Getting Away From It All

By Carl Weiss

Spring has sprung here in Florida, although you wouldn’t know it if you live in the Northeast.  Soon another school year will be ending and families will be looking forward to summer vacation.  Most people have already begun the hunt for things to do and places to go.  While some will opt for more traditional destinations such as theme parks, national parks, beaches and campgrounds, others are interested in finding those out of the way, off the beaten trail kind of trips that extol "The Road Less Traveled" mantra.  While travel magazines and Sunday supplements are renowned for publishing articles that give you a peek at exotic locales, when it comes to getting away from it all, nothing can put you in touch with unusual vacation destinations quite like the Web.

Where Getting Away From It All Began

Pitcairn Island – Yes, this is the south Pacific island nation started by the mutinous crew of the HMS Bounty. Today Pitcairn Island is inhabited by the 56 descendants of that ill-fated voyage.  It also has the distinction of being the least populous nation in the world.

Pitcairn Island was originally put on the map on July 3,1767 by the crew of the British sloop HMS Swallow, and was named after Midshipman Robert Pitcairn, the fifteen-year-old crew member who was the first to sight it. Fast forward twenty three years and the isolated island was chosen to be the last refuge of the six men and eleven women who purposely marooned themselves there when they chose to set fire to the Bounty.  While an act of desperation, the ploy worked, since it wasn’t until September 14, 1814 when a British flag ship landed a boarding party on the island. 

Today tourists can venture to Pitcairn for stays of up to 11 days aboard the Claymore II, which also serves as the islands supply vessel.  Private yachts are also invited to anchor in Bounty Bay.  Not exactly a tourist mecca, the island only averages visits by 25 yachts per year.  Of course, this is precisely what makes it such a terrific destination for some.  If you do arrive by yacht, a $35 landing fee per person is charged, plus a "Taxi Service” of US $50.00 is charged for the trip in and out. 

Once there, the island offers 14 choices of accommodation, including private 2 or 3 bedroom chalets or stays in the home of local islanders.  Rates range from $70-$120 per person/per day.  Additional services such as telephone, Internet access, and guided walking or bike tours can be arranged.  Fortunately for American tourists, the coin of the realm on the island is the US dollar.  For more info, visit

Wet & Wild

While an excursion to a tropical island is just the ticket for some, others are looking for something a little more wet and wild.  If you are a bit more adventurous and are not afraid of the water, check out the option of checking into an underwater hotel.

Jules Undersea Lodge, Key Largo Florida – Located 30 feet below the Emerald Lagoon, Jules  
Undersea Lodge named after "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" author Jules Verne, was originally designed to be an underwater research facility.  Since 1986 when it was converted into a sub-sea lodge, accommodations for up to six paying guests at a time has been available.  While patrons do not need scuba gear to move around inside the lodge, it is a requirement for arriving and departing from the facility.

Jules' Undersea Luxury For Two
Our JUL for TWO package is $800 and includes our world famous Papa John's pizza delivery dinner. Breakfast includes coffee or tea, orange juice, and your choice of cereal. There's plenty of water, soda, and snacks as well. Dive gear is included in your package.
Check in: 2:00 PM Check out: 8:30 AM
Group Economy Packages
Group of 3-4: $350 per person
Group of 5-6: $300 per person

For more information see

How Low Can You Go?

If staying underwater doesn’t float your boat, there are a number of other subterranean destinations that can be had including ...touring Paris' Sewers! There is a dark underbelly to the City of Lights and you can book a tour that is like none other.  What I am talking about is a tour of Paris’ sewers.  (I am not making this up.)  If you think that visiting such places as the Louvre, the Eifel Tower and Notre Dame is so outrĂ©, for less than 5 Euros per person you too can experience the sordid history and architecture of the underbelly of Paris.  The tour spends an hour winding through the tunnels beneath the French capital as well as taking you to the heart of the system, part of which has been converted into a museum.  (You won’t find this thrill ride at the European Disney World.)  For more info go to

Looking for a Cool Vacation Destination?

If you are looking for the ultimate in “cool”, allow me to recommend an ice hotel.  Located in such locales as Norway, Finland, Sweden, Romania and Quebec, these places are actually built from ice.  With global warming now a hot topic, this is one vacation destination that could literally have a limited shelf life.  For more information, go to

Icehotel, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

The Icehotel in the Jukkasjarvi village in Sweden is THE ice hotel, being the first one in the world, opened in 1990 by Yngve Bergqvist. The hotel is opened to public every year, from December to April and more than 1,000 tons of ice and snow are used for the construction that, in the end, features rooms for around 100 guests, a bar and a church among others. And at 64,000 square feet (6,000 square meters), it is widely recognized as the largest ice hotel in the world.

Looking for a Trip That’s Out of This World?

White Knight 2 - showing us the 'eye'
White Knight 2 - showing us the 'eye' (Photo credit: rob-the-org)
"Space Tourism" is a term that was coined to describe those lucky few who have had the financial means to pony up between $20-$40 million to spend a few fun filled months aboard the International 
Space Station.  While these seats are hard to come by, the allure of outer space  has also spawned something of a cottage industry that promises to take people to the its inky edge. This includes a venture by Sir Richard Branson, who has offered  those with $250,000 to spend a sear aboardVirgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two.  However, while deposits are being taken, at the time of publication, there still has yet to be a launch date announced.

For those who don’t want to wait, apprentice astronauts can currently experience what it’s like to be weightless aboard G-Force One for around $5,000.  While this thrill ride won’t take you to the edge of outer space, it will provide you with the sensation of what it’s like to experience zero gravity aboard a specially modified Boeing 727.  While it ain’t exactly Buck Rogers, it can save all you wanna-be space farers more than a few bucks.

While there are those of us for whom a trip to Las Vegas provides adrenalin enough to get us through another year, for those who are looking to get away from it all, the best place to start checking out exotic locales near and far is the World Wide Web.

When he isn't surfing the web, Carl is Working the Web to Win, which is both a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, Florida and a weekly online radio show on BlogTalkRadio.

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Making It Mobile

By Carl Weiss

Garmin-Asus A10 GPS Android smartphone review
NEWSFLASH: There are 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide.  This is surprising, considering the current world population is just a little over 7 billion men, women and children.  More surprising is the fact that mobile has jumped more than 1 billion during the past three years alone. Of that, more than one billion subscribers are now Smartphone equipped. 

What this means to business owners and managers is that if they have yet to embrace mobile marketing, they could be missing the boat.  The problem for many is the fact that it took them nearly twenty years to learn how to add the Internet to their marketing mix.  Now many are reluctant to jump on the mobile bandwagon since they believe it will require the expenditure of yet more time, energy and money.

HTML 5 to the Rescue

While it is true that Smartphone users can and do surf the web, most websites created before 2012 rely on code that forces most people to squeeze many websites down to size in order to read them.  This is
 not only inconvenient. It usually means that most people will choose to surf elsewhere almost immediately.  What HTML 5 does is create a site that can detect and reconfigure itself to make it easier for tablet and Smartphone users to view without having to manipulate the site to make it fit their particular platform.  Better still, HTML 5 works with most browsers.  Plus, it makes embedding video on html 5 as easy as embedding images was with HTML 4.

Of course, it can still be a chore for Smartphone readers to view a site if it has a lot of text.  I know I need a 12-inch tablet to make reading practical.  That’s why I still recommend that every business owner and manager spends a few bucks to create a .mobi site that uses video to showcase their business in a size that anyone can view.  Add to this the fact that there is at least one other advantage to creating a .mobi site, since many prime urls are still up for grabs that can help your business generate more traffic.

There’s an App for That

Image representing TiVo as depicted in CrunchBase
Some businesses have embraced mobile marketing in a big way by having mobile apps created that not only allow them to get a jump on the mobile craze, but also allows them to do some pretty sophisticated things online.  Whereas in the past many businesses relied upon radio and TV ads to generate a buzz about their products and services, today it is all too easy for someone to change stations or filter their TV viewing to eliminate all those annoying 4-minute commercial breaks. (Darn TiVo.)

This is where mobile apps are changing the way in which businesses engage their customers.  Offering everything from interactive coupons and contests to games and built-in customer appreciation programs, many businesses are capitalizing on the public’s infatuation with Smartphones by developing apps designed to interact with customers and prospects. 

·         Unlike standard email, a text message is more likely to be read right away. 
·         Using push technology an app can deliver relevant information to individual prospects.
·         Apps can also take advantage of GPS technology to geotarget customers.

Of course the downside is that it can be fairly pricey to develop a sophisticated app from 
English: is an online mobile c...
English: is an online mobile coupon app to find local businesses in the area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
scratch.  This makes many apps unapproachable for smaller businesses.  There is also the added factor that taking an app to market can take months.  Even once in the marketplace you are forced to compete with millions of other apps.

“It's no accident or surprise that more than 2 million cumulative apps are in the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. While creating an app has been a great gateway into mobile, and still is a valuable tool to deliver content, reach is limited by the number of people who download and use the app.”

Before you plunk down a wad of cash to develop an app for your business, you need to consider several factors, including:
1.      What is the app going to do for your business to give you an edge over the competition?
2.      How big is your anticipated audience?
3.      How long of a shelf life will your app have?
4.      How are you planning on distributing your app?
5.      Is there a third-party app available that can do a similar job?

English: Graph showing global smartphone marke...
English: Graph showing global smartphone market share for Q2 2011 When updating this graph, please check its usage and update the captions and refs in articles which link to it. Thanks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With two million apps on the shelf it is highly probable that someone has already come to market with
 an app that can do the same or similar job.  Why pay retail when you can access many of the same benefits for pennies on the dollar through a developer?

Speaking of old-school marketing, mobile can enhance virtually every form of print marketing you currently employ.  Have a business card or brochure?  Add a QR code.  Spending money on a newspaper or magazine ad?  Add a QR code.  Quick Response codes allow you to send any prospect with a Smartphone to a website or video.  When you consider the fact that a QR code takes up less than one square inch of space, not adding one to every print ad is tantamount to throwing money away. 

Far from being reluctant to add mobile marketing to your current marketing mix, once you consider all of the benefits that mobile has to offer, you will soon wonder how you ever lived without it.

Carl Weiss is CEO of Working the Web to Win, a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can interface with Carl every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern when he airs his radio show on Blog Talk Radio.
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Does Internet Ranking Really Matter Any More?

By Carl Weiss

Having been in the business of working the web for the past 19 years, I can still remember a time when search engine ranking was the be-all end-all of internet marketing.  Before the year 2000 it was possible to generate a page one ranking on a number of search engines with names such as Lycos, Alta Vista, LookSmart, Infoseek, Hot Bot, Excite and more in as little as 24-hours.  Better still was the fact that everything you needed to make the grade online before the turn of the century resided on your website.  No blogging, social networking or video required.

English: a chart to describe the search engine...
English: a chart to describe the search engine market (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Back then while Google was part of the scheme of things, they were a small part, not having yet become the 800 lb gorilla in the room that they are today.  In 2000 Yahoo was the big kid on the block commanding more than 40% of the search market.  (Today that figure is down to around 12%.) While many of the lesser known search engines didn’t exactly dominate the Internet, a number of them could boast significant traffic.  What this meant was that no single entity had a stranglehold on the market. 

Fast forward to 2014 with Google controlling 80% of search and the rules have changed.  Now instead of taking 24-48 hours to produce a page one organic search, it isn’t unusual for it to take 3-6 months to get on page one.  And getting there is no longer an injection of on-site SEO.  It’s now a process involving daily social network feeds, weekly blogs and monthly videos all of which need to be as organized and optimized as your website.  What this also means is that there is no longer any quick fix that will enable you to generate prime search engine results.  Add to this the fact that no sooner do you get a bead on what Google wants when they up and change the rules.  The result of this is that one day you are on page one and the next you find yourself on page twenty one. Sound familiar?

Who Keeps Changing the Channel?

Love it or hate it, the Internet is a game.  Play it well and you will be rewarded.  Play it poorly and you might as well not play at all.  The problem is that in this game the rules not only keep changing, they aren’t even posted.  That can make it hard to determine a winning strategy.  While Google posts information including videos that purport to tell us mere mortals what they want in terms of content, their explanations are more than a little vague.  The reason they (and all other search engine operators) do this is to keep anyone from being able dominate search. 

If you read about any of Google’s recent updates that sported adorable names like Panda and Penguin and Hummingbird then you know that their aftermath was anything but cute and fluffy.  That’s because when it comes to updates, the search engines aren’t simply trying to improve their search algorithms, they are also out to shake out the rug to eliminate anyone who is trying to cheat the system in order to beat the system.

Got Game?

In 2000 it was common for professional optimizers to game the system by using black hat techniques such as link farms and keyword stuffing to make their client’s sites seem more valuable to the search engine spiders.  Of course back then the spiders weren’t all that savvy and it was relatively simple to trick them.  Today the spiders are much smarter, being able not only to read text but to understand its meaning.  This means that they can determine how well your posts and blogs are constructed.  They can even figure out if you are plagiarizing other written material (which is why auto-blogging can be so dangerous to your ranking).  Worst still, once the spiders determine that your site is not playing by the rules, not only are they ready, willing and able to relegate your site to the backwaters of the web, but they can also blacklist your site so that you will find it nearly impossible to climb back out of the hole you have dug.

Being a professional digital marketing consultant I have known clients that have come to us seeking help once they realized that their site had become blacklisted.  While we  were able to help some of them rectify the situation, we literally had to tell others that they were going to have to start from scratch.  So what I tell everyone who asks my advice is that you need to be very careful with whom you allow to promote your business online.  If anyone comes to you and states that they can generate a page one organic result on Google in days or weeks, run do not walk to the nearest exit.  These black hatters are going to do more harm than good in the long run, which is the only thing that matters online nowadays. 

If you want to make the Internet part of your business marketing scheme, then you need to do the work.  Or, you need to decide how much of the work you would care to do then farm out the remainder.  Either way, if you want to create a rock solid pate one presence on the search engines you are going to have to take the long view and commit to creating content, content and more content every day of the week, 52 weeks of the year.

There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Search Engine

Not that there aren’t a few shortcuts to getting onto page one that do not ruffle Google’s feathers.  Here are a few that you can take to the bank:

1.      Press Releases – Online press releases are an excellent way to get your business featured on page one of Google in a hurry.  Just don’t expect to stay on page one for more than a few days.  When it comes to search, old news isn’t considered good news. 
2.      Optimized Blogs – Particularly if you use Blogger (owned by Google) to write article optimized blogs at least once per week, it is quite possible that your blog could find its way to page one in as little as 24 hours.  Like press releases, expect this position to quickly erode.
3.      Video SEO – Have you ever done a Google search only to find a thumbnail image that led to a YouTube video?  This is another example of cross-platform SEO in action.  Since Google owns YouTube, a properly optimized video can sometimes wind up on page one of the world’s most popular search engine.

Not only are blogs and videos a great way to jump onto page one of Google, but they can also generate 
Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
a following of their own.  In fact, there are some enterprising people who make a comfortable living by publishing either blogs or YouTube videos.  Even if your videos don’t generate millions of hits per month, having hundreds or even several thousand motivated followers hanging on your every word can be a great way to generate results online. I can tell you from personal experience that we have had several clients generate more conversions from their blogs than they did from their page one search engine listings.  The reason is that on the search engines you are one of the herd.  On your blog you are the star.

So when it comes to putting search engine ranking into its proper perspective what you have to do is ask yourself one question, “Are you ready to do what it takes to play this game to win?”

When it comes to playing to win, Carl Weiss co-wrote the book on the subject.  He is also co-host of the weekly web radio show of the same name as well as the YouTube series.
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