20Jul
0

writing

As a web content writer, it’s not just about how good you are putting words on paper; it’s also about your search engine optimization (SEO) prowess. While not all web content writing jobs will require SEO or LSEO, the high paying ones will. It’s not easy to organically and naturally place keywords within content, especially when it seems like the phrases just aren’t a match for the requested article, which is why SEO writers get paid the big bucks. However, some of those old school writing hacks are actually great fodder for mastering SEO.

Whether you’re a trained writer with an advanced degree in creative writing or you’ve just always had a knack for it, the true test is whether you can succeed in writing content rich in SEO. You might be charged with creating brand new content for a website re-design, but the client is adamant that their SEO ranking stays the same (at worst) or improves (at best). If that seems like a daunting task, or you simply want to up your game, consider these “basic” writing tips that are SEO gold.

1. Read it out loud

Sometimes what seems natural to you (such as putting in a keyword like “endangered panda” into an article about auto manufacturing) just doesn’t read “right.” Always read your end product aloud to make sure the flow in on target. This is one of the easiest ways to spot red flags.

2. Have someone else read it

If you’re lucky, you have a partner or roommate you can bribe into reading your articles for you. Don’t highlight the SEO keywords or phrases, and simply ask them if anything seems out of place. If they can spot it, so will your editor and readers.

3. Put it to bed

When you’re struggling with a piece of writing, it’s always best to put it to bed (assuming there are no looming deadlines) and tackle it fresh in the morning. It’s amazing what a few hours away from a piece can help you see, and you might make your job a lot easier in the process.

4. Less is more

Some writers are really good at writing fluff, and that can be tempting when you’re facing a certain word count. However, this comes down to quality vs. quantity. If you do a bit more research, include a few more quotes or otherwise just try a little harder, it’ll show (and it’ll also appear in terms of your pay rate).

20Jul
0

digitalera

The Internet has turned us all into storytellers. This popular entertainment past time is no longer reserved for traveling bards or for slam poets. There are digital storytelling options for everyone, fitting a range of messages, content, and audiences. You can have incredibly niche interest and still find a platform and audience to fit your needs. Creators have ways of spinning tales through digital text, videos, animations, and sound. Online storytelling gives audiences access to a wide range of voices, multimedia, and audiences. Here’s how modern storytelling is changing the Internet.

Diversity of Voices

Online communications has leveled the playing field, allowing underrepresented groups to share their experiences with enormous audiences. Old school publishing and stage platforms privileged certain groups and excluding others. Digital communications allows minority groups to get a message across to their audiences through affordable and accessible content publishing and sharing options. Readers can thrive greatly when they are exposed to a multitude of perspectives.

New Media

Storytelling doesn’t have to be oratory. Digital content creators are continually finding new ways to tell their stories through a variety of media types. Just take a look at platforms that embrace new media – Vine, YouTube, and Medium showcase ways you can connect with your audience outside of traditional oral storytelling. Individuals and organizations can leverage new multimedia formats to convey complex messages.

Target Audiences

Online storytelling enables us to deliver content directly to those who might benefit the most from your work. Online advertising, demographics information, and social media sharing are just some of the tools modern storytellers use to connect with the right audiences. Your content might have very little impact if they reach thousands of people disinterested by the message and delivery. Your content will go further if you introduce it to audiences that are interested in the types of content you’re providing.

Measuring Impacts

When orators tell a story, they look at their audiences for non-verbal cues in body language and facial expressions. You can’t get this type of feedback while online, because you’re not able to see your readers’ faces. However, you can gauge how they are responding to your social media campaigns by paying attention to engagement metrics.

Online storytelling will change the way we interact and learn about one another. Whether you’re a podcast, video, or article creator, you have valuable tales to tell through digital mediums. Learn how to connect with the right audiences, and your creative content will flourish!

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19Jul
0

Challenging yourself as an employee, no matter what your title, is part of career growth. If you don’t step up to the plate, other people will and you’ll be left in the dust. Don’t think of taking on new projects as taking on extra work with no benefit to you. Taking initiative is one of the most important things employers look for when considering promotions.

However, don’t expect to ever feel “fully ready” to tackle those project management roles, either. You’re going to have to get outside your comfort zone if you want to get noticed. Whether it involves putting together a portfolio, leading a group discussion or giving a presentation to the CEO, it might be scary but it’s worth it. Here are a few signs you’re ready for the big leagues.

1. You’ve been in your fair share of projects as a minion

You shouldn’t sign up to lead the first project you’re involved with, but if you’ve worked on plenty you’ve seen the basic structure. You’re able to lean from the mistakes of others and you’ve had a few dry test runs. If this is your 100th project (or it seems that way) you’re ready for a new role.

2. There’s a promotion coming up

This shouldn’t be your sole reason for volunteering to lead a group, but it can certainly play a role. If there’s a promotion coming up you think you’re suited for, there’s no better way to put your hat in the ring than by showing you’re a leader.

3. The project aligns with your skillsets

Bonus points if these skillsets are something your boss doesn’t know about, such as graphic design or creating a PR database. Show off what you’ve got, even if your skills and talents aren’t usually showcased with your job duties.

4. You’re excited about it

Does the project have aspects that excite you, intrigue you or you’re otherwise passionate about? This is a big sign that you should step up to the plate. You’ll naturally work harder when the subject interests you.

5. Your job has been laying people off

Just like number two, this shouldn’t be the only reason why you sign up to lead but it can be a factor. There will be times when you have to “save” your job and prove yourself, and this might be the ticket to make it happen.

18Jul
0

wifi_hotel

Forget the pool and free continental breakfast because all that really matters while staying at a hotel is how good the internet is. No matter what they say, you need to do your own digging because for some hotels, simply having Wi-Fi equates to “good Wi-Fi.” That’s not always the case, and many travelers have been burned before. Whether you actually need Wi-Fi in order to work while traveling or simply want to make sure your Buzzfeed readership is up to date, you deserve Wi-Fi like home.

First, find out exactly what kind of “internet” is available at the hotel. Some reputable hotel sites will clearly state the connections available while others leave it vague. That brings us to our first red flag, but there are many others to follow.

1. Vague “internet language” on the website

If the hotel can’t or won’t tell you what kind of internet access is available, that’s a red flag. Either it’s not fast, it’s not Wi-Fi or (worse yet) they’re not really sure what they have. Call and ask.

2. It’s free

Unfortunately, free internet means absolutely everyone at the hotel will be all over it from kids playing on iPads to vacationers uploading Facebook albums. If you pay for a service, even if it’s a very minor fee, you can guarantee that not as many people will be using it and causing virtual bottlenecks.

3. It’s not highlighted as an amenity

Hotels highlight the features that are most attractive and also the ones where they spend the money. That’s why you’ll see pillowtop mattresses and a sauna at the top of the list. If internet isn’t on display, that’s not where their focus is.

4. There’s no business center

Hotels that cater to business travelers know that solid Wi-Fi is a must. If there’s a business center on site and preferably meeting rooms, you know that this hotel is all about serving those who need to be online.

5. There are negative reviews about the internet access

While even the best hotels won’t have 100 percent positive reviews, if you do your homework and find people complaining about the slow internet speeds, consider yourself warned. If someone takes time out of their day to explicitly post about poor internet service, that means something.

Of course, you can also always get a travel hot spot yourself, but why not choose the right hotel from the beginning?

14Jul
0

One of the worst things about being an adult is paying those pesky bills and even with all the technology to keep you on track, it’s still easy to goof up sometimes. Well before the water shuts off or you come home to a totally dark house, there are red flags ignored that are telling you something’s amiss. If you don’t trust your gut, you might find yourself needlessly paying extra fees. Can you learn from the mistakes of others, or do you need to learn the hard way?

Today’s bill pay technology is designed to make life easy for even the most forgetful of folks. However, sometimes stubbornness still wins out. Here are a few signs that you didn’t pay your bill, but you may still be able to make that grace period before your service gets shut off. Can you beat the clock?

1. You’re inexplicably flush with cash

If you have a steady paycheck and you seem a little richer than other times of the year, watch out. This is a huge red flag that maybe you’re not as wealthy as you think. Forgetting about that $100 cell phone bill or other big ticket item can make you feel like royalty (at least until the “free ride” runs out).

2. You just feel like you’ve forgotten something

Call it your gut or just instinct, but your subconscious is doing all it can to keep you on the right track. It might not be strong enough to persuade you to actually put a reminder on your calendar, Post-It note or however else you try to remember things, but that nagging feeling is there for a reason. Believe it.

3. You’re on vacation

It’s easy to forget to pay your water bill when you’re not home for long stretches, especially if you still have hard copy bills instead of e-bills. To really make the most of your vacation, pay monthly bills in advance so you don’t have a pile of them waiting for you when you get home. Many people over-spend on vacation, so this is setting you up for an easy return.

Of course, the best way to pay your bills is to enroll in auto pay using an account that’s only for bills and nothing else. This can help keep you in the black year-round, avoid fees and inconveniences, and helps streamline your budgeting.

13Jul
0

mobilehealth

Health apps have been steadily gaining traction, catching the attention of medical professionals and patients around the world. You can now use your mobile device to check in for your appointments, manage medication, and learn about preventative care. New advancements in diagnostic accessories are now allowing us to take care of our heath in new ways by giving us access to data that was previously difficult to measure at home. Here are four accessories that interface with mobile devices to give us detailed health reports.

Blood Glucose Measurements

Diabetic patients can now track their blood glucose levels with simple mobile attachments that plug into smartphones and tablets. This gives patients greater control over their insulin doses and long-term care strategies. Physicians can view blood test time lines and take a look at graphs to see spikes and drops in blood sugar. These portable devices can replace the need for additional equipment, making it significantly easier for diabetic users to manage their health.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Our heart rates help us understand the full impact of physical activity. It can be difficult to learn how effective our workouts are if we don’t understand how hard our hearts must work to pump blood through our bodies. Heart rate monitors that attach to your mobile device can help you determine the amount of calories you’ve burned performing an activity with greater precision. The peripherals can also inform you when your heart rate becomes too fast, indicating that you should reduce the intensity of your workout.

Lung Capacity Measurements

There are even smartphone accessories and apps that allow you to measure breath strength and lung capacity. In the past, these tests were only conducted in physicians’ offices with the use of a spirometer. Now you can check your lung performance at home. This is particularly important amongst patients who are recovering from surgery and the use of general anesthesia, since breathing performance can be affected and even decrease during a hospital stay.

Activity Monitors

Perhaps one of the most important health revolutions involving mobile devices is the stunning array of fitness accessories that have appeared on the market. Activity monitors provide us with a fun and interactive way to get daily exercise. Competitions and virtual achievements drive thousands of people to go for a walk, run or record their bike excursions.

Healthcare organizations can draw a significant amount of audience attention by investing in medical device development. Consumers worldwide are adopting these innovations so that they can achieve their health and wellness goals.

12Jul
0

Each summer brings that time that parents dread: back to school shopping. If your child’s school has a uniform requirement, then you have less reason to worry about whether or not your child’s clothing will get him or her in trouble at school or attract unwanted attention from peers. Today’s kids often try to emulate rock stars and other famous idols, but they will need your guidance to make the right clothing choices.

School Dress Codes

Schools without uniforms still have a dress code, explains this article on The Huffington Post. Sagging pants, crop tops, vulgar or racist slogans, short skirts or shorts, see-through or mesh shirts and exposed bra straps are just some of the clothing types that are banned in many school environments. While some parents and students feel that clothing is related to their freedom of expression and rights as an individual, teachers, administrators and others feel that these types of clothing detract from the desired professional and educational environment and can instigate problems like sexism and bullying on school grounds.

What Kids Want

In today’s evolving fashion environment, something that was once considered acceptable could be banned during the first weeks of the school year. Parents and students must work together to create a fashion that suits the individual while still following the rules. If your kids want blue hair or strappy tops, checking the dress code first can save you from a lot of headaches. In some cases, these are best left to summers, school breaks and weekends. Even so, many people feel that school dress codes go too far, explains this article on CBS news. From banning leggings or requiring they only be worn with long tops to prohibiting the wearing of flags on clothing, most schools argue that dress codes are enacted with student safety in mind. Parents and students who disagree often speak up at school board meetings where such issues are decided.

What’s In Vs. What’s Allowed

Even as schools enact dress codes, this article on NBC News suggests that policies are inconsistent, such as cheerleaders still sporting short skirts and sleeveless tops. Parents and students must work together to weigh what’s in versus what’s allowed at school lest they run the risk of suspension, expulsion or jail time. Some parents may not even realize that what their child wants to wear is may actually be suggestive of gang involvement or other illegal activities. By coming together as a school community, agreement can usually be reached in a way that allows students to express themselves without causing a disruption in the educational environment.

Helping Your Children Select Clothing that Suits Them

If your child can’t find the right clothes, consider creating them yourself. At Live Ur Story, students can create apparel that fits their personalities and meshes with school dress codes. Parents can help with design, colors and sizing.

12Jul
0

Electronic health and medical records can be found in virtually every healthcare context these days. Dental offices, clinics, hospitals, long-term residential care facilities, and physicians’ offices all rely on digitized patient information. However, healthcare organizations are also responsible for maintaining the integrity and security of their data, protecting patient files from accidental or intentional leaks. If you work as a healthcare leader, here are three things to keep in mind when it comes to patient data security.

Encrypted Backups

Backups play a significant role in your IT strategy, and it is vital that you maintain backups in the event of equipment failure or loss. However, these backups shouldn’t be accessible to just any person who accesses this information. Scrambling your data with encryption can prevent someone from viewing and leaking data, even if they have stolen a backup drive. Only those authorized to decrypt this information can access the data copies. Healthcare organizations should explore encryption for both cloud and hardware backups.

System Security

Data theft is usually a crime of opportunity. For example, someone might steal a physician’s smartphone if it is forgotten on a bus stop bench. If the smartphone hasn’t been secured with a passcode, then all of the data on this physician’s smartphone becomes compromised. This can be a major confidentiality concern, since the physician might have sensitive patient correspondences and documents on the smartphone. You can prevent issues such as these by using best practices to secure both remote and in-house technologies. Require that employees use passcodes on all devices that store work-related information. If possible, use services like Android Device Manager or iCloud to track and remotely wipe devices if they are stolen or lost. This can help ensure that sensitive information doesn’t get leaked out to unauthorized viewers.

Secure Database Software

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommend that healthcare organizations search for electronic health record software with built-in data security safeguards, including database record encryption and audit trails. Before you commit to a particular EHR system, talk to your IT department to ensure that this software solution is actually reputable and secure.

Your patients rely on healthcare organizations to maintain their HIPAA rights. Medical facilities can protect themselves against healthcare litigation by ensuring that their record keeping systems are secure. Your patients can benefit greatly if your organization invests in secure tech solutions and best practices.

12Jul
0

There’s search engine optimization (SEO) and then there’s localized SEO (LSEO). The two are pretty self explanatory assuming you know the basics of SEO, but in a virtual world, who needs LSEO anymore? You might be surprised, because the answer extends beyond brick and mortar establishments. You might be a business owner who could benefit greatly from going local in addition to basic SEO and not even know it.

While it’s obvious that brick and mortar establishments like local restaurants, shops, boutiques and the like depend heavily on LSEO for relevance and ranking, those in a completely digital commerce might also benefit. Here are a few of the lesser known industries who are a great match for LSEO.

1. Community-specific websites

Let’s say you operate a forum or virtual community for Gujarati Jains living in the US. These communities are going to be richer in certain parts of the US (you’re not going to find many in rural Kentucky). By peppering in organic keywords that relate to the places where your demographics live, you can help build a connection.

2. Sports apparel companies

Even if you don’t pick sides and offer swag for every team, there will still be fans searching locally. It’s important to include local keywords, especially with product descriptions. For example, one of your products might be an Oregon Ducks hoodie. By adding “Eugene” into the description (the town where the university is, but often isn’t included in descriptions) you can improve your SEO ranking.

3. Tourism sites

If you manage a site for tourism, whether it lists the best hiking trails in Zion or food carts in LA, there’s no telling what slang or knowledge your potential readers have. Some might know the local nicknames of neighborhoods while others simply know they want to see the “Grand Canyon” and have zero knowledge of geography beyond that. Sprinkle in more localized keywords and you’ll attract in the know travelers as well as those just starting their research.

4. Florists

Of course you need LSEO if you’re a local florist with a shop and local deliveries, but many florists will ship around the country. You can’t go keyword stuffing crazy, but if you have data that shows a lot of orders come from a certain region, capitalize on that and include it in your keywords. You can also use major metros like New York City (organically) to fish and see if you get any bites.

LSEO isn’t for everyone, but it might be the tool you need to gain an edge.

11Jul
0

usb

From smartphone chargers to computer mice to fans, plug-and-use USB devices are omnipresent in our daily lives. What few know, however, is that USB devices have considerable limitations, chiefly the relatively small amounts of power most are able to process. This prevents manufacturers from developing larger, more power-intensive devices, and it limits the amount of devices that can be plugged into any one computer. That looks to be changing, however. In June 2014, prominent developer Goodway Technologies unveiled new, powerful USB docking solutions that allow higher power outputs than ever before. These will provide more variety for manufacturers of USB and other mobile devices as well as shore up on recent safety concerns.

The Technology

Goodway began developing the new standard USB Power Delivery specifications in response to increased demand from tablet companies for more powerful USB chargers. While a number of tablets are able to be charged on current USBs, their charge and data transfer rates are severely limited. With the new specifications, however, tablets and even small televisions will be able to share information and charge with any number of computers. Even more excitingly for many, this connection will be two-way: If your laptop is dying but your iPad fully charged, you can set the USB charger to siphon energy from your tablet and direct it to your laptop computer. A number of manufacturers have already picked up on the design, and you can expect to see these new USB devices by December 2014.

Applications

In addition to tablet manufacturers, a number of other designers of USB devices have begun to take advantage of this new technology. First and foremost, the cities of Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, have begun to install USB charging benches in parks. These innovative pieces of architecture will allow park-goers to enjoy devices of any size without worrying about bulky battery cases. Other exciting new offerings include a number of heavy-duty USB routers, for using as many as a dozen devices on the same computer, and high-capacity USB business cards, allowing advertisers to store and distribute promotional products with pizazz and free publicity.

Who’s Excited?

While these applications appeal to a vast customer base of tablet users, the people most excited about this expanded USB capacity are digital content creators and computer programmers. With new tools like the Arduino USB Host Shield, even small-time developers with minimal resources can afford to make and test new content for both computers and mobile devices. While the full details are quite technical, the Host Shield essentially lets users connect development boards and other tools directly to traditional desk and laptops, minimizing the need to purchase special equipment just for software development purposes. Independent animators are particularly excited as previously uploading bulk sketches from mobile devices could take hours. With the high-speed uploading made possible by this latest innovation in USB technology, however, even large transfers can be finished in minutes.

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