Google Rolls Out Penguin 3.0

Google has once again updated its algorithms. Penguin 3.0 has officially waddled into the internet marketing world to chagrin of SEOs and webmasters everywhere…

What’s new with Penguin 3.0?

Ever since the first version of Penguin rolled out in 2012, Google has been on a continuous mission to eliminate spam in their search results. As the newest version starts to make waves worldwide over the next couple of weeks, a lot of internet marketers are wondering what new practices are going to come along with it.

The biggest speculation on how Penguin 3.0 will be changing the game is that it will be doing one of its frequent “refreshers.” This means if your site has been part of black-hat SEO tricks, you’re going to have to wait until they update again to make changes. The last time a refresher happened was October of last year with Penguin 2.1. And it affected about 1% of all Google queries. 1% doesn’t sound that bad but in the grand scheme of things that means millions of pages and countless businesses were damaged after the ranking systems changed.

However, if you were one of the companies that saw devastating change in October 2013, you may see significant improvements now. Unfortunately, it may take a little bit of time before you begin to notice. Gradually, Google will start lifting the ranks of sites that have since cleaned up their practices in the last update. But, be warned; if you haven’t yet cleaned up your site you may see an even worse dive in ratings. Site owners should keep a close eye on their analytics during the next few weeks to see how the new algorithm might change their rankings.

Overall, Penguin 3.0 shouldn’t cause much of an impact. But in general, it is going to promote additional measures to earn links as opposed to build links.

Major Things to Keep Avoiding

  • Low-quality back links:  If spammy sites are linking to you, it will put your rating lower just as when quality sites link to you it will boost your rank.
  • Anchor-text too frequently: If you’re constantly linking back to the same keyword every time you post it, Google finds that a bit spammy.
  • Paid links: This has been a major thing Google has been battling since they started using these algorithms. Paying for links will make your ranking plummet.
  • Blog networks: Paying to guest blog is basically the same thing as paying for a link…

What are the best practices against Penguin 3.0?

If you want your site to fair well in light of the new Google updates simply don’t over-optimize for keywords and stay away from spammy practices in general. The best thing your site can do is produce frequent quality content that people will want to read. Bribing people for links is no way to practice these days. Instead, just do some organic outreach to bloggers and keep up with producing the kind of content that people will naturally want to share socially.

You can explore more of Google’s webmaster guidelines here.

As we see how Penguin 3.0 starts to shape SEO practices, I wish anyone that was penalized in the past gets redemption this time around.

 

Avoid the Flu at Work

Flu season is like that really annoying relative that no matter what will always show up during Thanksgiving Dinner uninvited. And, unlucky for us, they always make a visit every year. Up to 20% of Americans will catch the flu this fall or winter, and personally, I don’t want to risk being part of that category. Ain’t nobody got time to waste in bed sick these days. Worse yet, we usually catch illnesses from the people we are around the most. Therefore, since we spend about 40 hours a week with our co-workers, germs are bound to get transmitted in the workplace. (Wearing a hazmat suit doesn’t usually fit the office dress code, either.)

There’s still time to take precautions against the flu this year, though! Influenza peaks mostly in January and February.

How is the flu spread?

Flu.gov says: “Most experts believe that you get the flu when a person with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks and droplets containing their germs land in your mouth or nose. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.” So basically, when you’re working closely with colleagues, if they spray it when they say it; beware.

How do you prevent the flu at work?

1. Promote the flu vaccine: The best way is to start by getting a flu vaccine so make a conscious effect to persuade colleagues to make sure they receive it.

2. Avoid close interactions when yourself or another is sick: If you notice a co-worker is under the weather, adjust your boundaries to make sure you’re not in their “path of destruction.”

3. Wash your hands….duh!: If you have made it this far in life without developing normal hygiene habits then I suggest you re-evaluate your existence. Don’t be gross and don’t be a dummy, properly sanitize your hands frequently…especially during flu season.

4. Don’t touch your face: Until you make the effort to resist touching your face, you never realize how often we naturally tend to do it.

5. Don’t use a co-worker’s stuff: When a co-worker shows any indication of illness, don’t use their phones, computer, office supplies, etc.

6. Stay home if you’re sick: As much as we feel a sense of guilt missing a day at work, it is far better to allow 24 hours after our fevers disappear before we return. If you think about worrying about productivity, it is far better to give yourself time to get well to dodge having to miss more time because of not getting a recovery. Also, it is a better thing to stay home when you’ve got the flu so that it doesn’t spread to others. It’s better to be short one employee due to illness than several.

You may want to take a day off if you experience:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

7. Wipe down your desk: Invest in some disinfecting wipes and frequently wipe your desk down. Don’t forget to sanitize your surface, phone, keyboard and mouse especially.

So do yourself, and your entire team, a favor by taking the steps to avoid preventing the spread of the flu at work.

Lancaster was named Google’s 2014 eCity for Pennsylvania

Google has named Lancaster the 2014 eCity for Pennsylvania this year! But, as the home of Track5Media, we can’t say we are surprised. 😉

Google began naming the strongest online business communities in all 50 states for the first time last year. In 2013, Exton, which is in Lancaster’s neighboring county of Chester, won the eCity award in Pennsylvania. According to Google’s eCity program, the cities they choose have used the internet to grow their businesses, gain customers, and interact with their public’s more than the rest.

The eCities page had this to say about Track5’s beloved hometown: “Located in the heart of Amish country, the city of Lancaster has a lot to offer. Local foods and crafts can be discovered online, and the city’s official blog features info on everything from cultural events to public safety alerts.” The buzz about the economic impact coming from Track5’s city is a sign of the emerging online business community we have seen here within the past decade or so. What was once known as nothing more than a home of farmer’s markets and a tourist-trap for Pennsylvania Dutch, is growing into an emerging tech-town with an eclectic mix of past, present, and future. What once was considered a conservative area is growing into a more and more progressive city everyday.

How did Google choose their cities?
Ipos, a tech research firm, studied the analytical data of small businesses’ online presence and collaborated with Google’s Economic Impact Report. They chose the top 5 cities in each state to evaluate based on AdWords data. They collected samples from 51 randomly chosen “small and medium” sized businesses that employed less than 50 to evaluate their business scores. Some of the factors they looked at was the likelihood these small companies used webpages to sell things directly from their site, blogging, social media promotion, and mobile-friendly site.

google ads

Pennsylvania’s 2014 Economic Impact Report found:

  • Google helped provide PA with $2.3 billion of economic activity for businesses, non-profits, and website publishers in 2013
  • In 2013, 47,000 PA businesses benefited from using AdWords & AdSense (Google’s advertising tools)
  • Google Ad grants program provided $6.2 billion of free advertising to non-profits in PA in 2013

If technology is the future; the future undoubtedly is now. Everyone at the Track5 team is happy to live in a teach-savvy city that is now recognized as a forerunner of the digital world in our home-state. Track5Media is proud to be located in Lancaster, PA– where we can be represented in the new-age!

10 Website Turn-Offs That Could Be Hurting You

Have you ever visited a website and before it even fully loads been completely turned-off by it? Sometimes so badly that you never want to visit it again? It might seem like common sense to make your websites appealing to visitors. However, you may be missing out on click opportunities because you are using some of these tactics.

Typically, the webmaster/company/brand thinks all aspects of the website are “user friendly” or will “attract visitors.” However, what if most of the aspects of your website are complete disconnects between your intent and the expectations of the site visitors and you aren’t even realizing it?!

You’re thinking all wrong.

Quite frequently some of the tactics the website developers think of might actually be hurting your brand/company/business’s online marketing. Some of the most typical webmaster insights might be:

  • “All of my competitors use this, so it must be working.”
  • “We don’t want to distract people with any links on our landing page.”
  • “Let’s keep our social feeds live even though we don’t post routinely.”
  • “Talking or animated avatars will help set us apart from the competition.”
  • “What’s the harm in anything that is auto-play?”
  • “Nobody cares about our press releases, so let’s not waste time updating our accomplishments.”

Before mentioning anything else, these common thoughts among webmaster’s MUST STOP it’s only making your site look discreditable and out of date!

Aside from the most common website turn-off, a sloooow loading site, here’s a list of some of the other noted popular website turn-offs– a.k.a tactics you should avoid:

1. Automatic background music. Maybe the song you chose to automatically start playing on your website is a top hit, but it is important to keep in mind that not everybody is going to like that song. You definitely don’t want to turn a visitor away from your site simply because you have chosen background noise.

2. Screen resolutions set too widely. Probably one of the most annoying things to site visitors is consistently having to adjust a page before you even begin clicking around. Make things more manageable and set table widths as a percentage of screen width!

3. Limiting contact to E-mail only. Contacting a brand,company or business by E-mail is probably the most popular, however some visitors would prefer to TALK to someone. Provide a phone number or other option along with E-mail for more interaction among users.

4. E-mail address username. If your website requires a username, make it so that visitors can simply make their E-mail address their log in information. Most people can’t remember usernames but can easily remember their E-mail addresses– it just makes things more convenient.

5. Cliche clip art images. If your site is full of popular images that every other site has, then it’s just going to show that the owner of the site is not creative. Spice it up a bit, use images you take yourself (professionally) or download images from sites such as iStock, PhotoXpress or 123rf.

6. No new blogs. If you are going to keep your social feeds active, it’s important to also keep up with your blog posts routinely. You can do once a day, once a week or even once every two weeks–whatever you decide, just make sure they are consistently coming in. Nobody wants to look at old posts, and not staying updated could give your audience the wrong attitude and make them think you don’t care or ran out of things to say (both are not good).

7. Automatic talking avatars. Just like the music thing above, talking avatars are NEVER not annoying. They might set you apart from competition, but usually not in a good way. The same concept goes for anything that is set to auto-play. Generally, visitors will just reach for their “mute” button.

8. Not keeping up with press releases. Webmaster’s may think that site users don’t pay attention to these areas in particularly, however not keeping them updated can make people think your company hasn’t done anything noteworthy in quite some time.

9. Ridiculously large graphic files. Sometimes huge graphic files take a longer time to load. If using, please optimize the reduce the file size in order to minimize the time it takes to load.

10. Excessively long content. Generally, pages should be limited to three scrolls. Keep in mind that people usually just scan the website content until they find the page they are looking for anyway.

Missed Opportunities: Mistakes Job-seekers Make in Job Boards

Finding a great job is the American dream. But, it is not easy. Sorry to shatter your dreams, but even finding a decent job is extremely difficult. The best thing anyone actively seeking employment can do is utilize job boards and their easy filtration and application processes in order to cover as much ground as possible! However, in our busy lives; some are making mad dashes to find time to use job boards and therefore; common novice-mistakes occur.

Common Job-seeker Job Board Mistakes

  • Incorrectly filling out applications. Life is stressful. The life of a job-seeker is even more stressful. Spending countless hours browsing jobs on a screen can be tiring and cause silly errors to occur. One thing I can not reiterate enough is how much attention needs to be paid in order to ensure there are no mistakes in applications before clicking “submit.” With some online application processes, once it’s submitted, it can’t easily be edited. This can really harm your chances of ever hearing back about the position. If it contains spelling mistakes or any wrong information an employer will most likely just disregard your name and move on to the next person. Employers don’t have time for mistakes and only want to hire people that will take their job seriously. It is extremely unprofessional to make mistakes during your first impression, which begins with your application. Also, if you forget to mention all your relevant qualifications it may jeopardize your chance of potential employers noticing you. Double-check everything before submitting!
  • Not bothering to set-up job alerts. A lot of people miss out on easy to set features that save a lot of time. By simply taking a minute to set up job alerts on job boards can allow you to be notified of all relevant job openings that you may be interested in. This saves so much time and gives you an upper-hand because you get to see the jobs right as they are posted. For busy people actively looking for a new job, alerts are the most convenient way to keep in the loop. And once you find a job, you can simply cancel the alerts so you won’t be bothered in the future.
  • Not applying quick enough. Job board users need to realize that job postings are usually quickly updated. Also, a lot of job boards have time-limits on their job posts so they get deleted often. Honestly, a job could be “live” one minute and vanish the next. A smart job-seeker knows that as soon as they come across a position they are interested in on a job board, they must apply post haste.
  • Not asking questions. If you are experiencing technical difficulties when trying to apply or search for jobs on a job board site, you should let someone know. Find a contact number for the job board and call them. If you don’t make moves to proactively go after your dream job, no one is going to do it for you. Job boards will assist you and will actually thank you for bringing up any bugs their website has. Even if you don’t feel comfortable calling, these days you can turn to their social media or “ask” forms to get in touch with someone who will be happy to help.

Beyond the Basic: Creative Job Interview Questions

For most companies, the interview process is pretty standard.The prospective employees fill out the application, they come in for an interview, you ask some standard questions like:

  • Why do you want to work for our company/organization?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to leave your current position?