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Taking Care Of Your Site’s Needs: The Smart Phone

With the smart phone becoming one of the most ubiquitous pieces of personal equipment wherever you go, it’s important to make sure that your website is ready to deal with this new client base.  Yes, it does count as a different demographic from people browsing with their computers.  Here’s why:

You have to have a different website programming in order for smart phones to be able to read it.

Part of this is because of the differences of a smart phone’s screen from the average computer screen.  The smaller size means that the pages viewed have to be formatted differently so that everything isn’t  one big left-right scroll bar.  Part of it is because of the basic differences in the operational computer languages of phones as opposed to “normal” computers.  And part of it is because people are going to be more prone to make snap decisions when they’re dealing with you through their phones than they would over the computer.

The problem here is that, unless you know what you’re doing, you’re going to be hard pressed to make the changes you need without wrecking either the smart phone version or the main version of your website.  When you’ve got everything taken care of properly, though, you’ve literally opened the door to a whole new demographic – people who aren’t using their computers to look at your website.  This may not cause a dramatic increase in the amount of business you do in a short time, but it’ll still bring more paying customers to the table.


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Taking Care Of Your Site’s Needs: Movie Time

You might have never thought about it, but a video can really help your company website a lot.  From the most basic presentational slideshows to meet-and-greet clips, they tell people that you really want them to get a lot of use out of coming to your site.  That’s because it’s a level of interaction beyond just having them read what you’ve written.  That’s not meant as a dig at blogs, guys; it’s just a simple matter of reminding them that there’s a real human being on the other side of the web page – kind of like all the customer service people you’ll meet when you stop in at a business.

There are lots of ways that this can be done, too.  There are some videos that run automatically, cycling to the start again once they reach the end, and these need to be simpler videos so that they don’t turn people off for simply making the site too busy.  It’s good to have a more complicated video that people can choose to start or stop, too, because that increases the level of interaction with your site that’s going on.  The ironic part is that the video with more complex content can actually be the easier one to make, because it can be the sort of thing hosted on sites like YouTube, while the simpler graphics one will pretty much need to be integrated into the programming of your site.

Whether you decide to use just one or both kinds of video for your website, it’s important to understand the differences in what they do for you and in how they need to be treated.  If you’ve got something where the CEO of your company greets people and gives them the proverbial ten cent tour, you need to make sure that it isn’t going to be forced on people who don’t really want it.  That would make them dislike your site, and your company by extension.  If you get everything right, though, you can help to encourage people to do business with you – and you can actually improve your site’s ranking on search engines.

Of course, it’s important to remember that you don’t want any videos connected to your site to be to long.  If they take more than about five minutes or so, you run the risk of people losing interest and moving on to something else – possibly leaving your site as a result.  You need to be concise and interesting, and you need to make sure that your video reflects well on your site.  That isn’t going to be an easy task without either boring or overwhelming viewers, but it can be done.  When you succeed, you’ll be one step closer to making your site the first place that people go for absolutely everything you offer.

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Taking Care Of Your Site’s Needs: Back To Basics

Even if you’re not going to try handling your SEO needs on your own, that doesn’t mean that you have to leave your site completely invisible to search engine crawlers.  For one thing, Google has recently increased the amount of information you have available as a webmaster.  That means that you can keep better track of how you’re ranking and what you need to do in order to succeed.

Beyond that, though, there are lots of little things you can do to help your site out.  Just focusing on the basics a bit more can go a long way toward making any website more functional as a page that can be indexed.  More importantly, all of those fundamental website practices will help make it easier for people to do business with you, which is why you’ve taken your company online in the first place.

Of course, once you’re ready to have a skilled SEO team help your site, you can let them handle all of that as well.  They’ll be able to take all those efforts and go far more in-depth than someone who’s just getting started can.  In the meantime, it’s still a good idea to take some basic steps in order to make sure that your company can grow into everything you want it to be.

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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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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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What Secrets Do You Share Online?

Apparently, people aren’t as leery about dealing with “shady characters” as you might think.  Carnegie Mellon University recently concluded a study in which they found that people were less likely to reveal things to websites that look official (even when that’s just a matter of what logo’s used) than to one that looks like it might be run by people who’ll abuse your trust.

That’s really important for people who want to run honest businesses, as odd as it might seem.  Even though I’m not a psychologist, I’d say that the reason the study had the results they did is that people have, for whatever reason, an inherent distrust of anything they perceive as “The Man”, while they don’t mind sharing anything when they feel they’re sharing it in confidence like they would to a friend.

Obviously, no honest site wants to look like they’re only there to use people’s data to rob or defraud them.  However, this would seem to indicate that they shouldn’t look too polished, either.  If people are more ready to share things with a site that looks dubious than with one that looks official, it’s safe to assume that they aren’t willing to risk anyone in a position of authority to coming after them as much as they are willing to risk being robbed.

This ties in to the issues of online safety raised in previous posts on this blog on the second and eighth.  People who’ve spent their entire lives in the Internet age are generally more trusting with their information, in whatever form, than people who remember life before computers talked to each other as a matter of course.  And nobody wants to deal with a lot of the extra steps they have to take when dealing with some sites that are supposed to be safer because of the extra, proscribed measures they take to that end.

So, for a company to be successful at getting all the information it wants, you apparently need to buddy up with people rather than look like you’re certified and approved.  I can’t say that I like that idea, because it’s hard to tell the online company that’s your buddy from the identity thief that’s just looking for a way to get into your bank account.  Whether this will lead to an epidemic online, though, I don’t know yet.

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Know What You’re Talking About

The prevalence of blogs on the Internet has proven one thing that so many of us have forgotten:  It’s important to know what you’re talking about before you say anything.  A lot of blogs have foundered because of this, and a lot more have become very successful for the opposite reason – sometimes even leading to careers going in new and unexpected directions as a result of someone knowing what they’re posting about.

However, the same rule applies to all other parts of life as well.  That’s why one pretty much can’t get a college degree without doing a few research papers.  The ability to find out about something when you don’t yet know much of anything is a very powerful tool.  So you need to be sure that what you’re saying online, be it on a personal page or a company website, is actually correct – even if doing so means doing some extra work.

That’s an important part of making sure that your content is worth reading to anyone who may look at it while searching the internet for something.  Distinctly knowing what you’re talking about is every bit as valuable to search engine crawlers as just being sure of yourself; but it’s more valuable to you in the long run, because you won’t get shoved down to the end of the priority list for being proven wrong.

As a result, it’s a good idea to double check on anything you’re not 100% sure of, when you want to use it as a fact or even as an anecdote on your site.  This can be tricky, if you found the information online yourself, because dead links and 404 errors can come up at any point to remove the reference that backs up your facts – that will make it hard to prove your facts if anybody asks where you got them.

That means that you need to use books and websites that can be counted on to maintain their pages properly when checking facts.  It also means that you need to check your facts whenever you can.  Otherwise, you aren’t going to be able to keep people’s attention for very long, or to be helpful to them when you actually have their interest.  That’s the difference between a site that people disregard and one to which they turn whenever they have a question on a given matter.

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The Pervasion Of Spam

It’s worth thinking about, just how much spam is floating around the Internet these days.  With the threat of various malevolent software attacks, it’s probable that half of what you come across has ties (direct or indirect) to viruses or worms.  However, a lot of stuff is just there so that someone can try to draw attention to themselves or to something that they’re trying to push – albeit very sloppily.

Most email systems have had spam filters for several years now, in order to help people to avoid sifting through all the unwanted emails that are sent out like a net to see what can be reeled in.  However, that’s not the only place you’ll see spam.  Odds are, if you have a blog of your own, you have to cope with spam comments, too.

Even social media sites like Twitter and Facebook aren’t immune, though on Facebook it comes more in the form of friend requests from people you’ve never met and who may not even exist.  That brings home the problem with spam, though:  It’s not the fact that it’s everywhere that’s the problem, it’s the fact that even the most benign examples aren’t actually out to help you with anything.  Instead, they’re there because someone wants something from you.

And so they go around, like thousands of barnacles drifting through the currents of the Internet, attaching to whatever seems a likely way to make a buck or just sending out runners to whomever they’ve gotten a little contact information on – sometimes purely by accident, even.  That’s why it appears in such large quantities all over the place.

Everyone knows spam is annoying, and most people don’t even bother to check it out when it comes up.  It just gets deleted, because we already know that it’s not worth our time to look at it.  This pervasiveness is a good demonstration of what’s so wrong with it.  It’s taking up space to try to steal your attention, bandwidth that could be better used for just about anything because the attention sought isn’t gained.

Which really begs the question: why do people bother cranking out so much spam, since most people are only going to trash it as soon as they get it?  Largely, it’s because not everyone does.  Spam has been proven to be a fairly effective marketing strategy, as long as the ads can come up with interesting subject lines.  Unfortunately, that means it’s not going to stop any time soon.

All we can do is work to improve spam filters, refuse to send it out ourselves, and get rid of it as soon as any reaches us personally.  In the meantime, don’t get too bothered by its presence.  That just gets you thinking about it more, which is what the spammer wanted in the first place.

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The Internet is the New Medium of Free Speech

It’s interesting to consider Google’s problems with the censoring enforced on it within the borders of China.  On the one hand, they agreed to the Chinese governments requirement that restrictions be placed on what they could show and do.  On the other hand, enforcing external restrictions on a search engine seems to be contrary to the very nature of the Internet.

Webster’s Online Dictionary defines the Internet as “A computer network consisting of a worldwide network of computer networks that use the TCP/IP network protocols to facilitate data transmission and exchange.”  That means it is all about communication between people, which many hold to be a natural right possessed by everyone.

Even though Bill Gates aptly pointed out that obeying the laws of a country is the only way to ensure that you can do business there, it’s also important for a country to make sure that its laws make that a desirable thing.  The Internet is, at its essence an exercise in freedom of speech, so one has to wonder just how far it can be restricted without stepping on people’s rights.

That doesn’t mean that you have the right to plot a murder online just because of free speech – what’s wrong is still wrong and isn’t protected.  What I do mean is that it’s worth thinking about what exactly China wanted to censor that is leaving Google thinking that it’s not even worth the effort of operating there.

The actual morality in the matter can be refined to a razors edge that no one could walk, but Google is not some small business that has to worry about losing a few thousand dollars of business.  They’re willing to give up millions over this, so it’s safe to conclude that it would cost them millions more just to stay in business there.

The really interesting thing, though, comes from the fact that Google is the single most powerful search engine online.  That means that China is willing to risk cutting its Internet services basically in half just to stop the spread of what it wants censored.

The whole situation is a very strange balancing act that the rest of us may not understand in full until years after it’s all over.  We might not even know how it touches the rest of us until then, all because of how the question of Free Speech affects and is affected by the Internet.

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White Hat and the Morality of Code

Most people don’t realize it, but a lot of what goes on in your website depends on the source code and meta tags that are used.  Don’t misunderstand and think that this means that your content isn’t important – it’s absolutely vital – but the heavy lifting, so to speak, all goes on behind the scenes, where most people never see it.  So, the code used has to have a code of morality, too.

Here’s the thing: someone who’s good at writing HTML and meta tags can basically lie to Google and other search engines, and get a different rating than they should have.  This might mean they’re further up the list than they should be, but it might mean they get put onto lists where they shouldn’t be included at all – Black Hat SEO firms love that sort of thing.

White Hat companies, by contrast, will make sure that your code is completely legitimate and doesn’t include anything to try tricking the search engines.  Instead, they make the whole website work fluidly with the spiders search engines send out to figure out where, and under what categories pages should be listed.  Each line of HTML involved is written just right, so it makes everything easier to inspect and come to an accurate decision.

They can even make your site more user friendly that way.  Since work on optimizing the site is all about making it more relevant to prospective clients, making it easier to use is a serious possibility when the source code is being worked on.  That’s why it’s important to make sure that you get a reliable, White Hat SEO company to handle everything you need done.

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