Monthly Archives: August 2014

Websites for iPads

Websites for iPads

Soon, websites for iPads will look like websites for desktop computers, so redundant Apple apps will no longer be necessary and website managers will have more time to focus on developing a single Internet user experience rather than multiple ones.

When Steve Jobs publicly refused to support Adobe Flash on the iPhone and iPad beginning in 2010, many website managers scratched their heads in perplexity. It’s a rare case when a company unilaterally renders 25% of all websites unusable. But that’s exactly what Apple did when they ended Flash support on their devices.

At the same time Apple elevated their own alternative to Flash – the Apple app store – by claiming inefficiencies could be alleviated by developing an Apple-only website application. Website managers were forced into promoting the Apple brand every time the question was asked: Do you have an App for your website? Suddenly, website managers were duplicating information and functionality from websites to apps, all for the sake of responding to a new and proprietary platform everybody was talking about.

Today, there have been more than 75 billion downloads of more than one million Apple apps, proving Apple’s business decision was a good one for their bottom line, and never minding a bully’s ability to maximize profits on the backs of the rest of us (the stock holders certainly aren’t complaining).

websites for ipadsWebsite managers had to take stock of the time and expense involved with catering to specific hardware. Compatibility in purveying information to users via the Internet, after all, is a website manager’s biggest responsibility. But that was nearly five years ago that the bullies that were Apple had their way with website managers. Today, many of us have discontinued redundant Apple apps while optimizing our websites to be browser friendly, instead. Users are growing weary of app overload while Apple finds themselves losing market share to hardware providers for the simple reason that their expensive propriety has become too big a burden for consumers and developers.

How Apple killed the solitary website manager
More than any other company, Apple has encouraged the stratification of responsibilities for website management. Apple CEO Tim Cook noted in June that nine million registered Apple developers had come on board to learn the proprietary technology around developing applications for Apple’s hardware. That’s likely nine million former website managers who were forced into the propriety of a single company’s vision – and nine million websites with resources diverted to a singular cause that is Apple.

iPad 2 Air Improvements in HardwareBut the geniuses at Apple might be feeling too much heat in their closed kitchen, evidenced by their recent forcing open of windows on their Safari Browsers. Literally, Apple is responding to a loss in market dominance in the mobile device market due to the wide-ranging prevalence of truer open source devices such as those running the Android operating system. These devices allow developers to create applications for their businesses much more quickly than what Apple requires them to do – and the applications work better. It’s no wonder business managers avoided “going Apple” for as long as they did, despite Apple’s obvious advantages in ergonomics.

In response to their historic failure in providing an efficient platform for business applications, Apple has made business alliances with the likes of IBM to promote new hardware to the corporate world. More interesting than that is Apple’s new approach to providing a dynamic user experience within their mobile devices – namely, adding multitasking in their next hardware upgrade.

Why the iPad Air 2 is special
The rumored release this October changes the way users interact with their mobile devices because Apple is evolving their operating system to allow users to run multiple apps and browser windows at the same time. This multitasking functionality will be supported by the iPad Air 2 boost in RAM from 1 Gigabyte to 2 Gigabytes, which means that websites for iPads will soon load as quickly as they do for desktop computers – and keep running in the background!

Other details are considered minor (but for all that buzz around the iWatch!), but do create one heck of a cool device:

  • iPad Air 2 will bypass a typed password by allowing for fingerprint unlocking
  • iPad Air 2 will have an 8 megapixel rear camera
  • iPad Air 2 will have a 1.5 megapixel front camera
  • iPad Air 2 will be 6 millimeters thin (1.5 millimeters less than its predecessor)
  • iPad Air 2 will have the same resolution as the previous model
  • iPad Mini 3 will be 5.25 mm thick (1/3 thinner and lighter)

Full circle for website managers
While the ergonomics of the iPad tablet will not be remarkably different in this next release, it’s new operating system will liberate users who interact with websites and other functional tools on their Apple devices. They’re liberated because they only have to go to one destination – a website URL – to get the information they want, regardless of whether they’re using an iPad or iPhone.

Apple users have long complained about the inability to run multiple applications at the same time, so the play toward multitasking is no small deal. Add to this fact users want to have the same experience on their desktop computer’s website browsers as they have on their mobile devices and it’s a good bet that Apple will relax their ban on Adobe Flash in the year to come, too, all for the sake of providing users accessibility.

What is White Hat SEO?

What is White Hat SEO?

The best website marketers avoid Black Hat marketing because Google penalizes the practice. But what is White Hat SEO? In a nutshell, it’s a good party.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has evolved in the same way as other media. Similar to the beginnings of both radio and television, the early days of the Internet allowed savvy marketers to push their messages in ways that were not always ethical, but very affective. Radio’s Payola Scandal in the 1950s, when radio DJs played songs in exchange for money, caused the U.S. Federal government to pass new laws targeting the pay for play practices that were so prevalent at the time.  Now, Google is playing the role of government by sidelining those websites they suspect are promoting hidden agendas. By removing URLs from search results, Google penalizes these website managers for bad practices. In essence, Google is the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

What is White Hat SEO?
White Hat means that a website manager is not overtly trying to trick users or search engines into believing their destination is valuable. A good website is like a good dinner party where the guests are getting something they can’t have elsewhere – and it’s all sourced locally and ethically.

A website should be farm-fresh.

The question might even be asked whether any form of SEO will be frowned upon by Google? In fact, the way to avoid getting penalized is by sticking to what the website’s purpose is and not trying to play games or trick users or search engines into treating your page as something it is not.

  • Quality Content – Google spends a lot of money manually evaluating content on websites to determine if the website manager is presenting something genuine and helpful. Longer articles are better than short blog posts, and topics should be covered with an attention to detail. Google also has algorithms to evaluate quality.
  • New Content – Posting content on a regular basis is important. There’s a reason this blog gets posted at the same time every Tuesday! Similar to users, Google likes established routines.
  • Good Images – Your posts should have relevant images of high value – and they should be original. Posting images with good descriptions, captions and free of copyright issues will go a long way in proving the website’s worth.
  • Good functionality – Content is helpful, but a useful function on a website, for instance a Quiz, can make a website relevant in the eyes of users and Google. Directories and other resources can also be a good way to establish traffic and demonstrate objectivity in helping users get good information.
  • Good Reviews – Having good reviews posted from users on Yelp, Google Maps, Travel Advisor or other peer-to-peer review websites shows that a website is a good destination providing good experiences. The more talk about it, the better – even if the ratings are not always 5 out of 5 stars.

What is Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat marketing strategies intentionally trick users and search engines into thinking a URL  is better than it is. Google is methodically removing these black hat-associated websites from their search engine results, mainly because the websites are doing one or more of the banned practices listed below:

  • Deceiving Users – Any time a website displays something to trick a visitor, Google will penalize the website. Examples of deceiving users can be misleading headlines or teasers, or generally teasing the visitors into doing something they don’t intend to do. Trolling users with fantastic headlines that ultimately have no news or comic value is also considered Black Hat.
  • Deceiving Robots – Gone are the days for hidden keywords within the body of a web page. Showing search engines something different than what a human visitor sees is tantamount to extortion in the eyes of Google. There are various terms associated with robot trickery, including cloaking and/or sneaky redirects.
  • Duplicating Content – Repeating keywords or articles and content multiple times on a website is considered SPAM.
  • Banner Ads – Linking to crappy websites, or websites that are not related in any way, is a good way to get on the bad side of Google.

What is Gray Hat SEO?
Black Hat SEOThere is a place in between that website managers might find themselves, either purposefully or by accident. For instance, a website might be sincere in its efforts to provide useful links to other websites, while Google could deem the practice suspicious.

  • Too many links – Outbound links to websites that are unrelated will raise the suspicions of Google crawlers.
  • Redundancy – How many different ways can your website present the fact there’s good customer service? Well, it’s worth saying once or twice, but maybe not using the same motto on each page.
  • Guest BloggingJohn Mueller warns that by giving strangers a stage to write and link to what they want, there’s a descent chance a website will be considered spammy.
  • Using Keywords – While Google accepts and encourages the use of keywords, anything beyond the basic will be penalized. Stick to one keyword or key phrase per page and three tags.

If, when running Google Analytics, a website manager determines users are sticking on the website for more than a few minutes, that means the website is relevant and useful for those users. Google can determine how long users are visiting websites – and whether they are leaving as quickly as they came. Similar to bad parties on a Saturday night, Google won’t talk about websites where everyone left quickly. Likewise, a comfortable website that people want to return to time and time again will be talked about by Google.

What does a website manager do?

What does a website manager do?

Website managers don’t manage websites anymore – they manage a company’s Internet brand. So, what do website managers do these days? They do it all.

Not long ago a webmaster could be depended on for creating a wire frame and executing a slick HTML or Flash design to capture customers. These antiquated website managers updated content and changed out pictures to keep the website fresh, but did little else outside that company’s URL.

With more than 644 million active websites on the Internet, the last thing a business manager needs is another website. What they need is for their business to get found and reinforced across all channels.

Callout for What does a website manager do?Because most companies already have websites, but are in need of someone to manage their overall Internet brand presence, the question What does a website manager do? should be prioritized by aligning the component jobs supporting their Internet brand:

  • Website URL Manager – Let’s get this out of the way first – yes, you need a website with a good domain name and user-friendly design that provides the functionality users expect. Most importantly, a website manager puts content first and develops a strategy for keeping the website fresh and relevant. Server scalability, accessibility and interface useability are obvious requirements for a website manager.
  • User Statistics Analyst – The better an analytic, then the better insight a business manager will have for understanding where their users are coming and going. A website manager first evaluates which pages on the company’s website are being used or ignored, using Google Analytics to quantify every user’s experience. But the company’s website is only the beginning. For instance a good website manager can determine which social media outlets are working for the brand and how many times people talk about that brand on those outlets. Facebook’s market value has topped AT&T not because everyone likes to see pictures of their friends instead of calling them, it’s because Facebook has done an excellent job quantifying their advertisers’ ability to access information pertaining to how often users are sharing, reading and liking the information they’re serving up on the network.
  • Social Media Manager– Few people care what a website has to say about its own business (stop bragging!), but the public does like to know what friends and respective communities on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Reddit are saying about the business. While a website might provide the functionality and utility your customers ultimately desire, what others are saying and thinking about the brand resides with social media outlets. It’s up to the website manager to aggregate these social media outlets into a coherent and unified messaging strategy that continuously streams and manages that information about the company’s brand.
  • Search Engine Optimizer – Website managers have learned that getting people to their brand means lobbying Google and the rest of the search engines (SEO). Businesses should not be surprised to know Google prioritizes search results where the content and brand changes most frequently, typically on social media sites like LinkedIn or Facebook but also on review pages associated with sites like Yelp. It’s because this is where users talk about companies the most. Review pages, in particular, rank higher than a company’s URL because that information can be much more useful than what the company is saying about itself. Google knows.
  • Email Newsletter Editor – Collecting emails and sending out periodic newsletters to users who opt in has increased in popularity as users feel overwhelmed by the inability to find relevant news. By repurposing old content and fostering reliable relationships with customers, a website manager can keep a company’s brand in the front of their customers’ minds, delivered as regular as clockwork. Users like to know they’re being updated regularly, and they also like to know they can opt out of these updates any time.
  • Mobile Phone Marketer – Website managers are versed in Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) best practices that foster mobile phone results for a company’s brand. Mobile advertising continues to grow faster than any other form of media, with [link removed] 57% of the U.S. population owning a smartphone.
  • Online Advertiser – Although less of a big deal than they used to be, banners and paid blogs can grow a company’s brand dramatically. Website managers should manage online advertising programs conservatively, always cognizant of hard data supporting any money put toward them.

The website manager focuses on delivering traffic to the company brand via any means possible, not driving users to a single URL. Without a doubt, the biggest mistake companies can make is to oversimplify how clients will find their businesses. Because having a website is not enough, it takes a website manager who can deliver across multiple Internet outlets. These outlets are being invented every day, so being up-to-date on new ways to reach customers really means being into everything on the Internet.

That’s not to say new businesses starting don’t need the nuts and bolts involved with planning navigation and design for a single URL. But we should be honest with ourselves in when asking the question, What does a website manager do?  Savvy business managers know the many components that a web manager must manage, and he or she also knows that list is growing.

Should I register com and net?

Should I register com and net?

Both business managers and common consumers are confused by the mess ICANN has created, a mess website managers must confront when clients ask the same question over and over again when starting a new website – Should I register com and net?

Because there are so many options in registering domain names, the answer to Should I register com and net is nearly always an emphatic NO. Don’t waste your money or time. By sticking with a .com top-level domain name, you’ll be more likely to avoid the mess that has resulted from years of unregulated domain name registrations.

Architelos reports that 99% of the 276 million domain names in the world’s registries are used by cyber-squatters for malware, phishing or spam. “Total abusive domains listed increased 50% from December 2012 through May 2014,” according their most recent domain report.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) missed the boat early on by not properly regulating top-level domain (TLD) registrations. While they took the position in 1985 that the www should be more wild wild web than world wide web, 29 years later there are more than 200 top level domains that are mostly being abused.

Search engines prefer dot-coms
Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs)Libertarians may celebrate the hands-off approach for growing the biggest innovation since the invention of the telegraph, but many others are suspicious of the proliferation of TLDs which seem to have no relation to the websites they are visiting. ICANN manages a registry of generic top-level domains (gTLD) and country code top-level domains (ccTLD). Nonetheless, it’s up to the search engines to decide who will see them. Google and other search engines prove the inanity of so many TLDs by ignoring websites not using the commonly accepted dot-coms. While Google tells website managers that they accept any of the specifically listed gTLDs on their geotargetable domain list, many SEO experts believe otherwise. The fact of the matter is that using a dot-com is a safe bet while the others are considered second-class.

After all, any for-profit business can register a .org domain name. Additionally, many first-time website managers will choose a country level domain without realizing it will hold them back on search engines. For instance, .tv actually stands for the island atoll country of Tuvalu.

Missed opportunities
It could have been different, and it’s not too late to fix the problems with managing who registers which top-level domains (TLDs). But opportunities to fix the problem continue to go past. After vociferous opposition from both politicians and conservative groups in the United States, the .XXX proposal to designate porn-only was defeated in 2005 – finally something both the porn business and the Family Research Council (FRC) agreed on.

What’s more frustrating is the fact that ICANN is already allowing sponsored top-level domains (sTLD) for addresses such as .mil, .edu, and .gov., but seem to be mismanaging the enforcement of how these sTLDs are made available. Now they want to open up more names for business (i.e., .coke). While it’s nearly impossible to register a .gov, for instance, getting an .XXX is easy. Their confederacy will undoubtedly include jackasses who will mismanage names so that the abuse will persist. That’s because a sponsored TLD can distribute the name any way the sponsor sees fit, which means the sTLD is a monopolistic program without any regulations or rules about how how they distribute the names.

Why a .com works
So, the next time someone asks “Should I register com and net?” ask the client if he or she can think of a popular website using the .net top-level domain? Self-regulation is currently weeding out those TLDs that are not dot-coms because consumers and search engines are fed up with the lack of structure as the exploding business of arbitrary domain names goes wild. Who isn’t fed up with the likely hood of running into a malicious or cyber-squatting agenda inherent with non dot-com names?

In conclusion, most website managers would be wise to avoid the pitfalls associated with using anything other than dot-coms for their websites, precisely because it is the marketplace where they want to be. While it may be true the lack of register-able dot-com names makes it difficult to identify a new business uniquely, a creative domain name with an implied reference to that business is better than a top-level domain name that’s being ignored by Google.

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