Google Reader replacement: Best free alternatives to Google Reader?

Alternatives when Google Reader is retired.

Google will retire its Google Reader service in July, and cites two reasons that led to such business decision: focus and declining usage. You can imagine how, when I tried to access Reader this morning, this small and subtle notice has left me totally. Well, at least it helps hourly users like myself re-examine our over-dependance with Google or any independent services for that matter.

At best, Google Reader has been a practical productivity enhancer in my everyday workflow. Google Reader, Google Trends and Twitter is probably all you need as a content marketer. No need for expensive keyword research programs. Add Google+ to the mix and you’re set! At worst, Google Reader is an afternoon productivity killer. I miss both aspects of it, now that it’s days are numbered. But before you begin searching for a Google Reader substitute, you should really continue reading. Most of all other articles you’ll find on this subject links to RSS Feed Readers that, quite simply, isn’t what I was looking for. I didn’t need another front-end reading app on my mobile, and I never bought into the idea of “social magazines” apps. I needed a RSS client that handles the brokering function of feeds not application skins that are coated on top of it’s engine.

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Reply to: A Defense of the Thesis 2 WordPress Theme ( +What is Good Criticism)

A defense of Thesis 2

Doug, as he would like to be known, blogs at ThriftyZizel.com. He is working on a series of step-by-step Thesis 2 tutorial. If, despite my objective criticism of Thesis 2, you’d like to learn about the Thesis 2 theme I recommend you start from his tutorial series.

But first, I’d like to call myself out on that “objective criticism” bullshit there. There is no objective criticism and the term itself constitutes as one of the biggest and most hated oxymoron. Criticisms should not be viewed in the light of objectiveness. It can never be objective. There can only be good and bad reviews, but never “objective” reviews. Like Doug rightly said, opinions are subjective by nature. So are criticisms.

What constitutes good criticism?

good opinions

Yesterday, Doug took a stance in defense of the Thesis 2 theme and he sees his post as a counterpoint to my post.
(go read it here: Thesis 2.0 review and more)

I respect his view, and his work towards improving the lives of others. Generally, I like people with opinions.

“to define Good criticism, I’ll point to one that analyzes and describes an article in relation to its surrounding systems and the operations within it”

But if I were to define Good criticism, I’ll point to one that analyzes and describes an article in relation to its surrounding systems and the operations within it. I’ll point to one that shows application of thoughtful perspective as much as facts themselves. As far as that is concerned, criticism is likely more art than science.

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Thesis 2 Review: Frustrating user experience, commercial exploitation and more.

i. Thesis Theme used to be good

A little more than a year ago, Zach Holman wrote an article criticizing the practice of introducing unnecessary features that derail your core product offerings and, in doing so, undermine user experience.

As Zach simply puts it, “Don’t give your users shit work“. In his comment to a response post, Zach further elaborates,

(As designers) we need to build simple, non-complicated systems, and giving people more s*it work to do is overall a bit detrimental to your project.

Now, if you would excuse his language, there’s some important takeaways. I stumbled upon Zach’s musing just about the same time the post was published. It didn’t resonate with me until two months ago when I was working on a web project with a personal friend and developer.

The experience was pleasant and I shouldn’t have any complaints — if only the project wasn’t powered by Thesis 2.0, the WordPress framework that can only be described as being overhyped, unjustifiably.

Anecdotally, endorsers of the Thesis are either affiliate marketers of the product, or loyal followers that has sticked with Thesis since it’s very first release. Then, I heard, Thesis was actually good.

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10 Social SEO steps you can implement right NOW.

i. Social Search: The Why and What

When it comes to website optimization, search and social do share a complementary relationship. While the two facets of digital marketing are often independently managed, the lines are increasingly blurred as both disciplines work together in delivering a common goal: information discovery.

While SEO and social media calls for two distinctive sets of skills and expertise, the integration of search and social has made it possible to attain two objectives in a single effort.

An article on Forbes defines the unofficial term “social SEO” as such,

Social SEO encompasses the idea that social media links and interaction play a huge part in a website’s search rankings.

Now this is especially the case with Google, where social metrics are significantly more influential in its ranking algorithm. The social component, in a way, has become a reliable indicator that search engines increasingly rely upon in their ranking algorithm.

ii. 10 Social SEO actions that reap reward on both fronts

I’ve compiled the following list of Social SEO steps any digital marketing can work to execute on, and the results of these actions would have a significant impact on both a brand’s social media presence as well as it’s SEO performance. The social seo strategies below are actionable items and can (should!) be employed in your business model.

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13 Professional Skills For The Digital Marketers of 2013

The baby boomer factor and a shrinking workforce.

Singapore’s population has reached a significant turning point in 2012: the first cohort of baby-boomers – those born between 1947 and 1965 – will turn 65 and start retiring, leaving the workforce to shrink. The Singapore government projected the ratio of citizen in the working ages to each citizen to fall from the current 5.9 (in 2012) to 2.1 as the most business-friendly country in the world headed towards 2030.

Perhaps the silver lining is the pro-talent policies its Government has always preserved, the capital efficiency and the pro-enterprise landscape that makes it an attractive choice for startups.

But since among local startups, hiring budgets are typically constrained and that, along with the shrinking workforce problem, will lead to an increasingly pronounced trend in hiring decision. More businesses would be looking at all rounded professions. In hiring speak, both generalist and an incredible specialist.

Here are 13 skills that would greatly enhance your professional value as a marketer in this coming year of 2013.

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Predicting e-commerce in 2013 (+Lessons from Cyber Monday Report 2012)

Cyber Monday: Record shopping day in online sales

Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday after Black Friday, and the term “Cyber Monday” was coined by marketing folks trying to persuade people to shop online. In fact, these folks (hate or love ‘em) were so successful they have turned Cyber Monday into the biggest spending day ever in online sales.

Given its significance in online shopping, Cyber Monday is often cited in quantitative studies whenever a (historical) perspective on digital consumer behavior is called for.

Cyber Mondays also present great learning opportunities for e-retailers because it reflects, to a certain extent, the overall growth trend of the e-commerce space.

This year, IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark has released a report that, among many things, includes a comparison of the figures between this year’s Cyber Monday and last year’s.

Looking into the findings of the Cyber Monday Report 2012, there’s plenty of takeaways. Above everything else, I’d like to bring your attention to what these statistics can potentially be signalling at for e-commerce 2013.

Here are 5 things that can happen to e-commerce in 2013:

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How to use Google Trends to complement your keyword research (examples + screenshots)

i. What is Google Trends?

Google Trends is one of the more underrated Google products, which in my opinion, doesn’t do justice to its ease of practicality. Since Google first launched its Google Insights for Search in 2008 (which the search engine giant later merged with Google Trends), savvy marketers have use the service in conjunction with Google Trends (then a separated service) and Google’s Keyword Research Tool to identify potential search trends and advertise or market accordingly. Today, Keyword Research Tool is still a wildly popular tool many search engine marketers would swear they could not live without. Paling in comparison, Google Trends were rarely, if ever, mentioned. Truth it, anybody can use Google Trends to great effect and it’s so simple business owners without any technical skills would feel perfectly comfortable with the tool. Unlike the Keyword Research Tool, users do not need an Adwords account. How does it help business owners, then? Several answers surface, and one of the most common is its contribution in helping businesses choosing an advertising message that fits and resonates.

ii. Google Trends: Comparing search terms and interests

To illustrate how Google Trends can help businesses market better, we’ll use MJM Yachts as a case example (Disclosure: I am in no way affiliated to the company!) below.

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Ingress: The embodiment of Google’s business philosophy

i. Ingress debuts

Nothing spells excitement more clearly than a closed, invite-only beta that comes out straight from the Google Lab.

Yes, we’re talking about Ingress, the Augmented Reality Game (ARG) that isn’t the first of its kind, but arguably one of the most immersive and anticipated. Now, with the abundance of apps and games making an appearance on the iOS and Android platform, the level of excitement, vibe and anticipation it has generated certainly has shown some promise.

Watch the trailer: Ingress – It’s time to move.

Did I already mentioned the Google engineers behind the creation of Ingress?

Or, more precisely, the engineers from Niantic Labs helmed by John Hanke. Since, to fully understand the genius of Ingress, it’s worth a bit of effort to begin with the visionary behind this Google-branded invention.

The visionary: John Hanke

John Hanke is an industry thinker whom introduced himself as a man interested in “the use of ubiquitous mobile computing in ways that move society forward”. He was the former CEO of Keyhole. When Keyhole was acquired by Google is 2004, John was appointed head of Google’s Geo division, known for Google Maps, Local, StreetView and Google Earth.

Fittingly so, since Google Earth is essentially Hanke-founded Keyhole’s flagship product, known as Earth Viewer before the re-branding accompanying the acquisition.

Hanke, however, was not about to settle with his area of specialization — read, Geo technology — and with a little support from Google’s top management he started a new business unit that would focus on developing cutting edge mobile apps with local and social elements being an integral part of them.

So when John Hanke and his team at Niantic Labs release something that combines Geo, Social and Mobile technology it immediately qualifies as headline materials on The Nerd’s Radar. Or Singles Weekly. Or The Geek’s Guide to Manliness.

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Intent-based Targeting and the evolving Search & Social Advertising Model

“Because search engine marketing is necessarily data-driven, it also means a highly methodical approach in the way advertisers identify “opportunities”, which really are hints of intent.”

Because search engine marketing is necessarily data-driven, it also means a highly methodical approach in the way advertisers identify “opportunities”, which really are hints of intent.

Targeting techniques differ radically between social advertising and search advertising. Sure, both advertising platforms are based on a cost-per-click (CPC) / cost-per-impression (CPM) model. But where, or why, they differ is the way targeting traditionally works on the two ads platform.

Since, in determining the effectiveness of a PPC campaign, one typically measures the click-through rates (CTR) of a particular ad, what contributes to a click-through becomes fundamental to the effectiveness of the given ad campaign.

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