Wednesday, July 29, 2015

App Review: comparing five top online payment methods

App Review: comparing five top online payment methods
Note: August 1, 2015: the link at bottom of this post now opens the research document directly, no subscription required. Enjoy!

Today is the world of apps. In fact, as days go by there are more and more apps that are created. Apps for any type of computing (mobile devices, laptops, desk tops) and for all platforms (Mac, Windows, Unix).

It doesn't matter what device you are using or what operating system is has; today's apps are designed to fit 'em all. And, that is what makes productivity so much easier now. With all these cool apps you can, as a self employed person or small business, have the same computing power that the larger businesses have enjoyed - for lest cost.

This free comparison covers a subject near and dear to everyone - money. it reviews the features of readily available payment apps in the marketplace. These range from a simple collection of money online to that same collection with the added features of reporting and analyzing your cash flow, plus more information.

Comparing Payment Apps

The payment apps being compared are Paypal, Stripe, Wave, Zoho Invoice, and Freshbooks.

We are used to services like Paypal that allow you to collect payments without much fuss. Paypal connects to your bank and then processes the payment from your client and deposits it in your bank account.

That landscape is morphing.

Now you create a customized, professional invoice, collect money online, get your cash flow analyzed, and be able to enhance your work flow with a host of other options.

Functions & Features

Here is a brief list of functions you will benefit from with these new apps:

- add multiple sales people on an invoice for different commissions
- add a live coupon to your web site or blog with a specific inventory
- create an estimate for a customer and track that as an invoice when it gets paid
- integrate your payments with a CRM (customer relationship management) software
- track time on a project or multiple projects and feed that into an invoice
- embed forms on your web pages

Many of those are free features. The payments apps make money with the same ole processing fees. The payment processors (gateways) are collecting thirty cents a transaction and 2.9 % of the sale.

Go ahead and download this free comparison of the payment apps here. There are over 30 features that are reviewed, this research will help you understand the changing marketplace for doing online business.

#paymentgateway  #onlinebusiness

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Business Development: three pointers, choosing the best business application

There are off-the-shelf software solutions and custom solutions. What I have found is that a majority of businesses require some level of customization, even with a off-the-shelf solution, when it comes to accomplishing:

1. automating specific work flows in your business model
2. make data accessible 24/7 from any device, form any location
3. keeping current with technology

Those are the three foundations of every solid business application.

Automating Work Flows

Business owners are increasingly becoming aware of the fact that packaged software is not always a complete solution for every business. Since every business has different requirements, it is very difficult for one product to accommodate multiple needs simultaneously. Custom business applications are designed to cater to your business’ needs, and to function exactly how you want them to, which can in turn simplify your business processes.  Custom business applications offer a range of advantages that can ultimately help your business grow and function more efficiently.

Making Data Accessible, Use Current Technology

Your business operates in the digital economy where success is predicated on your ability to compete in a high-velocity environment. Selecting, deploying and maintaining the right technology platforms will determine whether your business will thrive. I think these are the three most important areas for any custom business application:

You want your business data to remain protected from hackers and thieves while at the same time making it available to employees, clients, and potential clients - on any device. Choose a platform that is proven and being used by larger corporations. After all, if a Fortune 1,000 company is using the platform you are considering, then it's likely to be safe and secure.

The technology running your business application has to be reliable. You don't want a situation to take place with your business like the one with rolling out the Affordable Health Care Act (

Take the time to go through a testing phase once your application is designed and built. This will give you the confidence of a smooth application process, along with opportunity to discover any process hiccups or data configuration issues.

Roll out your application now, but keep in mind the growth plans for your business. Make sure the application infrastructure is able to easily accommodate larger data flows and more clients accessing it. As well, you want to know going in to development that, down the road, it'll be fairly simple to modify your work flow processes as your business benefits from the learning curve all business applications encounter.

Steu Mann has over 15 years of experience helping businesses improve their online business presence. His web site is Ez Web Manifesting. Google him using the terms (without quotation marks) "Ez Web", "SEO & Web Design Ashland" where you will locate his organic search listings.

#businessdevelopment  #softwaredevelopment  #seotips

Sunday, July 26, 2015

2014 Research: social media stats - 54 pages (free)

2014 Research: social media stats
Two surprising stats to me ...  70% of marketers use a blog which is second to 71% using visual content but here's the rub ... only 50% of those marketers with a blog - have a mobile friendly blog. I guess they are not reading my blog :-)

Here are six main points from the 2014 social marketing research:
  1. Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn hold the top spots for future plans: A significant 66% of marketers plan on increasing their use of these social networks.
  2. Marketers want to learn most about Facebook: While 93% of marketers are using Facebook, 68% want to learn more about it and 62% plan on increasing Facebook activities.
  3. Video becoming important: A significant 57% of marketers use video in their marketing; however, 72% want to learn more about video marketing and plan on increasing their use of video.
  4. Podcasting on growth trajectory: Only 10% of marketers are involved with podcasting, yet 26% plan on increasing their podcasting activities and 43% of marketers want to learn more about podcasting.
  5. Facebook and LinkedIn are the two most important social networks for marketers. When allowed to only select one platform, 52% of marketers selected Facebook, followed by LinkedIn at 21%.
  6. At least 91% of marketers want to know the most effective social tactics and the best ways to engage their audience with social media.
Want your own free PDF of this 2014 marketing research? Visit the folks at Social Media Jungle.

Cheers, Steu

#socialmedia  #marketingonline  #blogging 

SEO: five point plan to success

SEO: five points to success
There are billions of web sites, so how do people find yours?

The only lasting method of success is building organic search results.

 Don't expect to accomplish this task overnight. It will take time, but at the very least, you should see some changes in 4-5 months is you are using the best SEO methods available.

This article will cover the five best actions to take in building and sustaining quality SEO.

#1  Build a blog presence

Once you have your web site done, use a blog to fortify it.

Setup a free blog, and use a custom domain for it. Google Domains, at this time, is selling domains for $12 a year and they are easy to setup with no hidden costs - unlike Godaddy.

Your blog is where you do weekly updates about your services and products. Blogs are picked up more frequently in news feeds than web page content. This is by design in Google's' algorithm.

There is a test you can do to confirm this. But, before you start testing, make sure you have over 75 blog posts. Also, make sure each one of your blog posts is distributed to the channels mentioned in #2 below. There are paid services that will do this, and you can also accomplish this distribution freely using  I suggest using hash tags appropriately.

#2 Publish and distribute your web site content

Social marketing will distribute your content to the family and friends networks of other people. An easy method to get started is using channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Consider that each of those channels is a big search engine: search facebook, search linkedIn, search twitter, and search G+.

#3 Have a mobile friendly web site and blog

Since more than half of all searches on done on Google using a mobile device, make sure your content is friendly to these devices. If you are not sure about your content, check it here.

Responsive web design (RWD) is is considered to mobile friendly. It's an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones). In other words, with RWD, the software detects the viewer's device size and generates the appropriate viewing sized content to fit that device.

#4 Create and distribute your reputation

There are many ways to collect the praise of your clients. Just make sure you do it in such a manner that your positive feedback is published, in places with  decent search engine rankings. For example, YELP has a good search engine presence. When you Google certain search terms, mostly related to local businesses, if there is a YELP comment about that business it will be displayed as an organic search result on the first page of Google results.

YELP has taken a lot of bad press lately, but if you have client testimonials there, that's a gold mine that can be easily shared with the world. Plus, YELP is free. Other services are out there - Epinions, Buzzillions, RateItAll - but they're not as prevalent as YELP in search engine results.

#5 Quality content 

First and foremost, you have to have quality content.  As usual, Google is always changing the way the internet is headed. Consider the Trust Vault they are assembling.  Simply put,  it's measuring the facts in your content. In other words, if you say your providing XYZ, does your page material convey that?

These three topics will help you define quality content in more detail:
  • Semantically comprehensive content
  • Media enriched content
  • Easy to read content

Semantically comprehensive content

Google is focusing on semantics and context. The search engine is very competent and getting better at understanding semantic meaning. Is that a form of AI? For example, Google knows it's very likely that the word “car“ is relevant in an article in which the word “bumper“ occurs, while this is not true for the term "seat" or "air conditioner".

Media enriched content

Studies show that photos and videos not only make text more attractive for users, but for Google too.  In summary, content that is enriched by other media such as images and video correlates positively with higher rankings. At BuzzSumo they found posts having images received twice as many social shares as posts without images.

Easy to read content

Believe it or not, make your post easy to read.  According to wikipedia, that means your content will pass a readability formula, or readability metric that evaluates the readability of text, usually by counting syllables, words, and sentences.


Don't forget that the goal is building organic search results.  As you build your quality content over time, your organic search results should hold their rankings and new ones will be generated. At least, this is what I have found in my work.

I hope this article has been helpful to you. To get these posts automatically, click the "Network" button on the right side of this page.

Cheers, Steu

Steu Mann has over 15 years of experience helping businesses improve their search engine rankings. His web site is Ez Web Manifesting. Google him using the terms (without quotation marks) "Ez Web", "SEO & Web Design Ashland" where you will locate his organic search listings.

#marketingtips  #knowledgeispower  #seotips

Saturday, July 25, 2015

SEO: what should it cost and what are measuring metrics

The two key questions everyone asks about SEO .....

1. How much is the SEO going to cost?  Nearly every business today must decide how much to spend on search engine optimization (SEO)

2.  Do I really need SEO ... to have to pay for SEO, or can I do it myself?  Robust online marketing is imperative for survival in a web-driven world.

This post will answer those questions in detail and I' will be using a 2012 SEO research plus my 10+ years of experience working successfully with clients to accomplish quality SEO.

Payment Models On SEO

SEO providers/agencies typically offer four main forms of services and payment:
  • Monthly retainer: In this model, clients pay a set fee each month in exchange for an agreed-upon array of services. The monthly retainer is the most common payment model, because it provides the greatest ROI. Monthly retainer arrangements usually include regular analytics reports, on-site content improvements, press releases, link building, keyword research, and optimization.
  • Contract services at fixed prices: Nearly all SEO agencies sell contract services. Often, before a client is ready to engage a monthly retainer, they will select contract services that they want to have completed. The services that an SEO agency offers are often advertised on their site, along with a price. A typical example of this is an SEO website audit which can help determine existing strengths and weaknesses in the client’s online presence, competitive analysis, as well as keywords that have the highest potential to return positive ROI.
  • Project-based pricing: Project fees are similar to contract services with the exception that they are custom projects created specifically for a client. Pricing varies according to the project. For example, a local cupcake shop may ask an SEO agency to help them with their local online marketing. The client decides that they want the agency to establish their social media accounts. The cupcake business and the SEO agency will decide on the scope and cost of the project.
  • Hourly consulting: This familiar consulting model is an hourly fee in exchange for services or information.

Most SEO agencies use all of these payment models. Likewise, clients may work with an agency using more than one model. For example, a client may choose to enter into a monthly retainer, purchase a contract service, and engage in a special project with the agency, thus entering into three of the payment models.

Details: SEO Costs
  • Monthly retainer: $750-5,000 per month. Within this range, the amount that a client pays depends on the size of their business and the extent of services provided by the agency. On the lower end of this spectrum are small SEO agencies that offer a limited range of services. On the upper range are businesses with greater needs working with full-service SEO agencies. Most businesses pay between $2,500 and $5,000 for a monthly retainer.
  • Contract services at fixed prices: price variable. Businesses that are just testing the waters in SEO usually choose a contract service as an entry point. Typical contract services include things like SEO copywriting ($0.15-$0.50/word), site content audit ($500-$7,500), link profile audit ($500-$7,500), and social media site setup ($500-$3,000).
  • Project-based pricing: price variable. Since there are a variety of projects, there is a wide range of prices. Most projects cost from $1,000 to $30,000.
  • Hourly consulting rate: $100-300/hr. SEO consultants, whether individuals or agencies, usually charge between $100 and $300 per hour.

Areas Of Concern

Any discussion of SEO agencies and pricing isn't complete without a few warnings. To help you guard against indiscriminate SEO agencies with unethical business practices, read and heed. Be suspicious of the following promises:

  • Guarantees. SEO firms generally can't provide guarantees due to the constantly changing nature of the industry.
  • Instant results. True, some SEO tactics can get "instant results" by gaming the system. Be warned that these can hurt you in the long run. Instant results often involve SEO practices that are against webmaster guidelines put out by search engines. Invariably, Google seeks out these techniques and penalizes them, resulting in lost rankings that can take months to recover.
  • #1 spot on Google. If an agency promises you the number one spot on Google, it sounds great. Hopefully, you'll be able to get it. However, it's not something that a firm can promise to hand over to you.
  • Costs lower than $750/month. When it comes to SEO, you aren't shopping for the lowest price; you're seeking the best level of service. Be wary of rock bottom prices or "unbelievable deals."
  • Shady link building services. Link building can be a crucial part of SEO. You can't have a highly-ranked site without inbound links. But there's a dark side of link building. Link trust is the foundation of good SEO to appear high in the rankings.


As you begin shopping for SEO agencies and making your decision, be mindful of the following points:

  • SEO takes time. A monthly retainer is best. Think of SEO as a long-term investment. Aggressive campaigns and major pushes may have their place, but the most enduring SEO results come from a long-term relationship.
  • SEO changes, and your rankings will change, too. The field is full of competitors, and rankings rise and fall with the changing of algorithms and the entrance of new competitors. One-and-done SEO tricks simply don't work. It takes constant monitoring to keep your website ranking well and performing at top-notch levels.
  • Not all SEO services are created equal. Again, SEO isn't about shopping around for the lowest prices. It's about finding the finest agency you can. Look for an SEO agency that defines its scope of services, and takes the time to educate you.
  • SEO is important. Do it. The point of your website is to increase and/or improve your business. Unless people are finding your website, it's not even worth having one. The smart thing is to pay what it takes to keep your site findable by the people who are looking.
You may be thinking, "Can't I just do this SEO thing on my own?" A tiny percentage of business owners or professionals have the skill and savvy to do their own SEO. Even so, comprehensive SEO takes way more time than most business owners can afford. Even an employee who "knows a lot about SEO," will be hard-pressed to deliver the level of services and excellence found in a SEO agency. You'll rarely come out on top if you try to go it alone, and you'll never get the same level of ROI that you would with a competent SEO agency.

For most businesses today, SEO is the highest ROI marketing effort. The benefits it provides exceed the value of other marketing approaches – direct mailing, broadcast advertising, online ads, etc.
No longer do businesses decide whether they need SEO services. Instead, they decide how much they're going to spend. As long as they choose a quality SEO agency, their decision will lead to incredible amounts of revenue.

Steu Mann has over 15 years of experience helping businesses improve their search engine rankings. His web site is Ez Web Manifesting. Google him using the terms (without quotation marks) "Ez Web", "SEO & Web Design Ashland" where you will locate his organic search listings.

#seotips  #seomarketing

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

SEO: Will Google rank web pages based on how accurate they are?

As New Scientist recently reported, a team of research scientists at Google has published a paper (PDF) explaining the idea of Knowledge-Based Trust (KBT), an alternate way of determining the quality of web pages by looking at how accurate they are.

"The quality of web sources has been traditionally evaluated using exogenous signals such as the hyperlink structure of the graph. We propose a new approach that relies on endogenous signals, namely, the correctness of factual information provided by the source. A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy."

The paper goes on to describe how Google could use an extraction process to compare the facts it finds on web pages to facts that are stored in a knowledge base (think Knowledge Graph/Knowledge Vault), and reward pages that are found to be more accurate. In cases where a single web page doesn’t have enough facts, the paper suggests relying on other pages from the same website to determine trustworthiness.

Google has been building a massive database of known facts for years, and in 2012 introduced its Knowledge Graph. That’s the source of those information boxes that show on the right side of Google search results (primarily) for searches involving people, places and known entities.

Steu Mann has over 15 years of experience helping businesses improve their search engine rankings. His web site is Ez Web Manifesting. Google him using the terms (without quotation marks) "Ez Web", "SEO & Web Design Ashland" where you will locate his organic search listings.

Monday, July 20, 2015

What SEO Will Accomplish - Organic Search Results

Organic Search Results

Search  Engine  Optimization  (SEO) affects  only  organic  search  results,  not  paid or "sponsored" results such as Google AdWords.

When a search engine returns its search results, it gives you two types: organic and paid. Organic search results are the Web page listings that most closely match the user’s search query based on relevance. Also called “natural” search results, ranking high in the organic results is what SEO is all about.

Paid results are basically advertisements — the Web site owners have paid to have their Web pages display for certain keywords, so these listings show up when someone runs a search query containing those keywords.

On a search results page, you can tell paid results from organic ones because search engines set apart the paid listings, putting them above or to the right of the organic results, or giving them a shaded background, border lines, or other visual clues.

Cheers, Steu
#seo  #marketing  #seotips

Steu Mann has over 15 years of experience helping businesses improve their search engine rankings. His web site is Ez Web Manifesting. Google him using the terms (without quotation marks) "Ez Web", "SEO & Web Design Ashland" where you will locate his organic search listings.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SEO & Links - How to Have A Google Friendly Site

SEO & Links - How to Have A Google Friendly Site
Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.

Make sure that other sites link to yours

Links help our crawlers find your site and can give your site greater visibility in our search results. When returning results for a search, Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."

Keep in mind that our algorithms can distinguish natural links from unnatural links.  

Natural links to your site develop as part of the dynamic nature of the web when other sites find your content valuable and think it would be helpful for their visitors.

Unnatural links to your site are placed there specifically to make your site look more popular to search engines. Some of these types of links (such as link schemes and doorway pages) are covered in our Webmaster Guidelines.

Only natural links are useful for the indexing and ranking of your site.

I hope this has been useful for you to better understand how to accomplish successful SEO. It is easy to receive these posts automatically when you select the "Network" button in the right hand column of this blog. 

Cheers, Steu

Steu Mann has over 15 years of experience helping businesses improve their search engine rankings. His web site is Ez Web Manifesting. Google him using the terms (without quotation marks) "Ez Web", "SEO & Web Design Ashland" where you will locate his organic search listings.

#seo  #marketing  #seotips

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

SEO Guide - 10 Questions to Ask Your SEO Service

SEO Guide - 10 Question to Ask Your SEO Service
If you're thinking about hiring an SEO, the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you're considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site. That way, you and your SEO can ensure that your site is designed to be search engine-friendly from the bottom up. However, a good SEO can also help improve an existing site.

#1 Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?

#2 Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?

#3 Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?

#4 What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe? How do you measure your success?

#5 What's your experience in my industry?

#6 What's your experience in my country/city?

#7 What's your experience developing international sites?

#8 What are your most important SEO techniques?

#9 How long have you been in business?

#10 How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

The above content is provided by Google at We display it here because we believe these are the 10 best questions to ask BEFORE you hire someone to do your SEO work.

I hope this has been useful for you to better understand how to accomplish successful SEO. It is easy to receive these posts automatically when you select the "Network" button in the right hand column of this blog. 

Cheers, Steu
#seomarketing  #marketingtips

Steu Mann has over 15 years of experience helping businesses improve their search engine rankings. His web site is Ez Web Manifesting. Google him using the terms (without quotation marks) "Ez Web", "SEO & Web Design Ashland" where you will locate his organic search listings.

Monday, July 13, 2015

How To Produce Robust SEO, The Four Elements

How To Produce Robust SEO, The Four Elements
SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is an effort that takes time and patience. It starts with a recipe because there are certain elements you must have in place to accomplish quality SEO.

What are the SEO Elements?

Web Site
Produce a site with your own domain, not a free web site domain since social marketing sites like StumbleUpon no longer accept those. Avoid building your material with a complex CMS (content management system) unless you have skills to update it wisely and for the long haul.  If you are a DIY person use WordPress, but keep up with design trends and system updates; otherwise, you will have a hackers paradise. Your web site is the place for static content on your products and services. along with your store. If you hire someone to build your site, get a fixed fee for 12 months that includes unlimited content updates. After the first year you should be in the search engines with significant organic search listings.

Put your blog on your web site or at another domain that you have purchased.  For my clients, I have found the best results come from using a separate blog (and domain) versus putting the blog on a web site.  If you have any research about which method is best; share it with me.  To date, I have not found anything substantial. But, I do know that using Blogger, which is owned by Google, DOES GET your blog posts into Google search results the quickest. That is a proven fact - over and over again. Your blog is where you do constant updates about your products and services; I suggest twice a week for at least 40 weeks of the year.

Social Networking
Your social networking produces social marketing. The social networking sites that you know well are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ but there are many others. Make sure each blog post gets distributed to each of those channels - at a minimum. Why? Each of those sites is a giant search engine where your content can be found.  Make sure that every blog post and every web page has one social networking opportunity on it.

Quality Content
This is the #1 element, the golden foundation, of successful SEO. For a professional business web site that wants long term SEO you need at least 40 pages of excellent, information content. IMHO, the criteria for a blog to have excellent content is 250 -500 words of educational content. Be sure to use one photo and two or three text links, and use hash tags where appropriate. With Google's new effort to create and maintain their "Trust Archive" you can see that the strongest search engine measuring stick is good information - solid information about whatever your site/blog is focused on.

I hope this has been useful for you to better understand how to accomplish successful SEO. It is easy to receive these posts automatically when you select the "Network" button in the right hand column of this blog.  One last thing, be sure your text links are done correctly. Here is a link to a video that shows the best method for text links.

Cheers, Steu
#seomarketing  #marketingtips

Steu Mann has over 15 years of experience helping businesses improve their search engine rankings. His web site is Ez Web Manifesting. Google him using the terms (without quotation marks) "Ez Web", "SEO & Web Design Ashland" where you will locate his organic search listings.