What Your Webmaster Won't Tell You

By Carl Weiss

If you have a website, then you know your webmaster has the power of life or death over it.  You probably also know that he or she speaks in tongues, where terms like “Link Equity,” “SERPS,” and “Meta Tags,” have a meaning all their own.  In today’s blog, I will part the curtain and allow you to take a look at what the wizard of the web knows that you don’t.  I will also endeavor to show you what you need to know if you want your web presence to be more than a billboard in the desert. 

Who’s On First?

The term “Webmaster” is somewhat nebulous, since the creation, optimization and control of your website can actually take anywhere from 1 to 3 individuals. 
Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

1.      Web Designer – There are two flavors of web designer.  The first and best is an online marketer who understands that the look of your website needs to take a backseat to the functionality of your website.  A marketing-centric web designer starts by determining what it is you wish your site to accomplish (generate leads, generate calls, or sell directly from the site).  Then he or she will build the vehicle that is designed to generate the desired result. 

The second type of designer is more or less a glorified graphic artist who is mostly interested in the look of the site.  This type of designer will show you graphically intense designs that are beautiful, that most often don’t generate results.  (If you see a lot of rotating images and morphing graphics, this indicates the use of either Java (which the search engines hate) or Flash (which the search engines hate even more than Java).

2.      Search Engine Optimizer – It helps if your web designer understands the ins and outs of SEO.  If not, then you will be forced to hire an optimizer to help you sell your site to the search engines.  This will entail having a conversation with a person that will spout all kinds of arcane jargon in order to describe what it is they need to do to make your website search engine friendly.  (This is another reason to hire a designer that is ready, willing and able to take care of this during the design phase.)

Courtesy commons.wikimedia.org
Unless you want to bring your techno babble/English dictionary with you when you meet with your SEO pro, I suggest you find a firm that can explain in plain English what it is they are going to do for you and how often they intend on doing it.  For the most part you should only need to optimize your on-page assets once.  Anyone who tries to sell your ongoing SEO services other than link building is wasting your money.

3.      Website Hosting and Updating – There are a number of “Webmasters” that only provide hosting and updating of your website.  If this is the case you need to be cognizant of the fact that should you need to make a change to your website, you will first need to go through your web designer who will then need to motivate your webmaster to grant him or her access to make the desired change.  You may also be required to pay both of these individuals to make said change.  Obviously the best solution is to hire an individual or firm who can do all this at once instead of by committee.

Webmasters are a throwback to a time when it required a skilled IT professional to manage the server that contained your website.  This is no longer the case since nearly all servers are now cloud based.  This makes it doubly galling when you submit a change order to a webmaster and he or she sits on a job for days that literally takes a couple of minutes to accomplish. 

What’s on Second?

Once your website is up and running, you next need to register it with search engines and directories. 
image courtesy of flickr.com
You can either do this manually or you can hire a firm to do this for you.  Again, there are professionals who will offer to perform this time consuming service.  The devil, however, is in the details.  That the task needs to be accomplished is obvious.  If you don’t register with search engines and directories your website will never get found.  The trick is to 

get your site or sites registered with as many search engines and directories as possible without breaking the bank.  (Working the Web to Win offers a search engine push package that will register a site on 100 directories for $300.)

Once your site(s) registered on scads of search engines and directories the traffic will start rolling in, right?  WRONG. Even a perfectly optimized site registered on 100 high quality search engines and directories will not prove sufficient to generate significant traffic all by itself.  Why?  That’s because the game of generating search engine position has gotten a lot more complicated in the past few years.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com
Prior to 2005, all you needed to do to generate high ranking on the search engines was create an optimized website and register your site with the search engines.  The search engines would then send their spiders to analyze your site and determine its rank. That’s literally all there was to it.  Today on-page SEO only accounts for 25% of ranking criteria, the other 75% is comprised of off-site assets, such as blogs, social networks, videos, images and podcasts.  More crucially, not only do you need to create, publish and distribute this online content, you have to do so consistently.  Simply having a Facebook or Twitter feed on your site isn’t enough.  You also need to grow and engage your following.  The same is true of your blogs, videos and podcasts. 

Add to this the fact that the search engine spiders can not only read, but understand your website, blogs and social posts and you can see why generating ranking today is a huge undertaking.  I refer to the Internet as the elephant in the room.  Everybody knows it’s there, but nobody is prepared to talk about it.  As search engine spiders continue to evolve, you need to understand that your success online comes down to a popularity contest.  The spiders award their favors to websites that create and engage the biggest audience.  Therefore, you need to either assign the task of feeding the elephant to several staffers, or you need to outsource the task to a company that will put a team at your disposal to get the task done.  (No single human being is capable of handling all these tasks.  It takes a team.)

I Don’t Know Who’s on Third

The other three factors you need to take into consideration if you hope to prevail are geotargeting, mobile marketing and reputation management.

The Internet is no longer a World Wide Wad.  It is now not only possible, but desirable to geotarget your online assets to attract the best audience.  This is done embedding geographic information in all your online assets.  Before you go about creating or retooling a website, you first need to define who and where your best customers are located.  There is a big difference between creating a website for say a chiropractor that will have a reach of 10 miles from his or her location, to a company that needs to market to a regional or national scope.  Today geotargeting can be employed to narrow your scope to as little as an individual neighborhood.

The first thing you should do is register your business with Google Local and create a Google Map.  Since Google controls more than two thirds of all traffic in this country, the more Google friendly you become, the better your chances of success.  Even better is the fact that once created, you can embed your Google map right on your homepage.  This is another important thing to do if you hope to convert traffic into customers.  Nobody wants to search your site to find out where you are located.  Since people spend less than 2 minutes on your website, it is vital you give them everything they need to make a buying decision as quickly as possible.  Gone are the days when a web surfer would click around your site to check you out.  Today the next click you hear will be them going back to where they found you to check out somebody else.

This is also why it is vital you put your best foot forward in a hurry.  This requires video.  If your current website is composed of a bunch of stock images, what does this tell prospects about your company?  Nothing.  If you want to entice prospects to take the next step they need to know what you are all about.  Since you only have 2 minutes or less to accomplish this task, an intro video that shows who you are, what makes you special and why a prospect should take the next step is vital to your success.  It is also vital that the video be located prominently on your homepage, not buried below the fold.

Even better is a second video that shows satisfied customers extolling your virtues.  Like it or not, the biggest obstacle to converting clicks into cash is credibility.  Video testimonials are the ultimate credibility builder.  That and lots of reviews on Google will not only help you seal the deal, but it is a great way to create Google Juice.  When we shoot video testimonials for us or our clients, we routinely take the person being interviewed over to Google Maps to post a review as soon as the video is complete.  Once you get 10 reviews four red stars will also appear next to your listing which helps you separate yourself from the herd once you make it to page 1 on Google.

Getting Mobilized
Image courtesy of linkedin.com
This brings us to the last and currently most important requirement for generating traction with Google: Mobile.  Several months back, Google made it a requirement for websites to be “mobile-friendly.”  This means that if your website is not designed to reconfigure itself to tablets and smartphones, your chances of getting on page 1 are nil.  To see if your site makes the grade, simply do a search for it on any smartphone.  If the page doesn’t change shape to accommodate the platform it is definitely time you did a site makeover.  Make sure your web designer is using a dynamic language such as HTML 5.  If not, you will need to redo the redo.

What’s It All About?

Unless you have to means to hire an in-house online marketing team that has what it takes to create and distribute content to Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube on a continual basis, you need to find a firm you can trust to outsource your online destiny if you hope to make your web presence work for you.  If not, you will find yourself at more and more of a disadvantage as your competitors reap the rewards online and eat up more market share.  Because the biggest thing you need to understand online is this, “If you are not coming up on page 1 of the search engines and your competition is, does that help or hurt your business?”

Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio   

Something Very Small Could Soon be Very BIG

By Carl Weiss

Everyone is always looking for the “Next BIG Thing.”  That’s a given.  But what most people don’t realize is one of the biggest things of all could soon have its origin in the very small.  What I’m talking about is the rapidly rising realm of nanotechnology.  While the term has been around for a few decades, the emergence of Nanotech onto the world stage has, to date been more of a whimper than a bang.  Well, all that is set to change soon as the very tiny makes a quantum leap onto the world stage that could have a bigger impact on your world than the birth of the microcomputer.

Image courtesy of pt.wikipedia.org
The funny thing is, nanotechnology has been around almost as long as the personal computer.  The first microcomputers made their presence known in the mid to late 1970’s.  Nanotech arrived in 1985 with the discovery of Fullerenes, otherwise known as Bucky Balls.  These microscopic structures, similar in structure to graphite, are composed of carbon atoms that can take on the shape of a sphere where they are called Buckminsterfullerenes, or a cylinder, otherwise known as a carbon nanotube.  While their structure seems familiar, one has to realize that in order to see them, the use of a scanning electron microscope needs to be employed.  While fullerenes do occur in nature and even in the vacuum of outer space, it is the potential uses of this super light, super strong material that spawned the Nanotech revolution.

 There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom

As early as 1959, when physicist Richard Feynman postulated that it might soon be possible to manipulate individual atoms to create unique structures at the microscopic level, it wasn’t until K. Eric Drexler’s 1986 book, “Engines of Creation,” that Dr. Feynman’s dream of a billion tiny factories finally began to take shape.  The shape of Nanotech innovation in the 1980’s was relegated to two researchers by the name of Don Eigler and Erhard Schweizer, both of whom worked at IBM’s Almaden Research Center, who arranged 35 xenon atoms to spell out the IBM logo. While an interesting parlor trick, the technique was nonetheless the harbinger of more exotic constructions at the molecular level. 

Image from commons.wikimedia.org
The 1990’s saw the application of nanotechnology in everything from electronics and pharmaceuticals, to textiles and communications.  Still to the world at large, Nanotech was not exactly a household word.  Let’s be honest, when Moungi Bawendi at MIT devised a method for controlled synthesis of nanocrystals, otherwise known as quantum dots, he had hardly achieved the kind of rock star status that Steve Jobs and Woz did when they introduced the Apple II.  Still, Bawendi and other researcher’s progress did not go entirely unnoticed.  Slow but steady progress was being made in molecular manipulation.  New technologies, such as nanolithography were developed by 1999 that allowed the writing of electronic circuits and the manufacturing of biomaterials used in biological research.

The Presidents Pile On

In 2000, Bill Clinton gave a speech at Cal Tech where mentioned the infant Nanotech industry. "Some of our research goals may take twenty or more years to achieve, but that is precisely why there is an important role for the federal government." 

During the same speech, President Clinton also announced the founding of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), during which he pledged $500 million in government funding.  When George Bush took the helm as Commander in Chief, he signed into law the 21st Century Nanotechnology research and Development Act, that increased the government’s commitment to this initiative by pledging an additional $3.63 billion over 4 years.  
Image courtesy of flickr.com

No sooner had President Obama taken office, when he was introduced to nanotechnology in a big way when a nanotechnology researcher at the University of Michigan decided to immortalize the President by etching microscopic copies of Barack Obama’s likeness on a metal substrate, which went viral when the “Nanobama’s” were published online.  Nanobama’s notwithstanding, the President has continued to fund NNI to the tune of $1.5 billion in 2015. (See the video at http://www.azonano.com/nanotechnology-video-details.aspx?VidID=270)

Where’s the Nano-Beef?

While some new uses of Nanotech saw the light of day during the first 10 years of the new millennium, including the introduction of passive nanoparticles in disinfectants and sunscreen, clothing and cosmetics, the promise of nanomachines far outstripped their reality, causing some pundits such as  David Berube to wonder what all the Nano-Hype was all about. 

According to Wikipedia, “His study concludes that much of what is sold as “nanotechnology” is in fact a recasting of straightforward materials science, which is leading to a “nanotech industry built solely on selling nanotubes, nanowires, and the like” which will “end up with a few suppliers selling low margin products in huge volumes." Further applications which require actual manipulation or arrangement of nanoscale components await further research. Though technologies branded with the term 'nano' are sometimes little related to and fall far short of the most ambitious and transformative technological goals of the sort in molecular manufacturing proposals, the term still connotes such ideas. According to Berube, there may be a danger that a "nano bubble" will form, or is forming already, from the use of the term by scientists and entrepreneurs to garner funding, regardless of interest in the transformative possibilities of more ambitious and far-sighted work.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_nanotechnology

Up until the past few years, the naysayers had a point.  While more effective sunscreen had its place, where were the self-replicating nanobots that everyone had long awaited?  What happened to Eric Drexler and Richard Feynman’s “Engines of Creation” that could turn out nanites by the billions?  Where was the Nano-Beef?

In order for micromachines to become a reality, they needed to not only be produced, but mass produced.  Since it is impossible to shrink factory workers to scale, that meant that humans had to learn something that nature has been doing on this planet for billions of years: Self-replication.  It wasn’t until 2010, that researchers were able to manipulate individual atoms and even combine them to form structures, to date, they were unable to cause their micromachines to replicate.  Then in early 2010, geneticist J. Craig Ventner, managed to create the world’s first biological organism from scratch, when he constructed a bacterium using off-the-shelf chemicals. 

Courtesy en.wikipedia.org
While whipping up a batch of bacteria might not seem like an earth shattering accomplishment, bear in mind that this was the first time in 4 billion years that anyone on the planet had managed to create a living creature that was not only viable, but able to reproduce.  Armed with this knowledge, it wasn’t long before other researchers applied the discovery to their own work.

Below are a couple of videos that point out some of the latest advances in nanotechnology:

Whether you realize it or not, there are already a number of products on the market that contain Nanotech elements, such as:

Artificial Atoms (Quantum Dots) 

The next few years will see these tiny things becoming bigger and bigger players, as the world as we know it is literally transformed from the inside out.  If you’d like to learn more about the coming Nanotech revolution, check out this week’s Working the Web to Win radio show, where we will explore how something very small will soon be very BIG.

Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio