All posts by Kathy Alice

Web 2.0 directory

For a guide to many of the web 2.0 sites out there, check out the go2web2.0 application and tools directory. It’s an overwhelming list but an interesting browse. Unfortunately there is no real indicator that separates out the relevant and “must know about” from the obscure. For example, in the social category: digg is lumped with a bunch of other sites I have never heard of.   The lesser known sites tend to be very niche focused (for example: steepster – tea drinkers unite)

If you click through the site icon, there is a short description and you can get a sense of the buzz about the site, as tweets, blogs and youtube videos that reference the web2.0 site are displayed.  If you are willing to spend a bit of time, you can discover all sorts of interesting sites.

Firefox and IE and tag conflicts

I have been doing some customization to the wordpress theme I have using for this blog.  The original theme was too mono-colored and the link color was hard to see.  And of course I wanted my own header.

Many blog themes put the title of your blog both as the page title tag and also as a H1 somewhere as text in your header.  This was fine with me but I wanted to have it display in a smaller font size to be more compatible with my custom header and not overrun my graphic.

So I went into the css of the blog theme and found the id tag (called “h1”) that specified the size in “em” and picked a smaller size.

It looked great on firefox, but on IE7 the size was unchanged.   Furthermore I had also changed the link color from a barely distinguishable grey to a dark red with a command to underline the link on hover.   Again worked great on Firefox 3, totally ignored on IE7.

With some help from my webdesigner friend from talksure, we figured out the problem.   For the blog title, the theme not only enclosed the text in a div tag specifying the id “h1”, but it also had additionally enclosed the text in h1 tags (confusing .. but they *are* different).   Of course the css had a larger size specified for the h1 tag. What was happenning was Firefox gave the div tags priority .. but IE7 gave the regular h1 tags priority.

A similiar problem explained the link color problem.

If you have conflicting tags, the behavior by IE and Firefox is likely to be different.

We think the reason that the title was enclosed in both a div tag and a h1 tag was to give the search engines a recognizable H1.  And it makes sense this would be the blog title.  However for now, the H1’s are removed so that my blog looks the same on all browsers.

Toolbars for SEO, alexa and Google PR

Alexa and Google PR ranks are a quick measure how strong a site is in traffic and from the search engine perspective.  They measure very different things but are both important.

An Alexa rank is a calculated measure of unique visitors and pageviews on a given web site.  This may be counter intuitive but the lower your Alex rank the better.  Now you will find all sorts of debate online on how accurate the rank is, but everyone agrees it is useful as a rough measure of a website’s traffic.  And if you are in the top 100,000, congratulations! If you haven’t already you should compare your Alexa rank to your competitor’s website. Is yours higher? Then you have some work to do.

A google PR (page rank) is a little harder  to explain as very few people know exactly it is calculated, but it is a measure of how popular and how much of an authority it is.  Google PRs range from 1-10, with 10 being the most coveted.

There are also a number of plugins you can install directly into your Firefox browser (if you needed a reason to switch from using Internet Explorer, these tools might just convince you). If you like simple and unobtrusive check out searchstatus. For a more full featured tool you’ll want to download the SEO toolbar from seobook.com.

Don’t spam your list

Like many of you, I belong to a few business networking and education groups. They are a valuable source of potential leads, joint venture partnerships and even great ideas. So imagine my disappointment when one of the group’s members started spamming us with emails that was marketing speakers and websites with obvious affiliate links.

His facebook friend request? That got the “ignore” click. His emails? The delete button. His potential to provide a service to me? Nonexistent.

As a marketer he should really know better. With just a little education and use of the right tools, you can avoid following in his footsteps. As soon as you start using email to talk about your business and your services and products you need to avoid the “spammer” trap.

CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

In 2003, President Bush signed into law the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. I think it is helpful to know what CAN-SPAM stands for: “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing”. The key is “Non-Solicited”. Just like you may not like uninvited salesman at your front door selling you vacuum cleaners, un-solicited marketing by email has the same taint to it …. and it’s illegal to boot.

While covering the CAN-SPAM Act in it’s entirety is beyond the scope of this article, here are the two things you need to know.

  • You must give the receiver of your email a way to tell you they don’t want any more emails from you. This is calling “opting out” and usually done by providing an “unsubscribe” link.
  • You must honor the removal request within 10 days according the Act(but really it needs to happen a lot sooner than that).

Many privacy activists felt the CAN-SPAM Act was ineffectual and didn’t go far enough. Some went so far to call it the “I can spam Act”. For these reasons the ESPs (more on what that is in a moment) that legitimate businesses use set a higher standard. The removals happen quickly, usually within 24 hours. And many businesses take advantage of the “double opt-in” feature and send invitations for you join their list before even one marketing email is sent. That perfect client you met at last week’s business event may need a reminder to remember you, and an invitation to continue the conversation by joining your list is a graceful way to keep you in the forefront of their mind.

What are ESPs?

ESPs are email service providers. There are a number of excellent ones on the market, and for a monthly fee they will store your contact list, send the emails for you, help you build in your opt-in box or link, and handle all the details of email marketing, such as complying with the CAN-SPAM Act by: 1) automatically generating the unsubscribe link in each email you send through their tools and then 2) doing the right thing when someone clicks on it.

Some of the ESPs even enforce the “double opt-in” feature, where any existing list of contacts you upload into their system will be sent an email asking permission to be placed in their system. While it can be painful to lose those contacts that don’t respond, your resulting list will be of higher quality.

If you remember one thing from this article, it is that you want to do Permission based email marketing. You always want to have a user’s permission before sending them an email.

If that business network member had gone through a few extra steps to have an unsubscribe link in his email, I would have thought so much higher of him. And maybe I would have even clicked on one of his links, earning him a commission.

Has Twitter lost its shine?

Interesting thing about observing trends, you can watch move them through groups as a wave.   Let’s take twitter for example, it first became popular with the tech hip as a cool way to share just about anything, in 140 characters or less.   I loved twitter at events such as the Web2.0 expo, following the instantaneous commentary on the speakers, and of course knowing where the cool party was.

In the last six months, it’s become the latest must have tool for entrepreneurial marketing.  Talks about using social media for marketing your business have become a staple at business networking events.   And with good reason, MarketOutLoud filled seats for it’s marketing events with it’s facebook connections.   Some became social media divas.  For the savvy it’s been a great lead generation tool.

But twitter has recently become less fun to use, at least for me.  It seems like every day I get a follow request from someone that has less than 40 updates (boring!), or even worse, zero.   And people that I chose to follow, immediately DM’ed me with a tweet with a link to their product.  These get unfollowed really quickly.

On the other hand, facebook which I initially didn’t like much has become a better place to hang out, I have enough friends who post interesting things to catch my interest.   The walled garden aspect of facebook, derided with frustration by some, seems to keep the riffraff out, the quality connections in.

And surprisingly, teenagers, a group you would have thought been the early adopters, don’t use twitter either. As my son’s sniffs “my Dad uses twitter”.

So if you have never used twitter, is it safe to ignore it now?  Absolutely, not.  Twitter is still a major force to be reckoned with.  As evidenced by the recent Iranian election unrest, twitter is where the news breaks first.  Fast breaking events that grab broad interest is where twitter shines, and it can be an excellent way to search for news.   And there are influencers in the twittersphere that can direct significant traffic, if you want to play in the twitterspace for business reasons, at the very least find the ones in your industry to keep a pulse on your market.

And if you didn’t know what a DM was, it’s high time you figured it out.

bloggers revolt against AP

The A. P. (Associated Press) took a very strict position with bloggers quoting it’s new articles.  Essentially the position is “don’t”.   Check the techcrunch post on the topic. Wonder what this means for digg?

The death of internet marketing?

I’ve been doing some mass unsubscribes from the IM guru’s lists.  Too many hyped promotions, too many people cross promoting.  And the worst thing of all, it completely distracts me from getting real work done.    Seems like I’m not the only one.

What is a webinar?

Webinars are so prevalent in the internet marketing and the technology industries that we sometimes forget that many people still don’t know what they are.

Let’s start with a description of it’s predecessor, the teleconference or teleseminar. I’m sure you are familiar with what a seminar is. Seminars or a conference is when you attend an in person meeting which has a speaker that talks about a particular topic. Teleseminars are very similiar except that you attend by calling a phone number and listening to the speaker. They have become very popular because the attendees avoid the cost of traveling and the presenters avoid the cost of renting a room. Another great thing about teleseminars is that they are usually recorded, so the busy person can listen to the recording later at a time of his or her choosing, although this means missing the chance to ask questions.

However, teleseminar attendee doesn’t always get the full learning experience of attending in person. You don’t see the speaker’s facial, body language and the presentation materials (such as demos and slides). Since people learn best when they receive information in multiple ways (audio and visual), some information is not absorbed as well when it is in an audio format.

Some teleseminar presenters will send out slides ahead of the meeting, which helps, but the presenter has to be very mindful of not losing his audience. The speaker must make sure the attendees are looking at the right slide and clue them in when moving to the next slide. This is where the technology of a webinar comes in as it solves this problem, syncing the visual to the audio.  So here is how webinar works:

  • You listen to the speaker talk (audio)
  • And you also watch the presentation on your computer(visual)

No need to figure out where in the presentation materials the speaker is, you just need to look at your computer screen. And the presentation can be more than just slides, you can see live demos and videos. Additionally many webinar tools allow the presenter to “point” to (with an arrow or some other symbol) the part of the slide that is being discussed, which can really help at times!

Webinars can be recorded just like teleseminars for later viewing. And if you want to listen to a webinar but you are away from your computer, you can still listen in but you will miss the visual component of the presentation.

There are a number of technologies that provide webinar capabilities. Some require no additional software to be installed, you just point your web browser to the right URL. Other webinars, when you click on a link, will automatically download the software, this may take a minute or two. Often you can listen to the audio through your computer sound card rather than calling a telephone number, a boon to folks (especially those overseas) who want to avoid long distance charges.

Webinars are becoming more and more common, so if you want to learn more about a topic it is the next best thing to attending a talk in person.

You don’t have to be dressed to telecommute

The Career Journal, part of the Wall Street Journal site, published Working Productively as a Telecommuter.  The article had some good but general tips, such as avoiding isolation and making an effort to reach out to work colleagues, but some of the suggestions were of dubious value.  In particular the old school urging of “dressing appropriately”.

I work out of a home office 4 days a week.  I started telecommuting several years ago starting with 2 or 3 days a week.   Some days I start my days very early, often around 7:30 in the morning.  And at that hour,  I am not interested in putting on a suit or other work attire.  In fact, I might be even in my sweats, yet to take a shower, and my productivity is not impacted one bit.

In the end if you are committed to what you do, you really don’t have to worry too much about “preparing yourself psychologically” as Garone advised, as most people can make the transition.   The article would have been far more useful dealing with topics such how to keep cohesion with a distributed team and a survey of ways to keep in touch with your colleagues (IM, email, phone, twitter) and when to use each.

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