Friday, July 26, 2019

The Challenge of Working With Overseas Developers

The Challenge of Working
With Overseas Developers

Recently some content changes were needed on a client's website. So after crafting the new section, I sent the content to the overseas developers with instructions for where the content could appear on the page.

Here is the page after they performed their tasks and pushed the page live:

At first glance it looks good; but when zooming in, notice what they actually inserted on the page itself (they pasted the actual instructions we provided to them alongside the content itself - straight onto the page for the world to see)!

One of the known difficulties of working with overseas devs is the language barrier. Here that manifested in an almost laughable scenario. Fortunately, these instruction comments they copied and pasted onto the page were innocuous, but consider if overseas devs placed sensitive notes on a page, of the type never intended to be displayed for the world to see.

The lesson reaffirmed here is that while the cost advantages of working with overseas devs is tantalizing, included in that cost savings is the need for you to be extra attentive and to expect to deal with unanticipated surprises.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

5 Web Design Rules for Better SEO

5 Web Design Rules for Better SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of helping a website be found. Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, famously was told in the movie Field of Dreams, "if you build it, they will come". However, in SEO if you build it you must then cultivate inbound pathways to attract the desired search traffic.

From a web design perspective, onsite structural work will help gradually improve the ranking signals Google and other search engines use to determine how to rank a site for relevant searches. Internet OMG preaches relentless improvement; this is certainly a fundamental truth with SEO as a site never truly achieves SEO nirvana. Rather it needs to relentlessly workshop, modify, and fortify to demonstrate to the search engines' algorithms that it is alive and kicking.
As such, here are 5 important web design concepts necessary for giving a website a fighting chance in SEO:
1. Site Fundamentals
There are several core elements that set the stage for a well-optimized website design. This includes having a domain that makes sense and relates to what you do, good site speed, text-based content (not images, flash, or video), internal link structure that the search engine can crawl including XML sitemaps, proper use of heading tags (H1, H2), and a sensible URL naming structure for internal pages.
2. Focused Content
Content quality is more effective than quantity. A well written and structured page is more effective at optimizing toward a targeted keyword phrase than an onslaught of articles. Having said that, it is useful to craft some articles and have each contain an internal link back to the primary page that is the focus page for the targeted keyword phrase. Include links on blog posts to a feature page on the site related to that post, thus creating a network of internal links on the site to boost that feature page’s authority. 
3. Transition from Rules Based Content
Web designers harness template rules to automatically assemble meta title and description tags for all pages. As such, inevitably some pages will have duplicate page titles. It is good practice for a business owner to take their new site and concoct unique metadata to replace the original placeholder information. Every page should have its own set of meta content tags to help search engines get a better individualized grasp of each page.
4. Commitment to Change
SEO is a long-term strategy. Sometimes a client will ask their web developer to be sure to have their site “SEO’d” during its design and development. They presume it will come out of the gate SEO-ready, whereas in actuality a new website will not immediately witness quick placement in search simply due to proper structure. It will be many months before a noticeable rise in search rankings happens because it takes time to foster the authority and relevance necessary to compete in search results. During that time a website owner/admin needs to learn and refine the site in conjunction with signals obtained from the search engines’ algorithms early placements. 
5. Battleground
Competitors are active in enhancing their tactics too. Some of them will be making hefty investments for intelligently optimized content and formulating placements on authoritative publishers. An investment in well-written content and custom design elements can help create a more competitive site. Furthermore, one of the SEO signals is overall site traffic and on-site visit durations. SEO has a symbiotic relationship with other digital marketing strategies including social media marketing that recruits repeat visitors. This traffic can produce more backlinks and some of them will generate subsequent repeat visits as direct (type-in) visits.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Backgrounder: 19th China Party Congress

Backgrounder on the Upcoming 19th China Party Congress

(for immediate release)

In advance of the upcoming 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a twice-a-decade event, scheduled to open on October 18 and last one week, I am keen to observe how and if it might bestow on the current Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, an increase in power and status akin to that once held by the former chairman and founder of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Tse-tung.

Pyramid of Power

In the one-party system, the party congress serves as the determinative decision-making gathering and takes place only once every five years. The NPC (National People’s Congress) subsequently will add its affirmation to all decisions made at the party congress.

The country’s power structure has already elevated the current President’s stature above that of his predecessor, Hu Jintao. This year’s congress happens at a unique point in history, as the United States in 2017 has actively been withdrawing from globalization, whereas an enhanced empowered leader in China is intent on assuming the global leadership role being vacated and the international trade advantages that come along with it.

In fact, China has already been working to create a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an ambitious modern-day global economic initiative taking some inspiration from the old “silk road”, a development strategy focused on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries.

The upcoming congress will determine economic policies touching everything from China’s banking system and financial regulations to its tactics in dealing with multilateral trade issues to how assertive the nation wishes to be globally, including establishing a new international development institution modeled after the World Bank.

Therefore, although the upcoming congress is mostly characterized as China's central power struggle, it will have a significant impact on world trade, especially the Sino-America trade relations.

China Faces Challenges

In addition to the worrisome ever-growing debt that threatens to further slowdown the growth, China is also inflicted by widespread corruption in the system. President Xi himself clearly understands such threats, and has in the past few years enacted unprecedented anticorruption efforts.

At the September 15 Future of Asia Conference in Santa Monica, California, attended by Toolots,Inc., the company where I recently started working, journalist and author John Pomfret cited a “significant amount of fraud in the Chinese system,” something the current anti-corruption effort is trying to address.

As a result, how will the upcoming congress handle anticorruption is another keenly observed topic. Will President Xi switch gears on the anticorruption campaign by claiming it has achieved its primary goals and focus on the economy and growth once again, or will he continue with the current intensity of the campaign?

Regardless of its outcome, the upcoming 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is a key world event that needs to be closely watched by companies that have both large and small stakes in the US-China relations.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

5 Keys To A High Converting Landing Page

By David Alpern

Crafting an effective landing page is not as simple as one might think. There are many elements to address, being mindful of the psychology lurking beneath the surface as it relates to what the prospect ultimately wants and expects, and there is no practical and universal step-by-step guide that is applicable across industries.
Keep in mind that at the end of the day your company’s landing page is unique so you need to understand your target audience in the context of the 5 keys presented below. Yet, some things do remain constant across high-converting landing pages:
Key #1: Powerful and Compelling Headline
The headline is the magnet. That is true in any environment, in print, in an email subject line, as well as on a landing page. It needs to grab the reader’s attention with a short, punchy message that informs the reader what the product or service is all about. If you feel too limited in accomplishing this with just a headline, it is okay to also include a persuasive sub-headline. If the headline makes one look, the sub-headline should be designed to lure them to stay and go into slightly more depth.
Key #2: Pictures
Not just for the design enhancement of balancing the written content on your landing page, the brain actually processes images 60,000 times faster than text. The reader will be affected by the image(s) immediately. Best practices include using high-quality large pictures, have them be relevant (so using a cute baby, if irrelevant to your product or service is not effective), and making sure the image is not subtle. It needs to drive attention and stimulate.
Key #3: Explain the Value Proposition
Provide a straightforward explanation about your product or service. Interestingly, the explanation need not be integrated with your headline but should have some relation to your picture. An explanation should be benefit-oriented in a user oriented functional manner. For example, in place of “We make advertisements” go with the more compelling, value-oriented: “Get advertising that makes you money.” This addresses the important “What’s in it for me?” question. Another good way to convey the value proposition is through a list of benefits that are clearly focused on the user, rather than talking about yourself as a company. Ultimately, end with the CTA (call to action) with nearby testimonials, if available. CTA placement is a critical component and is okay to place the CTA in multiple locations on a single landing page, typically positioned at the end of various sections on the landing page.
Key #4: Pain & Pleasure
The fear of loss is a much more powerful motivator than the prospect of gain. Humans are wired to avoid pain, so if your landing page can cause the user to think about their pain, that can motivate them subconsciously to seek relief and thereby be more likely to convert. Pain can be communicated by discussing what will be lost as opposed to what will be gained. Pain references can appear in the testimonials as well as in the copy. Be sure to explain how your product or service can relieve the pain, as well as how it provides pleasure. Pleasure is often the by-product of what you are selling. For example, software performs tasks more efficiently, so it in effect is offering freedom, relief, and joy. Clothing is selling not just fabric but respect, trendiness, security, vibrancy, and fulfillment. A successful landing page identifies how to inspire and convey a sense of wonder and surprise.
Key #5: CTA Lead Generation Form + Contact Information
The CTA button is the most significant copy element on your entire landing page. It’s more than a “submit” button, so use a bold color that separates it from the rest of the content on the page. The CTA should be physically big on the page, powerful in value, compelling, and attractive. Yet, some people will want to bypass the CTA and contact you. Make sure you have multiple methods of contacts — phone, address, email, chat feature, as well as that cherished contact form. These help eliminate any friction in the conversion funnel and the physical address and phone help assure that you are a real company.
This post first appeared on December 8, 2015 here -

Thursday, October 1, 2015


I will be presenting at the ERA D2C conference on 10/7/15 on the topic of Retail Synergy Between Broadcast & Digital Advertising -

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Direct Response Writing For Success

Writing for Direct Response requires a different approach as compared with regular retail advertising that focuses on developing a brand and image. While some of the same key approaches are required for any successful radio campaign, I recently published an agency blog post about some of the essential elements a direct response radio script needs.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Why Some Videos Go Viral - Ylvis Case Study

How and why does an online humor bit take off when others online remain the proverbial tree in the forest? My post this week on Marketing Wizards of the West Coast takes a look at Ylvis, which is approaching 400+ million YouTube views.

The Challenge of Working With Overseas Developers

The Challenge of Working With Overseas Developers Recently some content changes were needed on a client's website. So after crafti...