Is Usability the New SEO?

Posted in News on 22 April 2014
Photo Credit: Luca Mascaro via flickr

SEO ranks at the top of many marketers’ “most important” list, so much so that the world seems totally obsessed with the topic. In essence, SEO is about creating content that Google adores, and thus ranks accordingly. In other words, it’s a bot-centric practice that aims to garner the attention of algorithms, not human beings.

The result of the SEO fad has, for all intents and purposes, been relatively positive. As algorithms increase in intelligence, so does the usability of the content produced for SEO determinations. After all, Google and company wouldn’t benefit from highlighting sites that trick the algorithms into high rankings. Actual users are turned-off by content that doesn’t speak directly to them, so in practice, this would be a short-lived success. So the search experts have spent thousands of hours perfecting algorithms to match what people want, not robots.

Yet we’ve all seen the reverse happen frequently enough. SEO-savvy marketers use every trick in the book to woo the bots of the world, and we (the users) are left reading keyword dense nonsense that has the usability of a site circa 1996.

That’s why a marriage between SEO and usability is the yin and yang of successful web design. Let’s explore the strengths of each. It may even be that you’ll discover usability is more critical than SEO. Please your audience first, and the bots will follow. That’s a timeless mantra for content creation if ever there was one.

How to Merge SEO and Usability

First, a little clarification:

  • SEO is the art of luring traffic to your site and content via search engine algorithms. Content written with SEO in mind follows the current search engine trends to ensure high search query rankings.
  • Usability focuses on the overall experience of your site, with special attention paid to specific behaviors you wish to trigger (like product purchases and opt-ins.) Usability, then, cares most about conversions, not search engine bots.

Make no mistake, creating sites and content that appeal to bots and humans alike is no easy task. If it were, we’d be frolicking in a world full of fabulous sites that get uber-high rankings. Some days, it feels as if the reverse is true. The challenge is very, very real.

For example, we all love to feature the most critical parts of our content above the fold. We want to include enough words to clue the search engine bots into our niche and expertise, but not so much text that we turn-off visitors. This is often a difficult balance to strike.

The easy solution lies in tabs, or expanding div. These allow you to highlight a small block of text, granting intrigued visitors the opportunity to reveal more details with a click. Search engines can read the entire block of text, too. It’s a total win-win.

Here’s another conundrum that many site owners face: duplicate content. You might run an ecommerce store that wants to run sale promotional text on a large number of pages. These pages likely contain limited content, meaning that your sales copy is going to get you dinged by bots seeing the duplicate announcements.

The SEO solution here is to make duplicate blocks like this embedded in an image. Bots can’t crawl images for content, so you can communicate the big announcement wherever you choose without the red flag. This works well for things like copyrights and disclaimer text too.

Conflicts Between SEO and Usability

There are many inherent disconnects between usability and SEO, but all are truly manageable. They just require a little big-picture thinking.

First of all, please abandon the tactic of keyword stuffing. It’s working less frequently now (Google has long since been on to this annoyance), and it’s never belonged in the usability camp. Instead, use your keywords, but note that it’s no longer necessary to make these equate to X percent of your overall word count in order to succeed. Write content that reads well, that has a pleasing flow and an informative feel. You’ll gain your readers’ trust and attention, and the bots will follow in kind.

Additionally, please stop creating fat (or obese) footers. Many started doing this a few years back as an SEO tactic, as it strengthened structural SEO to have all your site links and keywords present in the footer. This got severely out of hand, and we still see archaic sites with massive footers on every page. This is a major usability no-no and it no longer boosts SEO either.

Rich media used to be a conundrum too; great for usability (people love videos and images) but bad for SEO (bots can’t crawl ‘em). Thanks to a gaggle of smart folks, there are many tools and tactics available now to let your video content also assist in your SEO efforts. The usage of a video sitemap, tilting techniques, video schema, script transcripts, and video sharing networks now significantly help SEO. So by all means, use video to reach your users, and enjoy the SEO benefits as well.

The final word is clear: focusing on a true unification of SEO and usability is the fast track to site success. By thoughtfully considering how to please the bots and your demographic with each critical decision, you’re doubling your chances at high rankings and high conversions. Resist the short-term SEO tricks that turn off users long-term; it’s no longer worth the risk. Now that we have the tools and tactics to please both parties, there’s no excuse to take the easy way out.


Facebook Auto-Play Videos a Success for Marketers

Posted in News on 22 April 2014
Adobe image

Facebook’s auto-play 15-second video ads have been an enormous success for marketers, according to Adobe’s Social Intelligence report.

In the first three months of 2014, brands that posted videos enjoyed 58 percent more engagement than in the previous three months. That means their posts were receiving more click-throughs, likes, comments and shares.

Facebook first began testing auto-play videos on its mobile network last September on a small portion of U.S. users and, in December, rolled out the video ads to a handful of Web users.

The full launch of the new marketing feature, which shows up in the news feed, came out last month.

Facebook video ads

Adobe image

Although videos begin to play as they appear on a user’s screen, they do so without sound. If a user does not want to watch a video, he or she can simply scroll or swipe past it. Those who do wish to view the video, however, can click or tap on it to have it played in full screen with sound.

It appears there has been a lot of clicking and tapping going on.

Video plays from organic brand posts rose an astonishing 785 percent over the same quarter in 2013 and increased 134 percent from the fourth quarter of last year, the study discovered.

“Links and video both showed strong growth as marketers continue to wage the social battle between engagement and referral traffic,” the report reads. “With video engagement up, marketers should consider more video posts. Fridays are a good bet.”

Overall, engagement with video posts is up 25 percent year-over-year and 58 percent quarter-over-quarter.

Of the non-video posts, those with images provide the highest engagement rate while text posts have declined significantly in shares and engagement.

Posts with links, however, have risen 77 percent year-over-year and 167 percent quarter-over-quarter.


Microsoft-Nokia Acquisition a Done Deal Friday

Posted in News on 22 April 2014
Nokia devices and services executive vice-president, Stephen Elop shows three new Nokia phones, the Lumia 930, the Lumia 635 and the Lumia 630, all built on Windows Phone 8.1.

It will soon be official.

Microsoft’s 7.2-billion acquisition of Finnish Smartphone maker Nokia will be complete on Friday after months of waiting for regulatory approvals in several countries.

“Today we are excited to share that we have completed the steps necessary to finalize Microsoft’s acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business,” wrote Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith in a blog post.

“The completion of this acquisition follows several months of planning and will mark a key step on the journey towards integration. This acquisition will help Microsoft accelerate innovation and market adoption for Windows Phones. In addition, we look forward to introducing the next billion customers to Microsoft services via Nokia mobile phones.”

To push the deal through, both technology firms had to make adjustments to the original deal by entering into a number of different agreements to address concerns ranging from manufacturing to IT, Smith said.

The changes listed by Smith are:

• The two companies agreed Microsoft would manage the domain and social media sites for the benefit of both companies and their customers for up to a year.

• Under the original deal, all employees in Nokia’s Chief Technology Office were to stay with Nokia. Under the new agreement the 21 employees in China working on mobile phones will join Microsoft where they will continue their work.

• Also under the original deal Microsoft was to acquire Nokia’s Korean manufacturing facility. Under the new agreement Microsoft will not acquire the facility after all.

The deal will also bring 32,000 Nokia workers to Redmond. Microsoft and Nokia have been partners since February 2011.


Six Tips to Improve Your Online Shopping Store

Posted in Tips on 17 April 2014
Image courtesy of (arztsamui)/
There is immense potential in online shopping and hence lot of analysis involved in this area. Many firms are in the race of getting more customer attention and knowing what exactly will work for the firm can help. The climate is increasingly competitive, and it is imperative to know what can get you on the right platform and build a solid reputation. We have analyzed and listed six tips that can help improve performance of your online store.

Tip 1: Three-Second Test

The first impression is very important. People form a first impression on others within the first seven seconds. The same applies for online shops also. It is simple, you just have to ask two questions to yourself:

  • Can the shoppers find out what the website is selling?
  • Will the shoppers trust the website and use their credit cards on the site?

These are the pain points of a website, and after this, there is engagement, interaction and sales conversion.

Tip 2: Multiple Layouts

It is important to know which pages can convert more customers. Different approaches, items and aesthetics can help the visitors be turned into shoppers. It is also important to find out what works well and will help in the long run. Take a test and see the outcome of various layouts on various customers after seeing the conversion trend. Take an example of website selling rock-climbing supplies, trying to promote new shoes. In such a scenario, pictures can be used with attractive text, in another format; they may use a video explaining the effectiveness of the shoes and hands on experience of a climber who has used the shoes.

A third form can be Flash display that gives out key features and descriptions once the user mouses over. The store can test on these three different strategies to see which one has helped most to generate revenue.

Tip 3: Display of Price and Shipping Clearly

The aim remains to get rid of the pain points and help in better sales. It is important to examine the fear involved in the process of shopping and removing that fear from the mind of shopper. Some shoppers may hesitate to buy a product because of the hidden costs involved. Shipping is one such example. The website should make sure that the prices are inclusive of all charges and are clearly displayed.

Such an approach can generate understanding and confidence among the buyers.

Tip 4: E-mail Subscriptions

The buyers may like purchasing from your website, but it is important that they get devoted to your website. This will happen by mode of social media, word of mouth and e-mail marketing. The e-mails can prove to be a direct from of interaction between the product and the customer. The customers are directly linked to the brand by this mode.

You can use some java-enabled pop-ups to get the customer to your site and then give them attractive first-time deals to stay with you. Future communications will also be facilitated with the help of this mode.

Tip 5: Social Media Integration

Word of mouth is now spread on social media.  Fellow consumers can be a good source of information or product review. The trust factor comes in place when we talk about recommending or appreciating a product. You can include the share button on your product page so that the presence of your product is felt by everyone. With lot of sharing and suggesting, the brand will be improved and will be included in the conversations in social media.

Tip 6: Contact Information

It is of great help to have a human face behind your business relationship. You must offer all contact information in a straight-forward form. This will lead to better answers to any customer questions and better decisions made by the customers. Overall, your company will have a reputation of one that cares. If the customers can access your website directly and get the information they want, this will give them better knowledge of exchanges, returns, etc. This will involve some cost, but it will be worth considering the consistent brand reputation that is built as a result.

An online store can help figure out what struggles are faced by customers and finding any new possible opportunities. Correct contact information can help build lot of trust. Make sure customers can contact you via e-mail. Also, try integrating social media to improve your reach. By helping the customers, you can improve your image, income and outlook.


A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating Your Content Marketing Strategy

Posted in Tips on 17 April 2014

In many ways, Internet marketing has become synonymous with content marketing.  After all, people log onto the Web to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems, and the only way to provide those things is through Web content.  In fact, the Web content that your business publishes is so crucial to your online reputation — and, ultimately, to your bottom line — that you need a specific strategy for it.

Here are the steps you need to follow in order to create a content marketing strategy that really works:

1.  Determine what you want to accomplish

Are you trying to get more people to visit your Website?  Do you want to turn more of those casual visitors into buyers?  Are you trying to improve your ranking in the search results?  Do you want to build an actual relationship with your target audience?  Are you trying to establish your business as a legitimate authority in your industry?

Luckily, a great content marketing strategy can do all of these things.  To make it work for you, though, you have to figure out your specific goals right in the beginning.  Write them down if you have to.  Once you have concrete goals, you can create a content marketing strategy with a very specific focus — instead of getting pulled off-course by tools and techniques that are floating around all over the Web, but aren’t actually helpful.

2.  Figure out exactly who you’re targeting

When you hit Publish, who’s going to read what you’ve written?  The very best Web content makes readers feel like they’re having a one-on-one conversation with the author, so create a mental picture of ONE member of your target audience.  Who are they?  How old are they?  What makes them happy?  Sad?  Frustrated?  Scared?

Once you have a clear picture of who you’re “talking” to, it becomes easier to write quality content that your target audience will genuinely appreciate.  Or, if you’re paying someone to write your Web content for you, having this clear picture makes it easier to explain exactly what you’re looking for in a specific piece.

3.  Assess your existing content

Unless you’re a brand new business, you’re going to have existing content — like the sales copy on your website, a few blog posts on the company blog, or some newsletters that you’ve sent out to your e-mail subscribers.  So, now that you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and who you’re targeting, determine if your existing content still fits.

For example, if your sales copy uses a lot of hype and cheesy promises — instead of laying out the specific features and benefits for your target audience — it’s not going to fit in with your new content marketing strategy.  Leave it as-is, and you could do all of the marketing in the world, but your sales copy will kill the deal every time.

A great content marketing strategy will establish your business as a bonafide authority.  So, if you have any content that doesn’t match up with that reputation, you need to get rid of it.

4.  Determine who’s going to do the writing

The greatest content marketing strategy in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t have a great writer. Many business owners decide to handle the writing themselves, because they think it’s a good way to save money.  However, those same business owners soon realize that they don’t have the time, the talent, and/or the desire to write a bunch of Web content.  So, before you deem yourself the company content writer, make sure you’re REALLY capable of doing a great job.  Then, make sure you have the time to fit it into your schedule.

If you don’t want to do the writing yourself, you have another decision to make — hire a full-time writer or outsource your writing to a professional company.  If your budget will only allow for outsourcing, make sure you do your homework.  Professional content writers will give you all of the copyrights to their work — meaning you can put your own name on it and publish it anywhere you want — so the work they do will have a direct impact on your reputation.  If their writing isn’t as good as it should be, your business will be the one that takes the hit, not theirs.

5.  Figure out your content schedule

Your content schedule will ultimately be determined by who’s doing your writing.  If it’s you, you’ll probably wind up posting fewer pieces, simply because you have a slew of other responsibilities to attend to.  If you have a dedicated writer (either working full-time for you or someone you outsource the writing to), they’ll have more time to dedicate to your content marketing efforts — meaning you can publish things more frequently.

Figuring out your content schedule right in the beginning is important, because your readers will come to expect new content at certain times — like every day, every week, etc.  If you don’t stick to your content schedule, people will be less likely to make a trip to your Website part of their routine.

However, more content doesn’t necessarily equal more results.  Sure, it would be nice to publish something new every single day, but can you really keep up with that pace?  Above all else, your content schedule needs to be realistic.  Whether you want to update your blog once a week or once a month, your schedule needs to be something you can stick to.  Otherwise, you could be seen by your readers as not very reliable or even flaky.

6.  Make a list of what kind of content you’re going to publish

You don’t need to come up with every single topic you’re going to write about from now to eternity, but you do need to have a basic idea as to what kinds of topics work best for your industry and your specific brand.

For example, what kinds of news can you discuss?  What types of issues and developments can you analyze?  What kinds of things can you offer advice about?  The answers to these questions will depend on what industry you’re in, what kind of experience you have, and who your target audience is.

Once you have these answers, you’ll have a good idea where to go to research your content.  For example, you may want to sign up for a particular expert’s e-mail list because you know he offers such thoughtful analyses, or you may want to set Google Alerts that can tell you about breaking news in your industry.

7.  Think about where you’re going to publish your content

Publishing content on your own blog, in your own e-mail newsletters, and on your own YouTube channel is a no-brainer.  However, a crucial part of content marketing is moving off your site.  This is the “marketing” part.

Think about it as if you were opening a restaurant.  It’s not good enough to just fling your doors open and say, “We’re ready for customers.”  To actually get people in the doors, you have to go out and market to potential customers so that they know you’re actually open for business.  On the Web, that means publishing content on other websites.

How do you find those publishing opportunities?

You have to start by thinking about the authoritative Websites that already exist in your industry.  Visit them, and see if they allow guest authors.  If they do, check out their requirements, along with the other content they’ve published.  If you’d be proud to have your name and content posted next to what you’re currently seeing on the Website, you’ve found a true authority.  If not, keep looking.  The content you publish off-site will be judged by what’s sitting next to it.

While all of this may seem like a lot of work, if you do it correctly, it will all be worth it.  After all, without a solid content marketing strategy, your business can’t tap into everything that the world wide Web has to offer.


Skill Levels Are the Greatest Hiring Challenge for Start-ups

Posted in News on 17 April 2014


Bing Home Page Gets a Little Dose of Cortana’s IQ

Posted in News on 17 April 2014

Bing’s homepage is getting a whole lot smarter thanks to Cortana, Microsoft’s first ever voice-activated digital assistant.

The software giant has debuted a set of personalized cards on the Bing homepage to help users keep track of items that are important to them such as weather, news or stocks.

To have Cortana remember the items, users simply sign in to their Microsoft account and set up their interests in Bing settings.

Bing 2

“When it’s appropriate, Bing will let you know if for example your stock changes or flight is delayed,” the company said in a blog post.

“The best part? As long as you’re signed in, Bing will remember your interests and notify you, as appropriate, across a range of Bing-powered Microsoft services, such as Cortana and the Bing Sports app.”

Cortana which recently debuted in beta in the U.S., was designed to be like a real personal assistant.

“Cortana is the only digital assistant that gets to know you, builds a relationship that you can trust, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something,” said Operating Systems group corporate vice-president Joe Belfiore during the product’s unveiling April 3.

“She detects and monitors the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you.”

Bing 3

The first time users interact with Cortana, she will learn their name, how to pronounce it, and ask for some personal interests. The digital assistant uses the answers to curate content that would be of interest.

“To develop Cortana, we talked to a number of real personal assistants. One technique these assistants spoke about was keeping track of the interests and preferences of their bosses in a notebook,” Belfiore said. “We thought… what a great idea! So all the stuff Cortana curates for you is stored in Cortana’s Notebook. This information enables Cortana to be proactive and helpful throughout the day.”


Facebook to Enter E-Money Service Fray: Report

Posted in News on 17 April 2014
Image courtesy of (arztsamui)/


Facebook is gearing up to enter the world of mobile-payments by offering remittances and electronic-money services on the social media site.

According to a Financial Times report, Facebook is awaiting approval from Ireland’s central bank to debut a service that would enable site members to store money on their accounts which could be used for Web and mobile transactions. The e-money could be used for purchase throughout Europe through a process known as “passporting,” the report said.

Sources told the Financial Times Ireland is “only weeks away” from giving the service the green light.

The social network, apparently, has also talked to three London companies that offer online money transfer services about partnerships, the sources said. The companies are TransferWise, Moni Technologies and Azimo.

Facebook will have an uphill battle in the e-wallet market. PayPal is already a force to be reckoned with and Google is pushing its own service, Google Wallet.

A Facebook spokesperson has declined to comment on the report.


Twitter Acquires Social Data Firm Gnip

Posted in News on 17 April 2014

Twitter is buying social data partner Gnip to make its data more accessible to third-party companies and organizations.

The micro-blogging site is also likely to use Gnip’s data to attract more brands and companies and, in turn, reassure shareholders worried that Twitter has not done enough to boost revenue.

“As Twitter has grown into a platform that delivers more than 500 million Tweets per day, Gnip has played a crucial role in collecting and digesting our public data and delivering the most essential Tweets to partners,” Twitter said in a blog post.

“We believe Gnip has only begun to scratch the surface. Together we plan to offer more sophisticated data sets and better data enrichments, so that even more developers and businesses big and small around the world can drive innovation using the unique content that is shared on Twitter.”

Gnip CEO Chris Moody said the acquisition will enable his firm to collect data more quickly and deeply.

“We’ll be able to support a broader set of use cases across a diverse set of users including brands, universities, agencies, and developers big and small,” Moody said in a blog post. “Joining Twitter also provides us access to resources and infrastructure to scale to the next level and offer new products and solutions.”

Aside from Twitter, Gnip analyzes data from other social companies such as Facebook, Foursquare and Tumblr.

Neither company has said if such data collection will continue. Gnip did say, however it would deliver “new offerings with Twitter.”

Financial details of the deal were not divulged.


Public Relations Account Executive

Posted in Jobs on 14 April 2014

On a day-to-day basis you’ll support the account director and team, so you’ll need to be a tenacious media relations operator with the ability to work on a number of projects. Great client management skills, highly organised with a great attention to detail are prerequisites for the role.

The ideal candidate
Experience of working with business-to-business clients
Experience of working with food and drink clients is desirable
Proven ability in writing strong, impactful copy
Confident communicator
Ability to build relationships with clients and journalists

Our people
William Murray doesn’t just depend on the brilliance of one person. Our team is made up of musicians, mums, dads, horse riders, sailors and foodies who enjoy life outside work.

A young, fun, social and down to earth bunch who enjoy food, drink and hospitality.

Former journalists, marketers, event organisers and award winning PRs.

You’ll get generous holiday (5 weeks increasing to 6), subsidised gym membership, regular funded nights out, and a fridge full of beer and wine make Friday’s fun. However, our last two Christmas parties in Majorca have been particular favourites. To coin a phrase, you could say we work hard and play hard.

This is in addition to childcare vouchers, mentoring programme, chill time, season ticket loans and regular team meetings where we share and listen to your ideas.

In a nutshell
You’ll be joining the UK’s leading food, drink and PR agency where you’re valued for your ideas and who you are. Not only will we look after your career, we’ll look after you too.


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