Archive | August, 2011

QR Codes: What They Are and How to Use Them

What’s a QR code?

A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a specific matrix barcode(or two-dimensional code) that is machine readable and designedto be read by smartphones. The code consists of black modulesarranged in a square pattern on a white background. Theinformation encoded may be text, a URL, or other data.

Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary DensoWave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types oftwo-dimensional barcodes. The QR code was designed to allow itscontents to be decoded at high speed. (Source: Wikipedia)

Basically, a QR code is a sophisticated bar code. So what makesQR codes different than the typical bar codes you see on foodproducts and other items?

Typical bar codes are linear one-dimensional codes and can onlyhold up to 20 numerical digits, whereas QR codes aretwo-dimensional (2D) matrix barcodes that can hold thousands ofalphanumeric characters of information. (Source: How QR CodesCan Grow Your Business [http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-qr-codes-can-grow-your-business/]).

In fact, it’s their ability to hold significantly moreinformation, as well as their user-friendliness which makesQR codes practical for individuals and businesses of all sizes.

QR codes can be scanned and read by camera-equippedsmartphones via software that’s already installed on yourphone, or with an application that you download such as i-nigma Reader(http://www.i-nigma.com/Downloadi-nigmaReader.html), which arecompatible with a wide variety of modern smartphones includingiPhone, Blackberry, Sony Ericsson, HTC, Motorola and Nokia. Thereaders/scanners give smartphone users the ability to read a QRcode without special equipment.

For example, you could walk into a store, use your smartphoneto scan an item that has a QR code on it, and have immediateaccess to the information.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention proprietarytechnology. These are closed-end solutions that are tiedto specific reader/scanner applications, limiting theirdistribution. For example, Microsoft Tags. Conversely, QR codes,which are an open-source technology, can be created and scannedusing a variety of mobile apps, giving you much greaterflexibility.

Popular for many years in Japan, in the last year or so,QR codes have started to gain traction in the U.S. In fact,according to a report by Mobio Identity Systems, QR code usageincreased by nearly 4600 percent from 2010 to 2011 in the U.S.That’s not just a huge jump, that’s a quantum leap!

Following are 10 ways you can use QR codes to promote yourbusiness:

  1. Increase Website Sales. Did you know QR codes can lead tospecific URL’s? You can create codes that are specific tocertain products on your site. For example, new or slow-movingproducts – or new product launches.
  2. Build Your E-mail Subscriber List. You can build your e-mailsubscriber list by creating a link to your e-mail signup form.Just make sure you give people a compelling reason to subscribeto your newsletter. Just like you don’t like having your timewasted on trivial pursuits, neither do others.
  3. Business Cards. Rather than overload your business card witha ton of information, you can just include the bare minimum,then create a QR code that leads people to your Twitter,Facebook, LinkedIn pages, etc.
  4. Contests, Discounts, Sweepstakes and Giveaways. These are agreat hook and can be very effective when used in conjunctionwith QR codes. For example, you can create promotions that arespecific to the QR codes. You can place these codes in youradvertisements or post them on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn,where they have the possibility of going viral.
  5. Direct Mail. I just read an article titled “Why There’s aDirect Mail QR Code Explosion Happening Now”(http://www.yaffetidbitsblog.com/advertising/) that says the U.S.Postal Service is basically paying advertisers to use QR codes.If you use direct mail to promote your business, you shoulddefinitely look into it.
    According to the article, now through the end of August, theUSPS is giving bulk mailers a discount on their postal rate ifthey include a visible QR code on their direct mail pieces.
    Obviously, there are some rules. For example, in order for themailer to get the postal discount, the codes have to be relevantto the DM piece and not just some random link in order for themailer to get the postal discount. It appears a lot of the bigdirect mail marketers are taking advantage of the discount.
  6. E-courses. Are you an expert at something? You can createa QR code that generates an e-mail that instructs yourautoresponder to automatically start sending daily, weekly ormonthly e-mails that contain course lessons and other pertinentinformation.
  7. Flyers. Yes, people still use flyers to promote theirbusiness. For example, suppose you own a restaurant. Youcould create a QR code that goes directly to a URL that givesa discount on a meal and directions to your restaurant.
  8. Scratch and Win Cards Promotion. Have you ever seen howexcited people get when they’re scratching one of those cards?Even if they don’t win, they’re excited by the mere possibility”they could win!” You could add to their excitement by makingthem scan the card to see if they’ve won.
  9. Free Downloads. If you use e-books or software to promoteyour business, you could use QR codes to distribute them. Whencustomers scan the code, give them a free e-book or softwaredownload. You could also offer customers the opportunity toreceive future specials if they signup for your newsletter.Now that’s incentive!
  10. Customer Service Help. You could use QR codes to givecustomers more information about your product or service.Create a QR code that leads to a FAQ page where customers canget answers to their questions via email or live chat. You canalso give customers a “heads up” on future products.

If you are interested in generating and distributing your ownQR code, you can do so at: http://qrcode.kaywa.com

How to Handle Social Media Trolls

One of the unfortunate side effects of social networking-media is
dealing with Internet hate trolls. These anonymous consumers seem to
exist just to spite you. They love stirring up trouble,
attacking your brand and lambasting your company on every forum,
blog and social network they can find. Maybe they are a former
customer with an axe to grind. Maybe they’re just looking to
pick a fight. Whatever the reason, almost every company is going
to have to handle a social media troll at some point.

Here are 5 ways to help you better manage the social networking

Social Media trolls:

1. Establish Ground Rules

You want to make sure that the troll doesn’t make your company
end up looking like the bad guy. Before trolls become an issue,
establish a set of ground rules for commenting on your social
profiles. Let you audience know what kind of behavior will and
will not be allowed. If a troll posts something offensive or
abusive on your Facebook wall and you decide to delete it, let
your network know that it’s because you won’t tolerate that
kind of belligerent attitude, not because they don’t like your
company. Just make sure you play by your own rules!

2. Don’t Try to “Disappear” Them

If someone leaves a comment on your Facebook wall that you
don’t like, you have the ability as the page owner to delete
that comment. Seems like the best way of dealing with a troll,
right? Not necessarily. Trying to just “delete” your trolls
and their comments might come across like you have something to
hide or are trying to drown our dissenting opinions. It may
cause your real social network to question your integrity. If
things get really heated, find a way to take the conversation
off of your social profile without just deleting it entirely.

3. Kill Them With Kindness

It almost never pays to get into a spitting match with a social
troll. They don’t have anything to risk by getting involved in
an online feud; you do. Your brand and online reputation are up
for grabs when you start fighting with a troll on a social
networking site. You may not like what they have to say, but
don’t get angry and use social media to vent. The person who is
handling your social media marketing cannot afford to take it
personally! The troll isn’t attacking one particular employee;
they are going after your brand. As long as you stay polite and
courteous, your company will come out on top.

4. Reach Out for Support

If you’ve taken the time to do your social media marketing
right, you’ve probably built up a strong and solid network of
brand loyalists. If one troll seems intent on picking a fight,
have your social network come to your defense. Ask your Friends,
Fans and Followers to post/Tweet/blog or share their opinions of
your company. Chances are your social network is more than
willing to police itself. Users are smart, and they can tell
when someone is trying to cause trouble for no reason. Having
that much support shows the trolls that they are facing a much
bigger fight then they thought.

5. Actually Listen

This might sound a little crazy, but you do have to pay
attention to what the trolls are saying. They might not be the
only ones who feel so negatively about your brand, even if they
are taking it to an extreme level. Let’s say you have 1,000
Facebook fans, but only 200 have commented on your Facebook
page. Those 200 comments may or may not represent majority
opinion. Sure, you have to take the comments of a social troll
with a grain of salt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn
something about your audience at large if you dig deeper.
Sometimes a troll is nothing more than a very upset customer.
You want to make sure there aren’t other customers this upset
with your brand. Once you understand the problem, you can
address and fix it.

Sooner or later, just about every company will have to deal with
a social troll. It isn’t worth the risk of damage to your brand
to get involved in a public fight with one of them. Remember to
take the high road and your online reputation won’t suffer
because of it.

www.twmg.com.au

How to Sell Wine Online

How a Small Wine Retailer Can Turn a Quiet Main St Wine Store Into a Flourishing Internet Success

How a Small Wine Retailer can Turn a Quiet Main St Wine Store into a Flourishing Internet Success

How to Sell Wine Online

In this book you’ll find out how to get more customers, share your enthusiasm for wine, and make better profits by also selling wine online.

 

I’ll show you all about selling wine online by:

  • Generating Traffic to your website using Google
  • Converting that traffic into sales through fine-tuned content and a positive user shopping experience
  • Utilizing social media to effectively Engage with new and existing customers on yourblogfacebook, and twitter
  • Turning your small store disadvantage into a powerful local internet advantage
  • riding the coming wave of mobile websites, apps, advertising and location based services like foursquare and yelp
  • analyzing your wine retail eCommerce software options
  • ‘finally’ turning one-off orders into Repeat loyal customers
  • and last but not least sharing your enthusiasm for wine and really enjoying your business

Application Apps Development

1. Swype – Technically, this isn’t a business app, but if you frequently enter text on your Android, you’ll quickly consider it essential. One of the big drawbacks of smartphones as a computing platform is entering data. Typing on those cramped touch screens is cumbersome and inaccurate. Personally, I’ll wait until I’m near a PC to email people who’ve texted me because the clumsy typing turns what should be a thirty-second text into the Bataan Death March.

That changed when I discovered Swype. Preloaded on many Motorola and Samsung smartphones, Swype simplifies text entry by transforming hunting and pecking into a fluid — as the name implies — swipe.

Swype was created by Cliff Kushler, co-inventor of the T9 predictive text technology, which is currently used on over four billion mobile phones worldwide. With Swype you drag your finger along the keyboard, pausing at each letter. Using a database of over 65,000 of the most frequently used words, Swype predicts the words you are spelling out. During my testing, I’ve found Swype to be incredibly accurate.

It also has an adaptive function that allows it to learn new words, phrases, phone numbers and data unique to each user. According to Swype, a typical user can expect to type at somewhere between 30 and 40 words per minute using Swype. If you’re a plodding hunt-and-peck typist, your speed might actually go up on the handset.

Cost: Unfortunately, you can’t buy it, since Swype focuses on the OEM market. However, you can pester your carrier to add it to their lineup of phones. And as Swype tests new handsets, they do occasionally offer a limited number of beta accounts.

2. DroidSecurity antivirus – The first known SMS Trojan to specifically target the Android showed up this month, according to Kaspersky Lab. Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.a is disguised as a harmless media player application. Once installed Trojan-SMS begins sending SMSes to premium rate numbers, which, obviously, are controlled by cyber criminals. This is just the first strong wind warning of a coming smartphone-malware hurricane.

DroidSecurity claims to be the No.1 antivirus provider for Android. With over 2.5 million downloads, DroidSecurity believes that more than 10% of all Android phones currently use DroidSecurity.

Cost: Free

3. Google Voice – Several readers sent me pitches about various VoIP services for Android. A representative example is Phone.com’s Mobile Office, which lets you use your business phone number from your smartphone. The problem with these apps on the Android is that they have to compete with Google Voice, which offers number consolidation, text notification, voicemail transcriptions and several other features. It’s also free, with most other smartphone VoIP apps being of the SaaS variety.

The only drawbacks of Google Voice are that the transcriptions are iffy at best and numbers aren’t available for all area codes. Of course, you also can’t use your office phone number as a display number over Google Voice, but that’s not much of any issue for most people.

Cost: Free

4. DocuSign v9 – DocuSign recently extended its SaaS-based e-signature service to Android- and Microsoft Mobile-based handsets. DocuSign for Mobile gives business professionals an electronic, smartphone-based platform to share documents, contracts and other forms through smartphones and other non-PC devices.

“The alternative would be waiting by a fax machine or printing a form, signing it and faxing it or shipping it back. Instead contracts, sales deals, etc. can be signed legally in minutes. This allows business professionals to close deals faster,” said Tom Gonser, DocuSign’s founder.

Users are able to collaborate and make changes back and forth with others throughout the contracting process. All changes to the contract can be tracked and are backed by a court-admissible audit trail.

Cost: Pricing starts at $19.99 per user, per month.

5. Android Stumbler – This is a smartphone version of Meraki’s popular browser-based WiFi survey tool, WiFi Stumbler. Launched a few days ago, Android Stumbler helps network admins plan, deploy and troubleshoot wireless deployments.

This app ports WiFi Stumbler’s functionality to mobile devices — much easier than toting laptops around the building — enabling users to conduct site surveys and track down rogue APs. Features include a per-channel graph of all APs, an SSID view with AP details and a signal strength graph. Reports can be generated and emailed quickly from the UI.

Cost: Free

6. JuiceDefender – It doesn’t take much usage to realize that one of a smartphone’s main limitations is the battery. This is one major advantage of Android vs. iPhone: a removable, swappable battery. Better still is that you can download an app like JuiceDefender to preserve your battery’s charge when the phone is idle. According to developer Latedroid, the app “intelligently and transparently manages for you mobile connectivity and other battery-sensitive components.”

Other power-saving features include switching away from 3G to 2G networks when the phone is not in use, turning off WiFi if the battery charge dips below 20 percent, disabling data services during predetermined times (such as at night) and limiting CPU consumption when the phone is idle.

Cost: Free for the basic version, $3.50 for UltimateJuice.

7. DejaOffice – While Google’s pre-loaded productivity apps are a good start, they lack some of the business features of full-blown productivity suites like Microsoft Office. For instance, the calendar doesn’t have all of the fancy color-coding (to indicate birthdays, travel, conference calls, etc.) and it’s not, ironically, all that easy to search. DejaOffice seeks to remedy this by mimicking Microsoft Office features on the smartphone. Contacts can be sorted into custom groups, tasks are available that can be prioritized and the calendar is more easily customized.

Aping Office on the Android is one thing (and a good one) but the real value comes from smartphone-specific features. For instance, DejaOffice’s calendar lets you tap the name in an appointment to either call that person or search for directions. Other mobile-specific features include the ability to password-protect phone records (they should call this the Tiger Woods app), Outlook synching and, coming soon, automatic synching when a WiFi connection is available.

Cost: The free version is ad-supported; you can disable ads with a one-time payment of $9.95.

8. Tasker – C. Scyphers, chief technical architect for Daemon Consulting, emailed me to recommend this app, which supports batch coding based on events.

“Tasker can be used to replicate the BlackBerry profile mechanism, as well as other scripting. For example, I created a script that will turn GPS on for location sensitive apps (FourSquare, Google Maps) and then off once the app exits. Obviously, this involves a bit of programming, so this may not be for everyone,” Scyphers said.

Cost: $6

9. Handy Safe Pro – This app is a data management application that stores all your important personal information — passwords, credit card information, user names, PINs, addresses, software keys, etc. — in one place on your Android. For business use, Handy Safe Pro helps you comply with your organization’s security best practices. It also lets you use corporate credit accounts without having to have physical access to the corporate card, thereby allowing more than one authorized company officer to use the card while the card itself is stored securely in one place.

The app features 128-bit Blowfish encryption to boost security, and it lets you create encrypted backups to restore your private data in the event of hardware or software problems. If you have the desktop version of Handy Safe, the two databases can be synched easily via USB.

Cost: $9.95

10. White Noise – Okay, I’m not sure that this is technically a business app, but it’s oddly compelling and could come in handy for business travelers. White Noise, as the name implies, creates background noise to keep you from going batty in noisy environments like airplanes and central-city hotels.

“A lot of people use White Noise machines, but they are bulky to carry around. Some people try to use MP3 players, but it is impossible to loop MP3 files without hearing a silence gap,” said Todd Moore, President of TMSOFT, which developed White Noise.

White Noise for Android provides 40 ambient sounds, including ocean waves, rain storms, and flowing stream water. If all of those environmental sounds irk your urban soul, you can opt for (I am not making this up) the sounds of air conditioners, clothes dryers, vacuums or even street noise.

Cost: Full version with 40 sounds, $1.99; Lite version with 10 sounds, free.

Social Media Monitoring Most Used for Communications Strategy

Actionable Uses of Social Media Data

Actionable Uses of Social Media Data

The largest percentage (almost 30%) of senior marketing executives engaging in social media monitoring (ranging from automated search engine alerts to specific data queries and third-party research) make it actionable through their communications strategy, according to [download page] a survey conducted in May and June of 2011 by WebLiquid and RSW/US. Results from “Marketers and Social Media Monitoring Survey” indicate no other means of making social media monitoring actionable compares in popularity, with customer service enhancements following at close to 20% (more than one answer allowed).

Other relatively popular answers include media planning (almost 15%) and organic search optimization (more than 10%).

Google Alerts Leading Tool

Social Media Monitor

Social Media Monitor

Google Alerts is the most popular social media monitoring tool among survey respondents (more than one answer allowed), with slightly more than 45% usage. This makes Google Alerts almost eight times as popular as its closest specific competitor, Radian6, with slightly more than 5% usage.

It is interesting to observe that both not monitoring social media (more than 20%) and other (almost 15%) are both roughly two to three times as popular as the second-most-popular specific tool for social media monitoring.

Brand Awareness Primary Objective

When asked to name their primary marketing objective, about 35% of respondents said building brand awareness, a few percentage points higher than runner up customer interaction/engagement. Other relatively popular responses included lead acquisition (more than 15%) and driving e-commerce sales (almost 10%).

Other Findings

  • 74% of senior marketing executives are actively monitoring social media.
  • More than nine in 10 senior marketing executives are aware of social media monitoring, with about five in 10 somewhat aware and four in 10 very aware.
  • Marketers who pay for social media monitoring tools are twice as likely as those who use free tools to find them extremely valuable, while hardly any marketers find their tools to have little to no value whether paid or free.
  • 62% of marketers plan to increase social media monitoring investments in the coming year, 37% plan to keep them the same, only 1% plan to decrease them.

Adobe: More than Half of Marketers Measure SocNet Traffic Volume

More than half (54%) of North American marketers measure the traffic volume generated by social media, according to the Q2 2011 Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing from Adobe and Econsultancy. A similar 53% also measure engagement with their Facebook brand page and Twitter accounts.

Google Says War on Spam Ranks First

Google principal engineer Matt Cutts response to recent complaints from users about the increasing prevalence of spam in search results.

The war on webspam, Cutts writes, is being waged as intensely as ever, in fact saying that Google’s search quality is presently “better than it has ever been in terms of relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness.”

The post goes on to say, however, that while “pure webspam” has decreased in recent years, users’ expectations of Google search results have increased. “People are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content,” he writes.

Content farms pose a relatively new kind of problem, says Cutts, because they can clutter search results with a shallow brand of content without falling into the category of traditional spam of years past.

Nevertheless, Google is as committed to the fight as ever and is “evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower,” Cutts wrote.

To add some clarification, he reminded users of the following principles of Google search results:

•    Google absolutely takes action on sites that violate our quality guidelines regardless of whether they have ads powered by Google
•    Displaying Google ads does not help a site’s rankings in Google
•    Buying Google ads does not increase a site’s rankings in Google’s search results.

The ABC’s of SEO

For many, search engines have come to be the primary source of finding information about both the online and offline world. Google alone claims a rate of one billion searches per day. Simply put, search engines are a part of our daily lives. As such, optimizing your website to reach Web searchers is now a vital part online success.

As a website owner, you should proud of what you’ve created — or paid for. Your site looks great, it’s easy to navigate, user-friendly and loaded with great content. But what good is it if nobody can find you?

SEO is about removing barriers between the search engines and your content. To do this effectively you must concentrate primarily on your website’s accessibility and content while making an outright commitment to its long-term success. It involves a philosophical shift from the mindset of immediate gratification to a focus on long-term sustainability. You must demonstrate to the search engines that your site content is the most relevant and important to a searcher’s needs. But don’t worry — SEO is not as hard as many would have you believe, and the rewards are immense.

Accessibility: Well-Designed & Thoughtful

There is plenty that goes into the concept of accessibility when it comes to SEO. Great websites feature well-designed and thoughtful arrangements of page components for users while making those same components accessible to search engines. Websites with dated design methods and not employing even the most basic SEO techniques will be relegated to no man’s land — never to be found, much less appreciated by a casual surfer or active consumer.

CSS & Table-less Design
During the long reign of Web 1.0, many designers used graphical tools to create table-based templates. But now we’re firmly entrenched in the Web 2.0 era. Designers are increasingly adopting cascading style sheets (CSS — now in its third iteration) for table-less design. CSS allows far less code to be used, creating a higher content-to-code ratio. Search engines typically use a top-down logic in determining the nature of website content — therefore, by using CSS, webmasters can clean up their code and arrange content at a higher (more accessible) portion of the page.

The end result is that search spiders are able to get through your site quickly, and easily differentiate content from code. Your site is indexed accurately and users get a better representation of site content from search results.

Sitemaps
Sitemaps are XML files that list the URLs (Web pages) residing on a domain to provide search engines with easy access to a website’s entire content. XML files also provide additional metadata about the frequency of change, a page’s importance as compared to other pages on the site and when they were last updated. For search engines, in many respects accessibility means “attainability.” Providing these easy-toread and indexable guidelines for search engines ensures your site will be crawled thoroughly and accurately. A uniform standard for
sitemaps has been created (check out sitemaps.org) and is supported by the three major search engines; Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Metadata — Titles, Descriptions & So Much More
Metadata, in the case of websites, is simply information about a specific page — mainly the title, descriptions and defined keywords, although abstracts and site information can also be included. Some search engines factor in various sections of metadata included on a page to determine that page’s relevancy to a search term or phrase. It’s important to keep in mind that metadata serves two purposes — obviously to rank higher (by telling the search engines what your page is about) but also to tell users what they will find at the page they are about to click through to from the search engine results pages (SERPs). When existent or relevant, this data is sometimes what a user sees below each search result listing.

This means that when formulating titles and descriptions for each unique page of your site, it’s important to give equal attention to the density of keywords and phrases as well as how you formulate your text for maximum readability — the user should get a clear description of the page that includes keywords for which they were searching. Best practice has shown that a roughly 75-character title and a description of approximately 170 characters work best.

Shows & Tells — H1, H2 and H3 tags
SEO professionals are known to explore every possible opportunity to get better rankings. Header tags (H1, H2, or H3) appear at several spots on a page, breaking up content and making it easier to read, while also providing clues to search engines about that page’s structure and content. While the degree that header tags play in getting listed higher on search engines is debated, they do provide the ability to create well-formed documents that are both meaningful to search engines and visitors to your site. Header tags provide site optimizers with a place to include descriptive, keyword-rich content and indicate to both parties (search engines and users) the importance of a page section. It’s a good idea to take a little time and include some header tags in your pages.

Breadth of Content

You probably read it all the time, but you’re about to read it again. Content is king. And the presence of quality content or lack thereof will greatly impact any SEO effort. The breadth of content or scope of topics that SEO practitioners consider including on a site is important as it gives search engines the sense that you are as much a destination for information as you are an enterprise trying to sell something. There is a great deal of value assigned to information hubs and not just by search engines — when users like a site and the information it provides they are more willing to share it with others. And that is where the link juice lives.

CMS, Blogs and Forums
Those responsible for SEO as well as site designers and developers have an important consideration to make about how to present content. Content management systems (CMS) can make administering content much easier and are, for many websites, the de facto standard in how users interact with their company and brand online. There is plenty of valuable information in your user forums and blogs — from what you produce to what is penned by your audience. Typically these areas are up-to-date and loaded with relevant information about both your products and industry news. But the manner in which your content is presented is critical. Some forums and blogs are presented in applications like AJAX or JavaScript that, many times, are unable to be indexed by search engines.

Product and Consumer Reviews
One way to build a content site is to publish reviews of products, even if your site sells someone else’s materials. Providing both your own informative review and insightful reviews by other consumers will quickly enable you to add valuable, often keyword-rich content that again is valuable to both of your audiences — search engines and users.

However, don’t take the easy way out by copying and pasting reviews or descriptions from another site. Aside from copyright infringement risks, this can result in duplicate content issues. Plus, creating original content will add value to your site. If a searcher queries a product and finds the same review on 10 different pages, but yours is different, the added value will bring that individual back for further reviews. Not only that, but the search engines will give your review priority over the other sites all using the same material.

Focus Pages (About, Contact, FAQ)

Many site optimizers find that users typically navigate to pages providing information and greater focus on the company behind the website during their initial site visit. Pages that reveal guidance about a company’s mission and objectives often rank highly, as search engines consider that important, relevant information for visitors. But the benefits of focus pages are not only to secure a few additional listings. They also provide access to information about the personnel or employees that support your company, products or brand. Informative pages
about your company, services and people are yet another way to add keyword-rich content for the spiders to crawl.

Media Centers
Every website should have some form of a media center to share information with prospects. But many either do not make an effort to keep this information updated or overlook the value such content can provide. Some forms of media to include are whitepapers, press releases and relevant outbound links about happenings in your industry.

Online media centers not only give your site even more content, but enhance your credibility with search engines. The engines consider who you are linking to (ideally relevant and respected sources) as much as they do who is linking to you. Having a media center on your site also gives you the ability to combat negative press. For example, search McDonald’s on Google and the top results will be the official corporate site, information about Ronald McDonald charities and stock news within Google’s OneBox. But also on the first page are links to the McDonald’s-bashing documentary “Super Size Me” and another site claiming McDonald’s exploitation of animals, people and the environment. This is not to say you should produce misleading or false information but, the more positive press on your site, the more opportunities you have to limit negative results.

A search for McDonald’s also lists separate pages for mcdwireless.com and Ronald McDonald House charities. Both of these supplemental pages support the overall brand and allow for more linking opportunities among all McDonald’s Web pages. More links provides higher rankings and more pages under the McDonald’s umbrella provides further opportunities to dominate the SERPs.

Finally, media centers provide an opportunity to up sell to existing consumers and get that oft-elusive ranking for those reviewing your products and services elsewhere on the Web.

Commitment
The single most important part of any SEO strategy is commitment. This includes a commitment to developing an accessible site, creating content, offering innovative products and services and, of course, testing — plenty of testing. The days of hastily creating sites and generating loads of qualified visitors are over. It takes a great deal of hard work to make a successful SEO campaign happen.

Testing
Exceptional SEO is rarely an accident. While it is certainly plausible that you could have a site ranking well in popular search engines that has been designed with tables and features little to no quality content, it’s not guaranteed to be a real solution until you can prove that your methods work better than the alternatives. Search engines use algorithms to crawl sites and they constantly change. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow.

This means that testing your tactics and techniques is imperative to your success. If you don’t know what you did to get a site ranked, then you’ll never know how to do it again, and again, and again.

Innovation
You will quickly notice that leaders in any industry are not content with one product. They continually innovate and improve and you should do the same. Innovation can take many forms — improving an existing product, refining a method of delivery, setting new standards for your industry and developing entirely new products, to name a few. Innovation gains the respect of your consumers and your industry as a whole — leading to brand recognition, more incoming links and better SEO.

Networking
Networking your way into the spotlight is the final but most important ongoing factor in successful SEO. As with innovation, establishing relationships and earning the respect of both consumers and industry experts is crucial. Recognition of your site through incoming links is arguably the biggest factor that makes or breaks SEO campaigns. If content is the king — then incoming links are the blue blood that keeps your site at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).

Networking can be accomplished through a variety of ways, including the upsurge of social networking websites. As more of these sites spring up, it’s important to have a presence in your industry’s social scene.


Bringing Back Scrollers With jQuery

Remember scrollers? I do and have missed them terribly since they went out of design vogue. While there are some holdouts to this traditional design element, using jQuery to scroll text or images adds the necessary Web 2.0 coolness you’ll need if you don’t want to get laughed out of your next design meetup. Here are some of the best jQuery plugins available to add element/content scrolling to web pages. Vertical News Ticker: A very simple jQuery plugin that can be used to automatically scroll content vertically. Options include controls for speed of the scrolling animation, pausing (waiting between scrolling, how many items to show, fade in animations and a mousePause which stops scrolling on mouse over. Demo Vertical News Ticker Download Vertical News Ticker IntoViewPort Scroller: A rather elegant jQuery plugin for scrolling to a certain DOM-element (but only if the element is not already in the browser’s view port). Scroll effects are customizable as are the other animations. Be prepared – this is not your typical scroller. Demo IntroViewPort Scroller Download IntroViewPort Scroller jStockTicker: Another simple plugin which animates a div containing a sequence of spans. When the second visible span reaches the edge of the visible area, the first span is appended to the end of the list. Demo jStockTicker Download jStockTicker Smooth DIV Scroll: Perhaps the best jQuery scroller we’ve come across, Smooth Div Scroll scrolls content horizontally left or right. Since the scrolling is done using hot spots within the scrollable area or via autoscrolling, there are no visible buttons resulting in an unobtrusive and smooth user experience. Ideal for standard scrolling text, it can also be used for image galleries, stock tickers or should you have special navigation requirements. Demo Smooth DIV Scroll Download Smooth Div Scroll simplyScroll: Our favorite of the jQuery scrollers on this list, simplyScroll animates a set of elements either automatically or manually, horizontally or vertically and even features an infinite/continuous scroll mode. The best part of course is that the plugin accepts dynamic image input via a Flickr feed or a local JSON source. Speed and frame rate are configurable (which is key because the plugin is performance intensive). Demo simplyScroll Download simplyScroll Multidirections Image Scroller: The possibilities are endless with this simple solution. The Multidirections Image Scroller enables designers/developers to create an image scroller with mouse events and features horizontal and vertical scroll and stop/start on mouse events (in and out). The plugin preloads images and its parameters can be configured for speed, direction and to include a preload label. Demo Multidirections Image Scroller Download Multidirections Image Scroller Simple Scroller: A modified approach to scrolling is Simple Scroller which converts sets of div elements into a scrolling content area and generates pagination links. While it ‘s not your typical scroller, it can be used in some innovative ways to present content (perhaps even as a standalone element of a website itself). Demo Simple Scroller Download Simple Scroller

Mobile SEO with Evan Bailyn

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The mobile market is ever-expanding and in every area. But while mobile apps get most of the attention, mobile Web browsing is still a major factor — and browsing means mobile search. So, how do you make sure your website and business can be found easily by a mobile searcher? For some more insight into mobile SEO, we spoke with Evan Bailyn, SEO expert and owner of FirstPageSage.com.

So what are mobile searchers looking for? “Normally social, entertainment-related products — restaurants, movies, books and maybe some light research,” says Bailyn. “If you have a very local business, you will want to be on Google Local. Write the name of your business, and type of business.” For example, a jeweler will want to include some extra information in the business name, such as ‘Smith and Company – Engagement Rings.’ “That instantly taps into the relevance algorithms.” And while these changes can take up to four weeks, according to Bailyn, “Usually that name change alone will end up on first page.”

There are other ways to target mobile users.

“There’s a whole niche industry around misspelled keywords,” says Bailyn. “Just a little SEO can optimize for misspellings. Even though there’s so much auto-correct [on mobile devices], it wouldn’t apply with company names.” So, make sure your keywords include any variations of your company name, commonly-misspelled industry words or other words relevant to your business such as street and city names.

Keyword opportunities can also be found in subtle differences between mobile and desktop queries. “What I have found is that people will still type in the same queries as a PC, except when there’s an abbreviation available,” says Bailyn. For example, New York Cleaning Service on a PC search might be ‘Cleaning Service NYC’ on a mobile search.

Another area making an impact on mobile (and in search results) is social media. Bailyn believes that mobile social SEO will be an important factor moving forward.

“One thing I think is pretty fascinating is that both Facebook and Twitter have been making strides on a hyper-local level. Twitter has announced geo-location feature. You’re also going to be able to drill down — if you’re at a Chili’s on 72nd street, you can find tweeted reviews of that restaurant on the fly, or what people are tweeting about while at this place.

“Facebook’s open social graph is one of the most exciting things to happen on the Internet in a really long time. They’re going to make it possible to get recommendations for certain things you like. In the future, you might see something like ‘While in this area … did you know your friend John likes ABC restaurant?’ Of course, they will also be serving an ad based on where you are.”

In other words, tapping into the social graph is an important part of mobile SEO. The more ‘social’ people get, the more they will be turning to these networks to find what they need on-the-go. This can include presences on Facebook, Twitter and Yelp, and more mobile-specific applications like Foursquare and Loopt.

Finally, make sure your website is mobile-friendly. For instance, Flash is not supported by the iPhone or indexed by the major search engines at all. So, a Flash-intensive website is going to be be problematic. Make sure your website appears properly on those mobile devices where users are most likely to browse — an iPhone, BlackBerry and Android-supported device. And remember that users are dealing with a small screen. So, keep your objective in mind and the number of steps low, such as the number of required fields in a mobile-friendly contact form. Or, as Bailyn puts it, “Get to the point.”

How To Add Facebook Comments Box To WordPress

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Facebook is being the best tool to get tons of traffic. But it seems many of us are restricted with the inability to incorporate Facebook tools to increase more conversations. For instance we all have our own Facebook fan page for our blog and to some extent we are limited with implementing few of Facebook tools. So lets have look into how to add Facebook comments for your WordPress blog. Here instead of implementing the comments using coding, I will talking about the proper utilization of a pre-made WordPress plugin to add ‘Facebook comments’

Step 1: Go to this URL and download the plugin

Step 2: Install the plugin on your WordPress blog and configure it. While configuring you are requested to enter your unique Facebook Application ID, which can be created from Facebook application page.

Step 3: Now once you have got the application ID place it in the required text box and leave the comment ID untouched (can be edited optionally)

Step 4: Place your profile ID in the notification ID textbox. If you don’t know your profile ID, hover the  mouse over your profile image.

Thats it! The Facebook comments box work with your blog and it does allows a non Facebook users to write comment.

Optional features

Using comment box settings, users can change the no of post to display, change the comment to display only with posts or pages.

Another very cool option to style the Facebook comments box  to fits in your templates.

Finally I think this is a useful plugin  and you can also hide your previous WordPress comments, but as of now there isn’t a good tool to import your comments to the Facebook comments.