Our lives are increasingly digital. Just think about it: our personal and business communication, photos, documents – they’re all being stored in digital format. And that information isn’t just stored on your hard drive anymore: you might have your email running on Google’s servers thanks to their Gmail service, your photos saved on your smartphone, and your documents on your computer’s hard drive.
This digital world is also unstable. Hackers, cyber thieves, and environmental factors (like dropping your phone in the toilet) all threaten to destroy our digital content at any given time. That is why it is critical to make sure that, in addition to securing your devices and content, you are also backing them up. Just ask anyone who has had their Gmail account hackedand deleted if they wish they had backed it up.
But backups are annoying. It’s hard to remember to do them, and they take time. So the best backup program is one that you set and forget, that works automatically in the background. Here are some ways you can set up automatic backups for your critical data:
Back up your files with Dropbox
Dropbox is not meant to be a backup solution, but it can work quite well as one. If you’re using Dropbox, your files are being automatically synced in the cloud, so you’ve got at least two copies of your files: one on your computer, and one on the web. Even better, set up another computer to also sync with your files, and you’ve got three sets.
Back up your social networks and Google data with Backupify
It’s pretty much impossible to back up Gmail. Yet it can be done with a service called Backupify that automatically backs up all your Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Contacts, etc. If you are using Google Apps, you can set it to back up multiple users in your Google Apps account.
With Backupify, you can also back up your social networking data (Facebook and Twitter activity). It’s a paid service, but if you think about how much it would cost to lose all that data, it seems like a small price to pay.
Back up your WordPress Website with…a whole bunch of options
There are about a dozen decent WordPress backup plugins and services to choose from. Some are for free, some cost. But many can be set to automatically back up your WordPress site’s files (theme files and uploads), and database, automatically on a regular basis. Make sure you’re not only backing up your site to the same server where your site sits. If that server has issues, you could lose your site and your backups. Therefore, it’s important to send your backups to an off-server location, like Dropbox, Amazon Web Services, or to another server via FTP.
To see a good roundup of available WordPress backup solutions, and their features, check out this post on WPMU.org which includes a handy PDF feature comparison chart.
Backup your smartphone with Google Sync and Dropbox
You can generally back up your smartphone by plugging it into your computer and running a syncing program, like iTunes. However, this method is not automated, so let’s look at some ways you can automate your backups.
I don’t know about you, but the most important content on my smartphone is my email, calendar, contacts and photos/videos.
My email, calendar and contacts are all run through Google and are syncing two ways – new data created on my phone, like a new event in my calendar or a new contact, are synced back to Google. New events etc. added on a desktop are pushed to my phone. My Google email is constantly being synced. Note: I understand that syncing Google data works more smoothly and completely on Android devices. But you can set it up to a certain extent on your iPhone too.
As for photos and videos – Dropbox recently added an AWESOME, life-saving feature via their mobile apps for Android and iPhone – you can configure your settings so that photos and videos stored on your phone are automatically synced to a folder in your Dropbox account called Camera Uploads. You currently can’t choose where these files are stored, and they must go to a folder Dropbox creates for you called Camera Uploads. But it’s a small price to pay for automatic backup of your precious pics, which are now also being synced with any computers linked to your Dropbox account too, giving you multiple backups.
When you enable this feature, Dropbox adds another 500 MB to your account, gratis.
Here’s how to set up your photo/video Drobpox syncing. Note: these instructions are based on an Android device, but are probably similar for the iPhone:
Install the Dropbox app – to find it, search for Dropbox in Google Play or iTunes.
Go to your app’s Settings. On Android devices, click the button to the left of the Home button, and choose Settings.
Under Settings, click on Turn on Camera Upload. You will then be able to choose whether photos are uploaded only when the phone is connected via Wifi, or also via Data plans. Once you’ve chosen your settings, the Camera Upload settings will look like this:
Now the Dropbox app will automatically sync your photos and videos to your Dropbox account.
Using the above apps will provide you with automatic backup coverage for your email, calendar, Google docs, contacts, files, photos and videos, also known as Digital Peace of Mind.
Google+ Hangouts: features, test drive, business applications
Consumer surveys: pay per response
Google Analytics – backlinks
Updated ad creator
Google ads vs. Facebook ads
Facebook marketing classroom
Social Readers on the fritz – yay!
New group file sharing feature
Comprehensive SEO for WordPress guide from SEOMoz
So.cl: Microsoft’s attempt at being part of the social networking scene. Twitter: New Twitter email design, same measly content YouTube: How to increase your video upload limit by verifying your account Pinterest: Flickr integration and Pin via Email. Pinterest is a success in e-Commerce WordPress: Comprehensive guide to SEO for WordPress; New plugins for managing unlimited WordPress sites.
and much, much more!
watch the May 2012 video
May 2012 slideshow
Join us on June 25
We invite you to join us in-person at illuminea Headquarters in Jerusalem or online via live streaming for our next webinar on Monday, June 25, 2012 at 10am. Signup and details here.
At the March 2012 Web Trends Webinar, Miriam Schwab, the Friendly CEO of illuminea, spoke about:
Google: Changes to the Google algorithm and semantic search, over-optimizing penalties, new rules for Google Places, new Google Analyics social reports, and that Firefox will use Google’s Secure Search which means even less keyword information in Analytics
Facebook: Facebook timelines for Pages – no more default landing tab…. unless you pay for an ad, Facebook timeline best practices, facebook admin panel changes, facebook Insights now include Mobile referrals, and a new facebook demo tool for ads
We invite you to join us in-person at illuminea Headquarters in Jerusalem or online via live straming for our next 1-hour Webinar on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10am. Signup and details here.
Do you ever feel like you’re gonna burst with useful information? I don’t. But I know someone who does. Every day, Miriam Schwab, the Friendly CEO of illuminea, reads tons and tons of news related to online marketing, and wanted a way to share it with all 5,000 of her closest online friends.
So, we decided to launch a monthly event where Miriam presents all the knowledge she’s gained in the last few weeks to a small group of marketing professionals at our illuminea headquarters in Jerusalem and online via live streaming.
If you want to join us for the next hour-long, information-packed “Latest Web Trends for Marketing Professionals” lecture on March 26, 2012 at 10am via live streaming, register here and we’ll send you the link.
If you want to find out about future events, sign up to our newsletter (from the sidebar).
At our first Web Trends event in February, Miriam talked about Pinterest, facebook ad revenues, facebook e-Commerce, facebook featured stories, facebook timeline, YouTube’s new features, DuckDuckGo, Bing, Google video schema, and more!
Those involved in search engine optimization (SEO) know that one thing Google “loves” is content. The more content the better, and one of the ways to analyze the competitive level of other sites in search engine results is to see how many pages of that site are indexed by Google. The bottom line on this metric is that the more content you have, the more can be indexed, and the more that is indexed, the better for you and the harder for your competitors to shake your site out of its position.
Of course, ranking in the search engines is not just about quantity; the content has to be relevant to the keywords being searched for, and there are certain quality checks that Google can do on pages to determine whether it contains spam or is stuffed with keywords. But a newish phenomenon is rising on the web that has been getting quite a lot of coverage from major blogs like ReadWriteWeb and TechCrunch, and that is the “content farm.” Many of you may be familiar with the term “link farms,” which are sites that link out to hundreds or thousands of other sites, giving them the inbound links that many sites desire in order to rank higher in the search engines. This type of strategy worked for a while, but Google altered its algorithm so that not just any inbound link would contribute to a site’s ranking; in order for a link to be worth anything now it has to be from a quality and relevant source, among other factors.
“Content farms” are a new way of gaming Google. These types of sites pump out hundreds or thousands of new pages of content per day. The quality of this content is medium to low since the goal of the content is not to teach or inspire, but to create content for content’s sake, increase traffic and reap the rewards from ad revenues. Some examples of these types of sites are Demand Media and Answers.com. ReadWriteWeb reported that Demand Media produces 4000 pieces of content per day, and Answers.com (which has origins in Israel) has nearly 38 million pieces of web content. Both sites are in the top 20 web properties in the US.
At the moment, Google can generally identify, and penalize, very bad content. However, it cannot tell the difference between ho-hum content and great content. Ho-hum content is content that meets the rules of language syntax, and says something that can be understood by humans, but does not contribute to our store of knowledge. This type of content would be relatively harmless if it wasn’t being created on such massive scales, and if it wasn’t having such success in the search engines. The scale of this content’s production means that we may find a lot of ho-hum content taking over search results, and it will become increasingly difficult to find the really useful and thought-provoking content.
What this means for SEO, social media and the web
SEO professionals will increasingly face competing sites whose only redeeming factor is the number of pages they have published. In order to compete with those sites, they will have to create the same amount of content, or more. This is a matter resources (money), and very few web properties will have the budget to support this type of activity.
Unless Google figures out a way to determine whether content is quality or ho-hum, users will become more and more frustrated by the results and start to depend on their peers and social media to refer them to quality content. Highly retweeted posts on twitter, for example, may start to take on more value than the first result on Google.
And finally, if ranking well on the search engines is about who can produce the most content, which is theoretically infinite and linked to one thing only: money, this means that the winners on the web will not be those with brains, but those with brawn. Demand Media has $355 million in funding to put towards creating tons of mediocre content. If the winners are those with millions, this will destroy the much trumpeted democratic web.
But isn’t this just survival of the fittest?
The traditional news sites have been complaining about the hit they’ve taken by blogs and other forms of new media that, according to them, produce content that is not on the same level as that of news sites. Bloggers were quick to tell the news sites that they must adapt to the new realities or suffer the consequences. Now it seems that the bloggers are getting a taste of their own medicine as they face this new threat from low-level mass-produced content. Shouldn’t they just accept that things evolve, especially on the web, and that this new reality is par for the course?
I don’t think so (obviously I’m a bit biased). In my opinion, blogs add value to the web. High traffic blogs get so much traffic because they are written by authority figures who offer useful insights and breaking news that weren’t previously available on conventional news sites. Also, readers find the personal, casual style of blogs to be refreshing, and appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the conversation in the comments.
Content farms do not add anything refreshing or useful to the world of publication. Writers of content farm content are, on the most part, not writing with the goal of inspiring and educating. Instead, their goal is “produce 10 articles of 350 words by 5 pm.” This content is not ranking thanks to its value, but due to the sheer volume being created. Therefore, unless something changes we may find our web increasingly clogged by useless information.
Let’s just hope that it’s in Google and Co.’s interest to serve us useful content rather than increase their revenues from AdSense ads placed on content farms.
Personalized results are based on your previous activity, mainly what results you clicked on in the search results. Google gives the example of someone who searches for the term “recipes,” and clicks on the fourth result rather than the first, which is for epicurious.com. Next time this user searches for recipes, epicurious.com may appear higher in the results for them, but not necessarily for anyone else.
What this means is that we may all start seeing completely different search results. Watch the following video from Google for a short overview:
But why would people opt out of personalized results? They probably won’t want to. We have yet to see the quality of these results, but I’m assuming that results will be based on sites that Google has ranked as having adequate quality, combined with the personal preferences of the user. What this means is that users will still be choosing between sites ranked highly by Google, which isn’t so bad. I think we can assume that most people will continue to like the Google search experience.
What this means for SEO
I’m guessing here, but it is possible that if a user really likes a particular site, it will start to take up more spots in the search results, which means that other results will be pushed down and off the first page. You may have noticed that sometimes when you conduct a search, some sites have expanded results that also display further internal links and navigation to the user, like this:
Or a site gets two spots like this:
Maybe sites preferred by users will start to get expanded results, or multiple results.
But in any case, since most clicks happen on the first page of results anyways, chances are that most users will see some kind of varying order of the global top ten results, i.e. for John Site A is the first result and Site B is in third place, but for Jane it’s the opposite. In both cases, Site A and Site B stay on the first page of results. So in that scenario, site owners will still have to work on the usual things that help their sites rank (on-site factors like Title tags, off-site factors like inbound links, etc.) in order to ensure that their sites are exposed to searchers. As Danny Sullivan says:
SEO remains important to ensure that you’ve got that first shot at being considered.
What this means for social media…and SEO
At the same time, it means that site owners will have to work harder on the user-experience side of things to get people to click on their results in the SERPs. Sexier titles and meta descriptions will be necessary since these help the user decide whether to click through or not. And once a user clicks through, they’d better find themselves somewhere interesting and attractive, because if they click back right away to the search results, that’s a sign that the site was no good, and may affect that site’s ranking in future personalized search results.
It also means that social marketing should be taken more seriously by SEOs. Many site owners and search engine optimization professionals (not the great ones, I admit, but still there are lots of them) see SEO as all about getting their sites to the top positions in the SERPs – and that’s it. But Google’s goal is to provide the best user experience, and therefore is experimenting with, and adding, many social features to their search service, like:
“universal”, or mixed media search results – these results include non-traditional sources like video (most often from YouTube) and blogs
search results based on your social circle (Google doesn’t call it a social graph) – these results identify your social networks through your Google Profile and serve you links that they have shared or created. Learn more about Google’s Social Search.
The reason for these new features are assumedly because Google figures that people will be most interested in, and most appreciate, results that are linked to trusted sources and connections. So site owners and SEOs will have to start taking user experience on their sites (content, navigation, and even design) much more seriously. Jill sums up the new SEO reality nicely on the High Rankings forum: “Good news…for moving people further and further away from traditional rank checking as a measure of success”; i.e. SEO can’t just be about ranking in first place anymore, it’s about results, conversions, and maybe even relationships.
It also means that with features like universal and real time search results, site owners should be optimizing social media activity for search engines as well. This means creating useful videos and uploading them to YouTube, creating fresh blog content, and using keywords in your tweets and facebook status updates.
And finally, long tail search rankings will play a more important role. Search engine ranking may become about diversity rather than laser focusing on particular keywords or search engines. The reason for this is that if you can’t know where your site is appearing in people’s search results, better to appear in more places where you have the chance of getting clicked on (pick me! pick me!). Creating new content for your blog on a regular basis that is related to a particular theme will help you rank for terms you would never have thought of.
In addition, social sites are becoming serious addresses for search. A recent Comscore Search Engine Rankings report showed that three of the top search engines in the Expanded Search Rankings category were social media sites: YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. Lee Odden at TopRank sums up what this means as follows:
Companies that focus their optimization efforts solely on Google.com will miss the continued trend towards social search or search within social networks.
So where do we go from here?
SEO professionals have had to evolve to meet new realities since the dawn of the search engine. What worked five years ago to get a site to the top certainly does not work today, and what works today won’t work five years from now. Barry Schwartz says he’s not worried (from Search Engine Roundtable):
Honestly, if this makes Google more relevant for their searchers – all power to them. I am not going to say I know what is better for the average searcher. They can quickly figure this out after days and decide to keep it, turn it down, or off completely. SEOs will adapt, like they always do – we are a strong and smart bunch – I am not worried.
SEO professionals will evolve to meet this new challenge. But it is possible that we are at a turning point regarding what SEO means. The goals will probably stay the same: increasing traffic and conversions. However, the ways that these goals are achieved may change drastically over the coming months to include social activity and improved online relationship building. All in all, I think that we’re talking about a better web experience for the end user.
But there are still a lot of unknowns about the new personalized search feature, and here are some questions I have:
Ethics: Google is basically forcing all users to accept a new cookie and allow Google to track their search activity. Opt-out is only for the web savvy since most users won’t even know that Personalized Search exists. Shouldn’t people be given the choice whether they want to participate in personalized search or not by opting-in? Is this a sign that it’s time to move to Bing?
Will my personal preferences affect your personal results? If lots of people click on Site A in results, does that mean that Joe will start to see Site A rank high in his own results?
Are personalized results only affected when someone conducts the same exact search over and over (i.e. “recipes”), or will it affect related searches as well (i.e. “cooking,” “chocolate cake recipe,” even “buying new dishes”)?
This past Thursday I was privileged to speak to the Tel Aviv Writer’s Cafe about how they can use blogs and social media to promote themselves and win more (paid) writing gigs.
Here are the seven tips. For more info about the Tel Aviv Writer’s Cafe, please scroll to the end of this post.
1. Brand yourself as if you were a brand name
If you are trying to market yourself as a freelance writer, or freelance anything, it’s important to start to look at yourself as the product that you, the business owner, is trying to sell. Yeah, that’s a lot of hats to wear, and that doesn’t include the fact that you, the freelancer, are also the accountant, administrator, and coffee-fetcher. Anyways, in order to accomplish this, you need to create “Brand You.”
Why should I brand myself?
The brilliant Gary Vaynerchuk has the answer for you (bonus: guess who’s apparently a MOT (Member of the Tribe)…note how he says Alav Hashalom about Paul Newman passing away!):
Another reason you want to do this is because Google has a long memory, and you need to control what prospective employers and others see about you on the web. You have a chance at doing this if you have a personal site built on your own domain. To see what I’m talking about, read this post from Lifehacker: Geek to Live: Have a say in what Google says about you.
So how do I do this?
At the very least, buy your name domain name now (we recommend using www.name.com – and we have no affiliation with them, they just don’t suck like some other registrars we won’t name). If you’re name is Joe Shmoe, buy www.joeshmoe.com. If that domain name is taken, add your middle initial and buy www.joezshmoe.com. If you don’t have a middle name, pretend you do and choose a middle initial to use from this point forwards in all your professional correspondence so that people will Google your name that way and actually find you. If you think it’s weird to add a fake middle initial, ask Michael J. Fox, if he regrets it. (To see why he didn’t just use “A,” the initial of his real middle name, read about his Early Life in Wikipedia. Hint – it may have to do with the fact that he’s Canadian, eh?)
If you’re not up to it, you don’t have to actually do anything with your shiny new domain name right now. So why are you buying your domain name now if you’re not going to use it? Because it can get snatched up between now and when you do want to use it by someone else, which would suck for you.
If you are up to it, I strongly recommend starting a blog that appears under your name-domain name.
But I don’t have thousands to spend on that kind of thing right now!
That’s alright, I say. Here are instructions on starting a personalized blog on a shoestring. The reason this method is good is because if your blog becomes a real success and needs to grow, you can relatively easily move over to your own self-hosted WordPress blog, like all the pros.
Starting a Personalized Blog on a Shoestring:
Sign up for a blog on WordPress.com. Try to choose a name that represents you, but remember that you will be putting your new name-domain on your blog in a few steps.
Choose a WordPress theme that best suits your needs. You can find them under Appearance > Themes in the sidebar of your new blog’s admin section. I recommend choosing a pretty plain theme with a header area that allows you to upload your own personalized image. My sister Deena has done a good job with that on her blog, which runs on WordPress.com and you can see here: http://deenascreations.com.
You should go through all the other settings and choose what best suits you. To do this, go to Settings, and go through the sub-pages and modify as you see fit.
Map your domain name onto your new blog. First, you need to change your DNS settings for your domain name. DNS tells your domain where it should be point to, i.e. where the site that will be using this domain is sitting. First, log into your account on your domain registrar. Try to find where the DNS info is managed. It may be under Manage Domains or Manage DNS, depending on your registrar. When you do find where you manage the DNS, remove any existing nameservers and add the following:
Now, go back to your site and click on Upgrades, and then click on the Domains tab.
Then, enter your domain name in the Add a Domain field:
At that point it should ask you to buy 10 credits in order to use your own custom domain on WordPress.com. This costs $10 per year.
Once it’s set up, create an About and Contact page (crucial), and start blogging your head off.
Here are some examples of people who have really succeeded in creating a brand around themselves:
Oh, and more Gary Vaynerchuk just cuz he’s so awesome, inspiring and in your face (and did I mention he’s an MOT? What naches.)
2. Don’t forget about social media
Since blogs run on RSS feeds, it means you can promote your blog content elsewhere. This is good because it increases the likelihood that people will come across your content, which is the most important thing here. You can set up your facebook and twitter profiles to automatically pull in your blog content, and post it for all your network friends to see.
In order to do any of this automatic republishing, you need to know where your feed is. On WordPress.com, it’s at http://myblog.wordpress.com/feed, where myblog is your WordPress.com blog name, or at http://myblog.com/feed, if you’ve mapped your own domain on to your WordPress.com blog.
To automatically post to twitter, first create a user account on twitter. Then, go to EasyTweets, sign up, and add your twitter account to your profile. Then, click on the RSS icon at the right-hand side of your dashboard:
Enter the feed URL (see above for info on how to find it), entry frequency that EasyTweets will check for new posts (every hour is fine), any text to add before each tweet (I don’t recommend adding any text because then it looks automated), and whether you want to post the current new item in your feed, or only start updating from new items. Press Add RSS Feed, and you’re done.
One thing that came up during our session, and often comes up, is people’s confusion as to what usefulness twitter provides. Here are some links that may help you better understand why all these people get to excited about twitter:
3. Get people to stay in touch with you via RSS feeds and email subscriptions
If someone comes to your site, you want to get them to subscribe in some way to stay in touch before they leave. If you do, you can start to create a long-term connection where they consistently receive content you create, and trust grows between you. If you don’t, chances are they’ll leave, forget that you exist, and never come back.
So, make sure to prominently display the options for subscribing. Here’s a screenshot from Natan Sharansky’s new site for an example on how to do this – note how the subscription info appears very close to the top of every page:
4. Focus – so that people know what they’re getting
People subscribe to certain content because they are interested in the general topic being covered. Imagine if you were an avid car fan, and you bought Cars magazine only to find a spread about the latest hairstyles (or whatever they write about in fashion magazines). And imagine if you were an avid fashion fan and you opened the latest edition of Elle only to find a spread about axel grease (or whatever they write about in car magazines). You’d be pretty disappointed because you are paying to read those magazines because of their focus.
Same with your blog: people subscribe to it because you are writing about something they are interested in, whether it be politics, celebrities, iPhones, or cats. So stick to that 99% of the time, and your readers will stick with you.
5. Optimize for search engines
Yes, even you can optimize your blog for search engines. SEO may be perceived as a magical talent only bestowed upon special fairy beings, but there are some basic things you can do to help your blog rank better in the search engines. Here is a quick rundown:
Make a quick list of keywords you think people are using to find people like you. You can use all sorts of fancy keyword tools if you want, but you can also just use your brain since you know your industry. Take this list, and write it down on a piece of paper. Make a note of which terms are the most targeted, and which are less focused. You have more of a chance of ranking high for “Jerusalem car fans” than for “car fans.” You see what I mean? So while you’d probably like to rank high for car fans, it’s best to aim for Jerusalem car fans. But even so, don’t lose sight of the big vision of ranking for “car fans” because you may get there.
Once you’ve got your keywords, make sure to use them whenever possible in your blog titles, and in your first paragraph. However, when in doubt, make sure you are ultimately writing for humans. What I mean is, don’t stuff your title and paragraph with keywords that don’t make sense, because while you may make Google happy, you won’t make people happy, and that’s not good.
Tag your posts with tags related to your keywords, but also to other stuff you mention so that you may rank for those words as well.
Pay attention to meta keywords and particularly to your meta description, because that’s what appears under the title of your post in the Google search results.
Link internally. When you mention an event, term or phrase that you’ve mentioned before, link to that other post, or category if it exists on your blog.
6. Promote offsite
Aside from trying to get traffic via the web, make sure to promote your blog in other places as well, like in your email signature and on your business cards. And tell people about it whenever relevant, without being annoying.
7. Track your success
Like anything in life, if you are trying to achieve something in life, you need to track if you are getting there. As the saying goes “if you can measure it, you can manage it.” So track your site stats and feed stats. Don’t worry about seeing huge leaps in growth, but you do want to make sure there is a steady incline at the very least. You don’t want to plateau or start to shrink – that’s bad news, and if you see that you need to work to reverse it, generally by creating more content, and commenting on more blogs.
8. Bonus – accessing the awesomeness that is called humanity
“But you said 7 tips,” you say.
That’s right, I say, but I added a bonus. The bonus is about all the people you get to connect with via your blog and online activity, particularly when those people are…extraordinary (in every sense of the word).
Recently I got the following comment on this blog, and it makes it all worth it. Note the author’s name:
Author : moshe rabeynu Comment:
I am a former male exotic dancer and am interested in establishing a “Chippendales” type establishment in Israel. What type of assistance and tax benefits does the Israeli government provide to new businesses of olim chadashim? Are there many such entertainment facilities in Israel? I would like some idea as to how stiff the competition would be. Do Israeli women, as a rule, like to look at males dancing in skimpy G-strings? Are they generous tippers? Would they put a shekel to the shmeckel? If I hire other olim chadashim as dancers, would they have to pay any taxes on their tips? Can I employ dancers who have not had a briss ? I might want to hire one or two to add variety to the show lineup. Is a liquor license hard to obtain in Israel. Do I have to bribe any officials to receive one? To whom is it customary to pay proteksia money to start a business and keep it going and approximately how much to they ask for? Thank you for your help.
If there were commenting Olympics, this one would bag a super-gold.
That’s it – 7 tips + 1 on how to market yourself using blogs and social media. Thanks to those who came to my session – it was great meeting you!
And now, a bit about the Tel Aviv Writer’s Cafe:
It was started 3 years ago by Stephanie Freid, a freelance writer and journalist, as a way of grouping Tel Aviv area writers together for networking and topical discussions on everything from how and where to look for jobs to tips on approaching editors to discussing what makes good journalism to deciding on filing taxes in Israel and abroad. Attendees come from a variety of writing backgrounds including technical, journalism, marketing, book writing & blogging.
Writer Forum guests have included NBC New bureau chief/author Martin Fletcher who spoke about his experiences covering world conflict and his acclaimed first book “Breaking News”, successful book author Matt Beynon Rees on taking a journalism career to the realm of fiction novel writing, NY Times writer Dina Kraft on covering conflict in Israel and why it seems to hit a nerve among so many, Pajamas Media editor Alison Kaplan Sommer on how to slot into the new era of blog writing, Israel Project Executive Director Marcus Sheff on keeping the foreign media informed and celeb blogger Lisa Goldman on how her blog propelled her into the limelight.
For more info, please contact Stephanie at [stefanella.stef at gmail.com].
If you are running a business in a country where you must charge your clients VAT, like Israel or the UK, you may often find yourself trying to figure out how much money is left once VAT is deducted from client payments. I’ve found a number of online VAT calculators, but they are either unreliable, or you cannot modify the VAT amount which is set for the VAT rates in the UK or other countries.
So I made my own VAT calculator in Google Spreadsheet. It’s really simple, yet useful, so I decided to share it with you. All you have to do is change the value in the Gross row, and the VAT row if relevant, and it will recalculate the Net amount automatically.
I know this is way overdue, but I actually have to work sometimes. So apologies.I already wrote a general overview of SphinnCon Israel. The next four posts will cover the sessions, and the information that I thought was most interesting and useful.
Barry Schwartz from Rusty Brick and Search Engine Roundtable kicked off the event with an introductory presentation. He explained that he was here for his nephew’s bar mitzvah, and the event was planned around that. So a big thanks to his nephew for being born 13 years ago. Also, as I mentioned in my previous post on SphinnCon Israel, he is hoping to hold a much bigger event, on the scale of SMX, in Tel Aviv.
Here is a summary of Barry’s introduction. Scroll down to see it in video:
Google’s secret for good SEO: good content
As I mentioned in my previous post, an Israeli Google representative in Dublin sent a little video to us to wish us luck at the conference. He gave us the official Google “secret” for getting good search engine results
Use Google Webmaster Tools to make sure your site is running properly.
The people on the panels seemed to think there’s a bit more one can do to rank better in the SERPs.
Barry said that the Google toolbar shows a different page rank than Google actually uses in their algorithms. So it’s possible that you see a public PageRank of 4, but in fact your value according to Google may be higher or lower. So in fact, we could just ignore PageRank, and go along doing our best to build up our sites with good content.
PPC and Adwords
PPC is seeing steady inflation. The cost per keyword increased 25% over the past six months. Why?
Click fraud, which is increasing. Click fraud in content networks is higher.
More competition, which means more people don’t know what they’re doing and are bidding too high.
General economic factors – things cost more.
New PPC algorithms
Barry spoke a bit about things going viral, and said that the first ever viral success was the The Hamster Dance, a little video of dancing hamsters that was sent around via email. This brought to mind the most watched video on YouTube: The Evolution of Dance, which currently has been viewed over 74 million times. I think these two examples of what humans are attracted to is an interesting (worrying?) commentary on human nature.
That’s all for now. I hope I’ll get the next part up next week. Here are the videos:
Running a small business involves wearing many hats. illuminea blog aims to encourage a lively discussion on the challenges and rewards of running and marketing a small business in general, and in Israel in particular. Written by Miriam Schwab, Friendly CEO of illuminea.
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