Archive for November, 2010

Even The Changing Internet Still Needs Quality Content On Every Page

Ok, so everyone knows that the Internet is changing about as much as it’s staying the same.  Online stores don’t change as much, except in style, as other things – although there are some parts of social media that are starting to look like serious online stores, and there are some stores that have developed their own social media.  For all of that, how many times has Facebook made major changes since you signed up on it?

Well, it doesn’t matter what your website does, you need it to be as high quality as possible.  Dead and broken links are an obvious thing to avoid, but have you ever thought about how easy it is for people to read what your pages have to say?  I’m not talking about the general idea of “We offer this, we also do that”, I’m talking about what you have online to convince people that they should do business with you.

That has a bearing on everything, because it’s the whole reason you’re online in the first place.  What’s your return on investment going to be if you only invest in a lousy presentation for your goods and services?  Even the people that do a poor job are going to charge you real money (as opposed to fake money) for what they do.  So, you need to make sure that what you’re spending money on is going to be good enough to actually do what you want it to.

For another example, I could keep writing on this post forever talking about the importance of doing a good job in content, but that wouldn’t do anything extra to convince you to use for your SEO services.  So, just babbling along would be poor-quality content.  And you’d probably just close the browser window.

So what’s the point?  The point is that, no matter who you get for help online – or even whether you get help at all – you have to make sure that everything from your homepage to the page that has the specific thing someone’s looking for has nothing more or less than the level of content that’s going to help people to make a good decision.  You shouldn’t badger them, you shouldn’t bore them, and above all you shouldn’t distract them with extra things that have nothing to do with the decision at hand:  If you bring up something tangential that you do, they may stop and think “Hey, that’s cool, but I know this site over here that does it best” and leave your site without doing anything.

You need to make sure that every page is carefully crafted from the bit up to help you achieve your company’s goals.  This takes attention, persistence, and patience but it’s the only way to make your site a success no matter whether it’s a store or an SM page for interfacing with your client base.


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Using SM Isn’t Using Other Resources

Ok, so the title isn’t exactly sage wisdom.  You’d be surprised at how hard it is to actually grasp, though.

If you’re trying to understand what social media can do for your company, you need to keep in mind that it isn’t exactly like any other resource you’ve got.  It’s got a bit of just about everything (usually with the exception of the checkout line, but that’s another discussion entirely) without the distinctiveness of being a proper branch.

There’s a little bit of marketing, but there’s also a bit of customer service and even the sales floor – it’s a perfect place for both employee and other customers to make recommendations.  The main thing to remember, as David Berkowitz points out, is that SM isn’t business the way you’re used to running it.  It’s a whole new frontier with different rules than the one’s you’re probably used to.

Understanding what you can, and should, do with social media is the key to actually profiting from it, because the success it can provide isn’t the same as you’d get from opening a storefront property.  That means that you can have a harder time making sure that you’re actually getting your money’s worth out of it, but the possible benefits are very real even if they don’t fit into your standard pie chart.

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Is It A Google World?

Google is very useful for a lot of things.  It’s earned its place as the leading search engine.  I personally use YouTube a lot to enjoy cool video clips.  But it’s worrisome to see Google trying to take over everything they can get their hands on.  Some months back, Eric Schmidt said that his company was trying to toe up to the “creepy line” with how much it does for you.  Well, it looks like they’re at it again, and as usual people don’t like it.

Google’s trying to break into TV, running it through the Internet.  In itself, that’s not necessarily all that bad – or even particularly original.  In the long term, it’s actually probably a good idea because of how streamline the technology is inevitably going to make life.  The problem is that, once again, Google’s trying to do everything.

The company’s gotten very good at making people nervous that it’s going to take over every aspect of their lives, even taking a bath!  Everybody’s heard about the Street Level program effectively spying on people even in their most private moments.  So, it’s perfectly understandable that we shouldn’t want the same company having a foothold in every part of our lives.

But now we’re supposed to be happy that they’re offering us our television programming online?  Something they need to consider is that, with all the things they’re trying to get a foothold in, it sure looks like Google is trying to build up some kind of a monopoly – something that’s proven to paint a bull’s-eye on any company for a long time now.

I’ve said many times that I like Google as a general rule.  But I really don’t like it that they’re trying to muscle in on so many parts of our lives.  It’s like they’re trying to achieve something out of a bad sci-fi story.  Is there a limit to where they’re going to spread, or is it a Google world after all?

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Brave New Online World

Well, we’ve said all along that the Internet is changing.  Now the Gartner Symposium has proven it:  they’ve pointed out how even email is changing in light of social media.  You’ve probably noticed that to some extent.  Updates on what some of the contacts in your address book are doing, perhaps?

Well, this isn’t the only way in which the Internet’s changing things.  A while back, Sococo released what’s essentially a social media program for the office.  The idea is that you use it rather than chase all over the place to find someone, and a thousand other things that it can simplify for you.

So, it’s not surprising that the standard email providers are getting on the bandwagon as well, or that SM has been trying to facilitate that blending.  The easier it is for people to communicate with each other, the more the Internet does the job it’s actually intended for.

There’s always been some level of talk that one day computers are going to be like you see in the old Jetsons cartoons, where you press a button and it’s a calculator or you press another and it’s a live video conference with your boss.  Well, it’s almost here.  The software is developing, and the hardware is so good that you can almost feel Mr. Spacely reaching out from the screen and grabbing you by the collar.  It’s just a matter of time now before everyone’s wondering why we don’t have flying cars too.

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You Know You’re An Internet Geek When…

Sooner or later, everyone has to ask themselves: “How far is too far?”  Obviously, the Internet is a very useful thing that can help both business and private life.  However, shouldn’t it be put aside when someone’s life is in danger?

Apparently, a lot of people don’t think so.  Last night, Bill Nye, the famous Science Guy, collapsed while starting a lecture.  Offhand, it looks like he might have had some sort of a stroke.  Did everybody rush up to help him?  No, they tweeted the whole thing.  If you happen to be following the right tweets, you already got a thorough walk through of the whole thing.

Some people have been defending the students in attendance with the argument that they thought it was part of Professor Nye’s act.  Maybe they did and maybe they didn’t.  Either way, it doesn’t seem like one’s first response should be to send out a tweet.

And the death of YouTuber Messy Mya?  I’m looking and I can’t find anything about all the people who found out almost as soon as it happened getting word to the police before they could spread the word online.

Getting word to fans about problems their heroes are facing isn’t without merit.  I understand that.  But when that becomes more important that helping those same people in their moment of need, we need to take a long look at ourselves and ask if our priorities are straight.  Isn’t it possible that we’ve passed the point where we value our digital connections too much?

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Cash In Point

A month and a half ago, I told you about some companies making money by selling you products that only exist in games on your computer.  Well, here’s the proof that it’s a lucrative set up, if you need anything more:

A game’s player just made a fortune by selling off his in-game real estate.  That’s $635 thousand in real money, before taxes.  This guy wasn’t one of the people who made and ran the game, either, he’s just someone who plays it.

Oh, brave new world, that has such financial opportunities in it.  The Internet has definitely changed everything, so who knows what we’ll be in ten years because of it?

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Everyone Should Hate Spam

Anyone who maintains a blog has seen comments come in that look like they might not actually have anything to do with what you’re talking about.  “Hey, you should try this thing I found on” ring a bell for anyone?  I realize I haven’t talked about this in a while, but it’s on my mind today and I thought I’d share a few things on the matter.

For starters, anyone who actually wants their clients to do well should avoid spamming whenever possible – if a search engine tumbles to the fact that spam is being used, they’ll penalize the site that’s benefiting from it in any number of ways including removing them from a search listing entirely (the searching equivalent of capital punishment, for those who don’t think spam’s a serious matter).

It gets even trickier with the rise of social media in the online community.  People are actually using Facebook and the online games connected with it than Google and all of its subsidiary sites.  That must seem like a ripe field for black hat operators ready to do just about anything to promote their clients.  Even for the rest of us it presents a very treacherous path to walk that can easily see you sliding off into the abyss.  Learning what to look for in your own efforts is the first and possibly most important step in cleaning out the spam from your own content.

Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot you can do beyond that and just clearing your spam filter every so often so that it isn’t stacked up.  I wonder, does a link that’s stored in a spam folder still count towards the ranking of the site to which it sends you?  That would be one for the various search engines to answer, I suppose, but I still don’t want to have them just sitting there in my account.

The interesting thing, though, is that you can now get spam on your smart phone, so that there’s no waking moment when you aren’t at risk of a polluted Internet.  As soon as you open it to your homepage, you’re going to find yourself faced with a lot of links that have nothing to do with what you’re after and some that may even offend your values.  All in the name of helping some company do better online.

As search engine optimizers, it’s perfectly natural that we should want to help our clients be more visible online.  It’s even right, because that’s what they’re paying us for.  But it should never be done at the expense of the people we’re trying to get to go to our client’s with their business.  If you’ll forgive me a Star Wars analogy, black hat techniques are “quicker, easier, more seductive” but in the end will leave your clients looking all rotten and gross, cackling “good, good” whenever someone launches another spam campaign on their behalf.

That doesn’t ultimately do anyone any good.

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More To The Internet Than One Day

Well, I wanted to have something clever and interesting for everyone today, but I’m afraid that I can’t find anything in my news resources worth sharing with you and really nothing worth saying at all.  So that’s it.  This is the end of all blogs forever, from everyone.  Of all time.

Seriously, though, that’s the real beauty of the Internet, when you think about it:  As long as you’re willing to keep your eyes open, you’re sure to find something worth your time.  There might not be anything interesting to you today, but you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.  Someone somewhere, maybe on the other side of the world may come out with something so ultimate that you’ve been waiting for it your entire life – even if you never knew it before you find out about it tomorrow.

Everybody’s working on something, so you’re never going to run out of things to learn and do for very long.  This sounds very prosaic, but it’s true nonetheless.  The Internet is all about connecting with others so that you can learn things that you wouldn’t have access to without it, literally tying the world together in a much smaller circle than the 6,371.0-6,378.1 kilometer (according to Wikipedia) dirtball that we’re all on.

So, we’ll see you later, because you never know what tomorrow’s going to bring.

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Google Has Met Its Match

How do you bring down a giant?  Get him to pick a fight with a bigger giant.  And that’s just what Google’s done.  They’re suing the U.S. government for awarding a contract to their competitors rather than them.

Now, the problem is this:  court cases involving two powerful opponents (or one powerful and one very stubborn) always get ugly.  It’s very possible that this will wind up breaking Google’s monopoly on a lot of things.  I think it’s even likely, because the whole question of the case turns on whether or not they have a right to demand a monopoly from the government.

Google’s been getting into a lot of trouble lately for being too much of a Big Brother element in our lives.  So, naturally, they’re now challenging the one institution that can equal them in terms of how much it’s poking it’s nose in people’s lives.  The difference is that Google doesn’t run the courts, the government – the one they’re challenging – does.  A fair fight?  Probably not.  One that Google started?  Definitely.

All in all, I’d say that this is probably the biggest mistake that Google’s ever made and perhaps ever will make.  What I want to know is what were they thinking when they decided this was a good idea?

Does anybody out there see a way they can survive this?  ‘Cause I’d love to know.

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Well Done, Mark Zuckerberg

Just a quick followup on the post we had a few weeks back.  Facebook is now talking about the app/privacy problem it was having, and apparently has persuaded the information broker RapLeaf to delete all the data that was gleaned from Facebook’s pages.  The news article I found addressing the subject didn’t say, or know, whether there were other data brokers involved in the agreement, but this is a good sign that Facebook is serious about ensuring that its users aren’t being used while using the site.

Ostensibly, the information gathered wasn’t anything that people were blocking from public view, but the fact remains that this can and should go a long way toward rebuilding the trust that was eroding over this past month.

Well done, Facebook team.

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