eMedia Worx and 5 tips for selecting your new business name

Posted on June 26th, 2008 by lou

Naming your new business can be exciting and just as important as naming a child.

Back in 2001 eMedia Worx seemed like a great business name. eMedia was a real buzz word at the time and if you do a Google search on it you will see that similar businesses around the world had the same idea.
Short for electronic media it was right up there with eCommerce and eMail and by adding Worx with the funky x, a fashionable idea at the time, we felt that we had added that touch of old factory working environment with the double meaning of telling people that ‘electronic media works’.

We soon discovered that along with the clever name came the downside. We find ourselves having to spell it virtually every day. Small e, Capital M, e.d.i.a, space, capital W, o.r.x. Yes x.

The numerous mis-spellings and variations have included e-Media Worx, E-Media Worx, E-mediaworx, Emediaworx, eMedia Works, Media Works and we have even answered the phone to more than one person asking to speak to ‘Mr Worx’.

With the wisdom of hindsight I feel qualified to offer -
My 5 tips for selecting a new business name

1. Don’t make it too fashionable.
Just like Kylie and Jason fashionable names come and go out of date quickly.

2. Make sure it is easy to understand, spell and pronounce.
eMedia Worx – what were we thinking!

3. Remember the KISS principle of Keeping It Simple Stupid
Short, memorable and unique.

4. Write it down

Some words can look silly in print and worse in a web address. Pen Island becomes www.penisland.com

5. Include either what you do, how you do it or where you do it

ABC Landscapes, Speedy Landscapes, Ballina Landscapes.

6. Yes, I can count but this one is really important to me.
Work with a designer to create your logo design. Colour and style can say a lot without words.

WordPress CMS 404 Error On External Files

Posted on January 4th, 2008 by Dave Beck

It’s no secret that as part of our day-to-day work we have found ourselves continually recommending that small to medium businesses start blogging as a way to connect with customers and associates.  When it comes to blogging software, we simply can’t go past WordPress.  It is easy to use for even those with limited technical abilities and as developers we find it highly configurable.

In recent times we have also started expanding how our customers are using WordPress by turning it into a simple content management system that they were already familiar using.  Many of the sites we have been converting were already using WordPress as their blog/news area and usually had a dedicated section (e.g. site.com.au/news/), and when it came time to push it a bit further as a content management system we knew that we would be able to use a lot of WordPress functions within their existing pages even though they were external to where WordPress was located.

Using WordPress externally is a pretty simple cut-and-paste:

Add this to the top of your document:

<?php 
define(‘WP_USE_THEMES’, false);
require(‘../news/wp-blog-header.php’);
query_posts(‘page_id=5′);
?>

Add this to where you want to show page content

<?php if ( have_posts() ) : while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>
<?php the_content(); ?>
<?php endwhile; else: ?>
<?php endif; ?>

The solution works great, you don’t have to change any of your page structure and the information is now easily updated by the site owner through a system that they were already comfortable using.  At least we thought the solution was working great until noticing that certain versions of Internet Explorer were not showing some of the pages correctly, and the search engines were no longer indexing the same pages experiencing these display problems.

It turned out that the pages that were experiencing these problems were providing a 404 status code to the browser and search engines.  This problem was being caused by WordPress not recognizing the URL name existing in its structure which it relies on to retrieve information from its database when using permilinks.

The technicalities of how WordPress works is not important here, what is important is how do we make this work.  Through trial and error I noticed an interesting pattern.

http://www.site.com.au/company/  was showing correctly and giving the correct 200 response code
http://www.site.com.au/hotel/ was not showing correctly and giving 440 error codes.

When looking at how the pages were named in the WordPress database I noticed that the page slugs (page names) that were not showing correctly were different to the actual page name we were using. The page slug within WordPress was named “the-hotel”.  When I renamed it to “hotel” everything started working correctly.

Now this is fine if you are aware of it, but what about if a customer decides to add another page or unbeknown changes the page slug…. we are back to square one. We need to force WordPress into doing the right thing.

This can be achieved by either bypassing some of the WordPress functionality and only calling the specific functions that we need to extract information into the pages, or forcing the correct status codes after calling the WordPress functions.

Option 1: To bypass some of the WordPress functionality you can use the following alternate code at the top of the page:

require(‘../news/wp-config.php’);
$wp->init();
$wp->parse_request();
$wp->query_posts();
$wp->register_globals();

Option 2: To force your page to display the correct status code do the following:

define(‘WP_USE_THEMES’, false);
require(‘../news/wp-blog-header.php’);
header(“HTTP/1.1 200 OK”);
header(“Status: 200″);

So what is the best way to get this job done?

Well the first thing is to make sure that you name your page slugs identically where possible.  Secondly there are advantages and disadvantages for either option 1 (bypassing some functionality) or option (forcing WordPress to display correct status codes). In terms of forward compatibility I would opt for forcing WordPress to display the correct status codes. The trouble with the first option is that if the WordPress team for some reason decides to change its naming conventions (which they have been known to do), a simple upgrade could easily bring down your entire site.

With all these changes you would think that it would be smooth sailing from here on in….  you’d be wrong!  There is one other issue that you need to take care of….. preventing the search engines from indexing duplicate content.

The duplicate content problem!

Because we are adapting an existing site that already has a blog (News area) into a fully fledged content management system we need to be aware that the pages that we create within WordPress will have its own unique address within the WordPress structure.  For example we have installed WordPress within its own folder “news” and all of the news posts have an address something like “http://www.site.com.au/news/2007/11/23/story-name/”.  Now as we start adding pages for the CMS, WordPress will create its own unique address along the lines of “http://www.site.com.au/news/company/”, then when we extract this information into an existing page we will have created an exact match at http://www.site.com.au/company/, hence the duplicate content problem.

The easiest way to get around this is to build a simple conditional statement within the WordPress template that tells the search engines not to index and not to follow any information if it happens to access any of these newly generated WordPress pages.  This can be achieved by adding the following code into the header.php file of your active theme:

<?php if ( is_page() ) { ?>
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow” />
<?php } ?>

So there you go, a simple and effective content management system without some unexpected bugs.  Perhaps in the future I might do a few more posts about some additional steps that we take to expand WordPress ability as a search engine friendly content management system.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas

Posted on December 20th, 2007 by lou

To all our valued customers – we will be finishing the year on Friday 21st and will return on Monday 7th January.

We’d like to wish you a safe and happy Christmas with your families and we look forward to working with you in the New Year.

If you want to see where we are and know how excited we are about having a break click here!

Dave, Louise & Lucas

PS. If you like our style please leave a comment below.

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Let Google Know Your Geographic Location

Posted on October 31st, 2007 by Dave Beck

I’ve just finished reading and very refreshing article by Vanessa Fox letting us know that Google have introduced a new tool that allows Web site owners to specify the geographic location of their website.

Traditionally Google has used indicators such as your top-level domain (.com.au) and the physical location of your Web server to tell where your website/business is positioned geographically.  These indicators, while mostly accurate, do not always provide the best indication of website location.  You can now use Google Webmaster tools to specifically let their search engine know which country you would like to be associated with.

It’s great to hear a company such as Google is continuing to listen to website owners to help improve their service.  If you would like to know more about how to take advantage of nominating your Web site geographic location make sure you read the article over at Search Engine Land.

Sean Kenny Real Estate – Online Brand Going to Dirt!

Posted on October 23rd, 2007 by Dave Beck

Our local newspaper, the Northern Star today published an article that local real estate agent Sean Kenny is under fire from a well-known ethical campaigner Neil Jenman, who alleges that a property was purchased from a near blind elderly woman and put back on the market for in excess of $250,000 more than the original sale price.

Knowing that the Northern Star regularly has pages showing in the search results I conducted a quick Google search for Sean Kenny Real Estate to see what was coming up for his business name and low and behold the Northern Star article was well and truly entrenched in the top 10 results.  To make matters worse the news article by Neil Jenman titled Sean Kenny’s big deal was also in the top 10.

With the Web becoming the number one source of business and product research I think Sean Kenny Real Estate has some serious damage control ahead of them in terms of managing their online reputation (they actually have some serious work on overall reputation actually).  It is one thing to be named and shamed in a local newspaper, the story will come and go and over time people will forget.  These days we all have a lot more to worry about when negative publicity arises,  every time now that somebody searches for their business these negative articles will be there for all to see.

So what should they do about this?

Without knowing the full story is difficult to provide any solid recommendations, however if it were my business I would be completely honest.  If he has made a mistake he should admit to it and make a statement on his website that he has learnt his lesson and will never be a bad boy again. However, on the other hand if it is a complete misunderstanding he needs to to lay out the facts in a well compiled article on his website and then try and get the content removed or replaced with an updated article from the other mentioned websites.  The worst thing that he could do is nothing.

The next thing that he should do is post a comment on the Neil Jenman article and provide a link across to his article/statement on his website.  You really need to get control of online conversation on your website, not somebody else’s.

Removing the negative pages from the search results would be the next step, I will leave that advice for another time because if the information is true I have probably helped these guys far more than what I feel comfortable with and I’m sure they now have a spare couple hundred thousand dollars to hire an unethical search engine marketing firm to help to fix things up.

The main point that I’m trying to put across with his post is that conducting business in the modern economy is a completely different ball game and your reputation can be easily be compromised for a very long time if you’re not paying attention.

Google Creeping into the Real Estate Market

Posted on September 21st, 2007 by Dave Beck

It really is only a matter of time before Google becomes much more aggressive in it’s targeting of real estate related traffic.  This is only further highlighted by a recent interview of Justin McCarthy who is in charge of Google’s Business Development “Real Estate” department.

A couple of key points that he makes are:

  • that they feel that their best model will be to integrate syndicated data with organic search results
  • agent listings will be free of charge, moving away from traditional paid classified models.
  • that they have been studying user behaviour very closely and that most people searching for “San Francisco real estate” are generally looking for listings.  He hints that the most likely model that they will use to introduce search engine uses to this aggregated data will be by placing links at the top of the search results, offering suggestions through to “did you mean housing listings” links, much like they do now with common misspellings.

If you’re at all interested in real estate I encourage you to watch the video below.

Real Estate Video by – Real Estate Blogger

Our Local Newspaper Advertising Experiment

Posted on September 4th, 2007 by Dave Beck

We were recently contacted by a sales rep from our local newspaper “The Northern Star” explaining that they were running a full page feature highlighting local businesses that offer Internet related services.  I have always been very sceptical about the success of newspaper advertising but figured that this was highly targeted, and a lot of local businesses are still very naive when it comes to the Internet.

As part of the feature we were offered a 5cm x 7.3cm colour ad, which is about the size of a business card (see below).  The total cost of the ad will be $52.32 (inc GST).

Northern Star advertising

When it comes to the Internet we offer a whole range of services but decided to focus the ad on what we believe most sets us apart from the majority of our competition — Search Engine Marketing.  The other reason for targeting search engine marketing, and in particular using the names of the major search engines in the ad copy, is that most people are extremely curious about how to get to the top of the search engine results  ( in particular Google).

In regards to measuring success, at this stage the only thing that we can do is be vigilant about monitoring phone calls, and/or hope that if somebody fills out our quote form they select newspaper advertising from the drop-down menu.  I guess the good thing is that if we manage to secure any new customers we should see a fantastic ROI.

I will keep you posted on the results

Contextual advertising – nineMSN v Fairfax

Posted on August 31st, 2007 by Dave Beck

I have spent a bit of time this evening catching up on some reading whilst watching the Bulldogs play the Cowboys in the NRL.  My idle surfing led me to Australia’s best sporting Blog — The Serve.  Today’s rugby league news has been full of the Andrew Johns drug controversy, and whilst reading an article about his brother Matthew’s reaction, I noticed a couple of contextual ads by Google leading to nineMSN and the Sydney Morning Herald websites.

Clicking on the links gives a great insight on what PPC advertisers should and should not do. 

The ninemsn headline and ad copy reads:

Johns Caught with Ecstasy
Joey Johns Caught with Ecstasy
Read the full story online now.
news.ninemsn.com.au

Click here for link to landing page!

The ad is very much on topic and when I click through to the website there is a great section with all the latest news, video, photos, articles and user comments all related to the Andrew Johns story.  Exactly what I was looking for!  The advertising was related to what I had been reading, the advertising copy set an expectation of more news about this topic, and the landing page delivered the extra news that I was seeking.

Then on the other hand we have the Sydney Morning Herald:

Rugby League News
SMH gets a fresh new look.  Read
the latest sports news & you could win.
SMH.com.au

Click here for link to landing page!

Clicking on the ad leads me to a page with a very attractive young lady telling me that if I bookmarked the SMH homepage I could win an Apple MacBook pro.  This is totally so far off the mark is not funny.  Fairfax want me to hand over personal details without even giving me a taste of their journalism.  Surely their online marketing brains must know something about building trust!

If I were going to bookmarke either website it definitely wouldn’t be this one.  My reaction when landing on this page was to hit the back button, shake my head, and write a Blog post outlining what not to do …..

Australian watchdog taking Google to court

Posted on July 12th, 2007 by Dave Beck

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has decided to take Google head on, believing that they have contravened the Australian trade practices act, and are also engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct.

The ACCC is alleging that Trading Post contravened sections 52 and 53(d) of the Trade Practices Act 1974 in 2005 when the business names “Kloster Ford” and “Charlestown Toyota” appeared in the title of Google sponsored links to Trading Post’s website. Kloster Ford and Charlestown Toyota are Newcastle car dealerships who compete against Trading Post in automotive sales.

Without seeing the ads in question I would assume that the Trading Post were using keyword insertion within the ad copy, a practice which lets you to bid on a wide range of phrases and still have unique advertising copy related to the phrases people are using to search with.

The ACCC is also alleging that Google are not adequately distinguishing between their sponsored listings and organic results.  They are seeking an injunction that would prevent people from displaying advertising that is not expressively distinguished from organic results.

paid-organic-listings.jpg

Google Australia spokesman Rob Shilkin said in a statement: “Google Australia believes that these claims are without merit and we will defend against them vigorously. They represent an attack on all search engines and the Australian businesses, large and small, who use them to connect with customers throughout the world.”

The matter is set to appear before Federal Court in Sydney on August 21, 2007.

Simple explanation on RSS

Posted on June 19th, 2007 by Dave Beck

Many of our customers truly want to embrace technology but are time and time again confused by industry jargon and the speed at which innovative new products are developed.  One of the most useful innovations introduced to the Internet has been RSS (really simple syndication).

Explaining RSS to somebody for the first time can be somewhat difficult, but from now on I will be happy to point them towards this Blog post in the wonderful video that was put together by the common craft show.

Update: The video cannot be embedded anymore, but here is the link to the excellent rss video.

For those of you interested in giving RSS a go here is a link to Google Reader, and you can subscribe to the eMedia Worx Blog by clicking on our RSS feed!

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