Posts tagged Build

How to Build Relationships With Influencers Through Content by @seosmarty

We live in the era of micro-celebrities (or influencers, as we marketers like to call them). These are people who are well-known within their very specific niche. They may have an average social media following (never be quick to judge by numbers!), but they are able to influence someone…and that someone may very well be your future customer or promoter. I am a big advocate of this definition of content marketing: Content marketing is creating a content strategy (from content creation to amplification) geared towards influencing not only your potential customer but also people who can influence your potential customer. […]

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Learn How to Build Your Business With a Virtual Staff: Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker #SEJBookClub by @wonderwall7

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a monthly series of book reviews by the Search Engine Journal editorial team.  Join us each month to discuss our picks on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ using the hashtag #SEJBookClub and via the comments below. For our second SEJ Book Club, I read Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business by Chris Ducker. For me, it was one of those books that you start reading and don’t put down until you’re done. I read it in two days between my […]

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Five Steps To Build Your Own Random Non-Sequitur Twitter Bot

If you follow my standard Twitter account, @LaurenInSpace, you’re missing out on the good stuff. @LaurenInEbooks is a computer-generated stream of garbled tweets that are often far more on point than what I actually have to say. 

A friend of mine, who knows about my love of esoteric Internet phenomena, built @LaurenInEbooks as a gift. It’s inspired by @horse_ebooks, a Twitter account so famous for its poorly computer-generated tweets that it got profiled in the New Yorker, which revealed that it had gone from a weird spam effort to sell ebooks into a mysterious art project.

Horse_ebooks is an old joke by now. But it’s not too late for you to get in on this bizarre genre of word art. A computer-generated account which serves as your own personal Twitter bot Frankenstein is always fresh and funny.

Plus, for beginning coders like me, this project is a great way to dip your toe into Python and Ruby while sharpening your Git skills—and at the end, get a hilarious little bot for your troubles. 

Some of my coworkers wanted in join in on the fun, so I decided to build them some Twitter bots, too. However, I found the starter script I chose to use, Heroku Ebooks, significantly difficult to follow. Building on top of it, I decided to create a tutorial anybody can use.

A caveat: I built this tutorial on a Mac using its Terminal app, software which provides direct access to running software programs. I have not tested this tutorial for Windows machines, but if you need help, start with GitHub’s Windows instructions

It took me three tries to perfect the process. By the third time, building a bot took me only 20 minutes to complete! Here’s how to easily build your own random Twitter bot—and learn a little code at your friends’ expense.  

Set Up A Twitter Account

You’re going to need a place for these tweets to go, so build a new Twitter account with a funny name. If you add “ebooks” to the end, @horse_ebooks fans will instantly get the reference, but you can choose any variation you like. In order to verify the account, you’ll need an email address that isn’t already being used by Twitter, so I’d suggest a secondary email you rarely use. I just generated a new email address I’ll probably never check again over at my hosting service, Bluehost, but you can also sign up for a new one on Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Outlook.com.

This new Twitter account also MUST have a mobile number connected to it. I used Google Voice, since they give you your first number for free. If I needed another I might have used Twilio, which also gives you your first number for free.

If you need to create a lot of accounts, Twilio will cost $1/month, which can add up fast. And I should also note that while Twitter allows you to create parody accounts, “mass account creation” is against the rules. Twitter also has rules on automated accounts which you should follow. So don’t go crazy with your bots. 

This is also a good time to make a profile image. For @SelenaEbooks, I inverted the colors on her face to make a bizarro version of her Twitter image. I’m sure she just loves it.

Set Up A Twitter Developer Account 

While still logged into your new Twitter account, navigate over to dev.twitter.com. The first thing you want to do is create a new app. For convenience, use the same name as your new account.

Once you’ve named and created your app, you’re going to immediately want to adjust its permissions to “Read and Write.” In order to post to Twitter from a program, it needs to have a mobile number connected to the account—which is why we needed to create one earlier.  

Next, go to the API Keys page and click “Generate my Access Token,” and keep the window open while it works. You’ll need those keys and tokens in just a few minutes. 

Clone The GitHub Repository

Whenever you are working on a coding project, you are always standing on the shoulders of giants. In this case, we’re borrowing an open source Ruby and Python script that GitHub user Tom Meagher has saved in a repository. 

You need a copy of Tom’s repository on your computer. The easiest way to do this is to hit “Clone In Desktop” or “Download Zip.” Either way, you want to take the resulting folder, which will be called heroku_ebooks, and store it in the very top directory of your computer.

Update Your Settings

Navigate to the heroku_ebooks folder on your computer, and open up local_settings_example.py. In a text editor, copy and paste the entire contents into a new document, which you’ll then save as local_settings.py.

Fill in your Consumer Key, Consumer Secret, Access Token Key, and Access Token Secret in the allotted spaces. If you’re unsure which those are, here’s a hint: they’re in exactly the same order as they appeared on dev.twitter.com.  

Here are mine as they appear in order, though blurred out. Don’t ever share secret keys—that’s gotten Amazon Web Services customers in trouble!

When it says to list the account, don’t write out the full Twitter account URL (twitter.com/selenaebooks) or even put an @ in front of the Twitter username (@selenaebooks). Here’s how I did the @SelenaEbooks account:

 

Note that I set both T/F (true/false) variables to FALSE. If the first one isn’t set this way, it won’t be able to write to Twitter.  

Sign Up For And Install Heroku

We’re going to create this app by installing a free app-developer program called Heroku. First, go to Heroku.com and sign up for an account. I know you may be reluctant to do this, but you’re going to need to have a “verified” account, and that means inputting your credit card information. I wish Heroku didn’t do it this way, but it’s necessary for later, and I’ve never been charged a cent. 

Now that we’re signed up, here’s the problem: Our heroku_ebooks program files are on our computer, not the Web. So we need to use Heroku on our computer. Download Heroku Toolbelt in order to do that. 

Once Heroku is installed, go to your command-line window—in Terminal on the Mac, in the Windows command line on Windows machines. We need to build a Heroku app, but we want to make sure it builds in the right place. 

cd heroku_ebooks 

Once inside, we need to start up Git. For me, this was the most complicated part of the project. I kept getting an error where Git was unable to find my app, unless I typed exactly the following:

git init
git add .
git commit -am "Add all files"
heroku create --stack cedar
git push heroku master

With the first three lines, we’re setting up a fresh initialization of Git in this folder and told it to include and track the documents already located in this folder.

Then, we’re using the “Heroku create” command to build a new app on the cedar stack. Celadon Cedar, or cedar for short, is a deployment environment for Heroku. It lets Heroku access libraries that allow it to understand Python, Ruby, and any other language you want to build apps with.

Heroku has a nature-based naming convention, and it’ll randomly assign a name to your app based on that, in this case “damp-spire-9517.” You never have to change the name of the app since it won’t show publicly—it’ll just be how you identify it in your Heroku account.

In this screenshot, I’ve moved on from making fun of my colleague Selena Larson and tackled my boss, Owen Thomas, with @OwenEbooks.

With the final line, we’re pushing out all our heroku_ebooks files, including the local_settings.py file we built, to our Heroku app’s home on the Web. Heroku stores them in its servers and will run the app for us. 

Note: if you made a mistake in local_settings.py and need to update it, it’s just like doing any other update in Git. First, change the file, save, and exit. Then, back on the command line:

cd heroku_ebooks
git add local_settings.py
git commit -am “Update local_settings.py”
git push heroku master

You shouldn’t get this error if you’ve done everything the way I said, but the most common error is going to be: 

 !     Push rejected, no Cedar-supported app detected

This means it can’t find a Heroku app in the heroku_ebooks folder. Remove and reinitialize Git with:

rm -rf .git
git init
git add .

Then try once more to create a new Heroku app in the folder. 

If it is working, you’ll get this notice instead:

-----> Python app detected 

Once it’s done pushing changes to the master branch, you can test to see if it’s working:

heroku run worker

This will give you one of two responses: 

1 No, sorry, not this time. 

In this response, “1” could be any number 1 through 7, or, an actual tweet:

If you get an error that the program is unable to write to Twitter, make sure you gave it read and write permission back in dev.twitter.com. That’s an early mistake I made.

This program works as a random number generator. As a result, it seems like it takes forever to get “heroku run worker” to deliver anything. Ugh. If you get REALLY frustrated, you can raise its chances from 1 in 8 to 1 in 4, etc. on the ODDS line in local_settings.py.

Schedule Tweets For The Future

Once you’ve got your first tweet—a step you really should take to verify everything’s working—you’ll want to schedule “heroku run worker” to run at regular intervals during the day, so you don’t have to manually tweet for it yourself.

Type:

heroku addons:add scheduler:standard

If you didn’t “verify” your Heroku account with a credit card, this command won’t work. Go get that credit card! Otherwise, type this once the scheduler installs:

heroku addons:open scheduler

It’ll take you to a page on Heroku where you can configure the program. Name it “worker,” and set the frequency to “hourly.” Hit save.

This is where the random number generator comes in. To keep the account from spamming Twitter, “heroku run worker” runs once an hour. But instead of tweeting every time, it’s actually rolling a die. Every 8th time or so, it hits gold. As a result, your randomizer accounts should update about three times a day.

Enjoy your new Twitter bot, and be sure to share it with me in the comments!

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Why Build Links? 6 Reasons You Should Be Link Building in 2014

There are a hundred and one tasks in today’s marketing world designed to improve your online visibility: social media, PPC, content marketing, retargeting, blogging, email marketing, on-site and on-page optimization, content strategy, contests, partnerships, etc. etc. Why bother with link…



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Put Big Data To Work To Build Better Search Ads

Not too long ago, if I said “big data” to someone, I got a blank look in return. Now, big data is the topic du jour. People in healthcare, politics, industry… all are talking about it and how big data is changing the world. Simply put, the concept of big data reflects our growing ability…



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Wix Says You Don’t Need To Learn To Code To Build A Website

I hardly consider myself a coder. I just remember how, when I first encountered blocky, awkward, ugly site-building tools like Angelfire and GeoCities, I decided I could do a better job myself.

So I taught myself hypertext markup language, or HTML, the lingua franca of the Web; cascading style sheets, or CSS, a basic tool for describing a website’s layouts; and JavaScript, a relatively simple programming language used to make websites interactive. If those skills prompt anyone to call me a coder, I’ll take the compliment.

When I heard about Wix, an online website builder, I was skeptical. Web developers and designers tend to turn up their noses at site builders like Wix. Wix’s main feature is a graphical user interface that makes website production easy enough for anyone. But does relying on a tool like that take the “do-it-yourself” out of DIY?

Too Busy To Code?

Visit the main page of Wix and you’ll find photos of models portraying people in specialized careers—a seamstress, a gardener, a chef. They’re presumably managing their busy lifestyles by skipping out on the time-consuming task of learning to code.

There are a lot of those people: More than 47 million people have used Wix to build sites. According to Eric Mason, director of communications at Wix, that’s the whole point.

“Our service is based on HTML, CSS, and JS, but our goal is to ensure that our users never have to even learn what those words mean,” he said.

Who Should Learn To Code?

Software is an increasingly more important part of our daily lives. Whether it’s a cashier using an iPad as a point-of-sale system or a construction worker relying on updated plans sent to a smartphone, nearly every occupation is connected to a computer in some way. We all live in the programmable world.

Learning to code enriches and deepens anyone’s understanding of this world where nearly every aspect of our lives can be tweaked, managed, and improved through software. But does that mean everyone needs to be a coder?

For Mason, it’s almost a classist issue. Coding, in his view, is a highly specialized skill that takes years of practice, and not every small business owner has the resources or time to put their business on hold and master it. 

Editing in the Wix WYSIWYG editor.

Editing in the Wix WYSIWYG editor.

“In a world where content is still really king, developing a business brand is a full-time job,” said Mason. “If you’re learning to code on top of that, you lose the ability to go out and do business.

“There’s an intimidation factor. There’s a hierarchy, with developers and designers at the top, that trickles down to ordinary people who just need websites. I think code is wildly important—half of the 700 people who work at Wix are engineers. But I think it’s also important to have a solution for everyone else.”

The downside of this democratic approach is that Wix has struggled to win favor among those who make their living by coding. Wix lets experienced coders reach its millions of customers by offering their skills through Wix Arena, a marketplace for Web-design services, but Mason says it been a tough sell—partly because not all Wix websites are works of art. People can make whatever they want on Wix, which means that for all the slick templates, there are also some real eyesores. 

What Wix Offers Everyday Website Builders

Wix began in 2006 as a tool for generating Flash-only websites. It’s hard to remember that now, but there was a time when Adobe’s Flash technology, known for adding animations and other interactive elements to websites, was cutting edge. But it wasn’t built for mobile devices, and its usage has sharply declined. As Flash’s influence waned, so did Wix’s, until 2012 when the company launched tools for editing websites built entirely on HTML5, the latest version of the HTML standard.

On Wix, you begin with a template designed for a particular kind of small business—anything from childcare to consulting to law—and drag and drop your way to a custom site. As long as you stay under 30 pages of content and don’t want any plugins, it’s free. 

A selection of Wix sites designed with small businesses in mind.

A selection of Wix sites designed with small businesses in mind.

All Wix sites are responsive to the device people use to browse them, meaning they adjust layout and display elements for smartphones, tablets, and laptops. That includes free, customizable mobile versions which you can design to be strikingly different from their desktop versions. You can add music, videos, custom images, and anything you can think of to these static sites.

“This is not a template site,” said Mason. “Templates are built in blocks. Wix is built in layers. You can drag and drop any part of a Wix site, and it’ll convert into code.”

Unlike those early site-builders I remember, Wix is remarkably customizable. Playing with it makes me think that, had I discovered it in my formative years, I probably would’ve never turned to learning HTML.

But Mason suggests that many Wix users do go on to become familiar with the basics of website code.

“When they outgrow Wix, they become more informed about code, not less,” he said. “When they go on to work with Web designers, they can be more articulate about what they want.”

Thanks to the increasing flexibility of HTML5, Wix truly is a shortcut for people who want to get a business online but don’t have time to learn to code. And while it’s hard for coders to admit it, that’s what the Internet needs. In a world where coders are king, Wix gives democracy a try.

Photos via Wix

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How to Build Citations for Your Local SEO Campaign – Search Engine People (blog)

How to Build Citations for Your Local SEO Campaign
Search Engine People (blog)
If you run local SEO campaigns for small businesses, you have certainly heard of "citations." Local citations, as the name suggests, are mentions of your business across the web on local directories, websites or associations. These have to be on either …

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5 Tactics We Used To Build Links Last Month

There are a lot of questions around link building tactics these days, especially when it comes to how companies can actually build links that won’t get them in trouble. In fact, one of the most common questions I hear at conferences and from clients is, “How do you build good…



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How BuzzFeed Piggybacked on Mobile & Social to Quickly Build a Massive Audience

BuzzFeed’s impressive growth is mainly due to successfully leveraging social platforms – particularly Facebook – to help drive traffic. While desktop traffic for BuzzFeed has roughly doubled in the past year, mobile traffic is up nearly five times!

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How To Build A Local Brand Through Online Marketing

The terms Brand and Brand Marketing are usually associated with large businesses. Having a brand is seen as something significant — something that only businesses with big ideas and even bigger wallets can afford to invest in and create. But that’s not true. Businesses of all sizes can…



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