Charge your iPhone in less time & other great tips

Yes, you’re going to get a iPhone 6s pretty much immediately.  Me too.  But let’s at least go into it knowing a few more tricks that your current iPhone already has up its sleeve…

 

1. Put your phone in Airplane mode while charging to significantly cut down on charging time.

Swipe up from the bottom of your phone and tap the airplane icon to go into airplane mode.  This is great if you need quickly charge. It makes the charging time “fly” by — see what we did there?

2. Give your phone a quick jiggle to fix a mistake.

While writing an email, text, or editing a photo, shake your phone if you make a mistake and get this little guy prompting you to undo what you just did.  Note: Shaking harder will not un-send a text you didn’t mean to send.

3. Turn your phone sideways for a more detailed calendar

Seriously the easiest tip ever.  Just turn your phone sideways and get a better view of your calendar. But since you don’t use your calendar consistently, it’s just a better view of dates for you to squint at and say “I know something is happening on the 15th…..what was it again???”

4. View email drafts with one tap

Just tap and hold the Compose button in your email application to quickly access your drafts.  We have rewritten many an email because we didn’t want to take the laborious steps of finding the draft.  So this one is a personal favorite.

5. Set a timer for music or audiobooks to automatically turn off

This one is great.  Get your audio playing (music, audiobooks, whatever) then set a timer in the Clock app.  Under the “When Timer Ends” section, instead of choosing a sound, choose Stop Playing. That’s it!  Now you can take a nap while listening to your most guilty pleasure playlist (Christopher Cross, Spice Girls, Justin Bieber, and the like) and make sure it turns off before anyone comes home to hear it!  Thanks iPhone!

 

Did we miss any other life saving tips?

 

A Nerd’s back to school essentials

So, after 3 straight months of Minecrafting (with periodic breaks to Google questions nobody cares about the answers to) it’s time to go back to school.

These Nerd approved school supplies will help you get through the next 9 months in nerd style!

 

Tetris sticky notes

Not sure how functional these are (unless you already write in an “L” shape) but we LOVE the idea of them.  We think that to add to their authenticity, it should come with a bunch of L’s, T’s, Z’s and squares, but only a couple of straight lines!

Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/SUCK-UK-Block-Notes-Sticky/dp/B0054QM5HQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439824140&sr=8-1&keywords=tetris+post+its

 

Techy Pouches

Show off your true colors with these supply pouches.  Sure, 3.5″ disks haven’t been used since you installed the original Wolfenstein, and there’s probably an app where you can snap a picture of an angled line instead of using a protractor, but that’s what makes them great!  Relive your glory days through your children’s school supplies!

Find it here: http://www.modcloth.com/shop/office-desktop/tech-me-away-pouch-set

 

Mustache paper clips

Mustaches are classy, we all know that.  But it’s important to make sure everyone knows how classy you are even when you’re not around!  These mustache paper clips are perfect for holding together your lists of favorite Cabernet Sauvignons or your autographed Marx Brothers photographs.  Attaching them to any written document automatically adds an implied British accent to whoever is reading it.

Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Moustache-Office-Markers-Different-Styles/dp/B00545U5FQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439827770&sr=8-1&keywords=mustache+paper+clips

 

Game Controller Calculator

You have to keep your gaming chops up while you’re at school.  You think your opponents on the other side of the globe are allowing their thumbs to get lazy?  No.  They’re not.  They’re keeping them in tip top condition with thumb cozies, regular stretches and a gamers diet (Cheetos and Mountain Dew.)  This calculator will give you the edge you’ve been looking for.  It also maths for you too.

Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/8-digits-Game-Controller-Mini-Calculator/dp/B00TGE51ZU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439827939&sr=8-1&keywords=game+controller+calculator

 

Lego notebook

If you’re breaking out a notebook, chances are something boring is about to happen.  These Lego notebooks will help you spice it up a little.  It comes with some pieces you can actually rearrange to make your own creation.  Best part is, they’re squishy – so stepping on one won’t mean your life has literally ended.

Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/WAFF-KG4102-Notebook-Blue/dp/B00EORI9RG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439827988&sr=8-1&keywords=lego+notebook

 

Zelda Backpack

 

Zelda.  Back.  Pack.  Need we say more?  Our independent study has found that this backpack can hold:

  • 2 Swords
  • 20 Bombs
  • 100 Arrows (and Bow)
  • Endless money
  • Rings
  • A Boomerang
  • A Raft
  • Food
  • Potions (and Poisons)
  • A Stepladder
  • Candles
  • and A Book of Magic

Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Legend-Zelda-Backpack-Sale-Cool/dp/B00SKXDB1E/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1439828060&sr=8-2&keywords=zelda+backpack

 

Dr. Who TARDIS Lunchbox

 

This lunchbox has the unique ability to produce a different lunch every time you open and close the lid.  You just keep opening it until you find something you like.  This is powered by its proprietary Chameleon Circuit.  We have heard, however, that many units are shipping with a faulty Chameleon Circuit and just produce peanut butter and jelly every time.

Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-Limited-TARDIS-Lunch/dp/B004ZNCH9A/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1439828161&sr=8-4&keywords=dr.+who+lunchbox

 

Cleaning Putty

The ultimate nerd school supply.  If being nerd is defined in any way – it’s caring about certain things more than anyone really should.  And this proves it.  Shaking out your keyboard isn’t enough.  Using a can of air isn’t enough.  You need a putty that slowly molds itself to your electronic device and picks up every last spec of dust.  From your keyboard, your phone, game controller, whatever.  There is one thing we found it’s not great for picking up though……….girls.

Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Gulu-Keyboard-Cleaner-Computer-Flexible/dp/B00FQGODKQ/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1439828230&sr=8-8&keywords=cleaning+putty

Tell us what other unconventional school supplies we missed???

 

DON’T be Kirk Hammett! Backup your data!

Kirk hammett – lead guitarist for metallica – lost years worth of song ideas because he didn’t back up!

don’t be kirk hammett!

 

Yep, this really happened.  Kirk Hammett actually said that one of the reason for the LONG delay between albums is because he lost his phone where he recorded song ideas and never backed anything up.

Do we really even need to write a paragraph on the importance of backing up?  I don’t think so.  So let’s just jump right into some easy solutions & explanations to keep you up and running.

iCloud

iCloud is Apple’s solution to keep all of your Apple devices in sync.  It automatically backs up things like App Store purchases, photos, documents, contacts and more and makes them available to all of your other Apple devices.  If you want to work on a document from your computer then pick up where you left off later on your iPad, then iCloud is your solution.

icloud1-620x406

Who should use it: People that exclusively use Apple products and want all of them to be in sync with each other.

Who should not use it: People that use no or few Apple products and are looking for traditional backup of files without any sort of syncing.

Get started here: https://www.icloud.com

 

Picturelife

Picturelife is for backing up photos and video only.  But while it is limited to only photos and videos, it handles those extremely well.  A subscription with Picturelife will cost just a few dollars a month, and for that you get a service that will automatically backup every picture and video you capture on every device you have.  You can access them anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.  Their website and app interfaces are great for viewing, editing & sharing all of your photos & videos.  You can even search your library using English search terms – i.e. “videos in Los Angeles”.  The backup is automatic & fast.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 2_28_57 PM

I had a personal experience with Picturelife that sold me.  I was on vacation and at the beach.  I NEVER have my phone on me while I’m at the beach so it doesn’t accidentally go in the water.  But I was done for the day and relaxing, just taking in the sun (truth be told – I have 4 children so that “relaxing” part is a complete lie.)  Anyway, like I said, I’m relaxing in the sun without a care in the world, flipping through my phone and taking pictures.  I know that we’re about to leave so I put it in my pocket.  A few minutes later I hear my son calling me.  He’s pointing to his inflatable Killer Whale that has floated out into the ocean.  Letting it float out to sea would have been easy.  Watching my son as it floated out to sea would not!  So I jump in and swim after the whale.  It was a successful rescue.  But there was one casualty – my phone.  It.  Was.  Dead.  Completely dead.  After a mile long swim out into the deep sea (again, another huge exaggeration) my phone just gave up.  But here’s where the story gets good…  After we got back to the hotel and I logged into Picturelife.com, I saw the pictures I took just minutes before jumping into the water.  In the few minutes between taking the pictures and my phone being submerged in the ocean, Picturelife had already grabbed them!  So while I lost the phone, my pictures were safe & sound.  That’s the day Picturelife hooked me (get it — “hooked”, like fishing — fish — ocean — get it?)

Who should use it: People that are only concerned with ensuring that their pictures and videos are never lost.

Who should not use it: People looking for a full backup solution beyond pictures and videos.

Get started here: https://www.picturelife.com

External Hard Drive

The options for hard drives are endless here.  You can get huge capacity and fast speeds now for relatively reasonable costs.  And this is probably one of the most straight forward ways to completely backup the entire hard drive of your computer exactly as is.  In fact, most operating systems (Windows & OSX) have software that will automatically handle the backup process for you if you keep the hard drive connected.  And while this is a very traditional form of backup and it will backup everything you have, it does have some significant limitations.

  1. Unless you have a home network setup, the hard drive will only backup computer it is connected to.
  2. Setting one up to backup from a mobile device can get tricky and doesn’t always work as expected.
  3. It’s still a physical device in your home.  So if the disaster that requires you to revert to a backup also took out your hard drive, you’re out of luck.

g-tech

In general, external hard drives are a great supplement or Plan B to another backup solution.

Who should use it: More technically savvy people that know exactly what they want backed up – and how.  Also people that want extremely fast and easy access to their backed up files without actually having to completely revert to a backup of everything.

Who should not use it: People that want an automated one-stop-shop for having everything secure and backed up off line where nothing (almost nothing) can hurt it.

Get started here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_19?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=large+external+hard+drive&sprefix=large+external+hard+drive%2Caps%2C190

There are endless solutions for backing up your important files.  These are just a few of the different types of backup solutions available.  Your best bet is finding one you find easy to jump into and maintain – because even the best backup solution doesn’t mean anything if you don’t use it consistently.

Friends don’t let friends lose their files.  So, save a file, share this article.  And tell us how you protect your files!

 

 

How to approach your logo design?

“Symbolize and summarize”

-Saul Bass, Renowned Logo Designer

 

Logo design is truly an art.  Taking a company, an idea, a concept, a passion and representing it with a single image is no small task.  It requires a true understanding of what is at the heart of the organization and the skill to translate that into a universally recognizable image that will evoke emotion in everyone that sees it…..but not just any emotion……the right emotion!

Logo design does come down to just this: emotion.  Your logo should grab people, excite them, welcome them, or ignite whichever feeling you desire.  Some logos are meant to create excitement, others happiness, and some even want to evoke sadness.  Whatever the goal, it is your designers responsibility to understand it well and keep it at the core of the design process.  Here are some ways to make sure your logo has the desired impact…

 

What is your desired reaction?

The first step of evoking the right emotion in people is deciding what the right emotion is.  When people see your logo do you want them to feel Excited?  Happy?  Cared For?   It’s not enough to just say that your company represents all of these things – I’m sure it does!  But what makes you stand out?  What is different about you?  Why should your potential customers choose you over your competitor?  When you have that answer, THAT is the emotion you want to evoke.

 

How do you create this emotion?

Once you have determined what is the right emotion / feeling / reaction you want to convey through your logo, you can move on to actually creating it.  This is where it gets fun.  First, look for inspiration.  This doesn’t mean copy someone else’s logo; it means look at other logos that make you feel the way you want your customers to feel and get some ideas of what they have in common.  In general, laid back casual feelings will have more earthy tones & colors and softer, rounded edges (or no edges at all.)  Exciting logos will create movement.

While logos that want to make people feel cared for and convey trustworthiness will often have strong larger than life representations

 

There is a phycology behind this that your designer should be aware of and capable of brining to your logo. What’s important here is that you have a frame of reference for what is relevant.  The Starbucks logo wouldn’t work for a tech company (it’s too warm & welcoming) and the Apple logo won’t work for a coffee shop (not very warm & welcoming!)

How colorful should it be?

Not at all.  Of course logo design is artistic and there is no right or wrong, but this a very useful rule of thumb.  Design your logo in black & white!  If your logo can’t translate well to black and white, it will be very limited in its uses.  This rule came about during the days of printed media, faxes, etc. when black print was the only option very often.  While that’s not the case anymore, the rule still stands strong.  A logo that can be represented by a single color (such as black) with negative space making up the rest (white) your logo will be endlessly versatile.  Your designer should not need to rely on a huge color palette to create the desired effect.

 

This does not mean your logo cannot have color.  Color is not a bad thing.  But it should be able to easily translate into black and white.  Be sure, however, that your colors are there for a purpose.  Just because your logo includes a banana in it doesn’t mean the banana needs to be yellow.  Just because there is a rose doesn’t mean it needs to be red.  Logos are not literal representations, they are art.  Use color for a purpose.  Different colors convey different emotions.  Red conveys the strongest emotions: Love, Passion & Anger.  Green is calm and soothing.  Blue is trusting and secure (it has a wide range depending on the shade.)  The science of colors is a completely separate article in itself.  The key here is don’t use color just to use color.  Make it count.

 

Detailed?  Or not so much?

Not so much.  Again, this is of course a matter of opinion, but there’s good reason for our opinion – we promise!  While the ability to create large, detailed images has become much easier in recent years through design software, the way in which we see these logos has actually gotten smaller.  Logos are viewed on computers screens now – often as profile pictures on a social media page.  Or a favicon (the small logo inside the address bar on your browser).  These are TINY!  And that’s on a computer screen.  Now imagine all of this on a phone or tablet.  Even tinier!  The shape and outline of your logo should be recognizable even at these sizes.  Keep the detail to a minimum.  A single shape or silhouette can speak volumes!

 

Ok, just tell me what my logo should be!

A tree.  No a tree with wires for roots.  No, a tree with wires for roots and a single leaf falling off.  No, a tree with wires for roots, a single leaf falling off, and a hand catching the leaf!  Did any of those work?  If not, read on…

We can’t just guess what should be included in your logo.  It all comes down to everything you read above to decide what image(s) convey the right message.  But what we can tell you is don’t be shy to think abstractly.  Think of a creative way to represent the first letter of your company name.  Think about what you really DO at your core.

So you’re a personal trainer.  Yes, you train, you help clients build muscle, lose weight, etc.  But what you DO is change lives.  What you DO is teach people how to take care of themselves.  What images convey those core aspects of what you bring to people?

You make gourmet food items.  Yes, you cook.   You bake.  You mix.  You package.  We got it.  But what you DO is give people food that they experience – not just eat.  What you DO is take the ordinary (eggs, sugar, biscuits…) and make it extraordinary (Tiramisu)

So think hard about what you really do.  How you impact people, animals, the environment, whatever and send that message.  And very importantly, make sure you’re working with a designer that’s willing to take the time to figure out what you truly DO before creating a single sketch.

What great tips did we leave out?  What did you learn during the process of designing your logo?

The biggest blogging mistake you’re making

Blogging is an art form.  There’s no right or wrong for the most part.  There are popular blogs about feet, and unpopular blogs about the Kardashians.  So, why this huge disconnect?

It really comes down to one simple philosophy: Don’t talk…listen.

So what does that mean, right?  How can you blog without talking?  You can’t.  You have to talk.  I’m talking right now – to you.  But the trap people fall into very often is that they blog about what they want to talk about.  And if your goal is to be the only subscriber to you’re blog, then that’s no problem.  But, if you’re hoping some other human being will read what you’re writing, then you need to listen, listen, listen.

You need to write what other people want to read.  I want to write about the creative process we went through on a particular website design that took forever.  They want to read about how to deal with a difficult client.  I want to write about the amazing evolution of mobile technology in such a short time.  They want to read about the latest mobile device and its pros & cons.  I want to write about the art of songwriting and what how great it feels to play the guitar.  They…….don’t want to read anything remotely related to that.

Your audience is king.  Period.  You need to listen to them and write for them.  Do a little research.  Don’t spend the next 6 months researching (you could easily do this), but do some research.  See what people like to read.  What are some of the most popular blogs in your category?  What are some of the most popular blog posts on those sites?  What are people sharing on social media?  This is your research.  It gives you a window into the mind of your audience.  You’ll likely find that what most people want are short, easily consumable articles.  Lists are great.  “Top” this, and “Worst” that.  Those are things that are easy to jump into and consume.  Step by step how to’s are also great.  But while I’m telling you what you’ll likely find, don’t listen to me.  Do you’re own research with your own audience.  Trust me, if you listen closely enough, they will tell you very clearly what they want to read.

What do you see your audience asking for?

What it means to “use social media” for your website

You hear it constantly!

“You need to be on social media for your business.”

“Are you blogging?”

“Facebook…..social……post…..like……social…….pin…..tweet……social……engage…..AHHHHHHH!

 

It’s a lot simpler than it sounds.  It can get complex, and it can grow into something that completely drives your business or your website.  But at it’s core, it’s pretty straight forward.  Here’s the 5 minute explanation that nobody seems to want to reveal.

Using social media and blogs (which are a form of social media) are a way of driving people to your business or website.  It’s that simple.  Think of it like the postcards and other mailers you receive in your mail every day.  Local realtors, gardeners, stores & small businesses send these things out constantly.  Now, you’re not going to decide that you want to buy a house because you get an ad from a realtor, but when the time comes that you do want to buy a house, the first person that comes to mind to help you will be the realtor that you get all of those mailers from.  And when you go to look for their information — there it is!  In today’s mail again!

That’s what social media and blogging is all about.  It’s a way for you to continuously put information and content out to people so that when the time comes that they need a service or product you can fill, you’re where they naturally turn.

So how do all the pieces fit together?

Ultimately, you’re trying to keep people going to your website and keep your name on the top of their mind.  You have to sort of work backwards here.  Let’s start with a Facebook post or Tweet (Twitter.)

A business posts on Facebook: “Did you know you lose almost 100% of the value of installing a pool in your yard?  But new windows keep almost all their value?  Check out this post to read more about where your hard earned money is best spent on your home!”

You click on it, and it’s a link to a blog post on that person’s website talking about exactly what you expected.  It’s not an advertisement or anything.  Just good quality information that people want to read.

Why do they do this?  It’s to build a ‘readership’.  They want to create content (blog posts, Facebook & Twitter posts, etc.) that people want to read.  And they want to do it consistently.  If you pick up a magazine from a store a couple of times and love it every time, there’s a good chance you’re going to subscribe.  Same idea here.  If someone likes the content you’re producing over and over, they will become regular readers of your blog and possibly even subscribe to it (yes, that’s a thing!)

So now what do you have? You have a bunch of people constantly reading your blog, and very possibly, visiting your website to do that.  2 things come out of this:

  1. People coming to your website is a good thing.  It helps your search engine rankings, and it means that people are already only a click away from using your service.  The hardest part about getting someone to take action from your website is just getting them there.  Nobody goes to the store just to buy a candy bar.  But once they’re there, the candy bars fly off the shelves!
  2. Your blog posts will promote you.  They are not (and should not be) ads for you.  They are just useful content.  Don’t get it?  Well, you’re reading this blog post.  I’m not promoting our company in any way.  But what I am demonstrating is that we have an understanding of how this whole internet thing works.  If you like what you’re reading here, and keep reading, you’ll come to realize that we know what we’re talking about and can help you with any website needs you might have in the future.

And that’s how it all works.

  1. You want people to buy your product or service.
  2. To do that, they need to visit your website & trust you.  To get people to your site, you need them to have a reason to go there.  To get them to trust you, you have to demonstrate your knowledge and integrity.  Blog posts do these things.
  3. To find your blog posts, you need to get people to read them.  Facebook and other social media ‘teaser’ posts can get them to do this.
  4. For those teaser posts to reach anyone, you need to have an audience on these social media sites.
  5. To get that audience, you need to invite people to watch or ‘like’ your page so they see your posts.
  6. But first, you need to actually setup the pages for these sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)

So to get #1 above to start happening more, start with #6 an work your way up!

How do you use social media?  What tips can you share in your experience?

Checklist for planning your new website

Deciding on the right type of website for your business can be tough.  There’s the design, the content of the site, to blog or not to blog, and so much more.  But sit back, take a breath, and relax.  The beauty of websites is that they’re not set in stone.  You start out with a basic foundation and allow it to evolve.  Trust me, you don’t need to make all the decisions.  Once you have a website up, your visitors will start to tell you what needs to change.

First, think about the general ‘feel’ of your site.

Every website has a feel to it.  Some are very professional, some are warm & welcoming, some are whimsical, and everything in between.  The feel of your website should match the feel of your business overall.  What is the message you’re trying to send?  Are you a photographer trying to demonstrate your artistry?  Are you an attorney conveying a very professional and educated image?  Or are you a realtor trying to reflect a very personal and engaging feel.  The general theme you decide on will carry through your site; from the colors to the images to the font choices.  Deciding on the general feel your site is going to convey is a critical first step.

 

What is the purpose of your website?

This might sound simple, but it’s important to know what the overall purpose is so each part of your site can be geared towards that goal.  Are you selling a product?  A service?  Trying to collect information?  Trying to motivate people to take action?  Determine what your overall purpose is and this will inform each division you have to make when it comes to your website.  If there’s a part of your website that doesn’t contribute to this ultimate goal, it’s taking away from it.

 

Do you need a mobile / responsive website?

I’ll make this one easy for you — Yes you do.  I could list the statistics here of how many people access the internet through mobile devices, but by the time you read this, it would already be higher.  Just know that it’s getting closer and closer to 100% every day.  Quickly.  Not only that, but search engines are now ranking websites lower if they don’t have a mobile version.  That alone is reason enough to ensure you have a responsive website.

Virato_Multiscreen

What additional features do you need?

Websites range from very simple to very complex.  Think about it; your local Laundromat probably has a website that’s a single page with some basic information (phone number, address, etc.)  That’s a website.  Google is also a website.  But it’s has a ton of complexity and sub-domains (basically, sub-websites) to it.  So a “website” ranges in features and complexity.  A few key things to think about:

  • Do you need a shopping cart?  Will you want people to purchase something from a catalog of products on your website?

  • Do you need some sort of ‘portal’?  This is a portion of a site where users can log in with their own username/password to access areas that are specific to them.

  • Do you need to be able to manage and change the website yourself?  There are many platforms that handle this sort of site.  But know that building a single page website with 1 picture and 1 paragraph of text is different from creating a single page website where you can easily control the 1 picture and the 1 paragraph of text.  In the long run, a site that you have the ability to manage saves you time and money.

  • Do you need the site to link to any other online resources?  Common things would be linking to a Google Calendar, MLS listings, Social Media, etc.  If you have an online resource that you currently use and want some of the content from those resources to be displayed on your site, this will need to be built and configured on your site.

  • Do you need a blog?  And follow up question – do you need a blog that goes beyond the basic look and feel?  When you go to a huge blogging website like Buzzfeed or Mashable, these are not ‘standard’ blogs.  These blog pages have had hundreds or thousands of hours put into the design and development of the blog pages.  That’s what makes them stand out.  So think about your blog and how much of a focus it will be on your site.

What is your budget?

Of course budget has to be a factor.  But here’s where it’s important to make the right decision…..  Have you ever looked for a businesses website to get some information on them and couldn’t find it?  Probably.  It’s happened to all of us.  Think about the impression that leaves.  It’s not great — but at the same time, you still figure some businesses just don’t have websites.  Now, have you ever looked for a businesses website and found it — and it was HORRIBLE?  Yes.  This has also happened to all of us.  Now think about the impression that left.  You see a horrible website and carry that impression over to the business.  “Who would have a website like this?” you think (and so do I).  This is important to remember. First impressions are nearly impossible to erase.

Now I understand that hearing the advice that no website is better than a poor website may sound strange coming from a web development company, but it is simply the truth.  You don’t want a website that looks and feels cut-rate.  And we don’t want to be the team to give you one either.  When looking at budget, explore other options.  Maybe you don’t have the budget you need for the ‘right’ website today.  But can you allot an amount each month towards its development?  Find a website company that will work with you on the budget that makes sense.  And remember – websites are just like anything else in life – you get what you pay for.

 

There are of course more questions to ask.  The key is knowing your brand and finding a team to work with that will guide you through the process.

What other questions do you have about making your website a reality?

SEO: Then and Now

SEO is like fine wine…it gets so much better with age.

And now, at the ripe age of 20, it has hit its peak — much like me.

What is SEO?  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  And it basically refers to methods and practices used to ‘help’ search engines find a website.  Put simply, SEO is the blanket term for hundreds of different things people focus on to drive more traffic to their website.  Why is it important?  See the previous sentence.

In the beginning, there were websites.  They were all over the place.  www.this.com, www.that.com and www.nobodywilleverseethis.com (aol.com was during this time too.)  But unless you knew exactly where you were going, you couldn’t find anything.  Enter: search.  Search changed everything.  The websites that did the searching are “search engines.”  And just like any other technology, it started out very simply.  Come on….let’s look…

1994

The first real search engine site is created.  Webcrawler uses a program (referred to as a spider) to “crawl” through the internet one site at a time and see what’s happening on each one.  It ranks the top 25 sites across the internet.

Some other search engines are actually updated by people.  Yes real people sifting through the internet and ‘ranking’ sites.

1998

Google pops up.  I could end the story here, but I’ll keep going.  Google improves on how sites are ranked by looking at backlinks.  Backlinks are basically other sites that point to your site.  For example, if you create a website dedicated to the movie Top Gun (thank you, by the way, for doing that) and your neighbor creates a similar site, the old search method would rank you roughly the same.  But let’s say that 100 other websites around the internet are “talking” about your site.  And by talking about it, I mean they have a link to your site somewhere on their site.  These are backlinks.  Google looks at these and decides that your site should rank higher.  It gets a little more complex than this, but you get the idea.

1998 – 2011

So, a whole bunch of time goes by and the algorithms used to rank sites gets better and better.  But at its core, it is still pretty much based on links, keywords, and other things that are somewhat easy to fabricate.  If you can fit the word “chocolate” on your website more than the next guy, this helps your ranking when someone searches for “chocolate.”  You can buy thousands of fake back links for a few dollars.  And in general, there are various ways to “fool” the search engines.  During this time, Google continually improves how its search works and actually penalizes companies for using these tactics to fool their rankings.  Companies like BMW & JC Penny lose their high ranking because of the tactics they use.

2011

Google introduces Google Panda.  There is a lot to explain here, but the long and short is that Panda is a new approach to ranking that focuses on the quality of the content of a site, and not quantity of keywords or links.  The specifics are of course closely guarded, but it’s clear that if you are producing quality, unique content regularly, Panda will like you.  The biggest mystery is why they called it Panda.  I mean, pandas are black and white which seems to contradict the ‘grey’ area Google is now looking to for ranking a site.  Also, a panda eats one food.  One food — it’s entire life — one food!  Again, seems to go against the idea of creating unique & diverse content.  Personally, I would have called it Puma, but that’s just me.

Today

Over the last few years, Panda (and other search products & variations) have continued to improve.  So what does that mean for SEO today?  It means that the internet has caught up with thousands of years of business.  Before computers existed, people had businesses.  And if you wanted to keep customers coming back, you needed to do quality work and keep your customers happy.  That is finally true for the internet.  If you want to keep people coming, you need to put the work in.

SEO now means creating content for your website that is relevant, timely and unique.  Keep producing content.  Write articles & posts people want to read — and more importantly, share!  Share them yourself on social media.  Then repeat.  You will start to build a loyal readership which will translate into traffic on your site, which will translate into higher rankings on search engines, which will translate into higher traffic on your site —- are you seeing the cycle here?

There are still tips and tricks for great SEO, but they’re no longer ways to “work” the system.  They’re ways to entice and engage your audience.

What are some of the SEO techniques you have used?  How have they worked?

Get patients to ‘Like’ you using Social Media

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Using social media for your medical practice can be daunting and a little tricky to navigate.  But it has becoming an absolute necessity to build a practice and is one of the most effective ways to gain a large and loyal base of patients and promote more word-of-mouth business.  A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed 41% of people are open to sharing their information with health care professionals via social media, and 61% said they trust information they receive via social media!  And 70% said they would like to receive help from health care professionals via social media – including referrals!  These numbers speak for themselves – and they are growing every day!

Here are some tips and guidelines to start you off on the right track…

Privacy

This has to come first.  Not only is protecting your patients’ privacy the right thing to do, it’s the law.  You can be very active & engaging with patients (and potential patients) on social media without having to even come close to any HIPAA concerns.  As you start to grow your social media presence, people will post questions and concerns on your Facebook page, Twitter page, etc. and it’s up to you to address them appropriately.  As a general rule of thumb, try to put these questions into one of three categories and address them accordingly:

  1. General Information.  These are questions that are not specific to a particular person or their circumstances and can often be answered using a 3rd party source.  For example, you see on your Facebook page: “Dr. Caresalot, is Tylenol the right thing to take for my headache?  And how much?”  You respond… “Mrs. Headache, thanks for reaching out and checking in before just taking something you’re unsure of.  This is always a good idea.  While I can’t diagnose your pain you can read the general uses and appropriate dosage for Tylenol at this link: www.tylenol.com.  Cheers!”
  2. Patient Specific Question.  These are the questions where someone is asking you very specifically about their condition or symptoms.  For example, you see: “Dr. Caresalot, I woke up this morning with a horrible feeling in my chest and when I take deep breaths I feel a sharp pain. What should I do???”.  You DO NOT want to respond directly to this post within your social media page.  These are situations where you want to send a private message to the person, without any specific diagnosis or advice, but advising that they schedule an appointment as soon as possible.  If they can do this online through your patient portal, send them the link there.  If you can include days that might be more available, that is also very helpful.  The key here is to not provide any advice but provide a solution so they can get the help they need.  And very often you are that solution.
  3. Urgent / Critical Need.  These are rare but they do pop up.  This is when someone is coming to you with an urgent (possibly life threatening) question or situation.  In those circumstances, the best way to handle them is to call that person as quickly as possible to discuss their situation.  If you do not have their contact information, send a private message asking for it.  If you simply cannot call, you can respond privately that they need to seek immediate medical attention.  Again, these are very few and far between.  Most people do not go straight to social media when they have something life threatening happening.  But be prepared.

What to post

Here’s the million dollar question…..what do I post???  Well, it’s easier than you think.  You’re already in a unique position in which you hear from your customer base constantly about things they’d like to know more about and specific questions they have.

Always be on the lookout, every day, for a patient question that you think others might want to know more about.  You of course don’t want to post about a specific patient or situation, but if you hear a question or concern that you don’t always have the time to expand on, a Facebook post (or blog post that you ‘share’ on Facebook) is a great place to expand on the topic.  You can treat this the same way you’d write any other publication piece – general information & suggestions.

Listen for common misconceptions.  You hear these all the time.  Address them via social media.  If you’re always hearing “Oh I always have a stomachache, it’s no big deal…” address that.  You can’t diagnose it via social media, but you can absolutely let everyone know that something chronic like this may be a sign of something bigger and they should see their doctor.  You can even make it fun & eye catching, like titling the post “Misconception of the week” or something like that.  People love to stay informed and know a little more about a topic than the next person!

How-To posts are always a hit.  These can be Facebook posts, quick Twitter posts, a full blog post, or even a YouTube video.  The specific How-To you put together is of course dependent on your specific area of expertise.  It might be a quick way to self-diagnose, a generally accepted & globally safe ‘relief’ (not cure) for some minor ailment, or even a how-to of how to get the most out of an appointment with their physician; what questions to ask, etc.  This information is extremely valuable – especially when coming from an ‘insider’.

Keep it engaging

Social media is all about engaging your audience.  Ask questions, solicit feedback and always encourage participation.  You can have a ‘Q&A’ session via Twitter or Facebook (ask people to post question, then pick one to address.)  Even better, make it a recurring event that people can count on — something like “Ask me anything Wednesday”.  Ask people to share their experiences and things they found to be helpful.  This will stimulate conversations that occur completely within your social media environment.

Also keep an eye out for recent medical news and publications that your audience might find interesting or helpful.  You will often be aware of new developments sooner than your audience would be so share it.  Let them become ‘in the know’ sooner than their friends.  This is what is referred to as providing “social capital” and it’s what people are constantly looking for on social media.

Finally, if someone is particularly pleased with their experience with you, ask them to share it on your social media pages.  You don’t need everyone to do it, but if you don’t ask, you can rest assured that no one will do it.

Be consistent

Not much to say here other than don’t be a flash in the pan.  Don’t post twice a day for a couple of weeks then once a month after that.  Establish a schedule you can stick with, and STICK WITH IT.  Your audience likes consistency and reliability.  You don’t need to post every single day (although that would be great) but you need to post regularly with fresh content, and you need to stay roughly within your schedule so your audience doesn’t forget about it.  Be consistent.  Oh – and be consistent.  And final word of advice, be consistent.

What has your experience been managing social media for a medical practice?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!