Google’s Halloween Easter Eggs

 HalloweenHappy Halloween!

 

Historically, Google has a sense of humor in the way that they run business.  Public holidays are generally highlighted on Google’s homepage with special images and “Google Doodles” to represent popular events or historical figures.  Halloween this year is no different- but how do Easter Eggs relate to this spooky holiday?

The search giant has inserted a variety of Halloween “Easter eggs” into their search algorithm, which produce articles on anything from what skeletons prefer to eat and how to defeat the Grim Reaper.  When spooky terms such as “ghost” or “witch” are searched, special Halloween-themed hidden message eggs populate the page adjacent to traditional Google search results.  This has been made possible due to the recent Hummingbird update which boosts the prominence and effectiveness of Google’s Knowledge Graph.

Fort Collins SEO

The Knowledge Graph is a database that includes over 500 million concepts and relationships.  This allows Google to anticipate supplemental facts or data that the user may find useful in addition to their original search term.  This search evolution is part of Google’s Hummingbird update, which improved the core search for answering longer, more complex and spoken queries.

Although the precise number of Halloween Easter eggs is unknown, there are at least 10 that have been recorded.  So, after you’re finished reading this blog, go see what eerie eggs you can discover!

 

Do you know what a witch’s favorite food is?  Try searching these terms in Google to find out-

  1. Witch
  2. Grim Reaper
  3. Ghost
  4. ???

 

How to Build an Effective URL

fort collins computer networkingA website’s URL can actually have a dramatic effect on a business.  Similar to first impressions on a first date, the URL is the first item a user is familiar with when researching or discovering a company’s online presence.  The following are tips on how to turn customers onto your website- not turn them away.  In order to establish an effective URL, reference the following guidelines:

 

  • Describe Your Business–  The most basic tip of an effective URL is to relate it to your business.  If a user already knows what you do just from viewing your business’ website address, then you’ve done your job.  EX: “http://www.Garysbagelshop.com” is straightforward and describes the company better than “http://www.deliciousdoughcreations.com“.

 

  • Short and Sweet- The shorter the website address, the better.  This makes it easier to copy/paste, read over the phone and print on business cards.  Better usability increases the effectiveness of your brand.

 

  • Use Descriptions, Not Numbers- Especially in cases of websites with large shopping carts, it is much easier for the user to comprehend a description versus a bunch of random numbers in the URL.

 

  • Use Keywords- If you’re into SEO, then you will want to include descriptive keywords the various URL addresses of your website.  Ensure the chosen keywords make sense and describe the content on the proper pages to avoid search engine penalties.

 

  • Limit Folders- On the backend, limit the number of folders assigned to each unique address.  This can complicate site development and hinder the search engines from indexing a site efficiently.

 

  • Use Hyphens- When separating words in a URL, use hyphens.  Underscores are also an option, although hyphens are most commonly used.

 

  • Organize Appropriately- Don’t consider making some sections unique on your website.  Use the base URL to build off of, and organize your following addresses in a logical manner.  Keeping your site organized makes user navigation and search indexing exceptionally simple, and avoids potential user confusion.

 

  • Don’t Be Case Sensitive- URLs can accept both upper and lowercase characters, so don’t EVER user upper-case.  To avoid URL errors, it is a good idea to 301 redirect any improper case entries of your website’s URL to the correct lowercase version.

 

Link Building for SEO

Link Building for SEOLink building for SEO is a popular, yet complex task for search engine optimizers.  When search engine spiders crawl the web, they use links to get them from one site to the next.  Using a complex algorithm, search engines can determine a site’s popularity, trust, spam and authority- all from the links that are discovered.  Growing the link profile of a website is critical to gaining traction, attention and traffic from the engines.  The following signals, and many more, are considered by professional SEOs when measuring link value and a site’s link profile:

 

 

Global Popularity: The more popular and important a site is, the more links from that site matter.

Local/Topic-Specific Popularity: Links from sites within a topic-specific genre matter more than those from general or off-topic sites.  For instance, linking a dog groomer’s website to a doggie daycare facility ranks higher than if it were to link to a sporting goods store.

Anchor Text: If dozens of links point to a page with the right keywords, that page has a very good probability of ranking well for the targeted phrase in that anchor text.

Trust Rank: Avoiding spam and linking to credible sites improves TrustRank.   Universities, government websites and non-profit organizations represent examples of high-trust domains.

Link Neighborhood: Spam links often go both ways. A website that links to spam is likely spam itself, and in turn often has many spam sites linking back to it. By looking at these links in aggregate, search engines can understand the “link neighborhood” your website exists in.

Freshness: Link signals tend to decay over time. Sites that were once popular often go stale, and eventually fail to earn new links. Thus, it’s important not only to earn links to your website, but also to continue to earn additional links over time.

Social Sharing: Although search engines treat socially shared links differently than other types of links, they notice them nonetheless.

Now that you understand what the search engines look for in links, you can develop a link building campaign in one of three ways:

  • “Natural” Links: 

These links are provided naturally by pages that want to link to the content on your website.  No further action is required on your end, other than the ability to create great content and generate awareness about it.

  • Manual “Outreach” Links:

This occurs when the SEO creates links by emailing people for links, submitting to site directories or paying for listings.

  • Self-created Links:

Thousands of websites offer the user to create links through signatures, blog comments and user profiles.  These links offer the lowest ranking value, however they can still have an impact for some sites.  Google has been known to penalize sites that pursue this method aggressively, so use caution when using this method.

Diagnosing a Failing Hard Drive

What is a Hard Drive?HD

 

The hard drive is the most important piece of hardware in every computer device.  It enables the user to store mass amounts of data within the computer itself, opposed to saving on a form of external media.  However, these drives contain many moving parts and thus, will always be prone to functionality issues and failures.  Similar to a car’s engine, most hard drives rotate at around 5,000-7,000 RPM and have read/write heads that move instantaneously in correlation with the disk.  With all that rapid movement, it’s easy to foresee a potential catastrophic data loss- especially as the device ages.  But how exactly do these failures occur?

Why Hard Drives Fail:

The most common cause of hard-disk failure is called a “head crash”.  This occurs when the read/write head of the device inadvertently makes contact with the magnetic data-storage surface (also known as the “Platter”).  The head hovers mere nanometers above the actual hard-disk storage, so collisions are an acknowledged risk.  Another notorious cause of hard drive failure is a faulty air filter.  Although these filters have advanced greatly since the first era of computing devices, some particles are still able to pass through the computer and enter the hard drive.  If a dust particle were to land on the magnetic hard-disk it could cause a head crash and render the entire device useless.  Failing motor systems that power the rotation of the device can also cause PCs to slow and may indicate an aging hard drive.  The next logical step is to learn what to watch for so you can prevent these catastrophic failures.

Signs to Watch For:

Hard drive failures can happen gradually, or in a single instant.  As the graph below shows, most hard drives show a dramatic increase of failure rate after 2 years of use.  For these reasons, it is vitally important to detect imminent disk failures before they happen- before your data is lost.  The following are signs to watch for a failing hard drive:

  • Frequent, irregular crashes (especially when booting up your OS)
  • Folder/file names are scrambled or renamed unintentionally
  • Unexplained missing files or folders
  • Cryptic error messages appear during nominal tasks such as moving files
  • Painfully long wait times to access files
  • Grinding sounds which are caused by noisy hard drive bearings

 

Hard Drive Failure Rate

*300% increase of HD failure after 2 years of usage

How to Prevent Failures:

Why spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to replace the hard drive in your computer when you could prevent disastrous hard drive failures for only $0.20 per day?  With our iNetwork Monitor, you have peace of mind knowing that your computer systems are constantly monitored for failing drives along with a plethora of other important aspects that can harm the functionality of your system.  We also offer server monitoring for as little as $1.33 per day.  Contact iPoint today to elongate the lifespan of your computer hardware.

7 Ways To ImproveYour Social Media Presence

social media marketingSocial media is a priority for many businesses these days.  While major corporations receive thousands of Facebook or Twitter followers without much effort, many small businesses struggle with achieving a high number of fan followers.  The following guidelines are designed to optimize your business’ social media presence:

 

1. Engage Your Audience

Social media followers desire engagement, period.  These individuals don’t want to be talked at, but rather have conversations with the pages they follow.  You should avoid a constant barrage of posts promoting your business or requesting the user to “buy this” or “click here”.  While some promotional posts are acceptable, restructure your social media strategy around the needs of the followers- not the needs of your business.  Be real when you respond to follower postings on a friendship basis, opposed to strictly a business relationship.

2. Create Valuable Content

Postings that are useful and relevant to your business are the most effective way to increase followings.  This relates to the previous section about engagement.  If the audience doesn’t find any of your postings useful or interesting, you will blocked easily.  Mix up content in your posting- this can include articles relating to your industry, videos that describe a service you offer, and attention-grabbing photos.  Variations in media make your social media unique and will keep your audience interested in your postings.

3. Community Engagement

No matter the size of the business, actively following community events should be emphasized with regard to social media.  This provides a “human” characteristic to your social media, and lets followers know that your community is important them.  This can be a great conversation starter, or simply a source for some business PR credit.  The use of hashtags on Facebook and Twitter is also a great way to organize conversations and target individuals who are discussing the topic currently.

4. Timing Is Important

Every social media platform has times of low and high traffic.  Research when your followers are actively posting and establish an effective timeframe to create posts of your own.  For example, it is not a good strategy to focus on social media postings near the end of the work day, or at the very beginning of the morning when users are most likely involved in business of their own.  Watch for high-traffic trends, and target followers with content-rich postings accordingly.

5. Short & Sweet

Social Media followers don’t want to read lengthy paragraphs or epilogue-like postings.  Be direct with what you’re trying to say, and eliminate all unnecessary “fluff”.  Most companies utilize social media, so the goal is to deliver the most useful and interesting information in the shortest amount of copy.  If you’ve got more to say, or want to quote an article simply paste the link URL into your post or in the comments section of your Facebook page.  This gives the user the option to continue following your post or ignore it without being intrusive and complicating things with too much text.

6. Be Clear With CTAs (Call To Action)

It’s astonishing how positive responses can be if you simply ask followers to do something.  If you include a small plug to “like” something or “comment” on an item you may be surprised at the response.  Using the word “would”, “where,” “when,” “would” and “should” increases engagement.  Often times, users prefer to save time by “liking” a post, rather than writing a comment- so request it!

7. Promote Your Followers

Promoting your clients or fans on your page builds credibility, trust and mutual satisfaction.  Rather than continually blowing your own horn, involve others that are associated with your business or page.  The community will see that you truly appreciate your followers, and this can directly impact positive word of mouth advertising- all at no cost to you (aside from your time).