Last week Dan and I soft launched our latest SaaS product “Way We Do”. No big fan fare or speeches, although we did buy a bottle of bubbly to celebrate and acknowledge the hard work we have put into this new product. The good news is that we have a few customers already trialling Way We Do, providing positive feedback and ideas for future development.
Way We Do was an inkling of an idea when we enrolled in a Turn Key Program at the National College of Business (a school for business owners). Although the course material was great, we discovered that the tools available to help business owners to create operations manuals felt like antiquated software platforms. The software was to be installed on one PC only, it wasn’t in the cloud and was using out dated design and technology. Additionally, this software was not cheap, costing small business owners a large upfront fee which was prohibitive for many participants in the course.
Planning, Prototypes and Customer Validation
So, we set out to transform small businesses and help them to behave like big businesses with the support of a customised Operations Manual. We spent approximately 2 months planning the software and creating a prototype.
Before developing the Way We Do platform, we wanted to be sure that we had validated the concept with real business owners. We approached a number of small business owners and consultants to get their feedback and they loved the idea.
The Way We Do solution was developed to allow businesses to:
Place their team’s work instructions into the cloud, so that they can access it from any location.
Purchase individual pre-written procedures and policies to reduce the time involved with writing them.
Allow procedures to be visual with the use of videos, photos and images.
Create organisation charts so the team can understand communication lines.
Why do all of this? As we know, successful entrepreneurs and business owners who create a repeatable and scalable business model often document their businesses. They move their vision of the business from their head into a documented Operations Manual, they test the systems created and train others to implement them.
Developing the Way We Do Solution
Dan was unavailable to develop the Way We Do platform full-time and since we were self funding the project, we decided to look abroad to lower costs. Outsourcing software development is not an easy task. Our plan was to hire a development company, rather than an individual directly so the project was completely managed for us.
Spurtree Technologies in India was selected, which was a good choice, although there were a few hiccups along the way. Their account management, service and professionalism was superior to many organisations we have had contact with in Australia and New Zealand.
Dan who is a highly experienced technical lead and developer has high standards regarding code structure and web standards to ensure that a robust, scalable solution was developed. Reducing technical debt from the outset helps to create a product that can scale quickly in the future.
Despite selecting a good development team, the code was not at a level that we required so after several conversations with Spurtree, Dan decided to guide and manage a single developer directly from their company. Spurtree conducted themselves professionally and were genuinely interested in seeing the project succeed.
Design and the “Right Bros”
Writing procedure documents can often be seen as a boring, tedious task so when we designed Way We Do, we wanted it to be fun and upbeat. We wanted small business owners to realise that they could create a unique business and that implementing systems and documenting it within an Operations Manual, is the basis of a successful enterprise.
We came across Fairhead Creative, owned by Adam Fairhead in the US and loved the illustrative designs that he produces. One of our goals was to create a mascot to represent Way We Do and so the “Right Bros” were born. Based upon real life entrepreneurs, our “Right Bros” were centred on the famous “Wright Brothers” who were inventors, pilots, manufacturers, publishers, trainers and retailers. These chaps were highly entrepreneurial!
Along with creating our beloved mascots, Fairhead Creative designed the logo for Way We Do. It reminds us of car emblems such as Bentley Motors, portraying distinction and class. My vision is to one day present gold or silver Way We Do pins to those business owners that build successful organisations using our platform and saying “now you have your wings”.
Fairhead Creative designed the marketing site incorporating these new brand elements. Although we had tested the prototype of the Way We Do application with customers, we didn’t do any testing of the marketing website design. Since the marketing site had been completed several months before the application was ready for launch, in hindsight, we should have started testing interactions and conversion rates as early as possible.
We’re currently testing the marketing site which is located at www.waywedo.com, so I aim to share the results in another blog post down the track.
The Product Development Journey
Creating any product or service is a journey of which there will be highs and lows. Resilience and perseverance are key characteristics to keep pushing through the “are we ever going to get there” moments.
One lesson that I have learnt during this particular product development round is that we should have been out selling while we were developing the product and is something that we will certainly do more of in future products.
I look forward to sharing both the successes and challenges that we experience along the way, so that others can learn from what we do well and not so well. Of course we want to minimise the latter!
Keyword Intent Pty Ltd
Many of the web developers I have met in Brisbane use their own proprietary content management systems (CMS) as the base of the websites they build. Their justification for doing so is the same across the board… no bloat ware, you only get the functionality you need, low probability of the site being hacked.
However, I have always been wary of such an approach and do not necessarily believe it is always in the best interests of the client. Whenever I mention the use of WordPress as a CMS for a website, they inevitably start sprouting out-dated excuses of why you shouldn’t. Lack of security, scalability and performance are usually the responses. Another is, WordPress is a blogging platform, not a CMS for a website.
When a platform like WordPress powers at least 16% of the world’s websites, and some very large ones at that, it’s time to sit up and take notice.
This week, Facebook announced they have created integrations with WordPress, allowing website and blog owners to publish their content to the social network with a simple click of a mouse. There is no coding required as WordPress administrators can install the Facebook plugin that allows them to publish content to their Facebook timeline or page.
The Facebook integration is another example of why I am a supporter of WordPress. Following are reasons why I believe small business owners should consider using WordPress, or another commercial or open-source source CMS, instead of using a developer’s own proprietary software.
Most developers do not have the funding to develop their software. They use the budget of their current customer to build the latest functionality into the CMS, however older clients don’t receive this benefit (unless they pay a lot of money to do so). On the other hand, WordPress and other open source and commercial software have a roadmap for their CMS product and have the funding to implement changes so that all customers can benefit from upgrades.
Many developers who build websites using their own software, do not allow their clients to take the software when they decide to leave. This means that business owners have to pay for the site to be built again on a new platform.
Clients that are allowed to leave with the proprietary CMS find it difficult to find another programmer to support it. Usually the software has poor documentation and standards are not always adhered to.
Proprietary CMS products are not known by large web platforms like Facebook and therefore miss out on any useful integrations or plugins that are released. The developer therefore has to build this functionality in at their own or client’s expense.
Proprietary CMS and blog software often has missing functionality such as comment spam detection and management. It becomes a nightmare for the business owner and their team to manage the site going forward.
My final advice to business owners is to learn more about the CMS software that your developer uses before you engage them. Think about the consequences of not using popular CMS platforms such as WordPress or other open source or commercial software.
My recommendation to web developers is to not build your own CMS, unless you want to commercialise it. Focus upon building really good websites using a fully functional open source or commercial CMS platform that you support. It will be much more profitable and life will be easier if you do that.
We have made some significant changes to Keyword Intent today which includes the introduction of Google Analytics integration with our Search Funnel Analytics reporting and the removal of Keyword Strategy management functionality.
Google Analytics Integration
Up until now, clients of Keyword Intent were required to place tracking code onto their websites to enable our Search Funnel Analytics reporting. It offers key metrics to understand SEO performance at a granular level.
Keyword Intent’s Search Funnel Analytics now integrates with Google Analytics. This means that additional tracking code is no longer required to be placed onto the website. Over the coming months we will be building upon this functionality to offer more insightful reporting. We’re very excited by this!
Just to note, there has been no interruption to existing clients. It has been a seamless transition from the old system to the new. For clients whom didn’t have the chance to turn this feature on, it is as little as 3 clicks to authorize Keyword Intent to access data from their Google Analytics account. It also provides the ability to revoke access at any time.
Keyword Strategy Management
Clients have told us that although Keyword Strategies are important to them, they do not necessarily want to create them or manage keywords directly themselves. They love the Online PR and Link Building tasks we provide to them each day, but keyword management is not something they want to do themselves.
Based upon this feedback we decided to make the Keyword Strategy functionality for internal use only as it was confusing to people who simply just wanted to receive the recommendations and focus upon Online PR and Link Building tasks.
This feedback has come from website owners and web agencies. The over whelming response was that they wanted a 3rd party to create the Keyword Strategy for them, so we will continue to offer this as a consulting service to clients.
We are proud of our keyword management software and have found it incredibly useful for when creating Keyword Strategies for clients. It has saved time and it encourages users to follow a prescribed process to ensure quality keyword recommendations. Existing client keyword strategies have been retained and are accessible by the Keyword Intent team.
Although our current clients do not want to create Keyword Strategies themselves, if an SEO agency or web agency wanted to use this application, we will be open to discussions.
I am continuously asked by clients about whether they should register domain names with their target keywords within them. Many are given advice by providers to register tens or hundreds of domain names that are laden with keywords to create multiple websites or to 301 Redirect those domains to the primary domain.
Our usual advice at Keyword Intent is that creating multiple websites under keyword domains is not as effective as building the authority and trust of the one website. Redirecting multiple keyword domains back to a primary domain also does not provide any benefit. It does not transfer the word signals from one domain to another and therefore is wasted effort.
Matt Cutts, a leading spokesperson at Google shared in his video post on YouTube (March 7th, 2011), that Google has tweaked it’s algorithm to ensure that keyword laden domains are not given as much weight as they used to.
Matt recommends using “brandable” names like Twitter, YouTube, Digg, etc as it ultimately helps you stand out amongst all the other players that use generic keywords within their domains. He states that it is possible to succeed without keywords within the domain name.
Having said that though, it is basic marketing advice that if you do not have a large advertising budget, then using words within the business name to describe the activity of the business can be useful to communicate clearly to potential customers what you do. A balance between brand names and keywords is recommended.
It is also important to seek legal advice around brand names that can be trademarked. In many cases, generic keywords can not be trademarked.
Google users will soon have the ability to block whole domains from their search results. Next to the “Cached” link within Google search results will be a text link option “Block all [site.com] results”. It is currently being rolled out on Google.com for specific English browsers including Chrome 9+, IE8+ and Firefox 3.5+ and will soon be implemented to other regions, languages and browsers.
This is a move by Google as part of their ongoing campaign to improve the quality of sites delivered within their search results to users. It allows users to personalize their experience on Google and improve the search results they receive.
In order to block a site, the user will need to be logged into their Google Account. Users will also have the option to unblock a blocked site. If a blocked site would normally appear within the search results page, a message will display informing the user that a site has been blocked. They can then go into their Google Account to manage their blocked site list further.
So what does this mean for website owners? At the moment Google states that the “blocked sites” function will not be used as a signal for ranking factors, however they will use the data for analysis and to help them improve future results.
Cooking enthusiasts are in for a real treat with Google’s Recipe Search functionality. “Recipe View” has just been rolled out across the US and Japan to allow users to search for recipes and narrow search results by ratings, ingredients, cooking time and calories.
You’ll see in the example above, that the following components are displayed within the search results for “butter chicken”.
Ingredients selection (yes or no)
Cook time (less than 15, 30 or 60 mins)
Calories (less than 100, 300 or 500 calories)
Number of Reviews
Average recipe rating stars (as voted upon by users on the website)
Ingredients listed within Rich Snippet display
Calories listed within Rich Snippet display
Being based in Australia, I am still able to view and use the Recipe View function on Google.com, although it is not available on the Google.com.au and Google.co.nz domains as yet. This is an easy function to roll out by Google once they confirm feedback from users in the United States and Japan.
Food related websites need to understand how this new search functionality works and optimize their recipe content to gain visibility in Google. Even if you’re website is not based in the US or Japan, I recommend that you implement the optimization process as outlined below as quickly as possible to get a jump start before it is implemented in your country.
Google is using their Rich Snippets structured data approach for Recipe View website content. Rich Snippets is based upon a data structure method using one of microdata, microformats or RDFa. Google has provided specific instructions for Recipe content on their webmaster support site, although they state that their code markup is not part of the official hRecipe draft specification as published on Microformats.org.
Following is the range of property data that can be applied to segments of a recipe. You need not provide all properties, however markup elements that relate to recipe content you have published on your website.
Users will be able to search for property attributes within Google such as ingredients, cook time and calories. The more comprehensive your recipe content is, the more likely you are increasing your website pages within Google search results.
Required. The name of the dish.
The type of dish: for example, appetizer, entree, dessert …
The length of time it takes to prepare the recipe for dish, in ISO 8601 duration format. Can use min, max as child elements to specify a range of time.
The time it takes to actually cook the dish, in ISO 8601 duration format. Can use min, max as child elements to specify a range of time.
The total time it takes to prepare the cook the dish, in ISO 8601 duration format. Can use min, max as child elements to specify a range of time.
Nutrition information about the recipe. Can contain the following child elements: servingSize, calories, fat,saturatedFat, unsaturatedFat, carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, protein, cholesterol. These elements are not explicitly part of the hRecipe microformat, but Google will recognize them.
The steps to make the dish. Can contain the child element instruction, which can be used to annotate each step.
The quantity produced by the recipe (for example, number of people served, number of servings, etc).
An ingredient used in the recipe. Can contain child items name (name of the ingredient) and amount. Use this to identify individual ingredients.
Creator of the recipe. Can include nested Person information.
For those of you who are not coders, the following html code may not make sense. Take the time however to examine some of the property attributes within the code such as <span class=”cooktime”> and <span class=”ingredient”> to understand how content is marked-up within your content html.
<divclass="hrecipe"><spanclass="item"><h1class="fn">Grandma's Holiday Apple Pie</h1></span><imgsrc="apple-pie.jpg"class="photo"/>
By <spanclass="author">Carol Smith</span>
Published: <spanclass="published"> November 5, 2009<spanclass="value-title"title="2009-11-05"></span></span><spanclass="summary">This is my grandmother's apple pie recipe. I like to add a dash of nutmeg.</span><spanclass="review hreview-aggregate"><spanclass="rating"><spanclass="average">4.0</span> stars based on
Prep time: <spanclass="preptime">30 min <spanclass="value-title"title="PT30M"></span></span>
Cook time: <spanclass="cooktime">1 hour<spanclass="value-title"title="PT1H"></span></span>
Total time: <spanclass="duration">1 hour 30 min <spanclass="value-title"title="PT1H30M"></span></span>
Yield: <spanclass="yield">1 9" pie (8 servings)</span><spanclass="nutrition">
Serving size: <spanclass="servingsize">1 medium slice</span>
Calories per serving: <spanclass="calories">250</span>
Fat per serving: <spanclass="fat">12g</span></span>
<spanclass="amount">6 cups</span></span><spanclass="ingredient"><spanclass="name">White sugar</span>:
1. Cut and peel apples
2. Mix sugar and cinnamon. Use additional sugar for tart apples.
For some websites this will be a large undertaking. If you require assistance with the mark-up of your recipe content, please do not hesitate to contact Jacqui Jones at Keyword Intent.
Google announced today they launched a large change to their algorithm in order to substantially improve rankings. They say it is a noticeable impact of 11.8% which will affect rankings for many websites. Many website owners will not be happy, although the algorithmic change has been a long time coming with much discussion on the Internet over the last year to provide prior warning.
Google believe in a healthy web ecosystem and therefore want to reward high quality content websites. This particular algorithmic change is being rolled out in the United States first, however it will be implemented around the world within time.
So what is a low-quality website?
Provides low-value add to users
Content is copied from other websites
Sites that are not very useful
Google is interested in displaying high quality sites that possess the following criteria…
Provides content as research
Thoughtful analysis, etc.
Although Google have listed “original content” as being high-quality, what other factors will be used within their algorithm to determine the most relevant, authoritative and “best quality” content to display within search results? Does length of copy determine high quality? What about choice of words? Or use of contrast and comparison? Number and quality of comments and number of times shared by influentials?
Time will tell as SEOs around the world examine, test and report ranking results.
Google has rolled out an update to their search results display by “blending” social results throughout normal search engine result pages. Social Circle results were appearing at the bottom of results, however they are now displaying throughout the top ten positions.
If your friend shared a link on Twitter and that page appears within your search results, their name will appear underneath that listing. It will display their Twitter profile picture, their name and the words “shared this”. E.g. Jacqui Jones shared this
Google’s algorithm now takes into account results from a social perspective. Even though Google is keeping the specifics of how social activity affects search results, there is speculation that the more frequently a URL is “shared”, the higher it will move up within rankings.
It’s important to note that Google’s Social Circle feature has been fully rolled out in the United States. It is still yet to be released in Australia and other parts of the world.
Amazon has reached a new milestone with with their Kindle eReader where ebooks have surpassed hardback and paperback sales. For every 100 hardback books and paperbooks sold, Amazon is currently selling 143 and 115 ebooks respectively.
TechCrunch report that these numbers exclude “free” Kindle books. Amazon achieved it’s first ever $10 billion quarter due to their aggressive marketing and promotional activity for Kindle related digital products. The total number of books available in Amazon’s Kindle store is now over 810,000 titles, with 670,000 of them being priced at $9.99 or less.
The team here at Keyword Intent would like to extend our sympathies to all the people affected by the floods throughout Queensland. We have some clients, family and friends personally affected and would like to let these people especially know that we are here if you need anything.
Some of our clients are already offering their services at a discounted (or free) rate, which we all think is a heartfelt, generous act. We commend you for helping in true Aussie Spirit!
In the midst of all this tragedy, we can all use the web to help others.
One good example we have come across is the B105 radio station site, which is listing businesses who are able to help and giving a website link for free.
The B105 page says: “Businesses all around the country are offering help to those affected by the floods. Here are a list of businesses offering help and what they can do for you. If your business is offering help, please email the details to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to publish the info on this page.”
We would like to suggest to everyone that if you have type of service or discount you can offer, that you send an email to: email@example.com