postheadericon Is Google About to Top the Browser Charts

As many of us are aware, internet browsing became popular through the use of a trusted and well known piece of software called Internet Explorer.  For many years, IE dominated the internet browsing world, with only a little bit of competition from Netscape on Windows and Safari on Mac, but that time came to an end.  According to statistics from www.w3schools.com, internet explorer has been on a steady decline in market share since March of 2003, where it peaked at 80% of the market share.  9 years later their market share has dwindled down to only 19.5%.

In January of 2009, Mozilla Firefox overtook Internet Explorer as the most popular browser.  However, by July of that year, it too started to decline in market share as a new competitor, Google Chrome, began its accent to the top.  By April of 2010, Google surpassed IE, taking over the number 2 spot behind Firefox, and has been continuously gaining ground since.

As of last month, Google has edged itself to within .3% of Firefox with 36.3% vs. Firefox’s 36.6%.  IE is down to 19.5%, like mentioned above, with Safari and Opera rounding out the remainder with 4.5% and 2.3% respectively.  If the trend continues, by next month, we may be hailing Google Chrome as the champion in this browser competition, at least for the time being.  As Internet Explorer and Firefox have demonstrated, nothing lasts forever.

How does this affect web developers and the population in general?

As many website designers and developers would attest to, Internet Explorer has been a thorn in our side for the last few years.  As Firefox and Chrome, along with Safari and Opera, embraced the most advanced technologies available, IE has been steadily falling behind, causing developers to need to almost develop an entire side twice.  Once for Internet Explorer and once for the rest of the world.  In addition, there are so many features that are lacking in older versions of Internet Explorer, that anyone running IE8 would never be able to see the websites they visit living up the glory that they have.

The good news is that IE9 at least brought potential fixes to some of these features, even if developers need to use different coding in some cases to achieve the same results.

The bad news is that IE9 won’t work on machines running Windows XP, which according to the same source above, is still used by over 31% of internet users.

More good news: Microsoft recently announced that IE10 will be debuting shortly, and is currently in developer testing stages.  You can download a version of it if you want, but we wouldn’t recommend it unless you are an experienced web developer.

More bad news: Microsoft has decided that IE10 will not be available on anything before Windows 7, which to be fair has garnered about 47% of the market at this point.  Still, this leaves anyone running Windows XP with only one way of viewing the latest technologies: drop Internet Explorer and go for one of the top dogs, either Firefox or Chrome.

Personally, as a Chrome user,  I am all for it taking the #1 spot.  Nothing against Firefox, mind you.  It is a good and stable browser, but with Google behind it, I see lots of potential for Chrome, including functionality between it, Google’s Android mobile phone operating system, and Google Chrome OS, Google’s attempt at taking cloud computing to a ridiculously new level.

If you are a Chrome user too, great!

If you are a Firefox user, your days as #1 may be up, but I wish you the best of luck.

If you are a Safari or Opera user, I don’t understand why you chose what you did, but I can appreciate your choice.

If you are using IE9, it could be worse, I suppose.

If you are still using IE8 or earlier, you may want to consider upgrading if possible or better yet switching to a different browser.  Just try it out.  It doesn’t take long to adjust and you can be sure you are seeing the website in the way website developers want you to.

postheadericon All News is Good News

In our ever changing world of search engine optimization, there are very few things that remain constant.  Keywords will always be important, inbound links will always be helpful, and fresh content will always be necessary for keeping rankings as high as possible.  In the case of the first two, the strategy is obvious, even if the implementation is not always so straight forward.  In the case of the last however, things are quite a bit different.

When I say that content needs to be fresh, that does not mean that the style of your homepage needs to change every day, every week, or even every year in order for you to maintain or improve your rankings.  Content deals somewhat with style, but more about the pages you have and the words and images on them.  It does not always have to be your homepage that is updated either.  As long as your whole site is being consistently refreshed with new content, your site will have a much better chance at staying at the top of the rankings.  Now, this may seem like a very difficult task.  I mean, coming up with new content every week sounds quite challenging, doesn’t it?

Not at all, in fact.  You are probably already doing it but you may not realize the power you have at your disposal.  There are three very easy ways for making sure you always have fresh content on your website.  The first is one that you are reading right now.  Yes, blogging is one distinct way of maintaining content on your site.

Now when I speak about blogs, I need to be clear as there are two basic types of blogs, at least from an seo point of view.  There is an external blog, which is what this is, and an internal blog.  An external blog is one that is created at a different domain from your main company website.  It might have its own domain, like this blog, or it might have a subdomain from the blog site you are using, such as blogger or wordpress.  In either event, it can be very useful for creating buzz, telling people about the latest news, or simply creating a whole bunch of inbound links to your site from a different domain.  A useful tool, no doubt, but not for the purposes of this article.

An internal blog, on the other hand, is one that is installed and accessed directly from your site under the same domain.  Usually it will be located under a different directory from the rest of your site, such as /blog.  What you may fail to realize is that the content being generated from this blog counts as content on your webpage.  Each new posts counts as a new page when search engines look at your website.  That means, with each new post you make, your website will be judged as having been recently updated.  This does not replace updating the content on your homepage, but it does mean you could get away with doing it less often, or conversely, increase your rankings by having your site be updated more often than before.

The other two easy ways to create new content are news and newsletters.  In the case of news, many sites will have a place on their homepage, if not on every page, for recent news items.  These can be short tidbits, like tweets, describing a new deal, a new product, or other such announcements.  They are short, and so they are easy to make often.  Anything you can tweet you can make a news post about.  If your site does not currently have a place for recent news, speak to your web developer or design team.  It is very easy to put in and shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes, no matter how they do it.

Also, if you are in the habit of creating newsletters that are sent out every week, two weeks, or month, consider having an archive for them to be placed in on your website.  Each one of these newsletters can be uploaded as an html page, providing fresh content each time one is added.  Search engines will just read them as new pages, like blog posts.

Using one, two, or all three of these strategies can provide quick and easy way to keep it fresh and high in the rankings.

postheadericon Tweeting Without Meaning

I read an interesting article today regarding the importance of social media in the new world of search engine optimization and website rankings.  It has been by and large confirmed that social media is quickly becoming a necessity for all companies if you want to stay at the “top of the charts,” so to speak.  So now, you have a Facebook account, a Twitter account, you probably have your own blog with WordPress or Blogger, maybe you are trying out the new Google Plus, and you have a company LinkedIn page.

What next?

You need something to write about.  Having these accounts without having any content is like fishing without a fishing pole.  You went to the lake and expected the fish to jump out of the water and into your hands, but that isn’t the way it works.  You need a pole, some bait, and you need to be in the right time and the right place.  Sometimes that means waiting with your line in the water for a long time, but if you take it out, you will never catch anything.

However, there is a difference between posting something meaningful and something pointless.  If you are only using your Facebook account to say “Check out our new Product!”, you probably won’t get many followers.  The reason is that what you are saying is boring.  I don’t mean that as an offense, but rather to remind you of what Facebook was created for.  It is for sharing stories and interesting tidbits.  It is for making you laugh, cry, or angry because of what someone else said.  It is supposed to spark emotions in the reader, and that just isn’t going to happen with words like “Check out our new Product!”

Where is the laughter?  Where are the tears?

You have to approach social media marketing the way that we have been approaching traditional marketing for the last century.  Make it interesting.  Make it memorable.  People will remember it better and come back to you more often.  Lure them in with stories of other customers.  Show them interesting pictures or funny videos of someone who has used your product or service.  Once you have baited them, reel them in.  And once you have caught them, turn their experience into the stories you use to lure in the next customers, thus creating and completing the social media marketing cycle.

This is how you use social media and be meaningful about what you post, while driving customers to you.  Hey, if you are still reading, then it obviously works, doesn’t it?

postheadericon The New Google Social Media: “Plus” or Minus

Well, it’s official.  Google has finally rolled out their new social media platform, Google Plus.  In a blatant attempt at coveting the mass market appeal that Facebook has been garnering since its inception 7 years ago, we now see Google trying to get into the social media game.  The platform, while still in its infancy, was started with nothing less than a full throttle exposure by Google, utilizing every aspect of its web presence to reinforce the potential uses and powers of the new social media outlet.  The three most powerful features, or perhaps most important when it comes to search engine optimization and web marketing, are the social media pages, the “+1” button, and the search engine integration.

Social Media Page

From a glance, Google Plus has all the basic features you would expect with social media these days.  There is a place for basic information, your profile, photos of you, contact information, and a space to say how you are doing (the basic equivalent of Facebook status or a Twitter tweet).  There is one minor difference in that when you are messaged, you are actually emailed (using your gmail account, of course), instead of the message being stored somewhere else.  In addition, you are able to easily search for people to add t your circle of friends based on pasty emails or using Google’s own search engine.  The biggest difference is the addition of the Google Plus Circles, which is how Google organizes your friends and family.  Facebook has similar organizational groups, but Google actually forces you to put all of your friends in a specific circle (even if it is called “Friends”) which would differentiate them from your family, coworkers, etc.  This could be very useful for when you want to share something that perhaps you don’t want your family or your boss to see, but other than that it doesn’t really add much that I can see yet.

+1

I mentioned in a previous post about the new +1 buttons that we are adding to all of our SEO clients pages.  The Google equivalent of a “Like” button, these buttons which are coded into the page help to both track who and how many people like a particular website, but also helps to bring inbound links into the page which increases the rankings of the site in search engines.  The biggest difference that I see between the way that Facebook did this and the way that Google is doing this is where the inbound links are going to be found.  For Facebook, this is was in a post made on the wall of the person that clicked the “like” button.  Whereas in Google, this is actually a separate tab, next to photos and basic info, that lists all the pages that particular person has +1’d.  The pages are listed in reverse chronological order so the first thing you see will be the person’s latest interest.

Search Engine Integration

Google’s new platform already proves that it has a significant amount of power behind it.  However, the real power behind the new social media platform is the integration with everything else that Google is already offering.  Google’s approach to business seems to be, if we can do 1 thing extremely well, we can probably do everything extremely well.  Oddly enough, they seem to be right for the most part.  From their original search engine to their power email solution, an internet browser, a smartphone operating system, and now its social media platform, there seems to be no end to what Google will do.  What makes it better is that everything is integrated.  On Google’s website now, you will see the +You button (which changes “You” to your first name when you are logged in) next to the web search bar.  From within the platform, you can use gmail to send messages, Picassa to share photos, and the search engine to find friends, and this is the tip of the iceberg for what I am sure Google will do.  This would make the new platform a very powerful tool in the internet marketing world, where social media has become the way businesses build reputation and create buzz about the company.  At the moment, it seems more geared towards individuals, but it is only a matter of time before Google branches out to businesses like Facebook has done.

What do you think?

We want to know you’re opinion about the changing social media environment and how Google Plus compares to Facebook.  Keeping in mind that it is still in beta and has not been finished yet (as if Facebook is ever actually finished either), what do our readers think?  Gives us a rating, 1-5, so we can find out how many people are using it and how they like it so far?

postheadericon Being “Like”‘d Helps Being Looked At

There was an interesting article I read some time ago about the benefits of social media marketing, with the use of Facebook in particular outlined in the article.  We have all seen the “Like” buttons on various websites that we have visited, as well as the Facebook “Pages” which form mini-websites of their own as well as powerful advertising tools.  Facebook can certainly be a powerful tool for increasing website traffic and search engine rankings.

The Facebook Page:

While Facebook was traditionally a way for individuals to connect with one another, Facebook needed a way to allow for groups and organizations to promote what they have on its site as well.  Hence the addition of the Facebook Pages.  These mini-advertising sites are helpful in that they form a bridge between your personal Facebook account and your company’s website.  While you are allowed to make posts on your Facebook page’s wall, thus proving how current and up-to-date you are, there is enough room for advertisements on your page that it is well worth the effort.  Plus, there are a million different places to put links back to your website, in addition to the Like button for the page, that helps bring in more people.  The more people “Like” your page, the more people will see and visit it and the more opportunities for you to get them to visit your main website and hence use your services.  It is all about a way in.

Facebook for your Site:

As much as you want people to Like your Facebook page, your actual website is even more important.  Many websites these days have embedded the code whereby people can actually Like your website itself.  They click on the button and the counter on your site goes up while a post appears on their Facebook wall telling the world that they liked it.  This means that on their wall, you now have an inbound link where their friends can see your website and have a reason to check it out.  That inbound link also works in search engine rankings.  Google counts every Like from a Facebook user as an inbound link and each inbound link will hep to boost your rankings in all the search engines.

postheadericon SEO – Where to start?

Search engine optimization is like pushing a heavy ball down a specific path.  Once you “get the ball rolling” so to speak, the momentum will help continue to push it forward.  However, when you are just starting out, it can be difficult to find your bearings.  The energy it takes to just get going past the point of inertia can seem daunting, so we’d like to take this time to give suggestions that anyone can do.

SEO can be an expanding spiral of growth if treated in the correct way.  The more people that visit your site, the better it will do in search engine rankings.  The better your site does in rankings, the more people will visit your site.  SEO strategies like keywords and video are all very important, but the main driving point in the beginning is just to get people to visit, and in this way it is fairly identical to marketing in the real world.

Friends Matter:

Sometimes it is who you know that counts.  Talk to your friends and recommend they go to your website.  Have them tell their friends about it.  Even if it only gets a few people to start visiting, it will create a trend.  While you are at it, talk to them about forming an online partnership.  We at ActiveNation have prided ourselves on linking to all of our clients websites, including Party Perfect, Diploma Company and Ross Locklear on our website, while they all have a link back to us on their website as their website developer/designer.  A link exchange, in which you put a link to your friend’s or client’s website on your own in return for them putting a link to your site on theirs, is a good way of increasing traffic to your site and is a free advertising tool.  The inbound link created on your friend’s site will also help to boost your website’s rankings.

Paper Pushers:

Once you have a website, put it everywhere.  On your advertisements, on your business cards, on the walls of your office for when people visit.  People are growing more an more used to using the internet for research on whatever company they are going to and one of the first websites they visit is the company’s own.  You can even use it to make your advertisement’s cheaper by ending with the words “Visit our website for more information.”  This means your advertisements are shorter and you are driving more people to your site, increasing your marketing reach and search rankings simultaneously.

Social Media Speaks Loudly:

These days, a large majority of the population has some social media account, be it twitter, facebook, or linkedin.  These allow you to post something for the whole world to see.  While creating your own page for your business can be helpful, it can also be detrimental if it is not constantly updated.  However, posting something on your personal account, such as a link to your website with a blurb like “Check out our new website” can be effective in driving online “friends” and visitors to your website.

postheadericon BBB Rankings

We’ve all seen the logo of the Better Business Bureau on some of our favorite sites.  They are the ones who will rate a compnay based on how well their service is and how they treat their customers.  Suffice it to say that some of the best companies we know are ranked highly by the BBB, and it shows on their website.

Some of ActiveNation’s clients, including Virginia Green Lawn Care and Party Perfect, have been ranked with an A+ ranking and are therefore entitled and encouraged to place the self-updating logo from the BBB on their website.  This logo serves a multi-faceted purpose in terms of website marketing, and it is important to look at the various values of using it.

From a purely customer-friendly point of view, the BBB is a well known and respected organization and their ranking system is trusted by many.  Just seeing that a business has an A+ ranking is a good enough reason for many potential clients to give that company a call.

However, it also serves an SEO purpose, in that by listing your website with the BBB creates an inward link to your website while the logo on your webpage will actually link to your company’s profile on the BBB’s own website.  That means that when someone goes through the BBB, they find you.  When they go through a search engine, they find you.  When they click the BBB link on your webpage, they find you again.

There are a variety of organizations that are similar to the BBB, but this goes to show the benefits of being a member of any one of them.

postheadericon ActiveNation Returns Better Than Ever

We’re Back!

To our loyal readers, ActiveNation proudly returns to this blog after our months of being away. While we apologize for our lack of posts over these last few months, we would like to assure all of our followers that we are back from our hiatus.

In these last few months, we have been busy transitioning after our recent acquisition by Data Control, LLC, a local Richmond based database programming company that has been partnered with ActiveNation many times over the past years when we have needed each others’ services.

Now, as the two companies have merged into one, we have become a more efficient well-oiled machine that is ready to serve all of your search engine optimization, search engine marketing, pay-per-click management, and website development and maintenance needs and desires, as well as a variety of other programming services through our new parent company.

 

Moving Forward:

While we have been away, the world has kept turning.  The internet never stops changing, and so we must always be vigilant in our attempt to stay on top of the newest in internet trends.  While there isn’t enough space in this blog to go into detail about all the changes that have taken place, we wanted to list some of the topics to be covered in the upcoming posts, if only to whet your appetite.

 

The World Goes Mobile:

Smartphones have become the name of the game in the market of the modern age.  The internet is no longer limited to big bulky desktops or laptops where a local ethernet jack is readily available.  All of the world’s information now rests literally in the palm of our hand, and we must be prepared to face it.

Google Plus: The New Facebook?

Google has finally decided to get into the social media game with their new platform, Google Plus.  How will this affect the way we do business?  Is this the wave of the future or a fad that will fade into the background as quickly and quietly as myspace has over the past few years?

QR: Decoding the Trend:

If you have seen the square barcodes around, you know that these days people are being directed to websites and advertising material even when they are not surfing the web.  You could be walking around the local art museum or shopping mall, see one of these qr codes, scan it into your smartphone, and suddenly you are looking at the company’s specialized website.  How do we utilize this new trend in all of our marketing ideas?

 

It’s All About The Future

These topics and more are only the beginning of the latest in internet trends.  Internet marketing has become a whole new ballgame, and as we continue along the never-ending path towards website marketing, it will only get more exciting as the technology continues to radically change the way we do business everyday.

postheadericon Design Your Future At the Right School

So you’re passionate about web design and perhaps you’re contemplating enrolling in a web design program or institution. Now what? Well it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think. When you’re searching for the perfect design school it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the variety of options out there. Which is why you should prepare yourself by becoming aware of any preliminary factors to applying to a web design college or university before you decide which application to submit.

Know your Focus First and foremost, while you know that you want to be a web designer, it’s important to know your focus within the program. Since not every design school has the same curriculum, it’s good to know what courses you’re walking into before hand and whether or not they would be beneficial to your focus. There are plenty of roles you can take on as a designer and it’s good to know exactly what it is you want to do with your web design education and what kind of role you want to play in the web design world.

Know the Requirements You should know the requirements for a web design program. Whether you’re fresh out of high school or may be interested in continuing your education after attaining your college degree somewhere else, each college or university has their own preliminary requirements for entering their web design program. Although a lot of the criteria consist of general and common courses, pre-requisite classes and exams may be required before you can qualify to submit an application.

It’s also wise to know which schools are accredited and which are not so if you ever want to transfer or attain an additional degree at another institution, you want to make sure your credits transfer without a problem. If the school is not accredited you can become at risk for non transferable credits and ultimately may have to retake some courses. Not only that but if you graduate from an accredited school, your degree holds a much higher value.

Know the Curriculum It doesn’t hurt to visit the college or university’s website so you can catch a glimpse at the courses and course descriptions. This helps you prepare both mentally and financially when it comes to the course work-load, the information you will learn from your web design courses, any additional supplies you may need as well as textbooks.

Whether you’re considering attending a college campus or an online university, you can’t go wrong figuring out the basics of your search. Your dream web design school isn’t too far from your reach! As long as you do your research early, figure out what it is you really want to do within the field of web design and prepare yourself from there, you can’t go wrong. Remember to find what fits YOU best and the rest will fall into place. Good luck with your search!

postheadericon Top 5 Facebook Brand Designs

…At least according to me! I stumbled upon tons and tons of Facebook fan page designs for some of the most recognized and creative brands of our time. Check them out below and let us know if there are any that you like as well or any that you want us to know about!

Red Bull

Smashing Magazine

Inspired Magazine

Livescribe

Blackberry

Pretty cool huh?Have you guys run across any enticing brand pages on Facebook? Do share!