Millennials Are Destroying Banks, And It’s The Banks’ Fault Wednesday, Jun 3 2015 

This post is a  reblog, originally posted May 30, 2015 by

Danny C

Danny Crichton is an award-winning researcher and writer on regional innovation hubs with an intense passion for building companies and building nations. He is currently a doctoral student at the Harvard Kennedy School and a contributing writer for TechCrunch.

Millennials are rejecting home ownership across the land. Millennials aren’t buying crap anymore, destroying businesses that, well, sell crap. Millennials are changing the workplace to be, I kid you not, more friendly to “millennial values.” Millennials this, millennials that, and those are just some of the stories published this week on this critical, hot-button issue.

Frankly, as a millennial, I’d like to copyright the term and earn a royalty every time it is uttered. Like that Happy Birthday song.

I hate this generational garbage as much as the next person, but there is a kernel of truth that people born in the same years face similar contexts in their lives. My generation witnessed 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at a very formative age, and we were hit with the global financial crisis right as we were expected to get started in the workforce. That colors your worldview.

Few industries will face a greater struggle targeting these new consumers than banks, who seem wholly unprepared with what to do with us. Indeed, if ever there was a dark evil in the world that millennials as a whole would probably like to see completely destroyed like San Francisco in San Andreas, it is the banking industry.

The banks aren’t ignorant. Jamie Dimon, the head honcho of JPMorgan Chase, told shareholders this year that “Silicon Valley is coming” with “hundreds of startups” providing alternatives to traditional banking services.

Banks are here to stay – for now. It is clear though that startups, often led by millennials and ushering in millennials as early adopters, are coming for the heart of the banking industry. How it responds will determine who owns the capital of the most important capitalist country in the world.

The Changing Financial Desires Of Millennials

Every generation has its financial goals. For much of the past few decades, the goals have been independence through home and car ownership along with a growing retirement account to supplement Social Security and pensions.

Not surprisingly, banks have catered to these desires with a bevy of products, including vastly increased mortgage lending (in fact, increasing to the point of catastrophe as we recently witnessed) along with home-equity loans, investment and retirement advisors, and a customer service relationship centered on local branches.

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Millennials have entirely different life goals, and yet, financial institutions have yet to respond with the kinds of products needed to satiate them. Just to start, this generation has the greatest levels of student debt in the country’s history. That means that almost all the products currently offered by banks are mostly irrelevant, since major purchases like homes will be pushed back, perhaps indefinitely.

Amazingly, we have seen almost no innovation in student loan lending from the traditional banks, while there has been tremendous innovation in the market from startups like SoFi, Earnest, CommonBond, among others. What gives? Imagine if the first thing a traditional bank said to a college graduate and potential new customer was “open an account, and we can help you refinance your student loans with a lower rate and save serious dollars during repayment.”

I’ll talk about customer service in a moment, but it is clear that there is a gaping hole in the market here that the traditional banks seem all but blind to.

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That said, big banks have been a bit more engaged around improving investment advising. Many now offer automated investment accounts directly or through contracted brokerages, just like fintech startups Wealthfront or Betterment. These tools have traditionally targeted millennials, who seem more comfortable with computers handling their money and who also desire a well-balanced investment portfolio (we did survive that global financial crisis after all).

There are all kinds of other financial products that traditional banks should be engaging with. Newer models of credit scores, like those from Affirm, could greatly help younger workers find loans. RobinHood and others are trying to show that stock trading fees are obsolete. Banks have so many opportunities to engage with millennials, it is disappointing to see how much they have ignored this demographic.

That Said, Please Don’t Talk With Us

Yes, we want banks to engage with us, but no, please don’t talk with us. I have only once ever walked out of a bank branch as a completely satisfied customer (this trip may also have involved free candy). Automated investment platforms are not just popular due to their lower fees and balanced risks, but also because traditional investment advisors had no fricking idea what they were selling (yet somehow still became rich in the process).

Traditional banks have moved many of their banking functions online or at least to ATMs, since every in-person transaction has a significant cost attached to it. But so far, none of them has developed the user experience and product quality necessary to really take full advantage of mobile and the web for banking.

Simple Bank, the startup acquired last year by BBVA, tried to reach a point where everything could be done through mobile. They missed the mark, but the potential is still there. With Nimbl acting as a “Uber for ATMs” and several other new startup banking services, this dream seems much less far-fetched than it did just a year or two ago.

I want a bank where absolutely everything can happen through my phone, and if I need help, I can ask a banker about something instantly through the click of a button. I want a concentrated set of services designed just for me, and not a menu with more than fifty options for services that aren’t even relevant for me.

I want to transfer money in ten seconds – not ten screens.

Along that simplicity theme, part of shedding all of these human touch points is also reducing the complexity of banking products. Every time I go to a bank, there is a rigamarole involved as we go through the new-account-type-of-the-month, each of course with their complex tiers of fees. I know this is designed to screw me, and I don’t like it. Simplicity is golden.

The Future Bank For Everyone

Yes, millennials are annoying customers, but here is the irony: everyone wants these features. Consumers want to be able to manage their finances from their phones and tablets while limiting their visits to bank branches and bank tellers. Plus, everyone hates bank fees, particularly their complexity and lack of transparency.

The difference today is that millennials are willing to shop elsewhere, because we are simply not going to accept that these are the only products on the market. We are willing to try new startups and their innovations, since they speak our consumer language while the traditional banks do not.

If the big Wall Street banks fail in this new environment, it won’t be because they failed to bring millennials into the fold. It will be because they will have failed to innovate for all of their customers.

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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/

Google’s Very Rough Transition Thursday, Dec 18 2014 

Nick Carlson

Nicholas Carlson

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/googles-very-rough-transition-nicholas

Chief Correspondent at Business Insider

Google’s stock price hit a 52-week low yesterday.

This is not surprising news.

This has been a year of major change for Google, and it hasn’t always been pretty.

CEO Larry Page, frustrated with the pace of innovation at the company, took a big step back from day-to-day operations, turning over control to Sundar Pichai.

Google’s core business, search advertising, is looking shakier than it has in years. The problem is the rise of mobile. Search advertising is the best way to make money on the web. But people aren’t using the web as much on their mobile phones as they did on their desktops. Last quarter, Google’s advertising business grew at its slowest rate in six years.

People are searching for products on Amazon, rather than using Google. The only reason search makes money for Google is that people use it to search for products they would like to buy on the internet, and Google shows ads for those products. Increasingly, however, people are going straight to Amazon to search for products. Desktop search queries on Amazon increased 47% between September 2013 and September 2014, according to ComScore.

The executive in charge of running the moneymaking side of Google, Nikesh Arora, quit for a new job at Softbank. Internally, Arora’s departure has been the source of some tension and disappointment. Before he left, Arora was planning to throw a huge conference for Google sales employees in Las Vegas. Now that Arora is gone, the event has been canceled in favor of more regional meetings, and we’ve heard some Googlers are bummed. These same Googlers are under the impression that the whole company is in the middle of a hiring freeze. After speaking to several more sources, we’re pretty sure there is not actually a hiring freeze at Google. But it is interesting that some people inside the company think there is. Clearly, there are pockets of pessimism.

Google is getting knocked around overseas. Google just pulled its engineers out of Russia. It shut down its news aggregator in Spain. The EU wants to break up the company. The situation isn’t looking great in Brazil, either.

Facebook has decided to compete with YouTube for video-advertising dollars, and Facebook may win. Facebook is working on bringing YouTube-like video to its News Feed. It’s also rolling out video ads. Many in the industry believe that Facebook is in a better position than YouTube to eat into the advertising dollars that are leaving TV. Anmuth writes, “Facebook appears better positioned to capture new dollars coming online given its 21% share of mobile time spent, strong leverage to news feed ads, and nascent opportunities in video and Instagram.”

Add it all together, and there are some serious worries about Google in the industry.

Says a former Googler: “I think 2015 is going to be disastrous.”

“Mobile has been eating away [at them] for years, but they’ve been able to pull rabbits out of the hat to increase revenue.”

“[That] has to end somewhere.”

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/googles-very-rough-transition-nicholas

Nicholas Carlson is the author of “Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!” available for pre-order now.

How To Hide The Fact That Your Website Runs On WordPress Monday, Dec 8 2014 

Posted by KeriLynn Engel on Dec 07, 2014 09:00 am

Security is always top concern when you’re running a website.

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But… sometimes all the hubbub over hacking seems a little over the top. All the scary stories about big businesses like eBay, Target, Adobe, Steam, and others who have suffered big data breaches can feel like fear-mongering. Surely hackers won’t go after your website when they have such big fish to fry?

The post How To Hide The Fact That Your Website Runs On WordPress appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

The data, unfortunately, tells us otherwise. Smaller websites are hacked just as frequently as big ones, with almost half of small businesses reporting being hacked, their resultant costs averaging $8,700.

And those are only the businesses who are willing to report being hacked. It’s probable that others keep their vulnerability a secret, not wanting their users to lose their trust in their ability to keep private data safe and secure.

Even if you only take into account reported instances, tens of thousands of websitesare hacked every day, and many of them don’t even know they’ve been hacked and that their websites are being used to spread malicious code.

As a WordPress user, you’re using one of the most secure content management systems available. But no CMS is 100% invulnerable, and hackers are evolving their methods just as fast as developers can patch vulnerabilities.

You may have heard that hiding WordPress is the best way to keep your site secure from hackers and bots.

There’s actually quite a bit of debate among developers and security experts about this practice.

I’ll go over the pros and cons of both sides and the reasoning behind them, and leave it up to you to decide if hiding your CMS is right for your website.

Then we’ll talk about how you can obscure your implementation of WordPress.

Let’s get started!

Isn’t WordPress Secure Enough Already?

WordPress is known for being a very secure content management system (CMS). Security issues are a top concern of WordPress core developers, and the software is patched and updated regularly to address any vulnerabilities that arise.

The security of WordPress is one of the reasons for its popularity. WordPress is now one of the most popular content management systems on the web, used for tens of millions of websites around the world. Even big websites like CNN, The New York Times, eBay, and Mashable use WordPress for their blogs.

But just the fact that you’re using WordPress for your website doesn’t make your website invulnerable to hackers.

In fact, its very popularity is what makes it a popular target.

Hackers know that millions of websites that are using WordPress aren’t using the best security measures to keep their sites secure. Many of those sites are using weak passwords, outdated versions of WordPress with known vulnerabilities, or old and insecure plugins and themes. Hackers know there they’ll have plenty of targets out there once they discover those vulnerabilities and create a way to exploit them.

The most common ways that hackers attack WordPress sites are with brute force attacks or HTTP requests.

Brute-force hackers use software to try to gain access to your website by guessing at your password until they get lucky and break in. Often, simple countermeasures like requiring CAPTCHA or 2-step verification on login can easily stop brute force login attempts in their tracks.

Another common category of hacker attacks are specially-crafted HTTP requests sent to your server. These requests are designed to exploit specific vulnerabilities which are often caused by outdated or insecure software, themes, or plugins. Anything contained in your wp-content directory, whether active or inactive, can potentially introduce security vulnerabilities to your website that knowledgeable hackers can exploit to disable or gain access to your blog.

Why Hide WordPress?

Here’s where the debate comes in.

But first, let’s get our terminology straight: Sometimes people mean different things when they say they’re hiding WordPress.

What’s usually meant by “hiding WordPress” is that you’re attempting to obscure the fact that your site runs on WordPress from any person or bot that attempts to identify the CMS.

But hiding WordPress could also mean just trying to hide which version number of WordPress you’re using, or changing permalinks, file names, subdirectories, etc. to hide them from bots.

Is hiding WordPress worth the effort? Depends on who you ask.

The fact is, there’s no way to completely obscure the fact that your website runs on WordPress. A tech-savvy person who knows enough about WordPress will be able to detect your CMS using any number of means.

Even if you’re just trying to hide your WordPress version number, there are a multitude of ways to discover what WordPress version you’re using just by being familiar with the differences between versions.

And security experts warn that security through obscurity is a discouraged practice, since it can encourage laxness in addressing vulnerabilities if you think no one can find them: “The security of a system should depend on its key, not on its design remaining obscure,” security engineer Ross Anderson wrote.

Does that mean it’s a waste of time to hide WordPress?

Maybe, maybe not. It won’t help you to foil a dedicated hacker that’s targeting you specifically.

But the majority of hacking attempts are made by bots, and you may be able to foil hacker bots by obscuring your WordPress installation. Just by changing some default permalinks, you may be able to protect your website against things like brute-force attacks, SQL-injection, and requests to your PHP files.

Other WordPress Security Measures

Hiding WordPress by obscuring a few permalinks and files can be a good security measure, but it’s not your only option, and it shouldn’t be the only action you take to protect your site.

There are some basic WordPress security tips you can easily follow to keep your site more safe from hackers, without hiding WordPress:

  • Always use strong passwords.
  • Always keep your WordPress core updated to the latest version.
  • Keep all your themes and plugins updated, delete inactive themes and plugins, and stop using any themes and plugins that are no longer being updated.
  • Consider protecting your login page from brute force attacks by requiringCAPTCHA and/or 2 factor authentication.
  • Consider installing an all-in-one security plugin like iThemes Security or Bullet Proof Security.

(If your website’s already been hacked, check out this great guide by Nathan B. Weller here on ElegantThemes to find out how to fix it: “Oh Sh*#! What to Do When Your WordPress Website Has Been Hacked.”)

How to Hide the Fact You’re Using WordPress

So you’ve decided you still want to try to hide the fact that you’re using WordPress from your visitors as well as potential hackers and bots.

How exactly do you go about it?

There are plenty of tutorials out there for hiding just your WordPress version number, but I’m not going to rehash those for a few reasons:

  • If security is really your goal, you should always be updating to the latest version anyway.
  • The WordPress version number shows up in a multitude of places in various files, so it can be difficult and time-consuming to obscure them all, and not worth the effort, because…
  • Even if you do manage to erase every mention of your WordPress version number, there are still plenty of ways someone can find out what version of WordPress you’re using.
  • Obscuring your version number won’t protect you from bots, either. Bots don’t generally check to see what version of WordPress you’re using; they just go straight for the vulnerability they’re targeting. If you keep your WordPress core updated, they won’t find it. And if you’re using an old version of WordPress, theywill find it regardless of how well you try to hide your version number.

Still determined to hide the fact you use WordPress? It could be that you have a client demanding you hide WordPress for them, or maybe you think that your business looks unprofessional using blogging software to run your website.

In that case, I recommend a premium plugin called Hide My WP, available on Code Canyon. It works well as a general security plugin, and will hide the fact that you’re using WordPress by changing your permalinks without making changes to the actual locations of your files.

Hide My WP has a number of features that improve your WordPress security:

  • Changes permalinks of files (like wp-admin) to obscure them from bots
  • Removes meta info (like version number) from your headers and feeds
  • Controls access to your PHP files
  • Changes the default subdirectories of vulnerable folders like wp-content
  • Changes query URLs to protect from SQL injections
  • Hides files that can give hackers information about your WordPress installation (like readme.html or license.txt)
  • Gives you the option to disable specific archives, categories, tags, pages, posts
  • Notifies you of security risks with the new “Intrusion Detection System”

Hide My WP is also compatible with many other popular WordPress security plugins. It’s rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Code Canyon, and the plugin author is very timely to respond to support requests.

Are You Hiding Your WordPress Installation?

Back to you!

After reading the pros and cons, are you determined to hide the fact that your website is powered by WordPress? What steps have you taken to obscure your CMS, and how well have they worked for you? Share in the comments below!

KeriLynn EngelBy KeriLynn Engel

KeriLynn Engel is a freelance business writer and professional blogger with a passion for WordPress and all things Internet. She writes about technology, women’s history, and other topics for a variety of websites & businesses.

What Is The ROI Of Social Media? Thursday, Dec 4 2014 

social-media-roi

There is little doubt of the value of social media. You can gain a lot of readers and expand your brand. All of these efforts take a lot of time, so how do you know that what you’re getting back from your efforts is worth your time? What is your return on investment? Does its gain outweigh its cost? How valuable are social media shares?

http://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/tips-tricks/what-is-the-roi-of-social-media?utm_source=Elegant+Themes&utm_campaign=dc862b0193-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c886a2fc0a-dc862b0193-50512893

The 5-Second Secret to Less Awkward Online Meetings Tuesday, Nov 18 2014 

A re-post from:
Overcoming one of the biggest issues plaguing virtual get togethers is as simple as counting to five, according to one expert.
 In theory online meetings are great. They save on expensive and time-consuming travel and hold out the tantalizing promise of location independence. The only problem? In practice they can be excruciatingly awkward.

Talking to you computer screen offers none of the helpful feedback of looking out on an audience for speakers and none of the visual stimulation of watching someone up on stage for listeners. And the experience is almost worse if you try to make things interactive as a lack of visual cues means people either talk over each other or hold back out of uncertainty, leaving gaping chasms of silence.

So is the only solution getting in a car or on a plane? Sometimes. But according to online meetings expert Wayne Turmel there’s at least one simple trick that can radically improve your online meetings with essentially no effort.

One Mississippi….

On Management Issues recently Turmel, who has written books on better web meetings and coaches teams on how to improve theirs, asserts that he constantly runs into the same issue when troubleshooting for clients. “They often bemoan thelack of engagement and responsiveness from meeting or class participants,” he reports. Fixing this issue, according to Turmel is as simple as counting to five.

Leaders of online meetings often fear silent lulls excessively, according to Turmel. The inherent awkwardness of not being face to face makes normal pauses where others are absorbing information and formulating their thoughts feel like an age. Plus, potential question askers, for instance, may be simply waiting to see if someone else chimes in first. The result is speakers who barely pause and inadvertently squelch opportunities for interactive exchange.

Luckily, the solution is dead simple. Just “ask for questions or comments and wait five full seconds. It’s longer than you think, and your instinct will be to move things along. Don’t submit to the panic,” instructs Turmel. “Ask, ‘What questions do you have?’ and then silently count ‘one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Mississippi, five Mississippi’… Only then will you have given people a real chance to process the information, form a response, and step up to speak.”

“I have seen this simple technique radically change the dynamic in meetings,” he concludes.

Could it have similarly great effects for your online interactions? Give it a test and tell us how it goes.

What’s in a Name? Monday, Nov 17 2014 

Secrets of Crafting Memorable Brand Names
Brand naming expert David Placek reveals how he helps companies around the world select their one-of-a-kind monikers.

A Reposting of a GREAT Article!

Intel’s Pentium processor was brilliant. So was the Swiffer mop. Crafting those memorable names is all in a day’s work for David Placek, founder and president ofLexicon Branding, a Sausalito, California, firm that develops and evaluates brand names for companies around the world. He’s been at it for 32 years, and though he admits the business has gotten tougher, he never tires of working with brands.

Like many who master their craft, Placek has boiled his process down to a formula. It always starts with discussing the company’s goals and ends with a list of about 10 names that have been crafted, tested, and vetted by a small team of researchers.

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I first heard about Lexicon on StartUp podcast, a show that chronicles the startup experience of Alex Blumberg as he tries to build a podcasting network. Lexicon came up with the company’s new name, Gimlet Media, and it was the one that made Blumberg finally feel official. The naming process intrigued me so much, I decided to learn what happens when a company asks Placek for help. Here’s what he said, which was nothing I would have expected.

Telegraphing an Attitude

When a client comes to Placek, he starts by asking what the company hopes to achieve. “And that’s where we’ll typically get into their beliefs and their attitudes,” he explains, “which is really important when creating a product name or when you’re creating a corporate name.”

What Placek hopes to discover, he continues, is “what roles the name has to play.” For a product, that might mean appealing to shoppers, while a corporate name is usually “multi-dimensional,” selling a product to consumers as well as investors.

Above all, Placek says, he wants to know how the name will play in the marketplace, or as he puts it, “what the future looks like from the client’s perspective.” Will it be disruptive, aggressive, or timid? This is what sets the agenda.

After gathering this info, Placek and his team begin tracking the competition to see “what territory on the map they have already occupied.” Such research also helps to “investigate the messaging around the competition” and how it’s perceived, since any hole in a strategy might be used in the client’s favor.

Of course there are times, like the case of Swiffer, when Lexicon works with companies who are developing an entirely new category. “Swiffer for Procter & Gamble wasn’t a mop, it was an emerging category of highly efficient cleaning tools,” says Placek. But he used mops and paper towels as a reference point.

Placek likens the research to putting together a landscape, or “mapping out the topography.” In knowing the competition, he says, he can brief the small creative teams who will take on the project and begin working toward his two principles:differentiation in the marketplace and “telegraphing an attitude.”

“If you’re not different, people aren’t going to take a look at you,” Placek says. “We’re all creatures of habit, we all have our own preferences.” The challenge is creating a habit for new products. If you’ve always used Johnson & Johnson sponge mops, for example, “we somehow have to do something that is different for you to conclude this [new thing] is something better,” Placek says, “and not just new, but better. We buy better around the world, even in very less industrialized countries.”

Staying Culturally Correct

Once the competitive layout is mapped, Placek begins briefing his creative teams, whose size depends on the project. But there’s a catch: “We don’t give all the same information to all the teams, because we’re after a richness” of ideas, he says. After running through several “creative cycles” internally, the teams examine the names they’ve come up with and whittle down lists using previous research with consumers across several categories. Linguists help research the names’ sound and structure.

After that, Placek has somewhere between 75 and 100 names, which go through legal clearance for trademark issues. “These days, with all the trademark clutter, we’ll put in 100 names and only get 20, argue about those, and end up with 10,” he says. “Those are the ones we take to the client and present to them, along with our rationale, which is about the creative goals, the ideal standards we set, then the legal report on those names.”

Usually, a name is selected, which will be vetted further from a language and a legal, or trademark, standpoint, he says. Rarely does a company settle on a name immediately.

Over the years, Placek has tweaked this approach to trends in the marketplace. “We live in a global world now because of the internet,” so “we added more linguists to our teams, and more of what we call a linguistic structure.” In fact, Placek has a network of linguists in 43 countries. “If we’re doing business, we care about the attitude toward that business,” he adds. If he’s working with a coffee client, he wants to know whether coffee is viewed as a luxury or a form of energy in the business’s country. “We get much more of a global perspective before we begin.”

Trademarks are also important, Placek says, noting he expanded his legal team years ago. Lexicon works with “millions of trademarks,” so it “started licensing search engines that have the right algorithms to find the right concepts; then we decided, ‘Well, let’s hire someone to do this.’ Then, along the way, we hired another person, then another. Now we have a department of people headed by a trademark attorney.”

Each year, Placek estimates, between 100 to 150,000 names are added to those databases, though he admits that number’s conservative. “We’re still staring at the same alphabet,” but when it comes to the name, “well, we want to be different and capture certain things about the company in the name, so it becomes very difficult,” he says.

Even letters must look distinctive. “Some are round and full; others are narrow and slim,” Placek offers. “For a weight-loss drug, I wouldn’t rely on big, full letters like Oand U. I’d think about slimmer letters–B rather a U; I or a T rather than an L or a U. We want to make sure that we start linguistically with something that’s lean and slim.” He adds, “getting at the cultural issues is harder.”

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.

Molly Crabapple’s 14 rules for creative success in the Internet age Wednesday, Nov 5 2014 

To celebrate the release of my new book, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age, I’ve invited some of my favorite creators and thinkers to write about their philosophy on the arts and the Internet. Today, Molly Crabapple presents her 14 iron laws of creativity. -Cory Doctorow

Why do creative people seem so cynical when they follow standard business practices that every successful business person must follow?  Martin

info

I’m a visual artist and writer. What this means is that I have done most things one can do that involve making pictures (as to making words, I’m far newer). I’ve ` dicks for Playgirl. I’ve painted a six foot tall replica of my own face and carefully calligraphed things people have said to me on the Internet, then displayed it in a Tribeca gallery, as a sort of totem. I’ve live-sketched snipers in Tripoli. I’ve illustrated self-published kids books for ten dollars a page. I’ve balanced on jury-rigged scaffolding on a freezing British dawn, painting pigs on the walls of one of the world’s poshest nightclubs.

I’ve made my living as an artist for eight years, almost entirely without galleries, and until relatively recently without agents. It was a death-slog that threw me into periodic breakdowns . I’m pretty successful now. I make a good living, even in New York, have a full time assistant who gets a middle-class salary, and have a book coming out with a major publisher. I feel so lucky, and so grateful, for every bit of this.

My success would not have been possible without the internet. I’ve used every platform, from Craigslist and Suicide Girls to Livejournal, Myspace, Kickstarter, Tumblr and Twitter. I’m both sick of social media and addicted to it. What nourishes you destroys you, and all that. The internet is getting increasingly corporate and centralized, and I don’t know that the future isn’t just going back to big money platforms. I hope its not.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. The number one thing that would let more independent artists exists in America is a universal basic income. The number one thing that has a possibility of happening is single payer healthcare. This is because artists are humans who need to eat and live and get medical care, and our country punishes anyone who wants to go freelance and pursue their dream by telling them they might get cancer while uninsured, and then not be able to afford to treat it.

2. Companies are not loyal to you. Please never believe a company has your back. They are amoral by design and will discard you at a moment’s notice. Negotiate aggressively, ask other freelancers what they’re getting paid, and don’t buy into the financial negging of some suit.

3. I’ve cobbled together many different streams of income, so that if the bottom falls out of one industry, I’m not ruined. My mom worked in packaging design. When computers fundamentally changed the field, she lost all her work. I learned from this.

4. Very often people who blow up and become famous fast already have some other sort of income, either parental money, spousal money, money saved from another job, or corporate backing behind the scenes. Other times they’ve actually been working for 10 years and no one noticed until suddenly they passed some threshold. Either way, its good to take a hard look- you’ll learn from studying both types of people, and it will keep you from delusional myth-making.

5. I’ve never had a big break. I’ve just had tiny cracks in this wall of indifference until finally the wall wasn’t there any more

6. Don’t be a dick. Be nice to everyone who is also not a dick, help people who don’t have the advantages you do, and never succumb to crabs in the barrel infighting.

7. Remember that most people who try to be artists are kind of lazy. Just by busting your ass, you’re probably good enough to put yourself forward, so why not try?

8. Rejection is inevitable. Let it hit you hard for a moment, feel the hurt, and then move on.

9. Never trust some Silicon Valley douchebag who’s flush with investors’ money, but telling creators to post on their platform for free or for potential crumbs of cash. They’re just using you to build their own thing, and they’ll discard you when they sell the company a few years later.

10. Be a mercenary towards people with money. Be generous and giving to good people without it.

11. Working for free is only worth it if its with fellow artists or grassroots organizations you believe in, and only if they treat your respectfully and you get creative control.

12. Don’t ever submit to contests where you have to do new work. They’ll just waste your time, and again, only build the profile of the judges and the sponsoring company. Do not believe their lies about “exposure”. There is so much content online that just having your work posted in some massive image gallery is not exposure at all.

13. Don’t work for free for rich people. Seriously. Don’t don’t don’t. Even if you can afford to, you’re fucking over the labor market for other creators. Haggling hard for money is actually a beneficial act for other freelancers, because it is a fight against the race to the bottom that’s happening online.

14. If people love your work, treat them nice as long as they’re nice to you.

15. Be massively idealistic about your art, dream big, open your heart and let the blood pour forth. Be utterly cynical about the business around your art.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer living in New York. She has written for the NY Times, Vanity Fair, and VICE, and has work in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art.

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