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Join Us on Alignable!

Hey folks in Boise and beyond: we just joined Alignable, and would love to connect and help each others’ businesses grow and thrive! It’s a simple networking site, no cost to join, and gives you access to like-minded business owners in both your local area and in your field across the country. Check out our new profile here:

https://www.alignable.com/boise-id/m-berndt-design

Looking forward to connecting and chatting more soon – cheers, everyone!

Alignable Home Page

The NEW Facebook News Feed and YOU

A new look and feel is coming soon to a Facebook near you, so let’s chat about it, shall we? I’ve been hoping they would do something a little better with the Facebook News Feed soon, and it seems they heard my thoughts from afar. From what I can gather, it will be more optimized and responsive as far as the web is concerned, as well boasting a cleaner, more modern look and feel. Apparently, the images will be larger, the text richer and the overall experience will “…try to give everyone in the world the most personalized newspaper…” possible.

NewsFeed

As with any changes made to Facebook, the verdict will be hilarious. Any time there’s a new switch or development, a vast majority of users (from what I’ve witnessed, anyway) immediately hate it, and are not afraid to let everyone they know in on the secret. All-in-all, this is a pretty big step for the company, too, as this will be the first major overhaul of the News Feed since it’s inception in fall of 2006. Insiders speculate that Facebook is trying to make a more photo-friendly environment, along the same lines as Instagram, to attract a younger, image-obsessed generation. For most social media sites, it’s all about engaging the user and having them stay on the site longer, which the new News Feed is hoping to accomplish, without driving users away.

Another new feature of the Feed is splitting it into subcategories: Music, Photos, Games and Friends. This way, users can pick and choose which information they want to focus on at any given time, and not be overloaded with too much visual stimulation at one time. We’ll be able to see what our friends are grooving to via Spotify, and customize who’s posts and comments you see in any given subcategory.

This sounds like a lot of new stuff to take in…and it really is. When you don’t update one of the most popular websites in the world for close to 2 YEARS, it may come as a big shock to your users. Hopefully, the transition will be a smooth one for the social giant…complainers aside.

A Great Real-Time WordPress Blog Plugin

liveblog

Liveblog is a great plugin for WordPress that lets you cover a fast-paced event with ease, and lets your followers find out what’s happening in real time. This plugin is beneficial in a couple of ways: First, you keep every one of your followers updated on what’s happening as it’s happening, rather than having them read or hear about it after the fact. Second, it will hopefully draw in NEW readers to your site as the word gets around about your live updates, and someone who may not have been able to follow a particular event will now become a loyal reader of your blog.

The plugin itself seems pretty straightforward as far a use is concerned. There’s a great little intro video on the main plugin page, along with screenshots so you can see what your live blog will potentially look like to viewers. Once installed, you can make any post live by selecting a box, and you can even drag-and-drop images from your desktop right onto where you’re writing a post, and then preview the whole thing before you publish. Quite an ingenious little plugin for live blog situations, and one that will surely be used by WordPress enthusiasts the world over.

Firefox’s Latest Collaboration with Facebook

With the latest release/update of Mozilla’s Firefox browser, an interesting (and kind of hidden) feature is available for all you crazy kids with your social networking and your Facebooking. Firefox has introduced a pairing with Facebook to incorporate a messenger right in the sidebar of the browser. It looks similar to the sidebar we all some of us use when logged in to the actual Facebook site, and it performs in the same way as well. Not that we don’t flip back to that glowing blue tab every minute and a half as it is, but now, thanks to this new partnership, we won’t have to as much…

Allowing us all to work on (or surf) other things on the Interweb while still being able to know what everyone we care about is up to is a big boost for Firefox’s continued popularity. Since Facebook has agreed to be the guinea pig (of sorts) for this trial experiment, it suggests that the likes of LinkedIn, Twitter and other popular social media networking sites will be interested to see how this all plays out. Having just been released today, there’s obviously not a ton of feedback. Yet. Give it a few days and we’ll see what the public’s reaction is to this newfangled interweaving. Just wait.

As you can see, this tool could prove ridiculously useful to those of us that waste way too much time jumping all over the place, trying to sort out our tabs to see what we’re missing throughout the world. If too many social media outlets become involved, though, will out screen just become a massive retinal explosion of updates, with no regard to the feelings of non-social sites, who have struggled and performed valiantly for years? I suppose only time will tell us the answers to these (very important) questions, and we will, as you well know, be much better off for it.

(Oh, and there are some other new features and updates with Firefox, but so what?)

SEO for Today’s Websites

As web-builders, designers, hosts and marketers are aware, Search Engine Optimization is one tricky little bastard to figure out. Countless hours of keywords, campaigns, meta-tag-this, meta-tag-that, robots, algorithms and adding your site to the search engines can be taxing, both on your fingers and on your brain. The most frustrating thing is that your SEO job is never fully complete. There are sites, books and blogs dedicated strictly to SEO, and while all of them may be useful to you in some way or another, there are so many different approaches to SEO that none can truly be considered 100% correct.

A quote I saw on SEO Articles sums it up nicely: “Tools are only as effective as the expertise of the person using them.” In order to productively use SEO to your advantage, you must seek out the best ways to use SEO for your particular business or company, then pick and choose the right ways to get your information out on the web, through links, searches, blogs and more. Hours and hours of research are required to achieve this, and anyone who thinks throwing a couple of keywords onto their site will garner them a #1 ranking on Google is absolutely out of their mind.

This especially applies to businesses that may not know exactly how SEO works, or do not have someone within their staff who can show them the way. It takes months, and sometimes years, for your SEO work to pay off. If you sell jewelry online, you are not going to get top placement on a Google search by putting “Jewelry” as one of your keywords, as your company is potentially competing with thousands and thousands of jewelry shops around the globe.

“Search Engine Optimization (SEO): An Hour A Day” gives great insight to the ins-and-outs of the virtual search world, using How-To techniques, examples of what you DO NOT want to do, how the search engines actually gather information, and the amount of time and (more importantly) patience it takes to build a solid SEO campaign. Search Engine Optimization is like the web itself: constantly growing, evolving and creating anew. If you are ever truly convinced your the campaign for your site if finished, you have not followed the rules of SEO very closely.

In saying that, not all super-intense SEO applies to every website out there. You may have found a perfect niche for your business, or are selling such unique products that you have no other competition in your field. While that is all well and good, you still want to push yourself to attract more customers, and get your name and innovative thinking out there, right? That’s where all the different levels and varying degrees of SEO are so specific for your particular type of business model. Some things that work great for one company may have the exact opposite effect on another’s SEO strategy. In the end, it all comes down to what you need for what you do.

If the need for SEO for your business concerns you, High Ranking’s SEO articles are a great resource for getting you moving in the right direction, or try Webconfs.com for some great insights, as well how to promote yourself and analyze your competition. The books and links mentioned here may get you started on your way to a successful SEO campaign and strategy, but in the long run, it is up to you how much effort you want to apply to SEO, and how much you can make it work for you.

 

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