Category Archives: Reviews

Want to Check Your Backlinks Here is an Easy Tool

If you are concerned about organic search placement, then you need to keep an eye on your website’s backlinks or more commonly known as inbound links. I’ve found an easy to use free tool that allows you to check your link numbers quickly and even review links that are follow and nofollow. The tool is called the Open Site Explorer and can give you a snapshot picture of link on the Web being pointed back to a page or domain.

As you review your statistics and numbers you may wonder what a nofollow or follow link are. A nofollow link is one that a search engine robot will not be following to discover your site. You receive no search engine “juice” from this link. You may still get site traffic, but no organic placement benefit. On the other had follow links are goldmines. That means that the search spider will follow the link all the way to your website from the original website. You may get an authority rank benefit as well as a link number benefit that may raise your own organic search placement. Follow links are good as long as they are from legitimate non-spammy sources.

Try the tool out for yourself and see what you think. I think it is pretty cool!

I am not receiving any compensation for writing this blog post from the site owner. I just found the tool, like it, and wanted to let you know about it.

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HootSuite and Seesmic Reviewed

If you are involved in social media using Facebook or Twitter you will want to be using one of these applications for posting your updates. In this post I will be reviewing HootSuite and Seesmic.

HootSuite
I use this product and own two Pro accounts. I have been using the HootSuite product since it came out and like it. I have four team members using one account and write for over 10 client social networks using the application. This is what I personally like about the product:

  1. The Pro account allows me to add unlimited social networks and easily helps me to link Facebook personal pages, Facebook Business Pages, and Twitter accounts.
  2. It is very simple to add team members to my account. My team members only see in their personal control panel the accounts that I have given them access to and not all client accounts.
  3. When I have several team members working on one account, I can see in my master control panel who has done what, who has responded to a comment, and who has posted which update.
  4. I like that I can schedule updates for future dates. Some of our writers work several days ahead or at night and set up updates to publish the next day. When you work on the volume of clients that we do you need this flexibility for your staff.
  5. HootSuite Pro account have a bulk upload option. Although I don’t routinely use this option, it is there and allows for greater flexibility to feed out content over time.
  6. Reusable updates. This is one of my personal favorites. I like the feature that I can save an update and then reuse is and schedule it to be sent on days I select. Where we have something very important to get out for a client this feature is valuable.

If you want to check out HootSuite, you can for free. If you use my link, set up an account and upgrade to the Pro Account HootSuite will pay me a small commission.

Seesmic
I don’t use this product routinely, but am always on the look out for new applications that can make our work easier. Seesmic is great for a single user or for someone is just managing Twitter account. Seesmic does support Facebook, but only the Facebook personal profile, while HootSuite allows you to post to Facebook personal profiles AND Facebook Business Pages.

The Seesmic interface is easy to set up, but not as intuitive as that of HootSuite. You do not have the option to show columns for each account such as pending for one Twitter account, but you can see the pending updates for all accounts in one column. I set up my Seesmic account with three Twitter accounts and two Facebook accounts. I could not however set up or send to my Facebook Business Page.

Seesmic has a control panel for each account on the left side bar instead of tabs like HootSuite has at the top. This could be an issue if you were managing many Twitter accounts as you would have to scroll up and down to interact with accounts near the left bottom as your account list grows.

In Seesmic you can see, for Twitter only, retweets, mentions, sent, favorites, and searches but not pending. Remember pending appears as a column on your screen and is not sorted by account but rather by date. For Facebook you don’t have any options other than the home feed.

I feel that for professional users HootSuite is a much more usable product. For small accounts Seesmic certainly is an alternative to HootSuite. If you have more than five social networks you have to upgrade to the Pro Level in HootSuite but with Seesmic you are still at a free level. I think that as an alternative to HootSuite for do it yourselfers on a budget, Seesmic certainly is a nice choice, but not one that I would want to work with everyday, day in and day out as a power user.

That being said for clients that want to watch what we are doing and to respond to tweets, I think that a Seesmic account would be fine for them as this solves the problem of having to add them as a team member in HootSuite. They can’t see pending updates with this approach, but can see what has been posted after the fact. I will look forward to improvements as Seesmic grows and tries to establish its market share. In some ways it is similar to Sendible.

Seesmic has not paid me for this post and I do not make a commission on your use of the application or download.

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Dell Customer Support Gets My Top Ratings

I have two Dell laptops one of which just had some issues this last week. My son and I started on troubleshooting it last weekend. We finally figured out when it would not reboot that maybe it was more than a bad hard disk. My husband thought it was the motherboard.

When I finally got enough information from the Dell forum, I started the repair process with Dell just to find out that the 2 year warranty had expired on June 7th and I was phoning Dell the morning of the 8th. With a gentle push, Dell agreed to sell me the extended warranty and cover all the problems on this just one day over two year old computer which originally cost about $1,700.

Since then I have received a new motherboard, hard disk, heat sink, and keyboard. Not only was the support desk helpful and incredibly knowledgeable, but courteous. Yes, it was an awful problem to have and I did have to pay $279 for the extended warranty and get a bit pushy to get it initially, but my problem has been handled quite well.

The support personnel from India were very knowledgeable and when I had them spell their names so I could pronounce them properly, they really warmed up to me. I need a new laptop as one is so old that for me I would think of no other place to start shopping but Dell. However I may actually buy the extended warranty for it up front. I have found that the difference between the paid extended warranty help and the free support is worth the extra fee.

I am not being paid by Dell for this post, just wanted to share my real world experience and let you know that yes, there are good people out there helping make things right for customers.

Thanks EmNiel, Bhupesh, Mohammed, and all the rest from Dell Support!

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Make Sure You Have a WordPress Backup Application

This last week a client that I help on occasion who has one of the highest traffic blogs that I have seen lost his MySQL database that runs his WordPress blog. The crash was devastating to his blog and to his business. What is even worse is that he did not have a recent backup of his blog post; lost were 6 months of blog posts and comments.

To prevent this from happening to you, I recommend that every WordPress owner install a WordPress plug-in called WP-DB-Backup. This simple to use and configure blog post database backup allows you to email yourself a backup of your blog posts in MySQL format on a schedule you select.

I routinely backup my blog posts weekly and recommend that all clients and WordPress users do the same. Although you can tell the application to store your backup on your web server, I like the additional security of saving the backup to my own hard disk.

Just make sure that once you install the plug-in that you review it to make sure that your folder is writable. You will access the plug-in control panel from your WordPress “Tools” navigation link. If the directory location is not writable, you will need to correct that to use the plug-in.

Although you may never have a situation when you will need your backup, what if you even do. Will you be wishing you had a backup plan in place like the client I mentioned in the first paragraph or will you be able to get back up and running quickly only losing a day or two of blog posts?

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HootSuite My Preferred Twitter Client

I have tried all kinds of applications for Twitter but I have ended up really using two HootSuite and SocialOomph. For most Twitter work and my own Twitter use I prefer HootSuite. There are a few reasons.

1. HootSuite is easy to use. You can have a master user and add writer access or other team member access.

2. HootSuite allows you to post to multiple Twitter accounts as well as to Ping.fm and Facebook with one click.

3. HootSuite has an integrated link shrinker right in the posting control panel. It uses the Owl.ly URL shortener.

4. HootSuite has a built in statistics portal showing the important click and reader activity for your account.

5. HootSuite now allows you to save posts as drafts and reuse them – this was one of the features I really liked with SocialOomph and now HootSuite has it.

6. HootSuite allows you to schedule your tweets for any day or time in the future. Love that feature!

7. HootSuite shows you the full thread of a conversation when someone responds to one of your Tweets. Now you know what they are responding to when you get a DM or @reply.

Now just to clarify, no one is paying me for this review, I have been using HootSuite for a while and just really like the application. I used to use TweetDeck, but now with needing to manage so many Twitter accounts HootSuite is the perfect user and client-friendly online application for me.

Please note as of 1-16-11, as of today if you click my HootSuite links, they will pay me a small commission if you upgrade to a Pro account, but that is not my reason for liking their product.

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We Be Gaming Now!

Well my husband and I finally broke down and bought our kids a Playstation 3. We don’t have it yet, it is due in this week as the entire state of Maryland was sold out and we had to order it on Amazon. In the meantime we are dropping a ton of cash on buying games getting ready. In the future this should be a whole new topic – game reviews for parents, but in the meantime we are all looking forward to plugging in and powering up.

We decided to buy a Playstation 3 over the XBox 360 mainly due to the free online game access and the integrated Blue-Ray disk player that the Playstation has. My older son who is 20 is an accomplished gamer on all the systems, Wii, XBox, and Playstation and he said that the free online access was for him also the big reason he likes the Playstation as well and recommended it to us.

My husband and I originally started out to buy a Wii, but when we saw the graphics of the Wii compared to the Playstation and XBox there was simply no comparison. The Wii uses about 460 dpi and the Playstation and XBox about 1260. That’s a big difference in visual graphics!

The clincher for us was when we saw the Gods of War demo and the graphics were so life like it knocked our socks off. So stay tuned in the weeks and months to come as I play these new games and then pass on my candid, unvarnished, unpaid, for parent reviews.

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