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Tech Companies Jumping Ship From ALEC – Council’s Policy Stance Souring Support From Google, Yahoo, Others

The American Legislative Exchange Council was once able to proudly present some of the world’s biggest tech companies as members, but that’s coming to an end.

yelpFacebook, Yahoo, Google and Yelp are all jumping ship from the free-market, state-focused group.

ALEC, The Washington Post reports, maintains a library of model state and local legislation connecting businesses, non-profits and lawmakers. It offers corporate members a voice in policy-making.

Those voices, though, are leaving the council as it has continuously been criticized for its more conservative policies on everything from climate change to economics. That has resulted in major tech groups like Google saying it no longer cares to be a card-carrying member.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman, said his company was funding ALEC but that is no longer the case.

“I think the consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake, and so we’re trying to not do that in the future,” Schmidt was quoted as saying in a recent article by Business Week.

And it’s not just Google.

Yahoo and Yelp have all also stated they no longer belong to the council and Facebook, in a statement Wednesday, indicated it will likely also leave.

“While we have tried to work within ALEC to bring that organization closer to our view on some key issues, it seems unlikely that we will make sufficient progress so we are not likely to renew our membership in 2015,” a spokesman said in a statement.

The loss of membership, one expert stated, reflects ALEC’s failure to understand what is important in the eyes of its membership.

“The departure of these firms from ALEC shows that denying the facts on climate change, really doesn’t have a place in the modern business world,” Brant Olsen of Forecast the Facts was quoted as saying by Sustainable Business.

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Tech Companies Jumping Ship From ALEC


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W. Brice McVicar is a staff writer for SiteProNews.

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By cranbak on September 25, 2014 | Webmaster
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Using Great Web Design to Support Your SEO Efforts

One of the most common mistakes you can make with your SEO is waiting until after your site is designed to consider what’s best for your site’s rankings. Great design starts from a foundation of understanding your core user. When you always keep this ideal customer in mind, design and SEO form a union that is rock solid for all your marketing efforts.

There are many design trends these days, and each of them have their own SEO challenges. Whether you choose responsive, HTML5, or parallax design, or any hybrid thereof, considering your SEO needs as you create or re-launch your site is imperative.

Great design isn’t just about creating a beautiful and intuitive experience, it also involves stellar usability, solid and secure architecture, and a site that is accessible across all screens and media devices. Master these elements, and your SEO will naturally follow suit.

Deciding Which Type of Design is Right for Your Business

Let’s dissect the three major site design options these days, along with their related SEO pros and cons.

First, there’s the ever-popular responsive option. Responsive design means your site will adjust based on the size of the screen the user is accessing your content on. Instead of a native mobile site, responsive uses the same core look and feel across all platforms. It creates uniformity and consistency, but inhibits your ability to tailor a design for each screen option.

It’s the most popular option for a reason, however; Google recommends responsive design. SEO is solid with this option because responsive does not dilute your URL strength by requiring different variations. Users access your site through one URL, and it then adjusts based on the device used. This allows you to ramp up external backlinks and track SEO strategies for a single domain structure, which can vastly simplify your efforts.

The biggest con with responsive is that it forces you into a one-size-fits-all strategy. There’s no opportunity for mobile-centric keywords, no creating a custom-made navigation structure for small screens. If this is a blessing rather than a creative limitation, responsive is a fantastic option for your site.

Parallax sites have been all the rage lately; they consolidate content onto a single page, or a very compact site structure. From a user perspective, this is golden, and many businesses report much higher conversion rates when they shift to a parallax strategy. If you have a strong and clear story to tell about your business, you can walk users through this vision in a much more impactful way on a single page.

From an SEO perspective though, parallax has serious challenges. You’ll find it a lot more difficult to rank for a variety of keyword phrases, and with just a single page or compact site, there’s far less for Google to evaluate and crawl. That said, if you incorporate a parallax strategy into a multi-page site, you can indeed have the best of both worlds.

Finally, there’s the controversial HTML5 option. Often heralded as the next big thing in web development, the hindrance with HTML5 is it can be a beast to program correctly. The versatility and sure power is off the charts though, and if you require complex functionality, HTML5 can handle it. The trick of this from an SEO perspective involves JavaScript, which is required for a lot of the whiz-bang features. Google and company often have issues crawling this kind of content, which means your content is essentially unreadable. The solution, should you choose to take the time and effort, is to create a static version of the JavaScript heavy content too. That gives users the fabulous animated option, and search engines get access as well.

Designing Pages that Woo People and Search Engines

As you look at your site with an eye towards usability, remember that simplicity and intuitive design are integral to a successful offering. Getting creative on your navigation category terms, as an example, may feel like you’re adding flair and personality, but ultimately, if you’re confusing users and search engine bots, you just won’t flourish.

These days, a less is more strategy is also proving fruitful. It used to be that a myriad of categories provided more searchable content and opportunities for keyword variances. This is shifting, however, and savvy SEO professionals are recommending a more streamlined and focused site structure.

If you already have a site that you’re looking to improve upon, here’s a tip to determine how the design of each page is fairing. Look at your bounce rates, and compare them to the keywords that are most applicable. If you find that there’s an abundance of traffic funneled from keywords that just don’t seem relevant to the page, you’ve uncovered a smoking gun. Your job in those cases is to tailor the content on each page to match the interest of the incoming traffic. Master the process of giving people what they want, and your SEO will catapult.

Whichever design trend you chose, educate yourself on the SEO challenges and benefits as early in the process as possible. If you’ve already launched your site and are working backwards, use the bounce rate strategy as a first step to SEO domination. As long as you have a clear view of who your site serves, you can always improve the overall experience.

What other pertinent parallels have you discovered between web design and SEO? Is one method better than another in your experience?

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Using Great Web Design to Support Your SEO Efforts


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Digital producer, online marketer, community manager, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney-Brown has been managing cross-functional teams for online businesses since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, community management, social networks, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and spiritual counselor.  Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.

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By cranbak on September 22, 2014 | Webmaster
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Google Authorship Support Dropped

“…we’ve made the difficult decision to stop showing authorship in search results.”

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By cranbak on August 29, 2014 | Webmaster
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Eagle Ambassadors drums up support for Bald Eagle Area School District … – Centre Daily Times

Eagle Ambassadors drums up support for Bald Eagle Area School District
Centre Daily Times
Internet videos are the newest facet for the organization. The Eagle … In the past two years, Eagle Ambassadors have received $11,500 in grants, said board member Rose Hoover, BEA administrative assistant and district webmaster. One of its largest …

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By cranbak on August 5, 2014 | Webmaster
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Despite Crackdowns, Tech Support Ads In Search Are Still Cause For Consumer Confusion

Just last month, six international tech support scam operators were ordered to pay more than $5.1 million as a result of charges filed by the Federal Trade Commission in 2012. The scammers typically posed as representatives of major technology companies, convinced consumers that their computers…



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Why support ZPEnergy and Xtreme Science Foundation? (Part 3) – ZPEnergy

Why support ZPEnergy and Xtreme Science Foundation? (Part 3)
ZPEnergy
Unfortunately, the energy crisis is real. It is now widely accepted that the crisis is about to reach the critical point when only a “miracle” can turn the situation around and get us out of the “mess”– a mess in which our lazy complacency with our

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By cranbak on July 21, 2014 | Webmaster
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Marin Software Adds Support For Google Shopping Campaigns

Marin Software has added support for Google Shopping Campaigns, which will become the only way to manage Product Listing Ads (PLAs) in AdWords beginning in late August. The dynamic campaigns tool in the Marin platform automates Shopping Campaign creation and optimization. Advertisers can automate…



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By cranbak on July 17, 2014 | Webmaster
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How to Get Better Tech Support

Despite my “Nerd Chick” credentials, I’ve had to call technical support many times in my life, and I can’t say that it’s always been a pleasant experience. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few things that can make the experience less painful. The next time you need to make that call, here are some ways to assure it’ll go more smoothly.

Computers, routers, printers and, frankly, most electronic devices, can get buggy after long periods of use without a break. It never hurts to do a full system shut down and restart to see if that fixes the problem before you call tech support. Whenever I have trouble with my Internet connection, I make a point to cycle the modem and the router off and back on again before I call my ISP, and inevitably it’s one of the first things that the technician asks me to do. Might as well save us both some time.

While you’re at it, run through your repertoire of basic troubleshooting before you pick up the phone. If your computer is “acting strangely,” sometimes the simple answer is a virus or malware. Update your antivirus protection software and run a malware scan.

Once you’ve exhausted the steps you’re comfortable taking solo, collect your thoughts. First, grab a pen and paper and jot down some notes regarding the problem, being as specific as possible. The more detail you’re able to provide the tech support agent about the problem you’re having, the better they will be able to help you. Second, try to recreate the problem on demand, taking special notes of the steps that you take to do so. If you can say “my browser shuts down every time I click on this link over here,” for example, then tech support can start troubleshooting more easily.

Take some screenshots (hint: Windows users should press Ctrl+Prt Sc simultaneously to capture the image of your screen, then open Paint and paste the image). If getting a screenshot gives you a headache, you can use your phone to capture a picture of your computer if necessary.

You’re ready to pick up the phone. Take a deep breath. There’s nothing that can make me quite as frustrated as my computer misbehaving, but it’s totally uncool to take that anger and frustration out on the poor soul who answers the phone. It’s not their fault your computer is being a jerk today.

If you get stuck listening to hold music, set your phone down and put it on speaker while you’re watching a movie or reading a book. You’ve got all your notes next to you about the issue, so you don’t need to stew upon them if your hold time drags on.

A little kindness can go a long way. Once you get a tech service representative on the phone, pretend like you’re calling to order take out from your favorite restaurant instead of trying to puzzle through why you can’t get online. A friendly, non-confrontational start will go a long way toward establishing rapport and an environment where the person on the other end of the line wants to help you. Knowing you’re not going to scream at them the second they answer the phone may make them more likely to be attentive to you and the reason you’re calling.

Make sure you jot down the time and date of your call and the name of the representative who helped you early on in the conversation. Describe your problem as you’ve written down in your details. Listen closely to what they have to say. Ask lots of questions if you don’t understand the information they’re providing you. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, try to stay calm. You can be firm, and you should definitely stick to your convictions, but you can do so without yelling. Try to be civil, polite, and treat the person on the other end of the line with respect. They are a human being with feelings too.

At some point, you either get your problem resolved (yippee!) … or you have to escalate the call. Assuming it goes your way, don’t forget to thank the technician who helped you, and express your appreciation for their work, where appropriate. If you felt they went above and beyond, consider putting a word in for them with their supervisor in an email, or completing the little “how did I do?” survey after your call.

There are always times where your issue does not get resolved. There can be a number of reasons for this, and sometimes it’s as simple as not talking to the “right person” for the job. Every tech has his or her area of expertise, and maybe the person you’re talking to is not familiar enough with your particular issue to help you out with it. Don’t be afraid to ask to be transferred to another customer service representative, or escalate your call to a supervisor who can put you in touch with an expert.

 

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How to Get Better Tech Support


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Andrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds On Call, which offers onsite computer and laptop repair service for homeowners and small businesses. Based in Redding, Calif., it has locations in five states. Contact Eldridge at www.callnerds.com/andrea.

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By cranbak on July 15, 2014 | Webmaster
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Google’s New AdWords Editor Version Offers Shopping Campaigns Support, More Display Targeting Options

Roughly a month ahead of the rollover to Shopping Campaigns, Google has released a new version of AdWords Editor that supports the new campaign type. Google announced the old style of PLA campaigns will be shut down at some point in late August. Note that support is limited to editing Shopping…



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Bing Ads Doubles Number Of Keywords Advertisers Can Review In UI To Support Larger Accounts

Bing Ads has taken another step toward supporting larger accounts. Yesterday the ad network announced it had updated its user interface so that advertisers can now review accounts with up to 100,000 keywords in the Keyword Tab. As part of the updates, ad groups and tabs have also been configured to…



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By cranbak on July 2, 2014 | Webmaster
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