Friday, 24 May 2013

Engrish Full Of Joy!

Purchasing some commodity (read "cheap") electronics on eBay. The first part turned up today (very happy with the product) along with a great little pamphlet:

Apparently it is "Full of joy!" and "Sending coupon is not joking!"

Of course their English is much better than my Mandarin...

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

5 Free collaboration tools

Everybody in business collaborates now whether they want to or not. It's all about multiple people working on the same project or task at the same time, not jut their own part of the larger project.

Here are my 5 quick pics for online collaboration tool that everybody should know:

1. Dropbox

Everybody should know of Dropbox by now, it's a fantastic and simple way to sync files between multiple workstations and devices, but it also lets you share folder with others syncing any changes you make in those folder to other people instantly (or as fast as bandwidth allows). One of the features that often gets forgotten is the "previous versions" function that keeps each version of your files going back 30 days. 

You get a free dropbox account and have it set up in seconds here 
(yes it's a referral link and I get extra space if you use it)   

2. Wunderlist

For a simple task list management tool, it's hard to go past Wunderlist - currently in version 2 . Easy to use, you can use it in a browser or as a stand alone app for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows or Mac. Beyond simply managing your own tasks and having it synced to all your devices, you can create multiple lists and share lists with others, letting them create tasks, set dates, add notes, sub tasks etc. This is not a full project management tool and it never tries to be, it focusses on the features you'll want to use all the time, instead of the features you'll probably never get around to.

Again Wunderlist is free takes a seconds to sign up for here

3. Google Docs

Ok, this one is kind of a given. Google docs lets you create edit and share word processor, spreadsheet and presentation docs online, and the number of apps out there to allow you to view and edit those on mobile devices is quite frankly embarrassingly large. Still free for a base user account after all this time, the paid commercial licences offer a lot more but mainly in scale rather than core functionality. I know more than one entrepreneur who has successfully run a company on nothing more.

You'll need a free Goolge account but again, sign up is easy.

4. Hackpad

I'll admit it took me a while to get round to trying Hackpad (despite my wife telling me to very early on), but if you haven't already you should give it a try, it's a fresh take on the wiki idea allowing multiple people to edit the same online page in real time, you can see what others are writing as they write it and they can do the same to you. It's quick and searchable but dont expect to download an app for this as it's a realtime web app no-offline mode possible. It is however quick, easy and searchable. It handles multiple editing really well and provide visibility on who wrote what so it's perfect for groups of people trying to capture and share knowledge.

And of course it free to sign up for the service.

5. Meeting Burner

When you absolutely need to see another human face you can use Meeting Burner this is an online video meeting tool that offers features like screen sharing, Mac and PC compatibility and in meeting chat... all for free - not even any advertising. It's also in browser so no downloads are required to get people to join the meeting. This is my ace in the hole when I organise online meeting - I have a free account and people are always impressed at how fast and simple it is to use.

Best of all, the base service is free and sign up is quick.

Wrap up

So those are my pics, I've omitted a calendar deliberately as group calendars can be more pain than they are worth for small projects or people who are trying to work with lots of different groups because not everyone uses online calendars. I've also avoided specific IDEs, and source control systems because they are development specific. However this set of tools provide just about all the collaboration support most people will ever need without having to spend a cent.

Link Spamming: The SEO Money Pit

Link spamming is one of the shadier ways to improve ranking in search engines, and while it may look appealing because of it's quick gains, the effects last only as long as you're willing to pay and have no lasting impact on true website popularity/relevance.

I'm writing this because (as those who follow search engine optimisation will know)  Google is expected to update it's tech in the next few weeks/months. And we can expect a lot of the quick and dirty package SEO products out there to become markedly less effective as a result.

Pretty much all SEO can broken down into 4 types of activity:

1) Making the site search-engine friendly.

2) Relevance optimisation. Getting publicly recognised content.

3) Generating traffic by referrals or advertising.

4) "Black Hat" link spamming and audience buying.

The fourth of these activities has one distinguishing feature from all the others:
Everything else you do to improve your sites ranking builds actual relevance, but link spamming is false success. Even if you pay for that kind of service and it works you're not improving you're actual position, and when Google comes along with an update to detect the current generation of link spamming/ false traffic strategies your ranking drops.

SEO is something you never get to stop doing if you want to grow your web business. However if it's done right, then each month you get to build on what you've done before and maintenance will always be less expensive than growth.

SEO done wrong however, with link spamming stops working the instant you stop doing it or Google updates it's ranking algorithms with a little more smarts.

I've seen companies pay thousands a month for SEO services and the instant they stop their site falls into total obscurity because it was being artificially buoyed up. Nothing was done to actually improve their search engine ranking they were paying for the position every month.

I've seen others spend half as much. They grow slower but their traffic is real, the links are valid and the audience is genuine, when they take a break the users still find them and still want their product.

Genuine SEO is an investment in the position of your business - link spamming is a tax on people who dont realise that being at the top of the search results and getting lots of traffic is of no use if most of the people who and click on your link had no genuine interest in seeing your site.