliance for deploying the company’s InformaCast product in virtual server environments.
“We’ve seen a growing number of customers using virtual environments for their unified communications and other IT services,” states Jerry Steinhauer (CCIE #12504), Chief Technical Officer at Singlewire Software. “InformaCast Virtual Appliance gives organizations an easy way to deploy InformaCast.”
Making use of virtualized server environments continues to be popular among the IT set as operational costs are typically much lower and there are fewer ongoing maintenance tasks. Installation is also quite a bit easier.
The InformaCast Virtual Appliance can be installed by downloading a single file containing the application and an operating system. Engineers install and configure the virtual appliance in their virtual environment and InformaCast users can then access the application via a secure web portal in the same way they would if InformaCast were deployed on a physical server.
Google is aiming to make even more headway into the small business advertising market with the general release of Adwords Express.
Formerly known as Google Boost (introduced October 2010), the service – which enables advertisers to set up ad campaigns quickly) has expanded and is now available to all U.S. businesses – it was previously limited to small test group of advertisers.
Advertisers interested in AdWords Express will likely be those seeking new customers to their website or Places page but which don’t have much in the way of performance-based advertising experience. Businesses will provide some basic category information, create their ad and set a maximum monthly budget. Google will then recommend a budget to Adwords Express businesses based on ad competition.
While it is difficult to determine if there is a general need for Adwords Express, it’s obvious simplicity coupled with Google ability to whet the marketing appetite of the Web community will reserve the service a formal spot at the table.
There are many Web analytics platforms on the market today which often cater to very different business needs which can make it difficult to determine which solution is right for an enterprise. Some of the companies offering analytics solutions have spent decades researching and developing their applications and the result is a wide selection of very powerful services available for Web workers.
Opentracker for example, which specializes in custom tracking and website analytics for those interested in the more real-time nature of website traffic, released their OT Blaze platform which offers a faster and more flexible web traffic measurement solution for Web workers through a long list of features including the introduction of a developer API, jQuery, AJAX components and more. Perhaps the most important aspect of the release however is that the system now boasts capacity for infinite growth, dubbed 'scalable analytics'.
This new release also represents a transformation into a web application and DBaaS (Database as a Service) provider for OpenTracker. The company's next releases will be focusing on app tracking and scalable real-time web-based event logging. "We've taken the best new technologies available and rebuilt from the ground-up," said Eddie Moojen, CEO. "If you need to benefit from real-time analysis and api flexibility, we are your solution." The system release is available now to all Opentracker users at no additional cost.
We are just 2 weeks away from Connected Marketing Week! Check out the video below with our Keynote speaker, Susan Bratton, on what to expect in her opening keynote presentation!
7 Campaign Killing Affiliate Marketing Mistakes
Affiliate marketing is becoming more and more popular, especially with the current state of the economy. High unemployment rates have many people turning to the internet as a means of making ends meet.
It sounds great at first. You’re told all you have to do is start a free blog and write a few articles, and you can achieve wild riches. Many people buy into this myth, and are let down after weeks go by and they haven’t made a single dollar.
Believe it or not, more than ninety percent of internet entrepreneurs fold up shop within the first month. Once reality sets in, it’s easy to get discouraged. Affiliate marketing, like any other business, requires hard work and effort for success to become a reality.
In this article, we’re going to discuss seven of the worst mistakes that an affiliate marketer can make. If you can avoid these career killing pitfalls, you’ll have a good chance at becoming a successful affiliate marketer.
1. Using Free Services
The problem with many affiliate marketers is they don’t want to make an investment into their business. This is due in part to all of the tutorials available that instruct marketers to use free services. While there is nothing wrong with free services, the lack of imminent control over one’s content can be a problem. If the company providing the free service decided to delete your account, or went out of business, you could lose content that may have been making you some money.
2. Promoting The Wrong Product
Market research is especially important in affiliate marketing. Many affiliates promote products that have a very low demand, hence making it near impossible to succeed. Researching your chosen niche is crucial.
3. Promoting Too Many Products
It’s easy to lose focus. There are so many great products to promote that many affiliate marketers try to promote five or ten products at once. It’s not good to spread yourself so thin. Rather than promoting ten products and giving ten percent effort to each, it’s better to put one-hundred percent effort into promoting a single product.
4. Not Starting An Email List
Many affiliate marketers refuse to believe in the importance of email marketing. This is partly due to the wealth of information available about article marketing. Many are led to believe that article marketing is a miracle money maker. While it’s true that money can be made this way, it’s much better to establish a contact and build trust with a potential buyer through email.
Spam is a gray area when it comes to affiliate marketing. Basically, spamming is blatantly promoting your products or services to those who didn’t ask for information. The worst kind of spam is email spam. Many affiliate marketers engage in this without even knowing. Spamming is a surefire way to ruin your reputation as a marketer.
6. Not Writing Unique Content
Affiliate marketing requires a lot of writing. It usually comes in the form of sales copy, classified ads, and articles. Since outsourcing the work is costly, many affiliate marketers turn to what’s known as private label rights, or “PLR” articles. These are articles that have been written specifically for the use of others. The problem is that they have been sold to many people. This means that they are no longer unique. Most marketers rewrite the content before publishing, but the general idea of the article remains the same. Content is king on the internet, and those that write fresh, exciting content will always have a leg up on the competition.
7. Not Using The Products They Promote
A great way to promote affiliate marketing products is by writing reviews. However, many affiliate marketers review products that they don’t own. If written properly, this can be effective. For the most part, though, readers can tell if the reviewer has actually tried the product. It’s not a good idea to recommend a product to anyone that you don’t like and use. If you don’t purchase the product, you can’t honestly know if you like it. If the product isn’t quality, and you continue to recommend it, you’ll quickly lose customers and tarnish your reputation.
Affiliate marketing is hard work. However, you shouldn’t get discouraged. The best advice I could give you is to avoid making the above mistakes, and NEVER, EVER give up! Persistence and knowledge are the two most important tools you could possess if you want to be a successful affiliate marketer.