Google doesn’t use the data in Google Analytics for web ranking

See this video from 2010 (I think it’s still true). Google claims they don’t even use it for fighting web spam.

James Royal-Lawson - Web analytics framework,

James Royal-Lawson – Web analytics framework,

Facebook: WordPress code to display the number of comments / shares / likes for the current blog post for administrators only


Let’s say you have a Facebook page and you want to know how many likes / shares / comments does the current blog post has. I made a script, based on this article, which allows you so see how many likes / shares / comments a blog post has.

It will give you an information like this:


How to do it? 


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How to make money online?

First of all, read these:

They have been written 3 and 7 years ago, respectively and they answer the question the better than my answer today. Still, I’ll give it a try.


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Pros and Cons for having URLs for an ecommerce web site (flat vs. hierarchical tree structure), e.g.: vs.

Let’s say you have an online store with 5 categories, 3 subcategories each, and 10 products in each subcategory. How to make the URLs?

You have the following options:


There’s also a mixed option, in which the product page looks like this:


, while the categories look like this:


(in this scenario, things are mixed – the product page has no hierarchy, while the category page has one).

In each of these options, the URL can contain the full title of the product or category, or they can be abbreviated. For example, if you sell air conditioning equipment, you could have any of the following:

  • (notice the long path), or:
  • (notice the abbreviated names)

So, what to choose? Should you use subfolders (/category or /sub-category or /category/sub-category), or should you directly link to products? Also, should you use abbreviated names or long names?

Jeremy Keith - URL design,

Jeremy Keith – URL design,


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Excessive promotions

See this ad:


It is supposed to make me go from “free service – 2 GB” to “paid service – 10 GB”.

What’s the problem with it? It tries so much to do upselling, that I don’t trust the brand anymore.

  • It’s obviously I generally wouldn’t pay for social sharing (I can share things very well on my own, thank you very much, and, also, generally the things which I send via a service like this aren’t meant for Facebook / other network sharing.
  • I can create a password encrypted archive very easily, but I can see the utility of the service (for ease of use, for the people who might not have installed on their computer a software with ability to decompress files with passwords.
  • Personalized pages. Come on, this is not meant paying for.
  • No ads (it’s not included in the list above, but it’s a reason).

Yes, going from 2 to 10 GB is a powerful reason. I understand why I would pay these money. But the extras? Not so much.

Perhaps most people look at the list above and say to themselves – “look, you also get this and that”. Perhaps this happens. I don’t deny this. I’m just saying that to me, personally, this is really a frustrating ad to see and by giving me so many (useless) options, I have a smaller trust in the brand.

Some Design/Usability ideas I got from SmartWeb Conference 2014 (Radisson Blu, 2014.09.23)

On September 23, 2014, took place SmartWeb Conference 2014, Bucharest (by Evensys) – “A conference for East-European web designers and developers, bringing you an exquisite lineup of speakers.”.

Speakers at the conference:


Below, some design/usability ideas I got from the conference. (with photos) :)


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Let’s say you want to join some new social networks for your brand; how to determine which networks are most popular?

Sure, you can find some nice social networks, you can then Google for some user stats, and then aggregate the data.

But wouldn’t it be simpler had a web site dedicated to just showing statistics existed? More than this, wouldn’t it be great had the statistics would be constantly updated with the latest news about the number of users for those specific networks?

Good news! Such a web site exists, and it says:

Here is my monthly, running tally of how many people are using some of the top social media, digital services and mobile apps updated for July 2014 (the best I could find, at least). This list grows pretty regularly. It began with a simple listing of some of the obvious social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, YouTube, WhatsApp, etc; then grew to include digital services like Amazon, Google, eBay, Netflix and Pandora; then the focus turned to APAC social and digital properties like Weibo, WeChat,, LINE and Renren; and lately, I have been focused on updating current listings, adding in new ones along with smaller niche ones that I may have overlooked at the beginning. This post now includes over 600 listings and more are added almost weekly.

Visit the web site here (the social networks are so numerous, that they need to be divided on more than one page):

Gavin Llewellyn - My social networks,

Gavin Llewellyn – My social networks,

News. Old news

Nicolas Alejandro - today's news,

Nicolas Alejandro – today’s news,

I did once a web site audit for a major newspaper in Romania. I told them Google had some trouble accessing very old news on their web site (for 2005, for example). They had a calendar, similar to their current one:


, and I told them Google might have some problems going through the dropdown, selecting 2006, and then going through the dropdown again, selecting, say, March, then picking a day, and then, for that day, going to page 4. The number of clicks necessary to go to page 3 of news from March 19, 2006, was the following: Home => Archive => 2006 => March => 19 => Page 3 => News. It’s just huge. Also, the Google bots generally don’t click on dropdowns, they don’t select from a dropdown.

Nowadays, they have a clickable way of displaying the archive:


, which, although is not a huge improvement, is, still, an improvement (Google can follow a clickable link much easier).

The topic of the current article is to show how various news sources in Romania treat old news.


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URL shorteners – which one to choose, pros and cons of cons of using them, in general, some real-life examples and some conclusions

URL shortening is the process in which you take a long URL, such as this: and you make it into something simpler, such as this: (this is the same link as the above link, when you click it and you will be redirected to the long URL).

URL shortening started (I think) in the first years of 2000, and the most notable example of the first years was The web site still has a similar interface of what it used to have back then. Time passed, and more services appeared, such as or (and many many others, of course).

The current blog post is about URL shorteners – which one to choose, why should you use them, why avoid using them, some real life examples and some conclusions.

Pawel Loj - tiny foot,

Pawel Loj – tiny foot, (yes, this is a tiny URL)


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A very good tool for working on the list of keywords for a given web site: – Keyword Tool: 750 Google Keyword Suggestions for Free. Use 192 Google Domains & 83 Languages


Keyword Tool is free online keyword research instrument that uses Google Autocomplete to generate hundreds of relevant long-tail keywords.

Google Autocomplete is a feature used in Google Search. Its purpose is to speed up the searches performed by users on Google.

The search terms that are suggested by Google Autocomplete are based on a number of different factors, one of them is how often users were searching for a particular term in the past.

Keyword Tool helps you use Google Autocomplete for keyword research. It extracts Google suggestions and presents it to you in a convenient form.

To generate long-tail keyword suggestions, Keyword Tool prepends and appends the term, that you specify with different letters and numbers. It also allows you to choose a specific Google domain (192 Google domains supported) and language (83 languages available) combination.

Keyword Tool generates over 750 keywords in the language of your choice. You can export the keywords and use them for content creation, search engine optimisation, PPC or other marketing activities.

Review: – Keyword Tool: 750 Google Keyword Suggestions for Free. Use 192 Google Domains & 83 Languages


P.S.: Also see: How to determine a relevant list of keywords for a web site?: Olivian Breda.

Trust in e-commerce

Buying is all about trust.


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The middle path in customer care

Recently, I had an unfortunate event buying from an online store (the price I paid was different than the one displayed on the web site). I sent them an email. This has happened to me before on their web site. After a few days, they replied that I’m wrong, and they’re right. Still, they might be wrong, nevertheless (they admitted). To settle the situation, they gave me around 1/3 than the required amount of money, and they thanked me for my understanding of the situation.

The topic of this blog post: what can you learn from the above example?


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UX tip: Old products – show the evolution of price

Let’s say you have an e-commerce web site. For various reasons, you still keep an old product on your web site, not forgetting to mention that the product is no longer available and can’t be ordered anymore.

One of the biggest frustration I have in visiting such product pages is the lack of any information regarding the price. So, if I’m looking for a computer case which is no longer sold, I can’t have any comparison point to what the price would be nowadays.

My suggestion for web site owners would be to display the historical evolution of price. The web site does it well:


, but they don’t rank as high as a big e-commerce store, even for products which are out-of-stock.

There are lots of reasons for which you might not want to display historical price evolution on a product you currently sell. There are little reasons for not providing this information for an out-out-stock product, still displayed on your web site.

Extra tip: transform old product pages into something worthwhile for affiliate marketing. Think about this – you can have a very valuable page put in place for old products. It’s true that you will not be able to sell many things, but, still, you can convert visitors to newer products. So, if you have a detailed description of a subwoofer which is not longer available, you can try and persuade visitors to buy newer products.

How to make the internal search results on an e-commerce web site, functionality-wise? How to display the page of products results on an online store?

Let’s say you have a custom CMS for your online store. You ask this and that, and then comes the time when you need to add a search box. You use basic usability rules (place it at the top, big search box, big button, colorful button, simple text button – “search”), you might even add advanced things, such as auto-complete or advanced criteria for search. But what should you focus on on the results page? How should you make, functionality-wise, the search results page for an e-commerce?



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How to contradict someone, when you do in customer support?

At times, conflict arises in customer support. A says a thing, B says the opposite to that affirmation:

  • Client, person A: You should take the first road left on the street.
  • Customer care representative, person B: No one takes that road! (notice the exclamation point)

If you’re person A, and a customer care representative (B) gave you that answer, it’s very hard to continue from here. You have just taken all the possible liberties of person A to continue. Even if you are right, even if really no one takes it on that road, you should avoid communicating like person B. What are some alternatives to this scenario?At times, conflict arises in customer support. A says a thing, B says the opposite to that affirmation:

  • Client, person A: You should take the first road left on the street.
  • Customer care representative, person B: No one takes that road! (notice the exclamation point)

If you’re person A, and a customer care representative (B) gave you that answer, it’s very hard to continue from here. You have just taken all the possible liberties of person A to continue. Even if you are right, even if really no one takes it on that road, you should avoid communicating like person B. What are some alternatives to this scenario?



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How to to do web site improvements?

Chris Goward, President and CEO WiderFunnel held a speech at GPeC Summit, May 2014.

One of his slides was:
GPeC Summit 2014, Ziua 1 253-mic

The idea behind this is very simple:

Instead of doing a single web site redesign, which will, most likely, make marketers actually unhappy with the end result, which will also likely decrease conversions, despite the big cost of the project, you should much rather do incremental updates. Instead of a full redesign, pick a small item, test it, measure it, take a decision. Repeat this undefined. CRO should be permanent, not once a few years. Most web sites do it like this these days.

Quite an idea! And a photo at the conference:
GPeC Summit 2014, Ziua 1 328-mic

Small tip: use your photo in your email signature

Photographs increases conversion rate:

They also create more trust, by making you real:

Can you use them in e-mail, though?

GPeC Summit 2014, Ziua 3 000-mic


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Online commentators philosophy and what practical steps you can take regarding comments

Content producers and Internet commentators on the content have two opposing philosophies, which is best you understand prior to putting content online. At the end of the article, tips on online comments you can implement for your content.



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Rompetrol’s unique selling proposition (USP) for selling a generic good

Let’s say you’re Rompetrol, a company which, mainly, produces and sells gas. There are quite a few sellers. How to differentiate? You create a gas (Efix) which is different than others. Not much, but enough to make a small difference. You advertise this, and you can sell this gas with a premium. After all, you’re the sole distributor.

You create, thus, your blue ocean. You don’t compete with others, you have created a market for yourself. Good strategy.


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Three things on pricing

  • When you pay for something expensive(-er), you have a risk – that item may be good or bad; when you pay little, it’s a guarantee – it’s bad. This is true in lots of cases. What you generally get is the mind safety and peace that you have at least a chance of getting something better. You pay for the mind comfort of knowing you might actually get something good. There are countless cases in which more expensive doesn’t lead to better. The fact that these are the exception, not the rule, only strengthens the rule. (this was said by an Economics teacher I had in school; he told it in the context of salaries – “pay somone a high salary, and you may have a good or bad employee, it’s a risk; pay someone a small salary, and, since the good people will always find a better paid job, you’ll have a certainty of having a poor employee”)
  • In electronics, to get only marginally better products, you pay very high margins. Samsung Galaxy S4 is not 4 times better than a 4 times cheaper phone. An iPad is not 2-3 times better than an average tablet, as it is 2-3 times more expensive. If you can’t settle with little/average quality, you’ll pay much more. (Original quote – “Este absolut incredibil cat de putina “value for money” poti cumpara in ziua de astazi, cam tot pe ce-am pus mana high-end m-a dezamagit teribil. In general platesti 500% peste pretul “pietei” ca sa ai sporuri de sub 10%, atat in ergonomie cat si in calitatea materialelor si mai ales in software. Oribil.” (source))
  • When you buy something, you are more commited. You get involved. You ask for things. You perceive things as more valuable (Original quote – “Buying requires emotional commitment. Even a small payment has been shown to change the way people set expectations, not just for what they receive but how much energy and effort they’re willing to contribute. It begins with confirmation bias, because if you paid for it, it must be worthwhile.” – Seth Godin)


The difference between Facebook and Hi5, in 2014


Let’s say you want to go through your friends list on Facebook (a very popular social network) and Hi5 (an ex-glory).

Facebook shows you a list of your best friends, people with whom you interact the most. Hi5 shows you an alphabetical order and gives you the task of finding what’s relevant to you.

What do you think Google shows you when you Google “fejk sdfjk vsdn dfkj“. Does it show you “we don’t have any relevant results”? No, it says: “Showing results for fjk fjk vsdn dfkj” (this is an altered version of my query), instead of saying: “No results found for fejk sdfjk vsdn dfkj”.

So, instead of saying “we found nothing, how about you refine your search”, Google refines the search for you, takes a chance by changing what you have typed, and gives you the right result.

You may say “but this is minor, it’s a small thing what Facebook / Google do”. At this single level, perhaps. But you think of all the thing Google tries to get right from the first time, without waiting for human intervention, if you think how much effort Facebook puts on trying to give you exactly what you expect of it right the first time, then the changes are not, by all means, minor.

I dare saying that Facebook is much more successful than Hi5 (and others) and Google is much better (the user usage prove it) than Bing (and others) due to small things like these, on a higher level.


Small usability tip – page numbers in pagination displayed on the web site and on the URL should match

I see this from time to time – a web site has a pagination are on the bottom of the page:

pagination area

, but when I click on page 2 (I start navigation from page 1, the homepage), the URL, instead of changing to something like:

, changes into:

I understand the IT reasons behind it (having a page 1 as an actual page 1 may lead to duplicate content, if not handled properly, and the first paginated result is, actually, page 2), but it’s illogical to click on page 3 and the URL to change on page 2.

It happens more often than not.

People expect symmetry.



Just-launched blogs


I launched some new blogs (which are, somehow, connected to what I write in here):

I also write, in Romanian, on, (contributor) and in Romanian and English on

Find subscription options on


Solutions to make money online

What options you have to make money online?


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Small tip about Facebook pages and 20% reach problem – create, if you can, a Facebook group, instead of a Facebook page

Facebook-skins-post (1)At the Lumea SEO PPC series of events, we didn’t like Facebook pages as much. Initially, we created a standard Facebook user. Time passed, we made a Facebook group, a place where pretty much all the conversation went. Then, we converted the user into a page, but lots of things were lost (especially photos). Right now, we have no user, but a page and group. The community, concerning the number of members, is bigger on the page (close to 1,300 likes) than on the group (900+). We can’t say the same thing about the activity (engagement) of the users, which are more active on the group than on the page.

This would be the small tip of the current article – if it is possible, take into account creating a Facebook group, rather than a classic page. Perhaps an online store wouldn’t be a prefect fit for a group, in which the buyers and sellers share the same level. Perhaps an institution wants to communicate one-to-many (as on a page), not one-to-one (like in a group, where any member can have become a message carrier).

But if you have a group of people which may potentially be united in a Facebook group, you can take into account that, when the moment of “let’s join Facebook” comes, you would do this on a group, not on a Facebook page.

The advantage? The fact that only about 20% of the people who liked your page actually see its messages, unlike the Facebook group, where, if they wish so, the members receive more notifications.

Lean forward vs. Lean backward – different ways of media creation / consumption

At “Future of Media” conference, I got a very good insight – there are two ways of media creation / consumption:

  • Lean forward - specific to a PC/laptop and smartphone – on this path, you create. You innovate, you start things, you act, you are a leader, things begin from you.
  • Lean backward - specific to a tablet / smart TV – on this path, you do media consumption. You take what others have started, you are a follower, you do media consumption.

(on a personal note, I have a a PC, a smartphone, but not a TV, and the tablet is used mostly as a laptop) :)

coney island bird man

Social media tip: don’t answer to the same person, in the same conversation more than three times

Simple rule: whenever you engage in a conversation in social media, avoid giving more than 3 replies to the same person.

If you do, most likely your other readers will be bored. No need for flame wars. Solve the situation by other methods.

(idea & credits go to Cristian Manafu)


Creating a text for a friend vs. creating a text for the Internet

In a recent workshop/training in Turkey, I found out a simple difference, which has major implications:

  • When you write for the regular Internet audience, you should consider your audience – in a hurry, wanting fast results, eager to get to the point. Small sentences, active verbs, no gerund, no passive voice, no metaphors, plain speech, short texts.
  • When you write for a friend, when you write a letter, you should also consider your audience – you can write longer texts, your verbs can also be in a passive tense, you can have non-active verbs, you may use the gerund, metaphors are allowed, so are fancy words and long texts.

In a nutshell:

  • The Internet is for speed.
  • The friendship is for long, warm texts.


What to write in a newsletter?

An NGO came to me today with a newsletter and they asked me for feed-back on it. I thought I would share the conclusions from my feed-back.


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What to write on the blog? 70 tips

  • “The best way to get over writer’s block is to write. Sit and type something. Even if it doesn’t make any sense. Even if you are just transcribing the lyrics to a song. Just type. And eventually, the words will come.”
  • “You can write a post for just one person, and still find that a lot of people want to read it.”
  • “When you have a good idea far from your computer, write yourself a note. My home is littered with scraps of paper that Rand and I have scribbled on. We’ve learned to check with one another before throwing them away. “Is this important?” “Yes. That’s the start of the next great American novel.” “… on the back of a Safeway receipt?” “Yeah.”-“
  • “At some point, you’ll spend hours looking for something online. A guide, a piece of information, some help about some topic that’s pressing on you. And if you don’t find it, you need to sit down and write the post yourself.”
  • “Bad is better than boring.”
  • “Done and mediocre is better than unfinished and brilliant.”
  • “This is a leftover tip from journalism school, and I still love it: if the first paragraph of a post is holding you back, then start with the second paragraph. Then you can either write your lead paragraph later, or realize that the second paragraph is a perfectly okay place to start.”
  • “Stop trying to be deep. Stop trying to elicit an emotional response from your readers. It will feel heavy-handed or manipulative. Just tell your story – often times, that’s enough.”

The whole list – 70 Things I’ve Learned From Writing 1000 Blog Posts. | The Everywhereist. (via)