Do you remember the images from storybooks you were read to as a child and the impact they had on you?   Some of these memories are long lasting ones that you’ll be able to recall for many years. The reason behind this is because as we look at pictures, two areas at the back of the brain are at work. These lobes, called the occipital lobes, process images from the eyes and connect that information with images stored in memory.  Now fast-forward to today and the images that we constantly process, our occipital lobes are still at work.  If something attracts your attention it still makes as big of an impression as it did when you were a child.  That is why infographics are such a great way to connect with your audience.  They reach most people on a far deeper level compared to simply reading words off a page.  People want to be mentally stimulated, not only with intriguing facts, but images that go along with them.

If you are unfamiliar with infographics head over to http://www.coolinfographics.com/ and checkout a few examples.

Important factors to keep in mind when creating a new infographic

  • Make sure the information is accurate: Do your research – You’re educating people with your message, so make sure you’re not being careless and you know the facts are correct.
  • Make sure it’s attractive: Well obviously you want to create something that grabs immediate attention. This could be with the colors you choose or the design layout. Make sure you use a designer that truly understands your overall concept.
  • Make sure your message is understood: Your message and facts should be easy to follow. Make sure that the core message is coming across and isn’t lost.

Infographics work for your business

  • Infographics can drive traffic:  Yes, this is very true! The link sharing value here is priceless!  If your infographic goes viral, well then you’ve just hit the jackpot. Because of its interactive and graphic nature, people will love to share it with others.
  • Infographics explain a situation more easily: People want to learn with pictures most of the time because it makes it easier for them to understand what you are saying and it makes the topic more interesting.
  • Saves time:  And time is money, right? Since infographics are visual, they explain a whole lot of information in just a few words and if done right, they will keep your customers engaged.

 

Infographics can work as a very powerful tool by communicating their message both internally and externally, so take advantage of the benefits it could bring your business.

 



Living in California, we’re always taught to be prepared for the Big One.  Being prepared is our only defense to the inevitable.  However, the next big earthquake can still be 100’s of years from now (crossing my fingers it actually is) but on the internet everything changes quickly, as we learned a few months back with Google’s new Panda update.

Here are some helpful tips on how you can be better prepared for Google’s next Big One AKA “The next Panda Update”.

1. Google Targets Web Scrapers

If your website relies on any web scraping technology, you can expect to be hit. So clean out the garbage and tight down on only good content.

2. Good quality content will not be affected

Make sure you’re writing interesting content, something that has your viewers coming back to your site.  Share quality graphics, pictures and useful information. You want to make sure people are browsing your site and getting a good experience from it, not dumping it right away and moving on to another site. Just give people what they want and you should see good results J

3. Excessive WebPages

A lot of times we get out of control with the excessive pages we have on our site. Take a look and ask yourself… “Do I really need so many pages on my site?”  These pages can be poor quality ones and will bring down the ranking of your site.  Simply merge other pages, eliminating the worst ones and create a better looking page.

4. Is your site trustworthy?

Would you leave your kids with a babysitter you just met, that works out of a cheap motel? Probably not, or at least I hope not!!  Well that same concept applies to websites and the trustworthiness they portray from their page.  When you visit a website, you want to make sure it has trustworthy material and that you feel assured any info they have from you will be safe.  Make sure your site is giving off the right trustworthy confident image and not a sketchy one that keeps people away.

5. Double Trouble

Make sure you’re not duplicating anything on your site.  Sometimes this is accidental but can give you a big headache down the line if it isn’t taken care of properly. Having duplicate content can really hurt your rankings, so when cleaning up your site make sure you’re not duplicating anything and if so, clean it up!

6. Bounce Rate

Look through Google analytics for pages with high bounce rate. Landing pages should provide the information and services that were promised in the ad copy. Use this metric to measure visit quality – a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. The more compelling your landing pages, the more visitors will stay on your site and convert.

When will the next major Google update happen?  Nobody knows for sure but one thing is abundantly clear, search engines are getting better at determining quality. Stop focusing on tricks and tactics to rank your website and refocus on making your site the best it can be and you will be well positioned for future changes.  Keep yourself informed and up to date with all the new changes and the next time around you shouldn’t feel too much of a shake.



You can now search the web by image instead of just typing in a search phrase. Earlier this year Google released this very intriguing technology which enables this ability. There are four key ways to use this new way of searching.

1 – Drag and Drop

With this method, simply point your web browser to Google Image Search and then drag an image file (ie: picture) right on to the window, near the search input box. You should see it notice your request, and ask you place it into a specialized container.

That container box will automatically upload your image to Google for processing. You will immediately be taken to the search result, which is typically related images and sometimes even gives you a description of what the image is!

2 – Upload an Image

If you aren’t sure about drag & dropping an image into the browser, or perhaps your web browser isn’t supported, you can also upload the image. This is the same as you would upload an image to any other website, and you get the same results in the end.

To upload an image, simply click on the Camera icon, select “Upload an image.”

3 – Direct Image URL

The third method is useful if you found an image that is already on the internet. You can simply right-click in your web browser, copy the image URL (or location, as it is called sometimes) and then you simply click the Camera icon on Google Image Search, and use the “Paste image URL” option, instead of the direct upload.

4 – Firefox and Chrome Extensions

There are extensions available to both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox web browsers. This gives you an additional right-click option on images, which lets you very easily just right-click on any image you see in your favorite browser, and simply click the search Google via image option.

You can get these extensions here: Download Firefox Extension, or Download Google Chrome Extension.

What are you thoughts on this new way to search the web? Let us know!



Today Mark Zuckerberg announced the new video chat feature on Facebook. This new application is being powered by Skype. To get started:

Other than clicking the “Get Started” button, there is no login required. You will not be rerouted to Skype to create a new account.  After the add-on has been installed you are ready to start making calls.

Starting a video call with one of your Facebook friends is incredibly easy. When you are ready to call a Facebook friend go down to your Facebook chat in the bottom right hand corner and select their name. At the top of the chat box you will see a tiny camera icon that you click. Your friend will then receive an incoming video call prompt.

If they do not already have video calling setup they will be asked to set it up at this point. Also both parties don’t have to have webcams. If your friend doesn’t have a camera they will still be able to see you. Once your video call is established a medium sized video box appears in the middle of your screen. Your friend’s video feed will take up most of the box like most other video chat software.

While trying it out on my iPad it gave me a Flash Player required message. So we will have to wait until Mark releases the long awaited Facebook iPad native app. When testing in Internet Explorer, I was not only able to expand it to full screen but I could move the box around my computer screen as well as resize it.

If your friend does not pick up the call or hits the “Ignore” button it will ask you if you would like to leave a message. Once you opt to leave a message a Facebook chat box pops up giving you the option to send a written message, photo, or a video message. On your friends account they will be prompted with a new message. At the top is the written message and underneath is a video.

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook wanted to make this as easy as possible which I believe they succeeded in doing so. Have you been able to test it out for yourself? If so, what are your thoughts?



Over the past 10 years more Americans have found that shopping online is not only convenient but most times less expensive than buying products in an actual retail store.  Another incentive of shopping online at sites like Amazon was that items were tax free. So not only were you getting a great deal, but you were saving even more cash by not having to pay tax.

Well if you live in California you can kiss those days good bye!   Because earlier this month California’s State Assembly approved a new bill that would require Web retailers such as Amazon.com Inc to collect sales tax on purchases made online by Californians.

Assembly Bill 155, which now moves on to committees in the state Senate, expands the definition of “retailers engaged in business in the state” in a way that would require Amazon and others to collect sales tax.

The California Board of Equalization estimates this new tax could bring $83 million to the state.  This is in effort to bring more revenue to California which is already an estimated 10 billion dollars in debt.

California’s Assembly approved the bill on a vote of 52 to 20, showing that the majority agree to find new ways of generating more income into the financially slumped state.

California is one of the first states to introduce this new bill, but soon enough we may be finding other states following in its footsteps.

RIP Tax Free Amazon.com and internet retailers.



The weather is finally starting to feel like summer!  Last week I decided I would start researching wooden playground sets for the backyard.  I shopped online for an hour or so, and compared the same wooden playground set on a handful of online stores.  My process went something like this, I would go through the ordering process of each site to determine my actual cost, and bookmark the sites that I thought had the lowest pricing.

The next day, around 10am I received a phone call from a customer service agent at one of the websites I had visited. The agent asked if I had any questions about the wooden playground set I had looked at on their website.  I paused for a minute, feeling very vulnerable to the fact they knew exactly which product I had put in my online shopping cart, I told the agent that I did not have any questions and request they not call me again. During the checkout process, I had put in my actual phone number, not thinking anything of it. Mainly because my phone number came up to auto fill in the telephone field and I did not think it would be a big deal.

Four days later I received an email from the same company offering a discount on the exact product that I had added to my shopping cart.  The email does not bother me, partially because they offered me a discount, and partially because it does not feel as intrusive as a person calling me.  Throughout the last few days I have noticed an uptick in the number of wooden playground ads when I log into my email account, and I understand this as another retargeting effort.  Like the email, I do not feel bothered by the increase in ads targeted at me based on my searches.

Do you feel calling customers directly has taken retargeting too far?



The movement towards IPv6 is becoming more and more of a reality. Last February the governing bodies of IP Addressing announced the final assignments of the last available unused IPv4 blocks, and I wrote about being ready for the IPv6 movement, as effectively at that time, there were no more unallocated IPv4 IP blocks available.

Now, just a few months later, we have World IPv6 Day.  According to some sources it is going to be one of the most watched technology related events since 1999 when the Y2k-bug was the biggest technology related situation.  This is the biggest real worldwide test utilizing all network services via the newer IPv6 protocols.

There are two key points of this event. 1) To test how well it’s currently working and to identify potential problems, so that they may be addressed and fixed. 2) To see how well the world has further prepared since the big IPv4 historic moment that occurred on February 3rd 2011.

The World IPv6 Day event is sponsored by the Internet Society.  The event actually began last night at 8pm eastern and continues until 8pm eastern this evening. There are more than 400 organizations which are participating in this worldwide event.

This is the largest undertaking the internet has seen since its initial creation some 40 years ago. Some of the biggest companies in the world are participating in World IPv6 day, such as: Google, Yahoo, Bing, AT&T, Cisco, Juniper, Microsoft and many more, including major Data Centers around the world.

So, the question still remains, are you ready for IPv6? You should be getting ready if not!



Facebook was caught with their hand in the wrong cookie jar today, not literally speaking but close enough. They were actually busted in a secret campaign against their biggest rival Google, confirmed a company spokesman.

According to a report from “The Daily Beast”, Facebook hired Burson-Marsteller, a leading public relations firm to pitch anti Google stories, suggesting they investigate claims that Google was invading people’s privacy.

The idea was to release ghostwritten reports to popular online sites such as The Washington Post, Politico and The Huffington Post.  However the plan backfired on FB when the firm hired to do the smear campaign was discovered by “The Daily Beast”. Short of embarrassing for Facebook is to say the least about this failed attempt.

For Facebook, this represents the latest in a history of errors for a company that has struggled to portray itself as trustworthy, noteworthy as founder Mark Zuckerberg and company struggle to deal with the evolving touchy subject of personal privacy.

When Facebook was confronted they did not deny the fact that they hired the firm to go after Google. In their defense they believe that their rival is doing many things to raise privacy concerns and that they have the right to investigate.  Other skeptics believe the more important reason is resentment that Google is trying to use Facebook data in its own social networking service currently in the works.

Many believe that its part of a growing rivalry, and a very bitter one that is only getting fueling up.  Much more may come once Google does announce its rumored plans to release its social networking site.



Big name retailers and small niche online stores are now starting to offer their products for sale direclty on Facebook.  How do you get starting selling your products on Facebook?

Determine the most appropriate setup for your type of ecommerce site. There are two layout options available.

1) Selling products directly on Facebook. Example; Land’s End.

Land’s End uses a “social shopping experience” called 8th Bridge to integrate their store on Facebook.  8th Bridge allows the customer to complete an entire purchase while never leaving the Facebook website. A ton of major retailers, such as Hallmark, Delta Airlines, HauteLook & 1-800-Flowers.com are all using 8th Bridge on Facebook.

There are a few other companies offering  this same type of product, but with a little less glitz, and a smaller price tag,

BigCommerce

Payvment

Fluid

Resource

Sort Price

2) Provide a “Shop Now” button that links back to your storefront.

This is a great option for smaller budgets, and involves little setup time. Example; Toms Shoes

Toms Shoes has a one page layout with their new Spring Collection, and provides a “Shop Now” button that links directly back to the the Toms website and allows the customer to purchase from that point.

An alternative layout for linking directly to specific products and not general categories is also a good option. Etsy offers their sellers a product page that links back to their Etsy store front to complete the purchase. Example; Typos

Once you have determined which type of setup works the best for your business, start selling!  Look for more and more of your favorite stores to start using either one of these methods to start selling their products on Facebook. This is an exciting new way to allow Facebook Fans to shop for their favorite products without having to leave Facebook to search for products.



If you are like a lot of businesses on the internet; you most likely run multiple e-commerce websites perhaps even on multiple platforms; this can become very tedious, even quite frustrating to maintain on a routine basis. So here’s a quick list to keep in mind.

Sitemaps

Sitemaps are a key component in helping assist search engine robots in their automatic crawls of your website; giving you the ability to simply list out all of your pages and even set priorities and how often these pages are updated.

It is very important to monitor all of your sitemaps; including automatically generated sitemaps for potential issues; such as pages that have moved, no longer exist and for typographical errors too. This will also keep accidental non-production pages from getting indexed.

If you utilize Google Webmasters; it provides very detailed information including 404 errors, sitemap problems, and other errors it may have encountered with in your websites.

Google Products Submission

Hopefully if you sell products on your sites, you are submitting your product feeds to Google Products (Google Merchants), as this increases your potential audience for sale conversions.

As with sitemaps, it is also extremely important that everything is accurate, including but not limited to: Product Name, Brand, SKU, Pricing, Free Shipping Indication and the Product’s Picture.

Having this information be accurate and perhaps even automatically routinely submitted (updated in Google Products); is an excellent way to maintain both your products accuracy in the system and lower your sites bounce rate.

Server Error Logs

This is the most common overlooked item; your website may appear to be functioning properly without any issues; however, it is a very good practice to keep an eye on your systems multiple error logs.

These can include:

  • Web Server (Web Hosting)
  • Programming Language (PHP, ASP, etc)
  • Server (Operating System)
  • Pages not found (Do 404’s Hurt My Site?)

Try to make it part of your monthly, perhaps weekly routine to check these files, as they can be big indicators if something, big or small, is potentially causing an issue, you can also keep an eye on security by monitoring these files too.

Security Practices

When running multiple e-commerce sites, it can be a big hassle to truly stay on top of best practices for keeping your customers information safe guarded; one of the biggest items is not changing your important passwords often.

As noted in A Major Security Risk – Your Password, your password is more often than not, the only thing keeping potential security breaches from taking place, the more often your important account passwords are changed; and the stronger your passwords are, the better.

It is highly recommended to use a service such as LastPass to keep these strong, not usually memorable passwords stored in a secure location that you can access; however keep in mind, to make your LastPass account password something you can memorize; but still be strong too.

Backups

In conclusion, another absolute must have is routine backups of your websites files, including any databases and email accounts. You can never have too many backups and in multiple locations; at the very least you should be making weekly backups of everything.

The reason behind having backups in multiple locations, even on local media; such as unplugged hard drives or even DVDs, is that even big corporations such as Amazon can suffer data loss when unexpected things go wrong; never trust a single backup solution!

It is also important to test your backup system, if something happened to your hosting provider, or a server of yours; would you be ready? Would your backup system work properly? Test a restore!  While testing restoring a partial or full backup; be sure to note important items.

These items should include: That every file was successfully restored, databases restored properly, emails exist, also note how long the restore took; as this is potentially how long your website would be down at the very minimum during such a situation.