Posts Tagged 'Google'

February 29, 2012

Fruition: Tech Partner Spotlight

This guest blog features Fruition, a featured member of the SoftLayer Technology Partners Marketplace. Fruition's SEO and SEM reporting web app provides highly accurate reports on search engine rankings and onsite signals that impact your Google and Bing rankings. In the video below, learn a little more about Fruition (and a few key SEO/SEM tips for small businesses) from Fruition's Brad Anderson, and scroll down to read about SEO Goals and Key Indicators.

Company Website: http://fruition.net/
Tech Partners Marketplace: http://www.softlayer.com/marketplace/fruition

SEO Goals and Key Indicators

Google's Feb 2012 Update

Between February 25-28th Google rolled out another big set of changes to their algorithm. These changes knocked down a lot of short cuts that SEO companies were using, including blog networks. The red flags have been there for a long time. Blog networks are easy to uncover simply because of the complexity of trying to setup a truly diverse hosting environment. It is not just separate C-class IP addresses it is also registrars, DNS, admin login IP addresses, plug-in profiles, etc. There are so many easy ways to group sites as being related or identical that it is not worth the effort of trying to take short cuts with your linking. Instead focus on what is going to have a lasting impact on your SEO:

  • Page Speed – Improve your code, increase your hardware, etc.
  • Better Onsite Content
  • Usability

These three factors will have a lasting impact on your SEO during 2012 and beyond.

Get Your Strategy Together

Successful internet marketing campaigns have one thing in common: Comprehensive strategies. Today's marketplace makes it extremely difficult to compete in one area of internet marketing without complimenting that work in several other areas. For example, why invest in search engine optimization if you don't have a quality website to convert the traffic to leads or sales? Why invest in a mobile app if you aren't going to optimize the listing to generate a high volume of downloads? These examples show how a comprehensive strategy to internet marketing is the best approach for future success.

Fruition.net has been successful in this comprehensive approach by staying at the forefront of each individual strategy. At the core of these strategies is a collection of goals and key indicators we use to monitor, adjust, and track performance. Below you will find a few of the most important goals for each area of internet marketing.

Comprehensive Internet Marketing Strategies

Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website with the end goal of improving your ranking on the major search engines. Here are the goals and key indicators you should be tracking to evaluate the success of your SEO campaign:

  • Keyword Rankings — This one is easy! Determine which keywords you think will generate more business, write them down, and track your rankings for each of them every month. Side note: Make sure you aren't logged in to your Google account in order to receive unbiased results.
  • Non-Branded Search Traffic — This is the traffic that has come to your website via the search engines, but the visitor did not use your brand name in their search. Your website should already be capturing the branded searches, so the real test is how much non-branded traffic your website is generating and increasing each month.
  • Conversions — This is where the rubber meets the road. Increases in rankings and traffic are great, but ultimately these campaigns are all about generating new leads or revenue. We track phone calls, email inquiries, and revenue numbers for our clients to give them instant feedback on their marketing investment. Some clients take it a step further and track the leads via a CRM to produce a tangible return on investment.

Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC is a quick method of generating an increase of traffic to your website. You are literally paying for each click, but watch out because your budget can quickly get away from you if you don't know what you are doing. Here are the metrics you should be following to ensure a quality PPC campaign:

  • Quality Score — When someone clicks on your PPC ad, you can direct them to any page on your website. It might be the home page or a specific landing page, but whichever page is chosen will be given a Quality Score (scale 1-10) by Google. This quality score measures the relevancy of the page as it relates to the PPC ad. The lower the relevancy, the higher the cost per click. Therefore, you want to make your landing page as relevant as possible and don't advertise unless your landing page Quality Score is 5 or higher.
  • Cost Per Conversion — This should be your #1 key indicator for tracking purposes. The cost per conversion measures the total cost it takes to generate a lead or sale. The beauty of this key indicator is that it encapsulates all of the moving parts of a paid search campaign: ad design, ad bidding, quality score, landing page design, landing page quality, landing page calls to action, etc.

Social Media
Social media has been a big buzz word for the past couple of years and for good reason. People are spending A LOT of time on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and the like. If you are going to compete online, then you need to at least have a presence with the major channels. Here are a couple ways to measure your effectiveness:

  • Likes/Fans — This is an easy one to track. How many people like your business on Facebook or are following you on Twitter? The larger the number, the better. Search engines like to see a large following because they feel it represents authority and a leader of the industry.
  • Shares/Retweets — There are free tools available that can provide you with the number of times your content has been shared or retweeted. Another case of bigger is better because it shows the people who are following you are engaged with your content.
  • Google +1 — So far we have not seen a correlation between getting +1s and higher organic rankings. That has to change or it seems +1 will be considered a failure.

Website and Application Development
Building a new website or mobile application is a very detail oriented project that requires a well defined process. The best way to track the success of your campaign is make sure your process is well documented with dates attached to each of your deliverables of the project. The time spent up front in the planning stages will bring clarity to the project for all involved and help the project stay on task. Below is a platform that can be built into a very detailed list of deliverables for a development project:

  • Define the Scope of the Project
  1. Project Management
  2. Calendar of the project
  3. Resources needed (human capital, scheduling, technical proficiency, etc)
  4. Wireframes for the user interface (mapping the visitor flow)
  5. Approvals
  • Creative – Design Work
    1. Logos and branding
    2. Image and video content
    3. Clear calls to action
    4. Concepts presented to clients
    5. Revisions as necessary
    6. Client Approvals
  • Coding and Development
    1. Hosting environment
    2. Platform development
    3. Installation of all scripts, APIs, tracking, etc
  • Testing
    1. Cross browser testing
    2. Bug fixing
  • Optimization
    1. Titles
    2. Headers
    3. Descriptions
    4. Alt Tags
    5. Content

    Internet marketing is a rapidly changing marketplace. Employing several complimentary strategies and monitoring the performance will provide you with the greatest opportunity for success. Good luck in 2012 and may all of your internet marketing strategies come to Fruition!

    -Jonathan Mills, Fruition

    This guest blog series highlights companies in SoftLayer's Technology Partners Marketplace.
    These Partners have built their businesses on the SoftLayer Platform, and we're excited for them to tell their stories. New Partners will be added to the Marketplace each month, so stay tuned for many more come.
    October 8, 2011

    Smart Phones: Technology Replacing Contact?

    So much of our life has been moved to digital devices these days. Smart phones are one of many devices that have made an impression on our lives. Smart phones these days have become a must for most, whether it is for business or personal use, almost everyone has one.

    On the plus side, smart phones enable users to conduct business from just about anywhere in the world. Access to email accounts, VPNs and other tools that make business move on a daily basis have become accessible from the palm of your hand. You can even administer your web server from your smart phone with the right application setup.

    You're carrying a small computer around in your pocket. It'll be interesting to see what new devices will emerge in the market in the next few years. Tablets are becoming wildly popular, and mainstream consumers are starting to keep an eye on the newest innovations, joining the "tech geeks" in the "early adopter" line.

    There are several players in this market with Google, RIM and Apple leading the pack, and dedicated fans rally behind each. With smart phones becoming so increasingly common, I've started wondering if it's really for the best. Do we really need to check our e-mail every 10 minutes? If we're not on Twitter, Facebook or one of our other social networks, will they be there when we get to our computer?

    Being digitally connected all the time give us a false sense of "socializing" in the old school face-to-face sense, and that pull us away from those IRL (in real life) encounters. Numerous crashes have been caused by people texting or updating their statuses while driving, and there have been cases of people walking into a busy street while being distracted by their phones.

    When it comes to technology like smart phones, how do you keep those devices from becoming a dependency? How do you keep yourself from letting them take the place of direct human contact rather? It's something to think about as technology continues to evolve and permeate our lives.

    -James

    May 27, 2011

    SoftLayer Mobile - Coming of Age

    The SoftLayer Mobile application allows customers to work with support tickets, examine and control servers, monitor bandwidth information and more. The application is available on two platform: Apple iOS - supporting iPhones and iPads, and the Google Android operating system - supporting mobile phones and devices from a variety of vendors.

    The SoftLayer Mobile application is quickly approaching its first birthday. The application was first introduced to the world in June of 2010. Frequent visitors to this blog may remember when we introduced the iPhone application right here in the SoftLayer blog. We got back with you again when the Android application reached the milestone of 100 downloads. Our success with the application continues to this day with the both the iOS and Android versions sporting impressive download statistics which multiply those of a year ago many dozens of times over.

    In the course of the past year, we've gotten some great suggestions for improvements from our customers. The first request was for the application to store account passwords a feature which we implemented quickly. From those humble beginnings we added some larger, more complex functionality based on your feedback like two-factor authentication using VeriSign Identity Protection, bandwidth charting, and the ability to check account balances and make one-time payments against those balances from your phone.

    We'd love to continue that trend and hope to tap into the experience of the thousands of you who are working with the application. In the coming year, we hope to expand our existing functionality, include new features, and support both new operating systems and new devices. We'd love to hear about your ideas on how we can best improve the SoftLayer Mobile application to make it an even more valuable tool for you.

    Would you like improved tracking of your bandwidth? Can we offer greater control over your server's network ports? Do you need to monitor your server's CPU usage even while you're in line at the bank? Is there one particular task that compels you to visit the SoftLayer Customer Portal time and again? If so, and if it would be convenient for you to have that information on the phone in your pocket rather than on the computer at your desk, please let us know!

    To offer your suggestions, please create a support ticket in your SoftLayer account detailing your needs. Alternatively, if you are already using the SoftLayer Mobile application, drop us a line through the feedback links built into the Support section.

    If you haven't been using the SoftLayer Mobile application, then we'd like to invite you to download it and explore its features. For more information, and for links and information about downloading and installing the application, visit our Mobile Application resource page.

    Keep watching that page over the coming months as well. We have some exciting projects in the works and hope to share them with you very soon!

    -Scott

    December 9, 2010

    Records Are Made to be Broken

    You know how it works – a casual conversation leads to a Google search the next day. This in turn leads to enlightenment. Or something along those lines.

    Last Tuesday morning, a PDF version of the January 30, 1983(!) issue of ‘Arcade Express – The Bi-weekly Electronic Games Newsletter’ arrived in my inbox. It made for good reading and brought me back to the days of my youth when I burned numerous hours and brain cells playing Intellivision, Atari and Commodore machines. I had access to two devices – one that sat in my family room (an Intellivision) and one that sat in a pal’s basement (an Atari 2600). My kids have access to much more – there are numerous devices at their fingertips; including a PS3, Nintendo DS, a MAC mini and my wife’s iPhone. Most of their friends are in similar circumstances.

    A quick comparison is in order:

    Device RAM Processor
    Vic 20 5 KB 1.1 MHz
    Intellivision 11 KB 894 KHz
    Atari 2600 .125 KB 1.19 MHz
    Nintendo DS 4 MB Two ARM Processors:
    67 MHz and 33 MHz
    PS3 256 MB DRAM
    156 MB Video
    Seven cores @3.2 GHZ
    iPhone 3GS 256 MB eDRAM 600 MHz
    MAC Mini 2 GB Two cores @1.66 GHz

    Processing power aside, I think that the more important thing to consider is the fact that we are approaching ubiquity for a number of devices in North America. Most people have access to the internet, most people have access to mobile phones (and more and more of them have access to smartphone like the iPhone or an Android device) and most people have access to a dedicated game device. Western Europe and parts of Asia (Japan and Korea) are the same and the rest of Asia is soon to follow, and will be the beneficiary of the tremendous innovation that is happening today. There is a lot of room for growth and maybe not a whole lot of clarity around what that next generation of devices and games will look like (I predict 3D, AI driven games played with a dedicated gaming chip implanted in your cortex).

    The last page of the ‘Arcade Express’ newsletter detailed the honor roll of ‘The Nation’s Highest Scores’. Softlayer’s own Jeff Reinis was the top Arcade Game player for Pac-Man. His record was 15,676,420. I wonder how many hours of continuous game playing that is?

    -@quigleymar

    June 30, 2010

    Does Everything I Need it to Do!

    So for those of you who have been following SoftLayer’s recent push into the mobile application space, you might be aware that we recently released a native application for devices running Google’s Android operating system. As the principal software engineer of the application, one of the exciting parts of my job post launch is monitoring the number of times the application gets downloaded, the ratings it gets in the market place, and of course, reading the user submitted comments.

    This morning when I came into work and pulled up Google’s Android Developer Console, I saw that we had just passed 100 downloads of the application. Not too shabby considering the formal press release has not yet been made so those 100 lucky Android owners who found the application heard about it via word of mouth, following SoftLayer on Facebook, or reading our forums.

    As the developer of the application even more thrilling than seeing the number of downloads, was for me to see that two users had rated the application—five out of five stars. And one of those users even left a comment. Does everything I need it to do. That’s what the post said. Then I scrolled down to see which of our customers was so pleased with the initial feature set of the app.

    What I found caused me to burst out laughing (and get a few strange looks from the guy who sits in the cube across from mine). The comment, does everything I need it to do, was left by my eleven year old son. True, he does have an Android phone, and apparently it’s also true that he downloaded the app. What he doesn’t have is an account with SoftLayer, so the only thing the app can do for him is show him a title screen and direct him to the SoftLayer corporate website for help. Apparently that’s everything he needs it to do!

    At any rate, while I am tickled to see my son being so supportive, I’d love to hear comments from users who need the application for something other than to show their friends at band camp their dad has written a program that can be installed on a phone. While I’m admittedly biased, I think the app is pretty cool. Browsing tickets on the phone works particularly well and checking bandwidth and rebooting servers on the go is pretty darn handy.

    Alright, its back to work for me. I’m looking forward to hearing from all you Android owners out there though. Download the app. Tell us what you think. And most of all, let us know what you’d like to see in future releases. At SoftLayer, we are all about making things that make your life easier. Help us build an app that does everything YOU need it to do!

    February 8, 2010

    Droid Power!

    After purchasing my new Droid phone, I started to dive further into its uses. I initially liked the open source operating system (Google’s Android OS) and the features available. Now I have found that I can do almost anything with this ‘pocket computer’, from work to play.

    I’m sure the iPhone fans are saying ‘yeah my phone does that’, but I didn’t buy an iPhone for a reason. I can do all the regular stuff, find a restaurant or movie without even opening Google. I can play games, update facebook, take pictures and post them online or email, etc. etc. etc.

    Can you talk to your phone? Let’s say I need to find a product for my home computer:

    Me: Droid, locate ‘firewire card Dallas’.

    Droid: Micro Warehouse, Phone Number, Address – Would you like to call? Do you need driving directions with GPS tracking?

    Me: Dial for me please. ‘Do you guys carry firewire cards for…..blahblah.’

    When I get into the store, the guy doesn’t know if the firewire card has windows 7 drivers. Hmm… Droid scans the barcode and takes me to the manufacturer’s product page where I can see that drivers are downloadable. Thanks Droid!

    I can connect to a VPN, RDP to my workstation or SSH to my server! I can write text messages with my voice, read emails while talking on the phone, even translate by voice into other languages (never getting lost in Spain again)! I still have so much to learn about the abilities of this device, but it does point to our ‘futuristic’ intentions in having a computer in our palm that allows us to interact with the world.

    Oops, did I forget to turn off the coffee pot at home? ‘Droid….?’ I don’t think they are on speaking terms yet. I’ll have to get the coffee maker control application. Droid says no results…

    Categories: 
    June 24, 2009

    Clouds and Elephants

    So there I was after work today, sitting in my favorite watering hole drinking my Jagerbomb, when Caira, my bartender asked what was on my mind. I told her that I had been working with clouds and elephants all day at work and neither of those things are little. She laughed and asked if I had stopped anywhere to get a drink prior to her bar. I replied no, I'm serious I had to make some large clouds and a stampede of elephants work together. I then explained to her what Hadoop was. Hadoop is a popular open source implementation of Google's MapReduce. It allows transformation and extensive analysis of large data sets using thousands of nodes while processing peta-bytes of data. It is used by websites such as Yahoo!, Facebook, Google, and China's best search engine Baidu. I explained to her what cloud computing was (multiple computing nodes working together) hence my reference to the clouds, and how Hadoop was named after the stuffed elephant that belonged to one of the founders - Doug Cutting - child. Now she doesn't think I am as crazy.

    Categories: 
    October 11, 2008

    Maps - A Geographic Look at our Customer Base

    I've always been a sucker for geography and statistics. That's why I was immediately interested in seeing how our customer-base was spread out when I started using Google Maps last week. For the first map I'm releasing here, I wanted to pin a point on the map for every city represented by a customer, but after making the map I realized there was a problem - The United States.

    There were over 2,000 cities represented by customers in the US alone, and it was just too slow. For that reason, The United States have only one point for each state. Those pins each have a popup which will tell you how many cities were represented by that state. For all other countries, there is a point on the map for each city for which we have a customer. Click on the image to launch the map.


    My initial Observations:

    • There are more than 111 countries covered by our customers
    • At least one customer lists a residence somewhere in the Amazon Rainforest
    • We have at least 1 customer for every state in the USA
    • The southernmost city is Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
    • The Northernmost city is Lakselv, Norway
    • We don't have a customer who lists a residence in Antarctica yet.

    Consider this one a warm-up. My next map will show this same data, but broken out by our data center locations. (Dallas, Seattle and Washington D.C.)

    -Jason

    Categories: 
    June 14, 2008

    In Memory of Dawn

    Dawn was the best friend I’ve ever had, except for my little sister. Just yesterday I got home only to find out that Dawn had died silently in the night. No amount of resuscitation could bring her back. Needless to say, I was quite sad.

    Dawn was my computer.*

    The funny part of it all was just how much of my time involves a computer. I watch TV and Movies on my computer, I play games on my computer, I do my banking on my computer, I pay all my bills on my computer, I schedule my non-computer time on my computer, I use my computer as a jukebox.

    In other words, I was completely lost. What made it worse, however, was that I had had yesterday scheduled to pay my bills. But where was my list of bills?

    If you guessed “Dawn had all your bills”, then you are right.

    What about paper bills? I’ve got the Internet and a computer! So, in most cases I’ve canceled paper bills. All paper bills I get are shredded forthwith. So I had no paper backup of bills.

    Well, I made do. I kicked my roommate off his computer (a technique involving making annoying noises while he tries to concentrate playing Call of Duty 4) and used it to pay what bills I could remember. I kept track of the bills I was paying by entering them into a Google Document.

    That’s when it hit me! Why wasn’t my bill spreadsheet on Google Documents? Along with my bill list? Along with all the other documents I work on every day? Cloud Computing For The Win! As soon as I get my next computer up and running (and I figure out a new naming algorithm) I’m going to put all my vital files on Google Docs. This ties in well with Justin Scott’s post; the key to not having your data disappear during a disaster is to have a backup copy. You want backups out there, far away from your potential point of failure. (I did have backups… but they’re all on CDs that I didn’t want to have to sort through to find just one file. And had the disaster been, say, a flood, I would have had no backups.)

    Google Docs is a great example of Cloud Computing: Putting both the program and the file being worked on “in the cloud.” Having built internal applications for a few people, I would make the same recommendation: Since many business apps are moving to PHP anyway (thanks for the reminder, Daniel!), you might as well move the application AND the data out of the building and onto a secure server. And as Mr. Scott** mentioned, SoftLayer ALREADY has geographic diversity as well as a private network that will allow you to link your application and data servers together in real time through all datacenters… for free. Along with the added bonus of being able to access your application from any computer… should yours meet up with Misty, May, and Dawn at the Great Datacenter in the Sky.

    -Shawn

    * I had a system of naming my computers after the female protagonists from the Pokemon series. Dawn, however, is the last of that series…

    ** I’ve decided that since Justin is an Engineer, calling him Mr. Scott is funny.

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