Posts tagged Right

Getting hreflang Right: Examples and Insights for International SEO

Posted by DaveSottimano

Most of us will remember the days in SEO where geotargeting was nearly impossible, and we all crawled to the shining example of Apple.com as our means of showcasing what the correct search display behaviour should be. Well, most of us weren’t Apple, and it was extremely difficult to determine how to structure your site to make it work for international search. Hreflang has been a blessing to the SEO industry, even though it’s had a bit of a troubled past. 

There’s been much confusion as to how hreflang annotations should work, what is the correct display behaviour, and if the implementation requires additional configuration such as the canonical tag or WMT targeting.

This isn’t a beginner- or even intermediate-level post, so if you don’t have a solid feel for hreflang already, I’d recommend reading through 
Google’s documentation before diving in.

In today’s post we’re going to cover the following:

  1. How to check international SERPs the right way
  2. What should hreflang do and not do
  3. Examples of hreflang behaviour
  4. Important tools for the serious international SEO
  5. Tips from my many screw-ups, and successes 


Section 1: How to check international SERPs the right way

I’ve said this once, and I’ll say it again: Know your Google search parameters better than your mother. Half the time we think something isn’t working, we don’t actually know how to check. Shy of having an IP in every country from which you want to check Google results, here is the next best thing:

For example, if want to mimic a Spanish user in the US:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=es&gl=us&pws=0&q=seo

Or if I want to impersonate an Australian user:

http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&gl=au&pws=0&q=seo

If you want a full list of language/country codes that Google uses, please visit the 
Google CCTLDs language and reference sheet. If you want the Google docs version go here, or if you want a tool to do this for you, check out Isearchfrom.

Section 2: What should hreflang do and not do


hreflang will not
:

  1. Replace geo-ranking factors: Just because you rank #1 in the US for “blue widgets” does not mean that your UK “blue widgets page” will rank #1 in the UK.
  2. Fix duplicate content issues: If you have duplicate copies of your pages targeting the same keywords, it does not mean that the right country version will rank because of hreflang. The same rules apply to general SEO; when there are exact or nearly exact duplicates, Google will choose which page to rank. Typically, we see the version with more authority ranking (authority can be determined loosely by #links, TBPR, DA, PA, etc.).

You might be wondering about duplicate content and Panda, which is a valid concern. I personally haven’t seen or heard of any site with international duplicate content being affected by Panda updates. The sites I have analyzed always had some sort of international SEO configuration, however, whether it was WMT targeting or hreflang annotations.


Hreflang will:

  1. Help the right country/language version of your cross-annotated pages appear in the correct versions of *google.*

Section 3: Examples of hreflang behaviour

Case 1: CNN.com

Configuration:

<head> hreflang, 302 redirect on homepage, and subdomain configuration

Sample of hreflang annotations:

<link href="http://www.cnn.com" hreflang="en-us" rel="alternate" title="CNN" type="text/html"/>
<link href="http://mexico.cnn.com" hreflang="es" rel="alternate" title="CNN Mexico" type="text/html"/>

What should happen according to the targeting?

Cnn.com is seen in EN-US and any Spanish queries should display Mexico.cnn.com

What actually happens?

Take a look at the US results for yourself

Take a look at the US results for yourself.

Take a look at the Mexican results for yourself.

Let’s try to explain this behaviour:

  • Cnn.com actually 302′s to edition.cnn.com; this is regular SEO behaviour that causes the origin page URL to display in search resuls and the content comes from the redirect. 
  • Mexico.cnn.com is not the right answer for “es” (Spanish language) IMO, because it’s the Mexican version and should be annotated as “mx-es” ;) 
  • Since cnnespanol.cnn.com exists and seems to have worldwide news, I would use this as the “ES” version.
  • Cross hreflang annotations are missing, so the whole thing isn’t going to work anyways ……

Case 2: play.google.com

Configuration:

<head> hreflang, language/country variations and duplicate content

Sample of hreflang annotations:

*FYI - I’ve shortened this for simplicity

x-default - 
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com….

en_GB - 
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com….

en - href 
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com….

What should happen according to the targeting?

X-default for non annotated versions, GB page should display in Google.co.uk

What actually happens?

Let’s try to explain this behaviour:

  • One thing you may not notice is that the EN, X default, and GB version are almost entirely duplicate (around 99%). Which one should the algorithm choose? This is a good example of hreflang not handling dupe content.
  • The GB version doesn’t display in UK search results, and the rankings are not the same (US ranking is higher than UK on average). The hreflang annotation is using the underscore rather than the standard hyphen (EN_GB versus EN-GB)
  • They use a self-referencing canonical, which, contrary to some beliefs, has absolutely no effect on the targeting

Case 3: Musicradar.com

Configuration:

<head> hreflang, subdomain & cctld, country targeting and x-default

Sample of hreflang annotations:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="http://www.musicradar.com/" />
	
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" href="http://www.musicradar.com/" />
	
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-us" href="http://www.musicradar.com/us/" />
	
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr-fr" href="http://www.musicradar.com/fr/" />
	

What should happen according to the targeting?

en.softonic.com should appear for all “en” queries and softonic.it for all “it” queries


What actually happens?


See the Canadian results for yourself

See the American results for yourself

See the French results for yourself

Let’s try to explain this behaviour:

  • Perfect example of perfect implementation – you guys & gals working with Musicradar are pretty great. You get the honorary #likeaboss vote from me :)
  • One thing to notice is that they double list the EN-GB page also as the X-default
  • The English sitelink in the French results is pretty weird, but I think this is the perfect situation to escalate to Google as their implementation is correct as far as I can tell.

Case 4: Ridgid.com

Configuration:

XML sitemaps hreflang, subfolders, rel canonical and dupe content

Sample of hreflang annotations:

<loc>https://www.ridgid.com/</loc>
			
<xhtml:linkhreflang="en-US" href="https://www.ridgid.com/" rel="alternate"/>
			
<xhtml:link hreflang="en-CA" href="https://www.ridgid.com/ca/en" rel="alternate"/>
			
<xhtml:link hreflang="en-PH" href="https://www.ridgid.com/ph/en" rel="alternate" />
			

What should happen according to the targeting?

Ridgid.com should appear in the US, ridgid.com/ca/en should appear for Canadian – English queries (google.ca) and ridgid.com/ph/en should appear in Google Philippines for English queries.

What actually happens?

Check out the Canadian results for yourself

Check out the Philippines results for yourself

Let’s try to explain this behaviour:

  • All 3 homepages are almost exactly identical, hence duplicate content
  • The Canadian version contains <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.ridgid.com/” /> – that means it’s being canonicalized to the main US version
  • The Philippines version does not contain a canonical tag
  • Google is choosing which is the right duplicate version to show, unless there is a canonical instruction

Section 4: Tools for the serious International SEO

Essentials:

  • Reliable rank tracker that can localize: Advanced Web RankingMoz, etc…
  • Crawler that can validate hreflang annotations in XML sitemaps or within <head>: The only tool on the market that can do this, and does it very well, is Deepcrawl.

Other nice-to-haves:

  1. Your own method of “gathering” international search results on scale. You should probably go with proxies.
  2. Your own method of parsing XML sitemaps and cross checking (even if you use something like Deepcrawl, you’ll need to double check).
  3. Obvious, but worth a reminder: Google webmaster tools, Analytics, access to server logs so you can understand Google’s crawl behaviour.

Section 5: Tips from many screw-ups and successes

  1. Use either the <head> implementation or XML sitemaps, not both. It can technically work, but trust me, you’ll probably screw something up – just stick to one or the other.
  2. If you don’t cross annotate, it won’t work. Plain and simple, use Aleyda’s tool to help you.
  3. Google says you should self-reference hreflang, but I also see it working without (check out en.softonic.com). If you want to play safe, self reference; we don’t know what Google will change in the future.
  4. Try to eliminate the need for duplicate content, but if you must, it’s okay to use canonical + hreflang as long as you know what you’re doing. Check out this cool isolated test which is still relevant. Remember, mo’ dupes, mo’ problems.
  5. Hreflang needs time to work properly. At a bare minimum, Google needs to crawl both cross annotations for the switch to happen. Help yourself by pinging sitemaps, but be aware of at least a 2-day lag.
  6. You can double-annotate a URL when using X-default, in case you were afraid to. Don’t worry, it’s cool.
  7. Make sure you’re actually having a problem before you go ranting on webmaster forums. Double check what you’re seeing and ask other people to check as well. Check your Google parameters and personalized results!
  8. You can 302 your homepage when you’re using a country redirect strategy. Yes, I know it’s crazy, yes, a little bird told me and I throughly tested this and didn’t see a loss. There’s 2 sites I know of using this, so check them out: The GuardianRed Bull.

Closing, burning question: You might be asking yourself, how the heck did he find so many examples? Or maybe not, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

My secret sauce is 
Nerdydata.com, and if you didn’t know about this beautiful site, I hope that Nerdydata.com gives me a free t-shirt or something for telling you.

I find most SEOs who know about the tool are using it for useless stuff like meta tags (this is my own opinion), but what it really should be used for is reverse engineering things like hreflang and schema.org to find working examples. For example, a footprint you might use is hreflang=”en-us” and you’ll find a tonne of examples.

Here’s a few to get you started:

marketo.com asos.com 99designs.com sistrix.com
mozilla.org agoda.com emirates.com trivago.com
salesforce.com techradar.com symantec.com rentalcars.com
softonic.com aufeminin.com alfemminile.com moo.com
istockphoto.com ea.com freelotto.com softonic.it
americanexpress.com zara.com xero.com trustpilot.com
viadeo.com marriott.com gofeminin.de here.com
hotels.com enfemenino.com ringcentral.com mailjet.com

That’s it folks, hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two. Good luck in your international adventures and 
feel free to say hi on Twitter. :)

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How to Select The Right Placements For Your Display Network Campaign

Display network campaigns can be tricky and many advertisers worry they might burn a lot of budget for […]

Author information

Rocco Baldassarre

Founder and CEO of Zebra Advertisement, a result oriented SEM consulting firm. Rocco consults companies that spend up to US$5M in PPC advertisement budget per day, speaks 3 languages, and has been recently shortlisted as Young Search Professional of the Year by the 2013 European Search Awards and by the 2013 US Search Award.

The post How to Select The Right Placements For Your Display Network Campaign appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Getting Branded Searches Right – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Ranking for branded keywords is obviously quite a bit easier than for unbranded terms, but it takes some thought. We don’t just want to send everyone through our homepages; it’s far better to send them to the page that best answers their query. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers four steps to be sure you’re setting things up the right way.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about getting your branded search terms right. Branded search is very important, because when people perform branded queries — your brand name plus some other modifier, some noun, some information they’re seeking around your company and your brand — you want to make sure you show up correctly in the search engines.

One of the challenges here is that, as SEOs, a lot of the time we think about trying to target queries that can bring us new traffic, which often means unbranded searches, things where people haven’t yet decided what brand they’re going with. But branded search is incredibly important. It actually makes up a huge amount of volume of Google and Bing and Yahoo’s total search queries.

Here I performed a search for ZIIIRO Watches. I’m wearing one of their watches. I like them a lot. They have a weird spelling. It’s Z-I-I-I-R-O Watches. If you searched for ZIIIRO Watches a few months back, their website was a little funky. In fact, most of the internal pages weren’t crawlable.

I remember when I performed a search for ZIIIRO Watches, the only page that actually mentioned that they were a watch company, I think it was either their about or contact page would show up. That was the first page that ranks for ZIIIRO Watches. That’s not ideal.

What you really want to rank there is either their homepage or their products page that lists all their watches. Those are the two things that I could potentially see as being valuable, and if it were me, I’d particularly want the watches page to be ranking, especially if they’re expanding into other items beyond just making watches.

Now what you want here as a brand, when people perform branded types of queries, is the most relevant, useful page to answer queries about that specific thing. That’s why I said if I were the brand manager at ZIIIRO or if I were the SEO at ZIIIRO, what I would want is my watches page there rather than my homepage. The reason I want that is because getting to that information as quickly, as fast as possible is likely to have the best impact on both my SEO and on how the visitors will perform.

If I list my homepage there, I’m asking visitors to make one more step to figure out my navigation system and get to my watches page, or whatever page it is on my website. I don’t like forcing that step. I want them to get right there. Generally speaking, that can help with things like pogo sticking. It can help with time on page and engagement. It can help with conversion rate optimization. It’s just the best way to drive traffic through search.

The second thing, you want a title and description right here that’s going to really earn that click. Contact ZIIIRO Watches, phone, address, email form, that’s awful, right? That doesn’t entice me. Even if I did want to get in touch with them, what I really want there is if I put “ZIIIRO phone number” or “Contact ZIIIRO” or “ZIIIRO Help,” “ZIIIRO Support,” what I want to see is something like “Contact ZIIIRO and get immediate help. You can email us, call us, or one click to fill out our form and get responses in 24 hours or less.”

That’s what I want the description right there to say. It creates the action, the desire for me to click that, and the indication that I’m going to get what I want.

The other thing that I really like doing is making sure that the headline on the page itself, once I reach whatever page this is, I really want that headline, the big thing that comes up bold at the top, to closely match. It doesn’t have to mirror exactly what the title says, but to closely match that title so that I never get that experience of a searcher clicking and then going, “Wait a minute. This isn’t the page I thought I was about to get.”

That’s a bad experience. That’s why I try and make those match up. Then the description as well, that intent should match.

Finally, the last thing that I urge folks to do here is to have internal links that point to the pages that are most likely to guide the searcher’s next few steps. If I know that the next steps in a visitor’s journey from the watches page are often to check things out by price group, or to check things out by color, or to check things out by types of, I don’t know, wristband or whatever it is, I want to make sure that those links are very prominent and easy to access on the page that I’m showing them here.

What you don’t want to do is let the wrong pages show up here, like we have in this ZIIIRO example. I can actually walk you through a process, step by step, of ways that I would actually urge every SEO to go through this process either once a year, or once a redesign, and find all the pages that might be ranking for branded queries that you don’t intend to be ranking there, that you wish weren’t ranking there, and how to change those up.

Step one, you need to get a list of your branded terms and phrases. This used to be easier than it is today, thanks to keyword not provided. But still, we are lucky that not provided is only 90% of your Google search traffic.

There are those 10% of queries we can get some of our branded search queries through there. You can do a filter inside of Google Analytics by performing a search on the referring keywords. Or you can also do this in Moz Analytics, if you set up a branded rule for your keywords.

Bing provides you keywords as well. Bing powers Bing.com and Yahoo searches as well. In the U.S., that’s about 20% of searches or so. In Europe, obviously much less. But you can get some keyword data there.

You can use auto suggest and related searches, meaning I start typing
“ZIIIRO” here, and I hit the spacebar and I see what else populates. By the way, the auto suggest tends to work better on Google’s homepage if you set up “don’t auto send me to the search results page.” You can sometimes see more search suggest on the Google homepage than you can on the results pages.

You can use related searches, which is a box down at the bottom. If I were to scroll to the bottom of the results, I’d generally see a box down here that says “related searches” and five, six, seven, eight different queries that I could look at there.

You can also use your internal search query data, of course. You can use things like Google AdWords, the AdWords keyword tool. The challenge there is with a lot of low volume searches, which many of the longer tail stuff in the brand tends to be lower volume, it can be challenging to figure those out via something like AdWords.

Step two, we’re going to depersonalize and search. We’re going to take the keyword that we’re looking for — in this case ZIIIRO Watches — and we’re going to form a search query just like this, “Google.co.nz”. Why am I looking in New Zealand? I’ll tell you in a sec.
“search?q=ziiiro+watches&GL=US”.

Why this weird search query format? Well, what’s happening here is that if I go to Google.com and I search for ZIIIRO Watches, I can add something like “&PWS=0″ to the end of my search query, which will depersonalize the results, but it won’t remove the geographic bias.

What I really want to see is no geographic bias when I’m performing these searches. To do that, I take myself out of the country, out of the U.S., into New Zealand, and then I put myself back in the U.S., thus removing any personalization that comes from geographic biasing. You can do this with

.ca, .co.uk, dot whatever. It doesn’t actually matter. I like generally doing it with a country code that matches the language you’re searching in, though.

By the way, when you do this, if you do it in a new incognito window, meaning you’re not logged in, you don’t generally have to worry about also adding “PWS=0″ to remove personalized results.

If applicable, go to step three. Applicable meaning you need to localize. If I’m searching, for example, and I want to see how this looks in Seattle, Washington versus Portland, Oregon versus San Diego, California or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I can actually use the “&near” parameter at the end of a query like this to see what it looks like in a specific geography.

You don’t have to, by the way, go out to New Zealand to do that. You can just search in regular .com. Then I can see what search results for people near Seattle, Washington, or I think you can also now use near equals a ZIP code if you want to get that granular.

Then your job is simply to list the non-ideal results and start fixing them one by one. So I take a list of these keywords that I’ve got, a list of any of the search results that I didn’t particularly like, and I prioritize based on how much traffic I’m either getting for that keyword, how much search traffic that landing page is receiving, or how much the estimated volume might be in something like AdWords.

Now I’ve got a prioritized list that I can run through and say, “All right, got to fix this one. These three look good. Got to fix this one. These four look good.” For that process, you can refer to some other Whiteboard Fridays that I’ve done on how to get the right result ranking for the search query term you’re looking for. Generally speaking, it’s not going to be that hard when it’s a branded search term.

All right, everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and we’ll see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Apps To Discover Earth’s Mysteries Right On Your iPad

Editor’s note: This post was originally published by our partners at PopSugar Tech.

April marks the annual celebration of Earth Month, a 30-day-long celebration of environmental appreciation. While we’re working at our desk jobs or spending time on our tablets, it’s easy to lose perspective of how majestic our planet is. We’ve found a few apps that’ll inspire you to get out and do some globe-trotting of your own! Take a look at these iPad downloads that’ll transport you all around the world and back again.

Disneynature Explore App 

Disneynature Explore (free) for iPhone and iPad is trying to get kids to go outside by learning about all the amazing things nature has to offer. The augmented-reality feature allows for 3D animals to appear in the live camera view of the device while little ones are exploring their own backyards.

Wonders of Life

The team behind Wonders of the Universe is bringing their breathtaking 3D imagery, HD video, and expert narration by professor Brian Cox to Wonders of Life ($5) for the iPhone and iPad.

Instead of looking into the mysteries of the cosmos, the new app looks inward, unearthing the most fascinating details about Earth’s many natural wonders. Learning more about this planet’s unique creatures opens the imagination to the wild living forms that exist beyond our galaxy.

Living Earth

Living Earth ($3) for the iPhone and iPad offers a stunning 3D live simulation of the globe, along with global weather, forecasts, and a world clock. Wake up in a new part of the world each morning, and get a closer look at hurricanes and tropical storms going on in every country.

Google Earth 

Google Earth (free) for the iPhone and iPad can do so much more than Google Maps’ street view. Browse different layers (roads, borders, places, etc.), or track planes in flight, hiking trails, and more.

Barefoot World Atlas 

Explore the seven wonders of the world and beyond with Barefoot World Atlas‘s ($5) interactive 3D globe, which offers rich information about every country and fun animations by artist David Crane. BBC geographer Nick Crane offers spoken narration, and Wolfram Alpha provides live, updated country data.

Image courtesy of Getty 

More stories from PopSugar Tech:

George R.R. Martin’s Favorite Fantasy Authors
3 Apps to Kick-Start Good Habits and Break Bad Ones
A Brilliant, Affordable Standing Desk Solution
When Texting While Driving Lands You on a Billboard
Block Contacts From Sending Messages or Calls in iOS 7

View full post on ReadWrite

Corporate Branding: What It is, and How to Do It Right

Do me a favor and take this little quiz that demonstrates how powerful a strong brand really is. […]

Author information

Natalie McCatty

Content Writer at Solutions 8

Natalie McCatty is a content writer for Solutions 8, Arizona’s fastest growing digital marketing firm offering SEO, video production, content creation, web design and more. Follow her on Twitter @nmccatty8 or read more of her work on the Sol8 blog.

The post Corporate Branding: What It is, and How to Do It Right appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Corporate Branding: What it is, and How to do it Right by @nmccatty8

Do me a favor and take this little quiz that demonstrates how powerful a strong brand really is. Did you get them all?  All of these brands are so strong, you can completely remove their name and consumers would still recognize them. How strong is your company’s brand? Is a brand more than just a […]

Author information

Natalie McCatty

Content Writer at Solutions 8

Natalie McCatty is a content writer for Solutions 8, Arizona’s fastest growing digital marketing firm offering SEO, video production, content creation, web design and more. Follow her on Twitter @nmccatty8 or read more of her work on the Sol8 blog.

The post Corporate Branding: What it is, and How to do it Right by @nmccatty8 appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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US Court Says Baidu Has Free Speech Right To Censor Search

Late last week Chinese search engine Baidu succeeded in gaining dismissal of a lawsuit by pro-democracy activists based in New York (Zhang et al. v. Baidu.com, Inc). Plaintiffs had sued in the US and argued that Baidu improperly blocked them from seeing content on the search engine. Specifically,…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Your Business Needs to Hire the Right SEO Expert – Business 2 Community

Your Business Needs to Hire the Right SEO Expert
Business 2 Community
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the essentials to a websites success since it allows both users and search engine robots to understand the purpose of a site and its importance before looking at its content. With the growing importance of SEO
Seattle SEO Expert Shows Why Most Companies Fail With Their Search Engine PR Web (press release)

all 4 news articles »

View full post on SEO – Google News

6 New Salestech Tools You Should Try Right Now

For awhile, conventional wisdom said the world of CRM was particularly harsh for newcomers. With behemoths like Oracle, Salesforce and Microsoft, there just wasn’t much room for startups. But much has changed over the last few years, and the CRM space is now alive and well—and more competitive than ever.

Disruptive technologies in mobile and breakthroughs in big data are finally being applied to major pain points in the world of “salestech,” where tools that weren’t necessarily built specifically for sales are being used for sales purposes anyway—because they get the job done.

My earlier posts on CRM examined the challenges LinkedIn brings to this market and the well-funded ventures gaining significant traction in the space. Here, we will look much further down the innovation pipeline to examine early-stage ventures, where one can apply the “barista test” to an array of new tools.

Can I check out this new tool while waiting for my coffee? If it looks interesting, can I start using it while drinking my coffee? This “barista test” eliminates all the enterprise-y systems that that somebody chooses for you or require a backend. It also eliminates the cool-sounding Private Beta tools that you cannot actually try out today. Mobile apps tend to score well on the “barista test,” since any actions can be performed with one hand, negating the need to fire up the laptop, but I don’t apply that as a mandatory filter because there are still great tools that have not yet translated to the smaller mobile screen.

Here’s the real test of greatness: Will you use this tool tomorrow? Can this tool become a habit you use every day?

There are some overlaps between many of the younger salestech ventures—for example, all ventures use email and social in some way—but those companies tend to cluster around four main themes.

Relenta And Streak: For bringing CRM to email

There are only so many hours in the day. If we spend all our time in a CRM system, we have less time in our email inbox, and vice versa. The reality is that when we need to take action—to “follow up” with people—we usually use email. So why not bring CRM into the email? That reasoning led me to use Relenta when I was COO of ReadWrite in 2009, but it had one big flaw: It made me leave Gmail and use Relenta’s email system.

Relenta was great for my productivity once I decided to switch, but once I left ReadWrite, I reverted back to Gmail. Now there’s Streak, which raised nearly $2 million in VC funding in 2012, which literally brings CRM into Gmail.

Streak is not CRM-specific; its mission is to fix “the frustration of constantly having to switch between their inbox (where they do their work) and separate systems.” So Streak could certainly apply to any executive and any back-end system, but I’m confident it would resonate with salespeople. Mobile email is at a pretty good place right now, so an e-mail centric CRM is automatically mobile-friendly. Streak may work best for those people who do some sales/relationship management but don’t necessarily define themselves as “sales professionals” (perhaps 20% of their time is spent selling). Streak is great for those people that don’t want to use a CRM system, but would like a bit of CRM functionality in their email.

Nimble And LittleBird: For bringing social to CRM

Self-appointed social media gurus will tell you “how to use social media to drive revenue,” but these concrete methodologies usually lead to spam. Social media should be a conversation, and so should selling. The two should be one user experience, and one workflow. Nimble does this elegantly.

Nimble probably won’t displace Salesforce or Oracle/Siebel in enterprise accounts, but it may take a big share of the SMB market for CRM that’s currently wide open. If sales is what you do for a living and it’s up to you, give Nimble a try. You can be up and running in minutes and it could end up saving you a lot of time.

Nimble automates what good salespeople already do manually, which is valuable since time is our most precious asset. However, if you look for something that will give you competitive advantage and put you a step ahead of the average sales guy, try LittleBird. This was built by Marshall Kirkpatrick with investment from Mark Cuban and others. (Disclosure: I worked with Marshall at ReadWrite in 2009 and like him, but no I don’t have any financial interest in his venture.)

Marshall built LittleBird from his experience as a journalist where you have to quickly assemble lists of experts and influencers by domain. It’s like Klout, but where one’s influence measured by their domain. Somebody smart and famous may have a high Klout score, but that’s irrelevant if, for example, you are writing about new technology in the cloud stack and you’re only interested in connecting with experts in cloud stack technology.

So how does a tool for journalists translate to sales? In the same way journalists seek out influencers and report on their activities, salespeople must also find those domain-specific influencers and influence them to sell others on their technologies.

In both cases, you need to keep track of your influencers, and LittleBird helps you do that. This is particularly useful in sales when you’re bringing a horizontal tool into new vertical markets and you need to quickly connect with people that matter in those markets.

DataHug: For bringing business intelligence to your CRM

Mature ventures in this space include InsideView and RelateIQ, which we covered in an earlier story, but there is also DataHug from Ireland, which “analyzes the contacts your company is emailing and scheduling meetings with,” allowing teams to “find warm leads into potential customers, partners and recruits.

DataHug hits on a big issue: Our personal LinkedIn connections are good, but it still feels odd to “connect” to new colleagues just to see their connections. A CIO or sales VP might well get indigestion from all that relationship capital leaving the company.

Business intelligence for CRM still has a long way to go. Salespeople live on snippets of intelligence all day long, and the smart ones keep their ears open for opportunity all the time. The big win happens when salespeople can alert users just in time after an event happens that can a) signal opportunity, b) signal the deal is in danger, or c) provide an interesting talking point to connect with a prospect.

This kind of real-time intelligence requires data collection from many sources (e.g. Glassdoor, Google News, LinkedIn, Twitter) and alerts you on your mobile device while you’re on the go. Aggregating external sources on companies is important, but since that data is non-proprietary, you can save time by aggregating it automatically. Though it doesn’t always generate a competitive advantage, it allows you to also integrate internal, proprietary data in parallel, which is how you achieve the bigger win.

Trello: For aligning resources to your sales projects

If your image of a salesperson is a door-to-door salesman or one of the guys from Glengarry Glen Ross, it would probably look like the salesman is a solo act. This is simply not true in big ticket enterprise sales, where the sales executive is the point person, the orchestrator of resources—such as sales support, maintenance, product management, senior management and outside partners—to get a deal done.

In CRM systems, coordination matters. (Perhaps that’s why they’re hated by so many salespeople but beloved by so many managers.) But is it possible to have one tool that everyone can agree upon? I have seen one candidate, and that is Trello.

Trello comes from Joel Spolsky’s team—no VC money involved at all. ReadWrite uses Trello for tracking the general flow of stories from concepts to finished articles, but Trello’s system of “boards” and “cards” can be easily applied to managing a sales pipeline.

Trello feels like it was “born-mobile.” The small screen interface works well, and it totally scores high marks on the barista test. It is the one tool on this list that I find myself using regularly. It is also naturally viral; I get invited onto Trello Boards and invite others onto Trello Boards I have created.

Salestech CRM is finally exciting again, with lots of innovative new tools to try out. These are just six examples, so let us know which CRM tools you prefer in the comments section below.

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The One Thing HTC Did Right With The HTC One M8

The greatest paradox in the smartphone wars is that of HTC. The smartphone manufacturer had a critical hit on its hands in 2013 with the HTC One, a beautiful and functional Android device that was a top choice for many reviewers last year. But the phone didn’t sell and HTC’s profits and revenue suffered, so the future for the company remains uncertain.

HTC’s survival depends on how its next great flagship smartphone performs, and by the looks of the new HTC One M8 announced today, the company might have another critical success on its hands.

HTC’s biggest flaw last year had little to do with the One’s software, hardware or design. It was that it built up so much hype and then shipped late.

The original HTC One was announced in mid-February with the promise it would be in stores by March. By the end of April, it was still nowhere to be found; the hype cycle passed it by when Samsung announced the Galaxy S4 and shipped it the following period.

HTC lost its window to dominate the news cycle, get its smartphones in consumer hands and build network effects. In the end, the HTC One was a good-looking device that fairly few people actually bought.

This year’s follow-up to the HTC One will be available to 230 carriers across the world in 100 different countries and ship to most of them by the end of April.

HTC has learned from its mistakes. The One M8 is available today to order in the U.S. and will ship to most countries internationally on April 10 or by the end of April. It starts at $650 for 16 GB versions and will be available on contract for $199 through carriers in the U.S. You can walk into a Verizon store in the U.S. right now and buy the new HTC One M8 or order it from any one of the three of the four major American carriers (outside of T-Mobile, which hasn’t announced availability except for sometime in April) and have it arrive this week. 

For HTC, that is nothing short of a miracle. 

Oh, and the phone is pretty snazzy too.

Top Of The Line For The One M8

HTC is one company that judges the wind of mobile very well while adhering to its own game. The new HTC One (despite the really awful M8 moniker) is everything that reviewers liked about the original HTC One, and then some. 

Any discussion of HTC phones starts with design. The HTC One M8 is a little bigger than its predecessor with a 5-inch screen with a 440 pixel-per-inch display. The body is bigger and has the same “Boom” speakers, though they have been redesigned to be louder and clearer. HTC is employing the brand new Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor that Qualcomm announced earlier this year, which means the HTC One M8 will release with top-of-the-line internal specs to go along with its sleek industrial design.

The metal unibody from the original HTC One is back in the M8 model, with 90% metal (as opposed to 70% in the last version) and a polished mirror finish and hairline texture. HTC will release the M8 in a variety of metallic colors, including gold, gray and silver.

The battery on the HTC One M8 is 2,600 mAh and HTC has promised both power-saving and “ultra power-saving” modes. In ultra power-saving mode, the battery can last up to two weeks on standby, basically only receiving and sending texts and phone calls. Power-saving modes are commonplace on devices running Android these days.

The Camera Is Seeing Double

HTC likes to get tricky with the cameras on its phones. The One M8 has two back cameras, including one with a 28 mm lens that uses HTC’s so-called “Ultra Pixel” technology, which purportedly captures more light than a regular megapixel camera. The second camera on the HTC One M8, positioned above the main camera, captures detailed depth information about a scene through hardware. It knows which objects are closer to the camera which are further away and can use its hardware—as opposed to software—to tell the difference. It’s really not all that different from what other smartphone cameras do, but basically, the second camera on the HTC One M8 is a hardware depth sensor that acts like HDR software. The idea of the camera is impressive, but an initial review from The Verge says the quality is only mediocre.

The front camera on the HTC One M8 is a 5-megapixel, wide-angle camera that, from a specs perspective, is one the best to be featured on the front of a smartphone.

HTC is opening the camera hardware up to developers through an API to build upon its new features.

The Sixth Sense

HTC has done a couple of good things to the launcher it traditionally lays on top of its products, called HTC Sense. Now in its sixth iteration (HTC playfully calls “Sense 6″ as the “Sixth Sense”), HTC shows it has learned some lessons about software deployment.

HTC has completely redesigned Sense, pixel by pixel. It has also opened it up. BlinkFeed, the newsfeed-like homescreen introduced in the first HTC One, is now open to developers so they can provide contextual information for users. FitBit and Foursquare are the first partners in the new BlinkFeed, showing both location-relevant information and exercise statistics to users of those services. 

Importantly, HTC Sense updates will soon be available through Google Play. Instead of waiting for a full firmware update that needs to be run through the carriers, HTC can just update Sense as if it were an app in Google Play.

HTC said it will also release Google Play and Developer editions of the HTC One M8, which will not feature the full Sense 6 launcher. 

HTC has also changed the homescreen on the One M8 to receive gesture controls for simple actions like telling the time or seeing one’s notifications without needing to press the power button. In this way, HTC has basically created its own type of capabilities for the One M8 similar to Motorola and its Moto X smartphone, thanks to the X8 computing system. The HTC One M8 can sense proximity, speed and motion through sensors that always stay on but remain at low power, so as not to drain the phone’s battery.

The bottom line? It looks like HTC has a winner on its hands with the HTC One M8. It will be critically reviewed by all smartphone illuminati and many users will probably like it if they buy one. Whether people actually do buy this new phone will go a long way in answering the paradox that is HTC’s market position and future viability.

 

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