Archive for March, 2008

The Fundamentals of SEO

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

[The Fundamentals of SEO] – Forget about META tags and complicated back-linking campaigns for a second. The fundamentals of SEO revolve around two ingredients that lack sex appeal: proper page structure and well-written content. The successful combination of these elements will benefit your search rank more than any outsourced SEO campaign ever will.

Let’s start at the beginning…

Search engine algorithms incorporate both on-page and off-page elements. On-page elements include both page structure and content. Wait a second… if both fundamental ingredients of SEO are included in the on-page elements, then what about the off-page side of the equation (i.e. back-links)?

Well, theoretically, back-links should be a byproduct of well-written content. In other words, there shouldn’t be a need to proactively poach external links. This is of course theoretical. It is probably a good idea to scout external links from relevant sites to increase your PageRank and drive traffic.

Moving along…

Proper page structure basically means mandatory:

  • Page titles
  • META descriptions
  • Header tags
  • Paragraph content
  • ALT tags
  • Strong and emphasis tags
  • Keyword-injected URLs, if possible

Well-written content is a bit more vague, but encompasses some of the following: keyword consistency, proper grammar, and logical article development.

If these two areas can be targeted, SEO success is inevitable. It has to start with the web design (i.e. proper page structure), followed by the site copy (i.e. page content). So, instead of looking at SEO from a micro point-of-view, the macro perspective may provide a better overall picture of the situation.

There Is No Internet Bubble (And There Won’t Ever Be)

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

The blogosphere is once again abuzz with “bubble” speculation. This recurring theme tends to pop its head into the blog world every few months. This time though, many are anxious. Some are convinced that the inevitable US recession will stifle innovation and steer the web into some sort of temporary holding cell. This is definitely not the case. In fact, the Internet is headed to more prosperous times in an era where innovation and development will only accelerate.

My first question to those who think we are in a bubble is this: why do you think we’re in a bubble? To be honest, I haven’t seen many ridiculous fundings (Facebook aside), nor a rash of Internet IPOs. A frenzy of unsubstantiated capital infusions forms the basis for any bubble. The subsequent lack of liquidity ignites a sell-off, depreciating valuations. This was the case in the first and only Internet bubble. Greedy VCs, armed with the belief that advertising would pave the road to riches, invested in any and every company with an enticing .com name. We all know the outcome of this story.

The current Internet landscape looks much different. Information is prevalent and infrastructure developments have changed the game. The capital markets have also changed. You no longer need a million dollars to start a company. In order words, the key contributing factor to any bubble has been negated to a large degree.

An Internet start-up can be launched at no cost, assuming human labour is discounted and a computer and Internet connection are readily available. Any given Internet user can leverage open source software and/or free tools. Furthermore, widespread documentation and education are available at no cost. This equates to minimal barriers to entry.

The significance is that anyone can launch a start-up at any time, on any budget, and iterate quickly. The information and tools are available and the cost is negligible. Time is the only real variable. All of these factors lead to a significant decrease in the probability of a bubble as raising capital no longer becomes an issue in many cases.

Note: I am speaking in general terms. Every start-up situation will be different. Having said that, the underlying factors remain the same.

5 Essential Web-Based Apps For Any Consultant

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Power toolsAs a consultant, I work on cool new projects all the time. This is the glamorous part of the job. Then of course, there is all the grunt work that goes on behind the scenes. This involves client relationship management and dealing with all the admin work. Ugghhh. Luckily, there are web-based apps to help deal with these painful processes.

The following are 5 web-based applications are essential to any web-centric consultant:

  1. Basecamp* – Project management
  2. ConceptShare – Design collaboration
  3. FreshBooks – Invoicing and expense tracking
  4. FunctionFox – Time-tracking
  5. Google Calendar / Gmail / Google Docs – Free web-based application suite

* The entire 37signals suite of products is impressive. Also be sure to check out Zoho’s line of web-based tools.

Obviously there are many others out there. Please be sure to add your favourites in the comments below.

The Future of Location-Based Advertising

Monday, March 17th, 2008

[The Future of Location-Based Advertising] – Back on February 6th of this year, Gavin asked:

“I am interested in what you think about location-based advertising, and its prominence going forward? Do you think it will succeed?”

Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows how much I love the concept ofWiFi icon “local”. I see many benefits, both for the user and the company. That in mind, my answer to the stated question becomes obvious. I think that location-based advertising will play a key role in the evolution of the advertising space.

It seems like a lot of companies are trying to re-invent the wheel nowadays. Many are looking to capitalize on ‘the next big thing’ in advertising. Well, they’ll be happy to know it’s already here and I just saved them millions in research costs (thank me later). Location-based advertising, though nothing revolutionary, is both pertinent to the viewer and lucrative for the company. Just think about it for a second. Instead of viewing ads for whatever online shop or site, the viewer is subject to an ad from a business in their region. If further segmentation can be exploited, the ad becomes even more pertinent to the reader. This usually translates to higher conversions for the company as well. It’s really a win-win situation. The downside for the company is a (potentially) pricy CPM. In addition, inventory levels may easily be maximized given a strict set of constraints.

In any case, I see more companies entering this advertising vertical and others expanding into it. From the other side, I see more advertisers leveraging geographic-based advertising to target potential customers. Internet penetration rates are now at a point where inventory levels in a given region make a case for local advertising. This potential supply is lucrative and should be capitalized upon. Mark my word, local is here to stay.

FriendFeed is the New Hot Sh*t

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

[FriendFeed is the New Hot Sh*t] – Almost exactly a year ago (March 13th, 2007 to be exact), I wrote a post entitled “Twitter is Hot Sh*t Right Now”. Well, a year has passed and the Twitter hype continues to build.FriendFeed logo The skeptics are eating their words and micro-blogging continues to climb in popularity. This Internet phenomenon may very well be the future of personal blogging. So now what? What’s next? Let me introduce you to FriendFeed

If you haven’t heard of or checked out FriendFeed yet, it is a must. This extremely useful, yet simple, service has caught fire and become very popular among the A-list tech bloggers. As was the case with Twitter, many think this short-term viral growth will subside. I’m not so sure.

What makes Facebook so viral and sticky? In other words, why do users continue to visit the site on a frequent basis? Answer: the news feed. They are constantly receiving new news about their friends’ activity. This is both interesting and useful. So why stop at Facebook? What if there was a universal news feed that could tie together all the services that your friends are using? This is the basis for FriendFeed.

Once I’ve added my friends, I can see new updates and changes on services like Twitter, Flickr, StumbleUpon, Ma.gnolia, Pownce, or a blog. Not only that, but I can reply and rate the content as well – all from the FriendFeed site. Very cool. The user experience is clean and intuitive. They’ve added only the necessary features and nothing more. I congratulate them on a job well done.

The only thing I don’t like about FriendFeed is their stereotypical web 2.0 logo… but I’ll let that one slide.

What are your initial thoughts on FriendFeed?