News

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

Social Tid Bits

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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

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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.

eCommerce & SEO

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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

Black Hat SEO

Author // AdministratorPosted in // 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:

How Bing Ranks Your Website

Author // AdministratorPosted in // SEO

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.

List of U.S. States by Population

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StateJuly 2013
pop.
California 38,332,521
Texas 26,448,193
New York 19,651,127
Florida 19,552,860
Illinois 12,882,135
Pennsylvania 12,773,801
Ohio 11,570,808
Georgia 9,992,167
Michigan 9,895,622
North Carolina 9,848,060
New Jersey 8,899,339
Virginia 8,260,405
Washington 6,971,406
Massachusetts 6,692,824
Arizona 6,626,624
Indiana 6,570,902
Tennessee 6,495,978
Missouri 6,044,171
Maryland 5,928,814
Wisconsin 5,742,713
Minnesota 5,420,380
Colorado 5,268,367
Alabama 4,833,722
South Carolina 4,774,839
Louisiana 4,625,470
Kentucky 4,395,295
Oregon 3,930,065
Oklahoma 3,850,568
Connecticut 3,596,080
Iowa 3,090,416
Mississippi 2,991,207
Arkansas 2,959,373
Utah 2,900,872
Kansas 2,893,957
Nevada 2,790,136
New Mexico 2,085,287
Nebraska 1,868,516
West Virginia 1,854,304
Idaho 1,612,136
Hawaii 1,404,054
Maine 1,328,302
New Hampshire 1,323,349
Rhode Island 1,051,511
Montana 1,015,165
Delaware 925,749
South Dakota 844,877
Alaska 735,132
North Dakota 723,393
DC 646,449
Vermont 626,630
Wyoming 582,658
Total U.S. 316,128,839


Source:
U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, Release Date: December 2013

West Michigan Cities, Zip Codes & Area Codes

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Here is a list in Zip Code Order:

Solid State Server Speed Test

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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.

What are the important meta tags to use?

Author // AdministratorPosted in // SEO

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

What Google Says About SEO Firms

Author // AdministratorPosted in // SEO

This is taken directly from:
(http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291)

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:

Blocking access to your server from specific countries

Author // AdministratorPosted in // Security

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.

States by Land Area

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List of US States By Size


This page lists the total size (land plus water) and the land area for the 50 US states.

By Total Area
Rank
State Name
Square Miles
1
Alaska 663,267
2
Texas 268,581
3
California 163,696
4
Montana 147,042
5
New Mexico 121,589
6
Arizona 113,998
7
Nevada 110,561
8
Colorado 104,094
9
Oregon 98,381
10
Wyoming 97,814
11
Michigan 96,716
12
Minnesota 86,939
13
Utah 84,899
14
Idaho 83,570
15
Kansas 82,277
16
Nebraska 77,354
17
South Dakota 77,117
18
Washington 71,300
19
North Dakota 70,700
20
Oklahoma 69,898
21
Missouri 69,704
22
Florida 65,755
23
Wisconsin 65,498
24
Georgia 59,425
25
Illinois 57,914
26
Iowa 56,272
27
New York 54,556
28
North Carolina 53,819
29
Arkansas 53,179
30
Alabama 52,419
31
Louisiana 51,840
32
Mississippi 48,430
33
Pennsylvania 46,055
34
Ohio 44,825
35
Virginia 42,774
36
Tennessee 42,143
37
Kentucky 40,409
38
Indiana 36,418
39
Maine 35,385
40
South Carolina 32,020
41
West Virginia 24,230
42
Maryland 12,407
43
Hawaii 10,931
44
Massachusetts 10,555
45
Vermont 9,614
46
New Hampshire 9,350
47
New Jersey 8,721
48
Connecticut 5,543
49
Delaware 2,489
50
Rhode Island 1,545
By Land Area
Rank
State Name
Square Miles
1
Alaska 571,951
2
Texas 261,797
3
California 155,959
4
Montana 145,552
5
New Mexico 121,356
6
Arizona 113,635
7
Nevada 109,826
8
Colorado 103,718
9
Wyoming 97,100
10
Oregon 95,997
11
Idaho 82,747
12
Utah 82,144
13
Kansas 81,815
14
Minnesota 79,610
15
Nebraska 76,872
16
South Dakota 75,885
17
North Dakota 68,976
18
Missouri 68,886
19
Oklahoma 68,667
20
Washington 66,544
21
Georgia 57,906
22
Michigan 56,804
23
Iowa 55,869
24
Illinois 55,584
25
Wisconsin 54,310
26
Florida 53,927
27
Arkansas 52,068
28
Alabama 50,744
29
North Carolina 48,711
30
New York 47,214
31
Mississippi 46,907
32
Pennsylvania 44,817
33
Louisiana 43,562
34
Tennessee 41,217
35
Ohio 40,948
36
Kentucky 39,728
37
Virginia 39,594
38
Indiana 35,867
39
Maine 30,862
40
South Carolina 30,110
41
West Virginia 24,078
42
Maryland 9,774
43
Vermont 9,250
44
New Hampshire 8,968
45
Massachusetts 7,840
46
New Jersey 7,417
47
Hawaii 6,423
48
Connecticut 4,845
49
Delaware 1,954
50
Rhode Island 1,045

Grand Rapids Michigan Metro Zip Codes

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Some Local Information In and Around Grand Rapids Michigan