Post Penguin SEO – Don’t hunt for links, instead plant and grow them naturally!

It has been a while since we are dealing with the Google panda and penguin update and the minor refresh after that. The Internet is abuzz with news that this is probably the end of SEO marketing. To all those doomsday predictors… this one’s for you!

I agree that Google hates unnatural link building to the same degree as it hates spammy links. But if you were to implement strategies that get natural links, I think you’re in safe zone. I know what you are thinking right now “everyone says natural links, but how to obtain them?” Here’s how to:

The days when you hunted for links are over! Now you have to plant them, water them and grow them “Naturally!”

Before the Google penguin update was made on 24th April,  SEO mainly focused on getting the maximum number oflinks as quick as possible to gain the love of the search engines. It didn’t matter where you get the links or how you get them. All it mattered was if the links were from anchor text keywords. After the penguin update, all these still matter but with on rule: The number of links should be increasing naturally and the nature of the links should not be overly anchor texts. Here are few tips to do that:

Planting the links in the right spots

In order to grow the links naturally, you have to plant them in the right spots. This is where diversification of content comes into play. Diversification of content helps in expanding the spots where you can obtain links. For example, if you are just producing quality articles and including links in them, your reach is limited to a bunch of article directories. On the other hand, produce well written articles, blogs, press releases, great infographics, video content etc and you have an opportunity to spread your links across various platforms. The main advantage of spreading links across various platforms is that your link profile would be organic. Your website would never get penalized for over optimization of anchor text links.

Just publishing different types of content in various spots doesn’t grow the number of links by itself. You need to provide a little support to these published contents to grow naturally. For example, social bookmarking is one popular SEO strategy that can be used to gain extra exposure to any type of published content. You could also share them in the social media sites such as facebook, twitter and Google plus to grab the attention of the social media crowd. Here is a short clip from a video QnA session by Matt Cutts (The distinguished Google Engineer) on this extra promotion Once the extra SEO done to these published content takes its effect, all you have to do is to sit back and watch the links grow naturally.

Natural growth of the links

Now you have great content which is presented to a huge audience. Depending on the quality and catchiness, the content would spread virally into the social media and gets syndicated naturally by other surfers. Each and every share or syndication of your content is equal to a natural link that is generated to your website.

So here is the key to grow links naturally:

Seed = Great, diversified content

Plantation spots = SEO spots where you publish different types of content

Watering the plants = SEO and social media marketing for the published content

Natural growth = Viral social shares and natural syndication

Startup success: Forget the recipe, focus on the ingredients.

Build it and they will come. Ever wondered the truth of that statement? Read on.

You’re sat in a swanky coffeehouse with your mates on Sunday afternoon. Three espressos later and all present reach the conclusion that the idea is going to work. You’ve even worked out the reasons why it will work, just in case the question comes up at the next family gathering on why you quit your corner office corporate job to work in a startup.

The stark reality is that the rate of failure is high. Here’s why: startups can’t exist by themselves. The ecosystem for their success requires other ingredients. It involves mixing that initial idea with mentors who’ve had the experience to ease that painful but necessary learning curve, a healthy financial reserve to weather that incubation period of any idea coming to life as well as the all important ability to test that idea as a product with the target audience.

The importance of testing and getting feedback with a minimum viable product (MVP) has proven vital in successful start-ups. Remember the early days of Dropbox? They moved quickly to launch the minimum viable product with the key features for testing with their target audience. Dropbox certainly built it and people came but they allowed their customers to build it with them and success came knocking. For more information on Dropbox’s minimum viable product days read TechCrunch’s post.

To build your own minimum viable product and success story contact us @ Xminds.

Why was Instagram acquired by Facebook ?

April 9th 2012, a mundane Monday morning we woke up to the hot news of Facebook buying Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock. Now the million dollar question, What was it about Instagram that made it worth a $1B acquisition by Facebook?

All the pioneers in the industry are pondering over this question and trying to know what exactly prompted Mark to do so. Facebook currently has around 845 million users and almost only 50% of them are active via mobile.

As Michael Arrington stated in his blog The Mobile Paradox. “Google’s stock has declined by 4% and suffered a decline in “Cost Per Click” rates that is in large part attributable to the shift in traffic from the desktop/laptop to the mobile platform.

This clearly indicates that we are entering the new era of mobile internet and shows us that a page based advert or text would be a wrong model to generate revenue for the time to come.

An interesting fact to note is that users are moving towards mobile based internet services and to substantiate that, users have used Instagram and not Flickr or Picassa, and to do checkins the users used Path and Foursquare, not Facebook.

Hope this news creates inspiration to all those upcoming startup entrepreneurs.

Agile – Sets up time-boxed iterations and provides a decent feedback loop!

Gone are those copy-writer days where I have spent 3 hours on impact analysis document when I’ve changed a few lines of C++ code. When I co-founded XMinds, I was very clear on the process we are going to use and thus we adopted Agile where extreme change is the mantra and adapting to change is considered as the key to success. I’ve heard people saying ‘Agility’ means undisciplined practices where you often end up with zero documentation and ‘No’ schedules. I’d like to change that belief by emphasizing the key benefits the model holds.

Why Agile ?

I often wondered how I managed to release complex web applications in the past where the requirements changed almost every week. We did a good job in getting the project releases out but I must be the first to admit that the process was always irksome to a few of us. Being an entrepreneur myself, I now understand what would have gone through the minds of business owners or stakeholders when they changed the priorities overnight.

In this fast-paced world, how can they predict what their product needs in 2 months from now ? Today it might be content syndication and Facebook integration but next month it could be an API layer which their iPhone application uses to talk to the server. So ‘Embrace Change’, an old cliché is often the key to success. And what you need is a process that can adapt quickly to such rapid changes in priorities.

And Agile is the answer!

Value it brings

1. Continuous Integration (CI) – In traditional waterfall model, integration has to wait until the end of the development cycle and “the longer you wait, the more painful it is”. If we agree, then why can’t we always keep the code integrated ? And that’s where Continuous Integration comes into play. The idea is to build the code whenever a check-in happens and run all the automated tests and send reports to the concerned people. This process will ensure sure that unit tests are executed several times a day and thus avoiding late-night support calls. We rely on Hudson for build-automation and it does an awesome job.

2. Test Driven Development (TDD) – The idea is to create test cases that initially fails and then write the code to make them succeed. One thing I’ve noticed here is how important the tests are from an Agile perspective. When we write the code first, our propensity is always to get to the next feature and thus ignoring the tests completely. So TDD ensures that you get very good test-coverage and along with continuous integration you’ll get a high-quality-less-buggy product.

3. Better Planning – We work in small iterations and call it a ‘Sprint’. A Sprint is typically 2 to 4 weeks long and depends on how rapid you anticipate the priority changes are going to be. We write the requirements as user stories which are quite high-level but informative. Mike Cohn in his book User Stories Applied has suggested some formats for writing the stories

“As a (role) I want (something) so that (benefit)”

A Typical user story in the format above is “As a user I want to search for a product so that I can buy it”

We then break the user stories into small measurable tasks which give us better visibility and then they are added to the product backlog. A Sprint always aims at doing the high-priority tasks from the product backlog and during the sprint review meetings these features are demonstrated to the stakeholders.

Feedback from such meetings end up as new user stories in the backlog. So the core principle is short cycles of Plan-Do-Check-Act which helps to better plan the priorities.

4. Detect failures early – Since business owners and stakeholders are involved in every phase of the project starting from writing user stories to sprint planning to review meetings, problems become apparent and course of actions can be carried out to rectify it at an early stage. I’ve worked with clients who have a sense of detecting these problems very early and they will change the priorities in the next Sprint making sure they are fixed before they become too complex.

This is one important aspect of business where you have to embrace the change in priorities.

5. Collaboration – I’ve worked on several products that failed over time and most of them owing to not hearing what the customers have to say. So user involvement is a leading contributor to the success of a project and agile gives very high value to business owners collaborating continuously with their customers.

So Agile is the answer to your problems if you believe

1. You’re in a fast changing world
2. Your requirements are unclear
3. You value feedback from beta users very seriously
4. You value frequent scrutiny and adaptation
5. You value self-management through leadership and teamwork.

I was not an avid fan of Agile but after trying the methodologies in my organization I’m convinced that Agile is the way to go. I was more allured towards implementing a practice by taking the ‘good agile’ parts from Scrum and XP.

It’s totally up to you to decide what’s best for your organization but keep in mind, Agile makes the life easier by setting up time-boxed iterations and a decent feedback loop.

How to develop a website

Developing a website.

1. Plan
2. Progress
3. Prototype
4. Persist

Plan – Why do you want to create the website. The aim here is to identify the purpose of creating the website. Are you going to offer a particular web service or are you going to sell any particular web product. Answering this question would most probably give you the vision statement. The longer you ponder around this question the better clarity you get. You should be able to define your aim about your service and provide great information about the service that you offer.

Progress –  Think from the user perspective, so if you were in the user’s shoe would you utilize a service like this.
What is in it for the users?
What are the benefits that they would get out of your website?
What is that they would gain?
What is would you gain?
This would give you an idea to specifically place yourself in the web industry.

Prototype
1. List the features
2. Write user stories
3. Create wireframes
4. Create user interface
5. Database Design
6. Start development
7. Test
8. Fix
9. Release

Persist
If you have an idea and want to be visible launch as early as possible. Do not wait for the right opportunity, if you do so the window of opportunity might close. So do it fast. Keep adding new features after the initial launch and keep ahead in the industry with new methods of providing your service. Keep innovating and persist until you succeed.

Life as a Startup Entrepreneur

They are more important to you than you are to them

I happened to read this wonderful blog by Chris Lynch, the CEO of Thoughtful.

He has mainly pointed out the difference between a tech and a sales guy and how one takes rejection.

I really enjoyed reading it and thought would share my views on how an entrepreneur should take rejection.

The first step would be

1. Reject me I LOVE IT attitude – A sales guy would go through end number of NO’s to reach YES. For the sales guy its just part of the job and moves on. As a startup entrepreneur you may not be happy hearing NO from an investor. It can happen but you can learn plenty of things from the meeting with an investor even if it did not go well. Brush up and get ready for the next presentation.

2. Go read some books like Reject Me I love It, The greatest salesman in the world and also read the story “shake it and step up

Cheer up dude success is around the corner :)

Development Team for Start Up

Idea – The best option to kick start an idea is to follow the lean model, lean model comprises of the (Minimum Viable Product) approach in which you release early and release often. This often maximizes the chance of success by getting as much as feedback as possible and as soon as possible.

Design – The design should be simple and should go with the start up idea. Keeping in mind the simplicity of user interface and also the experience/ the look and feel that the user should have. Creativity is a must.

Dev Team –  The development team should be comprised of Engineers/Programmers, Core product building team having knowledge in API, server configuration, databases and JS/HTML/CSS etc.

Should you share your start up idea – YES or NO

One of the many questions that has raised a million eyebrow as to whether an idea should be shared or not across to the world.

While many would be pondering on the question, experts and tech start up enthusiasts suggests that one should not hesitate in expressing the idea.  Create a prototype (Minimum Viable Product) and share it among your closed ones, this would help in knowing whether the idea is good or bad or even whether it is unique.

When an idea is presented before a VC (Venture Capitalist) you would never find them signing any NDA before it is presented to them.

It is important to validate the idea before you go in to actual software development, so one would be thinking how an idea can be validated.

1.Create a prototype

2.Share it among family and friends

3.Get feedback

Once you receive the feedback you would know whether to proceed or not, if you don’t get positive feedbacks you might need to identify or explore new ones. If the feedbacks are positive then:-

1.Passion – Success is about passion, not the unique opportunity. Need to ask a lot of questions yourself and do a plenty of research. All this is possible only with true passion and this is the only thing that would take you across the line.

2.Refining –  Refine the idea and the way to implement it would be based on the initial feedback.

3.Implementation – It is very difficult to copy a great implementation process. Keep in mind the timing of proposing the idea to the world should be appropriate.

4.Get it out there – . In fact, the ideal way would be to get some small (bug free) version out there to get feedback immediately.

Xminds Infotech Pvt. Ltd. | www.xminds.com
Join Us on Facebook
Connect with us on LinkedIn

micro ISV

An attempt to identify the list of companies that were successfully run by single owners.

Some of the companies that are/were operated gotocert alone by the founder and that too profitably, later on they added more people to the team.  There could be more and it would be great if you could add them here.

1.Plenty of fish

Is an online dating service that is offered free and is only available in Canada, UK, Australia and United States. It is free to use but some of the services are charged like the message tracking services.

It is primarily available in Canada, UK, US, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, France, Italy and Germany. A person attempting to signup from any other country will receive an error message explaining this.

2.Twitpic

A website that allows users to easily post pictures and distribute in real time as an event is taking place.

3.Instapaper

Instapaper is solely owned by Marco Arment. He is the ex CTO of tumblr, the main idea behind was to read those web pages later on when he had time during his travel from office to home and vice versa. Since majority of his travel was underground where there was limited or no connectivity.  He says “It was pretty basic,” he insists, “Just a place to put everything you find when you can’t or don’t want to read right then.”

4.Balsamiq

Transforming ideas to reality can be is not that easy. This is where balsamiq steps in, a tool that helps the designers and developers to develop great software and http://balsamiq.com/products/mockups helps them to transform their ideas with more precision, clarity and with ease.

5.Bingocardcreator

Bingo Card Creator lets teachers and parents make custom printable bingo cards for instructional and entertainment purposes.

6.Duckduckgo

Another search engine similar to google, bing etc..  and claim to have more instant answers with less spam and more privacy. It is operated solely by Gabriel Weinberg and is a pretty successful business

7.Theoatmeal

Mathew Inman founded theoatmeal after he successfully sold the dating site Mingle2 that he developed in 66.5 hours. Theoatmeal is an entertainment site with full of comics, quizzes and plenty of fun things.

8.The Labnol

A one man blog is managed by Amit Agarwal and is one among the top 100 technology blogs in the world.

9.Read it later

Read it later is a competitor to instapaper is managed by Nate Weiner. The situation is the same as Marco Arment went, he did not have a lot of time neither did Nate, but Nate did not do a lot of underground travelling 😉

10.Instpundit

Instapundit is a United States political blog produced by Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee. The blog began in August 2001 as an experiment, and a part of Reynolds’ class on Internet law.

Does good project mean good output.

With the implementation of LPG; liberalization, privatization C2010-657 and globalization and incensing competition, the service industry has boosted up to an unexpected level. Earlier, the industry used to have people assigned to particular tasks but with the growth of technology, expertise in the particular field became a benefit over time.

Success of the business depends upon performance. Organizations are realizing that the critical source of competitive advantage comes from having & managing its people. Hence employees are treated as an asset of the firm.

Intellectual human capital in a volatile work environment C2070-585 proved to be a biggest lifesaver of the companies to stay in the market. With this, the employees have become a big problem as they are becoming more career-oriented and they demand meaningful work with their involvement in the decisions which affect them.

Compensations are what impact an employer’s ability to attract applicants, retain employees, & ensure optimal levels of performance. Thus incentives, rewards, fringe benefits etc come into picture.

It was believed that if company gets a good project then the outcome of the project after completion should be very effective. But with time, it is now understood by the corporate that a project will abide quality output and high productivity with skilled employees and not with huge projects.

If a company holds a very huge project but have workers who are not skilled enough for the tasks and are not motivated enough to work towards the goal then the project won’t fruit desired outcome.

Xminds Infotech Pvt. Ltd. | www.xminds.com
Join Us on Facebook
Connect with us on LinkedIn