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Sourcing website photos for free

Sourcing website photos for free

Website managers are using reverse imaging search engines similar to Tineye.com to search their URL and see if they have stolen images on their websites. Many website managers know to search Google’s images using the Labeled for Reuse Filter, but most bloggers have been recklessly negligent by not securing rights before re-using art on their posts.

And who can blame photographers and stock agencies for feeling threatened? Digital images are easily reused by bloggers and website managers who erroneously believe any photo or illustration on a Google search is in the public domain for free use.

As the Internet moves increasingly to an open source model, stock photography websites selling images for profit are desperate for ways to protect their traditional business.

Why the traditional copyrighting business is threatened?
Sourcing website photos for free really is as easy as right-clicking an image, then downloading that image to re-purpose later. With millions of bloggers borrowing in this fashion, stock photo companies are seeing their property misappropriated millions of times each day. The practice is made worse by the fact many images are erroneously labeled “Legal for Reuse” when, in fact, they are not. Google includes a very strong warning to searchers to address the problem:Find content to reuse

If you can’t beat them, join them
Sourcing website photos has become so easy for website managers that one of the largest stock photo companies, Getty Image, is taking desperate measures to protect and promote their antiquated copyrighting business. While Getty is known to send extortion letters demanding thousands of dollars from small not-for-profit website offenders, a new Getty hotlink program allows users to embed a Getty image legally on their blog or non-profit website for free. The borrowed image still has Getty branding and an attribution link on it, so it does call into question the actual benefactor. Nonetheless, the action demonstrates how worried they are about losing control over their copyrighting business.

Small photographers are pissed, too
What’s more, small-time artists are feeling the threat directly, too, something photographer Noam Galai has documented relentlessly on his website ScreamEverwhere.com and has promoted in his short documentary called “The Stolen Scream”.

When it’s just for the art it’s cool, it’s really cool and I like it – it’s fine with me. But when companies, big companies, sell this picture and make money out of that, this is when I don’t like it.
– Noam Galai

 

Many will also remember graffiti artist Shepard Fairey’s run-in with The Associated Press in 2009 after posters and merchandise bore the famous Hope image of Barack Obama. He was successfully prosecuted for trying to coverup the affair before he eventually admitted on his website that his error came when he started profiting from the image.

My wrong-headed actions, born out of a moment of fear and embarrassment, have not only been financially  and psychologically costly to myself and my family, but also helped to obscure what I was fighting for in the first place — the ability of artists everywhere to be inspired and freely create art without reprisal.
– Shepard Fairey

At the end of the day, website managers should remember these important lessons about sourcing website photos for free: If you’re trying to make money on the website where an image is being used without copyright, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. Fortunately, there are sufficient tools and outlets for free-use images that website managers can spend the extra time to ensure they are sourcing website photos for free.

 

Search engine registration scams

Search engine registration scams

The scamming of corporate America may not seem all that big of a problem, especially given the recent surge of record profits across most industries. But it turns out that scams are taking their tolls in an unlikely place – targeting tech companies both large and small. These search engine registration scams use sophisticated mailers with professional invoicing templates implying mandatory registrations for website URLs.

Search Engine ScamsScams have been around for as long as anyone has been doing business, but the level of sophistication continues to evolve as government agencies and watchdog groups uncover their tactics. The most basic search engine registration scams making rounds to website managers involve both email as well as paper “snail mailed” letters. Either way, the scams follow the same basic formula:

  • The scammer sends what appears to be an INVOICE itemized with an amount just small enough to seem a legitimate charge.
  • The scammer includes YOUR DOMAIN NAME including personal registration information available doing a basic WHOIS search.
  • The scammer warns that it is a FINAL NOTICE and impending EXPIRATION is coming.
  • The scammer uses what appears to be a legitimate title listing such as “DOMAIN SERVICE NOTICE” or “WEBSITE LISTING SERVICE”.

While the legitimacy of their SEO services is highly suspect, the companies purporting to offer domain name search engine registration avoid jail time by claiming to action paying customers’ domain names using manual search engine registration pages. But as any website manager knows, search engine registration optimization requires a disciplined marketing strategy that evolves over the course of months. There are no shortcuts despite what the major search engines might imply on their sites:

Google Search Engine Registration
Search Engine Registration on GoogleGoogle offers a submission box under the header Webmaster Tools, that includes the ability to submit your URL. They disclaim its effectiveness with the following:

Google adds new sites to our index, and updates existing ones, every time we crawl the web. If you have a new URL, tell us about it here. We don’t add all submitted URLs to our index, and we can’t make predictions or guarantees about when or if submitted URLs will appear in our index.

Yahoo! Search Engine Registration
Search Engine Registration on Yahoo!Yahoo! has a more spammy looking interface that also promises to provide website managers with search engine registration tools:

Yahoo Directory Submit is part of a suite of services created to help businesses like yours get more out of Yahoo, more efficiently. Whether you’ve submitted to the Yahoo Directory in the past or are a new user, Yahoo Directory Submit provides expedited review of web sites you propose for the Yahoo Directory.

Bing Search Engine Registration
Search Engine Registration on BingThis popular search engine is less exacting on what it is they do with your submitted URL, until you dig deeper into the Bing guidelines. Their guidelines offer a more balanced approach to what is necessary for website managers to see results on their search engine. They are, perhaps, the most honest of the major search engines with disclosing what it is that makes search engines respond. They provide a great blueprint for how SEO really functions:

These guidelines cover a broad range of topics and are intended to help your content be found and indexed within Bing.  These guidelines will not cover every instance, nor provide prescriptive actions specific to every website.  For more information, you should read our self-help documents and follow the Bing Webmaster Blog.  In your Bing Webmaster Tools account, you will find SEO Reports and the SEO Analyzer tool for on-demand scanning of individual pages.  Both resources will offer basic guidance and recommendations in regards to site optimizations that you can apply to your site.

As the old saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. For this reason these search engine registration scams are not going away. It’s better to rely on the larger strategy goes beyond a simple website and includes consistent and disciplined content and social media strategy.

Dynamic functionality of a website

Dynamic functionality of a website

The dynamic functionality of a website falls into specific categories. Website managers should define which one theirs fits and manage it accordingly. Too often, websites attempt to serve multiple categories, which confuse users. By defining a website within one of these categories, website managers will help search engines respond with better results while offering opportunities for allied websites to back link to their website because they know exactly what to expect.

Big corporations are as guilty as smaller companies in failing to serve specific and dynamic functionality to users of their websites, often presenting a mishmash of hard-to-find portals, outdated news feeds, antiquated customer support sections and pedantic marketing information.

To define the dynamic functionality of a website, a website manager should ask the simple question whether it changes or not. Does the website change or customize itself frequently and automatically? We’re not talking about rotating banners here, mind you! We’re talking about real functionality. For instance, a dynamic website could automatically and continually displays user posts, relevant news, and product updates. But other dynamic functionality is innovative and unique so that the service is the purpose of the website rather than a benefit of a larger agenda they’re presenting.

21 categories for dynamic functionality websites
  • Activity – A place for users to find others with common interests who have planned activities or are interested in creating new events to serve those interests.
  • Affiliate – A third-party website whose purpose is to sell or present someone’s product or service, usually for the purpose of generating advertising revenue.
  • Archive – Searchable data, usually pictures or documents, presenting information that is legally required to be stored or is otherwise valuable to the users.
  • Association -A website where like-minded individuals participate in common interests relating to professions, interests or other personal activities where users are invested.
  • Blog – A website journal used to post online diaries from individuals.
  • Comedy – Where users can trade or find jokes on specific or a variety of topics.
  • Classified ads – A way for users to solicite and search services, usually within a small niche that would otherwise not be available on larger websites like Craigslist.
  • Community – This website allows like-minded individuals to participate in newsgroups or research news and user posts for the common purpose of building interest among its visitors.
  • Company – Providing information about a corporation or business that assists customers and investors in their research.
  • Cult of personality – Imagined or otherwise, this website is usually created by big personalities in entertainment or their fans for the purpose of gossip or self-promotion.
  • Dating – A place for users to find relationships.
  • Gambling – A place to speculate on games or make spreads on arbitrary activities where odds influence the outcome of agreements made between two parties.
  • Investing – Website where research is presented with the opportunity to invest in speculative commodities or instruments that will increase or decrease in value over time, depending on established markets and their influences.
  • News – Exactly what it implies.
  • Personal – Often a family or individual website where blogs, pictures or other posts appear for friends and family.
  • Political – Propaganda site produced to influence perspectives on an individual or cause.
  • Porn – A site where sexually explicit content is presented.
  • Products – Website for selling items, typically in shopping carts.
  • Religious – A place where users can find spiritual and practical inspiration, support and assistance regarding life’s larger issues, often leading to community involvement.
  • Search – A research destination where information is aggregated and presented based on user queries.
  • Social – Networking websites used by individuals to communicate with others who designate shared interests

If the website is not dynamic – stop what you’re doing and add dynamic functionality immediately! Whether it’s daily news feeds presenting unique content, quizzes, ongoing surveys and pole results, or even a web camera displaying video of the warehouse where employees are shipping products to customers, give users a reason to come back for more of something that’s interesting. And remember that it does not have to be useful to be dynamic and interesting.

Dynamic FunctionalityOriginally, websites were informational without dynamic functionality to create “stickiness” for users to come back time and again. But what started out as a U.S. government research vehicle quickly blossomed into a massive network of personal and professional individuals and businesses looking to attract new users to their place in the world.

While the dynamic functionality of a website may cross into many different categories, most website managers will find by narrowing their mission to one, then he or she can research others who fit into that same category, borrowing dynamic functionality and attracting users similarly.

Why a website quiz creator works

Why a website quiz creator works

We might dislike friends who post quiz results on their Facebook statuses, but a website quiz creator can increase traffic to your website. Here’s why – people are motivated by self discovery. And motivated buyers, after all, are exactly who we want visiting our websites.

Quizzes offer test-takers a way to evaluate themselves while avoiding self-serving bias. It’s this thrill of avoiding their own bias that motivates quiz takers to find out something they might not already know about themselves.

Evidence of online quizzes are everywhere, creeping into our news feeds and displaying where we least expect them. From answering questions about whether you are in love to finding out whether to quit a job – website quizzes purport to solve the big problems. At other times, the novelty factor of knowing What State Am I can provide anecdotal evidence to us that our national identity is (or is not) what we think.

Website QuizWebsite managers know it’s better to build websites that go beyond basic web pages. Here we summarize the two methods to assist in building a website quiz and the four psychological formulas for targeting the emotions of test-takers:

Two Methods for Creating a Website Quiz

Four Psychological Reasons People Take a Website Quiz

  • Confidence Building Quiz – Past achievements in activities help to nurture the ego. People like website tests to reflect knowledge on specific subjects – or even better, subjects that are whimsical while being subjective. A Wine Challenge quiz might allow the aspiring sommelier to build confidence for taking that next step toward a test-taker’s life-long dream to quit his or her job and become a wine expert. A Confidence Building Quiz allows the website quiz creator to capture those who might find your website a voice of authority or – at least – a destination where smart people demonstrate how much they know.
  • Vicarious Experience Quiz – These website quiz takers need to feel more experiences in lives. Many want to escape back to those experiences when they were younger, or what they aspire to be when they get older. Consider the What Country in the World Best Fits Your Personality quiz, and you’ll be able to dream about your next vacation while also demonstrating to friends that, in fact, you should be living in Tuscany, Italy instead of Union, New Jersey.
  • Emotional Arousal Quiz – Control over emotions can be the most difficult task in life. In fact, most people like to explore their emotions by testing themselves with new challenges and adventures. The What Type of Car Would You Be quiz asks questions about your personality while baiting you with the idea that you can be something bigger than you really are.
  • Life Goals Quiz – We all grew up learning to set goals and set a path toward in attaining them. Goals are what we use to dream and achieve in relationships and business, and goals are what motivate us day in and day out. Not surprisingly, we all fail to achieve all our goals, and here’s where the Life Goals quiz comes into play. For instance, the What Job Should You Have quiz can provide users with a quick and simple affirmation that a life goal is on tract or far away. Relationship and love quizzes do the same with relationships.

Whichever website quiz creator used, website managers are trying to seduce new users into visiting their websites by appealing to emotions. People thrive on a challenge and are interested to know quick results based on these packaged quizzes.

By focusing on which method a website manager wants to use, and how elaborate the quiz needs to be, that manager can inspire a flood of new traffic from test-takers who will likely stick around to see what the website is all about.

A website quiz creator can help bring this new traffic. While it’s just another tool website managers can use when building a website, it can be an effective one.

Web design mistakes companies make

Web design mistakes companies make

There are common web design mistakes companies make which tell customers that communication and support is secondary. They should know better. It’s a dead giveaway when the stock holder, for instance, is given a link when the customer isn’t. That company’s landing page may be responsive with big branding statements, but their anti-social tendencies and communication avoidance is bigger because of a lack of prioritization.

It’s hard to believe these mega companies are making common website design mistakes – putting important information below the fold, for instance – when they spend millions on advertising and public relations campaigns. While these web design mistakes companies make often result from risk aversion (i.e., Legal and Compliance departments won’t allow a company Facebook page, or they clog the flow of company news), a lack of usability on a company’s landing page immediately reveals how much the company really cares about opening their door for customers.

chevron website goodA relevant example of web design mistakes companies make is found when comparing two of the very biggest players in energy – Chevron and ExxonMobile. While these companies are doing a lot of things right on their websites, one of them is communicating – whether true or not – that their priority is with the stockholder first.

 

Company Website Landing Page

Visible Social Links

Visible Recent News

Visible Contact Link

Innovative Design

Company Stock Ticker

Exxonmobil.com

NO

NO

NO

YES

YES

Chevron.com

YES

YES

YES

NO

NO

 

ExxonMobil website badWhat ExxonMobil has here is a failure to offer readily available communication tools to the average customer. While their design is higher on the awesomeness factor than Chevron’s, their lack of blogging and below-the-fold availability of social media and company contact information keeps the user searching for too long. In fairness to ExxonMobil’s designers, the massive SEARCH box at the top of the page is one of the most utilitarian features we’ve seen, but by placing too many marketing call-out boxes above the fold, they’re telling the customer that making an impression is more important than anything else.

You’ll find many websites gabbing on about how great designs are impacting clients’ impressions. But functionality and utility always trump design where customer service is important. Image is not everything – not when those people are trying to find a solution to a problem by searching for the CONTACT link at the top of the landing page.

Common web design mistakes companies make:

  • No visible social media links “above the fold”
    It’s hard to understand how big business misses the boat on social media. But they do. Often, these button-down types have LinkedIn accounts but fail to leverage their existing users and those who are following them with this massive social marketing tool. Like it or not, clients expect Twitter, Facebook and even the others like Pinterest.
  • No recent news  “above the fold”
    It’s called a blog, but most Fortune 500 businesses still don’t have one on their home pages. The fact of the matter is that investors and customers are much less likely to visit the website unless new information is made available on a daily basis.
  • No contact link “above the fold”
    Most clients are not interested in reading about a company’s high opinion of itself – especially when they’re looking for a quick solution to a problem. Netflix.com gets this mostly correct, for instance, by linking clients to that place where all their problems can be resolved: HELP CENTER.
  • No slogan describing the business “above the fold”
    Unfortunately, not even dow.com associates their logo or places this information above the fold. These executives shouldn’t assume the public – or their potential investors – know what their multi-billion dollar company does simply because sycophants around them do. These are web design mistakes companies make, but that are easy to avoid.
  • No sales funnel “above the fold”
    In the beginning steps for building a website, both big and small, website managers must include a sales funnel for moving new customers into revenue generators. The sales funnel visually carries the user along the sales process from their first visit on the site to the final sale. New customers also appreciate the assistance.

By designing a website landing page with glitz and fabricated nuance, a big company can reinforce their innovative branding; nonetheless, once those first few seconds elapse for the customer the sense of alienation will start to sink in. Design mistakes start with website managers who put too much emphasis on visual attractiveness and not enough focus on knowing what it is their customer needs.

Communication to customers should be the reason for your website, after all.