Did you know there are more than 700-thousand mobile apps for Android or iPhone? How about that the mobile app industry was valued at an estimated $30-billion in 2012? Those are pretty astounding numbers and they suggest that, if you haven’t already gotten into the app game, you should do so soon.

Now, Google is making it easy to find and download your app too with the introduction of a “click to download” ad template in AdWords. It’s part of the “Enhanced Campaigns” you’ve been hearing so much about. Mobile users can download an app with a single click from search listings. iPhone and Android users only, however, as currently, Blackberry and Microsoft are being left out.

Head over to Business2Community where Larry Kim has the particulars on how to set up your mobile app ad in AdWords.

It’s been about six months since Pinterest introduced “business-specific accounts” and their “business support page”. Add that to recent projections that Pinterest, rather than Twitter, will soon be the clear number-2 social media market behind Facebook. These developments suggest that Pinterest is a viable option to gain exposure for your business and Tehmina Zaman writes about how to do so at Business2Community,

There are a number of helpful nuggets in the article. For example, did you know you can schedule pins? Also, what do you know about group boards? They’re a perfect ways to increase the size of your audience, create brand ambassadors and get your message repinned consistently.

Minimalism is all the rage in web design at the moment, and extra negative space is an essential aspect of the style’s aesthetic  But, is minimalistic design and the white space accompanying it just a trend or is there more to it?

White Space

To the more business minded designers, all the “empty” space could be used for ads, more content, or more usability features that guide a user through the site. If you compress the amount of space between images, columns, and every other visual component, in theory you can fill the page with more of what users want to see, right?

That mindset favors business, but it doesn’t favor aesthetics. As Carrie Cousins puts it, “space is the thread that holds your design together.” White space separates objects, letting users find what they want to more easily. Space between objects groups things together, and it creates a sense of balance that makes a design seem cohesive and professional.

For most designers, there is a rule about keeping white space around content for the sake of making it more readable, but the same is true for just about any aspect on the screen. It draws attention to the most attractive aspects of a site by singling them out from others, while also organizing your site.

Neglecting negative space can make your site seem busy, cluttered, and hard to comprehend. While filling extra space with adds, or squishing everything together to present the reader with more seems like a good idea, in reality less is often more. Readers don’t want everything at once, they just want to be able to easily find what they’re looking for.

But, minimalistic design is not even close to risking using too much white space. Most designers are already thinking about using small amounts of negative space to organize content, but the new design trend is taking that idea to its extremes.

Using huge amounts of white space can have its problems. While it can be used to create stark contrast, white space can also make objects feel small, or detached from the rest of your design, unless you make your negative space feel deliberate.

White space draws attention to one object in a way so forceful users can’t help by stop and notice the object floating in a sea of space, but it is possible to go overboard.

Good use of white space makes the “empty” space feel active or purposeful. Bad white space makes a page feel empty or incomplete. The best place, or at least the most common area, to use white space is the header. When a viewer lands on a site with a lot of negative space in the header, they are met with a striking and simple statement of what the site is all about, all encapsolated in a singled out set of images or text.

If you use negative space in the header, the limits white space can put on content are removed, because content still flows fairly traditionally underneath. Many clients worry about forsaking content for “empty” space, but if the content focused areas of the site still present everything clients would expect to find, negative space won’t detract from the design.

However, if users can’t find what they are looking for on a minimalistic page, they might place the blame on the amount of space not being used to provide a better navigational system.

Not every site needs a minimalistic or negative space heavy approach. These aesthetics are tools just like everything else in a designer’s repertoire, to be pulled out when the time is right. You don’t have to start at the extreme end. Just try letting your content breathe a little and see how you like it.

Responsive design is one of the most popular website design methods out right now. Users like having a consistent experience across different devices, without having to worry about pinching, zooming, or being restricted to a downsized version of a website. But, going responsive raises some concerns for the SEO professional managing a site.

Bonnie Stefanick explores some of the issues of high importance to SEOs when redesigning a site to be responsive, but before dealing with the questions she separates redesigns into two categories – cosmetic and full redesigns.

The main distinction between a cosmetic redesign and going all the way is URL management. If URLs are going to be changing during your redesign, you have substantially more issues than just updating the appearance of your site. The issues raised by Stefanick run closer to cosmetic redesigns, as complete redesigns have their own, much larger, can of worms to deal with.

Responsive design has its own unique style and appearance, and some times it can conflict with the best SEO practices. Such is the case with the area above the fold. Responsive design relies on negative space and giving elements area to breathe and move, but navigation and critical linking elements often get pushed down by big banners popular in responsive designs.

These large banners designers constantly put in responsive designs lead to important SEO elements being under the fold, only reached by scrolling down to find menus  By talking to the designer before the prototype is made and establishing where you main categories are on your homepage, you can avoid losing the SEO elements.

Another issue with the content above the fold in responsive designs is simply that there is no actual content. Responsive design is intrinsically visual, and designers favor the visual design elements over delivering content directly to users. Search engines notice when none of your content is above the fold, and can rank sites differently for their efficiency in directing users to the content they are trying to reach.

There are plenty of other major considerations for responsive redesigns. Clear communication with designers through the entire process can help manage many of them, but you will also have to pull your own weight to make sure your new design is working as well within your SEO strategy as your last design.

Website designers share a lot of information with each other, but there are some hard truths many designers still don’t seem to understand. Sometimes, people just don’t want to hear the truth, or at least it isn’t easy to accept. Designrfix shared some of those things designers don’t like to talk about, but its best you hear them anyways.

  1. You Can’t Innovate All The Time – The large majority of web designers get into the field because we love to be creative and push our skills, but for the most part we are at the will of our clients, and sometimes they don’t want to push the envelope. Many clients would much rather play it safe and use established design solutions. There are times when you’ll be able to use your creativity, but it may not be your next job you take on.
  2. Every Aspect of the Design Matters – This can’t be stressed enough. If you slack on a single part of your design, it will be the aspect your client and users fixate on and hate. A website is like a puzzle and a sub-par piece of the site is like a missing piece in the puzzle.
  3. Hosting Consideration Matters – Without a host, you don’t have a site. Hosting considerations need to be a part of your strategy from the pitch to the finished project. You have to maintain your host to be able to deliver content to the public, so make sure you choose wisely.
  4. Trends Are Not Our Friends – Design follows trends like leaves get caught up in the wind. With every passing gust, we get blown in a new direction. Staying up to date and creating modern designs is usually good, especially in a commercial field where becoming outdated is career death. But, if you spend all your time following what is popular, you won’t ever be ahead of the curve. Try something new. Risks may scare some clients, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try something new in your free time.
  5. Users Matter More Than You – As a designer it is easy to get caught up in your own wants and preferences, but it is important to remember you aren’t the target demographic most of the time. Your design serves to solve your client and your users’ needs, not to be your own personal creation.

Screen-Shot-2013-03-19-at-2.26.52-PMWhile everyone in SEO collectively yells every time a Google Panda update rolls around, announced or unannounced, Google’s spam fighting algorithm Penguin may be of more concern for many website owners.

Though Google’s estimates say less than four percent of websites have been affected by Penguin, a new study by Portent suggests that Penguin will eventually be a concern for SEOs everywhere, if it continues to follow its trend.

Since the reveal of Penguin, Google appears to have become less tolerant of spammy links. The study looked at 500,000 links which show that Google has been steadily reducing its webspam tolerance, and increasing the likelihood of site penalties over time.

This isn’t an issue for most legitimate site owners, as it takes roughly 50-percent spammy backlinks in your profile to trigger a Penguin site penalty, but when Penguin came out, a site needed to have 80-percent of it’s backlinks classified as spam to attract the attention of Google.

Still, a site with 50-percent spammy links isn’t watching their profile all that carefully, and is probably engaging in some pretty questionable strategies. The concern is where Google will draw the line. Will they keep tightening their grip until only 5-percent of backlinks are allowed to be “spammy”? We won’t have any idea until another Penguin update appears.

Human error is an unavoidable part of PPC campaigns. Unfortunately, when dealing with large lists of keywords or the minute details of URL tracking and geotargeting, there’s bound to be a couple of screw ups.

Melissa Mackey, of Search Engine Watch, compiled a list of some of the most common mistakes being made by PPC vets and how you can fix them when they inevitably happen to you. Not only is it a nice way to see what may be coming for you in the future, but it is also a reminder to always take that few extra minutes to check the details and then check again after your campaign gets up and running.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAFew new designers appreciate how important design briefs are. It usually takes a few years and a couple frustrating and seemingly directionless projects to realize how effective briefs are in giving a designer good direction, and saving designers from numerous redrafts.

Even once you realize how importance a design brief is, many designers have trouble integrating them into their practice. How do you get that type of information out of a client? What do I ask?

That last question is probably the most notable. Asking the right questions can give you all the information you need to make a great finished product, but you have to know what to ask. In Claire Roper’s opinion, it only takes ten questions to make a great design brief.

Of course, even if you followed Claire’s rule, you’ll find yourself asking way more than that. For example, if you ask your client, “what do you want to achieve with the design,” there is no way for a client to respond that won’t solicit at least five follow up questions from a good designer.

The goal of a good design brief is to collect as much information as possible from your client to know what they want out of a project, and that involves asking questions you might not otherwise consider. You want to learn everything about the company you are representing, their history, and how they do work, but you also want to learn exactly what they like.

Asking a client to show you designs they like may seem like the first step to plagiarism  but its far from it. As a designer, your tastes are likely different from your client, and you need to know what each client likes. Asking them to show you what they like and dislike will give you a better idea of what you are trying to create and what to stay away from.

While you can start out with ten questions to ask clients, don’t stop there. Ask questions until you feel confident you understand the desires of your client and their business as a whole. These ten questions will get you going, but if your client isn’t bothered by answering twenty-one question, you should ask as many as you need.

Source: WikiCommons

Source: WikiCommons

It is no secret how important a mobile SEO strategy is in today’s market, especially with predictions coming out stating mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage in the next year.

Eventually, mobile search could catch up to desktop search, and users aren’t just staying on any website they find. Two-thirds of consumers say they are more likely to purchase from a website that has a mobile-friendly website, and more than a few survey has shown how low-quality sites or long load times repel searchers like a disease.

You probably knew all this. The debate over the importance of a mobile SEO strategy is over. The real question for most web designer’s is how do I achieve a mobile-friendly website? You have two options: a responsive web design, or an entirely separate mobile website.

There are pros and cons to both methods of course, but gradually it appears responsive designs are winning, especially when SEO is a factor. Jay Taylor, writer for Search Engine Watch, breaks down three reasons why responsive design seems to be taking the lead.

The biggest reason stems from a big endorsement from Google. It is an SEO professional’s job to please the almighty Google, since they command more searches than all of the other engines combined, and Google loves responsive design so much they called it the best practice for the industry.

Google’s preference for responsive design is likely because responsive sites have one URL and the same source code, regardless of how it is viewed, which makes the site easier for Google to crawl and contextualize. Separate mobile sites, on the other hand, have separate URLs and HTML, which complicates everything for the search engine.

Further more, content on responsive sites is easier for users to interact with and share than content that is separated between different websites. If that seems weird, imagine what happens when you get a link over Facebook from a friend who was on their phone. If you open that link on your desktop, you might get sent to a stripped-down mobile website if they use the separate website method.

When Google recommends a method for achieving your mobile SEO strategy, it is always best to do as they say, but there are other reasons responsive design is slowly taking over the search market. It allows a more uniform experience across devices, and makes managing your entire strategy easier. Everyone likes their work to be easy right?

AdWords recently introduced a new feature capable of showing your ads to more users, while also delivering a highly targeted audience. It sounds too good to be true, but, as Jeremy Decker reports for Search Engine Journal, the ‘similar audience’ feature makes it a reality.

The new feature picks up where remarketing leaves off. Now, not only will prevous visitors of your site be shown your ads, but also other users who have a similar search history as those users. This means that those who may be interested in your product but have not yet found your site will be shown your message and, hopefully, driven to your site.