Why People Leave Your Website [Infographic]

lonely-child-sitting-in-cornerAttracting visitors to your website is only the first step -- once they get there, you want to make sure they hang around.

What's more, you want them to click through to other pages on your website, whether that means reading a blog post, filling out a landing page form, or (hallelujah!) actually buying something.

Why does it matter that your visitors stay on your site? Because, as an inbound marketer, your main goal is to attract and convert website visitors into well-qualified leads for your sales team. If visitors come to your website but then leave, you'll only be fulfilling part of your goal.

To learn more about the reasons why visitors leave a website, check out this infographic from KISSmetrics, put yourself in your ideal customers' shoes, and think about the ways you can improve your website and increase the number of potential buyers who stick around.

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Facebook is now available through Tor for ramped-up privacy

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The "deep web" is not only home to shady online drug bazaars where you can exchange bitcoins for drugs, but also portals where whistleblowers can safely pass sensitive documents to journalists.

Now, it's also also home to Facebook.

The social network announced on Friday that it is now hosted directly on the Tor network to allow for an even more secure and private way to connect to Facebook.

People using Tor, software that allows for safe and anonymous web browsing, can now connect directly to Facebook using its new onion address (https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/), also known as a hidden service. Read more...

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If you haven’t noticed, Facebook’s News Feed is 50% faster on iOS

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You might have noticed that your Facebook News Feed is faster than it used to be on your iPhone or iPad. You're not crazy.

Facebook has made the News Feed operate 50% faster than the previous version in the iOS app, according to the company.

About two years ago, Facebook switched from HTML5 to native iOS code to make the app perform as smoothly as possible. But the developers noticed something strange: Each time the app updated, it would take longer for the News Feed to load. And gradually, users started noticing, too.

"As we added more and more features to the app, every part of the app got slower," Adam Ernst, a software engineer at Facebook's New York office, told Mashable. Read more...

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How to Earn an Ivy League Degree by Wasting Time on the Internet

waste-time-surfing-internetThis professor sure knows how to write a provocative title.

"Wasting Time on the Internet" is the name of the University of Pennsylvania's newest English course, which will be taught in Spring 2015 by Professor Kenneth Goldsmith. And, because people love talking about wasting time on the internet almost as much as they love actually wasting time on the internet, the resulting disbelief -- and, at times, mockery -- from the public is no surprise.

Jessica Roy of the Daily Intelligencer wrote, "students will spend three hours every Wednesday Gchatting, tweeting selfies, and commenting onDaily Intelligencer. Then, they have to somehow take all of that cr*p and turn it into a piece of 'compelling and emotional work of literature.' Ivy League degrees seem totally worth it."

On Twitter, people shared their thoughts, too:

I should've gone to upenn 'Wasting Time on the Internet' Is Now an Actual College Class http://t.co/LKLDDKj8xd

— Steph Driver (@StephaliciousD) October 29, 2014

Sadly, these students will be applying for jobs in the real world. UPenn Offers 'Wasting Time on Internet’ http://t.co/qGCjh5h81M #facepalm

— tory patrick (@toryk) October 29, 2014

EASIEST A+ RT @thedavidrindexp imagine the course "Wasting Time On The Internet" has a long wait list to get in http://t.co/MNPziWZ6jq

— Jessica Gentile (@Volume_Knob) October 28, 2014

I wasn't so convinced this would be an easy A. It's hard to believe that a school known for demanding curricula would let students troll reddit for three hours a week.

So I went straight to the source: I spoke with Goldsmith himself, who has been a professor of poetics and poetic practice at UPenn since 2004. He has 10 books of poetry, a book of essays, a fellow professorship award from Princeton University, an hour-long documentary about his work, and an invitation to read at The White House under his belt -- not the type to create a frivolous, pointless course of study.

The Course

The course is called "Wasting Time on the Internet," and it actually does require students to surf the web aimlessly for hours on end. "Students are required to stare at the screen for three hours, only interacting with chat rooms, bots, social media, and listservs," reads the course description from UPenn's website. But there is an end goal to this otherwise haphazard web surfing: By the end of the semester, students must create a work of literature out of the content they find online.

From what, Facebook News Feeds? Well, yes ... exactly.

"This class will focus on the alchemical recuperation of aimless surfing into substantial works of literature," reads the course description. In other words, students will use the "raw material" of text messages, status updates, and other random surfing "for creating compelling and emotional works of literature." Think: Facebook Timelines turned into memoirs -- that kind of thing. Along with creating literature, students will "explore the long history of the recuperation of boredom and time-wasting through texts about affect theory, situationism, and everyday life."

It appears this class is a mixture of abstract literature and philosophy that's meant, above all, to promote experimental thinking. Goldsmith assures me that it's a rigorous, intellectual course that had to go through a course proposal process in the creative writing program that required a theoretical foundation. This is reflected in the required reading list, which includes texts from theoretical thinkers like Guy Debord, Mary Kelly, Erving Goffman, Betty Friedan, Raymond Williams, John Cage, Georges Perec, Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefevbre, Trin Minh-ha, Stuart Hall, Sianne Ngai, and Siegfried Kracauer. You'll notice BuzzFeed isn't on the list -- the materials are indeed heavy and intellectual.

The Idea

So how did Goldsmith come up with this idea? "It came about with my frustration after having read article after article about how the internet is making us dumber," he told me. "I don't think that's true. We're reading and writing more than we ever have; we're sharing ideas and learning in ways that cannot be measured. It's just that we've never been taught to value these types of reading, writing, sharing, and learning. We will not learn in the old ways; our learning will be different."

His response reminded me of an interview from Time Magazine had with Nick Bilton, author of I Live in the Future & Here's How It Works. He has also staunchly believes the internet doesn't make us dumber, and that social networks aren't a waste of time at all. "If you use it in the right way, Twitter can actually be extremely beneficial to the way you navigate content on the web," Bilton told Time. He describes Twitter as his own, personal, "social newspaper" that he's the editor of, picking and choosing what he does and doesn't see while getting to interact with people and brands in a different way.

Likewise, Goldsmith hopes that his course will help his students reframe their daily online experiences from aimless and unengaged to creative and connected. "I would like them to think that every time they sit down in front of the computer, they have the potential to turn the internet into great literature," he told me. "The whole web is cut-and-pasteable and if we begin constructing our poems from what appears before us on our screens, we’ll never have writers’ block. It’s a very rich landscape."

This isn't the first time Goldsmith has taught an experimental course on creating literature by copying and pasting. He's been teaching Uncreative Writing at UPenn for the last decade, in which students are not only discouraged from originality and creativity, but "penalized" for it, he told me. "Instead, they are rewarded for plagiarism, identity theft, repurposing papers, patchwriting, sampling, plundering, and stealing," Goldsmith wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education about this course.

Of course, in the real world, you'd be reprimanded, sued, or fired for plagiarism. So what are these classes teaching our kids? How are they preparing students for the real world?

Questions like these are missing the point, though. These courses aren't meant to be practical advice for students going into business; they're meant to force students to think in new ways about our day-to-day practices online: the content we're reading, how we're consuming it, whether it's a waste of time, all about internet privacy laws, and so on.

The Internet age requires new kinds of literacy, and universities would be foolish to look down their noses at reddit and Twitter or the nonlinear way people read the web, the same way they would be foolish not to offer courses on TV and pop culture.

When I asked Goldsmith what he thought about the comments that his new course would be "an easy A," he said, "What is an easy A is to think and at conventionally, in accordance with established standards. But when I require you to turn the world inside out, to upend everything you've been taught, it is the hardest thing to do."

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8 Data-Driven Tips for Using Images in Blog Posts

pictures-in-blog-postIf you knew something as easy as adding images to your blog posts would increase your readers, subscribers, followers, and leads, wouldn't you do it every single time?  

According to Jeff Bullas, articles with images get 94% more total views than articles without images. Ninety-four percent! If I were to tell you that you could expand your reach by 94% by doing something fairly simple, I'm guessing you wouldn't think twice.

Of course, "simple" is relative. I don't mean you should take five minutes to scope  out some stock photos   and then insert them randomly into your posts. To get more eyeballs on your blog, you'll have to be more strategic than that -- and this blog post will help you get started with that strategy.

Follow the eight tips below  to learn data-driven tips that will help you squeeze the most value out of images in your blog posts.

8 Data-Driven Tips for Using Images in Blog Posts

1) Use images of real people.

In one of Jakob Nielsen’s usability studies, he discovered that pictures of people are one of the most engaging forms of web content.

Nielsen’s data showed that users spent 10% more time looking at pictures of people on a page than they did reading the biographical content associated with the pictures. Even though the text content took up 316% more space, and was thus more quantitatively dominate, users preferred looking at the pictures.

usability-study

But Nielsen offers a critical disclaimer: Some types of pictures are completely ignored -- typically the generic images that are purely decorative. To show this, he analyzed the image on the Yale School of Management website and discovered that the stock-style photo on the right side of the page received very few eye fixations:

yale-school-management-website

Describing it as “pure filler," Nielsen advises using images that are relevant to the user experience. Images used in an article just for the sake of using an image can be unhelpful.

But if the image has a purpose, like helping to explain a concept, emphasize a point, translate to an external page or email, or show personality, then it can only help you. For example, I use a headshot in my website because it’s a professional courtesy and an engagement marker.

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2) Combine photos and text to increase viewer retention and engagement.

In a study conducted by Socialbakers, researchers discovered that images on Facebook constituted 93% of the most engaging posts, compared with status updates, links, and even video.

facebook-post-types

Although this data is specific to Facebook, the principle holds true for blog content as well.

The appeal of pictures is known as the “picture superiority effect.” According to the dual-coding theory, the human memory has two main forms of retention: verbal and imaginal (directly related to the word "image"). Images encode concepts onto our memory in a concrete way, rather than the abstract form of verbal concepts.

This video from Digital Splash Media explains the picture superiority effect, making an overwhelming case for the importance of images.

3) Optimize your images so they load quickly.

Even though the days of dial-up sluggishness are behind us, we still crave quick load times. As you’re probably aware, quick load times are important for SEO -- and the source of greatest lag are often clunky plugins and huge images.

The optimal load time is still being debated. A study by Akamai says that two seconds is the "new threshold of acceptability for ecommerce web page response times." According to their data, 47% of viewers want a two-second load time.

In another study by the Nielsen Norman Group, users in a test were asked to look at a page with a large header image that took up 23% of the page. The picture below shows a gaze plot of a user looking at a landing page. The slider image (yellow) took eight seconds to load; as a result, the user spent a mere 1% of their time looking at the image.

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When the image loaded quickly, the user spent 20% of viewing time looking at the image.

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Surveys indicate that slow load times are one of the most-hated features of a website. Not only will you lose the value that the image could provide, but you’ll also plain old tick off users.

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A few seconds is all it takes for a user to lose interest and completely ignore the slow-loading image. You can’t control the user’s connection speed, but you can control the speed of your own website. 

Note: Hubspot recommends that photos should be smaller than 100KB in order to load quickly.

4) Present information in visual formats, like infographics.

Many studies have found that the human brain processes images much faster than text. This data coheres with the picture superiority effect, and its impact upon marketing is huge. Your readers will absorb your content far easier if you put it in picture form.

According to Mike Parkinson, “the human brain deciphers image elements simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner taking more time to process.” Showing is better than explaining in many cases.

Let's take a look at an example. Which of these is easier to understand?

graphic-vs-textual-description

Most of you would say the leftmost depiction. It’s common to say, “I’m a visual learner,” as opposed to someone who learns better by reading or listening to information. The fact is, all of us our visual learners -- our brains are wired that way.

This data is one of the reasons why I’m a major proponent of using infographics as part of a comprehensive content marketing strategy. (Here are five free infographic templates in PowerPoint to get you started.)

5) Use high quality images to establish credibility.

In case you think that pictures are simply a way to increase engagement or interest, listen to this point: According to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, overall visual design “was the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the presented material.” There are a lot of factors involved in “visual design,” but good quality images need to be present.

6) Use images to support persuasive copy and in calls-to-action.

A study from the University of Minnesota School of Management and the 3M Corporation analyzed the effectiveness of presentations that contained visual elements and those that did not. The presentations containing visual elements were 43% more effective at converting users to agree with their point of view.

Ecommerce is all about the art of persuasion. We as marketers are trying to compel people to take a viewpoint, click a button, or make a purchase. Let’s not forget that we can become far more persuasive simply by using images.

7) Position your lead image to the right or left of the first paragraph in your post.

According to Buffer, people are more likely to read an article that have an inline image to the right or left of the leading paragraph.The pattern looks like this:

anatomy-of-perfect-blog-post

Why is it effective? First of all, people are visually attracted to images. An image positioned in this way will invite eye paths to the image and the nearby text. Secondly, people are more likely to read short lines of text than long ones. When compared with lines of text below the image, the lines beside the image seem short. This means that people will be more inclined to read them. As Buffer stated, “The fewer the characters, the easier the text is to comprehend and the less complex it seems.”

8) Use one image per 350 words.

How many images should you have in your posts? I would suggest you use as many images as you need to in order to communicate your concepts clearly and accurately. According to a study by Blog Pros, in 100 of the highest ranking blogs on the internet, there was at least one image for every 350 words.

We live in the age of the visual. From flat screens to smartphones, images are everywhere. As Lori Kozlowski commented in Forbes, "It’s likely we’ll only see a deeper connection to video and to visuals on the Web in the next few years." People are connecting with your content not only based on what it says with text, but what it says in images, too.

How are you using images in your content? Share with us in the comments below!

Image Credit: NNgroup.com, NNgroup.com, Socialbakers, NNgroup.com

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Andy Rubin Is Leaving Google To Start A Hardware Incubator

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 4.59.03 PM Andy Rubin, best known for his work on Android at Google, is leaving the company. According to The Wall Street Journal, Rubin will build an incubator for what it describes as companies working with “technology-hardware” products. Google confirmed the departure to us with a canned statement from Google CEO Larry Page: “I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next.… Read More

Your Instagram feed will now be filled with video ads

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If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a 15-second video has to be worth quite a bit more.

Instagram has launched its first video ads, adding another entry into the lucrative but increasingly crowded market

Disney, Activision and Banana Republic are among the first companies to have autoplay videos featured on the Facebook-owned platform, according to Adweek.

Brands have already been producing videos on Instagram that are seen only by those who follow their corporate accounts. Now, Instagram is pushing ads into feeds.

Instagram added video in June 2013 and has been very deliberate about using that tool for advertising. CEO Kevin Systrom said in July that he had personally been reviewing every ad in hopes of setting a "high bar" for marketing on the serviceAdweek noted that the video ads put on Instagram have been highly scrutinized to ensure "they contain mostly fresh content, fit the vibe of the platform and are not simply repurposed TV/Web commercials." Read more...

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Replace Your Banner Ads With Baby Animals [Free Chrome Extension]

snuggly_dog_and_catYou know what's really annoying? Irrelevant, untargeted banner ads. They're all over the web, barraging you to buy buy buy from a company you've never heard of while you're just trying to enjoy the few minutes a day you get to sit down and read your favorite media site. [Read more...]

Google’s New Bookmarking Service, Previously Called Stars, Has Gone Live

Bookmark_Manager_-_Chrome_Web_Store Google Stars, the long-rumored bookmarking service from Google, has now publicly launched, but with little fanfare. That Google was working to update its bookmarking service has been known for some time. In May, a developer who had been digging into the service leaked a copy of the “Google Stars” extension, as it was called at the time, while it was still being tested. And now,… Read More

Why Should I Choose a HTML Website over a WordPress Install?

Many of our clients come to us with a WordPress website as their main Internet presence and ask why ‘it is’ that they should use a hand coded website over a WordPress install. While a WordPress install can save you both time and money, the end result (vs a well-built HTML website) is quite different.

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) built on PHP and MySQL that is open source. As a CMS it works quite well and is highly recommended as part of your online strategy. However, as a main website it falls short on many points.

Bandwidth – WordPress is a large install with many files. Just one page can call up many files from your server for one request (pageview). In addition, since it is a CMS, each page will call to the database to retrieve information stored there. Although the time it takes to present a page doesn’t ‘seem’ like a long time, in the word of competitive search engine ranking, it takes time that we don’t need to spend presenting a page to a visitor.

Security – As an open source platform, WordPress is open to everyone. That includes the hackers that are always on the lookout for ways to (for whatever reason) make our lives more difficult. As a basic install, WordPress is vulnerable to hacking. Just take a minute and Google “How to hack a WordPress website”. You will see long lists of results for the many different ways that a WordPress website can be hacked. It might be a kid down the street, or it might be your competition, but if you want to give them an easy website to hack, then build your website on the WordPress platform. If you want a well-built website that is difficult to hack, then have it built professionally in HTML.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – The most important aspect of a website is its ability to be FOUND by those looking for your services. Yes, WordPress has many, many plugins that claim to search engine optimize your website, but how many of them actually work? Your website (at a minimum) must have relevant titles that match your headings and your content. When you use a plugin, you lose control over what Meta data is displayed and depending on the plugins that you choose. Also, depending on the plugins that you choose, the Meta data may get duplicated, heading tags may change and other important aspects of your SEO optimization may be altered. If you don’t know what you are looking at when you view the source code of your website, then do-it-yourself SEO may not be in your best interest. By using plugins and ‘hoping’ that they are optimizing your website for the search engines, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Clean Compliant Code – Out of the box, WordPress is a bit bulky in its code. It is clean, but it is also built to be useful to anyone as a content management system (CMS), so it has components of code for everyone and links to a database.  As you add and remove plugins, that code is changed. Over time, you may have pieces of code left over from 20 or so plugins that slows down the site. Even worse, if you have 20 or so plugins that eat up resources (PHP and MySQL database functions), then you have a site that that is sluggish and difficult to navigate.

If you are looking for better SEO optimization practices, exposure on the internet and want your website to be indexed correctly for the key words and phrases that bring the greatest amount of visitors, then building a website in HTML from the ground-up is your best bet. A WordPress blog should be used on the same domain (mywebsite.com/blog) for blog posts, articles, and content. This will allow you to index your main pages correctly and still use the blog to add content to the domain.

By coordinating and aligning all of your LOCAL and ONLINE marketing efforts, we are able to GUARANTEE that you will be ‘head-over-heels’ in LOVE with our services; regardless of the failures of your past service providers and regardless of your current marketing strategy. In fact no matter WHERE you are now, our SEO optimization services WILL take your business to the next level. WE BACK IT UP WITH A 100% NO WIGGLE-ROOM GUARANTEE! If we do not EXCEED your expectations in the first 30 days of service, FIRE US! And we will return everything the way that it was before we started and REFUND 100% of your first month’s fee! Schedule a free website analysis and let us put it all together so you don’t have to!

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