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

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.

Myths about Project management

One of my earlier blog was around project management, but some of my friends after reading it suggested that it was too good to be true. They were of the thought that the points mentioned in the blog will not work exactly in the same manner in the real world.

I asked them why not??

Opportunities are plenty and we are taught to think positively and if there are any flaws in the system, it is our responsibility to see to it that we find a solution around the problem.

If these are some of the concerns that you have in mind:

• You’re in a fast changing world
• Your requirements are unclear
• Value feedback from beta users very seriously
• Value frequent scrutiny and adaptation
• Value self-management through leadership and teamwork

Solving the problem may seem distant reality but there is always a beginning (Journey of thousand miles begin with a single step) and agile would be the answer to such an issue.

Xminds Infotech Pvt. Ltd. | www.xminds.com
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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
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Challenges in closing a project development (Is the end always the end or a new beginning)

When a project matures and you see it as conclusion of a project, it actually is not closing of the project. It is like an inauguration of a new project. An accomplished project gives ideas of new projects where data can be used as a record for the upcoming projects. Fiscally, it helps in scheming fertility of the project and business. It helps in determining budgets and project estimates for probable projects. A matured project acts as raw material for the subsequent projects. Thus closure of a project is remains a challenge in the industry.

A sapling is planted, nurtured with care, unwearyingly waited to cultivate and then the tree bears flora and sweet fruits.

Conglomerates also operate in an analogous style where the trees are the projects and they are to be given proper assistance and effective resources and expertise. A well accomplished project is the fruit that we avail. And outcome, identification and position of the firm are the fruits of the project.

Projects are the bread and butter of a firm. For a diminutive firm an effective outcome escorts to client generation and growth whereas for a huge company, projects are for revenue generation and brand building. But in both the situations vital component remains to be effective project completion. Projects are stepping stones for firm’s success.

When you begin to see the final tasks coming into focus, it is perceived a signal to ease off of the project team and the project. Thus the project managers are handed all the accountability for the rest of the project without any surveillance. This is where the managers overlook that an accomplished project sets as a point of reference for the imminent projects.

It involves many troubles, hindrances and risks at different levels of the project. Thus, one of the major concerns is project closure and it is rightly said that first and last impression makes an impact.

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Get only what you want through Minimum Viable Product

The are plenty of software, applications available in the internet. Some are designed as a template with add-ons so that it can be modified according to the user’s required specifications. These add-ons not only guzzle the user’s space but can result with plenty of bugs in the software/application. The solution to this subject is to develop only what is essential.The process of designing such software can prove very efficient and expand in popularity pretty fast.

All the above can be effortlessly made accessible when we think of Minimum Viable Product. Making anything compact does not mean chopping off the parameters or reducing the functionality. Making compact is very similar to compilation of several courses and formation of an MVP.

It aims at building just what’s needed to validate the concept. Xminds, a pioneering software group aims to prepare such MVP. It has not only created the user specified software but also has made this a trend of designing such products.

It involves many parallel processes to finalize and publish the MVP. The most important facet for designing involves several iterations. The iterations help to arrive at the best possible and highly responsive product which can help in the customer satisfaction to the fullest.

The MVP provides an ideal platform to gather feedback from the users. Depending on the feedback from the one can make necessary changes to the MVP regularly with new features and updates.

MVP also helps the client to save a lot of money and time .

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Email-id: raj@xminds.com
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