News

Using Great Web Design to Support Your SEO Efforts

Posted in Tips on 22 September 2014
One of the most common mistakes you can make with your SEO is waiting until after your site is designed to consider what’s best for your site’s rankings. Great design starts from a foundation of understanding your core user. When you always keep this ideal customer in mind, design and SEO form a union that is rock solid for all your marketing efforts.
 
There are many design trends these days, and each of them have their own SEO challenges. Whether you choose responsive, HTML5, or parallax design, or any hybrid thereof, considering your SEO needs as you create or re-launch your site is imperative.
 
Great design isn’t just about creating a beautiful and intuitive experience, it also involves stellar usability, solid and secure architecture, and a site that is accessible across all screens and media devices. Master these elements, and your SEO will naturally follow suit.
 
Deciding Which Type of Design is Right for Your Business
 
Let’s dissect the three major site design options these days, along with their related SEO pros and cons.
 
First, there’s the ever-popular responsive option. Responsive design means your site will adjust based on the size of the screen the user is accessing your content on. Instead of a native mobile site, responsive uses the same core look and feel across all platforms. It creates uniformity and consistency, but inhibits your ability to tailor a design for each screen option.
 
It’s the most popular option for a reason, however; Google recommends responsive design. SEO is solid with this option because responsive does not dilute your URL strength by requiring different variations. Users access your site through one URL, and it then adjusts based on the device used. This allows you to ramp up external backlinks and track SEO strategies for a single domain structure, which can vastly simplify your efforts.
 
The biggest con with responsive is that it forces you into a one-size-fits-all strategy. There’s no opportunity for mobile-centric keywords, no creating a custom-made navigation structure for small screens. If this is a blessing rather than a creative limitation, responsive is a fantastic option for your site.
 
Parallax sites have been all the rage lately; they consolidate content onto a single page, or a very compact site structure. From a user perspective, this is golden, and many businesses report much higher conversion rates when they shift to a parallax strategy. If you have a strong and clear story to tell about your business, you can walk users through this vision in a much more impactful way on a single page.
 
From an SEO perspective though, parallax has serious challenges. You’ll find it a lot more difficult to rank for a variety of keyword phrases, and with just a single page or compact site, there’s far less for Google to evaluate and crawl. That said, if you incorporate a parallax strategy into a multi-page site, you can indeed have the best of both worlds.
 
Finally, there’s the controversial HTML5 option. Often heralded as the next big thing in web development, the hindrance with HTML5 is it can be a beast to program correctly. The versatility and sure power is off the charts though, and if you require complex functionality, HTML5 can handle it. The trick of this from an SEO perspective involves JavaScript, which is required for a lot of the whiz-bang features. Google and company often have issues crawling this kind of content, which means your content is essentially unreadable. The solution, should you choose to take the time and effort, is to create a static version of the JavaScript heavy content too. That gives users the fabulous animated option, and search engines get access as well.
 
Designing Pages that Woo People and Search Engines
 
As you look at your site with an eye towards usability, remember that simplicity and intuitive design are integral to a successful offering. Getting creative on your navigation category terms, as an example, may feel like you’re adding flair and personality, but ultimately, if you’re confusing users and search engine bots, you just won’t flourish.
 
These days, a less is more strategy is also proving fruitful. It used to be that a myriad of categories provided more searchable content and opportunities for keyword variances. This is shifting, however, and savvy SEO professionals are recommending a more streamlined and focused site structure.
 
If you already have a site that you’re looking to improve upon, here’s a tip to determine how the design of each page is fairing. Look at your bounce rates, and compare them to the keywords that are most applicable. If you find that there’s an abundance of traffic funneled from keywords that just don’t seem relevant to the page, you’ve uncovered a smoking gun. Your job in those cases is to tailor the content on each page to match the interest of the incoming traffic. Master the process of giving people what they want, and your SEO will catapult.
 
Whichever design trend you chose, educate yourself on the SEO challenges and benefits as early in the process as possible. If you’ve already launched your site and are working backwards, use the bounce rate strategy as a first step to SEO domination. As long as you have a clear view of who your site serves, you can always improve the overall experience.
 

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Next Android System Encrypts Data By Default

Posted in News on 22 September 2014
Data encryption will be automatic for new Android users this fall.
 
As Google prepares to launch the new Android L operating system, it has been announced the system — much like the recently-announced Apple iOS 8 — will be encrypting data by default. The move is expected to provide Android users with an extra level of security, something needed considering the amount of data most people keep on their personal devices.
 
Oddly, as reported by Tech Times, the default encryption is a smart move but not the first time Android users could have their data highly protected.
 
Android has been offering encryption on certain devices for the past three years, but it has not been by default and most users are not aware of the option.
 
In an official statement, Google explained, “For over three years, Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement. As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won’t even have to think about turning it on.”
 
Google and Apple have both been pushing for more security since the Edward Snowden leak last summer. That need for increased security has become even more heightened in the wake of the recent leak of dozens of nude photos of celebrities.
 

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Why Did Microsoft Buy Minecraft?

Posted in News on 18 September 2014

Even for a tech titan, $2.5bn is a lot to pay for a gaming platform. But Microsoft sees Minecraft as an investment for its future.

It’s fashionable these days for enormous American technology firms to spend exorbitant sums buying smaller, edgier companies. Amazon bought the video-game streaming service Twitch for $970m in August, Facebook acquired the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset for $2bn in July, Apple got down with the kids with its $3bn purchase of Beats headphones in May, while Google has been on an M&A spree since February 2010, buying one company on average every fortnight.
 
While it’s tempting to see these as nostalgic attempts to reconnect with their own days as young, energetic companies out to change the world, the explanation is almost certainly harder-headed. So what does Microsoft want with Swedish developer Mojang and its product Minecraft, a lego-inspired online game?
 
It’s profitable
 
The simplest explanation is often the correct one. With 54m copies sold and another 100m downloaded, Minecraft is a multi-platform gaming phenomenon, and this translates to the bottom line. The game, which allows enormous freedom to create buildings and objects within its virtual world, brought Mojang over $100m in profits last year.
 
But on its own, this can’t be the reason for the purchase. Even if the profits from Minecraft continue to rise, as they have since it was created in 2009, the game is unlikely, possibly unable, to become much bigger than it already is. And at $100m a year it would take 25 years for Microsoft to recoup the cost of purchase.
 
It’ll bring in fresh blood
 
When Apple bought Beats, the firm made a point of saying how in many respects it was paying for the genius and connections of Beats’ bosses Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre, as much as for the headphones business itself. It makes sense – if they created one super-successful business for themselves, they can do it again for you.
 
This is clearly not the case here, however. Although most of the Mojang team will join Microsoft’s games division, founder and creator Markus 'Notch' Persson is leaving big business altogether. ‘I'm not an entrepreneur,’ he said. ‘I'm not a CEO. I'm a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.’
 
 
One of those opinions that may have rubbed Microsoft up the wrong way related to his price tag. Back in 2012, he joked it was $2bn. 'Give me two billion dollars,' he tweeted, 'and I'll endorse your crap'.
 
It’ll boost Xbox
 
Minecraft is the most popular online game on Microsoft’s Xbox console, with more than 2bn hours of play logged in the past two years. While Microsoft has promised to continue supporting Minecraft on rival platforms such as Sony’s Playstation 4, it’s possible the firm will provide subsequent console versions of the game exclusively to Xbox.
 
But again, this wouldn’t justify the purchase. It would help Xbox gain market share, but it would also cost Microsoft profits from Minecraft’s sales elsewhere. Besides, boss Satya Nadella has said that Xbox is a valuable asset, but not core to the business.
 
It’ll help Windows Phone
 
This is the most plausible explanation. Microsoft is desperate to establish itself in the mobile market, of which its Windows Phone has only a 2.5% share. Minecraft is extremely popular on mobiles, being the top paid-for app on both Google Play and iOS Store in the US. At present, however, it is not on Windows Phone, as Mojang’s Persson claimed it wouldn’t be worth the effort.
 
Clearly, this will change, and Windows Phone will gain access – and later, possibly priority access - to Minecraft’s loyal gamers.
 
Whichever is the real reason, Microsoft’s purchase is still a gamble. The gaming market is notoriously fickle, and for any of the above benefits to be worth Microsoft’s investment, Minecraft will need to retain its popularity for at least the next five years.

 

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IBM Launches Free Analytics Site

Posted in News on 18 September 2014
IBM has created a crystal ball for companies, but there’s no way of knowing if it will be a success.
 
Launched Tuesday, a new Watson Analytics tool is available at no charge for companies to upload data to and, in return, receive insights to where the company is headed and what may be in the future. The idea behind the project is to give companies without data analysts a program that works for them.
 
“This is an analytic journey and we’re dealing with people with varying skill sets,” Marc Altshuler, vice president product management for business analytics, told ZDnet.
 
The freemium model works on desktops, Android and iOS. The model is only one possible tool with IBM still determining costs and fees for more advanced models. While the current free model is available, IBM’s ultimate goal is to have companies ask for more analysis and pay for the more advanced models.
 
Forbes reported IBM will put sample data on the Watson Analytics site to assist users. The site will also feature tutorials and guides so users will quickly learn how to both supply their data but, also, understand it once it is analyzed.
 
The site is also protected with IBM’s cloud security support.
 
However, the free aspect of the site does have a limit. Companies using the site will, in time, reach a cap in space and, if they want to continue, will have to pay to upgrade to one of the next levels.
 

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Frugl makes the move into Europe with German Acquisition

Posted in News on 17 September 2014
Frugl, the UK based start-up launched six months ago as an event discovery app for Londoners on a budget has acquired Tickethelden, the Munich-based last-minute ticketing solution. Tickethelden is one of a number of investments made by Sedo.com founder Tim Schumacher since his exit from Sedo in 2012. The year-old ticketing company has an active user base of roughly 100,000 mostly 20-30 year olds spread across Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Munich.
 
The purchase will enable Frugl to launch in Germany with an existing customer base as well as a large audience on Facebook.
 
Suzanne, founder and CEO of Frugl, says “We have been looking for the right opportunity to bring Frugl to the German market and this opportunity with Tickethelden was too great to resist and now gives us the perfect reason to launch in Germany quickly.”
 
“We are delighted that we have found a strong international partner in Frugl and Suzanne, whose expertise will drive the last-minute ticketing success-story in the future.” says Tobias, CEO of Tickethelden.
 
Final negotiations took place at last week’s European Pirate Summit in Cologne, and the deal was signed shortly thereafter.
 
 

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Apple Sets Record, Sells Out of iPhone 6 Pre-Orders in 24 Hours

Posted in News on 15 September 2014
Apple has set a new record. The Cupertino company received more than four million pre-orders for its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in just 24 hours.
 
The high demand means the orders placed so far have surpassed Apple’s pre-order supply. As a result some iPhone enthusiasts will have to wait until October for their new Smartphones.
 
Apple said “a significant amount” of iPhone orders will be delivered on schedule, however. Deliveries begin on Friday and will be carried out throughout September.
 
There will also be iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices available for walk-in customers Friday, beginning at 8 a.m. local time, at Apple’s retail stores.
 
Both phones will also be available Friday at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless as well as additional carriers and select Apple Authorized Resellers.
 
“iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are better in every way, and we are thrilled customers love them as much as we do,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.  “Pre-orders for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus set a new record for Apple, and we can’t wait to get our best iPhones yet into the hands of customers starting this Friday.”
 
The new handsets are the first iPhones to boast larger screens.
 
The devices sport curved edges, a thinner design than previous models and a new tool to make it easier to use the phone with just one hand.
 
The new iPhones come with the all-new A8 chip which offers faster performance, less battery drain and the ability to play console-class 3D games.
 
Users can also use Apple Pay via the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to make secure payments in stores.
 

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New Motorola Line Available for Pre-Order Tuesday

Posted in News on 15 September 2014
Motorola is gearing up for the launch of its new Moto line with pre-orders of four products kicking-off Tuesday.
 
The company’s Moto X for AT&T and Moto X Pure Edition Smartphones will be available for pre-order on motorola.com at noon EST as will the Moto Hint earbud and Motorola Turbo Charger.
 
Moto X for AT&T is a version of the Smartphone made exclusively for the wireless carrier. The Moto X Pure Edition, meanwhile, is available unlocked, without a contract and with an unlockable bootloader for $499.99.
 
The Moto Hint is a wireless earbud that offers the user total control of their phone with voice command. It sells for $149.99.
 
The Motorola Turbo Charger takes just 15 minutes on the latest Moto phones to offer eight more hours of battery life. It will start at $34.99.
 
“Don’t forget about our Trade In program, making it easier than ever to purchase a customized Moto X using Moto Maker,” the company said in a blog post. “Just send in your old device, and we’ll mail you a Motorola Visa Prepaid Card worth up to $300 depending upon the phone you send in.”
 
A custom phone, the company said, can include items such as a leather or FSC-certified wood finish.
 

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Google Debuts Android One Program in India

Posted in News on 15 September 2014
Google today launched its Android One initiative in India.
 
The goal? To provide Smartphones that cost less than $100 to high-demand emerging markets.
 
“There are three big reasons why it’s hard for people in countries such as India, Indonesia or the Philippines to get their hands on a high-quality Smartphone,” Google senior vice-president of Android, Chrome and apps Sundar Pichai said.
 
“First, is the hardware itself. Even entry-level Smartphones still remain out of reach for many (bear in mind that in some of these countries the average monthly income is around $250). Second, many people in these markets do not have access to the latest Android software and popular applications. Finally, even where 3G and 4G networks are available, not enough people have phones that can support data and the plans can be expensive.”
 
To solve the problem, Google is working with phone and silicon chip makers to “share reference designs and select components” which makes it easier for its partners to make phones that are functional and affordable. Pichai described them as having “lots of processing power,” front- and rear-facing cameras and expandable storage.
 
“We also added features that people in India will find particularly useful, like dual SIM cards, a replaceable battery and built-in FM radio,” he said.
 
Android One devices will also receive all of the new Android features including up-to-date security patches.
 
Those with an Airtel SIM card will receive software updates for free for half a year and will be able to download up to 200MB in apps per month.
 

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Messenger App Tracking Tonnes of Information

Posted in News on 12 September 2014
Apparently, no matter what information you think you are sharing while using Facebook’s Messenger app there is, in fact, that much more that’s being shared.
 
Internet security specialist Jonathan Zdziarski set off a lot of talk Thursday when he spent some time poking around in Messenger’s iOS binary and later sent out a tweet stating he was surprised by his findings.
 
“Messenger appears to have more spyware type code in it than I’ve seen in products intended specifically for enterprise surveillance,” Zdziarski tweeted.
 
After looking through the binary, Zdziarski told Motherboard the app logs almost everything a user is doing. Facebook is collecting loads of data ranging from how often a device is held in portrait versus landscape orientation to how much time a user is spending in the app.
 
Some of the information being gathered is not unusual but Zdziarski did express surprise over some of his findings.
 
In an e-mail to Motherboard, he stated Facebook is “using some private APIs I didn’t even know were available inside the sandbox to be able to pull out your WiFi SSID (which could be used to snoop on which WiFi networks you’re connected to) and are even tapping the process list for various information on the device.”
 
Gizmodo picked up on the story and reached out to Facebook for comment. A spokesperson behind the Messenger app told the site the collecting of information is nothing out of the ordinary.
 
“Privacy is core to our approach with Messenger, and like any developer, we analyze usage trends to make our apps better, faster, and more efficient,” the spokesperson said.
 
“As an example, with regard to what where people tap — when we noticed that people were using the ‘Like’ stickers a lot, we modified the app so that people could send them with fewer taps.”
 

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Google Buys Online Polster Polar to Give Social Network a Boost

Posted in News on 12 September 2014
Google’s spending spree continues with its latest acquisition of online poll company Polar to boost the technology company’s social network.
 
Although financial details of the deal were not disclosed, the companies said the Polar team will work on Google+.
 
“I’m thrilled to welcome +Luke Wroblewski and the talented Polar team to Google,” vice-president of engineering for Google Dave Besbris wrote in a brief Google+ post. “They’ll be joining our team and helping us make G+ even more awesome.”
 
The nearly two-year-old start-up polls users of its app via Smartphone and tablet to learn users’ preferences. The firm has served more than half a billion polls in the past eight months and counted 1.1 million active voters as of this month.
 
“Creating products is a journey. And like any journey, it’s filled with new experiences, missteps, and perhaps most importantly, lots of opportunities to learn,” said founder Luke Wroblewski. “My most recent journey started nearly two years ago when we began working on Polar … I’m delighted to announce we’re joining Google.”
 
Polar will be available for use by its users through the end of the year. Users will also be able to download an archive of the polls and data they have created.
 

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