Honeypot : Some reading for startups

I came across some great articles with advice for startups in my wanders around the Web today. I used to use this blog to dump links in the past. I used to call the Honeypots as they served to distract the mind from what you were doing. I don’t do this much nowadays, as Twitter serves as a better medium for links. But here we are today, with a collection of themed links aimed at startups and entrepreneurs.

These links represent a great collection of hints and experiences. Check them out!

Speak to your clients

I had a great customer experience today. Yesterday, while playing with different Bitcoin websites I signed up for BTCJam, a P2P lending platform which uses Bitcoin as it’s main currency. It’s a pretty interesting site, where you can grow your Bitcoin investment with up to 19.3% APR, and borrow Bitcoin with rates as low as 6.7%. In case you’re wondering, the spread on those rates is based on the risk of your investment but it’s always great to see these platforms develop.

Anyway, back to my post. I signed up for the site yesterday and had already almost forgotten about it; when today, 24 hours after signing up, I get an email thanking me for signing up and asking how things were going. Granted, it was an automated email, but it prompted me to go back to the site, it impinged itself upon my consciousness and gave me the warm fuzzies needed to gel the memory of the site.

It reinforced how important it is to speak to our clients. I don’t think I’ve ever had a site check on me after I sign up. Definitely a technique I will keep in mind for the future!

Strategy and Tactics for Search Engine Optimisation

Not too long ago, search engine optimisation was a comparatively straightforward process. You aimed to get as high as possible in search engines results by using some basic tactics, that included identifying competitive keywords, creating content using these keywords, and pursuing inbound links from as many sources as possible. With the profound changes over the last decade in the way search engines operate and rank businesses, search engine optimisation (SEO) has become much less clear-cut and more complex.

This means that, nowadays, those very basic search engine optimisation tactics just are not sufficient any more. In order for a site to be successful in rankings, it’s necessary for any tactics to be part of an overall search engine optimisation strategy. This “strategy” should always be defined by the type of business as well as both long and short term goals. For example, while some website owners are primarily concerned with their position in the rankings, relative to that of their competitors, the priority for others may be the total sales figure and revenue achieved.

For this reason, the first step in search engine optimisation should be to decide on your strategy or campaign plan, that will be aligned with your particular business objectives. This means starting by defining goals and priorities very clearly. Whether the priority is maximising revenue, maximising conversions, or maximising organic traffic, everyone needs to be working towards the same objective. This being said, all marketing strategies should be consistent and show a uniform branding image or message. Different messages and strategies can be confusing to a potential customer so all branding messages should be aligned.

One search engine optimisation strategy that is being used by many SEO companies currently is one tailored around content marketing. The reason it is used a lot is that many of the Google algorithms have been moving in the direction of rewarding those sites that produce the type of high quality content that meets searchers’ requirements. This type of content achieves much better results than the mechanical use of keyword density. Producing unique, high quality content in the SEO industry is proven to be somewhat of a challenge for many businesses, especially smaller ones without the money and resources to hire a PR (public relations) or content management firm.

On the other hand, others may prefer to adopt a non-content search engine optimisation strategy. The company’s strengths may not be in generating content, but in acquiring partnerships with authoritative sites, or in building communities around its products, for instance by utilising user-generated content. Many sites that adopt this strategy rank phenomenally well.

No matter what strategy you adopt, you still have to take care of the basic tactics of search engine optimisation. Your pages have to be navigable and indexable, and you need to have enough social “shares” and inbound links to convince the engines of the site’s popularity. Nowadays, the sites that get to the top of the rankings are the sites whose owners know where they are going, and have a strategy for getting there.

Learn more about web design for SEO.

Label your discs the professional way with CD printers

There are many sophisticated types of CD printer on the market today, making it simple and easy, as well as cheap, to print your designs on to CDs or DVDs.

Whether you are creating CDs or DVDs for home use or making copies to give to friends and family, of if you’re using them for business promotion or other uses, it is always preferable to have a good quality CD printer.

This is because the end result not only looks better but it’s safer to use. Some people just stick labels on their CDs or DVDs but these can often come off in the drive, whether in a computer or CD or DVD player, and damage the internal workings of the machine as bits of paper come off at the high speeds of rotation at which the players operate.

When fixing labels to discs using adhesive, the result can end up not uniform and the overall look can be sloppy and unprofessional. You don’t what that, even if it’s just for your own use, never mind the potential damage it could do to a player.

The beauty of CD printers is they allow you to fully customise your own labels for discs. You can choose what background you want, what images should be on it and also the text. When it’s printed, if you’re using a good CD printer, the results can be photo-quality and highly professional.

CD printers allow people the convenience of adding labels to their discs, in easy processes that are simple to understand and not time-consuming.

Another major benefit of CD printers is the cost factor. It’s usually much cheaper to print this way rather than going to the expense of getting separate labels made up and then sticking them on. You must, of course, make sure that when buying your stock of CDs or DVDs that they are printable, and compatible with the type of ink — normally inkjet — that the printer uses.

Designing your CD or DVD labels is simple with software especially designed for the purpose. Much of this software allows people not only to make labels for the discs themselves but also for the containers, such as plastic case covers. Inserts for the cases can also be created and printed, meaning you get an overall professional result.

Nowadays, with the advent of the digital camera and subsequent availability of powerful cameras on ubiquity smartphones, people are taking so many pictures – often dozens daily – that they cannot possibly hope to store or catalogue. The days of occasional family holiday snaps that can be easily housed in a few albums are long gone, and so many are turning to CDs and DVDs as a way to store their most important digital images.

To turn your discs full of precious images into great-looking keepsakes that you will have for many years, proper labelling is the only answer. CD printers allow you to effortlessly do that.

For more information on CD printing please visit the website: http://www.duplicationcentre.co.uk

Bootstrapping a Software Product

I just came across a great set of slides put together by Garrett Dimon the creator of Sifter, a bug and issue tracking software package. He talks about the leaps needed to go from creating something to developing it into a fully fledged company. It’s a fascinating insight into the trials and tribulations of starting front scratch and carries some massively important lessons we all should learn. Enjoy!

Why is SEO like lipstick?

I must have still been a bit sleepy this morning while driving to work. You know how it is, the mind wanders, your creative juices start flowing and you start making connections that weren’t so obvious before. My train of thought this morning was how SEO (Search Engine Optimisation for the uninitiated) is a bit like make-up. It can enhance the way a website looks to a search engine, to make it that little bit more attractive. Just like lipstick can make someone’s lips stand out and get that second glance, SEO can help a website stand out that little bit more than its competition.

But you wouldn’t apply lipstick to a pig, would you? No amount of makeup will ever make it attractive (well, except maybe to another pig I guess). I was drawn further into the analogy with the thought that SEO is really just a thin veil that helps get that second look. When constructing your website you shouldn’t be making compromises for SEO, you should be focusing on your message, focusing on your clients, focusing on your services. Sure, you have to keep an eye on the SEO aspects (resisting the lure of the Dark Side – the Flash-only site), but this should never be your primary focus. After all, the secret is in the name. SEO is all about OPTIMISATION .. which is all about achieving maximum advantage, building up on what is already available.

I’m not saying SEO isn’t important. We all know we can get benefit from SEO, in the same way we can get benefit from any adwords campaign google lets us put together. But the effects of SEO fade as other websites jostle for position, as ranking factors evolve over time, as search engine technologies change. Think of SEO as the make up you put on before you go out somewhere special. It gives you that extra boost, inspires confidence .. but is a fading memory the next day.

So, if SEO is the lipstick that makes you look twice at someone, what’s the secret sauce that keeps people coming back for more? You know the answer, of course, my friends! Content! Fresh, unique content is the life blood of every site, it’s the alluring personality that makes everyone want to befriend your website. In the same way that someone’s sparkling personality makes you want to get close to them, makes you want to spend time with them; in exactly that same way, a website’s content is what will make you want to bookmark a website, it’s what makes Search Engines come around to index your content more often, it’s what makes people link to your website.

And this, my friends, is what you need to be focusing on. Regardless of whether you’re a print management website, selling custom diamond rings by Motek Diamonds or just have a small personal website, the advice is the same. Focus on your site structure and layout when you build your site. These are your good looks. Focus on SEO occasionally. This is the makeup you wear when you’re out to party. But above all, focus on your content. This is the personality that will make others love you, remember you and drive your success.

Getting your project off the ground

I was reading an interesting post on the NTEC Blog that talked about 3 sources of funds that they were pointing companies who worked with them at. They talk about Johnson & Johnson Seed Grant Funding, the NSF’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Program and one that was specific to North Texas where they are based. What struck me was that all these funds are really targeted at the incubator phase of a project, which is really the part of product development where there is most risk, in order words, usually the hardest to get funding for.

NTEC (North Texas Enterprise Center for Technology) is an non-profit organisation that assists entrepreneurs with starting and growing new technology ventures, particularly in clean tech and medical technology. It’s an interesting set up that provides a positive incubation environment where a product or service can be taken from inception all the way to a market offering. Their services start from office space Frisco Texas being where they are based. They can provide entire offices or just cubicle space and more importantly can also provide lab space. The office space is quite important (after all, if you’re starting a new venture, you don’t really want to be worrying about print management solutions or content management development) but they offer much more than that. NTEC also provide the companies who work with them with access to a number of advisory services that include:

  • Business Plan Enhancement
  • Mentoring
  • Investment Capital
  • Intern Support
  • Management Training

and a number of other services. It’s actually pretty cool that this sort of incubator set up is available for someone starting down a development route.

It’s a well-known statistic that a large proportion of new businesses fail in their initial years. The reality is that there is a lot of support available out there. Incubators exist to assist entrepreneurs through this difficult period so if you’re thinking of setting down this route, make sure you know what options are available and make good use of them.