Thursday, September 17, 2009

Google's Caffeine is Shaking Up Search Results

Search engine optimization is starting to become a lot like the stock market: some of your investments pay off quickly, some don't ever pay off, and others go great for years and all of a sudden are worthless.

If you find that your search results are not what they used to be it may be because of all the changes regarding the search engine market. Every search company is trying to differentiate themselves in this crowded market and this is stirring up rankings.

A month or so ago, Microsoft launched Bing which was promised to provide better results than ever before. They also partnered with Yahoo, meaning webmasters no longer have to optimize their site for Google, Yahoo and MSN (Bing) to ensure they are getting maximum exposure. Now there are just two big dogs, but there is going to be a wrench thrown into the mix.

Google is launching a new search engine named Google Caffeine. Caffeine claims to deliver faster and more accurate search results and the launch could slow Bing's growth.

The public can test Caffeine to see where a site ranks or see what the differences are. It is not nearly as large a change as what Bing was, but it may have some large implications to your website traffic. One of the enhancements will revolve around getting real time data. As news breaks or new content is published it will be added to Caffeine almost immediately.

Google's Caffeine Sandbox

Search engine optimization

Google and Bing are claiming to focus more on crawling of relevant content and reliable websites. This means more time should be spent on boosting your website's content and making sure the structure of your website is sound. There are several things your webmaster can do to make sure you are visible to both Google's Caffeine and Bing.

One of the areas that is being de-emphasized is backlinks. Using the old Google and MSN, backlinks were king; the more links you had to your website the higher ranking you would receive. This caused a problem in the industry because you could literally buy your way to the top. While backlinks are still very important, having website content that is relevant is even more important.

Finally, the age of your website is more important. New websites are being penalized and older domains are being rewarded. There is really nothing you can do about this aspect, just make sure to register new domains as early as possible and don't switch domain names if you can avoid it.

This article was provided by LogicBright CRM - Online contact manager

Friday, June 12, 2009

Some insight into Bing, and why you may actually like it

Not all search engines are created equal, if they were Google wouldn’t have over 60% of the worlds search market. But is Bing a Google killer or just another search with a few gimmicks?

At first glance, Microsoft’s replacement looks surprisingly familiar. It has a search box in the middle of the screen, some links along the top to sign in or create an account and other links that access "images, videos, shopping, news, maps and travel." So, upon first look, it seems that Microsoft spent 100 million dollars to create… Google! But this is really where the similarities stop.

Bing is livened up by a crisp background image that links to some interesting facts and videos about the pictures when you rollover certain areas. Neat, but it is not exactly going to make Bing the search engine of choice.

So how about their search results?

Search results are displayed in the same format as Google and even their results are similar. When I searched for "Kyocera Kansas City" Tekniq popped up as #1 on both search engines. But on Bing I was able to hover my mouse over a little symbol to the right of the results and see a text preview of the page and what the page links to. This little feature could be handy, but with high speed internet it’s probably just faster to click and go to the site to see it yourself.

So where does it really excel?

Bing may be similar in appearance and functionality to Google for searching, but where Bing really dazzles is with its other programs.

1)Bing Images
Bing allows for better image searching and displaying. You can customize the layout of the images and there is no flipping through pages to see more results, simply scroll down and more images appear.

Bing also has a "Show similar Images" link on every image. This is great for finding the type of image you want. So if you want an image of a person talking on a phone, you can type in "phone" and then find the image that you want and click "Show similar images" and you will see more like that image.

2)Bing Videos
Bing has a searchable video service that has video’s from youtube, ABC, BBC and other sites. It also has a quick preview feature where you can roll over the video and it will start streaming it immediately so you can preview the video before even clicking on it.

3)Bing Shopping with cashback
Perhaps one of the best features that Bing has is their shopping feature. It is easy to use and similar to Google shopping but they have a cashback program that pays you up to 10% for buying from certain vendors.

Some of their prices seem to correspond to the wrong products, but one can only assume that it is because the service is new. If they fix this then why would you ever shop online any other way?

4)Bing Maps
Bing’s mapping feature is leftover from But if you have never checked it out, I think you may be impressed. It has great satellite and areal imagery that let you view your house from all four angles instead of just a bird’s eye view. It also has a plug-in that you can install to access true 3d mapping.

Though it doesn’t have an answer to Google Streets, it is still a nice tool and good in its own right.

Bing really does deliver some impressive features without losing what most love about Google. If Google doesn’t respond to some of these features by making changes of their own, then Bing may be something to reckon with. My guess is that Google responds in a big way and is able to leverage their name to once again increase their market. But for now, Bing may be the search engine of choice.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What to do when your business outgrows spreadsheets

If you are like most businesses, you track some of your data in spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are easy and flexible, but they have one major limitation: they can only be worked on by one user at a time. Many businesses start by tracking customer records, daily activities and other data in spreadsheets but what do they do when they start having more people that need to access them at the same time?

One solution is to use pre-made software. For instance, if you wanted to keep track of your contact’s information, you could use contact management software such as LogicBright CRM. This would allow you to keep track of all your contact’s information in one centralized place where all your employees have access to the same set up data.

But what happens when your spreadsheets are specific to your workflow and boxed software just won’t cut it? Having a software custom written for your business, may not be as hard, or expensive, as you think. Many small businesses utilize custom software to automate repetitive tasks or assist with reporting.

To get custom software solutions developed for your business first ask yourself the following questions:

1)Are there time consuming daily tasks that could be automated?
2)Is my business relying on spreadsheets for day-to-day operations?
3)Would real-time reporting help my business?

If you answered yes to any of these things then you may want to find a custom software vendor by looking for website development firms.

Finding the right vendor

Many web design firms do only website design and they do not have extensive experience programming complex business applications. So make sure you choose a vendor that has the appropriate experience.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Monetizing your website with limited traffic

Making money off of your website is not an easy task, but it can be done. The easiest and fastest way to start making money is to sign-up with an advertising network. One type of ad network is pay per click (PPC), such as Google AdSense. Other networks are pay per impression (CPM) like Burst Media or Tribal Fusion. The problem with the later is you need a substantial amount of traffic to make any money. Sometimes you will need a lot of traffic just to sign up with them.

So what can you do if you are like the rest of us but don’t have a whole lot of traffic?

1) Pick your niche

Sometimes websites are so focused that getting a single click from a Google advertisement can make you $10. The problem is that these opportunities are few and far between. Keywords that have to do with legal issues such as Mesothelioma (asbestos disease) can pay up to $25 a click. Other business products such as newsletter software, small business CRM, and even brand names can net you a lot of cash.

2) Build your site properly

If you focus on building your website properly, provide good content and generally follow good practices you may find your website having a nice Google page ranking. If you have a page ranking of 4 or higher, you can probably sell ads on your site that are focused on SEO.

For example. LogicBright, small business contact manager, wants to appear higher on Google's search results. So they purchase a advertisement, in the form of a text link, that contains their keywords. LogicBright will not get any traffic from your small website, but the SEO benefit is there and they may be willing to pay $25 a month or more for higher page ranks.

3) Offer paid reviews

If your website is a blog or a website that can fit reviews, you may be able to make money by posting paid reviews on your website. Some companies such as PayPerPost will allow you to join their network to find these opportunities. You are usually provided with all the product information you will need and in many cases it won’t take long at all to make some money. The biggest requirement these sites have is that your page ranking is decent and you make regular updates.

So you see, you don’t need to rely on high-traffic anymore to monetize a website. The best part about it, is all of these things can help you build your traffic as a result of promoting your website in certain channels.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Driving Traffic To Your Website Using Twitter

Recently, I conducted an experiment by using twitter heavily to drive people to my website. When I say heavily, I mean really heavily. I got over 900 followers in 5 days and posted over 170 posts, many of contained links to fun content on my website.

To do this, I simply searched for random people and b2b companies that focus on contact management for small businesses, and added them to the people I was following. In turn, about 50% of them followed me back. It was pretty easy, but very time consuming.

What I found was people were eager to follow tweats and become my friend, even sending private messages to chat, but when push came to shove it didn’t drive many people to the website. Furthermore, the traffic it did create wasn’t good traffic. It drove a small amount of people to the site that viewed the page I posted to them and no other pages.

The problem with Twitter when it comes to driving traffic is you cannot easily target people who would be interested in your website. By not having a way to target people based on interests it is simply not worth the time to use Twitter as a traffic driver. In fact, like every online trend that has SEO implications, I was flooded by messages of marketing people trying to do the same thing as me. This obviously dilutes the market place.

My suggestion is to wait for the next Twitter to come along and be one of the first people involved. The traditional ways of driving traffic to your website; word of mouth, forums, advertising, blogs and SEO give you more bang for your time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Going green, and saving green, with Managed Print Services

It is no secret that one of the easiest ways to save your business money is to run more efficiently. This applies to all aspects of your business, but the printer and copier fleet is commonly overlooked. Many companies simply track the cost of toner, and that can yield a large amount of savings on its own. But the savings can go much beyond toner alone. Managed Print Services (MPS) paired with eco-friendly; super efficient printers, can save money on paper, energy, toner, reduced downtime, increased productivity and more.

MPS, like the name implies; basically means you rely on a specialized IT company to help plan, implement and service your printer fleet. The advantage of having your printing network planned and managed by one vendor is that it saves a substantial amount of time fixing IT problems, ordering toner and implementing new document management systems. Imagine never having to order toner and the time saved by only having one invoice to deal with every month; now this is being efficient.

Another way of being more efficient is choosing an eco-friendly printer fleet. Eco-friendly printers, such as Kyocera, can save up to 40% on energy costs when compared to other market leaders. They can also save you money on consumables. Using less toner and drum units reduces money and waste while helping the environment. The reduced waste is one reason Kyocera won the prestigious, MicroScope Award for Channel Excellence (ACE) as Environmental Company of the Year in 2008.

It isn’t only about reduced waste; it is also about reduced downtime. Nothing costs a company more money than downtime. When it comes to reliability, not all brands are created equal. For instance, the Kyocera KM-8030 printed 2 million pages with no unscheduled service required. In fact, it only got a paper jam once every 166 thousand pages. Brands like Kyocera are more reliable and have reduced cost per prints which is why H&R Block has 10’s of thousands of them nationwide.

Finally, if you really want to increase your savings and decrease your impact on the environment, implement a document management system. Even the simplest document management systems will reduce paper and toner consumption and increase productivity. Document management will reduce the time spent on filing and retrieving documents and make documents more accessible – no matter where you and your employees are.

The opportunity to save money and help the environment is obtainable. Even if your business’ printers are new and you believe you have an efficient printer fleet having an outside MPS vendor may help you see the base of the iceberg more clearly. Many times a MPS provider will analyze your network and printer fleet for free resulting in little to no risk of saving your business money.

A Step-by-step Guide to Online Marketing

As companies seek to find more effective, and less expensive, marketing methods, online marketing stands to see the biggest increase. Businesses already spend more on online marketing than they do on Radio and is set to surpass magazines by 2010 (ZenithOptmedia, 2007). However, you can do many things to make sure your website is not lost in the clutter. Below are the top actions your business can take to increase your website exposure and increase your ROI.

1) Maintain and improve your website

Unless your business has an endless marketing budget then you need to rely on your website’s quality to drive traffic to your site. This is the basic of search engine optimization (SEO). A high-quality website doesn’t just mean something that looks pretty. It means that you have text that engages the reader, contains your keywords, and can be found by Google and other search engines. Simply put, your website needs to be designed to current industry standards with special attention to the basics like page titles, meta descriptions, accessibility, and navigation.

2) Build web presence

Once your website has the basics down you can concentrate on promoting it. Depending on your product you may want to utilize viral media sources like YouTube, MySpace or Twitter. These can be great for B2C type product lines if used in conjunction with directory placements, online press releases, online trade publications, forums and article submissions. The key is to get as many quality links to your website as possible; this will increase your search rankings. The higher your rankings are, the more traffic you will get.

3) PPC advertising

There are several PayPerClick options to choose from. The largest network consists of Google AdWords. You may have noticed these ads when you search for a product on Google and there are “sponsored links.” Adverisers pay to see their advertisement there when you search for certain keywords. This can be a very effective method to drive traffic to your website.

Note: PPC advertising is getting more expensive because of the dramatic increase in competition over the years. This could also reduce the effectiveness of your campaign if it is not monitored closely.

4) eNewsletters

Sending out eNewsletters can be a very effective way of staying in front of leads and existing clients. There are a couple of basic guidelines when sending an eNewsletter.

  • a) Frequency – Choose a frequency that makes sense. If you email them too much it will reduce the effectiveness of all the newsletters

  • b) Content – Don’t send a newsletter for the sake of doing it. Provide your mailing list with something of interest and they will thank you for it.

  • c) Unsubscribe – Make sure your newsletter has an Unsubscribe option. It will help you maintain an email list that is of the highest quality and reduce bad feedback.

  • d) Compatibility—There are countless email programs. You need to make sure that your eNewsletter looks acceptable in the major ones like Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo.

5) Campaign evaluation

One of the most important part of making an online marketing campaign is measuring its results. Keeping track of keyword rankings, incoming leads, new website traffic, and sales are among the most important indicators to a successful campaign. Since online media is usually fast moving and contains many traceable activities you should be able to track the success of your campaign with much greater detail than any other media.

Please visit Tekniq Data for quality website design in the Kansas City Metro.