Add New Life to Business cards, Rack cards or Printed Materials

Want to know how? Augmented Reality the new tool in this mobile age to help you get your message out.

What is it and how does it work? Augmented Reality allows you to add a new and interactive layer to objects or scenes that we look at all the time. When someone has a compatible viewer on their device and holds it over your sales materials many wondrous things can happen.

Want to know how? Augmented Reality the new tool in this mobile age to help you get your message out.

What is it and how does it work? Augmented Reality allows you to add a new and interactive layer to objects or scenes that we look at all the time. When someone has a compatible viewer on their device and holds it over your sales materials many wondrous things can happen.

A business or Rack card for example will display an image that seems to hover over the piece allowing you to add hidden discounts, a menu, links to webpages and more. But we are not limited to just flat images like text and pictures. Real estate for example can show a 3D image of the property. You can even rotate it for a complete 3D walk around. Restaurants can use it on menus, it can be used on printed ads and coupons and think of the possibilities for education.

The uses are vast, t-shirts, posters, packaging can all be used to trigger the animation. By using the location services built in to your devices you can use landscape and buildings to bring objects to life and expand information. But it is the near future that will bring Augmented Reality in to its own with wearable technology like Google’s new Glass, Meta Pro, and Vuzix. Heads up displays in automobiles, gaming and training visuals are all in the works, some are here now. The auto industry is already bringing it to the showroom and to your car and navigation systems.

So, no longer is your business card just something you hand out. Now you can turn it into a visual experience. Remember that user involvement increases response and that translates to your bottom line.

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How Google’s New Hummingbird Will Affect Your Website

Every now and then, Google changes the game of search engine optimization and turns the tables around. Some algorithm changes have been beneficial for the webmasters, and some have literally destroyed businesses overnight.

But the fact remains: search engines are getting smarter and more efficient all the time. Typically, their aim is to serve the user who comes there looking for information. They strive to show the most relevant answers to the user’s query at the top of the results, but it doesn’t end there.

Lately (on Google’s 15th birthday, to be precise), they have begun to take a more detailed look into the types of queries the users enter into the search bar. Back in the day, the results simply tried their best to show websites that included query-matching words. Now, the whole search phrase is analyzed in order to discern the meaning of these entered keywords, which enables them to return an even more suitable array of matching websites.

The new algorithm change is conveniently named Hummingbird and is supposed to affect about 90% of all search queries. Previous algorithmic changes named Panda and Penguin were merely an extension of the core engine, so to speak, but Hummingbird attempts to completely rewire the way search queries are interpreted. If you think about it, the user doesn’t really express himself through keywords. They are merely a tool to express the wish; the intention, if you will. And that’s the primary focus of the new algorithmic change.

So what can you do to prepare yourselves for this new innovation? The content now needs to be more relevant than ever – that’s what’s recommended by Asheville search optimization. Not just in terms of keywords mentioned, but as a whole. It needs to solve a problem, satisfy a request and represent a quality piece of information. It needs to be deep. A good rule of thumb is this: only post content you’d be proud to have your real name associated with. That’s the ultimate quality test by far and wide.

Do you have a Google+ profile? Well, now may be a good time to create one and link it with every single piece of content you’ve written (or have legal ownership of) on your website(s). More and more importance is placed upon authorship, and in the future, it’s going to be increasingly more important who (as in ‘what person’) wrote the article, rather than merely where it was posted. And you’re going to have to build some authority and followers around your name, which is something you kind of have to do anyway if you want to be an influencer in your chosen market.

Quality content is getting an increased impact on rankings and all search engine optimization strategies need to take this into account. A person looking for information might type in keywords such as ‘how’, ‘when’, ‘location’ and ‘why’, and your website needs to be designed to be a perfect fit for this. It needs to provide an answer, not just a piece of text with relevant keywords in it.

If you try your best to serve the end-user, search engines will serve you by sending more traffic your way.

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Even Google has to deal with IE

Had to access my Adwords console yesterday but first, I have a new Win 8 workstation so I have never accessed my Management Console with it before. I login fine but soon notice that data and columns were skewed or incomplete.

I click on the handy chat help button for support. The kindly chat box informs me that they are having trouble with Internet Explorer. I shut everything down, logged in with Firefox and all was good.

So as a web developer I have known for years that there are web browsers and then there is IE. For years we have been writing IE fixes to make web features work. It’s just gratifying to know that someone as big as Google has to deal with it too.

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Top 5 Most Important Principles When Optimizing Your Website

Even though Google claims the best way to do search engine optimization is to, well, not do any of it at all, practice has shown that if you want to rank anywhere near the top in search engine results, it’s still a vital part of the process. But it isn’t solely based on hard work: it’s imperative that you know what you’re doing, or hire a reputable SEO expert to do the work for you.

I’m going to list the top 5 most important principles to bear in mind when optimizing your website for search engines. What you should notice that content is very important.

 1. Do your keyword research properly?

 Going after search phrases that nobody is actually searching for is not worth your time, period. Whether you use the default Google Keyword Planner (or a dedicated program) is entirely up to you. Just make sure to set your own search volume criteria and follow it diligently. Don’t get married to a niche if it’s simply too small to be worth it!

 2. Is your on-site SEO done properly?

 As powerful as writing quality content may be, it’s not enough if you’re after a tougher niche. The content posted on your website needs to adhere to some basic guidelines in order to make search engines rank it higher. This might be a bit tricky if you’ve never done it before, but you need to make sure the keyword you’re targeting is mentioned in the article’s title, headers, Meta description and URL. If you don’t know the technicalities of HTML, it might be a better idea to hire an expert to do it for you.

 3. Make sure that the content on your site is unique, researched and well-written.

 Webmasters are slowly starting to realize that content is king. Whether you agree with it or not, the fact of the matter remains the same – you won’t get far with copy-pasted articles or some intelligible junk that some program spat out. Remember, you’re writing for the readers, not the search engines. If you want to form a long-lasting mutually-beneficial relationship with Google, you’d better keep this in mind at all times.

 4. Ensure a steady flow of fresh content.

 Webmasters should post new articles on a regular. Doing this lets search engines know that your website is still alive and gives it a small boost in its rankings due to the freshness of the content provided.

 5. Don’t build backlinks too fast and make sure they’re coming from different websites.

 Don’t fire up your favorite program, load it with a bunch of spun articles and blast the Internet with it. It never really worked particularly well in the past, and as search engine algorithms are gradually becoming smarter and smarter, it’s only going to backfire on you even more in the future. Your website can easily get penalized by doing this, so don’t even think about it! Instead, try to provide quality content to thematically-related sites of high authority in exchange for backlinks. Quality beats quantity every time.

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Asheville Search Optimization: A Complete Web Design

A web design is really much more than a catchy graphic design. To be effective a web project should be broken down in to 3 parts.

The first part and arguably the most valuable is research. The results of this first step will be the guiding light throughout the entire project.  This research also produces the mighty Keyword list. Your designer / Search Engine Optimization (SEO) person will use this list for everything from file names through listing and advertising your website.

The second step is really a two part process which includes the actual design itself and the on-page optimization.  At this stage both are equally important. Optimization is how you are found and design relates to user experience and conversion, both need to work together. The best advice here is to keep these two parts under the same roof.  Search optimization has to be built in to the web design from the beginning.

The final and probably the most over looked part are the listing and indexing of the website. There is much more to the Internet than Google. There are hundreds of indexes and directories many are free some are paid. What you need to know is that many are feeder directories for Google. No doubt Google is the king but you want to list your site everywhere possible. Quality is important so be careful, selective and relevant. Make sure you have all the proper site maps and a robots.txt file.

Now that mobile is the new normal there are new concerns on the design side but the research and the indexing / listing are still, to me, the most important parts of the entire web design project.  When you pick a web designer be sure they cover all three.


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Mobile Web Is Old News

There has been a lot this past weekend about the surge in online shopping and
more precisely the growth in mobile devices. This is something that I have been
preaching for years. So if you saw the writing on the wall you were ready when
this season hit. If you didn’t don’t worry the flood gates are just opening and
you still have time to get in.

When it comes to trending and predictions people who know me, know I am usually pretty
close. Some past predictions:

- Back in the late 90’s I predicted how online commerce would take off. In
fact my very first web site was to sell t-shirts back in 1996.

- I predicted the end of the phone number in advertising, now it is mostly web addresses you see.

-  Back in 2000 we predicted Cyber Monday, though not by that name. You can
still find some of my old ”Tech Tips” articles on line if you want to try and find it.

- Last year in a workshop I stuck my neck out and said we would see the end of Cyber Monday, this week it was all over the News.

- As little as five years ago I started pushing mobile but until this past year it has been a hard sell, well here we are. Now the new business model requires both a “normal” site and a separate mobile site.

I said a separate mobile site. In the past I have been handling the issue by designing sites that were primarily for a desktop but would display properly on a mobile. That has changed for many reasons, mostly technical and due to the number of devices out there but, to take advantage of this new generation Internet and its features you will need a
separate site.

Now that we are in this new world and I’m going to stick my neck out again with another prediction. I say that in less than five years desktops and mobiles devices are going to be one device.  My prediction is: Death of the desktop as we know it.

You will have one computer or device at home, at work and on the move. When home the device can be in a docking station or mobile. When you go to work you will take it with you and dock it there. When on the road it will be your mobile device and, because of texting, chatting, messaging and email the phone is going back to just being a phone.  Everybody will have just one device and will have access to all their stuff all the time. Actually, following the current path it is only logical. You Know I’m right and if you want to know how I think it will affect your business give me a call.

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Reasons Why You Need A Mobile Web Site

Remember back when the argument was why did a business need a web site?

The Internet has proven itself and now is the leading communication and sales tool for almost all of us. For many, it is the only way to do business. Well as things do they evolve and now we move into the next generation, mobile.

 eople love the internet and people love to take it with them. You can see how this is shaping up to be a “Tablet” Christmas, the writing is on the wall. Towers have been regulated to workstations and lap tops are turning in to tablets. This time there is no argument, you will need a mobile presence or you will die no ifs or buts.

 And here are some reasons why:

“By 2013 more people will use their mobile device rather than a PC to access the Internet.”
Gartner, 2010

“Mobile searches have grown by 4 times since 2010.”
Google Mobile Optimization Webinar, 2011

” There will be one mobile device for every person on earth by 2015.”
Cisco, 2011

 A business like yours can drive purchases with a mobile-friendly site

   70% of mobile users have compared product prices on their mobile phones

Lightspeed Research

65% have read product reviews on their smart phones or tablets.

Google “The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users,” 2011                                                                         

50% of mobile searches lead to purchases.

Google “The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users,” 2011                                                                         

“Some might argue that going mobile isn’t necessary yet, however, what no one will disagree with is that it’s an inevitable” PC Magazine.

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In Web Design Everything Is a Specialty

This sentence came from an article I read earlier this week. “The addition of CDNs plus OCA then FEO will increase your WPO as an overall part to improve your SEO which in the end increases ROI”. WTF? I did change it a little so I wouldn’t get dinged for duplicate content but the point is the same, WTF.

 The Internet has broken down into a world of micro specialization each with its own acronym. Everything is a specialty. You don’t have web designers anymore you have front-end specialist, back-end specialist, web page optimizers, database specialist, SEO specialist, PPC specialist, web content, web marketing, blog content, social specialist and the list goes on.  And each of those can be broken down to their inner specialties. What is a poor business to do?

 Let’s face it the days of DYI are gone. Years back you had half a chance. If you could at least grasp HTML you could get a web page for your business together, not true anymore. This is due mostly to changes in technology as the Internet has evolved and grown. There is no possible way you could learn everything you need to know and still have the time to get it done. There is simply too much to know but do you need all these specialist?  In a single word no.

 Think of it like the medical field, there are many different specialists but you don’t need them until you have specific issues to address. Same with the web, if you start out with a good web design and optimization team and if they do their job right you can avoid the specialist.

 Oh yeah, for those of you who are interested:

CDN, Content Delivery Network

OCA, Origin Content Acceleration

FEO, Front-end Optimization

WPO, Web Page Optimization

SEO, Search Engine Optimization

ROI, Return on Investment

 I don’t have to tell you what WTF means.

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Has the Facebook Frenzy Finally Worn Off?

Many of us secretly harbored that thought for some time. Myself? I was recommending to my clients as early as February that we should re‐think Facebook.  By June big corporate names began hitting the news by drastically reducing their Facebook spending.

 What happened? Did Facebook fail? Absolutely not. As a social experiment it is right up there with Gutenberg or the Internet itself, a real game changer.

 As an avenue for advertising it failed badly. The reasons, and there are only two realy, seem simple to me. First is the way people use Facebook and the second is how they use it.

 The way is communication; the human is a social creature. People are using FB to talk to friends, family, travel the world, share pictures and video. They are not interested in looking at advertising. The how is smaller handheld devises and tablets. There simply isn’t room for advertising.

 Our devices have become our Star Trek communicators to the rest of the world and Facebook has become the platform. Everybody rushes to Facebook to see a picture of Aunt Rose’s cat but nobody rushes to Facebook to look up an ad.

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Anatomy of A Web Page, Strategic Code Placement

Many times, well actually most of the time, when I try to explain on-page optimization to clients I get a blank stare. So I spend a lot of time educating them and one of the search optimization techniques I stress is “Search Friendly Code”. This is a phrase we coined about 5-6 years ago, it is how the page code is presented to the search bots. And to get in good with the “bots” you need to serve them the page code in the way they want to see it.  By ‘bots’ I mean everything from Google to the Russians that crawl through your website every day. In this article I will take you into the guts of a website to explain.

There are two main sides to a web site the side we see which is the pretty design, the navigation, the content, and the pictures. Then there is the backside that we don’t see but the bots do and that is the code side. The code is the glue that pulls it all together. It places all the elements and controls how the website looks, navigates, plus how fast the site loads and performs its functions. Through the use and placement of certain tags within the code you can tell the bots where and how you want to be indexed.

The visible side is very important because elements like design, navigation, and content all contribute greatly to conversion rate. But, none of that can work its magic if the site is not found or seen by your audience and for that you need the on-page optimization. There is great debate, in our shop anyway, which is more important. I lean toward the code side of the battle because like I said it doesn’t do any good if your website is not being seen. I used the word battle because that is exactly what it is, there is only so much room on the front page and everybody wants it. There are only so many keywords and everybody is using them.

So what can you do to make your page more attractive to the search engines than your competition? Simple, by how easy you make if for them to list your site. What I am touching on today is call Strategic Code Placement. There are a several parts to this but one of the more important points is the order of the page elements.

When a web page opens the page elements appear in a certain order. First is the banner across the top, navigation links down the left side or across the top, copy and content in the center then the text links followed by the trailer. In the old days the code order on the page would equal the visible order. First the bots hit the banner then the navigation column followed by the content or body and finally the text links and the trailer.  What is wrong with that?

If you have looked at optimizing your website at all you have learned how important the content is. The search engines are content driven.  The problem is that many times the bots never reach the content. Why? Because the bots only read so many words or characters deep in to a page. This is done for speed. The search engines have literally thousands of pages a day to index. How many words varies between search engines but it is never more than a few 100.

New code standards have changed the way we can piece together these elements. You can still have the elements on the visible side appear in the same familiar order but the back side, the code side is totally different. The new code order is first the banner with relevant search engine information added to it followed by your important body copy then the navigation, the text links and the trailer.

Now you have your hard crafted content right on top for the search engines to find. Then, through the manipulation of copy and tags within this block we tell the search engines what we want them to do, but that is for another time.  Most code editors when used in WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) mode will not deliver this type of code or element placement. Generally the better code is hand written in text mode or with text editors. This is another good reason to seek out a professional web developer.

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