Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Microsoft Closes Acquisition of LinkedIn

Microsoft Closes Acquisition of LinkedIn Deal, valued at roughly $26 billion, is biggest in tech company’s history.

 Microsoft Corp. closed its roughly $26 billion deal to buy professional-networking site LinkedIn, cementing the largest acquisition in the tech giant’s history.

The marriage of the two firms, announced in June, is a bet that the social network can reinvigorate Microsoft’s software offerings despite recent struggles by both companies. The closure of the deal was announced by Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella in a LinkedIn post.

TechCrunch Wrote About Nadella "Nadella took over Microsoft in the midst of a transition, and Microsoft is still somewhat in that transition. Its mobile bet didn’t play out and it’s started to refocus its resources to other parts of the business, and while all these bets still seem to be in their early stages, the arrow seems to point upwards. But like any company (even Google), these bets are going to take a while to play out. In reality, Microsoft’s revenue growth hasn’t really been all that impressive."

Mr. Nadella hopes the deal will open new horizons for Microsoft’s Office suite as well as LinkedIn, both of which have saturated their markets, and bolster Microsoft’s revenue and competitive position. Microsoft said it would work on integrating LinkedIn into some of its key offerings, such as adding aspects of the LinkedIn network to Microsoft Outlook and the Office suite, which includes Word and PowerPoint.

 LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner will retain his role. The companies had expected the deal to close by the end of 2016. Microsoft’s stock edged down 0.1% to $61.32 in morning trading.

The fact that these concessions had to be made speaks a little to what Microsoft’s intentions might be with LinkedIn. It seems like one key area for Microsoft will be to upsell those using LinkedIn to recruit, to then buy into Microsoft’s software in areas like HR and sales to extend that functionality.

Joseph Hincks wrote at Fortune about this deal "This Is What LinkedIn Employees Consider Their ‘Most Prized Benefit’"

Microsoft has up to now not really been a significant player in open-ended social networking, although with products like Yammer and Skype it’s clearly put a lot of investment into the kinds of collaboration products that are in demand from enterprises and business users today. It will be interesting to see how and if it tries to marry these two sides of enterprise-focused social networking down the line.


Ways to Adjust Adjust Your SEO Strategy After Google Local 3 Pack Shake Up

Adjust Your Local SEO Strategy - Google Local 3 Pack Shake Up

In early August, Google made some major changes to its "Local Pack" search results by opting to show three results instead of seven. Here are some ways to adjust strategy in order to stay on top of local search.

Google's decision to show fewer listings seems to be motivated by mobile. "Three-pack" search results make desktop searches mirror those on mobile with more space for map results and reviews, but less contenders for top rankings. However, search results are hyper-localized, meaning that the three-pack changes pretty often.

Plus, there's an opinion that the top 20 sites listed in the map view seems to be unaffected by the upgrade. This leaves some opportunity for businesses that don't make the top three, though some opposite cases have also been reported.

Have a Strong Presence on Local Platforms

Local searches are optimized based on the user’s location, so that users see the highest ranked businesses in their areas. The first step to gaining this local search ranking is having a strong presence in local search platforms or relevant review websites. A few of the top ones to consider include;

Google My Business: Google My Business, previously known as Google Places, used to be the first stop for anyone looking to make a dent in local search. One thing that is hugely popular on Google My Business is Google Click to Call, which generates about 30 million calls a month.

Yelp: Yelp is a popular review site that allows your customers to leave reviews of your business for everyone else to see. Not only will Yelp give you an opportunity to get great feedback from your customers, it will also allow you to set keywords for your local area.

Trip Advisor: Trip Advisor is relevant to those in the travel or hospitality industry. It allows users to review your business, upload photos and give you a rating out of five. It also gives you the ability to address any negative reviews.

The list of local search platforms is ever-expanding, and is specific your industry and what is popular with your target market. To get the best out of your local SEO campaign, you should use local search outlets as much as you use global sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. When it comes to local search, 45% of all searches are specifically goal oriented; meaning these users are ready and willing to buy.

Localize Your Information

On your website itself, and on your social media platforms, your content should be localized. The first step in doing this is ensuring your business address appears in a searchable part of the page (for example: not as an image). Your content should be locally specific as well, with the location of your business occasionally referenced in the text.

Make Sure You Go Mobile

Another thing to consider isn’t just how heavy your local presence is, but how your site looks when you get those users there. About 61% of mobile searches result in a purchase. If these highly motivated leads can’t easily navigate your site, those purchases are going to your competitors instead. As up to 25% of all internet traffic originates from a mobile device, it is imperative that your website accommodates these users.

Fully integrating local search into your campaign requires three important steps. Your site and your social media sites should include some local information. You should have a strong presence on local search platforms. Finally, you need to have a site that is easily accessible on a mobile device. Those businesses that embrace local and mobile search as part of their campaign are the ones who will manage to stay competitive in the constantly evolving digital marketplace.

Reviews Matter

Google has removed phone numbers and exact addresses from search results, but starred reviews remain. Therefore, businesses hoping to both crack the top three and see traffic from that ranking need to make sure they've got a high volume of good reviews, according to Shotland.

"Based on the current display, particularly the local finder, it does appear that ratings and reviews are much more prominent in the UI," Shotland says. "So focusing on making sure your business has a high rating with a decent amount of reviews should be a priority."

Double Down on Link-Earning

Once you break into that hyper-specialized top three, Rozek says, you're going to want to stay there. And increasing link-earning efforts is one of the best ways to stay on top of local search results.

"Even if you inhabit a smaller pond, you'll still want to become a bigger fish. So to that end, I'd suggest doubling down on your link-earning efforts," Rozek says. "Start with easy links, like joining at least one local Chamber of Commerce, joining an industry or professional organization, and maybe getting accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Of course, there's an infinite number of other good links you can get, but those are a solid start and often overlooked."

Make Sure Local Efforts Fit Into Overall Strategy

Changes like the three-pack updates are a given, and the best defense is a good offense, according to Mike Blumenthal, owner and local expert at Blumenthals. Local search efforts have to be integrated with a strong overall strategy to make an impact.

"I have long been a proponent of a mixed approach to local search that involves a strong website, a strong local presence, and strong locally-focused marketing campaign that keeps the brand prominence of your business high," Blumenthal says. "If you follow this tactic consistently, you will have the best on-going position to deal with the constant change."

For more about how to prepare your local business for the three pack upgrade, read our full Local 3-Pack SEO Guide.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Guide to eCommerce Product Listing SEO

The Complete Guide to eCommerce Product Listing SEO

Getting your product listings to the top in ecommerce marketplace search results (on Amazon, eBay or Other eCommerce Marketplace) is one of the major differences between success and failure – between making money or not.

Whether you’re a seller, online marketer or just web merchandiser, understanding how to optimize product listing, is crucial to your long term online business success.

Imagine, You have a store on eBay or  Amazon filled with great product but not getting enough sell from it. 

Do you know why?

When a buyer is searching for your products on Google or in the the marketplace, the site unable to locate your products. Because your product listing is not optimized for it as it should be.

So, How to optimize then listing then?

Well, The simple answer is, You have to integrate SEO technique when you create new product listing or update existing listing.

Search Engine Optimization aka SEO is the art and science of optimize website for higher organic ranking, same method can be applied to rank your product listing in the eCommerce marketplace like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc.

Before we dig more about how to optimize eCommerce listing, lets talk about how these marketplace search works?

When someone search enything in an ecommerce marketplace, the marketplace search engine want to show best possible result to the user as search engine like Google & Bing Do.

These marketplace search engine gather data regarding user search, product listing, engagement, reviews and user personal purchasing behavior; the came with best products user can buy.

Product Title

One of the most important components of eBay SEO is the use of keywords. “Key” words are those words that shoppers use when searching for products.

One of the very best ways to find those specific keywords and keyword phrases is by using the eBay keyword research tool – Terapeak. You can also research SEO keywords using the eBay search field. Based on the keywords or phrases you type in the field, eBay will suggest more words culled from actual searches.

Title tags are often used on search engine results pages (SERPs) to display preview snippets for a given page, and are important for eCommerce SEO. The title element of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a product's.

This is not as thorough a method as using Terapeak but it does help. There are several other tools I use as well – Google Keyword Planner and when performing keyword research for larger sellers I use a few paid SEO tools.

Be sure to write your titles for buyers. Just shoving a whole bunch of keywords into a listing title in the hopes of showing up higher in the eBay search engine can result in a lower click-through rate. Buyers need to see a flow of words that make sense to them – very much like a complete sentence. When humans see a bunch of disjointed words, our brains literally stop. Then it has to start again to recognize the next word. Then stop, then start, again and again. They are less likely to click on your title if the title immediately above or below has a “smooth” set of words that is easily understood. That said, it’s helpful if you get proficient at finding the SEO keywords and using them effectively in your titles.

Product Description

When I perform an eBay Store Audit, this is almost always one of the biggest areas the merchant is deficient in. Please, please, please fill in your item descriptions! You don’t have to write the great American novel but by having a well-thought-out description you achieve the following:

The description is a character snippet, a tag in HTML, that summarizes a product's. Search engines show the description in search results mostly when the searched for phrase is contained in the description. Optimizing the description is a very important aspect of SEO.

Higher SEO scores – use keywords in the description and HTags Increased sell-through score by providing complete and valuable info for buyers Customer loyalty and trust – buyers know a seller who gives good info is one who has their best interest at heart.

Category Selection

I make a really big deal out of categories when I teach.

Why? Because eBay has graciously done a great deal of SEO work for us all! When we choose categories and sub-categories for our listings, the names of the categories are very well researched and uber targeted keyword phrases!

Be sure to use all relevant categories for your listings. Do not “category stuff”. Meaning, don’t put your items in categories where it don’t make sense for them to be. This lowers your customer engagement, click-through, sell-through, and quality listing scores. Bottom line? You disappear from the search results.

Offer Free Shipping

Free shipping is hassle free shipping for the buyer. eBay loves this. Cassini loves this. Buyers love this. I’ve never understood why shoppers perceive “free shipping” as a “deal”. It just makes no sense.

Surely they must know shipping costs have been blended into the price of the item. And yet, they flock to “free shipping deals”. So, just do it. Adjust your prices as you can and offer the dreaded “free shipping”.

Add High Quality Photos

Since the sell-through rate is part of the algorithm that determines where your listings show up in the eBay search engine rankings and photos are a BIG part of making a sale – it’s time to get good at eBay photography. Large, crisp, well-lit images instill buyer confidence and increase the odds of making a sale. High-resolution is the name of the game! And eBay gives sellers the opportunity to put in 12 images – for FREE! Take advantage of that gift!

Believe me, Cassini knows the quality of your images based on pixels, compression, etc. And, since Google has gotten creepy good at “reading” images, I presume eBay has similar abilities. Adding multiple, good quality photos to your listings is a show of good faith. It shows customers and Cassini alike that you are invested in making sure all details are disclosed. Plus, you’ll have far less returns and this helps keep your seller trust score high!

Offer Hassle-Free Returns

This is kind of like the “grin and bear it” idea from the Feedback & Seller Trust section. Nobody likes to accept returns but, in all fairness to buyers, not all sellers are honest. My theory has always been that if you are an eBay seller who knows what they are doing and if you are thorough and honest in your listings, then your return rate will be almost zero.

If this sounds like you, then I highly suggest taking returns and offering to take returns on a “no questions asked” basis. You might have to smile through gritted teeth every now and again, but those transactions should be few and far between. 

Customer Inquiry Response Time

Some initials statistic gathered by industry leader suggest that "Shop Managed To Respond Same Business Day Tend to Rank Higher".

Besides “same business day” responses to customer questions being great for increasing sales, I believe response time is part of the Cassini algorithm.

My opinion is that the search engine see’s it as part of customer engagement so do your best to respond on the same business day. If you simply can’t respond on the same day, make sure your turn around time for answers in definitely within 24 hours.

Choose a Responsive Templates

Responsive eBay templates size up and down according to the size of the browser and are, by default, mobile themes. Since over 50% of Internet shoppers use their phones to browse and buy, a well crafted mobile/responsive template can help build your brand, increase customer engagement, and give you a higher conversion rate.

It is all about list your product with appropriate information and how much value you can offer to the buyer as a seller. Previously, it was very easy to manipulate search engine by flooding listings, but this is no longer the case.

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Identifying and Diagnosing Injected Gibberish URL Hacking: #NoHacked

Identifying and Diagnosing Injected Gibberish URL Hacking: #NoHacked

Hackers can turn your nondescript website into a malicious spy bot in a matter of minutes, sending sensitive user data to hackers without your even realizing it. Worse, they can hack into your website databases and destroy or manipulate important information, injecting your content with malicious links and even hijack the hosting server to be used in botnet DDoS attacks.

But enough of this scare fest. It’s not all doom and gloom out there on the Web. There are things that you can do to secure your website from hackers and becoming a target for online vandals.

How do you identify and diagnose a trending hack? Even if your site is not infected with a specific trending hack, many of the below steps can be helpful for other types of hacks.

Identifying Symptoms:

Gibberish pages
The hallmark of this type of hacking is spammy pages that appear to be added to the site. These pages contain keyword-rich gibberish text, links, and images in order to manipulate search engines. For example, the hack creates pages like www.example.com/download-2017-free-full-crack.html which contain gibberish content like below:

This hack often uses cloaking to avoid webmasters from detecting it. Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to webmasters, visitors, and search engines. For example, the webmaster of the site might be shown an empty or HTTP 404 page which would lead the webmaster to believe the hack is no longer present. However, users who visit the page from search results will still be redirected to spammy pages, and search engines that crawl the site will still be presented with gibberish content.

Monitoring your Site:
Properly monitoring your site for hacking allows you to remedy the hack more quickly and minimize damage the hack might cause. There are several ways you can monitor your site for this particular hack.

Looking for a surge in website traffic
Because this hack creates many keyword heavy URLs that are crawled by search engines, check to see if there was any recent, unexpected surges in traffic. If you do see a surge, use the Search Analytics tool in Search Console to investigate whether or not hacked pages are the source of the unusual website traffic.

Tracking your site appearance in search results
Periodically checking how your site appears in search results is good practice for all webmasters. It also allows you to spot symptoms of hacking. You can check your site in Google by using the site: operator on your site (i.e. search for site:example.com). If you see any gibberish links associated with your site or a label that says “This site may be hacked.”, your site might have been compromised.

Signing up for alerts from Google
We recommend you sign up for Google Search Console. In Search Console, you can check if Google has detected any hacked pages on your site by looking in the Manual Actions Viewer or Security Issues report. Search Console will also message you if Google has detected any hacked pages on your site.

Also, we recommend you set up Google Alerts for your site. Google Alerts will email you if Google finds new results for a search query. For example, you can set up a Google Alert for your site in conjunction with common spammy terms like [site:example.com cheap software]. If you receive an email that Google has returned a new query for that term, you should immediately check what pages on your site are triggering that alert.

Diagnosing your Site

Gathering tools that can help
In Search Console, you have access to the Fetch as Google tool in Search Console. The Fetch as Google tool allows you to see a page as Google sees it. This will help you to identify cloaked hacked pages. Additional tools from others, both paid and free, are listed in the appendix to this post.

Checking for hacked pages
If you’re not sure if there is hacked content on your site, the Google Hacked Troubleshooter can walk you through some basic checks. For this type of hack, you’ll want to perform a site: search on your site. Look for suspicious pages and URLs loaded with strange keywords in the search results. If you have a large number of pages on your site, you might need to try a more targeted query. Find common spam terms and append them to your site: search query like [site:example.com cheap software]. Try this with several spammy terms to see if any results show up.

Checking for cloaking on hacked pages
Because this type of hacking employs cloaking to prevent accurate detection, it’s very important that you use the Fetch as Google tool in Search Console to check the spammy pages you found in the previous step. Remember, cloaked pages can show you an HTTP 404 page that tricks you into thinking the hack is fixed even if the page is still live. You should also use Fetch as Google on your homepage as well. This type of hack often adds text or links to the homepage.

Fixing the Injected Gibberish URL Hack

Temporarily Take your Site Offline
Taking your site offline temporarily will prevent your site’s visitors from going to hacked pages and give you time to properly fix your site. If you keep your site online, you run the risk of getting compromised again as you clean up your site.

Treating your Site
The next few steps require you to be comfortable making technical changes to your site. If you aren’t familiar or comfortable enough with your site to make these changes, it might be best to consult with or hire someone who is. However, reading through these steps will still be helpful.

Before you start fixing your site, we advise that you back up your site. (This backed up version will still contain hacked content and should only be used if you accidentally remove a critical file.) If you’re unsure how to back up your site, ask your hosting provider for assistance or consult your content management system (CMS) documentation. As you work through the steps, any time you remove a file, make sure to keep a copy of the file as well.

Checking your .htaccess file
In order to manipulate your site, this type of hack creates or alters the contents of your .htaccess file. If you’re not sure where to find your .htaccess file, consult your server or CMS documentation.

Check the contents of your .htaccess file for any suspicious content. If you’re not sure how to interpret the contents of the .htaccess file, you can read about it on the Apache.org documentation, ask in a help forum, or you can consult an expert.

Identifying other malicious files
The most common types of files that are modified or injected by this hack are JavaScript and PHP files. Hackers typically take two approaches: The first is to insert new PHP or JavaScript files on your server. The inserted files can sometimes be named something very similar to a legitimate file on your site like wp-cache.php versus the legitimate file wp_cache.php. The second approach is to alter legitimate files on your server and insert malicious content into these files. For example, if you have a template or plugin JavaScript file on your site, hackers might add malicious JavaScript to the file.

To effectively track down malicious files, you’ll need to understand the function of the JavaScript and PHP files on your site. You might need to consult your CMS documentation to help you. Once you know what the files do, you should have an easier time tracking down malicious files that don’t belong on your site.

Removing malicious content
As mentioned previously, back up the contents of your site appropriately before you remove or alter any files. If you regularly make backups for your site, cleaning up your site might be as easy as restoring a clean backed-up version.

However, if you do not regularly back up your site, you have a few alternatives. First, delete any malicious files that have been inserted on your site. For example, on www.example.com, you would delete the myhappypuppy.php file. For corrupted PHP or JavaScript files like json5.js, you’ll have to upload a clean version of those files to your site. If you use a CMS, consider reloading a fresh copy of the core CMS and plugin files on your site.

Identifying and Fixing the Vulnerability
Once you’ve removed the malicious file, you’ll want to track down and fix the vulnerability that allowed your site to be compromised, or you risk your site being hacked again. The vulnerability could be anything from a stolen password to outdated web software. Consult Google Webmaster Hacked Help for ways to identify and fix the vulnerability. If you’re unable to figure out how your site was compromised, you should change your passwords for all your login credentials,update all your web software, and seriously consider getting more help to make sure everything is ok.

Next Steps
Once you’re done cleaning your site, use the Fetch as Google tool to check if the hacked pages still appear to Google. You'll need to bring your site back online to test with Fetch as Google. Don’t forget to check your home page for hacked content as well. If the hacked content is gone, then, congratulations, your site should be clean! If the Fetch as Google tool is still seeing hacked content on those hacked pages, you still have work to do. Check again for any malicious PHP or JavaScript files you might have missed.

Bring your site back online as soon as you’re sure your site is clean and the vulnerability has been fixed. If there was a manual action on your site, you’ll want to file a reconsideration request in Search Console. Also, think about ways to protect your site from future attacks. You can read more about how to secure your site from future attacks in the Google Hacked Webmaster Help Center.

We hope this post has helped you gain a better understanding of how to fix your site from the injected gibberish URL hack. Be sure to follow our social campaigns and share any tips or tricks you might have about staying safe on the web with the #nohacked hashtag.

If you have any additional questions, you can post in the Webmaster Help Forums where a community of webmasters can help answer your questions. You can also join our Hangout on Air about Security on August 26.

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How to Protect Your Website from User Generated Spam - Google Webmaster Blog

As a website owner, you might have come across some auto-generated content in comments sections or forum threads. When such content is created on your pages, not only does it disrupt those visiting your site, but it also shows some content that you may not want to be associated with your site to Google and other search engines.

In this blog post, we will give you tips to help you deal with this type of spam in your site and forum.

Some spammers abuse sites owned by others by posting deceiving content and links, in an attempt to get more traffic to their sites.

Comments and forum threads can be a really good source of information and an efficient way of engaging a site's users in discussions. This valuable content should not be buried by auto-generated keywords and links placed there by spammers.

There are many ways of securing your site’s forums and comment threads and making them unattractive to spammers:

Keep your forum software updated and patched
Take the time to keep your software up-to-date and pay special attention to important security updates. Spammers take advantage of security issues in older versions of blogs, bulletin boards, and other content management systems.

CAPTCHAs require users to confirm that they are not robots in order to prove they're a human being and not an automated script. One way to do this is to use a service like reCAPTCHA, Securimage and Jcaptcha .

Block suspicious behavior
Many forums allow you to set time limits between posts, and you can often find plugins to look for excessive traffic from individual IP addresses or proxies and other activity more common to bots than human beings. For example, phpBB, Simple Machines, myBB, and many other forum platforms enable such configurations.

Check your forum’s top posters on a daily basis
If a user joined recently and has an excessive amount of posts, then you probably should review their profile and make sure that their posts and threads are not spammy.

Consider disabling some types of comments
For example, It’s a good practice to close some very old forum threads that are unlikely to get legitimate replies.

If you plan on not monitoring your forum going forward and users are no longer interacting with it, turning off posting completely may prevent spammers from abusing it.

Make good use of moderation capabilities
Consider enabling features in moderation that require users to have a certain reputation before links can be posted or where comments with links require moderation. If possible, change your settings so that you disallow anonymous posting and make posts from new users require approval before they're publicly visible.

Moderators, together with your friends/colleagues and some other trusted users can help you review and approve posts while spreading the workload. Keep an eye on your forum's new users by looking on their posts and activities on your forum.

Consider blacklisting obviously spammy terms
Block obviously inappropriate comments with a blacklist of spammy terms (e.g. Illegal streaming or pharma related terms) . Add inappropriate and off-topic terms that are only used by spammers, learn from the spam posts that you often see on your forum or other forums. Built-in features or plugins can delete or mark comments as spam for you.

Use the "nofollow" attribute for links in the comment field
This will deter spammers from targeting your site. By default, many blogging sites (such as Blogger) automatically add this attribute to any posted comments.

Use automated systems to defend your site
Comprehensive systems like Akismet, which has plugins for many blogs and forum systems are easy to install and do most of the work for you.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Googlebot Crawl Budget Explained on Google Webmaster Central Blog

Recently, we've heard a number of definitions for "crawl budget", however we don't have a single term that would describe everything that "crawl budget" stands for externally. With this post we'll clarify what we actually have and what it means for Googlebot.

First, we'd like to emphasize that crawl budget, as described below, is not something most publishers have to worry about. If new pages tend to be crawled the same day they're published, crawl budget is not something webmasters need to focus on. Likewise, if a site has fewer than a few thousand URLs, most of the time it will be crawled efficiently.

Prioritizing what to crawl, when, and how much resource the server hosting the site can allocate to crawling is more important for bigger sites, or those that auto-generate pages based on URL parameters, for example.

Crawl Rate Limit

Googlebot is designed to be a good citizen of the web. Crawling is its main priority, while making sure it doesn't degrade the experience of users visiting the site. We call this the "crawl rate limit," which limits the maximum fetching rate for a given site.

Simply put, this represents the number of simultaneous parallel connections Googlebot may use to crawl the site, as well as the time it has to wait between the fetches. The crawl rate can go up and down based on a couple of factors:

  • Crawl health: if the site responds really quickly for a while, the limit goes up, meaning more connections can be used to crawl. If the site slows down or responds with server errors, the limit goes down and Googlebot crawls less.
  • Limit set in Search Console: website owners can reduce Googlebot's crawling of their site. Note that setting higher limits doesn't automatically increase crawling.

Crawl Demand

Even if the crawl rate limit isn't reached, if there's no demand from indexing, there will be low activity from Googlebot. The two factors that play a significant role in determining crawl demand are:

  • Popularity: URLs that are more popular on the Internet tend to be crawled more often to keep them fresher in our index.
  • Staleness: our systems attempt to prevent URLs from becoming stale in the index.

Additionally, site-wide events like site moves may trigger an increase in crawl demand in order to reindex the content under the new URLs. Taking crawl rate and crawl demand together we define crawl budget as the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl.

Factors Affecting Crawl Budget

According to our analysis, having many low-value-add URLs can negatively affect a site's crawling and indexing. We found that the low-value-add URLs fall into these categories, in order of significance:

  1. Faceted navigation and session identifiers
  2. On-site duplicate content
  3. Soft error pages
  4. Hacked pages
  5. Infinite spaces and proxies
  6. Low quality and spam content

Wasting server resources on pages like these will drain crawl activity from pages that do actually have value, which may cause a significant delay in discovering great content on a site.

Top Questions

Crawling is the entry point for sites into Google's search results. Efficient crawling of a website helps with its indexing in Google Search.

Q: Does site speed affect my crawl budget? How about errors?

Amswer: Making a site faster improves the users' experience while also increasing crawl rate. For Googlebot a speedy site is a sign of healthy servers, so it can get more content over the same number of connections. On the flip side, a significant number of 5xx errors or connection timeouts signal the opposite, and crawling slows down. We recommend paying attention to the Crawl Errors report in Search Console and keeping the number of server errors low.

Q: Is crawling a ranking factor?

Answer: An increased crawl rate will not necessarily lead to better positions in Search results. Google uses hundreds of signals to rank the results, and while crawling is necessary for being in the results, it's not a ranking signal.

Q: Do alternate URLs and embedded content count in the crawl budget?

Answer: Generally, any URL that Googlebot crawls will count towards a site's crawl budget. Alternate URLs, like AMP or hreflang, as well as embedded content, such as CSS and JavaScript, may have to be crawled and will consume a site's crawl budget. Similarly, long redirect chains may have a negative effect on crawling.

Q: Can I control Googlebot with the "crawl-delay" directive?

Answer: The non-standard "crawl-delay" robots.txt directive is not processed by Googlebot.

Q: Does the nofollow directive affect crawl budget?

Answer: It depends. Any URL that is crawled affects crawl budget, so even if your page marks a URL as nofollow it can still be crawled if another page on your site, or any page on the web, doesn't label the link as nofollow.

For information on how to optimize crawling of your site, take a look at our blogpost on optimizing crawling from 2009 that is still applicable. If you have questions, ask in the forums!


How to Respond to Four Common Salary Negotiation Questions

You want to be prepared for your upcoming salary negotiation, so you plan to research the standard pay range and practice asking for what you want. Those steps are certainly valuable, but they’re not enough.

Too often, people lose money because they think through just one contingency. While they’re ready to say, “I know the starting number for someone in this sector in this city is $55,000,” they’ve never considered how they’d reply to “This is our best offer, with no room for negotiation.” Feeling flustered (or stumped), they accept on the spot, even if they’re not at the desired number.

After interviewing dozens of women, I learned that one of the main reasons their negotiations didn’t go as planned was they weren’t prepared to respond to what the other person said. To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, read on for the most common things you’ll hear and tips for how to respond.

1. “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”
It sounds like the hiring manager is letting you lead. But in actuality, they want to gauge the very least you’d be willing to accept. If you say you’re hoping for a certain salary that’s at the bottom of their range, they know they won’t have to offer you more, (even if they were originally planning to).

Deal with this question with a diplomatic deflection: “I’m more interested in finding a position that’s a good fit for my skills. I’m confident that what you’re offering is competitive.”

Or spin the question right back around to them: “I’m flexible on compensation. The position and growth potential are much more important to me. Would you be willing to share the rough range you have in mind for this position?”

If they still push you for an answer, come prepared with some market data to answer the question matter-of-factly, without giving away what you’d actually accept: “Based on my research, the market rate for a position like this is $65,000 - $80,000.”

2. “How Much Are You Currently Making?”
A common mistake applicants make is disclosing their current salary early in the process. Again, employers will use this to gauge if you’d be willing to accept a low offer. If they’ve budgeted up to $90,000, but you disclose that you’re currently making $65,000, they’re likely going to start with a lower offer, assuming that you’ll be happy with a 10 to 15% jump.

Therefore, the best response is to avoid giving an exact number. Try: “I’d prefer to not discuss what I’m currently making because this position that I’m interviewing for isn’t exactly the same as my current job. I’d like to discuss the responsibilities and then I’m sure we’ll agree on a salary that’s appropriate.” Or, “My current employer doesn’t allow me to discuss compensation outside of the company. I’d like to respect their privacy.”

Of course, this may’ve come up before the interview stage, if you had to list an amount in your job application. (For future reference, I suggest putting “N/A” or an obviously incorrect number, like $1. In my experience, most recruiters won’t penalize you, as they’ve likely seen it before from experienced negotiators).

If you already listed your compensation, be ready to reframe that amount during the interview process. Come up with solid reasons why your current salary isn’t reflective of your true market value. For example, highlight if you’ve taken on significant responsibilities in your current job or classes to improve your skills.

Whatever you do, don’t confuse pivoting the question back or delaying it until the interview process with lying. While it’s okay to argue your market value is higher than what you currently make, it’s never okay to lie.

3. “Unfortunately, We Don’t Have Any Room to Negotiate”
Sometimes, the number really isn’t negotiable. For example, if you’re being hired into a “start class,” the offer can be nonnegotiable. (A start class is when a large company hires a number of people at the same time with similar qualifications—associates straight from law school or management trainee programs.) It can also be non-negotiable if you’re taking a public sector role and you’re already getting the best offer for the pay grade.

That’s a good time to ask about the compensation package as a whole (vacation, tuition reimbursement, stock options, bonus, work from home flexibility). Even if they can’t budge on take-home pay, other benefits could provide a real monetary value.

Once you’ve decided what benefit you’d like to focus on, try: “I understand that at this point, salary isn’t negotiable. I see that you have a tuition reimbursement program and I want to get my product management certification. Would you consider sponsoring my program?”

4. “In the Future You’ll Have Opportunities for Growth and Raises”
If the offer isn’t competitive and they deflect any of your attempts to negotiate by saying you’ll discuss it in the future, don’t let the conversation end there. Instead see it as an invitation to specifically discuss what’ll come next.

It sounds like this: “Because this number is a little lower than I feel comfortable with, I’d love to discuss my future and performance. I know that one of the most important things in this role is [key metric here]. If I’m able to deliver that in [time frame], would you be open to raising my compensation to [target amount] then?”

If they say yes, make sure you get something that describes this agreement written into your employment contract—and then work your tail off to deliver before that review date.

Just as you prep for an interview, you’ll want to prep for your negotiation. And that means more than thinking about your canned speeches, it means getting ready for a two-way conversation. So team up, practice with a friend, and imagine how you’ll respond to the unexpected. That way, you’ll avoid being caught off guard—and be a lot more likely to hit your target number.

This post originally appeared on The Muse.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

How to use IFTTT for Social Media Automation

You putting out tons of helpful online content everyday & move hurriedly all day long, and going nuts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. But there is also a chance that you feel overwhelmed with every social media profile that you need keep active.

It’s not enough to have a website or blog anymore - you need to have website & blog with amazing content in it, and also have to post fresh & amusing content regularly. You need to market your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram like crazy, and have bustling social media profiles. And don’t forget to distribute your content everywhere and meaningfully interact with your subscribers.

This can become an overwhelming amount of work that only a small army of people can accomplish within a reasonable time-frame.

Worry not, because our this post will give you and Social Media Automation Strategy when it comes to Social Media Promotion and Content Syndication.

You Love Automation, Right?

What is Social Media Automation?

Social Media Automation refers to tools that are used to semi/automate the process of posting content to social networking and social bookmarking websites. Tools can range from mostly manual and free to semi-automated tools which are either commercial standalone software or paid subscriptions (Wikipedia).

In General, Social Media Automation let you schedule social media content weeks and months in advance.

The 15 Best Social Media Automation Tools

Let’s have a look at our hand crafted Best of The Best Social Media Automation Tool for you. These 15 automation tools will help save you time and can do a few other things to make your life easier too.

1. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a dream for all of us social media lovers. There are so many actions that Hootsuite can help with that if you have not learned the full scope of this social media automation tool, then I recommend you start looking it over. If you are serious about social media… then Hootsuite it is.

Hootsuite gives you the ability to keep track of many social media channels at once. This is perfect for those who work in the social media world, because it truly does make life a lot easier. Not only does it allow you to have multiple channels, it also lets you know if your brand has been mentioned.


IFTTT will save you from endless hours of frustrating Social Media Management by Automating Your Social Media Strategy.

IFTTT is a one-stop-shop for all of your favourite apps, allowing you to connect with them in a way that works best for you. And it’s super powerful. For example, you can automatically Tweet the photos you post on Instagram without any extra clicks and you can hook-up with your FitBit to make sure you get a little nudge if you’re not quite reaching your daily goal. Also set up auto replies to new followers, automatically post a blog on your social media once it’s published, and create alerts for brand mentions are all just some of the Applets you can create using this great service.

3. Buffer

Buffer makes posting to social media a whizz. All you have to do is add your post to the queue and it will be posted for you. No need to even schedule a time that the post will be posted because Buffer will take care of that too.

Buffer is also known for providing great analytics. If you want to know what is working and not working, these analytics will let you know. Buffer is always adding more to the analytics so keep an eye on this application.

4. Crowdfire

Crowdfire works with both Twitter and Instagram. Want to know who unfollowed you? Crowdfire is the source to go to have your questions answered.

In both business and personal life, we want to know about those who are following us and those who have decided they do not like the posts we are putting put up. Crowdfire also allows you to find those Twitter users who are inactive and delete them if you want to.

5. CoSchedule

CoSchedule is a writer’s dream. This management tool allows for articles to be scheduled, blog post management, scheduling for marketing projects and social media management.

CoSchedule allows for the organization that many writers and social media marketers yearn for. If you have given up on complex spreadsheets like some of us have, CoSchedule is a gift of organization.

6. SociAlert

SociAlert automates your hashtag search and allows a user to analyze what is happening on Twitter for your twitter campaigns in realtime. From digital marketers to established brands and media agencies, everyone can make the most out of their twitter campaigns with this hashtag tracking tool.

You can also use socialert to track event hashtags and monitor your brand as well. If you are really interested in how your twitter marketing works for you than this is the application to be using.

7. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo allows for many different tasks to be accomplished. BuzzSumo has an influencers search that cannot be beaten. It allows for searches being conducted by location, topic and area.

You can also analyse influencers with the filter you can go by authority, reach, engagement and influence. It also has the ability to build lists and communicate with key influencers. Follow those influencers you choose to and add them to your Twitter lists.

8. SocialOomph

SocialOomph is an excellent tool for beginning social media managers because it’s a bit more holistic. It works with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, RSS feeds, blogs, Plurk, and App.net.

SocialOomph’s free level allows you to work on up to five twitter accounts to schedule tweets and track keywords. The scheduling and posting tool includes a URL shortening feature also allows you to track clicks.

9. Scoop.it

Scoop.it allows for content publishing in less time than any other social media automation application. With Scoop.it content can be curated from other sources and shared with your opinion or angle. It also allows posts to be shared across social media platforms with the push of a button. Searching for content is easy with the use of the search bar for a particular topic.

Scoop.it is great for when you want to share something on a certain niche or topic. It also allows for freedom from writing all of your own content. Looking for ideas on topics and what is getting traffic? Head over to Scoop.it and I bet you will be mildly surprised.

10. MavSocial

MavSocial is, even as a freemium, so fully-fledged that it could be considered a social brand management system. The platform not only allows you to schedule posts for profiles on multiple different networks, but stores your images and assets in the platform for you to reuse.

Mavsocial works with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube.

11. Post Planner

Post Planner is a helper when it comes to finding, planning and posting content that helps to increase followers and visibility on Twitter and Facebook. Finding content that works and will draw customers to your website is what post planner does best.

With Post Planner the user can actively choose photos, articles and even statuses to share. Having issues with content creation? Post Planner will certainly fill the void when needed. Hit that writing block or just need something intelligent to share? Try Post Planner!

12. Likeable Hub

Likeable Hub is a well-rounded social media management tool, though the freemium option may be better suited for individuals as it limits your access to business profiles.

Designed for ‘Smarter and Faster’ social media management, at the freemium level you can integrate and autoschedule from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You’re offered basic analytics and reporting, email support, and access to a database of thousands of social media post ideas.

13. SocialPilot

SocialPilot is a marketing tool with social media scheduling for marketers and social media management teams. SocialPilot allows you to collaborate with your team by sharing their social media calendar. Over 500 posts can be shared to 200 social media accounts. Bulk scheduling of posts and updates is easy with SocialPilot. To use bulk scheduling all the user has to do is upload a file in CSV format or text. The bulk text will then go out as scheduled.

Looking for article topics to write about? SocialPilot takes care of that too so that you do not have to wrack your brain trying to think of something when in a pinch. Separate account groups and calendars for each of your clients keeps things organized and helps with team communication.

14. Sprout Social

Sprout Social has some great analytic tools for those interested in growing their following on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more. Sprout Social has many valuable tools that can both increase business revenue and help social media managers remain organized and save time.

15. Zapier

Zapier allows you to link your web apps together to streamline your information and make things a whole lot easier. Once the apps are connected it is then possible to pass the information between them creating workflows which are named zaps. Zapier will automatically finish routine tasks so that you are able to complete other tasks that need your attention. Having the ability to plan and build workflows results in more work being completed and staying organized.

Zapier is great for those who want to integrate process and automation into a business. The next wonderful gift is that building process and automation does not include having to know how to code because this application will handle it for you. Can’t put out a bit of code? Do not get discouraged because Zapier will keep things stress free.

Social Media Automation With IFTTT

If you haven’t heard about it, IFTTT is a wonderful and free web-based automation tool. The name IFTTT stands for “If This, Then That.” And it’s just as amazing as it sounds.

You could have an email trigger a tweet, or a Facebook post could trigger a download. I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though. There are lots of these connections (IFTTT calls them “Applets”) down below.

Getting Started on IFTTT

Once you sign up for your free IFTTT account, you can start connecting different services such as email or Facebook. IFTTT has more than 360 services in all, and it is constantly adding to its lineup.

Here are the Major Social Nedia Services that work with IFTTT:

Facebook (Profiles, Pages, and Groups)

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • FourSquare
  • Blogger
  • Medium
  • WordPress

(No Google+ yet, there are some workarounds.)

Beyond Social Media Services, IFTTT connects with a vast number of other services, including both Apps and Hardware. These range from straightforward services like email, text message, and GPS to unique and creative services like electronic piggy banks and smart lightbulbs. Here is just a sampling of a few notable services IFTTT can connect.

  • Pocket
  • Jawbone Up
  • Soundcloud
  • Gmail
  • Google Calendar
  • Evernote
  • Buffer
  • Craigslist
  • Dropbox
  • Feedly

When you’re ready to get started with a Applet, you can browse the gallery of popular and trending Applets, or you can make one from scratch. Each service has a landing page of its own, too, which explains all the possibilities you can do with triggers and actions. (Click here for an example page for Facebook.)

Any applet can be paused or stopped whenever you like, so feel free to experiment! We’ve got a great list of applets to try below.

The 13 Best IFTTT Applets

Share your Instagram photos as native Twitter photos

Managing multiple social networks is a pain. While getting Instagram photos onto Facebook is a straightforward process — you just need connect your accounts — there’s no native solution for Instagram to Twitter. Use this applet to post your Instagram photos on Twitter in a natural way, one that allows your followers to see them without clicking.

Turn on your Philips Hue lights when you arrive home

You can use IFTTT to turn on your Hue bulbs when you get home, without having to fumble with the app. This is a real nice feature especially if you’re coming home from the supermarket and don’t have a free hand. While we’ve linked to the version for iOS, if you have an Android phone, use this applet instead.

Automatically post your Tweets on Facebook when you include a specific hashtag

While you can link your Twitter and Facebook accounts together, every single tweet you post will also post to your Facebook profile. That might not be the best option, especially if you’re a frequent social media user (hello, oversharing). Try using this applet, which only posts tweets to Facebook if you use the “#fb” hashtag.

Automatically keep your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures in sync

Don’t let your profile pic on either service get too old with this applet. It checks your Facebook profile picture, and if it changes, will automatically update your Twitter profile picture. Pretty convenient if you ask us.

Use Alexa to set the temperature on your Nest thermostat

If you have a Nest Thermostat, stop getting off the couch to change the temperature. With this Applet, you’ll be able to ask Alexa to do it.

Download new songs you like to Google Drive

Keeping up with all of the new music coming out is hard. This service will download publicly favorited songs on SoundCloud to your Google Drive.

Start brewing coffee when your FitBit registers you’re awake

If you’re obsessed with your Fitbit and wear it while you sleep, why not tell it to tell your WeMo coffeemaker to make you coffee when you wake? That’s possible with IFTTT. You’ll need Mr. Coffee’s WeMo-enabled coffeemaker, but it’s cool to know you’ll never be without a hot cup of joe in the morning again.

When your Fitbit records a sleepless night, remind yourself to go to bed early the next night

Fitbit devices are great for analyzing your sleep patterns, but if you’re not getting enough rest, it’s bad for your health. This particular applet watches for when you fall below a preset number of hours of sleep. If you do, IFTTT adds a reminder to your Google Calendar to turn in early the net night, ensuring you don’t run too much of a sleep deficit.

Get notifications about your favorite sports team on your TV

Comcast has recently enabled its X1 boxes to connect to IFTTT, meaning you’re life just got a whole lot easier if you’re an Xfinity customer. Once enabled, you’ll receive a notification on your TV whenever there’s news regarding your favorite sports team. It’s perfect for the sports nut.

Save your Strava activities in a Google spreadsheet

Strava too has its own IFTTT service, and if you’d like to do some cool data analysis on your activities outside of the app, have IFTTT save it to a Google spreadsheet. This applet saves the name of the activity, the time elapsed, the time elapsed in seconds, and the distance in meters traveled. It also saves links to the actual event on Strava, as well as a link to the route map.

Log rain to Google Docs Spreadsheet

Log rain in your city to a spreadsheet as it happens. This service will also add to a spreadsheet in your Google Drive.

Let me know if it's raining (So I can pack an umbrella)

Cool Service. You"ll Receive a text message when the weather changes. While the default is set to notify you of rain, you can change the trigger to use rain, snow, cloudy or clear.

Get notified of new Craigslist posts

Looking for something special on Craigslist? Have IFTTT monitor the service for you. Just provide IFTTT with the URL for your search query, and every time a new result matches your query, you’ll get alerted via an email.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Microsoft and LinkedIn Aggrement

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn June 13, 2016 LinkedIn Blog Post.

Today we are excited to share that LinkedIn has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Microsoft. We are joining forces with Microsoft to realize a common mission to empower people and organizations. LinkedIn’s vision – to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce – is not changing and our members still come first.

Our companies are the world’s leading professional cloud and network. This deal will allow us to keep growing, investing in and innovating on LinkedIn to drive value for our members and our customers. Our members will continue to develop their skills, find a job and be great at that job, using our platform. We will continue to help our customers hire top talent, market their brand, and sell to their customers.

The LinkedIn you know and value is only getting better. LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence. We’ve been changing the way the world’s professionals have connected to opportunity for 13 years, and this is an opportunity for us to truly change the way the world works on a massive scale.

I’m incredibly energized by what this means for our members and employees, and for my personal perspective on this news, I encourage you to read my Influencer post. You can find more details on the agreement on the Microsoft News Center and the LinkedIn Newsroom.

Additional Information and Where to Find It

In connection with the transaction described above, LinkedIn Corporation (the “Company”) will file relevant materials with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), including a proxy statement on Schedule 14A. Promptly after filing its definitive proxy statement with the SEC, the Company will mail the definitive proxy statement and a proxy card to each stockholder entitled to vote at the special meeting relating to the transaction. INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS OF THE COMPANY ARE URGED TO READ THESE MATERIALS (INCLUDING ANY AMENDMENTS OR SUPPLEMENTS THERETO) AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRANSACTION THAT THE COMPANY WILL FILE WITH THE SEC WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE COMPANY AND THE TRANSACTION. The definitive proxy statement, the preliminary proxy statement and other relevant materials in connection with the transaction (when they become available), and any other documents filed by the Company with the SEC, may be obtained free of charge at the SEC’s website (http://www.sec.gov) or at LinkedIn’s website (http://investors.linkedin.com) or by writing to LinkedIn Corporation, Investor Relations, 2029 Stierlin Court, Mountain View, California 94043.

The Company and its directors and executive officers are participants in the solicitation of proxies from the Company’s stockholders with respect to the transaction. Information about the Company’s directors and executive officers and their ownership of the Company’s common stock is set forth in the Company’s proxy statement on Schedule 14A filed with the SEC on April 22, 2016. To the extent that holdings of the Company’s securities have changed since the amounts printed in the Company’s proxy statement, such changes have been or will be reflected on Statements of Change in Ownership on Form 4 filed with the SEC. Information regarding the identity of the participants, and their direct or indirect interests in the transaction, by security holdings or otherwise, will be set forth in the proxy statement and other materials to be filed with SEC in connection with the transaction.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

The Big Internet Venture: LinkedIn + Microsoft

Changing the Way the World Works: LinkedIn + Microsoft
June 13, 2016 Jeff Weiner CEO at LinkedIn sent following email to LinkedIn’s global workforce.

December 15th, 2008, marked the first day of the best job I’ve ever had. My rationale for joining LinkedIn was simple: The opportunity to work with Reid Hoffman, a founder I greatly admired and respected; to join an extremely talented and dedicated team; and to massively scale LinkedIn’s membership and business, both of which had the potential to fundamentally transform the way the world connects to opportunity. Never in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined what would happen in the next 7½ years. Our team has grown from 338 people to over 10,000, our membership from 32M to over 433M and our revenue from $78M to over $3 billion.

Despite those accomplishments, we’ve only just begun to realize our full potential and purpose: Our mission to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful, and our vision to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Today’s announcement, that LinkedIn will be combining forces with Microsoft, marks the next step in our journey together, the next stepping stone toward realizing our mission and vision, and in remaining CEO of the company, the next chapter in the greatest professional experience of my life.

No matter what you're feeling now, give yourself some time to process the news. You might feel a sense of excitement, fear, sadness, or some combination of all of those emotions. Every member of the exec team has experienced the same, but we've had months to process. Regardless of the ups and downs, we've come out the other side knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is the best thing for our company.

Let me explain why.

Every day I come to work, I'm primarily guided by two things:

First, realizing our mission and vision. While this has always been top of mind for me, it’s never been more so than now. Remember that dystopian view of the future in which technology displaces millions of people from their jobs? It's happening. In the last three weeks alone, Foxconn announced it will replace 60,000 factory workers with robots, a former CEO of McDonald’s said given rising wages, the same would happen throughout their franchises, Walmart announced plans to start testing drones in its warehouses, and Elon Musk predicted fully autonomous car technology would arrive within two years.

Whether it's worker displacement, the skills gap, youth unemployment, or socio-economic stratification, the impact on society will be staggering. I’ve said it on multiple occasions and believe it even more so every day: creating economic opportunity will be the defining issue of our time. That's why I'm here and why I can't imagine doing any other job. Simply put, what we do matters, and matters more than ever.

The second thing I focus on every day is making our culture and values come to life. Ten years ago, had you asked me about culture and values I would have rolled my eyes and recited a line from Dilbert. But when I started as CEO I began to appreciate just how important they were. Culture and values provide the foundation upon which everything else is built. They are arguably our most important competitive advantage, and something that has grown to define us. It's one thing to change the world. It's another to do it in our own unique way: Members first. Relationships matter. Be open, honest and constructive. Demand excellence. Take intelligent risks. Act like an owner.

That's who we are. That's LinkedIn.

I primarily focus on these two things, because that's all I ever wanted when I was in your shoes: A clear sense of purpose and the opportunity to be successful in pursuit of that purpose. Thankfully, in my current role, I can actually do something about that.

In order to pursue our mission and vision, and to do so in a way consistent with our culture and values, we need to control our own destiny.

That, above all else, is the most important rationale behind today's announcement.

At this point, some of you may be thinking this sounds completely counterintuitive: How will we be more likely to control our own destiny after being acquired? The answer lies in both the way in which the world has been evolving and the unique way in which this deal will be structured.

Imagine a world where we're no longer looking up at Tech Titans such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, and wondering what it would be like to operate at their extraordinary scale -- because we're one of them.

Imagine a world where we're not reacting to the intensifying competitive landscape -- we're leading it with advantages most companies can only dream of leveraging.

Imagine a world where we're not pressured to compromise on long-term investment, hesitant to disrupt ourselves, or hamstrung in the way we can reward and acquire new talent due to stock price concerns, but consistently investing intelligently toward the realization of our mission and vision.

And imagine a world where a global economic downturn doesn't limit our ability to execute, but reinforces the essential quality of our purpose and actually strengthens our resolve when people need us most.

With today's news, we won't need to imagine any of it because it's now our reality.

Some of you may be asking “Why Microsoft?”

Long before Satya and I first sat down to talk about how we could work together, I had publicly shared my thoughts on how impressive his efforts were to rapidly transition Microsoft’s strategy and culture. After all, it’s extremely rare to see a company of that scope and scale move so quickly to make fundamental changes.

The Microsoft that has evolved under Satya’s leadership is a more agile, innovative, open and purpose-driven company. It was that latter point that first had me thinking we could make this work, but it was his thoughts on how we’d do it that got me truly excited about the prospect.

When Satya first proposed the idea of acquiring LinkedIn, he said it was absolutely essential that we had alignment on two things: Purpose and structure. On the former, it didn’t take long before the two of us realized we had virtually identical mission statements. For LinkedIn, it was to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful, and for Microsoft it was to empower every individual and organization in the world to achieve more. Essentially, we’re both trying to do the same thing but coming at it from two different places: For LinkedIn, it’s the professional network, and for Microsoft, the professional cloud.

Both of us recognized that combining these assets would be unique and had the potential to unlock some enormous opportunities.

For example:

  1. Massively scaling the reach and engagement of LinkedIn by using the network to power the social and identity layers of Microsoft's ecosystem of over one billion customers. Think about things like LinkedIn's graph interwoven throughout Outlook, Calendar, Active Directory, Office, Windows, Skype, Dynamics, Cortana, Bing and more.
  2. Accelerating our objective to transform learning and development by deeply integrating the Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning solution in Office alongside some of the most popular productivity apps on the planet (note: 6 of the top 25 most popular Lynda.com courses are related to Microsoft products).
  3. Realizing LinkedIn’s full potential to truly change the way the world works by partnering with Microsoft to innovate on solutions within the enterprise that are ripest for disruption, e.g., the corporate directory, company news dissemination, collaboration, productivity tools, distribution of business intelligence and employee voice, etc.
  4. Expanding beyond recruiting and learning & development to create value for any part of an organization involved with hiring, managing, motivating or leading employees. This human capital area is a massive business opportunity and an entirely new one for Microsoft.
  5. Giving Sponsored Content customers the ability to reach Microsoft users anywhere across the Microsoft ecosystem, unlocking significant untapped inventory.
  6. Redefining social selling through the combination of Sales Navigator and Dynamics.
  7. Leveraging our subscription capabilities to provide opportunities to the massive number of freelancers and independent service providers that use Microsoft's apps to run their business on a daily basis.

And these are just some of the ideas that have been discussed since our first meeting.

Turning from purpose, we focused our attention on potential structure. I had no idea what Satya was going to propose, but knew how difficult acquisition integrations could be if not established the right way from the start.

Long story short, Satya had me at “independence.” In other words, his vision was to operate LinkedIn as a fully independent entity within Microsoft, a model used with great success by companies like YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp. I would remain as CEO and report directly to him instead of a board. Together, along with Reid, Bill Gates, my former colleague Qi Lu, and new partner Scott Guthrie, we would partner on how best to leverage this extraordinary combination of assets while pursuing a shared mission. This, we both agreed, might not only be a structure that could work, it would be one in which both companies could thrive.

Now onto the most important question: What does this mean for you specifically as an employee of LinkedIn?

Given our ability to operate independently, little is expected to change: You'll have the same title, the same manager, and the same role you currently have. The one exception: For those members of the team whose jobs are entirely focused on maintaining LinkedIn's status as a publicly traded company, we'll be helping you find your next play. In terms of everything else, it should be business as usual. We have the same mission and vision; we have the same culture and values; and I’m still the CEO of LinkedIn.

I wanted to conclude on a familiar note. One of the most memorable moments I’ve experienced at LinkedIn was ringing the bell at the NYSE. I remember the All Hands we had following the event like it was yesterday. During that meeting, we reinforced the fact that becoming public was not the end game, but rather a stepping stone in the process of our ultimate objectives. We finished the All Hands with two words that have become LinkedIn’s unofficial mantra: “Next play.” In other words, don’t dwell on the past, lingering for too long on a lesson learned, or the celebration of a special accomplishment, but rather focus on the task at hand. It’s a mantra that’s served us well.

So, here’s to the next stepping stone.

Next play.


8 Reasons You Should Hire an "Gen Y” interns

Your startup or growing company has a tight budget. You’re hoping to get a lot done, but only have a few employees. Has the thought of hiring an intern -- or several interns -- ever crossed your mind?

These benefits of hiring interns might persuade you to start an internship program.

8 Reasons You Should Hire an "Gen Y” interns

Reason One - New perspective on Organizational Issues
Interns challenge “the way we’ve always done it” mentality and bring fresh, new ideas to the company. Interns are good at questioning processes and can often see a better way of doing things that a manager might not.

Reason Two - Ease of Use With Technology
Social media, computer programs, iPads – these are a piece of cake for young professionals. And, although you’re a young entrepreneur, you can always use a hand from a fellow Gen Y tech-savvy professional.

Reason Three - It’s a Trial Period That could lead to something more
An internship is a great way to see how much potential a student or recent graduate has in the field. You’ll get to see their skills and work ethic as an intern—and might choose to bring them on as a paid employee down the line.

Reason Four - Cost-effective
Compared to other populations, Generation Y appears less motivated by money. According to a 2009 online survey conducted by Monster.com, 37% of employers report that "work/life balance and flexibility" is the most motivating factor for Gen Y, with only 17% claiming "compensation" as the primary driver.

Reason Five - Help with projects or tasks that you’re struggling to complete
An interested candidate takes on an internship in hopes of accomplishing something to use on their resume or in future interviews. Give them real, meaningful work that will help your organization run smoother, accomplish more, or be more successful. Just make sure you don’t violate the The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which states that “the employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded.” (Of course, you probably realize that if you’re not benefiting in some way, the intern likely isn’t either. I definitely think this law needs a serious update, which I take a shot at in my recent book, Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle.)

Reason Six - Self-expressive
In the Gen Y world, Twitter has taught them to express themselves. And while their parents would have shuddered at this type of sharing, the positive effect has been a group of prospective interns who aren't afraid to put ideas out there. In the workplace, this translates into unabashed brainstorming, generating new solutions and fresh perspectives.

Reason Seven - Gain brand advocates
Hiring an intern helps spread the word about your company—whether you mean to or not. If you’re an impressive internship supervisor and mentor, your interns will probably talk about their experience with peers, friends and family members, essentially advertising for your organization (but it’s free!).

Reason Eight - Intrapreneurship Programs
Study after study show that Gen Ys have an extremely strong entrepreneurial focus — with many planning to start their own businesses (partly so that they can control their own fate). Employers can retain workers longer — while leveraging that entrepreneurial sprit — by developing incubator and intrapreneurship programs and opportunities.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Remains of the Day: Google Voice Will Soon Get an Update

Google Voice is finally getting an upgrade. Despite Google’s focus on services like Hangouts and Allo for voice chat, Google Voice still exists and maintains a certain longtime loyalty from many users despite never being updated. But something is in the works. That and more in today’s news.

A few Google Voice users recently saw a prompt reading “The new Google Voice is here.” The notice was evidently premature, but Google has confirmed to The Verge that they are working on an update. Might be just be a fresh coat of paint but it’s surprising to see Voice get any update at all—and for fans of the service, relieving, as Google is fond of unceremoniously killing off products. [Droid Life]

The part of Yahoo that wasn’t included in Verizon’s $4.8 billion acquisition has spun off into a company called Altaba Inc. Altaba includes Yahoo’s 15 percent stake in the Chinese company Alibaba as well as Yahoo Japan. The more familiar parts of Yahoo—Yahoo Mail and the news site, for example—go to Verizon. It’s not clear if Verizon will keep using the Yahoo name. [TechCrunch]

More news about upcoming Windows updates: Microsoft will address some of the privacy concerns about Windows 10, which has been criticized for sending usage and telemetry data back to Microsoft. The Creators Update will include more specific controls about what data you send to Microsoft, with specific options for location, ad tailoring, diagnostic data, and others. [Windows Blog]

Apple says a Safari bug was responsible for Consumer Reports’ assessment of the MacBook Pro’s inconsistent battery life. In testing, Consumer Reports experienced drastically different battery life results with their tests that utilized Safari. Apple says they’ve identified the problem and will issue a fix. [The Verge]

The Wikimedia Foundation just received a $3 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to make it easier to find and share the 35 million free, reusable images on Wikimedia Commons. The media currently only relies on causal notation and not rich metadata, making it difficult to search for specific images. [Wikimedia Foundation]

Google Voice is getting new updates, Google confirms. Obviously, Google is trying to be clever without being specific. The fact that there are no details leaves us to speculate about what will be new about the service. [TechnoBuffalo]


10 Steps to Starting a Side Business While Working a Full-Time Job

We are living at a time of unlimited potential. Never before have we experienced such a rapid growth in the number of young entrepreneurs who’ve begun working for themselves. From app developers, to freelance writers, business consultants, creative producers, and startup founders, there’s no shortage of people willing to take large calculated risks in the name of sculpting their own self-employed dream careers.

And why not? Every single day, many of these ‘solopreneurs’ are growing their small businesses into the millions.

Yet, despite the optimistic outlook, the majority of would-be business owners still fall victim to the fear of turning their side business ideas into reality. In a recent study from Bentley University, over 66% of those aged 18–34 cited a desire to start their own businesses. Yet, as of 2013, only 3.6% of businesses in the U.S. were owned by those under the age of 30.

And it’s not for lack of education or talent.

Global access to free and inexpensive online education resources on platforms like CreativeLive, Skillshare, General Assembly and others, have helped drastically cut the learning curves and barriers to entry in many industries. With valuable online learning opportunities as readily available as an internet connection, there’s no excuse for not picking up new concepts and building powerful skills.

Case in point, over the past few years, I’ve personally gone from first-time founder of a failed business, to freelancer, to building four successful businesses—all while working a full-time job. Through my work and own experiences, I’ve found the three most common reasons people don’t follow through on starting their own businesses are:

  • A lack of confidence in themselves
  • A perceived lack of necessary resources
  • And most of all, a lack of motivation

Starting a business while you’re still working full-time is hard. But it can afford you many luxuries and securities that go straight out the window when you quit your job to pursue a business idea. From the obvious of having a steady income to fund your new venture, to forcing yourself to focus only on what delivers the highest impact and lessening the pressure on yourself.

Now, before you take the plunge, you need to have a solid plan. Here are my 10 steps to starting a side business while keeping your full-time job:

1. Make the Commitment

This will get difficult. It will strain your relationships and you’ll continually be forced to make tough decisions.

Write down a list of all the activities and commitments you have during your week with the amount of time you devote to each. Take note of the ones you can afford to lessen your involvement with and let them know you are stepping back a bit to focus on a new project that means a lot to you.

Then start to cross off the easy stuff first: Time spent watching TV, playing video games, or surfing Facebook and Instagram. The more time you can free up, the quicker you’ll be able to start seeing results.

2. Inventory Your Strengths and Interests

Which skill sets does your new business idea require? You likely possess at least some of the necessary skills to make your business happen, but if you don’t, you’re now faced with a tough decision. Pause to spend time learning a new skill or outsource to someone else who can help pick up the slack?

If you want to discover your strengths as an entrepreneur, try this exercise, which will help you uncover both your soft and hard skills and uncover your unfair advantage in business. Just remember, if your ideas and your skills don’t match up, that’s still okay. If you look in the right places, there are scores of talented freelancers out there ready to work with you.

3. Validate Your Business Idea

When Fortune decided to ask the founders of failed startups what went wrong, the #1 reason that came up was a lack of market need for their product (almost half cited this as the reason their company died).

Early on in your planning you need to validate your business idea. This means getting honest feedback from actual paying customers, because as Basecamp founder Jason Fried explains:

It’s human nature to think that we’re right and that our ideas are always amazing. Unfortunately, our business concepts and product ideas are often not fully thought out, useful, or even properly researched.

By slowing down and building a very basic proof of concept with ongoing feedback from your target audience, you’ll gradually create a solution that’s guaranteed to meet their needs. You’ll be able to grow from there.

4. Create a Competitive Advantage

A competitive advantage is defined as your unique advantage that allows you as a business to generate greater sales or margins, and/or acquire and retain more customers than competitors. It’s what makes your business, your business.

This can come in the form of your cost structure, product offering, distribution network, strategic relationships, customer support, or elsewhere in the business. Get honest with yourself here. Not only does your business honestly have to fill a market need, but it has to do so in a way that’s different from what’s available now.

5. Set Detailed, Measurable, and Realistic Goals

You don’t want to take your first steps without at least knowing where you might end up. Without setting attainable goals and realistic deadlines for yourself, you’re going to spend a lot of time spinning your wheels. In my experience, it works best to set daily, weekly and monthly goals for yourself. This constant accountability helps you stick with both the short- and long-term objectives.

In the beginning, your daily goals are most likely small wins or to-do list type of items, then you’ll gradually start hitting milestones as you get closer to launching your side business.

6. Build a Roadmap to Launch Date and Beyond

It’s one thing to set your goals, and yet an entirely different activity to map out exactly how you’re going to get to point B, C, D and beyond.

You need to be particularly proactive with this step and expect that you’ll have to regularly adapt as things change over time. Nobody can launch your business for you, but you won’t be able to do it all on your own, either.

Your ability to problem-solve and navigate around your obstacles will determine your level of success with your business. And if you need extra inspiration, check out how some of the top leaders and companies ensure they hit their launch goals time after time.

7. Outsource Your Weaknesses

This is all about focus. Look for opportunities to outsource every possible part of your business creation that you can. Obviously, you don’t want someone else planning your goals, roadmap, or telling you what your product or service should look like.

The real point is that you need to be doing only what you do best. While it would be great if you could code your own website to test out your online service idea, if you don’t already command a knowledge of developing, you’re looking at a few months of dedicated learning time just to get to the point where you’ll be able to understand the basics.

Luckily, I know a great place to find high-quality help for your business idea.

8. Actively seek objective feedback

Your goal is to build a product or service that provides value to people. So it’s important that you seek unbiased, outside feedback to make sure you’re building something that’s actually providing value to your customers.

Do this from day one and never stop. To find your early feedback group, you want to individually target people that you know will give you an honest opinion. My go-to group consists of a handful of close entrepreneurial friends and a few mentors I regularly keep in touch with.

From here, you can start to widen your scope for feedback and begin incorporating Facebook groups, LinkedIn Groups, Reddit, HackerNews, ProductHunt, GrowthHackers, and so on.

9. Don’t Blur the Lines Between Work and Your Business

It may seem tempting to create a ‘better version of the company where you work’, but unless your employer missed some major lessons along the way, your contract probably clearly stipulates that you’ve agreed not to do exactly that. Plus, that’s just bad practice and can destroy a lot of relationships that could instead be very helpful for you one day.

That’s why the best business ideas are ones that enhance your performance at work and give you the opportunity to continue building your strengths outside of the office. If you’re under any non-compete clauses, assignment of invention clauses, or non-disclosure agreements, then it’s best to consult an attorney for personalized advice on this matter.

It may seem obvious, but don’t work on your side business during company time. You’ll also need to refrain from using company resources on your business, no matter how tempting that may be. This includes not using your work computer, online tools, software, subscriptions, notebooks, or seeking the assistance of other employees unless you’ve specifically cleared it with your attorney.

10. Reach Critical Mass Before Quitting Your Day Job

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an advocate of only doing things that I’m interested in, and doing those things with 100% of my energy. That being said, I’m willing to take my time in fully vetting an idea, discovering my target market and testing that idea with them, before making the solo decision that ‘this must be great!’

Having the time to continue thinking things through and seeking the advice of others will greatly benefit your new side business. Even more importantly, unless you’re working on a high-growth startup and can secure investor funding (or you’re able to self-fund), you’re realistically going to need some form of sustainable income before your new business is able to be that sole source of sustenance for you.

Starting a side business while working a full-time job will undoubtedly be difficult, but it’s doable. There are as many paths to entrepreneurship as there are entrepreneurs in this world. Take these steps into account and you’ll be well on your way to being your own boss. Imagine that awesome feeling.

This post originally appeared on the Crew blog.

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