Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Web 2.0 And Why You Shouldn't Fake Reviews

by: Simon Dance

The latest offering from Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares aired on Channel 4 last night, followed the somewhat disastrous adventures of ex-boxer Mike and his wife Caron Ciminera as they struggled to run the Fish & Anchor, a restaurant in Lampeter, West Wales. Whilst the couple's arguing appeared to better the food they were originally sending out (a mix of jarred sauces and home cook book trophy dishes) they did let slip on a fantastically poor bit of black hat optimisation, which I hope made all white hat SEOs laugh out loud. If there was one lesson to take away from the show, it would be - Don't fake reviews! In order to gauged the feeling of the local community for the failing restaurant come sports bar, Ramsay conducted a search on Google for the Fish & Anchor, to which he was presented with a range of reviews, two of which were rather suspiciously from a character calling himself Michael or Mike Burns. On the Wales portal of the BBC website Burns had posted "Well i don't get excited about food too often, and having dined in Rick Stein's, and Gordon Ramsay's,I think i have found a better restaurant in West Wales". On the SugarVine website he also posted "what a fantastic restaurant for couples, and families. it seems to have everything, the food has to be the best i have eaten (home or abroad) this place will go far". Other online reviews echoed what has already been said, but with the dire state of the restaurant, its food, its reputation and its perception from both the local community and Ramsay itself, would it not be right to question who was telling the truth? The restaurateur confessed to posting the reviews, his rational pointing to stimulating custom, however with any reactive strategy it requires a degree of foresight - and I am not sure he really thought through the wider ramification of posting these "inaccurate" reviews. Firstly, a warning must be expressed. For example, if someone finds your restaurant or hotel via a positive (fake) review and they have a bad experience, there is a chance that they will post a true review to assist fellow users and generally have a rant. The initial seeding of this true review has the potential to lead to an onslaught of further reviews from other visitors who might not have otherwise posted. Don't forget the saying "people don't lead... they follow". But how can you manage your reviews and ultimately what your customers are saying about you? Well first and foremost, address the problem(s)! You wouldn't put a sticking plaster on a gun shot wound, so why think that a positive review about the quality of your food or the softest of your sheets is going to counteract the adversities of your customer service? The customer is king, a point stressed by Ramsay, and one that should ring true for any business, after all, without them, where would we be? By rectifying or at least making plans to manage any failings within your business, regardless of its size, will be the first step in managing your online reputation, but this is an area I will not going into comprehensive detail for this post. Instead, I will offer some simply pointers as to how to harness online reviews for good. Sites like Trip Advisor, which boasts over 10,000,000 user generated reviews of various hotels, holidays and restaurants is gaining increasing weighting as an resource for honest and unbiased review and via its system of community recommendation it really has the power to drive custom, and in many instances, divert customer - the key factor being positive, and consistent reviews. But if you do run a successful hotel or restaurant and wish to harness these social spaces, but wish to do so in a more ethical way than that demonstrated in Kitchen Nightmares than why not encourage your diners of hotel guests to post a review after their stay. When the customer is paying their bill or even booking their hotel room why not take their email address, or even ask them to submit their business card in return for entry into a monthly prize draw for a free meal in the restaurant? In addition to building up a client database by collecting this data - for use in promotional mailings including notifying customers of events, promotional and the launch of a new menu - you can also harness it to stimulate online reviews by dropping your customers a short email after their stay / meal, which might look something like the following example... "Good afternoon Simon, and thank you very much for your booking at the Leapfrogg Restaurant, we hope you had an enjoyable meal. We pride ourselves on the quality of our food and our attentive staff however we're always striving to enhance and improve what we do, and as such we would appreciate you taking two minutes of your time to write a review for us at Trip Advisor (, a free travel guide and research website that allows users to post review and ratings. Your comments are important to us, and will be used to improve the Leapfrogg restaurant. Thank you very much for your time and we look forward to welcoming you again to the Leapfrogg restaurant in the near future. Sincerely, A Restaurateur Leapfrogg restaurant Brighton Tel: 01273 669 450" Of course, many of your requests will be ignored, but providing you are personal in your emails (a point we at Leapfrogg have mentioned previously in this blog) then you are more likely to get a response, and even if you only have a 5% success rate, this is still 5% of valuable customer feedback. A point to which I will conclude this article is one which has stuck with me from London's SMX, and one that I will most certainly be repeating from here on out is that "Yesterday's news no longer wraps today's fish and chips". Online news and online content, including user generated reviews do not simply get binned like a newspaper at the end of the day, but they remain live, and can even appear within the search results for a brand keyword search... so isn't it worth paying attention to what your customers are saying?

A Guide on RSS Tool

by: Terry Leslie

RSS is an abbreviation that has evolved into the following, depending on their versions: • RDF Site Summary (also known as RSS 0.9; the first version of RSS) • Rich Site Summary (also known as RSS 0.91; a prototype) • Really Simple Syndication (also known as RSS 2.0) Today, RSS stands for 'Really Simple Syndication', and it has the following 7 existing formats or versions: • 0.90 • 0.91 • 0.92 • 0.93 • 0.94 • 1.0 • 2.0 RSS tools refer to a group of file formats that are designed to share headlines and other web content (this may be a summary or simply 1 to 2 lines of the article), links to the full versions of the content (the full article or post), and even file attachments such as multimedia files. All of these data is delivered in the form of an XML file (XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language), which has the following common names: • RSS feed • Webfeed • RSS stream • RSS channel They are typically shown on web pages as an orange rectangle that usually has the letters XML or RSS in it. RSS feeds can be used to deliver any kind of information. Some of these 'feeds' include: • Blogs feed - each blog entry is summarized as a feed item. This makes blog posts easier to scan, enabling 'visitors' to zoom in on their items of interest. • Article feed - this alerts readers whenever there are new articles and web contents available. • Forum feed - this allows users to receive forum posts and latest discussion topics. • Schedule feed - this allows users (such as schools, clubs, and other organizations) to broadcast events and announce schedule changes or meeting agendas. • Discounts or Special feed - this is used to enable users (such as retail and online stores) to 'deliver' latest specials and discounted offers. • Ego or News Monitoring - this enables users to receive 'filtered' headlines or news that are based on a specific phrase or keyword. • Industry-specific feed - used by technical professionals in order to market, promote, or communicate with current (and prospective) customers and clients within their specific industries. RSS feeds enable people to track numerous blogs and news sources at the same time. To produce an RSS feed, all you need is the content or the article that you want to publicize and a validated RSS text file. Once your text file is registered at various aggregators (or 'news readers'), any external site can then capture and display your RSS feed, automatically updating them whenever you update your RSS file. RSS tools are useful for sites that add or modify their contents on a regular basis. They are especially used for 'web syndication' or activities that involve regular updates and/or publications, such as the following: • News websites - as used by major news organizations such as Reuters, CNN, and the BBC. • Marketing • Bug reports • Personal weblogs There are many benefits to using RSS feeds. Aside from being a great supplemental communication method that streamlines the communication needs of various sectors, RSS tools and feeds can also have tremendous benefits in your business, particularly in the field of internet marketing. RSS tools and feeds provide Internet users with a free (or cheap) and easy advertising or online marketing opportunity for their businesses. Below are some of the RSS features that can help make your internet marketing strategies more effective. 1. Ease in content distribution services. With RSS, your business can be captured and displayed by virtually any external site, giving you an easy way to 'spread out' and advertise them. 2. Ease in regular content updates. With RSS, web contents concerning your business can now be automatically updated on a daily (and even hourly) basis. Internet users will be able to experience 'real time' updates as information in your own file (such as new products and other business-related releases) is changed and modified simultaneously with that of the RSS feeds that people are subscribed to. 3. Custom-made content services. With RSS, visitors can have personalized content services, allowing them total control of the flow and type of information that they receive. Depending on their interests and needs, visitors can subscribe to only those contents that they are looking for (such as real estate or job listings). 4. Increase in (and targeted) traffic. With RSS, traffic will be directed to your site as readers of your content summary (or 1 to 2 lines of your article) who find them interesting are 'forced' to click on a link back to your site. These are just several of the many things that you can do with RSS. The possibilities are endless, and they are all aimed at providing you with an effective internet marketing strategy for your business. In the mean time, Good Luck on your journey to success… OR if you would like to succeed immediately to create financial freedom working only 4 hours a week, check out AND for a Limited Time, you will also receive a FREE copy of a limited number of the amazing 60 page eBook “52 Highly Profitable Instant Online Business Ideas That You Can Steal As Your Own And Start Today On A Very Tight Budget!”, which is jam packed with so many ideas you can use to instantly create an automated income for life! That’s my GIFT to You as a way of saying thank you for reading my articles.

Symantec Norton Antibot The Latest In Norton Computer Protection Software

by: Lisa Carey

It seems like every other month a new “program” comes along to make our lives that much easier. For example, first we could bookmark favorites, and then RSS feed them, and then came widgets and now “bots” which are robots that do a lot of our computer work for us in the background. Examples of friendly bots are weather bots, game playing bots, instant messaging and my favorites are those on AOL Instant Messenger which do all kinds of functions for me like shop, find movie times and even give updates on the Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately not all bots were created “equal.” Some are friendly and some are not. The ones that are not friendly can be a form of malware that allows control of your computer to be released, providing hackers with the opportunity to access your information and spread harmful bots to others. This type of computer virus can then be used to spread spam and commit various types of identity theft and other online fraud. So with new threats to our computers and information, new methods of protection are required. One of the oldest and most well known software protection designers has recently released a new protection program, Symantec Norton AntiBot. This is a software product designed to prevent the hijacking of one’s personal computer by bots and uses the bots on design programs against them, to located and destroy them. Many people already employ some form of protection on their personal computer, such as increasing the protection level from internet information to “high.” But these cannot detect some of the most recent bot programs and may not be the most efficient means of information protection, especially with the Internet being used more and more frequently for online shopping, ticket purchases, travel and other “high risk” activities. A more effective method of detecting and eliminating threats caused by bots is to install software designed specifically to detect, destroy and prevent bots from having access to your computer. With Symantec Norton AntiBot software, protection against bots is enhanced several times and the threat of bot attack is greatly diminished. It’s program protects against bots by blocking bots from entering your computer through downloads and e-mail attachments (two of the common ways bots enter a personal computer), checking for any unusual behavior on your personal computer and eliminating it, and detecting malicious bot software at all levels; keeping your personal, financial and credit card information safe and stopping identify theft before it can occur. Because bots operate in the background and are not detectable by antivirus or antispyware programs, many computer users are completely unaware that their personal computer has become infected. Many problems caused by bots go undetected until it is too late. Warning signs that your computer may have been accessed include: slowness of computer speed and unusual or irrelevant error messages. However, many times com these symptoms are sporadic and computer users will take little notice. Many people will continue to use their personal computer, unaware that bots have hijacked their personal computer and are slowly at work; looking for credit card numbers, passwords, and logon information which can be used for identity theft and in committing other types of online crime. This program scans your personal computer on a continuous basis, closing the gaps that could allow bots to infect your personal computer and better ensuring that bots do not invade and gain control. The use of Symantec Norton AntiBot to determine what a harmful or useful bot and allows you to continue using those bots you love and have come to depend on for information and services. It can be used in addition to several other antivirus and antispyware programs. Its compatibility is not limited to only Norton products. The cost of this software is $29.95 for one year of service. It was awarded PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award (2007) and underwent rigorous testing which included using AntiBot on computers with existing threats as well as allowing threats to try to access the computer after installation. With the growing threat of identity theft and credit card fraud Symantec Norton AntiBot offers an additional level of protection needed to combat the threat of bots and prevent them from turning one’s personal computer into a robotic that turns into an instrument of destruction to both your personal and financial well-being.

Record Your Products: Reap The Rewards of Recording And Getting Your Product Done Faster And Easier.

by: Patsy Bellah

Some of you will remember when we had to type on typewriters. Some of you, present company included, may even remember when we had to type on “standard” or manual typewriters. For those who aren’t in the know, that’s a typewriter without electricity Then we got electric typewriters. That was something new to learn, but all our work could be done faster, easier and with less mess. Then came computers. There was more to learn but with this technology life was made even easier for secretaries, writers, or anyone having to convey information with the written word. With each of these advances there were those who said they couldn’t do it. They didn’t like it, they didn’t like change. They could get along just fine, thank you very much, with a manual typewriter, or an electric one. They didn’t need computers. There was too much to learn. It was too different. Don’t let that attitude keep you from learning the latest time saver for transferring words to paper and that is the digital recorder. As the manual typewriter has given way to more sophisticated electric typewriters, which have given way to the computer, so, too, has the digital recorder made it faster and easier to transfer the spoken word to the written word. On the average a one-hour recording will yield about 20-30 typewritten pages. That means that with a one hour “conversation,” speaking your story or information into a recording device, then getting it transcribed, you can transfer your spoken word to a document in about 25% of the time it would take you to type it yourself. It may take a bit of practice to learn to dictate into a recorder, but once you have, you will find that you can save yourself a ton of time. Statistics prove that the longer it takes to complete a project, the less likely it is that you will finish it. Embrace this new technology. Here are some guidelines you should consider when purchasing a digital recorder: 1. You must be able to download your recording to your computer. Some of the less expensive recorders are not “downloadable.” You need to be able to transfer your recording through the Internet in order to send it to a transcription service or even if you want to transcribe it yourself. 2. Although most recorders come with internal microphones, it is best to have the capability to attach an external microphone. External microphones work better to record presentations or to record from a distance. Additionally, you can elect to use a lavaliere microphone for yourself and not be hampered with holding the recorder. Or, if you are recording more than one person, such as if you are interviewing someone, you can get an attachment which allows you to hook up two microphones. 3. The recorder should have at least four hours of available recording time using the high quality recording setting. You want to make sure the recorder has enough time to record a full presentation before having to be downloaded to the computer. The capabilities of recorders change all the time, and in my recent research I found that the prices, like anything else, are coming down drastically and we are getting more and more recording time. I checked out the Olympus recorder on the Internet and found a very good quality recorder for around $100.00. I also found that you could buy this at Best Buy in the Los Angeles area at the same price. Other locations such as Samy’s Cameras for those in the Los Angeles area, Circuit City, Radio Shack and Frys may also have them. For those of you who live in the Los Angeles area, I found an Olympus and a Marantz at Samy’s Cameras which uses a flash card and can get you as much as 4G-8G of storage space. Both of these sell for just under $400.00. The Sony or the Edirol are also good recorders, and have similar capabilities and prices. Buying a recorder is much like buying a blender or a computer. Although it’s wise to buy as much as your pocketbook allows, at the same time, you don’t need to buy more than you will use. Why spend the extra money. A digital recorder is small and easy to use. On it you can record all of your information products, plus your presentations, blogs or articles. Embrace this new technology. Using a digital recorder to record your information product, presentations or teleseminars, will allow you to finish your product in less than 25% of the time it would take you to type it yourself. If you get your audio transcribed, once you get it back, all you have to do is edit it and you can have your product completed in less than a week.

Internet And Business Online – The Act Of Interdependence

by: Scott Lindsay

The best role of business online is that of interdependency. We’ve all heard the old saying, “No man is an island.” When it comes to online business this is especially true. If a business owner who takes their business into the online world determines they will be self reliant and never accept the help of anyone then that individual will not be in business long enough to change their minds. It is accepted fact that the greatest tool for long-term exposure to your website is through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Without it potential customers can’t find you. It is unreasonable to expect that you can adequately develop a website without optimizing your website for the best possible search engine ranking. Search engines also place a high value on sites that have links placed on existing sites. These ‘backlinks’ demonstrate to search engines that others trust your site. By placing your link on their website these other businesses indicate a trust and recommendation for your site. In effect the two strategies listed above rely exclusively on what others can do for you when it comes to your online business. Shirley Temple once proclaimed in her movie Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, “I’m very self-reliant.” American westerns are filled with lines dealing with pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and holding down the fort. Many of us have grown up to believe if we want something done right we have to do it ourselves. This thinking is in opposition to the rules associated with an online business. The online world can only exist because people share. Individuals share technology, but the also share links, reviews, blogs, forums and a wide range of other marketing strategies that find a commingling of interdependency. In online business you are as dependent on others as they may be on you. Unlike the word ‘dependent’, the term interdependent indicates a mutual dependency. In other words you are depending on others to help provide links back to your site while they are equally dependent on you (or others) for the success of their business. Have you really taken a proactive approach to networking? It’s possible you are reading this today and you’ve never considered asking someone else to place a link to your site on his or her online business site. It can feel awkward depending on others to achieve online success especially if you’ve been lead to believe reliance on others is also a sign of imposing on their otherwise brilliant generosity. I suppose it could be a deep-seated sense of pride that makes it hard to consider the need to ask others for help. However, the truth is depending on others is really what has made the Internet possible. The growth of this online world is comprised of a link of computers, networks and servers that are connected in a way that provides the maximum benefit for all. Building an online business can feel a bit like trying to build a house of cards. Without the ability to rely on the other ‘cards’ around you it is virtually impossible to build. Interdependence. This is the essence of online business.

Web Development And The Big Time Out

by: Scott Lindsay

One of the great debilitators in online business is simply the perceived (or real) lack of time. Business owners are used to moving forward. An online web presence can make them feel tied to an office chair learning skills they aren’t sure they want to know. It’s not uncommon for those who deal in full time web design to have individuals contact them for a site design, but have absolutely no idea what they want. Furthermore when the designer questions them the response might be, “I don’t know, just make it look nice.” Let’s not forget the core values or mission of the business. Many business owners have no idea how to answer those kinds of questions. They may stare blankly for a moment or two and there’s no more time for further deep thought so they go back to action – without answers. In many cases it is possible to answer some of the questions needed, but it may require taking time away from a familiar setting. It may also require more time than you think you want to give. If you can get to a place of concentrated contemplation you are likely to find yourself stripping ideas to their core to find out what your business is trying to accomplish and what your ultimate goals might be. As with almost any project you can turn frustration around if you will just take the time to come to terms with your vision. Sometimes we spend so much time ‘doing’ we never stop to ask the question, “Why?” This process can be a bit like taking a bus that drives around the park. You keep looking at the flowers and the park bench and long to sit in the quiet shade of a tree and just absorb the calming atmosphere. You know they will have a positive effect on you, but for some reason you just can’t seem to find the energy to get off the bus. It seems to me there are some sites that are misguided or rarely guided that could benefit from the process of self-evaluation. These sites may look nice, but there is a sense of disconnection that may not be easy to identify, but it’s fairly obvious to visitors. Creative energy is at a minimum while business owners simply tackle what seem to be the most urgent details. As more people gravitate to online business there needs to be a shift in the thinking of how one goes about doing business online. In many ways it can’t be approached in the same way a traditional business is developed, yet that is typically the way many new web commerce ventures choose to tackle the subject. You may discover your business will be more successful if you take some time for rigorous reflection. The time set aside can be a bit like an architect that takes the time to develop plans for a new building. You wouldn’t expect the architect to simply tell a construction crew to, “Go out there and build – something.” Work at ‘building’ your online business in a comprehensive way. Your effort can develop a firm foundation for long-term success.