Archive for the ‘Falcon Blog Commentary’ Category
If you’ve been following the general uproar over Google’s mobile ranking update over the last few weeks you’ve likely come across quotes like these.
“Google’s “Mobile-Friendly” Update Could Impact Over 40% Of Fortune 500 Websites”
“Mobilegeddon is Coming!”
“Google warns mobile-friendly algorithm update will be bigger than Panda and Penguin”
Unless you live under a rock you’ve been inundated with headline after headline warning of the coming apocalypse if your website is not mobile friendly. You’ll lose all of your rankings and your website will disappear! Not exactly true. All the fish bit hard and the site owners scrambled to ‘fix’ every website possible (likely at a premium).
Who is Affected?
Let’s first remember that this update is exclusively for mobile search results executed on mobile devices; not tablets or desktop computers. Second, Google has been dropping hints for YEARS on its desire to provide meaningful results for mobile searchers. If you ignored these warnings then this month’s update should come as no surprise. Your development partner or webmaster should have been on your case about the lack of mobile friendliness. For instance starting in January this year, Google started hammering webmasters with usability warnings. Only a wet towel to the backside would be more obvious an indicator that something was about to change.
Our own Creative Director, Jason Harrison-Edge wrote an extremely relevant article in 2013 entitled: Respond or Die, Responsive Web Design is not a Trend!. It’s well worth a read.
In November of last year Google launched a Mobile Friendliness Tool (go test your site).
What’s Mobile Friendly?
In a nutshell the following few points are a good start towards general mobile friendliness.
- The website’s body text has to be readable without tapping and/or zooming.
- Your site should not use features that are not supported on most mobile devices like Flash.
- The CTA’s or main links need to be spaced out appropriately
- The page should avoid unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.
So, be sure that your starting point for any website moving forward is an intelligent, liquid design. Remember our post from 2012 called Respond or Die? Falcon-Software has been warning our clients since at least 2013.
What if you Fail the Mobile Friendliness Test?
If you fail the mobile friendliness test, there’s no more time for making excuses. You will also not receive the ‘Mobile Friendly’ tag in mobile Google search results. You may still rank for the moment, however this visual signal will likely cause searchers to pass by your site in the results.
You will likely fall victim to Mobilegeddon if any of the following holds true for you.
- Your site structure is built using TABLES. Basically your site is vintage, and will not respond well to small viewports (mobile screens).
- You test your site on your phone and can’t read your own website without zooming in (pinching) or scrolling left and right.
- You search for your site on Google Mobile and the result does not present the ‘Mobile-friendly’ tag:
In the days following the ‘Roll Out’ I am seeing multiple reports of large websites suffering significant shortfalls on their mobile traffic based on the absence of the Mobile-friendly tag. If you don’t see this tag or would like us to have a look for you, please feel free to contact us directly. We’d be happy to work with you on developing a solution for your ‘not so mobile-friendly’ website.
Were you affected? Did you really notice a change? Did you think you were mobile friendly only to get penalized in this latest update? Let us know below!
Kentico delivered a present to their subscribers and partners in the first week of 2015 with the release of Kentco CMS version 8.2. We are huge advocates of Kentico at Falcon-Software and have been extremely impressed with what they have put forward with their Version 8 releases. We are very excited to share these new capabilities with our mutual clients!
Here are a few words from Kentico’s recent press release:
Bi-Directional SharePoint Synchronization
Kentico’s new SharePoint Integration module accelerates cooperation between collaborators while facilitating better file sharing. With Kentico’s new bi-directional SharePoint synchronization feature, all changes made in Kentico will be made automatically on the SharePoint server. Just point and share—your files are always up to date, and everyone has the latest versions.
Easy Shipping Calculations
With shipping costs affected by order value, size, weight, geography, shipping provider, and customer, providing shipping discounts and free delivery to certain customers can be difficult to calculate. One-size-fits-all solutions simply won’t do. With Kentico, you can now easily create a shipping module (and reuse for other projects) that presents all the tools you need to calculate shipping costs in your own custom user interface.
Enhanced Contact Management
The Contact Management module in Kentico provides a 360-degree view of all your website visitors and customers as well as their behavior across all channels and devices. If you are using multiple tools to manage your leads, contacts and recipients, it can be a headache to sync them, import them and reuse them across all the platforms in use. With Kentico 8.2, you can easily import Contacts from a CSV file, segment them, and leverage them in the system.
All Kentico 8.2 improvements include
- Modules improvements
- Precompilation enhancements
- Support for separated database in the upgrade procedure
- Web Content Management
- Translation improvements
- Shipping improvements – easier to customize shipping calculations
- Online Marketing
- Import contacts from a file
- Email marketing usability enhancement
- Online marketing performance improvements
- Intranet and Collaboration
- SharePoint bi-directional synchronization
“With the new features contained in Kentico 8.2, we continue to show we not only listen to our customers, we respond to their needs,” said Kentico CEO and Founder Petr Palas. “We are constantly working to enhance our product to bring our customers the easy-to-use and affordable set of tools they need to launch and manage integrated digital marketing activities that are highly personalized, dynamic, and effective.”
Kentico 8.2 allows anyone to quickly deliver the right marketing message at the right time on any digital channel—it’s easy to use, affordable, and quick to set up. With sophisticated personalization, segmentation and other capabilities, Kentico allows users to manage all their digital marketing efforts in a unified way across all their marketing tools from a single environment that can easily integrate with real-time CRM and ERP data for the highest level of personalization. Kentico 8.2 includes all the components for integrated marketing efforts online, including Web Content Management, E-commerce, Online Marketing, Online Communities, Intranet and Collaboration.
More on Kentico 8.2’s new features and capabilities can be found on Kentico’s 8.2 microsite.
Give us a holler to learn more about Kentico and its incredible Content Management and Digital Marketing features.
It’s very likely this is related to your link profile.
We’ve known for years that good, quality content will drive rankings and conversions. Naturally, it’s much more than that and the specific nuances are well documented all over the web. There is a long standing battle between the links versus content camps with each side demanding their own superiority over rankings. Ironically if your content is crap, you can have all the links and rankings that you want; your visitors will still bounce from your garbage website. So in the end the Content will always win out.
Most recently (well, it’s not all that recent) Google has been attacking ‘unnatural’ link profiles which has spanked a good number of websites. The first ‘Panda’ update slammed over 11% of English search queries in 2011 and there have been upwards of 24 minor updates since then (including 4 major releases, Version 4.0 was released in May of this year. Penguin is another ‘named’ algorithm update which targets link farms and link networks used for the sole purpose of boosting Google Rankings.
If you’ve seen drops in rankings and traffic in the last couple of years and are still wondering what’s up, you’ll want to embark in a link audit. It’s very likely that your site has found its way into some of the link networks targeted by Google and plus it’s a good excuse to take a hard look at your linking strategy and current health.
During a link audit you will want to look at the following areas
Link Depth & Distribution
- What percentage of links point to pages other than your top level domain (homepage)
- Is there a healthy (natural) distribution of links across varying page levels in the website
Link Source Domains
- How many unique domain names link to your site
- How many link directly from the homepage
- How many link from blog or article content
- Are the domains relevant to your industry (topic) in any way
Linking Text (anchor text)
- Is there variation in the link text (very important)
- If one particular keyword or phrase is used in a high percentage of links you will be penalized
- Do the source pages relate contextually to the target pages
- For instance a review blog post of a product links to your product or category
- Are your links on pages with hundreds of other links (bad)
- Do you have links from social media networks, blog posts, articles, press releases, etc… (good)
When you have developed your list and sorted out the bad links, the hard part begins. You will need to contact site owners and request removal. This requires a diplomatic approach and patience. If by the 3rd attempt you have not received a response, you will need to invoke the ‘Disavow Link’ tool from within the Google Webmaster Tools interface.
This was just a short post on what is likely happening if you’ve seen a recent slide in position and traffic. If you think you might fall under this category, please don’t hesitate to give me a call; I’d be happy to help you to confirm what your best course of action might be.
Originally posted on Linked in.
It blows the mind to think of how accurate Hanna-Barbera predicted the future when they first aired the Jetson’s back in 1962.
Yes… we don’t have flying cars yet, but for most of the futuristic gadgets and gizmos found in and around the Jetson’s Skypad Apartment, you’d be hard pressed to find something that doesn’t exist today in some form or fashion.
Welcome to the future folks… a future that has been coined – The Internet of Things!
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the subject of much hype and of vast projections from so many research firms these days like McKinsey Global Institute that stating back in May 2013 that the IoT has the potential to create an economic impact of $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion annually by 2025… wow, staggering numbers even for George Jetson to comprehend.
At a very basic level, “IoT” means devices that can sense aspects of the real world – like temperature, lighting, the presence or absence of people or objects, etc. – and report that real-world data, or act on it. Instead of most data on the Internet being produced and consumed by people (text, audio, video), more and more information would be produced and consumed by machines, communicating between themselves to (hopefully) improve the quality of our lives.
We have all by now heard the classic smart refrigerator example: A fridge that can read RFID tags on grocery items as they’re put inside, then look up those tags via the Internet to identify milk, eggs, butter. The fridge tracks usage, then alerts owners when they’re running out of groceries, or need more food since people are coming over to watch the football game this weekend. The fridge could even place a grocery order automatically or warn about products nearing their expiration dates.
A bathroom that lets you know when it’s running low on toilet paper could be worth its weight in Bitcoin gold.
But beyond a well-meaning concept that promises to deliver us all to an even higher state of connectivity, what does the IoT mean for us in 2014? Why aren’t we all living the George Jetson lifestyle right now?
RFID tagging of items like groceries, etc… hasn’t trickled down to consumers yet. Even if items are tagged, there’s no simple way to look them up and without the ability to easily and accurately identify items, many smart appliances are becoming dumb. Smart fridges demonstrated this year at CES make users track food items by scanning receipts or barcodes with their phones. That makes keeping track of household items a fiddly chore – the kind of annoyance the IoT is supposed to eliminate.
Also, most smart home products are proprietary ecosystems. Good luck getting your Frigidaire refrigerator, ADT home security system and Sony home entertainment center to talk to each other anytime soon.
And lets not pretend that the IoT will not bring a multitude of privacy and security implications to consider. Just imagine, getting an endless stream of spam messages from your fridge as your making yourself a late night snack.
There’s little question the IoT will eventually be enormous. Using Internet technology to make our homes and devices smarter is easy to understand, but is also a very large endeavor that will take a lot more time.
First of all, it’s not new. The first iteration of the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) received royal assent (became law in Canada) on December 15, 2010. There have since been 4 years of pandering around by the Government on how to enforce it and so we have arrived at July 1st. This is where organizations are freaking out and sending panic tinged emails citing the impending doom of the Canadian Anti-Spam Law!
What do I do!? CASL is Here!
Slowly remove your finger from the ‘send hysterical consent email’ button right now and take a deep breath. The best was to obliterate your email list is to send an email with this sentiment: Help! the CASL (pronounced Castle) is in effect on July 1st. I need your consent right now!
Before making any hasty decisions, it’s important to have a very clear understanding of what your responsibilities are and what the state of your current email list is.
How do I Know if CASL Affects Me?
Any ‘machine’ sending or receiving a Commercial Electronic Message (CEM) is subject to CASL. The legislation establishes a clear distinction between implied consent or express consent. In a nutshell CASL was introduced in 2010, the beginning of enforcement will start on July 1, 2014 and the ‘grace period’ for implied consent emails will end in 2017. These are primarily the 2 methods in which emails are added to a subscription list. CASL states that organizations have until 2017; yes, 3 years, to migrate any emails that they have acquired through implied consent, to express consent. Anyone collecting address not using implied or express consent are douche-bag spammers and will be seeing very large fines in the coming years. If convicted, spammers can face $1million dollar fines for sole proprietors and $10million for organizations.
What is Implied Consent?
Implied consent is a bit grey and is inferred based on a business relationship. There are a high number of scenarios where you can have implied consent such as on a website or club membership form, a business card, a donation on an NFP site, an eCommerce checkout form, a newsletter signup, a repair centre (car, computer, etc…) or anywhere that someone has voluntarily entered their email address. There is generally an air of ambiguity around what implied consent subscribers would expect to see in their inbox. Perhaps you added your email on a race entry form and found later that you were receiving emails promoting shoes and running gear from sponsors. This was fine before July 1, but it would likely fail the CASL ‘sniff test’ now.
What is Express Consent?
You achieve express consent by requesting direct permission to send emails to the subscriber. Transparency and clarity are the key considerations here. This is an entirely ‘opt-in’ mechanism where all subscription options are selected by the subscriber. Nothing is ‘pre-selected’ and you must also declare several pieces of info regarding the sending organization. Company name, email address, location, website and postal address should be present on the form. As well as a clear and defined subscription management process (update and unsubscribe). A small caveat to all that is that you can also be granted express consent orally although you will need to deliver the necessary clarity and subscription tools in all subsequent emails. Proving oral consent is done by record keeping (details of the conversation, date, time, etc…).
Here are a few important details to remember:
- All email addresses that are implied or unsure must be migrated to express consent within 3 years.
- Be a good ‘permission marketer'; audit your previous subscription policies and mechanisms. You may already have express consent subscribers; they remain valid forever!
- If you receive implied consent after July 1, you have 2 years to migrate.
- Clearly indicate that you are asking permission to send electronic messages and from what organization.
- Your forms must include mailing address or email as well as website address or phone number.
- Once you obtain express consent it is valid forever or until the user opts-out of the list.
- The organization sending the email is responsible for compliance, not a 3rd party marketing tool such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp.
Remember that you can’t bury consent disclaimers in the footer of your form page; this is pretty much illegal now. Disclosure must occur at or near the ‘submit’ button or email form field in clear and understandable language.
So it has become industry knowledge that implied consent marketing is no longer best practice. It is now illegal to send a CEM without at least implied consent. This works in everyone’s favour since obtaining permission establishes an immediate trust while ‘disruptive marketing’ erodes this trust.
What’s Your Story?
How are you handling the transition? Are you able to audit your existing list with some level of accuracy?
Have you received a particularly amusing ‘panic’ laced email recently? Go ahead an add it to the comments (scroll down a bit), we’d love to hear about it.
If this all seems a bit overwhelming and you’re experiencing a lot of anxiety from the new CASL legislation, please let us know. We would be happy to help you navigate through the compliance process.
Will Remote Teams and Ninja-ish Job Titles Replace the Multi-divisional Structure?
In the early 20’s, General Motor’s developed the multidivisional organizational structure that most companies still use today. This structure was considered highly effective and efficient and was quickly adopted as the norm in the business world. You have probably seen the standard organization chart in most large-scale organizations that divide people by functions. The theory was that by allowing all the engineers to be together in one department they became more efficient at their jobs.
If we look at some companies today – specifically startups and software development companies but not limited to them – we see a very different structure.
One of our favorite software tools here at Falcon-Software is Basecamp. The company develops software – wonderfully designed software that is easy to use and has become a Project Managers best friend. From early start-up days the owners decided that, in order to get the best and most qualified people working for them, they couldn’t limit hiring people in their immediate geographical location. In order words, they started hiring the right people who just happened to live in another country or even another continent. This worked so well for Basecamp that they now have a fully remote team and have written a best selling book about their experiences. One of the founders, Jason Fried, speaks highly of their decision to work with a remote team and attributes much of the company’s success to not having a traditional model:
Say you spend thirty minutes driving in rush hour every morning and another fifteen getting to your and into the office. That’s 1.5 hours a day, 7.5 hours per week, or somewhere between 300 and 400 hours per year, give or take holidays and vacation. Four hundred hours is exactly the amount of programmer time we spend building Basecamp, our most popular product. Imagine what you could do with 400 extra hours a year. Commuting isn’t just bad for you, your relationships and the environment – it’s bad for business. ~ Remote: Office Not Required
Some non-IT companies are using a new organizational model as their competitive edge. Method makes cleaning products. Not the sexiest industry. For a long time the cleaning product industry was highly commoditized with everyone offering basically the same thing with a few big players holding the market share. Cleaning was just boring.
Then Method was born and this small start-up took full take advantage of it’s size and adapted quickly to earn its place against the giants like Proctor and Gamble and Clorox. Today, Method is eating up more market share and retains a very grassroots structure with employees making-up ninja like job titles (Suds Slinger is their Sales Director) in a pretty flat organization where everyone does a little bit of everything. Even the VP gets in on the action and takes turns answering the front desk phone. The founders of the company support this culture and structure because they believe that this keeps them connected to their customers and evolving. The structure has differentiated them from their competitors.
With so many things in life being so unnecessarily complicated it’s refreshing to see a trend go to the other side of the spectrum and focus on the basics – like people (imagine that!).
When it comes to our industry or any technology industry for that matter, it should never be about fitting a square tool into the proverbial round organizational structural hole. It’s about understanding what makes your organization really tick, supporting that and getting the technology that enhances it.
So you have a great website with hundreds, maybe thousands of visitors. That’s great but each one has their own background, interests, motivations and goals but you are showing them all the same content. Not very clever.
The solution is Content Personalization, allowing you to deliver the right message to the right person.
Watch the video below for an extremely concise description of how you can deliver an automated and integrated personalized experience for your eCommerce visitors.
As is the nature of our business, we facilitate website moves for virtually every development project. In rare occasions we may implement a design facelift or feature upgrade while leaving the entire site architecture intact. However nine times out of ten we are redeveloping the whole website strategy with the client. This inevitably involves changes to the site architecture and URL nomenclature (& hierarchy). Detailed content audits and UX analysis also opens the door to major changes in linking and navigation layout which can have a trickle effect on naming.
The point here is that minute changes to a website’s URL structure or page naming will render them broken in the search engines. We have saved countless ‘Pie in the Face’ moments for our clients who did not have a website transition strategy in place.
Recently Google published some additional information designed to help guide site owners through a site move. If you are simply moving your website to a new host without changing the domain name or URL’s this isn’t for you. However any change to the domain or URL structure will lead to dramatic fallout and cardiac palpitations from your executive team without taking the proper steps.
A few years ago I wrote a similar article on How to Transition a New Website, where I detail the same steps outlined in Google’s updated help page.
If you’re getting a little anxious pending an imminent site move of your own, please give us a call and we’ll let you know exactly what you need to do next!
Preparing for your Website Transition
Step One: Prepare a URL Mapping
Step Two: Create a Mapping of Old to New URLs
Step Three: Update All URL Details
Prepare the 301 Redirects
Again I went over most of this in my earlier post: How to Redirect a Website with 301 Redirects.
The true merit of your plan will rest with your due diligence and how you built your A => B URL lists. Remember also that your Google rankings are directly related to your inbound links (among other things). Don’t ignore those relationships. Keep an eye on any broken links in Google Webmaster Tools and reach out to those partners to refresh the relationship.
I’ll post a tutorial on this in the coming weeks.
Questions? Leave them below and I’ll answer them promptly!
Do you do ‘Social’? Are you an every morning, network scanning, post scheduling marketer? Are you a ‘hash tagger’? The poor, much maligned hashtag (#). Personally, I use them fairly consistently, but only for Twitter and sometimes Google+. And I don’t obsess over them as I find that they suck up characters unnecessarily.
Getting to the alarmist title of the story, there were rumblings a little while ago (late March) about some comments made by Vivian Schiller, Twitters head of news. On the surface it was possibly a colossal case of ‘jumping to conclusions’ after several factions of the interwebs started calling the hashtag dead. During a speech at an event in Denver, she eluded to ‘hashtags and @replies’ as being arcane and that ‘they were working on moving the scaffolding of Twitter into the background’. Naturally this meant killing off the #’s and @’s right? I know, that’s a bit of a stretch.
The news originally broke via Buzzfeed honcho’s Charlie Warzel and Ben Smith.
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) March 17, 2014
After a time of speculation and twitter tornadoes, Vivian responded with what seemed to be a confirmation of some level of reshaping at the network:
Perhaps this is a strategic play in which to slowly introduce the idea and/or to gauge the community reaction, which has for the most part been very much ‘Pro Hashtag’. Well I should also mention that the @ Reply feature is also tied up in this little controversy.
A nifty (still active) poll was testing the viewership and is most certainly one sided.
What do you think? Are you a Friend or Foe of the hashtag?
Do we appreciate the complexity of this classic skit from Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake? Or that serene moment when the world reacted to #nowthatchersdead thinking that Cher had died.
Some people are in a frenzy over the hashtag #nowthatchersdead. It’s “Now Thatcher’s dead”. Not, “Now that Cher’s dead” JustSayin’
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) April 8, 2013
Share your thoughts.
Take one of the industries leading enterprise engagement based content platforms, toss in a torture tested, cloud friendly database layer, connect it seamlessly to your entire visitor data source and you have the Sitecore Experience Database.
Succinct personalization is the golden chalice of marketing. It’s predictive, meaningful and speaks directly to the visitor – “How did you know I was looking for that?”. Well Sitecore has just taken a pretty big step in solidifying itself as the metre stick for personalizing content. But not just personalizing; collecting, sorting, organizing and deploying every meaningful piece of collected data based on a single visitor. That is sweet indeed.
On April 30, Sitecore announced that they had made a significant addition to their already robust Experience Management Platform. They were handing out early access to their new generation, CEP which included the Sitecore Experience Database.
Sitecore Experience Database Sneak Peak on CMS-Connected
Not a lot is known currently about the product and we have personally not had an opportunity to see a live deployment, however Sitecore Chief Strategy Officer, Darren Guarnaccia will be popping by CMS-Connected for a moment to introduce us all to the new platform.
CMS-Connected host Scott Liewehr was quoted in the official press release by stating:
“Marketers are severely limited by disconnected technology and fragments of customer knowledge,” said Scott Liewehr, president and principal analyst, Digital Clarity Group. “To win at customer experience, organizations fundamentally need to understand their customers better than anyone else, which means capturing everything they know about that customer and delivering relevant, highly-personal experiences in real-time.”
Tune into CMS-Connected to see and hear Chief Strategy Officer, Darren Guarnaccia preview the brand new Big Data crushing Experience Database from Sitecore.
Only 30% of companies have a single view of their customers across online and offline touchpoints.
– Sitecore Customer Experience Maturity Assessment 2013
You don’t have to make trade-offs as to what data you keep and what you ignore, based on arbitrary technical limitations. The Sitecore Experience Database scales to store it all. This “no-limits” approach means you are now unconstrained, and can segment, customize and deliver the most relevant digital conversations to your customers – drawing on all that data to make each customer experience unique – like the humans you’re talking to.