The Best Free Stock Photography Sites

What do blog articles, websites, and social media posts all have in common?

They all require images (well, the engaging ones at least).

Any web designer or digital marketer will tell you that finding relevant, high quality images to use can be challenging. Not only are many stock images cheesy and outdated, but they also can be quite pricey. Luckily there’s an increasing amount of free stock photography websites popping up, and some of them are pretty awesome. Here’s a list of some free stock photo sites worth checking out:

Unsplash is my personal favorite. It features a huge collection of free high-resolution images, and none are tacky. Many of the photos on this website are landscapes and scenes, with 10 new photos added every 10 days. You can find what you’re looking for on Unsplash by checking out the different photo collections (top left), or by using the search bar at the top right.

Gratisography features free high-resolution images taken by Ryan McGuire of Bells Design. New photos are added each week, and all are free of copyright restrictions. There are many quirky images of people and animals on here that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to use, but the site also has some nice outdoor shots.

Splitshire is a collection of free stock photos taken by Daniel Nanescu, and is updated almost daily. This site features more photos of people and objects than nature.

New Old Stock consists of vintage photos from the public archives, and are free of known copyright restrictions. Most of the photos on New Old Stock have a description below of where the photo was taken, or what is happening in it.

PicJumbo offers free photos for commercial & personal works. New photos are added daily from a variety of categories including abstract, weddings, nature, food, technology and also seasonal categories like Christmas.

Life of Pix, created by Leeroy advertising agency in Montreal, offers free high-resolution photos with no copyright restrictions. New photos are added to the site weekly.

Negative Space posts 20 new free, high-resolution photos every Monday. You can search photos and sort them by category, colors and copy space position.

Superfamous Studios, the LA-based studio of Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter, allows you to use its photos as long as you provide credit. The site features many aerial and landscape shots.

IM Free is a curated collection of free web design resources, all for commercial use. Some collections include templates, business, people, sports, nature, transportation, cityscape and more.

Finally we’ve got Little Visuals, a site with some great photos (mostly landscapes). Sadly the owner of the site passed away in November 2013, and nothing has been added since. All photos that have been posted were released under the creative commons license public domain dedication.

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6 Pinterest Marketing Mistakes I Keep Seeing

“I use Pinterest all the time for fun, so I’ll be great at managing it for my business, right?”

One of the most challenging types of clients to work with are those who think that because they regularly use social media to share photos of their dogs and get home décor ideas, they know what’s best for their business page. I mean sure, you’ve been re-pinning images of your dream kitchen and creating boards filled with healthy dinner recipes, but does that mean you know how to make your Pinterest profile SEO-friendly, or how to link to your website so you can track everything properly? I’ve learned from experience that the answer is often no.

I’ve spent years managing Pinterest accounts for brands in an array of industries, and have seen what an amazing platform it can be to showcase services or products, connect with consumers, and increase website traffic. However, I’ve come across many brands that are making mistakes that hurt their marketing instead of helping. Here are some of the most common Pinterest marketing mistakes I see:

Promoting only your brand

Remember, they call it social media for a reason.

I’ve seen Pinterest amateurs get so over-eager to create their business account and promote their products that they overlook the importance of sharing content from others as well. When building your following on Pinterest, it’s important to share content from other likeminded brands, make some friends, and then post about your brand. Look at this strategy as a marathon: it’s better to pace yourself and do well in the long run, than to sprint and burn out quickly.

I recommend an 80/20 ratio: 80% of your pins should be about sharing relevant, unbranded content, and about 20% should feature your brand and its products.

Giving boards bad names

Some users will follow all of your Pinterest boards, and some will only choose to follow certain ones. How you name your boards has a lot to do with how users select which ones to follow. Avoid these naming mistakes:

Vague, irrelevant names- i.e. Guest Posts, Random, IDK, Misc., <3, etc.

Overly long names- Just like really long email subject lines that get cut off, if a person can’t read the whole the board name without clicking into it, they may just move on.

Unsearchable names- Board names with hearts, symbols, or a space between every letter are not ideal. While these board names do not hurt your SEO, they definitely don’t help. If Google sees the name “Wedding Dresses,” it will understand what the board is about. However, it will not understand “<3 W e d d i n g D r e s s e s <3.”

Not filling out your entire Pinterest business profile

First, make sure your Pinterest account is a Business Account (not a personal account), and complete all areas of the profile.  Make sure you add a branded logo, write a detailed description in the (200 search-engine-optimizable character) “About” section, and add your website URL. Make sure you also take the steps to verify your website.

Not linking to the proper product pages

Product pins that don’t link back to a product page are missing out on an incredible marketing opportunity. If a Pinterest user is interested enough to click through to your website, make sure they are being taken to the correct product page. You can also take this a step further by creating custom URLs, so you can see exactly which pins are sending traffic to your site.

Not writing strong pin descriptions

Adding pins without a good description means that your pins are not going to show up in a Pinterest search, reducing your odds of getting clicks, likes and repins. It is also thought by search marketers that robust Pinterest descriptions may help with SEO.

If your pin features a product, write a description about exactly what the product is. Make sure to include the brand and name of the product.

Pinning small, dull, or poor quality images

On Pinterest you’re constantly competing with the other pins that fill the screen, so it’s important that your images stand out and make users want to click on them. Here are several best practices when it comes to images:

  • Choose images that are large, vibrant and attractive
  • Avoid images that are small or low quality (be careful with images taken on phones- they don’t always look so great enlarged)
  • When using an image you didn’t create yourself, make sure you obey copyright laws and give proper credit

Living With Grandma: Grandma’s 5K

From time to time I will post stories that I have written about my grandmother, Betty Collura. I lived with her for about 14 months in 2006-2007, and it was during this time that she started showing the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. It was an interesting time with many significant ups and downs, but I have a unique story to tell for almost every single day.

June, 2007

“You’re never going to guess what your grandmother did today,” my mom said, sounding all flustered and out of breath, as soon as I answered my cell phone.

After living with my grandma for over a year, I knew better than to try and guess.  My experiences had taught me that every time I thought I had seen it all, my grandmother would out-do herself with something completely original. Incidents like shoplifting or throwing all old family videos in the garbage simply cannot be predicted or guessed, but I’ll leave that for another story.

“You’re right, Mom.  What did she do?”

“She walked all the way to the salon by herself.  By herself!  JoAnn at the front desk called me right after she showed up and insisted that she had an appointment.  Can you believe she did that?”

“Yes and no…”

As soon as I got off the phone with my mom I used my Google maps app to look up the distance between my grandma’s house and the salon.  Depending on which route she took (she couldn’t recall), she either walked a distance of 2.96 or 3.04 miles.  Almost a 5K.

I was mostly shocked that my grandma decided to step out and attempt to do anything outdoors, especially in the sweltering summer heat.  She had always been an indoor person who hated to sweat-it didn’t mix well with her Estee Lauder perfume and thick coat of hairspray- or expose her fair, Scandinavian skin to the sun.

Although she was always thin, she is probably the most un-athletic person I’ve ever met.  While my other grandmother rode bicycles and took us to waterparks as kids, Grandma Betty had never even learned how to swim.  She was much better at taking us shopping or to the dog track to watch the greyhounds race, sitting indoors every time of course.

I doubt my grandma ever walked three miles at a time in her life, and now here she was at 79 years old, crossing town by foot.  According to JoAnn, she wasn’t even enervated or disoriented when she arrived at the salon.  My grandma walked in that door alert and coherent, except for the fact that she was absolutely convinced it was Friday and she had an appointment.

“They knew I had an appointment to get my hair done but nobody came to pick me up, so I got here myself,” she told JoAnn.

“Thank goodness we hid the car keys from her months ago,” I said to my mom as she told me the story through the phone.

JoAnn had been a receptionist at the salon for almost as long as the women in my family had been getting our hair and nails done there, so she knew my grandma’s story and how to properly handle the situation. She got my grandma a bottle of cold water, had her take a seat, and then she called my mom to inform her of what had just happened.

While my grandma’s little 5K journey was taking place, I was in New York City visiting my cousins and enjoying a much-needed vacation.  Before I left, my mom and I discussed how my grandma really couldn’t be left alone for more than a few hours at a time.  There were just too many little things that could go wrong; things that couldn’t be predicted or prepared for.

By this point all of the electrical appliances in her kitchen had to be either hidden or left unplugged.  We plugged in the same type of outlet safety covers as parents of small children- and thankfully my grandma’s arthritis prevented her from being able to yank them out. The covers were purchased after she put a bag of popcorn in the microwave for 43 minutes and forgot about it after about five and a half.   Thank goodness I was home at the time and smelled it and was able to save the kitchen (and house) from burning down.  Any time something like that happened, there was a little voice in the back of my mind asking, “What if I hadn’t been there?”

There was always a small knot of anxiety that formed in my stomach when I drove home after work, a night out with friends, or any occasion where I knew that my grandma had been left alone for more than a few hours.  I never knew what I might find when I walked in the door.  My mom knew it was bad, but when she came by each day in the morning and afternoon, I was usually around, or at least not gone for too long.  My grandmother was also quite nocturnal- she did most of her sleeping during the day, so my mom would often come in to find her in bed.  However, when I’d come home at 3 a.m., I’d find her running a large load of laundry with only one pair of shorts in the washer, or she’d tell me a wild story about how little kids were just knocking at her door.  The air conditioner temperature was often set to either 60 degrees or 80 degrees.  When she was hot she’d flip the switch all the way to the left, and once the house became frigid she’d turn the a/c completely off.  Every once in a while she’d get confused and turn on the heat, which was the worst thing to wake up to in the middle of a summer night.  Either way, the temperature in her house was always one extreme or the other when she was left in charge.

“Grandma’s like a big five year old,” I’d tell my mom.  “You wouldn’t leave a five year old home alone, would you?”

Since the day I moved in with my grandma and learned first-hand what Alzheimer’s was, my mother had been in a bit of denial about her illness.   I know she believed me when I told her what was taking place, but she was the last to be able to admit that there was a problem, and that it was gradually getting worse. I knew it couldn’t be easy to watch your mother/best friend of almost 50 years become a total stranger, so a part of me didn’t want to press the issue in a way that was too harsh and upsetting to my mom.  But on the other hand, I was terrified of the danger my grandma was in every minute we weren’t with her.

My grandma wandering out of her house and all the way to the hair salon was just another example of why she couldn’t be left alone. Although I had read up on dementia and Alzheimer’s-related safety concerns and learned that six in 10 people with these memory issues will wander at some point, it was not something I thought we’d have to worry about with her.  That day it became more clear that my grandma was not the person she once was- she was now just another Alzheimer’s patient.  Although it sounds awful to refer to her as that, it was important to for safety’s sake.

Another thing I thought my grandma wouldn’t do, based on her sweet personality, was ever get violent.  But she was no longer herself, so we had to assume that she might at some point, and do whatever we could to prevent it.  Out went the knives and anything else that she could hurt herself or others with. To this day my grandma has never gotten violent, but I slept better each night knowing that there was no chance that either one of us would accidently be stabbed.

The lesson I learned the day my grandma wandered was to take every common dementia and Alzheimer’s-related behavior that you read about seriously.  Don’t assume that your mom, dad, or loved one won’t do something because it’s out of character, or not like them.  Unfortunately they are no longer really themselves, and although it’s difficult to predict what they might do, it is possible to prevent some disasters.

 

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Agreeing & Disagreeing With Mark Cuban

Are social media sites are changing the way we search for information, and causing less searches to take place on Google?

Mark Cuban recently wrote an interesting blog post which discussed how the progression of social media sites has caused him to do far less searches on Google.  His reason is that sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr are constantly updated with recent information at a more rapid rate than most websites.  Therefore, making Google late on everything.

Mark states in his post that he places a significant value on recency, and accuses Google of doing a very poor job of indexing and presenting real-time, near-time or even recent information. He goes as far as suggesting that this lack of recency will impact our ability to trust Google and other search engines down the road.

“If Google isn’t indexing what is said on all of these social sites, aren’t they missing most of the information that is being communicated in the world?”

Yes and no, Mark.  Yes, billions of people posting at a rapid rate is a pretty powerful thing for Google’s indexing to go up against. However, if Google pulled the plug on itself tomorrow, we would be absolutely lost.  It would take years for a social media site to build what Google already has.

While I love to disagree with Mark because he’s a Mavericks fan (go Heat), he is correct that social media has changed the way we search for information of all types.  For example, Mark turns to Instagram when he wants to know if anything interesting happened at an event, and I have done the same.  It’s true that Instagram is a faster way to get more information about events as they occur, just by searching a hashtag.  I can search the hashtag #heatgame or #letsgoheat on any given game night and see who is there, what they’re wearing, and what is happening in the arena through their eyes.  What’s cool about the information on Instagram is that you learn little things that a news report may not include.

Instagram is also great for getting information about events that I may care about, but are not newsworthy enough to end up on Google (i.e. marketing industry parties, local charity events, a friend’s wedding that I couldn’t attend). Or on days when I miss Japan, I can take a three-minute vacation by searching the hashtag #harajuku and see what happened on the streets of Tokyo that day.  I’m pretty sure Google is not capable of providing that type of experience.

Mark also claims to get his news from Twitter, and he is not alone. Twitter has a reputation for spreading news quickly among its millions of users, and according to recent research, nearly one in 10 American adults uses it for that purpose.  By following the right people and knowing how to search on Twitter, the social platform is a great way to consume a lot of news in a short amount of time.  It’s easy to be updated on the top news stories just by scrolling through your feed for five minutes.

I have no doubt that social media has changed the way we consume information, and the way we search for it.  But I disagree with Mark in the way he beats Google down for not presenting “real-time, near-time or even recent information” in a timely enough manner.

I personally view Google as a well-aged wine collection.  The search giant has worked really hard over the last decade to combat spam and create sophisticated algorithms that provide pretty quality results.  While I may not find instant information about less-significant events like on Instagram, Google is perfectly efficient at serving up major breaking news quickly.  Google also remains my go-to for finding answers to most questions I have throughout the day (I mean, how else would I know how to cook rice, determine if that spot on my arm is cancerous, or find out how to get from Amsterdam to Paris the fastest).

Oh, and in the case of sports scores, any true fan has Google Now, which knows your favorite teams and tells you the scores without even asking.

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The Most Annoying People On Facebook 2.0

A while ago I wrote about the types of people who annoy me the most on Facebook- the political ranters, TMI over-sharers, food photographers, etc.  Over a year has gone by since I published that article, and as more people my age get engaged, married and become parents, I have seen some new types of posts that I wish I hadn’t.

I’m really not trying to be mean here.  Please keep in mind that the reason these people made my annoying list is not just because they post stuff like this once in a while- they do it constantly.  I’m sure I don’t really have to explain this, as we all have Facebook and probably know these types well.  The only people who will not get this article or find it mean are the ones that I’m about to talk about!

Third person mommies

Annoying People on Facebook

 

It’s usually the mothers-not fathers- who do this.  They talk about themselves in third person and refer to themselves as Mommy.  “Mommy is tired.”  “Mommy doesn’t feel well.”

Mommy is so wrapped up in baby that she forgot how to talk to adults.  Mommy needs a night out!

Baby talkers

Annoying People on Facebook- parents

 

Again mommies- when you’re on Facebook you’re talking to adults. I understand it was a proud moment, and I wouldn’t mind this post if you simply announced that your child used the toilet.  But nobody has said pee pee in the potty to me since before I could read.

The dark, possibly suicidal posters:

When a friend’s little sister’s friend that I haven’t seen since middle school posts something really dark that seems like it could possibly be a cryptic suicide message, it puts me in a weird place.  I mean, what is the proper thing to do?  I don’t want to reach out if they’re just being dramatic and attention-starved, but I’d feel bad if something really happened to them.  We all have one or two of these people on our friends list- do we ask if they’re okay every time they cry out for attention or just let them work it out?

Parents who get crazy with other parents on Facebook

Annoying People on Facebook

 

I’m not really sure what the rants above even mean due to all the spelling and grammar issues, but I’m pretty sure they’re directed at another parent.  Possibly their baby daddies?  Who knows.  Either way, those poor kids are screwed.

Panic inducers

Annoying People on Facebook

 

These are the people who believe everything they read in the National Enquirer.  They fill our news feeds with the most outrageous “news” stories that almost always turn out to be a hoax.  These people are the reason why someone threatening to kill Toby the bunny raised $20,000, Kony became a household name, and why we think that people in China are actually making soup out of dead babies.

“Vote for my baby”

Annoying People on Facebook

 

Babies are cute.  Almost all of them.  But I’m not going to start voting for the infant who I think is the cutest.

Of course every parent thinks that their baby is the cutest of them all.  But why do they have to make it a competition?  Last month Gerber hosted its photo search and my news feed was flooded with parents begging me to vote for their baby. Do they really think their baby is actually going to beat out the other thousands of babies and win?  It’s not like the baby who is the cutest wins- the baby with the parents who spend their entire day doing nothing but voting wins.  Or the baby with the computer programmer father who figures out a way to hack the system.

The gym rats

annoying People on Facebook

 

Most people my age work out.  I consider going to the gym a regular part of everyday life in order to stay healthy.  It’s right up there with going food shopping, sleeping at night and taking vitamins.  It seems silly to announce on a daily basis that I took my vitamins, so why do people feel the need to announce that they are at the gym every single day?  My guess is that they don’t get enough attention at home, so they must show the world that they’re cool at every chance they get.

Parents who keep asking where the time went.

Annoying Facebook Posts

 

I’ve noticed that it’s always the same people asking where the time went.  Considering they spend most of their time on Facebook counting time, I’m surprised it doesn’t feel like time goes slooooooow.

 

 

 

WTF Are You Thinking, Snapchat?

Snapchat founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but I’m just a little outraged at the moment and I need to let it out.  Snapchat’s 23-year old co-founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel, gets offered $3 BILLION (with a B!!) in cash from Facebook, and the kid turns it down?  Who do these kids think they are?

I don’t even understand how this kid is eating and paying bills now.  Even with millions of users, Snapchat has yet to make a single dollar of revenue, and it has not shown any clear strategy of how they plan to be profitable.  The company’s founders are also in a controversy over whether they did or did not cheat a friend out of his fair share.

Spiegel’s obviously holding out for a bigger payday, as Snapchat has been getting some serious attention from other investors and potential acquirers, such as Chinese e-commerce company Tencent Holdings.  Tencent supposedly offered to lead an investment that would’ve valued Snapchat at $4 billion, but Spiegel might be waiting for something even bigger than that.  According to anonymous sources, “Evan Spiegel, will not likely consider an acquisition or an investment at least until early next year. … Spiegel is hoping Snapchat’s numbers … will grow enough by then to justify an even larger valuation.”

This isn’t the first time that Facebook has tried to acquire Snapchat.  Last year Facebook reportedly offered Snapchat a $1 billion buyout.  After they were denied, Facebook took a stab at creating its own ephemeral messaging app- anyone remember Poke?  Probably not, as it was a flop.

I certainly respect holding out for what you think you’re worth to a certain extent.  But when Mark Zuckerberg offers you a room full of cash-filled suitcases, you take the money, say thank you and move the fuck on!  Go travel the world, kid.  Buy your parents a nice house.  Start a new project.  What is $4 billion really going to buy you that $3 billion can’t?

Some people say that we shouldn’t be calling Spiegel and the guys at Snapchat crazy for turning down Facebook’s cash offer. A writer at CNN thinks the company was smart to hold out because it has something other social media services don’t: erasable messages.  So what?  Snapchat’s erasable messages are cool today, but next week something else will be the hot new thing. After all, it is the teens and young people who use the app, and we all know how fickle this age group is.  I think it’s a pretty big gamble for Spiegel to wait until next year, especially when this is $3 BILLION (again, with a B!!) at stake.

It might be possible for the guys at Snapchat to get more money from the competition between prospective investors and would-be acquirers, but I don’t think it’s worth the risk of overplaying their hand and crashing and burning.  Either way, it should be an interesting next few months for Snapchat and I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.

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Is Working For a Startup Company Right For You?

Office birthday parties, free bagel Fridays, a corn hole game set up in the middle of the office and holiday company cruises to the Bahamas- “Is this how all internet marketing companies work?” I wondered to myself when I joined a startup team fresh out of college.

The answer is no, this is not how most companies operate, but this environment is fairly typical if you happen to work at a tech startup where your CEO is 29 years old and more than half of your co-workers are under the age of 33.

My company is growing rapidly and we are constantly looking for good people to join our staff.  I get emails and Facebook messages all the time from random people (most that I haven’t talked to since middle school) who want a job.  They ask if BMI is as fun as it seems and I tell them all the same thing.

Working at a startup has its perks, and while it can be a lot of fun at times, there is also a lot of hard work that’s put in.  We definitely work hard to play hard around here.  In the last two years I’ve seen people thrive in this environment and do really well for themselves, and I’ve seen others, some who have years of marketing experience, completely crack under the pressure.

If you’re wondering whether you’ll fit in at a startup company, here are a few things to consider.

Are you a good at multi-tasking under lots of pressure?

Believe me when I say it’s highly unlikely that you’ll wear just one hat at a startup company. I think this is the main reason why many people don’t work out.  They get hired for a certain position and are shocked when they’re expected to do things beyond their job description.  My official job title is a search marketing project manager, but I’ve also served as the office decorator, copywriter, public relations contact, executive assistant, receptionist, blogger, events coordinator, t-shirt designer and the executive producer of my boss’ radio show (there’s probably more that I can’t rattle off the top of my head).

“That’s not my job,” is a response that would not go over well with my bosses.  Startups usually only have between 10 to 100 employees. That being said, everyone must carry their own weight in their respective positions and then some.  I’m not alone- we all wear multiple hats and don’t really get paid more for doing more.  But on the plus-side, I’ve learned many valuable lessons and skills that I could always put on the resume, and I believe hard work is recognized and rewarded.  I’ve been told by co-workers that busting their asses paid off, so I’ll keep doing my thing and doing whatever I can to make it all worth it.

Do you easily adapt to change?

Plans tend to change rapidly in startup companies. The BMI Elite that I work at today is completely different than the BMI Elite I worked at on this day one year ago.  In one year we’ve had two offices, I’ve held three different job titles, had my desk moved about 5 times and seen about 50 people come and go.  We’ve added new services and taken some away.

If routines bore you and you like the excitement that comes with change, you may really enjoy working for a startup. If you prefer predictability, working at a startup will likely just increase your stress to new levels.

Are you okay with working crazy hours?

If you like showing up to work at 9 a.m. and leaving right at 5 p.m. every day, a startup is not the place for you.  Regular hours- what’s that?

In order to accomplish everything that we need to do, many of us often come in early, work through lunch or happy hour, and sometimes show up to the office on weekends.  I think this crazy schedule has a lot to do with why most of our employees are young, unmarried and have no kids.

Do you believe in the company?

This is major, as it’s really hard to put up with the multi-tasking, long hours and pressure of working at a startup if you don’t believe in the company and its product(s).

Before joining a startup, I recommend doing your research to get a clear idea of its products, values, goals and long-term vision.  What do they do to stand out among their competition?  Startups surface and die every day, so use your best judgment when trying to guess if your position could be long-term.

When working at a startup company, you never really know what’s going to happen.  The industry is ever-changing and even the most solid companies are at risk.  However, some startups thrive and the rewards become worth the risks- think huge financial returns, invaluable experience, getting to work with incredibly smart people and of course the excitement that comes with it all.

If you’re up for the challenge, working for a startup can be a life-changing experience.  Just make sure you’re prepared and are able to handle it first.

Will Google Profit From Reading Our Minds?

Google has been banking for years by charging advertisers based on users’ actions- we’ve all heard of pay-per-click, and the recently patented “pay-per-gaze” technology, which, through an eye-tracking device, would charge advertisers any time a Glass user physically looked at their ad.

It’s probably going to take a few years for Glass to build up enough of a user base to make pay-per-gaze really profitable.  In the meantime it’s been said that Google is already working on the next level of this technology, in the form of charging advertisers not based on users’ actions, but… wait for it… their reactions/emotions.

“Pay-per-reaction” is the closest that Google has gotten so far to reading users’ minds.  It sounds so futuristic, but it could be right around the corner, as it is currently in beta.  With this technology, advertisers would no longer be charged based on users’ actions (clicks or gazes), but rather their thoughts.

How does this “pay-per-reaction” work, you ask?  In addition to gazes, Google can measure the level of a user’s pupil dilation and thus gauge his/her emotional response.  Let’s say you look at an ad through the Glass- the advertiser would be charged.  But if the ad interested you and your pupils dilate- the advertiser would be charged even more.

While I’m still figuring out what exactly the purpose of making advertisers pay more for reactions is, I do believe that this new technology could give advertisers a much better understanding of consumer reaction to marketing.   This insight will likely make them want to work harder on the emotional pull of their ads, but they would also be paying more for these ads if they’re successful.  Will these ads with more emotional pull lead to an increase in sales or conversions is the big question.

One thing I do know is that if “pay-per-reaction” happens, Google will make tons of money off of advertisers whose ads feature pretty shoes, juicy cheeseburgers and cute baby animals.

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Red Flags to Look For When Link Building

It’s been a rough summer for some unfortunate website owners and SEO professionals who are feeling the wrath of Google’s Penguin 2.0 release.  Since the big update in May, many have been scrambling to re-evaluate their link profiles and make sure that nothing comes back to haunt them.

The original version of Penguin, released in April 2012, taught us that the quality of links to your site matters much more than the quantity.  If you tried to outsmart Google’s algorithm by playing the numbers game, there’s a
chance your site got hit with a penalty.

Link building for SEO is huge, so it’s important for search marketers to understand what they’re looking out for.  In a recent article I explained the qualities of a “good link,” but I didn’t get too far into how to spot the red flags of a bad link building opportunity.  Here are a few qualities of sites that you should probably stay away from when building links:

Easy

If you find link building easy, you’re probably doing it wrong. It’s very possible that these links are even hurting your site! The best links you build are often based on relationships, which take time and effort.

Irrelevant

Acquiring a link from a well-trusted fantasy football site won’t really help if you’re a Pilates studio. You’d be much better off working to get links from fitness-related sites instead.

If you’re ever unsure about whether a link is relevant or not, ask yourself the following: “Would this link actually drive the kind of traffic that I want to my site?  Will it expose my brand to people who are potential clients?”  If the answer is no, this probably isn’t the best link for your site.

Keyword Overload

Related keywords on a site are a good thing… in moderation.  Pay close attention to how many times the keywords are listed on the page.  If the site is stuffed with keywords it will likely get penalized at some point.

Lack of Design

You can often tell the quality of a site just by looking at it.  If the site looks like the owner put no time, money or love into it consider it a red flag.  Spammy sites often look dull- think free themes, no branding elements, nothing special.

No Social Links

If a website owner didn’t put any effort into making his site look impressive, chances are he or she also didn’t take the time to create social media pages.  Every smart business owner understands the importance of a social media presence, so if the site lacks social links consider this a red flag.

No Contact Info

If you can’t find contact information or figure out who owns the site, it’s very possible that it’s part of a link farm network.  Google doesn’t like those!

I hope that these tips I listed help you out, but it’s also important to remember to use your judgment when it comes to link building.  Trust your instinct, and if you feel that a site looks suspicious, listen to your gut.

What Do Internet Marketing & Beautiful Women Have In Common?

Happy Friday, everyone!  Here’s a few cheesy jokes that those in the internet marketing industry can appreciate.  I hope they make you LOL a little ;)

You see a beautiful woman at a party. You walk up to her and say, “I am very rich. Marry me.” That’s DIRECT MARKETING.

You are at a party with a bunch of friends and see a beautiful woman. One of your friends goes up to her and pointing at you says, “He is very rich. Marry him.” That’s ADVERTISING.

You see a beautiful woman at a party. You go up to her and get her telephone number. The next day you called her and say, “Hi, I am very rich. Marry me.” That’s TELEMARKETING.

You are at a party and see a beautiful woman. You get up and straighten your tie, walk up to her and pour her a drink. You open the door for her, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her a ride, and then say, “By the way, I’m very rich. Will you marry me?”  That’s PUBLIC RELATIONS.

You are at a party and a beautiful woman walks up to you and says, “You are very rich.” That’s BRAND RECOGNITION.

You see a beautiful woman at a party. You walk up to her and say, “I am very rich. Marry me.” She gives you a nice hard slap across your face. That’s CUSTOMER FEEDBACK.

You take a shower, shave and put on some clean clothes. You go to a party. Everyone in the room smells bad. A beautiful woman walks up to you and gives you her number. That’s INBOUND MARKETING.

The lines above were written by Carole Mahoney.  I thought they were funny (well, as funny as marketing can get) and decided to make up a few of my own about internet marketing:

You see a beautiful woman at party.  You make friends with everyone else in the room and they all tell her “He is very rich.  Marry him.”  That’s LINK BUILDING.

You see a beautiful woman at a party.  You pay someone to go up to her, point to you and say “He is very rich.  Marry him.”  That’s AFFILIATE MARKETING.

You are at a party and see a beautiful woman.  You get her name, find her on Facebook, message her and say “Hi, I am very rich. Marry me.” That’s SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING.

You see a beautiful woman at a party. You go up to her and get her email address. The next day you email her and say, “I am very rich. Marry me.” That’s EMAIL MARKETING.

The beautiful woman is at the party to find a man.  The man knows this, and stands close enough so that she will notice him first.  That’s SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION!

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Casey Kurlander, Search marketing Specialist, BMI Elite