Perhaps one of the most effective ways to market your business on social media is to use it as a customer service tool. The benefits include being able to publicly respond and alleviate any negative feedback or issues and it shows other potential customers that they’ll have a direct line to you.

As Business Journal reports however, great customer service, which in turn means great PR for your business, doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning and effectively executing that plan.

That all starts simply enough by having the right people in place. If you want great customer service, you should employ a staff capable of humanizing your social media presence while staying within your desired message. Second, in order for them to execute your plan, they have to know what it is. You should clearly define and spell out how quickly they should respond to messages and a plan of action of how to deal with them.

While building your customer service practices, be sure to measure how well you’re doing just as you would study analytics for new ad campaigns. If your customer service isn’t bringing you more customers or more repeat business, you need to change something.

Flat Design IconsFlat design doesn’t seem to be going away. The popular use of pastel colors and minimalistic layouts is getting bigger every day, and even the biggest proponents of skeuomorphism (ahem, Apple) seem to be caving to the new focus on designing for the screen rather than designing based on the physical world.

For many designers, this might mean an entire overhaul of your site if you are trying to stick with the trends. However, before you go banging your head against the wall about having to build your site from the ground up, remember that any big web design trend probably has tons of free resources already available to help speed up the conversion.

This is obviously the case with flat design, and while there are scripts to help with making a flat web site responsive or managing navigation, there are also free sets that will help you fill out the details of your site with any icon you need in a style that will match your new page.

Speckyboy recently compiled twenty free icon sets that will help with navigation, social sharing, or payment methods that your users will be seeing. Designmodo also created their own personal set of icons they shared wih their readers designed specifically for social media and sharing.

The icons are all high quality, resizable PNGs or PSD files, and you won’t have to worry so much about the tiny details while you’re working on the bigger picture of your site. Oh, and don’t be confused if you think many of them look like app icons. Rounded corners and geometric shapes are a big part of flat design.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Penguin 2.0 only affected 2.3% of search queries, but you would think it did much more from the response online. Ignoring all of the worrying before the release, there have been tons of comments about the first-hand effects it seems many are dealing with in the post-Penguin 2.0 web. Those spurned by the new Penguin algorithm have even accused Google of only releasing the update to increase their profitability.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, used his recent Webmaster Chat video to attack that idea head on. The main question he was asked is what aspect of Google updates Cutts thinks the SEO industry doesn’t understand. While Matt expresses concern about the amount of people who don’t get the difference between algorithm updates and data refreshes, Cutts’ main focus is the concept that Google is hurting web owners to improve their profits.

Most notably, the algorithm updates simply aren’t profitable. Google experienced decreases in their revenue from almost all their recent updates, but Cutts says that money isn’t the focus. Google is aiming at improving the quality of the internet experience, especially search. While site owners using questionable methods are upset, most searchers will hopefully feel that the updates have improved their experience, which will keep them coming back and using Google.

As far as the misunderstandings between algorithm updates and data refreshes, Cutts has expanded on the problem more elsewhere. The biggest difference is that the algorithm update changes how the system is working while data refreshes do not and only change the information the system is using or seeing.

Cutts was also asked which aspect of SEO that we are spending too much time on, which leads Cutts to one of the main practices that Penguin focuses on: link building. Too many SEOs are still putting too much faith in that single practice though it is being destabilized by other areas that more directly affect the quality of users’ experiences such as creating compelling content. Instead, Matt urges SEOs to pay more attention to design and speed, emphasizing the need to create the best web experience possible.

Cutts’ video is below, but the message is that Google is going to keep growing and evolving, whether you like it or not. If you listen to what they say and tell you about handling your SEO, you may have to give up some of your old habits but you’ll spend much less time worrying about the next algorithm update.


After all these years and new Adobe programs, Photoshop is still the tool for designers. It is the tool of the trade no matter what style you like, whether you do digital painting, sign style design, or photo manipulation. But, Photoshop is to us like the scalpel is to surgeons; in skilled hands it is a great tool, but it can be dangerous if misused.

Unlike when a surgeon makes a mistake, it can sometimes be hard to tell when you are misusing Photoshop or creating a design others aren’t going to respond to. When you’re learning the program, there is so much at your fingertips it can be tempting to use everything, even when you don’t quite know what it does. It also offers many different solutions to problems – some better than others – so it is easy for the uninitiated to complete the task they wanted without getting the right results.

Jay Adrianna, writer for Onextrapixel, recently wrote about thirteen incredibly common Photoshop mistakes designers and photo editors make, as well as easy ways to fix them. Whether you are a beginner, or someone more used to the program looking to refine your techniques and improve your finished products, it is almost guaranteed there is something you can learn from the tips offered. As always, the key is moderation.

Source: John Sutton

Source: John Sutton

Blogs are an important part of marketing and SEO. Publishing content on a regular basis allows you to connect with your audience in more direct ways while also helping establish your brand and it’s value. You can generate leads through your community and demonstrate your own expertise while your at it, which makes it a great multi-faceted positive marketing technique.

While it is great as a general marketing method, blogging also helps your SEO by making search engines value your site more. The more content you are putting out, the more crawling the search engines will do of your site, while Google and Bing also recognize your perceived value within your field from your community. Blogs also allow you to do natural link building without getting into questionable connections to other sites, and you’ll have content that can be easily shared through social media.

Just because blogging is inherently good for SEO, it doesn’t mean your blog is as optimized as it could be. Many companies have blogs that are hardly optimized for search, and because of this they aren’t getting the rewards out of it that they could be.

Optimizing your blog isn’t all that hard, especially if you’re using a popular CMS or publishing platform like WordPress, but you have to be willing to take the time to correct the missteps. Ken Lyons pointed out six common ways that blogs fail to optimize. If you just follow through on his suggestions, you’ll find your blog will start performing beyond your wildest dreams.

Many of the suggestions can be done through simply making some changes to your CMS like adding plugins that establish related posts. Making your content easy to find is crucial to search engines, because they crawl pages by simply following links and mapping out the page. If it takes a dozen clicks to find something, there is less chance the crawlers will ever see it. Adding related posts to the end of blog posts allows readers to more easily find content on the topic they are learning about, without having to go back to the search engine, while also improving the navigation of your site and boosting your SEO value.

Similarly, adding previous or next post links at the end of posts on your blog improves the net style navigation you want on your site while also keeping viewers immersed in content. They don’t have to go back to the list of posts unless they want to, and there are even more ways to access individual posts than before. Rather than isolated points in your site map, your posts become part of a chain or a thread creating a larger net.

You can add some things to your site that don’t affect navigability, but will start bringing in many more eyes than before. Many companies are learning how much social media can help their brands, and there are still many ways for companies to capitalize on social media. The most common way this is done is by adding sharing buttons which allow readers to bring content they find important or interesting to the attention of their friends, family, and peers. If people are sharing your content, it is more easily found, even by search engines.

Lyons had three more ways you can juice up your blogging and get the views your content deserves, but there are many more ways you can make your blog more efficient in SEO terms. Navigation is key, but you also just want to make sure your site is as easy to use as possible and find ways to make people want to stay on the page.