The Scariest Sites Online

By Carl Weiss

Want to see something really scary? Well you don't have to prowl the streets on Halloween in order to see the kind of things that give you goose bumps.  All you have to do is trawl the Internet's backchannels for an hour.  Once there you will discover creepy crawlies galore, including a search engine designed for and by hackers, a black hat (not cat) convention in Las Vegas and ghost sites that will creep you out. Below is our list of the top 10 scariest sites on line.

10.  What Happens in Vegas
English: Vector image of the Las Vegas sign. P...Around since 1997, the Black Hat Convention held yearly at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas is the place where hackers hang their hat.  Interested in learning how to carry out cyber-spying on cellphones?  No problem.  Want to know what it takes to bypass traditional malware detection measures.  Piece of cake.  This convention is a veritable candy store where everyone from security experts to nerds looking to take down a small government come to hone their skills.  After the now defunct Silk Road website the black hat convention is one of the scariest in-your-face threats to cyber security that is not only officially sanctioned but wildly popular.  To quote the site,

“Black Hat USA is the show that sets the benchmark for all other security conferences. As Black Hat returns for its 16th year to Las Vegas, we bring together the brightest in the world for six days of learning, networking, and skill building. Join us for four intense days of Training and two jam-packed filled days of Briefings.

9. Don’t Want to Wait for the Movie?
Then read the book, Hacking for Dummies, now in its 4th edition.  Why travel to Vegas when everything you need to start hacking can be found online?  This book is designed to show you the ins and outs of what it takes to get started as a hacker. 
As an information security professional, your toolkit is the most critical item you can possess — other than hands-on experience and common sense. Your hacking tools should consist of the following (and make sure you're never on the job without them):
·         Password cracking software, such as ophcrack and Proactive Password Auditor
·         Network scanning software, such as Nmap and NetScanTools Pro
·         Network vulnerability scanning software, such as GFI LanGuard and QualysGuard
·         Network analyzer software, such as Cain & Abel and OmniPeek
·         Wireless network analyzer and software, such as Aircrack-ng and CommView for WiFi
·         File search software, such as FileLocator Pro and Identity Finder
·         Web application vulnerability scanning software, such as Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner and WebInspect
·         Database security scanning software, such as SQLPing3 and AppDetectivePro
·         Exploit software, such as Metasploit

8. Want to Know How the World Will End?
Just in case the specter of cyberterrorism doesn’t put the fear of God into you there’s a website called Exit Mundi, that catalogs dozens of ways in which the world as we know it could meet its end.  Everything from asteroid strikes to gamma ray bursts, to nuclear terrorism, to a drug that would render the human population certifiably insane (too late) is described in detail on this site.  So if there isn’t enough stress in your daily grind, here’s the place to help you ring the bell the next time you get your blood pressure tested.

7. Alien Abduction Sites
UFOs: Seeing Is Believing
UFOs: Seeing Is Believing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As if we don’t have enough problems on Earth, there are sites that show you how to deal with threats from
 beyond the solar system.  We’re talking alien abduction here and there are a number of websites devoted to this phenomenon.  Googling “Alien Abduction Sites,” returned 7,580,000 results.  So despite government denials, this is a hot topic.  Scanning the first few pages of the results I noted everything from a wiki where you could share your abduction recollections( to the International Center for Abduction Research, which offers information that offers "Straight Talk About UFO Abductions" 
If the threat of being abducted by aliens causes you to lose sleep at night, fear not, because there is a website called that shows you how to make a “Thought Screen Helmet,” designed to foil those insidious intergalactic interlopers.
6. Ghost Sites
Wikipedia defines a ghost site as “A Web site that remains live but is no longer updated or maintained or only done so very infrequently.”  However, if you Google the term you will find tons of sites more inclined to Ghost Busters than webmasters.  Included is everything from that lists everything from ghost hunter sites to occult and paranormal investigation sites.  There was also listed on the first page of the search a spooky website that hit close to home, literally. listed a number of spooky things such as UFOs over Jacksonville to something called the Florida Skunk Ape, which is purportedly “The Southernmost Bigfoot in the USA.”

5. The 20 Scariest Street View Sightings
Mashable collected the 20 scariest sightings posted on Google’s Street View that includes everything from what looks to be the climactic scene from the Alfred Hitchcock blockbuster “The Birds,” to a bizarre group of Japanese citizens who were spotted as they walked down the street sporting pigeon heads. (Don’t ask.)

4. Seeing is Believing

If you think that Google Street View has cornered the market on weird things that happen every day you’re wrong.  There are literally millions of websites and videos that show everyone just how weird the world really is.  One site called is a collection point for bizarre-but-true stories that get little attention from the media.  A recent headline includes, “Melting Starfish and Odd Orca Behavior in the Pacific Ocean,” that quotes a Seattle biologist that describes some of the bizarre changes in the sea life in the area that alludes to the fact that since the Fukushima Reactor meltdown in 2012 that the environmental impact to the Pacific Ocean has been nothing short of catastrophic.  The blog also states that, There are other reports of seals with what appears to be radiation burns on their skin and Polar Bears showing signs of large hair loss.

3. Conspiracy Theory Sites
Of course, conspiracy theory sites thrive online.  This can make it tough to weed out the chaff from the wheat.  For every site that purportedly sheds light on some facet of society that could turn around and bite us, such as the recent revelation that the NSA has been spying on the phone calls, internet searches and financial transactions of millions of American citizens, there are also sites that purport that the top 3 conspiracy websites crashed at the same time that the government shutdown took place, thus proving that they are owned and operated by either the CIA or the NSA.  Love them or laugh at them, there are conspiracy theory sites that claim to prove or disprove everything from government mind control to the New World Order.  So if you want to go there, here are a few hot tips.  But I’ll deny I sent you there if questioned by the authorities.
Disclose TV’s Camp FEMA American Lockdown which details the recent legislation that attempts to legitimize the use of internment camps to detain citizens in the event of an uprising or civil unrest.

2.  Cooking Show Gone Bad
The Halloween episode of Man Cave Munchies purports to show viewers how to prepare “a dish that’s so easy it’s scary.”  However the intro to the show depicts the host as a meat cleaver wielding ghoul that could put you right off your diet. Check it out if you dare.

1.      The Scariest Site of Them All
You think that a meat cleaver wielding zombie chef is scary?  This is nothing when compared to a site that has put the fear of God into hundreds of millions of citizens of the USA.  This government owned and operated site starts off with the innocuous motto, “Find Health Care Coverage that Works for You.”  Then it stubbornly refuses to let the majority of people sign up, much less find coverage of any kind.  Worse yet, for those who either refuse to sign up or just plain can’t sing up, there is the threat of a stiff monetary penalty.  While the press refers to this system as Obamacare, I think a more appropriate term would be ObamaScare.

When he isn't scaring people, Carl Weiss is the president of W Squared Media Group, a digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of Working the Web to Win, an online radio show that airs every Tuesday at 4 pm Eastern.
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Birth of the Bionic Man

By Carl Weiss

“Astronaut Steve Austin, a man barely alive.  But we can rebuild him.  We have the technology.”

Or so the story goes in the TV series starring Lee Majors that ran from 1974-1978.  The stuff of fiction in the 20th century, during the past few years many of the innovations portrayed in the original series have gone from science fiction to science fact.  There are now such things as prosthetic arms and hands with tactile sense, rudimentary bionic eyes that help the blind see, and cochlear implants that help the deaf hear.  While we don’t yet have the ability to equip amputees with fully functional legs that can go from zero to sixty in five seconds, we can offer robotic exoskeletons that can help paraplegics regain the ability to walk on their own.  Plus there are other man/machine concepts that are either in the prototype phase or on the drawing board that can amp up the capabilities of us mere mortals.  In this week’s blog, we will take a look at these technologies, as well as the ramifications of enhanced human beings who will soon make Colonel Austin seem as antiquated as much of the technology of the 1970’s.

Medical Bionic Implants/Artificial Organ Market Worth $17.82 Billion by 2017 - New Report by MarketsandMarkets

The medical bionic implant (artificial organs) industry has witnessed a myriad of technological advancements over the past two decades.  It includes vision bionics, ear bionics, orthopedic bionics, heart bionics, and neural/brain bionics. Medical bionics in pipeline include wearable artificial kidney, bio-lung, and artificial pancreas.  

Bionic limbs will one day sense the grass under prosthetic feet.

It sounds like something straight out of science fiction: artificial limbs that not only move, flex, and feel like their flesh counterparts, but also respond directly to one's thoughts and even translate sensory feedback -- the feeling of grass beneath one's feet or the sensation of a limb floating in space -- straight back to the brain.
Thanks to an aggressive push in funding from the US military in an effort to the improve the lives of injured veterans, those advancements are no longer such farfetched dreams. While the idea of "Blade Runner"-level prosthetics is still a far-off fantasy, impressively capable, thought-controlled bionic limbs are now a modern-day reality thanks to pioneering research between the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), DARPA, and a growing sector of companies developing the next generation of artificial limbs.

With an aging population and billions of dollars at stake it is obvious that artificial limbs and organs are a growing trend that is the next logical evolutionary step.  While some people have ethical dilemmas with creating replacement parts for the human body, the technology is anything but new.  During the past few decades everything from hip and knee replacements to laser eye surgery has become routine.  Transplant surgery isn’t even considered all that radical a procedure in the twenty first century, although organ rejection hasn’t quite been licked.  So why not construct replacement parts using all our available technology.  If it wasn’t for the fact that we couldn’t figure out how to connect artificial limbs to our nervous system, Steve Austins would already be here.  However, according to a recent article in the Wall street Journal, this conundrum could soon be a thing of the past.

“In an advance that could eventually improve the mobility of thousands of people living with amputations, researchers said a 32-year-old man successfully controlled movements of a motorized artificial leg using only his own thoughts.  Aided by sensors receiving impulses from nerves and muscles that once carried signals to his missing knee and ankle, the patient was able to climb and descend stairs and walk up and down inclines much as he could with a natural leg, based on directions that came from his brain. Importantly, he was able to flex the device's ankle, enabling a near-normal gait, something not possible with current prosthetics.”

Enter Frank N. Stein

Of course with nearly two thirds of the human body capable of being simulated by prosthetics it was only a matter of time before someone decided to hardwire them together to create the first artificial human.  The first to attempt the feat was a pair of English researchers.  Amazingly enough, their creation, named Frank, came in not at $6 million mark but only $1 million.  Of course as they say, you only get what you pay for.  No matinee idol, Frank is nonetheless a TV star, since his creation was chronicled on, "The Incredible Bionic Man," premiering Sunday (Oct. 20) on the Smithsonian Channel at 9 p.m. 

The brainchild of robotocists Rich Walker and Matthew Godden, their bionic man was assembled from a cornucopia of artificial organs and prosthetic body parts that had been donated by labs from around the world.  According to the documentary, Frank was modeled after Bertolt Meyer, a Swiss psychologist who wears a bionic hand.  Of course Frank doesn’t stop there.  He also sports everything from a wrist, ankles and feet to an artificial lung, trachea, pancreas, spleen, kidney and heart that pumps artificial blood through an artificial circulatory system.  He also has a brain that purportedly can mimic a number of human functions, including speech recognition and production all of which are assisted by a cochlear implant.  Frank sees courtesy of a retinal prosthesis.

To support his prosthetic legs, the bionic man wears a robotic exoskeleton dubbed "Rex," made by REX Bionics in New Zealand. His awkward, jerky walk makes him more like Frankenstein than ever.

While Frank’s abilities are more akin to the Tin Man than Paul Newman, he can carry on a conversation since he comes equipped with a sophisticated chatbot program.  Another thing that makes people want to engage Frank in conversation is the fact that while his body is more stickman than human, his prosthetic face is all too human-like.  In fact, it is an exact replica of Bertolt Meyer.

The possibility of having a walking, talking synthetic human does bring up a number of other questions, such as how much body enhancement is socially acceptable?  And what rights will an artificial human being be granted?  While this writer is unable to answer these questions, I do have one suggestion.  Why not go right to the horse’s mouth and ask Frank, since he will be on display at the Smithsonian Air and space Museum in Washington DC through the remainder of the fall season.  Heck, I can think of a number of politicians who could handily be replaced by Frank.  But then that would present our bionic man with a conundrum of his own.

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group a digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  If you would like to share your views on the subject, tune in his Working the Web to Win radio show Tuesday at 4 pm on Blog Talk Radio.

The Humdinger Named Hummingbird

By Carl Weiss

You may have heard that Google recently released its latest algorithm update named Hummingbird.  What I find interesting is that Google always seems to name its updates after cute critters like pandas and penguins and hummingbirds.  Meanwhile their effect on many websites is more like being attacked by lions and tigers.  That being said, what I have brought you today is a cold, hard look at when, why and how search engines of all kinds insist on playing games with website owners,as well as what you can do to keep ahead of changes that can leave you stuck in the darkest regions of cyberspace.

What’s it all about?

Having worked the web professionally since 1995, I have seen a lot of changes over the past 18 years.  Back in the beginning, all you needed to get on page one of any search engine was a website.  This was in the days before blogs and social networks, before online video too, since there wasn’t enough bandwidth to stream video.  Search engine algorithms were pretty simple back then as well.  In fact, one of the easiest ways to get on page one in the 90’s was to research sites already on page one, since their code could be dissected and bested. This is one of the reasons that virtually every search engine was soon forced to start changing their algorithms on a regular basis.  You see it wasn’t long before everybody started to realize that you could beat the other site owners by stuffing more of the keywords you were after onto the page.  The crowd also realized that while the sentence, “online casino, online casino, online casino, online casino, online casino,” might get your site to the top of the heap, it wasn’t going to please most visitors.  This is when sharp operators started making these stuffed sentences the same color as the background, which meant that only the search engine spiders could read them.

Of course so could the webmasters of the search engines.  So they decided to up the ante by having owners begin soliciting backlinks, figuring that this was one way of showing the popularity of a website.  Within six months of this edict, entrepreneurs started spawning backlink farms where any site owner could acquire hundreds or even thousands of backlinks overnight.  This rankled the powers that be at the search engines since their spiders were not yet intelligent enough to detect farmed backlinks from the real McCoy.  However, in the tit for tat world of search engine operators, it wasn’t long before the spiders became ever more sophisticated. 

Bear in mind that before Google came onto the scene there were dozens of search engines that could provide viable traffic to businesses.  Even though there were a number of well entrenched operators, no one yet held anything like a monopoly.  What this meant is that if your site didn’t fare well on one search engine, you could always move your operation to another, many of which could be cracked in 24 hours.  Once the 800 lb gorilla in the room called Google went public, the game was changed and not for the better.

Search Engine Market Share 1999
English: a chart to describe the search engine...
AltaVista: 15.5%
HotBot: 11.3%
MSN Search: 8.5%
Infoseek: 8.0%
Google: 7.8%
Yahoo: 7.4%
Excite: 5.6%
Lycos: 2.5%

Google Gets Into the Game.

On August 19, 2004 Google went public.  By July of 2005, its market share had grown to 30.5 percent of search.  A year after that, it control raised to 41.4 percent of search.  By 2010 Google controlled 71 percent of search. Yahoo by this point was down to less than 15 percent and Bing came in third with 9.3 percent.  What this meant to site owners was that they were now forced to answer the question, “What do you feed an 800 lb gorilla?  Anything it wants.”

What Does Google Want?

What Google wants today is content and lots of it.  Nowadays it isn’t enough to have links to your blogs, videos and social sites on your homepage.  Now you are actually expected to feed them regularly.

In a blog entitled “What HummingbirdMeans for Small Business SEO,” posted:
“Websites can't grow their entrance pages without introducing new content regularly. While hard to believe, there are many webmasters who don't update their websites, have no blog, and refuse any assistance.  While introducing new pages of helpful, high-quality content is a great start, Webmasters and small business owners need to be very creative to be noticed.
·         Newsjack hot stories in their areas of expertise.
·         Create infographics.
·         Make videos to post on YouTube.
·         Utilize staff to promote in social media.”

The Pearl Harbor of Algorithm Updates

Worst of all for many website owners was the fact that Hummingbird was launched as a kind of sneak attack, with Google dropping the bomb without warning which had the effect of taking many website owners by surprise. reported that,

“In the past, Google’s Panda and Penguin updates have struck fear in the hearts of SEOs as they watched their clients’ rankings plummet. While Panda and Penguin affected 1% or 2% and still caused panic, this new update is reported to affect the majority of search results and no one noticed until the announcement was made a month later.  The last Google update that replaced this much of the search engine was in 2010 with the ‘Caffeine’ update. Caffeine introduced the ‘live search’ and keyword suggestion tools, and many people seem to have forgotten the huge emphasis that it placed on social signals. This new update is possibly even more dramatic since it appears Google now understands the intentions of the words carried in these social signals.”

What it boils down to is that Google is only going to give high ranking to websites that provide a complete
Image representing AltaVista as depicted in Cr...
 multi-media experience to visitors.  This means the age of “Set it and forget it” websites is at an end and that using trickery to garner a high position is no longer going to be possible.  It also means that what was traditionally considered to be SEO-friendly will become as obsolete as many of the search engines that used to rule cyberspace.  (AltaVista, the titan of the search engine world back in 1999 went dark for good in 2010 after seeing its share of the market reduced to two tenths of one percent.)

So if you don’t want to wind up relegated to the bone heap online, you need to create a corporate culture that is designed to feed a world wide web that is hungry for content, before Google’s next cute critter decides to take a bite out of your web presence.

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group, a digital marketing agency that offers guaranteed organic placement on a number of major search engines.  He also owns Jacksonville Video Production and co-hosts the weekly online radio show Working the Web to Win every Tuesday at 4 pm Eastern.

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Working the Web Gundam Style

by Hector Cisneros

Many of you may recall that earlier this year the YouTube video Gundam Style caught the imagination of millions of people worldwide by going viral. As a marketing professional I endeavor to understand why such marketing events take place. I ask myself several questions, such as, "What is the special spark that makes a video, podcast or eBook go viral?" "Where does spark that causes a post to go viral get its start?"  "Who influences the play and the spread of a viral message?" 

What Puts the V in Viral Posts?

Let's start off by defining what constitutes a viral post. A viral post is one that gets passed beyond your friends, followers and social network connections. It travels beyond your network and direct circle of influence. It's what happens when your message takes on a life of its own.

Facebook defines a viral post by comparing it to Organic Reach and Paid Reach. Here is what Facebook lists as their definitions:
§  Organic reach: The number of unique people who saw your post in Newsfeed, ticker or on your Page.
§  Paid reach: The number of unique people who saw this post through an ad
§  Viral reach: The number of unique people who saw this post from a story published by a friend. These stories can include liking, commenting or sharing your post, answering a question or responding to an event.

In order to go viral a post needs to either be entertaining, funny, compelling, or it must provide useful information that most viewers/readers need or want. 

Keeping an Eye on Trends

Viral posts are often tracked by the various social networks. These tracked posts constitute trends. You will often 
Photos on the viral marketing website
Photos on the viral marketing website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
hear the phrase that a video is “trending.” Trends are often grouped or aggregated via special markers. The most common is the hash tag (# symbol), which was started by Twitter. Hash tags are now used by most social networks including Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pintrest and Instagram. To use a hash tag, just add the # symbol in front of the word you want to be grouped and tracked. An example is; "Check out this video on #Viral Social Media, it's great.  Please RT and share." You normally only use one hash tag per post since using too many hash tags is considered poor form.

Video is more likely to go viral than any other type of post. In fact video is five times more likely to be clicked on than any other type of post. These statistics vary from network to network but video is king in the viral realm. Video with text is followed by pictures with text, then audio with text and text only posts. Facebook statistics show that videos are ten times as likely to be shared than links alone and photos are five times as likely to be clicked on than links alone.

What Elements are Necessary?
Next let's look at the elements that all viral post have in common. When ever possible create a short video to go with your post. If you aren't willing create a video make sure you have a compelling picture or audio file to go with it. As stated earlier videos have the highest click through and share rates.
Use Hash tags on all your posts. Follow accepted norms when using hash tags and make sure they are used the same way on all your posts. Also add hash tags such as #viral and #whatshot to connect to other items that are trending. Also remember that you are not limited to publishing your post only once. I normally post a subject three to four times in a week if I'm trying to start a trend.
The elements of your post should be friendly, familiar and resonate with the general public, not just a select few. Posts need to be designed so they can be safely viewed at work or in mixed company. These types of posts will go viral the quickest. 
Examples of Videos gone Viral.
One exceptional example of viral video in action is the YouTube video series commissioned by Old Spice. If you are 
Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
looking to start the viral ball rolling, there are a number of tried and true techniques that you can employ. Having a sexy model tell your story has been known to produce a large audience.  Doing something hysterical with your product then illustrate it with a compelling image or story. The Hamsters used in the Soul videos were a cute and funny way of connecting with the public. Cute babies or cats performing silly or stupid tricks coupled with a catchy phrase can be very effective. It's even OK to be a little creepy.  Many of the viral videos that really take off use music and dance at the center of their themes. The Thriller prison video comes to mind and of course the Gundam Style dance craze.
Not every post has to be funny or useful in order to go viral. It's ok to pull on people’s heart strings. Telling an emotional inspiring story is a great way to get people to pay attention to your plight. Your post must either be entertaining or useful to the general public. It's OK to ride the wave of some new trend. You can jump on the band wagon and follow someone’s 
The inmates dancing to
The inmates dancing to "Thriller" in their YouTube video (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
coat tail. After Gundam Style came out, dozens of imitators soon followed. Many famous video music artists are emulated in funny ways. These videos don't get as many views as the original but many do garner thousands of hits. Your job is to either add your message as a preview or post trailer to the video the public is coming to see. Video that garner lots of views can pay big dividends in the way of pay per click revenues.
Most of the videos, audios and eBooks that have gone viral were shared because their originators asked that they be shared. If you don't ask, you have a 40 percent less chance of being shared. Share your post with as many people as possible. Especially share your posts with influential followers and leaders in your industry. This includes celebrities. Also make sure you send it out to the news media. One good news story on your post and you're off to the races. Don't forget to use free PR posting sites whenever possible.

Your Road Map to going Viral.
Now let's look at a road map you can use to get you next post to go viral. First create a list of influential followers so you can personally message them to share and repost your message. Make sure you use a hash tag and leave space for others to add their comments.
Create four types of posts, one video with text, one with a picture and text, one audio and text and one text only. Make one of them the focus of the four. I would make it the video post as it is the most likely to go viral first.
Decide what your video, audio or eBook will contain. Remember it must have intrinsic value. It has to be funny, entertaining, compelling, emotionally charged or provide useful information that people need or want! Create a list of what’s needed to create your video, audio or eBook.
If this is your first try, create an eBook full of useful information. You can share important information you have gleaned from your industry. You can answer important questions that customers most often ask. This is the easiest type of eBook to create. Now create a teaser video that provides a few of the elements from your eBook as the focus of your campaign. Find a compelling photo and create an audio from the video. Also make sure you provide a URL address where viewers can go to get your eBook.
If you're good with video or audio create that type of content as the primary piece. Just remember this is not a commercial. Your video, podcast or eBook is a soft sell at best. Even if you create an eBook as your first project you should still create a short video to go with it. Videos have the highest viral rate and it will lead people to your free eBook which in turn leads them to you. Create your video, audio or eBook and run it by some friends or coworkers who will be somewhat objective. Tweak whatever problems they point out.
Make sure that you embed ample backlinks to your website/landing page or whichever web property you want visitors to find. Also make sure these landing sites are designed to either generate leads, phone calls or sales. I often see well designed viral efforts foiled because the landing site was not setup for converting visitors. Check out "The Evolution of Internet Advertising" and "Is it Still Possible to Make Money Online?" for more details.
Post it to as many social networks as possible. Start with the top five; YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. I would also add Pintrest, Instagram and Picasa, especially if your product is very visually oriented or requires some assembly or has special operations. If you have a blog write several blog posts about it. Spread these blog posts out over several weeks. Make sure you especially ask your friends and family to share, retweet and repost your message. Send your message to your list of influential followers. Appeal to their needs and make sure you thank them personally in advance for sharing your message. Again use uniform hash tag convention and leave room for their 2 cents. Create several PR posts for your video or eBook. The press can help your post get found. There are many free PR sites. See my article "Using Press Releases to Promote your Business" for more tips and details.
Hector Cisneros is a partner, COO and social media director for WSquared Media Group based in Jacksonville, FL. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube. He is also the co-host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Working the Web to Win,” where he and Carl Weiss make Working the Web to Win simple for every business. Hector is a syndicated writer for EzineOnline and is an active Blogger, (including ghost writing) and he is a published author of two books, 60 Seconds to success (on sale at Amazon and B&N) and Internet Marketing for the 21st Century which you can get free by clicking on the link at He is an active Boy Scout Leader, enjoys family time, loves the outdoors, reading and the creative process of designing effective internet marketing solutions for his clients. 

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Putting the Plus in Google+

By Hector Cisneros

If you are using, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter for your business but not using Google+, then 
Google Appliance as shown at RSA Expo 2008 in ...
you’re missing one of the biggest boats in the social networking ocean. In fact, Google Brand pages are tied into Google Search, Google Local and Google Maps all of which contain the magic word "Google". In addition, since Google now controls 81% of search, you should be thinking Google if you want to put a big plus in both your social networking and search optimization.

Google+ officially originally launched on June 28, 2011without brand pages and later added them so that businesses could create their own unique presence on Google's social network. Google has continued to improve its social network and its Brand page by further integrating its other Google properties and applets in to the Google+ fold. Specifically they have added more robust and complete navigation system, a more complete and integrated profile, updated tabs functionality and more in-depth drop down capabilities within any functions. Google+ always had an edge on the competition for ease of use, now it also has greater depth and power as well.

Add Up all the Features

Google+ has also updated its format several times since its inception. Its newest format moves the main navigation menu to the left side as a drop down element. New elements that have been added include "What's Hot "and" Communities functions. What's Hot shows you trending posts that are unique and getting lots of play on Google+.  Communities is Google's version of Groups. Both of these functions are robust  yet they are easy to use and are fully integrated with all other Google apps and properties.

Here are some of my favorite feature and elements in Google+ Brand pages:  
  1. First and foremost is the ease of use and high integration of Google applets and properties. 
  2. Adding blog posts, YouTube videos and pictures are a snap. 
  3. If you properly setup Google's plus 1 system on your website and other social nets, you will make it easy for others to connect and recommend you.  
  4. You will also receive additional information on how visitors are using your Brand pages.
  5. Google's "Ripples" provide post statistics showing how people in your circles are utilizing your post. Its graphic display is unique and intuitive to understand. It shows how items have been shared.

Do You Hangout?

Looking for an easy way to create useful video content?  Hangouts is a built-in teleconferencing facility that 
Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
you can even use to create conferences or broadcast webinars. By enabling Hangouts on air, you can also simultaneously create a YouTube video of your event.  What could be simpler? When you consider that visual content has the highest clickthrough rate of any content, this is a G+ facility that con't be beat. It also has the highest share rate. Google Hangouts provides relatively high end functionality at zero cost to your businesses. What's not to like?

Leveraging Brand Pages for Search

Since G+ is part of the Google family, there are search engine optimization benefits from linking your website and other relevant internet properties to your Google+.  Make sure all your Google properties include relevant keywords. Also, make sure the "about tab" contains targeted keywords as well. Include + links to your blogs, website, landing pages, directories,  and other social sites.

If you are looking to maximize your exposure, also make sure all your Google properties, (especially Google local and Google maps) are complete and verified. Make sure all your websites and social properties have Google +1 badges and share badges so that people can easily plus and share you when they visit.
Make sure you have a fully filled out profile. All sections need useful content. 

Provide value added service by providing deep information posst on your products and services. Provide 
Google 貼牌冰箱(Google Refrigerator)
educational and support hangouts for your products and services. Provide interesting, fun and entertaining posts targeted at specific segments of your circles. Provide posts on a regular basis, (daily if possible).  Use Hootsuite or other aggregation software to schedule posts and provide RSS feeds  from your favorite content sites including your blogs.

Share the wealth by cross promoting content on your Google Brand pages to your other social sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pintrest. Don't forget to utilize to power of YouTube with your Brand pages.

Typical Client Content Posting 

·         Here is a typical posting schedule I use for some of my clients Brand pages.
  •               *  Cross promote posts of useful content to the top 5 social nets.
  •               *     Daily  forwards/share/retweets of  content.
  •               *   Weekly or monthly promos for your products or services. (This needs tobe a soft sell of an                  outstanding offer.)
  •               *   Weekly or monthly Hangouts providing useful  information for your targeted audience.
  •               *     Weekly blog posts cross promoted to all social nets.
  •               *  Weekly YouTube video post cross promoted across all social nets.
  •               *  Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly email newsletter linked to your blog, vlogs and/orYouTube                    videos.

Create in-house policies for new clients to connect with you on their social nets. Whenever possible encourage clients to post positive reviews on Google Local or any social or review site to which they are connected.

While many pundits still consider Google+ a big zero, when you factor in all the features and benefits of using Google's business-friendly social network, all I can say is the for my money the pluses far outweigh the minuses.

Hector Cisneros is a partner, COO and social media director for WSquared Media Group based in Jacksonville, FL. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube. He is also the co-host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Working the Web to Win,” where he and Carl Weiss make Working the Web to Win simple for every business. Hector is a syndicated writer for EzineOnline and is an active Blogger, (including ghost writing) and he is a published author of two books, 60 Seconds to success (on sale at Amazon and B&N) and Internet Marketing for the 21st Century which you can get free by clicking on the link at He is an active Boy Scout Leader, enjoys family time, loves the outdoors, reading and the creative process of designing effective internet marketing solutions for his clients. 
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