Category Archives: Website
Last weekend I participated in a 30 mile urban adventure race in downtown Nashville.
The concept is simple: teams of three to six people are sent on a mystery course around the city to find clues, solve puzzles, and complete challenges. Each teammate is designated as a runner or a biker, and three teammates are required to be on the course at any given time. I’m a fairly new runner and not a biker by any means, but the team said I wouldn’t run more than eight miles, and would definitely not have to bike. Sign me up!
After one of our runners and two bikers returned from a particularly grueling challenge, we solved our last puzzle and discovered that our final task called for three riders to race from downtown Nashville to a studio we were not familiar with to complete a “boot camp” class. We searched for the address online (smart phones were legal in this particular race) and found that the independent studio was located just five miles away, according to listings on Google, Yelp, Bing and Yahoo.
Our riders were cold, wet, and exhausted, so we runners offered to take their place.
You can imagine our surprise when we rode out to the location only to discover that the studio was not there. We ran into a couple other riders, hunched over their smart phones, who informed us that the studio was actually six miles south of where we currently were – resulting in more than a 20 mile ride roundtrip.
Where was this address change listed? Not on any of the major search engines. In fact, the location was updated only in tiny print on the studio’s website. As we began the trek to our new destination, I found myself thinking about how all this could have been avoided with proper search engine optimization.
At the end of the day, we found the studio and completed our challenge. But what can be learned from this experience? If I can’t find your business’ location from a quick Google search, you have lost me as a customer. On a non-race day, don’t expect me to spend fifteen minutes digging through search engines to find you. Make sure you have taken the steps to optimize your business correctly to avoid losing potential customers. To learn more about SEO, visit lovell.com.
There are several “opportunities” on the domain name front that are important for brand managers and trademark owners to consider, particularly for global consumer brands. To understand these opportunities, it’s necessary to unleash an entire new litany of acronyms, so brace yourself and here we go…
First, you have to know that a TLD is a top-level domain, or the suffix to the right of the dot in your URL. So for http://lovell.com, .com is the TLD.
A brand TLD is a new creation, and the application window for a brand TLD or “dot brand” closes on March 29. As the name suggests, this will give brand owners the opportunity to purchase a TLD specific to their brand, such as .coke or .pepsi; and it will probably be only the major players like those examples that apply due to the hefty $185,000 application fee. For those brands that can afford the investment, proponents say brand TLDs will improve SEO (search engine optimization) results, and PC World magazine calls the availability of Brand TLDs one of the top five changes facing the Internet in 2012.
Applications are also currently being accepted for gTLDs, or generic TLDs, such as .bank or .pizza. Along with the equally steep $185,000 application fee plus ongoing registry operation costs, gTLDs come with substantial responsibility. Applying for a gTLD is applying to run the registry business for that name, just as Verisign is currently responsible for .com TLDs.
Also currently up for grabs are names in a new category of sponsored TLDs, known as sTLDs. Familiar examples of sTLDs are .edu, reserved exclusively for U.S. post-secondary education establishments, and .gov, reserved for U.S. government sites at the federal, state and local levels. The new sTLD is .xxx, known as dot triple-X. As you might expect, a dot triple-X will indicate a pornographic site. Sponsored by the IFFOR (International Foundation for Online Responsibility), registering as a dot triple-X is voluntary for providers of explicit content. Proponents say the dot triple-X sTLD will make it easier for parents and employers to block this entire category of websites. While it’s unclear how many providers of pornography are applying for their new sTLD, many colleges and businesses are busy snatching them up at the cost of $100 per year to proactively prevent others from doing so.
Some registry periods include a sunrise period in which the owner of a trademark can block their trademark from being used by others. The sunrise period for dot triple-X domains has already closed, but trademark owners as well as anyone else can still register. This serves as a good reminder, however, that you must own the trademark registration for a trademark you may seek to protect in future sunrise periods. If you don’t already own your trademark registration, this may certainly be an investment in your brand worth considering.
I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface of the TLD morass, but my head hurts from the new acronyms I’ve already absorbed. What’s your take on all this? Share your thoughts or teach me a new acronym!
Photo credit: http://bit.ly/GU1gtX
Ever heard the saying any publicity is good publicity?
Until recently, one online retailer lived by that adage with astounding success. Like many people, I was aghast after reading a recent New York Times article profiling this retailer’s practice of leveraging negative customer reviews to secure top ranking in Google and other search engines. Essentially a nastier, online version of the famed Soup Nazi (minus the quality product that kept people lining up for punishment), the retailer achieved infamy by berating, harassing and even stalking customers and then capitalizing on their outrage as they posted negative comments
You see, in the world of search engine optimization (SEO) the more a site is talked about or linked to, the more important it becomes to search engines. It’s the same logic that makes blogs, in and outbound links and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter effective tools for raising your online profile. In this case, the retailer ignited such a fury in his customers that their angry comments actually helped propel his site to the top of Google rankings – ahead of national chain stores and even the designer eyewear brands it sold. Bad for their reputation? Yes. But also good for business… According to the retailer, his site’s top ranking translated into serious profits.
But karma – and, in this case, Google – appears to have had the last word. After initially side-stepping the issue in the NYT piece, Google took quick action – convening a team of experts and ultimately altering its search algorithms to exclude sites with significant negative feedback. While it won’t reveal its methods, Google addressed the issue on its blog – providing a straightforward and human response to this complex mathematical issue. Since then, the retailer has been arrested on charges of cyberstalking and fraud.
There are many lessons to be learned from this debacle. Of course, any publicity isn’t good publicity. (Just ask BP, Bernie Madoff or Segway.) But, more importantly, it underscores the fact that doing the wrong thing is bad for business. Always. Exploiting a loophole might result in short-term gain but will ultimately be outweighed by long-term consequences. It’s a lesson business-owners and marketers alike can take to the bank.
At the American Copy Editors Society conference on Friday, the AP Stylebook announced that it would change its standards for the term “website.” Previous editions of the Stylebook recommended that journalists use “Web site,” instead.
Known as “the Journalist’s Bible,” the AP Stylebook serves as the ultimate guide for technical writing rules in journalism. If a writer is ever unsure of how to use a comma, hyphen, state abbreviation, academic title or any other aspect of American English journalism, the AP Stylebook has the answer.
Journalists requested that the Associated Press consider changing the term from “Web site” to “website” for a variety of reasons. Here at Lovell Communications, we agree with most of the reasons other writers give for choosing one over the other and we have been using “website” as our standard for years.
The format of the word itself is not as significant as the process that initiated the change. The Associated Press made their decision based on feedback from journalists, through Twitter, blogs and every other form of instantaneous communication.
Our communications have reached a point where the public can now influence the authorities. This is an important convergence in the worlds of social media and journalism.
What else do you think the AP Stylebook should consider changing?
One of the joys of developing a site is helping write content and decide how to effectively engage an online audience with a notoriously short attention span. Whether it’s a redesign or reimplementation of an existing infrastructure, or a complete ground up redevelopment project, the devil is in the details.
Not long ago, many organizations’ websites were managed by the IT department. This made sense, because the site lived on the infrastructure provided by IT. But the role of many corporate websites has evolved from a simple online brochure to a robust user experience. Today’s marketers are more involved in the day-to-day decision making affecting websites. In some organizations, marketers are responsible for managing this next generation of websites, giving rise to a hybrid group of marketers, often with technical skills as programmers and designers. With this has come added responsibility to produce and manage content. Fortunately a wide variety of software tools, known as content management systems, have emerged to make automate the marriage of marketing and IT.
Why does content matter? One of the best ways of attracting visitors (and subsequently keeping their attention) is to generate strong content in a variety of forms – the written word, audio such as MP3 or podcasts, video such as Flash or Silverlight, and impressive images – that users want to interact with. Content is no longer just the domain of the news media. For example, Woot.com has blended hipster commentary with a quirky one-product-a-day strategy, to cultivate a base of raving fans for whom reading the product description is almost as much fun as shopping. In Woot’s case, content makes all the difference.
Your site may be a good candidate for a content management system if:
- You frequently change the wording on the same sections of your site, such as the home page
- You need to change photos or bios of staff regularly
- You want to launch a podcast
- You add news to the site on a monthly or even weekly basis
Of course, it is always a good idea to calculate return on investment. If your site rarely changes, or your current process is efficient and satisfactory, it may be wise to wait until your next website overhaul to evaluate a content management system.
Regardless, even a simple content management system can automate tedious processes such as these, freeing your marketing and technical staff to focus on adding value and creativity where they’re needed most.