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Friday, 30 March 2012 09:19

DIY Web Design Mistakes #2 - Splash Pages & Title Tags

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Flash is a true child of the 90s: Excessive, unwieldy and self-indulgent.

Seemingly overnight, otherwise normal sites were suddenly bristling with motion effects, even those that had resisted the previous onslaught of animated gifs. 

And nowhere was this phenomenon manifested more frequently than the animated splash page.

Given the limits on bandwidth in these early days of the internet (I was still on dial-up when Flash was first released!) it's incredible that we thought it a worthwhile use of our data.

In truth, splash pages of any kind have never been worth the cost

We don't measure that cost in bandwidth however. 

It's measured in lost customers.

Thursday, 29 March 2012 08:21

Email marketing - using preview to increase open rates

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Email marketing can be a tough gig.

To successfully reach their goal (you do have goals for your marketing campaigns, right?) the savvy marketer needs to reduce the effect of multiple barriers to entry. Think of it as a big funnel that gradually reduces the volume of visitors at every stage:

Does the content bypass spam filters and work reasonably consistently across most email apps? Did it get opened? Did it get read? Did viewers click through to the website? Did they perform the action you desired?

At every point you need to maximise the number of viewers making it through to the next stage in the funnel.

Friday, 23 March 2012 09:29

Why SEO is easy to understand

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Last week at SXSW Google engineer Matt Cutts announced that Google is working on an "over-optimisation" penalty. If your site is "overly seo'd" then expect to see your rankings start to fall in the coming months.

As far as I'm concerned, this isn't really news. It's an obvious progression for Google and it's something I've warned clients about for years now: you can't afford to focus on getting users onto your site at the expense of providing relevant content to them once they arrive.

Nevertheless, this latest step by Google is easy to understand. You just need to understand what business Google is really in.

Hint: It's not the search engine business.

Sunday, 10 July 2011 10:26

When is a local designer not local?

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Answer: When they're an overseas design sweatshop using dodgy SEO tactics.

I'm used to getting comment-spam on my blogs. Disqus is cleans out most of it automatically, but a few make it through to publication. Fortunately, Disqus sends out notifications on new comments, so I'm able to manually filter out anything that doesn't seem genuine.

What is comment spam?

Comment spam is used by dodgy SEO businesses trying to build backlinks for themselves or their clients. The idea is that you choose a blog that's relevant to the search terms you want to build PageRank for and insert a comment (genuine interaction seems to be unneccessary) that has a backlink to your site. 

While this can build pagerank on the site you've linked to, it only works if the site you're spamming has a higher pagerank than your own and is relevant to the kind of keywords you hope people will use to find your own site.

It also won't help you if you get branded as a spammer by doing so.

Friday, 01 April 2011 09:41

Contrast in corporate social media

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Each of Australia's major Telco's have their strengths and weaknesses, perceived or otherwise.

Nowhere are these attributes more starkly revealed than when dealing with customer support, particularly via social media channels.

When Telstra recently announced their competitive cap plans, I decided it was time to take advantage of the top mobile network in the country. Although the quality of their phone network had worsened, Optus had been good to us, a stark contrast to our previous dealings with Vodafone.

One particular area that Optus excells at is customer support via social media channels and I have personally been the beneficiary of excellent treatment by the Optus team.

I'm now one month into our new contract with Telstra. How do they stack up?

Saturday, 26 March 2011 10:03

How NOT to spam

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Just like everyone else, we get a lot of spam.

Most of it comes through our email address, but Gmail tends to weed out almost all of it. We get a little through our contact forms, typically overseas companies spruiking SEO services.

I always enjoy the delicious irony of being sent unsolicited mail telling me I need SEO services. Clearly the spammer managed to find me, surely that should mean regular people can too, right?

Lately I've been getting a different type of spam. SEO must be on the way out, because at least a half-dozen emails a day are pushing design services and PSD to HTML conversion.

Normally, I just mark them as junk and move on, but yesterday's influx gave me hours of amusement thanks to the spammers at CSS Chopper.

Thursday, 16 December 2010 10:24

Facebook shouldn't have a dislike button

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Today on Twitter I came across a well-written and persuasive argument by Alisha Runckel for why Facebook should institute a 'dislike' button .

Alisha makes a case for the 'dislike' button with two solid points: That for business, every post becomes a poll, while for regular people the ability to 'dislike' a post allows for a greater degree of empathy.

As a marketer, the idea of being able to casually poll opinions (and the supporting analytics that could be associated with it) with nearly zero barrier to entry almost makes me salivate. It's a great plan. It also has a few minor but potentially serious flaws. More on that later, however.

My primary beef is with the idea of 'dislike' buttons for personal posts. 

Wednesday, 08 December 2010 08:25

The key to Twitter success? Unfollowing.

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In my previous article on building a quality Twitter campaign I laid out some rules for acquiring engaged followers, a vital pre-requisite for ensuring your message is read and disseminated beyond your own timeline.

One of those rules was to always look for people who have more followers than they themselves are following.

I've since come to realise that this rule doesn't go far enough. I now believe you should avoid following all but those few incredible voices that you can truly converse with and who are passionately interested in the niche you're carving out.

Once you clear away the noise, you'll find a wealth of conversation awaits with strong brand and topic focus that will help you grow a following of truly engaged and interested followers.

Monday, 25 October 2010 11:53

Getting the most from AdWords (part 2)

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The first part of our series on getting the most from AdWords focused on the basics of creating more clickable advertising. Part two looks at where to send your traffic what to do with it once it arrives!

Create relevant landing pages

How many times have you clicked on an ad, only to arrive at a generic page that seemingly has nothing to do with the search you performed?

You hate it. I hate it - everyone who uses Google hates clicking through to irrelevant pages.

Guess what? Google hates it too.

Monday, 18 October 2010 14:23

Getting the most from AdWords (part 1)

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How many times have you performed a search for a product or service and been delivered sponsored results for something completely unrelated? (Locksmiths, I'm looking at you!)

It's exactly this kind of issue that causes businesses to lose faith in PPC advertising. When a user is served ads that don't meet their needs both the user and the business become disillusioned as to the value of search marketing. 

Fortunately for all parties involved, Google has a vested interest in serving relevant ads to users. Google provides a strong financial incentive for businesses to ensure their ads are properly crafted and relevant to the needs of searchers.

Here are some simple tactics for ensuring a better CTR (Click Through Rate) while saving money on your online marketing.

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