Mobile Readiness of Your Business: It Is High Time

Mobile Readiness For Your BusinessIs your business connected with the mobile internet world? It definitely needs to be, especially if it’s a local brick and mortar business. At one time all you needed was a website to participate in modern business, but now you need to have a mobile friendly website. While some internet trends come and go, the smartphone revolution is here to stay as more and more shoppers make purchasing decisions based on using their mobile devices for deals. The following information will help you understand the importance of being a mobile friendly business.

Mobile Shoppers
Shopping is no longer a matter of people walking into a mall and buying on impulse. Now over half of shoppers compare in-store prices with online competitors using their smartphones while shopping. That fact alone changes how business works in the 21st century. Research from Mobile Payments Today reveals that 36 percent of shoppers even search for other competing physical store locations as they shop in stores. When you consider that 87 percent of adults in America own a cell phone, according to Pew Research Center, it is essential to make sure your business connects with mobile users.

The Future of Payments
Payment methods have already been revolutionized by mobile devices, as mobile phones can now be used instead of credit cards to make retail purchases. The debut of Apple Pay in 2014 sets the stage for even easier payments for iPhone users. Over 60 percent of Americans now believe that mobile devices will replace credit cards in the future, according to Harris Interactive. The fact that half of all internet users in the world now use mobile devices as the primary way to access the internet makes it very important for all businesses to pay attention to the mobile revolution and not be left behind.

Developing Mobile Strategies

  • Make your website mobile friendly by using Responsive Web Design
  • Offer coupons or deals online, which is what mobile shoppers seek
  • Study Google Pigeon to improve mobile search results for your business
  • Use social media, which now accounts for 15 percent of mobile internet time in America

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5 Lessons for e-Business from the Failed Dotcoms

The early 90s were all about dotcoms. Many launched, most crashed, a palm pilot full remain.

Even today, nearly a quarter-century after the term e-commerce began to make its way into the public’s vernacular—when more consumers than ever are shopping online—the Internet is littered with dead URLs, casualties of failed business plans, bad ideas and common mistakes.

Over the past decade, many once-ballyhooed dotcoms continue to fail., which raised more than $50 million to create online currency;, which burned through more than $147 million in its first nine months; and a slew of smaller companies that gave it a go but went nowhere.

The good news for you is that their losses can be your gain.

Business experts, scholars and entrepreneurs have been studying e-commerce sites that fail and they discovered that most make the same five common mistakes.

Mistake Number One: Jumping the Gun
The problem with a lot of dotcom startups is that they want to hit the ground running with big, giant strides. This is an admirable goal. After all, the faster you can sprint to market, the sooner you’ll turn a profit.

The reality, however, is that baby steps seem to be the best way to grow an e-commerce business.

Most dotcoms that fail to cross the finish line do so in glitzy offices, surrounded by too many employees and holding retainer bills from high-priced law firms, ad agencies and caterers.

The Takeaway: Pace yourself. Make sure that a clear business case can be made for every expense. Acknowledge that there will likely be some lean years initially and don’t overextend your finances. When it comes to getting your business off the ground, it’s better to view it as a marathon, not a sprint.

Mistake Number Two: No Revenue
When it comes to starting a dotcom, an idea that can’t be monetized is simply an idea—nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately, a lot of people think a good idea automatically translates into revenue.

It doesn’t.

Most e-commerce companies that fail don’t have a revenue model. They don’t have a plan for creating several revenue streams, income or profit. In the early days of the dotcom, investors didn’t care so much about revenue streams. Profits, they thought, would materialize because the Internet was fresh, new and exciting. They got burned. Now they won’t likely invest unless they know that there will be revenue streams.

The Takeaway: Run the numbers. Do the scenario planning exercises, market research and don’t start your dotcom until you know exactly where the revenue will come from. That’s how you will secure investors.

Mistake Number Three: No Way Out
Investors like to know how they’re going to get their money back out of your company. Maybe not right away, but eventually.

Dotcoms that fail, often fail to have an exit strategy. They often thought they’d start their business, roll in dough and never look back. Investors, however, had other ideas. They wanted a return on their investments and when they weren’t getting it or seeing that it would be there—many pulled their financial support, essentially dooming the companies.

The Takeaway: Have a plan, whether to go public, get acquired by another company or bring in new investors who can buy out your initial investors. Make it part of your mission and stay true to it.

Mistake Number Four: No Marketing Plan
E-commerce isn’t a field of dreams. If you build it in that manner, there is no guarantee anyone will come.

Too many dotcoms thought they could simply launch a website, offer quality products or services, sit back and wait for the people to click by. These companies are now gone.

The Takeaway: Make sure you have a solid, well-thought out marketing plan in place to promote your business. Think advertising. Think search engine optimization. Think social media. Think public relations. Think events. Think outside the Internet to drive people to the Internet.

Mistake Number Five: Valuing Form over Function
Want to know why is so successful? It’s the world’s top e-commerce business because its technology works. The same cannot be said for the myriad dotcoms that failed.

Too often, people think that simply putting together a website with the latest bells and whistles will work. And it can, but only if it values function over form.

The average visitor to a website decides whether or not to click in eight seconds. If the site doesn’t work for them right away, they’re gone.

The Takeaway: Don’t use technology for technology’s sake—use if for your customers.

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Everything You Need To Know About Error Messages

Every now and then, everyone runs into website error messages, which can mean a variety of things, but all point to some type of problem preventing the page from being displayed.

This problem may involve the site itself, the browser or web hosting server. The following HTTP errors reflect website error messages and what can be done to fix the situation. You can also turn to website maintenance service professionals for help.

HTTP 404: The webpage cannot be found
This error message occurs when the web page that you attempt to visit has been moved or removed. Make sure you have typed the address correctly and find out if the website has moved its content. If the site has a search tool, enter keywords or the name of the page you are trying to find.

HTTP 406: Internet Explorer cannot read this webpage format
Although this problem is not very common, it can occur when a webpage is written in an unusual format that IE cannot understand. Sometimes the problem can be fixed by adding the proper file extension to the URL. For example, if you are trying to open a Microsoft Word document, make sure that the URL ends in the .doc extension.

This error differs from HTTP 405, which means the webpage cannot display the page. This problem indicates that IE is having difficulties downloading the page to your computing device.

HTTP 408 or 409: The website is too busy to show the webpage
If a webpage is incredibly popular or if the server is experiencing congestion or slow delivery, you may see this busy error. The best thing to do is return to the site later. If the problem still isn’t resolved, check with your website maintenance services expert.

HTTP 500: The website cannot display the page
Usually a technical issue with the website or the web host is the reason for this error message. It could mean that the host or the site is temporarily down for maintenance. Visit the site later and if the problem persists try sending an email to the website owner.

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Website Maintenance: Having a Plan Is Necessary

Running a website designed to generate leads requires periodic maintenance. Many web companies try to cut corners by assigning updates to low paid and inexperienced employees. So you have to make sure that you trust the right Website Maintenancecompany to manage your site.

The following tips will help you create a useful plan for website maintenance.

1. Create a strategy for updates and maintenance.
Design a strategy that clearly defines how often your site will be updated. Create a checklist for your plan that considers how maintenance relates to your website goals, corporate brand standards, security, SEO, and user experience. Updates should be planned in a way that does not disrupt site familiarity.

2. Use a backup site and database.
Your site should be built on a content management system and database to make sure that no data is lost and that all updates can be tracked. A modern CMS will automatically make regular site backups. Web pages should be tested to make sure they load quickly.

3. Optimize your site for mobile users.
Use responsive web design so that your site is friendly to mobile users, who need to see simple displays of your web pages due to smaller screens. Test the site out on all browsers and various mobile devices to make sure that the pages can easily be read on small screens. Mobile users will know instantly if your site is mobile-friendly or not. If it’s not, they may search for a competitor.

4. Test an offline version of the site.
Updates should first be tested on an offline duplicate of the site before being approved. Testing can also be done on a hidden web page or a private server. This is also a good way to make sure that new features work properly.

5. Let an editor evaluate the site.
Make sure that whoever is updating your site understands your overall plan and uses your criteria. Give the editor a checklist of items that need to be done such as reviewing spelling and grammar, mobile strategy, brand strategy, easy navigation, working links and maintaining a high quality user experience.

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Library Website Redesign: Some Innovative Tips

Tips for Website Re-DesignThere are many things a great library website should accomplish. Apart from providing a great user experience, the website should enable effective publishing and access to content, community engagement and promotion of the library’s online and offline services.

The design of the website should not be solely steered towards aesthetics. Rather, the focus should be on enabling users to get the information they need in a fast and convenient manner. Below are five innovative tips you can implement when redesigning your website to improve its functionality and user experience.

1. Responsive web design
More people are using the Internet to access information online. This also applies to students, researchers and other members of the academia that may be using your library. If your website is not responsive, it’s time to make it so.

Test the site to ensure it can be accessed on different mobile devices. Responsive web design provides great user experience by ensuring the design, format and content of the website is adjusted accordingly based on the device on which it is being accessed.

2. Include multimedia content
Update the website with visual content to make visitors stick longer and get more value. Where necessary, provide diagrams, charts, photographs, audio and video content supporting various text contents. Adding multimedia content will make your website more interactive.

However, having too much multimedia content can make the website slow. To ensure the website does not load slowly, optimize the multimedia content for deployment online. You can also invest in faster servers or use a Content Delivery Network service to deliver the content to users at the best speeds.

Another alternative is to host the multimedia content on an external website to reduce your bandwidth usage. For example, you can host your library videos on your YouTube channel.

3. Improve navigation
With library websites, navigation is important to users. When visitors are on the website, they are looking for particular information. However, finding this information can be difficult given the vast content the website may have. Navigation links can help visitors get the content they want quickly.

The navigation links should be easily visible and should be linked to organized content on the site. Apart from the navigation link, use internal links to improve the user experience. For example, you can link various articles that support or are related to each other.

Navigation links can also make it easy for readers to get back to pages that they have visited when browsing the library. For instance, using breadcrumbs can improve navigation and ensure links open to new tabs in website browsers. The ability to access and have an easy way to refer back to content that had been previously opened is important in improving the user experience.

4. Customized search function
Many people use the search function when looking for books, publications, periodicals or other journals on your library website. Finding a particular publication can be difficult when there is no way to search for it. Implement a customized search function that can enable users to search for content based on their types, publication date, authors, and other variables.

For example, users should be able to search for books by their ISBN numbers or titles. You can further customize the search function to include custom strings like books for undergraduates, graduates and doctorate students, books approved by the State Curriculum Board, and so on.

Other innovate features like enabling users to see their search history and having auto fill capability can also improve the user experience on your site.

5. Rich resources section
A comprehensive resources section is another feature you should include in your library website. Library websites can have lots of content and it can be difficult for users to find other information not related to books. This is where the “resource section” becomes important.

The resources section can act more like a comprehensive navigation menu. However, the links to various contents are organized and available on a page rather than a menu.  For example, you can have links to the history of the library, memberships information, past, upcoming and ongoing events, email subscription links, social media accounts information, contact information and so on.

The resources section can also carry information that may not fit in the main content classifications of the library.

Great library websites make it easy for users to get the information they are looking for. The above are five innovative ways you can improve your library website functionality when redesigning it.

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Enhancing Landing Page Readability for Better Adwords Performance

Sometimes more is less, and less is more. This paradox of life is especially true when it comes to landing pages.

When most marketing professionals think about optimizing PPC landing pages, they immediately think about adding more content--more words, more images, more headers and subheads, and more trust signals.

And why wouldn’t they? With so many organizations working so hard to gain more web traffic, no marketer wants to risk missing that one user who’s looking for that one specific thing. The conventional thinking goes something like this: Putting more content on a page makes it less likely you’ll miss someone.

This isn’t necessarily true. Here’s why:   PPC landing pages

Clutter is kryptonite on the internet

Want to get people to click off your landing page quicker than Superman can say “Up, up and away”? Use a lot of words on your webpage.

Web users don’t want to read long blocks of copy. They aren’t interested in working all that hard to figure out what a landing page is trying to tell them.

They scan pages, looking for key words. If it takes too long for them to figure out what’s going on, they’ll just soar on to another page. So keep your paragraphs short–three or four lines of text at the most. Write short sentences. And make your copy pack a powerful punch.

White makes websites more visually interesting
Designers will tell you that white space is an under-appreciated design tool. Most people don’t recognize it or value it–until it’s not there.

White space can mean the difference between a page that’s visually interesting and one that’s crammed with copy–even if the two pages have the exact same number of words and images on them.

So create white space by incorporating more bullet points into your copy. Let your images breathe a little by giving them space on the page. And use headers and sub-headers as often as you can to break up the page.

Not every word counts
Simplicity is powerful. Why say “utilize” when you can just say “use”? Get rid of large words, and you’ll get rid of some clutter.

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How Pinterest Rich Pins Make Your Social Media Strategy Better

The one thing marketers strive for in social media campaigns is high levels of engagement. This has made marketers devise all kinds of techniques to increase user participation, hoping to increase sales. For marketers using Pinterest, the social network has introduced a new feature that is aimed at increasing engagement. The new feature is known as Rich Pins.

What are Rich Pins?
Rich Pins are available for Pinterest users with Business accounts. The feature allows users to provide detailed information to be attached to pins from their websites. Through special Meta tags embedded in the account holder’s website, Pinterest can collect information about pins. The information is automatically updated as it changes on the website onto the pin.

How can Rich Pins improve social media engagement?
Rich Pins are invaluable if your social media strategy is pegged on great visual. The most important feature of Rich Pins is that the information attached to them dynamically changes as content on the original website changes. For instance, if the pin is on a product you are offering, any information you put about it will be reflected on the Rich Pins. This means the users can get all the information directly from the pin without having to visit the original website.

Pinners have a tendency of ‘pinning and forgetting’. A pin might capture a user’s attention so he pins it, but after a while get pushed to the background. After some time, the pinner might not even remember it. Rich Pins solve this problem. If any information on the pin changes, for example the product goes for sale, the Rich Pin will pick up on it and make the necessary updates. The feature will also trigger an email alert to the pinner on the information change. This email will refresh the pinner’s memory on the particular pin.

Rich Pins are a great way for marketers to capture the interest of Pinterest users. Not only do they eliminate the need to go to the original website for information but also send alerts to pinners when new information is available about the pin.

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Why Google Plus Should Become Part of Your Social Media Package

Facebook might have more users. Twitter might make more headlines. But in 2014,

Google Plus is likely to be the Google+ becomes the Part of  Your  social Media Package most important social media tool in your communications arena.

For the unfamiliar or uninitiated, here’s a     Google Plus primer:

  • Similar to Facebook and Twitter, it allows you to create a page to promote your business, product, service or organization
  • Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Google Plus adds significant juice to your SEO efforts.

The power of Google Plus, in terms of search engine optimization, is that every time you create a new post (or status update or tweet, in Facebook and Twitter parlance), you’re essentially creating a new web page, which is very likely to appear in Google search results.

Last year Google search hosted between 79 and 81 percent of all internet searches in the United States, according to StatCounter.

As if that’s not reason enough to make Google Plus part of your social media package in 2014, the service is also growing by leaps and bounds. It’s only been around since 2011 and already has more than 300 active users each month. It’s no longer the domain of techies and early adopters. Companies large and small are increasingly using it as a means to amplify their communications messages in the increasingly noisy world of social media.

So as you evaluate your social media strategy this year, make sure to make the most of this powerful tool.

Use the communities feature to create groups where your key audiences can connect, share ideas and talk about your business, organization, services or products. Use the hangouts feature to host discussions and demonstrations, share photos and connect directly with key audiences via video chats (which are proving much more popular than the dreadful conference calls everyone is so used to using). And consider integrating it into your homepage, landing pages and secondary pages.

It might not have the cache of Facebook or Twitter (yet), but Google Plus is emerging as a powerful new tool that shouldn’t be ignored.

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Google May Soon Launch a New Search Results Design

Google Soon Launch Search Results Design !!Google is known to keep its tests secret, but SEO marketers and bloggers always seem to get a heads up when something is cooking. While majority of the tests or changes from the search giant have been related to SEO, there are hundreds of other tests that are usually not caught until much later because they do not generate as much interest as SEO tests. This seems to be the case with UI tests.

Over the past few months, Google has been testing the search results user interface. The new tests involve making the screen easier for users to read the results by increasing the spacing between individual search results and removing underlines for the hyperlinked content.

A number of users have been commenting on these changes on social media sites. It is interesting to see Google testing the UI results just a few months after they redesigned their logo to make it much smoother. Analysts do not see these changes having any impact on business owners at this moment. The major beneficiaries of the new changes will be users that search for information on smartphones, tablets and other devices. A less congested and cleaner UI is bound to increase search activity among mobile users.

Why UI Changes at this Time?
While we do not know what Google is up to with the update on the UI, we can only speculate the company is trying to improve the user experience for users that use devices to browse the Internet. With smartphone sales having outstripped PC sales in the US, it makes sense for Google to start paying attention to mobile users.

However, like is expected of any changes, some users are already saying they are not happy with the new UIs. On a discussion at Search Engine Land blog, one of the visitors said he thought his browser was missing the stylesheet when he noticed the hyperlinks were not underlined.

The impact of the new UI design is yet to be seen. In the coming months, we will have a clearer picture on how users will react to the changes.

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Matt Cutts Video Details Google’s Criteria to Determine a Paid Link

If you’ve ever wondered how Google determines whether or not a link is intended to manipulate PageRank (and who Matt Cutt Details About Google's Paid linkhasn’t?), your answer may come in a new video recently released by Matt Cutts.

Cutts leads Google’s WebSpam team, which fights spam through a combination of computer algorithms and manual review. While the team’s mission is pretty straightforward, it’s ever-changing strategies and tactics have created some confusion (or at the very least questions) for web producers, content managers and, well, any small-business owner with a website which is why the new video is so valuable.

Cutts says there are five criteria Google uses to determine whether a link is considered paid or not:

• Is the link explicitly for sale?
This one is easy: If a webmaster sells a link to another webmaster in exchange for money, the link is obviously paid.

• How close is the value to money?
What if no money is exchanged? What if a webmaster sends a gift card or a bottle of scotch in exchange for the link? In these circumstances, Google will try to determine if what is exchanged could have any monetary value–and the closer to money something is, the more likely it is to influence a webmaster. A gift card has real monetary value, but a cheap bottle of scotch might not. The closer to money something is, the more likely it is that a link will be considered “paid.”

• Is it a gift or a loan?
If you loan someone a device or some software in exchange for a link, your link is less likely to be considered “paid” than if you give someone a device or some software.

• What is the intent of the audience?
If you’re giving things away with the intent of (computers, devices, software) with the explicit intent of getting a link in return, your link will likely be dubbed “paid.”

• Is it within context?
If you send a free copy of a book to a book reviewer, that makes sense. But sending the book reviewer a new car? That will definitely get your link tagged as “paid.”

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