Why a “Super-phonebook” SEO Program may not be your Best Investment

If you are looking to join the millions of others committing money to online marketing, you probably have given thought to the large “Super-phonebook” companies that claim to be the best choice for your online marketing needs. Before you start spending money or make a commitment, there is a lot of information—and some misinformation—of which you should be mindful.

There is no shortage of horror stories floating out there in cyberspace about why people have regretted going the “Super-phonebook” route. But we wanted to find out for ourselves, so we placed a call and talked with a representative about the opportunities they could offer their clients. In comparing their options with a smaller, more customer-focused business that offer similar services, we began to understand the reasons for the complaints.

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Sharp client recently featured on the popular tech blog, “Gizmodo”

Have you ever bought a new pair of bright, white tennis shoes, only to have them look old and dirty after an ill-placed step through a puddle? Or perhaps you’ve worn a crisp, new shirt at a barbeque and quickly realized that shirt wouldn’t look new for long. Maybe you’ve simply had a beverage accidentally knocked over, right near your smartphone that happens to be lying beside it on the table. Whatever the careless moment or unfortunate incident, a small company out of Lancaster, PA has developed a product that guarantees to revolutionize how we protect our personal possessions from life’s unfortunate run-ins with these liquid-based hazards. NeverWet™, a longstanding Sharp Innovations client, has recently partnered with Rust-Oleum™ to bring this technology to a store near you. For about $20 a can, you can purchase NeverWet’s™ two part super-hydrophobic coating that effectively resists water and other aqueous solutions, acids, bases, salt solutions and most foods.

See NeverWet™  in Action..

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Now Trending: Social Media

Which-demographics-use-what-social-media

American culture has very much been influenced in the 2000’s by the impact that the internet has made on society. Perhaps the most exemplary of our cultural fascination with the internet is the magnitude of the growing trend toward social media. Whether we like it or not, mastering the social media ‘game’ as businesspeople seems like a skill we must acquire to reach the younger generations. But to what extent is the social media experiment exclusive to the “Generation-y’ers” among us? A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center presents some pretty telling data on the social media puzzle.

Contrary to what may be popular belief, 52% of the 50-64 year age bracket use some form of social media; 77% of 30-49 year-olds check in on a regular basis, and 83% of consumers ranging from 18-29 years of age will visit their social media page regularly. It’s probably not a surprise to you that social media usage ranks more prominently among America’s younger adults, but the fact that over half of all baby-boomers check into their Facebook/LinkedIn account at least semi-regularly? Wow. That’s enough to make you re-think your marketing strategy!

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Long Live the Hardware – Consumer Electronics Show

The CES, or the International Consumer Electronics Show, for those of us who aren’t in the technology awards circuit, commenced Monday, thus handing out its yearly prize to Samsung. Samsung won out in the 2013 edition of the CES’ convention over viable foe, Sony. The North Korean tech wizard claimed this year’s title through an array of products, led by its patented Galaxy S3 system, powered by Google’s Android OS. Many in the tech device know-how consider the Galaxy S3 the world’s only formidable competition for Apple’s iPhone, riding the coattails of a November sales report which positioned it as the world’s best-selling smartphone.

Media Credit: Mobile and Web News

The victory comes with a small disclaimer. Industry giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Google did not “compete.” The yearly convention, according to some, has become somewhat nostalgic, as your usual industry trailblazers are not in attendance or in consideration. The reason for the nostalgia is the distinction in the tech market between hardware and software. Most experts point to software as being the primary player which drives the technology market, that’s why it’s no surprise that software leaders like Apple and Google were “left out.”

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Yahoo! chronicles another year of “searching”

Each December Yahoo! compiles and organizes its “most searched” words of the year. These are usually representative of a year’s worth of trends, viral web sensations, and popular cultural anomalies. It can also imply what people are thinking about, talking about, and concerned about.

We can be encouraged that the top two searches for this year were NOT celebrities! With that said, and not counting their “overall” list, Yahoo! felt obligated to categorize its searches into “Female celebrities,” “Male celebrities,” and “Reality TV Celebrities.” The Kardashian clan mastered the latter, with family members claiming slots 1 ,2, 5, and 9 , respectively.  Don’t worry though, Honey Boo Boo registered a solid third on the list. Justin Bieber logged the most esteemed spot on the Male Celebrity list and Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton, and Lindsay Lohan were the three most searched Female Celebrities.

As for the top “Overall” 2012 searches, the very civic Yahoo! users searched “Election” the most this calendar year. In the same vein, “Political polls” came in at number eight. It’s no surprise that in an election year politically related searches enjoy more keyboard mileage, but this statistic is encouraging in light of the charge that Americans are politically apathetic. Without knowing exactly how productive any given search is, it seems responsible to presume that most searchers sought to be more informed this election season. Another quadrennial (every four years) favorite for 2012 was “Olympics,” which grabbed the number seven spot on the list. The other non-celebrity top 10 search in 2012 was “iPhone5,” which was second. Could it be that a large sum of iPhone5 searches were made while standing idle in huge lines waiting to buy said iPhone5’s?

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Even Though Bing Surges, Google Still Tops US Searches

Google, the worldwide search engine leader, has some competition. Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, has steadily crept up search engine rankings since it debuted in 2009, and is now in the number two spot for the first time. Google and Bing’s trajectories appear approximately parallel, while the rest of the competition’s rankings continue to dip.

According to comScore, Bing and Microsoft’s other websites had a respectable 2.7 billion U.S. search requests in February 2012, but Google still remained on top with 11.7 billion search requests. Yahoo ranked third with 2.4 billion requests. Ask Network came up two percent in February to reach 535 million search requests, and AOL, Inc. had 266 million.

What do these statistics mean for your business? Basically, search marketing, or search engine optimization (SEO), is more important than ever. With the right SEO team, you can increase lead generation and bring in more traffic to your site. Ultimately, it is possible to take advantage of Bing’s surge and the increasingly competitive search engine market to increase sales for your business. Let Google and Bing duke it out, and reap the benefits by hiring a great SEO team.

Search Traffic Infographic

Graphic courtesy of Statista.com.

 

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Smart Phones vs. the Personal Computer

According to data collected by online search giant Google, more consumers in each of five key global markets now have an Internet-capable mobile device than have a desktop or laptop computer. In the United States, the difference is creeping toward 10% more (76% to 68%), although consumers still report accessing the Internet on multiple types of devices. Still, Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker believes that, “Within the next five years, more users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.” Based on her predictions, she expects mobile data traffic to increase by almost 4,000 percent by 2014.

In addition, online tech blogs like The Verge are reporting that more Americans have smart phones than traditional feature phones, and research from the Canalys group backs this up by estimating that 487.7 million smart phones were shipped in 2011—an increase of over 60 percent from 2010. Adding fuel to the fire, Canalys doesn’t expect the increase in smart phones to continue as rapidly next year, but suggest that’s only because manufacturers will focus on higher-end models and greater profitability, instead of pushing a larger number of low-end products.

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Changes to Google Search Results

How will it affect your business?

Google announced last week that there would be another fundamental change to their search algorithm to help index new content as fast as possible. This update, called “Freshness,” will affect about 35% of all search queries. It will mostly target highly talked about news items (such as celebrity breakups and the world economy, for instance) but may also impact search queries that are broad-matched keywords such as “football.”

With the increasingly high number of people utilizing social media, blogging and news related sites, Google has taken the indexing of results in real-time by the horns.  The change has already been showing in the results. Following is an example of the results in real-time for the search query “Barack Obama.”

Changes to Google November 2011

As you can see, there is a time stamp of 17 minutes next to the most recent news item. For those businesses that have news feeds and blogs, this could have the potential to be a large outlet for pushing keyword-related content. Google still says “content is king” amongst keyword rankings, so the more quality content a business can generate, the better chance they’ll have of ranking well in search results.

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2011: Design Less Restricted

While the Internet itself is still relatively young, it changes a little bit every year. In 2010, design for mobile devices boomed, typography emphasis flourished and many other aspects of web design took leaps forward as well. But now that 2011 has come and 2012 is nearly upon us, what’s coming next?

The Death of Flash

Adobe Flash was once a widely used tool thanks in no small part to its easily implemented interactivity, but its best days may be behind it. HTML5 and CSS3 are quickly becoming its replacement. For those not affiliated with Adobe, this is largely an exciting and welcome change because it will allow for more cleanly produced designs and the reduction of load times.

There are many reasons for the move from Flash. One factor is the implementation of CSS3 transitions and animations. These make it easier to create moving backgrounds, growing buttons, fading objects, and many other flourishes. Additionally, many JavaScript libraries are also growing in use, and allow for a more rich and interactive user experience. A prime example is that of jQuery. The jQuery slogan of “Write less, do more” is particularly apt, since it allows designers to more easily add interactivity, user feedback, etc. while the technical writing is simple and clean. One current trend in web design that takes advantage of this language is the single page website. These sites dynamically move content as a method of producing a clean and centralized design. Since that jQuery it is not a proprietary language, it will cleanly integrate with the other elements of the website—something that can’t be said of Flash.

Aside from competing technologies, the decline of Flash can also be attributed to the growth of the mobile market, in which Flash is weakly supported, if it is supported at all.

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The Importance of A/B Testing

So you have a great website, traffic is good and you are receiving inquires. But what about all of the visitors who come to your website and leave without contacting you? Have you ever wondered why visitors aren’t clicking on your calls-to-action or picking up the phone to contact you?

It’s tempting to think having a website with all of your information displayed will be enough to entice the user to fill out a form or pick up the phone, but this isn’t always the case. So how are you tracking whether or not there are certain elements of your website that can be improved? There are new methods of A/B testing that can make this tracking easy.

What is A/B Testing?

For our purposes, A/B testing is a way to track how people are getting through your website and what improvements need to be made. It allows businesses to test a different design and format of a webpage to see whether or not it is more effective than the current page. The testing should be random to ensure that a wide range of users get either page “A” or page “B.”

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