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10 Fixes to Keep You Popping Up in Competitive Local Queries

Anyone who owns a business today knows the importance of search engines to their bottom line. This importance gets magnified exponentially when you start looking at local businesses. Considerthis statistic:

SE Local Info

Not only do consumers search for local information, they convert more to local searches, as compared to non-local ones:

Local-Vs-NonLocal

So if local searches are 157% more effective in leading to a purchase as compared to regular, non-local searches; it’s time we gave local search the focus it demands.

Local Search Optimization 101

Local search is a specialized field in its own right. There are a lot of details to cover – from ensuring consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) of the business, to injecting a local flavor into the meta data for local pages, to the criticality user reviews hold for both rankings and clicks.

Citations and Business Pages

Getting your business listed on local business pages like Google My Business, Yahoo Local, Bing Places for Business, Yelp, and local directories is often the first step towards building a local search footprint. Managing the data listed about your business on each site, ensuring the citations that you receive from each site are consistent, and focusing on the right websites to earn citations from are all key contributors to local search rankings.

User Reviews

Local search typically revolves around service based businesses where the quality of service is often the deciding factor between success and failure. Reviews feature prominently across organic results as well as the 7-Pack and carousel listings on Google’s SERPs.

User Reviews

Incentivizing customers to leave reviews on Google+ Local, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and similar review sites offers an immediate stamp of authority to your business pages.

Localizing On-Page SEO Elements

On-page SEO elements play an important role in local search as well. Infuse your on-page ranking factors with local flavor like city and state names apart in addition to focusing on important keywords. Local data in critical on-page elements like the page title, H1 tags, title tags, meta descriptions, page URL etc. send direct signals to Google regarding the relevance of your page to a local search.

While creating dedicated local pages for each city that your business operates in is a given, removing duplicate pages from your website and using the rel=canonical link element judiciously all contribute towards a better local rank.

Images

Images play a huge role in deciding whether you go on the carousel or not.

Google Local Images

Images on your local pages must not only be of fantastic quality, they must be optimized for local search with local content in their ALT tag descriptions. Large, relevant and eye-catching images accompanied by a detailed description of your business go a long way.

Other Factors

While the factors listed above were the ‘can’t-do-without’ ones, there are a bunch of local SEO signals your business would do well to maximize.

These include keeping the local flavor alive on your social media platforms and content marketing, keeping your local content across the web fresh and relevant, getting the right places tag on your business listings, keeping up site speed and making sure your website is mobile optimized.

By Pratik Dholakiya SEO Tips.

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Search Marketing SEO Costa Rica SEO Strategies SEO tips Social Media

10 Ways to Optimize a Website For Bing

Mozilla Firefox recently made some news by announcing that it was ending its decade long relationship with Google as its default search engine. Instead, Mozilla will embark on a five-year partnership with Yahoo.

Of course those who prefer Google can still switch back since a pre-installed search option will be included. Overall, however, this is exciting news for Yahoo – and more importantly, Bing.

For those uninitialized, Yahoo’s search engine is powered by the Microsoft product. And now that it has become the default search engine for Firefox, maybe it’s time to begin taking Bing a bit more seriously.

Why Bing Matters

10 Ways to Optimize My Site for Bing | Search Engine Journal

This argument has come up many times before. Despite Google controlling 67% of the search engine market share, Bing claims 19.4%, making it the second most popular search engine.

Overall, “Yahoo and Bing represent nearly a third (29 percent) of the U.S. search market.” In fact, the Yahoo Bing Network has approximately 149 million unique searchers each month and 5.2 billion searches a month.

Most interesting, however, is how Bing and Yahoo have fared with specific demographics. Based on an audience study, the Yahoo Bing Network tends to be favored by the following groups:

  • College graduates and graduate school students
  • Mature age group of those 35+
  • Slightly more women than men
  • Households with children
  • Households with incomes more than $75,000

Even more startling is how the YBN has cornered certain audiences. For example, “11 million of the 14 million automotive searchers on Bing Ads were exclusive on Yahoo and Bing.” In other words, Bing has 80% of that audience to itself. Education (79%), Telcom (80%), Travel (71%) and Business & Finance (72%) were other verticals that were exclusive to Bing.

Stop and ask yourself : should you continue to ignore the potential of Bing?

If you want to take advantage of the YBN, then it’s time to get your website optimized specifically for Bing. While some aspects aren’t all that different from Google (HubSpot notes that “optimizing URLs and domain names for keywords and having a large number of high-quality, dofollow backlinks” are important for both), here are 10 ways to get your site ready for Bing.

1. The Age and Type of Website Matter

Google typically favors websites that are newer and popular. Bing, according to Allen Moon on Entrepreneur, “places a lot of emphasis on the age of a domain.” Moon suggests that if you’re just starting out, you may want to purchase an older domain so that your site will rank higher.

Besides the age of a website, Bing also tends to favor domain names that are more official, such as .edu or .gov. HubSpot further explains that “Google is quick to offer up socially relevant sites whereas Bing is more likely to provide factually relevant information.”

This information may not help you if you already have a website, but ti does clue you in on why your sparkling new site isn’t ranking as well in Bing. Over time, this may not be a concern as your site gets older.

2. Get Indexed

As Bing clearly states, “being indexed is the first step to developing traffic from Bing.” To do this, you just simply submit your site to Bing and play the waiting game – Bing apparently doesn’t update their index as much as Google, so be patient.

To take advantage of the Bing Webmaster Tools, don’t forget to also sign-up for a free account – or use your existing Windows Live ID. Once you’re logged in you want to provide detail about your site, like the sitemap, so that it will make it easier for Bing to crawl and index your site. Harsh Agrawal from ShoutMeLoud also reminds website owners to verify their site and create separate sitemaps for images and videos.

If you’re site still isn’t indexed on Bing, it could be one of the following problems:

  • Bing hasn’t crawled your site yet.
  • Bing isn’t able to crawl your site – use Fetch as Bingbot to diagnose.
  • There aren’t any links pointing to your site.
  • Your your robots.txt file is incorrectly setup.
  • You contain <meta name=”robots” content=”NOINDEX”> on your pages.
  • There are blocked URLs.
  • Your site doesn’t meet Bing’s quality threshold.
  • Your site has been removed from the index as a penalty.

3. Have the Right Technical Requirements

There are six technical areas that Bing focuses when ranking your site. These requirements include:

  • Page load time – remember, the faster the better.
  • Robots.txt – this controls where Bingbots can and can not go when crawling your site. Make sure it’s not blocked and accurate by reviewing this guide.
  • Sitemap – Make sure to take care of all of the URLs from your website by keeping it clean and current. You may want to remove unnecessary URLs.
  • Site Technology – Rich media can prevent Bingbots from crawling your site. Bing suggests “a down-level experience which includes the same content elements and links as your rich version does.”
  • Redirects – If you have to move content between websites, Bing prefers that you use a 301 permanent redirect.
  • Canonical Tags – When multiple URLs contain the same content, the rel=canonical element will help Bing figure out which is the original. This, however, should not be used when moving content.

4. Title Tags Are Kind of a Big Deal

Allen Moon states that “Bing seems to place a lot more emphasis on title tags than Google does.” This means that you should use relevant keywords in the title tags of every page throughout your site.

In addition to that great piece of advice, Bing posted an article on its blog back in June that discussed how it selects title tags and how you should choose the best titles for your pages. In fact, you may have noticed that Bing will actually use different titles in the search engine results pages (SERPS).

According to Bing, its “goal is to help the user complete their search tasks as efficiently as possible.”

To achieve this, Bing will:

  • Optimize titles for relevance for the user
  • Optimize snippets
  • Optimize display URLs

If you want to preserve title tags, Bing recommends that:

  • Make the HTML Title relevant to the queries that would be used to search your site without being overly long or repetitive. Avoid generic titles like “Home” or “About Us”.
  • If you embed OpenGraph, etc., make sure it is consistent with the title you want, and that all the fields are correct, for example that your site name is correct.
  • If your site is listed on dmoz.org or other directories make sure the entry is correct.
  • Don’t block our crawler. Please refer to crawler control instructions on how to control the crawler, but keep in mind, you should not block Bingbot if you want your content to be indexed. By slowing the crawl rate (via the Webmaster Tools) or by blocking Bingbot in the robots.txt file, or even blocking our IP addresses, you can prevent us from crawling and indexing your content.

5. Use Straightforward Keywords

Daniel Ruby states in a report from Chitka that “Verbatim  keyword matching is much more important for Bing traffic.” This means that as opposed to Google, Bing doesn’t do well with broad-matching keywords – Ruby uses 401K and Retirement Plan as an example. It’s also been found by Practis, Inc. that Bing uses “no more than two target keywords per page to improve Bing search engine rankings.”

UpCity suggests you use relevant and well-written keywords for title tags, meta-descriptions and in H1 and H2. You should also utilize long-tail keyphrases that include your targeted words as well.

Bonus tip: WordStream has a nifty keyword tool that can help you find the best words and phrases for Bing optimization.

6. Build Up Backlinks

Backlinks are important for every search engine, but they seem especially seem important for Bing rankings. Based on studies conducted by Searchmetrics, “on average, 52-53 per cent of the backlinks of websites ranked among the top 30 results on Bing contain keywords in the anchor text (which is about 10% more than Google). And 2% of backlinks of pages ranked in the top 30 on Bing contain a stop word (while on Google it is 10%).”

Marcus Tober, CTO and Founder of Searchmetrics, stated “The number of backlinks seems to be the most relevant metric for Bing, whereas the majority of the other backlink features – such as no-follow links or the presence of stopwords in the anchor text – seem not yet to be as relevant for rankings as they do for Google.”

In short, utilizing backlinks can boost your rankings as long as they come from legitimate sites.

7. Content is King

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Both Bing and Google want quality content. Bing specifically stats that it’s looking for “clear, deep, easy to find content on your website,” which will be more likely to be indexed and appear in results.

Bings also suggests that your site avoid too many ads and affiliate links and feature content that is easy to “navigate, rich and engaging to the visitor, and provide them the information they seek.”

8. Be Social

While there has been a lot of back and forth on where Google stands with social signals, Bing has made it clear that “social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results.” HubSpot goes into this a bit further and claims that “When searching on Bing, if a Facebook friend has recommended or rated the company or product mentioned in the search, the user can see it right away.”

Becoming a social influencer has the ability to improve your rank organically eventually. So, don’t be shy. Get out there and engage your audience through various social media platforms.

9. Flash-a-ah

Another difference between Google and Bing is that the Big G isn’t fond of flash media. Bing, however, doesn’t really mind sites with a lot of flash media. In fact, Amanda DiSilvestro states on HigherVisibility that “Webpages created with flash are far more likely to rank well on Bing.”

Because Bing does a pretty solid job of indexing flash media, you should remember to create separate sitemaps for this type of content so that it’s easier for the Bingbots to crawl.

10. Act Local

According to UpCity, “When in doubt, Bing seems to service these up first so it’s more important than ever to have a rock-solid Local listing.”

To optimize your Bing Local Listing, here are a couple of painless pointers from UpCity:

  • Visit the Bing Business Portal and enter your business name and zipcode. If you aren’t listed, then add your listing. if you are listed, make sure you claim it.
  • After adding/claiming your business, you need to complete the Details page, Profile, Mobile site, and add photos.
  • Review your information and make adjustments is needed.
  • Finally, make sure that your information is consistent across the web.

What to Avoid

To play it on the safe side, here are the things to avoid according to Bing.

  • Cloaking – showing one version of a webpage to Bing and another page to visitors.
  • Link Schemes – Bing wants quality links. Any sort of shady practices can result in getting delisted from Bing’s index.
  • Social Media Schemes – Bing wants you to be influential on social media, not just tactics that increase the amount of followers.
  • Meta Refresh Redirects – Instead of a 301 redirect, this automatically sends visitors to other content.
  • Duplicate Content – Having duplicate content on the web can make Bing lose trust in your site.
  • Keyword Stuffing – This is a violation of Bing’s guidelines and will not improve your ranking.

Conclusion

Google may appear to have a stranglehold on the search engine market, but that doesn’t mean that online surfers are neglecting Bing. While the YBN may only not have Google-like numbers, it’s still makes up a third of the search engine market that is preferred by certain demographics.

Instead of just focusing strictly on Google, why not take the time to make your visitors happy and optimize your website for Bing?

Is your website optimized for Bing? If so, how did you make sure that it was Bing friendly?

By Albert Costill SEO Tips.

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Search Marketing SEO Costa Rica SEO Strategies SEO tips Social Media

14 Conversion Rate Optimization Tools Every Expert Needs

At the end of 2014, digital marketers put conversion rate optimization on the top of their priority list.

That’s right, ahead of content marketing, mobile marketing, and search engine optimization, marketers listed “driving increased conversion rates” as the number one priority.

And why wouldn’t we? For the same traffic, we get more revenue. It makes sense.

digital-marketers-priorities-2014

So as marketers, how are we doing?

According to the TrustRadius survey on Conversion Rate Optimization, 72 percent have implemented some CRO processes while only 18 percent consider conversion optimization as a part of their DNA, which is a bit like saying you do content marketing, when in reality you only blog once per month.

OK, but how are we approaching testing and optimization? Surely we’re doing this better, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not good news either, as 63 percent of marketers optimize websites based on intuition and best practices.

How do eCommerce companies approach testing anf optimization

Ugghh! If you have ever wondered why conversion optimization isn’t working for your business, there is your answer. You are optimizing your website based on things you have heard or read.

How Can I Get Started with Conversion Rate Optimization?

You need to invest in a great set of tools, and through these tools you will have the data you need to optimize your website.

The data is important because it will help you understand how people engage with your website and how they perceive your brand. And to do this, you need to conduct research,and then test improvements. Once your tests are statistically significant, you can then implement the changes to your website.

It’s a clear framework: Research your visitors, test your changes, and then implement the winning results.

You can’t expect to understand and convert your web visitors without the right set of tools. A handyman doesn’t turn up without his toolbox, does he?

But conversion rate optimization tools are expensive, right?

Wrong!

Although the TrustRadius report shows that 58 percent of marketers spend more than $10,000 on digital analytics tools for conversion rate optimization, the conversion rate optimization tools listed below are free (at least to begin with). At this price, there are no excuses for doing CRO the wrong way.

Below is a list of 14 conversion rate optimization tools to help you succeed.

Analytics Tools

Why you need these tools: To perform quantitative research, which provides you with the numbers and hard data about where things are going wrong on your website (exit rates, bounce rates, shopping cart abandonment, etc).

Google Analytics

Google Analytics allows you to track website behavior and reports on visitors, engagement, traffic sources, content, and e-commerce sales. Google Analytics is the most popular web analytics platform on the market and can help you identify your most profitable marketing channels.

Cost: Free

CrazyEgg

CrazyEgg offers a range of tools, but the best tool to optimize your website is the heat map. The heat map allows you to see where visitors click on your website. This lets you identify pain points on a page that show where visitors are clicking and where they are not clicking.

Cost: Free 30 day trial

Clicktale

Clicktale Analytics now comes in a freemium package that tracks up to 5,000 recordings per month. Clicktale records website visitors but will hide any sensitive information for user privacy. You can watch website visitors take action on your website and understand how they use the site, or what issues they run into when navigating.

Cost: Free up to 5,000 visitors

Mixpanel

Mixpanel is an advanced analytics platform for mobile and web. While Google Analytics measures pageviews, Mixpanel helps you analyze visitors’ actions and optimize funnels. For example, an action can be uploading a picture, watching a video, or sharing a blog post. This platform allows you to understand exactly how people interact with any web page and how they navigate through your site.

Cost: Free for up to 25,000 data points

Formisimo

Formisimo is an advanced form analytics tool that records how a user interacts with a web form and checkout fields. Formisimo records how users engage with the form, the fields they do not complete, and when they use autocomplete versus manually entering their information. This information helps you eliminate fields that cause friction.

Cost: Free 14 day free trial

Research Tools

Why you need these tools: To perform qualitative research, which provides you with insights into the “why”: Why customers complete a purchase or more importantly – why visitors do not buy your product or service?

Peek (by Usertesting.com)

Launched earlier this year, Peek provides you with a free five-minute usability test. You simply enter your website URL, and the test participants will review your website. Having a tester browse your website and complete “simple” actions will unlock plenty of hidden usability issues that you can work on to improve the user experience and boost conversion rates.

Cost: Free

i-Perceptions

The i-Perceptions has been endorsed by Google Analytics Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, and it’s a pop up that asks three simple questions to website visitors. The three questions include:

  • “How would you rate your site experience?”
  • “What describes the primary purpose of visit?”
  • “Were you able to complete the purpose of your visit today?”

You can use the feedback to understand how people engage with your website and find opportunities for improvement.

Cost: Free

Survey Monkey

Collecting customer feedback is essential to understanding what turns a website visitor into a customer. Survey Monkey allows you to ask up to 10 questions and collect up to 100 responses for free, which means you can ask questions such as:

  • What made you buy [product]?
  • What’s the best thing you like about [service]?
  • How would you describe [brand] to your friends?

Answers to these questions will give you great insight into how your customers view your brand.

Cost: Free for up to 100 responses

Cross Browser Testing

Cross Browser Testing allows you to view your website in real-time through a wide range of browsers and operating systems. This tool helps you to identify why some browsers convert better than others.

For example, if you find that the latest version of Chrome converts better than IE9, then you might want to look at how IE9 is being displayed to your visitors. Using the Cross Browser Testing tool, you can see exactly how it is displayed and what you need to fix.

Cost: Free trial for 60 minutes

Testing Tools

Why you need these tools: To experiment and test your hypothesis, which is based on the quantitative and qualitative research (Congrats! You’re now testing based on historical data and no longer testing based on best practices).

VWO (Visual Website Optimizer)

VWO (which I do have an affiliation with) offers split testing for as little as $49 per month, but the free trial allows you to test for up to 30 days for 1,000 visits. You can edit, modify, and remove elements on your web pages through the VWO editor; and you can test images, copy, design, and web-forms. At the end of your tests, you can see which test won and then implement the changes directly onto your website.

Cost: Free for up to 1,000 visitors

Fivesecondtest

Fivesecondtest allows you to ask for community feedback on new landing page designs, without having to change any elements on your website. Your new design will be displayed for five seconds and then a series of questions are asked to the user. Feedback comes in the form of answers and a word cloud, to identify the most prominent elements that the user remembers.

Cost: Free for 20 responses

Unbounce

Unbounce is an easy-to-use landing page platform that allows anyone to build great landing pages without the need for a designer or IT. You can create landing pages from scratch or choose one of the many landing page templates. You can use Unbounce to create landing pages for your paid search campaigns or to quickly test out new web page designs.

Cost: Free trial

Website Tools

Why you need these tools: To growth hack your way to a better conversion rate. Be aggressive in what you want your web visitors to do, and at the very least get that email address from your visitor.

Screenpopper

Screenpopper helps you convert more users through a pop-up appearing on top of a web page, with the goal of promoting a single call-to-action. The benefit is you get the visitors immediate attention, which can be used to for conversion purposes. If your goal is to get more newsletter sign ups, you can use the pop-up to offer an incentive in exchange for an email address.

Cost: Free 14 day trial

Hellobar

Hellobar is an optimization tool, which displays a visible bar that sits at the top of a web page to draw the web visitors’ attention. Hellobar acts as a primary website call-to-action. You can include Hellobar on one page, several pages, or across your entire website. For example, if you are launching a new eBook, you use Hellobar to include a simple message to promote it.

Cost: Free

Conclusion

These conversion rate optimization tools are easy to implement and mostly require a single line of code that you or your developer can insert into the header of your website.

And while some of the tools listed above are free for the basic packages, they do come with limitations. However, even with the limitations, you will still be able to collect mountains of data to help you grow your conversion rate.

At no cost, there are no more excuses. You could double or triple your conversion rates for free!

I know I haven’t been able to include them all. What are some of your favorite conversion rate optimization tools? How many of these tools do you use?

By Steven Macdonald SEO Tips.

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Search Marketing SEO Costa Rica SEO Strategies SEO tips Social Media

10 SEO Myths Reviewed

Myths in SEO run almost as deep as they do in Lock Ness and Area 51. Let’s have some fun and look at 10 of them today. By no means a definitely list, these still pop up.

I Need to Rank #1

Yes, it’s nice to rank on top, but you know that actual rankings fluctuate on a daily basis. Does the #1 spot actually get you more clicks and conversions and the # 2 or #3 spot. Depends on the phrase sometimes. And for those trying to get off page 2 of the SERP and onto page 1, be careful. Often the click through rate (CTR) of the top spots on page 2 are far better than the CTRs on the lower positions on page one. If you rank well on page 2, be careful when planning your assault on page one. Unless you can get above the fold, it might be better to stay put and own the top of the second page. All of this will, naturally, vary a great deal form site to site, page to page and even across individual phrases. Sometimes people research on one phrase and buy on another version, for example.

My Title Tag Will Save Me

It’s important, but even the most well-crafted title tag can’t elevate a site skipping everything else. This is a somewhat common refrain from bloggers as some of the most popular platforms don’t include things like meta descriptions in their base code. Plugins exist to easily add them, and allow access to a bunch of other common areas SEOs like to fiddle with. You should spend time getting the title right, but this alone won’t save a sinking ship.

Social is All I Need

Social takes time, I can’t be bothered with SEO, so I’ll just do social. There was a time when ranking a website was like making consommé. You wanted one thing – clear broth. At that time, you could focus on a single tactic and it would boost rankings. Today it’s more like trying to make the world’s best seafood chowder. Success depends on a complex mix of ingredients, freshness and timing. One ingredient alone won’t bring success, and yet without that one ingredient, you don’t have a chowder.

Videos are All I Need

People like to consume content in videos. Videos are easy to produce and easy to consume. It’s pretty easy to make high quality videos today, and even if you don’t the expectations of people online have aligned with more modest efforts. But let’s face it, embedding videos can negatively affect page load times, frustrating visitors. And a video alone won’t help rankings. You’ve got to give the engines something to understand, as they’re not going to “watch” that 4 minute rant you posted. Transcripts are a great way around this little issue. Videos are a great part of growing your content, but aren’t a silver bullet, despite what some ads on Facebook would have you believe.

Buying Ads Helps My Rankings

Nope. No amount of ad buying will get you organically ranked higher. If you still believe this today, click here. The instant and engine starts determining ranking based on ads bought is the instant it loses credibility. Game over, Player One.

I Make Awesome Content

Maybe you do, but it’s not your call to make. Great content is content that’s deemed great by searchers and visitors to your site. All the standards in the world won’t help you if no one likes your writing style, voice or message. Grammar affects how people (readers) perceive you, so that can have a direct impact on engagement and rankings. But never delude yourself into thinking what you produced is excellent just because you put time into it. Watch what visitors engage with and seek to follow that same pattern.

Links are All I Need

While important as a vote of confidence for the content they point to, there is simply so much link spam these days that it’s tough to know where to turn. Obviously buying links is a dead end, and it doesn’t matter how you split this hair: sharing, encouraging, incentivizing, buying – it’s all the same. You want links to surprise you. You should never know in advance a link is coming, or where it’s coming from. If you do, that’s the wrong path. Links are part of the bigger picture. You want them, but you want them to be natural. If an engine sees you growing tem naturally, you’re rewarded with rankings. If they see you growing them unnaturally, you’re rewarded with penalties.

Marking Up My Content Will Help It Rank

No. It will help the engine gain a better understanding of your content, and allow us to use that content in unique ways in the SERPs (should we choose to), but installing the code doesn’t boost rankings.

Usability is Different Than SEO

While technically a different discipline, its time more folks starting seeing them as similar. Both focus on improving a website for users. Investing in SEO and not investing in usability is like tying one sneaker and going for a run. Yeah, you’ll be OK, but wouldn’t it be a better experience with both shoes tied?

SEO is All I Need

Do you want consommé or chowder? SEO is foundational. It’s important and can fuel growth. Like Soylent, it’ll keep you going. But maybe you’d rather sample the entire buffet?

By Duane Forrester SEO Tips.

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SEO Strategies SEO tips Social Media

BMC’s MyIT May Be the Future of IT Services

Over the last several years, we have seen increasing indications that IT is becoming redundant. The bring your own device (BYOD) trend has employees taking their own hardware, often with its own software and services, to the office.

We’ve also seen a massive upswing in the use of online services from firms such as Amazon and Google. Corporate credit cards in hand, employees are purchasing products in a way that bypasses company policy, or ignores it altogether, yet eventually made part of IT’s budget.

Add to that outsourced IT services such as Microsoft Azure—which work well when it goes directly to employees—and it does start to look like much of IT is becoming less of a service and more of an anachronism that stands in the way of line employees doing their job.

This trend is similar to what happened in the 1980s, when consumer focused technology advanced far more quickly than management information systems. Back then, employees got their managers to buy PCs and pretty much made MIS obsolete. It took more than a decade, but that’s because PCs were expensive and networking was a joke. Today smartphones, tablets and even PCs are cheap, a child can connect to a network and bypassing IT often doesn’t even require a manager’s approval since the expense it is so low.

The ideal defensive move for IT departments is to treat consumer technology as the competition that it is and step up to the challenge. It isn’t that IT can’t win the battle by providing more reliable and more secure services; it’s that often IT isn’t even in the fight.

However, BMC Software’s recent MyIT initiative is designed to address this problem directly by providing a personal UI that’s tailored to a user’s role and is accessible on mobile devices as well as the traditional desktop. I bet other vendors will follow BMC once they realize that they’ll be out of business because they’re built to sell to users and can’t give IT departments the tools they need.

In the 1980s, MIS was like a priesthood and the users were the parishioners who, denied access to the holy books, had to rely on MIS to get the services they needed. Users didn’t have much choice; it often seemed that you needed to sacrifice a chicken and do a silly dance before you’d get something that barely resembled what you asked for (and it was late to boot). Then the PC entered the scene like a blazing light of truth that freed us from the oppressive MIS presence. We were suddenly able to do our jobs. (I worked at IBM at the time and was one of the folks driving the internal revolt, which ended with us basically firing MIS).

Even back then, users (myself included) didn’t want to become MIS, although that’s what happened. We just wanted to be able to personally craft our solutions and found it easier to learn the necessary PC skills with Lotus 1-2-3, DisplayWrite and Condor (one of many database programs) than to get MIS to do what we wanted.

While today’s IT systems are far more agile, they also require unique skills and don’t give users the control they want and need. That said, the services the users buy outside the purview of IT are almost identical; developers simply wrapped these services and applications around mush more user-friendly interfaces.

That’s exactly what MyIT is: a user-friendly wrapper for IT services. With it, users are more likely to use an internal service and work within the IT framework and less likely to use an external service and bypass IT. In effect, MyIT may be the best weapon to assure that IT remains relevant and current.

The problem that MyIT addresses, if properly implemented, is one of customer satisfaction. Part of the deployment process for this tool, or any like it, should be a way to monitor that satisfaction. That way, the tool can be updated and modified to address the internal customer needs—and to ensure that IT isn’t again caught on the wrong side of a trend.

The real benefit of MyIT may be improved employee morale both inside and outside IT. When you know your customers—you know what they want and you know you are delivering what they want—both you and your customers are far happier.

Most IT vendors should have a MyIT-type offering. The ones that don’t will likely wonder where their customers went.

By Rob Enderle SEO Tips.

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Search Marketing SEO Costa Rica SEO Strategies SEO tips Social Media

10 Consumer Startups That Offer Enterprise Potential

The Eureka Park section at CES 2015 is home to startups looking to make a splash at the industry’s largest electronics show. This year, more than 370 startups were on display. Many of those companies are launching products connected to smart homes, the Internet of things and health, wellness and fitness wearable devices.

As you’d expect, most of the products on display are designed for consumers. However, many offer enterprise potential. Here’s a look at how 11 of the startups exhibiting at CES could benefit the enterprise.

1. Snapkin: Interior design enthusiasts can get a 2D and 3D floor plan of a room in their house by placing the Snapkin device on the floor in the center of the room. The device scans for measurements of floors and walls and creates a digital floorplan. You can download the floorplan to experiment with ways to design and place furniture.

2. CaptureProof: You can send a picture or video of a health concern, such as a rash, bruise or skin laceration, to your doctor through the CaptureProof mobile app. Doctors can communicate with patients to solve issues without meeting in person and can confer with other doctors for opinions. Medical information can be tracked over time and integrated into electronic health records.

3. XOEye Technologies: Manufacturing, construction or field service workers can attach a Vuzix camera powered by XOEye software to their safety glasses. You can use the camera and software for telepresence meetings, to send photos or videos, scan bar codes, or view blueprints. It’s similar to Google Glass, but designed for rugged environments. XOEye is Linux-based and features a cloud platform where managers can oversee the devices and view usage data. Also, developers can create new applications for the glasses with Android.

4. iSketchnote: By drawing on paper that’s placed on top of the iSketchnote Slate, you can transform your sketches into digital images through the mobile app. From there, you can edit the drawing and when finished, you can share with friends via social networks.

5. Butterfleye: This personal surveillance camera is similar to Dropcam, but doesn’t require power cords; instead it runs on a battery that lasts two weeks. Butterfleye uses a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth low-energy connection and can detect heat, movement, humans and objects. The device also uses Active Eye Intelligence, which learns your behavior and responds accordingly. For example, it can detect when you are not home and respond by turning off, or it can detect a person entering the room and turn on.

6. ShotTracker: Tons of devices can measure your sports performance, but if you play basketball and prefer wearing a sleeve while shooting, this ShotTracker may be for you. The sleeve, which contains a sensor, communicates with a similar device attached to the basketball net and records how many shots, misses and attempts you’ve made and tracks your progress on the mobile app. Teams can use the app to see group performance and coaches can assign workouts to players and analyze progress.

7. UltraHaptics: This system creates a vibration when you place your hand over an object containing the UltraHaptics technology. For example, if you wanted to turn up the volume on your car stereo, waving your hand in front of the buttons would create a vibration that tells you you’re increasing the volume. This technology would remove the need for a touchscreen or buttons because by moving your hand over an object with UltraHaptics, the vibration would be your feedback to initiate commands.

8. PicoBrew: The PicoBrew Zymatic machine lets you brew your own beer faster and with less hassle than home brewing kits. You can select a type of beer or create your own. You then load the ingredients according to the recipe and the machine will brew the beer automatically. There are still several few steps to follow but the machine does most of the work.

9. FastBar: Register once and pay for drinks using an NFC-enabled bracelet at large-scale events. When you arrive, swipe your credit card and enter an email address or phone number. You’ll then be given an NFC-enabled bracelet, which is scanned by the bartender through the FastBar app when you buy a drink. At the end of the night, no need to go close out your tab, just leave and you’ll be sent the receipt later.

10. Smart Diet Scale: This scale is designed to measure portions. By placing your food on the scale, you can view the weight and nutritional value of each food item. Then you can track what you’ve been eating on the mobile app.

By Lauren Brousell SEO Tips.

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10 Quick Paid Search Copy Tips to Improve Your Click-Through Rates

Optimizing your paid search ad copy is arguably the most effective tool at your disposal to increase click-through rates (CTRs), raise your Quality Score, and outperform your competition. However, copy optimization, i.e. testing a succession of alternate ads to find the best performer, can be a lengthy process of trial and error that takes time to produce positive results.

Let me help you cut to the chase. The following 10 recommendations, culled from AdGooroo’s analysis of 20 million paid search ads appearing in the United States, can help you quickly boost your CTRs and avoid some of the pitfalls of poor-performing ad copy.

Keep in mind, however, that these recommendations are not a substitute for proper copy optimization techniques. Rather, you should always split test any change to your ad copy, including the tips below, since a rule may or may not work for every advertiser and situation.

1. Use “WWW” in Your Domain Name

Example: use “www.adgooroo.com” instead of “adgooroo.com.” Including the “www” in the domain name increased clickthrough rate by nearly 16 percent in our research.

2. Avoid Numbers

Many advertisers include numbers in their paid search ads such as “20% off” or “10th Anniversary Sale.” In fact, it’s a widely recommended practice. However, our research found that ads withoutnumbers in the copy performed nearly 20 percent better than those with them.

3. Avoid Exclamation Points!

Exclamation points seem to make ad copy more exciting, but according to our research consumers may be tiring of them. Ads with exclamation points performed 9 percent worse than ads without them.

4. Test Your Call-to-Action and Avoid “Now”

A call-to-action is a standard best practice for any direct-response ad. However, some phrases appear to have worn out their welcome, so it’s a good idea to test your call-to-action when writing new ads. For instance, ads with the word “now” in the call-to-action (“Buy now,” “Download now”) underperformed all other ads by 7 percent.

5. Offer Something for Free

There may be no such thing as a free lunch but surprisingly including the word “free” still works well in paid search. In fact, ads that include the word “free” performed 9 percent better than ads without.

6. Replace “and” With “&”

Space is tight in paid search ads, so it can be extremely helpful to utilize viable alternatives to certain words. The ampersand (“&”) is not only a prime example of this, but using it in paid search ad copy also increases the average click-through rate by 8 percent. That being said, not every abbreviation will work well — avoid those that may leave searchers perplexed like “w/o” and “ext.”

7. Don’t Include the Price

There are many convincing arguments for including price in your ad copy. For instance, it can save you money by attracting the right buyers and warding off shoppers outside of your price point. However, the single biggest argument against it is perhaps the most convincing. We found that ads that included price in their copy had a 17 percent lower click-through rate, which hurts your ad doubly since it ensures the ad will get hit with a quality score penalty as well.

8. Make It “Official”

This one may not make sense for every advertiser, but certain brands may greatly benefit from using the designation “official” in their ad copy, especially if you are trying to distinguish yourself from knockoffs and affiliates (although Google has mostly eliminated the latter anyway). Examples we found were Tiffany & Co. and Apple. And although only a small percentage of ads in our database included this word, it seemed to make a big difference. On average, “official” ads had a whopping 71 percent higher click-through rate.

9. Include Trademark Symbols

This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous recommendation of using “official” in your ad copy. Trademark symbols (™, ©, ®) may be required only for legal reasons, but they seem to have a dramatic impact on consumer perception of your paid search ad, improving click-through rates by nearly 90 percent in our study!

10. Use All the Space You’re Allowed

Sometimes you might not need a lot of space to say what you’ve got to say, but it actually may be worthwhile to include more copy than less in your paid search ads. On average, longer ads had a 64 percent higher click-through rate.

Of course, this list is not intended to be the last word in ad copy recommendations, as there are a multitude of different methods and tips available to help you quickly improve your ads’ click-through rates. The important thing, no matter what advice you follow, is to test any changes to your ad copy and see what works for you.

By Richard Stokes SEO Tips.