Aviary Image Editor: Android App Review

Full-featured and free! The Aviary app for Android devices performs like a paid app, offering all the bells and whistles like auto enhance, multiple cropping settings, red eye removal, teeth whitening, settings for color and tone control and much more.

But Aviary knows you want to have fun, too. It is a mobile app after all, not some stodgy desktop program. So Aviary also included the goofy features like stickers (fully manipulable), text, filters and such that mobile users seem to love.

I like the meme feature, which allows me to show the interwebs how cute my cats are while expressing their desire for cheezburgers.

I’ve only found a couple of things it won’t do: renaming and resizing. You can rename in the gallery app, but it would be nice not to have to leave Aviary to do it. Resizing I mostly do for blogging, and the WordPress app will resize it for me. But these are pretty easy things to do that most other image apps offer. I was surprised a more advanced app like Aviary didn’t include them. Two minor faults are easy to live with for so many great free features, though.

In short, I love this app. It does everything I want it to without forcing me to join since pseudo social imaging network or spamming my phone with ads. Having used it for a couple months, I’d gladly pay for it if I had to. it’s a good bet that the Aviary app will remain free, though, since Aviary’s online image editor is also free and has been for years.


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Google Webmaster Tools: A Practical Guide

My latest on Practical Ecommerce: “Guide to Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster ToolsValuable search-engine-optimization tools that provide unique data tend to be expensive. Tools with limited data sets or limited capabilities tend to be free. Google Webmaster Tools bucks that trend by offering — for free — a unique data set and features that can’t be found in any other tool.

I’ve previously addressed reasons to register for Google Webmaster Tools, in “Top 5 Reasons to Use Google Webmaster Tools.” The purpose of this article is to explain how to use this amazing free tool set to improve your site’s search engine optimization.

Before Google opens the doors to its treasure chest, you have to prove you own the site by going through a verification process.

The best way to learn more about Google Webmaster Tools is to dive in and play with it. It’s free, relativelyeasyto verify, and packed with help topics and tips to speed you on your way.

Read the entire guide for tips and explanations on every tool and report » “Guide to Google Webmaster Tools


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How to Explain SEO to Marketers

My latest on NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well: “How to Reach Customers Via Search Engines

You don’t get the privilege of speaking to customers via organic search until the search engines understand what you’re saying.

Organic search is like speaking through a translator. The search engines’ algorithms are the gating factors that decide which sites will have a chance to speak to which searchers.

People searching Google know what they’re looking for. They ask Google to find it for them using a cryptic search phrase. From these few words, the search engines analyze relevance, intent and historical preference, and deliver a search results page with 10 organic search options.

Searchers decide based on those 10 links which site most closely meets their needs, and away they go. If Google doesn’t consider your site relevant or important enough to include in those 10 links, you don’t even get considered as an option by searchers. Period. Each time this happens is a lost opportunity to reach new customers or to market to those who already know your brand.

Businesses can improve their chances of success by understanding how to influence the process. That’s what SEO is all about.

Read the whole article at » Inc. Well


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Avoiding SEO Shortcuts

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “5 SEO Shortcuts to Avoid.”

Search engines are programmed to reward relevance and popularity, and are striving to algorithmically determine quality as well. Ecommerce sites are programmed to sell product to customers as efficiently as possible while offering a positive brand experience. Ecommerce sites often strive for quick search-engine-optimization wins, which can be easily mistaken for SEO shortcuts that should be avoided.

Companies with little brand equity may be able to afford to try shortcut solutions that could work well in the short-term but can be exposed and penalized as time goes on. These companies tend to have hundreds of domains that they can test on, push the limits on, and then abandon if they burn down. Most ecommerce sites can’t afford a model like that. Companies that value their brand equity need to avoid SEO shortcuts that can potentially result in search-result dampening or even getting banned from search results entirely.

It’s critical to remember that organic search marketing is entirely dependent on organic search engines and their definitions of value and quality. It doesn’t matter how fantastic the product is, how hard the company tries or how earnestly the marketing team wants to succeed in SEO. The search engines make the rules.

It’s up to site owners to decide whether to play by those rules for slower growing, long-term success or to look for a way around the rules to short-term success and higher risk.

But which strategies are high-risk shortcuts that should be avoided? Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but as Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts said recently in an interview with SEO industry leader Eric Enge, “The main thing is that people should avoid looking for shortcuts. In competitive market areas there has always been a need to figure out how to differentiate yourself, and nothing has changed today.”

Read the article in full and all FIVE TIPS at Practical eCommerce »


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Holiday Sales & Scalable SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well blog: “How to Master Scalable SEO for the Holiday Selling Season.”

The biggest selling seasons of the year are upon us, and SEO’s notoriously long lead time means there’s no time to waste.

It’s mid-July now. Analyzing SEO performance and devising a plan of attack starting today would take two to four weeks. Plus implementation time, assuming resources are available. And after the optimization strategies go live, there’s still a roughly 30-day period in which search engines recrawl the site and determine algorithmically if the optimization merits a ranking change.

Fast forward three months and, if everything went according to plan, the site is ready to take the SEO competition by storm.

Manually optimizing pages one-by-one makes sense for the most important pages and valuable keyword phrases. Optimizing sites made up of hundreds or thousands of pages requires more scalable SEO solutions, especially leading up to this crucial selling season….

Read the article in full at Inc. Well »


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