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successful

5 tips for running a successful virtual meeting

Running a virtual meeting requires a different approach than in-person meetings. You need to figure out how to moderate the discussion, make sure everyone has a voice and feels heard and ensure all your employees are properly equipped to participate. But virtual meetings don’t have to be stressful — in fact, taking your meetings virtually can even help take work off your plate if you leverage the tools effectively.

Here are five tips on how to run a successful virtual meeting, whether it’s your company’s town hall or an after-work virtual happy hour.

Head into meetings with a plan

Virtual meetings can quickly run off the rails if they aren’t organized ahead of time, so try to send out an agenda and sign on five minutes early to make sure everything is running smoothly, says Tim Ihlefeld, CEO of remote interviewing platform Harqen. Even if you have everyone set up on the same platform, technical glitches can arise, as you can’t control individual meeting members’ Wi-Fi connectivity and any software bugs or hardware failures on their devices. Having a plan and establishing best practices ahead of time can save you from an IT headache during the meeting.  

Establish who will be responsible for fielding questions, troubleshooting connectivity issues and taking or distributing meeting notes. You should also decide whether you will need to mute participants, who will moderate the meeting, which participants will need screenshare and how listeners can ask questions. For smaller meetings, these issues may be less pressing and stressful, but for larger meetings it’s a good idea to set guidelines so everyone knows their role and what is expected of them.



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5 Secrets for Creating Successful Mid-Level Pages

When information architecture design is done well, your website will have a clean, organized feel that better represents your brand. As a result, your website will be positioned to rank higher on Google, increase traffic and convert more sales.

Designing mid-level feature pages is one of the hardest parts of building or revamping your website. How do you divide your business into neat, tidy sections? How many categories should you use? Does it make sense to combine this feature with that one? How do you find the optimal balance of text, images and graphics? What keywords should you target? Are you building these pages for humans to buy your products or search engine crawlers to rank you higher? 

I could go on, but it’s a safe bet that your head is already spinning. Developing the optimal information architecture design for your business can be a major struggle — but it’s definitely one worth putting the time, energy and resources into getting right.

Here are six tips to design better mid-level feature pages:

 

1. Organise Your Information Architecture into the Right Categories

Instead of rushing to get a new website up as fast as you can, spend some time thinking deeply about natural categories that align with your products, services, and core values. An hour’s brainstorm and quick sketch will probably not suffice here.

proper due-diligence before building out mid-level pages will save you countless headaches down the road

Discuss with your team. Look at your competitors’ sites. Consult an SEO consulting service. Think about providing your customer with the best possible browsing experience. Consider the most important keywords that you want to rank for. Doing proper due-diligence before building out mid-level pages will save you countless headaches down the road.

When we started building mid-level feature pages for our PDF SaaS app, we thought long and hard about how to organise mid-level feature pages so users could access the information that they were seeking quickly and intuitively. After a ton of research and countless conversations with people who brought different vantage points, we decided on three overarching feature page categories: “Create PDF,” “Edit PDF,” and “Convert PDF.” These broad categories covered the three main services that we provide and allowed the flexibility for us to build out 22 more specialised mid-level pages for specific features like compression, and format conversion.

 

2. Keep it Simple 

You are passionate about your business and want to share your whole story with prospective clients. It’s natural to try to include everything on your mid-level feature pages, but that is a recipe for clutter and confusion. Design a clean, consistent markup that includes a healthy balance of text, images and infographics. Readers tend to skim (or completely skip) text-heavy sections. Try to use bullets, integrate graphics and err on the side of brevity whenever possible.

Make sure that your layouts are consistent across all mid-level pages. People usually notice different layouts on similar level pages. Whether they note the differences consciously or not, the inconsistencies give off an unprofessional vibe and should be smoothed out before going live. We developed a template that was easy to replicate for each additional mid-level page. Each mid-level page follows the same blueprint which simplifies navigation:

  • a header
  • a drag-and-drop upload button
  • three steps of directions
  • two or three images
  • a brief explanation of the specific feature
  • options to explore other features near the bottom of the page

 

3. Match Each Mid-Level Page With a Primary Keyword That You’re Targeting

Keyword research is an essential step in constructing effective information architecture. Knowing the most important search terms that you want to rank for will help you develop site structure and content that drives the right traffic to your site and keeps it there. There are lots of good tools out there to research search volume and identify related keywords. We used Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, CanIRank and a few other keyword research tools to figure out the most valuable keywords we should go after. One of the nice things about these three tools is that they give you search volume reports on related keywords as well. Oftentimes, the keyword you expected to be best actually isn’t, and a similar iteration turns out to be a better fit. 

Most of us seasoned website architects aim to match each mid-level feature page with a high-volume keyword that is valuable to our business. By targeting specific related keywords, you are signalling to Google and other search engines what your website is about, and building topical relevance for your site. As you build out multiple mid-level pages targeting specific keywords related to your business, you will boost both your page relevancy (for each individual page) and overall website relevancy. This will help you improve your SERP rankings for the keywords that matter most to your business and drive traffic into your conversion funnel.

Remember to have only one primary keyword per page. The primary keyword should be featured prominently in your H1 header and also used consistently throughout the page. In addition, you should include several “secondary” keywords that are related to the primary keywords. Using your favorite keyword research tool, identify a primary keyword, several secondary keywords, and other related keywords to build your page around. Be cognizant not to have separate mid-level pages targeting similar keywords. It’s easy to have two pages “cannibalisze” each other — which will drive both pages’ rankings down.

 

4. Include a Clear, Catchy, Concise Call-to-Action

You’ve designed the perfect information architecture, done your keyword research, matched each page to a high-volume keyword, and written stellar content that includes the right balance of keywords. Finally, it’s time to let out a big sigh of relief, right? Well, not exactly. After doing all this work, it would be a shame not to nail your call-to-action. 

After doing all this work, it would be a shame not to nail your call-to-action

After all, your goal is not merely to get traffic to visit and stay on your mid-level page; it’s to move them further down the conversion funnel and actually buy your product or service! Be strategic with your language and graphics to encourage users to try out your service, sign-up for your newsletter, enter a contest, share on social media or take whatever action you want them to take. We have a big “Click to upload” button at the top of the page for users who just want to take action quickly without reading in more detail about the feature. For more investigative readers, we have other “Upload your file” buttons conveniently positioned in the middle of the page content. Our goal is to make using our software so simple and intuitive that users always can easily navigate their way further down the conversion funnel.

 

5. Design For Your Audience(s)

So in this long haul of building mid-level pages, are search engines or humans our primary audience? Reasonable minds disagree on this one, but for our purposes today, I recommend targeting both — because you will not be successful targeting one but not the other. 

Think about the key steps in your customer’s journey. She hears about a cool new product that you sell and decides to check it out. She searches for it on Google. If your page isn’t optimized properly to rank highly and catch her eye, it really doesn’t matter how amazing or persuasive your content is. Conversely, if your page is optimized to rank atop page 1 but includes a lacklustre call-to-action, you will have a high bounce rate and fail to convert in ways that bring your business tangible value.

Always keep the big picture in mind and design your mid-level feature pages to meet the needs of search engines and humans.

 

Featured image via DepositPhotos.



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10 Simple Strategies for Successful Content Marketing

Whether you are an established brand or a startup, content marketing is one thing you should be thinking about. In fact, 98% of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are advocating for the trend and their reasoning is simple; it works.

In recent years, many startup founders have talked about how sales of their products skyrocketed after being featured in popular websites like Techcrunch and Business Insider. So, without beating around the bush, here are ten content marketing strategies that will propel your business to the next level:

 

1. Make it Short

While you can be proud of the long-form articles your team produces, the reality is that most people prefer short-form articles. In fact, according to research, most people prefer articles to be 1000-words and less. Another report found that readers spend about 15 seconds or less. This is because your readers have a short attention span and are on the look-out for the next interesting thing to read.

 

2. Use Visuals

As a follow-up to the first point, most people prefer quality visuals in the content. These visuals could be infographics, quality images, or video. The reasoning behind this is simple: When you visit a website, what do you look at first? Is it the sea of the words or the graphics on the site? The visuals have another advantage: They help in optimizing your content for search engines.

 

3. Keep Content Light

As a content manager, you might be proud of the formal content you produce. The truth is that readers are more interested in content that is formal but written in a fun, light way. Make the paragraphs short and add informal words. Doing this will make the content fun to read and more shareable.

 

4. Optimize Content for Search

As you write, remember that you are targeting people and search engines as well. Most people find your content by searching using the search engines. Therefore, you should ensure that your content is optimized for all the search engines. A few things that will help you in this are: Having a specific keyword in mind, having the keyword on the title and in the body of the article, and attributing all the visuals used in the article.

 

5. Write to go Viral

As a content marketer, your content should not be the same. Some of your content is not intended to go viral, and that is fine. At the same time, you should not be afraid of producing some written and visual content that is targeted to go viral. In the past few years, we have seen many companies move from zero sales to millions of dollars because of the viral content. A good example is Dollar Shave Club, a company that made millions of dollars from a simple YouTube ad.

 

6. Go Where Your Viewers Are

A common mistake we see with content marketers is to think that content is all about a blog. While a blog is essential, the reality is that it is not the end. A good way to approach content is to go where you are likely to find readers. In this, you should incorporate other mediums, where you are likely to find readers. These include tools like Medium, Facebook, Tik Tok, and Snapchat.

 

7. Quality Over Quantity

Another mistake we see marketers make is to focus on quantity of content over the quality. We see this all the time on social media where content marketers push hundreds of posts every day. When you focus on quantity, there is a likelihood that the quality of your work will decrease. If the quality decreases, the audience will keep on going down. Therefore, you are better-off, publishing new quality content once a week rather than low-quality content numerous times.

 

8. Focus on Your Niche

As a content manager, you are better-off focusing on a small niche than trying to conquer the world with your content. When you produce very wide content, there is a likelihood that fewer people will see it. This is because very popular niches have experts ready. A solution is to focus on you niche and a specific location. For example, as a Cyprus-based SEO company, we could have focused on getting clients from around the world but we decided to optimize our website for our country. Today, our website appears on the first page of Google when you search for our services in Cyprus.

 

9. Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

As a content manager, it is important for you to analyze every piece of content that you submit. By doing this, you will see how the different type of content performs for you. In fact, many CMOs are now using the various data analysis tools to evaluate the returns of all their content. There are many analysis tools that are available to you, mostly for free. For example, with Google Analytics, you can see the number of people who read your article or watch your video. Other tools will tell you where the traffic to the content came from, and the time you attract a large audience. Without in-depth analytics, your content marketing approach will be a costly waste of time.

 

10. Use Freelancers and Influencers

To attract a large audience at a fair price, you should invest in freelancers and influencers. In fact, more than 55% of companies in the US use freelancers for their content needs. A large number of others use influencers in the industry. Recently, we have seen a number of companies move from zero to be worth millions of dollars because of their partnerships with influencers. A good example of this is OnePlus, the Chinese company that is one of the fastest-growing smartphone brand by using influencers.

If you are just starting to implement content marketing or if you have been seeing wavering returns, we believe that these strategies will be a good starting point. They are not the end. As you will realize, content marketing is a journey.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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9 Things Every PC Builder Needs for a Successful Build

If you’re getting ready to build a PC, you’ll need some basic tools as well as your components.

Here we’re giving a rundown of tools and equipment you should have on hand for the best building experience.

1. Screwdriver

The one most essential tool for building a computer is a Phillips-head screwdriver. This is used for tightening the screws on most components to hold them in place. Get a decent quality screwdriver of an appropriate size to make your life easier.

It is useful for your screwdriver to be magnetic as this will help you to keep control of your screws when fitting items from awkward angles.

2. Pliers

Sometimes you’ll find a screw or bolt which is so tight it’s hard to undo it. In these cases, a pair or pliers is useful. You can use them to loosen up tight fastenings.

Pliers are also handy for retrieving small screws if you drop them into a cramped location like behind the motherboard tray. You want to make sure you remove any loose screws, as leaving them in the case could potentially cause an electrical short. So if you drop a screw, be sure to retrieve it before continuing.

3. Anti-Static Equipment

You should be aware of the minor risk to your components from electrostatic discharge. This occurs when two surfaces rub together and create static electricity, which can create a small spark. If this happens near your components, it can damage them.

There’s some debate over how serious a problem this is when building a PC, but if you’ve spent a lot of money on components then it’s a good idea to take extra precautions.

The best way to avoid electrostatic discharge is to wear an anti-static wrist strap. This is a bracelet-like device which you attach around your wrist and connects to an electrical socket. That way, if any electrical charge builds up between your body and the computer, it can be safely dissipated through the socket and won’t create a spark.

4. A Clean Workspace

It’s important to have space to work while you build. Look for a flat surface at an appropriate height so you’re not bending over and hurting your back, with good clear overhead lighting. Some parts are small or hard to seat correctly and it’ll be much easier if you can see what you’re doing.

One thing to avoid is working on carpet. Carpet can generate static electricity, especially if you’re wearing fluffy socks, which can potentially harm your components. This isn’t very likely to happen but it is a risk.

The best surfaces are a wooden desk or coffee table, or you could use your kitchen counter as long as there’s enough room and you aren’t too near the sink.

5. Zip Ties

Once your components are placed into your case, you need to manage the cables to keep everything neat and tidy and to make sure you’re not obstructing any airflow.

To do this, you’ll need zip ties, velcro ties, or twist ties. These will let you tie down cables to points inside your case and bundle cables together for easier management.

See our article on cable management tips for building a PC like a pro


Cable Management Tips for Building Your New PC Like a Pro




Cable Management Tips for Building Your New PC Like a Pro

Building a new PC or adding new components? Tidy cable management improves airflow and performance. Here’s what you need to know.
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for more on this topic.

6. Thermal Paste

If you buy a new CPU or a new cooler, it will probably come with a small tube of thermal paste. But if you are building using second-hand components, you’ll need to supply your own thermal paste.

You may also want to consider having your own thermal paste on hand as the paste that comes with some CPUs or coolers is not of the best quality. The thermal paste helps transfer heat from your CPU to the cooler so using a quality paste can help prevent your computer from overheating


How to Prevent Computer Overheating & Keep Your PC Cool




How to Prevent Computer Overheating & Keep Your PC Cool

Overheating computers may lead to unexpected shutdowns, lost data, and hardware damage. We’ll show you how to read computer temperatures and simple ways to keep your PC cool.
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.

Some popular quality thermal pastes are Arctic Silver 5, Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut, or Noctua NT-H1.

If you’re using an all-in-one cooler you won’t need thermal paste as it will come with paste pre-applied. Just make sure you understand how little thermal paste is needed before applying.

7. Rubbing Alcohol

If you’re adding new thermal paste to your CPU, you’ll need to remove the old thermal paste first. Thermal paste hardens over time and becomes crusty and less effective.

Fortunately removing old thermal paste is very easy. You can use rubbing alcohol to remove it. Just dip a q-tip in the rubbing alcohol and gently rub at the old thermal paste to remove it.

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol you can use acetone in a pinch, which is found in nail varnish remover. However, some nail varnish removers contain conditioning oils as well as acetone so they aren’t ideal to use on a CPU. Stick to rubbing alcohol for the best results.

8. A CPU Installation Tool

Everything you need to build a PC - CPU installation tool

This tool isn’t necessary but it can give you confidence if you’re a first-time builder.

When you install a CPU, you have to make sure that it is lined up correctly with the socket on the motherboard. There’s a small triangle in the corner of the CPU which will help you line it up. You just need to gently drop the CPU into the socket. Don’t slide it around or push too hard or you could damage your CPU.

If you’re worried about the process, you can use a CPU installation tool like this one from ASUS. It’s a small plastic bracket which holds the CPU in the correct position and helps you drop it neatly into the socket.

9. Spare Parts

Finally, one of the most useful things you can have on hand when building is a currently working PC for troubleshooting purposes.

If you connect all your components, your new PC should be able to POST (power-on self test). This means that the components are communicating with each other and the machine is able to access the BIOS. The BIOS is the basic software which the computer runs on and onto which you install an operating system. Learn more about BIOS in our article on discovering your BIOS and how to make the most of it


Discover Your BIOS & Learn How to Make the Most of It




Discover Your BIOS & Learn How to Make the Most of It

What the heck is the BIOS, anyway? Is it really that important to know? We think so and fortunately it’s pretty easy. Let us introduce you.
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However, sometimes you’ll connect your components and the PC won’t POST. When this happens, you can listen out for beep codes which can tell you what the problem is. But if that doesn’t work, it’s time to start troubleshooting.

This is where your working PC comes in. You can swap out components one at a time for components from your working PC, because they are known to be functional. If you swap out your new RAM for your old RAM and the new PC now posts, for example, you are likely dealing with a faulty or incorrectly seated RAM stick.

Having known working parts on hand makes troubleshooting so much easier.

If you have these tools on hand, you’ve got everything you need to start building your own PC


How To Build Your Own PC




How To Build Your Own PC

It’s very gratifying to build your own PC; as well as intimidating. But the process itself is actually quite simple. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
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These are the top skill sets for a successful blockchain team

As undergraduates emerge from schools with software development or business skills, companies exploring blockchain use are seeking job candidates with four specific skill sets, according to a new report from consultancy KPMG.

Those skills are needed more with each passing month; KPMG expects an increase in the number of companies exploring blockchain this year for everything from identifying new business models to piloting projects and ultimately, progressing to scalable solutions.

KPMG said, not surprisingly, that it’s seeking graduates with a solid grasp of blockchain at a high level – those who understand distributed ledgers, peer-to-peer topologies and consensus mechanisms; all are key for a technologist hoping to land a high-paying blockchain developer job.

But even more critical is an understanding of the business landscape and how to apply the still-emerging technology to a specific problem.

The nexus of tech and business acumen

“The key thing we do at KPMG is balance an understanding of how this technology works without being a blockchain hammer looking for a nail,” said Tegan Keele, KPMG’s U.S. blockchain program lead. “You have to know how to apply it and that really only comes if you have an understanding of business processes.”

Secondly, members of a blockchain team should understand the difference between a variety of technologies, including the cloud, protocols, ERPs and networks, and know  when to use different mechanisms and platforms.

“This will help ensure they can understand how blockchain interacts within an existing technology ecosystem, and how that ecosystem will impact the design of the blockchain solution,” KPMG said. “And for those who are planning to work on the development side of blockchain, some knowledge of coding (JavaScript, HTML, solidity, etc.) is helpful….”

That means the company looks for blockchain developers with business acumen, such as a knowledge of supply chain or procurement systems or finance processes – skills that are already taught in undergraduate programs.

KPMG also looks for a job candidate’s technical literacy, or the ability to understand  data generated on a blockchain platform and how to use it in a business context.

One of the key attributes of blockchain is its ability to span an organization and its business partners, essentially connecting multiple, disparate entities through a single, transparent electronic ledger.

“But, then you have multiple people within each participating entity looking at the blockchain and they’re all going to want to see slightly different things,” Keele said. “So understanding how to derive those insights out of the information on a blockchain is key.”

A hacker’s ability to problem solve

Those entering the blockchain development/engineering field should have the mentality of a hacker – or the ability to problem solve collaboratively in a workshop setting when a client presents a business problem.

They need to be able to think through the business objectives, implications and value “for each of the participants and then [define] the architecture and overall solution flow,” KPMG said. “It is this collaborative approach that leads to a successful application of blockchain.”

Given the lack of coursework around blockchain and its relatively new existence in the enterprise, a team must be open to exploring and experimenting by “hacking the problem” from a business and IT perspective, according to KPMG.

“I’d say at KPMG we’ve been very successful at taking [employee] skills in-house and upscaling them to deliver blockchain skills,” Keele said. “Until universities start printing blockchain degrees, that will be the pattern that will continue.”

The list of U.S. universities now offering courses on blockchain continues to grow and includes such prestigious institutions as MIT, Princeton, UC Berkeley and Stanford University.

The top blockchain jobs, according to a report last year by BusinessStudent.com, are interns, project managers, developers, engineers, quality engineers, legal consultants or attorneys and web designers.

While most techies who add blockchain to their skillset are versed in programming languages such as Java or Python, it’s by no means a prerequisite for learning the technology.

Like any emerging technology, having the right talent is paramount to driving results, KPMG’s report said.

“Blockchain projects will not succeed or scale without a multifaceted team that goes beyond technologists,” KPMG wrote. “We expect more universities to integrate blockchain into future coursework, which will help prepare both end users as well as those who will be responsible for building, deploying and managing blockchain.”

The dearth of workers for a hot field

Currently, there’s a significant lack of skilled blockchain developers, according to job search sites and research firms. That paucity of talent is one of the major stumbling blocks for companies hoping to deploy blockchain. For those with blockchain skills, the job market is red hot.

In February, the online job search site Hired reported demand for blockchain engineers was “through the roof,” with year-over-year growth of more than 200%.

Hired’s jobs report, which was in line with earlier reports from LinkedIn and jobs market research firms Burning Glass Technologies and Janco Associates, shows software engineers with blockchain skills are in higher demand than at any time in the past, with the number of positions growing more than five-fold in the past year.

While blockchain engineering is the most in-demand skill on the Hired marketplace, only 12% of those surveyed by the firm earlier this year identified blockchain as the top technology they want to learn. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents named Python as one of their most-liked languages, 49% cited Javascript and 19% named. PHP.

Another problem affecting the mismatch between the need for blockchain developers and the scarcity of available workers is the difficulty in finding places that offer training, according to Hired CEO Mehul Patel. In general, one in five software engineers is self-taught, according to Hired’s data.

“I think generally we are seeing less than half of engineers we looked at had a B.S. degree and one-fifth of them had gone through a year and a half of school. So, one-third of our engineering base are self-taught or taught through non-traditional means,” Patel said.



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