How can I create content that’s current and relevant to my readers or customers? How can I take advantage of trending topics to drive traffic to my site?

These are common questions among bloggers and site owners, today especially those who work in specific “niche” fields. It can be hard to find great ideas for “ripped-from-the-headlines” content for every industry, but we’ll show you how. Once you know a few simple tricks, it’s easier than you might think. Let’s get started…

How-to-build-a-successful-website-1080x500Finding Trending Topics

The first step toward creating great, current content is finding the right topic (or keyword) for your post. Twitter and Google are both good tools for beginner (and even expert) bloggers to find the topics and keywords that are trending in their given industry. Perform a search for your industry to see what your potential readers (or customers) are currently interested in. Once you’ve found a few ideas, you’ll need the right title for your post (to attract readers, and to set yourself apart from similar content). If you have trouble thinking of a good title post, there are a few online blog title generators that can work with your desired keyword or topic.

 

Tying Topics to Your Business

You shouldn’t write “trending content” just for the sake of having current information on your site, you should figure out which news stories are important to your specific industry or field of interest. Unless your site regularly reports on news events, it might seem strange if you suddenly start writing articles about current trending topics. This is why you should make every effort to tie these topics to your specific field of interest.

For example, let’s say that you’re a plumber. You’ve done some research about trending topics in your local area and have found there’s a lot of concern about a severe weather pattern that’s coming through the area soon. You could, in this example, write an actionable post entitled “5 Bad Weather Plumbing Tips”. By talking a little bit about a trending issue, then tying it to your niche market, you can create unique content that’s tailored to your customers and readers.

 

A Word of Warning: Don’t Overload Your Keywords

A common mistake among bloggers beginning to write content based on trending topics is keyword over-stuffing. Back when search engines were more primitive, bloggers found that they could improve their ranking on sites like Google by producing content that was loaded with a specific keyword. That way, when someone searched for “best florist in Miami”, a Miami florist could load their website up with the words “best florist in Miami”.

This simply doesn’t work anymore! In fact, it can get your site flagged as spam, which will actually hurt your Google rank. As a rule of thumb, a 1000-word post should contain your desired keyword no more than 3-4 times. To avoid the “spam” label, use a variety of synonyms and variations on your keyword.

 

As a business just getting into online blogging, marketing, and trends, you have to be knowledgeable about what’s accepted. While you could write the posts yourself, it might not hurt to have a third party do some of this work for you in the beginning. Get a good program like Frontier Business services to help guide you through your web hosting and communication, then see what markets will be best to target in your industry. With these ideas, you should be able to make your business an expert online, and a master of current topics.



Flat design took designers by storm — evolving from a few simple projects to becoming a significant part of web, and especially application, design.Here are a few ways to predict web design trends (with a few trendy web design examples) … and maybe even start one yourself. Continue reading →


When it comes designing websites, small businesses are many times victim to the old saying that states “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Unlike large corporations with large in-house website design and Internet marketing departments, small businesses are left to their own ill-equipped devices or left in the hands of an outsourced website design firm.

It generally takes a third party to point out a website’s physical and esthetic flaws. Sometimes it takes a few hundred of your dearest friends and colleagues to convince you that your website is ugly. An ugly website can come in many shapes and sizes. It may have a horrendous color scheme, a nasty logo, outdated architecture, inappropriate images, spelling errors, or it just might be difficult to navigate and locate information. Regardless, these ugly ducklings exist and they seem to be growing and living well past their intended lifecycle.

As a small business owner or C-level executive, listen to those around you and seek outsiders’ opinions. If someone you know and trust or even a prospective customer tells you your website has “issues”, it probably does need a refresh or a complete overhaul. Seek outside help and seek it quickly, before you are labeled one of the ugly ones. This isn’t the playground and you won’t hear your girlfriends whispering behind your back. All you’ll know is you are receiving little traffic, few conversions, or virtually zero website leads or sales.


Up until this year mobile friendly websites were a luxury of large brands or companies with big IT budgets. Then a little thing called responsive design arrived and it changed the mobile landscape for the average business.

Responsive web design allows website developers to best utilize the available screen real estate on desktop and mobile devices.  The website adapts in layout without removing massive amounts of web content.

What was once considered a costly expenditure is now part of the standard website design project. Businesses no longer have to create two independent websites or pay to support two websites. They can develop one website that simply adapts to accommodate the smaller footprint of mobile devices.

Benefits of Using Responsive Design

• Captures more mobile traffic

• Captures higher ranking and more search traffic for local terms and phrases

• Improves overall bounce rates because it cuts down on mobile user frustration

• Avoids duplicate content that can result from managing two websites

• Increases online sales (yes people really do buy products off of mobile devices)

• Cheaper than developing separate websites for desktop and mobile usage

• Saves development time because you create only one website

• Provides a consistent user experience across devices (as opposed two multiple websites that look and act differently)


There are a lot of web sites that offer company reviews. We think GlassDoor.com is the best of the best when it comes to business reviews.

First, Glass Door allows full-time, part-time, and even past employees to post reviews. Because the reviews are anonymous, employees are extremely candid and open about the stuff they write. They really speak their mind.

Second, while some online review sites just cater to employees who are super pissed off, Glass Door uses a complete review template. This template has posters list the pros AND the cons of their workplace, and it also invites them to share some advice to management. This makes the Glass Door reviews seem a lot more thoughtful.

By having anonymous employee reviews, Glass Door is a perfect tool for people who may be considering employment at a particular organization. It’s also helpful for businesses who may be in the early stages of partnering with another organization. Customer reviews are insightful as well, but nobody knows a company inside and out like the people who make it go.

It’s easy to search for companies on Glass Door, and their are thousands with profiles. The larger the business, the more reviews you can expect to find. Below are three examples of companies that have Glass Door review pages, with a few sample comments.

1. Foot Locker Reviews (790 reviews)
• 61% of users recommend the company to a friend; 3.3 stars; 69% approval score for CEO Richard Johnson
• Some pros: “Great people to work with. great discounts, fun environment.” “Very relaxed work environment and good discounts. Very easy work.”
• Some cons: “The store managers really push you to sell customers what they don’t want, i.e. insoles.” “NO COMMISSION FOR SALES!! no reward for any of your work, minimum wage salary, physically tiring for long shifts walking back and forth getting customers shoes. Managers have high sales standards and expect you to go beyond the extra mile for horrible pay.”
• Some advice to management: “stop the favoritism and hire better managers!” “Chill bro. They are way too uptight and pressuring people into buying things. It creates an aggressive environment that people don’t enjoy.”

2. Trader Joe’s Reviews (1,536 reviews)
• 83% of users recommend the company to a friend; 4.0 stars; 74% approval score for CEO Dan Bane
• Some pros: “Great pay and benefits. Able to be passionate about great food and share that with customers. Makes the normal task of grocery shopping a memorable experience.” “Company culture is amazing. There is very little hierarchy within the store, and the company usually promotes internally, which means that the managers understand the job you’re doing and often are right there doing it with you.”
• Some cons: “No place to go if you have an issue, managers support each other not staff, there is a ton favoratism, discount could be better, customers are ALWAYS right”
• Some advice to management: “Don’t micromanage. Trust your employees.””Get your act together and actually deal with problems because I currently don’t feel comfortable going to anyone here with any sort of problem or issues that I have. I feel like I’m just supposed to shut up and get through the day on anything actually important.”

3. Melaleuca Reviews (156 reviews)
• of users recommend the company to a friend; 4.0 star; 82% approval score for CEO Frank VanderSloot
• Some pros: “The people on the teams really work well together. People genuinely want to help one another and the company in general. The benefits for the area are fairly competitive.” “Free products every month. Generally a good work life/balance.”
• Some cons: “It’s difficult in any job to sit and answer calls all day.” “Frequent late-nights and a lot of employees are overloaded with work projects, which often results in sacrificing quality for just getting on to the next project.”
• Some advice to management: “Hire more help in key areas that promote front-facing and touch points with customers to ensure the solid brand loyalty and consistent communication without costly errors.”


If you’re a webmaster or a website owner, this article is for you: These 10 tips can help you to build better and more successful websites. We suggest to hire a web developer if you can’t write the HTML source code. Even if you’re able to create a website on your own, it’s often to separate the technical stuff from the marketing part. Continue reading →


Publishing or installing a website is for many webmaster a routine job and smaller sites are often online within minutes. That’s the theory, but there are a lot of mistakes you can do. Sure many of them are harmless and most of you would name them “unimportant”. Sure a website will not break if the meta description is missing, but how is this for your (possible) visitor and Google? Like this “stupid” mistake there are many more, here is my checklist, you should check for all your new sites and also existing websites where bigger updates are done. Continue reading →


We all know a good looking website when we see it; and we all cringe when we see a horribly designed site.

But what is it specifically that makes for good website? Well, it’s a combination of things, namely:

• It’s easy to navigate and understand. It tells you clearly what it is and what it is there for. And it only takes a few seconds to make sense to the user.

• It speaks to the right people and says the right thing. In other words, it resonates with the target audience.

• It screams value. Users see the value and are compelled to stick around.

• It’s highly usable and optimized so that users on desktops and mobile devices alike can easily use it.

• It’s constantly evolving. Things change quickly in the modern world, and good websites adapt to keep up with emerging trends.

• It incorporates universally good design principles.

That’s a lot of things to remember if you’re looking to design a web page or template. Most big companies, hopefully, employ professionals whose sole function is to keep their website(s) looking great. If you run a smaller business, you may not have the resources—both in skilled workforce and time—to dedicate to keeping your company website looking crisp, clean, and awesome. But don’t worry, we are here to help you.

In the meantime, check out some of our favorite company websites. Because they embrace the principles listed above, these sites should definitely inspire you as you decide what your business’s website is going to look like going forward.

1. Freshbooks. This site is compelling, easy to consumer, and has great “calls to action.” It doesn’t contain any unnecessary graphics or other components.

2. Whitehouse.gov. Yes, it’s a government site, but who says public servants can’t do good work? We like this site because it has a crisp design and it’s constantly being revised for the better. That shows a genuine concern on the designers’ part to get it right.

3. Melaleuca.com. This site is great because it fits right along with the company’s values of environmental and physical wellness. It has also undergone several revisions as the company has grown and its product offerings have increased. Melaleuca products are designed to attract customers, and its websites follows that same principle.

4. eWedding.com. This site is fantastic because it is a simple, straightforward way for couples to design a custom site for their wedding based on existing templates. It is super user friendly and easy to navigate.

5. 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Holy cow, does this site nail it. The front and center focus of this site is the amazing food the company offers. You don’t see weird graphics or unnecessary text—just mouth-watering meats. Simple, elegant, high-quality photography of the star product, accompanied by limited text, makes this site a straightforward winner.

6. New Hampshire Review – This new political news site is easy to use, mobile friendly and loads quickly. All of these features are critical for a positive user experience.

Source: Hubspot.com


Sam Hinton, University of Canberra

More than 20 years after the first web server started bringing the internet into our lives, a recent conference in San Francisco brought together some of its creators to discuss its future.

The general tone of the conference is probably best summed up by the Electronic Frontiers Foundation’s Cory Doctorow:

In the last twenty years, we’ve managed to nearly ruin one of the most functional distributed systems ever created: today’s Web.

This might seem like a surprising statement. To many of us, the web has become an indispensable part of modern life. It’s the portal through which we get news and entertainment, stay in touch with family and friends, and gain ready access to more information than any human being has ever had. The web today is probably more useful and accessible to more people than it has ever been.

Yet for people such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, and Vinton Cerf who is often referred to as one of the “fathers of the internet”, Doctorow’s comment cuts right to the heart of the problem. The internet has not evolved in the way they had envisioned.

The centralised web

Their main concern is that the internet – and the information on it – has become increasingly centralised and controlled.

In the early days of the web, people who wanted to publish online would run their own web servers on their own computers. This required a reasonably good understanding of the technology, but meant that information was distributed across the internet.

The photo-sharing website flickr.
Screenshot

As the web grew, companies that took the technical hurdles out of web publishing were established. With Flickr, for example, a photographer can easily upload his or her photos to the internet and share them with other people.

YouTube did the same thing for video, while tools such as WordPress made it easy for anyone to write blogs.

Social media in particular has made it easy for everyone to get online. The period in which these services really took off is generally referred to as web 2.0.

But along with this development of easy-to-use publishing technologies came a centralisation of the internet, and with that, the loss of some of the internet’s potential.

The decentralised web

Proponents of the decentralised web argue that there are three main problems with the web today: openness and accessibility; censorship and privacy; and archiving of information.

Openness and accessibility refers to the tendency of centralisation to lock people into a particular service. So, for example, if you use Apple’s iCloud to store your photos, it’s difficult to give someone access to those photos if they have a Microsoft OneDrive account, because the accounts don’t talk to each other.

The second issue – censorship and privacy – is a deep concern for people like Doctorow and Berners-Lee. Centralised web services make it relatively easy for internet use to be monitored by governments or companies. For example, social media companies make money by trading on the value of personal information.

As we use social media, fitness trackers and health apps to document our lives, we generate a lot of personal data. We freely give this personal data to social media companies by agreeing to their terms of service when we create our accounts.

The third issue with today’s web is that it is ephemeral; information changes and websites go offline all the time, and very little is retained or archived. Vinton Cerf has referred to this as the “digital dark age” because when historians look back at this point in history, much of the material on the internet won’t exist anymore – there will be no historical record.

A good example of this loss of history occurred when GeoCities, which hosted millions of web pages created by individuals, was first bought out by Yahoo and then discontinued.

The technologies to support a more decentralised web are already being developed, and are based upon some you are probably already familiar with.

One of the key technologies to support a decentralised web is peer-to-peer networking (or more simply, P2P). You might be familiar with this concept already, as it’s the technology behind BitTorrent – the software used by millions of Australians to illegally download new episodes of Game of Thrones.

On P2P networks, information is distributed across thousands or millions of computers rather than residing on a single server. Because the contents of the files or website are distributed and decentralised, it’s much more difficult to take the site offline unless you own of the files.

It also means that information uploaded to these networks can be retained, creating archives of old information. There are already organisations such as MaidSafe and FreeNet who are creating these P2P networks.

Other technologies, such as encryption and something called blockchain, provide levels of security that make transactions on these networks extremely difficult to track, and very robust.

Together these technologies could protect the privacy of internet users and would make censorship very difficult to enforce. It could also allow people to securely pay creators for online content without the need to an intermediary.

For example, a musician could make a song available online and people could pay the artist directly to listen to it, without the need for a recording company or online music service.

But do we need it?

Perhaps the biggest question with decentralising the web is whether it is actually something most people want or value. While archiving some parts of the internet is clearly valuable, there is probably a lot on the internet that can safely be forgotten, and some things that should be.

The technology itself is a hurdle to adoption. Peer-to-peer and blockchain technology are clever, but they are also complex. If decentralised web technologies are going to be widely used, they need to be easy to install and operate.

This isn’t an insurmountable problem, though. In the early 1990s, installing the software to get the internet working on your computer required substantial technical knowledge. Today it’s simple, and that’s one of the main reasons the internet took off.

Beyond the technical challenges, there are other social concerns that are potentially more substantial. Recently Facebook’s live streaming facility has raised questions about the level of control that should be exercised over internet media.

At the end of the day, it may be that the decentralised web is ready for us, but we’re not yet ready for it.

The Conversation

Sam Hinton, Assistant Professor in Web Design, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.