Imagine wearing a pair of special sunglasses that only allow you to see in black and white. You can see everything, but you don’t see all of the colors and shades. You don’t see the shadows, because they blend in too much, and the picture of the world in front of you isn’t as clear as it should be because the shades are dirty and smudged from years of use. Now imagine that you never take those shades off and eventually begin believing that what you are seeing is what the world really looks like. This is what happens when you use a browser that is out of date.
A couple of months ago, I mentioned the growing competition of Google Chrome and Firefox over Internet Explorer. While different sources disagree over who holds the current title of the most popular browser, it is clear that Chrome and Firefox have made big strides in catching up with, and possibly surpassing, the success of Internet Explorer. What you may not realize, if you are not immersed in some of the internet technology based discussions, is that not all browsers show the same site.
Each browser, by its very definition, shows a webpage in its own way. Many things will remain constant between them. Red will still be red, and large text will still be bigger than small text. However, how images, videos, and general pieces of a website are displayed differ from browser to browser. Each browser has its own rendering features, which internet website developers have learned to account for. Putting something as simple as a shadow onto a colored box requires a separate code for Firefox, Chrome and IE. Plus, not all features are supported by all browsers.
For instance, in Chrome and Firefox, you can have a multi-stop gradient, that is, a gradient that fades from one color to a second color to a third color, at pre-programmed spacing. Internet Explorer does not support this feature. There are work-a-rounds, such as creating an image from the gradient and using that image, not the colors themselves, as the background. Of course, this is terribly inefficient and adding text to the website, which would make the site taller, would disrupt the background. In many ways, these work-a-rounds force the developer back to the stone age of web development where everything had to fit in a neat little box.
Unfortunately, there are also websites that were developed, for one reason or another, to utilize only Internet Explorer and will not work with any of the other browsers. As a developer, I find these to make very little sense, since anyone who has checked these statistics will find that less and less people are using internet explorer so websites that force them to use a browser they don’t want to use may suffer the fate of being ignored by those who would take offense at having to use something they don’t like because it makes the programmer’s life easier. With the amount of technology and computer languages that are supported on every browser, I find it hard to believe that the websites that are only available on IE could not be duplicated onto the other browsers.
This having been said, it seems that the trend of designing websites that are supported on only IE is diminishing and I firmly believe will fade away within a short amount of time. Until that time, we all need to keep a copy of internet explorer loaded on our computers, just in case. I personally only use it once or twice a week, if that. Otherwise, it may behoove you to try out one of the other browsers for a bit.
If you are scared of changing, because you are so used to how internet explorer works, and you worry that it will take a long time to get used to a new browser, consider this: when you buy a new car, do you immediately know how to drive it perfectly? Unless you are a professional driver, probably you do not. Each car has a gas pedal that works a little different and a brake pedal that works a little stronger than your last. You have to get used to a center console transmission instead of it being on your steering wheel. It takes a little bit of time, but that does not mean you shouldn’t buy a new car when your old one has trouble keeping up with the other cars on the road.
Plus, changing browsers is free. There are no internet browsers out there that cost money to download, except perhaps IE9, which requires Windows Vista or higher and so would need an upgrade, worth a couple hundred of dollars, from anyone still using XP, which is still approximately 30% of the population. However, those same XP users are free to use either Firefox or Chrome in the latest versions without paying anything for an upgrade.
Who knows, you may even like the new browser better than the one you are using. You would most certainly not be the first to do so.
Due to the amount of blatant spam comments being posted on the blog without any way of filtering through them to find the real ones, we have had to disallow any future comments on any of our posts or pages. We hope that you understand the necessity of this change and that the spam comment-makers feel properly ashamed for the abuse of the privilege that will now need to be banned from all users and visitors. We will still provide useful information on this site, as we are devoted to informing our readers about the goings on of the internet world, but comments will no longer be allowed. Thank you.
For just about all of us, it has become obvious in the recent years that a website is an absolute must in the current day and age. Any business selling any product or service needs to have an effective way of communicating to prospective and current clients who they are, what they can provide and how to contact them. While the designs and technologies behind websites can range from a simple one page “brochure” to a multi-page, optimized “web 2.0″ megasite, everyone needs some sort of website to promote their business and the sooner the better.
At this point, having a website is almost like a source of status. If you find a business that doesn’t have a website, what does it make you think? Either they are a brand new business, in which case they have not yet established any credibility, they have been around but don’t understand the new technologies, which would mean they are behind the times in marketing and may be as well in their products and services, or they don’t believe a website is necessary. If they don’t believe a website is necessary in an age where the majority of research and information on a business comes from the internet, then they clearly do not understand modern-day clientele.
Once the website has been created and been taken live, the question becomes “how do we let people know about it?” In some ways, it may seem pointless to promote a website, which is itself a marketing tool. To use a form of marketing to promote another form of marketing is redundant, right?
Actually, it is the opposite. Many historically successful advertising and marketing campaigns have utilized this very concept. By directing clients from one form of marketing to another, you are creating a cycle, by which you are creating an intrinsic link between yourself and the client. They see an advertisement about a product that leads them to your website, which gives them more information, which directs them to give your company a call, from which your sales representative provides further clarification and makes a sale. The next time around, they may not need the advertisement, choosing to go right to the website and find out about your newest product. They may choose to contact you directly. You have become a source of information for them.
For that reason, as soon as you have a website, it should start appearing everywhere. It should be on your trucks, billboards, tv ads, newspaper ads (for those that still use those), and ads on other websites. Make a blog entry about your new website. Make a facebook post to all of your friends. Send an email blast to all of your clients, or even a direct mail campaign. Do what ever you can, but make sure everybody you know is made aware of your new website.
This isn’t just for marketing purposes or the quick sale. From a search engine optimization point of view, the more people visit your site, the more people respond to your facebook posts with ones of their own or right reviews of your website with a link to it, the better your website will rank in search engines. This provides more visitors and more clients. By continuing these efforts, they become multiplied in terms of their effectiveness, and your website, your brand, becomes the buzz of the industry. This won’t happen over night, but it will happen if you are committed to it.
If you have read this article and think “I really do need a new website” or “I need help getting my new site promoted” I encourage you to check out our website at www.activenation.com.
As many of us are aware, internet browsing became popular through the use of a trusted and well known piece of software called Internet Explorer. For many years, IE dominated the internet browsing world, with only a little bit of competition from Netscape on Windows and Safari on Mac, but that time came to an end. According to statistics from www.w3schools.com, internet explorer has been on a steady decline in market share since March of 2003, where it peaked at 80% of the market share. 9 years later their market share has dwindled down to only 19.5%.
In January of 2009, Mozilla Firefox overtook Internet Explorer as the most popular browser. However, by July of that year, it too started to decline in market share as a new competitor, Google Chrome, began its accent to the top. By April of 2010, Google surpassed IE, taking over the number 2 spot behind Firefox, and has been continuously gaining ground since.
As of last month, Google has edged itself to within .3% of Firefox with 36.3% vs. Firefox’s 36.6%. IE is down to 19.5%, like mentioned above, with Safari and Opera rounding out the remainder with 4.5% and 2.3% respectively. If the trend continues, by next month, we may be hailing Google Chrome as the champion in this browser competition, at least for the time being. As Internet Explorer and Firefox have demonstrated, nothing lasts forever.
How does this affect web developers and the population in general?
As many website designers and developers would attest to, Internet Explorer has been a thorn in our side for the last few years. As Firefox and Chrome, along with Safari and Opera, embraced the most advanced technologies available, IE has been steadily falling behind, causing developers to need to almost develop an entire side twice. Once for Internet Explorer and once for the rest of the world. In addition, there are so many features that are lacking in older versions of Internet Explorer, that anyone running IE8 would never be able to see the websites they visit living up the glory that they have.
The good news is that IE9 at least brought potential fixes to some of these features, even if developers need to use different coding in some cases to achieve the same results.
The bad news is that IE9 won’t work on machines running Windows XP, which according to the same source above, is still used by over 31% of internet users.
More good news: Microsoft recently announced that IE10 will be debuting shortly, and is currently in developer testing stages. You can download a version of it if you want, but we wouldn’t recommend it unless you are an experienced web developer.
More bad news: Microsoft has decided that IE10 will not be available on anything before Windows 7, which to be fair has garnered about 47% of the market at this point. Still, this leaves anyone running Windows XP with only one way of viewing the latest technologies: drop Internet Explorer and go for one of the top dogs, either Firefox or Chrome.
Personally, as a Chrome user, I am all for it taking the #1 spot. Nothing against Firefox, mind you. It is a good and stable browser, but with Google behind it, I see lots of potential for Chrome, including functionality between it, Google’s Android mobile phone operating system, and Google Chrome OS, Google’s attempt at taking cloud computing to a ridiculously new level.
If you are a Chrome user too, great!
If you are a Firefox user, your days as #1 may be up, but I wish you the best of luck.
If you are a Safari or Opera user, I don’t understand why you chose what you did, but I can appreciate your choice.
If you are using IE9, it could be worse, I suppose.
If you are still using IE8 or earlier, you may want to consider upgrading if possible or better yet switching to a different browser. Just try it out. It doesn’t take long to adjust and you can be sure you are seeing the website in the way website developers want you to.
In our ever changing world of search engine optimization, there are very few things that remain constant. Keywords will always be important, inbound links will always be helpful, and fresh content will always be necessary for keeping rankings as high as possible. In the case of the first two, the strategy is obvious, even if the implementation is not always so straight forward. In the case of the last however, things are quite a bit different.
When I say that content needs to be fresh, that does not mean that the style of your homepage needs to change every day, every week, or even every year in order for you to maintain or improve your rankings. Content deals somewhat with style, but more about the pages you have and the words and images on them. It does not always have to be your homepage that is updated either. As long as your whole site is being consistently refreshed with new content, your site will have a much better chance at staying at the top of the rankings. Now, this may seem like a very difficult task. I mean, coming up with new content every week sounds quite challenging, doesn’t it?
Not at all, in fact. You are probably already doing it but you may not realize the power you have at your disposal. There are three very easy ways for making sure you always have fresh content on your website. The first is one that you are reading right now. Yes, blogging is one distinct way of maintaining content on your site.
Now when I speak about blogs, I need to be clear as there are two basic types of blogs, at least from an seo point of view. There is an external blog, which is what this is, and an internal blog. An external blog is one that is created at a different domain from your main company website. It might have its own domain, like this blog, or it might have a subdomain from the blog site you are using, such as blogger or wordpress. In either event, it can be very useful for creating buzz, telling people about the latest news, or simply creating a whole bunch of inbound links to your site from a different domain. A useful tool, no doubt, but not for the purposes of this article.
An internal blog, on the other hand, is one that is installed and accessed directly from your site under the same domain. Usually it will be located under a different directory from the rest of your site, such as /blog. What you may fail to realize is that the content being generated from this blog counts as content on your webpage. Each new posts counts as a new page when search engines look at your website. That means, with each new post you make, your website will be judged as having been recently updated. This does not replace updating the content on your homepage, but it does mean you could get away with doing it less often, or conversely, increase your rankings by having your site be updated more often than before.
The other two easy ways to create new content are news and newsletters. In the case of news, many sites will have a place on their homepage, if not on every page, for recent news items. These can be short tidbits, like tweets, describing a new deal, a new product, or other such announcements. They are short, and so they are easy to make often. Anything you can tweet you can make a news post about. If your site does not currently have a place for recent news, speak to your web developer or design team. It is very easy to put in and shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes, no matter how they do it.
Also, if you are in the habit of creating newsletters that are sent out every week, two weeks, or month, consider having an archive for them to be placed in on your website. Each one of these newsletters can be uploaded as an html page, providing fresh content each time one is added. Search engines will just read them as new pages, like blog posts.
Using one, two, or all three of these strategies can provide quick and easy way to keep it fresh and high in the rankings.
I read an interesting article today regarding the importance of social media in the new world of search engine optimization and website rankings. It has been by and large confirmed that social media is quickly becoming a necessity for all companies if you want to stay at the “top of the charts,” so to speak. So now, you have a Facebook account, a Twitter account, you probably have your own blog with WordPress or Blogger, maybe you are trying out the new Google Plus, and you have a company LinkedIn page.
You need something to write about. Having these accounts without having any content is like fishing without a fishing pole. You went to the lake and expected the fish to jump out of the water and into your hands, but that isn’t the way it works. You need a pole, some bait, and you need to be in the right time and the right place. Sometimes that means waiting with your line in the water for a long time, but if you take it out, you will never catch anything.
However, there is a difference between posting something meaningful and something pointless. If you are only using your Facebook account to say “Check out our new Product!”, you probably won’t get many followers. The reason is that what you are saying is boring. I don’t mean that as an offense, but rather to remind you of what Facebook was created for. It is for sharing stories and interesting tidbits. It is for making you laugh, cry, or angry because of what someone else said. It is supposed to spark emotions in the reader, and that just isn’t going to happen with words like “Check out our new Product!”
Where is the laughter? Where are the tears?
You have to approach social media marketing the way that we have been approaching traditional marketing for the last century. Make it interesting. Make it memorable. People will remember it better and come back to you more often. Lure them in with stories of other customers. Show them interesting pictures or funny videos of someone who has used your product or service. Once you have baited them, reel them in. And once you have caught them, turn their experience into the stories you use to lure in the next customers, thus creating and completing the social media marketing cycle.
This is how you use social media and be meaningful about what you post, while driving customers to you. Hey, if you are still reading, then it obviously works, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s official. Google has finally rolled out their new social media platform, Google Plus. In a blatant attempt at coveting the mass market appeal that Facebook has been garnering since its inception 7 years ago, we now see Google trying to get into the social media game. The platform, while still in its infancy, was started with nothing less than a full throttle exposure by Google, utilizing every aspect of its web presence to reinforce the potential uses and powers of the new social media outlet. The three most powerful features, or perhaps most important when it comes to search engine optimization and web marketing, are the social media pages, the “+1″ button, and the search engine integration.
Social Media Page
From a glance, Google Plus has all the basic features you would expect with social media these days. There is a place for basic information, your profile, photos of you, contact information, and a space to say how you are doing (the basic equivalent of Facebook status or a Twitter tweet). There is one minor difference in that when you are messaged, you are actually emailed (using your gmail account, of course), instead of the message being stored somewhere else. In addition, you are able to easily search for people to add t your circle of friends based on pasty emails or using Google’s own search engine. The biggest difference is the addition of the Google Plus Circles, which is how Google organizes your friends and family. Facebook has similar organizational groups, but Google actually forces you to put all of your friends in a specific circle (even if it is called “Friends”) which would differentiate them from your family, coworkers, etc. This could be very useful for when you want to share something that perhaps you don’t want your family or your boss to see, but other than that it doesn’t really add much that I can see yet.
I mentioned in a previous post about the new +1 buttons that we are adding to all of our SEO clients pages. The Google equivalent of a “Like” button, these buttons which are coded into the page help to both track who and how many people like a particular website, but also helps to bring inbound links into the page which increases the rankings of the site in search engines. The biggest difference that I see between the way that Facebook did this and the way that Google is doing this is where the inbound links are going to be found. For Facebook, this is was in a post made on the wall of the person that clicked the “like” button. Whereas in Google, this is actually a separate tab, next to photos and basic info, that lists all the pages that particular person has +1′d. The pages are listed in reverse chronological order so the first thing you see will be the person’s latest interest.
Search Engine Integration
Google’s new platform already proves that it has a significant amount of power behind it. However, the real power behind the new social media platform is the integration with everything else that Google is already offering. Google’s approach to business seems to be, if we can do 1 thing extremely well, we can probably do everything extremely well. Oddly enough, they seem to be right for the most part. From their original search engine to their power email solution, an internet browser, a smartphone operating system, and now its social media platform, there seems to be no end to what Google will do. What makes it better is that everything is integrated. On Google’s website now, you will see the +You button (which changes “You” to your first name when you are logged in) next to the web search bar. From within the platform, you can use gmail to send messages, Picassa to share photos, and the search engine to find friends, and this is the tip of the iceberg for what I am sure Google will do. This would make the new platform a very powerful tool in the internet marketing world, where social media has become the way businesses build reputation and create buzz about the company. At the moment, it seems more geared towards individuals, but it is only a matter of time before Google branches out to businesses like Facebook has done.
What do you think?
We want to know you’re opinion about the changing social media environment and how Google Plus compares to Facebook. Keeping in mind that it is still in beta and has not been finished yet (as if Facebook is ever actually finished either), what do our readers think? Gives us a rating, 1-5, so we can find out how many people are using it and how they like it so far?
There was an interesting article I read some time ago about the benefits of social media marketing, with the use of Facebook in particular outlined in the article. We have all seen the “Like” buttons on various websites that we have visited, as well as the Facebook “Pages” which form mini-websites of their own as well as powerful advertising tools. Facebook can certainly be a powerful tool for increasing website traffic and search engine rankings.
The Facebook Page:
While Facebook was traditionally a way for individuals to connect with one another, Facebook needed a way to allow for groups and organizations to promote what they have on its site as well. Hence the addition of the Facebook Pages. These mini-advertising sites are helpful in that they form a bridge between your personal Facebook account and your company’s website. While you are allowed to make posts on your Facebook page’s wall, thus proving how current and up-to-date you are, there is enough room for advertisements on your page that it is well worth the effort. Plus, there are a million different places to put links back to your website, in addition to the Like button for the page, that helps bring in more people. The more people “Like” your page, the more people will see and visit it and the more opportunities for you to get them to visit your main website and hence use your services. It is all about a way in.
Facebook for your Site:
As much as you want people to Like your Facebook page, your actual website is even more important. Many websites these days have embedded the code whereby people can actually Like your website itself. They click on the button and the counter on your site goes up while a post appears on their Facebook wall telling the world that they liked it. This means that on their wall, you now have an inbound link where their friends can see your website and have a reason to check it out. That inbound link also works in search engine rankings. Google counts every Like from a Facebook user as an inbound link and each inbound link will hep to boost your rankings in all the search engines.
Search engine optimization is like pushing a heavy ball down a specific path. Once you “get the ball rolling” so to speak, the momentum will help continue to push it forward. However, when you are just starting out, it can be difficult to find your bearings. The energy it takes to just get going past the point of inertia can seem daunting, so we’d like to take this time to give suggestions that anyone can do.
SEO can be an expanding spiral of growth if treated in the correct way. The more people that visit your site, the better it will do in search engine rankings. The better your site does in rankings, the more people will visit your site. SEO strategies like keywords and video are all very important, but the main driving point in the beginning is just to get people to visit, and in this way it is fairly identical to marketing in the real world.
Sometimes it is who you know that counts. Talk to your friends and recommend they go to your website. Have them tell their friends about it. Even if it only gets a few people to start visiting, it will create a trend. While you are at it, talk to them about forming an online partnership. We at ActiveNation have prided ourselves on linking to all of our clients websites, including Party Perfect, Diploma Company and Ross Locklear on our website, while they all have a link back to us on their website as their website developer/designer. A link exchange, in which you put a link to your friend’s or client’s website on your own in return for them putting a link to your site on theirs, is a good way of increasing traffic to your site and is a free advertising tool. The inbound link created on your friend’s site will also help to boost your website’s rankings.
Once you have a website, put it everywhere. On your advertisements, on your business cards, on the walls of your office for when people visit. People are growing more an more used to using the internet for research on whatever company they are going to and one of the first websites they visit is the company’s own. You can even use it to make your advertisement’s cheaper by ending with the words “Visit our website for more information.” This means your advertisements are shorter and you are driving more people to your site, increasing your marketing reach and search rankings simultaneously.
Social Media Speaks Loudly:
These days, a large majority of the population has some social media account, be it twitter, facebook, or linkedin. These allow you to post something for the whole world to see. While creating your own page for your business can be helpful, it can also be detrimental if it is not constantly updated. However, posting something on your personal account, such as a link to your website with a blurb like “Check out our new website” can be effective in driving online “friends” and visitors to your website.
We’ve all seen the logo of the Better Business Bureau on some of our favorite sites. They are the ones who will rate a compnay based on how well their service is and how they treat their customers. Suffice it to say that some of the best companies we know are ranked highly by the BBB, and it shows on their website.
Some of ActiveNation’s clients, including Virginia Green Lawn Care and Party Perfect, have been ranked with an A+ ranking and are therefore entitled and encouraged to place the self-updating logo from the BBB on their website. This logo serves a multi-faceted purpose in terms of website marketing, and it is important to look at the various values of using it.
From a purely customer-friendly point of view, the BBB is a well known and respected organization and their ranking system is trusted by many. Just seeing that a business has an A+ ranking is a good enough reason for many potential clients to give that company a call.
However, it also serves an SEO purpose, in that by listing your website with the BBB creates an inward link to your website while the logo on your webpage will actually link to your company’s profile on the BBB’s own website. That means that when someone goes through the BBB, they find you. When they go through a search engine, they find you. When they click the BBB link on your webpage, they find you again.
There are a variety of organizations that are similar to the BBB, but this goes to show the benefits of being a member of any one of them.