Responsive HTML design, why is it important to me?

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

Hey folks, I’ve recently designed and deployed a few websites while tackling the concept of Responsive Web design. First let me define in laymen’s terms what Responsive Web Design is. Responsive Web Design is the ability for a web site to be displayed in a user friendly way on all devices that it is displayed on.

Nowadays there are more and more people viewing websites on smart phones and tablets. There are other displays such as advertising displays as you walk through a Casino or a Mall that may already know more about you than you know. I won’t go into those scary details here but keep that in mind!

Why should you consider Responsive Design? Because it is good practice, search engines rely on the usability of a site more than ever now but more importantly it is important to start thinking about your users experience. Your site should be functional no matter where your traffic is coming from, and you might be surprised how many people are visiting you from a tablet or smartphone these days!

Early on some sites used to serve code or HTML based on the requesting browser, sites are smart enough to determine if a smartphone or pc was requesting a page and they would serve the appropriate content (ie. http://mysite.com/pc vs. http://mysite.com/smartphone). The problem with this is that search engines are smarter than ever and if you want to give your users the same experience whether they are coming in from a PC or a smartphone, search engines view that as separate content that is duplicated! For example, if you go to http://mysite.com search engines should view that as 1 piece of content whether or not it gets redirected to http://mysite.com/pc or http://mystie.com/smartphone. The problem being, if both of those URL’s have the same description tag for example, the search engines will flag it as duplicate content (ie. 2 separate pages with the same content simply displayed differently). No matter what browser client a user comes in on you really want them to land on the same URL to avoid content duplication. The other side of this story is that no matter what browser client a user comes in on the user should have the same or similar experience which means crisp and clear content, the same content.

 

Please forward any questions and I will clarify the points of this article.

Thanks,
Brendan

 

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How to advertise on the internet?

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

Hi Folks, I have addressed this topic indirectly a few times in other articles but I think this topic alone warrants it’s own article so here it is.

I’m going to quickly turn this article around and ask YOU, what is it that you want to sell? Regardless of your answer you should check out ebay.com, for relatively low overhead you can sell almost what you want to anyone in the world and eBay will walk you through the process. However, this doesn’t answer the title of this article. I will assume that you are past eBay and craigslist and the various other sites that enable you to sell product and now you are seeking more of a direct advertising campaign to cutout the middlemen.

So back to my question, what is it that you want to sell? For all intents and purposes I will call whatever you want to sell a ‘product’. If your product sells for a profit of 50 cents USD or as high as $500,000 USD there is a wide range of solutions for you and you need to figure out what works for your product.

Typically, the CTR is only a few percent – this means for every 1000 visitors that a % of those visitors will click on a link (ie. Buy button). So if it costs you just 5 cents per click you need to figure out if it’s worth it to pay $50 USD for a few clicks to buy your product. Good luck finding a site that will only charge 5 cents per click, they are usually higher than that so if your profits are small you need to start thinking about other forms of advertising than paying for clicks.

If you’re selling mortgages and making $500,000 per sale then you can probably afford $10 per click if you receive an order out of every 1,000 visitors. The trick is to find out where your site lies and what you can afford to pay to generate paid for traffic. This is common sense but often take a trial and error test to prove your theory. Be sure to limit your spending with search engines by day, most sites will allow you to spend $100 total but no more than $10/day (for example), this is a great way to test your product.

Most importantly, view my SEO article to maximize your natural search engine results which will maximize your free traffic here.

 

How to SEO with results!

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

The intention of this article is to give the reader a sense of what is required in order to be successful with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To start, I will define SEO in layman’s terms – SEO is the process of coding your web site to a level that the Search engines or web crawlers can understand. What does this really mean? Read on…

The gist of this article is to let you know that SEO is not a one time thing that you can pay for and walk away from. Nowadays with Social Media the rules and guidelines of search engines are changing nearly on a daily basis. SEO is constant work, and it is hard. The top ‘performers’ in SEO live, eat, sleep and drink the topic of their web site offerings. If you’re not willing to live, eat, sleep and drink the topic of your choice then forget about being a leading web site in search engines in the industry of your choice.

I’ll split this conversation into 2 topics – the first being best practices when it comes to ‘coding’ your site, the somewhat static piece of the equation. The second being the social aspect of SEO or the dynamic piece of the equation. I will not deep dive into either area, again this article is to point you in the right direction.

As far as the static piece of the equation goes, good coding practices – you (or your web site designer) really need to follow the basics. Make sure that you have your META-TAGS configured properly and customized appropriately to the industry that you are in. Follow the basice STRICTLY. YOU really have you spend time on this, 99.99% of the time your designer is useless when it comes generating content (YES, your META-TAGS are content), they can code the information but YOU must tell them what to include. If you are unfamiliar with META-TAGS then you need to read up on them and make sure that they are accurate to your area of interest. Even more important, you MUST make sure that your content is relevant! If you are selling shoes, then you should have content on why your shoes are better than others, how to care for them, describe the various shoe types for different applications (ie. snow, running, walking, hiking etc.), if you do not – then your competitors will likely surpass your site by miles! The more content that you have with the highest relevance to educate your visitors will land you higher in the search engines. For the most part, you should spend ALOT of time on this area, but once done you should not have to spend much time unless your content changes frequently. Don’t forget about Description length, alt tags etc.

For the dynamic part of SEO – this is huge. More than ever, search engines are relying on the social existence of a web site, it’s authority (how many articles are published) and how many followers one has. To be at the top of the game you have to eat, live and breath the subject matter of your site. It’s not enough to simply post text on your social network accounts, you need to start thinking about enticing graphics that stand out above other sites. They say pinterest is the number one threat to Google in the future when it comes to searching for ideas (what’s that saying.. ‘a picture is worth 1,000 words?). When you perform a google image search, think of how many image results it returns and which ones you look at. If you’re like me, you scroll through dozens of images at a time and you stop on those that you catch in the corner of your eye. I’m starting to use Pinterst more than Google and that says alot! Relevant images are key!

You can have 10,000 postings on a ‘company facebook page’, or 20,000 tweets on twitter or 50 articles published on Google+ but if you have no followers then your social existence will be close to zero! You MUST publish content that is relevant that people will read and want to follow and share! Not every social network works the same way, people check facebook at certain times of the day, linked in at during other hours, google+ and twitter during other hours. You need to know when to publish content to which networks if you want to maximize your reader shares. This is where SEO has evolved and now requires a constant presence if you want your site to be at the top.

The most successful sites have great static SEO web sites and a great dynamic presence, think of your competitors are machines who constantly pump out articles with great images, tweets and stories and if you take a few hours off (much less days) then you will simply start falling behind in your search engine rankings.

As a side note, there is something to be said about niches, by definition you won’t have as much competition BUT you have to LOVE that niche and if you do then you will have higher potential then a non-niche subject or product.

The most important note, if you’re like me – a one man shop, you can’t do it alone but there are resources out there that you can take advantage of.. If you haven’t heard of these sites then you need to seriously look at them:

fiverr.com – cheap services, find cheap provides of graphic solutions, content writers and more

elance.com – relatively cheap services but VERY professional services

I suggest you build a network of providers and stick with the best that you can find. Don’t forget, these sites are ‘cheap’, most providers are looking for connections so they are willing to do some initial work at a cheap rate. If you like their services then you should pay them more – or what you feel they are worth or their is a good chance they won’t stick around for long.

Good Luck!

*feel free to contact me with any questions or comments

Gone are the days of Wall Street, Welcome Social Media Marketing

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

That’s right. The days of Wall Street as most know it are gone, largely in part to the Bank Crisis and Federal bailouts in 2008 to most bigger Banks on Wall Street which led to one of the largest social uprisings known as Occupy Wall Street. Gone are the days of Investment banking, mortgages that were a dime a dozen, stocks and more thanks to the likes of Jordan Belfort as portrayed in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘. The rat race is evolving into a new form and Social Media Marketing may be it’s foundation.

Ever heard of a ‘Lifestyle Designer‘? Do you know what it’s like to maintain a Social Media presence? Here’s an idea. I won’t get into the technical details of how to have a successful Social Media presence but as you can see from the links, it’s an amazing concept but at the same time extremely difficult.. it’s becoming the next rat race! No longer does a company need to have it’s entire Operations near Wall Street, very similar to SEO – relevance is key to the success of a website, a sale, a job, a promotion and so on. Banks on Wall Street used to have their entire Operations very close to their sales – they needed to, the internet was shoddy at best in the 90’s and early 2000’s so it was very relevant or required to have an SA or Desktop Support person or Helpdesk resource to be in the same location. Nowadays just about everyone knows someone that works from home, or someone that can work ‘anywhere’ as long as they have an internet connection. The same applies to the technology teams at banks, the same for back office and front office Operations.. anyone who doesn’t deal with a Client face to face isn’t relevant to Wall Street, Banks are losing their Luster. Have you read an article recently on a surge stress related tragedy’s at the large Banks recently? Horrible, but the trends are only getting worse.. There is only so much water that you can extract from a fixed audience (or rock for that matter). There is a limit when dealing with funds in the general population. Have you read about the mortgage industry in the past 8 years or so? It has reached a limit and has swiftly been knocked down to reality through various government regulations.

What does this have to do with Social Media Marketing? SEO centric opportunities are light years ahead of Wall Street. In fact, the further away from Wall Street the chance are the more successful they will be. Remember I mentioned the concept of a ‘Lifestyle Designer’? when in history has someone been able to earn money while they sleep (without having someone work for them)?!?! When in history has a single individual been able to dominate a loan lending market?!?! Is it easy? Hell no! Probably alot harder than any Wall Street employee has ever had to work simply for the fact that SEO rules are a moving target that change every day and completely overhauled every few months – you have to be intensively analytical, extremely aggressive, motivated like a beast to make it to the top and indestructible to stay on top.. something of another cloth.

Companies every day are bought up by the likes of Facebook, Google and Yahoo for billions of dollars.. companies that haven’t even made a profit yet! are you kidding me? They are bought simply for a demographic audience! Who wants to put their money into a collection of holdings where each of those companies are moving away from Wall Street, or need to move their Operations to India to increase profit margins? Capitalism has built many companies and countries for that matter but there is a maximum profitability margin for a given product especially when there are many billion dollar competitors such as on Wall Street.. Are these companies at risk of catastropy? Did I mention the bailouts of 2008?

Surprisingly or not so surprisingly it seems that Social Media Marketing has lived a lifetime of Wall Street and we’re already seeing sways in the industry that cause demographic audiences to sway between products, the challenge being to be the first to obtain a large demographic audience and second to hold that demographic audience long term. Facebook has already shown it’s ups and downs and inability to retain a younger audience (they can Thank sites such as Instagram and SnapChat). Google has shown its vulnerabilities but ability to adapt.. oddly enough, Twitter and Linkedin proven stability over time.

In many ways Social Media Marketing is the Wall Street of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s but on steroids! SMM seems to follow the path of Wall Street as we know it but at much more rapid pace. Certainly a new area for growth and profitability, perhaps a new vehicle for extreme success? certainly a new vehicle for lot’s of profit regardless of profit history.. perhaps more instability? Who knows for sure, time will tell.

Are the days of Wall Street really over? I don’t know but my money is with Social Media Marketing for sure!