illuminea https://illuminea.com web development + marketing Mon, 22 May 2017 10:47:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 54393008 The complete guide to adding your website to Google Search Console and becoming an SEO rockstar https://illuminea.com/complete-guide-adding-website-google-search-console-becoming-seo-rockstar/ https://illuminea.com/complete-guide-adding-website-google-search-console-becoming-seo-rockstar/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2017 11:45:16 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=330628 Google Search Console is an incredibly useful, free tool offered by Google to help website owners get in-depth insights into the health and performance of their sites. Some of the insights Google Search Console offers are: Number of webpages are in Google’s index Number of 404 (not found) pages and other errors have been identified  Continue »

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Google Search Console is an incredibly useful, free tool offered by Google to help website owners get in-depth insights into the health and performance of their sites. Some of the insights Google Search Console offers are:

  • Number of webpages are in Google’s index
  • Number of 404 (not found) pages and other errors have been identified
  • Search terms your site is ranking for in Google search results
  • Malware and suspicious activity alerts

Between access to this useful data, and the warnings Google Search Console sends when something goes awry on your site, it’s really worthwhile adding your site to this service. There’s absolutely no downside, and no cost. Here’s how to do it:

Add your website in Google Search Console (GSC)

Log in to your Google account and go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/. Click the “Add a property” button in the top-right of the page.

Verify your property (website)

Google Search Console calls websites “Properties.” The next step is to prove to Google that you own your site.

GSC offers a number of methods for verifying your site, but the best option is via Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager under the Alternate Methods tab. By verifying with Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager, you’ll be able to see some additional information in your Google Analytics account like as Search Queries (keywords). (If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, create one asap and add it to your site regardless of whether you use GSC or not!)

If you prefer not to verify this way, you can use one of the other methods, such as adding a meta tag to the <head> code of your pages, which you can do this easily with Yoast’s SEO plugin under Dashboard > Webmaster Tools).

Adding Google Search Console properties to a WordPress site using Yoast SEO plugin

Make sure to verify all the versions of your site

A lot of site owners aren’t aware, but best practice for adding your site to Google Search Console is to add all versions of it. You may be wondering how a site can have more than one version. Well, every site exists both as a www and non-www URL and you need to add both:

  1. http://mysite.com
  2. http://www.mysite.com

Best practice is that you choose one version as the primary address for your site, and 301 redirect all other pages to that URL. For example, if your preferred URL is mysite.com, then www.mysite.com will redirect to mysite.com, www.mysite.com/about will redirect to mysite.com/about, etc.

You can verify each version of the site by clicking the “Add a property” button again.

But if you thought two properties per site is a lot, we’re heading into a world where all sites need to have at least four properties…

SSL all the sites!

Over the last year or so, Google has been hinting loudly that all sites should be encrypted and secured with SSL in order to provide a more secure user experience, and those that aren’t may be penalized. In addition, Google announced that new versions of Chrome will “shame” websites that don’t have an SSL certificate by indicating that those sites are not secure, as opposed to what has been the norm until now where non-https sites were just displayed, while https sites got the boost of a fancy green lock indicating security.

What this means for Google Search Console management is that an SSL site’s URLs start with https rather than http, and therefore needs to be added as four properties:

  1. http://mysite.com
  2. http://www.mysite.com
  3. https://mysite.com
  4. https://www.mysite.com

Creating four properties for each site is a bit of a pain, since you need to verify them each one at a time. Once you’ve added all the versions of your site, you need to tell Google Search Console which is your preferred version. Do this by clicking on the wheel at the top-right corner of the screen when you’re in the relevant Property, and then clicking Site Settings:

Submit XML Sitemap to Google Search Console

The recommended next step is to submit your site’s XML sitemap to Google Search Console. An XML sitemap gives you more control over which pages are indexed by Google, and can also help speed up the indexing of your site. If you’re using Yoast’s SEO plugin, you can enable the XML sitemap under the XML Sitemaps settings. Once you’ve done that, there’s a link to access your XML sitemap on that page:

Grab the URL, which in the case of Yoast’s plugin is in the format of https://mysite.com/sitemap_index.xml, and submit it to Google Search Console by clicking into your preferred version of your website, and then clicking on Crawl > Sitemaps:

Click on the red button that says Add/Test Sitemap, and that will open this box:

Paste the end of your sitemap’s URL into the field. In our case, it’s sitemap_index.xml. Once you’ve submitted it, you’ll start to see results that look something like this:

Viewing Search Console Data in your Google Analytics account

As mentioned above in the section about verifying your site, the data provided by Google Search Console is different than that which is offered in Google Analytics. Both data sets are important and useful, so it’s great to be able to see it all in one place. You can do that by setting up Search Console Sharing.

Once you’ve verified your Google Search Console property via Google Analytics, Search Console data can now be accessed in your Google Analytics account under Acquisition > Search Console.

Click “Set up Search Console data sharing.” This will take to you Admin > Property Settings where you can click on “Adjust Search Console”.

On the next screen, click Edit:

Select your preferred web property (i.e. https://mysite.com) and click Save.

You can now go back to your Analytics and view data about what users see in Google search results under the Acquisition > Search Console tab. You can use this data to find opportunities such as identifying search queries (keywords) for which your site has good average positions, but poor click through rates. Improving the page titles and descriptions could lead to more visitors.

Combining Google Search Console Properties into Sets

About a year ago, Google released a new feature for Google Search Console called Property Sets. The idea behind Property Sets is to help you collate multiple related properties, like the four versions you needed verify, into one set for greater efficiency. However, in practice you just end up with a fifth entry in your GSC Dashboard, and the features in Property Sets are more limited than individual properties:

  • If you don’t have access to one of the properties in a set, you lose access to the entire set.
  • Sets cannot be shared with others.
  • Not all reports are available for property sets.

Hopefully Google will develop this feature further and make it more useful. In the meantime, if you want to use Property Sets despite its drawbacks, here’s how:

Click on Create a Set in the top-right corner of the dashboard:

Click on Create a Set to create a set of Properties in Google Search Console

Then, select the properties you want to add to the set from the drop-down. Keep choosing them one-by-one until you’re done, and then click Save Changes:

Now this set will appear in your dashboard as a set, which has a bit of a different UI than your individual properties:

That’s it! Here’s what a Set looks like:

Here’s what this site looks like as a regular, single property:

Making the most of Google Search Console

In my opinion, just like Google Analytics should be integrated with every site so site owners can have a clue about what’s going on, so too with Google Search Console. GSC is free, easy to integrate and provides very valuable information that can help site owners make better decisions regarding their sites moving forward. I hope you install it, and I’d love to hear what information you learned that helped you with your online presence!

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The ultimate guide to cross-posting on WordPress and Medium to increase engagement while avoiding duplicate content https://illuminea.com/ultimate-guide-to-wordpress-medium/ https://illuminea.com/ultimate-guide-to-wordpress-medium/#comments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 04:42:37 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=330237 I love WordPress, obvs. It’s my CMS and blogging platform of choice for so many reasons. But sometimes it seems like a party is happening on other, similar platforms, and FOMO sets in. Cool, cutting-edge people are sharing their smart, insightful thoughts and getting Recommends, Follows, and most importantly…more views and engagement. I’m talking about you Medium. What is  Continue »

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I love WordPress, obvs. It’s my CMS and blogging platform of choice for so many reasons. But sometimes it seems like a party is happening on other, similar platforms, and FOMO sets in. Cool, cutting-edge people are sharing their smart, insightful thoughts and getting Recommends, Follows, and most importantly…more views and engagement.

I’m talking about you Medium.

What is Medium, and why should I use it?

Medium is kind of a blogging platform crossed with a social network. Medium’s Head of B2B Partnerships, Sophie Moura, calls it a social content platform.

Aside from Medium’s gorgeous, intuitive, ugly-proof and truly  WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) writing experience, you also get access to an engaged and captive community thanks to the social networking aspect of the platform. Medium is like Twitter with long-form content: users can follow other users, Recommend posts (which is similar to Liking, heart icon and all), and respond/comment. But unlike Twitter, Medium has an algorithm (and human editors), that curates content based on interests and suggests it to users via email updates, their mobile app, and the homepage.

Some other benefits of posting on Medium:

  • Domain authority: Medium’s domain authority is 80, which means pages on the site have the potential to rank well in search results.
  • Email digests: Medium sends out email digests to users, so it is possible your posts will end up in front of a much wider audience.
  • No need for tech skills: Medium is a hosted platforms, so users don’t have to deal with any of the technical issues that arise when hosting your own platform.

Why Hubspot and Signal v. Noise opened Medium blogs

Creating content on Medium is such a pleasant and worthwhile experience that there are some notable examples of publishers that have either completely migrated their content to Medium, or have opened up additional publications there.

Signal v. Noise is a well-known blog on the topics of design, business and tech, written by the people behind Basecamp. About a year ago, they migrated from their own homegrown blogging platform to Medium. They have been thrilled with the results: in 2014-2015 prior to moving to Medium, they had three posts that got more than 50k views. Over the last year, they have gotten over 50k views on 18 posts! They write more on Medium due to the delightful writing experience, and social sharing is easier.

Hubspot also started publishing on Medium a bit over a year ago, but they didn’t migrate their content; rather, they created a brand-spanking-new publication called ReadThink (and since renamed as ThinkGrowth). They learned a lot and stumbled a bit, but one interesting finding is that only about 10% of their Medium followers were previously known to them at HubSpot.com – even though they have been writing content for more than 10 years, and their blogs get over 4.5 million visitors per month!!

Why you shouldn’t only publish on Medium

Despite the unicorns and rainbows mentioned above, it’s never a good idea to put your precious content completely in the hands of a third-party platform like Medium. Social networks and blog platforms come and go (ahem, Posterous/Typeform/Livejournal/Vine, ahem). What if Medium changes their TOS in a way that negatively affects you? Goes out of business? Sells out? Recently Medium cut their staff by one-third. Ev Williams, the founder of Medium, framed it as a positive step so they can focus and continue to grow, and his words are convincing, but it’s still a big cut with warning signs all over it.

A self-hosted website or blog is the only piece of online real estate that you really own, and that’s why some bloggers are sticking with their own blogs despite the difficulty of staying top of mind there.

In addition, you really need to build up a following to get good engagement and traffic on Medium. It takes time and effort. So while it adds to the views your posts get on your original site, it probably shouldn’t replace it, especially at the beginning. For example, our websites get way more traffic than Medium. We have years of posts there, including old ones, that rank well in Google and bring lots of traffic our way.

And finally, Medium has some technical drawbacks, as pointed out by Rand Fishkin in Whiteboard Friday:

  • There is no way to customize calls to action
  • You can’t use retargeting pixels or any kind of custom tracking scripts
  • Custom code of any kind is out.

So am I telling you that you should only post on your own self-hosted blog from now on? No sirree! Lucky for us we can have our Internet cakes and eat them too, dance at two weddings, and burn the candle at both ends!

Publish on WordPress AND Medium and live to tell the tale

Medium allows publishers to repost their content on Medium with a canonical tag that points back to the URL of the original post on your blog. A canonical tag is a piece of meta data in your web page’s source code that tells Google that although the content appears here, it originated somewhere else, and therefore Google should give the authority to the original URL. This is an effective way to have content appear in more than one place, without risking penalties for duplicate content. As Medium themselves put it:

This means that Medium can only boost — not cannibalize — your SEO.

Here’s what the canonical tag looks like in the source code of one of my Medium posts:


Check out that beautiful canonical tag!

One may wonder why Medium puts so much power in creators’ hands. My guess is that Medium needs fresh content more than it needs to increase its own search authority. It is one of the top 200 websites in the US, and their ranking continues to increase. By allowing writers to give authority to their own web properties, Medium has removed a serious obstacle to many who would otherwise not publish there (ahem, me).

Now that we know the What and the Why, so let’s get to the How.

Medium users do not have access to the source code, so you can’t manually add or modify canonical tags. In order to ensure that your post has the correct canonical tag pointing back to your original post, you need to use one of Medium’s tools and integrations to import your post and make the magic happen. Here they are:

Option 1: RSS to IFTTT – not recommended

IFTTT, which stands for “If This Then That”, is a very useful service that allows you to connect different services and automate tasks between them using “Recipes”.

Medium partnered with IFTTT to enable users to repost by having all new posts in a site’s RSS feed get published on Medium. The setup is very convoluted, so I don’t recommend using this option.

2) Medium Import Tool

Medium has a web-based Import Tool that is really easy to use. You enter the URL of the original post in the field, click Import, and it imports the whole post, complete with canonical tag.

This tool is good for non-WordPress sites, or WordPress sites that don’t want to install another plugin (see option 3). However, I found this to be a bit buggy, as it doesn’t always successfully import images.

3) Medium WordPress plugin FTW

The “Medium” WordPress plugin does the job really well, and it also offers some great features that the web tool doesn’t.

How to use this plugin:

  1. Search for the plugin called “Medium” in the Add New plugin area of your WordPress site. Install and Activate.

    Oy, it hasn’t been updated for a while…

  2. The Medium settings are hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Go to your User Profile under Users > Your Profile, and you will see all the Medium settings and configuration options on that page. Here’s how we have it configured on one of our websites:

    Draft status: I don’t want the posts to publish automatically on Medium, so I set them to be drafts. That way I can review and edit them, make sure they look ok on Medium, and then publish.
    Default cross-link status: when enabled, this feature adds a link at the bottom of the original post, telling users that it’s also available on Medium. My hope is that this may increase my follower numbers on Medium. It also adds a link at the bottom of the Medium post to the original source, which may encourage people to check out our main website.
  3. Now go write and publish a post! Note that you can modify the Medium settings on a per-post basis too in the Medium meta box on the Add Post page:

See the cross-posting results in action

Here are the stats on two posts I cross-posted from WordPress sites to Medium:

Here are the Google Analytics for the same posts on their origin sites:

As you can see, cross-posting/re-posting the post garnered a significant number of additional views and reads that they probably wouldn’t have gotten if posted on the original WordPress site only. In addition, I see that my follower numbers increase the more I post on Medium, so the additional posts add to that metric as well.

So there you have it. If you liked this post, please follow me on Medium :)

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Make sure your online passwords are better than Mark Zuckerberg’s [VIDEO] https://illuminea.com/make-online-passwords-better-mark-zuckerberg/ https://illuminea.com/make-online-passwords-better-mark-zuckerberg/#respond Mon, 20 Jun 2016 12:50:06 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=63400 Earlier this month Mark Zuckerberg’s LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter accounts were briefly hacked. It seems that he made the same mistake that many people do online: he used the same password across his social media accounts. Once a hacker got hold of his password for one account, they were able to log in to  Continue »

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Earlier this month Mark Zuckerberg’s LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter accounts were briefly hacked. It seems that he made the same mistake that many people do online: he used the same password across his social media accounts. Once a hacker got hold of his password for one account, they were able to log in to his other accounts. Ouch.

Use different passwords for different accounts

You may claim that your password is hard to guess and complex. That’s great, but hackers can get access to it through larger data breaches where they get all the login accounts for a particular site. For example, LinkedIn was hacked in 2012 and passwords for nearly 6.5 million user accounts were stolen by Russian cybercriminals. So having one complex password is not sufficient.

To check if your login information has ever been hacked, go to Have I Been Pwned and enter your email address, or login username. The site will tell you if your user credentials were involved in any data breaches. If they were, it’s highly recommended that you change your password. ASAP.

 

I’ve been pwned!

How to remember all these passwords

So how do you remember different passwords for different sites? Many recommend using password management tools like LastPass or 1Password. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable using these tools because everything is hackable, and if someone were to hack my account in one of these tools, they’d have the logins to all my accounts around the web. Scary. And in fact, LastPass has been breached. So…this might not be the best solution.

There are various techniques for creating memorable, unique passwords for your different accounts. For example, here’s one solution that involves creating a unique core password that you can remember, and adding the name of the service to that password. You can search online for terms like “remembering different passwords” and the like to see more techniques.

Bottom line: don’t be like Mark Zuckerberg, and use different passwords!!

Watch this whole tutorial and tip as a video:

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3 Reasons why sliders are bad for your website’s health https://illuminea.com/sliders-bad-for-website-health/ https://illuminea.com/sliders-bad-for-website-health/#comments Mon, 15 Feb 2016 13:38:58 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=8162 Websites aren’t just a pretty face. In fact, their prettiness is only as good as the purpose it serves. Almost everything on a site should be geared towards helping you and your users achieve goals, like getting people to sign up for a demo or newsletter, request a quote, read more pages to get more  Continue »

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Websites aren’t just a pretty face. In fact, their prettiness is only as good as the purpose it serves. Almost everything on a site should be geared towards helping you and your users achieve goals, like getting people to sign up for a demo or newsletter, request a quote, read more pages to get more information, or contact you.

It’s ok if some elements on your site aren’t proactively working for you, as long as they aren’t getting in the way.

You know what gets in the way? Sliders.

1) Sliders negatively impact conversions

Sliders are a popular feature on many homepages. They became fashionable when they came on the scene, since that type of functionality was difficult to create until then without Flash. Also, people like to be able to maximize the space on their site and fill it all with as many messages as possible, and a slider allowed site owners to display three, four, even ten messages in one space, rather than having to make do with one measly tag line and call-to-action. Content overload heaven!

But guess what? Study after study shows that people don’t interact with sliders in the way site owners would like them to. For example, in one study only 1% of site visitors clicked on the homepage slider, and of those people 89% of them clicked on the first slide! The other four slides were completely ignored. Another study by Nielsen Norman Group found that because sliders move automatically, people ignore them thinking they are ads. Yes, the banner blindness we have all developed also applies to non-ad elements that behave like ads.

So basically, sites that feature sliders above the fold on their homepage – some of the most valuable real estate on a website which usually includes calls-to-action to convert users – are basically making that content invisible to users who will ignore it and scroll down, or worse, bounce (leave the website).

2) Sliders are not accessible

Sliders also transgress a big no-no when it comes to creating accessible sites. Accessible sites are developed in a way that allows people with disabilities to access the content on the site, whether through screen readers, their keyboard, or by being able to enlarge the font without breaking the site.

Elements that automatically scroll or move without the user’s permission are not accessible. In addition, the arrows or buttons on sliders are often not accessible via the keyboard, so even if the slider can be paused, a disabled user may not be able to do so. Boooo.

Accessibility has always been important, but a new law passed by Israel’s Knesset has turned it into a legal issue for all websites targeting Israelis. By October 2016, all websites targeting Israelis must be AA accessible.

3) Sliders dilute your message

Let’s say users don’t ignore your slider because they think it’s an ad, and disabled users manage to navigate your slider because it’s built well…which message should they pay attention to? The one on slide 1 or slide 3? And which one is most important? And why is an offer to book a demo appearing together with the latest blog post? What do they have to do with each other? (Hint: nothing.)

Management may like that they get to push many messages to their users, but users may be overwhelmed by so many messages that they don’t know where to start.

Examples of sites with strong static header areas

Leading companies have gotten the idea, and will not use sliders on their homepage. Instead, they will use a powerful “hero” image, with a tag line and secondary line to quickly tell the user where they are, and why it matters. Here are some examples:

 

 

Say bye bye to sliders

It’s not that sliders don’t have a purpose. They can be useful for displaying a portfolio, or for ecommerce sites that want to display their wares in an easy-to-digest fashion. But they certainly aren’t all-purpose, and site owners should think twice before putting them on the top of their homepage. Important messages should be displayed in a static, clear, bold and appealing way.

Sliders begone!

We can help you improve your site’s usability and conversions with our online marketing consulting service. Find out more.

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10 ways to get more people to read your non-profit email newsletter https://illuminea.com/10-ways-get-people-read-non-profit-email-newsletter/ https://illuminea.com/10-ways-get-people-read-non-profit-email-newsletter/#respond Thu, 27 Nov 2014 08:48:30 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=7301 Despite all the online marketing channels available to non-profits today (Facebook, Twitter, SEO, Adwords), only email consistently delivers a steady ROI (return on investment) and tangible results. But Facebook! you say. Well, check these stats out: Despite the rapid rise of social media, more online donations are made from a click in an e-newsletter than  Continue »

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Despite all the online marketing channels available to non-profits today (Facebook, Twitter, SEO, Adwords), only email consistently delivers a steady ROI (return on investment) and tangible results.

But Facebook! you say. Well, check these stats out:

But how do you create an email newsletter that is appealing enough that people will want to subscribe? And as important as getting people to subscribe is also getting them to stay subscribed: for every 15% of new subscriber growth, 16% of an email list unsubscribes (Source: eNonprofit Benchmark)! Yikes, that’s a scary stat.

Here are 10 tips that are easy to implement that can help make a world of difference to your non-profit email marketing campaigns. Make sure to scroll to the end where we have a list of email delivery providers that provide special rates (i.e. free) for non-profits.

1. Frequent is better. And include the date.

Don’t worry about sending newsletters too frequently. I’m not saying to send every day but better to send monthly than quarterly. Otherwise, you risk people forgetting who you are and then being all ‘Hey, how did this get in my inbox?”.  Now if only we took our own advice and sent out newsletters more often…

Also, if it’s a monthly newsletter, include the month and year, ex. November 2014. If it’s more often, just include the full date. It will come across much more professional and give more context than using “7th newsletter” or “newest newsletter”.

2.  View this email in your browser. Not displaying correctly? These shouldn’t be the first words people see. Use teaser text.

Is your email about how to view emails in your browser? No, that would be silly. Wouldn’t it? The way that Gmail and other email inboxes are set up is that they let you see the subject line, and if there’s enough room, the first few words of the email itself. You should use this to your advantage and get in some eye-grabbing content to make sure people read your email.

3.  Don’t rely on one huge image/graphic as your “email”. Use real text.

Even though beautiful graphics and images are ideal for branding purposes, they are not ideal for people’s inbox because images may be turned off by default, resulting in people not being able to see anything in your newsletter. Users with disabilities will find your email extremely frustrating, as many won’t be able to read the text on the image whether images are turned on or off in their email client!

Better to have both images and real text, even though the design may need to be adjusted.  Also, only using images also makes the text harder to read, and can’t be copied and pasted.

4. Sidebars are pretty much over (gasp!). Don’t overwhelm people.

The idea of look here! no, look here! No, no, over here! is just too overwhelming. People want you to lead them through your recent efforts and help them focus – what you are most proud of, what do you want to make sure people pay attention to. Along the same lines, only have a maximum of 2-3 calls to action.

5. Bleep Bloop. Use mobile-friendly, responsive email newsletter templates.

People are increasingly reading email on their mobile devices, so look into using a mobile-friendly or responsive template. To get you started, here are 32 Responsive Email Templates.  And make sure the call to action buttons are large enough that they are finger-click friendly.

Also, if you have a mobile-friendly version of your newsletter, make sure your website is also mobile-friendly for consistency and better user experience.

6. Get personal. Ask for people’s names.

Otherwise, you are going to kick yourself later on. And then you’d need to learn self-defense against yourself, and that could get weird… so might as well just think about asking for someone’s name now and save yourself the pain down the line. True, when people see more than one field to fill out in a form, they may avoid it altogether. But. You can ‘trick’ people by only putting the email field in the signup box on your site, and then when they click submit, they’ll be taken to another page that asks them for their first name as well. Then, when you’re crafting your newsletters, you’ll be able to say “Hey Jane!” instead of “Hey you!”. Chances are that people will feel more connected to you if they are being addressed by their first name.

7. Graphic Appeal. See how boring good ol’ point number seven would’ve been without an image.

If you’re trying to wing it yourself, and don’t have a designer on call, you can use Canva or PicMonkey to create and edit funky graphics. You can also find free stock photos here, though obviously it’s better if they’re original photos that capture your organization’s activities.

8. People are not thinking about you all day, every day. Even though that would be nice.

Remind people who you are and why they subscribed. In the footer of your newsletter – include text that says something like ‘Thank you for being a part of our efforts to help sustain the whatever it is we’re trying to sustain’. People may forget what the core of the organization is with the new stories and initiatives that keep popping up in each newsletter.

9. Ask people what they want to hear about.

Ask people for their feedback or if they have questions about a certain topic or initiative. If people feel you’re open to their comments and concerns, they’ll be more open to hearing what you have to say too.

10. To intro or not to intro.

I think this is up for debate, but something to consider asking. Before jumping right into the latest update from your organization, it might be nice to start off, even with something brief, like “In this edition, we’d like to share our latest xyz with you. Thanks for reading!” to help re-introduce yourself to your reader who may not have heard from you in a while.

Inspiration from real newsletters

That all sounds great, but it can be hard to know where to get started. There’s nothing like inspiration to…inspire, so here are some examples of successful newsletters to help you out. Not all of these newsletter examples are from non-profits, but in general, they are all very nicely done with clear sections, calls to action, and good balance of images and real text.

 RSPCA

 

Litmus

Boys and Girls Club

 

 

University of Newcastle

 

Inspiration galleries

Free Email Marketing for Non-Profits

We have encountered many non-profits that send mass emails to their lists through Outlook or Gmail. This is a bad idea for the following reasons:

  1. Your email may be identified as a spammer since sending so many emails at once is unnatural.
  2. You are managing your subscribers via Excel sheets. That is craziness. You can end up with double email addresses, and when users want to unsubscribe you have to remove them manually, and hope you didn’t forget them in some other Excel sheet.
  3. You can’t track delivery rate, or click-through rate, so you have no idea who’s getting your emails, what content is most interesting to your users, etc. You are running on no data, and in the age of the internet, there is no excuse for that.

Email marketing services take care of all of the above and more for you. There are many good ones out there, and some of them offer special deals for non-profits. Here is a selection:

  • MailChimp – if your list has fewer than 2,000 subscribers, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month for free. If you have more, you get a 15% discount off their standard pricing.
  • Vertical Response – up to 10,000 emails per month for free.
  • Constant Contact – Save 10%-30%.

So, to wrap things up, despite the increase in social media activity, email newsletters are still proving to help raise money and keep close ties with your community, since you have been given permission to arrive at their doorstep on a regular basis. You might as well use it.

 

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I got to talk about the future of WordPress for two hours, and it was awesome. #WPThinkTank https://illuminea.com/the-future-of-wordpress-wpthinktank/ https://illuminea.com/the-future-of-wordpress-wpthinktank/#respond Thu, 27 Feb 2014 15:52:47 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=7100 With WordPress powering over 20% of the web, millions are tied into it as it powers their blogs, sites and applications. Along with all those site owners and users, WordPress businesses like ours are among those invested in the future of WordPress. That’s why a bunch of us came together a few days ago for  Continue »

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With WordPress powering over 20% of the web, millions are tied into it as it powers their blogs, sites and applications. Along with all those site owners and users, WordPress businesses like ours are among those invested in the future of WordPress. That’s why a bunch of us came together a few days ago for WPThinkTank to brainstorm together on issues that WordPress faces, and how we can work together to ensure a strong, WordPress future.

WPThinkTank is the brainchild of Troy Dean, an energetic member of the WordPress community who is involved in many projects, including Video User Manuals and WP Elevation. WP Elevation is a business accelerator for WordPress consultants, and as part of that activity Troy interviews WordPressers from around the world. After interviewing a bunch of us (here’s the video of my interview), he realized that there was a hunger for more in-depth discussion about the future of WordPress. And thus WPThinkTank was born.

The panelists:
Matt Mullenweg – Founder, WordPress. CEO, Automattic
Jake Goldman – President and Owner, 10up
Lisa Sabin-Wilson – Partner, WebDev Studios and Appresser
Shane Pearlman – CEO, Modern Tribe
Tom Willmot – Human Made, Happy Tables, WP Remote
Scott Basgaard – WooThemes, WordSesh co-organizer
Me

We discussed WordPress for two hours. When I found out it was going to be two hours, I wasn’t sure how I would make it to the end, since it started at 10 pm Israel time. But the time flew, and I was wide awake, talking about one of my favorite topics with such amazing and inspiring people – including Matt Mullenweg, the co-Founder of WordPress! What a privilege.

Among the topics discussed: the usability of the admin, the difficulty in finding WordPress developers, working together as businesses to increase general awareness of WordPress as a solid enterprise solution, and having champions within businesses who encourage their superiors to go with WordPress as an optimum content management solution.

The feedback from the community was amazing:

And someone even said it beats football. Wow:

Here’s the recording. It’s long, so if you’re going to watch it, stock up on coffee, and fire up Candy Crush :)

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SMX Israel 2014: the future of mobile SEO is here https://illuminea.com/smx-israel-2014-future-mobile-seo/ https://illuminea.com/smx-israel-2014-future-mobile-seo/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 16:02:57 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=7086 On January 26, SMX came to Israel again for the third time, and as usual it was great. Lunch was delicious, the wi-fi mostly worked, and there were so many great speakers. It was also cool seeing all the participants who flew in from around the world, and based on write-ups that I saw, they  Continue »

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On January 26, SMX came to Israel again for the third time, and as usual it was great. Lunch was delicious, the wi-fi mostly worked, and there were so many great speakers. It was also cool seeing all the participants who flew in from around the world, and based on write-ups that I saw, they had a great time here! Hope you come again next year, international SEOs!

I was privileged to speak again, this time on one of my (latest) favorite topics: mobile SEO.

The mobile SEO panel consisted of myself and the world’s most famous webmaster, Google’s John Mueller, moderated by Barry Schwartz, the conference organizer. John spoke about Google’s guidelines and recommendations for mobile, particularly related to creating responsive websites vs. m-dot (like m.mysite.com) versions of a site that are generally standalone. The audience had lots of questions for him about proper implementation in various use cases, and his answers were really useful.

My presentation is below, but first here is an overview of the points I made:

The mobile future is now

And I have lots of shiny graphs in the presentation to prove it. Like this one:

Why responsive? Because Google said so?

Why is responsive the recommended method for mobile sites? Google saying so isn’t enough of a reason (even though it’s a pretty good reason). But we have to ask why Google prefers responsive. Is it because it’s better for them (easier to index) or because it’s better for the user? I go through the pros and cons of responsive design in slide 8. For example: responsive sites have one URL which makes it easier to share and track analytics, but many are too slow due to poor handling of images and Javascript.

I gave some tips on creating useful responsive sites, including offering users the to toggle between responsive and desktop versions of sites so they aren’t forced to see only the responsive version on their mobile devices.

Does a responsive site have an impact on SEO?

I presented a case study of a site that we redid with responsive design. In general, overall stats went up. Most impressive was the increase of 139% in mobile organic traffic. There is not clear causation here since the increase may be due to the overall improvement to usability on the site. But still.

Tablets: don’t over-optimize for them

Too many site owners get all excited about mobile and create stripped down, mobile versions of their sites for tablets. Don’t! You can streamline some things, but tablet users use sites in a similar fashion to desktop users, and spend a similar amount of time on sites, which is good for you and better than smartphone users who jump in and out…so don’t mess with that! Embrace it and leave well enough alone. I showed an example of an over-optimized tablet site: Renault Israel. The desktop site is not great (why is the title tag on the page that lists the models “Range cars”?!), but the tablet site is just painful. Ow.

Want more information about our cars? They come in colors? Oh you wanted to know about air bags and important things like that? You’ll have to visit our desktop site. On your laptop. Because you can’t see it here on your tablet.

The future is mobile first, with app-like websites

I finished off by talking about the difference in user behavior between apps and responsive mobile sites. Smartphone users spend 80% of the time using apps, and only 20% of the time in browsers. The reason: apps are designed for mobile users first, while responsive sites are modified desktop versions, and are often slow, clunky and unwieldy. So I believe that the future of mobile sites is some kind of hybrid that bridges the advantages of responsive (one URL, future-proof, etc.) with the extreme usability of mobile apps.

Here’s my presentation:

You can see all the presentations from SMX Israel here: http://www.slideshare.net/tag/smx%20israel. Barry has rounded-up all the post-event posts that were written here: http://www.seroundtable.com/smx-israel-2014-recap-18057.html.

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Learn about mobile SEO at SMX Israel…next week! https://illuminea.com/mobile-seo-at-smx-israel-2014/ https://illuminea.com/mobile-seo-at-smx-israel-2014/#respond Sun, 19 Jan 2014 14:39:26 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=7050 SMX Israel 2014 is around the corner, and there’s a really great lineup of speakers and topics that will be covered: link building tactics, YouTube optimization, Hebrew SEO, recovering from penalties (ooooh that’s a critical one), and more. I’ll be speaking on a panel with John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, aka the very helpful  Continue »

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SMX Israel 2014 is around the corner, and there’s a really great lineup of speakers and topics that will be covered: link building tactics, YouTube optimization, Hebrew SEO, recovering from penalties (ooooh that’s a critical one), and more. I’ll be speaking on a panel with John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, aka the very helpful guy who answers your questions on the Google Webmaster forums and in Hangouts, on the topic of mobile SEO. John’s joining us from Switzerland! Barry Schwartz, the conference organizer, will be moderating.

And it appears that a lot of the attendees are interested in our session. Oh my:

I requested to speak on mobile SEO because it’s such an exciting and fresh field, especially for web developers like ourselves, and it’s just getting started. With mobile usage growing exponentially, it’s clear that the web’s future is mobile. Google in particular is pushing hard for websites to become mobile-friendly, with the notification that they “plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.” In other words, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it may take a hit in the search engine results.

Yet we can’t ignore non-mobile devices, as laptops and desktops still make up a large percentage of traffic to websites. How do we make sure our websites are user-friendly and useful to visitors, no matter what device they are using to access it? And what does that mean: “mobile-friendly”? What deems a site mobile-friendly or not? What are best practices when it comes to creating mobile sites? What are some pitfalls you may experience? And how does having a mobile site impact your site’s rankings and traffic? Since 2013 was the first year that every one of the sites that we built was responsive, we’ve learned quite a bit along the way about this topic. John will be bringing the Google angle to the session, and I’ll be coming from our experience at illuminea implementing mobile websites for clients.

I’m really excited, and hope you are too! If haven’t yet ordered tickets, there are about 20 left (last I heard), and you can register here: https://www.rustybrick.com/smx/.

Hope to see you there! And stay tuned for my follow up post where I’ll round up what I’ve learned at the conference.

P.S. Barry Schwartz will be keynoting this year, and it’s about time! It’s great that he’s taking the stage like that as we can all learn a ton from him, and it’s also great that the conference will start off with everyone in one place. It’s a good way to start the day.

P.P.S. There’s been a lot of talk about booth babes since CES. I actually never knew what a booth babe was until I attended another search marketing conference here in Israel and was accosted by some very scantily clad women at the entrance who were selling…who knows what they were selling? Someone said, “oh, those are booth babes” and I thought that they were just being witty. Turned out that’s the actual industry term for these women. And then someone took our picture together, because what says “search conference souvenir” like a picture of me with some bare-skinned babes? Needless to say, my reaction to this whole phenomenon can be summed up with one word: barf. So thanks Barry, for keeping it pleasant for the dosim and womankind.

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4 Dead-Easy Steps to Protect Your WordPress Site Against Hackers https://illuminea.com/protect-wordpress-site-hackers/ https://illuminea.com/protect-wordpress-site-hackers/#comments Mon, 13 Jan 2014 12:38:04 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=7020 Newsflash: If you run a WordPress website, you should absolutely take basic steps to secure it against hackers. OK. This is not really news to you and me. The problem is, that if you are like most people, you don’t consider website security to be an exciting topic. You acknowledge it’s important, but, hey, it’s  Continue »

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Newsflash: If you run a WordPress website, you should absolutely take basic steps to secure it against hackers.

OK. This is not really news to you and me.

The problem is, that if you are like most people, you don’t consider website security to be an exciting topic. You acknowledge it’s important, but, hey, it’s also kinda boring and technical.

Also there’s that catchy old “It won’t happen to me” chorus playing at the back of your mind.

So website security languishes at the very bottom of of your to-do list, and never gets any attention.

But what if I told you could ramp up your website security right now, all by yourself, in 18 minutes or less, without spending a penny?

Now that’s news!

Just follow these 4 dead-easy steps, you’ll soon be free to get back to the other, more thrilling tasks on your to-do list:

(Note these steps refer specifically to WordPress sites, but can be applied to most other content management systems.)

1. Delete the username “admin”

The default username when creating a WordPress site is “admin.” Most people keep this username. This makes it dead easy for hackers to guess your username. Then they are already half logged in to your site.

So delete any account with the username “admin.”

Note: if the account with username “admin” is the only user that currently has Administrator-level access, you won’t be able to delete it until you first create and login with a different Administrator-level account. WordPress needs to ensure that there is some way to access Administrator functions for your site.

Time needed: 4 minutes

2. Strengthen Your Password

Hackers use software to instantaneously test every word in Wikipedia against your password. So anything that is a real word or name in any language should not be used. Any logical or significant number sequence should not be used.

That means don’t use your pet’s name, your kid’s birthday, or anything else that vaguely makes sense.

The best passwords include a random arrangement of uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols. In other words, they should be gibberish.

You can use a password generator to help you do this – just make sure to save your passwords in a secure place.

So go now and change your website login password to something really incomprehensible. Ask other users to do the same.

Time needed: 2 mins

3. Delete and Update

WordPress has a bit of a bad rap for being “insecure.” In fact, a WordPress site only becomes insecure when you fail to keep it up to date. Any part of your site that is not updated to its latest version presents a security risk. Hackers find vulnerabilities in sites through outdated files, themes and plugins.

So go now and make sure that you are updated to:

  • The latest version of WordPress
  • The latest version of all installed plugins
  • The latest version of all installed themes

While you’re in there, it’s best to delete any plugins or themes that you don’t use or need. These are likely to become outdated without you noticing, creating future security risks.

Time needed: 8 mins

4. Limit Login Attempts

At illuminea, we install a plugin like this on all our clients’ WordPress sites: the Limit Login Attempts plugin. It’s really a clever little thing-a-ma-jig.

One of the common ways that hackers attempt to gain access to a site is by using software that bombards the login page with an infinite number of username and password combinations, until they strike gold. And if you are not following steps 1 and 2, they will strike gold pretty fast. This was how the Brute Force attacks were so successful in destroying many WordPress sites in 2013.

That’s the beauty of this plugin: it limits the number of times that anyone can attempt to login to your site within one single hour to some reasonable human number, like five.

If you are the forgetful type, set it to 10 :)

So off you go to search for and install the “Limit Login Attempts” plugin on your site.

Time needed: 4 mins

OK. We’re done.

That’s all you need to do to take your website security up a notch.

But Wait, Will This Really Protect My Site Against Menacing “Hacktivists”?

You may ask yourself: Malicious hackers have taken down expertly-secured sites belonging to the US Government and PayPal. What chance do I have of protecting my site against them, with a few simple DIY measures?

In reality, these tips are not fool-proof but they do raise your security level over most of the sites on the web. The average hacker prefers to target the weakest among us, so by raising your site out of that category, you can really help to protect your site.

If you have reason to believe that your site could be a specific target of expert hackers, then you will need much stronger measures than this. The best way to know if you are in this high-risk category is if you have already been subject to more than one hacking attempt.

If this is you, you need to consult an expert.

For the rest of us, extreme measures are not usually necessary. At the same time, a few simple security steps could save huge headaches and a lot of money rebuilding a site that has been maliciously hacked.

So set a timer for 18 minutes and go for it!

Original post appeared on illuminea

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WordPress for startups: what you need to know to make the most of it https://illuminea.com/wordpress-for-startups-what-you-need-to-know/ https://illuminea.com/wordpress-for-startups-what-you-need-to-know/#respond Mon, 23 Dec 2013 11:53:39 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=6977 More and more startups look towards WordPress to get their website off the ground, and for good reason! WordPress is Open Source, so you’re not locked into one vendor forever; it integrates well with search and social marketing; it’s easy to manage; and the themes are either free or cost very little! It’s many a  Continue »

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More and more startups look towards WordPress to get their website off the ground, and for good reason! WordPress is Open Source, so you’re not locked into one vendor forever; it integrates well with search and social marketing; it’s easy to manage; and the themes are either free or cost very little! It’s many a startup’s dream come true.

However, getting a solid WordPress site off the ground is actually not so simple. First of all, it’s a website – it needs to take into consideration everything that any website needs to have, like usable navigation, organized content, calls-to-action, etc. In addition to the standard website issues, it’s important to go into setting up a WordPress site as an educated consumer. Here are some factors that are important to take into consideration:

  1. The quality of the WordPress theme – is the developer reliable? Is the theme too heavy with options that it becomes impossible to make even small changes to the theme?
  2. Hosting – where you host the site is a critical decision, and it’s not just about the uptime, but about the service. Do you have someone to turn to when (not if) your site has issues? This is so critical that we at illuminea actually provide a managed WordPress hosting service to make sure our clients’ sites are updated, backed up, and they have someone to turn to when necessary.
  3. Configuring your WordPress site – once your site is installed, are you making sure to configure it according to best practices? How are your permalinks set up? Are comments moderated? Etc.
  4. WordPress Plugins – installing too many plugins can impact the performance of your site, but there are many plugins that are extremely valuable to have. Do you know which plugins you can live without, and which you need?
  5. The mobile web – is your site responsive? Is the responsiveness useful to the user, or annoying? What the heck is a responsive site?
  6. Security – is your site secure? Did you implement the basic security best practices to keep your site running as smoothly as possible?
  7. Optimization – is your site optimized for search and social? Does it include semantic data?

The above can be overwhelming, and that’s why I gave a talk a few months ago at the Hub in Tel Aviv on this topic. I go into depth on each of the above issues, explaining what to look for and what to avoid. See my presentation below, or here’s a link directly to the presentation on Slideshare:

By planning your WordPress site for your startup properly before you get started, you can ensure a longer life for your site, and less grey hairs on your head!

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Two ways to make sure people see your Facebook Page posts despite latest feed algorithm update https://illuminea.com/two-ways-to-make-sure-people-still-see-your-facebook-updates/ https://illuminea.com/two-ways-to-make-sure-people-still-see-your-facebook-updates/#comments Thu, 19 Dec 2013 13:57:33 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=6967 Facebook updated their news feed algorithm at the beginning of December, with the stated goal of pushing higher quality news stories into people’s feeds: “We’ve noticed that people enjoy seeing articles on Facebook, and so we’re now paying closer attention to what makes for high quality content, and how often articles are clicked on from  Continue »

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Facebook updated their news feed algorithm at the beginning of December, with the stated goal of pushing higher quality news stories into people’s feeds:

“We’ve noticed that people enjoy seeing articles on Facebook, and so we’re now paying closer attention to what makes for high quality content, and how often articles are clicked on from News Feed on mobile. What this means is that you may start to notice links to articles a little more often (particularly on mobile).”

Ok, so we should be seeing more content from high-end news sources and less Buzzfeed memes, right?

Wrong. The most significant thing that has happened is not related to what Facebook described. Instead, we’re seeing much, much fewer Facebook Page updates in our feeds.

How much less? Well, at one point Facebook claimed that about 16% of a Facebook Page’s fans see their updates; according to a study conducted by Ignite Social Media, now that number is barely scraping 3%.

Let’s put that into hard, cold numbers: if your page has 2000 fans, your posts were reaching about 320 of them at any given time. Not great, but not terrible. Now, your Facebook posts are maybe reaching 60 of them. Oy.

But I need people to see my stuff!

Like all the social networks and big internet properties, Facebook is in it to make money. Until now, Facebook Pages have more or less been a way for brands to advertise for free, and now Facebook expects to get paid: if you want people to see your content, you can sponsor your posts and Facebook will push them to more people.

It sucks for brands, and it sucks for marketers. But as always in the world of the interwebz, there are ways, my friends. Here are some ideas you can use to overcome the new Facebook decrees:

Use your personal profile for business

Yes, we don’t like to mix business and personal; yes, it can get messy and complicated. But if you segment your “friends” with Facebook lists, you can make sure that only your family sees the pictures of your kids at the beach, while the video of your latest lecture on semantic data is displayed to your professional connections and not to Grandpa.

For businesses that aren’t Coca Cola or Nike, there’s an advantage to posting as a person rather than as a corporate entity. Many CEOs and managers are the faces of their company, and people would like to hear from them (think Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO. Zappos is huge, but it wasn’t always.). By posting as yourself, you can also increase engagement overall since people react more positively to people.

You can encourage your website visitors to join your Facebook network by adding a Follow button to the site, rather than the standard Like box or button. The Follow button behaves a lot like the Like button, as it allows people to follow you with one click, and shows the faces of the user’s other friends who have Followed this person too:

Other advantages of using your Facebook profile for business:

  • You can sponsor your own personal posts now, so if you post something particularly juicy and want to make sure it reaches farther, you can still pay Facebook for that.
  • The 5000 friend limit is irrelevant now, since you can have an unlimited number of Followers on your Facebook profile. And Followers have a lot in common technically with Fans.

The disadvantage of using your personal Facebook profile for business is that you can’t add other managers with various permission levels to your account; and you don’t have access to Facebook Insights analytics (though if no one is engaging with your content anymore, there’s not much to see there). It’s certainly overall an unconventional way to go, but it’s an option nonetheless.

Build up your email list, now

People’s inboxes are more crowded then ever, and your emails will have to compete for attention among hundreds of other emails, but your message still has a higher rate of being noticed when it arrives in the inbox of an opted-in subscriber than if it floats off into the other dimension where Facebook Page updates go to be un-read.

So start building up your email list now: add an opt-in box to your site, add an opt-in tab to your Facebook page (though no one will see it), encourage your twitter followers to sign up. Offer something free and juicy as an incentive to get people to subscribe. But start today, because every day that goes by is an opportunity to get another person into your email communication.

So you see? All is not lost. Just remember: you can’t ever depend 100% on Facebook, so keep your online activity diversified. And always make sure you have a good website – it’s the only online property you can really own.

Original post appeared on illuminea

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How to add semantic data to your WordPress site in 20 minutes or less – my talk at WordSesh 2013 https://illuminea.com/add-semantic-data-wordpress-site-20-minutes-less-my-talk-wordsesh-2013/ https://illuminea.com/add-semantic-data-wordpress-site-20-minutes-less-my-talk-wordsesh-2013/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 10:44:00 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=6925 A bit over a week ago I was invited to speak at the second WordSesh online conference. WordSesh is a full day of live WordPress presentations from all over the world. The presentations were live-streamed via Google Hangouts, and you can see my presentation and the video at the end of this post. I spoke about  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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A bit over a week ago I was invited to speak at the second WordSesh online conference. WordSesh is a full day of live WordPress presentations from all over the world. The presentations were live-streamed via Google Hangouts, and you can see my presentation and the video at the end of this post. I spoke about how WordPress site owners and developers can easily add semantic data to their websites.

What is semantic data?

Semantic data…sounds dry and unexciting, and super-techy, right? Well, it’s one of the most exciting things happening under-the-hood of more and more of the websites you visit on a daily basis. And it’s something almost anyone can add pretty easily to their web pages. When you look at a website, you see a certain format, like a header area, navigation bar, maybe a sidebar, content area and a footer. You also see text, images, and video. All of that appears as it does thanks to code, called HTML. HTML basically tells the browser how your content should look – the size and color of the text, headers, etc. You don’t see the HTML code, just the final appearance of the site. Now site owners can add some more unseen code that identifies content as having certain meaning! Here’s how this would look in the code. If your web page says the following: <h1>Jane Apple</h1> a bot can know that that the text is important since it’s wrapped in H1 header tags, but can’t know for sure if the text refers to a person, a fruit, or a computer! But if you add tags to the content that tells a bot what type of content it’s encountering, it becomes “clear” that this is a person. The code with semantic tags would look like this: <div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Person”>

<div itemprop=”name”><strong>Jane Apple</strong></div></div>

The code above uses the schema.org semantic tagging vocabulary. There are many types of semantic data formats available, but recently the three major search engines announced that the vocabulary they prefer and most support is that of schema.org. The schema.org website has lots of information on the many types of semantic tagging available (i.e. people, events, recipes, products and more), and how to implement them in your code.

Why is semantic data important?

Because Google said so

Basically, Google’s bots can’t understand the context behind content, yet Google wants to serve up the most relevant data to users. Until the bots achieve a level of artificial intelligence that allows them to accurately identify what content means, Google is basically asking us to help them by spelling it out.

In particular, Google’s latest search algorithm update, dubbed Hummingbird, has placed a strong emphasis on conversational semantic search, like the type of voice searches people execute from their mobile devices. Enriching your content with semantic data can help it appear more in relevant search results. It’s important to note that Matt Cutts, Google’s voice-piece, has stated that adding semantic data won’t help your pages rank higher (video). But I think that we can understand that while a site might not appear higher for target keywords, it can appear more “broadly,” i.e. in more places and in more search results where it’s now clear that it’s relevant.

Because it can increase the click-through-rate to your site

I’m sure you’ve seen search results that have more to them than just text, like the search result below:

See the star-rating there? That’s rich data, which is also known as a “rich snippet” in Google jargon. Here’s another example:

See my smiling face? It’s appearing because the post is directly connected with semantic data to my Google+ profile, and my profile picture there. Also, note the breadcrumbs that show you where in the hierarchy of our site this page appears: illuminea.com > Our Blog. This type of search result is thanks to semantic data as well. Various studies have shown that users tend to click through more to richer search results. Since appearing in search results is only the first step, if you can make your site look more appealing to users, you can also increase your chances of reaching step 2, where a visitor actually lands on your site by clicking through from the search result. Twitter, Facebook and Google+ all have their own semantic data you can add to your site to tell their own parsers what content is the title, meta description, and thumbnail image. By adding this data, you can improve how your content appears when shared on social networks. The better it looks, the higher the likelihood that people will click through to read more on your site.

Because it makes your content more accessible to users

Disabled and limited users can get more out of your site through their screen readers with proper user of semantic data.

How can I add semantic data without having to recode my whole site?

Now to the practicalities. The most difficult, yet most thorough way to to add semantic data to your site is to add it to the source code. In WordPress, this would mean adding it to your theme files. You can refer to the schema.org website for guidelines on how to properly add the tags. But for site owners who aren’t comfortable with code, or for those who want to implement semantic data quickly, here are some tools that can make it easier for you:

Schema Creator

Raven, a provider of online marketing management software, created a free service for generating semantic code for your site called Schema Creator. The generator can create semantic code for the following types of content:

  • Person
  • Product
  • Event
  • Organization
  • Movie
  • Book
  • Review

As you can see, it doesn’t cover all the types of content, including some major ones like Recipes. To use their tool, enter the information to be tagged in the form, and then copy-and-paste the code from the Code window into your site.

Raven Schema Creator form for generating semantic code for content

This isn’t the best approach for a dynamic website like one based on WordPress, but it could be good for marking up the content on a per-page basis. For example, you could use this for your contact page, or for an event you are organizing, or even your staff pages.

Schema Creator WordPress Plugin

Lucky for us WordPress users, Raven also created the Schema Creator by Raven WordPress plugin. Once installed on your site, it makes it really easy to add semantic code on a per-page basis, and even to your whole site.

On the plugin’s main settings page, you can choose to add itemprop and itemtype to the main body tag or content wrapper, which tags the whole article as an article type. This is useful since it’s a good idea for all blog posts and site pages to be marked as articles.

Raven Schema Creator WordPress plugin settings

After installing and activating the plugin, you will notice a new button that will appear above the content editor for pages and posts.

When you click on it, it opens up a dialogue box where you can choose the type of semantic data you want to add, and fields to fill in with the information to be tagged.

Selecting type of content to tag in WordPress with Raven Schema Creator Plugin

Google Structured Data Markup Helper

Google provides a free tool for generating structured data for your entire web page called the Structured Data Markup Helper. This tool allows you to choose the type of data to be tagged, then enter the URL of a page and tag it up by highlighting the various content types and tagging it. It’s a really user-friendly and seamless process.

Step 1: Select type of data, and enter URL of page to be tagged in Google Structured Data Markup Helper

Check out this short screencast I made showing you how the tool works: The problem with this tool is that it generates semantic code per-page, which is good for a static HTML site, but not for a dynamic WordPress site. Luckily, Google also offers a tool that is more suited to dynamic sites…

Google Webmaster Tools Structured Data Tool

Google Webmaster Tools is a system that Google offers for free to website owners for analyzing the performance of a website. Within the system there are numerous useful tools, one of which is the Structured Data tool. You can find it under the Search Appearance section when you’re looking at a specific site within Google Webmaster Tools.

This area shows you how your site’s structured data is performing.

Google’s Structured Data tool shows you graphs and data about your site’s structured data

But it also allows you to tag your content with semantic data with the Data Highlighter tool. It works similarly to the Google Structured Data Markup Helper listed above, but instead of working on a per-page basis, it applies itself to groups of pages structured in a similar manner, like all individual blog post pages, or maybe the event pages in a calendar you may have. Once you have finished tagging your site, you submit the data to Google, and do not actually have to modify the code on your site itself. The way this works is both an advantage and disadvantage: it’s really easy to use so pretty much everyone can add semantic data to their site; but only Google will see your semantic data since it’s not actually implemented on the code level. Other search engines, screen readers and other parsers won’t see this data.

Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin

Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all have their own semantic data that they would like you to add to your website: Facebook has Open Graph, Twitter has Twitter Cards, and Google+ has authorship. This data helps those networks better present your content when shared there. There are a number of tags that can be added, and you can see them all within the presentation above. Lucky for us WordPress users, there is a plugin that adds all necessary tags to your site if you want it too: Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin. For more information on what type of data Yoast’s plugin can add, and how to configure it for your site, check out the presentation above. And for more on the awesome things Yoast’s plugin does under the hood of your WordPress website, check out my post on WPGarage: 6 reasons Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin is even more awesome then you realize.

Making sure it all works

So now you’ve added all this data to your site, but how do you know you added it properly? There are a few tools to help you out with that:

  1. Facebook Debugger – this is a Facebook tool that allows you to enter the URL of a page, and get a report on what Facebook Open Graph data on your page is ok, what is not, and what is missing. Tip: if you have added semantic data to your page so that a specific image, title, description etc. appears when it is shared on Facebook, but it’s not working as you’d like, it may be a problem with an older cached version of your page stored in Facebook. By entering your URL in this tool, it also refreshes Facebook’s cache so your post will appear as it should when shared.
  2. Google Structured Data Testing Tool – this is yet another free Google tool. It analyzes the structured data on your page and tells you what’s ok and what’s not.

To wrap up

With tools that make it really easy to add semantic data to your website, you might as well add some today. If the above seems overwhelming, start tagging something small, like your contact page, or staff page, with the Google Webmaster Tools Structured Data tool. Once you’ve done that, you may feel more comfortable to take your journey with semantic data further!

Presentation and Video

Without further ado, here is my presentation and video from WordSesh.  

Original post appeared on illuminea

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5 Things to Dump from Your Homepage Now https://illuminea.com/5-things-dump-homepage-now/ https://illuminea.com/5-things-dump-homepage-now/#comments Tue, 19 Nov 2013 08:20:02 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=6889 We are all on a quest for a great homepage that represents our brand and serves our goals. Unfortunately, we fall into the trap of overcrowding our home pages with features and elements that drive visitors away. Here are 5 major homepage mistakes that we all see everyday – and some tips on how you  Continue »

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We are all on a quest for a great homepage that represents our brand and serves our goals.

Unfortunately, we fall into the trap of overcrowding our home pages with features and elements that drive visitors away.

Here are 5 major homepage mistakes that we all see everyday – and some tips on how you can easily avoid them:

Sorry to do this to you, Ms. iStock, but no one actually believed you were answering the phones anyway

1. Just Say No to Stock Photos:

Stock photos play a big role in web marketing and design, but they should be used with caution. As illustrative images for blog posts or peripheral elements that make your design pop, a quick browse around your favorite stock site can be a low-cost and easy solution.

But using stock images too prominently on your homepage is increasingly becoming a no-no. Savvy web users know how to spot them. Every time I land on a site only to be greeted by a smiling, business-casual, multi-racial bunch, expertly backlit and photoshopped, I start to wonder why you don’t have real photos of your real team, your real products and your real customers.

Of course, they can sometimes work and help get a new site off the ground without investing in original photos. But try to not to use them too prominently, and try avoid the cliched usual suspects.

2. Adios, Twitter Feeds

It is quite popular to have Twitter feeds embedded in sidebars, footers and even tickers scrolling across your home page. These show your latest tweets and mentions updated in real time, and supposedly present a picture of your organization as a dynamic outfit.

At illuminea, we beg to differ.

Twitter accounts are often used to carry out conversations that may be valuable to you, but they can’t be understood by others without context. Most of your visitors will not have a clue what to make of tweets like this:

LOL! I’ll check that out #fail #Thanksgiving @fatjuicyboy247 @CocaCola

So lose the Twitter feed from the homepage! And perhaps the rest of the site too.

3. So long, Social Media Smorgasbord

Many websites have a line of social media icons placed in headers, footers and sidebars. The idea is that interested visitors will follow you on their prefered social networks and this will give you the chance to interact with them going forward.

This can work well, and social media savvy visitors will indeed click on these icons, discover your profile and follow you.

illuminea’s Social Media Smorg: How do you keep up with all these, Miriam?

But what if they click on an icon and find a profile that is inactive and out-of-date? You’ve just wasted valuable homepage real estate to make yourself look really lame.

Pinterest, Vine, Google+, MySpace, Twitter, even Facebook… if these are not your stomping grounds, do not prominently feature their icons on your homepage.

4. To the Trash, Mr. Flash

If you have any funky Flash animations on your homepage, they should be at the top of your “To-Dump” list. Besides hogging memory and being bad for SEO, Flash is not viewable on some of the world’s most popular devices, including iPads and iPhones.

That’s right: all those Apple devotees cannot see all those fancy-pants Flash websites properly.

‘Nuff said.

5. Au Revoir, Sliders and Carousels

I know this one’s going to be controversial, but sometimes you’ve got to say what you believe.

Rotating sliders and carousels have become extremely common as the main feature of homepages everywhere. Designers think they jazz up a boring, static homepage and allow you to target various audiences in a single space.

I’m sorry to report that they are wrong. The latest usability tests find that users ignore sliders and that they interfere with SEO. Even worse, they usually don’t work well on mobile.

I know it’s going to be tough for some of you to say “au revoir” to your homepage’s rotating carousel, with its carefully selected images and text. But sometimes if you love something, you have to let it go… especially if it’s undermining the effectiveness of your website.

Limit yourself to one main message that you want to convey on that prime homepage real estate.

Just Do It!

All these things have one thing in common: everyone is (or was) doing them!

It’s hard to break from the pack, but the effectiveness of your website – especially your homepage – is too important to sacrifice to peer pressure.

Be brave. Slash that homepage clutter and start giving more prominence to your core marketing message and call to action.

And enjoy the results!

Original post appeared on illuminea

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3 excellent sources for keeping up-to-date on WordPress news https://illuminea.com/3-excellent-sources-for-wordpress-news/ https://illuminea.com/3-excellent-sources-for-wordpress-news/#respond Sun, 20 Oct 2013 13:12:23 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=6872 Like any piece of self-respecting software or online service, WordPress and its ecosystem are constantly changing and improving. Between core updates, new plugins, and useful tutorials released by the community, it can be hard to keep track of it all. As an agency that provides WordPress services, we of course must constantly stay up-to-date on  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Like any piece of self-respecting software or online service, WordPress and its ecosystem are constantly changing and improving. Between core updates, new plugins, and useful tutorials released by the community, it can be hard to keep track of it all.

As an agency that provides WordPress services, we of course must constantly stay up-to-date on what’s going on. I follow many sources and read them daily, but there are a few that really stand out, and they are listed below. These resources are updated on a consistent and constant basis, and manage to truly pick the most important and useful news out there for you to consume.

So if you also want to stay abreast of what’s going on in WordPress-land, you may find these resources useful too:

wpMail

wpMail is curated by Cristian Antohe from Cozmoslabs. The content is always focused and useful, and presented in an appealing format.

What I really like about wpMail is that its end-goal is to be a good email newsletter. You can’t actually find the content online, it just arrives in your inbox every few weeks. I love a good e-newsletter, and this is one of those. I really think that if you read this, you’ve got yourself covered in terms of the most important WordPress news. And its got pretty branding. I like.

Post Status

Post Status is a blog curated and editorialized by Brian Krogsgard. Brian stays on top of the best and most important WordPress news and shares it on his site, but what’s nice is that he contributes to the link-sharing by also writing original content sharing his perspective on things.

His blog is the opposite of email-targeted content – he offers a newsletter, which I signed up for but I don’t recall ever having received. Plus, the newsletter isn’t meant to share everything he posts on the site; the site says that the newsletter is “a periodic, personally written newsletter from the editor. It’s the opposite of spam, or annoying.” Well, it’s certainly not annoying, since I never got it.

And since that description doesn’t sound like it includes EVERYTHING he posts on his site, and I don’t want to miss anything (I’ve got WordPress FOMO, people), I set up an IFTTT recipe to email me all new posts published in his RSS feed. I’ve shared the recipe so y’all can use it too:

IFTTT recipe: Email me new posts from the PostStatus blog

The Smashing Newsletter

Smashing Magazine is an amazing site covering pretty much everything related to digital creation, whether it’s web design, CSS, Javascript, and of course WordPress. If you are working with WordPress, then it’s best if you keep on top of everything happening related to website design and development in general along with WordPress specifically, and Smashing Magazine can help you do that.

The Smashing Newsletter is published two to three times per month and I read it religiously. Highly recommended.

ManageWP.org

ManageWP.org is the new kid on the WordPress-curation block, brought to you by the folks behind ManageWP. (ManageWP is one of the dashboard solutions for managing multiple WordPress sites from one location.) ManageWP.org is meant to be more of a community-curated site, whereby users can submit content to be shared on the site, and then other users can vote up articles they like, in a Digg-like format. Content is viewable according to Hottest, Latest, and Greatest, and by category (Articles, Plugins, Themes, etc.). The functionality on the site is smart and useful, with a form for submitting articles and starting discussions (you need to login and then get accepted to start sharing! Not so friendly), and other resources including share buttons you can add to your site and a browser bookmarklet. They really thought of everything. Almost.

But here’s the thing: not only does it not offer any newsletter subscription functionality, it doesn’t even have any RSS feeds that I could IFTTT-ify, or you could RSS-feed-ify, if you are so inclined. So I’d have to remember to visit this site on a regular basis, and with all due respect to ManageWP.org, I already visit 356 sites a day, and I don’t have room for even one more website visit in my daily regimen.

Also, it appears that the site is not built on WordPress. It’s too bad if that’s the case, since this could have been an interesting use-case for WordPress.


If you read all of the above, I think that you could rest assured that you are up-to-date on the most important happenings in the world of WordPress. Happy WordPress reading!

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Learn from my mistakes, don’t make them! My talk at WordCamp Europe, and some thoughts https://illuminea.com/wordcamp-europe-presentation-and-thoughts/ https://illuminea.com/wordcamp-europe-presentation-and-thoughts/#comments Sun, 13 Oct 2013 12:22:16 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=6830 WordCamp Europe has come and gone, and it was amazing. I have been to five WordCamps, but all were in Israel, so it was great to expand my WordPress horizons to Europe, and the world. WordCamp Europe was impeccably organized by a group of energetic and passionate volunteers. Everything went smoothly: the sound systems worked,  Continue »

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Miriam Schwab speaking at WordCamp Europe 2013

WordCamp Europe has come and gone, and it was amazing. I have been to five WordCamps, but all were in Israel, so it was great to expand my WordPress horizons to Europe, and the world.

WordCamp Europe was impeccably organized by a group of energetic and passionate volunteers. Everything went smoothly: the sound systems worked, the talks started and ended on time, people got fed…the only thing that didn’t work well was the wifi, but who ever expects the wifi to work at a conference?

You can learn more about the background behind the conference in my interview with Ze Fontainhas, one of the organizers, on WPGarage.

I gave a talk on my experience founding and building a WordPress-focused agency, touching on points like recurring revenue, hiring and firing (ugh), depending on data, and more. Here’s my presentation:

Update Dec. 2013: The video of my talk is finally online! Here ya go – apologies for the extreme wide-screen format:

I spent a lot of time in the halls shmoozing with people, something Konstantin Oberland rightly called “Hallway WordCamp.” As a result, I didn’t attend as many lectures as I would have liked, so here are some of my takeaways from hallways and the lectures I did attend:

The WordPress community is so very friendly

Everyone I met at the conference was super-friendly. I didn’t encounter any big egos, and I think that the WordPress atmosphere gets credit for that. In a world where everything is Open Source, and people gain influence through merit (meritocracy), i.e. how much they have contributed to the greater good of the project, there’s not much room for ego and hierarchy. One of the reasons I’ve always loved WordPress is the community, but I had only really experienced it online. Experiencing it in real life just emphasizes how supportive the community really is.

The structure of the lectures was really smart

The lectures were divided into two days, and each day had two themed tracks. The themes were really smart and clear: earn, build, make, learn. This structure was clearly laid out in the smart lanyards – these were folded in half lengthwise, with one side listing the schedule, and the other showing the addresses of related venues (for the conference, party, contributor day) and our name. With the name tag playing the role of the printed schedule as well, they were easy to access at any time and meant they only had to print one item per person. I liked that, and want to see about implementing that format for the next WordCamp Jerusalem.

Automatic upgrades are coming to WordPress in 3.7

Andrew Nacin, one of the lead developers behind WordPress, gave a talk on what’s in store for WordPress in version 3.7. I got there late, but I was in time to hear the most awesome amazing news ever: minor WordPress updates (the 3.x.1 types of updates that are generally for security and bug fixes) will now take place in the background automatically for all sites. But even more exciting is that by adding four lines of code to functions.php of any site, the site will automatically upgrade EVERYTHING automatically: core, plugins and themes. I literally gasped in awe when I heard that one, and then tweeted it, of course.

One of WordPress’ biggest perceived weaknesses is security, but in the vast majority of cases where sites are hacked, it’s due to the site running on an outdated, vulnerable installation (or due to the use of stupid passwords). If WP sites will now auto-update, this will reduce the risk of compromise for everyone.

What’s 20% when we could have 80%?

WordPress powers 20% of the web. No other single platform comes close to that kind of market share. But Matt Mullenweg sees that as just the beginning. “There’s 80% more to go,” he basically said in his Q&A. He’s right, of course, but how many of us would have the guts to aim so high? Inspiring.

Women of WordPress

The percentage of female speakers was extraordinarily high for a tech conference. At the same time, the overall number of female participants in the conference was very low (this based on the scientific method of scanning the room at any given time and seeing lots of men). I wonder how that worked out, but hopefully having women on stage will encourage other women to come out and attend conferences like this in the future.

Pirates

There was a pirate. His name is Ptah. Avast ye unit testing!

iPhones rule

Someone pointed out to me that I was the only one with an Android phone. I started to pay attention, and that really was the case. There were a handful of other Android users. Why? Wouldn’t developers prefer the more open-nature of the Android platform to the limited and closed iOS?

Europeans are from at least two places

Almost every one I met was from two places, i.e. they were from A, and now lived in B. Here are some of the combos I encountered:

  • Serbia to Sweden
  • Mexico to The Netherlands
  • New Zealand to Norway
  • France to Spain
  • Columbia to France
  • Germany to the US
  • US to The Netherlands

It’s cool.

The importance of web accessibility

When we create websites, we look at what we can see, and test that for bugs and usability. But very few of us have any idea what it’s like to surf the web with limitations. A fascinating session took place with Bram Duvigneau, who is blind from birth. He demonstrated what it’s like to use the web with a screen reader, and spent a good few minutes showing how the WordPress media manager has accessibility issues.

Democratizing the web isn’t only about making sure anyone who can see or isn’t limited in mobility can freely publish opinions and content; it has to include the disabled and limited.

A good blog post costs $850

Vitaly Friedman spoke about his journey as the co-founder of Smashing Magazine, and described how they grew, and decisions they made regarding their commitment to quality along the way. What was really interesting was to see an actual number put down for the cost of one great blog post: $850. It totally makes sense, since researching, writing editing and publishing a good post can take many hours, but this number brings home the fact that quality content is not easy or cheap to create.

All in all, it was an amazing experience, and I’m really looking forward to WordCamp Europe 2014!

I collected a bunch of links and media from WordCamp Europe – if you have anything you want me to add, let me know in the comments below.

Original post appeared on illuminea

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I’m off to WordCamp Europe: WordCamp for the rest of the world (i.e. not in the US)! https://illuminea.com/im-off-to-wordcamp-europe/ https://illuminea.com/im-off-to-wordcamp-europe/#comments Wed, 02 Oct 2013 07:57:13 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=6714 Tomorrow I’ll be leaving on a jet plane for the land of windmills and tulips: Holland. The purpose: to participate in, and speak at, WordCamp Europe! For the first time ever, a pan-European WordCamp is taking place on Oct. 5-7 in Leiden, The Netherlands. As many of you know, we at illuminea have been organizing  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Tomorrow I’ll be leaving on a jet plane for the land of windmills and tulips: Holland. The purpose: to participate in, and speak at, WordCamp Europe! For the first time ever, a pan-European WordCamp is taking place on Oct. 5-7 in Leiden, The Netherlands.

As many of you know, we at illuminea have been organizing the local Israeli WordCamps for the past three years. WordCamp Jerusalem is one of the highlights of our year, when we and hundreds of other WordPress users and developers get to emerge from behind our computers and meet up, and learn from each other. It’s awesome.

However, I’ve never been to a WordCamp outside of Israel, and I particularly always dreamed of going to THE WordCamp in San Francisco. But San Fran is so far, so much jet lag, and so costly, and leaving my kiddies for as long as I’d need to in order to attend WordCamp San Francisco made it basically impossible.

But now, there is another “THE WordCamp” happening, and this time it’s in our neck of the woods(ish): Europe! What’s amazing about this conference is that it recognizes that a significant portion of the WordPress community is not located in the US, and deserves attention too. Why should the rest of the world always have to shlep to the States? Well now we don’t.

Anyways, I am so honored (and terrified) to be among the WordPress luminaries speaking at the event: check out the speakers list here. I am going to be like some awe-struck groupie, trying to meet all the amazing WP people that I’ve communicated with online, but never met face-to-face. WordPress heaven.

And here’s a twitter list of all the speakers:

For those of you who are interested, I’m speaking Sunday afternoon on running a WordPress business. The name of my talk is “Learn from my mistakes, don’t make them: The Business of WordPress”, and I’ll be Open Sourcing some of the most important lessons I’ve learned, by making mistakes of course, over the last seven years of running a WordPress-based business.

Huge kudos to the organizers, who I imagine have forgotten what sleep looks like in the midst of organizing this massive endeavor. And the amount of people who are flying in from every corner of the earth, on their own dime, is also seriously impressive.

In short: this is the WordPress community at its best. I can’t wait.

See you in Leiden!

(Apparently, the Rhine River runs right past where I’m staying in Leiden. So pretty!)

Source: Wikipedia

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WordPress 3.6 is cool: native support for video and audio files, post locking and more https://illuminea.com/cool-features-of-wordpress-3-6/ https://illuminea.com/cool-features-of-wordpress-3-6/#respond Sat, 03 Aug 2013 21:52:52 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=6495 This past Friday, a new version of WordPress was released to the world. Called “Oscar” after Oscar Peterson, a jazz pianist, it includes some pretty cool and exciting updates and features. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights: Native support for video and audio files WordPress has great support for embedding YouTube and Vimeo  Continue »

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This past Friday, a new version of WordPress was released to the world. Called “Oscar” after Oscar Peterson, a jazz pianist, it includes some pretty cool and exciting updates and features. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights:

Native support for video and audio files

WordPress has great support for embedding YouTube and Vimeo videos, but if you wanted to play a video or audio file, like an MP3 or MP4 file, that has been uploaded to a server, you needed to implement some kind of player so that the file would appear as media rather than a link on your site.

Now all you have to do is put the link to the file in your editor, and it will automagically be transformed into an HTML5 player in the front end of the blog. Note: We do not recommend streaming audio or video files from your server since that can use many resources. In cases where possible, it is still a good idea to host your videos on YouTube or another third-party video site, or upload your media files to a separate server, like Amazon S3 and stream it from there.

Post Locking

If you have multiple users on your site, you may find yourself in a situation where two people are working on a page or post simultaneously. This can wreak havoc with your content, leading to situations where it’s unclear what the final version should be!

Now, if you open a page that is being worked on by someone else, you will get a clear message about that. You can choose to take over if necessary, but at least you have to think twice before doing so.

Unique new default theme: Twenty Thirteen

The default WordPress themes that come packaged with WordPress have just been getting better and better. The new Twenty Thirteen theme was designed by Joen Asmussen, and is so unique that some will love it, and others will not. But from a structural and code point-of-view, it’s clean and cool, and sports the following:

  • Great support for post formats – post formats allow users to define a post as having a certain type of content, like a quote or a video, and then that particular post’s style changes accordingly. Like what Tumblr does.
  • Genericon icon font – instead of using icon images, the theme uses an icon font called Genericons (which is available for download under the Open Source GPL license). The advantage of using a font rather than images for icons is that they are way more flexible in terms of the ability to resize or recolor them. Very cool.
  • Responsive – the theme resizes and reformats for mobile devices.

If you want to modify the colors in the theme’s default header, you can thanks to the PSD file that Joen has made available.

Improved Autosave

The worst: working on a post online, only to lose it when your internet or browser crashes. The latest version of WordPress comes to solve that with the following new features:

  • Out-of-the-box autosave every fifteen seconds.
  • Uses HTML5 in your browser to locally save your posts too, in case you lose your internet connection. Brilliant!

And more

Some more noteworthy features in the latest version of WordPress:

  • Embed media from Rdio and Spotify just by pasting the URL (and making sure it’s unlinked), like you can now with other media sources like YouTube, Twitter, Slideshare and more.
  • Improved usability in the Menus area for managing navigation and menus
  • Significant improvements in the post revisions area lets users more easily compare versions
  • Remove the three default contact methods (AIM, YIM, Jabber) for new installs – those were old ages ago. Good to see them go!
  • Security fixes

Check out the video below to see the highlights in action. Note to our hosting clients: your sites have all been upgraded!

 

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Google’s Matt Cutts didn’t really say that we don’t have to worry about duplicate content https://illuminea.com/matt-cutts-didnt-really-say-we-dont-have-to-worry-about-duplicate-content/ https://illuminea.com/matt-cutts-didnt-really-say-we-dont-have-to-worry-about-duplicate-content/#respond Wed, 24 Jul 2013 12:24:51 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=6436 A recent video Q&A with Google’s ambassador to the world, Matt Cutts, is under heavy discussion among the SEO community around the web. In the video, Cutts says that we don’t have to worry if we have duplicate content on our sites. Or does he? Wait, what’s this Duplicate Content business? Some context: it is  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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A recent video Q&A with Google’s ambassador to the world, Matt Cutts, is under heavy discussion among the SEO community around the web. In the video, Cutts says that we don’t have to worry if we have duplicate content on our sites. Or does he?

Wait, what’s this Duplicate Content business?

Some context: it is generally understood that duplicate content is a big no-no if you are trying to optimize your site. Duplicate content, according to Google, refers to when you have one “block” of content on your site, and it also appears (either exactly or in a similar format) somewhere else on your site or on the web. The reason this is considered bad by Google is that in some cases

“content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.” (Duplicate Content entry on Google Webmaster Tools)

This can affect you, the site owner, if for example you publish a blog post on your own site, and on another site. Google doesn’t want to have multiple results for the same content in its search results since that’s really annoying for the user, so it tries to identify which is the original, or best version. Google could very well decide that the other site is the more important version of your content, and your own site can then lose potential rankings and traffic.

Moz has a very good tutorial on duplicate content if you want to find out more about it, and Yoast has a good tutorial on how to avoid it and fix it.

But it is often completely legitimate to have two copies of content on your site – for example, if you have a printer-friendly version of a page, or you have a mobile version of your site that serves a second page with a different URL to mobile devices. (Responsive design serves one URL to all devices, and this is Google’s preferred approach to the mobile web – and ours. More on responsive design in a coming post, but in the meantime check out my presentation on the topic.) That is why Google has come up with a number of ways to indicate to Google that two pages are actually the same, like by adding a rel=canonical tag to your web pages, which tells Google that Page B is actually Page A (don’t worry, all sites built by illuminea have this tag thanks to Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin), and rel=alternate for mobile sites.

So now it seems that Cutts is telling us that other types of duplicate content are ok on our sites. But is he?

Here’s what Cutts is really saying, and not saying, about duplicate content

If you repress your excitement at the possibility that you can stop stressing over duplicate content, and really listen to Cutts, you’ll see that you still should probably stress over duplicate content. Here’s what he’s really saying:

  1. Legal content – He’s only talking about legal boilerplate type of content that is duplicated, like Terms and Conditions. So if any duplicate content can be understood to be ok from this video, it’s only that type.
  2. No guarantee – He doesn’t guarantee that this type of duplicate content is ok. He says it “probably won’t cause you a big issue.” Not very reassuring.

Therefore, until further notice, it’s a good idea to keep on caring about duplicate content on your site.

As part of illuminea’s SEO services, we provide site audits to identify potential areas where a site may not meet Google’s guidelines, like with the case described above of duplicate content.

More about our SEO Site Audit

 
 
 

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Skitch, the awesome screenshot and annotation app, available for Windows! https://illuminea.com/skitch-screenshot-app-available-for-windows/ https://illuminea.com/skitch-screenshot-app-available-for-windows/#respond Tue, 25 Jun 2013 10:32:21 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=6111 For years I’ve been pining over Skitch. Like so many things created by and for Apple, Skitch is beautiful, elegant and simple. It does what it should do, easily and without unnecessary frills. Every so often I’d click through to the Skitch website to see if maybe, just maybe, we lowly Windows users could become  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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For years I’ve been pining over Skitch. Like so many things created by and for Apple, Skitch is beautiful, elegant and simple. It does what it should do, easily and without unnecessary frills. Every so often I’d click through to the Skitch website to see if maybe, just maybe, we lowly Windows users could become Skitchers too. I was suffering from serious FOMO.

Somehow I missed the announcement, but I just did my regularly-scheduled run-by of their site, only to find that yes! I can install and use Skitch on my Windows laptop! Apparently the Windows version was released around the end of 2012. Woops. Well, happy times are here!

What is Skitch? Only one of the awesomest screen capture apps out there

What does it do, you ask? It allows you to grab screenshots or other photos, from your computer, iPad or iPhone, and mark them up and share them – really really easily. Once Skitch was acquired by Evernote, it became seamlessly integrated with Evernote notebooks, allowing users to access images from across all devices. You can also search the words within images thanks to one of Evernote’s most loved features.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Open Skitch. Click on the “screen snap” button to start capturing a screenshot. You can click on the drop-down to the right of the screen snap for more options, like capturing a full screen (good for capturing whole web pages), opening a file, etc.:

    (Ironically I had to use another screen capture app to take screenshots of Skitch! Haha.)
  2. If you choose to do a regular screen snap, you’ll be able to drag a square across the screen to select the area you want to capture.
  3. Once you let go of the mouse, the image will appear in Skitch, ready for your annotations.
  4. You can choose to add arrows, text, pixelate parts of the image, crop, add stamps, and more, from the sidebar icons, or from the edit menu at the top of the screen.

For every day sharing of screenshots, Skitch really does everything you could want a screen capture app to do. So if you’re also a Windows user who’s been watching from the sidelines, go download and install Skitch and try it out.

Happy screen-sharing!

Original post appeared on illuminea

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See updates that a Facebook Page is trying to hide https://illuminea.com/see-hidden-facebook-page-update/ https://illuminea.com/see-hidden-facebook-page-update/#respond Sun, 23 Jun 2013 07:35:51 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=5845 Have you ever posted a status update on the Facebook Page of a company in order to complain about something, only to find that your post has been removed by the page admin? It can be very upsetting. You can’t help but feel that your freedom of expression is being limited, and that the company  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Have you ever posted a status update on the Facebook Page of a company in order to complain about something, only to find that your post has been removed by the page admin? It can be very upsetting. You can’t help but feel that your freedom of expression is being limited, and that the company is trying to look squeaky clean by eradicating anything negative that might be said about them.

An interesting (and disconcerting) new service by ZoomSphere called Hidden Post Explorer takes that power out of the hands of Facebook Page admins. Go to this tool, enter the name of any Facebook Page, and watch as all the angry, hidden and weird posts unfold before your eyes.

I randomly (not) chose Pelephone, one of Israel’s major cellphone service providers, to see what’s going on behind the scenes on their page. Check it out:

For the non-Hebrew speakers among you, here are some excerpts:

“I’ve had enough of you already!! I left my iPhone for repair (because it has reception problems)! They gave me a replacement phone that also has reception problems! It says “searching…” and then says “no reception”!!!! What will be, what??????”

“It’s over two weeks now that I’m dealing with your customer service over an agreement I made in your customer service center! Shame on you that the salesperson does the sale and signs the agreement in place of the customer! And even worse, it takes you over two weeks to deal with a complaint made to the Public Trust [Emun Hatzibur, an Israeli non-profit that advocates for consumer rights – MS] organization! I’m tired of being patient and waiting  for you to get back to me! See you in court over impersonation!”

And other gems like these. You can do this with any Facebook Page. So aside from being able to see what Facebook Page admins are trying to hide, we all need to remember that like pretty much anything that has to with our online, digital lives – nothing is truly private or hidden.

Via MarketingLand

Original post appeared on illuminea

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illuminea creates official WordPress plugin for Mad Mimi https://illuminea.com/illuminea-partners-with-mad-mimi-to-launch-new-wordpress-plugin-official-mad-mimi-sign-up-forms/ https://illuminea.com/illuminea-partners-with-mad-mimi-to-launch-new-wordpress-plugin-official-mad-mimi-sign-up-forms/#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2013 11:27:37 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=5049 We (illuminea) are so excited that we could be part of the creation of a shiny new plugin: Official Mad Mimi Sign Up Forms! for Mad Mimi, the email marketing service. Mad Mimi is all about making their users life simple. With WordPress being the winner in terms of market share for CMSs, they wanted to serve  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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We (illuminea) are so excited that we could be part of the creation of a shiny new plugin: Official Mad Mimi Sign Up Forms! for Mad Mimi, the email marketing service.

Mad Mimi is all about making their users life simple. With WordPress being the winner in terms of market share for CMSs, they wanted to serve that market.

When Mad Mimi asked us to work with them to develop their official WordPress plugin, we were super excited, since we love WordPress and urge all our clients to offer newsletters!  This plugin does what many of our clients will need, which is to easily integrate Mad Mimi sign up forms into their site.

How does it work?

Well… it pretty much does what it says. It makes sure that WordPress peeps have an easy way to display sign up forms on any WordPress site and don’t have to mess around with form embed code.

The way the plugin works is that first you create some forms in Mad Mimi, so that people can, let’s say, get updates about all the yummy cupcakes you’re baking (only organic, sugar-free, fat-free of course), and then head on over to the WordPress plugin, and validate your API key.

Once you’re connected, you’ll see all of your lists displayed and you can insert any of your Mad Mimi forms into your site by using a widget, shortcode, or template tag.

 

Behind the Scenes

As part of the development team, I got to be involved in the whole creation process for the Mad Mimi plugin. After talking to Mad Mimi about what features they want and don’t want, we understood that they are really in tune with their customers and know exactly what functionality they would find helpful (easy-to-use widgets) and what functionality their customers wouldn’t want (tons of configuration and options).

Once we had a list of the features, we created a mockup wireframe in my fave program Mockflow (drag and drop heaven) to create a preview of how the settings page and widget could look in WordPress.

Mockup preview:

After some back and forth discussion, we agreed on the final version and coded the mockup into a reality.  After a series of tests and minor changes, and writing up the documentation, it launched on June 3, 2013!

The real deal in a WordPress installation:

The settings page in the WordPress Dashboard

The widget

 

Despite their name, the Mad Mimi team is so nice and fun to work with, and at one point, they even said “You guys are friggin’ pro”. Does life get any better?

You can download the Official Mad Mimi plugin here

If you try it out, we’d love to hear what you think and if you have any suggestions for future versions.

You can read more about the plugin release on the Mad Mimi blog.

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Wake Up You Lazy Schlub! https://illuminea.com/wake-up-you-lazy-schlub/ https://illuminea.com/wake-up-you-lazy-schlub/#comments Wed, 17 Apr 2013 07:45:21 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=4917 Please excuse the title of this blog post. It’s actually directed at yours truly. Recently I’ve been experiencing difficulty focusing, and a definite decrease in motivation. It happens to the best of us – go to work every day, do yo’ thing, and come home. It gets monotonous, even in the framework of an exciting,  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Please excuse the title of this blog post. It’s actually directed at yours truly.

Recently I’ve been experiencing difficulty focusing, and a definite decrease in motivation. It happens to the best of us – go to work every day, do yo’ thing, and come home. It gets monotonous, even in the framework of an exciting, ever-evolving career such as online marketing.

For me, specifically, it was because I had to take care of three emails that I did not. Want. To write. And every day I came into the office, I saw the judging, saddened eyes of my co-workers. (Attention co-workers: It’s actually me, not you. Self-judgement goin’ on here. I was just using you to judge myself. You would never judge – you guys are great.)

Today, I discovered the supreme, sure-fire, guaranteed way to unstick my stuck self. (Do I sound like an infomercial? I feel like I sound like an infomercial.)

I woke up at 5am.

And that was it!

Hubby was sleeping. The fridge was sleeping. Hell, the whole world was sleeping, except for a few birds right outside my window. (I threw a shoe at the window to make them stop. They didn’t.)

It was an incredible moment. New mothers everywhere probably want to kill me right about now, but 5am is the absolute bomb. I got done with all of my emails. All three of them. I spent some time catching up on industry news. Got some decent work in. I knocked out this blog post. And then for good measure I solved P vs. NP. (Just kidding.)

And then I got going with my day.

Why did waking up at 5am unstick me? Truth be told, I’m not sure. It was probably a combination of factors:

  • Dragging myself up and out when I’m already running late is anything but inspirational…forcing myself out of bed a couple of hours early was highly empowering. And with great power comes…whatever happened this morning.

  • Typically, first thing in the morning my brain is abuzz. The standard getting dressed, making lunch, and rushing out the door is such a waste of creative power. Waking up and working right away was amazing.

  • Zero distractions. Zero. Except for the non-shoe-heeding birds, which faded into the background after a while.

I love myself right now. Right now my self-perception is of a power-walking online marketing virtuoso with a constant supply of Starbucks and perfect hair.

I’m going to hate myself at 4pm.

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Five free and legal image sources https://illuminea.com/free-and-legal-image-sources/ https://illuminea.com/free-and-legal-image-sources/#comments Mon, 08 Apr 2013 12:10:25 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=4363 To have a website without images is like having toast without butter (God forbid). But finding nice images that you can use without any legal issues is like finding a spec of dust in space (if that’s difficult). Well, fret no longer! Here are five free image sources that you could consider using. Just be  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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To have a website without images is like having toast without butter (God forbid). But finding nice images that you can use without any legal issues is like finding a spec of dust in space (if that’s difficult).

Well, fret no longer! Here are five free image sources that you could consider using. Just be sure to use them according to the instructions on the sites (and see below about how we hold no responsibility for how you choose to use images):

sxc.hu 

This site is rich with high resolution, beautiful images. You need to sign up in order to download pictures but it’s worth it.

Flickr Creative Commons

On Flickr you can use the advanced search to find free images. Just make sure you mark the “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” checkbox and then check both checkboxes under the main one. When you use images from Flickr in this way, be sure to give credit to the source with a link back to the Flickr page where you got the image from.

Tip: Make these links open in a new tab so that people aren’t taken away from your website.

Microsoft Office Images

You can easily download an image straight from the search results. They are not huge (for example one I downloaded was 849X566) and they are JPGs.

Photo Pin

PhotoPin helps bloggers find images by using the Flickr API and searching creative commons photos to use for your blog.

And it has a really cool interface.

Pikiwiki

Pikiwiki is a database of free Israeli and Jewish-themed images.

Are there other resources?

Please share links to other free image resources in the comments. Thanks!

Legal stuff

We are not legal experts and so we hold absolutely no responsibility for which images you use and how. Please make sure to use them properly in order not to infringe on any copyright laws.

Enjoy!

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Join us at WordCamp Jerusalem 2013: the official WordPress conference in Israel! https://illuminea.com/join-us-at-wordcamp-jerusalem-2013-the-official-wordpress-conference-in-israel/ https://illuminea.com/join-us-at-wordcamp-jerusalem-2013-the-official-wordpress-conference-in-israel/#respond Thu, 14 Feb 2013 09:47:40 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=4703 I know it’s been used before, but I find it hilarious. I love bad jokes. Okay, here goes:   How many WordPress developers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?   Answer: None! There’s a plugin for that.   (In my mind…BWAHAAHAHAHA!! Almost as good as freshly squeezed orange Jews.)   WordCamp Jerusalem 2013 is  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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I know it’s been used before, but I find it hilarious. I love bad jokes. Okay, here goes:
 
How many WordPress developers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
 
Answer: None! There’s a plugin for that.
 
(In my mind…BWAHAAHAHAHA!! Almost as good as freshly squeezed orange Jews.)
 
WordCamp Jerusalem 2013 is happening, and it’s happening soon. The date is February 20, 2013, and tickets can be purchased here for 110 NIS.
 
And now for the condensed list of why I’m excited for WordCamp Jerusalem:
 
  1. The sheer, unmitigated, unadulterated, 100% natural geekiness. I love love love talking tech with people who don’t give me the combo strange-look-and-awkward-pause before resuming their previous conversion about finance/celeb gossip/recipes for soup.
  2. Unlimited coffee. Like my ancestors before me, I love a freebie. And if the freebie involves caffeine, so much the better. 
  3. Free multicolored WordPress pins. See item 2 above. And they’re shiny!
  4. Meeting new people to Tweet at. (Tweet with? Whatevs.) 
  5. Learning cool new hacks and tricks that make me feel likewise cool. I like being able to show off the mad techy skills that I’ve mooched off of other people. 
  6. Getting to wear a badge with my name on it. It makes me feel important.
  7. Hanging out with people that I already know and with whom I enjoy spending time, but never get to see because of work/family/{insert excuse of choice}.
  8. Lunch. Well, let’s be honest, more dessert than lunch. I spent most of the lunch at SMX on the whipped chocolate dessert with the delicate and highly impractical but unbelievably delicious chocolate spoon.
  9. Speakers who are interesting and informal. And who wear T-shirts with bad puns.
  10. Powerpoint presentations. I just really, really like PowerPoint presentations. Why? No reason.
  11. WordPress is a big. Deal. The Wall Street Journal blogs use it. Techcrunch uses it. The NY Observer uses it. I want to be like all of those publications. Popular, successful, and interesting.
  12. Most panels are in Hebrew, so I get to brush up on my Hebrew skills, which are lacking. To say the least. 
In case you need any further reasons other than my personal likes and dislikes that I listed above, WordCamp is a completely non-profit event – all of the proceeds go toward the event itself. So we have all of the incentive in the world to make it world-class and awesome. And we have an incredible lineup of speakers and panels, including:
 
  • The business side of WordPress with Miriam Schwab, illuminea
  • 10 WordPress functions that you probably didn’t know existed with Yoav Farhi, an official Automattic employee (the company behind WordPress.com)
  • Development environments for WordPress with Ohad Raz, Bainternet
  • How to build beautiful WordPress sites with pixel-perfect fonts with Avraham Kornfeld, one of the leading Hebrew font creators in Israel.
  • The Power of Your Story Through WordPress with Kimanzi Constable
You can view all of the lectures and speakers here.
 
WordCamp Jerusalem 2013 is happening next week, so the time to register is now. See you on February 20th! I’ll be the one wearing as many free WordPress pins as I can fit on my shirt. Sign up here today!  The last day to register is Monday, February 18.
 

Original post appeared on illuminea

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7 (more) project management lessons from the Titanic disaster https://illuminea.com/7-more-project-management-lessons-from-the-titanic-disaster/ https://illuminea.com/7-more-project-management-lessons-from-the-titanic-disaster/#respond Tue, 15 Jan 2013 15:36:47 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=4631 Calvin Sun at Tech Republic wrote a very thought-provoking post about project management lessons he learns from the Titanic disaster. I agree with almost everything Calvin wrote but there are yet more lessons I learn from the stories Calvin brings. Here is what I learned: 1. Based on the standards of the time there actually were  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Calvin Sun at Tech Republic wrote a very thought-provoking post about project management lessons he learns from the Titanic disaster.

I agree with almost everything Calvin wrote but there are yet more lessons I learn from the stories Calvin brings. Here is what I learned:

1. Based on the standards of the time there actually were enough lifeboats on the Titanic.

Do we at least look smart? (photo by Keith Williamson on flickr)

At the time, the amount of lifeboats necessary per ship was based on the ship’s weight. In retrospect, that is obviously a terrible way to calculate how many lifeboats are needed per ship. I can just imagine a very important-looking committee of middle-aged, pipe-smoking white men coming up with that idea and feeling very smart about it. It seriously boggles the mind.

Lesson learned: Although it often feels as though everything that could have been thought of, has been, that’s never true. Don’t let yourself get stuck in old habits but instead, always question techniques and methods, even those that are widely accepted. This will allow you to constantly develop professionally so that every project you manage is an improvement over the last one.

2. When the wireless operator got a message from a nearby ship warning the Titanic about icebergs  he answered: “Shut up, I am working Cape Race!”

Well, first of all, yikes.

Lesson learned, #1: No matter what position you hold or how much pressure you’re under, it’s always important to properly process what other people are telling you. Humility is key for succeeding in any job. That doesn’t mean that you need to allow yourself to be pushed in every direction, but being open to what others have to say can really enlighten you to the work at hand.

Lesson learned, #2: Of course, don’t say “Shut up.” It’s rude.

3. The wireless operator was focused on sending and receiving messages for passengers instead of on life-and-death-related communication.

Often clients can persuade us to focus on less important tasks instead of the core tasks of the project. Or they might want us to work in a way that we know from experience is at least somewhat detrimental to the project. We might be tempted to give into this because it’s easier to go along with their requests rather than “confront” the client and tell them what we think is best for their project.

But, surprise surprise, the customer is not always right. And, shockingly, most clients actually do hire us for our professionalism which means that they need and very possibly even want to hear our professional opinions on whatever they are requesting of us.

I’d like to assume that if passengers of the Titanic were told the day after a huge iceberg was narrowly missed (in an alternate universe, of course) that personal messages had not been sent or received because it had been a particularly dangerous night at sea, most would have been capable of understanding that decision.

Lesson learned: Be honest about your opinions with your clients, trust that they hired you for your professionalism and give them the benefit of the doubt that they are capable of dealing with a certain amount of “confrontation” in regards to their project.

4. The lookouts had no binoculars

I see here the importance of creating a healthy dynamic between the management and the team. The management has to have enough humility in order to hear the team members’ opinions and the team members need to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns, especially if they see a real problem in the project. In the case of the Titanic, the lookouts should have felt totally comfortable complaining to their superiors about not having binoculars (I imagine this fact made them feel quite uncomfortable).

Lesson learned: Everyone should feel comfortable communicating so that everything is done responsibly. Sometimes it’s going to be the “little guy” who understands really what is going on. It’s also important to get lots of input from the client since they are usually the ones who really understand aspects of the project that are difficult for us to understand by ourselves.

5. One family’s nurse took one of the children to a lifeboat without informing the parents.

…Because of this, the parents searched incessantly for the child and ended up dying with their other child.

Sometimes keeping people up to date on a project and keeping a project tracked properly (which is sort of like communication in a time capsule) feel like a serious waste of time. You have deadlines, people on all ends waiting to hear from you, and meanwhile you’re spending time organizing small details non-stop. Making sure the financial side of the project is up to date and filling out a project log all take so much time. And yet, it is specifically this effort that keeps projects moving smoothly without any big misunderstandings happening.

Lesson learned: Spending a substantial amount of time on considering who needs to know what and making sure they receive the relevant information in a timely manner is not a waste of time. It is actually what prevents misunderstandings and wasted time in the future.

6. The father of one of the victims received a bill for his son’s band costume a few weeks after the disaster.

Oy vey.

We all think that our jobs are about things like site planning, web design, web development or SEO when really all our jobs have so much to do with dealing respectfully and sensitively with the people around us – including the management above us, our coworkers, the project team and our clients. Sometimes it can feel so frustrating, thinking about how much time is spent on the human aspect of our projects. It can seem like a waste of time, energy or even money, having to figure out how to properly deal with particularly sensitive situations. But this isn’t actually a waste of time; it’s a basic part of any project (or anything we do in our lives).

Lesson learned, #1: Sometimes extremely sensitive issues arise. In order to deal with them properly, they must be given serious thought and probably discussion within the team. Figuring out solutions for sensitive issues inevitably takes a large amount of energy and time and it’s best to come to terms with this and not consider it a waste. Communicating clearly and sensitively helps keep everyone on the same page. It will create a feeling of everyone being on the same side, working together, not against each other and it will help the project turn out as good as possible, even if there are glitches.

Lesson learned, #2: Every project has the potential of involving financial loss. That’s just the way it is. When that happens, get over it and move on.

7. The Titanic wasn’t built for speed. And yet, during that maiden Titanic voyage, White Star chairman J. Bruce Ismay reportedly pressured Captain Edward Smith to increase speed.

We all know that feeling of getting pressure to do things quickly. It’s a funny thing, our culture today. Because people are used to getting things quickly, sometimes even when it comes to tasks that are extended and complex, people try to get them done quickly.

Speed is overrated, especially when on the Titanic. It was such a beautiful, luxurious ship, that people would probably have been happy to spend an extra couple of days on board rather than rush to their destination (especially in the good ol’ days when people didn’t feel as rushed).

Unfortunately, speed today is considered an ideal at the expense of more quality ideals. But, as Calvin wrote: “in a project world governed by quality, time, and budget, at least one will have to yield.” Higher speeds cause stress, don’t allow people to think things through and often leave everyone involved feeling unsatisfied. Rushing a project also often makes it go out of budget since there is more quality assurance later and often the client will need changes done to the site later which, if planned properly, could have been implemented into the site during the project, as part of the original scope of the project.

Lesson learned: Don’t rush unless completely necessary (which is almost never, considering we’re building websites, not saving lives).

8, 9 and 10. The recovery crew recorded information and a description of the victims in as much detail as possible.

Click on that link at your own risk (it’s chilling and strangely addictive).

Lesson learned: See #5 for the same lesson learned. It’s so important and helpful to keep things documented.

In conclusion

“Sigh… If only Deena had been the project manager on this ship.”

Most of these lessons are easier said than done. One of the reasons we don’t want to admit most of what I’ve written here is because it makes projects much more complex. But these points affect budget, timelines and as strange as this sounds, it affects the emotional side of our work. I recently read Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. One chapter talks about airplane accidents and shows how, more than anything, the problem is almost always a lack of productive communication. Most of the examples of accidents that he brings could have been thwarted if people had communicated openly and confidently.

I think that more than ever today people fear open and straightforward communication. This is probably why people act out online when they can hide behind their screens and then pretend everything is OK in their “real life” interactions. For some reason people are scared of each other. But it is precisely open communication that can make a project really amazing, making the client feel that they got what they really wanted and needed from us and make us feel proud of the products we are creating.

I recommend you try it. It’s extremely challenging but very rewarding, professionally and personally.

Read the article that inspired this post here.

Original post appeared on illuminea

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The Five Whys: Critical Thinking for SEO https://illuminea.com/the-question-why/ https://illuminea.com/the-question-why/#respond Tue, 27 Nov 2012 07:37:12 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=4615 Clients are constantly challenging me. And it’s good. If I’m being honest, I may sometimes find it aggravating, but it’s good, because it helps me focus and think critically. And critical thinking is the backbone to SEO success. If you don’t know why you’re doing something, you shouldn’t be doing it. Have you ever heard  Continue »

Original post appeared on illuminea

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Clients are constantly challenging me. And it’s good. If I’m being honest, I may sometimes find it aggravating, but it’s good, because it helps me focus and think critically. And critical thinking is the backbone to SEO success. If you don’t know why you’re doing something, you shouldn’t be doing it.

Have you ever heard of The 5 Whys? It’s a problem-solving technique innovated by the good folks at Toyota in order to determine the underlying causes of technical issues with their cars.

While there was a bit of criticism as to its practical application for Toyota itself, I think it definitely applies to online marketing in general and SEO specifically. Online marketing is not one-dimensional; it’s both a science and an art. Without the data and statistics to back you up, you’ll lose clients and you won’t have any rationale for what you’re doing. But you also need to be creative in order to truly achieve visibility and to stand out in the loud, busy webosphere. And I think that the 5 Whys can contribute toward both.

Let’s use denture-friendly-gum.com as an example. (No, that site doesn’t actually exist, nor are they a client.) D-F-G.com is not doing particularly well in terms of their organic search rankings. Now the nice folks at D-F-G are new clients, so they’re not upset with us, they’re upset at their previous SEO company. Yay. Nevertheless, since D-F-G has been burned in the past, they’re more cautious, and less likely to be impressed by the services and results that we promise them.

In order to make them happy with us, we need to produce results. In order to produce results, we need to understand the underlying causes behind the rankings that are tanking. (And the chalice from the palace…)

So here we go…The 5 Whys:

  1. Why are my rankings decreasing? Because Google is finding my site less relevant than it used to.
  2. Why is Google finding my site less relevant? Because there are competitors that Google is finding more relevant.
  3. Why are my competitors more relevant? They’ve created an active Google Plus account, not to mention a couple of great Facebook contests and giveaways. Plus they do Pinterest. Other than that, they have zero backlinks, and their on-site SEO is meh.
  4. Why is social content worth anything from an SEO perspective? Google has started to take social signals into account more for ranking factors. Google values fresher content. And of course, let’s not forget the absurdly disproportionate impact that Google Plus has on rankings. Also, the coolness factor of having their faces showing up in Google’s search results can impact their CTR. (Go Google Authorship!)
  5. Why has illuminea not done this yet for D-F-G? Up to this point we were getting the lay of the land, trying to understand what your position is versus that of your competitors, and what your competitors are doing that you aren’t. Now we know!

Please note – the above was just an example. It’s possible that D-F-G in the past implemented a terrible link building strategy where they hacked strong sites and redirected pages to their site. Or it could be that their content sucks. Or they’re a local business and so they’re not ranking on a national level anymore. Etc.

Whatever the specific scenario, the principle still remains – know why you’re doing something before you’re doing it. Knowing why provides the framework for your work and your strategy. And since the same central answer applies throughout the campaign, it’s available for you whenever you need to answer a client.

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A Lazy SEO is A Good SEO https://illuminea.com/a-lazy-seo-is-a-good-seo/ https://illuminea.com/a-lazy-seo-is-a-good-seo/#comments Sun, 04 Nov 2012 10:30:38 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=4599 I would like to thank the nice people on the Internet for providing so many custom reports for me to borrow without doing an iota of work, in particular Eric Siu of SearchEngineWatch and Avinash Kaushik. I’m a lazy schlub. And I’ll be the first to admit it. If everything in my life could be  Continue »

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I would like to thank the nice people on the Internet for providing so many custom reports for me to borrow without doing an iota of work, in particular Eric Siu of SearchEngineWatch and Avinash Kaushik.

I’m a lazy schlub. And I’ll be the first to admit it. If everything in my life could be completely automated, I would be a happy person. Wallace and Gromit style.

Happily, my sheer, unadulterated inertia actually contributes to my professional development. If I couldn’t copy-paste my work, it would take longer and the end product would be less. And while each client has his or her specific goals and objectives, certain basic concepts apply to all of my clients across the board. And in those cases, I apply those concepts with a vengeance.

For example, Google Analytics lets you share custom reports. Literally, all you have to do is copy-paste the URL to the browser in which you’re logged into your Google Analytics account, and you’re good to go. Okay, maybe you have to tweak slightly – remove certain metrics, edit the brand names, etc. But the bulk of the work is done for you.

I use the following custom Google Analytics reports for all of my clients:

Content Efficiency Analysis
Keyword Analysis
Visitor Acquisition Efficiency Analysis

Content Efficiency Analysis

This report tells me which specific pages are high-performance and drive revenue. If you segment it properly, it can also tell you which categories of content perform well, which is great for larger sites.

It also tells me which pages/categories are performing poorly, which means that I can look at those specific pages to find out why. I think that the most interesting discovery I made over the recent past was that a client’s 404 error page had a pretty high user engagement and a remarkably low bounce rate. (As a side note, there’s a fantastic TED talk by Renny Gleeson on how you can use 404 errors to build relationships with users instead of pushing them away from your site. And clearly this client did a good job of doing precisely that.)

Keyword Analysis

Keyword Analysis is a handy little report that lines up the keywords that are driving traffic to your site alongside the pages that users are landing on. If users are unengaged, bouncing off at a rapid rate, or aren’t converting, you can check specific pages to find out why. Maybe the page is ranking for the wrong keywords for which another page on the site would be better suited. Or it’s an opportunity for you to build a well-optimized landing page for a keyword that you’re ranking well for but is performing poorly. Either one.

Visitor Acquisition Efficiency

If you want to find out about the performance of all traffic from all sources across the board, then this is the report for you. It lists your traffic sources, the engagement level of visitors from each of those sources, and best of all, their average monetary value.

Through this report I discovered that users arriving from relevant online communities and forums had a ridiculously high conversion rate for one particular client. So I had some nice actionable data: I followed up by accumulating a list of additional relevant forums.

So, to summarize: if it wasn’t for the sharers and carers out there in the SEO industry, I would be a lot less efficient in my work, and I would get a lot less done. The end.

Original post appeared on illuminea

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How to Undelete a Google Analytics Account https://illuminea.com/how-to-undelete-a-google-analytics-account/ https://illuminea.com/how-to-undelete-a-google-analytics-account/#comments Tue, 16 Oct 2012 11:09:35 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=4587 Disclaimer: The title makes it sound much cooler than it actually is. Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of “How I Met Your Mother”, I’m pretty sure that you’ve heard the 2am rule: Nothing good ever happens after 2am. It’s a rule that I bitterly regret not following a couple of weeks ago,  Continue »

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Disclaimer: The title makes it sound much cooler than it actually is.

Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of “How I Met Your Mother”, I’m pretty sure that you’ve heard the 2am rule: Nothing good ever happens after 2am.

It’s a rule that I bitterly regret not following a couple of weeks ago, when a 2:15 am working spree found me accidentally deleting not one, not two, not even three, but four Google Analytics accounts. They were old accounts, but I still needed them. Like, really, really needed. I can’t say the word “really” enough times to adequately express how badly I needed those accounts to not be deleted.

It was, in a word, unfortunate.

I’m not typically one to publicize my idiocy. I usually try to hide it as best as possible. (Even when it’s fairly self-evident. Mea culpa.) The reason I’m airing out my immense bêtise is because, happily, there’s a fix!

As so many before me have done, in a desperate attempt at salvation, I Googled the problem. For the most part the results only contained partial solutions. But by piecing them together, I obtained the the complete fix. And since I was clearly not the only one who had committed the ultimate Analytics fallacy, I thought I would share the wealth.

The first thing you need to make sure to have is an Adwords account that uses the same login details as the Google Analytics account in question. Without the AdWords account, there’s not much you can do. It would appear that Google only publishes contact details for their paid services – AdWords, Apps, and the like. Analytics being free, it’s impossible to call Google through the platform. “Don’t be evil” my hindquarters…

Log into your Adwords account and note your Customer ID. (The ten-digit code in the top right-hand corner of the page.) Then visit Google’s Worldwide Phone Support page and find your country. You could theoretically email or chat with the Googles during normal business hours, but I was feeling much too dramatic and harried to wait for a response that might take days to arrive.

Call Google – if you’re lucky you’ll get my new best friend David, who was supremely helpful. And extremely talented at deciphering panicked babble. After you outline the issue, you’ll receive an email from the Google requesting the UA numbers for the deleted accounts. You must explicitly request that they reactivate the accounts for legal reasons, but after you’ve responded to the email with the numbers and explicit request, you’re done! It takes a couple of business days, but your account(s) will be restored.

P.S. A cautionary word: do NOT keep the number so that you can just call my new best friend David and say hello. Apparently he’s a very busy man.

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I’m a Big Kid Now…Making the Transition from Couch to Chair https://illuminea.com/im-a-big-kid-now-making-the-transition-from-couch-to-chair/ https://illuminea.com/im-a-big-kid-now-making-the-transition-from-couch-to-chair/#comments Sun, 23 Sep 2012 19:54:26 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=4551 [Although this post isn’t specifically about how to do online marketing, some of you may be able to relate to where we often do our online marketing…] For the past two years I’ve worked from the comfort of my comfy Jerusalem apartment. And it was awesome. Sort of. For those of you who haven’t seen  Continue »

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For the past two years I’ve worked from the comfort of my comfy Jerusalem apartment. And it was awesome.

Sort of.

For those of you who haven’t seen The Oatmeal’s comic on why working from home is both awesome and horrible (warning: highly NSFW), it offers some pretty decent insight as to why my life was marginally fabulous up to this point.

It was endless loads of fun working in my jammie jams. There’s nothing I love more than working in complete and utter squalor, because I don’t have to clean up. Because I don’t have to see a single. Other. Human. Being. If I don’t want to. (Except for my poor husband, who stayed with me throughout the complete and utter degradation of my personal hygiene and social skills. Gd bless, honey.) Eating my meals on the couch. Taking naps on the couch. Basically, never, ever leaving the couch. Singing off-key in accompaniment to my music (on the couch), which I could do because I was the only one listening.

But after a few months, the awesome wore off. I was lonely. I was bored. I was growing incapable of carrying on a conversation with other human beings. Eating potato chips and cottage cheese for lunch every day started getting old. My muscles began to atrophy. (Quite literally – I actually needed physical therapy to get myself in working order again.) And the worst part was that I was comfortable. I got to set my own hours every day. I never had to leave the house. I never had to coordinate an outfit, or wear something nice to a meeting. Hell, I never had to wear the bottom half of my jammie jams.

Life wasn’t good, and it wasn’t gratifying. But it was very, very adequate. “Adequate”, however, proved to be insufficient. As I grew more unhappy, I became more open to the idea of something different than a complete lack of day-to-day socialization and general mental health. So when I was offered the opportunity to work from an office, sure, I balked. But I was also semi-excited.

At the beginning of August 2012, I started working at the illuminea office with real people. Real people who expected me to answer questions and respond to comments in real time, instead of ignoring the blinky chat until I felt like it.

I won’t lie. I spent a good quantity of time in front of the mirror at home, practicing my facial expressions, making sure they matched what I was saying. And conversing casually with my reflection. You know…small talk.

“How was your weekend?”

“How was your weekend?”

“How was your weekend?”

Slowly but surely, I began relearning the art of conversation. (And make no mistake, it is an art. Abstract though it may be…get it? Art pun!!) I started wearing real clothing. (As real as it gets in Israel…T-shirts and jeans are as dressy as it gets for a wedding, not to speak of an office.) My singing stopped, although that seems to have translated into awkward little dance moves in my swivel chair instead.

While it wasn’t exactly the easiest transition back into civilization, it was a necessary one. While I can’t exactly walk around the office bottomless, I’m feeling much more like a whole person than I have over the past 2+ years. I have to meet with clients face-to-face, and I have to formulate complete sentences – sometimes several times a day. But I’m proud to say that I’m a big kid now. (Cue inspirational music.)

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Who Keeps Adding _kk & _kt To My AdWords Destination URLs? Salesforce Was It You? https://illuminea.com/kk-kt-parameters-adwords-destination-urls/ https://illuminea.com/kk-kt-parameters-adwords-destination-urls/#comments Thu, 13 Sep 2012 10:07:17 +0000 https://illuminea.com/?p=4504 As part of illuminea’s marketing services team, I’ve been frustrated by a destination URL problem with one client’s AdWords campaigns. Regardless of how many times we edited the destination URLs, they kept getting edited to include parameters named _kk and _kt . The latter in particular was a horrible source of trouble as it generated  Continue »

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As part of illuminea’s marketing services team, I’ve been frustrated by a destination URL problem with one client’s AdWords campaigns. Regardless of how many times we edited the destination URLs, they kept getting edited to include parameters named _kk and _kt . The latter in particular was a horrible source of trouble as it generated long random strings of letters and numbers. For example, site.com kept getting turned into site.com/?_kt=98q3h46z9abzDFfuy235

I finally figured it out, and here’s an explanation of what was adding these strange parameters to our AdWords destination URLs, and how to solve the _kk and _kt and similar version control issues.

Why do these destination URL shenanigans matter? 

1) It wastes time if you keep making the same changes (updating destination URLs, in this case) over and over.

2) It makes the Destination URLs Report a lot less useful  ( Google Analytics Advertising -> AdWords -> Destination URLs) . Here’s what it looks like: when it has been muddied by the _kk and _kt parameters.

The AdWords Destination URLs report can normally allow you to easily compare which landing pages are converting best, so you can determine the results of an a/b test where the pages are managed by different systems. For example, you might compare a standard site page on WordPress vs a custom-designed landing page on Unbounce, a landing page creation tool. (Normally, Unbounce would tell you what the conversion rates of your different pages are, but that only works if both pages were built on Unbounce. )

(There are workarounds to getting the answers in Google Analytics even with the _kk and _kt variables. However, they’re a lot more time-consuming and require you to go to Excel, which means the online tracking systems failed to achieve their core purpose.)

Additionally, by comparing and contrasting your landing pages, you can see what elements are most common on the high-converting landing pages vs those on the low-converting pages, and figure out what works and what doesn’t. 

3) It breaks redirects. If your ads were originally created to send traffic to page x, but then page x gets 301 redirected – the redirect won’t work if there are parameters added.

We ran into this issue as we managed the AdWords before and after a site redesign, and while we set up redirects properly, the parameters being added back caused the ads to send traffic to 404 Not Found pages.

4) As an AdWords service provider, this kind of thing can make you look bad. I initially reported this situation as my own error in somehow forgetting to save changes / leaving the work incomplete.

Rubbish!

I did my job… Salesforce undid it. 

How is Salesforce adding parameters to AdWords destination URLs?

Salesforce has an app called Salesforce For Google AdWords, which allows an integration of the two marketing platforms. 

Salesforce used to do this by default. The goal was so to see what keywords, ads and landing pages generated particular leads. Then Salesforce would tell you if those leads turned into sales or not, so you knew where to reinvest (or cut investment) in your ad campaigns.

In the following screenshot of the AdWords Change History Tool, you can see the Salesforce app (user email sfgadev@salesforce.com) edited the ads and added in the _kk and _kt parameters via the AdWords API. Click the image to make it larger.

So how do you stop Salesforce from doing this?

How do you manage version control in AdWords?

First, you can just go to the Account -> Access Settings and remove access for sfgadev@salesforce.com. 

Second, you need to have a project management site or document where you share and annotate changes. Everyone on the team needs to use the log, for EVERY change. Alternately, you can do this by email but it’s obviously more cumbersome and not purpose-built.

Takeaways

This experience shows how important it is to get as much information as possible out of clients when working on their web presence. But sometimes, if the client is a large-ish enterprise, they might not even be aware of the integrations that have been set up on their end!

In those cases, there’s nothing you can do but sleuth around until you find the answer. In this regard, both the AdWords Change History tool and your log of the team’s actions are really valuable!

Liked this post? Get the illuminea newsletter for more like it!  (Over there, in the sidebar to the right)

 

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