24May
0

There are two types of website owners: Those who re-design too much (which tends to confuse visitors) and those who don’t do it often enough. If you fall in the latter camp, you probably already know it.

Re-designs can be expensive and time consuming, and you may worry that you’ll lose business during the switch. But if your search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t up to snuff, you’re losing business anyway.

There are a few red flags that will let you know a website makeover is in order. When it comes to keeping up with the digital Joneses, if you don’t give your visitors what they want, your competition surely will.

The good news is that with a little research and knowledge, you don’t have to overspend for a website redesign, and there are options for every budget. Are you in need of a boost? Check these five warning signs.

1. Your SEO has stalled or declined

If you’re not on the first page of search engine results or you haven’t been able to climb up the ranks recently, your web presence is to blame. Maybe you’re unknowingly employing black-hat tricks or your company simply has neglected SEO altogether. Either way, it’s not working.

2. Your website showcases outdated trends

There are trends in websites just as there are with clothes. You might not realize you’re outdated, but your customers do. Make sure you use web design best practices for 2014 to attract more visitors.

3. Your web traffic has declined

Are you not getting as many unique visitors as you used to, or have you plateaued for a while? This is a sign that your online presence has ceased to be exciting. Businesses require growth, and unless you reach eBay or Amazon status, there’s always reason for concern.

4. Your competition blows you out of the water

You should always spend some time perusing the competition’s website(s) and asking yourself honestly whom you’d prefer: you or them? If the answer seems to be them, then have your web designer use what they’re doing as a guide.

Ask yourself which tactics can motivate you. Keep in mind that your competition is successful because they’re doing what your customers want to see.

5. You can’t remember your last update

Can’t recall the last time anything significant was changed on your website? That’s a clear sign that you’re probably due for at least a mini makeover.

There’s a fine line between classic and outdated, and you want to be on the right side of the fence. Shaking things up can give you the boost you need.

23May
0

Fashion trends for spring and summer 2014 seem to fall into two categories. Either they are overly girly — floral headbands, heart-shaped purses, and other things your toddler niece might favor — or overtly sexy, such as the cutouts on Naomi Campbell’s Met Ball gown.

Both looks can be hard for the adult professional woman to pull off and still be taken seriously. Here’s how to incorporate these two summer looks into your day-to-day wardrobe without looking like you belong on the playground or in Playboy.

Floral headbands

Blame it on the music festivals: The floral headband is a spring trend that shows no sign of wilting. We see blooms worn as a garland that crowns a long, flowing hairstyle, or attached to a headband used to brush back your bangs.

Depending on your office environment, a floral headband may or may not be a trend you can wear to work. If you’re in a creative field, you can almost certainly wear an otherwise plain headband with a floral appliqué to keep the hair out of your face while you go over a new design logo.

But if your workplace is the boardroom or courtroom, you should probably save this look for the weekend.

Cutesy accessories

From heart-shaped purses to animal iPhone cases, we see touches of cute everywhere we look. The trick to rocking this trend without looking silly? Moderation.

You want just a hint of the girly in an otherwise simple ensemble. Think a clutch with an animal graphic against a camel-colored shift, or an embellished shoe in a traditional shape.

If you work in a traditionally masculine office environment but can’t stand not to let loose a little of your flirty side, embrace the hidden touches: cute accessories hidden inside traditional briefcases, floral linings to otherwise solid clothing … and, of course, lacy underpinnings can give you that “little something special” Elle Woods spoke of in Legally Blonde.

Cutouts

Great news! You can wear cutouts to the office — on your shoes, that is! Flats that show a sliver of skin on the side are appropriate for almost any workplace. D’Orsay Flats that show a flash of tanned foot look fresh with a skinny, cropped trouser.

Sheer

A sheer blouse is a beautiful mix of feminine and sexy, and it has the added bonus of allowing a bit of extra airflow on balmy summer days. Just make sure you wear a full-coverage camisole in a color similar to your blouse for a polished look that does not expose too much.

Oh, and remember to keep the sheer look relegated to the top half of your body. No matter how many squats you have been doing, you do not want your boss to see your thinly veiled bottom.

As for the cropped tops and deep V-necks we seem to be seeing absolutely everywhere (yes, we’re looking at you, Rihanna), you’ll have to save those looks for the club or the beach. But that’s what the weekends are for, right?

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22May
0

As the year 2014 gains momentum, professionals in the legal sector are looking for new and effective ways to market their legal services. Online advertising can be an incredibly effective way for a legal organization to promote itself.

To make the most of the opportunity to boost conversion rates and increase your client base, you have to implement sound, up-to-date Internet marketing strategies. Here are a few that will help.

legal-services

1. Create great content

In web marketing, the phrase “Content is king” remains both common and accurate. Filling your pages with great content is essential for several reasons, including the fact that it’s the medium prospective clients tend to study in order to decide whether to use your services.

As an example, Nelson & Associates has incorporated considerable factual information relating to the type of services it offers (immigration law) into the firm’s home page. Thus, individuals who visit the site can quickly gain an understanding of pertinent issues in the field of immigration as well as the legal services Nelson & Associates offers.

In addition to making your content informative, it’s important that it be grammatically correct and devoid of fluff and tangential remarks.

2. Make the text scannable

You need to ensure that the content is “scannable.” That means the type of web article or blog post your reader can quickly skim in order to obtain the information she or he desires.

As noted by Nielsen Norman Group in the article “How Users Read on the Web,” there are several ways you can make the text on your web page scannable. Some strategies include the use of bullets, numbered lists, and headers. It’s also smart to disseminate one idea per paragraph.

3. Do a keyword analysis

In order to reach your target audience, you need to do a keyword analysis. In “Keyword Analysis-What’s the Best Way to Analyze Keywords?”, WordStream notes that “By understanding what queries qualified visitors to your website type into search engines, search marketers can better customize their landing pages to increase conversion rates.”

The keyword research will show you which words your prospective clients are using to research legal services. Once you know them, you can subtly but systematically insert them into your web articles and/or blog posts.

4. Use social media optimization (SMO) strategies

More and more business owners are using social media channels like Twitter and Facebook to market their services. Legal professionals should take advantage of the opportunity to implement SMO strategies that can help boost conversion rates, as well.

In the article “4 Winning Strategies for Social Media Optimization,” Mashable notes that you can use such tricks as widgets and badgets to increase the effectiveness of your social media marketing efforts.

If you’re a legal professional who wants to ensure your services are effectively promoted this year, you should know that online advertising is a great way to reach your target audience. By employing some or all of the strategies outlined above, you can ensure that your Internet marketing campaign is a success.

21May
0

Do you have what it takes to become the next YouTube musical star? The digital era has exposed millions of viewers to musical talent that we probably wouldn’t have heard about before the Internet.

Now we get to venture into the living rooms and garages of some of the web’s most talented denizens as they showcase hidden and amazing abilities. Get ready to be entertained; here are some of the most talented musicians performing on YouTube today!

1. VKGoesWild

Viktoriya Yermolyeva has combined a passion for hard rock and piano to create a sound that is utterly unique. She studied classical piano in Ukraine and Germany, and then took her career in a completely different direction.

She’s now famous for her covers of rock classics by Tool, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, and Queen. And she tours around the world, getting audiences to slam dance and mosh to her epic piano renditions.

2. Andy McKee

This fingerstyle acoustic guitar virtuoso went viral on YouTube back in 2006. Watch in awe as he spans dozens of genres with both original works and covers.

The success of his YouTube videos helped launch him into the international spotlight, and made his a musical success story that can inspire us all. McKee has since released a number of widely viewed music videos exclusively on YouTube, including “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Africa,” and “Hunter’s Moon.”

3. Laura Shigihara

Remember the immensely popular mobile game, Plants Vs. Zombies? Well, Laura Shigihara, aka supershigi, is the mastermind behind the score to this game.

She is a highly acclaimed game soundtrack composer, and her list of accomplishments is impressively long. She has written music for such well-known titles as World of Warcraft, Minecraft, and Celestial Mechanica.

You can watch her play and sing many of these scores on her YouTube channel.

4. The Mad Drummer

Steve Moore is known as the Mad Drummer. You’ll see why once you watch his spirited performance on YouTube.

Basically, a fan attending a pavilion performance in Texas noticed this guy rocking out behind the set, and started recording. The fan uploaded the video with the title, “this drummer is at wrong gig.”

As the video spread, celebrities started paying attention to this unknown musician’s flair for the dramatic. Now Steve has created an image for himself, and is probably booked solid. All this attention from a fan upload!

You could be the next YouTube musical sensation. Just get out your instruments, some digital sheet music, and start recording.

There has never been a better time for self-starting musicians to distribute their works and get discovered!

20May
0

Social media

Although search engine optimization (SEO) has been the primary Internet marketing tool of recent years, social media is a growing and effective medium for online advertising now. From Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Instagram, social media channels provide business owners with dynamic forums through which to forge meaningful relationships with potential clients.

If you want to make the most of social media in 2014, consider implementing the following strategies.

1. Get your website together

One of the primary things you should do with social media is redirect your target market back to your business website so people can learn more about your products and services.

This is your main objective, so it’s vital that your website is absolutely amazing. There are many ways you can optimize your website to catch and keep the attention of customers.

In “What Makes Responsive Web design and SEO a Dynamic Duo,” Supple Solutions mentions responsive web design. RWD is a web design approach that enables websites to adapt to the whatever screen size, platform, and orientation users choose.

RWD is important for many reasons. Research studies such as “Mobile Marketing Statistics 2014” suggest that more people are expected to access the Internet via mobile devices than personal computers in 2014. So ensuring your website is highly functional for mobile users will be essential.

2. Engage your audience

The key word to remember when you begin building your business with social media is social. With platforms like Twitter and Facebook, people are seeking to have meaningful conversations that facilitate the relationship-building process.

So if your strategy has simply been to tweet links to your product pages, you need to rethink the strategy. There are a variety of tactics you can employ to engage your audience.

One that Jacquelyn Smith mentions in her article “14 Ways To Make Your Blog Get Real Attention” is to speak your audience’s language. This can be employed to help garner more interest in social media forums such as blogs.

Also keep in mind that you don’t need to be talking about your products and/or services all the time. Meaningful conversations can such topics as a discussion of why you prefer the vegan diet over the SAD (Standard American Diet) way of eating.

You can also talk about your favorite baseball team and which fitness centers you prefer to work out in.

3. Figure out which social media outlets to use

In “Why Most Social Media Strategies Fail,” John Rampton says one of the common mistakes company owners make when using social media is “not understanding that all social media outlets are different.” They are, and recognizing this can be your first step toward identifying which social media channels you should be using to connect with your target market.

In some cases, you may be able to shorten the process by simply looking at which social media channels your competitors are using. In other cases, you may have to learn which channels generate the greatest conversion rates through trial and error.

To ensure that you can increase your conversion rates by utilizing social media platforms to advertise your goods and services, consider implementing the strategies discussed above.

19May
0

ready2settlejob

Many people who don’t have first-hand experiences with staffing companies may express outdated (and very wrong) ideas about how they work. You won’t necessarily be given a typing test or be offered nothing but administrative jobs.

“Staffing agencies” have come a long way and are now the go-to resource for many top employers in nearly every industry.

They’re completely free for a job seeker to use, so where’s the harm? If you’re one of the many people who are struggling to find a job, you should know that many employers use staffing agencies as a way to set up a trial period for a promising candidate.

It’s more challenging to lay off a full hire. Here are a few signs that you and a staffing agency might just be a good match.

You’re not getting through the door

Employers are being bombarded with resumes and online applications, which can create a lot of wasted time and frustration. A staffing agency does all the work for you: All you have to do is show up for the interviews.

Staffing agencies serve as the middleman that can get your foot in the door, and bypass all the DIY job seekers. This is crucial in the most competitive industries and/or those that are high paying.

Many employers go to staffing agencies to recruit executive positions, because they’re looking for someone who can transition into a full-time role. If you’re in a niche market, don’t underestimate the power of connections. Staffing agencies are a form of free networking.

You’re getting ready to settle

Don’t get caught up in the trap of thinking just any job will do as long as it’s permanent. There’s no such thing as job security these days, now that a number of states have made it legal for an employer to fire someone at will.

Instead, even if the temporary job via an agency really is temporary, think of it as a chance to learn a new skill, cast your net wider, and show future employers that you were actively seeking to improve.

If you think it takes too much time to join an agency, consider just how much time you spend perusing Craigslist ads, re-writing your cover letter, and adjusting your CV to each job’s specifications. Why do the same thing over and over when you can do it just once?

Getting as much help as possible as a job seeker is just common sense. Plus, it might lead you to your dream job.

 

18May
0

When we shop for new home fixtures, very few of us think about the total maintenance and upkeep required to maximize the lifespan of our décor. Sad to say, environmental details such as moisture, dirt, and rust can take a toll on our home furnishings.

Their effects can greatly diminish the way our carefully chosen furnishings look and function. But you can get the biggest return on your investment by learning how to take care of new furniture. Here are three simple and basic ways to do that.

dusting

1. Dusting

A feather duster is the main tool for this job, backed by a vacuum cleaner to pick up the debris. Dust doesn’t just increase the amount of allergens in your home; it can even create minute scratches on the surfaces of your furniture.

Avoid gross streaking by using a soft, dry feather duster to clean off your furniture. Some locations collect more dust than others, such as dwellings near freeways and other high-traffic areas.

When you’re done with the feather duster, use a vacuum cleaner to pick up the dust from the floor. A vacuum with a HEPA filter can keep those dust particles from going back into the air.

2. Applying wood polish

Moisture and soap are very bad for wood. You should never take regular soap and water to your wood furnishings. Instead, use an oil-based polish made especially for wood care to clean and shine this type of furniture.

This will prevent the wood from expanding, cracking, or losing its structural integrity. When you try a new cleaner, do a small patch test on the underside of the furniture to make sure it doesn’t cause staining.

Apply the polish using a circular motion, so you don’t mark the furniture with streaks.

3. Steam cleaning

Upholstery and carpeting can benefit greatly from being steam cleaned. This will remove stains from fabric and grime from deep within the fibers.

It’s generally recommended that you hire a steam-cleaning professional to work on upholstered furniture, since the pros use different techniques based on the material of the furniture. However, you can also rent a steam cleaner to use on carpeting and other furnishings yourself.

Your furniture should be maintained to last for years. Neglect can increase your household expenditures, especially if you have to pay for repairs and replacements when your furnishings become dirty or non-functional.

Dusting, polishing, and cleaning your upholstery can dramatically increase the lifespan of your new home furnishings. Be sure to follow the manufacturer directions, since special care might be necessary for certain furniture materials.

17May
0

CreativeWriting

It’s entirely possible to make a six-figure income as a freelance writer, as long as you have skill, speed, and ambition to spare. You may not get famous writing SEO-rich content for corporations, but it will pay the bills and may even allow you the time to pursue your own creative projects.

If you want to turn your writing skills into an actual career, however, better steer clear of trying to make it happen in New York. It’s a one-hundred-percent employer’s market there.

Study the available writing positions around the country, whether they involve telecommuting or not, and you’ll notice that New York has both the most ads and the worst payment rates per word, hour, project, or as a salary. It’s simply a function of supply and demand: New York has been a haven for writers for so long that there are hundreds of applicants for even minimum-wage writing positions.

Reserve New York for a vacation of hop on/hop off tours, fine dining, and club hopping. This is not where you will make it as a writer.

Where the money is

The ultimate dream for a writer is to work on projects you like (the odds are against your loving them), on your own time and on your own terms. “Your own terms” is most likely on your couch in yoga pants at whatever time of day suits you.

It’s a career that lets you tap into your natural skill set and visit the gym class at odd hours. It’s completely feasible, but not if you let a “prestigious (non-paid) internship at a NY magazine” distract you.

The highest demand for writers is for the least glamorous work. This might be preparing government RFP proposals or writing landing-page jargon for a tech company that has oodles of money to spare.

Now, there’s zero shame in employing your talents to pad your bank account. In fact, it’s what a smart writer will do, and the appeal of “exposure” is highly overrated.

If you want to marry New York and writing, pursue travel writing and write off those East Coast plane tickets on your tax returns.

Know your worth

Any professional needs to know what he or she is worth per hour, whether you get paid a salary or by the word. Figure out what your worth is, which is best calculated as the average between what you need to survive and what you think is a fair rate for your skill set and experience.

Sometimes you’ll have to accept jobs that are at or below your survival rate, and sometimes the cash will flow in. Either way, you need to practice saving and frugal living.

New York can teach you how to do that when you visit — there are bargains, such as the incredible street fare — but the city will never make you a wealthy writer.

14May
0

msoffice

A Microsoft certification (or several) is one of the most prestigious professional credentials a person in the tech industry can obtain. It can make the difference between getting a promotion or landing a job over another candidate; basically, it makes you a lot more marketable.

However, it’s a lot of work. Some compare it to preparing for a state bar exam. If you’re in the industry and on the fence, it’s worth checking out what some experts with certifications have to say about the perks.

“A six-figure salary since I was 35,” is one of the big reasons Jason Zandri says it’s worth it. As a systems engineer, he’s had about ten years on a lucrative salary, but boasts only a GED: in other words, no high school diploma or college degree.

Plus, with the online training courses, it’s easier than ever to prep for exams while holding down a full-time job. Peter De Tender, infrastructure architect, cites these trainings as the reason he moved into partner from “just” an engineer.

Move up the ranks

It’s no secret that it’s still an employer’s job market, so you need to bring something more to the table when you’re hunting for a job. Jim Finder, a senior systems engineer, says “Certification changed my life…. [I]t seems to have taken my career to a whole new level.”

With an insane tech job market, especially in Silicon Valley, you need to stand out. This can get tougher with each passing year, since the tech industry notoriously leans toward hiring young.

Curt McNamee, active directory engineer, says, “My life has many more possibilities with my certifications attached to my resume.” He says it helps him “stand out from the crowd,” and provides a little job security along with higher salary offers.

But there’s more to certification than better pay and better jobs. It just might feed your passion, too.

Need vs. want

If you’re struggling to find a job, worry about job security, or haven’t been able to go beyond a certain salary level, you may need certification. Others simply want it. IT consultant Michael Blumenthal says, “I hunger for knowledge, and that level of access to the product team and the product internals is appealing.”

You don’t have to stop learning after graduation. The importance of continuing education, especially in IT where everything’s constantly changing, helps keep you sharp and engaged.

If you’ve been thinking about a certification course, why not take the leap? Your employer might even help pay for it, which is like scoring that free-ride elusive scholarship from your college days.

13May
0

Does it seem as if your kids are addicted to their smartphones? They just might be: Doctors have suggested that mobile phone addiction among children and teens can be a serious matter, not unlike a sugar or caffeine addiction.

phoneaddiction

It’s no secret that many teens in particular are obsessed with their phones, but children as young as toddlers have exhibited signs of an apparent addiction. In a recent study headed by Dr. Hisao Ishii, it was found that 25 percent of kids aged five through 16 possess a smartphone and they’re getting obsessively attached to it.

Ishii says that if this trend continues, future generations may find it difficult to form and maintain relationships without the aid of an electronic device. A team of sociologists undertook the Japanese study and discovered that kids in Japan alone send “millions of text messages” every single day.

“Teenagers can be seen taking advantage of every spare minute to touch base with their friends,” Ishii said. One solution to this growing problem might be to revive the love of a traditional landline, perhaps with a bundling package, to wean kids from their mobiles.

Symptoms of withdrawal

According to Ishii, “Genuine conversation will be driven out by superficial communication, in which the act of contacting one another is all that matters, leading to a deterioration in the quality of relationships. Indeed, the very fabric of society may be threatened.”

With a landline and rules about smartphone usage at home, you can persuade compulsive mobile phone dialers and recipients of such calls to slow down and focus on the conversation at hand. Taking emoticons and multi-tasking out of the equation (at least to some degree) changes the situation.

Dr. Davis Lewis, a child psychologist, says there’s reason for concern about Ishii’s warnings. “The mobile phone, like the Furby or the Rubik’s Cube before it, has developed into a playground craze in this country. Children hate to feel as if they are not in the ‘in group’ and think that without a phone they will be left out.”

Though there are phone models designed for kids that have no texting and limited call features, the compulsion to have the latest gadget might lead to a real addiction.

Why it needs to stop

Lewis says phones are “like an electronic tribal drum. Children use it to keep up to date with a wide group of acquaintances, so that when they meet up they know the latest news or gossip.”

That doesn’t bode well for mastering conversation skills. “The mobile now often substitutes for physical play…. [T]o develop proper friendships you have to invest time with people doing things together,” he says.

“Doing things together” doesn’t include sitting side by side, scrolling through Facebook feeds or texting other folks. The phone stack rule might be increasing in popularity, but a landline may be the more permanent answer.

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