Is Usability the New SEO?

Posted in News on 22 April 2014
Photo Credit: Luca Mascaro via flickr

SEO ranks at the top of many marketers’ “most important” list, so much so that the world seems totally obsessed with the topic. In essence, SEO is about creating content that Google adores, and thus ranks accordingly. In other words, it’s a bot-centric practice that aims to garner the attention of algorithms, not human beings.

The result of the SEO fad has, for all intents and purposes, been relatively positive. As algorithms increase in intelligence, so does the usability of the content produced for SEO determinations. After all, Google and company wouldn’t benefit from highlighting sites that trick the algorithms into high rankings. Actual users are turned-off by content that doesn’t speak directly to them, so in practice, this would be a short-lived success. So the search experts have spent thousands of hours perfecting algorithms to match what people want, not robots.

Yet we’ve all seen the reverse happen frequently enough. SEO-savvy marketers use every trick in the book to woo the bots of the world, and we (the users) are left reading keyword dense nonsense that has the usability of a site circa 1996.

That’s why a marriage between SEO and usability is the yin and yang of successful web design. Let’s explore the strengths of each. It may even be that you’ll discover usability is more critical than SEO. Please your audience first, and the bots will follow. That’s a timeless mantra for content creation if ever there was one.

How to Merge SEO and Usability

First, a little clarification:

  • SEO is the art of luring traffic to your site and content via search engine algorithms. Content written with SEO in mind follows the current search engine trends to ensure high search query rankings.
  • Usability focuses on the overall experience of your site, with special attention paid to specific behaviors you wish to trigger (like product purchases and opt-ins.) Usability, then, cares most about conversions, not search engine bots.

Make no mistake, creating sites and content that appeal to bots and humans alike is no easy task. If it were, we’d be frolicking in a world full of fabulous sites that get uber-high rankings. Some days, it feels as if the reverse is true. The challenge is very, very real.

For example, we all love to feature the most critical parts of our content above the fold. We want to include enough words to clue the search engine bots into our niche and expertise, but not so much text that we turn-off visitors. This is often a difficult balance to strike.

The easy solution lies in tabs, or expanding div. These allow you to highlight a small block of text, granting intrigued visitors the opportunity to reveal more details with a click. Search engines can read the entire block of text, too. It’s a total win-win.

Here’s another conundrum that many site owners face: duplicate content. You might run an ecommerce store that wants to run sale promotional text on a large number of pages. These pages likely contain limited content, meaning that your sales copy is going to get you dinged by bots seeing the duplicate announcements.

The SEO solution here is to make duplicate blocks like this embedded in an image. Bots can’t crawl images for content, so you can communicate the big announcement wherever you choose without the red flag. This works well for things like copyrights and disclaimer text too.

Conflicts Between SEO and Usability

There are many inherent disconnects between usability and SEO, but all are truly manageable. They just require a little big-picture thinking.

First of all, please abandon the tactic of keyword stuffing. It’s working less frequently now (Google has long since been on to this annoyance), and it’s never belonged in the usability camp. Instead, use your keywords, but note that it’s no longer necessary to make these equate to X percent of your overall word count in order to succeed. Write content that reads well, that has a pleasing flow and an informative feel. You’ll gain your readers’ trust and attention, and the bots will follow in kind.

Additionally, please stop creating fat (or obese) footers. Many started doing this a few years back as an SEO tactic, as it strengthened structural SEO to have all your site links and keywords present in the footer. This got severely out of hand, and we still see archaic sites with massive footers on every page. This is a major usability no-no and it no longer boosts SEO either.

Rich media used to be a conundrum too; great for usability (people love videos and images) but bad for SEO (bots can’t crawl ‘em). Thanks to a gaggle of smart folks, there are many tools and tactics available now to let your video content also assist in your SEO efforts. The usage of a video sitemap, tilting techniques, video schema, script transcripts, and video sharing networks now significantly help SEO. So by all means, use video to reach your users, and enjoy the SEO benefits as well.

The final word is clear: focusing on a true unification of SEO and usability is the fast track to site success. By thoughtfully considering how to please the bots and your demographic with each critical decision, you’re doubling your chances at high rankings and high conversions. Resist the short-term SEO tricks that turn off users long-term; it’s no longer worth the risk. Now that we have the tools and tactics to please both parties, there’s no excuse to take the easy way out.


Facebook Auto-Play Videos a Success for Marketers

Posted in News on 22 April 2014
Adobe image

Facebook’s auto-play 15-second video ads have been an enormous success for marketers, according to Adobe’s Social Intelligence report.

In the first three months of 2014, brands that posted videos enjoyed 58 percent more engagement than in the previous three months. That means their posts were receiving more click-throughs, likes, comments and shares.

Facebook first began testing auto-play videos on its mobile network last September on a small portion of U.S. users and, in December, rolled out the video ads to a handful of Web users.

The full launch of the new marketing feature, which shows up in the news feed, came out last month.

Facebook video ads

Adobe image

Although videos begin to play as they appear on a user’s screen, they do so without sound. If a user does not want to watch a video, he or she can simply scroll or swipe past it. Those who do wish to view the video, however, can click or tap on it to have it played in full screen with sound.

It appears there has been a lot of clicking and tapping going on.

Video plays from organic brand posts rose an astonishing 785 percent over the same quarter in 2013 and increased 134 percent from the fourth quarter of last year, the study discovered.

“Links and video both showed strong growth as marketers continue to wage the social battle between engagement and referral traffic,” the report reads. “With video engagement up, marketers should consider more video posts. Fridays are a good bet.”

Overall, engagement with video posts is up 25 percent year-over-year and 58 percent quarter-over-quarter.

Of the non-video posts, those with images provide the highest engagement rate while text posts have declined significantly in shares and engagement.

Posts with links, however, have risen 77 percent year-over-year and 167 percent quarter-over-quarter.


Microsoft-Nokia Acquisition a Done Deal Friday

Posted in News on 22 April 2014
Nokia devices and services executive vice-president, Stephen Elop shows three new Nokia phones, the Lumia 930, the Lumia 635 and the Lumia 630, all built on Windows Phone 8.1.

It will soon be official.

Microsoft’s 7.2-billion acquisition of Finnish Smartphone maker Nokia will be complete on Friday after months of waiting for regulatory approvals in several countries.

“Today we are excited to share that we have completed the steps necessary to finalize Microsoft’s acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business,” wrote Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith in a blog post.

“The completion of this acquisition follows several months of planning and will mark a key step on the journey towards integration. This acquisition will help Microsoft accelerate innovation and market adoption for Windows Phones. In addition, we look forward to introducing the next billion customers to Microsoft services via Nokia mobile phones.”

To push the deal through, both technology firms had to make adjustments to the original deal by entering into a number of different agreements to address concerns ranging from manufacturing to IT, Smith said.

The changes listed by Smith are:

• The two companies agreed Microsoft would manage the domain and social media sites for the benefit of both companies and their customers for up to a year.

• Under the original deal, all employees in Nokia’s Chief Technology Office were to stay with Nokia. Under the new agreement the 21 employees in China working on mobile phones will join Microsoft where they will continue their work.

• Also under the original deal Microsoft was to acquire Nokia’s Korean manufacturing facility. Under the new agreement Microsoft will not acquire the facility after all.

The deal will also bring 32,000 Nokia workers to Redmond. Microsoft and Nokia have been partners since February 2011.


iOS Developer

Posted in Jobs on 17 April 2014

 Experience on multiple iOS projects using Objective-C, Xcode and
Apple iOS frameworks.
 Experience with automated testing of iOS applications and build
 Adept at taking UI wireframes or mockups and turning them into
polished views.
 Knowledgeable of networking frameworks such as AFNetworking.
 Able to act as a technical "go-to" person for iOS developers.
 Enthusiastic about building up the iOS skills of interested developers.
 Familiar with Agile principles and practices, and keen to learn more.
 Ability to work effectively within a team environment as well as
 Familiar with web app frameworks such as Grails and/or Rails.
 Engaged with the iOS developer community (e.g. Cocoaheads) in
 Experience developing on other competing mobile platforms such as
Android and Windows Mobile would be considered a bonus.
 Proficient with C and Objective-C 2.0 programming languages.
 Working knowledge of commonly used iOS / Cocoa Touch frameworks.
(Foundation, UIKit, CFNetwork, Security, CoreGraphics, SenTestingKit,
 Working knowledge of distributed source code control systems, in
particular Git.
 Understanding of well known Cocoa design patterns, and API design.
 Solid understanding of OO concepts.
 Solid experience and understanding of complexities involved in
integrating mobile apps with remote web services (JSON & XML
 Experience with a range of iOS testing frameworks for unit and
UI/automation testing.
 Experience deploying builds via CI systems, and deploying apps onto
the App Store or an enterprise distribution system.
 Experience with one or more scripting languages (bash, ruby, groovy,
 Adequate understanding of mobile UX.


Marketing Executive - Sydney

Posted in Jobs on 17 April 2014

We are looking for a Marketing Executive to help translate strategy to action. You will be a marketing professional, with an energetic, 'can do' approach.  You will have be highly organised and have strong project management skills.  You will need to develop relationships with agencies, suppliers, buyers and retail stores.



  • Digital communications, core focus on web content strategy and functionality; SEO and SEM
  • Social media – development and roll out of facebook content strategy
  • In store customer experience
  • Development and roll out of POS to support in store sales campaigns and events
  • Development of private label packaging and POS to support roll out of new products
  • Acting as the store liaison and ensuring accurate dissemination of communication in a timely manner
  • Customer care


Key Skills/ Experience:

  • Experience working in a busy retail environment
  • Tertiary qualifications in Business Marketing or Commerce
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills (copywriting)
  • Solid understanding of Microsoft Office suite, Google Analytics, social media platforms
  • Experience in retail marketing, social media marketing, customer care & relationship management (agencies & suppliers)
  • Agency experience highly regarded


Java Developer - Perth

Posted in Jobs on 17 April 2014

Sense Recruitment have an amazing opportunity for an experienced Java Developer to join an outstanding company and development team here in Perth.


This opportunity would suit someone who genuinely enjoys User Interface / Front End Development who is looking for a new challenge and who wants to work on a world-class and truly

market leading product.


Join a talented team who enjoy working in a friendly, supportive and collaborative environment.


Strong skills covering the majority of the following will see you highly regarded: EJB, JSF, HTML5, CSS, jQuery


A generous salary will be offered.


PHP Website Developer - Brisbane

Posted in Jobs on 17 April 2014

Exciting and innovative Brisbane based company is looking for an experienced Web Developer to join their team on a contract basis. Reporting to the company owner the successful candidate will be working in the SmartNet office along side the current development team. The majority of the work will be front end development but the skill set for WordPress is a must. You will be responsible for developing from the designs created from the design team.


The ideal candidate will have a mix of the following skills:


Web Developer

  • Strong level of HTML 4 and 5
  • Strong level of CSS and CSS 3, experience with CSS 3 media queries
  • Strong level of JavaScript, experience with jQuery
  • Strong knowledge of mobile, tablet and responsive designs
  • Experience with Twitter Bootstrap or Foundation (Front-end Framework)
  • Good understanding of e-commerce sites
  • UI/UX design aesthetics / best practices
  • Strong level in Photoshop CS6
  • Strong level in Illustrator CS6
  • Strong knowledge about SEO in the website, Google Analytics, Webmaster tools, XML structured data markup
  • Experience with CPC marketing campaigns (AdWords)
  • Experience with PHP
  • Experience working with AJAX
  • Strong level with SQL databases (MySQL)


Six Tips to Improve Your Online Shopping Store

Posted in Tips on 17 April 2014
Image courtesy of (arztsamui)/
There is immense potential in online shopping and hence lot of analysis involved in this area. Many firms are in the race of getting more customer attention and knowing what exactly will work for the firm can help. The climate is increasingly competitive, and it is imperative to know what can get you on the right platform and build a solid reputation. We have analyzed and listed six tips that can help improve performance of your online store.

Tip 1: Three-Second Test

The first impression is very important. People form a first impression on others within the first seven seconds. The same applies for online shops also. It is simple, you just have to ask two questions to yourself:

  • Can the shoppers find out what the website is selling?
  • Will the shoppers trust the website and use their credit cards on the site?

These are the pain points of a website, and after this, there is engagement, interaction and sales conversion.

Tip 2: Multiple Layouts

It is important to know which pages can convert more customers. Different approaches, items and aesthetics can help the visitors be turned into shoppers. It is also important to find out what works well and will help in the long run. Take a test and see the outcome of various layouts on various customers after seeing the conversion trend. Take an example of website selling rock-climbing supplies, trying to promote new shoes. In such a scenario, pictures can be used with attractive text, in another format; they may use a video explaining the effectiveness of the shoes and hands on experience of a climber who has used the shoes.

A third form can be Flash display that gives out key features and descriptions once the user mouses over. The store can test on these three different strategies to see which one has helped most to generate revenue.

Tip 3: Display of Price and Shipping Clearly

The aim remains to get rid of the pain points and help in better sales. It is important to examine the fear involved in the process of shopping and removing that fear from the mind of shopper. Some shoppers may hesitate to buy a product because of the hidden costs involved. Shipping is one such example. The website should make sure that the prices are inclusive of all charges and are clearly displayed.

Such an approach can generate understanding and confidence among the buyers.

Tip 4: E-mail Subscriptions

The buyers may like purchasing from your website, but it is important that they get devoted to your website. This will happen by mode of social media, word of mouth and e-mail marketing. The e-mails can prove to be a direct from of interaction between the product and the customer. The customers are directly linked to the brand by this mode.

You can use some java-enabled pop-ups to get the customer to your site and then give them attractive first-time deals to stay with you. Future communications will also be facilitated with the help of this mode.

Tip 5: Social Media Integration

Word of mouth is now spread on social media.  Fellow consumers can be a good source of information or product review. The trust factor comes in place when we talk about recommending or appreciating a product. You can include the share button on your product page so that the presence of your product is felt by everyone. With lot of sharing and suggesting, the brand will be improved and will be included in the conversations in social media.

Tip 6: Contact Information

It is of great help to have a human face behind your business relationship. You must offer all contact information in a straight-forward form. This will lead to better answers to any customer questions and better decisions made by the customers. Overall, your company will have a reputation of one that cares. If the customers can access your website directly and get the information they want, this will give them better knowledge of exchanges, returns, etc. This will involve some cost, but it will be worth considering the consistent brand reputation that is built as a result.

An online store can help figure out what struggles are faced by customers and finding any new possible opportunities. Correct contact information can help build lot of trust. Make sure customers can contact you via e-mail. Also, try integrating social media to improve your reach. By helping the customers, you can improve your image, income and outlook.


Simply Silly SEO Tips

Posted in Tips on 17 April 2014

High level SEO arguments usually include the best way to build a linking strategy, the most important rules for developing and sharing content online, and the eternal argument between white- and black-hat SEO. However, in my experience, I still see some individuals that manage to miss some of the most basic of the basic when it comes to SEO and online marketing. I do not know if they are not paying attention or they do not know about some of these features, but it nearly reaches a comical level at times. This list of steps is by no means for an experienced content writer or search engine marketer — it may insult your intelligence. This list is for those who may have been stumbling at the starting point of SEO and need a few basic pointers about interpreting search results. Here are some SEO steps so simple it is silly!

Choosing the wrong keywords

It is great to see your website rank at the top of Google, but online success hinges on how potential customers can find you. If someone is willing to get creative enough with their keyword queries, it is possible to make any website come up first on Google. A bakery that specializes in bacon flavored chocolate covered vegan donuts may be able to come up first for the search query “bacon flavored chocolate covered vegan donuts” but that does not mean it is getting search traffic. Getting overly specific with long tailed keywords can lead to overly inflated search “rankings” that gives a company a false sense of where it stands. Just because you find yourself on Google doesn’t mean anybody else is.

Only using a single engine

I am partial to Google myself, but the different search engines use various algorithms to rank content. Even though Google is the undisputed king of online traffic for now, it would be a mistake to neglect Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines that could bring traffic to a website. I have found that different businesses will show up very differently when using different search engines. What may be a first page term for Google could be a third page one for Bing, and vice-versa. I like to see where webpages are ranking for all of the search engines, not just the largest. This allows me to get a full picture of how I am doing on the Internet as a whole, not just on Google.

Know thine own self

This issue makes me sad because I have to pop some very overblown SEO bubbles. I talk with business owners who claim to be at the top of the search rankings for incredibly competitive and broad search terms. A small local shoe store allegedly ranks first for “running shoes” right above Footlocker and Zappos. Here is the issue. The owner was looking at his own personal search results instead of filtering out his private browsing session results! He was coming up first for that search term, but it was only taking place on his computer because he had visited his own site 20 times. Disable personal search results when searching for true SEO rankings. Of course this issue can also be remedied by checking search query ranking in Webmaster Tools, but less tech-savvy individuals may want to rely on what they see in front of them on Google. Make sure you are not seeing a smoke screen of personal results when checking your rankings.

Location, location, location!

Certain websites are greatly affected by the local aspect of Google’s search results. A well placed Google Places page and a website that is locally optimized can lead to great ranking results in a local market. However, for a business that sells in multiple cities, states, or countries, it is sometimes a good practice to change your location settings in Google search just to see how you truly rank in different markets. A restaurant selling in New York who opens another location in Philadelphia may find it is back at the bottom of the pile for search rankings, even though it was top dog in its original market. It is important to see how different locations can have different rankings, different competition, and different results for your business!

I know that some of these issues are real head-slappers. Although I will admit that I have felt my heart leap at seeing a website I manage displayed at the tops of the SERPs, only to turn off my personal search results and see the listing disappear into search oblivion. If this article has given you a revelation and a single click took your search rankings from page 1 to page 50, don’t shoot the messenger, but make sure that you have updated all settings to give a true picture of your online marketing efforts. Good luck and thanks for reading!


A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating Your Content Marketing Strategy

Posted in Tips on 17 April 2014

In many ways, Internet marketing has become synonymous with content marketing.  After all, people log onto the Web to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems, and the only way to provide those things is through Web content.  In fact, the Web content that your business publishes is so crucial to your online reputation — and, ultimately, to your bottom line — that you need a specific strategy for it.

Here are the steps you need to follow in order to create a content marketing strategy that really works:

1.  Determine what you want to accomplish

Are you trying to get more people to visit your Website?  Do you want to turn more of those casual visitors into buyers?  Are you trying to improve your ranking in the search results?  Do you want to build an actual relationship with your target audience?  Are you trying to establish your business as a legitimate authority in your industry?

Luckily, a great content marketing strategy can do all of these things.  To make it work for you, though, you have to figure out your specific goals right in the beginning.  Write them down if you have to.  Once you have concrete goals, you can create a content marketing strategy with a very specific focus — instead of getting pulled off-course by tools and techniques that are floating around all over the Web, but aren’t actually helpful.

2.  Figure out exactly who you’re targeting

When you hit Publish, who’s going to read what you’ve written?  The very best Web content makes readers feel like they’re having a one-on-one conversation with the author, so create a mental picture of ONE member of your target audience.  Who are they?  How old are they?  What makes them happy?  Sad?  Frustrated?  Scared?

Once you have a clear picture of who you’re “talking” to, it becomes easier to write quality content that your target audience will genuinely appreciate.  Or, if you’re paying someone to write your Web content for you, having this clear picture makes it easier to explain exactly what you’re looking for in a specific piece.

3.  Assess your existing content

Unless you’re a brand new business, you’re going to have existing content — like the sales copy on your website, a few blog posts on the company blog, or some newsletters that you’ve sent out to your e-mail subscribers.  So, now that you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and who you’re targeting, determine if your existing content still fits.

For example, if your sales copy uses a lot of hype and cheesy promises — instead of laying out the specific features and benefits for your target audience — it’s not going to fit in with your new content marketing strategy.  Leave it as-is, and you could do all of the marketing in the world, but your sales copy will kill the deal every time.

A great content marketing strategy will establish your business as a bonafide authority.  So, if you have any content that doesn’t match up with that reputation, you need to get rid of it.

4.  Determine who’s going to do the writing

The greatest content marketing strategy in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t have a great writer. Many business owners decide to handle the writing themselves, because they think it’s a good way to save money.  However, those same business owners soon realize that they don’t have the time, the talent, and/or the desire to write a bunch of Web content.  So, before you deem yourself the company content writer, make sure you’re REALLY capable of doing a great job.  Then, make sure you have the time to fit it into your schedule.

If you don’t want to do the writing yourself, you have another decision to make — hire a full-time writer or outsource your writing to a professional company.  If your budget will only allow for outsourcing, make sure you do your homework.  Professional content writers will give you all of the copyrights to their work — meaning you can put your own name on it and publish it anywhere you want — so the work they do will have a direct impact on your reputation.  If their writing isn’t as good as it should be, your business will be the one that takes the hit, not theirs.

5.  Figure out your content schedule

Your content schedule will ultimately be determined by who’s doing your writing.  If it’s you, you’ll probably wind up posting fewer pieces, simply because you have a slew of other responsibilities to attend to.  If you have a dedicated writer (either working full-time for you or someone you outsource the writing to), they’ll have more time to dedicate to your content marketing efforts — meaning you can publish things more frequently.

Figuring out your content schedule right in the beginning is important, because your readers will come to expect new content at certain times — like every day, every week, etc.  If you don’t stick to your content schedule, people will be less likely to make a trip to your Website part of their routine.

However, more content doesn’t necessarily equal more results.  Sure, it would be nice to publish something new every single day, but can you really keep up with that pace?  Above all else, your content schedule needs to be realistic.  Whether you want to update your blog once a week or once a month, your schedule needs to be something you can stick to.  Otherwise, you could be seen by your readers as not very reliable or even flaky.

6.  Make a list of what kind of content you’re going to publish

You don’t need to come up with every single topic you’re going to write about from now to eternity, but you do need to have a basic idea as to what kinds of topics work best for your industry and your specific brand.

For example, what kinds of news can you discuss?  What types of issues and developments can you analyze?  What kinds of things can you offer advice about?  The answers to these questions will depend on what industry you’re in, what kind of experience you have, and who your target audience is.

Once you have these answers, you’ll have a good idea where to go to research your content.  For example, you may want to sign up for a particular expert’s e-mail list because you know he offers such thoughtful analyses, or you may want to set Google Alerts that can tell you about breaking news in your industry.

7.  Think about where you’re going to publish your content

Publishing content on your own blog, in your own e-mail newsletters, and on your own YouTube channel is a no-brainer.  However, a crucial part of content marketing is moving off your site.  This is the “marketing” part.

Think about it as if you were opening a restaurant.  It’s not good enough to just fling your doors open and say, “We’re ready for customers.”  To actually get people in the doors, you have to go out and market to potential customers so that they know you’re actually open for business.  On the Web, that means publishing content on other websites.

How do you find those publishing opportunities?

You have to start by thinking about the authoritative Websites that already exist in your industry.  Visit them, and see if they allow guest authors.  If they do, check out their requirements, along with the other content they’ve published.  If you’d be proud to have your name and content posted next to what you’re currently seeing on the Website, you’ve found a true authority.  If not, keep looking.  The content you publish off-site will be judged by what’s sitting next to it.

While all of this may seem like a lot of work, if you do it correctly, it will all be worth it.  After all, without a solid content marketing strategy, your business can’t tap into everything that the world wide Web has to offer.


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