Friday, 31 January 2014

5 of the Best Travel Apps - Tried and Tested

As someone who loves to travel but managed to forget her iPad a couple of trips ago, loves to find bargain flights and always wants to know how many $$$ she'll get for her pounds I've put together a list of my favourite travel apps which I use all the time, for flights, train times, currency conversion and where to find my nearest bank/store/movie theatre.

1.  XE Currency Converter
This app does exactly what it says on the tin.  Have it set up on your iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android or whatever you use and you'll always know instantly what rates you should be getting, and how much that new pair of boots will cost, wherever you are.

2.  FlightTrack
Whether it's you taking a trip or your daughter flying off to Milan you can put in as many flights as you want (and this app will help you search for the right flight) and then track them as they take-off, land, or are delayed or worst cancelled.  You can also set up alerts for each flight to tell you what's happening and what gate the flight will land at.

3.  TrainTimes
Not flying but want to know live departure and arrival times of trains in the UK, then download the TrainTimes app from National Rail.  It's incredibly fast and easy to use.  You'll find it in the iTunes Store and also for Android Phones.

This is one of the major flight (and hotel and car hire) comparison sites and it just goes on getting better and better.  I find that the interface is cleaner than some other flight comparison sites, but that's just my preference, and you should check as well to see which you prefer to use, you almost certainly won't find any difference in prices.  Be aware that flights tend to be cheaper in the middle of the week and away from major holidays, and the earlier you can book the better.

5.World Around Me (WAM)
If you want to know what's available immediately around where you are then WAM it with this app which will tell you the nearest pharmacies, doctors, hotels, restaurants, movie theatres, clothes stores, gas stations and more, together with phone numbers, website details and links through to Google Maps.  Rated as one of the best local guide apps by National Geographic Traveller you'll love to take this with you wherever you go.

There are thousands of travel apps - these are just five of my favourites - let me know yours......

Friday, 24 January 2014

Google Gives Guest Blogging the Thumbs Down

In the same way that Google has targeted spammy backlinks, keyword stuffed prolific articles and content that is written just with rankings in mind, Google now has their eyes on guest blogging, which may be a blow to many.

To be clear, Google is not trying to stop multi-author blogs, nor authentic high quality guest bloggers who are invited to write for other websites offering entertaining insight and information and well written posts, but those who perceive guest blogging as just a way to get up the rankings and offer to pay for the opportunity. I'm sure that the line will be blurred with some blogs and Google may come down hard on some unfortunates who have done nothing wrong - blame those who have made guest blogging another form of black hat SEO.

Guest blogging has grown hugely in the past year or so, ever since Google started targeting other content strategies, so it's not really surprising that this is now happening.  Don't you, as I do, get endless emails from people asking if they can write a guest blog post for you to include a 'relevant' link or two within the copy (about the subject of your choice), and offering you some kind of recompense if you let them do so?  Avoid these like the plague.

Basically this is back to paying for backlinks - a spammy practice that Google has frowned on for a long time and as with any kind of paying for improvement in page rank may well get you penalized - so it's time to stop and really consider what you're doing.

This is unfortunate as there are many high quality guest blog posts being written, totally authentic, which are now going to get caught up in this mix, however as a strategy for SEO purposes it's not going to work any more, as the risk is that Google will pile all the guest blog posts into one 'we don't approve of this' pot, largely because of those who have scrabbled around looking for some other way to improve their rankings post Penguin and Panda.

Of course this comes back to you writing relevant content for your website, using keywords and phrases totally in line with your product and services, and which you know, from your research, your audience/customers are looking for.  Relevance is the key word for 2014.

Read more about this on Matt Cutts Blog

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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

5 Ways to Improve your Product Page SEO – 2014

Profile Pic Patricia Davidson The temptation with most smaller e-commerce (or otherwise) websites is to optimise all the pages on the site and leave it at that.  However, if you’ve been keeping up in any way with all the changes that Google has been making to the way that it ranks websites you’ll already have that feeling in the back of your mind that more work is needed to bring your site up to date.  Lots of work.  And nothing but spending time on this one will help you out.  You’ll be benefitting all the competition if you don’t get with it.

You’re told that the cornerstone of getting to the top in the rankings is high quality backlinks, but you can spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get these and they can be hard to get, so although you should never give up on this, there is far more you can do to your website in real time that will benefit you and your conversion rates.

This is what you need:

Re-Visit Keyword Research
You may or may not have carried out organised keyword research for each of your products, creating a table of keywords, meta tags, descriptions and content.  The fact is that whatever you did in the past may still be working for you (and I wouldn’t advise changing anything that is working), however what people are searching for has changed, and you should visit the Google Keyword Planner to make sure that you’re using the most relevant keywords and phrases for each product, updating where necessary.  Yes this is a long job.  No there are no short cuts.

High Quality Content
The days of allowing others to write paragraph after paragraph of non relevant/non customer friendly content stuffed with keywords in various places are over.  If you’re still doing that then stop now.  The word you’re looking for is ‘relevance’.  Content that is well written, and relevant to the page and product is what you want.  Go for quality.  Content writers need strong direction.  How to do keyword research (cannot be learned in a couple of seconds), where to place keywords, how to make them stand out and most important of all, how to write content that your visitors are going to want to read.

This means high quality content for each and every one of your products, after you’re done your research.  No guess work here.

Title Tags – Page Title – Meta Title Tag
This is the one that appears in the top of your browser.  It should contain 70 characters or less, relevant to the page, and preferably starting with that page’s main keyword.  It should also be reader friendly, so no keyword stuffing.  Create a sentence beginning with your main keyword or phrase.  Don’t worry about your brand name too much, at this point people are searching for products, not you who they may not have heard of, and the product will lead them to your website.

Your Page URL
Your page URLs may well have already been indexed by Google, and although it is better overall for them to match up with your Title Tags it’s not essential.  If you have control over your URLs and you’re working on pages that have not been ranked as you would like then consider changing them to include your keyword or phrase.

Meta Descriptions
In all the keyword research and on page content writing endeavours you may overlook your meta descriptions.  Well don’t.  These snippets which will hopefully be picked up by Google and other search engines are important and should not be missed out.  Think of them as ad copy for each page of your website and write something short but compelling, again with your keywords or phrases near the front.  Each meta description has to be unique, and be totally relevant to the page to which it refers.  End your meta descriptions with a call to action to entice people to click through, and make your meta descriptions friendly and inviting.

To try and put all this information into one post is a bit of a stretch, so I’ll be breaking it down over the next few days with more detailed tips for each area. 
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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Why you Should Update Blog Posts

Glamoursleuth Blog Updated So you’ve written how many posts?  And each one goes lower down the totem pole as new ones are added.  But… often do you check your analytics and discover that an old post has suddenly attracted interest and is being viewed again daily, by hundreds?

Then think about it.  That old post will probably have reached the top because of the keywords you’ve used, and may well go on doing so.  Which means that everything you said is being read again.  Links are being clicked on that are most likely out of date.  And those reading, who may well not have checked the publication date, will think you completely daft, or unprofessional, or both.

You can make popular blog posts work for you and go on working but you need to update them from both a wording and a link point of view.  It’s well worth the time and effort, particularly on an ‘I’m out of ideas’ day. 

Tips.  Go into your post and make any changes you want at the same time and before you re-publish by changing the publication date, and bring your post back to the top of the totem pole.  If it intrigued, interested and inspired before it probably will do again, and your new readers will be taken straight to one of your most successful posts and drawn in.

Don’t do this with too many of your posts, just those that have the highest number of page reads and interest.  And always tell people that you’ve updated, either in a footnote, or in the title, so that those who read it before will see you’re being entirely honest and not trying to fool them that this is all new.
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Thursday, 2 January 2014

LinkedIn - Why you Shouldn't Link your Email with LinkedIn

I connected on LinkedIn recently with someone I knew very well from a short while back.  Immediately I was offered page after page of ‘people you might be interested in’ to find contact details for non LinkedIn acquaintances (and non acquaintances), LinkedIn contacts with whom I have nothing in common whatsoever, some who I knew a long time ago, and some who I was interested to connect with.  And there was no hook between my email contacts and LinkedIn.

My question was, how did LinkedIn select these potential connections?  I understand, through a little research, that LinkedIn is mining not only my own connections, but connections of connections, using a points score basis to come up with recommendations.  Ok.  I am still in the dark as to why and how LinkedIn could recommend an email contact off someone else’s list.  Other contacts have told me that they unwittingly sent invitations to everyone on their contact list.  More than once.

It's quite clear that unless you're willing to put your email contact list in someone else's 'hands' that you should not hook your email up with LinkedIn, however tempting that might seem.  Not only will you probably end up unwittingly spamming your list, but this will be repeated over and over again. 

I think that LinkedIn is an excellent tool, and has always been the upstanding social media site for professionals.  However, it is obviously in growing mode, and the tools it may choose to use to do that may not be those that you are happy with.  This doesn’t mean that you should come off LinkedIn, but that you should be aware that LinkedIn, as other social media sites, is constantly changing its Privacy Policy and you are almost certainly not keeping up.  Who, after all, reads the small print regularly if at all.

This is the page you need to read very carefully:  Do this now.

I also suggest that you go to Privacy and Settings (click on your pic top right corner to get there), and go through all of your Profile Privacy Controls. Review them all.

One thing you might like to consider - in Groups, Companies and Applications, under Privacy Controls in that section, is to un-tick ‘Turn on/off data sharing with 3rd party applications’ as you will most likely find that this has been automatically ticked.

You may want to do the same for ‘Manage settings for LinkedIn plugins on 3rd party sites’.

Examples from the Privacy Policy at Jan 2nd 2013
’We collect information when you use the LinkedIn website, LinkedIn applications (for example, LinkedIn for iPhone or Android), and LinkedIn platform technology (such as “Share on LinkedIn” plugins for publishers). For example, we collect information when you view or click on ads, import your address book, join and participate in groups, participate in polls, install a LinkedIn mobile application, and share articles on LinkedIn.’


’You may use the LinkedIn contacts importer to upload individual contacts or your entire address book into LinkedIn. LinkedIn stores this information and uses it to help you manage it with “LinkedIn Contacts,” which can be your primary resource for storing, organizing, and utilizing your contact information. We also use this information to enhance your LinkedIn experience by helping you to grow your network by: identifying your contacts already on LinkedIn; providing a template to send invitations to your contacts that have not registered with LinkedIn; and suggesting people you may know but who may not be in your LinkedIn Contacts.’

Don’t ever assume that any social media application has your privacy protected, that has to be your job, and if you don’t take care too much will be known about you by too many, and far more than you suspect……….