Letting your kids use YouTube just got Safer with their new app.

Google has  hit it out of the park with a brand new YouTube app, specifically designed for young children. It’s called YouTube Kids, and it was designed especially your 3-6 year olds. While it may be designed for young children, it is also really fun for us who are young at heart!

As a father of two young daughters, I like that Google is trying to prevent young eyes from accidentally seeing videos on the Internet that were never intended for them to see.  If you are in Canada, you can access the app when you are on a US IP via VPN or using a tool like HotSpotShield.

Design and Use

The app, which is pre-filled with access to family friendly content, is just fun to use. It is colorful, and filled with music and sound effects. Your kids can choose from 4 main categories and the ability to search.

Shows: Your kids can watch fun video shows including the Sesame Street Channel and Thomas & Friends Channel.

Music: Here, you will find music channels that lead to hundreds of kid-friendly songs and hours of fun. This is bound to be the favorite section for many toddlers who can sit through every iteration of “Wheels on the bus” that YouTube can serve them and still be excited.

Learning: With PBS Kids and Khan Academy, your kids can really learn while using the app on a tablet or phone.

Explore: Here is where you kids can use their creativity with channels like Play-Doh and Simple Kids Crafts.

Search: You can help your kids search by typing in search words. Google has even added the ability to search by voice.

Parental Controls

YouTube Kids has some well thought out parental controls. There is a timer, a way to leave feedback, and the capability to turn off the music and sound effects. In addition, there is a way to disable searching, so that only the content on the app will be viewed.

YouTube Kids is available now on Google Play and the App Store.  (The app is currently only available in the US and set to roll out to the rest of the world over time.)

Facebook Goes Directly after Google with Product Ads

Facebook recently announced that it will begin placing Product Ads on its users’ news feeds that will allow brands to display multiple items within a single advertisement. Many are calling the Facebook launch a direct effort to take hold of the enormous retail advertising market that Google currently has a stronghold on. Google’s Shopping Ads is a business unit that is estimated to take in $8 billion a year.

With Facebook’s new Product Ads launch, they attempt to deliver a better return on investment for online retailers than Google can offer. The wealth of customer data that Facebook has will allow the company to target their customers better than Google can. Facebook also has a more established mobile product that can effectively target consumers across devices. This is important since mobile transactions are likely to account for as much as half of all digital commerce transactions by 2017.

With Product Ads, businesses populate their advertisements on Facebook by uploading their product catalogs. They can either create their own campaigns, or let Facebook automatically choose which products are most relevant to certain users. Facebook can target people who have visited a company’s website or target people based on factors like location or special interests. This will save time and money for advertisers who will no longer have to create specific campaigns for specific audiences.

The proliferation of social commerce cannot be denied. Shopify stats show that product research and discovery that took place on social channels propelled e-commerce orders to increase by over 200% in 2014. Facebook dominates the social commerce landscape, with over 90% of advertisers planning on spending part of their social marketing budget on the site.

It’s not clear if Facebook’s Product Ads will  lead to a tremendous return on investment. Most consumers want to compare products across multiple stores, and they will leave the Facebook application to do so. The Product Ads launch does nothing special to keep shoppers on the Facebook app. Consumers will likely only use Facebook for impulsive shopping purchases, so the Product Ads launch may have the most appeal for retailers who sell impulse-buy products. Businesses will need to test the waters by dedicating a small portion of their advertising budgets to Facebook’s Product Ads and determine ROI vs. other channels in comparative testing but by ensuring they have an attribution model that can track back sales up to 90 days from the impression or click of an ad.

Having a Mobile Site Just Became Critical for SEO on Google

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With Google’s latest algorithm updates, it is becoming  essential for businesses to have mobile websites. This is something that is necessary if you want to be able to reach as large an audience as possible. More and more people are using mobile devices to access information. Google has responded to this situation by making it easier for search engine users to locate web pages that are mobile friendly.

Google has recently announced that, starting April 21, 2015, it will be making mobile-friendliness a more important ranking signal. This will apply to mobile searches globally and in all languages.

This means that website owners who are seeking to maintain a good ranking will have to make sure their site is optimized for mobile devices. Google provides a Mobile-Friendly Test to make it easy to test this. The search engine also provides Mobile Usability Reports, which can be found under Webmaster Tools in Google Analytics.

Another major shift on April 21 has to do with Google implementing app indexing. This means that information from indexed apps will become increasingly prominent in search results. This reflects the fast growing popularity of mobile apps. Webmasters who create apps for their users should therefore learn as much as possible about app indexing. This will make information about apps available to search engine users.

What does this mean for your business?  If you already have a mobile friendly or responsive site you may move up in the rankings. If you do not have a mobile site you may be in trouble.  For example,  a dealership that may currently rank well for a keyword phrase like “used cars toronto” may find their traffic plummeting as they drop from the  first and second page search results and are replaced by competitors who have a mobile site. April 21 is still 6 weeks away so there is still time to connect with your developer and fast track getting a mobile version of your site up and running.

Top 10 Must-Read Marketing Blogs

10 Blogs to Accelerate your Digital Learning

People who are getting into  marketing often ask me which  blogs I follow to stay current with digital trends. Below are the top 10 blogs I recommend marketers, PR specialists and small business owners follow to be in the know:

1. Digital Marketer (http://digitalmarketer.com/category/dmblog/) – This blog covers everything on digital marketing such as search engines, social media, mobile, and ecommerce. Tips on improving website traffic and conversion rates are also covered.

2. B2B Marketing Insider (http://www.b2bmarketinginsider.com/) – Michael Brenner authors this blog. He discusses the latest news and trends of content marketing, social media, demand generation, and strategies for business-to-business marketers.

3. Marketo (http://blog.marketo.com/) – The Marketo blog discusses the latest trends and best practices in business-to-business marketing.

4. Web Pro News (http://www.webpronews.com/) – This blog provides the latest news in ecommerce, business, social media, search, and technology.

5. Get Elastic (http://www.getelastic.com/) – Get Elastic is an ecommerce blog covering best practices, digital relationships, multichannel marketing, social media, mobile, and search.

6. Daily Blog Tips (http://www.dailyblogtips.com/) – This blog offers valuable tips about successful blogging such as promotion, monetization, SEO, social media, and writing. Daily Blog Tips also talks about Internet marketing and strategies.

7. The Copybot (http://thecopybot.com/) – Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger provides advice on copywriting for the Internet.

8. Get Response (http://blog.getresponse.com/) – Get Response is an email marketing provider. This blog offers advice and tips on using email marketing successfully.

9. Danny Brown (http://dannybrown.me/blog/) – Danny Brown is a well-known blogger and marketer who has won many awards. This marketing blog offers useful information about many types of marketing, including social media marketing.

10. 60 Second Marketer (http://60secondmarketer.com/blog/) – Jamie Turner, the founder of this blog and its online community, is also the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media.” The blog offer many tutorials and tips about digital marketing.

6 Reasons to optimize your mobile SEO now!

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Out of the study of keyword searches comes the practice known as search engine optimization (SEO), in which the individual who is responsible for setting up a website knowingly includes the appropriate keywords in the text in the hopes that it will rank more highly in the search results list. This is an especially useful tool for business sites, whose ability to make money is, after all, dependent on people visiting the site and buying things therefrom. The rest of this article will be confined to mobile SEO and, more specifically still, to the reasons why you, as a businessperson and an owner of a website, should optimize your mobile SEO.

Reason #1: So many people surf with smartphones.

The smartphone has become so popular as a means of surfing the web – indeed, they may surpass PCs in that role in terms of number of surfers as early as this year!  Similarly, statistics gathered by the computer and Internet blog Econsultancy reveal that about 40 percent of all views of videos on YouTube are done via smartphone. Consequently, the SEO strategy for any web business that is “worth its salt” should include a system of mobile SEO optimization.

Reason #2: Optimization of SEO for mobile phones is rewarded by Google.

Yes, it is true: Google has actually devised a system of rewards for sites that employ responsive web design (RWD), which is a way of designing sites so that they can easily be viewed on both desktops and smartphones without the need for resizing or other adjustments. RWD, it should be mentioned, is valuable not only because it saves all that trouble, but also because it can improve the standing of the site with regard to mobile SEO. Conversely, Google also penalizes certain types of behavior by reducing a site’s SEO rankings. Such behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • the mobile landing page being too slow
  • having links on a smartphone site that direct to a desktop site
  • including videos that are hard to play on mobile devices

Reason #3: There tend to be fewer characters (an average of fifteen) in mobile searches.

When people are making a web search on a smartphone they use fewer characters, on average, than they do when searching on a PC. Consequently, mobile SEO requires considerably less work than PC SEO as it requires less typing. This is the best reason of all so far why mobile SEO optimization is so important.

Reason #4: It can increase the number of visitors considerably.

SEO optimization for mobile phones can result in considerably more visitors to your site than you would from PC users alone. It is estimated that this increase may be as much as sixteen percent. In companies that operate in certain industries, the figure may be even higher, sometimes up to 29.9 percent.

Reason #5: Mobile surfers have different habits.

Just as web surfers using mobile devices use fewer characters, so too the types of searches they make are in many ways quite different. They are more likely, for instance, to make searches that are more closely related to information about a company itself – its history, the type of company it is, the products and services it has to offer, driving directions, the menu (if it is a restaurant, of course) and so on. Mobile SEO optimization can therefore be used to draw in more customers and make more sales than would otherwise be possible.

Reason #6  –  USING Flash WILL HURT YOU

Sites that run Flash assets are generally not supported by smartphones and will now be penalized in the search results lists by Google.

Reflections on Parental Leave

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Note:  The following is a preview of my post on the Big Daddy Kreativ Blog

Paid parental leave for men – it’s a concept that blows some people away. Daddy gets to stay home with the baby for months while the job waits for him to return. It is a blessed concept that we are lucky to have here in Canada: After an initial 17 week Maternity leave, 35 weeks of paid parental benefits are available between both parents as long as they paid into EI during their employment.

I know that, if I lived in most other countries, including the US, I wouldn’t have parental leave. I would look back on my life and regret not getting more baby time. Thankfully though, I will view my life with two daughters under the age of 2 as having been a great balance of work and family.  I regularly work long hours, so my commitment to my family was that I would take parental leave with each child.  As I tell everyone who asks me about why I took parental leave, “No one really looks back on their life wishing that they had spent more time working, but a lot of people do wish that they had spent more time with their family”   …..  to read the rest of this post please visit –  http://www.bigdaddykreativ.ca/reflections-on-parental-leave/

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The Grass is Already Green – Living Life with a Positive Attitude

 

Sheikh Husain Abdul Sattar is an Islamic scholar and medical doctor who practices surgical pathology at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is also an assistant professor of pathology at the University of Chicago’s Prizker School of Medicine.

Sheikh Husain discusses the universal behavior of comparing oneself with others in his video entitled “Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side?” He discusses how all people experience hardships in life. Through successfully working through our challenges, we are better able to learn from our experiences. By believing that those who are outwardly “more blessed” than us do not have hardships in their life and that their lives are more fulfilling, we miss opportunities to learn about ourselves.  We don’t have insights into the financial, medical, social and mental problems that others have and thus Sheikh Hussain points out that the grass may actually be greener in our own life. People’s inner realities are different than the outward facade.

In his video, Sheikh Hussein is helping people who are not content with their life to move towards acceptance and move on to greater things. If one can accept the state that they are in, it becomes easy to be content with one’s life and attain happiness.  A seeker of meaning embraces the tests of life and does not use comparisons to others as a means to being. They have a positive attitude and reflect on all the bounties that they have.

I had the opportunity to attend one of Sheikh Hussein’s lectures on spirituality and metaphysics in Chicago in September and it was a great experience. You can find a selection of his motivational lectures at:  http://www.sacredlearning.org/general-talks/