Digital tablet with blank screen in coffee shop cafe

Everyone knows what bad design looks like. I know what you’re thinking: If everyone knows what bad design looks like, then why do people still think animated flaming skulls on websites are a good idea? […]

Your website is an opportunity for you to make a good impression and help existing and potential customers decide whether or not they should do business with you.  Even if your business is mostly offline (i.e. you don’t have an ecommerce site), you should still be very worried about the impression you are making online.  The majority of consumers now use the web to research everything from the new restaurant that opened downtown to the accounting firm they are considering bringing business to next year.  Even if their purchase or business transaction will happen in the “real” world, their decision is often made before you even get to meet your potential customer.

You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so avoid these common pitfalls at all costs! […]

More and more, a company’s website is the first, valuable interaction with a new customer. Is your website stuck in the Stone Age (and by Stone Age, I mean the 90’s and 00’s)?  What impression are you giving the 58% of American adults who according to Pew Research Center research the products and services they are interested in online before purchasing or engaging a company? […]

Just to prove that no aspect of online technology can sit still for any longer than a 7-year-old, last week Google launched an updated version of what it previously called its “Rich Snippet Test Tool”. As part of the deal, it’s gotten a new name — the Structured Data Testing Tool . The page is a great deal more sparse than the previous version because all of the help content has been moved to a separate page.

The testing tool continues to support markup for rich snippet search results, but now pulls out authorship markup elements as well. Note that authorship markup is a separate element from a web article’s provenance, or creative history. Establishing and maintaining a web pages’ provenance is still a hot topic amongst semantics experts, hopefully to be resolved at some point in the future. […]

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written several posts about structured data markup and the increasing importance of building machine-readable context and descriptions into content that’s created for the web. Structured data is already used by the major search engines to provide enhanced search result listings, and it’s also used by mobile search providers to produce more accurate local search results.

The trouble is that the world of structured data isn’t all nice, neat and orderly. There’s no single standard “how to” on using structured data markup. The W3C — the organization that develops and manages most of the web’s open standards — recommends two different structured data specifications. The Resource Description Framework in Attributes (RDFa) was developed over a period of years by a W3C working group. The Microdata specification was promoted primarily by the major search players (Google, Yahoo and Bing), and then taken on by another W3C working group in a sort of shotgun wedding. […]

For the average small business website, which type of search results are the most important? Maybe a better way to phrase that is: Where are your customers? If you run a restaurant in Ocala, are you going to get more customers from Summerfield, or from Hahira, GA?

Local businesses have local customers. It stands to reason that a local business website needs to have its strongest presence in local searches. So how do you give your business website greater search appeal for local users?

Mobile search is bringing about rapid change in local online marketing. The exact number varies depending on the source, but it’s a safe bet that at least 800 million location-relevant searches are conducted from mobile devices each month — and the number of mobile searches is growing every month as more people begin to use mobile digital devices. […]

In last week’s blog post, I wrote about structured data markup. That brings up the question of why you might want to consider adding some elements of this markup vocabulary to your website’s code.

I’ve read a few articles in prominent, non-technical publications that promote the use of structured data markup — using the Microdata format sponsored primarily by Google, Bing and Yahoo — as a method of improving SEO. Unfortunately, that’s not quite accurate. In fact, the major search engines have made it abundantly clear that using an extended markup like Microdata (or any of the other vocabularies) has no impact on a page’s search ranking. […]

If you’re very observant, or if you just spend a lot of time poking at Google or Bing, over the last year or so perhaps you’ve noticed that the search engines are returning results that are a lot more informative than they used to be. “Old” style search are familiar and straightforward; they’ve got a page title, a URL and some text (usually from the content). […]

May 25, 2012

QR Codes with Style

We have all seen these new little bar codes invading all forms of printed and online marketing materials. QR (Quick Response) codes are a two dimensional bar code originally developed by Denso Wave (a subsidiary of Toyota) in 1994 to track vehicles during manufacturing. They can hold a relatively large amount of data and can be scanned at high speeds. In terms of practical marketing use, they have proven somewhat underwhelming in the United States, but I believe with a little style tweak via Adobe Photoshop, QR Codes can be a nice addition for re-enforcing your branding efforts. Keep in mind that 50.4% of the US population now has a QR Scanner in the form of a smartphone on them at all times (Source: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/?p=31688). […]

So you’ve decided you need a new website, or your existing website needs a facelift?  Not so fast!  Before you choose a website developer and spend your money on a new website, there are several things you need to consider carefully in order to get the most out of your investment.  And there are some details that if they aren’t taken care of BEFORE you start building that website, could doom you to failure.

Make sure you know the following, and can communicate the answers to your developer, to get the best possible results. […]

Online review sites are becoming more and more vital to consumers as they research businesses and products online.  Sites like Yelp and Google Local allow customers to post their reviews for others to read, making them a powerful influence in consumer buying decisions. According to the MIT Technology Review, for every one dollar U.S. consumers spend online, another five or six are going to off-line purchases that are influenced by online research. In fact, 97% of Internet users in the U.S. gather shopping information online. Yet many business owners still have not ventured into the world of online reviews, even though their customers are researching them and making purchasing decisions based on the online reviews they find.

Here are some tips to help you get started and take control of your online reviews: […]

Social networking can be a time-consuming endeavor, so the temptation to cut corners is big.  There are tools, techniques, and add-ons available that seem like a great idea to help you streamline your social media strategy and save time… until they start to undermine your efforts to connect in a real way to your customers.  Here are 4 things you should avoid: […]