How to Craft Engaging Contents – 4 Secrets Revealed!

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Sadly, there are instances when content creators themselves are forced to publish so-so, not share-worthy articles. Mind you, beating the clock is tough. Not to mention, the other important things that content writers need to do. While the inevitable happens, this should not be the case. Below are the secrets of well-crafted contents that went viral online.

1) Providing an experience

Virtually all users, or those who consume digital contents, are after positive and interesting experiences. They also share the same types of experiences online for others to see and perhaps, learn from. The shareability of these contents often depend on their social currency; the higher the social currency, the more shareable the contents. Social currency is simply defined as the capability to build a sense of community.

Take, for example, Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM). KLM has a Live Reply program. When it publishes content on its Twitter handler and the users interact with the content such as through commenting or re-tweeting, the user can expect the fastest reply possible.

KLM's Live Reply program

KLM’s Live Reply program

2) Activating triggers

Triggers are often responsible why a particular content went viral. These triggers drive the online users to talk about your content and your brand in general. In fact, in a study conducted by Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman, the relationship between emotion and virality is revealed. According to the authors, positive contents, especially those that inspires awe, are more viral than negative contents.

A perfect example of this is Budweiser’s Lost Dog is Found campaign. For one, the campaign makes use of the words ‘lost’ and ‘found’ as well as ‘reward.’ Not to mention, the reliance of the campaign on a situation that is typical of daily conversations. It captures a broad audience that willingly engaged in the said commercial.

Budweiser's Lost Dog campaign

Budweiser’s Lost Dog campaign

3) Evoking strong emotional reactions

Innate to contents is their ability to evoke reactions. So, think of how you would want your users to react once they consume your content. Think of your contents as an opportunity to communicate and interact with them. If you are successful at targeting your audience’s emotions, they will feel compelled in sharing the content. In line with this, the three most popular emotions online are awe, laughter, and amusement.

Here’s a photo of Absolut Vodka that capitalizes on #LoveWins after the US legalized same-sex marriage across all states. The brand echoes its support for equality among other social issues worldwide. This allows brands such as Absolut Vodka to connect with their consumers on personal levels without being too pushy about their products.

Absolut Vodka's support for #LoveWins

Absolut Vodka’s support for #LoveWins

4) Adding value

Shares are driven by information-savvy end-users. With this, there is a need to tap those users who are socially motivated to share information that they find useful as well. Aside from inspiring and entertaining your users, consider educating them also.

General Electric publishes a Vine video to commemorate Pi Day on its Twitter account. It was accompanied by a simple tweet, “Which color did you land on? Tell us and we’ll respond with a fun fact in honor of #PiDay.”

With all these, the ultimate goal of brands is to align their marketing efforts with buying behaviors. Content marketing is one of their efforts. However, it could be a very effective tool in understanding consumers at a more personal level. Triggers should be evident on the value-adding content so it may evoke emotional responses. These are the experiences that online consumers value the most, and shares will follow.

Image credits: TheInspirationRoom.com | Yucatan.com.mx | DigiDay.com

Panda 4.2 or Panda 5.0?

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Google’s Slow Roll-out of the Newest Algorithm Starts

google panda 4.2

Google slowly rolls out a Panda update last weekend.

As announced by Barry Schwartz in Search Engine Land last July 22, Google starts rolling out its newest Panda refresh barely a week ago. Nonetheless, Google also claims it would take months before the newest update will be fully rolled out. It could be just a Panda 4.2 (minor) since it is just a refresh of Panda 4.1 or a Panda 5.0 (major) since it will still penalize websites that deviate from Google’s guidelines. We don’t know yet. More so because only Google knows how many months the update will take.

What we know is that the majority of the web masters and digital marketers have noticed no changes on their websites at all. Google itself says that, while the update is a site-wide algorithm change, the effect of such on a website will be slow. Changes will not be seen on your pages immediately. Blindsided by Google, this means that we can only analyze the full effect of such on our websites after Google had finished implementing the algorithm update.

An official algo update, which was dubbed as Panda 4.1, happened on September 25, 2014. Panda 4.1 is Google’s 28th Panda update. This update affected about 3 to 5% of English queries. Google stresses that the newest update, on the other hand, will only affect about 2 to 3% of English queries.

The good news behind the newest update

As with other updates before, there will be winners and losers. However, this presents a new opportunity for those sites that were penalized by Google last September. For the record, Panda 4.1 penalizes websites with low-quality contents.

So, if you have been publishing high-quality, unique and engaging contents since the last quarter of 2014, your site may emerge triumphantly from the penalty. This could mean higher rankings for your keywords, too. That is, if your site has not realized any positive results following the Mobilegeddon last April wherein Google crawled probably all websites to determine if all are already mobile-friendly or not.

Even so, even if your site has not been hit by any Panda update before and you are publishing contents that Google favors on a consistent basis, your site may be hit this time. For now, observe your websites if there will be major spike or drop in traffic.

We will keep you posted.

  Web Design 101: A correlation between web browsers and web design

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www.skyje.com

The web, as we know it, is littered with so many websites and is figuratively teeming to the brim with all sorts of information. These various information in its raw form are all codes; but once it is being translated behind the web, we are given the finished product of diverse and information rich websites which users like you and I peruse on a daily basis. With this, it can be surmised that no two websites are alike. Each website is crafted differently and in its own way which is why web designers really have their job cut out for them. Aside from the obvious coding skills they must possess, they must find a way to make sure these web pages are navigable and user friendly.

Throughout the globe, web designers work their hardest to make their websites and webpages top notch, offer information rich content and current search engine optimization techniques. If Web Design Philippines were to match this, they have to be competent in doing so. But unlike any other design occupations, web designers do not make designs that stay stagnant especially if they want web browsers to continue showing their content in a way that would make it readable and comprehensible to their readers.

It is known for a fact, that the Internet is a technological behemoth that caters to the current demands by its users. And with this online juggernaut evolving and progressing day to day, it is only logical that web browsers would progress too. So it is only logical that web pages would keep themselves updated as well lest they be rendered obsolete and invaluable. In relation to that, it is readily apparent how far certain Web Technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3 have brought us. This goes without saying (though a bit clichéd) that from a Web platform perspective, the future is now.  A bit of a long stretch but at the very least, it feels like the future is starting to bubble up to the surface…but we are not just quite there yet.

The new DOM features (HTML5, APIS, and the latest CSS3) when used provide an array of possibilities that are astounding to say in the least. These fairly new technologies can help designers easily build Web applications without having to rely on hacks, images plugins and bloated scripts. This makes everything tad bit easier not only for Web Developers, for both building and maintaining these projects, but also for end users who would get a faster and stronger overall experience.

However, an enormous obstacle is blocking the road to this supposed “future”, and this would prevent it from becoming the now. This roadblock is none other than old browsers themselves. You might be surprised at this summation but this article aims to show you how and why. Let us dig a little deeper into this topic so that we can all be well aware why this is a problem and what should be done to help it.

INTERNET EXPLORER’S USAGE SHARE

Even with the recent mobile explosion, desktop usage still trumps mobile by a large margin according to StatCounter estimates. In fact, ninety percent of Internet activity worldwide is done through the desktop. Of course, some reports have mobile shares higher than the current ten percent shown by the same statistic. Whichever the case may be, the fact remains that people are accessing most websites and Web Applications using a desktop browser.

 

Fact is, among the web browsers, Google Chrome had the highest number of users. However, it is also shown by this statistical study that worldwide statistics for versions of Internet Explorer prior to IE8 are very low with IE6 very low that it did not even show up in the statistical chart anymore. In fact, IE8 and IE9 rank significantly higher. It is clear that IE9 is a step forward from the previous versions of Internet explorer. However, it is over a year old and does not auto update like other more popular browsers do. Though one might argue that it is a more stable and feature rich browser, its age is already starting to show. And with Firefox and Chrome continuously rolling out new features automatically, IE9 is getting closer and closer to becoming obsolete.

 

WHY IS THIS SUCH A BIG DEAL?

 

Perhaps some of you would not understand the fuss and your thinking might be in the lines that should progressive enhancement be a thing, the old browsers will just experience less and that the users would not know what they are missing. This might necessarily be true with CSS3 and HTML5 features but other more complex features are not those simple. To give you a brief overview of this, let me enumerate some of what a developer may gain should he or she decide to stop supporting IE8 (Media Queries, opacity, box shadow and etc.) And that alone barely scratches the surface. So when you put all those into consideration along with bugs and performance issues, a substantial number of IE8 users will have a major roadblock in making progress on the web.

 

So what can you do?

 

Should your browser be outdated, the first step would be to update. And if you have any friends or colleagues using an older version of Internet Explorer (or any browser at all), assist them in upgrading to the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Opera. In fact, you might want to show them a CSS3-rich or HTML5 rich website in a much more modern browser and have them compare it to their current outdated browser. You might even go a step further and show them why non-IE browsers are superior and better.

 

HAVE A MESSAGE DISPLAY FOR USERS ON OLD BROWSERS

 

This is a rather crafty and smart way to get your users to notice that they are using an outdated version of their chosen web browser. Should they be visiting your website on an older browser, then display a message to them stating that should they continue utilizing the very same browser, they run the risk of having most websites unsupported on their current browser. This is not at all intrusive, but the best way you could go about this would be to post or displace a subtle yet noticeable message to encourage users to install or upgrade their web browsers. Additionally, make sure to include the necessary code that will enable the browsers to work properly.

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Designing with Ease 101: Client Collaboration

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Over the years, web design has been making huge leaps in development. What used to be stepping stones in techniques and ideas have now become novel ingenuities. Owing to the increasing demand, several web design companies have sprung up to meet the requests of their various clients. Locally, the Philippines is not to be outdone and several companies have since been established. Web design Philippines is certainly doing its share to keep up with the exigencies of being a top web design company. But of course, every profession has its own share of challenges as well and being a web designer has its inescapable hurdles and interacting with difficult clients is one of them.

Clients come from all walks of life and more often than not, web design professionals will encounter clients who are rather difficult to work with. It is a reality that some clients think that every last bit of their request should be carried out simply because they are the customer, and as the old adage goes, “the customer is always right”. However, this is neither always possible nor practical when it comes to web design as designing for websites has its own share of constraints and limitations. Furthermore, meeting every request clients have is not always realistic and feasible as some of these may be impossible to do.

Difficult designs are one thing and designers can always opt to rise to meet the challenge but doing the impossible is another, for example, some design companies might not have the required technology for the design a client is asking for and other times the client’s request might interfere with the designer’s artistic signature.

At one point or another, a designer must have encountered a client who interferes with the design process which can be rather grating when a designer has conceptualized his or her design. Phrases like “Put that above the fold” and “make the logo bigger” are not new to the web design community; fact is it has become a running joke within the community. Losing money on a project as a result of the client relentlessly altering the design is rather commonplace. As a result from this negative experience, some designers exclude their clients in the design process and limit the number of iterations (at times avoiding consulting with them as well). Unfortunately, this worsens the interaction with the client.

But this vicious cycle can be easily avoided and designers should not have to manage dilemmas such as this. There is a better way; a way that would enable designers to produce exemplary design and maintain a profit margin and it begins with involving the client in the process rather than excluding them. Collaboration with the client is key.

HOW IS COLLABORATION NECESSARY?

Greater client involvement in the design process may seem daunting Scenarios such as uninformed suggestions, endless tweaking and what else. In fact, how in blazes could this lead to better design? Moreover, how could this be any profit for you? But the answer lies within the psychology of your client’s behavior.

Clients interfere with the design process because more often than not, they fear the unknown. They are not exactly pundits when it comes to design or web, and your expertise is certainly something alien to them. They feel irrelevant in the process, and so they attempt to garner some measure of control. When you exclude them, the more concerned they become and the more control they want to exert. But it is always important to consider that the client’s job, their reputation in the company is on the line. Moreover, they have to live with the consequences of your design while you get to walk away which is why they want to be involved with the process as much as possible.

With collaboration, you are hitting two birds with one stone: You give them a semblance of control and you educate them about the design process. This will alleviate some of the fears your client may initially have, as the process will no longer be unknown to them.  Additionally, your clients will not only worry less but will have a greater sense of ownership over it and will be less likely to reject the result. This results to your client shifting from being a critic to your design to an advocate and thus making your job easier.

HOW IS THIS BETTER FOR THE DESIGNER?

Designers mostly care about producing high quality work and making profit. Working in collaboration with your clients allows you to accomplish both. Client involvement will enable them to spot problems early on, which means less hassle for you. If clients are engaged in the process, they give the design more contemplation and as a result spot problems earlier, which translates to you doing less iteration. Iterations occur because the client has a different version and failed to relay that, the client wants to put their mark on the design or is afraid of getting it wrong. These issues will disappear if you are with your client. So how does this client collaboration happen then?

Collaborating with Clients, the first step

Collaborating does not translate to the client sitting next to you as you work on your design. Rather, in an ideal world, it involves you both sitting in the same room while you show them things as you work and get their feedback. Unfortunately, working with the client in their office is not always possible. So what should you do then?

Having an initial meeting with your client and covering things like objectives, target users and etc. is a good start but it should not be limited to this. This time can be utilized to run a couple of workshops instead. As design mainly focuses on aesthetics and structure, your kickoff meeting should involve the client in both areas.

Aesthetic Collaboration

Aesthetics vary in every eye and people tend to fall back on personal opinion if given no other basis within which to judge a design. This collaboration paves the way to provide that basis and framework. Additionally, it gives the client a sense of ownership over the aesthetics. Educate the client on judging the aesthetics with these two fundamental key questions: “Is the user going to like it?” “Will this be in line with the image that the company wants to project?”

Structure Collaboration  

Balancing user needs with business objectives proves to be a difficult challenge for designers. The solution is to put emphasis on the right places.

Rejections of designs frequently occur because clients focus on the wrong aspects of the business or the wrong target audience. But fortunately, there are some techniques you can apply in order to save you from a lot of revisions. You can start with asking the client to design a book cover that communicates the core messages of their organization. From this they should consider three points: the appearance of the front cover, most important things they want people to know, the back cover. Through this clients will start to focus their messaging and you will have a better grasp of the organization’s core messages.

Additionally, it is important to orient clients with their user’s point of view. Educate them why in a web design, less is truly more (and why cramming their home page with so much information is a bad idea). Give them a brief overview about a user’s average attention span and ask them at which points emphasis should be placed on their website. This will help them understand the tradeoffs designers need to make as well as highlights the importance of prioritizing what the user should focus on.

Client collaboration indeed comes with risk, one that might potentially involve the risk of losing control or having to deal with impractical suggestion. But with planning, this is easily mitigated. Collaborative design will surely save you hours in alteration and will ultimately lead to satisfied clients. It may come with various risks however; the only way to address these risks is to give this aspect a shot.

 

 

 

 

 

642x361_Stress_of_Deadlines

Tips on How to Overcome Deadline Stress

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Deadlines are not exactly everyone’s favorite thing in the world. In fact, it would probably rank as one of the worst. But whether we may be in school trying to finish the last minute details of a project, or at work, tuning out the finer points of an important report or simply at home preparing a meal before the family comes home from work or from school, meeting deadlines is rather commonplace. Whatever the nature of your work, whether you may be in marketing, sales, or human resource, stress is inevitable. But this is even more evident for people engaged in people who are into web design or are in mobile app development. This is because professionals engaged in this kind of business do not deal with deadlines alone but the stress that comes along with it from difficult and demanding clients making it a bit harder to manage.

Deadline stress comes in various forms and diverse intensities; it is something one would experience at least once in their lives and each individual responds to it different. Others may get the nerves, conk out and give in to stress leaving their work in complete disarray, but for a selected lucky few, this may be the source of their inspiration, the pressure of a deadline for producing exemplary work. But for those unlucky enough to lose their head in the midst of accomplishing an important task with a deadline set, then, this article is for you. Every once in a while, deadline stress takes the best out of us, makes us lose our cool and render us ineffective and unproductive. But this does not have to be the case every single time. This article will show you how you can curb deadline stress or at least handle it with grace.

 

1.)  A clean desk de-clutters your mind

Although, this one is rather obvious, it is very much spot on. Apparently, no one wants to work on an untidy an unkempt desk. The sight is not only an eyesore but with so much clutter scattered on your desk, it would be harder for one to work. Organization is key when it comes to meeting a deadline and the first step towards this is to keep a tidy desk.  It is often remarked that a tidy desk is a tidy mind so tidy up your physical workspace and clear your table of clutter that you do not need. Having an organized desk will help you focus on what you are supposed to be doing.

 

     2.) De-clutter your head. Clear your mind

With so much to do and so much going on, it is inevitable to have a lot not only on your plate but on your mind as well. With deadlines to worry about, as well as other factors to fill up your thoughts, it is inevitable that this would only add to your stress. Instead of zeroing on the things floating in your head, de-clutter your mind instead so that you can focus on the task. There are a lot of ways to go about this but one of the surefire ways to focusing at the task at hand is to use a task manager app (which is available for free), which works on Apple’s iPad or Mac and so on, more convenient for those who are always on the go. Think of this task manager as a receptacle for the thoughts of your brain where you store your activities for the day.

 

    3.) Avoid distractions (online and offline)

Whether online of offline, distractions are abundant. The urge to talk to your workmate about nonsensical stuff, chat up with colleagues at the water station or just take longer than necessary at the loo. However, with the emergence of social media and the advancement of Internet technology, distractions at work have not only become profuse but a lot more tempting as well. Social media is great and staying connected online is a great perk but when deadlines are cropping up left and right, it is much wiser to turn them off lest you fall behind schedule.

 

4.) Screen breaks are essential

Sitting behind a computer desk and staring at the computer screen can get tedious especially if you do not insert short intervals in between. Not only would it stress your eyes and your mind, but also it can potentially damage your eyes not to mention staring at one object for long periods of time can be rather soporific. So take a screen break every now and then because no matter how busy you are, breaks are essential to keep you from burning out. It is important to take physical breaks and to remember there is still a world beyond your monitor. Stand up, grab a coffee or just stretch your legs out. It will help you be more effective in completing tasks.

 

5.) Devote blocks of your time to a project

Sometimes there are things on your task list that would need your immediate attention before you can proceed to the others or more often than not, things will not as smoothly as your task list might indicate owing to the nature of your job or to work disruptions/distractions here and there.  But if you want to get the job done and are working on something, dedicate the next block hour for it without doing anything else but the task you dedicated that specific job for. You might have to deal with other things during that particular hour but where possible, dedicate it to a single task. This makes finishing tasks easier and a lot faster.

 

6.) Spice up your workstation- Give it a makeover

Staring at the same desk for a long time can be dull and to avoid this, you need to be creative in coming up with ways to avoid the monotony when you are working. The familiarity and mundane look of your workplace—cubicle or desk—might be weighing and dragging your energy levels down. Imagine facing the same wall, seeing the same stuff, talking to the same person for endless hours, this could easily spike your stress levels and have you stuck in a mental rut.

Try moving your desk or moving the things around it, re-arranging the stuff on your desk, giving it a bit of your personality. A little change is all you need to give you a new perspective. Sometimes, just changing your desktop wallpaper is enough to break the mental logjam.

 

7.) Meet your daily sleep quota

This is fairly obvious but apparently easily overlooked amidst deadlines and pressure. But it is a clear reality that functioning on little to no sleep causes one to be ineffective at work and may even cause a burnout shall rest be hard to come by during work hours. Deadlines may cause a lot of pressure but not meeting your sleep quota can cost you in the long run and render you unfit for work and thus, rendering you not only not fit to meet your deadlines but unfit to work as well.

fonts

Why Fonts Matter In a Website

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We’ve all heard the proverbial Internet faux pas when one uses the ever-infamous Comic Sans Font in one’s webpage and more often than not, the usage of such font is met with either thinly veiled amusement or downright rejection in some. Either way, this seems to tell us one thing: Fonts do matter. How did Facebook’s “F” become such a prominent logo? How did Tumblr’s “T” become such a symbolic icon? Easy, they chose their fonts wisely. In today’s time and age where there is never a shortage of fonts, using Comic Sans as a primary font online is akin to having a webpage death wish. Although primarily beneficial for web pages, font usage is pivotal in mobile app development as well.

For what it’s worth in an online community where the usage of the wrong font is similar to submitting a substandard project or creating a half-baked resume, it is not only advantageous to use the correct font but immensely wise as well. So how is an online world enraptured with the hustle and bustle of everyday life so cynical when it comes to the wrong usage of font? These are the top reasons why:

IMPRESSION

Contrary to popular belief, first impressions do matter and they usually make a lasting impact. In web design, this is key to a user or reader’s experience very much like how one perceives the cover of a book.  From a website perspective, the font “frames” your content and how a viewer perceives it. Very much like how a frame holds a photo or how a book cover tries to entice readers. Website fonts make the foundation of what the website is trying to convey. Whether this may be quirky, trendy, professional or business-like, it is all down to what fonts are used in order to relay that particular impression the website wants its users to experience. Of course, not every website is the same and each and every website has a distinct personality or goal it wants to accomplish, and choosing a better font can very well help. The various types of fonts you choose from determines what kind of message you want to deliver to your users. It is very much similar to writing a letter or an essay wherein the type of font one uses gives its reader the tenor of the letter from the visual impact of the font. For one doing business and resumes, brisk formal fonts are used while for personal letters, a personal touch is given to the fonts with more artistic detail. Whether you are promoting a business brand or appealing to the public with your trendy new website, the font you choose should make a lasting effect on your users that would influence them to visit your webpage more often.

READABILITY

This one is a no-brainer but it is not stressed enough. Fonts provide the framework of your website content. Without it, users would not be able to understand the message a particular website is relaying. This is the primary reason why alongside font design, font sizes matter. It bears stressing that a website can be so rich in content and information but will be rendered useless if fonts are used inappropriately. Fonts were primarily made in order to correctly relay a message and using one incorrectly makes its purpose self-defeating. Considering the appropriate font is only step one. In order to maximize the effectiveness of a chosen font, web designers should consider also the font size as well as the design. After all, you may have all the elements of a perfect content along with the perfect font, but it would still be useless shall it be unreadable. After selecting the appropriate font and font size, web designers should consider the interface of the website to make their contents reader and user-friendly. When all this is considered, readability would become a non-issue.

CONVEY MOOD AND EMOTION

If webpages could talk, they would have a lot to say but since most of them could not, written content was created instead. And contents in these web pages are formulated through the usage of very diverse fonts, each with a distinct personality.  Very much like when one capitalizes every letter in chatting when one’s ire is tapped, fonts create mood and emotion. Each and every single font has a voice and by every letter and word created, the writer is telling a story using that very font’s voice. As these fonts are given voices and create moods and emotions, the very effect they have on its users also inspire the same kind of voice it is using to relay it’s message or the aura that surrounds a particular word. It is rather easy to differentiate what kinds of moods fonts are trying to relay. Let’s take the Impact Font for an example in comparison to Brush Script. Let’s say one is writing a titular provocative piece imploring users to action or perhaps announcing and promoting a new brand. Between the two, the Impact font has more persuasive value seeing as Brush Script’s style is a bit more subtle and subdued. While Impact’s mood inspires action and beckons readers through its powerful strokes, Brush Script evokes a composed and serene emotion that would befit an artistic webpage. Likewise, web designers ought to be a bit more critical and particular in selecting the fonts used for their webpage in order to be perfectly certain that they are using the correct voices and evoking the appropriate emotions as well as moods for their webpage.

NAVIGATION

When a reader navigates through your website or when a user starts up your mobile application for the first time, the task can be already quite intimidating and it would be even more daunting for users and readers alike shall the navigation be clunky and complicated. This is precisely why highlighting the essentials of your webpage and your mobile application makes it easier for users to navigate through. The proper usage of font not only gives your website aesthetic value but will also provide your users and readers ease in plowing through your pages and interacting with your mobile application. It is in this way that headers are written in bold or are significantly different from the rest of the content or when hyperlinks are italicized. In simpler words, fonts provide not only ease in website navigation, they also sort out the important stuff from the rest of the content’s clutter. Web designers might take fonts for granted and consider them to be trivial to be given a more serious thought. But they have overlooked the simple fact that content makes up the bulk and the weight of most websites thereby making fonts a very valuable commodity to consider. WE have come a long way since the usage of fonts to convey messages and letters have since developed into something so much more, and that is in the promotion of businesses and giving websites a more personal feel. Whichever of the two it may be, it is very much indisputable that fonts have become so necessary and why they matter indeed.

seo101

SEO 101: Top Technical Issues and How to Fix Them

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In a time wherein online technology improves day to day, search engine optimization progressively gets better as well. But with this much evolution, it is only inevitable to come across several kinks and technical issues. In fact, if not all, most SEO companies who offer link building services may have encountered these technical problems at some point. Staying on top of the search engine optimization game means producing highly competitive and excellent content but this would not be of much use if your site has technical and structural issues and problems. Your site can yield the best content in the word but it would be rendered useless and would not be much help to your search rankings if you continue to have website problems.

The SEO community has collectively weighed in on the most common technical issues that can adversely affect your site’s search ranking. A lot of these technical hurdles (duplicate content as an example) have been in existence for years. But it is important to consider, that as the search engine optimization game develops (and should you want a website that stays on top of the competition), cleaning up site messiness should be one of your priorities. After all, an effective SEO’s formula seems to be one third on-page optimization, one third off-page optimization (backlinks) and a clean website structure free of technical issues and kinks.

Here are the top 10 SEO technical issues in the past year, along with guidelines on how to properly address them.

Substandard Experience on Mobile Platforms

With smartphones and tablets making a major prominence in digital connectivity, it is extremely unwise to overlook this. With users wanting to stay online and connected for the most part of every waking moment of their lives, staying connected through a smartphone or a tablet is not only handy but rather convenient as well. This is why this aspect should be given just as much importance as the others.

Shall your website offer shoddy user experience on smartphones and tablets and is slow to load on mobile devices, visitors will more likely than not click away (increasing your site’s bounce rate). A site that is lean and loads fast is essential as these are key things to consider on a mobile. Responsive design (when a website displays automatically and correctly for both mobile and desktop devices) provides an experience that tailor fits the device but is basically the same content for all users. This, in turn, would improve secondary signals that Google takes into account for search rankings (which collectively includes page visits, the duration of a visit and bounce rates).

Poor Navigation System 

Another necessary thing to consider is the navigation system of your website. This is because in order for visitors and users to interact with your website, it has to be easy to navigate and get around to. If your website does not offer a sleek and user friendly navigation system, visitors are not likely to stick around and engage with your site. As a result of your site’s clunky navigation system, the site would most likely be considered as irrelevant and not deemed useful to visitors and thus would not be very impressive and perhaps tank in the rankings of search engines. Remember, search engines have a business to run as well and that is showing the most relevant and top notch resources to their users.

So consider tailoring your navigation system to be user friendly and it would reward you with higher visitor interactions.

Duplicate Content  

This is relatively obvious however it is still of much relevance as it is still rather prevalent nowadays. As a matter of fact, this was cited as the top technical concern. Succinctly, duplicate is any content that is “appreciably similar” or exactly the same as content that is already residing on your site, according to Google Webmaster Tools. Another source of duplicate content include the use of both “plain” and secure protocol URLS such as HTTP and HTTPS; no preference for a www.domain.com versus domain.com (without the www.); syndicated RSS feeds and blog tags.

This issue can also result from common content management system (CMS) functionalities, including sorting parameters. One of the remedies is to crawl your site looking for duplications and apply “crawl directives” to give Google information of the relative value of multiple URLS. Using “robots.txt” (file that allows you to control how Google’s bots crawl and index your public Web pages) is a useful tip in telling Google the specific folders and directories that are not worth crawling.

It is also a good idea to fix this issue by choosing one URL that you want as your main URL. It is a matter of preference but once you choose one, stick with it. All your other URLs should redirect to the main URL.

Clunky images that are not search friendly

To complement entertaining and information rich content, many websites emphasize on alluring and stunning visuals without taking into account how those images may negatively impact search rankings. A lot of website owners are using images with beautiful fonts, eye catching colors to make the page visually aesthetic but to Google, this is simply just an image. By using a combination of Web fonts, HTML and CSS it is possible to retain the beauty and achieve quality SEO by creating all of the text elements within a banner’s live text. Take note, quality SEO should never be compromised for pretty visuals.

Slow Page Loads

In a fast paced world, everyone wants it quick, easy and convenient. Much like the way users want their pages to load. In fact, slow page loads infuriate the user causing them to stray away from a particular page. Page speed is essential not only for quality user experience but also for good search rankings. If you website has many elements on it (CSS, images, videos, JavaScript Code, and the like) make sure it is optimized for speed.

In this way, you are not only providing your visitors a speedy page load but ease with their website experience as well.

 

 

mobilegeddon

Watch Out: Mobilegeddon Is Coming

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Come April 21, Google will start using a website’s mobile friendliness as a ranking signal in search results. Coined as ‘Mobilegeddon’ or ‘Mobileapocalypse’, the search engine magnate dialed up its pressure button for businesses that want to stay on top the game. When you have a mobile-friendly site, it will get a boost, while sites with usability issues on mobile devices, will get a significant drop in rankings, thus the need to update.

Since Google’s announcement, there have been observations in an increase in demand for mobile-related design and development skills to help companies with the changes and updates needed, which basically is a no surprise knowing that there is no business exempted from this change and will gradually affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide. According to Venturebeat.com, 80% of all adults now own a smartphone and come 2016, 2 billion people are expected to get them, worldwide. Clearly, mobile matters more than ever!

Game-face On for Mobileapocalypse

In a recent Q&A, Gary Illyes from Searchenginewatch.com shared a few details about Google’s announcement. Developers should take note that a responsive design does not a have a ranking benefit and that Googlebot must be allowed to crawl CSS & Javascript to pass the ‘mobile-friendly’ test. Moreover, mobile friendliness is determined at the page level and not sitewide. However, tablets will not be affected by the update. Illyes also shared that Google is currently working on a dedicated mobile index for a smooth workflow.

The question is, are you really prepared for the update? Well, if you find yourself scrambling to be mobile-friendly and indecisive between a dedicated mobile or responsive design, you might want to weigh in the pros and cons before making such decision. However, you have to think about your search rankings if your main goal is to increase leads and not flunk.

On a lighter note, here are a few steps to consider ensuring that your site does not fall prey to Mobilegeddon:

Test your site. There is no other way to know it firsthand but this. By viewing your site’s listing in Google search results; you should see a “mobile-friendly” tag beneath your URL, which is a very legit proof that your site is spared from the incoming dilemma. However, it won’t be a ticket to exemption if you won’t keep some features updated. To know if your site is mobile-friendly, you may want to enter your web page URL in Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see how well it performs on a mobile device. Again, if it fails, you have to take action in updating it. If it passes, it may still need improvements before finally earning the ‘mobile-friendly’ tag. For a full rundown on issues that may affect your site’s search ranking, you may test it on Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Learn what comprises mobile-friendly. In order for a page to gain Google’s ‘mobile-friendly’ thumbs up, it should do the following:

  • Readable text and font without zooming
  • Users don’t have to scroll on the page horizontally or zoom in order to read, hence the need of its size content should fit the screen
  • Avoids software that is not necessarily supported on mobile devices. One example is Flash.
  • Has considerable amount of space on links that the correct one can be easily tapped

Identify the correct fix for your site. With Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and PageSpeed Insights, they have provided specific details for your site’s issues, and all you have to do is to check some options that are available to address them.

To gain a mobile-friendly site, it must be configured in one of the aforementioned ways:

  • Responsive web design. This one is Google’s recommended option, where a responsive site uses the same HTML and URL across devices and render the appropriate display for the user’s device through CSS
  • Dynamic serving: This configuration involves using the same URL but a different version of HTML to serve different device types.
  • Separate URLs: This is a method that serves a different code to different devices using separate URLs, by employing HTTP redirects.

You need to ensure that Google sees it that way by signaling its mobile configuration. Doing so may vary the process by configuration. An example of which s if you have a responsive page, you need to add a “meta viewport” tag to the head of the document to signal to the browser how to adjust the page for different screen sizes, and so on.

You would also want to make sure that Google’s algorithms could crawl your pages. Allow Googlebot to acess your pages and its assets such as JavaScript, CSS and image files). You may refer to Google’s Mobile Friendly guide to see details and other pitfalls to avoid.

The following options may include if your site was built on a CMS like WordPress:

  • Converting your existing site to a new mobile-friendly theme
  • Creating a new mobile-friendly version of your site, keeping your desktop site the same
  • Customizing your site to make it mobile-friendly yet may require CSS and HTML knowledge

Before making any changes and updating everything, be sure to back things up. You don’t want to mess around, wouldn’t you? For more details on your options, you may consult guides from both Google and your CMS provider.

Make it a priority. Mobilegeddon is really coming so do it now, not later. Mobile usability will be an important factor, as a ranking signal for search results, in where your site shows up in search results on mobile devices, allowing you to gain higher chances of visibility come April 21. In addition to that, you will be able to deliver better search experience to the growing number of mobile users and your potential customers in the future.

6 Rules in Facebook Posting

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How many of your friends are in Facebook? How many are not? It is easier to see the difference, right? Even kids nowadays are using Facebook. Who would not want to engage with fun and exciting features of Facebook? Well, credits Mark Zuckerberg and his team in creating and continually developing the platform. Now even individual Facebook application developer Philippines has something to manipulate to make the Filipino users enjoy the said platform more.

Shout outs. Familiar? Of course, they are! It is when we can freely express our feelings socially. Whether it is a vent or a happy feeling, we post it online. For some, posting online doesn’t just mean they want to let other people know what they feel. Sometimes, what we cannot say personally to other people that we are intended to talk to, we write it down as shout outs to tell them what we really feel inside.

If you are on Facebook most of the time, you can see on your news feed different posts each person makes to the extent that we get annoyed, at times, over those people who share too much information on their timelines. We can easily say that these posts are uncontrollable and irresponsible Facebook usage that we don’t want to be a part of. No wonder why good posts gain more likes and shares. If you are one of those who publish Facebook posts thoughtlessly, these tips are for you.

Disclaimer: The tips below are mostly for social media marketing specialists although each of  us can also learn a thing or two from each tip. Read on!

1. Be observant

If you want to let your followers engage in your post, you first have to be a keen observer about the happenings on Facebook, among others. You have to know what are the hot and trending issues for you to have an idea on what to post next. A lot of people talking about the politics, and you can also post a related topic if you feel like it.

Being observant doesn’t just mean reading posts, but you also have to scrutinize or balance whether the posts you have read are true or not. Of course, you can keep your judgments to yourself for as not to offend the person posting it. Or, if you are really concerned about it, you can message who made a derogatory comment privately.

It is your responsibility to know and confirm the truths about the posts that concerns you and other people on social media especially when the posts are degrading or hurtful. As much as possible, verify what you read then, it is your call whether you will believe the post and publish contents with regards to the said topic.

2. Be goal-oriented

Posting for the sake of posting? That’s not the way to do it. Think of it this way: why do you post in the first place? For what and for who your post is intended for? Is your post necessary or somehow aligned with today’s issues? These are the questions you need to answer first before posting on Facebook.

If you intend to inform your followers about a relevant issue, for example, then you have to post related topics about it. Don’t deviate. If you intend to entertain your followers, you can post personal updates, images or videos that are equally amusing.

When you set a goal in posting, you will know what to do. You will have a standard on what particular topic that you will post for today. With that, you will strive to accomplish the goal and achieve the desired outcome of your every post.

3. Make a content journal

Being a person behind every Facebook post, it is our responsibility to empower other people by letting them know what they have to know. We do not post nonsense topics that can only irritate our followers and even non-followers who get to see the post through their friends’ feeds and interactions. Of course, we choose topics that are sensible enough.

Deciding what and when to post can sometimes be demanding. We need to know the ins and outs of today’s issues as well as what we need to avoid. Admit it, you sometimes post repetitive contents because you run out of good things to say. For you not to feel frustrated on deciding and choosing what topics to post, you can create your own content journal.

A content journal helps you identify what topic you already have posted online or what topic is intended for a particular issue. It will also help you keep track on how many topics you have posted for the entire week or month. With that, you can have new and interesting topics lined up that you can easily cross out of your list once done or posted.

4. Grab your follower’s attention

Making your followers notice you can sometimes be a challenge. A challenge in a sense that you need to grab their interest quickly before you lose them in a sea of posts on their news feeds and some other post steal their attention.

A no-nonsense assumption here is if you want your followers to engage on your posts, you have to post interesting and engaging topics on your Facebook wall. You have to know what piques their interest and what intrigues them the most and make posts about that. In some instances, your best bet are the topics that are totally unique and unknown to your followers. When done right, they will eventually ask for more information about it.

5. Interact with your audience

If you want to build a relationship with your followers, then you have to communicate and interact with them. Being active on Facebook doesn’t end up with just posting something on your wall. Posts are the extension of your thoughts that you want to share with your audience.

Interacting can also build a good rapport between you and your followers and other lurkers. For instance, if any of them has a question, concern or suggestion about a particular topic or post, attend to his or her needs at the fastest time possible. On the other hand, you can also ask for their thoughts about the post. Reply to comments and answer their questions.

6. Post moderately

We can’t deny that there are many people who seem have nothing else to do than be in Facebook 24/7. They post what they do, what they feel and just about everything that the posts don’t make sense anymore. That is blatantly a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g, and you don’t want to annoy your Facebook followers, right?

Of course, you still have to do it. With this, you can maximize your post by observing what time of the day a post receives most interactions. You can post often, but not too often even if you are in the mode of posting.

You have to be aware of the limitations in posting. You can post topics that are relevant, informative, entertaining, educational, unique and interesting. This is particularly true when the posts are intended for branding or marketing purposes.

While Facebook is a free platform and we have freedom of speech, this doesn’t mean that we have to post whatever we like. There are boundaries when it comes to posting be it for personal or business purposes.

Website Performance Tips: Top Online Tools To Optimize Images

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One of the best practices in improving page speed is to optimize individual webpages. After all, the faster the page loads, the higher the chance of conversion, which can later be maximized to leads and sales.

A webpage generally covers multiple elements that can range from texts to pictures and videos. We’ll focus more on pictures for this post.

How To Optimize Images Online

All global and PH SEO communities know that image optimization is critical to website performance. In fact, there are several ways to work around it. There’s considering the file format to use, specifying the width and height during the course of coding, applying CSS sprites in the web design. And then, of course, there’s the most commonly used of them all – resizing and compression.

Reduce the size of your images without compromising quality. Check out these five (5) tools on the web.

1.       Smush.it

URL: http://www.smushit.com/ysmush.it/

Page Rank: 6

Alexa: 13990

Description: Smush.it by Yahoo Developer Network uses techniques specific to remove unnecessary bytes from the files. It is a “lossless” tool which means the visual look and quality are not comprised during the process. The site reports the number of bytes saved and provides downloadable zip file containing the image files.

2.       TinyPNG

URL: http://tinypng.org/

Page Rank: 5

Alexa: 13657

Description: TinyPNG is a free service specific to PNG formats. Shared by Voormedia, a web agency in Amstermdam, the site utilizes smart lossy compression technique that preserves full alpha transparency. It selectively decreases the number of colors in a picture by combining similar hues (called “quantisation”). This later on creates a large difference in size. Major browsers including mobile devices are supported.

3.       ImageOptimizer

URL: http://www.imageoptimizer.net/Pages/Home.aspx

Page Rank: 5

Alexa: 30117

Description: ImageOptimizer is another tool to compress photos. A great thing about this is that aside from the web version, you have an option to download the software straight to your desktop. There’s the free edition where you can compress in bulk and there’s the professional one for only 29 pounds.

4.       JPEG-Optimizer

URL: http://jpeg-optimizer.com/

Page Rank: 4

Alexa: 39325

Description: JPEG-optimizer functions similarly like the tools above. Simply upload a digital photo and select the compression level between 0-99 (default is 65). You can choose to resize the dimensions if you want to.

5.       ShrinkPictures

URL: http://www.shrinkpictures.com/

Page Rank: 2

Alexa: 44028

Description: What makes ShinkPictures different is that you can add an effect either in grayscale or sepia to your uploaded picture. It has a batch photo feature that is available in free trial.