5 super easy tips for better online security on Safer Internet Day Wednesday, Apr 29 2015 

Safer Internet Day is Every February 10, the occasion is meant to be a reminder — particularly to young people — of the perils of the Internet.

internet-security

The hope is to encourage more responsibility when we use the Internet and mobile technology. That can mean a lot of things and can be as simple as being more respectful online.

But it’s also a reminder to better protect yourself and your personal information. Google, for example, is using the day to remind people about the importance of online security. Coincidentally, the U.S. government happened to announce a new government agency completely dedicated to combating cyberthreats on Tuesday.

SEE ALSO: 11 free tools to protect your online activity from surveillance

Of course, it’s always a good time to remind people that it’s easier and perhaps more common than ever before to fall victim to online attackers and cybersecurity risks. Every person should be taking measures to stay safer online. Before your eyes glaze, we have some very easy things that anyone can do to protect themselves online.

1. Use two-factor authentication

With two-factor authentication, users have to provide, in addition to a typical password, a one-time code when using a log-in service. In most cases, the code is sent to your phone — in a text message, for example. So after entering your password, you then have to put in what’s basically a one-time second password.

Based on your preferences, two-factor authentication can occur every time you log in to something or only occasionally, like when logging into an account on a new device.

Many major websites offer two-factor confirmations. Google was among the first. But now a bevy of them — including Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook — offer some form of login approval.

It might seem simple, but just a smidgen of time can almost double password security.

2. Update your browser and devices!

Browsers, operating systems and mobile devices often need updates. Sure, this can be a pain, but it’s important. Many times, updates are intended to patch just-now-discovered security problems.

Researchers are constantly finding new security holes that cyberattackers can exploit. So if an update notice comes through, never hesitate. It could be the difference between losing 15 minutes of your time and a hacker gaining control of your computer.

3. Use unique passwords and a password manager
People are really bad at making strong passwords. In 2014, the most common leaked passwords were “123456” and “password.” It’s also typical for people to include their birth year (especially those born between 1989 and 1992) in their passwords.

Hackers are up to your tricks. For each login, each website, each service, you should be using unique passwords that have nothing to do with a dead pet or your birthday. “But how do I remember all these passwords?” you might be asking. Well, you don’t have to.

There are a number of good password management services, such as LastPass or 1Password, that can generate and store login information in a virtual vault. Some even offer security-checking features that will let you know if you have duplicate or weak passwords.

4. Get a Google security checkup
Google is offering Drive users an extra 2GB of storage space if they take part in its Security Checkup program by Feb. 17. It takes a few minutes to run some quick tests on your Google accounts. To get started, click here.

The feature offers an overview of your recent sign-in activity (to see if any unusual devices are logging into your accounts). With the checkup, users can also grant and revoke account permissions on their devices, as well as add recovery information — such as a phone number — to help Google get in touch if something is up with your accounts.

5. Use HTTPS whenever you can
HTTPS is the secure version of hypertext transfer protocol — the letters that come before the “www.” in a web address. That last “S” can provide a big difference, however. HTTPS works to bidirectionally encrypt information sent between you and a website’s servers.

It isn’t perfect. HTTPS will not protect you from, say, government surveillance, but it can be surprisingly sophisticated in its protections. BMW, for example, failed to use HTTPS when transmitting data via its ConnectedDrive car system. That made the car vulnerable to remote hackers, who could have exploited that oversight to open car doors.

Most major websites are compatible with HTTPS, but it is best to be cognizant of the web addresses you’re using. There are tools, too, such as HTTPS Everywhere browser extension, that works to automatically switch any HTTP address over to HTTPS.

5 metrics that affect the success of your website redesign Wednesday, Apr 1 2015 

This Lady seems to know what she’s talking and writing about. I have read her articles before, they have been helpful and full of good information.  This excellent article is mostly a listing of apps and computer programs to assist in deciding to redesign your website and once the decision is made, how to get the most out of a redesign.

5 metrics that affect the success of your website redesign
It’s important to consider the key aspects of a redesign, both esthetically and from a business perspective.

Grace Smith-493 (1)

Grace Smith

Grace Smith is an experienced web designer and founder of Postscript5, a successful micro design studio based in Northern Ireland. Grace is the creator of The Freelance Feed, the premium resource on freelance related resources and is a wireframe junkie. Connect with her via Twitter.
Social-Proof-thumbnail
How social proof can help your website

Taking advantage of social proof in your marketing can influence buyers, increase conversions and directly affect your brand reputation.
You have a hunch that something on your website isn’t working. Or maybe you want to try something new, but aren’t sure how to evaluate whether it’s successful. Either way, the solution you’re looking for is A/B testing.

A/B testing (also known as split testing) pits two versions of a page, content or element against each other to determine which is more successful, in terms of the goal you set. The goal could be anything from increasing sales, reducing bounce rate, increasing conversion rate and more, it can be completely tailored to your requirements. Running A/B tests gives you real, quantifiable data on your users and can help you make informed, educated decisions to improve your business and ensure that every change produces positive results.

Any form of testing is usually assumed to be technical, difficult to implement and time consuming, however it doesn’t have to be with this collection of tools makes it simple to jump into A/B testing and to help gain valuable customer insights. While the results are only as good as the test you create, you can at least spend more time asking the right questions than trying to actually execute your tests.

1. Unbounce

Unbounce lets you build, publish and test responsive landing pages, without any knowledge of HTML. With its friendly, easy to use interface, working with elements is simple, with the ability to tweak any aspect of your page. Using the drag-and-drop tool you can drag in images, text, video and even maps into your pages and organize them. Unbounce integrates with a variety of providers, including Awber, Hubspot, Mailchimp, CampaignMonitor, ConstantContact, Zoho, Salesforce, and more. Once setup you can create multiple variants of the page, which can be split tested for as long as you require. Collaboration is easy, with the ability to assign roles for team members, enable project feedback, and start capturing leads, embed video, maps, social feeds and widgets, to optimize conversions.

Price: $49/month – $199/month

A_B-Testing-Scales-thumb-1

2. VWO

VWO is one of the easiest A/B Testing tools, with the ability to easily change headlines, buttons, images or any other elements to create multiple variations of your website to test. You can track revenue, signups, clicks and other conversion goals and get real statistical data and results. Build campaigns in minutes with the visual builder, unlimited undo to fix mistakes, and the ability to load pages even behind login walls. Each campaign generates a report to show you how well your pages are performing, and the built-in heatmap tool means you can track visitors’ click behavior and browsing habits. VWO works across mobile, tablet and desktop websites, and is a simple one-time installation, simply insert a small JavaScript code snippet on your website.

Price: $9/month – $499/month

3. Five Second Test

Five Second Test lets you fine tune landing pages and calls to action by analyzing prominent elements of your design, by finding out what a person recalls about your design in just 5 seconds. Using this method you can ensure your message is being effectively communicated, to test your brand message, and quickly find out what users like most and least about your website. You can choose how many responses are provided to your test, and even use your own set of testers. There are several different types of tests to choose from, including the Click Test, Preference Test, or Nav Flow Test. It’s simple to use, just upload an image, setup your test and a URL is then generated, which you can share, with instructions on the test.

Price: Free – $99/month

4. Google Analytics Experiments

Google Analytics ‘Experiments’ makes it a complete A/B testing platform which utilizes Googles multi-armed bandit approach. The tool allows you to split-test up to 10 full versions of a single page, each delivered to users from a separate URL. You can compare different web pages’ performance using a random sample of users, with the ability to define what percentage of your users are included in the experiment. Choose the objective you would like to test and receive updates via email on how the experiment is performing. Using the Content Experiments API you can run tests sever side and implement different recommendations or search algorithms. There’s also no redirects, as the API allows testing changes to content without redirects, and is simple to implement.

Price: Free – $150,000/year

5. Convert Experiment

Convert Experiment offers multi-domain A/B and multivariate testing and tracking, development tools for jQuery, JavaScript and CSS, with comprehensive reports. Edit your content without your need for infrastructure, with a visual WYSIWYG editor and easy style sheet editing for dynamic content experiments. Create and edit tests on the fly, test e-commerce products and category pages, with just one snippet of JavaScript code for instant integration. Convert Experiment seamlessly integrates with Google Analytics for real-time data and extended segmentation. You have full test control with minimum and maximum test duration, traffic allocation, conversion tracking, automatic bounce and engagement measuring and behavioral and segmented tracking.

Price: $9/month – $1499/month

6. Maxymiser

Maxymiser is a powerful solution to optimize customer experience and create sophisticated campaigns. Providing simple A/B tests right through to sophisticated multivariate tests, with the ability to quickly and easily create and launch tests on any public or secure page with just one line of code, using the easy to use visual editor. Using the insights from tests you can automatically identify and remove poor performing variants from active campaigns and gain powerful insights which can be applied to segmentation, offers, recommendations and personalization, making them more impactful and relevant. Maxymiser automatically builds a unique customer profile for every online visitor based on CRM data, historic and in-session behaviors and industry specific and customizable visitor attributes.

Price: Available on request

7. A/Bingo

A/Bingo is a Ruby on Rails’ A/B testing framework deployed as a plugin, which can test display or behavioral differences using just one line of code. It can measure any event, test for statistical significance and is extremely fast, meaning it has minimal impact on page load times or server load. As the A/B tests are defined in code, there is no setup or configuration required, the first time code for a particular test executes, it does all the setup work for the test and logs the first participant. Subsequent test alternatives are read straight from the cache. Each A/B test is defined in controllers (or views), and A/Bingo also allows for multivariate testing, with the ability to build your own dashboard or use the default one provided to view the results of your tests. It’s simple to setup, simple install the plugin, create the required tables, assign the user a unique identifying string and configure the cache.

Price: Free

8. KISSmetrics

KISSmetrics is a powerful analytics platform to help increase customer acquisition and retention rates. The KISSmetrics JavaScript library provides a function to help you set up your A/B test, which has three major features; it randomly assigns the current visitor to one of the variations, ensures the subsequent calls return the same variation to the visitor and sets a property with the name of the your experiment. You can also include KISSmetrics into your in-house testing code, or integrate it with another A/B testing platform. Once you’ve set up your test you can then segment any report to see the test’s performance, and determine if the results are significant. You also have the ability to track two completely different page designs, not just changes in individual elements, using a single URL for all of your landing page variants.

Price: $179/month – $599/month

9. AB Tasty

AB Tasty is an A/B testing tool to optimize your conversion rate, allowing you to modify pages using a visual editor, without writing any code and without any technical knowledge. You can measure which versions of your pages produce the best results for your objectives, such as page-views, registrations, purchases, and more. Create a any testing scenario you like, from simple to the most complex multivariate tests, and precisely define the pages and visitors to include. Tests can be configured to your specific requirements, with the ability to measure performance, visitor engagement, turnover generated, average cart value and conversion rate. The level of personalization is impressive, use advanced analysis features to identify the most relevant messages of each visitor. You can then take what you’ve learned to personalize customer experience and create segmented marketing campaigns.

Price: €29/month – €299/month

10. Adobe Target

Adobe Target provides an intuitive user interface to create personalized web experiences, quickly create A/B tests and confidently target content. Target provides a guided testing and targeting workflow and framework, with no coding or setup hassles, so it’s easy to see your visitor’s responses to content variations in real time and instantly adapt your site to meet their needs. Adobe Target features one-click optimized content delivery, multipage and cross-channel testing and interface customization, with a variety of filtering option, customizable graphs and reporting options. With mobile optimization you can increase mobile engagement and revenue with A/B testing and geolocation targeting. With both automated personalization you can create deeper engagement and more effective cross-selling.

Price: Available on request

The 4 Most Important Pages on Your Website (& How to Optimize Them) Monday, Jan 12 2015 

WRITTEN BY NEIL PATEL ON JAN 9, 2015 4:20:00 PM4waysphoto-01

This post originally appeared on the Inbound Hub Marketing section.

Some of the pages on your website are more important than others. Okay, many of you probably find that fairly obvious — but I’m surprised how few people actually apply this knowledge to their websites to improve conversions.

I’m all about low hanging fruit; about undertaking the easiest tasks that will have the biggest results. What I’m about to describe in this article has the potential to improve your site dramatically with just a few, critical changes.

Let’s get right into it. Every website is different, but generally speaking, here are the four most important (and most-visited) pages on a website:

  1. Home Page
  2. About Page
  3. Blog
  4. Contact Us Page

In this post, I’ll explain how to optimize each one of these pages. (And if your most-visited pages are different than the ones listed above, you’ll still learn a framework for optimizing any of the important pages on your website.)

What do I mean by “optimize” a webpage?

You’ve probably heard the word “optimize” most commonly used in phrases like “search engine optimization” (SEO) and “conversion rate optimization” (CRO). I’m actually referring to something broader here, but the advice that I’m delivering will help to enhance both of those.

The optimization I’m going to explain will create user optimized pages. In the pursuit of SEO and CRO, it’s easy to overlook the broader, big-picture idea. First and foremost, a site must be optimized for the user. Here’s how you can do that.

How to Optimize Each Page

The broad framework for optimizing these pages the same across your home page, About page, blog, and Contact Us page. There are two simple questions to ask of every page, and the specifics of optimizing those pages will flow from the answers to those two questions. The first question is all about the user, and the second question is all about you. Here we go:

Question 1:  What is the user looking for?

Remember, we’re focusing on the user. Why are they on the page to begin with? There are a few things you need to know:

  • Where did they come from? The idea here is to understand the origins of the user, so you can deliver relevant content.
    • Did they come from a search engine? (If so, which query?)
    • An email? (What kind of email?)
    • A navigation menu? (What option on the menu?)
  • What do they need to know? A single page can deliver a limited amount of information, so you need to determine what that information is going to be. You want them to know something so that they will then dosomething (which is addressed in the next question). Remember: Less is more. The more information you load up on your main pages, the less likely the user is to remember any of it. Give them less, and they’re more likely to remember — and do — what you want them to.

Pro Tip: Use visuals such as explainer videos, diagrams, hero shots, and so on to help compact a lot of information to a single page. To get the most out of your visuals, make sure you correctly optimize your images and videos. 

Once you answer the question of what the user’s looking for, you’re halfway there. That brings us to question two.

Question 2:  What is my goal for the user?

Now, you need to ask the user to do something. This is where most pages fall short. One of the critical components of a web page is its call-to-action (CTA), and many website owners don’t realize that every single page of a website should contain at least one CTA.

The point of a home page isn’t for the user to see and depart. The point of a product page isn’t for the user to look and leave. The point of content marketing isn’t for user intake, but rather, for user marketing. If you retain only one thing from this article, let it be that every webpage needs a CTA.

Why am I so insistent? Because every shred of knowledge demands some response: A web page imparts knowledge, and that knowledge requires a response. So, what is it that you want the user to do? This is your goal for the user, and it must be clearly and starkly defined as you face the big optimization question.

The question is then, more specifically, what do I want the user to do? Knowledge alone is not enough. What is the application point for the page? Let’s look at some examples of webpages that do it well.

HubSpot’s Home Page

HubSpot’s home page is well laid-out and hosts a clear CTA, front and center. A user is on the HubSpot home page for a reason, and perhaps that reason is to grow their business. The headline speaks to the “what am I looking for?” And the CTA buttons tell me, the user, what I’m supposed to next. (The white annotations are my own, not Hubspot’s.)

hubspot-home-page-1

Now, let’s see what HubSpot has going on on the About page.

HubSpot’s About Page

A user might click on the About page for a variety of reasons. A few might be:

  • They want to figure out exactly what the business does.
  • They want to work for the business.
  • They want to make sure the business is legit.
  • They want to see if the business serves their niche or location.
  • They want to analyze the business’s success.

I could go on and on. There are a ton of reasons that could bring a user here, but they all boil down to the desire for information. Let’s see what HubSpot does. Here is their About page:

hubspot-mission-statement

The user likely wants to know the information about the company, and in response, he or she can click “sales inquiries” to take action. That persistent sidebar button hangs on to the entire page, all the way to the very bottom.

Along the way, however, there are deeper levels of both information and action. The more granular and detailed the information, the more correspondingly detailed the CTA becomes. Halfway down the page, I see information about how great the company is along with an invitation to join their team:

Screen_Shot_2014-12-17_at_1.51.35_PM

There’s more. I can download information about highlights and awesomeness:

hubspot-year-in-review

Finally, I can start following them if I’d like to:

hubspot-follow

This is an example of an About page optimized to drive engagement, increase conversions, and enhance the brand. They made it as much about the user as about the company itself, because along the way, the user is getting value — applying for a job, downloading a free report, and connecting with a trusted brand for even more valuable content.

Tips for Optimizing Each Page

Now that I’ve given you a framework and a couple examples, here are a few, more specific tips to help you on your way to optimizing each of the four most important pages.

1) Home Page

  • Use a big headline, and place the most important information front and center.
  • Provide flow. Make it obvious where the user is supposed to go and what they are supposed to do next.
  • Make your CTA as big and obvious as possible. A home page may allow for several different CTAs — make it easy for the user to choose by making CTA buttons large and easy to click. Oftentimes, a user uses the home page as a way of finding where on the site she wants to go. For this reason, you should make the navigation menu very clear.

2) About Page

  • Deliver the most important and relevant information above the fold. The user is on your About page for a reason — answer their question(s) without making them scroll.
  • Include at least one CTA. Remember, most people aren’t just looking for more informatio; they’re seeking a deeper level of engagement.

3) Blog

  • Organize information on your blog clearly, and make sure that information satisfies the reasons users might be on your blog. Most users will want to read the most recent articles, so provide these. You may also want to organize categories on the blog home page, such as “most recent,” “most popular,” or other forms of categorization.
  • Include CTAs that make it easy for the user to subscribe to the blog, download a free resource, and so on. Even though the user came to get information, you want them to get engaged and connected. (Click here for 8 types of CTAs you can try on your blog.)
  • Provide CTAs in the core design of your blog so they appear on each individual blog post. In my experience,most blog visitors land on individual blog articles through organic search, instead of landing on your blog’s “home” page. To get these users engaged, put CTAs on the sidebars, in the footer, and other places. (Learn how to pick the perfect CTA for each blog post here.)

 4) Contact Us Page

  • Put the information they’re looking for above the fold — an email address, phone number, contact form, map, mailing address, and so on. Of all four of these webpages, the Contact Us page implies the most detailed level of intent on the part of the user.
  • Use CTAs that allow the user to contact you easily (since, presumably, that’s why they came to your Contact Us page). Make the CTA really obvious, and engage them by gratifying their intent instantly, using CTA copy like ”Chat now!” “Email now!”.

In conclusion, here’s how to optimize pages like a pro: Look at your most visited pages, figure out why users are there, give them what they want, and ask them for an action in return. Regardless of your most-visited pages or even the nature of your website, you can create more engaged users.

You’re in the business of not just dissemination information, but demanding a response. The knowledge you impart requires that users response. Ask for it.

Neil_PatelNeil Patel     Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, Stride, and KISSmetrics, and a columnist for HubSpot. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.  

| Website

9 tips to make your WordPress blog more secure Thursday, Jan 8 2015 

anirban_banerjee

by Anirban Banerjee

Jun 5, 2014

Easily one of the most popular blogging platforms preferred by the amateur and professional alike, WordPress has many advantages over its competitors. However, its relative ease of use and many attractive themes and capabilities must be enhanced by WordPress security and protection, so that your website doesn’t fall victim to malware attacks that exploit weaknesses in coding – or anything.

In the spirit of WordPress security, then, consider these nine tips to keeping your site up-and-running well:

1. The first tip is to take a proactive approach regarding unused plugins, themes and other additions stored in your WordPress content directory; they are almost certainly outdated, which makes them susceptible to hackers and their bots. Software makers update their programs precisely because updates eliminate holes that can be exploited. Basically; discard your old unused stuff and get the latest versions of the new ones.

2. The second tip for better WordPress security is quite general for anything you do online requiring your personal details; this doesn’t make it any less significant, however. Use a maximally strong password. This means alternate capital letters, numbers and special characters. Furthermore, if you have multiple websites up, make sure you use a different password for each one; in fact, there are powerful password-generation plugins available for WordPress protection.

3. Research forums and other reputable online communities for information on the best anti-spam plugins for WordPress security. Make sure you understand how well-written the code is for any plugin you do end up installing.676494_fbi_costume_pin_badge

4. Avoid doing things that used to be standard, such as keeping the “admin” name as your default. Updated WordPress themes and directories don’t usually have this for a reason – they were a common target for website exploitation. Similarly, don’t start the name of any of your directories with the wp prefix.

5. Connecting to your WordPress sites via public WiFi access can give any snoopers access to your username and password. Avoid doing this unless you have your own secure SSL connection socket for added protection.

6. If you’re not very web-savvy, and find yourself overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to decipher the signs of a blog compromise, there is affordable professional help available. Web security solutions are provided by robust malware monitoring and removal products likeStoptheHacker, which is a 24-hour sentinel that protects your systems.

7. While not exactly in the category of security, backing up your WordPress site is definitely in the realm of protection from future attacks. If all goes wrong, this copy can save you invaluable time and money in getting back up to speed, or moving your operation to another web host.

8. Hackers want to get into your private details more than anything else, because this will allow them to take over your website for their own personal gain. One useful way to impede this is to erase information regarding the version of WordPress you’re using, which can be done by deleting the appropriate meta tag description.

9. A simple but powerful WordPress security measure comes in the login section. If you have multiple users contributing to your site; or even if it’s just you, implement a lock-down plugin that stops multiple login attempts, which may signal a bot trying to gain access by trying many passwords.

http://www.dreamhost.com/dreamscape/2014/06/05/9-tips-to-make-your-wordpress-blog-more-secure/

The Real Reason No One Wants To Link To You Thursday, Nov 13 2014 

Wondering why no one is linking to you? Julie Joyce gives you the lowdown on why your site isn’t as linkworthy as it could be.

2 New Tricks for Hiring Tech Talent Thursday, Nov 13 2014 

There’s a war for tech talent. Here’s how you can get creative about finding and training coding ninjas.

Jessica Stillman

BY   @ENTRYLEVELREBEL

Talk to any entrepreneur looking to hire technical talent and they’ll tell you its insanely tough out there, with companies facing a dire shortage of trained engineering and design talent.

Sure, you could always steal the competition’s talent, or look abroad for salvation. But both approaches have obvious costs. So as we’ve reported here before some businesses are trying a third way: growing their own tech talent through apprentice style programs.

Video gaming-focused media company IGN, for instance, is augmenting its traditional recruiting for the second year in a row with a “no resumes allowed” alternative. Their Code-Foo program selects participants by setting hopefuls up with online coding challenges and asking for a statement of passion about the company. Those that succeed aren’t asked to produce diplomas and sit for endless interviews. Instead, IGN brings them to a six-week training boot camp. If an individual impresses, he or she gets a job—without ever having to say a word about their work history or educational background.

So how did that work out last year? “We ended up with 30 people,” Roy Bahat, the president of IGN, told Inc.com. “Our guys thought we were going to hire one or two—a third of them didn’t even go to college, a third had non-technical degrees. These were not the people you would have even interviewed on the basis of their resumes. And then lo and behold, a third of them were meeting our bar and the best of them were running laps around much more ‘qualified’ candidates. We were thrilled.” Ten were hired and Bahat says, “on average they’ve worked out better than hires from a traditional hiring process. The best few are among our highest potential talent.”

thumbsup

Code-Foo and other training schemes outside of the academy aren’t just a good bet for smaller companies looking to recruit, but also something Bahat sees as having larger social benefits. “One of my personal passions is teaching young people coding skills because I think that it is the fastest path towards not just economically rewarding work but creatively rewarding work. It’s not as hard as people make it out to be—it’s like being an auto mechanic of the 21st century,” he said. IGN is accepting applications for Code Foo until April 30.

Meanwhile, online marketplace Etsy isn’t just trying to nurture tech talent in general, but female tech talent in particular. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Marc Hedlund, Etsy’s vice president of engineering, noticed that in his career he’s hired men by the hundreds but only a handful of women. To even out the gender balance, the company is hosting the summer 2012 session of Hacker School at its New York City headquarters and offering women who want to participate $5,000 grants to help them support themselves while they learn to be code ninjas.

“Our goal is to bring 20 women to New York to participate, and we hope this will be the first of many steps to encourage more women into engineering at Etsy and across the industry,” Hedlund commented. Which is a good thing, as so far only one woman has participated in Hacker School since its founding last year.

From Garbage To Gourmet: Fixing SEO Content Strategies Friday, Nov 7 2014 

on April 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

photo of Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is Chief Marketing Curmudgeon and President at Portent, Inc, a firm he started in 1995. Portent is a full-service internet marketing company whose services include SEO, SEM and strategic consulting

http://searchengineland.com/from-garbage-to-gourmet-fixing-seo-content-strategies-74273

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before:

Site Owner: I want to rank higher in the search engines!

SEO: OK, you’ll need to fix a few things…
produces a list

SEO: And you’ll need to start a content strategy. That means 10-20 pages of new content per month, minimum, plus work to promote it.

Site Owner: OKAY! I’m on it.
Site owner goes away.

Two months later:

Site Owner: SEO, you totally ripped me off. I haven’t seen any improvement in my rankings.

SEO: Did you make all the changes?

Site Owner: Yes.

SEO: Did you start work on the content?

Site Owner: Yes.

SEO: Can I see?

Site Owner shows SEO their site. It has 70 pages of new articles.

SEO: Wow, that’s great… Wait a minute. This article is only 150 words. And the author used the wrong ‘your’ five times. And this article is almost identical to these other five…

Site Owner: So?

garbage-on-a-plate-600x399

SEO: Well, this isn’t exactly great content.

Site Owner: Hey, you told me to get new content. You didn’t say anything about great content!

Search Engines Aren’t Garbage Disposals

I suspect that most people see search engines as a sort of content garbage disposals. You feed them a random assortment of leftovers, hard-to-identify and vaguely smelly things, and the occasional rotten egg in one end, there are some grinding and crunching sounds, and you’re all set.

Well, they’re not garbage disposals.

Half of SEO is a long list of things you must do to make yourself visible, help search engines classify your content, etc..

But, in the pre- and now more importantly, post- Panda world, the other half of SEO is all about differentiating yourself from competitors with great, unique information.

You know… Marketing.

No More Garbage

You have to stop serving garbage to your visitors, and to search engines. Here’s a couple ideas to get you started:

  1. Write stuff that hasn’t been written before. There are already 999,999 articles about SEO and title tags. Try something else, or a new spin on your topic.
  2. Be interesting. Put some thought into how the article is put together. Use visuals where it helps. Use humor, even.
  3. Hire quality writers to write quality stuff.
  4. Ask your visitors and customers what they’d like to read. Then write it.
  5. Follow production best practices. Use good line spacing and typography. Place subheads to organize your story and make it easier to scan. A 500-word article vomited onto the page with zero formatting makes it look like you don’t care. If you don’t care, you don’t deserve to rank.
  6. Brainstorm and maintain a list of headlines you can assign to writers.
  7. Assign target topics and phrases to specific pages on your site. Think through how you’ll interlink new content with those pages to build authority.
  8. Integrate content into your site. You probably won’t make much progress if you hang a bunch of lousy articles off your site like some kind of growth. Content has to be in the flow of a normal visitor’s movement through the site.

In short: think about it. Make content strategy part of your overall Internet marketing strategy and invest in it. You can’t outsource your writing to eLance for $5 per article and expect progress. Nor can you somehow automate or fake your way into the rankings. Yes, there are always the lucky few who manage it. But it’s not the norm.

But It’s Hard/Expensive/Time-Consuming!

I know, huh? If you want to gain a top ranking, you have to work for it, and invest, and really dedicate yourself to it.

But have some perspective: 20 years ago, the minimum required to reach a national audience was $250,000, a fantastic sales letter and a lot of luck. Now, you can reach a national audience with a well-coded website, one decent writer and a good idea. That’s nothing short of miraculous.

So switch your content strategy from garbage to gourmet. It’s worth the effort.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

5 things I learned from one of Portland’s most bustling startups Monday, Nov 3 2014 

Re-post from Staff Reporter-Portland Business JournalEmail  |  Twitter

http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/2014/10/5-things-i-learned-from-one-of-portlands-most.html?ana=twt&page=all

Treehouse learning mission control, providing you with an overview of your current progress and total points earned at Treehouse.       https://teamtreehouse.com

Treehouse co-founder and CEO Ryan Carson spoke at the PDXedtech meetupTuesday night, and while we are pretty familiar with what the company is doing — particularly with its efforts with Code Oregon— there were still interesting takeaways.

The company is up to 75 employees, 20 of them are in its headquarters in northeast Portland, and it’s serving 91,000 students. Also, the company is profitable.

Treehouse sees itself as an online trade school. That means the company’s mission is to get students jobs.

heo-2014-t600treehouse-ryan-carson-1000-304xx400-600-62-0

Students are typically between 20 and 40 years old. Many are underemployed and view the Treehouse training as steps to a better job.

Carson highlighted a recent student who went from working retail in Portland to landing a job at the startup OpenSesame.

Here’s are some more pieces of knowledge that Carson dropped:

  1. Treehouse launched a beta program that aims to guarantee job placement for students who are deemed by the company to be job ready. Treehouse Careers has an online application where the company gets to know more a student and what kind of job they want. The student is then served with a dashboard with a to-do to put them on track for the job they want. Part of this process includes some written components, so Treehouse recruiting staff can determine a student’s communication abilities. There is also a project component to gauge how well a student works on a team. If everything is met and the student is deemed job ready, the company will work to place them in a job
  2. The company made headlines last year when it announced that it was removing managers from its organizational structure. There are the top level executives and then everyone else, Carson said. The move came when the company employed 50 people (it now employs 75), and it required a new way to communicate. “It was total chaos,” Carson said of the time immediately following the move. The current communications tools, mainly email didn’t work. So the company built an internal tool called Canopy, which operates like a public Gmail account that everyone can see and contribute. That way information isn’t siloed into any one person’s inbox. For its more private conversations, the team uses the messaging tool HipChat.
  3. Treehouse is closed on Fridays. The team works four, eight-hour days and all the work is able to get done. Carson said this can happen because the company has a culture of non-interruption. Conversations happen on HipChat and people can stay focused on what they do. He noted this tends to mean they have a pretty quiet office.
  4. For now the four-day work week and the no-manager policy works for the company, but Carson acknowledged that it might be that way forever.
  5. Luck has played a role in Treehouse’s development so far. Carson noted that he unknowingly built really strong network and became the center of a community of technologists with an earlier company. That company did code training workshops around the country and it was early on in the Web 2.0 movement, he noted at that point you could actually email Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and he would email back. Based on this community he was a part of, when it came time for Treehouse to raise money, he had the right contacts.

4 web design trends for 2015 that will change your job forever Wednesday, Oct 29 2014 

Our day-to-day jobs are soon going to be very different, predicts Paul Boag.

Paul Boag

As web professionals we often look at other industries with disbelief at their failure to adapt to digital. The downfall of music retailing, the demise of companies like Kodak and the challenges faced by newspapers.

But are we aware of the changes happening in our own sector? The web is now over 25 years old. Are we beginning to get set in our ways? Are we just as blind to changes as other industries?

I am aware I maybe sounding melodramatic and I don’t mean to be. We are not about to see our roles disappear. We may not see many travel agents or encyclopaedia salesmen around these days because of digital. But that doesn’t mean we are in immediate danger.

That said, there are certain trends that are worthy of our attention. These are trends that might not make us obsolete, but they will change what we do from day-to-day.

The four trends I’m talking about are:

  • The move towards in-house teams
  • The automation of code
  • The rise of software as a service
  • The decline of the website

01. The move towards in-house teams

The way businesses perceive the web has changed a lot in recent years. Once seen as another marketing channel, it is now perceived as business critical for a lot of organisations.

Many companies have decided it is unwise to rely on an outside suppliers for business critical operations. Instead they are building internal teams to take on the role. This is strategically wise, but also provides significant cost savings over the longer term.

We are beginning to see this impact our sector as agencies compete for a shrinking number of opportunities at the top end of the market. Some agencies such as Adaptive Path and Mark Boulton Design have sold to their clients. Effectively they have become in-house teams. Others are being forced to downsize.

Of course no in-house team is going to have every skill they need to operate. There will still be work for the specialist. But, whether specialist agencies are sustainable is hard to tell. Instead we might see the growth of specialist contractors who work on short term contracts with in-house teams.

This means that those of us working in high-end agencies need to think about our long term position. The chances are we will see a growing number of agencies close their doors over the coming years. Those of us who work for those agencies may well find ourselves joining in-house teams. That or becoming much more specialised in our role.

But it is not just those working at the top end of the market who will experience change.

02. The rise of software as a service

The rise of software as a service is threatening the lower end of all kinds of sectors. For example, services like FreeAgent are replacing traditional book keepers. In fact SaaS is eroding traditional models in everything from recruitment to customer management.

Unfortunately for some, web design is no exception. There was a time when self employed web designers could produce cheap websites from home and make a reasonable income. Today that is becoming hard with services like Squarespace allowing people to build their own website.

But this doesn’t just apply to ‘build your own website’ services. It would now be insanity to build a custom content management system in the vast majority of cases. Once this was big business for many developers. The same is true for ecommerce platforms. Services like Shopify means the days of building shopping carts for most are over.

What this does is push those low end web designers up market at exactly the same time as the high end agencies are lowering their prices. This squeezes the middle.

Software as a service is commoditising much of what use to be bespoke work. But even bespoke design is becoming easier than ever before.

03. The automation of coding

There was a time when being able to code good quality HTML and CSS was enough. That is no longer the case. Not only is there a surplus of people able to do this, the need to code is waning.

Tools like Macaw and Adobe Reflow are enabling designers to do much of the work of front-end coders. Now I know what you are thinking — these tools create terrible CSS. You are right, but they are a sign of things to come. Over time these tools will become more sophisticated. It wouldn’t surprise me if eventually hand coding HTML and CSS becomes a skill few still need.

Although these tools will never produce code as good as a person, it will be good enough. In the end it will come down to return on investment. For many ‘quick to market code’ that is ‘good enough’ will be a better investment than hand-coded.

But even if that does not happen, these tools are already having an impact. Creating working prototypes has become much easier. A job that used to keep a front end coder busy for days if not weeks.

It’s easy to dismiss the impact of these tools. They don’t replace a good coder. But, I remember graphic designers saying the same thing about desktop publishing. DTP didn’t replace the graphic designer but it did thin the herd.

If you are a designer, you might be feeling a little smug at this point. After all we will always need people to design websites no matter how we code our sites. But perhaps longer term even that will change.

04. The decline of the website

Have you noticed the gradual decline in the role of the website? Take for example going to see a movie. You know what you want to see, but you don’t know where it is showing.

In the past you would have visited each movie theatre website one at a time to see if they were showing the film you wanted. Each website was different, crafted by a busy team of web designers.

My betting is that is not how you look up movies anymore. The chances are you have a single app on your mobile that aggregates movie listings from many sources. Perhaps you even ask Siri or just Google it.

siri1

This creates a much better experience as users don’t have to deal with different interfaces. Unfortunately it does start to undermine the role of the designer crafting these different sites.

I am sure it won’t be long before you ask Siri and she tells you when and where your film is on. The whole thing done by voice command, no user interface at all.

Content is being set free from design. Instead we are sharing content via APIs between applications and sites. Sometimes business owners are choosing to put their content on Facebook, Yelp or Foursquare. They are abandoning the idea of having their own site. This is something that is particularly prevalent in China.

Don’t panic!

This might leave you feeling despondent about your future prospects. It shouldn’t. As somebody who has worked in the web over 20 years, I can tell you that as long as you are able to adapt then none of this will be an issue. Sure, your role will change but you won’t find yourself homeless.

The danger is that the transition could prove painful if you are not aware that change is coming. Whether I am right in my predictions or not you can be sure of one thing — the web will continue to evolve. As Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Words: Paul Boag

Co-Founder of Headscape and host of the Boagworld Podcast, Paul Boag has spent more than 20 years of helping organisations manage digital change.

SEO Explained Thursday, Oct 16 2014 

This is the link to several short and hidden videos about SEO explained by  one of the Google employees who makes these SEO decisions:

http://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-seo

Video: SEO Explained Watch this 6 or 7 minute video (or cut to the end)

You will see several video choices on one U Tube screen.

Choose Maile Ohye

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