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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ready for Google's Changes?

Google Search Rankings Are Changing 4-21!
Is your website mobile-friendly?

Starting April 21st, Google will change their algorithm so mobile-friendly websites appear higher in search results.
It should come as no surprise to our smartphone-addicted society that 60% of internet access is mostly conducted through a mobile phone.

At our office we are working on a web redesign for this very reason.
A website that can't be navigated easily on a smart phone WILL lose viewers.

More Info > Google Blog Post and Mobile-Friendly Test

Want advice on how to optimize your website? Feel free to send me a message!
Have tips of your own? Comment below!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Favorite E.E. Cummings poem and the need for poetry

It's been a while since I read for pleasure.  I generally read mostly work-related articles until my eyes give out.

But as a former English major, I need a fix... Poetry for me is not hearts and flowers. It's angst, frustration, love, passion; every raw emotion expressed in a unique perspective.
I'll admit I was never a good writer of poetry, (at least by my professors' standards), but it fuels the soul.

In the words of Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society"....

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for."

"Humanity I Love You" by E E Cummings

Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard

Humanity i love you because
when you’re hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you’re flush pride keeps

you from the pawn shop and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house

Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it’s there and sitting down

on it
and because you are
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity

i hate you

Thursday, December 18, 2014

3 Websites I Found in 2014 and Will Keep Using in 2015

It's entirely possible you've heard of these 3 websites. If you have, congrats! You may like or dislike them for whatever reasons; different methods for different folks.

From various articles I skimmed this year, I found 3 websites that have become indispensable tools for work and personal use.
These websites relate to: 
• Curating images
• Creating infographics and
• Free website services.

Hopefully by this time, bloggers realize how crucial it is to include images in their posts.

Often, it can be challenging to find a quality image that is free and clear to use legally. (Unless you have a good-sized budget to spend on Shutterstock.)

Even if you THINK an image is labeled for re-use (a search option available from Google), that does not mean that it IS legal for you to use. I learned this the hard way. Getty Images has a dedicated staff searching sites for unlicensed images.

Not to worry, there are MANY sites where you can find good quality, free images.  Some of these free image websites require time-consuming scrolling if there is no search engine or tags with images.

Website #1 - Pixabay (Free Images - Photos, Vector Graphics, Illustrations)

Easily searchable by type of graphic, orientation and color.
This is where I find nearly all my blog images now - for just about any topic.

Infographics have shown to have a huge impact on whether content is shared. It is much easier to visualize data than to read about it (especially when the average reader has an 8 second attention span).
There are a number of websites that assist with creating Infographics. I go with what I find most user-friendly and the design options.

Website #2 - - (Create and Share Visual Ideas)

It's a fun way to present data and a good practice in editing for the blogger. Trim down your content to the most important points and make the info easier to consume and share.
Perhaps I should have done that for this post?

Landing Pages are known to be a great way to capture lead info. Compel people to visit a web page focused on a single concept, and use one call to action (like a form). Leads fill it out to get access to a report or other info.
I have used Unbounce for this as well as other sites. All have similar features to my new, favorite site.

Website #3 - Instapage (Build Quick and Professional Landing Pages - A/B Testing)

I was using Unbounce for landing pages when I read about Instapage and gave it a shot. VERY user-friendly, clean, wonderful templates to choose from, and excellent customer service (and I've only used the free version).  You can upgrade 29$ a month to get rid of the logo, customize CSS, add Javascript, SEO features and more.
It's also a great service for someone who only needs one page for a website. A tech novice can easily use a professional template and edit any components to make it look unique.  There are a wide variety of templates for various categories.

Though I use dozens of sites on a daily basis, those 3 were exciting discoveries for me.

Comment below - what web tools have you discovered recently and why do you like them??

And what will we discover in 2015...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Is Ello the New Facebook?

Are apples the new oranges?

The buzz around Ello is increasing, and the beta social network is continually being compared to Facebook. 
People are speculating that many on Facebook will jump ship for the next new thing. 

With Ello just now releasing a beta version to a limited number of people, the demand and intrigue increases the hype.

However, Ello is something altogether new; originally created by seven people to be a private social network, mainly geared toward artists.

Their network grew, so eventually creator Paul Budnitz slowly rolled out a beta public version.

Ello has never promised to be a new Facebook. It's never promised games or "liking" or videos. 

They really didn't promise anything except to be forever ad-free.

In this interview with Carson Daly, Ello CEO & Co-Founder try to set the record straight about what their site is and isn't.

If you get an invite to join Ello, here's what to expect:
  • Minimalism.  White space and black text.
    The only color added is from splashes of uploaded images. I'm having fun with animated GIFs, but real artists share their work.
  • Really Minimal.  Your choices are to discover people, add them to Noise or Friends, invite several people to try Ello, interact with people, and let loose on your own profile.
    • You can share images, links and text.
      I have begun using it as a type of private blog and venting place. An online space where I can rant stream of consciousness jumbles, and not worry about keeping up a professional image. My profile is not visible to those not on Ello.
  • Noise Vs. Friends.  You can have two different news feeds.
    If you want to be able to weed out a small group of people from many you want to follow, those few will be Friends. And the rest of the people you want to follow can be added to a separate feed called Noise.

    The layout of the two feeds are different; a compressed list for Noise and expanded for Friends.
  • WTF?  Chances are, you'll sign up, build a profile and sit there not knowing what to do.
    If you look at the bottom left of the screen, there are tiny letters "WTF."
    Here you can find all the answers to your questions.
So no, Ello is not and will never be the new Facebook.

It started as something private that got popular. There is no App. It is not pretentious.

I will continue to play with it, because of course I am too curious not to.

If you are curious too and would like an invite, I still have a few left. 

Interested?  Leave a comment below!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Getty Images Cracking Down. Bloggers Read!

In a previous blog post, I stated that each entry should have a compelling image to catch attention.


However, I suggested using Google Image search and filtering the results by "labeled for reuse."  Technically speaking, this should have been a quick solution when needing images on the fly.

You can usually tell if an image is copyrighted.

HOWEVER, this isn't always the case as I found out the hard way after receiving a fine for using a Getty image (unknowingly). Obviously I had not paid for the licensed image, so as a result, I was charged a 470$ fine.


In retrospect, I know I was taking the lazy approach.  But when you need to do one or two blog posts a day, it can be tough to find a relevant image for each of them.

So let me provide a great link with a collection of MANY free image sites (and this post will act as a bookmark for myself as well)

53+ Free Image Sources For Your Blog and Social Media Posts

And remember, just because an image says "Royalty Free," does not mean it's free.  But hopefully a blogger knows that.

And hopefully, you'll never make the blunder I made!


12 Million Historic Rights Free Images Coming to the Internet

Friday, August 8, 2014

Which #Marketing Guru Do You Listen To?

There are A LOT of self-named "gurus" of social media on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. (Take your pick.)  Let me say first off, I think calling yourself a guru is a wee bit narcissistic... But technically it's a LEADER in the field. If you're a leader in the field, your Twitter followers should have a "K" behind the number.

If you're trying to make it as a marketing and/or social media professional, like me, you will read everything you possibly can on strategies, content, tone, branding, which platform to use...

Not everyone can be right. And you know what? There is no right! There are only ideas, floating around like code bits in the matrix.

Here is my ever-growing and changing Twitter list of Marketing and Social Media folks I follow.  I read what they have to say... Some of it I've heard before, some I disagree with, some of it I've tried and implement, and some advice is a little golden treasure I had not discovered.

Each social media and marketing strategy has some value for everyone, but they will vary based on the target audience and the goal of what you're marketing.

I differ on my online presence approach because I'm extremely eclectic and refuse to be "branded" in just one category.  But that is me as an individual - not a company presence. Totally different.

My advice:

1. INTERACT with folks on social media - don't just blast content.
I make real-life friends from Twitter all the time.

2. Take everything "experts" say with a grain of salt

That being said....
3. EXPERIMENT with the strategies the experts suggest

4. Pay attention to your successful competition and how they are doing it right

5. Read, read, read - These trends change daily!

Happy networking!

#Supernatural Rant. The Plight of Sam.

At the request of my good friend @NerdAlertNews, fellow obsessive fan-girl of Supernatural, I am blogging my rant about how I shifted from Team Dean, to Team Sam.  
It's crazy to me that I can be so invested in these fictional characters. All of the SPN fans are, and that's really a credit to the writers and the actors. 
For those who have not seen the end of Season 9, *spoilers* - and what is wrong with you??
I always thought Sam was too whiny, and Dean was the funny, beautiful one. Therefore, I identified as "Team Dean." I mean for a LONG time... Team Dean all the way.
But as we have watched them live through their "river of crap that would send most people howling to the nuthouse," I had an epiphany that slowly started the beginning of Season 9 and crashed into a wall by the finale.
Dean definitely loves Sam in his own way. We all know that. As a child, poor Dean had the burden of trying to be tough and do what his dad told him and protect Sam at any cost. He had to lie to Sam constantly and try to be a parental figure; (cue the heart-breaking Christmas episode). 
For that, I am very sorry for Dean. And it makes some sense that childhood is where the pattern of lying to Sam began for Dean.
HOWEVER... Dean got tired of hunting alone when their dad went missing, and he dragged Sam back into the life selfishly. Sam did not want back in, but his guilt compelled him to go. (Or perhaps it was that "destiny" crap. That's a whole other can of worms!)
On that premise, Dean has no right to complain about anything Sam does from there on out. Sam was force-fed demon blood as a baby and forced into the life of hunting which he tried to escape. Sam had no choice in his destiny of being Lucifer's vessel and Sam always tried to do the right thing. Yes, he made apocalyptic mistakes but so did Dean.... and Sam always paid a huge price for his mistakes.
Yet Sam is ALWAYS the one who takes the heat. Dean NEVER lets him forget how Sam sided with Ruby.
Sam is ready to be done after Dean goes to Purgatory. He had no leads on how to get Dean back --- no allies since Bobby was dead. How was he to know Dean was in Purgatory OR the first thing about getting Dean back? He didn't yet have access to the Men of Letters "mother-lode" with endless information at his disposal. 
And for the first time in eight years, he found some happiness with Amelia... and he was punished for that. (Even after Sam tried desperately to make sure Dean tried to have some happiness with Lisa.)  
Dean again, never let Sam forget that he abandoned his duties as a hunter, and to add insult to injury, ghost Bobby yelled at Sam too when Sam was rescuing Bobby's soul from hell!
Sam was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for the world in order to shut the gates of hell - and he was at peace with it. He was chillin with Death and BEYOND ready to be done with everything, and Dean tricked him and dragged him back in... again. And essentially, it was Dean's fault that Sam killed Kevin (when possessed by Galadriel).
Does Dean freely admit his mistakes? No, he gets caught eventually and then acts out like the angry little boy he always was. Dean lies to his brother over and over and over and over. 
I would like to refer you to their conversation in "Sacrifice," the Season 8 finale. We were all so touched, and moved... but if you will examine it... you will see Sam's true repentance, and Dean's continual denial of ways that he has actually hurt Sam. (Though we can probably agree, hurting Sam isn't Dean's intention):
Sam: You want to know what I confessed in there? What my greatest sin was? It was how many times I let you down. I can’t do that again. What happens when you’ve decided I can’t be trusted again? Who are you gonna turn to next time instead of me? Another angel? Another vampire? Do you have any idea what it feels like to watch your brother… 
Dean: Hold on, hold on. Do you seriously think that? Because none of it, none of it is true. Listen man, I know we’ve had our disagreements. Hell, I know I’ve said some junk that sent you back on your heels. But Sammy, come on. I killed Benny to save you. I’m willing to let this bastard and all the sons of bitches that killed mom walk because of you. Don’t you dare think that there is anything, past or present, that I would put in front of you. It has never been like that, ever.
Don't get me wrong. I still love Dean. He truly believes every word he is saying and he loves his brother, in his way. My point is - he's not evolving like Sam. It's kinda pesky.
SO, what does Dean do as Season 9 progresses? He decides that teaming up with CROWLEY is a better idea than working with Sam in order to stop Abaddon. He does what Dean always does; acts rashly and doesn't trust Sam enough to get the job done. Dean listens to a demon over his own brother. Hmm, the shoe is on the other foot. (Sam lost his shoe! Ha! Couldn't help it.)
Now Sam is left abandoned. Again. I mean, totally abandoned in a life he never wanted, with a demon brother. His life just BLOWS! So I am Team Sam all the way now! I always go back and enjoy the funny episodes, but I also see how much of a dick Dean is when Sam screws up and Sam rarely calls Dean on the mistakes that Dean makes...
Team Dean - Don't get mad! I love our boys; both of them - flaws and all.
And demon Dean is going to be a hell of a ride in Season 10!
Whew! Sammy... hang in there.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Your Blog Needs An Image

No, not a mental conception of your overall blog; literally your blog needs an image with each post.

There is a consensus in the social media and marketing expert community that the best way to get attention to a blog post is to have some type of visual along with it.

However, it can be difficult to find an eye-catching image to use for free without violating copyright.

Your other choices are then to create your own images or purchase stock photos. One is time consuming, and the other pricey for a small business or self-employed blogger.

Google Images has been a helpful source for visual search, but it wasn't always clear without some effort to find which images were available for reuse.

There is an option now to refine the search by clicking "Search Tools" after typing in your image name (such as Super Bowl for this example).
Underneath is a drop-down for Usage Rights options, and there you can choose from:
  • labeled for reuse
  • labeled for commercial reuse
  • labeled for reuse with modification
  • labeled for commercial reuse with modification

Of course if you love taking pictures or creating graphics, originals are always the best.

But when you need a quick blog image, this is a fast and easy solution.