Tag s | Technology

Does Google Like Your Web Site?

In case you missed it, on April 21st Google changed how they rank web site searches. If a site is not “mobile-friendly” it will no longer be ranked higher than one that is “mobile-friendly.” Some were calling this “mobilegeddon” because of the impact it would have.

What Does Mobile-Friendly Mean?

This refers to whether or not your site is optimized for a smart-phone screen. Sites that have what is called “responsive design” will recognize what type of device is looking at the information and change the image that is sent to that device.

This usually means that the menu changes from a bar across the top or side into a button near the top of the page that can be touched with a finger and the menu drops down. Also the page itself reformats itself to fit the screen. (Use your smartphone and type in www.enclavepublishing.com and see what it looks like versus what it looks like on a regular screen.)

To those of us who remember the early days of the Internet and HTML code it seems a bit like magic!

By the way, “mobile-friendly” does not include tablets, laptops, or desktops because those devices have large enough screens that the special responsive design is not needed.

Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

It is very easy to check and see if your site is compliant.

Go to the following Google site (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/) and type in the web site you want to check. The page will show you what yours looks like on a smart phone screen, if you didn’t already know.

Out of curiosity I tested about thirty author web sites to see what happened. Over half of them were not mobile-friendly. This means that the Google algorithm will move those unfriendly sites down the page. The sites that are friendly will be given priority.

This may not affect you at all because your topic is unique or your name is unusual enough that there is no danger of another site gaining ascendency.

Mine Is NOT “Friendly” what do I do?

For some authors their web site was designed and put up a long time ago. And it works, so why mess with it? It may be time to invest in a new design.

If you have a web master, talk to them about the cost of converting to a responsive design.

If you already use WordPress, but it uses a non-friendly “Theme” you might be able to convert the content of your site to another one without as much trouble.

Since I’m not an expert I would recommend someone like Laura Christianson over at Blogging Bistro who wrote an excellent article on this question a couple months ago (click here to read it).

Avoid the “I’ll Do it Someday” Syndrome

If you are one of those affected, I’m sorry. But try not to procrastinate. The power of the Internet is critical to you and your work being found. We cannot ignore the fact that Apple sold 74.83 million iPhones…last quarter (in three months). And Samsung sold 73.03 million phones …last quarter. That is equal to 10 phones PER PERSON for everyone living in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City combined.

Investing in your web site is sort of like a retail store investing in a good cash register. It is possible to do business out of shoe box, but it probably isn’t a good idea.

Plus you want to make your site inviting and engaging with everyone who comes to visit. Make each screen feel welcome.

Your Turn

Do you have a web master you would like to recommend?

Is your site mobile-friendly? If so, how hard was it to make yours “responsive”?


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A Scrivener Flunky Weighs In

A Guest Post by Deborah Raney

I’m probably not the best spokesperson for Scrivener, the popular novel writing software program from Literature and Latte, because I certainly don’t use Scrivener to its maximum capabilities. I don’t even actually write my novel in Scrivener. I still use Pages––Mac’s version of Word––to write the manuscript, although I do copy the manuscript into the program once I have a final version, just to keep my project all in one place.

I also don’t know how to use Scrivener for formatting e-books, etc., so I’m truly not an expert on it. Yet. I do love the software enough that I have a tutorial I paid good money for on my desktop, and I hope to work through it as soon as I get my work in progress off to my editor.

Despite my lack of expertise with Scrivener, I am an enthusiastic fan of the software, and I can testify that it is a great program, even for those who haven’t yet figured out all the bells and whistles Scrivener has to offer.

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E-Readers, Tablets and Bears, Oh My

The latest data from the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project released this Fall and confirmed in solid data what we all know to be true…that e-Book readers and tablets are becoming more prevalent in American society.

In a scientific survey conducted five times since May, 2010, the Pew Research Center concluded as of September 2013 that 24% of Americans age 16 and older have a dedicated e-Book reader (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc.) and 35% have a tablet computer (like an iPad, etc.).  Furthermore, 43% of those 16+ have one or the other, so a number of people have both.

Compared to the last survey taken in November 2012, this one reveals a 26% increase in ownership of e-Book readers and a 40% increase in ownership of tablets in the last ten months.

So who owns these things anyway?

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J is for Just-in-Time

by Steve Laube

The economics of bookselling are complex and ever changing. There is a method of inventory control called “Just-in-Time” (or JIT) that has revolutionized both the retail and manufacturing industries.

When I began as a bookseller there was no such thing as computerized inventory, at least not in the Christian bookstore business. We used a method call “Stack ‘em high and watch ‘em fly.” Because “If you stack ‘em low, they won’t go.” The idea was to merchandise large amounts of inventory because there was no quick way to replenish your stock if you ran out.

We had sheets of paper with a list of “Never Out” titles in books and music. Weekly we would physically count the remaining stock and if our inventory on a title fell below a particular level we would order more. This was our attempt to time our inventory to match the consumer demand. Titles not on the list would be reordered when that publisher’s sales rep came to visit. The rep would inventory the store and together we would determine what titles to replenish and which ones to let disappear.

Technology Caused Disruption
Computerization changed everything. Using an algorithm the computer determined the speed, or rate, of sale for each title and created order quantities to match the projected demand. This was called “Just-in-Time.” The inventory would arrive just in time to meet the customer wanting that book.

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HAL 9000 Writes a Book

Since most readers of this blog are writers, this might just ruin your day.

A company called Narrative Science started as a research project with Northwestern University computer science and journalism students. (The Medill School of Journalism is arguably the best in the country)  It was called StatsMonkey.

StatsMonkey was a computer program that automatically generated a usable text recap of a baseball game pulling data from a simple baseball box-score.  A newspaper story written by a computer actually worked well…really well.

An initial round of funding in 2010 started the ball rolling and today, Narrative Science (www.narrativescience.com) employs top programmers who have built an entirely new artificial intelligence writing platform called Quill.

They have won awards, they have numerous top clients using the service to generate news reports, social-media posts and other various quick generated communication and recently received another $11.5 million in additional investment.

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One Day at a Time Technology

Computers are the perfect example of something we learn about and then must constantly update that knowledge. It’s like we have all had to become scientists or doctors. Just a few years ago, computer storage was measured in megabytes. Then it reached a thousand megabytes and we moved on to gigabytes. When we reach a thousand gigabytes we need terabytes.

As a public service, here is something to memorize so you can be as smart as a fourth grader:

1 Bit = Binary Digit

8 Bits = 1 Byte

1000 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte
1000 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte
1000 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte
1000 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte
1000 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte
1000 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte
1000 Exabytes = 1 Zettabyte
1000 Zettabytes = 1 Yottabyte
1000 Yottabytes = 1 Brontobyte
1000 Brontobytes = 1 Geopbyte

In the 90’s when everyone needed to have a website, we all learned the same thing…that just having a website wasn’t enough.  We needed to update it every month, then every week, then every day just to keep the traffic growing.

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Email Gaffes

Do you think what you send across the Internet is private as long as you’re careful? Think again. Here are just a few things that have happened over the years to some of my friends, and to myself:

I didn’t realize Auto-Complete would send my mail to the wrong person

We’ve all misdirected mail when we have people with a similar name in our address books. Steve Laube shared a story with me that happened years ago:

Many years ago I sent contract questions, in an attachment, to an author instead of a publishing executive. The problem was that the author was not associated in any way with that particular deal. Both had the same first name and the computer filled in the rest without me checking carefully. The author was gracious and let me know he did not open the attachment and deleted the email.

A lesson we have all had to learn, the hard way. One way to prevent it is to turn off the Auto-complete feature. Or better yet, double check everything before hitting the “send” button.

I thought the message I sent in response to a loop post was just going to one person but it went to the loop.

Maybe. Maybe not. I’m on several loops, and I can never remember without referring to the address field. Always, always, always check before dashing off a message meant for one pair of eyes only. And while you’re at it, think about the message itself. If it’s a deep, dark secret, should it be addressed in an email? Again, maybe going offline would be better.

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It’s A Brave New World

I’ve been in publishing for lo, these many years (over 30), so you’d think the work would be pretty much second nature for me. No so! In fact, just this last week I did something completely new!

I edited a book, in four days, using Skype and Dropbox.

The amazing thing about this isn’t that the author and I got the book done so quickly, but that it was SO MUCH FUN! We parked on Skype for hours, so that if I had questions as I edited a chapter, I could just ask him, and if he had questions about the editing, he could just ask me. It was like being in the same room together, but without the expense or stress of travel. And I discovered that doing the edit this way gave me a fresher understanding of what the author wanted to say. It also enabled us to do a bit of arm wrestling when we disagreed on something, but to do so with humor and kindness. When you deal with issues over the phone or in email, you always run the risk of misunderstanding because folks can’t see your expressions or body language, or hear the tone of your voice. With Skype, those risks were gone, so we handled a couple of sensitive issues without frustration or misunderstanding.

And that, my friends, is a miracle!

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