Lessons in Online Marketing from the Winners of the Webbys

1903 Winner, Penngrove Power-Up

The Webbys celebrate good Internet content, from personal blogs to social media campaigns. The 2013 winners have vastly different motivations, from bringing awareness to the water shortage in other countries to selling more soda. Still, they all share innovation and a way to bring customers together online, specifically on social media sites. Here is what the winners did right.

Online Campaigns

The winner of the 2013 Webby in the category of Online Campaigns was Adidas, for its “The Biggest Champions League Final of All Time” campaign. The social media part of this campaign integrated a Twitter handle create specifically for the campaign, as well as Facebook videos and banners that were used by players who would be playing in the soccer match being promoted. Users were encouraged to get involved, and “go all in” for their team by taking part in a vote. This campaign teaches business how important it is to encourage engagement, be it by voting or watching a video.

Social Media Campaigns

The winner of the Social Media Campaign award was Water is Life, which created a campaign called “Hashtag Killer.” The campaign sought to use an already popular Twitter hashtag, “#firstworldproblems” to bring awareness to the real issues in third world countries. By tapping into a trend that was already on the minds of social media users, this campaign could easily grab the attention of social media users. The videos associated with the campaign mocked the messages commonly associated with the hashtag #firstworldproblems found on twitter, which allowed Water is Life to relate to their audience.

Mobile and Experience Marketing

FuelBand and Nike teamed up for the campaign that won the 2013 Webby for Mobile and Experience Marketing. The device being promoted filled a real need for Nike’s athletic customers. A wrist band that is able to measure the user’s activity throughout the day lets him know when he has met his activity goals for the day, and the band changes color to reflect how close he is to his goal. By allowing their product to sync to social media, Nike and FuelBand improved both the marketing outreach of their product and the user experience.

Mobile Advertising

Band Aid was awarded the prize for Mobile Advertising. This unique campaign allows users to scan a picture of their Muppets Band Aid with a mobile app, and then watch the bandage turn into a small stage where animated Muppets dance. The campaign was engaging for users, and also allowed Band Aid to promote its brand in a way that was fun for the user and not an explicate, hard sell.

Native Advertising

Native advertising is advertising that appears to be just another news story or video, while it also promotes a product. Pepsi won the Webby in 2013 for this category, by creating buzz by offering to do an hour of people’s chores if they would try their new soda. The bold promise allowed their  product to be the subject of many online articles, which were in turn shared on social media. Pepsi was able to leverage a unique customer promise into a lot of social media buzz.

Guest author Jennifer Watts is a retired web designer. She now spends her days blogging about all things web design. Visit WebHostingReviews.ca to find web hosting reviews.

5 Enormously Profitable Design Niches

As a graphic or web designer designer, are you a jack of all trades or do you specialize in a specific niche? The former has the ability to take on a wide variety of work; however, the latter has the ability to charge top rates for a much narrower scope of work. In the professional world, expertise is valuable, so clients are willing to pay more for specialized services than they are for a designer who can design a little of everything. If you want to make more money as a graphic designer, it’s important to carve out your own niche.

A niche, or a narrow area of expertise, makes you more marketable. It allows you to focus your marketing efforts, so you’re getting the most bang for your buck. It lets you learn everything there is to know about a specific design medium, which in turn makes you a more valuable graphic designer. All together, these attributes mean you’ll be a better paid  designer – you’ll make more money doing less (and faster) work by adopting a niche.

But what niche is best? It’s important to enter a niche you enjoy and you’re skilled at, that there is good demand for, that there is relatively little competition for, and that clients are willing to pay top dollar for. To help get you started, here are five enormously profitable graphic or web design niches you can consider.

1. Landing page design

Anyone can design an attractive landing page, sure; but not everyone can design a landing page that sells. Take the time to learn how design motivates customers to “buy now,” and you’ll be able to craft compelling landing pages that boost conversion rates. When you can do this, internet marketers will pay you top dollar to design their landing pages.
User Interface 2.0

2. Usability/UI design

Many websites today place a premium on usability and user interface design. The reason is that the easier a website is to use, the more likely it is to be used. And, the more complicated the site, the more there is a need for excellent usability and UI design. Study what makes for a user-friendly website, and you can make yourself a valuable and highly sought web designer.

3. Identity design

Today more than ever, companies understand how important it is to get their identity right. Establish yourself as a premier expert in the field of identity design, and you’ll be able to charge premium fees. In a world where even small businesses pay $5,000 to $10,000 to have their companies named, you can make far more by designing logos, letterhead, business cards and more branded marketing materials.

4. Direct-mail marketing design

Just like landing pages, understanding how to apply the right design elements to motivate purchasing decisions is critical to direct-mail marketing success. Learn how to properly design a direct-mail postcard, catalog, envelope, sales letter or full sales mailer, and you’ll be a highly valued graphic designer for direct mail companies.

5. Outdoor marketing

Billboards, large-format stickers and banners, and unique outdoor advertising campaigns require intelligent, clever, and calculated design in order to be successful. All of these are “big investment” campaigns, which mean many companies are willing to pay top dollar to an expert outdoor marketing designer in order to ensure they enjoy the highest possible return on investment.

What other lucrative design niches are available? Let us know in the comments!

Author’s Bio: Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint and Facebook.

What Does Social Media Have to Do With SEO? (Reprint)

by Jill Whalen, reprinted from High Rankings Advisor

What Does Social Media Have to Do with SEO? Nothing and Everything.

In 2007 I wrote:

My fear, with all the hype about social media marketing, is that people new to search marketing will believe it’s what SEO demands and what SEO is all about.

It isn’t. Not by a long shot.

And yet by 2008 I was writing:

If you’re marketing websites, scary as it may sound, you need to learn about social media.

So what changed?

Even before Panda and Penguin, how Google determined the relevancy of any given web page was changing. Traditionally, the main relevancy signals that search engines looked at were:

  • On-page relevance
  • Trust and authority
  • Links

With minor changes, Google still looks at on-page factors and the trust / authority of pages similarly to how they always have. But links are a different story. As part of Google’s original algorithm (and what made it such a great search engine), they treated links as a vote of confidence for a page. Their PageRank algorithm was and still is sophisticated enough to also understand that not all links are created equal. Google is able to consider the importance of the page that a link is on to decide how much credit (or credibility) that link should pass to the page it’s linking to.

And this worked fairly well for quite a while.

But website owners being greedy and SEOs being…well…SEOs, links became a commodity to be bought and sold in order to provide higher rankings for web pages. One consequence of that was the scarcity of people linking to stuff they liked just because they liked it. Links pages that most websites used to have in order to provide additional resources for their site visitors are now thought of as “spammy” and rarely exist anymore. Sure, bloggers might still mention other sites that they like and even provide links to them, but many blog platforms automatically add the NoFollow attribute to those links, causing them to not be counted by Google. Plus, bloggers also understand the value of a link and don’t always disclose whether any money or gifts exchanged hands.

Beyond the gaming of links, however, the trouble with counting links as votes is that not everyone has a website or a blog. How do you count the votes of the average teenager or mom or business manager?

This is where social media comes into play.

It’s simple. Anyone can quickly and easily tweet, Facebook, Google+, Reddit, or Yelp their opinions about anything and everything.

With the ability to discuss news articles, blog posts, websites, business establishments, brands, universities, restaurants, and just life in general at the tip of the average person’s fingertips, it would be ridiculous for search engines not to pay attention.

While officially Google claims they’re not directly factoring social signals into their ranking algorithms, I don’t buy it for a second. They would be completely and utterly remiss not to, and they’re not that dumb. In fact, they’re pretty smart.

This is why my 2008 quote is even truer today than it was when I wrote it. If you’re marketing a business, having a strong social media presence is no longer optional. It is essential.

But just like links, not all social media signals or mentions are created equal. Don’t think that you can just create social media accounts, hook them up to the RSS feeds of your content and be done with it. The social media links back to your content (which generally have the NoFollow attribute on them) won’t provide any sort of signal to Google unless you truly participate.

If you want your “vote” to count in social media, here are a few tips you need to remember:

Be selective in whom you follow.

If you follow back everyone who follows you, your profiles will be less likely to be trusted. Just as Google’s PageRank algorithm can determine trustworthy pages based on who links to them, Google can also determine trustworthy social media accounts in the same way. If you’re following spambots, you’re not paying attention. And if you’re not paying attention, why should Google trust you?

Be selective in what you recommend.

If you tweet or retweet low-quality content (be it your own or others’) it’s going to be noticed. Perhaps not by Google, but certainly by authority accounts who might otherwise have followed you. Which leads me to the next tip:

Your accounts must be followed by other authorities in your space.

Authorities don’t get to be authorities by following just anyone. They pick and choose based on who they themselves feel are qualified and trustworthy. Therefore, if other highly trustworthy people follow you, there’s a good chance you’re trustworthy as well.

Have a byline and use Rel=Author on all your content.

It’s imperative to associate a name and face with all of the content on your website these days, in order to ensure that Google knows it’s trustworthy. If you haven’t already, get your site up to speed with the Google Authorship program as soon as possible.

Install Twitter Card code on your content pages.

If your target audience is on Twitter, you should definitely be participating there. And if you are, then you also need to add the Twitter Card code to your site. This adds more information and images to any content that you or others promote from your site. Right now, Twitter Cards give you a huge advantage over your competitors who aren’t yet using it (it’s fairly new). If you use WordPress, I highly recommend the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin for this feature as well as the Rel=Author attribute mentioned above (and lots of other features as well!).

While it can take a lot of time to build up trustworthy social media profiles, in the long run it will be well worth it. Think about it. If your profiles are considered trustworthy, then every piece of content you mention will surely have a better chance of being noticed by Google. Of course, your mention alone isn’t going to provide much weight, especially if you’re talking about your own content. But if other trustworthy social media profiles are also citing that same content, you can be certain that it will be a very strong signal to Google.

Now, I can’t tell you with 100% certainty that this is what Google is doing today. But if they’re not, surely they will be very soon. In fact, in Google’s Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts’ latest Webmaster Video, “What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?,” he said that they were “working on a completely different system that does more sophisticated link analysis.”

Feel free to draw your own conclusion as to what that means!


Jill WhalenJill Whalen has been an SEO Consultant and the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston area SEO Company since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

5 Giants of Web Hosting: What Makes Them Great Web Hosts

The Internet boasts a wide array of web hosts making web hosting one of the more dynamic industries of the Web.  As in any industry, a few stars always seem to rise to the top.  When clients search for their ideal web hosting service, these web hosting companies typically win business with their extraordinary array of qualities and services.  The following web hosts are generally considered among the best of the best and the following text explains why.


This web host is usually found on best of lists due to their great service, competitive rates and unlimited options.  The company has an intuitive grasp on what clients really want whether it’s full functionality for an affordable price (a winning combination for small businesses) or 24/7 customer support.  Their superb technology solutions are coupled with a personable staff that has resulted in a loyal customer base and their client list keeps growing.


In business since 1998, this web host is one of the most inexpensive web hosts available that still offers great services and features like free site-building tools, a free security package, and unlimited disk space and bandwidth just to name a few.  Moreover, their commitment to green energy is a model for other companies; they are completely wind powered.  As an industry leader, the company has been featured in magazines like ComputerWorld and Inc.  While they have a lot of stellar features clients need, they are often chosen choose simply because they make the whole website experience easy, which is a great perk for people who don’t have time to spend on the ins and outs of website design and hosting.

WebHosting Hub

Anyone who is in search of a do-it-all web hosting service would do well to check into WebHosting Hub.  Like the other industry giants, this company offers affordable rates, but it also combines its website building features with WordPress, so constructing a complete website and blog is a breeze.  Aside from unlimited bandwidth and 24/7 technical support, Webhosting Hub is also favored for its ecommerce suite of tools that includes OS Commerce as well as others.  Businesses also favor them for their website design solutions.


For people who simply want to pay for the precise services they use and not for the overblown packages of features they’ll never need, this up-and-coming site is one of the best affordable web hosts in the business.  They base their prices on what a client uses instead of a flat monthly free that bundles unneeded services.  Their web apps work with well known sites like WordPress, Coppermine, Wikimedia, and so many more!  Their costs are upfront and their services include a full range of features individuals and small businesses look for in a web host.


This popular web hosting company is also affordable and particularly user-friendly.  Whether you know a lot about website building or just a little, this company offers some standout tools like a free site-building demo.  You can get a great sample of what HostGator offers without committing.  Their customer service has garnered great reviews and their full functionality is tailored to big and small websites alike.

All of these web hosts have stellar reputations in the industry and while they appear to offer similar services, each one is special in its own way and may be the perfect fit for your website.  Check out their websites for a fuller description of their services.  Better still, call for an informative conversation with a customer service representative who is trained to answer your questions and walk you through the web hosting process.

Guest Author Frank Ashton blogs regularly on issues relevant to website owners. Keeping on top of the latest trends and passing tips onto others is his personal passion. If you’re thinking of getting a website online, be sure to compare various host offers and reviews before you make a final decision.

How to Modify a WordPress Stylesheet for a Child Theme

WordPress has many outstanding attributes that have helped to make it the most popular blogging platform in the world and one of these is the parent and child theme format. The introduction of this means that when modifications are made to a WordPress theme, upgrades to newer versions can be made without losing any of the new code. This is a huge bonus for website developers, who in the past, would have to spend hours finding customised code and applying them to upgraded themes.

Modifying a WordPress stylesheet for a child theme is a relatively simple process. The first step is to ensure that the child theme itself has been set up. To do this, you will first of all need to login to your FTP client and look at the WP content directory for the installed WordPress. Once there, enter the “themes” section and you will see a list of the themes available. If, for example, there is a theme there called “holiday” and you wish to create a child for it, you will now need to create a new folder and call it “holiday-child”.

The next step, is to create a valid stylesheet called style.css and put it in the folder. The easiest way to do this is to simply create one using your favourite text editor, save it and then transfer it via the FTP. The new stylesheet should contain the following minimum information.

Theme Name:   my child theme
Theme URI:      http://mysite.com
Description:      This is my child theme I have created
Author:             My Name
Author URI:       http://mysite.com
Template:          parenttheme
Version:            0.1

Although much of the information in the lines above is generic, the one thing that must be altered for the child theme to work is “parenttheme”. In the example we are using, this should read “holiday”. The theme name should also be renamed holiday-child.

Whilst the above stylesheet is valid, what will happen when it is activated is that the site will load without any new formatting, as of course, the stylesheet does not have any actual CSS in it at the moment! Adding the following code would load the parent themes CSS file inside the child theme, thus making the site formatted.

@import url(“../parenttheme/style.css”);

Again, the phrase “parenttheme” would be replaced with “holiday” in the example that we are using.

Once this has been done, it can be uploaded to the site via FTP.

The second step is to then activate the child theme. Having logged into WordPress admin area, you should navigate over to “Appearance>Themes” where you will see that the parent theme is currently active. If everything has worked correctly, you should also be able to see the new child theme listed below. Clicking on “Activate” will send this theme live.

Keen observers, upon checking their website, will notice that there has been no change. The reason for this is because at this stage no actual modifications have been made to the theme. All that has happened is that a child theme has been created.

To make modifications to the child theme, you now only need to edit the style.css file that you originally created in a text editor, and then upload it via FTP again.

The wonderful thing about doing it in this way is that any changes that are made do not impact on the parent theme. This means that if a massive mistake is made, then, the parent theme can simply be reactivated in order to get the site back up and running again. At the same time, if there is a core code update, the child theme will be unaffected. Due to the fact that the site cannot be “damaged” in any way by using child themes, it also provides a great opportunity to experiment with code and develop some web design skills in a safe environment.

Creating a child theme for your WordPress blog takes just a matter of minutes, and after that, editing the child theme is, to use a pun, child’s play itself. In no time at all, you will be able to create unique looking sites that when built upon a good parent theme, will rival any commercially available themes for none of the cost.

Guest author Richard McMunn is founder of How2become.com, the UK’s leading training and recruitment website for public sector careers.  You can also find How2become on Facebook.

4 Good Places to Get Design Feedback

They say that two heads are better than one, and this can be especially true when it comes to the world of web design. Being able to get feedback from other skilled design professionals can help you obtain new perspectives, identify flaws in your work, and know when you’ve hit the nail on the head. You don’t have to have a network of designer friends to bounce your work off of. Several services exist today that allow you to share your work and get professional critiques. The following websites allow you to build new connections, get advice, and gain experience and expertise along the way.

Concept Feedback

Concept Feedback allows you to upload your design concepts and receive feedback from its design community for free. It’s not just you that will be getting critiqued, because in order to make the process fully interactive and functional, it requires you to give feedback on five other concepts before yours can be viewed by others in the group. The site also has a premium service that allows you to work with true experts in the field for a fee.

Five Second Test

This site is built on the premise that a great design should grab you in less than five seconds. Upload your design and it is shown to others for five seconds, and then they give you feedback on your work based on that super-quick view. It’s a great way to tweak your designs to be as attention-getting as possible in a short amount of time.

U Feed Me Back

Here’s an interesting concept: This invitation-only site allows designers to get feedback from specific top-level designers in the industry. It’s not free, though, and the fees can vary according to the talent you choose. The upside is that you know you’ll be getting high-quality critiques from leading designers and artists – and that advice can be priceless.

Please Critique Me

Upload your work in the hopes of being critiqued by a panel of experts. If your design is chosen, it will be showcased and critiqued by industry veterans at no charge. It’s the luck of the draw, so there’s no guarantee that your design will get picked to be critiqued. Meanwhile, you can check out their other critiques and reviews to learn more about what makes for great graphic design.

Where do you get design feedback? Let us know in the comments!

Author’s Bio: Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint and Facebook.

Securing Your Website From Hackers

Welcome to 2013, where the year is fresh and there are more hackers on the web than ever before.  Let’s talk more in-depth on why you need a secure website and, more importantly, how to secure your website. Hackers are on the move, and their numbers are growing stronger each day. There are so many of them that we now place more money into fixing what they break than we do trying to catch the actual person. It is just less of a hassle. As a website designer/website owner, why do you care? After all, that’s not in your job description. Well, since you’re in charge of the website, consider it the fine print that you didn’t see.

Your website is only as secure as you make it (or more importantly what you don’t make it). “What do the hackers want with my site? I have no valuable information over here.” Everyone has valuable information. It doesn’t matter if you have credit card numbers or pricing information stored in the server about your latest roofing projects. It’s there, and they want it. Think of your closest competitors: how much are they willing to pay for the inside scoop on your company? If they are willing to pay, it’s valuable. So let’s get into what to secure, why to secure it, and how it’s done.


Yes, I know: you’ve heard this lecture before. Your password isn’t strong enough, you have to change it after a set time, or maybe it’s just easily accessible. Well, here it is again. Your password is that code required to get into your valuable, and sometimes personal, information. Well, if you make the password to your website 8 characters and all it says is your name, initials, or family members, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure that out. A simple Google search could find some of that out. Passwords are the front-line defense of your website. If the login isn’t secure, neither are you or your business. To make a secure password there are loads of requirements: length, characters (uppercase, lowercase, special characters), and most importantly it is not supposed to be a dictionary word. We all know the length should be 12 characters, and we’ve all heard the character lecture before; but what about this “no dictionary words” rule? This seems impossible doesn’t it? Your name is in fact a dictionary word. Here’s an easy way around this: make your password some sort of phrase or combination of words that really have no relevance to you, but one that you’ll remember. For example, howoldryu?4?. “How” and “old” may be dictionary words, but the odds of a password cracker guessing that entire phrase is unlikely. Brute force attacks would guess it eventually, but not for weeks.

Viruses, Malware, and Google?

Viruses and malware are out there, and your website is perfect for spreading it around. Every visitor to your site could download a virus just by being there. The reason they don’t is you keep it keep it secure…don’t you? Google Webmaster Tools is a great tool, made by the Big Daddy himself. With Google’s Webmaster Tools, you can check loads of things on your site, such as 404 pages and viruses. Wait, what was that last one? This tool will alert you when malware infects your site. We all do not want to be on Google’s bad side, so make sure when you see these alerts you deal with them immediately. Google will blacklist you, and traffic will drop significantly. If that didn’t persuade you enough, consider the lawsuits people will be filing if they find out they got the virus from your site! Not pretty.


If your site does in fact process transactions, your URL better say https at the front. If it says http, take a look at this article and find out how to get a more secure site. It is a complicated process, but if you process and store credit card information, then having this information encrypted is a must! No, changing is not free, and there is no legal way of getting a free change. If your website does not do purchases, it is still a good idea to change to https anyway if you have personal information. Examine your website and think of the visitors and what information they gave you. Stored or not, does it need to be encrypted? If so, take https into high consideration.

Software Code

“Hey there man, I’m no programmer!” Programmer or not, most (if not all) software has flaws in it. This is partly why programs and applications update so frequently. They could have been made aware of a backdoor/vulnerability and updated the code so you can be more secure. Keep your software up-to-date, or you’ll never get this important update.

On the topic of software, consider some website security programs, such as Symantec’s Protection Suite Enterprise Edition. Symantec is one of the leading security companies out there, and as far as their protection goes, you’re getting your money’s worth. Be sure to place an antivirus/antimalware program on your pc, while constantly scanning it for malware.

Good news and bad news. The bad news is your website is never fully secure, as anything is breakable. The good news is the more secure your website is, the less likely a hacker will target you. Why go through the hassle of attacking a secure website, when you can attack a nonsecure website and save yourself the trouble? Keep your website safe from hackers and give your visitors peace of mind when they visit. An unhappy visitor will not purchase a thing from you. This is a lot to keep track of when you have more business-related things to do, I know. You may need to hire someone to do this for you, if you do not think you’ll have time. Every website needs security, and that includes yours!

Author Bio: Ryan Gavin is an associate with Ignition72, a web design agency in Baltimore. Ryan is a web enthusiast with a focus on website design.