Archive for the ‘links’ Category

Local Search Marketers: Optimize Your Physical Location For The Virtual World

Very helpful information here for local search marketers…

google-small-local-my-business-ss-1920-800x450

Never before have the real world and the virtual world been more intertwined. Columnist Chris Silver Smith discusses how the developments affect local businesses.

Google is combining Street View images, neural network analysis, and a reverse Turing Test via reCAPTCHA to analyze the exteriors of storefronts.

Welcome to the 21st century, where you may need to perform “optimization” on the real-world exterior of your stores to help ensure the best rankings in Google!

While at SMX Milan last month, colleague Luca Bove, in his presentation on the “Making Sense Of The Local Landscape” session, mentioned how Google potentially employs an algorithm with its local search systems in order to improve maps’ locational quality.

I was struck by how the data was very likely also used in validating business addresses for purposes of eliminating spam as well.

Google’s development of these capabilities is just one part of its data collection about the actual world around us that folds into the local search algorithms.

the_neural_network_by_rajasegar-d2xx3w9-800x450

There are some reasons why these sorts of developments are becoming more important to local businesses and local search marketers.

In the earlier days of the internet, a business tended to assume that anything about them on the internet was placed there by them and thus controlled by them, much as their presence in the yellow pages directories may have been handled in days past.

Of course, as the internet has matured, perhaps most businesses have come to realize that they do not solely control their online presence — numerous online directories, search engines, and other types of sites all compile data about entities and display it in various ways.

In the Web 2.0 world, many of us have learned and continue to learn how our online reputations and presence are something of a gestalt, formed of all the disparate pieces of information that are collected together and served up in multitudinous ways. (Indeed, this evolution resulted in the need for search marketing agencies and the more specialized niche of online reputation management or “ORM.”)

Even considering how the information age has evolved to find, collate and deliver up data about businesses and organizations, I’m not sure there has ever been a time when the physical reality of the world itself has been more intermingled with the virtual world.

More and more, things that happen in the physical world are having a direct effect upon your online presence, and so it’s becoming vital for local businesses to pay more attention to how these elements may affect their presence within local search.

Using Real-World Data To Pinpoint Locations

The location itself is one prime piece of the online presence, as we all realize. It’s sometimes a challenging datum.

As I described in my article from 2008, Top Causes Of Errors In Online Mapping Systems, online mapping systems have often been challenged with translating street addresses into the geocodes and pinpointing the locations on maps (though this situation has been steadily improving for many years).

In the past, there was a large element of estimation involved in mapping. As I described in 2008, there were instances when digital systems knew that an address was on a street, and on a particular side of it, but these systems had to interpolate in placing the addresses — spreading out all addresses equally along one side.

There were also instances when businesses’ addresses were clumped — such as at shopping centers and in tall office buildings.

As you may know, Google and some other systems incorporated building outlines for a great many cities into locational determinations. This sort of data likely helped further in determining actual organization address locations.

In addition, more and more types of street data pours into Google and other mapping systems, which map data sources from a variety of city, state and national government data sources.

Two different methods for pinpointing addresses include “rooftop” and “front door.” Using satellite images and/or building outlines, the centerpoints of buildings could be used, as well as front-door entrances, when computing location geocodes or when calculating driving directions.

Even considering the sophisticated mix of location determinations, there can be a lot of instances when geolocations are incorrectly calculated.

For businesses that like to “touch” their data a lot — either by uploading bulk files of multiple business locations in the case of large chain store companies, or small-to-medium businesses that simply take greater care in updating and customizing their online profiles — Google and other mapping providers will tend to have greater confidence in the geolocations associated.

In many cases, these companies will upload the precise geolocations of their outlets themselves, or they may hand-tweak them, such as with Google’s map pinpoint correction tool in Google Places interface.

But, for the countless businesses that are less “touchy-feely” with their online presence — and, this number remains in the many millions, I believe — mapping providers are less-confident with their generated location pinpoints.

A New Google Patent For Identifying Addresses

This may be one prime reason why Google developed the patent that was granted in July of this year entitled, “System and method of determining building numbers.”

In cases when you have longer facades of buildings with many doors on them, you begin to have a great chance of algorithmically determining door-front locations of addresses if you could have a system that would read the numbers off of the doors and doorframes.

On the face of it, this sort of system seems simple: Google’s mapping vehicles capture the fronts of many buildings, including storefronts, many of which include address numbers affixed to the building fronts.

Once these many image files are associated with geolocations of the street spots where they were captured, it’s a matter of running an OCR system through the images to capture any words, and most especially numbers.

Once you have this dataset, process it against the business/organization addresses in your database and see if the locations are close enough in proximity, or whether you need to adjust and update your business location.

Extracting the numbers from the images is a complex task, but Google research papers indicate it has developed a deep neural network system that can be trained to identify numbers of up to five digits long.

Google has apparently employed this system with a fairly high success rate and is automatically translating the numerals from images.

In practical application, this functionality is quite involved, and still prone to some percentage of errors or numbers that the neural net simply cannot identify. To combat this, Google apparently mixes in a human quality-check, according to its patent:

If an extracted value corresponds with the building number of the address of interest such as being substantially equal to the address of interest, the extracted value and the image portion are displayed to a human operator. The human operator confirms, by looking at the image portion, whether the image portion appears to be a building number that matches the extracted value. If so, the processor stores a value that associates that building number with the street level image.

How Is Google Incorporating Human Input?

Google has already incorporated such a system, perhaps in a couple of ways. First, it has been known for a while that Google has made use of a staff of humans to verify new business information by phoning these new businesses after they submit their listings to Google Places.

It’s quite conceivable that Google could display the scanned image number information to these individuals when they are performing their duties in validating new business listings, using some interface to display the numbers and asking the validators to click “yes” or “no” to determine if the address number images should associate with the physical location of businesses.

I’ve had reason to believe that these individuals were previously viewing Street View images, anyway, in order to help validate the businesses.

In cases where there is a suspect Street View image, such as if the validators don’t see buildings at the location, or if it seems to be of a cemetery or some such thing — then those listings get suspended. These building numbers could be used in the same way.

Indeed, if we look at the images that Google is sometimes delivering through its reCAPTCHA interfaces (a service Google offers for free to webmasters for the purpose of validating submission form content to reduce spam and harvesting of data by automated systems), then we see what are clearly building numbers being offered up in order to obtain the free labor to get back text validating their OCR system translations — use of the reCAPTCHA system is essentially a reverse Turing test. (Though Google has recently announced a change to its reCAPTCHA API, it will still be serving up these real-world images.)

Below are examples of Google’s reCAPTCHA interface and building numbers translated through it, according to Google’s research paper, “Multi-digit Number Recognition from Street View Imagery using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks”:

street-view-numbers-recaptcha-605x600

However, I’ve also seen Google leveraging its free captcha (now “reCAPTCHA”) systems for validating and improving quality on OCR translations of book text, and this is also an area where Google is obtaining human participation to improve address numbers and location associations.

In addition, Google’s reCAPTCHA service page indicates that it is also using these images for the purpose of reading the text on street signs. So, the data is further enhancing local search by verifying the street names and street locations from the Street View images (example below).

reCAPTCHA-street-signs-800x360

Now, Google already held a patent from further back that involved potentially identifying details from Street View images in order to help validate online business information in connection with building exterior information such as business name signs, hours of operation, street numbers and menus.

With the vague name, “System and method for the calibration of a scoring function,” this patent was granted in 2012. (Bill Slawski wrote of these developments back when the patent was granted and joked of posting a robots.txt disallow sign on his home to instruct search engines to not index his home images!)

Google-Street-View-Local-Store-Exterior-Scanning-470x600

I would say that the new patent, and the fact that Google’s reCAPTCHA images are apparently containing street address image numbers and street signs, indicate that it’s highly likely that Google is now coordinating this data in the way that the recent patent describes, and is likely folding this into the data quality of Google Maps/Local Search.

The ongoing development of these ideas indicates that it’s an important and prioritized area of the local team’s development efforts.

How Does This Impact Local Search Marketers?

Knowing that this real-word data is getting folded into Local/Maps and is potentially able to have an effect upon your online presence and local rankings, what should you do?

  • Do Nothing: In most cases, local businesses need to do nothing. Most local businesses probably make an effort to ensure that the exterior of their shops make a good impression upon potential customers, and work to make sure that their signage is all accurate.
  • Inaccurate Signage: If your signage is inaccurate, you need to update it! Various organizations such as the Better Business Bureau may ding you anyway if you are found to be misleading consumers in some way, so accurate representations on the exterior of your business place ought to be kept updated at all times.
  • Business Name Change: Did you acquire a business and change the name, but not update the exterior sign? This sort of thing could now contribute to having outdated listings continuing to exist and rank in local search results, even if you set up a new business listing in Google and flagged the legacy listing for deletion. Or, did you attempt to add a new listing, only to have it go into a “pending” status that never resolves? Your business name is a key element and your exterior signage had better coordinate accurately with your business name in Google Local. Those of us in local search marketing have long harped upon auditing one’s citations online and correcting any that are out of sync, and this activity now extends to your offline, brick-and-mortar location information as well!
  • Building Signage: Is the signage outside of your building confusing? This can happen with a great many strip shopping centers and businesses that are abutting each other in dense metro areas. Does it appear another business is located where yours is? Increase the user-friendliness of your exterior by trying to make it clear which businesses go with which signs.
  • Signage Legibility: For that matter, is your signage easily legible? If your sign was painted up in a kooky font that is virtually illegible, or if your building number was painted on in a funky way by your favorite nephew, re-think it, and perhaps replace it.
  • Hours of Operation Visibility: Are your hours of operation posted in large letters outside your business? If so, you may want to be sure they reflect the same info that you post online in directories and in local search engines. One of the illustrated embodiments shown with the earlier patent showed an hours of operation sign on a shop window — so, this might not be as farfetched as it sounds.
  • Street Sign Visibility: Are the street signs in your area legible? I once spent an hour driving around the streets of a small town in Texas, searching in vain for a special sale — all because the words were completely worn off of all of the street signs! You may see computer technicians on investigative TV shows performing all sorts of cool image-clarifications on digital images, but I really doubt Google has much if any of this sorts of enhancement on their images. So, if your street signs in your area require psychic assistance to read, campaign to your local government to have them fixed and updated ASAP!
  • Mail Store Location: For those companies using a mail store as their business location (a risky proposition for local search marketing), you may need to see if the Street View representation of the location makes it clear that your business couldn’t possibly be in this location. Increasingly, attempting to fool Google Local may work against you, as my fellow columnist Greg Gifford stated a few weeks ago.

I could take this even further to a more obsessive level and mention things like avoiding having your business look like a dump, or having consumer-unfriendly jokes such as your door sign always displaying a “CLOSED” notice (as Bernard Black’s bookshop sign did in the hilarious British sitcom, “Black Books”).

Black-Books-Door-Closed-Sign

(Your hours of operation were already a ranking component, particularly on mobile devices!)

But, these things really ought to go without saying! Give people a good experience when they attempt to find and visit your shop.

The real takeaway of all of this is that local store operators must always keep up their brick-and-mortar location’s real-world presence, in addition to feeding and watering their online presence.

Don’t let your exterior signage get out of whack — your exterior must be maintained both for the sake of your local search rankings as well as for making your business friendly and easily-approachable for the people who would be your customers.

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published on December 4, 2014 at 9:23 am

 



Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions

via Lifehacker

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions Your browser of choice may have changed a lot in the past year, but luckily the best extensions for making your browser better have kept up with all the most popular browsers. Here are our cross-platform, must-have favorites.

Last time we looked at our favorite browser extensions, we only looked at Firefox. A lot has changed in a year, and now our favorite-extension pool has expanded to several other browsers.

10. Web of Trust (WOT)


Web of Trust, or WOT, is a browser extension that’s designed to help you browse more safely. When you search online, WOT accesses its database to see approximately how safe your search results really are. Next to each result it places a colored circle. Green indicates a safe site, yellow means you should proceed with caution, and red tells you that you should probably steer clear. When you roll over the colored circle, you’ll get more in-depth ratings. If you really want to look into a particular site, WOT can provide you with ratings from other WOT users. This is especially useful for online shopping. WOT has a special rating for vender reliability to help warn you of a potentially fraudulent storefront. WOT is available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer. For Opera and other browsers, a bookmarklet is available.

Top 10 Must-Have Browser ExtensionsWeb of Trust (WOT) | Multi-browser Download Page

9. Google Translate

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions Web translation services are nothing new, but they’re exceptionally helpful when you run into a site written in a language you don’t speak. While these services have been around for awhile, they’ve evolved to make the translation process a lot easier. With the Google Translate extension (gTranslate in Firefox) you can just install it and it’ll recognize when a page is not in your primary language. You’ll receive a request to translate whenever this happens and the extension will reload the page with the translated text. Like all web translations, it’s imperfect, but it’s the closest things your browser’s going to get to a Babelfish. (Note: Google Chrome has auto-translate built in, so no extension’s required for Chrome users.)

Google Translate | Firefox • Safari • Opera

8. AutoCopy

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions
Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions AutoCopy does what the title suggests. Whenever you select some text in your browser, AutoCopy will automatically copy it to the clipboard. While pressing Ctrl+C (Cmd+C on a Mac) to do this manually isn’t that big of a deal, but what makes AutoCopy really worthwhile (for me, anyway) is the option to copy without formatting. There are so many times where I just want to copy text but want it to conform to the style of the document I’m pasting it into, and AutoCopy cuts out that tedious step no problem.

Top 10 Must-Have Browser ExtensionsAutoCopy | Chrome • Firefox

7. Better Gmail

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions Gmail’s great, but it’s not perfect, which is why Better Gmail was born—here at Lifehacker no less—out of the need for additional features. It compiles a bunch of the best Gmail-related Greasemonkey scripts to add a bunch of highly desired features to gmail. Those features include hierarchical labels, an unread message count in your browser tab, file attachment icons, row highlights, label links, the ability to hide and show all sorts of things, and more. The official version is Firefox-only, but an unofficial Chrome port is also available.

Top 10 Must-Have Browser ExtensionsBetter Gmail | Chrome • Firefox

6. PriceBlink

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions
When you’re shopping online, you’re probably accustomed to searching for the lowest price. PriceBlink removes the need to do any actual work and presents you with your options, automatically, while shopping. Just browse to the page of something you want to buy and PriceBlink will show up if it can save you money. In addition to showing you lower prices, if PriceBlink finds a coupon for the retailer you’re visiting it’ll offer that up as well. When you’re not shopping, PriceBlink will stay out of your hair. It’s a pretty great tool for keeping your wallet from getting too thin. InvisibleHand extension.)

Top 10 Must-Have Browser ExtensionsPriceblink | Chrome • Firefox • Safari

5. BugMeNot

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions
There are times when you just do not want to sign up for an account. Maybe you’re lazy, or maybe you don’t want to give out your email address to a web site you’re only going to use once. BugMeNot is an extension that uses the BugMeNot web site to retrieve login credentials for the site you’re visiting. Browse to a site, click the extension icon, and BugMeNot will offer up accounts to try. If the account works (or doesn’t), you can quickly send feedback to BugMeNot to let them know if the credentials are good or bad. This success rate is used to rank the options available to you. BugMeNot uses these ratings to suggest credentials for you whenever you visit a new site. If you want to avoid creating an account, BugMeNot will save you a ton of time.

Top 10 Must-Have Browser ExtensionsBugMeNot | Chrome • Firefox • Safari • Opera

4. Tab Cloud

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions Tab Cloud is an excellent extension for managing your browser tabs on a single computer or across multiple machines. You can name browser windows and save sessions, view a graphical representation of all your tabs and windows, and sync tabs from one browser to another. While Firefox 4 has tab sync already, Tab Cloud gives you a little more control over how you sync your tabs. It’s an excellent addition for Chrome, which (currently) has no existing tab sync at all. Regardless of sync, it makes for an excellent organizational tool for those of us who can’t help but keep at least 30 tabs open at a time.

Top 10 Must-Have Browser ExtensionsTab Cloud | Chrome • Firefox

3. FlashBlock

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions With recent reports that the lack of Flash on the MacBook Air nets it two extra hours of battery life, you have to wonder if Apple’s choice to leave Flash off its new highly portable laptops was really the right choice after all. Even if you don’t use Flash much, there definitely are those few occasions where it’s a necessity. That’s where FlashBlock comes in. It lets you keep Flash installed on your computer but prevents Flash content from loading without your expressed permission. The upside is that Flash will never run without your intervention, though you can whitelist specific sites that you’d prefer Flash always works on. It’s a great compromise for gaining better battery life (and better overall performance) without needing to remove Flash entirely.

Note: FlashBlock functionality is already built-in to Chrome for Windows and is in the Mac developer builds.

Top 10 Must-Have Browser ExtensionsFlashBlock | Chrome • Firefox • Safari • Opera

2. Greasemonkey / Greasemetal / Etc.

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions GreaseMonkey is pretty incredible, in that it lets you do virtually anything you want with your web browser with the help of simple JavaScripts. By itself it doesn’t do much at all, but when you consider all the available userscripts it’s suddenly the most powerful extension you can have. It’s basic purpose is to serve as a JavaScript injector. Userscripts that you install will inject JavaScript into a particular page to make it perform differently than it normally would. Although there are tons available, if you know JavaScript you can write your own and get exactly the functionality you’re looking for. While Greasemonkey was original written for Firefox, it’s possible to run Greasemonkey userscripts in Chrome (Chrome supports installing userscripts by default) and Safari (thanks to a port of the platform).

1. LastPass

Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions LastPass is an amazing password manager. Actually, it may be better described as a personal data manager. It can remember login credentials (and automatically log you into web sites), credit card numbers, your address and phone number, and other personal information you often need to enter on a web site or storefront checkout. It stores everything securely and syncs with any machine that has a LastPass extension installed, and it’s one of the best timesavers you can install on your browser.
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Bookmarklet Turns Any Webpage Into a Whiteboard

via labnol.org

Social sites like Twitter and Facebook have made it easy for you to quickly share news articles, blog posts, etc. around but wouldn’t it be nice if you could also add some of your own commentary to the page before sharing it with the world?

Well, there’s a new and interesting web app called markup.io that can help you here. It instantly turns any web page into a virtual whiteboard where you can add text, draw shapes, arrows or even do some freehand drawings. Here’s a quick demo:



Related: More tools for annotating web pages.

While you are on a site, hit the markup.io button on your browser bookmarks toolbar and it will float a set of drawing tools one that page. You can scribble over the page now and when you hit publish, all your drawings and annotations are saved to a unique URL that you can now pass along in your social circle.

If you make a mistake, you can use the usual keyboard shortcuts — ctrl+z will undo your previous action while the backspace key will remove the element from the page.

Markup.io is available in the form of a bookmarklet so there’s no need to download or install anything and it’s compatible with all browsers except for IE 6 (which you shouldn’t be using anyway). Thanks Richard.



Google Chrome Web Store

One of the reason why mobile app stores are successful is that applications are more discoverable. Users know where to find applications, there’s a consistent interface for ratings and reviews, an easy way to buy applications and to compare them.

For web applications there’s no web store and it’s not always easy to find a good web app. Since Google Chrome OS is an operating system designed for running web apps, it’s really important for Google to provide a list of high-quality web applications. Users may need an online photo editor, a music player, a chess game, a Math software or an online IDE.

Chrome Web Store will be launched later this year and intends to be “an open marketplace for web apps”. Users will be to “install” applications by adding a shortcut to the new tab page. When you “install” an application, it can integrate with the browser by using advanced features that require permission: local storage, user’s location, notifications.


“An installed web app could be separated visually from other tabs, could integrate better with the OS, and could be granted increased permissions. This special handling of web apps is exactly what we’re working on in Google Chrome. Installing a web app in Google Chrome is easy and quick, with no restart required. At its simplest, installing a web app is like creating a super-bookmark to it. Once installed, a web app gets a big icon in Google Chrome’s app launcher area, as well as some integration with the host OS,” explains Google.


Even if the web applications from the Chrome Store will work in other browsers, Chrome will include some features that make it easier to use the applications. It will be interesting to see how many paid apps from the Chrome Web Store will be successful.

Update: You can already install applications in the latest Chromium builds. This post explains how to add the “enable-apps” flag and shows an example of application.



What’s Wrong With E-Commerce Websites?

What is going on with e-commerce websites? It appears that online entrepreneurs spend so much time worrying about website traffic that they ignore the customers who actually want to buy something.

Recently, I tried to order a product we spotted at a trade show. It was perfect for our application so we did a Google search to find the manufacturer and a líst of dealers who sold the item.

Almost all the websites that distributed the product had proper contact information and invited people to call, which we did. After six frustrating phone calls to dealers we still hadn’t found anyone willing to answer the telephone. Since we had to leave a message almost everywhere we called, we decided to try California even though we are located in the east, and it was far too early for any reasonable person to be at work.

We finally got in touch with a friendly salesperson in Boston, who was very helpful but unfortunately the company was out of stock. Despite not being able to fill the order, we kept their information on file because they were friendly, accommodating, and dealt with all our questions. They tried their best to meet our needs but if we would have ordered using their online system and found out later that the product was back-ordered we would have been very upset since we had a deadline to meet.

Next we reached the manufacturer who told us he was too busy to check if he had any stock, and maybe he could get back to us by four o’clock. Just as we were ready to give up, the phone rang; it was the owner of the California dealer, who had the product in stock, took the order, and shipped it out the same day.

Businesses, especially website businesses cannot run on autopilot; customers are people and they expect to be treated like human beings. Now it is not always possible to answer every phone call the minute someone calls, or to have every product in stock when people need it, but the more human interaction you can build into your website the better your sales will be. To paraphrase that old saying about horses, “you can lead search traffic to your website, but you can’t make them order.”

Why Should Anybody Buy From You?

Ask yourself this simple question: why should anybody buy anything from you? You probably aren’t the only company that sells your product or service, and even if you are, there are most likely substitutes available from competitors.

When potential customers find you on Google they are also finding all your competitors. So unless you sell a totally unique, non-fungible (non substitutable) product, service or brand that is also the lowest priced on the market, then you best give people some compelling reason to buy from you.

The product we were looking for was available from a dozen different website businesses, spread all over the United States and they all sold the same product at the same price. In the final analysis we purchased from the supplier that was the furthest distance away in a time zone three hours earlier than us; but we purchased from that supplier because we were able to talk to a someone who answered all our questions in a friendly, intelligent, and engaging manner.

It’s what used to be called customer service before businesses were turned over to database programmers, number crunchers, and search savants who think of human interaction as something to be avoided.

he Human Touch Creates Confidence and Sales

Websites are a very efficient method of lead generation and potential sales as long as you engage your audience with a presentation delivered by a real person who explains as much as possible about the things you sell, and how you sell them. And that includes things like delivery, which is one of the major complaints and points-of-contention that online customers have. Nobody likes surprises, especially when they cost time and money.

Web sales success has little to do with features, benefits, or technical advancements, in fact a barrage of features and specifications is just as likely to confuse visitors, and paralyze their purchase decision. The one tactic that overcomes this problem, that inspires confidence in your advice, trust in your ability to deliver, and convinces people to purchase, is information presented by a real human being.

You Can’t Always Handle Things Personally

Understanding you cannot always be available, the next best thing is Web video. A video provides a complete, consistent, error-free, professional presentation of the information you want customers to receive. Hiring, training, and managing staff is expensive, and their handling of customers is often unreliable, resulting in a negative impression of your company.

Lest We Forget Tricky Dick

And that brings me to the Web entrepreneur who thinks that they are so charming and persuasive that they are going to be their own Web-video host.

Anybody who studies audience behavior is familiar with the classic case of the 1960 Presidential debate between Nixon and Kennedy. Most people who listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon won, while the people who watched on television thought Kennedy won. This was a seminal example of how auditory and visual performance influences content, impression and response.

This lesson has been well learned by politicians but has somehow escaped the attention of business leaders and Web entrepreneurs.

Human Motivational Optimization

Web entrepreneurs’ obsession with search optimization, and their fascination with technical solutions to human problems, has created an e-commerce environment that is decidedly remote and unfriendly. Sales are a motivational exercise in people-problem solving: people buy things that fulfill physical, emotional, and psychological needs. The answer is to adopt a Human Motivational Optimization approach to the presentation of your website material.

What is Human Motivational Optimization? It is a mindset used for designing Web experiences for human beings, not just search engine spiders.

Human Motivational Optimization For E-commerce

Let’s say you have an online business that sells clothing. The best way to display clothing is on a model who twists and turns so the audience can see the item from all sides, as well as how it hangs or drapes on a real person. A garment displayed flat looks like a rag, and just doesn’t do the product justice.

Even quality still photography doesn’t show how a garment looks when someone moves; and high quality fashion photography is more expensive than short fifteen to twenty second Web videos.

You can also add some professional voice-over narration that explains all the fabric details, design features and options available. A Web video fashion catalog is the most effective way to sell clothes online.

Perhaps you sell cosmetics. Another product ideally suited for Web video. Teaching visitors what products look best together based on particular facial features and coloring as well as different makeup styles for work, play, and evening are ideal opportunities to up-sell and build confidence in you and your products. Customer education is one of the best Web marketing tactics you can employ in order to distinguish yourself from the competition.

Not Every Product Is Sexy

Clothing and cosmetics are both high profile products, but let’s say you sell something that is not quite so sexy, something like sandpaper. Sandpaper is boring but, if you need an abrasive product, you better pick the right one or you’ll make a mess of whatever you are trying to build.

Teaching customers what products to use turns one-time buyers into long-term customers. When customers buy the wrong thing, they invariably blame the supplier, while suppliers that provide valuable purchase advice create a significant barrier to competition.

Even major box store retailers have learned that they cannot afford to have a bunch of part-timers helping customers. Best Buy has their Geek Squad and Apple Stores have their Geniuses.

Returns on electronics and computer equipment are too costly, and that goes double for online businesses where shipping is a factor. And that doesn’t take into account customer ill will created by the aggravation and frustration of being sold the wrong thing. Rather than being an expense, a professionally produced Web-video e-commerce catalog is actually a tactic that saves time and money, both in the sales process, and customer relations.

Web video engages audience attention; informs viewers of product advantages, details and options; and explains who should purchase, as well as who shouldn’t. It educates people on how to get the most out of what you sell, and it does it in the most compelling and memorable manner. It establishes a trust-based relationship with clients and that is something competitors cannot overcome with high pressure, price-slashing tactics.

The Geeks are Killing Your Business

Today we have a generation of entrepreneurs trained in highly specialized technical areas like search engine optimization, database development, statistical analysis, and Web-based programming. All of these disciplines view business, even marketing, advertising and public relations as if they are somehow quantifiable, scientific disciplines that can be measured and managed without consideration of that messy notion called human nature.

The biggest problem in business is dealing with people, and just because your business is Web-based, doesn’t mean people no longer count.

We know ‘if you build it, they will come’ is not a viable marketing strategy, and the idea ‘if they find you, they will buy’ is just as wrong. Start thinking in terms of Human Motivational Optimization: start designing websites for people, not search engines.
bout The Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video.



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