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Is It Time To Redesign Your Business Logo?

Wherever you choose to go on your daily routine, you are sure to be bombarded with advertising messages from companies trying to tempt you with their sweet products or services. With so many different messages flashed in front of your face, many of which are advertising a variant of something else you saw two minutes before, it can become all too easy to get confused. An advertising jingle or slogan might stick in your head, but more often than not, you forget who it was that placed it there. That is where the business logo comes in to play, as they are far easier to remember than anything else. Mention a slogan and people will rack their brains trying to remember who it belongs to, but show them a logo and the name will come right to mind.

Modifying Your Logo to Match Current Times

There is a great deal of time and thought put into choosing the right logo for your business, but that doesn’t mean that it’s one that will necessarily last forever. Major corporations are constantly tweaking or changing their logo’s, often times to go with a sleeker look, or something that will appeal to a new customer demographic. Some changes are subtle, while others are a complete overhaul, but the fact that these major corporations change their business logos should tell you that it might be time to look at your own.

A good time to start thinking about redesigning your logo is if you have changed the service that you provide in one way or another. You have to look objectively at your current logo design and ask if it represents what it is you are offering potential customers. For example, you may have a beautiful, stylish logo designed for your landscaping company, but if it doesn’t contain an image that is somehow related to the industry you are in, then it might be time for a modification or complete change. If a customer looks at your logo and cannot quickly figure out what product or service you are providing, think about updating it.

This is even true for companies that have been in business for years. You have to evolve with the times so as not to keep people in the dark. If you are in the computer repair business and your logo contains an old style of computer that no longer exists, you really have to update to something more modern. People might still recognize what it is you are offering, but the old style logo might lead them to believe that you won’t be able to effectively repair their brand new, ultra-modern laptop.

As mentioned earlier, making changes to your logo doesn’t have to mean completely scrapping the old version. You might stick with the same image but update the font to something more modern, or vice versa. If you are unsure of where to start, take some time to look at how major corporations have updated their logos over the years. That should help you see how you might be able to change your business logo design so that it always appears current.

Finding Help When You Didn’t Think You Could

With over a billion people living on Earth today, can you imagine the total number of problems people need help with throughout their everyday lives and in the workplace? Need someone to design a logo for you? How about helping translate a document from Chinese to English? Fortunately, these problems have solutions because there are freelancers that specialize in logo design and translation services and can immediately step up and provide you with a solution. However, what if your problem is uncommon and you aren’t sure there is a specific freelancer that has the type of niche specialty you desire?

Freelancers have a wide range of skills that go beyond what they typically provide on a regular basis to employers. Additionally, most are willing to gain experience on topics that are new to them by dedicating themselves to research and putting forth their best effort to complete a job. Employers love this approach because it does not put them in an exhausting position of finding a new freelancer each time they have a new task at hand.

Take, for example, this rare need for Joanna. Joanna needs a playable MP3 file complete with audio birthday greetings using specific languages such as American English with a Texas drawl, Oxford English, English with a Long Island accent and more. She also wants to have the English translation at the end of the file. It’s a very unique need from a provider and she’s wondering if anyone has these special skills to complete the job. Upon scanning freelance sites, she wasn’t able to find a category that fit her request. However, she was determined to secure this fun 21st birthday gift for a friend and would stop at nothing to get the task completed.

With thousands and thousands of freelancers available at a moment’s notice, Joanna was pleasantly surprised to see many bids on her contest job posting. Some freelancers sent her custom birthday greetings within hours of the job being posted and exactly in the format and language she required. To say she was thrilled is an understatement. She next had the unfortunate task of picking the right provider since she received over 30 excellent responses to her job posting. In the end, she couldn’t settle on just one and ended up using 5 different providers to send her overseas friend a number of fun and exciting audio files wishing her the greatest 21st birthday wish possible.

Employers have no reason to be worried about freelancers not being able to solve a problem they have. Even a problem you consider to be odd by nature always has a willing freelancer to fill in the gaps you didn’t think existed. Freelancers, by nature, are incredibly helpful and dedicate themselves to meet your exact needs each and every time, no matter how strange or difficult you think the job may be.

39 year old Fairfield-born Harley hobbies and interests includes web design, collectibles, stamp collecting. He’s interested in exploring different places and nations around the world like Leoben,Austria.

From: logo design online

Logo Design 101

Logo design is a skill that requires a combination of qualities brought together to form a trademark meant to last. Logo designs are challenging and can take numerous attempts to please an employer as well as yourself. While time consuming to create, the job of a logo design is to make an immediate impact at first glance, symbolizing the brand and identity of a business. Freelancers with experience in logo design must always remember to stay true to standard guidelines that make up a successful logo.

The bigger and more powerful the business, the more radiant you feel the logo should be, but that really isn’t the case. Paring the logo down to a simple and straightforward design is much better than dressing it up with too much flash and substance. Designs should be scalable across industries in colors and in size. Avoid over-analyzing a design.

Take into consideration the intentions and goals of the business and create a design that is appropriate to meet those needs. Logos aimed at toys and games should be brighter and child-friendly, while a professional business looking for a design to help them stand out would not want the same vibrant colors. Know the business’s target audience, and weave that relevance into your design.

Exclusive and Unforgettable
The goal in every logo design is to be as memorable as the Nike swoosh, instantly identifiable and unique. It stands in a class of its own. While this type of exclusivity is hard to duplicate, working to create a design that is new and fresh in its own right should be the approach that every logo designer takes. Make numerous attempts at an aesthetically pleasing design that has an aura of uniqueness.

Try not to waver outside the original intent of the design, both from the employer’s instructions and your background as a designer. Focus on making the design special and achieving a positive grade from an employer who loves the design and appreciates the time spent creating it.

Creating a logo that will withstand the test of time is always a goal of a freelance logo designer. Every logo is touched up and modified over the years for a fresher look, but you never want your design to be dated or out of fashion. Avoid this by avoiding trendy fonts and bubbly imagery that may not stick. Refer back to simplicity and maintaining a straightforward design. The Coca-Cola logo has not changed substantially over the years and is an example of a logo with staying power.

Businesses want logos to act as a representation of their company and what they stand for from a visual sense. Pictures are known to tell a thousand words. Combining the right characteristics to form a logo will help people form a connection with the image and be able to recall the image in the future. Logos are a part of the overall identity of a business that, when done properly, can show off your business respectfully and help garner trust.

Measuring Social Media

Measuring PPC and SEO is relatively straightforward. But how do we go about credibly measuring social media campaigns, and wider public relations and audience awareness campaigns?
As the hype level of social media starts to fall, then more questions are asked about return on investment. During the early days of anything, the hype of the new is enough to sustain an endeavor. People don’t want to miss out. If their competitors are doing it, that’s often seen as good enough reason to do it, too.
You may be familiar with this graph. It’s called the hype cycle and is typically used to demonstrate the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies:

Where would social media marketing be on this graph?
I think a reasonable guess, if we’re seeing more and more discussion about ROI, is somewhere on the “slope of enlightenment”. In this article, we’ll look at ways to measure social media performance by grounding it in the only criteria that truly matter – business fundamentals.
Public Relations
We’ve talked about the Cluetrain Manifesto and how the world changed when corporations could no longer control the message. If the message can no longer be controlled, then measuring the effectiveness of public relations becomes even more problematic.
PR used to be about crafting a message and placing it, and nurturing the relationships that allowed that to happen. With the advent of social media, that’s still true, but the scope has expanded exponentially – everyone can now repeat, run with, distort, reconfigure and reinvent the messages. Controlling the message was always difficult, but now it’s impossible.
On the plus side, it’s now much easier to measure and quantify the effectiveness of public relations activity due to the wealth of web data and tools to track what people are saying, to whom, and when.
The Same, Only Different
As much as things change, the more they stay the same. PR and social media is still about relationships. And getting relationships right pays off:
Today, I want to write about something I’d like to call the “Tim Ferriss Effect.” It’s not exclusive to Tim Ferriss, but he is I believe the marquee example of a major shift that has happened in the last 5 years within the world of book promotion. Here’s the basic idea: When trying to promote a book, the main place you want coverage is on a popular single-author blog or site related to your topic…..The post opened with Tim briefly explaining how he knew me, endorsing me as a person, and describing the book (with a link to my book.) It then went directly into my guest post– there was not even an explicit call to action to buy my book or even any positive statements about my book. An hour later, (I was #45 on Amazon’s best seller list
Public relations is more than about selling, of course. It’s also about managing reputation. It’s about getting audiences to maintain a certain point of view. Social media provides the opportunity to talk to customers and the public directly by using technology to dis-intermediate the traditional gatekeepers.
Can We Really Measure PR & Social Media Performance?
How do you measure the value of a relationship?
How can you really tell if people feel good enough about your product or service to buy it, and that “feeling good” was the direct result of editorial placement by a well-connected public relations professional?
Debatable, certainly.
Can you imagine another marketing discipline that used dozens of methods for measuring results? Take search engine marketing for example. The standards are pretty cut and dry: visitors, page views, time on site, cost per click, etc. For email marketing, we have delivery, open rates, click thru, unsubscribes, opt-ins, etc”
In previous articles, we’ve looked at how data-driven marketing can save time and be more effective. The same is true of social media, but given it’s not an exact science, it’s a question of finding an appropriate framework.
There are a lot of people asking questions about social media’s worth.
No Industry Standard
Does sending out weekly press releases result in more income? How about tweeting 20 times a day? How much are 5,000 followers on Facebook worth? Without a framework to measure performance, there’s no way of knowing.
Furthermore, there’s no agreed industry standard.
In direct marketing channels, such as SEO and PPC, measurement is fairly straightforward. We count cost per click, number of visitors, conversion rate, time on site, and so on. But how do we measure public relations? How do we measure influence and awareness?
PR firms have often developed their own in-house terms of measurement. The problem is that without industry standards, success criteria can become arbitrary and often used simply to show the agency in a good light and thus validate their fees.
Some agencies use publicity results, such as the number of mentions in the press, or the type of mention i.e. prestigious placement. Some use advertising value equivalent i.e. is what editorial coverage would cost if it were buying advertising space. Some use public opinion measures, such as polls, focus groups and surveys, whilst others compare mentions and placement vs competitors i.e. who has more or better mentions, wins. Most use a combination, depending on the nature of the campaign.
Most business people would agree that measurement is a good thing. If we’re spending money, we need to know what we’re getting for that money. If we provide social media services to clients, we need to demonstrate what we’re doing works, so they’ll devote more budget to it in future. If the competition is using this channel, then we need to know if we’re using it better, or worse, than we are.
Perhaps the most significant reason why we measure is to know if we’ve met a desired outcome. To do that we must ignore gut feelings and focus on whether an outcome was achieved.
Why wouldn’t we measure?
Some people don’t like the accountability. Some feel more comfortable with an intuitive approach. It can be difficult for some to accept that their pet theories have little substance when put to the test. It seems like more work. It seems like more expense. It’s just too hard. When it comes to social media, some question whether it can be done much at all
For proof, look no further than The Atlantic, which shook the social media realm recently with its expose of “dark social” – the idea that the channels we fret over measuring like Facebook and Twitter represent only a small fraction of the social activity that’s really going on. The article shares evidence that reveals that the vast majority of sharing is still done through channels like email and IM that are nearly impossible to measure (and thus, dark).
And it’s not like a lot of organizations are falling over themselves to get measurement done:
According to a Hypatia Research report, “Benchmarking Social Community Platform Investments & ROI,” only 40% of companies measure social media performance on a quarterly or annual basis, while almost 13% or the organizations surveyed do not measure ROI from social media at all, and another 18% said they do so only on an ad hoc basis. (Hypatia didn’t specify what response the other 29% gave.)
If we agree that measurement is a good thing and can lead to greater efficiency and better decision making, then the fact your competition may not be measuring well, or at all, then this presents great opportunity. We should strive to measure social media ROI, as providers or consumers, or it becomes difficult to justify spend. The argument that we can’t measure because we don’t know all the effects of our actions isn’t a reason not to measure what we can.
Marketing has never been an exact science.
What Should We Measure?
Measurement should be linked back to business objectives.
In “Measure What Matters”, Katie Delahaye Paine outlines seven steps to social media measurement. I liked these seven steps, because they aren’t exclusive to social media. They’re the basis for measuring any business strategy and similar measures have been used in marketing for a long time.
It’s all about proving something works, and then using the results to enhance future performance. The book is a great source for those interested in reading further on this topic, which I’ll outline here.
1. What Are Your Objectives?
Any marketing objective should serve a business objective. For example, “increase sales by X by October 31st”.
Having specific, business driven objectives gets rid of conjecture and focuses campaigns. Someone could claim that spending 30 days tweeting a new message a day is a great thing to do, but if, at the end of it, a business objective wasn’t met, then what was the point?
Let’s say an objective is “increase sales of shoes compared to last December’s figures”. What might the social strategy look like? It might consist of time-limited offers, as opposed to more general awareness messages. What if the objective was to “get 5,000 New Yorkers to mention the brand before Christmas”? This would lend itself to viral campaigns, targeted locally. Linking the campaign to specific business objectives will likely change the approach.
If you have multiple objectives, you can always split them up into different campaigns so you can measure the effectiveness of each separately. Objectives typically fall into sales, positioning, or education categories.
2. Who Is The Audience?
Who are you talking to? And how will you know if you’ve reached them? Once you have reached them, what is it you want them to do? How will this help your business?
Your target audience is likely varied. Different audiences could be industry people, customers, supplier organizations, media outlets, and so on. Whilst the message may be seen by all audiences, you should be clear about which messages are intended for who, and what you want them to do next. The messages will be different for each group as each group likely picks up on different things.
Attach a value to each group. Is a media organization picking up on a message more valuable than a non-customer doing so? Again, this should be anchored to a business requirement. “We need media outlets following us so they may run more of our stories in future. Our research shows more stories has led to increased sales volume in the past”. Then a measure might be to count the number of media industry followers, and to monitor the number of stories they produce.
3. Know Your Costs
What does it cost you to run social media campaigns? How much time will it take? How does this compare to other types of campaigns? What is your opportunity cost? How much does it cost to measure the campaign?
As Delahaye Paine puts it, it’s the “I” in ROI.
4. Benchmark
Testing is comparative, so have something to compare against.
You can compare yourself against competitors, and/or your own past performance. You can compare social media campaigns against other marketing campaigns. What do those campaigns usually achieve? Do social media campaigns work better, or worse, in terms of achieving business goals?
In terms of ROI, what’s a social media “page view” worth? You could compare this against the cost of a click in PPC.
5. Define KPIs
Once you’ve determined objectives, defined the audience, and established benchmarks, you should establish criteria for success.
For example, the objective might be to increase media industry followers. The audience is the media industry and the benchmark is the current number of media industry followers. The KPI would be the number of new media industry followers signed up, as measured by classifying followers into subgroups and conducting a headcount.
Measuring the KPI will differ depending on objective, of course. If you’re measuring the number of mentions in the press vs your competitor, that’s pretty easy to quantify.
“Raising awareness” is somewhat more difficult, however once you have a measurement system in place, you can start to break down the concept of “awareness” into measurable components. Awareness of what? By whom? What constitutes awareness? How to people signal they’re aware of you? And so on.
6. Data Collection Tools
How will you collect measurement data?
 Content analysis of social or traditional media
 Primary research via online, mail or phone survey
 Web analytics
There are an overwhelming number of tools available, and outside the scope of this article. No tool can measure “reputation” or “awareness” or “credibility” by itself, but can produce usable data if we break those areas down into suitable metrics. For example, “awareness” could be quantified by “page views + a survey of a statistically valid sample”.
Half the battle is asking the right questions.
7. Take Action
A measurement process is about iteration. You do something, get the results back, act on them and make changes, and arrive at a new status quo. You then do something starting from that new point, and so on. It’s an ongoing process of optimization.
Were objectives met? What conclusions can you draw?
Those seven steps will be familiar to anyone who has measured marketing campaigns and business performance. They’re grounded in the fundamentals. Without relating social media metrics back to the underlying fundamentals, we can never be sure if what we’re doing is making or a difference, or worthwhile. Is 5,000 Twitter followers a good thing?
It depends.
What business problem does it address?
Did You Make A Return?
You invested time and money. Did you get a return?
If you’ve linked your social media campaigns back to business objectives you should have a much clearer idea. Your return will depend on the nature of your business, of course, but it could be quantified in terms of sales, cost savings, avoiding costs or building an audience.
In terms of SEO, we’ve long advocated building brand. Having people conduct brand searches is a form of insurance against Google demoting your site. If you have brand search volume, and Google don’t return you for brand searches, then Google looks deficient.
So, one goal of social media that gels with SEO is to increase brand awareness. You establish a benchmark of branded searches based on current activity. You run your social media campaigns, and then see if branded searches increase.
Granted, this is a fuzzy measure, especially if you have other awareness campaigns running, as you can’t be certain cause and effect. However, it’s a good start. You could give it a bit more depth by integrating a short poll for visitors i.e. “did you hear about us on Twitter/Facebook/Other?”.
Mechanics Of Measurement
Measuring social media isn’t that difficult. In fact, we could just as easily use search metrics in many cases. What is the cost per view? What is the cost per click? Did the click from a social media campaign convert to desired action? What was your business objective for the social media campaign? To get more leads? If so, then count the leads. How much did each lead cost to acquire? How does that cost compare to other channels, like PPC? What is the cost of customer acquisition via social media?
In this way, we could split social media out into the customer service side and marketing side. Engaging with your customers on Facebook may not be all that measurable in terms of direct marketing effects, it’s more of a customer service function. As such, budget for the soft side of social media need not come out of marketing budgets, but customer service budgets. This could still be measured, or course, by running customer satisfaction surveys.
Is Social Media Marketing Public Relations?
Look around the web for definitions of the differences between PR and social media, and you’ll find a lot of vague definitions.
Social media is a tool used often used for the purpose of public relations. The purpose is to create awareness and nurture and guide relationships.
Public relations is sometimes viewed it as a bit of a scam. It’s an area that sucks money, yet can often struggle to prove its worth, often relying on fuzzy, feel-good proclamations of success and vague metrics. It doesn’t help that clients can have unrealistic expectations of PR, and that some PR firms are only too happy to promise the moon:
PR is nothing like the dark, scary world that people make it out to be—but it is a new one for most. And knowing the ropes ahead of time can save you from setting impossibly high expectations or getting overpromised and oversold by the firm you hire. I’ve seen more than my fair share of clients bringing in a PR firm with the hopes that it’ll save their company or propel a small, just-launched start-up into an insta-Facebook. And unfortunately, I’ve also seen PR firms make these types of promises. Guess what? They’re never kept
Internet marketing, in general, has a credibility problem when it doesn’t link activity back to business objectives.
Part of that perception, in relation to social media, comes from the fact public relations isdifficult to control:
The main conduit to mass publics, particularly with a consumer issue such as rail travel or policing, are the mainstream media. Unlike advertising, which has total control of its message, PR cannot convey information without the influence of opinion, much of it editorial. How does the consumer know what is fact, and what has influenced the presentation of that fact?
But lack of control of the message, as the Cluetrain Manifesto points out, is the nature of the environment in which we exist. Our only choice, if we are to prosper in the digital environment, is to embrace the chaos.
Shouldn’t PR just happen? If you’re good, people just know? Well, even Google, that well known, engineering-driven advertising company has PR deeply embedded from almost day one:
David Krane was there from day one as Google’s first public relations official. He’s had a hand in almost every single public launch of a Google product since the debut of in 1999.
Good PR is nurtured. It’s a process. The way to find out if it’s good PR or ineffective PR is to measure it. PR isn’t a scam, anymore so than any other marketing activity is a scam. We can find out if it’s worthwhile only by tracking and measuring and linking that measurement back to a business case. Scams lack transparency.
The way to get transparency is to measure and quantify.


Conducting Market Research Before Investing in Tactical Execution – Whiteboard Friday

The phrase “look before you leap” has never been more true! Before you start investing in tactics, it’s important to do your market research. Many businesses are tempted to dive into the details before answering the bigger questions, like who their customers are, how those customers make purchase decisions, where their potential users are on the web, and how customers may choose between similar companies and offerings.
In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand discusses why building out a research-based roadmap before you start you building your tactics (like SEO, content, and social campaigns) will help boost your chance of success. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard used in today’s video:

Video Transcription

“Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I want to talk a little bit about doing your market research before you start jumping in and investing in tactics. Shout out to @Andrew_Isidoro on Twitter for suggesting this topic. I really appreciate it Andrew.

The reason this is so important and why I was so passionate and why I was excited when Andrew suggested it, is because I’ve seen us here at Moz and many, many other companies back when we use to do consulting, even with the folks that I try and help today, lots of people I talk to all over the industry, making this mistake of wanting to dive right into the details and start sending their tweets and building their content, tweaking their website, set up their conversion tests, optimizing their pages for search engines, all that stuff, before they have answers to the big questions. Who’s our customer target? Where on the web are they? How do they make their purchase decisions? What are their influencers? What are the things that influence them to make a purchase or not, and how do they choose between different companies and different offerings?

If we answer these questions, we can build something really beautiful, a research based roadmap. We know things like the personas of who we’re targeting. What types of customers are we trying to reach? For example, when we launch SEOmoz Pro years ago, we thought we were just trying to target primarily, at least, in-house marketers, people who worked in-house at companies, not consultants and agencies. So we hadn’t built things like white labeling and custom reports and the ability to add your logo and all that kind of stuff, branding. Those personas were critical to getting the product right. About 40%, in fact, of our customers are agencies and consultants.

Channels, what are the channels that we’re going to reach people at? Is it social networks? Is it things like YouTube, where there’s a lot of video going on and obviously a lot of search activity? Is it Google and Bing, where the searches are taking place? Is it content? Are they only at events? Is there a very, very small set of these folks and we need to reach them initially through events or direct outreach? Do we need to build a sales pipeline and then have introductions being made? Are we going to use LinkedIn? Those channels are critical to knowing what marketing things we’re going to do.

The tactics to pursue on a per channel basis. So it could be the case that the same tactic I’m using again and again on a certain channel is going to work very well. You could see, for example, that content marketing for Moz, at least, works pretty well across all of our social channels. But it’s not exactly what we do in person. We try and have a very educational bent to a lot of our content, and that might change up a little bit depending on which forum we’re in and what kind of folks we’re trying to reach or who we’re talking to at the time. So those different tactics per channel.

We want the information. We want to know how they make purchase decisions so that we can provide the information that potential customers need to make a decision. If they’re making it based on features or based on price or based on what experts have said. Is it based on feedback? Is it based on brand? A lot of times marketing decisions are made on brand. Is it based on design and UX?

This roadmap can then tell us things like:  what goes on the website, where and how we’re going to spend the money. Is it going to be on people and resources to build up kind of a long-term marketing funnel through content and search and social, organic or inbound channels? Or is it going to be on a lot of one-off purchases of an email list that we’re going to blast or a homepage takeover or a lot of display ads, PPC ads, those kind of things?

How are we going to measure success? How do we know whether we’re actually winning? Is it based on a percentage of the market? Is it based on market share against another company? Is it pure adoption? Is it something else? Is it brand awareness?

What marketing tactics do we need to be good at? What are the ones where it’s a very competitive sphere versus the ones where it isn’t? What are things where we need to invest a lot of time and energy to build up skills and tactics versus maybe throwing dollars at it, hiring an agency to do it? All those kinds of things.

This research based roadmap can answer all of those questions for you, but you can’t do it unless you’re doing market research first. I do want to talk a little bit about some types of market research and how to specifically conduct those.

So a very obvious one, one that folks who are in the SEO and web marketing fields are very familiar with is competitive research. Competitive research, very obvious to most of us because we investigate what our competitors are doing to be successful in search results, or on Twitter, Facebook, or in their content efforts.

We can look at lots of attributes of competitive research. Who are the evangelists? Who are the people who are pushing this company, speaking on behalf of them? What are the marketing channels that they’re using? What are their traffic sources? Where are they getting visits and traffic from? This can be challenging to get to, and I won’t dive into all of these. Press and mentions? Where are they getting mentioned? By whom? What are people saying about them? Who do they compare them to? Hopefully it’s us.

Design and UX, what are they doing successfully or not so successfully on their website? Unique value propositions, what’s the angle that they take that says, “Oh this is what’s really unique about our company. This is the particular reason why you would buy- I don’t know – Columbia Sportswear brand instead of Nike or Reebok or Mountain Gear or whatever it is.” And who’s their target market? Oftentimes these two are very tied together. The UVP or USP ties in with the target market because they’re trying to reach a particular person, and they think that those specific attributes that are unique to their company are what’s going to successfully reach them.

There’s also customer research, and you can do customer research of all kinds. You can do profiling, that can be demographic or psychographic. You can do targeted surveys where essentially I have a list of customers. For example, here at Moz obviously we have a list of the 21,000 people who pay to use Moz, and we can send a targeted survey to them. We actually have a customer advisory board of about 300 folks that Jackie runs here on our product team, and she talks to those folks very directly and will send them questions to answer.

There’s also, and these are quite interesting, this is a relatively recent phenomenon, just the last few years, sizing and perceptions surveys. The two big providers for those are Survey Monkey’s Audience product and Google’s Consumer Surveys product. Essentially what they’ve got is lots of people that they advertise to, they’re sort of random citizens of the web, denizens of the web, and they will take surveys based on profile data that you request. So you can get senses of how big is my brand in a space? Have people heard of this thing that I’m trying to offer? How many people are even interested in this thing? You can ask those broad, broad questions to a random group of users with specific sets of interests or for profile features.

You can do in-person interviews. A lot of startups especially do in-person interviews. They talk to a customer, bring him into the office. What are you doing? How are you doing it now? What could you see making that process easier or better? What is something you would pay for?

Usability studies are similar, but they are actually with a finished product or a near-finished product. Wireframe reviews are sort of a little bit less of a finished product, but more of a “hey let’s walk through these wireframes and see if this product were built, would it solve your problems? Would it be something you’d passionate about, something you would buy?”

Then there’s also, there’s two more, expert data that you can gather in terms of market research, and expert data is a little bit different from customer data. So this is not saying, “Hey I want to reach out to anyone who would potentially be a customer,” but rather, “I want to reach out to the experts in the field.” This is something, again, that we do a lot of at Moz. We have kind of a core group of people inside and outside of the company who have been marketing experts, web marketing experts, for many, many years and have a lot of deep depth of knowledge in SEO and all those kinds of features. Finding those folks is really cool because a lot of times they turn out to be the evangelists and the influencers of much of the rest of the field. So by bringing them into your process, you can do those interviews, surveys, profiling, usability studies, wireframe reviews, the same as you can with customers, but potentially get very different data and oftentimes very interesting data. I would be careful, though. I’m personally biased, oftentimes, to listening to the experts at the expense of customers. Not a good idea. You should very much consider both of these folks. Experts sometimes are so deep that they can’t see the forest for the trees, which is a problem I have myself a lot of the time too.

Then the last one is published or professional data, and these are often collected by large firms, Forrester Research, for example. They put together these large scale studies on different industries. This form of data is also fine, but it’s usually a leading indicator that you then want to verify and validate with some of these other forms.

So by doing this, by doing these forms of market research, you can get the answers to these questions, build that research based roadmap, and then when you go and execute, you’ll know that you’re on the right path. This is really powerful because a lot of the time when you take off and you start diving into the details without it, it’s bad biscuits. Bad biscuits make the baker broke, bro.

All right everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We’ll see you again next week. Take care.”

The Gravy Train of Employment


A small business may ask, “Is a good freelancer hard to find?” That’s a difficult question to answer. While there are thousands and thousands of freelancers helping out countless small businesses, one does wonder if their knight in shining armor is out there amongst the big sea of providers. Many small businesses have industry specific needs that require a number of full-time, on-site employees dedicating themselves to their job responsibilities. However, businesses looking for efficiency from simple jobs that fall outside the set of skills their in-house employees contain often turn to a pool of freelancers to compete for the job.

What this boils down to next is finding a freelancer that has the skills you require to complete the job in the manner you desire. An employer is looking for excellent communication, timeliness, and willingness to go the extra mile overlapped with someone who has a strong skill-set. Logo design is a good example of a simple job that a freelancer can handle. Did you receive the perfect logo design amongst the hundreds that were submitted to you through your logo design contest job? In many cases, an employer absolutely adores the design but might like small modifications to edit the content or add an aspect not originally mentioned to the provider.

This is an opportunity for the chosen freelancer to shine and show the employer that he or she is more than just a freelancer with a catchy member name with a knack for designing logos. It’s imperative to show appreciation to the employer, communicate effectively on what changes are needed, and give them a time frame for completion. This strategy typically bodes well for the freelancer because he or she has impressed the employer enough to gain the trust and respect of them, which may in turn lead to further freelancing jobs.

Businesses are always looking for the perfect fit for openings at their place of employment, but finding freelancers who are as dependable as the day is long is instrumental. Employers can turn to the freelancer to find out more about his or her skills and inquire if more work can be done. Small startup businesses may need an array of web design, programming, and content writing that doesn’t fit their current employees’ job skills. With these jobs high in demand, combining a vast amount of experience with the proper attitude and communication approach, a freelancer can place him or herself in good company at a business looking for someone in which they can rely on.

How Businesses Can Take Advantage of the Power of a Crowd

Interested in receiving feedback on a beta version of a video game? Need to tag and categorize thousands of pictures for a new online shopping site you’ve built? Want a new logo design for your up and coming business? The common theme in these examples is the need for help with simple tasks. By harnessing the power of crowds, you can receive a monumental amount of feedback and help from groups of people to achieve your goal.

Crowdsourcing is a way of bringing in mass intelligence to solve problems at an affordable price. Instead of choosing an individual to perform the duties, hiring people with a sufficient amount of time and knowledge can help get your work done quickly and efficiently. The tasks once thought to be cumbersome and overwhelming can now be handed off to a crowd to help you meet your end goal with ease and satisfaction.

There are plenty of suitable providers throughout the world that can assist you with your task. Imagine the power of having multiple people all working separately, but in conjunction, to help you achieve your goal. You can narrow down your search to expert providers that are knowledgeable about your task. For example, many websites are looking to utilize translation services to translate websites into different languages. Individuals with expert translation skills in a particular language can become a part of this effort.

The cost to crowdsource is significantly less than hiring a team of professionals to take on the job. In addition, you won’t need to go search long and hard to find crowdsourcers willing to work for you at any time for a reasonable wage. You’ll identify providers with a number of years of experience that can handle your task flawlessly at cut rate costs compared to what you’ll pay a professional firm. All that is requested is an appropriate and fair amount of time to complete the project.

Using a crowd to handle special needs is becoming largely popular across the globe. Crowdsourcing is making lives easier for businesses looking for suitable and expert providers with years of experience willing to take on simple but tedious tasks for a fraction of what it would cost a professional firm to do.

Resource box:

39 year old Fairfield-born Harley hobbies and interests includes web design, collectibles, stamp collecting. He’s interested in exploring different places and nations around the world like Leoben,Austria.

From: logo design online

The Secrets of Google’s Most Mysterious Tool – Disavowed Tool

To many webmasters, Google’s Disavow Tool seems a lifesaver. If you’ve suffered a Google penalty or been plagued by shady link building, simply upload a file of backlinks you want to disavow, and BOOM – you’re back in good graces. Traffic city!

Or nothing happens at all.

Few Google products have produced more fear, rumors and speculation. No one outside Google knows exactly how it works, and fewer understand how to succeed with it. To better understand, I used the tool myself to disavow 1000s of links, and talked with dozens of SEOs who used it in attempts to recover from Google penalties.

How Dangerous Is Disavow?

When you first log into the Disavow Tool, Google does everything in its power to dissuade you from actually using it with scary messaging.

What’s the worst that could happen?

To find out how much damage I could do, I performed an experiment: Disavowing every link pointing to my website. Over 35,000 of them.

In this case, no reconsideration request was filed. Would the disavow tool work on its own?

Disavow 35,000 Links to a Single Website



Download all links from Google Webmaster Tools
Upload 35,000 properly formatted links to Google’s Disavow Tool
Wait 2 Months

After 2 months, nothing happened. No drop in traffic.

The evidence suggests one of three possibilities:

You must file a reconsideration request after disavowing your links, or…
The disavow has built-in safeguards in order to protect you from disavowing good links, or…
It takes longer than 2 months for Google to process all the links.
We’ve heard conflicting accounts from Googlers whether the tool works automatically, or if must file a reconsideration request for it to work. The data implies the later, although some SEOs say they’ve seen results from using the Disavow without filing a reconsideration request.

Google also states they reserve the right to ignore your disavowed links if they think you made a mistake, much like rel=”canonical”.

Best Advice: Safeguards or not, you might still shoot yourself in the foot. Be careful disavowing links!

Can You Use Disavow for Penguin?

Can you use the Disavow Tool if you haven’t received a manually penalized? For example, will it work for Penguin?

The answer: maybe.

Here’s a reminder: Google updates like Panda and Penguin are part of Google’s overall algorithm. They automatically affect your rankings without direct human intervention. On the other hand, a manual penalty is often applied when you violate Google’s guidelines. These can be both applied and lifted manually by Google’s Webspam team.

Google representatives, including Matt Cutts, have gone on record to say the Disavow Tool could be used to help if you’ve been hit by Penguin (an algorithmic action), but also suggests that this applies to links that also violate Google’s Quality Guidelines.

Penguin and Google’s Unnatural Link Warnings often go hand in hand. So if you were hit by one, you are often hit by the other. Conversely, certain SEOs have claimed benefits from using the disavow on sites that were not penalized.

Best Advice: If you’ve been hit with a manual penalty, you need to file a reconsideration request if using the Disavow Tool. If you haven’t been manually penalized, the benefits of using the tool are inconclusive.

1. Remove First, Disavow Last

Google wants you to remove links first. Disavow is a last resort.

100% accuracy isn’t required, but effort counts.

Google’s Webspam team keeps a historical index of your backlink profile, so that when you file a reconsideration request they can see the links you’ve worked to remove.

2. Gather Your Links

You can use any source you want, but Google recommends downloading your Latest Links report directly from Webmaster Tools.

3. Find the Bad Links

You can do this two ways, with either automatic tools or manual analysis. Realistically, you should use both. Best Manual Analysis Resource:

Easy Step by Step Guide to Finding Low Quality Links
Best Link Removal Research Tools:

Link Detox
SEOgadgets Link API Extension for Excel. They also have contact information on file for millions of URLs.

4. Outreach, Outreach, Outreach

Next, you’re going to send emails to get those links removed. Lots of emails.

Resources for Link Removal Outreach:

4. Trust in Google Docs

When you document your efforts, don’t submit random links to the Webspam team; they may not click on them. By sharing all your evidence via Google Docs, you provide a level of protection that helps ensure the Webspam team sees your evidence.

5. When in Doubt, Disavow Entire Domains

Google’s Disavow Tool gives you 2 options when disavowing links: individual URLs or entire domains.

Many webmasters fail at their reconsideration requests the first time because they miss too many links. The fear is that you’ll disavow something valuable, but if you’ve been rejected time and time again, this one change often leads to success.

Here’s a screenshot from Dr. Pete’s post showing both formats.

Best Advice: If you are rejected after disavowing individual URLs, try disavowing entire domains.

6. Formatting Counts

Google rejects many disavow files because of bad formatting, but webmasters usually never know. Guidelines state the file type should be .txt only and “must be encoded UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII.”

7. Bonus: Extra “Removed” Links with Screaming Frog

Google’s link index of your site is rarely up to date. They undoubtedly include links that no longer exist. To find dead links quickly, download a complete file of your latest links from Google Webmaster Tools into Screaming Frog (use List Mode) or another crawler of your choice.

When finished, take any links that return a 404 and download these into a spreadsheet. Be sure to include these dead links as “Removed” when you submit your reconsideration request to Google, otherwise they may not know about them.


The Disavow Tool is useful, but damn tricky.

Someday, perhaps Google can get away from tools like the Disavow. Today, good SEOs can’t keep up with what’s considered a good link or a bad, and Google continually cracks down on what it considers a “bad link.”

For successful marketers, it’s much more fulfilling to build new links, than disavow old ones.

I suppose that’s Google’s point, no?

Why Using Freelancers For Article Writing Services Is Better Than The Alternative

No matter what type of website you have, posting content about your brand is an absolute as you attempt to generate loyal (and revenue-producing) customers to appreciate what you are promoting, selling, or talking about. The far likeliest path that website and small business owners take is handling the writing in-house and posting the content through the means of their best writer(s).

However, this approach doesn’t always have the well-intended result desired. If writing is not the main job role for any one individual, then he or she may get burned out or ask to be reassigned to their main duties. If adding content, whether it be blog posts, press releases, sales pages, Ebooks, social media updates, etc, does not suit anyone within your small business, it may be wise to look towards outsourcing the work and let dedicated freelancers fill the role as an independent contractor. The bottom line is they end up being cheaper than bringing on a full-time employee, and they can be counted on whenever the need arises.

While the end result is clear, the challenging part involves finding the right freelancer to fill your writing service needs. Posting a job for article writing involves making sure you explain all the details of the job and what you expect from the provider. There are a variety of ways to improve your chances of finding one that will fill the role better than you imagined and keep them writing, happy and motivated.

See Previous Writing Samples
Any freelancer can talk a good game, claiming they have all the skills necessary to handle your article writing needs. However, what separate the top writers are examples of writing accomplishments in the past. Many authors will include a link to other blogs they write for or a website they own that documents their writing efforts. Peruse their personal content to see if their writing is proficient, expressive, and would result in being asset to your business.

Find Writers In Your Particular Industry
In your ad, specifically indicate you are looking for content providers who are experienced in your line of work and have prior knowledge of your industry. There are thousands of good writers out there, but if none of them know a thing about exactly what it is that drives your business, then expect them to be fairly worthless to you as a writer.

Ask For Samples
When you’ve weeded through the inexperienced and unhelpful providers and have narrowed your choices down to a handful of possibilities, feel free to ask the chosen few for a sample of a topic of your choice. Challenge them with a topic about your business, but be sure to request the word count to be small, usually fewer than 250 characters. You don’t want to irritate a perfectly good provider who doesn’t want to write a 750-word article for free. Once completed, determine if their writing style matches up with what you are trying to express. Do they have the knowledge of your industry? Does any one in particular have a presence that sets him or her apart?

Tip: Weeding Out The Pretenders
Freelancers bid on posted jobs all day, everyday, and usually copy and paste a pre-built response to every job, no matter the instructions. To make sure your job is read and understood, ask the provider to solve a math problem or write a generic sentence about puppies just to ensure your post has been taken seriously. This will help you eliminate individuals automatically if they haven’t followed your instructions.

Take the smart and budget friendly approach when content needs have become too large of a burden for you or your organization. Talented freelancers with a history in your field are available at your request, making your decision to outsource a brilliant one indeed.

Resource box:
39 year old Fairfield-born Harley hobbies and interests includes web design, collectibles, stamp collecting. He’s interested in exploring different places and nations around the world like Leoben, Austria.
From: logo design online


Witkey (威客; Wei Ke in Pinyin) is a web-based system whereby users can exchange and purchase services and information, share knowledge and experience in order to save time and money.

Generally, requests posted are of the type not easily answered on a general internet search engine and can be of either a personal or professional nature. Students and professionals alike post requests for help with research and even answers to homework. More and more of these requests are being posted on one of the ever-growing number of Witkey websites. There are 338 million internet users (or netizens) in China and this is increasing. The number of recorded Witkey users in China is estimated at 600,000 and is set to increase to 9 million by 2007 according to the Beijing-based CCID Consulting Co.

The requests are usually answered for a small fee which is worked out in points through the company running the Witkey website itself, which in turn are exchangeable for cash. From RMB 50 for a quick know-how answer to a small technological query to around RMB 1,000 to help a company come up with a logo design, with even higher amounts being paid out for more diverse services such as scientific research and analysis.

The Witkey industry is predicted to grow as it proves popular with providers and clients alike, results are generally good and although the work can be demanding it can be done from home and the hours are flexible and, since you only need an internet connection to take on work as a Witkey, even those in remote areas are able to get in on the action as all of the services provided are carried out over the internet.

There are of course some negative points to the system which relies heavily on trust between providers and clients and provisions are seen to be taken to allow for a more comprehensive monitoring of the Witkey system in the future.

A latest research by CCW Research shows that 51.2% interviewees think that the most important task for Witkey sites presently is to improve consumer experience, facilitating customer activities of task publication and worker/works’ match, as well as securing personal privacy etc. Analyst CCW Research points out that Witkey site operators have to treat this problem seriously and work out a series of high-level service on customers’ stand. It is believed that the improvement of consumer experience will help to build a good fame of Witkey website and new customers and Witkey workers will be gathered nonstoply.

There are 9.7 percent interviewees expect a better clustering and more detailed classification of Witkey websites as skilled workers are not willing to participate in an irrelevant working project while customers doubt about abilities of Witkey workers.

witkey(威客; Wei Ke in Pinyin) is a synthesis of word, its literal translation is the key to open the wisdom. Translation is to use the wisdom of the masses to solve the difficulties of a person or a difficult matter, so that the parties out of the woods, get the correct answer is an effective way.


Resource box:

39 year old Fairfield-born Harley hobbies and interests includes web design, collectibles, stamp collecting. He’s interested in exploring different places and nations around the world like Leoben,Austria.

From: logo design online