Industry Buzz

What do your customers see?

Certified Web Hosting Blog -

Typically a person or company serious about building a website signs up early on for Google Analytics or a similar service. Heat map analytics, like that provided by Crazy Egg, provide additional and invaluable data about user behavior on your site. When you use a service that provides heat mapping, there are two general benefits: […]

How To Develop Better Content Ideas

Justhost Blog -

Content has become the driving force for today’s consumer-driven internet. Well-informed content allows you and your company to demonstrate expertise and draw users who can benefit from it. “Create content and attract customers” is a simple enough idea, but not so easy to execute. Many blog and website owners have it all together when it comes to web design, but struggle with the issue of coming up with content ideas. If this is you, then not to worry. Once you change your approach to developing content ideas, you’ll find yourself brimming with them. Step 1: Define your reader.  When it comes to content marketing, many people do a lot of guessing. They guess at who they’re writing for, as well as what they might want to hear about. Taking some time to form a clear idea in your head about who you’re creating content for will help to focus your efforts. Consider your average customer. Where do they live? How much money do they make in a year? How do they spend their spare time? You might even go so far as to name this ideal customer (Perhaps Joan from Ann Arbor who has three adult children, loves watercolors, and has a sister who lives around the corner). Create as many customer profiles as you need, and keep them in mind when creating your content. Step 2: Define pain points.  Pain points are the things that people want to get rid of. Whether it’s an itchy rash, a dent in the car door, or a less-than-perfect credit rating, pain points are what drive people to look for solutions. What are your ideal customer’s pain points? Perhaps Joan from Ann Arbor suffers from mobility issues which keep her from painting and visiting her sister as often as she wants to. This is a pain point that a state-of-the-art mobile wheelchair company can address. Tip: If you need help defining your customer’s pain points, do some research to find out. Online forums and Q&A sites are a treasure trove of pain point input from real people. Search online for your niche or specialty followed by the words “forum” or “message board.” Do some reading in the questions or general section of the message board, or where ever else there might be a conversation about your audience’s pain points. You might also choose to register and join the conversation yourself. Q&A sites like Answers.com and Yahoo Answers are also great tools. Just look in your category to see what people are talking about. You can turn common questions into blog posts, infographics, and other content. Step 3: Keyword research.  Keywords still count a lot in SEO since they’re what search engines use to connect people to your content. However, the emphasis should be on the natural, flowing use of keywords, and not keyword stuffing. Decide what long and short-tail keywords you want your website to rank for, though it’s more likely these days that you’ll rank for long-tail keywords. Adam Kreitman has a detailed post about this over on the Crazy Egg blog. Step 4: See what performs best.  Every audience is different, as is every industry. Some highly visual niches like cake decorating and photography might do best with images, while technical topics might call for scannable blog posts written in plain English. You can see what type of content performs best for your website by doing a review of your analytics data. What pages on your website are most popular? The least popular? Were there any particular days where you lost or gained a lot of subscribers due to a particular piece of content? If you post your content to Facebook, then Facebook Insights is very helpful in gathering this information. Step 5: People research.  If you don’t have any analytics data to fall back on, then consider having readers take a brief survey about what content they would like to see on your website. Include questions like: What issues would you like us to address with our blog, videos, etc.? What content do you find most helpful on our website? What content do you find least helpful? What would you like to see more of? Your readers are the best source of feedback for how to improve your content strategy, so don’t neglect asking. You can use a free survey service like Survey Monkey to get started. Step 6: Put it all together.  Once you have defined your audience, identified their pain points, performed keyword research, and identified your best content formats, you’re read to start generating topic ideas. Your topics should address your readers and their problems, as well as integrate your keywords. Generating topics is simpler than you might think—especially if you know where to look. Review feedback and customer service emails to see what questions and comments keep coming up. Take those issues and make them into blog posts. Create a video, infographic, or picture tutorial of an important process in your business. Update your readers on news in your industry and how it affects them. Create video profiles of key members of your team. Create a series of blog posts or an ebook that addresses a complex problem that your readers might have. Create a scripted video or podcast series about a fictional character who has the same pain points as your readers, and how your product helped them (this one requires an effort to not sound too salesy). Put together a list of helpful industry resources. Repurpose your other content into other formats (e.g, make a video script from a blog post). A great content strategy doesn’t happen overnight. The most successful ones are backed by research and preparation. Take some time to develop a solid foundation on which to develop your content, and you will attract the audience you want for your business.

Is Your Website Secure? Security for a Website Explained

Pickaweb Blog -

As a website owner you need to make sure that your website is protected from malware and other intrusions – the same way you protect your PCs at home & at work. But websites also get hacked – we see it every day here & this is why they get hacked – here are the […]The post Is Your Website Secure? Security for a Website Explained appeared first on Small Business Marketing, Domain Names & Web Hosting Blog | Pickaweb. Related posts: Web Hosting Services with cPanel – advantages explained If you are looking around for web hosting services you... Website Builder Software – Build Your Website in less than 5 Minutes (Drag & Drop Site Builder) If you are a small business owner & don’t already...

30 day challenge update: stretching!

Matt Cutts Blog (Head of Google's Webspam Team) -

I like to set myself different challenges every 30 days. In October 2013, I tried to eat better and exercise more. I did alright on that, but without a specific daily goal, I had a hard time deciding how well I did. I mostly got back into the habit of exercising daily, so that was helpful. For November 2013, I tried to do a “no work November.” I had enough vacation days built up that I was hitting the upper limit for work, so I took a bunch of vacation in November. My in-laws visited one week, then it was a family member’s birthday, so we took some time off at a resort in Arizona. Then it was back home for a week before spending the week before Thanksgiving in Kentucky with my family. I learned a few things in my month off: - I still enjoy reading tech and Google news for fun. It’s amazing (or problematic?) how much time you can spend just surfing the web each day and reading what other people are writing. - My initial goal was to not read work email at all, but I had to give up on that. There were a few urgent things I genuinely had to weigh in on. I eventually settled for reading work email but trying really hard not to reply unless it was an emergency. I probably ended up writing 20-30 replies over the month, along with passing on spam reports that people emailed to me. - I realized that I’d gotten in the bad habit of giving friends my work email address, as well as forwarding my personal email address to my work email. Takeaway: keep your work email separate from your personal email. Seems like common sense, but after almost 14 years at Google, things had gotten tangled together. - A couple good pieces of advice that I failed to heed: 1) remove your work account from your phone, so you can’t check work email or docs on your phone. 2) if you have an “email tab” that you keep pinned on your browser, unpin and close that tab. I didn’t take either of those steps, but I should have. - I didn’t feel the need to start any big projects, or write any Android apps, or blog a lot. I have a newer Linux computer that has configuration issues; I didn’t tackle that. Mostly I enjoyed reading a few books. - I’m incredibly proud of the whole webspam team at Google. Things ran like clockwork while I was gone. I’m really grateful to the phenomenal people that fight spam for Google’s users every day. Which brings us to December 2013. Back in September, I threw my back out. I can still move around fine, but it sometimes hurts if I bend in various ways. So my goal for December 2013 is to do 15-20 minutes of stretching–things like cat and camel–each day to help my back recuperate. How about you? Are you doing any 30 day challenges?

6 Ways to Tell Your Brand Story on Your Website

Justhost Blog -

For every brand online and offline today, telling captivating stories is an essential part of differentiating from competition. As competition for new online customers continues to intensify day after day, more and more business owners, management teams, and marketing directors are spending time thinking about how to effectively tell their brand stories online.  In the following post, we’ll outline a few ways you can tell your brand story on your website in order to help prospective customers understand what makes your business, products, and services unique.   On Your About Page Most people think of this page first when it comes to deciding where to highlight a brand story. Your About page is a great place to include information that will help visitors understand what it is you do, why you do it, and why they should care. Your About page is likely the first place new visitors will go if they are looking for more information about your business, owners, employees, and history. In order to tell a captivating brand story on your About page, your content should answer the following questions: What problems does your business help solve? Who created the business and why? Who else is involved and why (i.e. your employees)? What makes your business, services, or products different (and better) than other businesses, services, and products? Can you provide a general timeline for your business? In Photos Consumers want to be able to connect with brands on an emotional level. It’s important that you take time to humanize the content on your website. One great way to do this is through the use of photos. If the only visuals you include on your website are obvious stock photos, your customers will have a hard time connecting with your brand and your products. To tell your brand story using photos, consider including the following: Photos of employees on the job, working with products or interacting with customers Photos of employees off the job, highlighting their other passions and hobbies Photos that illustrate how your business, products, or services have evolved over time Historical photos that help visitors understand what your business was like in year one, year five, etc. On Video This strategy goes hand-in-hand with using photos to tell your brand story on your website. Video can be a powerful communication tool. Instead of only including promotional videos on your website that highlight your products and services, consider also creating videos of: Your employees talking about why they love working for you You and your management team talking about why you created the business Your customers talking about why they use your products or services “Behind-the-scenes” videos that give prospective customers a glimpse into how your business operates With The Help of Loyal Customers Most owners who have websites for their businesses today have taken the time to scatter a few simple testimonials from their most loyal customers in various places on their site (home page, product pages, about page). While these testimonials are helpful for consumers, they aren’t enough to convince prospective customers that your products and services are worth buying. In order to really connect with online consumers and new prospects, you need to take it a step further by asking your most loyal customers to help tell your brand story. Your prospective customers don’t just want to read what your current customers have to say about your business and products—they want to actually see and hear from them too. As you begin to develop plans for incorporating your brand story into your website, consider including messages from loyal customers about your business and products in your videos, photos, blog posts, and other pages on your website. In Blog Posts If all you’re doing on your blog is sharing monthly or quarterly press releases about your business and products, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to connect with current and prospective customers. In addition to sharing relevant and helpful information about your industry for your blog readers, you can also take the time to create and publish blog posts that help tell your brand story. Here are a few general brand story post ideas you might use on your blog: Flashback Photo Post: Include photos from the first year your business was in operation Behind-The-Scenes Post: Include a video of an employee introducing readers to your team “Our Passion For _______” Post: Include messages from owners about why you do what you do. In Product Descriptions Have you thought about including more brand storytelling photos and videos directly on your product pages? More and more businesses are implementing this strategy on their websites each day (for a great example, see the video on this product page). It’s a great way to remind prospective customers who have made it all the way to your sales pages and are making a final decision on whether or not to go through with a purchase. By including content that tells your brand story, you can help prospective customers feel confident that they are making the right decision in buying a product or service from your company. How are you telling your brand story on your website? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Search Engine Penalty – What is it and How can you avoid it.

BigRock Blog -

If you’re a website owner, then you know setting up a great website is only the first step in starting your business online. You need to think about generating traffic for your website, a great website is no good without customers coming to it right? So it’s only natural that you would like to go all out to make your website SEO ready and get that traffic. But sometimes you might unintentionally go overboard or follow some wrong practices to achieve it. If this is captured by today’s advanced search engine algorithms, then your website is likely to face a penalty. What is a Search Engine Penalty? It refers to the actions by the search engine on a website that follows incorrect SEO practices to improve their organic ranks. Depending upon the severity of the malpractices, search engines can either drop the rankings of your page or can also completely take your website off the search engine’s index. This will seriously impact the reputation of your website and lead to a serious drop in web traffic. We hate to see your hard work go down the drain and hence have jotted down a few points, that you can use to avoid getting penalized by search engines. 1] Keyword Stuffing: Keywords are essential for search engines to identify that you have the relevant content in your website. But overdoing a keyword or a phrase to get a search engine’s attention can get your website in trouble. Search engines like Google want us to provide value to its users, so ensure that your content is relevant and not just a block of words to add text to the page. 2] Weak content: Your website content should not only be relevant but also be helpful to the users. If you don’t meet these requirements, then you can expect your website to be at the bottom of search engine rankings. Avoid automated generation of content; this will lead to duplication and a severe penalty 3] Piracy: This is a serious issue and is strictly dealt with by all Search Engines. Refrain from copying content, copyrighted images and media from other sources on your website. Failure to comply could get your website off the Search Engine’s indexes for good. 4] Comment Spam: One of old school SEO’s favorite tip would be dropping in on every random blog and leaving a comment with links running back to their own website. This unfortunately is now automated via software and you will find irrelevant comments such as below that are quite a nuisance. Search engines have taken strongly against such comment spammers and if you ever get caught then expect a serious penalty on your website. Please avoid this at all costs. Save your time, website and someone else’s frustration. 5] Paid Links: Up till 2011, this was an easy way to get your search rankings to move up quickly. You could pay another website to link back to your own. But this soon became a drawback for most of the websites post Google’s Penguin update, which is an algorithm update that decreased websites search rankings for violating Google’s policies. Other search engines are still lenient about this fact but may soon follow the Google way. So focus on quality content and then rely on this content being picked up by popular websites providing you a valuable above the table back link 6] Usability: Slow loading websites and websites with heavy integration of ads all over the page have a negative impact on customer experience. Biggies like Google will penalize you for this and send you down the search engine rankings. Make your website speedy and user friendly for best SEO benefit 7] Cloaking: Cloaking is a mechanism to showcase fabricated content packed with keywords to search engines, while at the same time show a different set of content to the users. So you might search for something and land up in one of these websites using a cloaking mechanism and end up getting very little or no information about your query. This is one of the worst things you can do to trick a search engine and get your website a very heavy penalty. Search Engines are aware of the fact that new tactics to trick them will always come up but they are working hard to ensure that they are stopped. It’s best to invest time in generating good and valuable content for your users rather than wasting time to remove the penalty on your website. We would really appreciate if you could share any other good practices to avoid search engine penalty.  

List IDs to become 64-bit integers in early 2014

The Twitter Developer Blog -

We’re proactively making room for more lists on Twitter by expanding their IDs to 64-bit integers. If you’re using our REST and Streaming APIs, you should confirm that your database, server-side and client-side code consume the safe string-based identifiers represented in “id_str” fields instead of the integer-based identifiers found in the “id” field of Twitter List objects and related references. Previously we’ve migrated from 32-bit to 64-bit integer IDs for both user and tweet objects. As with those transitions, it is especially important to verify your application’s compatibility if you’re programming in Javascript. Issues while consuming 64-bit integers are easy to miss — the number will either overflow or underflow, representing an identifier for a completely different or non-existent object. To ensure your application’s continued functionality, we strongly recommend modifying your applications to use our string-based IDs whenever present, regardless of the object type. We’re planning to convert Twitter list IDs within the first few months of 2014 and will make further announcements, as well as updates to the Platform Calendar, as a more firm date is established. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know in this thread.

List IDs to become 64-bit integers in early 2014

The Twitter Developer Blog -

We’re proactively making room for more lists on Twitter by expanding their IDs to 64-bit integers. If you’re using our REST and Streaming APIs, you should confirm that your database, server-side and client-side code consume the safe string-based identifiers represented in “id_str” fields instead of the integer-based identifiers found in the “id” field of Twitter List objects and related references. Previously we’ve migrated from 32-bit to 64-bit integer IDs for both user and tweet objects. As with those transitions, it is especially important to verify your application’s compatibility if you’re programming in Javascript. Issues while consuming 64-bit integers are easy to miss — the number will either overflow or underflow, representing an identifier for a completely different or non-existent object. To ensure your application’s continued functionality, we strongly recommend modifying your applications to use our string-based IDs whenever present, regardless of the object type. We’re planning to convert Twitter list IDs within the first few months of 2014 and will make further announcements, as well as updates to the Platform Calendar, as a more firm date is established. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know in this thread.

What would you like to see from Webmaster Tools in 2014?

Matt Cutts Blog (Head of Google's Webspam Team) -

A few years ago, I asked on my blog what people would like from Google’s free webmaster tools. It’s pretty cool to re-read that post now, because we’ve delivered on a lot of peoples’ requests. At this point, our webmaster console will alert you to manual webspam actions that will directly affect your site. We’ve recently rolled out better visibility on website security issues, including radically improved resources for hacked site help. We’ve also improved the backlinks that we show to publishers and site owners. Along the way, we’ve also created a website that explains how search works, and Google has done dozens of “office hours” hangouts for websites. And we’re just about to hit 15 million views on ~500 different webmaster videos. So here’s my question: what would you like to see from Webmaster Tools (or the larger team) in 2014? I’ll throw out a few ideas below, but please leave suggestions in the comments. Bear in mind that I’m not promising we’ll do any of these–this is just to get your mental juices going. Some things that I could imagine people wanting: Make it easier/faster to claim authorship or do authorship markup. Improved reporting of spam, bugs, errors, or issues. Maybe people who do very good spam reports could be “deputized” so their future spam reports would be fast-tracked. Or perhaps a karma, cred, or peer-based system could bubble up the most important issues, bad search results, etc. Option to download the web pages that Google has seen from your site, in case a catastrophe like a hard drive failure or a virus takes down your entire website. Checklists or help for new businesses that are just starting out. Periodic reports with advice on improving areas like mobile or page speed. Send Google “fat pings” of content before publishing it on the web, to make it easier for Google to tell where content appeared first on the web. Better tools for detecting or reporting duplicate content or scrapers. Show pages that don’t validate. Show the source pages that link to your 404 pages, so you can contact other sites and ask if they want to fix their broken links. Or almost as nice: tell the pages on your website that lead to 404s or broken links, so that site owners can fix their own broken links. Better or faster bulk url removal (maybe pages that match a specific phrase?). Refreshing the existing data in Webmaster Tools faster or better. Improve robots.txt checker to handle even longer files. Ways for site owners to tell us more about their site: anything from country-level data to language to authorship to what content management system (CMS) you use on different parts of the site. That might help Google improve how it crawls different parts of a domain. To be clear, this is just some personal brainstorming–I’m not saying that the Webmaster Tools team will work on any of these. What I’d really like to hear is what you would like to see in 2014, either in Webmaster Tools or from the larger team that works with webmasters and site owners.

On vacation the rest of November 2013

Matt Cutts Blog (Head of Google's Webspam Team) -

For the folks that don’t know, I’ve been out for a couple weeks and I’ll be on vacation the rest of November. If you’ve tried to contact me recently and haven’t heard back, that’s probably the reason. Added: if you enjoy watching our webmaster videos, you can follow @googlewmc to hear as soon as we publish new Webmaster Central videos. It looks like @googlewmc is just about to hit 100,000 followers on Twitter!

What if we Turned Internet Sales Tax on its Head?

BizTechTonics -

While no one really likes taxes, except perhaps the government, we are coming to a point where internet retailers are going to have to collect some form of sales tax.  With the pressure from the government, eventually it is going to happen. The Problem with the Current System The problem is that there are 50 different states with 50 different sales tax schemes and rate schedules, and the states can only legally require residents of their own state to pay the tax without some nationwide agreement. So in order for every business in America to comply with every state’s sales tax laws, they would have to charge 50 or more different tax rates based on where the customer lives, and then file 50 different tax returns, on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis depending on their revenues. Europeans Want Their Share Too What is worse is that the European Union is also trying to force U.S. businesses to collect VAT for European residents.  So U.S. businesses will wind up having to file a tax return for 50 U.S. States AND collect 28 different tax rates for each E.U. Member State as well. And if we set a precedent that every jurisdiction can collect taxes in any other jurisdiction, what is to stop Canada from requiring U.S. businesses to collect VAT for their 10 provinces and 3 territories?   What about other countries? There actually is a simple solution to all this, that seems to elude almost everyone involved in creating the new laws. Redefine What Sales Tax Is and Create a New Tax Currently sales tax is defined as a tax on people’s consumption, that is collected by the seller.  Technically the seller does not owe the tax at all, the consumer does.  The seller is required to collect it, and is liable if they don’t transfer the funds collected to the state. In most states, the tax is due even if the seller does not collect it.  For example, if you buy something from an online retailer in New York, and you reside in Texas, you technically owe Texas tax on that purchase, called a use tax, which is the same rate as the sales tax. Thanks to court decisions and the U.S. Constitution, states can only tax people within their jurisdiction and cannot force sellers outside their state to collect use tax for its citizens.  New federal legislation is trying to change that. It would be better to redefine sales & use tax into the following classes. Traditional Sales & Use Tax Traditional sales & use tax is a tax on the consumer, and would stay essentially the same as it is now, with the only change being that it will not apply to internet transactions.  This will allow states to continue collecting taxes under its current scheme at local businesses. Internet Sales Excise Tax (ISET) On internet transactions, the state would tax the seller instead of the consumer. This would mean that a state can tax all transactions that occur within that state, as long as the seller is within that state.  So is someone in Texas purchased something in New York, the New York tax would apply since that is where the business is located.  Under this definition, it does not matter where the consumer is located.  Even international transactions could be taxes under this scheme, because it is a tax on the business, not the consumer. The internet sales excise tax would be at the same rate as existing sales & use tax rates. Sellers Located in Multiple States Rules would be needed for cases where a seller is located in more than one state, to avoid double taxation, but those sellers could afford to file multiple tax returns and charge different tax rates based on where people live. One way to solve this is to have a clearly defined location where the sales is said to take place, if that can be defined.  For example, if the sales office is in California, but the company happens to have a warehouse in Nevada, the internet sales excise tax would be applied where the sales office is only.  Since the warehouse does not take orders, it does not count. Another way to solve this is to make it so that sellers that are located in only one state and make more than $1 million per year be subject traditional sales tax, and must collect a simplified sales tax for each state, whereas businesses located in one state and/or make less than $1 million per year would collect the Internet Sales Excise Tax instead. Multiple scenarios would probably have to be worked out, to make the most sense. Take Action Regardless of whether you like internet sales tax, it is coming our way.  The time is now to act to ensure that a plan that makes sense is enacted.  Would you rather file 50 different tax returns, or would you rather file only one?  Better let your representatives know before its too late. Image courtesy of Stuart Miles & FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Indexing apps just like websites

Google Webmaster Central Blog -

Webmaster Level: AdvancedSearchers on smartphones experience many speed bumps that can slow them down. For example, any time they need to change context from a web page to an app, or vice versa, users are likely to encounter redirects, pop-up dialogs, and extra swipes and taps. Wouldn't it be cool if you could give your users the choice of viewing your content either on the website or via your app, both straight from Google's search results?Today, we’re happy to announce a new capability of Google Search, called app indexing, that uses the expertise of webmasters to help create a seamless user experience across websites and mobile apps.Just like it crawls and indexes websites, Googlebot can now index content in your Android app. Webmasters will be able to indicate which app content you'd like Google to index in the same way you do for webpages today — through your existing Sitemap file and through Webmaster Tools. If both the webpage and the app contents are successfully indexed, Google will then try to show deep links to your app straight in our search results when we think they’re relevant for the user’s query and if the user has the app installed. When users tap on these deep links, your app will launch and take them directly to the content they need. Here’s an example of a search for home listings in Mountain View:We’re currently testing app indexing with an initial group of developers. Deep links for these applications will start to appear in Google search results for signed-in users on Android in the US in a few weeks. If you are interested in enabling indexing for your Android app, it’s easy to get started:Let us know that you’re interested. We’re working hard to bring this functionality to more websites and apps in the near future.Enable deep linking within your app.Provide information about alternate app URIs, either in the Sitemaps file or in a link element in pages of your site.For more details on implementation and for information on how to sign up, visit our developer site. As always, if you have any questions, please ask in the mobile section of our webmaster forum.Posted by Lawrence Chang, Product Manager

REST API SSL certificate updates

The Twitter Developer Blog -

At the end of 2013, all Browsers and Certificate Authorities will no longer support 1024 bits RSA certificates to be compliant to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines. The SSL certificate currently used on api.twitter.com is signed with the older Verisign G2 root CA certificate. Due to NIST guidelines, api.twitter.com will change to a new certificate on Dec 10th, 2013. The new certificate will be signed with VeriSign Class 3 Secure Server CA - G3, which has the 2048 bits key length needed to meet recommended security levels. This means that all HTTP clients used by your application must trust the new root certificate, otherwise you won’t be able to connect in the API. To ensure proper SSL certificate verification across all of Twitter’s services, your software should include all Verisign Root Certificates in its CAFile or other respective keystore. The root certificates are available at the following link: Verisign (https://www.symantec.com/page.jsp?id=roots) For more guidelines on using SSL with the Twitter API, see our Guide to Connecting with SSL. If you’re continuing to have issues with the transition, you can join in on this discussion topic. Update [Dec 10th, 2013]: the new certificates were deployed.

REST API SSL certificate updates

The Twitter Developer Blog -

At the end of 2013, all Browsers and Certificate Authorities will no longer support 1024 bits RSA certificates to be compliant to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines. The SSL certificate currently used on api.twitter.com is signed with the older Verisign G2 root CA certificate. Due to NIST guidelines, api.twitter.com will change to a new certificate on Dec 10th, 2013. The new certificate will be signed with VeriSign Class 3 Secure Server CA - G3, which has the 2048 bits key length needed to meet recommended security levels. This means that all HTTP clients used by your application must trust the new root certificate, otherwise you won’t be able to connect in the API. To ensure proper SSL certificate verification across all of Twitter’s services, your software should include all Verisign Root Certificates in its CAFile or other respective keystore. The root certificates are available at the following link: Verisign (https://www.symantec.com/page.jsp?id=roots) For more guidelines on using SSL with the Twitter API, see our Guide to Connecting with SSL. If you’re continuing to have issues with the transition, you can join in on this discussion topic. Update [Dec 10th, 2013]: the new certificates were deployed.

Top 5 Web Design Mistakes

Justhost Blog -

It’s that time of year again. You’ve made it through the summer, fall is winding down, the New Year is just around the corner, and you’re thinking about how to spruce up your website for 2014. If you’re a business owner and you’ve been searching for tips on how to improve your website in order to make more sales or increase foot traffic at your brick-and-mortar, look no further. In this article, we’re outlining the top 5 web design mistakes you might have made when you launched your site—and what you can do to fix them. Bad Font If you’re still using the same comic sans or papyrus font you picked for your website back in 1998, it’s time to find a font that your visitors will find more readable. Online consumers today move from website to website relatively quickly, and if they land on yours and have a hard time reading your content, they are likely to move on. What to do about it: Consider using simple, clean, and readable fonts for your site’s content. You should also make it big enough that a user can read it at a comfortable distance from the screen. Your font should also contrast well with the background color so that it’s readable. Dark grey font against a black background might make sense in your head, but you’ll be better off choosing a color combination that is easier for visitors to read. No Mobile Research shows that mobile Internet traffic now accounts for fifteen percent of global Internet traffic, where just ten years ago it accounted for less than one percent. If you launched your website and completely left mobile out of the picture, it’s time for an update. Your customers will thank you. What to do about it: Plan a plan to launch a new website that incorporates responsive design. With responsive design, your site will look great from any computer, browser, or device. If you use WordPress for your website, click here to look at the following responsive design theme options from ThemeForest. Too Many Colors Websites with harsh color contrasts or too many colors are ineffective when it comes to keeping visitors interested. If you’ve been getting feedback lately in regards to the colors on your website, or even worse, if your website traffic has been nose-diving, it might be time to update the colors you use. What to do about it: In order to simplify your web design and keep visitors happy, follow the recommendations below: Try using no more than 2 or 3 colors for your primary design. If you feel like you need to add more texture to your design, use shades of the same three colors. To see a few examples, click here. Use complimentary colors in your design. To experiment with different complimentary color combinations, click here. Use color psychology. Think about what kind of emotion do you want your brand to convey. To learn more about how your website colors can influence purchasing decisions, click here. No Call-To-Actions According to Hubspot, “CTAs are what motivate and direct your visitors to take a desired action. They bridge the gap between anonymous website visitors and marketable leads.” Effective call-to-action messaging incorporated throughout your website can have a big impact on sales and brand recognition. If you aren’t using any call-to-action buttons or messaging on your site, you’re not helping your customers understand what they should do once they land on your site. What to do about it: Work with your marketing team to start developing more strategic CTAs for your website. Keep in mind: you can create call-to-actions that send people to: Product pages Free ebook or offer pages Email subscription signup pages Event registration pages Copied Competition  If when you were designing your website, you copied a competitor’s already-existing website completely, it’s time for a revamp. Not only does your similar website cause confusion for your consumers, your site is likely not as good as the original site you took ideas from. Online consumers today are looking for originality and authenticity when deciding which brands and companies to buy from. If your website isn’t original, start making a website re-launch plan. What to do about it: Work with your team to develop a new, original website for your business. Keep your online communities and customer base informed about the upcoming changes with fun marketing and promotional material (countdowns, first looks, etc.). if you plan to completely overhaul your website, make sure your new website is: Responsive Simple, and easy to read Pleasing to look at Easy to use Socially integrated What other common mistakes have you noticed businesses making lately? Leave a comment for us below.  

Video: Creating a SEO strategy (with Webmaster Tools!)

Google Webmaster Central Blog -

Webmaster Level: Intermediate Wondering how to begin creating an organic search strategy at your company? What’s a good way to integrate your company’s various online components, such as the website, blog, or YouTube channel? Perhaps we can help! In under fifteen minutes, I outline a strategic approach to SEO for a mock company, Webmaster Central, where I pretend to be the SEO managing the Webmaster Central Blog. Fifteen-minute video to help your create the SEO strategy at your company The video covers these high-level topics (and you can skip to the exact portion of the video that might be of interest): Creating a SEO strategyUsing Webmaster Central as mock companyBuilding an SEO strategyUnderstand searcher persona workflowDetermine company and website goalsAudit your site to best reach your audienceExecute and make improvementsOvercoming obstacles Feel free to reference the slides as well. Written by Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead

Introducing custom timelines: create timelines of Tweets for everyone

The Twitter Developer Blog -

Today we’re introducing custom timelines to give you more control over how Tweets are organized and delivered on the Twitter platform. Custom timelines are an entirely new type of timeline –– one that you create. You name it, and choose the Tweets you want to add to it, either by hand or programmatically using the API (more on that below). This means that when the conversation around an event or topic takes off on Twitter, you have the opportunity to create a timeline that surfaces what you believe to be the most noteworthy, relevant Tweets. Each timeline is public and has its own page on twitter.com, making it easy to share so others can follow along in real time as you add more Tweets. And since custom timelines are part of our Twitter for Websites toolkit, you can embed these timelines on your website. What you can do with custom timelines Share the best Tweets about a topic you care about, or an event –– planned or unplanned –– that’s happening right now. Whether you want to collect the best Tweets about a TV show or help people find the latest information about fast-moving real-time situations, custom timelines let you give everyone a place to follow along. Here are some examples to give you more ideas: Carson Daly (@CarsonDaly), host of The Voice, created a custom timeline to be a live companion to tonight’s competition. POLITICO is organizing the best Tweets from policy industry experts in this new Tweet Hub. The Guardian is hosting a Q&A and will curate the lead question, questions from readers, and answers from journalists into a custom timeline. Twitter #music has created new timelines that present the very best Tweets from superstars, best songs with tracks you can play right in the Tweet, and the best music Vines. And tonight, Bleacher Report will help sports fans keep up with the best moments from the Champions Classic match-ups tonight. How to get started You can create, add to and share a custom timeline right from TweetDeck. Over the next several days, these capabilities will roll out to all TweetDeck users; read more about this on the TweetDeck blog. About the API There’s something more to what we’re announcing today: the custom timelines API beta. This new API will open up interesting opportunities, such as programming your custom timelines based on the logic that you choose, or building tools that help people create their own custom timelines, as TweetDeck does. As noted above, POLITICO is using the custom timelines API to add Tweets to its Tweet Hub. You can read more about custom timelines for developers and the API beta here. To begin, the API will be available to a small group of selected partners. We want to hear from you. If you have a great idea and you’re interested in testing out the API, please let us know by filling out this form. We’re excited to see what you’ll do with custom timelines, and are just getting started.

Introducing custom timelines: create timelines of Tweets for everyone

The Twitter Developer Blog -

Today we’re introducing custom timelines to give you more control over how Tweets are organized and delivered on the Twitter platform. Custom timelines are an entirely new type of timeline –– one that you create. You name it, and choose the Tweets you want to add to it, either by hand or programmatically using the API (more on that below). This means that when the conversation around an event or topic takes off on Twitter, you have the opportunity to create a timeline that surfaces what you believe to be the most noteworthy, relevant Tweets. Each timeline is public and has its own page on twitter.com, making it easy to share so others can follow along in real time as you add more Tweets. And since custom timelines are part of our Twitter for Websites toolkit, you can embed these timelines on your website. What you can do with custom timelines Share the best Tweets about a topic you care about, or an event –– planned or unplanned –– that’s happening right now. Whether you want to collect the best Tweets about a TV show or help people find the latest information about fast-moving real-time situations, custom timelines let you give everyone a place to follow along. Here are some examples to give you more ideas: Carson Daly (@CarsonDaly), host of The Voice, created a custom timeline to be a live companion to tonight’s competition. POLITICO is organizing the best Tweets from policy industry experts in this new Tweet Hub. The Guardian is hosting a Q&A and will curate the lead question, questions from readers, and answers from journalists into a custom timeline. Twitter #music has created new timelines that present the very best Tweets from superstars, best songs with tracks you can play right in the Tweet, and the best music Vines. And tonight, Bleacher Report will help sports fans keep up with the best moments from the Champions Classic match-ups tonight. How to get started You can create, add to and share a custom timeline right from TweetDeck. Over the next several days, these capabilities will roll out to all TweetDeck users; read more about this on the TweetDeck blog. About the API There’s something more to what we’re announcing today: the custom timelines API beta. This new API will open up interesting opportunities, such as programming your custom timelines based on the logic that you choose, or building tools that help people create their own custom timelines, as TweetDeck does. As noted above, POLITICO is using the custom timelines API to add Tweets to its Tweet Hub. You can read more about custom timelines for developers and the API beta here. To begin, the API will be available to a small group of selected partners. We want to hear from you. If you have a great idea and you’re interested in testing out the API, please let us know by filling out this form. We’re excited to see what you’ll do with custom timelines, and are just getting started.

What is Retargeting?

BigRock Blog -

Have you ever visited a site and noticed that their banners or ads follow you across the internet? This is called retargeting. Retargeting is not a new concept but is fairly nascent in its use by online advertisers. We believe that’s a function of information available around it and we’d like to change that. We believe retargeting is a great new way to increase sales online and a must for all online advertisers. So without further adieu let’s get straight into it. Retargeting is an online marketing form that allows you to keep your brand in front of customers who’ve dropped off your website. It is estimated that an average website will have only 2% of its first time visitors converting while the remaining huge chunk will just bounce off. To target this set of visitors is immensely important for any online business to succeed. What retargeting basically does is tracks visitors who’ve dropped off your website and display relevant ads to them as they visit other sites online. How does retargeting work? Retargeting is nothing but a simple cookie-based technology that allows you to follow your audience all over the internet. The way it works is: a small unobtrusive code of JavaScript is placed on your website. Every time a visitor comes to your website, the code drops a cookie on the visitors computer. Whenever this visitor browses the web, this cookie will let you display your ads on other websites to this visitor. You can target the visitor based on the pages he’s visited on your site and hence, show relevant products (of his/her interest) to lure him into coming back. Why should you retarget? Retargeting is a fantastic branding tool. It allows you to be visible to target audiences all no matter where they go. You can control impressions, and budget which allows you to be in control and never spend more than what you want to on any customer. This is exceptionally handy as you can structure budgets to spend more on visitors who are interested in your high value products as opposed to the ones who are interested in lower value products. Retargeting is great because it focuses on visitors who have demonstrated explicit interest in your products/services. Better ROI is an obvious by-product of retargeting. Retargeting Must Do’s: • Segregate your website visitors into “lists” based on the pages they visit. • Target each list with a focused ad. • If possible, throw in a discount coupon. This is boost conversions big time! • Set precise budgets per list and for the campaign. • Google Display Network is the biggest retargeting provider, but you should consider options like AdRoll and other too. • Set a TTL (time to live) for the cookie. Follow the visitor only for an acceptable amount of time, if he/she doesn’t      convert in the given time then they aren’t going to in future either. • Use different creatives for your standard display campaigns and re-targeting. This helps in reaching your audience with  a better more targeted message (a lot of advertisers display actual products browsed by the visitors in their ads along  with a discount) Go on, give retargeting a shot if you’ve not already done so. It’s well worth your time and effort. We’d love to hear about your experience.

Why You Need a Website for Your Personal Brand

Justhost Blog -

If you keep up on any websites or blogs that offer marketing and branding business advice, chances are you’ve probably seen the term “personal branding” mentioned in a handful of articles this year. Thanks to the huge amount of information available on the Internet today, consumers are spending more and more time doing their research on companies, brands, and products before making any purchasing decisions. Many also spend time doing research on the individuals associated with the companies they’re considering buying products and services from. For this reason, many CEOs, managers, salespeople, and other professionals within organizations have started developing their own personal brands online. In the post below, we’ll explain what a personal brand is, why you need to spend time managing your own, and how to get started. What Is a Personal Brand? So what is a personal brand anyway? According to marketing and branding expert Dan Schawbel, personal branding is, “the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then leveraging it across platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal. In this way, individuals can enhance their recognition as experts in their field, establish reputation and credibility, advance their careers, and build self-confidence.” Do I Have a Personal Brand? Although you might not realize it (or want to admit it), you already have a personal brand. Thanks to search engine sites like Google, we’ve all become accustomed to opening up our laptops or taking out our smartphones whenever we want to know more information about the people we meet. Most of us have Googled ourselves at least once before (and some of us do this quite often). We want to know what information is out there about us. If you have ever taken the time to Google yourself or someone else, you support the idea that we all have personal brands. We all use the Internet as a tool to find out more about the people we interact (or plan to interact) with. Now that you understand the fact that you have a personal brand, the question you need to ask yourself is this: are you managing the information that people are finding about you online? Or are you completely unaware of what kind of first impression you’re making when your prospects go to search for you online? If you haven’t taken the time to develop strategies for monitoring, maintaining, and strengthening your personal brand, now is the time to get started. What Are The Benefits of Setting Up a Personal Brand Website? One of the best strategies you can use to build up your personal brand is to purchase a domain name and launch a website for yourself. If you haven’t already, we recommend that you find out if YourName.com is available to purchase. If it is, buy it and use it as the primary domain for your personal brand website. There are many benefits associated with setting up your own personal branding website. Here are just a few: Your personal brand website will eventually start showing up in search results when people enter your name into sites like Google and Bing. It’s likely the first link people will click on once it starts showing up on the first page of results to searches for your name. Unlike sites like Facebook and Twitter, your personal brand website gives you complete control over how (and what) information is presented about you. Your personal brand website allows you to become a better manager of your online reputation. It’s your opportunity to set any stories straight. Your personal brand website will help make it easier for you to leverage yourself as an expert in your industry (through original blog posts, videos, and other types of content). Best of all, your personal brand website helps you make a better first impression. It can help illustrate your professionalism, your knowledge, and your ability to help your customers find solutions and answers to their problems. How Can I Get Started? As mentioned above, the first step is to find and purchase YourName.com (or some variation of it depending on what is available). Next, you should spend time formulating a plan for what you want to include on your personal brand website. We recommend at least the following: A blog An About section with a photo and/or video of you Links to your company website, products, and social links Customer testimonials Information about your hobbies and interests outside of work Helpful resources related to your industry What Else Do I Need To Know? Your personal brand website is not your resume. It’s your opportunity to help people understand who you are, why you do what you do, and how you can help them. Your personal brand website should also never be static (as in, you set it up and never look at it or think about it ever again). Instead, it should constantly be updated with new information that your current and prospective customers (and Google) will find interesting. What questions do you have about setting up your personal brand website? Leave a comment for us below!

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