May 032012
 

The financial news networks are abuzz with the news that Scott Thompson, Yahoo’s CEO may have lied on his resume.  The story goes (Source: Jay Yarow on Business Insider) that Scott Thompson overstated his credentials by saying he had a Computer Science degree.  Apparently Mr. Thompson said that he double-majored in Accounting and Computer Science but only has an Accounting degree.  Dan Loeb, a hedge fund manager and founder of Third Point LLC, discovered this discrepancy and wrote a letter to Yahoo’s Board of Directors thus blowing the whistle.

If this is true, this would result in a great deal of turmoil at Yahoo.  Executive credentials are included in a wide variety of documents collected by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and could lead to legal issues.  Plus, this would be just plain wrong.  People look to their leaders for honesty and integrity. Being fast and loose with your credentials (something easily checked) also shows a great lack of judgment.

I only hope that this isn’t true.  If it is true then we may see a new CEO in Yahoo’s future.  The lesson here is to always be honest in your business dealings and you won’t have to worry about such matters and let down the people who have given you their trust.

Apr 092012
 

Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/) is one of the fastest growing Social Media sites.  According to comScore (article here), Pinterest.com ranked in the Top 10 fastest growing Web properties and surpassed 10 million unique visitors in January. This growth is amazing considering it is still in beta release.  This means you’ll need a friend to invite you to join in the fun or request an invitation from Pinterest on their site.

Pinterest Logo

Fun?  Yes, you’ll have fun creating a visual pinboard with photos and videos of things that interest you. You can add the Pinterest “Pin it” button to your browser and use it to select images and videos from any Web site.  The site allows you to upload media directly as well.  Once uploaded you’ll need to place the images and videos into a pinboard organized by the subject of your choosing.  Of note, there is no nudity allowed on Pinterest so this should be a family friendly site.

As mentioned, to sign up and post your own pinboards you will need to get an invitation.  You can set it up to login using a Twitter or Facebook account.  Friends can follow all of your pinboards or just one of them.  They can also re-pin one of your images or videos to add it to their pinboards.  Users can also “like” your photos and provide comments as well.  By following you will be notified of new images.  By liking images the “pinner” will be notified that you like their image.

Pinterest provides tools to help promote your pinboards.  You can add a button to your Web site so that others can pin your images or simply follow you on Pinterest.  Pinterest works on all major Web browsers and there is a Pinterest iPhone app.  Other mobile devices can access Pinterest through their mobile URL: (http://m.pinterest.com/)

To learn more about Pinterest I would suggest starting here.  The jury is still out on how this site could be used for business. If your target market is starting to use Pinterest then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a business presence there to display your products or samples of your work.  The creative ways in which this new site can be used to share your interests seems to be endless.

 

Jan 302011
 

Looking for a quick way to boost the traffic to your business Web site?

Increase your Web Traffic

Increase your Web Traffic

It may have been a while since you added your business to Google Places.  Google Places is where you can manage your business listing displayed on Google Maps.  Perhaps you didn’t even know you could get a free ad listing for your business on Google Maps.

Well, if you build it, they will come.  People love Google Maps for getting directions and finding places of interest.  For instance, if you are looking for a Web Designer in Lebanon, Ohio (shameless plug coming) then you can go to maps.google.com and type in “Web Designer near Lebanon, Ohio” and find our listing (ranked 2nd as of this blog post).

Here is what you get with your free listing:

  • Basic information including business name, address, phone number, email & Web address
  • 200 character description and up to 5 business categories
  • Service areas served
  • Hours of operation and payment options
  • Up to 10 photos and up to 5 videos
  • Any additional details you want to include such as discounts and free estimates

Once created you will have a nice display on Google Maps.

Web Street USA on Google Maps

Here’s how to get your ad:

  1. Go to Google Places (places.google.com/business)
  2. Create a Google Account if you haven’t done it already.
  3. Login to your Google Account.
  4. Click the “List your business” button.
  5. Select Country and Phone number then click the “Find business information” button.
  6. If your business is found then you can click the “Edit” button.
  7. If your entering a new business then click the “Add a new listing” button.
  8. Enter your basic business information such as Company name, address, email and Web address.
  9. Be sure to add a good description of your business using lots of keywords that people might use to find you.
  10. Select a business category.  Do this by starting to type into the category field and Google will make suggestions for you that can be selected.  You don’t have to use the ones they suggest.
  11. Enter additional business categories.  You get up to 5 categories so I would suggest using all of them as these categories can contain keywords that will help draw traffic.
  12. Next enter the service areas and locations if this is applicable to your type of business.
  13. Enter the hours of operation (this is optional).
  14. Select payment options.
  15. Add some photos of your business.  The first photo will be used on your map listing (see sample to right).  Up to 10 photos are available so you use this to show just about anything related to your business.
  16. You can also add videos to be displayed with your listing.  If you have videos you would like to use then make sure you upload them to YouTube and then enter in the complete Web address for that particular video.  Use the YouTube link here (youtube.com) to find out more information about this free video service.
  17. Next enter any additional details about your business.  This is where you can enter a detail category followed by the associated details.  For instance, on my listing, I display how long I have been in business, veteran discounts and free estimates.

For future editing be sure to log into your Google account.  From most Google pages you will be able to click on the “Settings” link and go to the Google account settings.  Go to Google Places to see and edit your ad plus see how many people viewed your ad and clicked on the listing.  This is all great stuff and it really is free.  It shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to setup a basic business listing.  I hope you found this information useful!

Jan 262010
 

Headlines are Critical 

Headlines are critical to the effectiveness of your Web site, especially on your home page. 

The headline is like an ad for the words that will follow.   It is important to the reader (human) and to the search engines (computer).

It needs to stress benefits and help answer the key question, WIIFM? 
(What’s in it for me?)

The You-Focused Opener

An opening headline like “Welcome to XYZ” isn’t going to cut it.  The home page must focus on the visitor and why they might benefit from your Web site.  The home page should emphasize the top benefit and motivate them to read on and take an action.  You must never forget that a Web site is there to please your visitors.  Put yourself in their shoes.

Strong Motivation is Needed – Pain or Gain!

The headline should introduce a cure for the target audience’s pain or fear of loss.

Or, the headline can hit on your most important benefit and how your target audience can gain by reading further.

Targetted Headlines are Best

The headline should be very important to your target visitor.  The more targeted the better.  And it needs to be a short, sharp and benefit-laden punch line.

What Professional Copywriters Say… 

Do:

  1. Write several headlines before choosing your perfect one.
  2. Address the needs of your target audience and dramatize the benefits.
  3. Stir emotion by getting the reader excited, fearful or protective.
  4. Use the present tense or better yet, the imperative tense. The use of “you” often works well.
  5. Use strong and essential action verbs.
  6. Use short words that create an image in the mind of the reader.
  7. Eliminate most adverbs and adjectives.
  8. Write headlines that stand on their own.
  9.  Write headlines that foreshadow the message that follows it.

 Don’t:

  1. Don’t write about you… write about them.
  2. Don’t write headlines that create curiosity without stressing benefits.
  3. Don’t be “catchy” or “cute” unless your target audience appreciates that type of headline.
  4. Don’t worry about losing visitors that aren’t in your target audience.  That is to be expected.
  5. Don’t use jargon unless you are certain that everyone in target audience will understand it.

 Other Suggestions:

  1. Use words and phrases that evoke emotion…
              You, Now, At Last, Free, Finally, Profit, New, Secret,Ultimate, Fantastic,
              Guarantee, Today, First, Amazing, Discover, Yes, Best, Instant, Powerful
  2. Ask a question.
  3. Make your promises credible.
  4. Put your headline in quotes for extra credibility.
  5. Challenge the reader. (ex. “Only for Businesses Who Want to Increase Profits”)
  6. Test your headlines to see which one works best with your target audience.
  7. Test some more. 
    (Check back soon for an article on Web analytics).
Jan 142010
 

The news lately has been dominated by the devastating earthquake that took place in Haiti.  It is hard to write about Web design and online marketing and all the wonderful technologies we can use to make money when our neighbors to the south are just looking to survive.  But thankfully, it is nice to know that those same tools and technologies can be used to collect money to aid in the Haitian relief efforts.

How you can help:

Check out the Fox News Web site article, Haiti Earthquake Aftermath: How to Help, for a very good list of charities providing relief. 

You can text your donations through your mobile phone and the donation will show up in your next phone bill.  You can also donate through each of the Web sites listed.  In addition to those in the article the following are also good ways to contribute:

Baptist Global Relief

Lambi Fund

WhiteHouse.gov

Beware of Scammers:

Donating through legitimate charities or your local church or synagogue is the best way.  Unfortunately, with every disaster comes a group of low life scammers trying to make a buck off the tragedy of others.  If you are contacted by someone that you are not sure is legitimate then you are probably right.  Be sure to check them out with your local Better Business Bureau or your State Attorney General.  Look out for text messages and emails from people you don’t know and trust.  Beware of new Web sites with catchy domain names.  It is possible that they are legitimate but you will need to do your homework.

Better Business Bureau Charity Investigation Page

Thanks for your help in helping others!

Dave

Dec 302009
 

This is the time of year that everyone’s calendar is full.  Between work, family and all the organizations that everyone belongs to it is hard to keep things organized.  If you aren’t familiar with Google Calendar then you should check out this great tool.  It helps you to keep and share your calendar with work, family and friends.

About Google Calendar

Google Calendar can also be integrated with your Web site.  One of my clients, Lee McCready with Kart19.com, uses Google Calendar to share his Kart Racing team schedule with his family and friends.  People can sign up to get calendar event reminders in their email.  This is a great way to promote any event that your company, club or organization is planning to have.  And this calendar is free!

Dec 092009
 

Cyber Monday, the Monday following Thanksgiving, proved to be strong despite the lackluster economy.  According to comScore, Inc., Cyber Monday 2009 had online sales of $887 Million vs. $846 Million a year earlier.  This represents a 5% increase since last year.  The number of online buyers increased 6% to 8.7 Million and similar results have been seen for entire holiday shopping season so far.

Internet retailers are drawing in buyers through convenient shopping and great deals.  According to Yahoo Search Marketing, online advertisers are beginning to master aggressive marketing campaigns that entices consumers to shop online.   Online sales promotions are largely handled through paid search advertising such as Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft AdCenter.  Microsoft continues its efforts to improve its search capabilities with such innovations as the Bing.com search engine.

Savvy online marketers understand that paid search (aka pay per click) advertising works.  You are in complete control of the message, keywords, bid amounts (costs) and attributes such as geographical location to help in precisely targeting your audience.  The news continues to get better for advertisers as competition is starting to heat up with the announcement that Microsoft and Yahoo are joining forces in their search and online advertising technology to take on #1 Google.  Yahoo and Microsoft, just this past week, have worked out the details of their partnership that is likely to be approved by government regulators in early 2010.

Dec 022009
 

After years of recommending to others that they should start a business blog, I finally found the time and inclination to create one of my own.  I have gone so far as creating a number of test blogs on Blogger.com and GoDaddy’s Quick Blogcast, and developing a soccer team Web site using Geeklog.  I decided to go with WordPress which I think they should rename “ImPress” because of the impressive feature set, theme choices and myriad of developers contributing to this Open Source success story.  I have helped others tweak their WordPress sites in the past but the latest version is incredibly powerful and has gotten a lot easier to use.

Dare I say it, “Static Web sites are going the way of the dinosaur”.  I have seen the writing on the wall and traditional Web design is on its way out.  Starting in 2010 I will be shifting focus completely away from static site development.  Dynamic sites are far more powerful and more interesting for me as a designer.  People will always need help setting things up, creating unique designs and developing solutions that fit a particular business.  People are far less likely to need me to type in the content of their pages and posts.  I can’t say I’ll miss that aspect of Web design since it reminds me of the old typing pools of 60′s and 70′s.  For you youngins, rent an old movie like “9 to 5″ starring Dolly Parton and you’ll get an inkling of what a typing pool is.

Getting back to why I started a blog… it just makes too much sense.  Blogs are cheap; you can host it for free or get a low cost hosting account and garner complete control.  Blogs let you express yourself and demonstrate your knowledge to your peers, clients and hopefully, future clients.  Search engines love blogs due to all the fresh content and keyword rich posts and comments.  Blogs fit together nicely with all your other online activities such as social networking, email, business Web sites, SEO, Paid Search advertising, analytics, etc.  Blogs are easy to use.

Just because it makes a lot of sense doesn’t mean I’ll be the next Matt Drudge.  That’s not my goal.  My goal is to reach out to my Web design clients, social network contacts and others in order to share what I know and in turn learn from the responses I receive.  If it helps business, great.  If not, perhaps I can learn something and improve my writing skills :-)