Usability. It’s as simple as “Is your site Usable?” but it’s also a bit more than that.
It’s such an important factor, that even the government has bit on Usability.
Associated with, but different from Accessibility.

Posts

It’s Friday night and I thought I’d drop this little Online Marketing Article Roundup into the mix…

One morning this past week, like most mornings, my Inbox was busting at the seams with Online Marketing newsletters, articles, tips, guides and so on.

It’s rare that I have the time to read them, letting my Outlook Filters, Rules and Alerts do their organizing tricks. Of course, with the intention of visiting them at some point in the near future.

But last night, after I finished teaching my Kung Fu class, I opened a few of them and found some interesting reads.

21 Online Marketing Articles to Read Today

We’ve got 6 SEO Articles, 4 Google Articles, 6 Social Media Articles, 3 User Experience (UX) Articles, and 2 WordPress Articles. There may even a Bonus Article at the bottom!

SEO

Google

Google

Social Media

Social Media

User Experience

User Experience

WordPress

WordPress

Bonus

Bonus

Ever come across a tear-jerking video or post on that well-known social media giant, Facebook, and struggle with how to digitally react?

Sure. Everyone has. You don’t necessary Like that a friend’s family-member is in the hospital, but you want to show support and give the post a boost, with the hopes of others will see it – be notified, share emotional support, etc.

Liking something just doesn’t seem to cover many emotional reactions we may have to a story.

Facebook has finally upped their game in this area.

They’ve now introduced more post reactions. If you hover your mouse over the "Like" link, you’re now presented with additional options.

There’s the Thumbs-Up, representing the typical Like. But now you also have Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry, along with their acompanying cute emoticons.

But this has been released for a few weeks now, actually. And although I, personally, have been making use of the new choices, I am only seeing slight traction from others. What say you? Are you using them? Do you Like them?

Big Data

Wikipedia will tell you that Big Data" is a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications".

Online Marketers have jumped all over this (not-so-new) Big Data concept, buzzword and hype. Why? Well it’s fairly obvious. Data = Information and Information = Power. But beyond that, it’s what we use in Marketing; email lists, social media profiles, analytics, CRM (Customer / Client Relationship Management), and many other things are opportunities to fine-tune our message, our audience, our websites, our understanding…

There are blatant advantages in having access to deep data in marketing. However, there is also the innate potential that is not so good; and it is happening right now.

Just look at the recent hot trend of Infographics. During 2011 – 2013, I have seen so many of them, but now we are seeing fewer and fewer as it’s become saturated (Marketers and saturation in the same sentence? Say it ain’t so… 😛), over-hyped, over-used, mis-used and just plain tired.

But think for a moment why they popped up in the first place. Unless you’re an Accountant or someone who just gets overly-excited by seeing a gazillion numbers in a spreadsheet, which I doubt, then you need a way to visualize the information being thrown your way.

I’m searching for employment. So I’m looking at Job Boards, LinkedIn, classifieds, blogs – you name it – but basically I am reading a whole lot of Job Descriptions. And I learn a lot from this activity, besides merely collecting Big Data:

  • What the hiring trends are
  • What recruiters, hiring managers and HR Pros believe certain technologies, buzzwords and more mean
  • What these people believe are best practices
  • What they feel is good experience or knowledge to fulfill these roles are
  • What the best KPI (Key Performance Indicators) are
  • What the latest trend, tool, methodology, etc. is and how important it is to them
  • And much more

For the most part, what I learn is both disappointing (as someone fairly knowledgeable in the field) and frustrating (as someone looking to fill these roles). For example, I see many companies with e-commerce websites who want Online Marketers or SEO Pros to specifically have X years in Retail. This tells me that they really do not understand what is involved in these areas; yes – understanding the retail holiday shopping calendar is important – but this is common "marketing" knowledge; yes we need to understand taxes, shipping, etc. and again – this is "marketing" knowledge. Or how about the ads that say they want a Front-End Developer (and this always kills me), yet the Job Requirements list a host of Server-Side Languages. And a bit more relevant…Social Media Marketer needs to be expert in analytics, CRM, CMS, (Content Management System) jQuery and other completely irrelevant things…

Another area of example is the last item in that list up there – the "Latest & Greatest" craze. People listen to podcasts, read blogs and other media, attend conferences, etc. and hear about the hottest new thing. And they gobble it up. This piece of "Big Data" would be called Early Adopters.

Those rare good Marketing Managers source and read a whole lotta Case Studies. And this is a good thing. I, for one, love Case Studies. They help you learn, help you sell, help you win. Often. However…These two things go hand-in-hand more often than not: Latest & Greatest + Case Studies. Take a look at it and think for a minute – Twitter comes out – everybody loves it – it’s the coolest ever! All sorts of studies, all sorts of best practices, all sorts of new tools and methodologies. And then there is our earlier example of Infographics. But look at it today – yes all that stuff is still out there. But now we realize it may not be for everybody. We realize that it takes some sort of magic to have decent ROI (Return On Investment) in its use. Or does it?

You are doing it wrong

Bad Big Data?

So am I saying Big Data, Data Visualization, Case Studies, Social Media, Actionable Data and all the other goodies are bad? Definitely not. However I am saying something similar to a recently popular Facebook meme. You’ve seen them – funny photos with a specific quote – for example the picture of a bus in NYC, where the front LED sign says something like "Moon" and the quote says something like "Go Home bus, You’re Drunk" or "You’re Doing it Wrong". Yep – that’s what I want to say to a whole lot of folks out there – you’re doing it wrong.

Yeah, yeah, I know – Who am I to say such a thing? How Dare I? And so on. But hear me out.

Although I have been feeling this way for quite a while now, it wasn’t until recently when I began re-reading (for like the 10th time) a certain collaborative work that hoped to give a clue to these very people. Reading it for the tenth time should tell you something:

  1. It’s an older work, and more importantly
  2. It’s valuable and still relevant

That last piece is the most bothersome. It’s a very popular work – many people have read it, thought they understood it and implemented it in the way they understood it. And that’s where I have to say yet again You Totally Missed the Boat, Missed the Point; in short – You’re Doing It Wrong.

So get on your thinking caps and take off your PR Magical Buzzwords from the Big Data Boss Hats and let’s get cracking!

Canonical

NOT rel=canonical

Canon:
A general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged.
A member of the clergy on the staff of a cathedral, esp. a member of the chapter.
Canonical:
According to or ordered by canon law: "the canonical rites of the Roman Church".
As a Noun: The prescribed official dress of the clergy.

And what do either of these definitions have to do with SEO or even rel="Canonical", for that matter?

Nothing. Except, perhaps, for the idea of a general law, principle etc. We’ll see how in just a moment.

So when asked in a Job Interview, anything referring to the Catholic church or Catholicism is not really the correct answer; unless of course your job happens to be in that area.

So what does rel="Canonical" mean, why should you care, and how should you make the magic happen?

rel= "Canonical" – Why, What and How

Why should you care about rel="Canonical"?

Have you ever heard of duplicate content and the penalties that come along with it?

I’m sure you have. In short, Google is not a big fan of duplicate content and it could seriously hurt your rankings! Whether you have or haven’t, here’s a real-world example to give it some context:

Let’s say you’re running a site selling products (or services). And oftentimes these product pages can have exactly the same, if not similar content, but a slightly different URL. For example:


http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish&trackingid=1234567&sort=alpha&sessionid=5678asfasdfasfd
http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish&trackingid=1234567&sort=price&sessionid=5678asfasdfasfd

As you can see, there are two different values of variables in the URL – sort=alpha and sort=price. Regardless of how they’re sorted though, you’re still looking at the same list of swedish-fish.

And they will have the same, if not similar, content. So what do we do?

We implement the rel="canonical" attribute or tag.

You need to decide which actual page has the most complete, accurate and best content for this subject, topic or page. Once you’ve done that, you need to go to all of the other possible URL pages and put in the directive to tell Google "Hey! I know this looks alot like this other page over there, but I want you just to pay attention to this one page for the content, instead of all the possible ways you could find it."

So then, in each of the non-canonical pages, or each of the pages that tell part of the story with duplicate or similar content, we need to tell Google to go to this other page for classification, like


<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish"/>

Place this in the <head></head> section of these pages – all pointing to the one page that you’d prefer to be listed in the SERPs for that content.

Oh! And here’s a couple of extra pointers regarding rel="canonical":

  • It’s preferred to use absolute links instead of relative links, when specifying the canonical.
  • Do not try to "game" the system by using this to simply rank a page higher; you will get found out. And quickly!
  • If the preferred page does not actually exist – you’re at the whim and mercy of Google.
  • To an extend, Google can follow a chain of canonicals – but if you’re trying to game the system – see the second bullet point above.
  • Yes, you can use it to point to pages on another site…But again…Hopefully you get the point.

So you’ll either have to do this manually in the pages of your website, or if you’re using WordPress as a back-end CMS or blogging platform, there is a much easier way.

WordPress SEO by Yoast is an outstanding plug-in to say the least, with all of its wonderful functionality.

And one such piece of functionality is about rel="Canonical"!

After you’ve installed and activated the plug-in, go into your Page or Post that you need to get Canonical on, and scroll down past the content area into the box supplied by the plug-in.

Click on the "Advanced" tab, scroll down a wee-bit and there you have it: a form field labeled "Canonical URL". That’s where you would paste in the URL for the page that has the most complete and accurate content that you’d prefer Google to index and show on the SERPs for this topic’s search query.

Well folks, that’s it. Hopefully you’ve learned a little bit about rel="Canonical", why you should use it, and how to do so.

Oh and by the way, there is a way to use this for the whole www.website.com vs. website.com battle too.

Have you figured out how?

Age

Domain Age and SEO

So you’re steadily optimizing your site using various SEO strategies, and you’ve made some visible progress.

You’ve come up in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Page), and yet – there is that one competitor who you just can’t seem to pass. You do some Competitive Intelligence reporting and look at your benchmarks. You’ve got higher stats in most areas, and they haven’t done much.

What’s going on here?

You need to consider the Domain Age of your site and that of your competitors.

If you’re not sure how to do this, use this handy Domain Tool. Just enter in a domain name, and you’ll find lots of interesting information, including when the domain was created, when it expires, and when the domain entry was last updated.

In short, the older the better.

Consider the age of the website & the length of time the domain has been registered.

Domain Age is a pretty large SEO factor in Google’s algorithm. Why? Think about spam sites that pop up and die off quickly – should they really rank above a real, quality site? The age factor is akin to business in the brick & mortar world; if a company has been in business for quite a while, then they’ve built up trust, reliability and are fairly good at what they do.

The same logic applies online.

Unfortunately there is little you can do about Domain Age. All you can do is to continue with fresh & unique quality content, and continue to tweak your on-page factors, as well as working on your off-site factors as well.

So before you pull all your hair out when running analytic & status checks on your SEO campaigns – look at the Domain Age.

Eat at URL's>

SEO - URLs and Domain Names

Domain Names are an extremely important consideration in SEO.

If you’re selling used green pants, how do you think www.usedgreenpants.com or www.pants.com/usedgreen.hmtl would fare in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page)? Well, I think you know – it would do great!

Domain Names

So what should we do about Domain Names, URLs and what are they?

Wikipedia’s entry on Domain Names says this:

A domain name is an identification label that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control in the Internet. Domain names are also hostnames that identify Internet Protocol (IP) resources such as web sites. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS).

Domain names are used in various networking contexts and application-specific naming and addressing purposes. They are organized in subordinate levels (subdomains) of the DNS root domain, which is nameless.

The first-level set of domain names are the top-level domains (TLDs), including the generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as the prominent domains com, net and org, and the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

Below these top-level domains in the DNS hierarchy are the second-level and third-level domain names that are typically open for reservation by end-users that wish to connect LANs (local area networks) to the Internet, run web sites, or create other publicly accessible Internet resources. The registration of these domain names is usually administered by domain name registrars who sell their services to the public.

Use keywords as part of the domain name where possible. Purchase other domain extensions to protect the brand. Buy the .net, .org, .us, and other extensions so competitors do not. Keep URLs concise & descriptive. And ensure that the user should be able to determine where he is at based on the URL.

What I suggest is that you look at this article: How to Choose Domain Names for SEO.

Now get out there and optimize your domain names, master of your SEO domain!