Brands looking to extend their user engagement and find new ways to reach out to the public may have a new avenue out of an older web property. Yahoo has totally revamped their Answers site, attempting to bring it back to relevancy and making it more social and mobile friendly.

Answers used to be a thriving Q&A network, but over time it has really fallen in terms of quality, reliability, and general usage. Greg Sterling argues that it is still the most successful “help engine” though in my opinion that is questionable. One issue that led to Answers’ downfall was lack of quality control.

Either way, the years have not been kind to the property, just like numerous other Yahoo properties. Now CEO Marissa Mayer has decided to update and revive Yahoo’s products and Answers is the most recent to get the treatment.

The new features on Answers build in more social aspects, as well as making the site mobile friendly. Users will notice they can now add images and videos to their posts. The hurdle they have to overcome now is curating and improving the quality of the property.

If Yahoo follows through with quality control, Answers may very well offer some lucrative opportunities for audience outreach. One of the best services a brand can offer online consumers is to answer their questions reliably and honestly. It builds trust in the brand as well as cementing your reputation in your field.

It still remains to be seen if Answers will prove to be valuable, but it is something to keep an eye on.

Yahoo Answers Screenshot

Google LogoYesterday you may have noticed a couple changes when you opened up Google. The first is the most obvious – it was accompanied by a little help box explaining the change – but Google has officially implemented their new app launcher in the main Google navigation bar for quick and easy access to other Google products.

You’ll be familiar with this app launcher if you use Android devices or Chromebook computers. Search Engine Land also reports that the grid-style launcher has been in testing since February or earlier.

Google App Launcher

The other change is a lot more subtle, but still of note for the design community. Google has flattened their logo, keeping up with the hot trend. Flat design is especially popular at the moment as Apple’s new flat iOS also rolled out earlier this week. The colors in the Google logo are also slightly different, but you won’t be too thrown off by the tweaks.

Many will have already seen the updates, but if you’re Google page still looks the same as it always has, be patient. Google says it should be completely rolled out over the next couple months on most Google products.

Risk Everything


For much of the history of the internet, one of the biggest guiding pressures was to fit as much content into the immediately visible area of the page while also providing an aesthetically pleasant view. The focus on “above-the-fold” design meant most sites generally have a header taking up 20-30 percent of the screen, including navigation, with content immediately available below. But, these days many designers are eschewing the old ways in favor of going big.

Many web designers are using oversized layouts with large, gorgeous images and videos, and luscious typography to immediately catch visitors’ attention. They make a statement immediately, and encourage users to begin interacting with the site. By opening the composition of your page and expanding everything, you push users to take in the sight and then start scrolling to see more, especially when combined with parallax scrolling and effects. As Carrie Cousins explains, “because the design is divided into screens that are unique, having something supersize on each is a great way to keep users interacting with the content.”

These types of websites also show that the designer or brand pushes past the standard for something more. Rather than relying on stock images, these oversized layouts are based on unique and visually exciting imagery. You get to showcase great visuals, which then showcase your own work.

The copy on your page also gets more attention on oversized layouts. There are less huge blocks of text to overstimulate the user at once, while the impressive layout draws attention to the text. Oversized layouts also allow designers to increase the size of text, demanding the attention of viewers. This is all bolstered by the use of quality typography which is allowed to standout on these types of layouts.

Cousins has a few other tips which will help designers play with the new larger possibilities of web design. While many clients may call for something more traditional, some projects allow you to expand your abilities and demand more of viewers while rewarding them with a gratifying user experience.

Google +1If you ask some marketing professionals, they may acts as if it is common knowledge that Google +1’s help raise your rankings on the search engine results. However, that “knowledge” is more an assumption based on a few correlation studies such as those done by Searchmetrics and Moz. These studies found extremely high correlation between Google +1’s and high rankings, but as you should know, correlation does not equal causation.

In fact, Google’s most prominent mouthpiece and Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts has openly debunked the theory that more +1’s lead to higher rankings. But, that only sparked more debate. Whether or not there is a causative link between these two is much more fuzzy than many might tell you.

In an attempt to get to the bottom of this question, Stone Temple Consulting decided to conduct a real study of the effect Google +1’s have on search rankings. The difference is this study would be a real examination of causation, not correlation. The result: “Google Plus Shares did not drive any material ranking changes that we could detect.”

Eric Enge, leader of the study, did admit there were some possible limitations to the study. One of the biggest issues is the potential amount of links not showing up in the monitoring tools used in the study. In Enge’s estimate, the cumulative links found by Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO, and Ahrefs is at best 50 percent of the total links to a site. It could even be as low as 30 percent of the links.

There was also a fair chance that general ranking movement and algorithm adjustments that are always occurring might not have been noticed in the study. In general, all studies of this sort are also very vulnerable to Google’s general complexity. There are so many factors involved which are not fully disclosed that any number of things could not have been taken into account.

Enge admits to these issues early, but he still stands by his study and the findings. He published a full review and report of the study and its methodology on Stone Temple Consulting’s website earlier this week. You can find all of the dirty details there, but the simplest conclusion is that Google shares are not driving up rankings. There will of course be many who still don’t believe this, and the debate will go on, but this tilts the scales away from what was considered conventional wisdom by many.

Internship PosterAn online marketer’s day is often very hectic. There are so many things you have to take care of for your campaigns and sites, but then you also have to manage clients. Thankfully, if you work at a larger company, you may have the benefit of keeping interns around.

Internships are a common and popular way for college students or recent graduates to get experience in their field of choice. In some cases, these internships directly lead to full-time employment, while in others it simply gives the interns the skills and experience needed to break into their field. Many places offer paid internships, which pay less than full-time employment, but it is not uncommon for interns to work for free.

One of the best areas online marketers can utilize interns in is PPC. There are many tasks for well-rounded PPC management that are not overly difficult, but simply extraordinarily time consuming. These interns are generally highly tech-savvy and come well-experienced at creating nice Excel and Word documents, which make them perfectly suited for many of the tasks, and a good intern will be ready to learn the skills they need to manage PPC work.

Melissa Mackey pinpointed six specific PPC tasks that are a perfect fit for interns. They offer specific but varying skills which will benefit the interns in their career, while also saving you some tedious work.

1) Keyword Research

PPC absolutely relies on keywords, and every PPC professional has spent more hours than they can count undertaking keyword research. It is a critical part of the process, but it can take more time than many other tasks. Interns can help cut down a long list of keyword suggestions for the PPC manager, or you can train them to do more in depth research. Of course, you probably don’t want to let them make the final call on keywords, but you will save yourself time by getting them involved.

2) Search Query Reports

Search query reports are part and parcel of PPC and keyword research. It must be done, but it is an utter time-drain that could easily be done by an intern. Your intern should be able to identify potential positive and negative keywords, while they learn some of the basics of PPC.

3) Competitor Research

When you are researching your competitors, they are usually putting effort into their campaigns. Of course, they do research into you too, but any time you are pulled away from active efforts is potentially time spent falling behind competitors. Tools can help cut down the time you put into research, but you can also have your intern pull data from competitive tools for you. They can also run AdWords auction insights reports regularly. This means you can keep an eye on the competition without having to be pulled away from your own efforts.

4) Ad Copy Test Ideas

If you’ve been running an account for a while, you should be updating ad copy tests every month. But, after a while you can begin to run out of new ideas to test. Enter your intern with their own new ideas. Interns can come up with many ideas for ad copy that you’ve never thought of, and as Mackey says, “there are very few bad ideas when it comes to ad copy.”

5) Audits

An HTML-smart intern can be a great benefit for auditing a website. You can have them place a test order or fill out a test form, as well as checking conversion tracking codes along the way. Interns might not be able to run complete PPC account audits, however they can help with those efforts too. They can find ad groups with too many keywords, or keywords with poor quality scores.

6) Reporting

Reporting is often a PPC manager’s absolute least favorite task. Reporting can take up entire days at the beginning of the month, and that is you have good automation tools. Praise the lord interns can be taught to pull reporting data and help organize it so it flows well. PPC managers will just have to add analysis and insight.


Since the introduction of Google’s Penguin algorithm many have suggested that links are no longer important for SEO. I’ve even seen some misguided folks suggesting all links are outright bad. As usual the truth is more complicated than that.

It has become such a common issue that veteran SEO writer used his regular column over at Search Engine Watch to attempt to fully answer whether links are important for SEO these days. The exact question he was asked was “do you feel Google is putting less emphasis on links as part of their algorithm?”

The truth is there are a variety of types of links that have been devalued and count very little or are poisonous to your SEO. BUT, these links were almost entirely the type “that never should have been counting in the first place.”

You see, the types of links being devalued are being brought down because they are spammy. Google has gotten increasingly smarter and better at its job of helping people find what they want on the internet without running into spam or low-quality sites. The devalued links come from junk directories, link networks, paid link brokers, article databases, link wheels, etc. The list could go on and on. But, this hasn’t brought down the quality links that good SEO professionals have built.

In Ward’s opinion, quality links matter even more now. Google can tell a lot of information about links in your profile, and they are swift to penalize low quality or spammy links, but they are even more rewarding to those who have the “right” kind of links.

Any SEO professional or online marketer you hire to help raise your brand’s profile online should be able to tell the difference between good and bad links. They know what Google doesn’t like, and they stay out of trouble. However, the best online marketers know that organic search traffic and link building are only a part of a much larger system.

iOS 7 IconAs Apple announced last Tuesday, iOS 7 will be here September 18, and everyone with an iPhone or iPad will be seeing drastic aesthetic changes to their device. The redesign also inspired quite a bit of controversy and argument, but at this point there is little use fighting the new “almost flat” design requirements for apps and the Apple interface. The new iOS will be here in a few days, and designers have to either get on board or get left behind.

With a new iOS comes a complete redesign of most apps as well. Apple has already released guidelines for users to update their apps, and many have already shown drastic changes. But, many designers are still trying to figure out how to adapt their old app to the new style and interface requirements. But, there are many tools to help you along with the redesign. Alvaris Falcon compiled 10 of the best high quality tools and UI kits that will speed up the whole process. Best of all, all of the tools listed are free.

Many of these tools are designed to help you with the entire process all at once. The iPhone GUI from Teehan+Lax, for example, included everything you could need to update an app for the latest version of iOS. Others are more specialized. There is Home Screen, which offers an editable iPhone mockup, complete with home screen designs and icons. The App Icons Template similarly offers a simple template which aims to ensure your new icon looks great and fits all the requirements.

There are plenty of other options at your fingertips and it is up to you to choose the best tools for the way you design. Some will want to rely heavily on complete toolkits, while other designers are only looking for templates and inspiration for their creative jumping off point. Either way, if you choose any of the resources listed by Falcon, you’ll know you’re using a quality tool.

iPhone GUI

Twitter LogoIt may not come as a surprise to those who have been watching closely, but this week Twitter put the rumors to rest by officially filing for their IPO. Twitter was naturally assumed to be the next major online technology company to file for an IPO after Facebook went public.

Twitter announced their submission of an S-1 to the SEC exactly how you would expect; they tweeted the news yesterday. The announcement read: “We’ve confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO. This Tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale.”

One of the most interesting factors of the filing is that Twitter filed a “secret” IPO, and the terms will be kept secret under new regulations from the JOBS Act, which allow small businesses to keep their financial information from the public.

According to The Verge, Twitter is the first well-known web company to file for a “secret” IPO, but it also confirms that Twitter has less than $1 billion in revenue. They will eventually have to release their financial information, but not until “the road show part of their public offering,” as Search Engine Watch explains.

Blogger Portrait

Source: Marisa Vasquez

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve likely heard how important creating content is to your SEO strategy. For larger companies, it isn’t hard to find resources for solid content creation, but smaller businesses see a much larger hurdle. Smaller businesses means smaller budgets, but these businesses still need to find a way to market themselves.

Social media and blogs have made it easier than ever to create and share content with your audience, so small businesses have many more feasible options than in the past. This content creates a relationship with your audience and cements your brand as a trusted resource, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg as long as you focus on the right types of content. Phillip Thune highlighted four of the best ways small businesses can deliver quality content without destroying their budget.


No matter what your marketing strategy, if you have on online presence (which you should) you need to have a blog. A blog is the cornerstone of any SEO or online marketing plans, and it offers you a convenient way to share new products, industry news, and interesting facts with your consumers. Not only does a blog give your company a voice, it also improves your SEO so that more people can find you. Plus, when something gets posted, it can be easily shared to all the most popular social media platforms.


Ebooks are digital books or publications that people can easily receive via the internet. They can then be read on your computer or any tablet or smartphone. These publications share information and establish credibility by showing your expertise to your clients. Most businesses request information such as an email address for these ebooks, so they also generate leads. These require a bit more effort on a single concentrated piece of content, but they often gain more traction than blogs so long as you create something valuable to readers and you share it enough to be seen.

Slide Presentations

You have no doubt put together a few slide presentations throughout your career, and are familiar with their easy-to-read format. They are used for sales presentations and conferences, but they can also be used to share educational content. These slideshows are easily shared on SlideShare, YouTube, or Vimeo, and will help gain trust and reputability within your field.

Press Releases

Press releases have long been the best way to spread information and establish credibility in your market and your local community. They announce information about new products or services, while also showcasing your brand’s place as a respected part of your community. Traditionally, these are shared with journalists or newswires, but they also encourage bloggers and other publications to share your story. Sharing your press releases will help small businesses establish relationships with journalists within your community, but you can also share them online to spread directly to your customers.

Nexus FontIf you haven’t heard from me and every other web design writer, typography is a really big deal in web design right now. How you decide to use typography on your website can affect how your audience perceives you and judges your quality. But there are so many options. Your font should always be legible, but it also needs to be charming and visually interesting.

If you use the correct font in a design, you can greatly enhance the finished product. But, if you are careless and choose a font that doesn’t fit, it will stick out like a sore thumb. To put it simply, websites are absolutely reliant on typography.

As any designer can tell you however, a font collection can quickly become a huge pain. There are constantly new free and premium fonts coming out that you have to keep up with, or at least regularly browse. Then, you have to actually manage to organize and sort these, then figure out which to use in your next project. This can mean making lists, and doing constant comparisons between fonts.

Wouldn’t you like a tool or program to help you with all this? Of course you would, and of course the web design community has you already taken care of you with many options for both Mac and Windows. Andra Postolache collected a few of the best font management tools. Some are costly, while others are free. The only way to know whats right for you is to try them out.