Where are you Winnipeg? You’re at the geographic center (more or less) of North America, in a position that with a little work could and should be home to every global corporations office. All because of where you are. Costs aren’t extravagant, the weather is tolerable so long as you dress appropriately and the people are friendly (like our license plates!). But where are you?
Winnipeg businesses are few and far between in the new world. The internet, the world wide web, the 24/7 storefront of the entire world. There’s been money pumped into ‘Selling the city’ yet I mention Winnipeg in conversations and get a lot of ‘Where’s that?’. The most apalling time to get the token response is when you’re speaking to Canadians. So what’s the problem, what’s the solution? You’re running against yourselves Winnipeg, you’re trying to play catch up to the rest of the world, who has already been in the race online for years now. This isn’t a ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ metaphor, it’s not a post with a moral message. It’s plain, blank truth.
It’s a race online, as it is in any business metric to be noticed. And the harsh reality of it is, Winnipeg still doesn’t get it. There are a few, a handful of sparks who have taken up the charge for themselves online to be found. To shake the tree of the SERPs and claw their way to the top. It’s not something that happens overnight, it’s not something that costs $250 and a week of keyword stuffing into urls for your website. It takes the skills, experience and knowledge of the SEO experts in your home town Winnipeg.
You need to be found Winnipeg, and who better to get you where you need to be than your local SEO experts at Fresh Traffic. It’s time to pick up your socks and get to running, because the pack won’t wait for you, they’re just getting further and further ahead.
Lots of news came out of the Web 2.0 summit, and there was an interview hosted by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle where they spoke with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. They touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the new Facebook Messages service, to privacy and on to opinions and thoughts of “what’s next?” for the web.
Zuckerberg said that initially the idea of Messages came to him when having a conversation with a high school student who lamented that email is “too slow”. Taking the idea to the drawing board, the development team decided that they could lose certain aspects which makes email a “slow” medium of conversation. Things like the subject line, multiple paragraph letters and formal signatures. Messages aims to streamline communications between instant messaging, SMS (simple messaging service) and email.
When Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook and some of the privacy concerns, as well as the seeming mantra of “Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” he deflected the conversation within a sentance or two back to the Messages service. Mark made the point that even though Facebook allows the friendship relationship to share information across wide groups, he made the point that “I don’t know that we’re 100% right about it”. Also admitting that Facebook is often in the crosshairs of privacy watchdogs because “Facebook is at the forefront of the internet privacy issue, and are trying to come up with solutions” Getting everything right, everytime isn’t a possibility for any company on the web, but it’s perhaps the two values being pressed to development teams at Facebook that keeps it in the privacy limelight; move fast, and be bold. If an idea is fleshed out, take the chances and move fast on it and let it into the social world. Change is always scary, but it’s also the quickest and surest way to grow and adapt.
A rather pointed question about competition was directed about the ad network on Facebook, in the form of being socially driven. Zuckerberg somewhat deflected this question as well, stating that he’s not sure it’s the right direction right now, and that there’s still a lot of work left to do on the web. When it came to the user base of Facebook, the metric which was given was that “50% of user accounts on Facebook are active everyday” and in the next 5 years or so, we’re going to see the internet moving into a more socially interactive model. Seeing as how Facebook is *the* social place to be online right now, the question was asked if there will be other social graphs to make an appearance and gain importance. In answer, Zuckerberg showed that a few years ago, app developers wouldn’t have contributed to the web space mainly because the user base wasn’t centralized. Now that developers can safely assume that 60% of their userbase are Facebook users and are “socially enabled” it allows companies and businesses to develop apps and services that even just 2 years ago didn’t make sense. The expectation is there will be various social graphs online, and they will all be able to work together.
One of the better questions pose was in terms of with Facebook becoming such a giant in the social space, is Facebook aiming to be the prime destination online, or is Facebook wanting to be an enabler for the web. Unexpectedly in a sense, Mark made the admittance that Facebook will be more of an enabler of the web as we move forward. There was a graphic at the summit, outlining the web in different countries in a way. At the end of the interview Zuckerberg pointed out that the image should be changed. As the graphic detailed the internet and online industry in a “zero sum” fashion, as in no room to grow or change other than taking anothers place, the image should be comprised primarily of an undetermined space. It’s the skewed view of the media, and a great many industry analysts that the web is a defined space, that leads to the headlines of “Facebook declares war on Google” and so on.
It was a good interview to listen too, and Zuckerberg had some interesting points to share on the web industry as a whole. Have a watch for yourself and see.
Another one bites the dust? Google is rumored to picking up social media currency creator Jambool, makers of Social Gold. Social Gold is a secure payment method used in online games like Mafia Wars. Social Gold gives app developers the ability to build payments directly into their games and other applications.
It’s just another cog in the machine that Big G is speculated to be building, not to compete with Facebook however as we don’t need more of the same thing. Social websites retain interest and enjoy long term loyalty when interactivity can take a front seat to the experience. Just look to your nearest Facebook notices page for reference. Odds are, you have more than a few friends involved in Farmville, Mafia Wars and so on. Add in the ability to connect to your family and friends as you like, with interactivity that can possibly be shared, and you’ll have a good recipe for some long term memberships.
It keeps going and going..
The StreetView saga that is. Germany, US, Italy, Spain and a few others are still investigating just how much data the camera cars have captured. While the EU has acquited the giant of any blatant wrong doing.
This Tuesday, as I’m sure you’ve seen mentioned in the news, South Korea Police raided Google offices and siezed harddrives and computers related to the StreetView cars.
“We can confirm that the police have visited Google Korea in conjunction with their investigation around data collection by Street View cars. We will cooperate with the investigation and answer any questions they have,” said Lois Kim, a Google spokeswoman.
Korea’s National Police Agency said that Google collected and stored the information illegally. NPA stated that the company collected data from “unspecified users” and their unsecured wi-fi networks for about six months while the vehicles snapped photos for StreetView. All the drama and hooplah aside, it doesn’t mean that anything will happen. Google will probably not even face any charges.
In light of all of the free publicity, Google announced that it plans on introducing StreetView for 20 of the largest German cities by the end of the year. German authorities insisted that peoples faces, and license plates be blurred out, and the public can request to have their homes removed from the StreetView website. According to the Associated Press, these features are purely unique to Germany. A move no doubt, to dispel any fears about privacy.
Google has said time and again, that the collection of data was accidental, but it was not illegal.
It’s not an unsual method of finding a service or product, you ask your friends and family for their opinions. It helps you form your own preliminary opinion, and with a few questions in mind you go for it. The trend however is shifting with the realization that word of mouth, has been changing more into world of mouth.
In a new Cone Inc. report indicates that consumers don’t take word of mouth as gospel when making their decisions. Eighty-one percent of respondents agreed with the statement,
“After getting a recommendation about a product or service I may want to purchase, I go online to do additional research about that product or service before deciding whether to purchase it.”
One of the surprising finds, was the disproval of the thought that bad news travels faster than good news. Online, the sway power of good reviews and news of a product or service was proven more potent than bad news and reviews. Only 68 percent of respondants admitted to changing their minds based on bad reviews, where as 80 percent agreed, positive reviews found online solidified their decisions of a recommended product or service.
These numbers in mind, it’s worth noting that while search engine optimization and search engine marketing are incredibly important to your business, it’s just as important to focus some of your attention to the social interaction of your client base. Whether it’s having a submitted question and answer form, a Twitter feed where client concerns can be addressed, or a Facebook page and wall, it’s worth the time to put in direct client interaction. Face time with your customers is still paramount in the digital world, and as the numbers from the Cone Inc. report shows, having a positive image online will help you immensely.
Social networking is the new kid on the internet block, with Facebook being the most obvious example of it’s popularity, it won’t be going anywhere soon. Full of games, groups, and social calendars, employers and businesses often block the websites access as it erodes their employees productivity. Users often get spam wall postings from friends who play the games like Mafia Wars or Farmville, and a general malcontent seems to be evident about such, until people are shown how to block the messages.
But is it all bad? A recent survey by Pew and Elon found that:
85% of nearly a thousand techies agreed, the social benefits of Facebook, Twitter, etc, will outweigh the negatives over the coming decade. E-mail, instant messaging, social networking, and similar Web services offer simple ways to forge and rediscover social ties that can make a difference in people’s lives.
So all the spam, time lost, and invites from long lost relatives, being sociable on the internet isn’t a bad thing. The larger agreement between the panel was that the social interaction created by the internet, and the services available, has enriched their life currently, and can be seen to help encourage this growth. It may sound like it’s a too good to be true scenario, but if you begin as a business, to think of it only in cost investment first; all of the social networks are free to join and use. Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google Buzz and apps, all quick to join, setup, and share your information with those you invite to share with.
Of course there’s the downside mentioned earlier. Time wasted on sites, not to mention the stigma of lost face to face interaction, and the recent privacy concerns of some sites. But Pew and Elon didn’t select their panel from random passing people from the public. They used the social services to reach their findings. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs were all tapped for their answers and opinions. Clay Shirky, Esther Dyson, Nicholas Carr, Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark were only a few of the people who provided their feedback.
Newmark: “The Net is about people connecting online, for commerce, politics, and personally, and we already see that enhances real-life relationships. Location-based social networking, in particular, will be a big part of our lives.“
As large as the world is, as diverse as the population seems. The more people discover about themselves, the more they wish to build, and form relationships around themselves locally. Local social media networking looks to be the way forward.
Recently Google produced a short video where in they dug into a few sites with checking out their optimization. People submitted sites for review, and Matt Cutts showed just a few of the things that are stand out points in the SEO game.
In essence, they really just covered the best practices rules of SEO, but as always it was great to hear them.
Be sure to use text on your page - Google Bot can’t see images the way a user can, so you need to have text on your page. Text also helps with your content and about selecting your keywords to attact searchers. Keeping your content original, and with the option of having user generated content as filler is also good.
Focus is better - If you have multiple sites, it’s better in the long run for you to focus on your main site as opposed to any others so as not to dilute your time and/or skills. Focusing your time, and energy, into building, SEO’ing, and maintaining a single site will pay off better than trying to spread your self out.
Titles, Metas, and Layout - All are very important, the title tag was a topic point multiple times within the presentation. It seems a lot of companies construct, or implement poor titles on their sites and pages within their sites. A good practice is for your titles to include the keyword(s) for that page. The meta keywords tag, while not indexed, is not ignored, and the description tag is important, so be sure not to blank it. If your page has no meta description tag, Google will do it’s best to try and find a description from your page text to use on the SERPs, but, no one knows your content like you do, right? And layout, if you’re going to build a site and promote it to your patrons, be mindful of it’s layout. If you place the quality content too far down the page, you run the risk of people using that back button before they discover just how valuable your website truly is.
If you use a Content Management System - Keep it up to date!! They spent a good deal of time on this topic as well, as CMS are prone to attack. The more popular one is, the higher the inherent risk. By keeping your CMS up to date, you lessen the risk of successful hacks on your website.
M – “I started dating this girl, and I want to Google her because she said she’s done some modelling, what do you think?”
W – “You could check Facebook first and see if she’s on there, and what her friends are like.”
M – “Yeah, that’s a good idea I guess. My boss was asking me today if we should try search engine optimization on our site.”
W – “We’ve been looking at it too, the web guys are trying to decide who we should talk to about it, or just do it ourselves.”
A very generic, not so surprising conversation today, but what if you heard it 6+ years ago? You’d have thought they were nuts, and using language and words that had no meaning or bearing on the world today. Google. Facebook, search engine optimization, all everyday terms in normal conversation between two people buying coffee in the morning.
The internet has become so entwined in our everyday lives, that it would be completely strange, to not talk about using it in some way or another in our day to day. In the conversation above, two references to online marketing were used within the span of a few seconds of conversation. Don’t see it? Googling a persons name just to see if they come up, and a brief conversation about how their business is contemplating the use of search engine optimization for their website.
Social media, Google, SEO.. they’re not passing trends. They’re not fly by night, and they’re not going to disappear or magically stop working. They are topics which get discussed over the morning coffee run by the interns. The choice you need to make as a user, or business, will you have the tools work for you, or against you.
So Google has gone and changed the game a bit again. This time, they’ve changed the look and feel of the results page. In the last couple of days there’s been a blog here, a comment there, how Google “must have been scared” or “taking a page from Bing”. To see and read such comments, actually made me shake my head.
Jon Wiley, Senior User Experience Designer
“We’ve been creating mocks of left-hand panels since the earliest days of Google and have tested these designs with users as far back as 2006.”
In 2006, Google threw a number of changes in the user experience at Googlers, such as search within search (refine your search), left hand nav bar that has been part of the search site since May ’09 (just closed by default), and by trying an option to remove a result from your (personal) results.
No just in relation to the left hand nav bar, it changed a fair amount from design to implementation. Greatly cleaned up to make it easier to use, and persistently open on your results page to help you sort and find what’s relevant to you as a user. It’s just been about helping you find, what you want. As quickly, efficiently, and painlessly as possible.
There have been other changes as well, although they’re more on the aesthetic side of the spectrum. The logo has been flattened, and lightened in color, and the footer has followed suit. The internet is in a constant state of change, and when you try and remain motionless, changeless, and don’t adapt to it, you’ll be lost in the hundreds of millions of pages available. Google, has always tried to bring something new, useful, or sometimes just pleasantly looking to it’s users. For your viewing/nostalgic enjoyment, you’ll find a couple of examples below.
Blue Homepage Self explanatory
Universal bars “This design emphasizes different types of results with labeled blocks in the main results pane, such as books, news and shopping.”
On the web, there are billions upon billions of webpages and websites. Any topic or category you can think of, it exists online for you to read and learn about. Thankfully, we have search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to name a couple, which can search, index, catalog and categorize all of these sites. Otherwise it would be like a giant pile of leaves, with little to differentiate them from one another.
And yet, as the world expands online, as information becomes more and more accessible, businesses and surfers are finding themselves pulled increasingly in a rather surprising direction. The more available the world has become, the closer to home users have gone. With the boom of social media, the world has started to realize just how small a place it really is. When with a few keystrokes, you can be browsing art galleries at the Louvre, or taking in the pyramids at Giza, the trend of online activity has been shifting more and more to a local focus. The search engines have noticed as well, and have begun to lend more importance to geo-targeting search results for terms. People post on Twitter and Facebook about which local pizza joint has the best crust, or look for a plumber from their friends referrals.
Smartphones, PDA’s laptops and netbooks. It’s getting easier to be online, and faster to navigate what you’re looking for. Social media brings the real time world to your finger tips, and the trend is getting ready to shift again. What’s the next big step?
Being alive in the 21st century is an amazing feeling. Of course, there’s always the negative side of things if you want to see them. The opportunities available to people to expand themselves is growing each and every day.
The opportunities which exist for a business owner, whether new or long term industry leader, are nearly immeasurable. The ability to have your product or service, available to be purchased 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is unprecedented, and still relatively unfamiliar territory.
Wide spread use of the web is still rather new (at only around 15 years), and yet it reaches a wider audience, 10 times faster than each other advertising medium. The web is crowded, loud, chock full of dead ends, loopholes, and obstacles. But it is also instant, powerful, and it can be your most powerful advertising tool if you wish it to be; you just need to find the experts to lead you.
Winnipeg is a great town, Canada is a great country. Both still “young” if such a term could ever be used in such ways. But the business advertising model is greatly outdated in Winnipeg, with a lot of stock still being put into traditional means of advertising with newspapers, radio and tv ads. In 2008 in Canada, 70% of households had a broadband internet connection, always on high speed access to the web. Instead of going on more and more, I’ll use the graphic below to illustrate my point:
When a person turns on their browser, they’ve the ability to search 1 billion plus web pages for anything and everything. Being found in all of that is like a needle in a haystack right? What if I told you, you don’t need to play that game. That you could be the farmer to that haystack, move it all out of the way so you have a clear path to work?
Strange metaphores aside, to put it extremely plainly, old media advertising is slowly dieing. The generation of today, doesn’t subscribe to the newspaper, they read it online. They don’t listen to the radio for the latest news, they check Twitter, or Facebook to see what their friends and family are doing and what they’ve noticed. People don’t go looking for the news, the news finds them now. As a business, it’s time to adjust or be lost in the pack. Online advertising, and working in a mobile business model is going to be key to market success going forward.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let this last one speak for me. The team at Fresh Traffic, can help you bring your company to where it should be online. Let us put you back out front of the rat race, and propel your business to the success it deserves.