Webmaster Tools Video – What to do with product pages that are discontinued

Matt Cutts from Google posted another great video on the Google Webmasters YouTube channel today. If you are not following this channel on YouTube like a hawk, you really should be. It is one of the few places where you can get information straight from Google related to SEO.

In today’s video he discusses how an eCommerce site should handle pages for products that are no longer going to be available for purchase. His advice for the smaller company I think is spot on, however, his advice for the medium company I think might be a little flawed. Any online retailer that gives a damn about the quality of their product pages spends more time and energy on creating those pages. This in turn becomes a sizable investment for the retailer. This page inevitably gets indexed by Google and generates traffic for the retailer. To just give up on that page seems flawed to me (not to mention that letting a customer land on a 404 page is far from a good experience).

What I would recommend that you do is go with the advice Matt gave for the smaller website. Provide the customer with a good replacement item for the product and let the user move on to that product. I bet you’ll see more conversions for a page that recommends a replacement for a discontinued product than a 404 page.

Anyways, check out the video and decide for yourself. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Are Your Emails Responsive?

People are reading their email more than ever these days and we have the popularity of the smartphone to thank for that. 10 years ago email was something that was checked at work and maybe once or twice in the evening (if you had Internet at home). That is not the case anymore! Now your phone beeps and you rush to see who is trying to reach you. Some of you may even sleep next to your phone (guilty).

This should get you to start thinking what your email messages look like on a phone! With the greatly reduced screen size, a lot of messages will not look the way you intended on a phone. A broken layout will make it difficult for your customer to receive and understand your message and will lower your click through rates and effect your conversion.

One of the ways to make sure your emails look good on both desktop and mobile devices is to do “responsive emails”. Basically what this means is that you format your emails so that they are able to modify how they look depending on the device you are using to look at the email. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a responsive email framework (essentially a tool that will do all the heavy lifting for you, leaving you with a lot less work than if you didn’t use a framework). One of the frameworks that I would recommend using is Ink by Zurb. You essentially grab a template and modify it to make it your own.

Do you do responsive emails? Did you use Ink to do it? Did you use something else? Let me know in the comments below!

Facebook Advertising: You’re Doing It Wrong

Facebook gives you a huge amount of power to target you advertise to, but I find that marketers simply aren’t using this power to get their ads to reach their full potential.

What I and others have noticed is that people are targeting people based on only a few data points. This leads to a much broader reach when advertising on Facebook, but does that lead to a higher conversion rate? Doubtful. Would you launch an AdWords campaign and disregard negative keywords? I would sure hope not.

Here is an example. I asked on App.net for examples of bad Facebook advertising. I got a response that I found especially troubling. So a person on Facebook has indicated that he is male, interested in men and is in a relationship. The advertisements he is shown is mostly for gay dating sites.

These sites clearly only looked at his “gender” and “interested in” data points. They didn’t bother to look to see if he was in a relationship. What this tells some people is that this company believes in the stereotype that homosexuals are promiscuous and non-monogamous. This may not have been the intention, but that is the way some people will take it (including the person who gave me this example).

What I would hope was the actual reason they only looked at gender and interested in data points is that they wanted to increase their ad impressions by keeping the advertisement as generic as possible.

So what can you do when you see ad advertisement that you don’t like on Facebook? Well the obvious solution is to complain to the company. Tell them they are being lazy in creating their campaigns and that they are wasting their money advertising the way they are. This may or may not work. Maybe this tactic is working for them.

The other solution is to make the campaign not work for them. Click the ad. Browse around the site and don’t convert. Show them that advertising like this doesn’t work by making them have to pay Facebook for the ad you just clicked on.

What kinds of ineffective marketing do you see on Facebook?

Microsoft Scroogles Their Product Search

Bing Shopping is dead. Long live Bing Product Search! Much like what Google did last year with transforming Google Product Search into Google Shopping, Bing has transitioned to a paid advertisement model for product search.

Now you should be thinking “Didn’t Microsoft have an entire ad campaign saying how terrible that is?” and you would be correct. In fact here is a link to their marketing campaign slamming Google Shopping being a paid marketing channel.

Ok now that we’ve gotten past the hypocrisy, let’s discuss how this is not a bad thing for the online retailer. This change essentially gives you another version of Google PLAs. If Google PLAs work for you, then it stands to reason that Bing PLAs should also work for you. If you’re not in Google Shopping, you really owe it to your business to give it a try. A lot of people are making an insane amount of money in there.

You can get more details from the article link below about how Bing will present the product ads.

Link: Bing Says Goodbye To Bing Shopping, Hello Product Search With Rich Captions & Product Ads

Trying Out Soylent

I’m going to try something new and exciting. Soylent. I do not foresee this becoming a long term nutrition change for me (I only bought a two week supply), but I do hope that it jumpstart a change in myself to eat healthier.

Figured I’d do what most people do and blog about my experiences once it arrives.

Also to get it out of the way…. SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!

My Adonit Jot Script Evernote Edition Review

(TL;DR) I’ve been playing with the Adonit Jot Script weekend quite a bit and I have to say that this is by far the best stylus I have ever used. I think I can use this to take notes on my tablet.

In a recent post, I discussed my desire for a stylus for my iPad / tablet so that I could take notes on it and finally remove that little bit of paper from my life.

It was around this time that I discovered that Evernote was teaming up with Adonit to create such a stylus. The Jot Script Evernote Edition. I’m not sure if there is any difference between the Evernote Edition and the one being sold by Adonit. I am assuming that the only difference is the Evernote edition has the Evernote logo on it along with the “Evernote Green” stripe on the top.

The tip of the styles is extremely thin compared to other styli I have tried in the past. I would put it just slightly thicker than an actual pen. However, I do not notice this difference at all when using it.

I was interested in trying to figure out how the tip worked on the stylus. When it is turned off, it does not work on any multi-touch device. However, when it is turned on, it works on all my multi-touch devices, including my iPad, Galaxy S3 and even my Apple track pad (to my surprise). My best guess is that the slight press of the pen makes the tip go capacitive and that is why the battery is required.

Now on to the actual use of the stylus. It appears that for now, Penultimate is the only app that supports all the greatness of this stylus. It works with the rest of the iPad, but only as a generic stylus. Pairing the stylus with Penultimate was simple and I was ready to go in a few seconds.

The one thing you have to take care to do properly is to say what your wrist position is. If you choose it wrong, you will mark your pages with a lot of little marks while you write. I would recommend that you pretend to write with the stylus on a piece of paper and take note of your wrist position.

Another thing you really should do is turn off multi-tasking gestures on the iPad. I found that with my wrist on the iPad, I was constantly moving to a different application.

Now on to the actual writing. Using the thinnest pen size in Penultimate is the ideal size for me and it works great! Looking at my handwriting on the tablet versus my notebook, you can only find some subtle differences. I have to work on lifting the pen up a little when I write, but other than that, it is perfect.

Where this whole thing really shines is using the Evernote integration. All notes are searchable (at least it does for me as a Premium user) and is able to search using my horrible handwriting. It makes me question the validity of what my mother always told me…. “penmanship counts”. My handwriting is terrible and Evernote appears to have no problem finding what I wrote. I will attach a few images below to prove it.

I am not sure how the battery life is yet. I am still on my first battery and I have about 2 hours of writing with it. I plan on using this enough to add a few AAA batteries to my bag so I never have to use paper again.

If you are big on writing notes for a meeting, I cannot recommend this enough. This stylus is a game changer.

The Search For A Stylus

I love tablet computing. A portable computer that can do about 90% of what a laptop can do for me. It plays games, I can surf the Internet, even do some of the lighter parts of my job (like checking sales, viewing reports, etc).

However, there is one thing I want it to do, that has constantly come up short so far. Note taking. I have tried everything. I have used both the software and Bluetooth keyboards. Both of them just do not feel right. Both are inconvenient when you do not have a table in front of you and I find that it difficult to type and listen to things around me.

The next logical step was to try using a stylus for handwriting. I have about 4 of these things and they are all a total joke. Most of them are like crayons and you could not write a legible sentence to save your life. I even backed the Cosmonaut on KickStarter and that was an even bigger let down.

So today what did I find in Evernote’s new Market? A stylus. The Jot Script Evernote Edition Stylus to be more specific. This one looks like it could be different. First it has a super thin point so I imagine that it will feel less like a crayon. Second, it uses Bluetooth to improve the experience further by allowing you to be able to rest your hand on the tablet without interfearing with your note taking.

The downside? This thing is expensive at $74.95. Also for some reason, I have to pump it full of AAA batteries. I would prefer some kind of USB mini plug or something similar.

I think I am going to preorder this guy. I have a conference where I am going to have to take a ton of notes at and that is just about the most perfect test of any stylus. I’ll have my Evernote Moleskin notebook and pen as a backup in case it falls short of what I need.

Have you had any luck using a stylus on a tablet? Am I chasing the impossible dream here? Let me know in the comments.

Why I Cancelled My XBox One Preorder

Well I made something of an 180 when it comes to video games. I cancelled my XBox One pre-order and I have every intention of buying a Wii U.

Why would I made such a radical change, especially considering the state of Nintendo, specifically the Wii U? There are a number of reasons for this.

I have not bought an XBox 360 game in almost a year. There has been nothing compelling released for the console this year.

I have a pretty awesome PC – Most of the games that I bought this year were for my PC.

The XBox One launch lineup is pretty pathetic. In all seriousness the only game that got me the least bit excited was Peggle 2. This made my stomach turn when I realized this.

My taste in games has changed. I no longer am interested in playing every FPS game that comes out. In fact, the only ones I am anywhere near excited about would be the next unannounced Fallout and Elder Scrolls game (unless they ever get around to announcing Half Life 3 – which I think will happen tomorrow). I want an entire world to immerse myself into. If I am not playing that, then I want to play a Mario of Zelda game. (This is where the Wii U comes in)

The Steam Box happened. Any console game I am interested in that I may want to play on TV, I can just buy for my PC and stream to my TV. Feels like a no-brainer.

The Chromecast happened. I am all in on this and it works great. I also watched a video of people interacting with the XBox One and I realized how dumb it looks to control your TV using strange hand gestures.

$500. For that amount of money I can buy both a Nintendo 3DS and a Wii U. I already have a PC for anything else.

I would like to make sure I say that my decision was in no way influenced by any of the bad press surrounding the XBox One. It looks like it will be a good product, but I don’t think it is for me.

Bootstrap 3 – A Boring Look and My Bucket List

If you are a regular visitor to this website you will notice that the look of this site has changed substantially. I moved the website to Bootstrap 3. Migrating a site to version 3 really isn’t that bad once you understand how the new grid system works.

The downside however is that the site is now unapologetically monochromatic. I hope to add some color back to the site very soon.

I also added my bucket list to the website for the world to see. It was sitting in a Google Doc for the last few years, but I thought it would be fun to show it off to the world. I am sure it is a goal of a lot of people to beat every Zelda game ever created. It feels like it is a semi-shallow goal to have, but the truth is that I very much enjoy these games so playing them all feels important to me.

I’m Taking The AdWords Certification Exam

A recent change in my job requires that I begin learning how AdWords works. Not only do I need to know how it works, but I need know the best practices for it so that I can do it well.

I have never really been a marketing person before, so it is going to be a challenge. However, I am always up for taking on a professional challenge, so I have decided to study up and take the AdWords certification exam. Technically it is three exams. The first one is the Google Advertising Fundamentals Exam, then I have to move on to the Search Advertising Advanced Exam and finally the Display Advertising Advanced Exam. I hope to complete this by the end of the year; this is an ambitious goal.

Since I am going on this journey, I thought it would be interesting it would be interesting if I blogged about it. That way I can share the information I am learning, but also, a quick reference guide for me.

I hope that someone out there will find the information useful.