Here is our news. It includes relevant articles about outsourced business operations, their costs, benefits, and potential pitfalls.

Social Tid Bits

Shoppers are 29% more likely to make a purchase the same day when they use social media prior to, or during their trip. 

Nearly 1 in 3 shoppers say they spend more when they use digital as part of their shopping process.

Consumers who use social media while shopping are 4x more likely to spend more. 

67% of consumers read product reviews during their path to in-store purchase. 

Consumers that use digital in-store convert at a 20% higher rate than those who don’t.

97 Percent of Consumers Look Online Before Buying Locally

Author // Mike Kalil    

If you're not already devoting most of your marketing budget to the Internet, now is the time to change your game plan. A new study by BIA/Kelsey indicates that 97 percent of consumers go online to research products and services locally. If they're not finding you during their searches, there's no doubt about it: You're losing business, and probably lots of it.

Consumers are getting their information from a variety of sources, but most of them start with popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Of those who participated in the study, 90 percent reported using search engines to conduct research. Forty-eight percent use the online Yellow pages, 42 percent use shopping comparison sites and 24 percent use vertical sites.

Consumers are also becoming more Internet savvy, the study shows. The average consumer uses 7.9 different sources when looking to buy products and services locally; that's up from 2009's 6.5 and 2008's 5.8. Fifty-eight percent take advantage of online coupons and 19 percent have made appointments via the Internet in the past six months. With numbers like this, it's baffling that, as of a year ago, 44 percent of small businesses didn't even have websites.

Steve Marshall, BIA/Kelsey's director of research, said in a statement: “The Internet has indeed become an integral part of consumers' local commercial activity. The data suggests we're at an inflection point where the balance of power in local shopping is shifting to online.”

That shift is a good thing for consumers and quality businesses. More than ever, consumers are empowered to make wise buying decisions, and it's getting harder for subpar businesses to hide behind traditional marketing techniques like TV, radio and print ads.

Your online presence is as important as your physical location, if not more so. If your website is unsightly or confusing to navigate, consumers can and will take their business elsewhere, and your competition is usually only a backspace away. And if you're not being found in search engines for relevant keywords, you're not even getting a chance to compete for business. It's going to your competition by default. Your business might as well not exist.

It's been a long time since businesses could afford ignoring the Internet. It's no longer a novelty. Simply put: You can't expect to stay in business without truly committing to marketing yourself online.

Solid State Server Speed Test

smart-ssd-graphSmart SSD raises the ceiling of what was previously considered “fast” in any line of servers. In a recent benchmarking test, Smart SSD 12GB performed 4K Sequential Write at 225,000 IOPS. By contrast, an 8GB Smart Server performed the test at 15,000 IOPS with Amazon EC2 m1.large cloud clocking in at 4,900. This is the level of performance our users will come to expect from a product designed to use the lowest possible server load and maximize your performance.

eCommerce & SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is work.  When you add eCommerce to your site there are unique challenges to overcome in your SEO planning.

Below are Nine (9) tips to help you tackle your SEO for your e-commerce site.  Rank higher in search engines and get more visitors, customers and sales for your online store.

1. FOR EACH PRODUCT - Create Unique Content and for the Product Categories

Unique and interesting content shows Google that a page is relevant, authoritative, valuable, and helps it rank higher. Be sure the content is well written and can persuade more of your visitors to make a purchase.

Do not copy the manufacturer's description. Write your own description.  The result is candy for Google. Google's Farmer/Panda Update of 2011 favors sites with original content.

2. Take time to find out what shoppers are actually looking for

What are the important meta tags to use?

Google states that the following meta tags are used during their indexing and search results:

Black Hat SEO

You get what you pay for...

Recently a client decided to opt for a cheap offshore SEO firm promising to increase their site traffic from under 3,000 visitors per day to 30,000 within a couple of months.  "If we bring traffic to you, you'll sell more product"  But, their target demographic is very specific with only 250 thousand people worldwide for their service.  Their management is basing success on hits, not sales.

Seems odd and short sighted.

This brings to mind all the black hat SEO companies out there.

Here are a few posts from a black hat SEO forum:

What Google Says About SEO Firms

This is taken directly from:

While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate our guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site's presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from our index. Here are some things to consider:

Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.

Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:

How Bing Ranks Your Website

This is directly from Bing - about their ranking method

Bing website ranking is completely automated. The Bing ranking algorithm analyzes factors such as webpage content, the number and quality of websites that link to your webpages, and the relevance of your website’s content to keywords. The algorithm is complex and is never human-mediated. You can't pay to boost your website’s relevance ranking. However, Bing does offer advertising options for website owners.

Blocking access to your server from specific countries

If you spend time watching the security of your web servers you know in recent years the many hacking attempsts and security probs come from IP addresses in China. The Chinese hackers are the most common evidenced by the US government's Titan Rain investigation covered Google has expressed their concerns about hacking attempts from China.

Their government does nothing to stop or even discourage hackers. So, we must take precautions from the hackers and do it ourselves.

A simple method as a fist line of defense can be through your router's IPTABLES or by the .htaccess file.