Shopping for Gifts on a Budget

Holiday shopping is seldom easy. Whether you're just hopping around department stores or just surfing the net, the limitless choices made available by advertisers can actually be more of a detriment for someone who is in a real hurry. This can be quite problematic if you're on a budget and have such a long shopping list. Time constraints do not really provide you the benefit of thoroughly comparing every item in each store in an effort to find yourself the best bargain. One who has been shopping for hours can quite easily succumb to the pressure and end up buying gifts beyond a planned budget.

If you're in this very familiar predicament, all is not lost. When shopping for holiday gifts it sometimes makes more sense to look for items that are simple yet meaningful. While a sophisticated electronic gadget could certainly get a friend excited, simple inexpensive gifts like personalized mugs or engraved pens may just elicit the same amount of appreciation.

Nothing is perhaps more appropriate than a gift that actually captures the holiday spirit. As holidays bring sentimental moments, you'd want to give something you would be remembered for. Embroidered pillows and blankets would be good choices. Collectibles like cd's and personalized caps should also do the trick. Listed below are some gift items worth considering:

• shirt of a home team

• cross stitching kit

• bottle of a local wine

• personalized notepad

• stationary

• photo album

• memo holders

• tool kits

• Carpentry kits

• versatile pocket knife

While you'll certainly be shaved with praises by giving a fancy cellphone or notebook, it sometimes makes more sense to go for something more practical yet thoughtful. You do not really have to dent your budget to please a friend. People tend to get appreciated more for the amount of effort that they've performed in looking for that meaningful gift that touches the heart. Whether it's Christmas, Thanksgiving, or a major school reunion, there's really no reason to panic. All it takes is just a little imagination and a touch of creativity.

For more information on unique gifts and specialty items, please visit

[http://www.levelpromogifts.com].

7 Search Engine Optimization Mistakes and Solutions

To many websites, webmasters discover that major sources of website traffic come from search engines. Therefore, they are

all keen on gaining top search engine placements through search engine optimization.

Based on our several years of SEO experience, we point out some common mistakes and shed some lights to correct it.

1. Cannot Get Indexed by Search Engines, Really?

A garment ERP software solution provider came to me and asked a question: “I have established a new website for 1 year, and found a SEO company to submit my website. However, my website can be found in search engines only when I type my domain name http://www.indigo8-solutions.com in search query box. The SEO company told me

my domain got banned. What can I do?”

Ah, I told them they have been fooled by that SEO company. If you type your domain name in search box and your website can be found, which means your website has not been banned. Interestingly, your SEO company’s domain name is no longer found in Google. Their domain got banned only.

To help them find out their real problems, I found the following in search engines:

a. When typing their domain name in search query box, their site will be displayed in search result. Instead of displaying

Title Tag in the search result, search engine displays their domain name only.

b. Only 1 page is being indexed.

What’s the problem then?

With a closer look to their coding, I found that at the top of their webpage, they heavily use Javascript to present their

heading, company name, visible content, and website menu. Actually, many search engines have difficulties in reading Javascript codes.

Solution?

Put those Javascript in external js files and leave the webpages with plain HTML codes. Search engines usually have problems in crawling Javascript. Since their whole site navigation menu is written in Javascript, they should build a sitemap using plain HTML so that search engines can read all of their pages.

One more tips: When you cannot get indexed by search engines, do not blindly believe someone saying that your website get

banned. You should firstly look at your website structure and see if your coding are clumsy and make search engines hard to

“read” your website.

The problem created by Javascript is not uncommon nowadays. Even a very big Asia

Market Research Firm also commits this error. They are now starting to rectify it.

2. Link Building

In many forums, some people are strongly opposed to link exchange and claim that it is a devil and it hurts your search

engine ranking and even get you banned.

I personally do not agree. Evidence shows that many top sites are doing link exchange and getting top rankings across all

major search engines. In addition, link exchange has been a long used way for traffic building by smaller websites. I do

not see why search engines will block people to promote websites using this simple and long used method.

Indeed, link exchange becomes a problem only when you manipulate link text with a pure purpose of tricking search engines, exchange links with link farms, or buy hundreds of domain names and cross-link with your site.

A solution to avoid link exchange hurting you includes:

- Use a wide variety of link text

- Seek link exchange with sites of similar theme

- Emphasize on how many traffic you can get from your link partners instead of search engine ranking

Some webmasters know the importance of link exchange. However, they think that it consumes most of their time and finally give up doing it. A solution is that you can consider using Linkautomate.com to manage your links. This kind of software saves you time in link checking and link page update.

3. Use of Flash Intro

Web design companies try hard to persuade you to use a Flash introduction as your homepage. You think that “Wow! The flash

animation is very appealing and it makes your site looks more attractive”. However, do you know that it can hurt your website in search engine ranking?

Let me explain..

Search engines analyze website based on text. Flash, unluckily, is not text. According to “How to Design Website Guideline” of Siuchu Suga, search engines are not able to read content presented by

Flash. They just treat Flash as an embedded object or graphics only. If you use a Flash Intro as your homepage, you will never get good rankings.

In addition, many Flash intro do not offer additional and meaningful content to visitors. Ask your visitors, how many of

them are really interested in reading your Flash Intro before going straight to your website content?

A solution to use Flash or not, please ask yourself whether the Flash intro is really useful and can offer additional information to your visitors? Secondly, instead of a Flash homepage, you may consider making a Flash header together with

content at your homepage.

4. Hidden Text and Meta Tags

Webmasters understand that keyword density is a way to improve search engine ranking, and some webmasters use a technique

called “keyword stuffing”. They will stuff keywords into their webpages repeatedly, e.g. “keyword 1, keyword 2, …. keyword

1, keyword 2….” Well, everyone knows it does not make sense to visitors. Therefore, those “clever” webmasters will make

those text invisible. For example, make the text color identical to background color.

Unluckily, this trick no longer works. Search engines are able to detect it, and penalize websites using this nonsense technique. If you do not want your site being penalized, remove those text immediately in case you have adopted this method.

Okay, some webmasters only stuff keywords in Meta Keyword Tags, an area for putting keywords. I am sorry to say that stuffing keywords in Meta keyword tags is also no good. You can only repeat a keyword for 3 times at most. Nowadays, search engines place less emphasis or even no emphasis on Meta keyword tags. So, what is the point of risking yourself by stuffing keywords there?

5. Use of Dynamic Pages

Many websites use content management system (CMS) to generate their webpages. As generation of dynamic pages are easier for

website development, CMS generally use dynamic pages. However, search engines have difficulties to spider and understand them.

To solve the problem, you can consider using Mod Rewrite in case you use Apache server or finding a CMS that can generate

static HTML pages.

6. Be a Pagerank Monster

Many search engine marketers are too focused on their website’s pagerank. Everyday, they are talking and checking pagerank.

They perform link building based on pagerank only. In fact, pagerank is only one factor for Google to determine search

engine ranking. It also cannot affect your rankings in other search engines like Yahoo and MSN. If you are too concerned

about pagerank, you finally will ignore other important optimization criteria.

Therefore, you should repeatedly remind yourself that pagerank is only one of the many factors and you cannot only work on it.

7. Too Believe in Sandbox

Some webmasters propose that a new website will be put into sandbox by Google so that you cannot get any high rankings for

highly competitive keywords. Even though their website cannot get any rankings after 1 year, they still believe that it is

sandbox effect. Some even says Yahoo has Sandbox, MSN has Sandbox, etc…

From Google’s patent information, there is no clue that such sandbox occurs. From my experience, if your site is new and cannot rank high in highly competitive keywords, it is solely because other websites are more established in search engine

world. For example, they have more inbound links, more content, etc. Therefore, webmasters should not focus on finding how to get out from sandbox. Instead, you should put more effort in link building and content optimization. Eventually, you will see your website’s rankings rise.

How the Internet Affects Traditional Media

Traditional Publishing, REST IN PEACE

This is the headline that greets you when you land on a web page erected as a memorial to commemorate the decline of Traditional Media. A photograph of a man who seems to be in distress and who’s possibly just lost his job accompanies this headline. If this does not paint a bleak picture, go on to read the 548 headlines that all sing to the same tune as the following:

  • Bad Times: NYT Says Revenue Fell 13.9% Last Month

    – Forbes.com

  • Men’s monthly magazine Arena to cease printing after 22 years

    – Guardian.co.uk

  • Cosmopolitan UK publisher to cut 100 jobs

    – Guardian.co.uk

There’s even a website entitled Newspaper Death Watch that chronicles all the publishing and newspaper houses that close down. All rather morbid wouldn’t you say?

The Deadly Spell

Let’s take a quick look at Traditional Media and how the Internet cast it’s deadly spell.

Back in the old days, we’re talking 500 years ago; Gutenberg revolutionized the printing industry by inventing the printing press. This meant bibles could be produced at a fraction the time it used to. This also meant more copies in a shorter time and the Word of God got further reach in a shorter time. Newspaper houses and Magazine publishers still use a printing press today (well thank you captain obvious).

Much later, shortly after the advent of electricity, the world was blessed with another few media breakthroughs, namely radio then a few years later, television. Marketers and Advertising agencies had it all figured out as they devised Integrated Marketing Campaigns with astronomical budgets. Ah, the good old days. Well, much to the dismay of many of these agencies, this media landscape started to change.

Behold! Enter The WWW

At first a website was seen as a cute way to put your company brochure online and on top of that the disastrous dot bomb era created skepticism that labeled the Internet as a bad media and business channel.

Fortunately, since then the Internet has matured. Now, in countries where broadband has achieved high levels of household penetration, the web has become the consumer medium of choice.

Why? Because people can do research, shop online, watch videos and connect with friends all in the comfort of their own homes. People can choose what media they want to consume, where and when they choose too, especially with mobile connectivity. Marketers can no longer dictate what advertising messages people get subjected too.

Social Media, The New Black

Then there is the phenomenon of Social Media. It changed the media landscape forever. Social Media websites have allowed consumers to connect with friends, family, colleagues and peers in ways that were never imaginable a few decades ago.

Technology has empowered the consumer to become the Prosumer. Prosumers are consumers who produce content such as videos, photos and blogs that can be instantly distributed and shared amongst millions of people via social media platforms. This is also known as user-generated content or UCG.

Here is an interesting bit of trivia about the reach of Traditional Media vs. the Internet and Social Media.

Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 Million:

  • Radio – 38 Years
  • TV – 13 Years
  • The Internet – 4 Years
  • The iPod – 3 Years
  • Facebook – 2 Years

So How Does The Internet Affect Traditional Media?

The Internet has decreased the need for Traditional Media because it enabled consumers to join social societies within their neighborhoods, across their countries and internationally. It has empowered them to converse at their leisure, 24/7, with friends.

Considering all that’s been said, the demise of Traditional Media can largely be attributed to the following factors:

  1. Decline in readership: The distribution of free news and information on the web has led to the decline in readership for traditional publications.
  2. Decline in revenues: The decline in readership means advertisers will spend their money elsewhere and this leads to a decline in ad revenue.
  3. Real-time updates: Traditional Media can’t compete with instantly updated user-generated content that’s immediately available for the world to see.
  4. The rise of UGC websites: People have the freedom of unlimited real time commentary on content while Traditional Media is static and is a one-way communication tool.
  5. Online Audio/Video channels: People can choose what they want to watch and listen, when they want to and where without any advertising interrupting their experience.

Simply put. The Internet has revolutionized the way things get done today. It has revolutionized the way we do business, the way we communicate and has broken down the walls of Traditional Media.

A recent example is the decision by Unilever UK to fire Lowe, their Ad agency of 15 years, in favor of crowdsourcing – which means it has thrown the brand creative pitch open to agencies and basically any person who can think of an idea, worldwide. This is done on the Internet of course.

Traditional Media will still be around for a while, but the Internet is getting more and more integrated into our daily lives.

Think about this. You could do without the Mail & Guardian or the MensHealth Mag for quite some time, perhaps live quite happily without it? But you just dare cut that ADSL connection…

The American Jobs Act, Unemployment Discrimination and Employment Brand

Online recruiting organizations: Are you ready to stop hiding from candidates? You should be. Your brand depends on it.

With The American Job Act currently before Congress, employers would be subject to EEOC discrimination claims if they fail to hire an unemployed candidate based on the fact that they are not currently employed. The notion was hatched as a backlash against the perception that employers do not want to hire unemployed workers.

That’s a specific law with a specific target, but if you peel the layers back, it’s the first salvo fired out of frustration from a country full of candidates that are tired of being treated badly by the people, systems and processes that have grown up around recruiting in the last 10 years.

I get it. Recruiting organizations are under siege by way too many qualified candidates for the positions they have. More importantly, they’re under siege by way too many completely UNqualified candidates.

While not considering candidates that are unemployed may cut your candidate pool down to a manageable size, it’s not smart from a branding standpoint. Unless your employment brand is cold and cutthroat, you should embrace all candidates. You should treat them with respect and you should engage as many of them as possible.

Everyone wants a fair shot. That’s just part of being human. And when sweeping generalizations like “we don’t consider unemployed candidates” take hold, or faceless applicant tracking systems process bits and bytes and spit out rejection emails (often delayed to appear like the candidate was considered by a human), then the appearance of a fair shot disappears.

Candidates are customers. Candidates are voters. Candidates are individuals capable of expressing their frustration to large numbers of other individuals through social networking.

Here is and actual tweet I came across the day after writing this article: “@jimcramer FYI you herd it here first, Taleo is keeping the unemployed… unemployed.”

Obviously, not everyone is qualified. And every recruiter has tales of resume spammers and unqualified, unprepared candidates sucking their time. But the fact is, if you appear not to care about candidates, then your brand suffers. And now with an entire nation who is totally focused on getting people placed in jobs, delivering bad candidate experiences is asking for more Federal regulations governing how you interact with candidates.

There is a quietly growing awareness in the industry that candidate satisfaction matters. There is a faint notion growing that engaging candidates and trying to ensure that they are communicated with and treated with respect and reverence, will actually result in a more effective recruiting process.

There are tools available that allow organizations to engage candidates and solicit feedback throughout the recruiting process. Companies can now listen to how candidates feel about their recruiting process from beginning to end, track satisfaction and fine tune practices to make them as effective as possible.They sit on top of a company’s career site pages and asks candidates what they think, in real time and with appropriately times follow up surveys.

Without fail, candidates regularly comment “Thank you for asking my opinion.” So when I say treating candidates with respect helps your employment brand, I speak from experience. Your “Best Place to Work” badge is fine, but it just lays there. Asking a candidate what they think about how they’ve been treated? That shifts the earth a little bit and provides evidence that you have a great place to work.

Plus it provides a goldmine of ideas about how to better interact with candidates, tweak your career site and make your online recruiting efforts more effective for passive candidates. The one’s who already have jobs. The one’s you were targeting that got the White House involved in messing with your business in the first place.