Indianapolis Web Content Management

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Indianapolis SEO and CMS

Indianapolis SEO and CMS

5 Ways Your CMS Can Help Your On-page SEO

Posted 5:35 PM by

CMS Selection ProcessSelecting a content management system can be a daunting task.  On the surface, many of these systems appear to have the same level of functionality and the ability to accomplish many of the same tasks.  While one blog post isn’t enough to compare each and every feature that a good CMS should have, it is perfect to discuss one subset – Search Engine Optimization capability.  Since SEO is seemingly at the forefront of every site owner’s mind, here are five things that your content management system should allow you to do (in no particular order):

 

1. Create Search Engine Friendly URLs

Each time that you create a page, a new blog post, or add a product to your store (if applicable), your site’s CMS should create a search engine friendly URL for the new content.  Not only does this make it easier for the search engine to determine the topic of the page, it is much easier for a human to determine if the page is applicable for their search.  If you’re not sure if your URL is search engine friendly, take a look at a subpage, blog post or product page…if it makes sense to read, there is a good chance it is search friendly.  If it contains strings of question marks and numbers, it may be time to look into a new CMS. 

2. Create Unique Title Tags, Meta Description Tags, and H1 Tags for Each Page

Probably the most important aspect of on-page SEO is the ability to create unique title tags for each page.  Title tags are still a determining factor for search rankings (although a bit diminished), and they definitely help with usability of the site as well.  Meta description tags aren’t factored into search rankings any longer, but they can help increase the click-through rate to a specific page and feature calls to action.  Each page should also contain one H1 tag to tell the user the exact topic of the page.

3. Manage Alt Image Tags

Accurate alt image tags help increase the chances that your website’s images will be returned in an image search. Alt image tags are simple 3-5 word descriptions for what the topic of the image is. Every image on your site should have a unique alt image tag.

4. Built In Blogging Software

Blogging is a great way to create keyword rich, sharable content around a certain topic.  Your CMS should feature a built in blogging software that makes it easy to add blog posts to your site.  These blog posts should be open to comments from readers, feature the ability to share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google’s +1, as well as an RSS Feed.  The content should be displayed in a chronological order, be searchable, and created with friendly URL’s as described above.

5. Create Permanent Redirects

One of the often overlooked aspects of creating content using a CMS is the ability to set up permanent redirects. 404 errors are unacceptable as far as good SEO’s are concerned, so having the ability to create permanent (301) redirects to live content is a must. This is especially important for larger sites that are updated often.

Collaboration is KeySide Note - Keep in mind there are more factors that go into a CMS selection than just the SEO capabilities of the platform.  The fact of the matter is that the selection of a CMS should go hand in hand with website design, SEO vendor selection, social media strategy determination, and overall online branding evaluation.  These different aspects of Internet marketing have become their own industries, with specialists excelling in each vertical.  The most successful websites that we have seen have been products of collaborative efforts between software providers, service providers, agencies, and the client itself.  After all, there is nothing worse than hearing the words “We just launched our newly designed website, can you help us with the content management strategy, SEO, or insert another service here. ”

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Energy Systems Network Chooses Marketpath CMS

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Energy Systems Network (ESN) recently chose Marketpath CMS as the website content management system for its new website.  The new ESN website was designed by an internal staff member and is heavily reliant on jQuery technology to give a sense of interactivity with the website visitor.  A rotating image gallery, a project selector, and a scrolling partnership list are all part of the ESN homepage, which can help convey a large amount of information on a relatively small area.  Other features of the site include a password protected partner area, a micro-site dedicated to one of ESN's projects (Project Plug-IN), a fully integrated calendar, and an easy-to-use blog which all make the job of bring clean technology to market just a little easier for ESN.

  Energy Systems Network

Marketpath was able to take the new designs from ESN and implement them into Marketpath CMS within a few weeks, giving control of all of the site's content to ESN's Manager of Communication.  ESN's staff is now trained on Marketpath CMS and fully supported if any issues arise.  

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Open Source CMS and Security Issues

Posted 11:40 AM by

We have discussed this topic before, but because it was thrown into the lime light over the weekend, I thought I would again touch on the pros and cons of Open Source CMS platforms.  Over the weekend, PBS.org's homepage was taken over by a group of hackers that gained access by exploiting the security flaws in the open source content management system that the site is built upon.  The hackers changed the content to include a fake news story about rapper Tupac Shakur being alive in New Zealand, which of course spread like wildfire around social media sites.  While creating a fake news story may seem harmless, it did showcase the security risk that all open source CMS platforms must deal with, source code that is open to the public.

HackerWith thousands of developers working with standardized source code to tweak and customize the program, coders often times find loopholes which will allow them access to your data.  In an article from Information Week, it was stated that MoveableType, the CMS platform that PBS.org uses, had a security update just seven days before the attack, but PBS administrators failed to apply the patch - a problem that proprietary systems or software-as-a-service content management systems can automatically remedy.

There are certain situations, mostly depending on the type of site, where open source CMS platforms probably aren't suitable.  A few of those situations might include:

  • School Websites - Sure, the "free" price tag of open source is always enticing, however, with the amount of free tools available to help someone hack an open source CMS driven site, a school's website could be an easy target for a student prank.

  • Financial Institutions - Anytime that someone's personal financial data is involved, open source should not be an option.  This is pretty much a no-brainer.

  • Government Websites - Any site that could contain an individual's personal data, or prompt them to enter it should be completely secure.  An interesting exception to this category, however, is the Whitehouse.gov site which is run on Drupal, an open source platform.
It should be noted that proprietary CMS platforms aren't immune to attack.  However, since the source code is usually unfamiliar to the hacker, the task becomes more difficult.  What are your thoughts on the issue of security?   
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Church and School Website Solutions

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Until recently, managing the website for Saint Luke Catholic Church and School was very painful.  Saint Luke had five major areas of focus within their parish (Worship, Parish Life, Religious Education, School, Athletics), all with significant and ongoing content and communication needs, yet they had only one person with the technical savvy to easily manage their website. And that individual was really too important to Saint Luke to be spending so much time updating the site for all the different ministries.  On top of that, the site had so much content that finding what you needed had become very difficult.

Website Solutions for Schools and ChurchesSo Saint Luke began looking for a partner that provided website solutions for schools and churches, with a number of goals in mind.  First and most importantly, they needed to find a web content management system that was so easy to use that various staff members and volunteers could manage daily site updates without any technical skill set.  Second, they needed a web design partner that could design a visually attractive site that allowed Saint Luke to communicate easily with many   different constituents, while also being very user-friendly and easy to navigate (find what you want).  Lastly, Saint Luke wanted a technically advanced web presence, so that they could communicate better with current parishioners, both young and old alike, while attracting new parishioners to join the Saint Luke's community.

After considering various options, Saint Luke selected Marketpath as their web design and web content management partner, launching a new site in only a few months.  Their new site now features an engaging design that allows Saint Luke to communicate more easily to all its constituents, including four new blogs, image and message galleries, multiples calendars, podcasts, videos, and social media integration.  The new site even features a mobile version, so that Saint Luke's most time sensitive information can easily be found.  The new site is also very intuitive and easy to navigate, structured around Saint Luke's five main ministries.  Finally and most importantly, the site is now simple to update, with each of the five ministries controlling their sections of the new site and managing daily updates.  

Instead of worrying about technology, Saint Luke's team can now focus more time on what is important: their services to the community.
 

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The Challenge of Rapid Growth and How a Multithreaded Publisher Saved the Day

Posted 5:49 AM by

When we launched generation 3 of Marketpath CMS in 2007 we didn't have a huge number of customers making simultaneous updates to their websites. As time went on and our user base continued to grow rapidly we ran into problems. The publishing mechanism for our web content management system was built as a single-threaded publishing service. This means only one page (or other asset) could be published at one time - a bottleneck. This was fine 98% of the time. And it was fine as long as users were only publishing one item at a time. The problem came about when we had multiple users (usually developers) republishing entire sites. This caused a delay for anyone publishing and began to happen more and more frequently.

Single Threaded (one at a time)


The diagram below shows a single-threaded publishing model. There are four users and three sites. User 1 publishes three files. Users 2 and 3 publish one file each. User 4 publishes 2 files. Users 1 and 2 publish to separate sites. Users 3 and 4 publish to the same site. All four users and all seven pages form a line and then get published one at a time. Imagine a site with hundreds of pages gets publishes first. With a single-threaded publishing agent, everybody must wait at the back of the line until all those pages have been sent.

Web content management - single threaded publishing

Multithreaded (one at a time per user)

Now, take a look at the diagram below. This is a multithreaded publishing model. Each user gets their own thread. Think of a thread as a line or queue. If we have four queues instead of just one, publishing is much quicker. The user who publishes an entire site of pages simply has to wait for those pages to complete before anything else from their queue will be published. But she can keep adding items to the queue without affecting other users. Those other users just publishing one page at a time don't wait for the first user's site to be published. They only have their own pages in their own queue.

web content management - multithreaded publishing

Other Challenges with a Rapidly Growing User Base

This is one of the many challenges of a rapidly growing user base. There are technical challenges with software. This post touches on both scalability and availability. Some others are load balancing, load testing, usability, and security. Then there are operational challenges, such as sales, support, bililng, etc. We have a great team here at Marketpath and one of the basic rules of thumb for measuring great employees is how well they perform under stress (i.e. rapid growth) but also how well they perform when the work is predictable. Luckily, we don't have too much of that! We like to keep it interesting here.

Since we're very near the month of May and the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough.

- Mario Andretti

 

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Focusing Your Efforts on Foundational SEO

Posted 9:19 AM by

Foundational SEO It is no secret that the way Google ranks sites is constantly evolving and changing.  It has been doing so since its inception more than a decade ago, which is a good thing.  Think about it, the web has changed dramatically over this same time.  We've seen websites evolve from online brochures to true marketing hubs for companies and organizations.  We've seen the power of e-commerce truly emerge with companies like Amazon leading the charge.  We've seen the dawn of a new technology called social networking and with it, have seen a site like Facebook become insanely popular.  Google had to change the way it ranks sites to keep up, but one thing they haven't changed is their mission:  Delivering the most relevant results to searchers as fast as possible.  

While Google changes its algorithm to better suit today's searchers, site owners are often left wondering what they can be sure of when it comes to ranking well.  For instance, Google may have just lowered the value of keyword heavy domains to give an equal opportunity for truly branded websites (think buy-hiking-shoes.com vs. zappos.com). Putting your entire stake in registering that perfect domain name might not matter so much.  This is just one example of a recent change, but you can rest assured that there are certain things that will remain important to Google, and those are:

  1. Content
    Nothing new here...content is king.  Creating unique, relevant content and promoting it through your website, blogs, emails, press releases, and social media can help establish your site as the expert on a given topic.  Make sure to establish a schedule for this content creation, and stick to it.
  2. On-Page SEO
    Structuring your website with good on-page SEO not only helps search engines determine what your website is about, it also helps visitors navigate your site properly.  A website without good URL structure, Title Tags, Heading Tags, etc, is like a city without street signs.  Try navigating a city for the first time without any guidance...the same thing happens when people land on your un-structured website.  Don't assume website visitors know what you do or sell.
  3. Links
    Counting the number of incoming links that a website has is the idea that separated the quality of Google's search rankings from all of the other players in the late 90's.  More links equaled more authority about a topic, which equaled better results for the searcher.  While the idea of counting links still exists, it is much more complex (this is still an understatement).  Simply having a lot of inbound links isn't what is important.  PageRank of the linking site, anchor text, placement of the link, and relevance are all taken into account now.  Attracting links these days should be done organically, by creating great content and promoting it through popular channels on the web.           

Since Google started, these three items have been a major part of the algorithm.  All signs are pointing to the fact that this will never change.  Sure, other factors influence ranking, and this list over simplifies the criteria, but focusing on great content, good website structure, and promotion of that content is a great start for any website looking to increase relevant traffic.

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Understanding the Bounce Rate

Posted 12:00 PM by

The bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit a single page of your website and then leave without venturing further. Every website has a bounce rate, including yours. It is an inescapable facet of website marketing. How you keep your bounce rate down, though, requires an understanding of why people bounce, or leave, in the first place.

Let's use an example. Marketpath has a front page with a blog feed, a few calls to action, and the usual site navigation and miscellaneous links. If a visitor arrives at our site, quickly scans the home page, and then realizes we are not what he was looking for, then he will leave and add one more tick to the total number of bounces. On the other hand, if he hits the home page, sees a link that pertains to his interests and clicks on it, he is no longer a bounce. The moment he visits that second page he is an engaged visitor and our bounce rate goes down.

Example of a High Bounce Rate

Understanding the bounce rate sampleThere are certain conditions, though, where you may not have a choice but to endure a higher bounce rate.  Look at the example on the right. The bounce rate is horrendous as far as bounce rates go. But this is the bounce rate of a bank that receives 400-700 hits per day. They have a very high bounce rate because they have the link to an external banking portal right on the home page. Most people visit a bank's website to log into their banking portal.

To improve this the bank could move the portal link to an inner page. Visitors would then have to click through and would not be registered as a bounce. As website marketers, though, we are supposed to eliminate clicks, not increase them, so this really isn't the solution. Another possible fix is to have the link open in a new window. Then the bank's website would still be open below and the visitor could jump back to browse through it. Think about the visitor, though. They just want to check their bank account and have no interest in browsing the site. So, most of the time they will just close the window after closing the account portal window. A better, more difficult solution, is to educate their customers on the "portal URL" so they stop increasing the main website's bounce rate. If the portal URL is long and difficult, a vanity URL could easily be created to redirect them and they will never know the difference (e.g. "www.mybankportal.com").

Lowering a High Bounce Rate

Most organizations don't have an external link on their home page; therefore, it's easier to interpret the data. Here are a few things to consider when trying to lower your webite's bounce rate:

  1. Review your copy. If you haven't had your website reviewed by a professional marketer and copywriter in a while this is probably a great first step. If budgets don't permit then buy a copywriting book and apply its principles to your site. I recommend Robert Bly and his book The Copywriter's Handbook. The point here is that your copy needs to sell your visitors to keep them moving along through your site. If you don't engage them and entice them to learn more then they will bounce.
  2. Review calls to action.  This also falls under the copy item above but is a little more specific and important. Everything matters on your home page or landing pages. Every element is important but few are as important as calls to action. For example, simple calls to action are "Buy now," "Call us now," "Sign up," or "Enter to win".

    Every page has a headline or a title with supporting copy. Home pages usually have several headlines that are meant to catch the visitor's eye and lead them in the direction they are most interested. These headlines and supporting copy provide a foundation of trust before visitors hit any calls to action. Imagine landing on a page that has just two words, "Buy Now!" or more words "Sign up for our organic newsletter" . Both are valid calls to action but without any supporting material behind them the chances of getting conversions are slim to none.

    The wording of your calls to action also matters a great deal. Make them simple, concise, and motivating. Once clicked, these should lead to some mechanism that converts those visitors by them signing up for a newsletter, buying a product, or providing some bit of information to you to begin the next stage of your relationship.
  3. Website bounce rates and conversion flow - Marketpath Inc

  4. Don't trick people into visiting your website - or at least know the consequences. Many organizations use unrelated keywords to drive people to their website. For example, a Nissan automotive dealer might target keywords for Toyota and Honda in his area. The thinking goes like this: "if someone is looking for a Toyota and clicks on our Nissan link (which really says Toyota), they might stay for a bit and change their mind about the Toyota." See the trick? It's used in search marketing all the time. You could also use this but you have to realize that you will have a very high bounce rate. When those tricked visitors hit your site most will become annoyed that it's not a Toyota site and will leave. Your bounce rate will suffer accordingly by going up.

  5. Monitor referrers and search terms. If you don't know where your visitors are coming from then how do you write targeted content for them? If 50% of your visitors come from search traffic and the majority of those find you with one particular search phrase (your analytics package will tell you this) then your home page or landing page copy should sell to those individuals. Lumping everyone into one large bucket will lead to a watered down effect. The more specific you can be in your headlines, copy, and calls to action, the more success you'll have resulting in fewer bounces.

  6. Test. If you can narrow down your headlines, supporting copy, and calls to action, then you can test. A/B testing or multi-variate testing are both great ways to measure the results of multiple content versions to see which performs better. You should always test before making big changes. But, if you are a small company with limited time, or you are a "ready, fire, aim!" type of marketer (like me), then be sure to make smaller incremental changes to your site so you can properly measure the impact. If you make a bunch of changes at once without any testing you'll be left wondering which of those changes made the difference in your improved results.

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Google's New +1 Feature Bridging Gap Between Social and Search?

Posted 5:30 PM by

Google's +1 LogoOver the next few weeks, everyone that uses Google will begin to see its new "+1" feature showing up in search results and across the web.  This new feature can be thought of as the Facebook "Like" button, as it is simply a recommendation for whatever type of content the +1 icon is attached to.  Once activated, the button will change colors, letting you know that you have "+1'd" the article, ad, webpage, image, or video (and on and on).  If one of your friends or contacts happens to come across that particular piece of content that you "+1'd", they will see your name as someone who recommends that information.  Each time you "+1" something, you're basically leaving your mark to all that follow that you trust this piece of content, and that it is worth checking out.  It's a much more passive way to recommend something to your network than sending an email, or a tweet, or posting on Facebook.


We've seen Google dip its toes into the "social pool" before, often times with failed results.  Google Buzz, which was launched last year, didn't really ever gain traction compared to Facebook, Twitter, and 4Square - all of which it was trying to compete with or replace.  Google Wave was another foray into the social collaboration world that crashed and burned.  On the other hand, the new +1 feature might have some added benefit in the search engine optimization world, which would make it a very enticing new avenue to pursue.  It is far too early to tell, however, how Google will utilize these "+1's" in its algorithm, but I would fully expect Google to factor the data in at some point.  There is already plenty of speculation out there about what Google has up its sleeve, like in this article from CMS Wire, or this one from Search Engine Land.

With so much attention being given to social media these days, it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out in the corporate marketing world.  Will we soon see TV ads ending with "Like us on Facebook AND +1 us on Google?" Will the social media experts out there begin to measure how many "+1's" you have and try to assign a monetary value to it?  Or, will this be another failed attempt at seamlessly bridging the gap between social media and search?

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Content Form and Function; A little back story

Posted 9:58 AM by

Louis Sullivan | Balancing Form and Function

The theme of this blog is based primarily on the 100+ year old phrase "Form (ever) follows function." The origin of the phrase dates back to Louis Sullivan's 1896 article "The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered." The great American architect believed that a building's shape should be primarily based on its intended function. The credo was taken to imply that decorative elements were superfluous in modern buildings. However, Sullivan himself neither thought nor designed along such dogmatic lines during the peak of his career. Indeed, while his buildings could be spare and crisp in their principal masses, he often punctuated their plain surfaces with eruptions of lush Art Nouveau and Celtic Revival decorations.

While those principles made sense for much of the last century for buildings and objects alike, times have changed a little. Digital technology provides us with many more functions to be squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces. As a designer and content architect, I too strive to first consider the "function" a website or page before giving in to my more creative desires. After all, creative embellishments are primarily subjective.

To be an effective web designer is to hold content form and function in relative balance. However, we must first consider the purpose of the content we're authoring. Only once we're confident that we understand it's purpose, are we free to make it look better.




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Bandwidth Galore!

Posted 8:41 AM by

The office got a big boost today when we had Comcast Business Class installed.

There are nine people in our office so this is less about bandwidth consumption at the office and more about external connectivity outside the office. When our people can work efficiently anytime of the day from anywhere in the world, we become much more productive. Everything works smoother - website browsing, file uploads, VPN, online backup, email, watching Family Guy reruns, playing Call of Duty, and many other equally important tasks.

I feel sort of like we just moved into a bigger house. What are we going to do with all this room! I'm sure we'll figure out how to fill every corner with junk!

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The 5 Point Checklist of Selecting a CMS

Posted 5:08 PM by

With so many content management systems out on the market today, selecting one can be a daunting task.  Many times, the future users of the system are unaware of which questions to ask, or what to look for when evaluating each platform.  I have decided to put together a checklist that will help technical and non-technical users alike when the question of which CMS to use inevitably comes up.

  1. Security - This may be the most important element of selecting a CMS, depending on your type of site.  Open source systems have often times failed the security tests because anyone can develop plug-ins for these platforms.  Less experienced programmers or hackers can often times develop modules that bring along negative consequences once installed.  Hosted CMS platforms can usually alleviate these problems. 

    Also something to take into account is the user authentication process.  How many users are there?  How are they tracked? Does each have unique login credentials?
  2.  

  3. Simplicity - The choice you are making is one you will have to deal with for months or years to come.  Sure, there are a lot of simple content management systems out there, but don't take a developers word for it.  They are experienced in using their favorite platform and come from a technical background.  Make sure you push to see a demo of the product, and make sure you understand the process of updating a site, especially if you're a marketer lacking HTML knowledge. 

    Making updates to your website shouldn't be intimidating or time consuming, as that is the whole point of using a CMS.  Make sure you're comfortable with the interface and you understand how the CMS works with your specific website.
  4.  

  5. Support - When it comes down to it, all software will have problems.  Bugs are an inevitable annoyance that always seem to come up at the most important times.  Here are the questions that needs to be answered about the CMS you are choosing - What happens when I need help?  Who can I call? And finally, how much will that cost me? 

    Each platform varies in their answers to these questions.  Open source systems can be supported by the developer who set them up, but at a price.  Installed platforms have their own maintenance agreements.  Software-as-a-Service platforms, on the other hand, have the best answer for this (I know I am biased).  If something goes wrong, you call the architects of the system for the fix, at no additional charge.
  6.  

  7. Speed - When I say speed, I'm referring to the speed of implementation.  Some systems have to be set up each time a new website is built.  Some systems have to be installed on internal servers, which will inevitably take time.  Other systems, usually software-as-a-service models, are already built and running in a hosted environment.  This means the timeline to launch a website can be shortened considerably, saving time and money.

    Implementing designs and content into a hosted solution can often be done within weeks, not months. 
  8.  

  9. Scalability - How flexible is the system?  How unique is your website?  Depending on whether your site will be a brochure site or whether it will be a true marketing tool can sway your decision from one CMS to another.  Figuring out the marketing goals for your website prior to CMS evaluation is a must if you want to truly have confidence in your selected CMS.

    A few other questions to ask are - What systems need to integrate with our website?  Since the Internet is constantly changing, how do we add new functionality to our site once it has launched?

Addressing these issues early in your content management system evaluation process can guide you down the right path.  One thing to realize is that no CMS is perfect for every website, as they all have their strengths and weaknesses.  Make sure you do your research, ask questions, and see demos of each product before making your final decision. 
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Pros and Cons of Software as a Service Content Management Systems

Posted 9:07 AM by

Last week I discussed the pros and cons of open source web content management platforms, such as Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla.  To continue the conversation, this post will cover the pros and cons of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) web content management systems (CMS). 

Advantages of SaaS CMS:

  1. Low cost of entry - SaaS CMS is based on a subscription model, so there is no large upfront licensing fee.  Usually, a SaaS CMS project will have a small setup fee that covers the cost of implementation.
  2. No Extra Burden on IT Staff (Supported) - When a support issue arises with a SaaS product, the burden to fix the problem no longer falls on internal staff.  The company that provides the platform is responsible for fixing the issue, most of the time at no added cost.
  3. Highly Accessible - Since SaaS CMS is usually a virtual product, they are accessible from any computer with an internet connection. 
  4. Security - Since all the development is handled by the company that owns the CMS, there is no need to worry about malware or buggy add-ons to the CMS.  If it is released by the CMS company as a feature add-on, you can rest assured that it won't expose your site to security threats.
  5. Multiple Users Model - Most SaaS products have a multiple user model, where the price will increase with the number of users given access to the system.  This is great because it is often easy to add new users to help spread out the workload.
  6. Subscription Fee Fits into Budget - Since support is often times included in the subscription model, you can rest assured knowing that the monthly fee will not increase even if something goes wrong with your website.
  7. Ongoing Innovation - All software products have innovation, however, with the SaaS, new features are added quickly and often.  Usually these features are available to all users at no additional cost.
  8. Speed of Implementation - Since the CMS is already developed, launching a new website can often times be done in as little as 30 days.  With custom functionality and e-commerce, the project lengthens a bit, but it is still extremely fast compared to traditional website development.

Disadvantages of SaaS CMS

  1. No Local Data Control - Since SaaS CMS platforms are built and housed at Data Centers, the IT staff feels like it loses a bit of control when it comes to security.  However, SaaS CMS's are built behind firewalls and are often times more secure than a company's local servers.
  2. Subscription fee is Added Cost - Since there are "free" systems out there, recurring cost is often times looked at as a downside to the SaaS model.  It is up to you to determine the value of the SaaS platform for yourself and your business.  However, I encourage you to read an earlier post about support issues.
  3. Closed Development - Since SaaS CMS platforms are often times proprietary systems that belong to certain companies, they do not allow for an open source type development model.  This means that customers must request features to be added by the company, instead of searching the internet for a plug-in that is probably already developed. 
That concludes my list of the Pros and Cons of SaaS CMS.  I believe that the days of installed software are numbered, and that open-source platforms are great for certain applications and not great for others.  It is up to you and your team when evaluating different CMS options to find the solution that best fits your project, as not one CMS platform is the universal choice for all website builds.  However, I truly believe that SaaS makes a strong case in most projects, so make sure you take a long, hard look at it as a viable option. 
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Create an Event Specific Landing Page and Custom URL with Marketpath CMS

Posted 4:31 PM by

One of the great advantages of using a web content management system is the ability to create custom landing pages for webinars, seminars, tradeshows, or other events. You probably have several of these each year and send out information to your constituents. Wouldn't it be nice to quickly create a custom landing page for each event containing all the agenda details and registration instructions? With Marketpath CMS you can. Here's how:

  1. First, right-click on the folder within which to create the page and select "New Page"

    Creating a page in Marketpath CMS

  2. Next, give the page a name. I typically name my landing pages by date of event first so they appear in chronological order (e.g. "2011-02-25 - Winter Product Showcase." While using the new page wizard be sure to select the appropriate theme and page template and do not link it to a navigational menu.

  3. Add the landing page content. Of course, it helps if you have a landing page template already provided for you but you can also do this using a full page open template like I did below. All landing pages need a way to convert visitors immediately. This one contains a simple registration form for the event. Your form may be very different from this.

    Landing page content creation with Marketpath CMS
  4. If you don't want the page to be found in the search results or shown in the sitemap, be sure to open "Properties" and uncheck the "Indexed" option before publishing.

    Search indexing of a page in Marketpath CMS
  5. Publish your changes.
  6. Now, you probably want to create an easy to remember URL for your users to access the landing page. Nobody wants to remember or type in "http://www.yoursite.com/2011-02-25-Winter-Product-Showcase". Instead, "yoursite.com/winter2011" would be much easier. To do this open the "Settings" panel and then click on the "Redirects" item under Site.

    Creating automatic redirects in Marketpath CMS
  7. Next, click the "New Redirect" button and type in the Original URL (i.e. the friendly URL). Note, this must be preceded with a forward slash indicating the root directory of the website. Select the type "Page" and then select the new landing page. You can leave "Permanent Redirect" unchecked here.

    Creating an automatic redirect within Marketpath CMS
  8. Finally, publish the new redirect by clicking the following icon.


So, there you have it. 8 simple steps to create an event-specific landing page and customized URL within Marketpath CMS. And of course, if you have any trouble, just pick up the phone. We're here to help!

 

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Pros and Cons of Open Source Content Management Systems

Posted 6:14 PM by

Last week, I touched a bit on the main difference, as we see it, between Open Source Content Management Systems (Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal) and Software-as-a-Service CMS's like Marketpath.  To dive a little deeper into this topic, I decided to list out a few pros and cons of the Open Source model.


Advantages of Open Source Content Management Systems:

Software is "free" - This is partially true. Open Source software is software that has been developed by a community of people that do not charge licensing fees for their work.

Plug-ins - If you want to add functionality to your website, there is often a plug-in already built.  There is no need to pay for custom development.  

Flexibility - The right tool in the right hands can be extremely powerful and flexible. Many of these open source content management systems can be set up to do just about anything. The possibility is almost endless.


Disadvantages of Open Source Content Management Systems:


Software is "free" - The old adage "you get what you pay for" is very appropriate here. While there is no ongoing subscription or licensing fee, Open Source technology often takes tens of thousands of dollars to set up properly. Plus, who do you call to fix the software when a bug is found? The open source development community may eventually provide a fix but there are no guarantees as to when.

Plug-in security issues - Some of the plug-ins work better than others, but you can never be sure until you install it. If it doesn't work, however, there is nobody to call for technical support - you're on your own. It seems that not a week goes by where you don't hear or read about a major security flaw either on a prominent website, or with the content management system itself.

Updating versions - Often times, these open source systems need to be updated to work properly. Updating the open source CMS behind the scenes of a website can often times cause problems on the website itself.

Steep learning curve - Many of these systems have a steep learning curve, as they are built with the developer in mind, not the non-technical marketer. It is possible to learn any system, but these more technical systems can often times lead to frustration and lack of use.

Have any other advantages or disadvantages of Open Source systems? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Personal Introduction and 'How jQuery is the best library ever'

Posted 2:00 PM by

Hi. My name is Larry Tylenda, and I am one of the developers working at Marketpath. I officially began working full-time at Marketpath on January 3, 2011, but have interned for Marketpath since December 2008. I graduated form the University of Indianapolis in December 2010. I majored in Computer Science and Mathematics and I love programming and learning about math and technology.

In this post, I will be talking about jQuery and its amazing capabilities.

jQuery Logo

jQuery is a JavaScript library used to join common lengthy JavaScript techniques into a simple syntax. An example of this would be to grab all of the items in a list and change the background of all the items to blue. With regular JavaScript this would be:

var arrItems = document.getElementsByTag('li');
for(var i = 0; i < arrItems.length; i++)
{
    arrItems[i].style.backgroundColor = "#0000FF";
}

but with jQuery the code would be:

$('li').css('backgroundColor','#0000FF');

As you can see, jQuery makes things simpler and is faster to use. Also, its selector options are far greater than just plain JavaScript. say there were two lists on the page. then the first block of code would need a conditional statement to check if it is a child of one list or another. With jQuery, all you would have to do is change 'li' in the second block of code to '#<%%LIST-ID%%> li'. So instead of adding a whole conditional statement and lengthening the amount of code in your document, you can use jQuery's extensive selecors to find the element or elements that you wish to edit or select.

Next week I will be talking about jQuery's amazing UI. Until then, I encourage you to check out jQuery's website at jquery.com.

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5 Easy Steps to Establish Marketing Rhythm and Momentum

Posted 12:43 PM by

We see this often. A client purchases our design and development services, gets trained in our web content management system, and then flitters away to rarely use it again. Their website marketing efforts die right after launch.

5 easy steps to establish marketing rhythm and momentum (Alfred Gockel art)Then at some point, a couple years or so down the road, they call and tell us that it's not working for them like they had hoped. Most fess up and recognize that they didn't dedicate time to add meaningful content and continuously improve the website over time. One former customer yelled and screamed that our business relationship was one-sided to the point it was insulting. Ouch. It's a good thing I take my jabs in stride (that customer never logged in once after launch).

The problem is simple. It is seen in many industries throughout the small business world. A company provides a high qualilty product or service, a buyer never uses it as it was intended to be used, and the buyer gets upset with either themselves for wasting money or with the vendor for the product not providing the expected results.

Web content management systems are no different. These are tools that provide users a mechanism for updating their website with content that, if meaningful and relevant to prospects and customers, will increase visitors, improve site engagement, and convert more visitors into paying customers or advocates. But this takes time and effort that most small business owners don't have.

Here are easy 5 steps you can take to avoid the same trap and to establish a rhythm and momentum for producing great website content:

1. Setup a Content Strategy

Evaluate the type of customers you have and want, then brainstorm questions they might have and information they seek. The best source for this might be your existing customers. Ask them two simple questions: 1) What problems did our product or service solve for you? 2) What more could we do to improve that product or service?

You'll get the information fairly easily from your customers. They know you and won't think you're trying to sell them on the product they already have. You might also gain some insight (likes & disklikes) that you wouldn't have gained otherwise.

Once you  have these questions, brainstorm topics that your customers and prospects might find interesting. Use the notes feature of your PDA or send yourself a quick email whenever a new topic pops into your head.

"Content Strategy" might seem a little overwhelming, so don't think of this as some exhaustive process. Keep it easy and keep the topics light. Otherwise you'll find yourself trying to write lengthy white papers you don't have enough time to finish.

2. Involve Your Whole Company


Whether you are a two man operation or have five hundred employees you have a wealth of knowledge within that can be tapped and leveraged. Use it. Ask your staff to contribute content. Let them come up with their own ideas and have fun with it. You're not writing novels, so as long as you proofread the posts before publishing you should be fine.

Keep in mind that not everyone will be a great writer. They may be passionate about their job but not able to communicate it well. Work with them and encourage them to keep at it and that they are not getting graded.

3. Set a Schedule

Without a schedule, you have nothing to hold your people accountable. So, setup a schedule unique to each individual. Require one post per month, bi-weekly, or per week. Our developers are required to write one per month because we keep them very busy with projects. Our marketing and sales staff are required to write one per week.

You should set incentives for employees. Instead of saying "if you don't write one per month...", try saying "if you DO write one per month, then I will....". For example, if an employee has contributed their quota consistently for 3 or 6 months, they get a $25 gift card. Or perhaps, the user with the highest trafficked post (most visitors) receives the prize. You could also provide incentives that aren't financial, such as, a prime parking space, or they get to wear jeans and a t-shirt for a week.

4. Reuse Content for Other Marketing Channels

If you have established rhythm and momentum writing new content then after a few months you should start accumulating a lot of great stuff. You can use all of this in your other marketing efforts. Send the best posts in your email marketing newsletters. Take one post and begin a larger, more in-depth effort to write a white paper. At the end of the year, you might even send a summary message or letter that has your best writing.

New content will spawn all sorts of ideas and may even change your business. Act on those.Stick to your schedule.

5. Promote Your Content

Producing great content is nice but if nobody finds it what's the point? All of your content should be broadcast to Twitter, Facebook, your email subscribers, your direct mail subscribers, local Chambers and industry organizations. There are many great organizations that provide free posting of industry news topics (keeping in mind the content is not blatant self-promotion).

Watch your website statistics to see what your top referrers are for these posts. This will help you know where to spend more time and effort in the future and what type of organizations to target with the posts. Of course, you need to watch for conversions too. More visitors does not mean more customers.

Ask trade organizations if you can provide some content for one of their newsletters, magazines, etc. This is not only a great way to spread your message but an opportunity to establilsh expertise in your industry.

However you approach writing content for your website, you won't get the job done without a plan. Spend an hour or two putting your plan together and then execute, execute, execute. After all, what good is a plan if there is no execution?

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C&T Design selects Marketpath for Content Management and Web Design

Posted by

We are excited this morning to announce the launch of C&T Design and Equipment Company's new website (www.c-tdesign.com), which was designed by Marketpath and utilizes our easy to use web content management system.

C&T Design selects Marketpath for web design and web content management The site features impactful photography and show cases C&T Design projects from various industries around the globe, while promoting the food service equipment and services they offer.

The site also includes a new "resource center" that will position C&T as an industy leader in the food service solutions space.  The resource center contains a project gallery for design concepts, a "green" solutions area with information and articles on eco-friendly and energy efficient products, services and design ideas, new "buyers guide" and "cooking guide" sections, as well as C&T Design's first blog.  The website has also been optimized for search (SEO), so that C&T's products and services can be easily found by the numerous industry segments that C&T targets.

If you are in the market for food service equipment, design or consulting, we strongly recommend checking out C&T Design and Equipment.  They're a great company and a pleasure to work with.

More more information about C&T Design and their new site, check out the attached press release.

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The Winter Wasteland Opportunity

Posted 2:53 PM by

Winter Wasteland Opportunity to Improve SaasToday, I drove to my office, parked, took this picture, and then sat there for a few minutes to reflect. I couldn't help but think how great an opportunity this represents. It's not because I plan to buy a pickup truck with a plow and hit the roads. It's because when it is cold and snowy I always think of shutting myself up in a warm, comfortable room and knocking out some important tasks that don't always get noticed during the normal hustle and bustle.

I don't spend a lot of time out by this lake in the first place - most of my time is inside. Yet, with the possibility of doing anything outdoors cut off, I am forced to stay inside. In my mind, this is an opportunity to ignore the distractions the outside world offers and hunker down inside with a hot cup of coffee, a computer, and a list of things I want to get accomplished.

I realize this is mostly psychological. But what if I'm not alone. What if all our customers think the same way? What if the world slows down a bit for them too and gives them a clearer view of their goals - for example, working on new and enticing content for their website? So I did a test. I grouped the total number of users in the system each day (excluding weekends) and overlayed the amount of precipitation. I was curious to see if our users logged in more on rainy or snowy days than dry days. Here's the chart:

Marketpath user sessions - precipitation overlay
Total daily user sessions and precipitation (green is above normal, brown is below normal, blue line is total users).

As you can see, nothing. There doesn't seem to be any correlation to users of our system and the amount of precipitation. Completely random. It was a fun little test, though.

So perhaps others don't think quite like me. Or maybe they do but their first thought isn't to add new content to their website. I would be interested, however, to see if other systems do have a correlation - like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc.

Well, now it's 11 AM and I haven't done anything but write this post. I guess the thought of hunkering down and getting a bunch done is more theory than practice. Time to catch up.

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Hackers and Founders - A Home for the True Business Geek

Posted 3:13 AM by

Tonight I attended my first Hackers and Founders event that highlights Indy's best and brightest entrepreneurs, developers, and investors. Three companies presented great ideas that truly had some legs. It was great for me because I got to speak business with some and technology with others (It's really hard for me to shake this programmer side). Each company had 5 minutes to give their pitch. Here's a quick highlight of each:

 

  1. ModalLogix (http://modallogix.com/) - Angel Morales

    I remember Angel from his days at ExactTarget. I did some contract work and had a private office which the higher ups kicked me out of so Angel could have "thinking" space. Although I was a little disgruntled, and felt like Milton in Office Space, I believe it was well deserved - especially after seeing Angel's presentation tonight.  

    The presentation would have made an auctioneer proud but what he showed was simply amazing! His product, SmartRemarketer, tackles issues like cart abandonment by strategically placing content (whether by email or on the website itself) back into the shopper lifecycle (or in this case - abandonment lifecycle). That is just one small facet of his software but it seems to offer powerful behavioral targeting.
     
  2. EatDrink.it (http://eatdrink.it) - Jared Brown

    This is a very cool idea. Simply put, menu level restaurant ratings. Yelp and Urban Spoon provide reviews and restaurant selection but nobody really rates menu items.

    How many times have you gone to a restaurant, ordered something, and realized it wasn't good at all? $25 down the drain. EatDrink.it provides real user reviews of those items. You can see what others have to say and save yourself the agony of a wasted meal. Another advantage is saving your ratings from restaurants you've visited. I've done it before myself - ordered something on a menu that I had before and didn't like. Yeah I'm old. I forget things. 
     
  3. StatsSquared (http://statssquared.com/) - Brandon Corbin - Indy Startup Weekend winner!

    This is a Twitter analytics tool that helps you measure click-through-rates (CTR). How many people are clicking on your links or those of your competitor? This tool helps you find that out. During Brandon's presentation he used the example of Kim Kardashian and (I think) MSNBC. The sad finding was that tweets from Kim Kardashian had a huge click through rate compared to MSNBC. Sadly, my wife probably contributed to that.

    StatsSquared won Indy Startup Weekend this past weekend and is now poised against 15 other international startups for the Global Startup Battle. You have 45 minutes to vote for them...... go!  http://globalstartupbattle.com/voting/ 

 

I'm continuously intrigued by the level of talent in Indianapolis and can't wait to see what the next decade holds as technologies mature and entrepreneurs thrive. I love this city! 

Big thanks to Matt Hunckler who founded and organizes the Hackers and Founders meetups. Fantastic event!

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    Visitors, Personalization and Engagement

    Posted 8:01 PM by
    Because we are not an SEO company, I have decided to expand my blog a bit and focus on the topics of getting visitors, personalizing their visits, and engaging them to the best way possible, instead of just focusing on SEO.  From now on, each post will be focused on one of these three areas:

    Attracting Visitors 
    Whether your visitors are coming from direct traffic, search engines, referral sites, or the ever popular social media atmosphere, the bottom line is everyone wants more, as long as they are the right visitors.

    Personalizing a users visit to your Website
    Personalization is the new holy grail of Internet marketing, in my opinion.  While we are truly at the base of the "Personalization Mountain" right now, you can rest assured that this is where websites are going.  Just think, customizing each users visit, to the best of your ability, to market THE product or service they are most interested in based upon their search query, entry point, or referral site.  Email marketers have been doing this for years with personalized email...why stop at email?

    Engaging each user with targeted content and specific conversion goals
    The mark of a truly effective website is not just based solely in the amount of traffic that it gets.  If my site gets 10,000 hits a day but I only convert .01% of those into a sale or a customer, it would be hard for me to consider my website effective (depending on the industry and goals, of course).  Every site owner these days will stop what they are doing and listen if you mention the words "Search Engine Optimization", but what good does that do?  SEO paired with engaging content and clear goals is where true value is derived.  
    So, stay tuned as we explore these different areas of website development and all things Internet marketing.  Also, feel free to join the conversation in the comments section below. 
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    Twitter and Seth Godin

    Posted 3:42 AM by
    I'm a big follower of Seth Godin's ideas and work but I made a strange realization today when reading his post The forever recession. I'm subscribed to his email list and receive announcements of his daily blog posts. Most of them I don't read but I always scan the headlines and read the posts of interest.

    Seth Godin - twitter - followersI began following him on Twitter and realized that he is not following a single person! What?! Surely, the man who proclaims personal and relevant communications would be following somebody. Is there nothing left for Seth Godin to learn from those that follow him? Jesus doesn't follow anyone but I mean, come on, it's Jesus.

    So, why is it that this great marketer doesn't follow anyone? I had to do a little research and found the video below that I think helps explain it. The video is 1 1/2 years old but it contains some interesting clues about Seth's stance on Twitter and social media in general.

    At the time, he wasn't even on Twitter and the interviewer asks him why. He answers simply and plainly that he wants to be the best. He basically says, "I'm the best at being me.... and I have the the best marketing blog (for now) and if I start up on Twitter or Facebook I won't be the best because I don't have the time to dedicate to it."

    So what does that mean for me and you? Does it mean we need to be the best at Twitter? Not really. I'm no twitter expert, though. @Marketpath has a whopping 35 followers!

    For Seth, I do like the fact that he's following nobody as opposed to following only a handful of people with 46,162 followers.

    Jump ahead to 9:10 to find the spot where he's asked about Twitter.

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    Google Instant and What it Means for Search&nbsp;

    Posted 5:51 AM by
    So, it has been about a week since Google Instant was debuted, which is about how long it took for me to write down my first impressions of it.  It has been an interesting week of reading blog articles and tweets, as there has been no shortage of content on both sides of the argument.  Here is a recap of the week and the things that I have learned.

    1. Snap judgements around the web community initially said that "SEO IS DEAD!!!", while Google quickly refuted that point, saying that their algorithm hadn't changed.

    Now I wouldn't say that SEO is dead, but it has definitely changed in my opinion.  While the most sought after keywords are still going to be the most sought after keywords, I think there will be an interesting shift away from long-tail searches that were easier rank on page one.  Since Google is constantly trying to interpret what you are searching for and suggesting your next word, unique searches will begin to taper off.  I'm not saying that Google Instant and the Google Suggest feature will turn us all into robots, there will still be unique searches, but I feel like in smaller numbers.  Only time will tell on this one.

    2.  I Use Google Chrome, so I don't really interact with Google Instant

    For many Google Chrome users like myself, Google Instant is only applicable if my first query doesn't return what I am looking for.  Since the URL Box doubles as a Google Search box in Google Chrome, I can type in my query and press enter without having to go to the Google Homepage.  Once I am on the results page, I can then refine my search using Google Instant, but not before.  I'm not sure if Google has plans to roll out the Google Instant feature to Google Chrome, we'll have to wait and see on that one.       

    3. We've noticed a definite shift in the Organic Rankings "Screen Real Estate", especially on local searches
    .

    This was an interesting realization.  Now that Google Instant has the Google Suggest box underneath the search box itself, it pushes the organic rankings down to almost below the fold.  As you can see below, there are three Pay-Per-Click listings for this search, displayed first, then the Google Local map, and then at the very bottom of the image you can see the 1st organic listing (that is actually being cut in half horizontally).  Google didn't change the way that these three sections are displayed, but adding more content underneath the search box like they have done, definitely reduces the strength of a page one organic ranking for these local terms.  It will be interesting to see how the data shift of people clicking on paid advertisements changes over the next couple of months since they aren't immediately served up organic results.  

    Google Instant Screen Capture


    4. The overall strategy for ranking well hasn't changed.

    Creating good, relevant content is still what makes a website an authority on any given topic.  Making sure that your site is searchable and incorporates search engine friendly title tags, URL's, and other on-page features is still at the foundation of Google, whether it is Instant or not.  Just because they have changed the way they are displaying information doesn't mean there is a drastic change in the information itself. 

    As always, creating good content attracts links back to your website.  Attracting these high-quality (not quantity) links should be the goal of any content publishing.  

    I'm sure that Google Instant will change some things in the search world, or even the world itself - as Google Instant would claim that at the time that I am writing this to have already saved about 1 million hours worldwide.  Ironically, only more time will tell us what the impact of Google Instant truly is.  


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    Marketpath CMS Adds Site Search and Sitemap Generator

    Posted by

    Marketpath's development team has just finished its latest addition to Marketpath CMS - Integrated Site Search and Automatically Generating XML Sitemaps. These features are now available and highly recommended for all of our customers, not only for general usability purposes, but for search engine optimization best practices, as well.

    Integrated Site Search 

    Site search gives your website visitors the ability to seach for specific topics, pages, or products within your site by simply typing a search query into the new site search box that will be incorporated into your site. Upon searching, your visitor will be directed to a results page that ranks each listing based upon relevance, dramatically helping your visitors find what they are looking for. This is a crucial feature for websites that are constantly growing and changing.

    Automatic Sitemap Generator 

    Google highly recommends incorporating XML sitemaps into any website so their robots and spiders can more easily determine the site structure, helping your website rank higher for your targeted terms. By utilizing the new site search feature explained above, Marketpath has built an XML sitemap generator that automatically populates based upon any page that is linked in your menu.

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    Marketpath and DreamTrust team up to launch Harry Potter themed website

    Posted by
    Marketpath and DreamTrust, two Indianapolis companies, are teaming up to launch HarryPotterWallArt.com, offering removable wall art for the highly popular film franchise.

    Indianapolis, IN-August 11, 2009-Marketpath, Inc. (www.marketpath.com) was chosen to design and develop DreamTrust Corp.'s new website, www.HarryPotterWallArt.com. The innovative website will sell reusable wall decals, consisting of licensed images from the Harry PotterTM films.

    DreamTrust needed a partner that could bring its product to life on the Web, helping fans visualize how the Pinhedz wall decals could transform their homes. To accomplish this goal, DreamTrust selected Marketpath, Inc., an Indianapolis based company specializing in website design and development services and on-demand Web content management and e-commerce solutions.

    "We are excited to work with Marketpath to deliver this innovative new website for Harry Potter fans of all ages," said Rick Barretto, DreamTrust founder. "By partnering with Marketpath, Inc., who specializes in Web software and design, we'll bring our products to life on the Web with a richness that allows fans to envision how their favorite characters and scenes will look in their homes. Marketpath's software will enable our marketing staff to update and enhance the site easily without having to rely on technical developers and long timelines. Their software is extremely user-friendly, which lets us add new products and features quickly to the site."

    DreamTrust Corp. offers hundreds of officially licensed images for sale from each movie in the series. Their patented Pinhedz material consists of self-adhesive, fabric matte paper that attaches easily to any non-porous surface. DreamTrust brings to life the Harry Potter images, varying in size from 12 inches to life-size pictures, and makes them available for the home or business.

    Marketpath CEO Matt Zentz believes www.HarryPotterWallArt.com will be a huge success. "When you combine DreamTrust's vision and superior Pinhedz product with Marketpath's Web content management software and design expertise, the result is a website that should please our target audience. And with our help, Harry Potter fans should be able to immerse themselves in the film experience while in their own homes."

     

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    Web Content Management&nbsp;for Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer!

    Posted by
    It has been a long time in the making but Marketpath CMS is now fully cross-browser with all the major web browsers. Building a standalone website that is cross-browser is very easy. But building a tool with as rich a user interface as Marketpath CMS is quite an undertaking!

    When we began development on Marketpath CMS in early 2006 Internet Explorer had a 57% market share (even higher if you count only corporate users) so we built our tool with that in mind. We recognized, though, that we would eventually need to mold Marketpath CMS into a fully cross-browser compatible tool and that's just what we did.

    Supporting alll the major browsers provides even more convenience and simplicity for our customers. Managing website content should be easy and Marketpath CMS makes it so!

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    Marketpath demystifies SEO for the Indianapolis Convention &amp; Visitor’s Association

    Posted by

    Friday, February 27 - PR pros from ICVA organizations such as The Children’s Museum, the Indiana Historical Society, the Indiana Restaurant Association, Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Indianapolis Indians gathered at Conseco Fieldhouse yesterday to hear our very own Adam Brand and TJ Furman demystify search engine optimization (SEO). The discussion was targeted towards a public relations audience, but the broader message is relevant to anyone interested in SEO. We have made the materials- SEO for Pulic Relations available and welcome you to view them.

    If you have ever searched for information about an event, restaurant or ticket sales in Indianapolis, you can appreciate why this group was interested in SEO. There is a lot going on in the Circle City and in a way they are all vying for a piece of our shrinking attention span. Stop updating your Facebook status! On Thursday, Adam and TJ explained how SEO makes content more easily found through keyword searches. No smoke and mirrors or complicated lingo. Nothing to be afraid of- SEO is our friend!

    For example, I did a Google search for ‘Indianapolis St. Patrick’s Day’ to see what appeared first in the search results. It was: Indy Sports Foundation. They are promoting several events related to St. Patrick’s Day, but the company’s mission is to support amateur sports in central Indiana. This first page may give you all the St. Paddy’s Day parade information you were looking for, but you may stay and click around to learn more about the Foundation (I did). Being that first search result is important and SEO will help you get there.

    The participants at the ICVA talk on Thursday had questions ranging from basic to advanced which demonstrated a range of experience. Regardless of your comfort level with SEO practices, intimidation should not be a factor in getting started. There are endless resources available to learn about SEO and once you get started you’ll be glad you did.

    While it was only a 1 hour discussion, Adam and TJ laid building blocks for all of the PR pros in the room to begin thinking about how they can each create a foundation of SEO-based communication strategies that will work for their organization. If you are interested in learning more about SEO and how it relates to what you do, contact anyone at Marketpath and we can start a conversation.

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    How Recent and How Often Does Matter&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;

    Posted 3:18 PM by

    One of the things that can help distinguish your website from your competitors is how often you update your content. We all know this, but yet some of us still find it difficult to make changes.  This might be the rationale behind Google putting stock into how recently and how frequently a site is updated.  Google prides itself on giving searchers the most relevant information available, which a lot of times will translate into the freshest information available.  Google will rank sites that administrators care enough to make changes to higher than their stale counterparts. 

    Now obviously, Google isn't ranking sites soley based on frequency of updates, however it is one piece of the overall equation.  In my opinion, it is the easiest piece of the overall SEO equation to put into action.  Invest in a good content management system and swap out a picture or two every once in a while, blog about news worthy events, add a landing page that correlates to a new ad campaign.  Make your website work for you.  It's easy with the right tool.

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    URL Rewriting and E-commerce

    Posted 1:46 PM by

    Take a look at this URL from newegg.com - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822140118.  Do you have any idea what the product is before you click on it?  Unless you're really good at memorizing item numbers, probably not.  Not only is this URL not attractive to humans, search engines like Google place an emphasis on the URL when looking for keywords.  Walmart is guilty of the same problem.  http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=10290815 is a link to buy dog food, but how would anyone know? 

    Based on the URL rewriting work I did for blogging, I'm now applying it to our new e-commerce module - Marketpath StoreFront.  Like blogging, StoreFront will be an add-on for Marketpath CMS.  Our version of the same Walmart page would look like http://www.walmart.com/pets/dogs/dogfood/purina-beneful-healthy-radiance.  Much better.  This will no doubt be a future trend in online stores as it helps redefine SEO for e-commerce.

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    It's a big SEO pie and there's enough to go around.

    Posted 8:08 PM by

    I'm a big fan of search.  That may seem obvious, but when we consider how far we've come in the last few decades, it really is outstanding.  Search engine optimization is obviously good for business, but when you consider it in the context of the consumer it really is very important.  You have to look at the search market just like any other market.  It's always going to be difficult to get any group of people to do anything unless there is money in it.  It would be impossible for google to properly index the web if sites didn't take the proper SEO precautions.  With that in mind, there are literally hundreds of SEO guidelines and tools available to ensure that your site can be found.

    This SEO piece is for meI'm a huge fan of website grader.  My favorite part about this tool is that it takes into account lots of different types of content and then ranks your site on a scale of one to a hundred.  This is supposed to somewhat accurately decide how well you will rise through the search rankings.  I especially like this site because it takes into account how much of any given SEO strategy you are using.  For example, if you have a lot of links, but are weak in other areas you will still rank favorably, because links are important.  If you are using blogging as a tool for inreasing your search rankings, then it takes the ranking of your blog into consideration.  It's also nice, because it provides simple and measurable steps that you can take to get it right. 

    I like to think of the web as a kind of 'economics of information.'  It's very similar to actual economics, except that instead of money you pay in knowledge.  Now, of course you can pay good money for SEO knowledge, but the beauty of it is that much of the good information is already available for free.  SEO can be a bit of a crap shoot, but if you are representing yourself honestly there is no reason to believe that anything is impossible.  Web 2.0 is here and there is MUCH more content than there once was.  There is really a world for everyone here, and proper SEO practices will ensure that the best content for you rises to the top.  Some terms are indeed very competitive.  This competition keeps the web healthy.  It's a big pie and there's enought to go around.

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    Google Web Browser and What it Means for Marketing

    Posted 1:28 AM by

    Just two days after I post about Microsoft IE8, I get an alert that Google has announced their new web browser, Google Chrome, will be available in beta for download September 2nd. If you're not familiar with the term 'beta', it is basically a testing release before the official '1.0' is added. Read the official notice from Google.

    From a consumer perspective, hurray! I do like having a choice..... but not too many. Too many choices and I just get confused and easily cheated by imposters and me-toos (ok, I don't get cheated with software much because I am a developer by trade, but my Grandmother does... and my parents, and my sister, and my cousins.... I hope you get the point). So, now I can use Firefox (the champion of people who dislike Microsoft), or I can use Internet Explorer (the standard built-in browser for Microsoft Windows), or Safari (the Mac OS built-in), or Google Chome (a wonderfully simplistic, yet powerful browser - I'm sure). Of course, there are a couple others, but they barely register as a blip in the browser usage radar.

    From a developer/marketer's perspective, I am a little annoyed. Building rich and dynamic cross-browser websites can be a challenge, even though development has improved a lot over the last 5 years. There are still inconsistencies, mostly with Javascript and CSS (style sheets). Developing cross-browser websites is sort of like putting up a billboard that can only be read by people in certain types of cars. If you drive a BMW it appears perfect.  If you drive an '84 Chevy Celebrity (like my first car) the billboard shows a big red X. It's challenging to get the message right for everyone.

    If your website is not dynamic, i.e. contains no Javascript, then you will likely be fine. The challenge is with rich sites - those websites that have put a lot of time and effort into improving the user experience. There will most likely be compatibility issues and you will need to fix those as soon as you can.

    Google has a huge following. To many people, they are still the underling that develops cutting edge software. Once Chrome is released in beta, you can count on a ton of people trying it out - if not adopting it entirely. This means you need to test your corporate websites, landing pages, micro-sites, and customer applications.

    Google is pretty good at releasing quality software, but I have seen several applications in beta that were buggy. If Chrome gets adopted by a large number of consumers, I hope they have worked out most of the kinks.

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    Learning to focus and harness creativity

    Posted 2:36 PM by

    Two of the biggest elements of marketing are focus and creativity.  Focus is important because you want to stayed focused on particular marketing tasks, but it is also important because your overall messages to prospects and customers need to stayed focused on your core product or service offering.  Creativity is important because it takes a creative mind to put out quality, relevant, and purposeful content that stays inline with your focus.

    Get Sleep - Stay Focused

    How do you stay focused, especially if you are a small business owner?  There are probably millions of topics related to this but I'm going mention only one.  I finished an article in Fortune Small Business Magazine titled "Make Sleep Work For You." The article talks about how important 7-8 hours of sleep each night is to everyone. Our society is based on this "burning the midnight oil" idea where we think if we put in more hours, we get more done.

    Studies have proven otherwise.  When we consistently get too little sleep our bodies respond accordingly by losing our ability to focus.  This results in a subpar level of work and could even lead to fatal business decisions. The health disadvantages are also numerous. The World Health Organization has studied this so much that they have considered making sleep deprivation a carcinogen.  Studies show that a lack of sleep leads to an increased chance of diabetes and cancer and weakens your bodies immune system. Wow! 

    Sleep is good. Get your rest and you'll be able to maintain a higher level of focus, make complex decisions easier, and even feel more energized throughout the day.  Some businesses actually put sleep rooms in the office so workers can take mini-naps throughout the day.

    Generate Creativity

    Being creative can be a huge challenge if you can't find your focus or inspiration. I don't remember where I read this but a simple trick you can use is to exercise for a short period of time just before you have to put your creative talents to work.  Exercising creates a higher level of activity in the brain and results in your ability to comprehend the bigger picture and piece together the fragments.  Sometimes I hit the stairwell and do a full flight or two to get the blood pumping. It really works so I encourage you to try it.

    Being well rested and throwing in some exercise can help you produce higher quality marketing material in a shorter amount of time.  This helps me in my writing and planning activities. Now, if I can just find a better way to improve my visual creativity I'll be all set.

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    Marketpath CMS @ blogINDIANA

    Posted 5:27 PM by

    The Marketpah team entertains the blog crowd

    The Marketpath crew had a fantastic time at blogINDIANA this weekend. I particularly enjoyed the presentations by Doug Karr, Scott Abel, and Chris Baggot.  People who know me already know that I was pretty much totally addicted to blogging, but now it's even worse.  Now I have about a thousand new ways to justify my obsession.

    The really interesting thing about the conference was how much I didn't know.  For example, I didn't know how secluded I've been in the blog community.  Granted, at Marketpath we mostly blog for SEO purposes, but I now have a sincere desire to increase my blog readership.  I am a content management expert and it's my job as a serious blogger to establish myself as such in the blogosphere.

    The primary theme that I took away with me after the weekend was 'transparency'.  Many of the speakers spoke on the topic.  Bloggers must be real.  They must be honest and forthright, because if your credibility is damaged, there is no way to get it back.  By the way, for those of you who don't know, in the picture above I'm the tall guy with the shaved head standing in the back.  The rest are the other guys in the Marketpath crew.  Thanks so much to all who participated in the conference this weekend and God bless.

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    SEO Lessons Learned

    Posted 5:33 PM by

    I thought of several titles for today's post.  "All my eggs in one SEO basket"  "Count your search chickens before they hatch" even "Humpty Dumpty had a great SEO fall"  Why? Because I got complacent.  I never considered that I was vulnerable.  I never considered that the world was plotting against me.  Let's face it, I just wasn't smart enough to see what I was up against.

    Humpty Dumpty had a great SEO fall!I know that the content in my blog gets indexed by Google.  As most people can tell you I'm totally obsessed with my blog right now, so naturally I've been blogging about the importance of corporate blogging and neglecting other keywords like SEO.  Consequentially, we no longer rank as high as we used to for SEO.  I'm upset.  In fact I'm down right mad.  I want my ranking.  I had it.  I worked for it.  Now I've lost it.  Let me set one thing straight Mr. Google;  we are search engine optimizers.  We are SEO experts.  We have something to say about search marketing.  Is that enough key words for you?  Can I have my 1st page ranking, please?

    Let this be a lesson to all you corporate bloggers out there.  Don't put all your eggs in one basket.  Spread your topics out over all aspects of your business, or your competitors will gain ground.  You will sacrifice all that you've worked for.  You'll be forced to whine and cry like I am.  You'll end up down on your knees begging for Google's forgiveness.  Heed my warning.

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    Marketpath CMS Sponsors the Blog Indiana Conference

    Posted 6:03 PM by

    blog indiana  - indianapolis - august 16 and 17

    I just wanted to take a minute to discuss the upcoming Blog Indiana Conference on August 16 and 17 at the IUPUI Campus center in downtown Indianapolis.  Check out the website.  I'm super excited for the event.  I think it's 50 bucks to attend and will feature awesome speakers and discussions about the state of the blog union.

    One of the reasons I'm so excited is that as most people know I'm relatively new to the blogosphere, and I'm extremely interested in what the leaders in the blog world have been doing all this time.  I've been amazed at how our SEO marketing has been affected by our blog strategy.  It's also a lot of fun.

    The other reason I'm so excited is that Marketpath CMS will be one of the sponsors of the event.  I'm thrilled to be attending and to see how the future will unfold for this fantastic social media.

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    Fridays, Marketing, and.....well.....Fridays

    Posted 7:35 PM by

    Who doesn't love Fridays!?  Any stress or negativity that hung over my head all week seems to be miraculously erased by the promise of the rapidly approaching weekend.  Yes sir my friends it's time to sprawl out on the porch, pop the top on a frosty beverage and just enjoy the night. 

    Friday Marketing BluesUnfortunately, I've got some serious marketing to consider before 'porch time' is even an issue.  I've got customer reports to run, SEO keywords to research, and a pile of potential customers to contact.  It can often be difficult to get in touch with the right people on a lazy Friday afternoon.  It always seems like 50% of the workforce knocks off early to get a head start on the weekend.

    It's times like these that I'm glad my website is here to pick up some of the slack.  I know that if any potential customers feel the need to announce themselves over the weekend, they can simply tune out, log on, and opt in to whichever of my offerings that might spark their interest.  I can rest easy knowing that my web content is relevent, I've done my SEO homework, and the marketing that I've been slaving over all week will see me through.  Finally...It's Friday.

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    Promoting Your Site with CMS and SEO

    Posted 4:30 PM by

    Indianapolis | SEO | CMS | MarketingMarketing proffesionals all over the world are scrambling to beat their competition at the web race.  Who will finish first?  Who's marketing is the best marketing?  What techniques will put your company at the top. 

    Search Engine Optimization is a buzzword that is currently circulating around the marketing world.  There are companies that charge tens of thousands of dollars, and still can't guarantee that your name will rank on the first page of the Google organic search. 

    The truth is that there is no guarantee when it comes to SEO.  It is easy to rank for certain terms, because very few people are searching for them.  Other terms are nearly impossible to rank for. 

    A good CMS is an integral part of attaining high organic search rankings.  If content has been posted recently, search engines look at it more seriously (would you rather read yesterday's newspaper or today's newspaper?).  Another powerful tool is the corporate blog.  I have a business associate who was able to significantly increase his search rankings simply by writing in his blog regularly.  We the people want new content!

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    AJAX, Web 2.0, and SEO

    Posted 7:37 PM by

    In my last post I wrote about the downfalls of flash, search engine optimization, and direct linking.  Now it's time to talk about AJAX and web 2.0 and how search engines perceive the two.  First of alll, let's define AJAX and web 2.0.

    AJAX is an achronym for Asynchronous Javascript And XML.  It provides web clients (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari) a mechanism for delivering rich experiences for its users.  Google Suggest  is an example of an application that uses AJAX.  As you type, suggestions appear that you can click on to quickly select your topic.  Notice that the entire screen doesn't refresh.  Instead of the browser making a call back to the original web server for a whole new page (including suggestions) it only updates the list of suggestions by passing the typed characters to the server - using AJAX.  The amount of data is very small and the data returned is also very small.... thus very fast.

    AJAX enables the concept of web 2.0 - the rich user experience.  It is a great idea to build in a rich experience that makes it easier and more inuitive for users to interact.  Our web content management system has an enormous amount of AJAX programming.  But the problem is with search engines.

    AJAX is based on Javascript and Javascript is based on user events (e.g. mouse-up, mouse-down, click, etc).  Search engines don't have the capability to launch javascript events which means if your website's navigation is based on AJAX (which, again, uses Javascript) then search engines will not be able to index it.  This means the website pages you want people to find will not be found because they were never indexed. 

    The moral of the story is to use AJAX sparingly if you want your website to be indexed by search engines and definitely do not setup your navigation with AJAX or Javascript.  Check with a knowledgeable software developer and SEO firm and ask them if your site is SEO friendly.

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    Do-It-Yourself SEO

    Posted 1:18 AM by

    We tell clients all the time that we will help initiate a program to improve search results and help find the right keywords to use throughout their website.  We also say that the rest is basically up to them.  And because they are using a web content management solution (Marketpath CMS... of course) ongoing SEO is about producing lots of relevant content that engages website visitors. 

    In his blog entry Three SEO Myths Debunked, Mike Volpe wrote 'If I had $100,000 to invest in SEO, I would hire a journalist to create lots of articles and videos, not an SEO consultant.'

    There is only so much code tweaking you can do to optimize a website for search.  Hiring a firm on retainer to provide SEO consulting is like hiring GM on retainer to fill your gas tank once a week.  You definitely need GM to build the car but it is cost prohibitive to have them filling your gas tank. 

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    Win-Win SEO

    Posted 2:24 PM by

    Today I am leading a discussion on Stephen Covey's 4th habit - Think Win-Win (The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People).  The underlying idea of this habit is that instead of thinking there is only a certain amount of pie for all to share it is better to adopt the idea that there is plenty of pie to go around for everyone - everyone wins.  Now you can apply this to relationships, your work, and any issues that arise from either.  You can't have Win-Win every time but you can sure try.

    So what about search results?  Can you adopt the Win-Win mentality (Abundance Mentality) with search results?  This is a little more tricky.  On the first page search engines show 10 organic results they think are relevant to your search.  So, in this sense, there are only 10 positions to secure on that first page (and you definitely want the first page).  The pie is very limited.

    The great thing about keyword searches is that there are usually a great number of variations.  The most popular variations get used often.  These are highly competitive keywords and limit your chances of obtaining high search engine position.  This is a very small pie indeed and getting a slice can cost you a lot of money and time.

    But then there are those keyword combinations that are used much less frequently and can be used throughout your site to obtain a higher search position with a lot less work.  This is where the pie is almost unlimited. 

    Here's an example:  if I live in Indianapolis (which I do) and I'm looking for a divorce attorney (which I'm not) I would likely type in "divorce attorney indianapolis".  Our client, Hollingsworth, Cassman, and Zivitz (http://www.hczlaw.com/), specialize in divorce.  Winning the top search positions for "divorce attorney" is nearly impossible.  But winning the search for "indianapolis divorce attorney" is a little more achievable.  And since they are based in Carmel, IN they have an even better shot at winning "carmel divorce attorney" (which they do).  You can take that further and strive for the following less competitive keyword phrases:

    • divorce attorney indianapolis
    • divorce indiana
    • divorce lawyer carmel
    • divorce questions indiana
    • marital divorce issues
    • avoiding divorce
    • divorce attorney fishers (a town near Carmel)
    • divorce attorney westfield (another town near Carmel)

    Those are just a few of the variations.  You should hire an experienced SEO firm to help you come up with the many related keyword combinations.

    The point is that the pie for search is very small if you're going after highly competitive keywords but abundant if you go after the virtually unlimited keyword variations available.  So, I guess you can adopt the Win-Win habit for search engine results after all.  Just be sure to monitor your search results based on those keyrods and always provide fresh, updated, and relevant content to maintain those positions.

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    AJAX and Web 2.0

    Posted 3:41 AM by

    Ajax in many ways is the basis for Web 2.0.  The funny thing is that Ajax has been around long before the word web 2.0 was coined.  Microsoft developed a Javascript function for Internet Explore 5 called XmlHttpRequest.  This is the essence of Ajax.  One single function which seems to have caused an overnight explosion of rich web-based applications.

    Web 2.0 is based on this because Web 2.0 is highly interactive - similar to what you would find in a desktop application.  Web 2.0 is about the rich user experience.  No slow page loads or postbacks.  Almost instant data and responses because most of the processing is performed on the client machine as opposed to the server (where most processing took place 5 years ago). 

    Google maps and Microsoft's LiveSearch both use a great deal of Ajax and web 2.0 methodologies.  Another site with Ajax examples (the first one that showed up in search results) is http://www.ajaxdaddy.com/.

    Marketpath CMS uses Ajax throughout the entire application on every page and every dialog.  We could probably stretch all of our Ajax code from coast to coast in 12pt font. 

    Developing web-based applications with Ajax and web 2.0 methodologies is no longer cutting edge.  It is a requirement for intutive, easy-to-use, and responsive user interaction.

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    Harding Poorman Uses CMS

    Posted by

    4/24/2008 - Harding Poorman Group, an Indianapolis printing company that specializes in offset printing, printing on plastics, wide-format printing, one-to-one marketing, cd/dvd duplication and mailing/fulfilment services, has chosen Marketpath for website design, search engine optimization and web content management for its seven websites.

    The new Harding Poorman Group websites will be completed and live in early June.

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    Sysco Chooses Marketpath CMS

    Posted by

    11/1/2007 - SYSCO Food Services of Indianapolis, LLC (http://www.syscoindy.com) launched a new website designed by Marketpath.  The website provides a new marketing channel to regional clients and prospects and offers a central location for finding event information, market news, employment and great recipes.

    SYSCO is using Marketpath CMS to manage website content, documents and images.  This allows them to maintain fresh content and an updated location for company events and news.

    Marketpath also built a custom event management application so SYSCO can provide online registration to their clients.

    We are proud to have SYSCO as a new customer and look forward to a strong, enduring partnership.

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    IUPUI Chooses Marketpath CMS

    Posted by

    8/24/2007 - IUPUI Auxiliary Services has chosen Marketpath CMS as the preferred tool to manage eight of its organizational websites. 

    IUPUI Auxiliary Services' business units consist of the IU  Natatorium, Indianapolis Tennis Center, Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium, Mail Services, Food Services, Bookstore, University Place Conference Center & Hotel and the National Art Museum of Sport.

    IUPUI Auxililary Services is a complex organization that blends business, sport and art to support the educational and cultural needs of the entire campus. By using Marketpath CMS, the Auxiliary business units have the abillity to provide University students and staff with frequent and relevant content updates while maintaining consistent branding across each of their sites.

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    Introducing Marketpath CMS

    Posted by

    4/30/2007 - Indianapolis, IN - Marketpath, Inc., an Indianapolis-based software development firm, has implemented Indy's first full-featured content management solution that offers an easier way to manage websites.

    Outdated and stagnant websites are a major ailment for the Internet's business community and Marketpath has the remedy.  With sophisticated tools for editing and publishing website content, Marketpath CMS can lower website maintenance costs and the time to publish by virtually eliminating programmers.

    Most website pages are 80% to 90% static information.  Companies can spend $100 per hour or more to keep those pages updated.  The money used for updates could be better spent on custom software development that connects and enhances relationships with customers.  Simple website updates should be left to capable marketing staff using a full-featured content management solution like Marketpath CMS.

    Marketpath CMS allows users to manage everything from website pages, headers and footers to documents, images and navigational menus.  Marketpath CMS also provides visitor statistics so users can see what pages are receiving the most visits, where those visitors are originating and where visitors typically abandon the site.

    Marketpath CMS not only makes website updates easier and more convenient through its browser based toolset, it also lowers website maintenance costs and decreases the time it takes to deploy those updates.

    Click here for more information.....

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    Track&nbsp;your website's&nbsp;performance with&nbsp;newly integrated Google Analytics

    Posted by

    We have integrated Google Analytics right into Marketpath CMS. You can now learn more about where your visitors come from and how they interact with your site. You'll get the information you need to write better ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives, and create higher-converting websites. Learn more about the benefits directly from Google.

    Google Analytics replaces the default 'Visitor Tracking' panel within Marketpath CMS and opens up in its own tab. If you're interested in knowing what your website is doing, call us today at 800-657-7786. Integration of Google Analytics is included with any Marketpath CMS account.

     

     

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    Where Am I?

    Posted 3:20 PM by

    How important are good directions? Have you ever received directions so bad that they got no where but all the wrong places? From a usability standpoint, a good website will always answer three basic questions:

    1. Where am I?
    2. Where have I been?
    3. Where can I go?

    Studies have proven that the navigational structure of a website is one of the most critical elements for establishing credibility with visitors. Credibility is what stands between your site and a new customer. If you succeed at delivering a visitor directly to the information he or she is looking for in the shortest amount of steps, your credibility goes up. Conversly, if your site requires a lot of guess work and back button usage, your credibilty will suffer. 

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    What the Font?

    Posted 3:53 PM by

    Maybe it’s my design background or the fact that I grew up in the back of a print shop but this is a sensitive subject for me. I was taught typographic conservatism by my grandfather who once told me that in print, you never use more than two typefaces. And if you use two, make sure they are in the same font family; e.g., sans-serif with sans-serif, serif with serif, etc. In most cases, this is no different for the web. There is a fine line between typographic variety and font clutter.

    In a recent update of Marketpath CMS, we implemented stylistic limitations for two reasons: 1) maintain design consistency and uniformity; 2) simplify formatting for our users. Like form and function, there is a balance between giving too many options and simplifying the process.

    Rant Sidebar: Every night before bed, I pray to the Gods of typography that the typeface 'Comic Sans' is wiped from the face of the planet.

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    Consider Your Audience

    Posted 4:33 PM by

    How many times do you visit a website and get exactly what you went there to get? If you’re experiencing what I’m experiencing, your seldom do. I tell my customers and prospects to repeatedly ask themselves who their website serves and what they’re looking for. If you’re having trouble thinking of what content to put online, that’s where you start.

    It seems the most commonly missed and hardest to find information is adequate contact information. The key to a happy customer is making sure they, at the very least, “think” you care.

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    Whitespace can be your friend

    Posted 6:47 PM by

    Whitespace is the empty or “negative” space between elements on a page. Those elements can be anything from paragraphs and bullet lists to images and advertisements. Utilization of whitespace in webpage layout is underrated and all too commonly underused. Whitespace can benefit visitors by preventing the feeling of being “overwhelmed” or being annoyed by too much "going on." Whitespace can also be used to create emphasis; focusing visitors on the most important information.

    Look at the difference between the following website screenshots:


    Figure 1


    Figure 2 

    Do you “feel” the difference between the two designs? What is the general feeling you get from figure 1 compared to figure 2? Figure 1 has an open and airy design creating a sense of sophistication and calm while Figure 2 exudes frustration and stress. Which would you rather your audience feel?

    When managing the content on your website, don’t be afraid to add some space between elements. It may be subtle but can really improve the visual effectiveness of your content.

     

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