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Has Apple Become “The Man?”

Apple has built its reputation on innovation, on breaking the mold, on thinking outside the box. But can they keep their outsider ethos when they are the standard instead of the new technology on the block?

If recent and continuing developments with the Apple App Store for iPhone and the iPod TYouch are any indication, then Apple is taking on the protectionist policies more commonly associated with those big, clunky, running-scared companies that Apple has traditionally loved to hate (Think Microsoft  and IBM).

The recent desertion of Joe Hewitt from the Facebook App for iPhone is a great example of how those who value open, creative and unrestricted access are being increasingly put off by Apple’s corporate policies.

Hewitt is not just “one of the developers” on the Facebook for iPhone app, he is the application. And he bolted from the project – not because he doesn’t like what he was doing, but entirely because of Apple’s review policies. (See http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/11/11/joe-hewitt-developer-of-facebooks-massively-popular-iphone-app-quits-the-project/ for more).

The repressive and protectionist policies of Apple (and let’s don’t forget – AT&T behind the scenes) is disturbing not only because it is so contrary to the supposed ethos of Apple and all that it stands for, but also because Apple is the standard for smart phones and application development for smartphones.

If Apple is able to continue their policies that value profit over innovation, then other platforms will feel free to adopt similar models – the standard has been set. It only takes a look at how quickly airlines jumped on the bandwagon to charge customers to check a bag to see that oppressive reviews of new applications could be in the works for every smartphone platform.

Don’t think it can’t happen – three years ago, did it even cross you mind that you might one day have to pay an extra $25 just to take a suitcase along when you flew to grandma’s for a week?

And the other frightening thought in all of this – where does Apple’s innovation go from here? Can we expect more trendsetting and ground breaking products from a company that has joined the ranks of the “profit at all costs” behemoths? Not likely.

Google Wave Invites

I have 5 Google Wave invites. If you want one, add a comment to this post and I will pick 5 people at random to send out the invites. Please make sure you include your email.

Authoritative Articles Sell Your Site

While you want your website to pop with catchy introductions and pithy prose that attracts the eye, when it comes to grabbing the interest of search engine spiders, a few small paragraphs of text on a graphics-rich page is not going to cut it.

Some webmasters get a great site, make sure it’s got the right structure for search engines and uses the appropriate elements, then they get stuck.

In order to really catch the attention of the search engine crawlers, you also need to provide relevant and authoritative content to show not just those search engines, but also the site visitors, that you have significant and relevant things to contribute about your niche.

Write content-driven articles with actual value for your readers. Make the articles relevant with information that will help your readers.

What kind of content could you provide? How about the most important industry trends, the hottest products, where is current research going, a list of the best resources in your niche, a top ten ideas list, a how-to guide related to your niche, or a planning guide.

Using the keyword research you did to create your site, decide on the most valuable keywords to use, and wisely sprinkle them throughout the copy. A good rule of thumb for the basic SEO writing is to use the keyword in the first sentence, then in the second paragraph. Skip the third paragraph, use it in the fourth and in the final paragraph. An average article on the web is between 300 and 500 words, and an optimized article will use the keyword approximately once for every 100 words.

Sometimes good writing is beyond the average webmaster. If this is true for you, hire out your writing to a good copywriter. Just make sure they understand optimization and do it right for you.

Another mistake rookies make is ignoring the tags: header tags, title tags, link anchor text, and meta descriptions. Make these tags keyword rich as well.

While you want your website to pop with catchy introductions and pithy prose that attracts the eye, when it comes to grabbing the interest of search engine spiders, a few small paragraphs of text on a graphics-rich page is not going to cut it.

Some webmasters get a great site, make sure it’s got the right structure for search engines and uses the appropriate elements, then they get stuck.

In order to really catch the attention of the search engine crawlers, you also need to provide relevant and authoritative content to show not just those search engines, but also the site visitors, that you have significant and relevant things to contribute about your niche.

Write content-driven articles with actual value for your readers. Make the articles relevant with information that will help your readers.

What kind of content could you provide? How about the most important industry trends, the hottest products, where is current research going, a list of the best resources in your niche, a top ten ideas list, a how-to guide related to your niche, or a planning guide.

Using the keyword research you did to create your site, decide on the most valuable keywords to use, and wisely sprinkle them throughout the copy. A good rule of thumb for the basic SEO writing is to use the keyword in the first sentence, then in the second paragraph. Skip the third paragraph, use it in the fourth and in the final paragraph. An average article on the web is between 300 and 500 words, and an optimized article will use the keyword approximately once for every 100 words.

Sometimes good writing is beyond the average webmaster. If this is true for you, hire out your writing to a good copywriter. Just make sure they understand optimization and do it right for you.

Another mistake rookies make is ignoring the tags: header tags, title tags, link anchor text, and meta descriptions. Make these tags keyword rich as well.

Be Smart – Plan for Phone Browsers

Consider: Some cell phone plans are offering Internet capabilities for only $10 a month. Each provider is announcing the availability of different types of Smart Phones on what is nearly a daily basis. Many people can access email easily on their handheld devices and will soon expect to be able to access other internet content wherever they are and whenever they want it.

What does this mean for the average business with a web presence? It means that you want to optimize your site – not just for Google and other web crawlers, but also for small screen browsers.

Although there was some talk of needing a “mobile device only” version of every website, this kind of duplication is not necessary.  In fact, a cascading style sheet, or CSS, can be written into your web page, instructing the device as it loads your page, to optimize your site for the phone or PDA that is requesting it. So writing in CSS is the first step to optimizing your page for hand held devices and smart phones.

Use a program like the Openwave Phone Simulator to test your web page and see how it will look on a “generic” cell phone type device. If you know the specific parameters of a particular type of device (say, an Apple iPhone), then you can increase the parameters and get an accurate view.

Then optimize your content. Remember that too much text is too much for a smartphone device, and keep the articles short (no more than 500 words, on average). Many small articles with relevant links are better than one long article.

Make sure that the most important elements in your page will load in the center of the phone’s screen, and are accessible without scrolling.  Make sure your pages load quickly. Cell phones and smart phones have slower internet connections than most broadband providers, and you don’t want a clunky website that gums up the works. The customer will click the “close” box after a few seconds.

Many cell phone users will block the photos on your site from loading, so be sure to have relevant and interesting ALT tags that identify your photos. You want your page to make sense to the viewer who has no photo access.

With a little planning,  you will have a great website that is optimize for both PC and smartphone use.

Get More Results With Long Tailed Key Words

If you are like most businesses with an internet presence, you have already researched a few basic keywords that describe your site. Hopefully you’ve integrated those keywords into the copy on your website to optimize your site for high results in searches for those words.

But don’t let your SEO efforts stop there. Searchers on the internet are becoming more particular – they don’t want to comb through so many results. Many know that general keywords give them irrelevant returns. So searchers are using sentences, different phrases that have been used before, and more specific inquiries to try to get to the information they want.

This creates an opportunity for you as a businesses. Although these longer keywords – or more correctly, keyword phrases don’t get the large number of hits individually, combined together, they now drive half of internet traffic. More than half of the searchers on the internet use three or more words to get what they want.

So as a marketer on the internet, look at your primary keywords and then begin creating phrases that include those words, but are more specific and unique to your business. Between 20 and 25 percent of Google’s searches are unique – they’ve never been searched in exactly that way before. So you want to grab whatever part of that search you can and attempt to make it relevant to your site.

As you become more specific, you have fewer pages competing for those longer phrases, and that means your site has a better chance of being seen.

Use the shorter keywords you’ve already established as being relevant, and interlink those words with longer phrases. If your site sells tulip bulbs, for example, you likely have already chosen the keywords “tulip bulbs” to market with SEO.

Now, optimize those keywords by building on them. Pick up more traffic by integrating such phrases as “authentic Holland tulip bulbs,” “biggest blossoms tulip bulbs,” “black tulip bulbs,” “how to plant tulip bulbs,” and “how do I find good tulip bulbs.”

Besides displaying your products for sale, consider building short (200 – 300 word) content pages answering queries, then also feature products on those pages. Have easy links to the rest of your site, and make an attractive landing page. Link to your related pages.

As with all SEO, you’ll need to do continual revisions and updates to stay ahead of the search game, but using long tailed keywords to help capture those millions of unique searches that may drive more hits to your site.

Keep SEO Ready for Google’s Caffeine

Microsoft made some major strides in the search engine world when it introduced Bing in June of this year, but Google is still the number one search engine in the world.

As we all know, Google is committed to retaining that top billing, and they have responded to Bing and created some innovations of their own. Bottom line for both search engines is more relevant results for their users, and that means that SEO – search engine optimization — is even more important than ever.

While details will be coming forward for the next many months, many bloggers and some other sites have noticed a drop in their SERP rankings with Caffeine and Bing. This doesn’t need to happen, however.

In fact, smaller websites actually have a better chance of raising their rankings, if they use carefully targeted SEO.

Relevant Content
Good content becomes even more important than it has been in the past. If your site can match more precisely what the user wants to find, then you have a better chance of a high ranking.

Be specific in your content pages, and they will have a better chance of rising to the top. Carefully choose your keywords; if anything, specific keywords have become more important.

Be sure to include long tail keywords that get specific about your offerings: red mardi gras beads for parties instead of mardi gras beads or party beads. Think about brands, too: Canon digital cameras instead of digital cameras.

The titles of your pages are important. Each page should have a unique title specifically matched to the content you’re featuring. And you don’t want to ignore the Meta descriptions, even though they still don’t figure into the SEO searches. But if your page lands high up on that SERP, then you want to have an engaging, accurate and catchy Meta description to encourage the click.

The bottom line – although it will take more months to really see how Caffeine and Bing are going to respond, SEO continues to be highly important to web design. Money spent on SEO is money well invested, with the new search engines as much as the old.