Monthly Archives: March 2014

[Guest Post] 15 SEO questions you should ask before starting

SEO is a journey; it is not a one-time task.  It is one of the pillars of Internet Marketing and every business that has a website needs to do SEO today. Most businesses that do not have an SEO consultant traditionally outsource the job to an SEO agency or ask the in-house Marketing team to take care of it. But, jumping into the task without having a proper plan set for it might turn out to be a disaster and results you get will not be fruitful.

If you are in charge of SEO, you’ll have to ask the following SEO questions from your company or client irrespective of whether you are a SEO consultant, agency or someone who just does internal marketing.

These questions will help you understand your goals before you commit to this SEO journey. The answers to these questions will help you create a strategy for all the SEO activities that you’ll be doing and save you a lot of time.

The 15 SEO questions that you should ask your client before taking up a project are:

Digitallyour

Digitallyour – 15 Qs to Ask about a SEO project

  1. Why do want to do SEO and dominate the search engines?
    The most important question to understand before you take up this project. The answers will tell you how serious your client is and what are they expecting from you. Once you know this answer you can dive in deeper.
  2. What is your primary marketing message?
    Just like all marketing activities, understanding the primary marketing message is very important. In other words, what do you want customers to know about you? This question will help you be at sync with the other marketing messages of your client.
  3. What are your primary target markets?
    Targeted marketing is very important today, as different versions of products and services are catered to different target markets. For e.g., different models of smartphones are targeted at different user groups.
  4. Which markets would you like us to concentrate? 
    You’ll not be targeting everyone everywhere at the same time. So ask your client, which markets does he/she wants to concentrate now.
  5. What is the geographic reach of your Product/Services? Please include all areas you would like to focus on within 0-100 miles of your primary target market.
    You need to know the demographics of your target market and the geographies the business is selling into. Today there are websites which show different information to different geographies.
  6. Who are your competitors and what makes your service different from that of your competitors? Please describe.
    Your client knows the best. Ask for a list of all the competitors that your client has. This will help you understand the industry. Also ask how their product or service is different from their competitors. This will help you understand the value proposition of your client’s business.
    See if you can get the following details:

    • Target Market & Market Share
    • Products / Services Offered
    • Quality of Product vs. Pricing
    • Corporate Identity & Consumer Awareness
    • Current Advertising & Promotion Efforts (Media Mix)
  7. List, in order of importance, the best attributes of your business that you would like to emphasize.
    Highlight the key areas of business, features, services etc. This will help you later in your keyword analysis.
  8. What type of marketing have you used to promote your website up until today?
    Businesses use a wide range of strategies for marketing and promoting the services and products, such as PPC, Social Media Ads, etc. Find out what the client has done so far and if possible get all the collateral that is ready with the customer.
  9. Are you using a website metrics tool? Do you have access to your log files?
    Most companies will have web analytics tool installed. They might be using Google Analytics, Clicky, or something else. If not, ask them if they would implement the tool themselves or do you have to set it up.
  10. How are you analyzing your current website traffic? What metrics are you tracking?
    If the client has already setup an analytics tool, get access to it and do a basic report on the number of unique visitors, backlinks, and other traffic data. What are the metrics they are tracking? This will directly help you plan the areas that need focus.
  11. Please provide list of 20 keywords/keyword phrases that you think your potential customers will enter into a search engine while looking for a website such as yours.
    Get a basic list of 20 keywords or phrase for which your client wants her website to rank for. You can use this list to build up on your keyword basket. This way you’ll know your client’s expectations and work accordingly.
  12. List all the short term and long team goals of your business and website?
    You want to get paid for what you do. For this you need to know the priorities and goals of your client. This will help you install goal tracking in your analytics tool and show specific ROI to your client.
  13. Please list all websites and domains you own.
    Companies today have multiple URLs for their website, some even with misspelled words. You’d want to know that. Also, get a list of all the other URLs and online profiles the client has created for her business.
  14. Are you doing social media marketing?
    Social media is a very important ranking factor for doing SEO today. You need to understand your client’s current social media presence and all the activities that have been so long performed. Ask if they want to continue doing it or want you to take over from them. Get all the specifics such as usernames.
  15. Do you have a content marketing strategy in place?
    Find out if the company has a blog and who is creating the content for it? Is the content created based on SEO guidelines? What are the keywords used? Information rich authentic content built on SEO guidelines have a long term impact on search engine rankings.
  16. What are your expectations from this SEO project and what is your budget?
    The Final Question: what does your client want and how much is she ready to pay for it. Most businesses think that with proper SEO implementation the traffic would just start pouring in. In many cases this does not happen. There are no short term returns. You need to give it proper time and dedication and build it up to excel.

So what do you think? Do you have other SEO questions you ask your clients to help you put together a proposal for SEO or other online marketing initiatives?

Originally Posted by Santanu Das at http://www.digitallyour.com/15-seo-questions-to-ask

About Author :

Santanu Das, an online marketing professional, blogger, search engine optimizer and social media enthusiast who enjoys a bit of photography & good food!

[Guest Post] How to manage my phone contacts on the cloud efficiently?

Be it an android, apple or windows, backups are always necessary. Most of us want to change our mobile phone as often as possible to ensure we are in touch with technology and apps. Some of us even do it as a hobby. Contacts are always a growing list and managing them through various devices can be a task.

We also have different options on every smartphone to sync our contacts on to the cloud. iCloud is a great way to store iPhone contacts. Gmail is awesome for android users. Microsoft uses Sky Drive and Outlook.com. The big players in the market have their own solutions to creating back-up of contacts. There are great apps in the marketplace that provide ways to have a backup in the cloud.

The problem over here is to manage contacts on the cloud efficiently. Cloud is a cool place to store data. But when we have a growing list of data, how can we manage it.

Mobile companies are pushing their sales in every possible way to stay on top of the market. The tables show the sales on mobiles to end users in Q3 2013 and who are the players in the market. (Taken from http://www.ibtimes.com/worldwide-smartphone-sales-q3-2013-samsung-android-maintain-lead-apples-market-share-slips-1471754)


These days, sticking on to one brand becomes questionable as the choices we have are more. Managing contacts on the cloud can be ineffective if we choose to keep changing our phones from different brands every two years or less than that.

Move Contacts on to Online Spreadsheet.

As mentioned earlier, Contacts are a growing list and all mobile phones can import contacts from a .csv format file. If we use online tools such as Google DocsZoho DocsOffice 365CollateBoxEditGrid, etc. the contacts are always available on the cloud and easily downloadable. They are also downloadable in a CSV format which is a common factor for importing contacts. We may not be able to sync our contacts directly from the mobile devices but there are options to add and retrieve the data from the online lists. Sharing, web link, embedding of sheet or online forms are ways to add or update contacts to the spreadsheets. CollateBox has an interesting feature of notifying the user through mail or sms when changes to the lists are made. Irrespective of which device we use or what brand we prefer, the data is safe and secure on a spreadsheet on the cloud.

Managing contacts on an online spreadsheet is safer than managing contacts on the device. If we apply filters on the contacts and share the sheet, the list can keep growing. The sheet can be updated without showing the other contacts by applying filters on it. Sharing can be done through a public url or a web link can be posted on any website or social media site. Think about it and try it.

 

Originally Posted by Paul Williams athttp://blog.pdwilliams.in/wordpress/

And Reposted by Santanu Das athttp://www.meetsantanudas.com/2014/03/how-to-manage-my-phone-contacts-on-the-cloud-efficiently.html

[Guest Post] Review : CollateBox to manage Pawn Brokers/Bankers transactional data

I have been working on a pawn broker’s transactional data and was trying to manage their growing data for my client. It was getting difficult day by day to keep track of data and notifications for each transaction. I also had toaudit this ever growing data regularly to generate reports weekly. We have been using spreadsheet for this whole process. Then I came to know about CollateBox, an online spreadsheet tool for collaboration, collection and collation of growing data. Before that we were also reviewing google docs to migrate from offline spreadsheets to online spreadsheets, but found few drawbacks when dealing with notifications and inconsistencies in column management.
Collatebox - Online Spreadsheet Tool

Collatebox – Online Spreadsheet Tool

Collatebox is one of the few good online tools for small and medium size business. We found it to be placed in horizontal market space which any business can mold and use whoever is using spreadsheet for such tasks. Our use case was specific to  “pawn broker” or gold loan bankers. The first feature of CollateBox which helped us up and running quickly was Online Forms to collect data from six to ten branches spanning across the city and one centralized office, we found it to be a powerful feature of Collatebox. We used to collect data everyday and make reports out of that data. Having fields like Invoice Number, Customer name, permanent address, temporary address, date of loan, type of ornaments, number of ornaments, Each ornament weight, total ornaments weight, loan amount approved, amount given date, time, tenure, interest/month, date of next payment (interest), attachments of Id proofs, Registered/verified mobile number of the customer etc. An online sheet is created in Collatebox and share the URL of the online form to fill the customer data by the branches of the organizations, the magic happens when the master sheet (at central office) gets updated with the collected data automatically.
How CollateBox helped us migrate and why we migrated from offline spreadsheets:
 
  1. All kinds of clean data can be imported as required by the business
  2. Do filtering basing on the text/date/number and get the output data of the customer who need to pay the interest
  3. Do sorting or do a search to find any data of the customer in the main sheet
  4. Attach all the Id proofs of the customer against his record
  5. Use the “time field”(a data type) pertaining to the customer record to match with CCTV footage in any of the branches in case of fraud/illegal cases
  6. Reduce the auditor’s daily personal visit to collect data to do the audit at every branch (it has been made systematic of monthly/quarterly audit where CollateBox made it easy with the online form, the master user shared the sheet which is having permissions, lock, hide, filters etc to auditors)
  7. No installation/maintenance of big applications at branch offices and all controlled at single centralized office

Features looking for

  1. Though CollateBox has streamlined our process quite a bit now, but we are still exploring the features which could help us improve the performance of our process. We are looking for some features like system generated or customized SMS need to be sent to the customers Mobile number daily on a report which can be generated for that particular date which shows the list of customers who need to pay the monthly interest and the “amount cell” and “mobile number” cell need to marked as red or put tick against the check box of the exact records( by the master user) with the all the transactions details and last date for payment and payment types
  2. Once payment is done by customer at any of the branches or other flexible ways the same need to be updated by the branches till the invoice is closed by the customer after final payment settlements
  3. Locking the entire sheet or few of the rows of data (not columns) is required.
We have contacted CollateBox support to discuss these feature and best part is that they easy to reach out and they listen to their customers and take feedback seriously. Hoping the above mentioned features will be implemented soon by CollateBox.

How educational institutes are benefitting from online spreadsheet collaboration tools

We have been writing a lot about online spreadsheet tools after doing some research on available tools in the market. We came across an interesting use case of such tools in education domain. We talked to one of the institutes using one such product and why they switched from MS Excel to online SaaS application?

To understand their use case, we asked them to explain their problems which they were facing and what made them decide to go for online SaaS application.

In their institute, managing data coming from students, faculty and management and outside vendors was getting messed up because of unmanageable copies of same dataa by different people involved in different processes. Example, each faculty member has to collaborate with his/her students on the task/work/paper assigned to them. At the same time, faculty member also has to manage a spreadsheet to keep track of all the courses which are currently running as well as for next semesters. The work of faculty is also distributed to keep track of all the interview schedules of candidates and invited speakers in case of any events. Faculty is also responsible for any data collection assignments to student for research projects. Thus collaborating with multiple parties in the same organization.

Students are also part of the collaboration tasks, where small teams of students working on an academic project have to collect and collaborate data among themselves and the faculty. While the teaching assistant is collaborating with the faculty on student grades in another spreadsheet. Any more such scenarios which almost every institute work on.

Faculty Student Collaboration

Faculty Student Collaboration

While migrating from Office suite excel to online spreadsheet, they picked the most common use case of students-faculty collaboration on project work. They started using Google Docs for this purpose, as it was free to use and is very similar to Excel. They create a list of all the tasks and task assignments for review on it and started using it. Every student had to update the status of the task from assigned to pending to completed with estimated time to complete and actual time to complete.  Faculty would review the status of task and assignments of tasks, plus grade the task based on the quality and time taken. But they hit a road block when students were able to view the grades column and were able to change it without problem, even they were able to see details of other projects and other student grades. It was kind of security breach which was unacceptable. They planned to create separate sheet for each project and keep grades in another sheet but then it was again getting difficult to manage those sheets. Another issue they faced was inconsistencies in the data capture and column settings, many times data was getting lost and sometimes applied column settings were not reflecting. Also, data validation was becoming more and more problematic to get data cleansing done at regular period of time.

Then they started looking for alternatives, they reviewed Zoho Sheets, EditGrid and CollateBox. Each of these apps had their own benefits but some were better than others. Zoho was giving them complete office suite while editGrid was giving complete Excel functionalities and more but it was closing the services in May. CollateBox on the other hand was actually specifically solving their each problems they were facing with the other tools, like hiding certain columns from student, making some columns only read only, filtering and sharing only particular projects data with each group and maintaining same master sheet to collate data. Column settings were contextual based on the auto data validation. Filters and sorts are one click functionalities. They observed consistency in data and formats. Multiple excels sheet and multiple copies of those sheets circulating across different email ids was gone and better way of collaboration was in the house.

Review – Simple tools to share datalist online

For many people, the spreadsheet is still one of the most popular low-end database applications. The tabular structure of rows and columns is easily understood and can easily be used as a way to view records and fields of a database. Plus, you can easily sort and filter your data using the appropriate Excel commands. From a SMB to enterprise, everyone’s first choice for spreadsheet is Excel. However, buying complete Microsoft Office suite for using Excel spreadsheet only would be a very costly decision.

20% of all small businesses run primarily on excel. Over 100 businesses of all nature including investment firms, marketers, sales teams, outsourcing development centers, bookkeeping firms, recruitment firms and other SMEs use excel/spreadsheets for work. But what is the first thing that a team does which is working jointly on a spreadsheet. They email it back and forth. It can be painful if one has to keep track of all the changes being made by the other team members. Luckily, there are few better alternatives in the form of online spreadsheet service providers with tools to make spreadsheet sharing a lot easier than just sending them as attachments at no or low cost.

  1. Google Docs :

Google Docs is one of the most used alternative to MS Excel online. It is actually similar to Office Suite but is free to use. However, one must be registered and signed in using Gmail account to use this service. It send email alerts when someone make changes in the spreadsheet. Though, do remember that there will be inconsistencies while working with columns and if you don’t want formulas to be tampered with, you have to lock the cells.

2.  Zoho Docs :

It is another powerful app to replace MS Excel and compete with Google Docs. Its interface is quite simple with, almost, all the features that you would be looking for in a spreadsheet. The only missing feature here is a built-in address book, which could be extremely useful for collaboration. Zoho Sheet won’t accept data pasted from an Excel spreadsheet, but it works very well for creating fresh documents.

Online datalist sharing

Online datalist sharing

3.  CollateBox :

If you don’t want the clutter of Office suite online and want to work and focus more on collection, collaboration and collation of data with your team, CollateBox provides an intuitive, secure, consistent, affordable and focused solution in the form of online spreadsheet SaaS application. With intuitive excel like interface, it is quite easy to jump in and start working on CollateBox. Creating different views of same growing list of data and sharing is just a click away. Best part about CollateBox is easy to import existing data by copy pasting and then the data list can grow organically by collecting and collating data. The features that you will miss coming from excel will be formulas and macro, other than that everything plus more is already there for you.

Summary

Some services give you more control over how they will notify when collaborators make changes. Others provide access to data through invite only. Some applications provide detailed reports and those are also configurable, while others provide common charts and reports out of the box. To get more collaboration feature in Google Docs, one has to use Box.net and it becomes tricky to manage and share spreadsheets across both the services. Some of the services are really expensive like QuickBase but then you have tons of templates and control over your reports. Other services like CollateBox are really cost effective and solves specific use case of spreadsheet sharing, data collection and collation among team with common excel features. They have a nice mix of features, charts, summaries, forms, auto validated data and many more options.

[Sponsored] How online spreadsheet SaaS applications like CollateBox are efficiently solving data type conversions?

Spreadsheet design is part art and part science. It involves not only technical expertise but also attention to aesthetics. There are two types of errors which can happen while working with spreadsheets: syntax and logical. While making the conversion of different data types of data in excel or in any other tools with a specific kind of output/display data has become a huge task for the spreadsheet users to overcome the syntactical and logical errors. The imported or typed/pasted data into a cell of any row/column takes some default data type according to the first cell or the data type entered in that row. To convert such columns of data into different intended output generates many hurdles and errors in the sheet where data loses its integrity or identity and does not providevalidated data now .
The commons data types are text, number, date, time, currency, percentage, fraction, scientific etc. and by performing conditional formatting the data can be converted into more reasonable meaningful output.
I dwell in excel so much about some of these points :
1. In excel for a column having all the text data cannot be converted to email or link with ease because of the data type which is present in the column
2. Cells/columns having numbers data type cannot be converted into time or other formats
3. Converting a number into date(long or short) generates a different year than the intended and other  formats of dates can be generated by conversion
4. Converting the number into percentage or currency is not so impressive while converting  in excel
5. There are more errors like #DIV/0!, #N/A, #VALUE!, #REF!, and #NUM! which is a serious issue in excel for the data entry
Any many more…
Auto Validated Data

Auto Validated Data

After a prolonged research I found a wonderful tool called CollateBox which handles many of queries on its own, while importing the data, CollateBox will cleans the data and defines the data type of that column definitely , and later, in case we need to change the data type of a particular column, CollateBox displays a contextual options.
Few examples are
1. The free text data type  can be converted to either “email” or “link” and reverted back as free text
2. The number data type can be converted to “Currency” or “Percentage” or “decimal” or “integer”
3. Date data type can be changed to “Us date” or  “UK date” or “month& date” or ” month& year”
4. The converted columns can be moved to any location in the sheet for easy comparisons between the columns
5. The converted data cells can be coloured(6 colours) by using “format” option to  make an identity of the converted columns
6. The data entry in the cells after the conversion is taken care in CollateBox and same can be downloaded which was converted
7. Make filters, sorting and search on the converted columns to generate expected output
8. The informative &simple tool tip text will help you better to understand the data types to be typed/pasted in the columns when wrong data is entered
9. The shared user will experience the converted columns data in his view and he can enter the same or relevant data in the shared view
10. Column lock or hide or transposing of columns can be done even after the conversion of data in any of the columns
11. The “Time data” type can be made as 12 hours or 24 hours
12. All the text with long data or special characters will be supported for conversion
13. All the pages in paging functionality will get updated for the data conversion in any of the columns
Finally I exalt in saying that CollateBox has the potential to grow more beyond the expectations in data manipulation & conversion and many more stunning features with affordable price