Bing Ads is the clear runner-up in to AdWords in the search engine advertising game, but they’ve seen a way to set themselves apart and give users something AdWords is not. Recently, Bing jumped on AdWords introduction of ‘Enhanced Campaigns’ and, more importantly, the vocal concerns of some users. The general manager of the search network, David Pann, announced that Bing would not be bundling mobile, desktop and tablet advertising together and would give users the flexibility to control their own campaigns.

Not only is this a clever step by Bing to promote itself while putting down Google, but it also gives advertisers an alternative to ‘Enhanced Campaigns’. There’s never been much of a difference between Bing and AdWords, but now you can trade one for the other based on your preferences. Of course, one still comes with a fairly significantly larger audience.

Read more about Bings recent announcements, including some planned changes and the future direction of the product at Search Engine Land.

Many website owners and SEOs have seen it happen. Your website is getting going, and Google is responding to your content with decent initial rankings. Everything seems fine, then gradually your ranking starts plummeting with no explanation.

You could time every day checking your rankings watching for this to happen  but that is a waste of time, as Search Engine Journal explains. Checking rankings isn’t an income generating activity, and your time is simply better spent elsewhere, like creating content or networking.

So then what is there to do about this mystery fall in the rankings? First, we have to understand what is happening, which Matt Cutts so helpfully explains in one of his latest YouTube videos.

Cutts uses an analogy of an earthquake to get to the heart of what is occurring. When an earthquake hits, the news about it is pretty broad. We know where it happened, but not many more details. Similarly, when content is posted, Google’s initial read of it is pretty wide. It is a best guess about where your content should rank.

As time goes by after an earthquake, we learn more and more. You will find out how much damage is caused, how many people died, how many aftershocks there were, and much more. As Google learns more about your content, it adjusts rankings. It contextualizes your content within the broader scope and repositions as needed.

So what can be done if you see your site drop in the ratings like this? Change up your practice. Most likely, your content is appearing to be quality at first, but Google is gradually peeling back the facade and seeing what your website really is, and it doesn’t like it.

Parallax scrolling was on almost everyone’s list of predictions for this year, but the community has been oddly quiet on the topic for a little while, most likely because it requires more finesse than many of the other trends on the tips of designers’ tongues.

To use parallax scrolling, you have to thoroughly understand what it is and how to use it. You can’t just follow a simple tutorial. You have to design around parallax ideas which requires much more time and focus.

To see the effect in action, click the image.

To see the effect in action, click the image.

For those unfamiliar with the niche trend, parallax scrolling is a technique that happens when multiple layers of information and images are combined and move at different speeds to create movement, depth, or a 3-D appearance. What makes parallax scrolling different from other similar uses of this technique is putting the power in the hands of the user. Instead of an automated effect, the visitor controls the illusion with their mouse.

It is a tricky method to master, and requires quality resources to work properly. A great parallax scrolling page is easily ruined with low quality images. The scrolling can be vertical or horizontal. Though vertical scrolling is by far the more popular, horizontal scrolling is gaining a following slowly.

While it is difficult, parallax has some unique advantages over other types of designs. Many use the technique simply for aesthetics, but it also changes how users interact and read a webpage.

One of the easiest ways to see how parallax changes browsing patters is to look at its storytelling capabilities. Parallax scrolling can turn your average webpage into an interactive storybook that users can move through at their own pace. Where videos usually require sound and complete attention, stories can be told with parallax scrolling that puts the user in control, and won’t be as prone to get visitors in trouble when their at work.

Parallax scrolling is also especially adept at showcasing products. Like an online catalog  parallax techniques can make it appear as if you are flipping through a group of products, or seeing multiple angles of the same item for a better idea of what it really looks like, all while keeping the focus directly on the product by putting it front and center.

Carrie Cousins from Designmodo has a few other ideas of how you can use parallax scrolling, but the best thing to keep in mind about parallax scrolling is, as Cousins says, “the backbone of parallax is user experience.” Parallax techniques engage and intrigue users in a way that makes them feel as if they are experiencing web sites in a new way entirely. Don’t squander it with bad UX.

Years ago, all a local business had to do was build a lot of links and their business would show up on the first results page. SERPs have gotten much more competitive in that time, and Google has introduced a strict local algorithm, so now local SEO has become a unique sector that is often more difficult to implement than almost any other online marketing strategy.

You can always hire a company to take care of all of your SEO needs, but if you have a tight budget and are willing to get your hands dirty, there are steps you can take to try to get onto the coveted first page of local results, called the 7 Pack. You’ll recognize the 7 Pack as the listing of businesses directly under the map of the area. Search Engine Journal set out a five step plan to improve your local business rankings.

The first step is checking to see if your target keywords actually trigger the local algorithm. Usually simply including key phrase combinations such as the city and most important keyword should connect with the local search results, but sometimes this doesn’t work. If that is the case, then it would seem your SEO strategy should be less localized as Google doesn’t register your service as part of its local algorithm.

One of this biggest tricks for local businesses is knowing where to establish your company online. Google’s algorithm always gives preference to businesses located within the city limits searched for, often called the “centroid” bias. This means Google will rank businesses located closer to the heart of the city higher than those on the outskirts if all other factors are equal.

For businesses located in suburbs or just outside of city limits this is poses a big question. Most want to capitalize on the bigger market from the closest city than the small market in their local town, but trying to rank in a metropolitan area when you aren’t physically established within that boundary is a incredibly difficult task. You have to decide if you want to fight to get into the rankings for the city, and possibly only achieving the second or third page on the local listings, or you can aim to corner the market in your town and rank first every time for a smaller audience.

Deciding that move usually requires determining how competitive your niche is, and even businesses already well situated in a metropolitan market will be rewarded for investigating. The quickest way to find out how competitive your market is starts ith taking the #1 ranking in the 7 Pack and copying all of their information exactly as it is displayed in the search bar with quotation marks. This gives you an approximate estimate as to how many directories and citations you will need to outrank the top listing in the 7 Pack. You can do the same for the lowest ranking. Your results obviously have to outdo the lowest ranked business in the 7 Pack to overtake it, so exploring will give you an idea just how tall the SEO mountain you have to climb is.

Once you’ve done your research you can actually begin working on your local SEO, but the process will be much easier thanks to informed decisions only possible through understanding your local online market. Search Engine Journals last two steps can get you going on improving your local site’s ranking but nothing happens overnight. Local SEO is competitive and time consuming, but without it you are falling behind the times.

Gumby 2

A month after their last version of the responsive front-end framework, Gumby, was released, Digital Surgeons has launched a complete re-imagination in the form of Gumby 2. There are of course tons of new features, and it was rewritten in Sass to make the tool framework more customizable.

As Speckyboy Design Magazine tells it, the original version of Gumby came out of frustrations with trying to migrate to a responsive web design process. Gumby 2 takes their initial solution and makes it more efficient and useful for a variety of different front-end development problems.

One of the new changes in full integration with Google WebFonts which makes embedding custom fonts into your prototypes and sites a breeze. Rather than dealing with licensing and hosting issues, all you have to do now is drop a link or create a custom build. You can have all the typographic flair you have always wanted without all the old hang ups.

It also comes with a UI Kit so that you can build numerous UI elements quickly. Buttons, tabs, forms, and navigation can all be prototyped and customized to fit your site and Gumby 2 offers different styles so that you can pick what best suits your design.

Gumby 2 also helps you hop onto design trends such as Symbol or Icon Fonts. These fonts are sets of symbols to be used for navigation or general iconography. Instead of maintaining huge databases of different icons in various sizes, symbol fonts can be resized endlessly in the same way font characters can be. Gumby 2 comes with the symbol font Entypo by Daniel Bruce, which should cover all the needs of most websites.

Another useful trend that Gumby 2 integrates is responsive image capabilities so that mobile users and computer owners with high density displays see a pretty layout instead of pixelated, blurry images. Responsive frameworks tend to take care of all the layout needs, but they generally leave images and iconography behind. Gumby changes that by making the use of retina images intuitive with a simple attribute on an image tag.

While some frameworks may handle individual problems better, especially for more development minded people, Gumby 2 offers a wide solution for many problems which designers trying to transition to coding will doubtlessly appreciate. It saves time and helps ease you into the world of development without too much pain.

Source: Hannes Grobe

Source: Hannes Grobe

Compared to Panda’s regular changes, Google’s Penguin algorithm has been relatively static. Since its first introduction in April of last year, Penguin has only been refreshed twice, but there is an update coming soon and it appears this “next generation” of Penguin will have a major impact.

The first big Penguin update took the SEO world by surprise. It was originally referred to as the Web Spam Algorithm Update, and impacted over 3 percent of English searches. This change has the possibility of affecting just as many pages.

When the original update came out by surprise, many SEO experts and website owners claimed they were penalized unfairly, though the more done by the community the more it appears many of those were using questionable tactics. There were likely a very small number of site owners unjustly hurt, but the majority were simply erring on the wrong side of the line.

The possibility of having your website penalized has many in the community concerned about the new Penguin update, and while we don’t know too much about what the update holds for us, plenty of SEO writers are making predictions and suggestions to try to keep innocent site owners safe.

Search Engine Watch analyzed the types of data Google has been gathering and what the company has learned from the past year of spam filtering and through tools like the Link Disavow Tool.

Google’s new update is likely to be a more efficient, intelligent, and thorough algorithm to fight spam. As always, the best way to be sure you will be safe when Penguin rolls around is to be following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and best practices for SEO. If you think you may be in the gray area, you can use Search Engine Watch’s analysis to see how to judge your site before Google judges it for you.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic equation that can turn any company’s AdWords campaigns into efficient, low-cost, money makers. There are so many variables that you simply have to do your own leg work to find what works and what doesn’t. But, you aren’t completely on your own. There are some tips and tricks that will help you find your way and Lisa Raehsler has a handful of them for you at Clickz.

As you may have noticed, you’ll want to focus on keywords and ad scheduling to make the most productive impact on your campaigns. You can save money and deliver a more focused audience by simply paying attention to the details in these two areas.

You may also want to toy with the automatic bidding option to reduce your cost-per-click. Whatever you do, don’t settle. Continue to tinker and improve.

Source: Search Engine Watch

Source: Search Engine Watch

While there are always new, complicated, and exciting things happening in SEO to talk about, it is always good to get back to the basics occasionally and discuss what makes a great foundation for all of the more fancy aspects of SEO.

Carolyn Shelby, Director of SEO for the Chicago Tribune and 435 Digital, emphasized the need to not neglect the basics of SEO at the Introduction to SEO session at SES New York. She told the crowd, “skipping the basics and spending all your time and money on social and ‘fancy stuff’ is the same as skipping brushing your teeth and showering, but buying white strips and wearing expensive cologne.”

That session was aimed at newcomers, but her words are just as relevant to seasoned SEO experts. Just as your morning routine should always include brushing your teeth, your SEO strategy should always pa the proper attention to the basic SEO.

Getting back to the basics starts at the very top, with establishing exactly what SEO is. SEO aims to do two things: create an enjoyable user experience, and communicate with search engines so that they will view your site as valuable to users. Many forget those ideas in favor of trying to cheat the search engines, but those actions are to SEO what stealing is to shopping. You may get the end product you wanted, but if you use questionable or illegal means, you will just as likely be penalized.

Once you understand what you should be aiming to achieve through SEO, you have to understand what the search engines are actually looking for and not looking for.

Search engines judge websites based on a variety of different criteria but the most reliable factors all circle around user experience, reputation, and what content you give to user. Relevant content and seamless user experience establish value to your website, even if you’re just starting out. If you make sure those two elements are consistently worth the time of visitors, gradually you will build a reputation through authorship, and you will see your site getting closer to the top of rankings.

If you please users with your website and content, generally you will also please the search engines’ most basic wants. However, if you focus on the broad idea of what search engines are looking for and try to cheat your way to the top, you will instead be surprised to see the search engines penalizing you. Keyword stuffing and purchased links may have worked in the past, but Google knows how to spot them, and you will be cut from the SERPs before you know it.

Those guiding principles will get you a long ways in SEO, but there is always more to do. I only covered three of the eight topics Search Engine Watch talks about in their article about the basics of SEO, but their comment section shows there is even more that could be included in just the most basic elements of SEO. Start with making your website worthwhile to visitors, then expand your SEO repertoire, and you will see positive results.

There is a lot of fun in web designing, but creating web forms is not involved in any way. Not only are forms time consuming and insanely frustrating, but they also become a difficult task when you need things like conditional logic, multi-page forms, and payment integration.

Thankfully, there are always helpful tools out there to make the process a little faster and a lot less of a headache. Vandelay Design collected twelve options for making these forms, and they cover everything from the simple little forms to the complicated multi-page forms you always hate making.

Wufoo is probably the most popular thanks to its easy to interact with user interface and wealth of features including custom branding, payment integration, and even file upload capabilities amongst many other options. It also has over 150 pre-built form templates, spam prevention, and user management.

Wufoo Screenshot

The cost is the main drawback for most of the tools, especially for more independent or low-budget designers. There is a free option for Wufoo, but it only allows for 1 user, 10 form fields, and 100 entries per month.

The paid plans range from $20 a month to $200. Most of the others are similar in cost, though it depends on what they do, and what you plan on using the forms for. Many are priced depending on the number of users, forms, form fields, and entries per month.

There is a unique entry on Vandelay Design’s list, in that there is a WordPress plugin. Gravity Forms offers most of the same form building features you’ll find in most of the other resources, but its all available from the WordPress dashboard of the sites you are working on.

One of the most best benefits to Gravity Forms is that forms can be created to insert form data into blog posts, such as setting up a form where users can submit news or pictures to be posted to your site. It’s also just nice not having to change tools or sites to manage your forms.

The best tool for you all depends on what type of work you have to do, and how much you are willing to spend to speed up your time spent making forms. Sure, you could make the forms on your own, but isn’t your effort better spent elsewhere?


jQuery Mobile just released their newest version as a stable release, working to completely incorporate responsive web design into its library. According to Web Designer Depot, jQuery Mobile 1.3 comes with several new widgets optimized for mobile devices including smooth panel overlays, dual-handle range sliders, and two different options for responsive tablets.

The new panel widget opens up many options such as allowing hidden information to be displayed is a smooth, attractive way. There are three transitioning modes, all controlled by a swipe of the finger, or press of a keyboard.

One of the most notable new features of the list view is autocomplete. When searching for your criteria, you simply have to start typing and it will do the rest for you, just like Google’s search bar does.
jQuery has been a favorite for simplifying complex JavaScript tasks, but it has had difficulty bringing that to mobile devices, especially with their separate implementations for different platforms which confused many designers.

Many have wondered whether they should be using responsive web design or jQuery Mobile, but the new version makes it clear that their answer is simply to use both at the same time.