Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Improving Search Engine Ranking

Recently I did some research on to what makes each search engine tick. What I found was of course that they are very similar as to what they look for in a website, but one of the biggest things I found out was the site’s age plays a giant role in your search rankings.

This is true for Google especially, it is almost impossible to get a decent ranking by Google if your website is fairly new (under 18 months). Yahoo and MSN seem to put a bit different emphasis on this and in as little as 6 months you can get a good ranking with them if you build your website correctly.

The basic things I recommend to get your search ranking up are below (and in order from the most important).

1. Don’t use navigation that is Javascript based, crawlers may not be able to see all the pages in your website

2. Use your keywords in your title tags of your website

3. Use your keywords on the text of your website frequently and put them in the appropriate paragraph and heading tags.

4. Get links from other websites that have high PR rankings. Just a link isn’t great, but a link that contains your keywords. (for example if your website is example.com that sells widgets, try to get a link that goes to example.com when they click on the word “widget”)

5. Use meta tags and descriptions. They say they aren’t that used anymore, but I think it could be the difference between a good rating and a great rating. Try to be as detailed as possible to each page and not use the same description on every page.

6. Use title/Alt tags on images and link on your own website.

That about covers it, there is not amazing technology that you need to know – but people frequently don’t do the basics so if you do it will be noticed.

LongJump CRM Reviewed

LongJump is one of the newest web based CRM’s on the market today, unfortunately all the hype may not be worth much.

I reciently signed up for the 30 day trial to see what all this “custom application” and “relational database” stuff that they advertise is about. It is definintely not geared to inspire small businesses to use a CRM package. It is just much too difficult and involves too much understanding of the underpinnings to do even basic tasks.

First impressions:

The appearance of LongJump is actually pretty nice. It has a green a blue windows XP color theme going on that works quite well. The overall layout is really nothing new with the tabs across the top and some actions on the left. What was interesting and hard to get used to was to add a record of anytime you needed to click on the tab you wanted and then click “add record” from the left side of the screen. A bit odd but nothing to major.

Another thing that I noticed was the drop down menu at the very top of the page. This allows you to go between your “contact manager” and your “sales force automation” along with over 12 other modules that you can choose or ones that you have created yourself. This was somewhat neat but the more I got into it the harder it was for me to use because of this.

The homepage consisted of widgets that are “drag and droppable” which was nice, though the drag and drop was choppy on FireFox. They allow you to show a lot of content on each page but this requires a minimum screen resolution of 1280x1024 to use their product. If you have this, no worries.

Under the hood:

My biggest pet peeve when working with LongJump was that you have tabs from each area that are the same but not connected to the other areas. Ie. In the Sales Force Automation tab I have accounts and contacts but if I go to the “campaign manager” tab and try to set up a mailing list it seems that I have to import new contacts instead of being able to say “use these contacts that I have already entered. There may be a way to do this, but it sure isn’t intuitive.

The lack of intuitive actions was the bottom line to why I cannot recommend this product. Even something as simple as uploading your logo isn’t as easy as it should be. You have to click on “upload logo” then you go to a screen where you need to enter all your company information, go to another screen to upload the photo and then select that upload from the prior screen. It doesn’t even resize it to make it look decent.

Final Thoughts:

What LongJump has done is create an application that can create other applications. In theory this is fantasic, but in reality all it did was create a hard to use product that isn’t “great” at anything. If you use only the basic contact manager and ignore the other parts it may work for your company, but once you start messing around with the rest you will find it just isn’t designed as nice as it could be.

For the same price you can get an easier to use small business crm software.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The verdict is in on LogicBright’s new version

After several responses about the new version of LogicBright CRM, the consensis is that it was a great move for the product. Everyone thought the interface changes were good and made it easier to get around. A couple were really impressed with the “dragging and dropping” of custom fields. Most of the other features went over really well including the “assign to teams.” However, they felt that feature was really needed prior to this launch, but is glad it is part of the product now.
Though I only talked to a few small businesses regarding the changes, it seems that LogicBright CRM is really paying attention to what their clients want in a small business CRM solution.

Friday, March 7, 2008

LogicBright CRM Launches New Version: Is it good?

On 3/2/08, LogicBright CRM released news of version 1.5. The new version boasts "30% lighter and has innovative new features that will help users be more productive and efficient while maintaining its ease of use." For those of you unfamiliar with LogicBright CRM, they are a small business CRM application.

But what does this all mean to you? Is it better? Faster? Do the new features complicate things?

Well I tried it out and here is what I found.

As to the "30% lighter, faster" claim. I didn't really notice the speed difference on every page, I am using a 8mb cable line so it is doubtful that their old interface was large enough to impact me. But I would assume that on a slower connection, maybe one that a mobile sales person would use, it could impact them.

There were many new features listed on their LogicBright CRM 1.5 tour page. So I will go down the list and discuss a few of them.

Start-up wizard - When new users login, they get a 5 step wizard that walks them through a few basic tasks. This is really innovative and original. I think new users will really appreciate this feature and will help them understand what CRM is capable of in an easy way.

The Interface - This was noticeable from the first login. The data is shown in a clear more refined way. I found it easier to scan for the information I was looking for.

Drag and Drop - This was probably the best feature addition I could have seen. One of their weak points in the past was their inability to put custom data fields any where you wanted. But now you can easily drag them to the spot you want them. It was one of the easiest "setups" I have seen for a CRM product.

Assign to Teams - Long overdue, but done well. When you type in an employees name it allows you to choose numerous employees or choose a team that they are on. Like usual, they use their innovative instant search that searches for your users as you type.

New Widgets - I noticed the addition of a photo widget, where you can put a couple photos to have a mini slide show on the homepage. Neat, but not overly useful. I also noticed a few options for existing widgets which allowed me to read a bit about the article before clicking on the news link. Pretty useful.

Overall, most of the changes are really good. There are a few "niceties" that aren't overly useful but add to the refinement of the product. I think LogicBright CRM has sealed the "Easy use CRM" part of the market.