Webconsuls Blog

Friday, December 3, 2010

Google Weights Poor User Experience

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
If you have a business website it is probably safe to assume that on occasion you might feel overwhelmned by GOOGLE. "How do I get my site to be #1 on the search engine results page (SERP)?" "How can I move up on GOOGLE Places?" "How do I deal with negative reviews that appear on the web?" In the past we have written a few posts about reviews and guest (user) experience. We have tried to give you our best business advice along with our best on-line marketing advice.

Are you wondering where I am going with this? Here's the deal. On November 28, 2010, I saw a New York Times tweet that said: A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web. I couldn't resist clicking over to the story and after reading this shocking article I then forwarded it to Dick and Dennis. On Monday morning my brother-in-law sent me a link to the article, he too was shocked. I kept wondering what if anything can be done about an on-line merchant that is so bold and conniving. Unconscionable is really the best word to describe this merchant. 

Now comes the good news. GOOGLE decided to get involved.  I don't want to speak for GOOGLE, click here and you can read their post about their algorithmic solution. It is fascinating and gives me hope that GOOGLE is really trying to provide a good service. As they said:
"We can't say for sure that no one will ever find a loophole in our ranking algorithms in the future. We know that people will keep trying: attempts to game Google’s ranking, like the ones mentioned in the article, go on 24 hours a day, every single day." 
I would like to thank the New York Times for running the article about the merchant, Vitaly Borker, and I would like to hear what you think about this news. Leave a comment, won't you? 
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Get Your GOOGLE Place Page In Order

Have you claimed your GOOGLE Place Page yet?  Remember when I talked about GOOGLE Local becoming GOOGLE Places? In September I wrote about how GOOGLE Places was upgraded to a TWO-WAY STREET.  Webconsuls subscribes to a number of SEO/SMO on-line newsletters and also makes SMO and SEO News Feeds available for our site users. One of our favorite newsletters is Planet Ocean's Search Engine News and we read with interest their current article "Must Do List for November: Create, Claim, Improve Your Google Places Page."  Here is a bit of what they have to say:

"Google has rolled out Place Search which is a whole new way of displaying search results. This combines the natural and the local search algorithms and completely eliminates the traditional 7 pack and integrating it within the top 7 results. This is huge! The new algorithm relies heavily on Place Pages and it's clear that without a Place Page you may be left behind. Here's a location specific search that shows exactly what's changed:

"One thing to notice is that all the top results had very complete place pages that included pictures, reviews, links etc. As time goes by the consequences of the changes to local search will become clearer. The one thing we can tell you right now is you MUST have a complete Places Page for your business or you WILL be left behind in local search! Regardless how completed or not your Place Page is - make sure it is as complete as possible before December. This is the advice you pay us to hear...do yourself a favor and listen."
Ok, I am going to run through this information again.
 Follow these steps:
·         Go to  Google Places
·         Sign in with your business GMail address
·         On the new screen click on LIST YOUR BUSINESS
·         A new screen will appear and you will be asked to enter your non-toll-free phone number and then hit the button that says: Find Business Information
·         Your current business address will appear and you will click on EDIT to update your listing.
·         A new screen will appear where you will be allowed to give all of the pertinent information about your business.
·         At the end of this process, when you hit submit, GOOGLE is going to call you within seconds to give you and PIN number to activate your account.
·         It is very important that you be there to answer the non-toll-free number.  This is one of their ways of verification of business ownership.

You may be wondering why we just don’t take care of this for you.  We have found that this free Google service is better managed by the customer for a number of reasons. 
  1. Google frowns upon 3rd party management of these accounts, as we are not the business owner.
  2. While we could go in and perhaps enter all of the information correctly, we are not sitting at your phone to take the call from Google and to try to coordinate that with you or your employee can be very difficult.
  3. Now that Google Places allows the business owner to respond to REVIEWS (good and bad) you really need to manage and understand this tool.  We cannot respond for you.
Should you decide you need help with this, I would be happy to tutor you over the phone while you CLAIM YOUR PLACE and LIST YOUR BUSINESS.  Let me know if you have questions. 


Let's make it a goal: Get your GOOGLE Place Page in Order!

 Your Parking "PLACE" (Page) Awaits YOU!
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Go Right at 501 Mission Place

Chris Brogan - Social Media TalkImage by Michael Mistretta via Flickr
Today marks a milestone for Webconsuls' blog. Yes, today when I hit the "publish post" button you will be able to read our 501st blog post! Ironically today I want to introduce you to a new on-line community 501 Mission Place

Over the past year I have written a lot about my on-line friend Chris Brogan. I try to learn from Chris and I like to share what I learn with our clients and our readers. Yesterday Chris Brogan unveiled his latest project: 501 Mission Place. Chris said it best:
"I’m so very pleased to announce the launch of our first Human Business Works community and education project, 501 Mission Place. This community is geared towards non-profits and charities looking to improve their efforts. From fundraising to the use of new marketing tools to in-depth interviews with the people out there on the front lines doing successful things to grow their non-profits and charity projects, the goal is to give you the tools you need to thrive in this ever-changing economic situation, where funds are drying up at the exact moment that you need them most."
Let's face it; we are all touched by not-for-profit 501c organizations. Whether you serve on a board, work behind the scenes as a volunteer, or benefit from their continued and varied efforts - eventually not-for-profit 501c organizations impact our lives.

If you have been fortunate enough to be intimately involved with a not-for-profit 501c organization, then you know how often you might ask: "What would be the best way to manage our fundraising?"  It could be you have a new board, a young board, a tired board, needs that outweigh your current means, new regulations - the list goes on.  How great would it be to know you have an on-line community with experts at the helm and fellow on-line community members who have a wealth of experience?

Do you know a not-for-profit 501c organization that could benefit from 501 Mission Place?  I know I do and today I am going to personally reach out to our not-for-profit 501c clients and encourage them to visit 501 Mission Place. 

What will you do?



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Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Friend


My Friend 

I have a friend from college whose name is not important but I think his life story is.   I graduated in 1966 and he in 1967. His father was an exec at a large corporation and while his upbringing included private prep school, year abroad, and a private college he was an unpretentious regular guy.

After graduation he joined the Army and served in Viet Nam. He was an RTO or Radio Telephone Operator, so he carried the communications equipment for the officer in charge. On January 25th 1969 his unit, Company C, 5th Battalion, 60th Infantry was on a reconnaissance mission near Thu Thua. They were ambushed and there was fierce fire fight. The commanding officer was mortally wounded and my friend took over and directed the maneuvers of his company. He exposed himself to the barrage of enemy fire and adjusted artillery supporting fires and tactical air strikes. For his extraordinary heroism he was awarded the Silver Star.

After leaving the military, with more than a dozen other awards including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, he went to the Law School where he did very well and made Law Review. Following graduation he went to work for a prestigious law firm in San Francisco. He met a woman who would later be his wife and life partner. Here was a guy around 30 who had a very good job, was in love, and was a well decorated war hero. Life must have looked very good.

About this time I had a business trip to San Francisco and called his office to arrange seeing him for lunch or dinner. A co-worker answered and  informed me that he had suffered a heart attack. Upon recovering he was advised that the practice of law was probably too stressful so he got a job teaching law. He taught for seven years and was so distinguished the school gives out the an award in his name each year. Unfortunately, at age 40 he suffered a stroke and had to give up teaching.

It has now been determined that his medical problems stem from exposure to Agent Orange while in Viet Nam.

For the last 25 years his intelligent caring brave man has not able to read. He lives in a retirement home. He is able to go the store, fix meals for himself, watch television. He can travel and goes to Viet Nam reunions to see his buddies. He also spends a lot of time with his wife, who has MS so bad she is confined to a wheel chair in the same retirement home.

In 2009 I and some other college friends met him in Chicago. We went to a Cubs game then drove to Milwaukee and caught a Brewers game. Last summer I was in the Midwest and was able to spend half a day and him and introduce him to my daughter and granddaughter.

Whenever I am with him or on the phone with him, he is positive and upbeat. He never bemoans his fate. He makes me realize how lucky I am.  Of course, he has his health, which is very good given the heart attack and stroke; a great relationship with his wife; nieces and nephews who love and respect him; and friends who understand his sacrifice.  I would guess that he considers himself luckier than many.

Monday, October 25, 2010

THE Can Be a Powerful Word

Did the title of this post, "THE Can Be a Powerful Word", get your attention? Think about it for a minute. Now if I say: "It's THE Real Thing" or "When you care enough to send THE very best", I'll bet you can name what brand each statement refers to without blinking an eye.  Am I right?

Branding is something every business needs to do. Establishing a brand can be taxing. You create a name, you create a product, maybe you get a patent, maybe you apply for a trademark, maybe you copyright your material, and maybe you are the product! And after all is said and done "the customer owns the brand" as Jeff Hayzlett informed us at Blog World Expo 2010.

I am not sure, but I suspect that the Mandalay Bay Resort management was thinking about their customers when (according to Wikipedia) "In 2006, the lettering at the top of the tower changed to 'THEhotel' to distinguish the property. Formerly, the lettering was identical to the 'Mandalay Bay' letters at the top of the original tower." You see the Mandalay Bay Resort opened in 1999; however, what is now referred to as THEhotel at Mandalay Bay opened in 2003.

Prior to the name change imagine the confusion a hotel guest faced: What do you tell the taxi driver, upon arrival you might not be sure which hotel tower to check-in at...or you may wander around in the casino and then make your way back to the wrong hotel tower. (Think Co-Op City in THE Bronx!)

As you know Blog World Expo 2010 was held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Convention Center. Happily I was a guest at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.  I can truly say THEhotel is a well designed beautiful hotel. Every room is a suite, no smaller than 725 square feet. And THE is the only word you need to know when you are trying to find your way around THEhotel. They don't have fancy or clever names for their on-site amenities or venues: THEpad, THEtp, baTHE (toiletries), THElounge, THEcafe, THEstore, THEcoffeebar. (click on the photo on the left) You see what I mean? Simple and understated. This customer owns the brand!

In closing, I would like to share something I rediscovered today about the word THE. Did you know: "that the pronunciation of the definite article 'the' changes, primarily depending on whether the following sound is a consonant or a vowel?" Before a consonant sound the pronunciation is thuh, before a vowel sound it is usually thee

By the way, if you think I am off base when I say THE can be a powerful word, maybe I can interest you in a UBS commercial effort.



On the other hand, THE Google never did sound right and we are told in "The Social Network" movie that it was Sean Parker who advised Mark Zuckerberg and  Eduardo Saverin to drop THE from The FACEBOOK.
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BWE10 Chief Listening Officers Wanted

This past weekend, October 14-16, I learned a little of how to be Webconsuls' Chief Listening Officer (CLO). Yes, the C-Suite at many companies does now include a CLO and happily I attended Blog World Expo 2010 to learn how to listen, engage, and as @lizstrauss says "manage the present and create the future." This is my second year participating in Blog World and I will tell you it was an entirely different experience in many ways.  Here are my "outtakes" from this year's conference:

FOUNDATION
Familiarity can make conference attendance a little easier. The on-line registration process was simple. Blog World's Blog allows potential attendees to get to know more about Blog World and the key players at Blog World. In addition to their blog, you can also stay current and engaged by "liking" them on Facebook and following them on Twitter @blogworld.

I flew Southwest Airlines again this year direct non-stop from Tucson to Las Vegas. Last year I was a bit overwhelmed by their boarding process, but what a difference a year makes. I like Southwest!

This year the conference venue was the Mandalay Bay Resort and Conference Center. I cannot say enough good about Mandalay Bay. I hope to do another post just about this experience. It was great to be able to enjoy the conference and know your suite was just upstairs, a short walk and elevator ride away.

During the past several months I "met" Deb Ng, Blog World's Conference Manager, Allison Boyer, a Blog World Blogger, and Rick Calvert, Blog World's Founder via Twitter, Facebook and blogging. I set a goal to meet them in person.

Over the past year I have also met some very interesting people, like John McLachlan, so engaging them at Blog World was a major goal for me.

KEYNOTES and SESSIONS

Deb Ng did a fantastic job of putting together a diverse conference schedule. I hope this link stays live for a while so you can peruse what life is all about at Blog World. (Disclaimer: I took advantage of the Weekend Pass, so I was not in town for the October 14 events.)

Blog World sessions are designed by tracks. For example, if you are a TRAVEL blogger you can opt to attend only sessions that deal with the travel industry or if you are non-profit you attend sessions and learn from the social media experts on how to tweak your social media campaigns. But...you can mix and match.

I attended three of the Keynote addresses, but the most provocative was Friday morning's State of Digital Communications in Politics with Mark Penn, Karen Hughes, Hugh Hewitt, and Reid Wilson. This keynote was moderated by Blog World's founder, Rick Calvert. (I learned for the first time that Rick is a self-described "political junkie.") For a few minutes Rick had to do some masterful moderating!

I chose sessions that had to do with SEO and monetization. The Social Media and Corporate America was very informative. Where else can you listen to expert strategists like Jeffrey Hayzlett (think KODAK), Frank Eliason (formerly of COMCAST, presently SVP of Social for Citi), Bonin Bough (PEPSICO) and Scott Monty (FORD Motor Company)? I think it was Mr. Hayzlett who cautioned us to remember "the customer owns the brand" and you better have a "Chief Listening Officer" in your C-Suite (no matter the size of your company).

I enjoyed meeting C.C. Chapman (I have been reading his blog for about six months) and learning from him on the panel "How to Hire a Social Media Agency."

Liz Strauss, Carol Roth and Terry St. Marie (@starbucker) are very personable and they offered valuable strategies for building your on-line business, such as "Think BIG and value your time!"

Friday afternoon I attended the Monetization Super Panel (two hour session). Learning from successful bloggers like: Anita Campbell, Darren Rowse, John Chow and Jeremy Schoemaker was exciting. They talked about affiliate marketing, Commission Junction, and provided a road map of how one can monetize their blog. The next morning I ran into Darren Rowse walking through the lobby of Thehotel at Mandalay Bay. We had a nice conversation.


Socialization, Exhibitors and More
I did meet Deb Ng and Allison Boyer. This took a little time as there were over 4000 people attending the conference. You would be surprised how hard it can be to spot someone with PINK hair...hello Allison! I saw Rick Calvert a lot, but he was BUSY. I did not meet him personally, maybe next year.

I was able to meet and spend some good time with John McLachlan. You can see our photo here. We were able to attend some sessions together and had a nice dinner.

For the first time GOOGLE was an exhibitor, specifically BLOGGER.  This was wonderful as Webconsuls is a BLOGGER house, that is we use and recommend the BLOGGER platform. Imagine my surprise to meet Brett Wiltshire manning the BLOGGER/GOOGLE booth. Brett has been working on a question we posed about BLOGGER, so it was great to meet Brett in person. Also, I answered a BLOGGER survey and received a BLOGGER T-shirt.


I have a friend MaryAnn Martinez; she is a news reporter for Fox5News in Las Vegas. MaryAnn called me Saturday afternoon to tell me she had passes to see Shakira. Shakira's concert was Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Event Center(see photo below).  Can you beat that?  What a night!

Finally, while leaving Las Vegas, I had $7 in quarters that Dennis has given me prior to leaving Tucson. I played a slot machine at the Las Vegas airport and won $120. I put it in my pocket and waited for my flight home.

Ok, that is about it. I need to get back to work. If you were at BWE10, let me hear from you.

Hope to see you at Blog World Expo 2011.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

New Twitter Home to Cuckoo Birds

Twitter announced NewTwitter on September 14, 2010. They referred to it as a Better Twitter and they said it would be "rolled out" or coming soon to a nest near you. Yesterday, ten days into the roll out I received a message on my Twitter page: "Welcome to #NewTwitter!" I was shocked because after all, I only have 263 followers and I only follow 94 people. Come to think about it, maybe Twitter felt I was a good risk...couldn't screw up too much or impact too many users, not like @corybooker or @chrisbrogan.

While I like most of what I have seen with the new Twitter I do feel that my quiet little nest is now home to Cuckoo Birds. Do you know about Cuckoo Birds? Many of the cuckoo bird species will not build their own nest, but instead lay their eggs in the nest of another bird species and let the other species raise their young!

What does this have to do with Twitter?  Well, with #OldTwitter if you RT something it is your image that appears in your followers' Twitter stream; however, with the #NewTwitter it is the original tweeter's profile avatar which appears in your stream. For example: I follow @johnschannel. He RT'd something from @shamelesshussy and instead of seeing John's familiar avatar in my stream (which I will read and take note of) I see @shamelesshussy avatar which is a kitten. Imagine a kitten in my Twitter nest.  To tell you the truth, I don't have time to figure out if I want to read this Tweet now that it does not have John's avatar. I have to read the small print to know he RT'd it.

So that is why I think my Twitter nest is home to Cuckoo Birds, strangers who have been left there for me to nurture.

I really like the new Twitter and I invite you to watch this short dramatic YouTube video about it.




In the mean time, it is Saturday. Take a break and listen to Peter, Paul and Mary sing "The Cuckoo"...think about the important things in life and don't worry about your Twitter nest.



I would love your input!!! Let me know what you think of #newtwitter.
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rose Knows What to Do When Novelty Wears Off!

How old are you? Do you imagine that you will still be productive when you are 82? Or do you hope to retire before you reach 50 or 60 or 70? I want you to meet my friend Rose. Rose works for The Seaward Inn located in Rockport, MA.You might remember hearing of Rose when I wrote about the Seaward Inn in October 2008.

For the record, I have never met Rose in person. I have only talked to her by phone or by e-mail. It was this past May that Rose sent an e-mail concerning a news story about The Seaward Inn that had appeared in the Gloucester Times. She wanted to make sure that the story was used on their website. I wrote Rose and told her it was handled to which she responded:
 "You know Judy, at age 82 I find all this Facebook and Twitter so fascinating. Such a wonderful challenge for me. I love it. Thanks, Rose"
I wrote back to Rose: 
"Rose, You make me giggle.  Why would I ever know or think you are 82!  I love everything you send our way. We so much hope you have a great season.  Judy"
The other day my friend Chris Brogan wrote a blog about "When Novelty Wears Off."  As usual, he posed some powerful questions about social media like: "What am I doing with XYZ technology? Is it pushing my business forward?" His questions reminded me of my friend Rose. Rose has lived through a lot, she is like Betty White. She is not afraid of new technology, but she knows her main business goal is to assist Nancy Cameron-Gilsey in running The Seaward Inn.

Ultimately, I think Chris is trying to caution everyone to keep their eye on the ball. To that end I would like for you to know more about Rose and how, over the years, she has kept her eye on the ball. Here, in her own words, is a little bit about Rose's career:
 "The only thing older than the Seaward Inn is the Atlantic Ocean and me, believe me I am no prize. I have always loved promoting events, etc. and have had a big appetite for music, all kinds. Love the musicals, Phantom of the Opera being my favorite, but I love the music of Barry White as well. Then there is all the music of the 50's and 60's, The Beatles, Peter Paul and Mary and before that the Andrew Sisters ..and of course Elvis. I could go on and on about music. 
Perhaps you remember my coffee shop some 25 yrs. ago,  Rosie's Coffee Shop Plus in Brown's Mall. That was put together on a whim, another one of my thinking outside the box ideas...I had fun with it for about three years and then sold it. Took it on when Main Street was dying and the businesses all left the Mall and it had become such a sad establishment. My shop became the heartbeat of the Mall and I tailored my shop to accommodate the clientele like Gloria Stevens ...from special menu for dieters to the guys who pumped iron in the exercise club as well as the cops in the Police Station across the street. I've been a bookkeeper for years, having studied accounting through a Chrysler Dealership,.. worked at Boley's back in the 50's and then for Gloucester Dispatch and did bookkeeping on the side for various small businesses including the Outrigger at Rocky Neck. When the Cameron Sisters took back the Inn from leasing it, I came in to help Nancy start up the books and I've been at the Seaward Inn ever since.
I love the Inn, there is something very Special about it and when the economy tanked in Rockport I couldn't bear to see our beautiful dining rooms empty, so I talked Nancy into bringing in the music ...let locals enjoy the view and the Inn. She said we couldn't afford it but I told her where there is a will there is a way and I asked her to give me a budget and let me give my ideas a try. Well, the rest is history.
Sunday Morning Live has been successful far beyond my expectations. We have had some really great performers at the Inn. I screen all, choose from the best and try to bring as much diversity as possible to the SML Series for the season. It has grown, and with the help of Judy at Webconsuls, our webmaster in Arizona, and other media we are getting the word out there and have quite a following already.
You wanted to know something about me, well there it is, not very interesting, and believe me, you are not missing anything by not meeting me." 
I don't know about you, but I am glad I met Rose. She is an inspiration. 


I'll ask you again: "Do you imagine that you will still be productive when you are 82?" 

Here you can enjoy a YouTube video of the Sunday Morning Live Series, 2009.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vacation in Paradise

Take a Trip to Paradise

The summer is over so vacation travel should slow down. If you can, this may be a perfect time to visit paradise – the beautiful island of Kauai.

Kauai is both remote and accessible, American and laid-back, modern and rustic. As described on GoHawaii.com

From the soaring cliffs of the Napali Coast to the vast chasms of Waimea Canyon, Kauai embraces the senses like no other destination. Explore the island via land, sea or air to experience settings you’ve only dreamed about. Discover 50-miles of heavenly beaches from Poipu Beach to Hanalei Bay. Explore charming and historic small towns like Hanapepe and Koloa where no building is taller than a coconut tree. With so much to experience, “Hawaii’s Island of Discovery,” is begging to be explored.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words - here is one from Sea Cliff Hale


Or maybe Sea Cliff Hale is better described in the words of some who have stayed there:

We had an awesome wedding week here in this gorgeous home. So much more than we expected. View, turtles, snorklers, flowers, vegetation, butterflies! You have the house set up in such a comfortable way. Thanks so much. We really hope to return someday in the near future.
- The Peterson Family of Colorado.

Words cannot describe what a wonderful place this is and what a wonderful time we've had. The turtles have been fascinating. We will never stay in a hotel again! Many thanks.
- The Houston Family from Canada.

The sunrises were colorful and the turtle parade was the highlight of every morning and evening. A great home for family and entertaining. It was beyond our expectations.
-The Rooney Family from Illinois
.

We enjoyed our stay at your lovely home tremendously. We had a family reunion here and all had great rooms and accommodations. The turtles were an extra treat for us all!
-D.R. Sacramento,


"My husband and I relaxed and had a very nice time at your home. The views and ambiance are true Hawaii. We plan to return next year."
-L. G. Palos Verdes, Calif.


"Your home was perfect for our vacation. The snorkeling, swimming, sea turtles and monk seals were extra special for us. Baby Beach was the perfect beach to nap on and sun bathe, and it is so convenient! We also loved barbecuing in the evenings with the sea turtles. Your home is a very special place in Poipu. Thank you."
-R.L. San Francisco, Calif.


"What a great home you have here in Poipu!! We love it and didn't ever want to leave the property. It is so private and quiet here and very, very welcoming. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful place with us."
P.F. Grass Valley, California

For more information on Sea Cliff Hale, visit the website at http://www.kauai-vacation-home.com/.

Kilauea Lakeside Estate is located in Kilauea, on the verdant north shore of Kauai. It is 10 minutes to the Princeville Resort with world class resort amenities. Why stay at a big resort when you can stay at your own private Hawaiian refuge. This luxury ecological hideaway is nestled on a five-acre peninsula of botanical gardens surrounded by a private twenty acre freshwater lake with a private white sand beach. The estate is landscaped with lush tropical foliage with over 150 varieties of flowers such as orchids, bromeliads, gingers and heliconias as well as mango, banana, papaya and over fifty other fruit trees. Adjacent to the Kilauea Point Wildlife Refuge and ten miles of secluded white sand beaches, the resort offers a variety of water sports including boating, kayaking, bass and catfish fishing, and a one-hole, three-par practice golf facility and putting green.

Again the words of those who have stayed probably describe Kilauea Lakeside Estate the best.

We can't thank you enough for all of your “aloha” hospitality. We have been to resorts all over the world and our one week at your resort was by far the best vacation we have ever had. “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” The beaches across from your property were so secluded, and we especially enjoyed swimming and fishing in your lake. We caught many bass and catfish. Rowing on the lake at night was so romantic. We even drifted to sleep on the lake one night. All your personal suggestions were great. We'll be back for a longer stay next time.
H. & J. Bruno
Laguna Hills, CA

The pictures don't do justice to the property. It is so much better than we thought it would be. Loved the feeling of living in a botanical garden surrounded by water on all sides. Thank you for an unforgettable experience. We'll be back soon.
S. Lawrence
San Francisco, CA

No place on earth could be any better than this. Simply paradise. The trade winds will blow for a very long time with lots of pleasant memories on behalf of our group.
T. Moriarty
Indianapolis, IN

All honeymoons should be spent on this secluded paradise. Your private beach was soooo perfect we never wanted to go anywhere else.
C. & S. Jackson
Vista, CA

Kilauea Lakeside is truly the treat of a lifetime. We'll never want to stay in a condo or hotel again. We all felt the like kids on your Tom Sawyer's island. We kayaked from your dock and used the rope swings and tree houses nearly every day.

L. & M. Stuart
San Rafael, CA

And if that’s enough


For more info visit the website at http://www.kauaihoneymoon.com/

Friday, September 3, 2010

Google Places Finally a Two-Way Street

One-way street in New York City.                   Image via Wikipedia
Don't you hate one-way streets? Up until a month ago Google Places' review feature was a one-way street. Clients/customers/guests/patients/vendors could find a business' listing in Google Places and write a review; however, the business owner had no way to effectively respond to the review.  That all changed on August 4, 2010.

Old news? No. This is important news that warrants repeating, because in the scheme of things your business lifeline is your reputation. I don't care what kind of business you own and/or operate; repeat customers and customer referrals provide the most effective return on investment (ROI).

I have written about Google Places. Dick Fay has written about reviews and how to work with them. At least once per day I read a blog post about reviews, like Mack Collier's most recent post Think negative comments/reviews online hurt your company? Guess again.

Today I want to assist you in learning more about how to use this new review response feature to your advantage (HINT: all you need to know is at your fingertips in this link). And I am not just talking about negative reviews. Take the time to thank your clients who take the time to write a positive review.

Going forward:
  • If you are a Webconsuls' client and you need help claiming and verifying your business listing on Google Places please contact me. It is important that YOU claim and verify your listing.
  • If you are not a Webconsuls' client and want to learn more about our services, we make it easy for you to contact us. We look forward to meeting you.

Google is now letting us drive on a two-way street, let's see if we can convert every reviewer into an advocate or at least clear the bottleneck. Can we do it?
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Backing Up Isn't Hard to Do!

fit-PC Slim with car keysImage via Wikipedia
Do you ever fall asleep at night with the TV on? I think we all do this on occasion, some more often than not. The falling asleep part is not so bad; it is the waking up in the early morning hours to a strange infomercial. Have you noticed how these infomercials seem to make sense at 4:00AM? The other day I woke up to a real commercial for computer back-up software. I breathed a sigh of relief because we already use this software.

Can we talk about backing-up our computers?  This does not need to be a long discussion. I will say: "Schedule a regular back-up of your computer." And all you have to say is, "Ok, will do."  You might think this is a no-brainer. Maybe you have already learned the hard way: your PC becomes infected with a virus, sudden electrical surge wipes out your hard drive, you lose your laptop, you drop your laptop. Actually the list is endless.

We come to know and expect that our websites are backed-up daily by our host, but what about all of those word documents, photos, logos, pdfs and gifs that are stored on our own computers. Just the other day we received this email from a client:

"Give me a call. Got a speed bump. Accidentally deleted my web page folder. Fortunately I have done full and daily backups. Did a (full backup) restore from 3/7/10, then tried daily restore up to yesterday. Unfortunately the back up software did not include the html folder (it is in the job description). So now I am left with a 3/7/10 folder with the old website links. I will be calling back up tech support this morning to see if we can salvage. If not, and there is no way to convert pdf files to word perfect, we need to do a global link change again. Fortunately I can work off the website to make needed changes and additions."
Malik Moosa, our web developer and designer, worked with the client and sent this follow-up message:
"I’m glad the files I had worked out for you. I would recommend copying those manually to a backup drive or on CD/DVD just to avoid and accidental deletions in the future."

Be prepared. Backing-up isn't hard to do. Dennis uses Carbonite. This is not an advertisement for Carbonite; it is a factual statement. He found it particularly useful when he had to get a new PC and he wanted to make sure that he had all of his files backed-up. Then he was able to do a restore. This is an on-line process, automatic, secure and reasonably priced. On my PC I use an external Seagate hard-drive. It is set to back-up my PC every day at 2:00AM.

Remember, not backing-up is like saying you didn't know to purchase flood insurance even though you live in a flood plain. How about you?  What is your back-up plan?  Did you have to learn the hard way?

Speaking of learning the hard way, I am going to leave you today with a YouTube video from Sex and the City, Season 4, Episode 56 - "My Motherboard, My Self"




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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blog Comments are a Virtual Traffic Circle

Traffic circle or roundabout is ahead.Image via Wikipedia
I remember the first time I encountered a "traffic circle". It was 1988; I was 39 years old and living in New Hampshire. A business associate told me to meet him at a car dealership near the "rotary" in Portsmouth (or thereabout). But there was one problem with his directions. By "rotary" I thought he was referring to a ROTARY(as in the organization) office building. When I finally found him at the car dealership I told him I didn't see the ROTARY to which he responded: "What are you talking about? You drove through the rotary!" Again I queried and finally he adequately described the nightmare that I had just been subjected to: A traffic circle!

So there you have it. Traffic circle, rotary or roundabouts - "a circular arrangement constructed at the intersection of two or more roads in order to facilitate the passage of vehicles from one road to another."

Recently someone (a client) asked me why I read blogs and why do I comment on the blogs I read. The obvious answer to the first part of this question is that I read other blogs to learn about the SEO and SMO industry, hoping to share the knowledge I glean with our clients and co-workers. I comment on the blogs that I regularly read if I have something to add to the conversation or if I have a question about the subject matter. The by-product of this process is that I develop social media relationships and links with relevance and reputation.

Here's how I visualize blog commenting as a virtual traffic circle:
  1. A blog post is written
  2. I am notified of the post via an email or RSS feed (it is ok to start into the circle)
  3. I read the post
  4. I write a comment and identify myself with a link to our domain address or blog address - "the intersection is constructed"
  5. Other readers or the blog writer read my comment and perhaps click on the link to our domain address or blog address
  6. New traffic comes to our site - a visitor who may read our blog or search for a service we offer
  7. New visitor leaves a comment (with a link to their site) or sends us an email

Virtual Traffic Circle: "a circular arrangement constructed at the intersection of two or more blogs/websites in order to facilitate the passage of web traffic from one business to another."


Lately I have read a number of really interesting posts about blogs and blog commenting. Here are a few I would like to share with you. I hope you will take the time to read these posts. You will learn so much.

Drive Traffic to Your Site with a 6-Step Blog Comments Blueprint 

Blogs As Loss Leaders

Value Your Blog Real Estate

Are Blog Comments Dead?

One last thought:
If you are not accustomed to traffic circles (real ones), they can be intimidating. You need to learn about them, understand them, know when to merge, know how to exit to your destination. The same applies to blog commenting and virtual traffic circles, don't you think? I would love to hear from you on this...merge into the traffic circle and comment!

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lose It Update and Southwest Airlines App

I have just returned from a trip to visit my son and his family in Denver. It was a trip that ran havoc on my weight loss and exercise routine. I have restarted my program with the iPhone app lose it.

My son regularly bikes in mountain terrain, is several inches taller than me and weighs 25 pounds less. His diet seems to revolve around high calorie food, food that he easily burns off. My choice was to eat different meals and try to exercise. One can have only so many tofu burgers while everyone else is eating the real thing. The altitude is also not conducive to exercise, at least not for someone my age. So I stopped using the app but have started a new program now that I am back.

We flew on Southwest Airlines. I like Southwest and like it even more that bags fly free. If you fly Southwest it is important to get a good number for check-in as Southwest boards with the numbers rather than assigned seats. You can log in to their website and get a boarding number 24 hours before scheduled departure. The only problem was that 24 hours before departure we were at the Denver Broncos training camp. Well I just got out my iPhone, looked up my confirmation number stored in the Calendar, then used the Southwest Airlines app to check-in. Mission accomplished sitting outside on a hill watching a pro football team practice.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July a Slow News Month? Not Really

Newspaper vending machine featuring news of th...Image via Wikipedia
Sometimes reporters will use the worn phrase "slow news month".  I think we used to associate "slow news month" with any summer month: school vacations, legislature vacations, summer holidays, etc. Let's talk about July. It really is not a "slow news month" and historically it never has been. This July has been very busy...I will not count all the ways, but I did want to share with our readers some news stories about our Webconsuls' clients. Some news is fun, some very serious, some inspiring...take a look for yourself.

On July 2, 2010, the AP reported "Teenager's death puts focus on LA's rave parties" and quoted John Lieberman of Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers.

Also on July 2, 2010, the Los Angeles Times presented "A plank slate for an oral surfing history" which reports about The Surfing Heritage Foundation's latest project.

On July 4, 2010, the Hattiesburg American featured "Kids aim to help wildlife".  Here we get to meet Cade and Kathryn raising money for the wildlife affected by the Gulf oil spill. Their mom is Susan Slaughter of Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services.

On July 7, 2010, the Marco News offered "Power of suggestion: Local theaters find patrons' suggestions- or a close substitution - serve them well".  This article featured Mark Danni, artistic director at TheatreZone in Naples, Florida.

On July 8, 2010, the Daily Fill reported "Top Rehab Experts Explain: How Could the Lindsay Lohan Debacle Have Been Avoided?" Again, Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers' staff offered good advice for parents.

On July 15, 2010, the Arizona Daily Star detailed  "Calling Mariachi Singers".  This is a fun article about La Fuente Restaurant hosting its second annual 'idol'-like mariachi contest.

Finally, on July 22, 2010, the Orange County Register ran this story: "Olive Crest, churches team up to find homes for abused kids".  This article features Olive Crest's involvement with the Safe Families program.

As they say, these are just a few stories, let me know if you have been in the NEWS.

P.S. For those of you wondering about my photo choice for this post, Los Angeles Times announcing the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics, here is the news flash: In July 1984, Dennis Helfand escorted a group of native Alaskans to these summer games. ARCO Alaska sponsored the trip and the Alaskan natives performed in the pre-games events and even appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson!!


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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

iPhone App Lose It! I say Use It!

Like many I weigh more than I should. A few years ago I weighed a lot more than I should. I lost about 20 pounds and have kept it off with exercise and by eating a little less. However I still need to lose some more weight.

My theory is that the best way to lose weight is through diet and exercise. To work the diet has to include foods you like to eat . All carbs, no carbs, packaged food in the mail, special shakes, etc etc etc may help you lose weight but it's hard for me to understand how you can expect to maintain for a prolonged period. I am also not one to go in front of a group of strangers and tell them how much I weigh or to cheer on someone I barely know because he/she lost 2 pounds last week.

A few days ago I found an iPhone App that that looks great for me. It is named Lose It!. When you get started you enter your age, weight and goal. You also specify how fast you want to lose the weight with a maximum of two pounds per week. The app then calculates how many calories you can eat per day, if you do no exercise. Then each day you enter EVERYTHING you eat and any special exercise that you do. It then shows you how many more calories you can have that day and still maintain your goal.

At this time Lose It is free. So far I have not been bothered by annoying ads or attempts to up sell me. I have also found it easy to enter the data.

Obviously this is similar to keeping a food diary of everything you eat. However it is easier since you generally have the iPhone with you so no need to carry a notebook or to try to remember later just what you ate. Just entering the data helps control what you eat. Do you really need that candy bar knowing what it will add to your calories consumed? Likewise, you see how you can reward yourself after doing some exercise. You can also use it for planning, if I a snack now can I still have a glass of wine later?

Lose It! has a web site where you can establish an account to back up your information. You can also use nutrient information for foods but I have not bothered with that feature as yet. There may be more features that I have not yet discovered.

I am sure that there are other similar apps. If so I would like to hear about them. Lose It! seems great for me.