The race to the top of the Google search results has been shaken up a bit since the beginning of 2011 by Panda, Google’s most recent algorithm. Created by Engineer Navneet Panda, this revolutionary search engine filter has birthed another doozie for those search engine optimization (SEO) professionals who thought they had Google all figured out.
With the introduction of Google Panda (which is named after Navneet), the world’s most popular search engine is striving to show its more human side at the peak of the ever-changing communications evolution. Less spam, more user-engaging content is what’s now encouraged.
Formerly based on keyword rich content, Google gave web pages that were at least a few years old coupled with having the appropriate keyword density more priority within search engine results. This approach has allowed content-based websites the ability to rise above more interactive sites. With the introduction of Panda, the key ranking components are design, trustworthiness, speed and viewer loyalty. A website scoring high within these categories is assumed to equate to a high quality website within this new algorithm.
There has been a large influx in the number of websites that have been created between the mid 1990s and now. It is estimated that there are around half a billion registered domains living on the web with millions of new domains getting registered per month. With this increase of websites, search engines have to be more critical in how they assess the quality of a website.
Instead of rating individual pages within a website, Panda rankings are based upon the quality of the entire website. With these new factors in place, many established websites who were normally ranking high within Google have drastically dropped from the top slot, allowing more interactive sites a chance to occupy the top of the page rankings.
Containing the following elements on your website can hurt your ranking with Google Panda: low quality content, excessive advertisements, duplicate content, poor usability, poor inbound links, high bounce rate and poor keyword density. Stagnate web pages, even those with evergreen content (content that is always relevant and never really changes), have to be deleted or elevated to a more engaging level.
Social media platforms have also affected the search engine process and seems to have influenced the way Google Panda works. Social media is all about engaging your reader whether it be through discussing hot topics, images, videos, polls or games. Panda rewards those websites that keep their visitor engaged in quality content and uses diverse traffic sources to draw them to their websites. This will decrease a website’s bounce rate. The promotion of Google+ has also changed the game. Individuals and businesses with Google+ pages seem to receive priority within Google.
There are still many mysteries surrounding this new Google phenomenon. Some consider Panda a filter that is part of the overall algorithm and some consider it an algorithm in itself. The facts are that engaging content is rewarded and snooze worthy sites will fall into obscurity. So, make sure your website has a unique personality that leaves the visitor with an impression that they can share with their social media friends … especially Google+.
Through the inclusion of thought-provoking videos, quality photography and keyword-rich content, B Culture Media’s interactive websites engage your readers and decrease your bounce rate. These digital ingredients are key to creating the perfect bamboo-quality elements that Google Panda will eat up.
What is Social Media Optimization (SMO)?
While the term Social Media Optimization (SMO) is still inconspicuous, it is exercised by companies daily through Twitter, Facebook and other major social networks via social media commentary (businesses dialoguing with their fans and followers). Coined by Rohit Bhargava, a founding member of the social media strategy team at Ogilvy & Mather, effective social media commentary is normally dressed with a link to the company’s site along with relevant keywords and/or hashtags.
Rohit Bhargava … creating of the term Social Media Optimization
At one time, SMO was forecasted to eventually over shadow the effectiveness of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is still the major component that many companies use to differentiate their business from their competitors within search engines. SEO professionals and their clients consistently create, research and drive unique keyword phrases to set their clients apart from the next business, but what if that isn’t enough? What if your main competitor is planted in the number one spot while you flip flop from keyword to keyword only to remain in the second, third or fourth spot?
B Culture Media recently wrote an article titled, “SEO vs. Social Media – Which is More Important?” Each of these digital marketing tools were analyzed to see which one more effectively brings more traffic to your website and ultimately increase the loyal following of a product or service. The conclusion was that even though SMO is important, it is obviously an extension of SEO and can’t stand without it. However, this doesn’t lessen the significance of using SMO. Millions of people worldwide use smartphones, laptops, tablets and desktop computers to access various social networking platforms (via apps) to get the latest information on products, events and services. People want short, concise information and don’t always have time to go to a business’s website to discover what they offer.
While SMO is the implementation of relevant keyword phrases while social networking, Twitter and Instagram member’s use of hashtags is also a major form of SMO. Twitter and Instagram give their members the ability to search by hashtag which are considered trending topics. Websites like What the Trend let you know what hashtags are being used the most during a particular day and allow the public to determine why the popular hashtags are being used so much.
Many companies are creating hashtags to assist in the branding of their company, product, service or event. Here at B Culture Media, we often close out our tweets with #BCultureMedia or #BCM to increase our visibility within Twitter. When Digital Atlanta hosted their annual conference in 2011, they promoted it with #DigATL and encouraged attendees to use the hashtag when attending the conference’s different forums. Some companies offer special discounts for their customers who tweet the specific hashtag that is tied to whatever the company is promoting. Celebrities like Tyrese have gone as far as wearing a shirt with their Twitter address to a major award ceremony to increase their Twitter fan base.
Tyrese at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards
Social media optimization is not the back bone of online optimization but rather an extension of it. The popularity of social media allows businesses another avenue to engage with their customers while SMO gives their marketing efforts more direction. It also helps a business reach those customers that may not be fans or followers as of yet but shows the potential customers that the company offers what the potential customers are looking for. SMO-less conversation gets lost in the multi-dialogue jungle of this social speed- networking game.
By Bianca M. Bailey @ B Culture Media
Often a key component in video game designing, Parallax is gaining more popularity in the web design world. Often implemented through a website’s CSS or a jQuery plug-in, Parallax is a scrolling feature that has been an amazing addition to websites that strive to have an interactive environment for its customers. It is composed of various layers of images, and each layer moves at a different speed. This video from YouTube best depicts the surreal abilities of this seemingly 2D/3D feature http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p85hl4wesuQ.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) are burning up the internet with controversy and stimulating lench mobs of protests. SOPA and PIPA have been successfully subdued with much help from many tech connoisseurs who have jumped on the bandwagon of opposition against these U.S. bills. With so many people now deciding to oppose these groundbreaking federal laws (even some who were initially heavy supporters) without knowing exactly what they are about, who is being left out or benefiting the most if they take effect. Let’s journey through what birthed these piracy laws as well as how they could positively and negatively affect the tech world.
Definitions of Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA)
Also known as H.R. 3261 and the Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation Act (E-PARASITE Act), the technical wording for the bill according to Wikipedia:
"SOPA is a United States bill introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith
(R – TX) to expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property counterfeit goods (from non-U.S. based websites). Provisions include the requesting of court orders to bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites, and search engines from linking to the sites, and court orders requiring Internet service providers to block access to the sites. The law would expand existing criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyright material, imposing a maximum penalty of five years in prison.”
Created by Senator Patrick Leahy (D – VT), PIPA is defined as “a bill presented in the U.S. Senate which would enable the U.S. Justice Department to act against websites anywhere in the world if they were thought to be breaking US copyright laws” according to the Macmillan Dictionary.
The Benefits of SOPA and PIPA
Since Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning caused a piracy up-roam with Napster in the early 2000s, all eyes have been on the protection of content on the web. Now the government and dominant media and copyright organizations are attempting to implement SOPA and PIPA which would give copyright holders more protective power over their work especially from foreign-based websites. Limiting foreign copyright opportunists is the main goal of these two piracy acts but the fear of major website information hubs and search engines like Wikipedia and Google is that it won’t stop there. The Internet is now the e-commerce and virtual-information battlefield between alleged good and evil of the World Wide Web.
Supporters of SOPA and PIPA
During Fall 2011, a tremendous number of trade associations, businesses, professional and labor organizations signed a letter urging Congress to begin legislation to stop foreign-based sites from copyright infringement. Most large media companies and copyright/trademark organizations are also for it – Recording Industry Association of America, Copyright Alliance, Disney, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Comcast, Motion Picture Association of America, Universal Music, Viacom, the Screen Actors Guild and Warner Music to name a few.
Above all, SOPA and PIPA’s biggest cheerleaders are U.S. Congressional and Senate seat holders. However, the White House has stated, “any effective legislation should reflect a wide range of stakeholders, including everyone from content creators to the engineers that build and maintain the infrastructure of the Internet.”
Deflectors of SOPA and PIPA
Not all government leaders are supporting SOPA and PIPA. Senator Scott Brown (R – MA) and Senator Ron Wyden (D – OR) have actively expressed how the acts conflict with freedom of speech. Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) is the proposed alternative bill to PIPA which states:
"OPEN Act is a bill introduced in the U.S. Congress by Senator Ron Wyden (D – OR) and Representative Darrell Issa (R – CA) to protect creative ownership in America while securing the open, accessible Internet you deserve.”
The historical Internet blackout enacted by Wikipedia which “prevented kids from doing their homework” reported a website but intended to show their displeasure for the two acts. Google took it a step further and posted a petition that millions of people signed in protest. Sites like Wikipedia and Google fear that the “prevention of foreign-based site piracy” will quickly infiltrate U.S. based sites too that the government may “assume” to violate SOPA and PIPA.
From Protection to Protest
From the inception of SOPA and PIPA to the avid protestors, the sister acts have lost some appeal from a lot of their initial supporters (many of them due to the backlash from the public) and has been halted by the government. The voice of the people has never been louder through the wielding of the Internet. The Madison Tool which is associated with OPEN Act, hopes to help the public govern what should be regulated on the Internet – no the government.
by Bianca M. Bailey @ B Culture Media
Black Friday and the exclusive Fashion Weeks: Two pinnacle times of the year where retailers and the fashion industry hope to make up for a bad year or put the cherry on top of an awesome upward-driven one. But leading up to (or concluding) these championship fights for retail revenue redemption and leader-crowning, how are retailers and the fashion industry elite getting the word out about the deals or extraordinary collections that they have to sell?
America’s retailers are learning how to chime in on the conversations of their customers through social media. Whether it be Facebook or Twitter, major retailers are learning what their customers like and don’t like based on their Facebook statuses, comments and tweets. Besides using commercials, retailers like Old Navy use their Twitter page to advertise the deals and discounts currently going on in their stores.
Retailers like Cole Haan are using digital media to create aliases for their customers based on the customers’ lifestyles and embed interactive games in their social media pages to compliment these efforts. Cole Haan’s Facebook page mentions “Like us and explore more” to encourage the visitor to dive deeper into how Cole Haan clothing and accessories cater to the “Urban Explorer”.
Zoe Saldana and Mary J. Blige in Giorgio Armani
As B Culture has mentioned before, digital media is a powerful commercialized hammer that some celebrities have wisely wielded to secure the nail in the foundation of a fruitful relationship with their fans. This is the same for high-end fashion designers. Fans of celebrities, the customers of high-end fashion designers, often like for their customers to vote for “who wore it best” and post new looks through their social media fan pages. Celebrities are often the retail industry’s initial guinea pigs and retailers use their customers’ social media comments to know what trends are hitting or missing which is a heads up to the retailer on which ones they should follow or continue to produce.
Digital media also helps high-end fashion designers get the word out about how to access a designer’s full collection, the campaign and allows the fashion industry’s supporting cast – the Press and stylists – to chime in on what they liked or didn’t like, what fashion shows they are excited to see and how the public can mix and match the designer’s pieces. Louis Vutton has their full Spring 2012 fashion show on YouTube. Before YouTube, customers could only dream of seeing a high-end fashion show from beginning to end. The video of the above Louis Vutton fashion show is in HD, which further gives the viewer the experience of being at the actual show.
From New York Fashion Week to a new high-end boutique opening up in L.A.,
fashion editors and socialites can us Foursquare to let their followers know what fashion shows and store opening they are spiriting to cover or shop next. Retailers can also use Foursquare to reward their frequent visitors with special discounts and recognition. In the image above, Jeremy P. is listed as the major of Kenneth Cole in SoHo. Foursquare makes an individual a celebrity along with the place the individual frequents.
Digital and social media has given the customer more of an immediate say in what works and what doesn’t. This gives the retailer and designer the ability to react more quickly and efficiently within their next collection. It seems social media may have accelerated the transition between fashion trends because of the swift reaction to what’s hot and what’s not. Interactive media is now the digitalized style meteorologist for the fashion industry.
by Bianca M. Bailey at B Culture Media
jQuery’s most popular use is to create plug-ins that allow for a higher level of interaction for the end user. Just place “.js” toting script into your HTML and this cross-browser software will allow drop down navigation buttons to move more fluidly, end-users can transition through website photo galleries similarly to flipping through an actual look book, and product information is displayed and condensed with ease.
As a free, open source software, there are many jQuery plug-ins available on the web to fulfill various visual and interactive needs (most are free but some of the more advanced plug-ins costs). With the absence of load time when the end user is transitioning through the different functions of the website, jQuery is definitely on its way to being a web design and developmental standard.
jQuery once found more of a place within websites that involved more of an interactive design feel vs. those websites that were more informative than visually entertaining. But now, many informative websites use jQuery for their navigation menus, biographies or information bubbles. For example, dental websites would normally have minimal detail and would focus more on a basic photo of the dentist and the work he or she has done but now, with jQuery, even dental office websites have an interactive feel that is sponsored by jQuery plug-ins. It can be seen in the Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry website’s navigation menu.
Even though B Culture is leading the charge in developing Adobe Flash designed Facebook fanpages, this interactive design agency knows that jQuery is a better fit than Flash for those company sites that will be seen mostly on mobile devices because of jQuery’s “no load time” abilities, SEO friendliness and overall seamless usability. Shown below is an image displayed on a Flash website. Yes, the image is very beautiful and would display on a PC; however, if someone was trying to vie w it on most mobile devices, it would take a while to load or wouldn’t load at all:
B Culture Media is a digital media agency with a web development team brewing some pretty innovative jQuery plug-ins. For example, these plug-ins give the end-user the power to micro-select text to post on Twitter, use 2D mouse controlled auto-shifting image/graphics on your site, and mouse-interactive-animated text to bring your content to life.
As we race towards a time where flat websites appear unprofessional, B Culture Media stays above the curve by wowing the end-user with innovative jQuery plug-in designs that extend the time they will spend on a website.
Written by Bianca M. Bailey at B Culture Media
If you ask a few web designers today about how relevant Adobe Flash is within the current design world, most of them would say Flash is a relic. However, those seeking the expertise of web designers are still asking for Adobe Flash design abilities all the same. With the rise of Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad, which don’t support Flash, and the increasing popularity of HTML5 and jQuery, Adobe’s prized animation software is loosing its grip within the digital design world. But is it rightfully so?
With Flash being the veteran on the block, Adobe has had the ability to work out majority of the kinks within their interactive design software. Flash is most likely more secure than HTML5 and jQuery. Web browsers like Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox 2 don’t support HTML5 but they do support Flash and jQuery. Many web browser users don’t have the latest versions of IE and Firefox (which has an update every 30 days). Once IE supports HTML5, it will have more of a following. With Apple products mostly using Safari, HTML5 sites will have a comfy, supportive home with Apple hardware users.
HTML5 seems to have given web designers the ability to incorporate video and animations without the use of Flash which has limited visibility within Apple products. However, HTML5 hits a wall when it comes to showing up in IE. With most web users still using older forms of IE which supports Flash, HTML5 seems to still be eating Flash’s dust in the relevancy department. jQuery successfully floats between most formats but is still nestled on websites that have more of an interactive design feel vs. strictly informative content. Flash seems to still be the go-to-guy when designing animations and embedding video content.
B Culture Media is one of the few digital media agencies designing interactive Facebook fan pages with the versatility of Adobe Flash. Even though HTML5 is growing by leaps and bounds within the HTML language world, Flash is still the guru of interactive design. Flash adds a “WOW” factor to the otherwise flat visual structure of Facebook. The designers at B Culture Media realize that HTML5 and Flash are two different entities that are unfairly compared. HTML5 is an evolved language with the ability to embed interactive components (some designed in Flash) within it in order to provide a more swift, yet efficient experience for the end user. When faced with the question of what about Apple products not displaying Flash components, most designers are aware that Facebook will default those limited end users to the standard Facebook layout. HTML5 and Flash are both the best … in their respected arenas.
Written by Bianca M. Bailey at B Culture Media
Nov. 7, 2011 – Grammy-nominated songwriter Jack Knight is now utilizing the website Blazetrak to discover unsigned artists, help out with his knowledge of the business and music industry, and provide live feedback. His purpose: to detail the art of songwriting and the journey it creates, finding new voices along the way.
Jack Knight’s Blazetrak page is open, and Mr. Knight is currently accepting new artist inquiries. Blazetrak works with over 100 A&R individuals, who are all actively seeking new talent. Mr. Knight has previously worked with artists such as The Notorious B.I.G., Diddy, Keyshia Cole, Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera, among many others.
After establishing the Jack Knight Songwriting Academy, Finding Your Way Worldwide, and writing The Art of Writing A Hit Song: The Urban Experience (2006), furthering Mr. Knight’s efforts to uncover creative musicians, songwriters and producers using Blazetrak just made sense.
Now, the ability to connect with artists, songwriters, and/or producers who may have been overlooked, not given a chance, have not been discovered yet or simply did not have the means to get a message out to the public, has been simplified with a proven songwriter who wants to expand the musical career and creativity of others.
When asked if he had any advice for aspiring artists, in a previous interview, Mr. Knight responded, “Persistence plus talent plus desire multiplied by luck equals success in any area…”
Brought to you by B Culture Media
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has revolutionized the internet marketing approach of businesses across every market. Vague business and product/service descriptions are extinct in this digital branding jungle. So, if you have avoided SEO tactics at this point when marketing a business and product/service online, than you have denied a company the privilege of online visibility for far too long.
SEO is a technique that helps search engines find and rank a website higher than other similar sites in response to a search query. In its simplest form, SEO involves including keyword phrases (descriptive words that best describe a business) in business and product/service descriptions as well as within the HTML code of a website so popular search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing will shop a business as an option when a person is looking for something that company specializes in. For example, if someone goes to Google and is looking for “Yoga in Midtown Atlanta” than a Yoga studio in Atlanta would want to have that keyword phrase (and others similar to that) within their website content and code so Google will list them as an option for this person in it’s search engine results.
SEO takes a more complicated form when a business has to leave the comfort of their own website to plant backlinks and become sociable with their potential and current customers. Backlinks are when a business digitally networks on another business’ site by referencing their own site. They will publish information on this site that is within their particular area of expertise. For example, Proctor & Gamble could leave information about how using dryer sheets can make a family’s clothes and bedding smell powder fresh on a popular stay-at-home mom blog and then reference Bounce dryer sheets coupled with a link to where the Bounce dryer sheets can be purchase in the blog post.
Another extensive SEO approach is opening social media accounts specifically for a business. Search engines greatly favor business-owned social media accounts. This primarily gives the business’s customers a chance to “follow” or “like” them and encourage their friends, family members and colleagues to do the same. Posting information about new products/services, events and special discounts that are tactfully loaded with keyword phrases is great for SEO as well.
SEO is an endless process of maintaining fresh, relevant content on a business’s website as well as longevity. So, exceeding a competitor’s knowledge-base, maintaining a consistent message and digitally buddying up with customers via popular social media outlets will eventually make a business a consistent search engine leader in no time.
Written by Bianca M. Bailey at B Culture Media