World Wide Weird

By Carl Weiss

Listen to internet radio with workingthewebtowin on BlogTalkRadio
Who would have thought when Robert Noyce invented and patented the silicon based integrated circuit way 
English: Microchips (EPROM memory) with a tran...
English: Microchips (EPROM memory) with a transparent window, showing the integrated circuit inside. Note the fine silver-colored wires that connect the integrated circuit to the pins of the package. The window allows the memory contents of the chip to be erased, by exposure to strong ultraviolet light in an eraser device. Uploaded by Richard Wheeler (Zephyris) 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 back in 1959 that the world would forever more be changed.  While the initial uses for the computer chip were initially limited to big business and military applications, within a dozen years, the computer revolution would enter consumer electronics with the founding of Apple Computer.  Since then the integrated circuit has become part of virtually every consumer electronic gadget from cellphones and televisions to the cars we drive.  Just when you think that just about every possible application has been thought up, some enterprising entrepreneur comes up with another use for the computer chip.  While there are a number of useful creations such as medical prosthetics that have been known to improve the quality of life for many, what I want to bring to you today are the “out there” applications that seem to be some sort of technological outgrowth of the lunatic fringe.

Two Delicious Drones

While aerial drones are nothing new, there are at least two engineers are planning on using them to make the term “to go” mean entirely something new.  The Burrito Bomber is the brainchild of Yoni De Beule and John Bolles.  The pair used a 3-D printer to create their own custom-made bomber that is designed to carry and air drop burritos via parachute.  (I am not making this up.)  The aircraft is directed to its destination via GPS and can be operated either autonomously or via remote control. 

What’s even more alarming about this development is that the Burrito Bomber isn’t the only flying fast food to hit the scene.  In a much publicized YouTube video, Domino’s Pizza demonstrated the DomiCopter making an aerial pizza delivery in the UK.

Sadly, anyone hoping for an aerial munchies fix will have to keep hoping for a while. The Burrito Bomber is currently just a prototype.  Current Federal Aviation Administration regulations prohibit commercial use of unmanned aircraft, but that could change.  "Pending regulations from the FAA in 2015, we'll be able to drop a burrito to a neighborhood near you," says Boiles.


This might not be the best segway in the world, going from food to bugs, but here is another outlandish example of what can be done with a computer chip and way too much time on your hands.  While many people consider cockroaches a nuisance that should be eradicated at all cost there are at least two PhDs that think otherwise.  Backyard Brains co-founders Greg Gage and Tim Marzullo both have doctorates in neural engineering.  Where most of their colleagues use their education to discover ways to connect human beings to electronic devices such as prosthetic limbs, cochlear implants and the like, Gage and Marzullo decided to pursue an entirely different career path.  They decided to form a company dedicated to inspiring scientific curiosity.

The company, established in 2009, sells low-cost kits to turn any and all interested amateurs into neuroscientists. (The company's bread-and-butter product is the SpikerBox, an electrophysiological contraption that allows you to record the brains of insects in real time.) And the RoboRoach, according to the creators, employs the same neuraltechnology used in treatments for Parkinson's as well as the make-up in cochlear implants. Now, to be clear, the RoboRoach is not the answer to the diseases; but it's meant to be a font of inspiration.

I won’t tell you what is required to robotize a roach, since it makes me queasy just to think about it.  But fret not, because the guys from Backyard Brains have created a step-by-step video that will take you through the medical procedure should you be so inclined. Can you say ewwww?”

BugBots to the Rescue

If robotic Roaches weren’t weird enough, there are several universities currently pursuing insect inspired robots that scuttle, slither and fly. 

In a team led by graduate students Kevin Ma and Pakpong Chirarattananon, Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory has created tiny, housefly-sized robots for the purpose of studying insect flight.  Small flying insects like flies are capable of extremely agile maneuvers, such as dodging out of the way of an incoming fly swatter, or landing on flowers and grass that are moving in the wind — making their flight difficult to replicate in a laboratory condition. But by using some unconventional approaches to propulsion, manufacturing and actuation, the Harvard Microbiotics team — after a decade's work — has been able to create a robot that can hover on the spot, take off vertically and steer. They're called RoboBees.  
Currently used as a flight demonstration system due in part to the fact that the RoboBees need to be tethered to an off-board power source, the design team looks forward to the day when their robotic insects can take wing on their own for everything from crop pollination to search and rescue missions. 
Not to be outdone, other researchers at   Harvard Microrobotics have come up with the Harvard Ambulatory Micro Robot, otherwise known as the HAMR.  Utilizing the same fabrication process used to create the RoboBee, the HAMR weighs in at just 1.3 grams and while they can’t fly, they can scuttle along at 37 centimeters per second.  While the developers of the HAMR have as of yet to come up with an actual use for the tiny robots, the researchers claim that they are cool to have around.  

What’s Next?
While a quick search of Google and Kickstarter is a good way to get a bead on the far out uses of the microchip, only time and imagination will show what wondrous and wacky inventions will be spawned next from a sliver of silicon.  (Personally, I think there is soon going to be a pressing need for an autonomous flyswatter that is designed to combat the coming onslaught of bugbots.)

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group, a company that helps entrepreneurs develop their products by offering an array of funding, design and marketing services.  You can also hear about some of the other weird, wonderful and wacky inventions that the integrated circuit has wrought on Carl’s Working the Web to Win radio show live at 4 pm Eastern today.
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Is SEO Still Relevant NOW?

by Carl Weiss

Ever since the inception of the internet, search engine optimization, otherwise known as SEO, has been bandied about as if it were the holy grail of online success. But what is SEO really? Is it simply optimizing your website? Or, has it grown to include  posts to all your web properties?  My answer to these questions may surprise you. SEO is no longer just one thing. It has grown to mean so much more. In this article I will discuss how search engine optimization has evolved in order to become Search Engine Marketing (aka S.E.M.). I will discuss how what was once a single faceted injection has evolved into a multifaceted process. In this article you will find information that will show you how you can improve your search ranking.  This includes specific methods to follow that will insure a strong ranking position. Best of all, you can accomplish all this without resorting to tricks, gimmicks or deception that attempts to bypass the search engine ranking system.

Stop Acting Like it's 1999

Before the turn of the century, achieving search ranking was relatively simple. You selected a keyword  
What really is Search Engine Optimization?
What really is Search Engine Optimization? (Photo credit: Go Local Search)
relevant to your business, created a website, and added the desired keywords to your content. Then you made sure you included Meta and Alt tags and you posted your web pages to the top 100 search engines and directories. Voila.  If you chose your keywords carefully, you soon showed up on page one of Yahoo, AltaVista, Net Taxi and other search engines.

Today it isn't so simple.  The major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing are mostly concerned with quality content, delivered on a regular and timely basis. This content needs to be diversified (web pages, blogs, social media, videos etc…) and it needs to be highly relevant to the keyword or phrase that is being searched. Today if you meet these criteria you will do well in organic search, (assuming your competition is not better at it than you).  If you ignore these items then your chances of showing up on page one are slim at best.

Is On-Site Optimization Dead?

I am often asked is web page optimization still important? My answer is yes. Google and all other search engines care about properly formatted Meta and alt tags. Although this only accounts for a small portion of the overall score, it is still very important. If this on-page information is incorrect, missing, or doesn’t match the content, search engines will either ignore or misinterpret your content and  rank you low or not at all. Either way it means bad news for your website. Make sure your on-page Meta and Alt tags are formatted to match the content and keywords.  Otherwise your quest to be on page one will end before it begins.

Is SEM Different than SEO?

Search Engine Marketing is a much  comprehensive than Search Engine Optimization. It includes all your websites plus  your blog posts, social network posts, any PR posts, all pod casts and video posts.  In essence, S.E.M. encompasses all web postings of any kind. Yet it also means more than this. S.E.M. is also a methodology designed to meet the search content requirements that provide high ranking. In other words, your methodology is predicated on doing what the search engines want, not trying to trick them into giving you better ranking. Today it means giving Google what it wants since Google comprises about 81% of all search activity.

What Does Google Want?

Google loves mixed media, which includes video, photos, podcasts, and more.  The reason they do this is 
Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase
due to the fact that Google is looking to determine who is serving the public the best content for any specific search. The googlebots evaluate your content for relevancy, usefulness, quality, consistency, timeliness, connectedness, positive feedback and diversity of format (web pages, blogs, social media, videos etc…).  These are very busy bots.

Game the System at Your Own Peril

Gone are the days when you could easily trick the search engines in order to get a high ranking. Google has employed a multi-tier approach to detect most trickery. Their new algorithms penalize such practices as  keyword stuffing, duplicate sites, backlink farms and many other patently deceptive practices. On top of that they have hired a hoard of website evaluators that actually check out your pages, posts and back links. If Google catches you cheating they will downgrade your ranking or remove you from search altogether . Cheating Google no long means just a slap on the wrist. It can mean banishment!

How Can Content Marketing Help You Gain the High Ground?

A decade ago posting a properly optimized website was all it took to achieve ranking. Today's internet audience is far more savvy and sophisticated. Today's websurfers prefer video and photos to text,  provided they can find it. If you have a video on page one above the fold, it is the most likely to be clicked on. We know that statistically, videos will receive 80% of all clicks if they are highly visible. However, videos are not the be all end all. Blog posts can also garner strong position in Google rankings. The same is true for social media posts that that have a high sharing factor (gone viral). Google also loves web pages that receive lots of positive ratings (especially Google Local or Map pages with Google +1 ratings and four or more stars)

The bottom line is that while SEO is not dead, it has changed so radically in the past few years that the rules of the game have changed.  If you want to win, you need to adjust your approach and start creating compelling content that both the search engine bots and the public want to view.  

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group, a Jacksonville, Florida firm that specializes in helping clients achieve online results.  You can hear Carl every Tuesday at 4 pm when he co-hosts Working the Web to Win on Blog Talk Radio.

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Can You Still Make Money Online?

By Carl Weiss

The concept of making money online is nothing new.  It’s what drove most of us onto the internet in the first place.  Back in the good old days before Google more or less monopolized search, there were real opportunities to grab the top slots on a number of search engines (some in as little as 24 hours), create an ecommerce site and get to it.  However, the game has changed to the point where there are now more than 300 million websites online with 130,000 new sites being spawned daily.  And they all want to be on page one of Google. 

While you can buy your way into the game with Pay-Per-Click campaigns, many people quickly find out that
Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase
 in many cases generating a click doesn’t mean generating a sale.  As a result you can blow through your advertising budget on any number of search engines, social networks and video portals without turning a profit.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that there’s more than one way to skin a search engine. 

Non-Traditional routes to Google Page 1

Websites aren’t the only thing displayed on page one of the world’s most popular search engine.  Videos, blog posts and social posts can also find their way onto the first page to those who know how.  Just as with websites, mixed media can also be optimized, particularly if you employ other Google properties to display your media. 

Got a video?  YouTube is owned by Google.  When you do a search on Google more often than not you 
Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
will find a YouTube cel on page one.  The cel leads to a YouTube video that has been optimized for Google.  While the googlebots can’t view your video, they can see the title, text, backlinks and keywords that wrap the video.  Savvy marketers have been using this for years to jump from YouTube to Google.  Better still is the fact that there will only be one or two videos on any given page and this could actually be more advantageous than having your website on the same page. 

Blogger is Google’s free blogging portal.  Just as with YouTube, properly optimized blogs can and sometimes do get placed on page one of Google.  Just as with video, the post and title need to be optimized so the bots will deem your post worthy of inclusion on page one.  It also doesn’t hurt to get your friends and family to read, comment on and repost your blog posts. 

Then there’s social networks.  While Facebook is currently the world’s most popular social network on the planet, Google+ is the only one owned and operated by guess who?  While some people have referred to G+ as a virtual ghost town, a number of savvy online marketers have used Google’s social network to leverage page one results. 

Is Being on Page 1 Enough to Insure Financial Success?

Sorry to say it but being on page one, even at the top of the page is not enough to insure success online.  It’s only a starting point.  Due to the fact that there are hundreds of millions of sites, people have become kind of jaded online.  That is to say that unlike a few years ago, most people are not going to take the time to click around your 32 page website to decide whether they should do business with you.  In fact, statistically speaking, you only have on average two minutes to dangle the bait and reel in the fish.  And if your offer isn’t all that appealing, then your results are not going to be anything to write home about.

This is why they call it online marketing.  Once you have satisfied the online side of the equation by generating a highly visible link on a search term that contains a great deal of traffic targeted to your product or service, then it’s time to put on your marketing hat.  More experienced internet marketers won’t even start a campaign until they have tested keywords, offers and results via some sort of pay-per-click campaign.  Spending a few hundred bucks to make sure you are going to succeed before spending months to generate organic results isn’t just a good idea.  It’s the only way to go if you are looking to convert cash to clicks.  It is also the best way to adjust your site’s look, feel and offer to maximize your return.

All too many people still subscribe to the Field of Dreams form of online marketing.  You know, “Build it and they will come.”  While they may come, that doesn’t mean that they will buy.  If they don’t buy, don’t blame the medium, whether search engine, social network or video portal.  Blame your offer.  Unless you have an exclusive way to solve a problem or save people money, this means that there is competition.  Competition is easy to find online, Google it. 

Before you start spending time and money constructing a website, shooting video or blogging, you need to see what the competition is offering for similar products or services.  If your product or service costs more and offers less, guess what? You had better start rethinking your concept for a successful launch.  This doesn’t mean that you have to give away the farm to bag sales online.  But you definitely have to offer at least a perceived value that is of equal or greater value than the competition.  As an example, a friend of mine ran a highly successful site for a number of years that sold plants.  The way he beat the competition was not by offering the lowest prices.  Instead he offered the longest guarantee that stated that if his plant died up to two years after purchase he would replace it at no charge.   He told me that less than one percent of his customers ever took him up on this offer.  As a result he was able to sell five figures worth of plants month in and month out.

Partners in Crime

A number of other successful online merchants have found online gold by partnering up with EBay and/or 

Amazon.  Especially if your business is retail in nature, either of these two mammoth online sites can give you quick access to a huge user base and simplified ecommerce solutions that are tailor made to jump you from retail to etail in a hurry.  That doesn’t mean that these portals are the best or indeed the only way to get into the game, since they both charge fees for promoting and/or selling your products.  But they are another way to buy into the game.

While there are no guarantees that your online store will make money in the short run, it will most definitely burn less money than a brick and mortar store, since you won’t have to hire more employees, invest in expensive displays and signage, or worry about the landlord doubling the rent.  The bottom line is that if you are serious about breaking out of your local market and selling nationwide, you need to be prepared to spend the time and money to test the water, build your brand and be realistic about your results as you build your online store.  If you can work out the bugs and find a way to turn browsers into buyers, you could find yourself wondering why you didn’t think of this concept years before.

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group a business that specializes in helping businesses go global.  You can hear Carl live every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern on Working the Web to Win.

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Can Crowdfunding Change Your Life?

By Carl Weiss

Back in the bad old days, entrepreneurs searching for funding had three choices:
1. Friends and Family
2. Banks
3. Angel and Venture Capitalists
Image representing Prosper as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
For many this meant that starting a business was nearly a mission impossible.  Then in 2007, all that changed when launched the first peer-to-peer lending service in the US.  Since that time a number of other crowdfunding sites have popped up, including Kickstarter, which in 2012 raised more than $10 million for the Pebble Watch.
Before you decide to quit your day job, understand that not all projects get funded.  Some pitches are flawed, while others are deemed unfundable due to the rules of various crowdsourcing portals.  But for a staggering number of well thought out and executed proposals, the world wide web can your oyster when it comes to jumpstarting a business.  However, as you will soon find out, crowdfunding comes in a number of different flavors. 
Microloans a Big Deal to Start Ups
Prosper is America's first microloan marketplace, with more than 1.6 million members and over $400,000,000 in funded loans.  While few banks will offer loans to start ups, sites like prosper connect with the public to form a funding pipeline that offers loans between $2,000 and $25,000 to businesses.  Individuals can invest as little as $25 per selected business.  Both Prosper and the public profit from these microloans and Prosper discloses credit scores and histories as well as servicing the loan on behalf of the matched borrowers and lenders.  You can even invest your IRA funds in Prosper.
While prosper started the microloan revolution here in the US, they are far from alone.  Other microloan sites have sprung up, with names like,, as well as federal (the SBA has a microloan program) and municipal lenders, such as Los Angeles’ run under the auspices of the Valley Economic Development Center.  Just like traditional “loans,” microloans require that the borrower pay back the amount borrowed plus interest. 
The Real Gamechanger on the other hand isn’t based on the concept of the microloan.  This means that 
kickstarter logo
kickstarter logo (Photo credit: AslanMedia)
once funded, project creators are not required to pay back the amount raised.  Other than a consideration that can range anywhere from a thank you to actual merchandise, Kickstarter backers do not expect to receive any other compensation.   Sounds great from the creator’s viewpoint, doesn’t it?  But there are a few caveats:
1.       Everything on Kickstarter must be a project. A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it.
2.       Kickstarter does not allow charity, cause, or "fund my life" projects. 
3.      Kickstarter cannot be used to fund e-commerce, business, and social networking websites or apps.
4.      Kickstarter cannot be used to buy real estate.
5.      No contests, raffles, coupons, or lifetime memberships.
6.      No bath, beauty, and cosmetic products; electronic surveillance equipment; eyewear (sunglasses, prescription glasses, and others); firearms, weapons, knives, weapon accessories, and replicas of weapons; medical, health, safety, and personal care products; or infomercial-type products.
More importantly. Funding is an all-or-nothing proposition on Kickstarter.  What this means is that if you set your goal at $50,000 and raise $49,999 you get nothing.  On the other hand, if you set the goal at $10,000 and raise $100,000 you get to keep it all.  What Kickstarter gets out of the proposition is 5% of the money raised by successful creators.  Payment is processed via Amazon Payments in the US, from which an additional 3-5% in processing fees is collected.
So how effective has Kickstarter been?  Since its launch on April 26, 2009, over a half billion dollars has been raised from more than 3 million individuals which was used to fund more than 35,000 projects.  Furthermore, Kickstarter states that of the projects that have reached 20% of their funding goal, 82% were successfully funded. Of the projects that have reached 60% of their funding goal, 98% were successfully funded.
In 2012, crowdfunding totaled $2.7 billion.  This year it is quite possible that those numbers will double.  The
Business (Photo credits:
reason that this phenomenon is so popular is due to the fact that it turns funding on its head.  Where in the past entrepreneurs had to go hat in hand from one institution to the next begging those with deep pockets to fund their project.  With crowdfunding, instead of trying to raise $50,000 from a bank or angel investor, it is now possible to raise the same amount of money from thousands of sources a few dollars at a time.  It’s all about being able to wow the crowd.
Creating a successful proposal isn’t like writing a business plan.  Funders aren’t going to pore over your projections.  They want to see what you are bringing to the world and how capable you are of running your company.  Therefore you will need to provide drawings, videos and even animation that show what your product does and why it should be funded.  The best way to get a bead on what works is to peruse Kickstarter, Indiegogo and RocketHub, along with other crowdfunding sites to review projects that have been funded.
What is considered fundable?  Everything from music cds to inventions, games, medical devices, and publishing houses have been funded.  There are even several space-based projects currently being shopped around, including a moon-base and a space telescope.  So with the number of crowdfunding sites growing by leaps and bounds, this is now literally an industry where the sky is the limit.
Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group, an online marketing company that helps businesses prosper online.  You can hear Carl live every Tuesday at 2 pm Eastern on Working the Web to Win.

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