FlipSwitch Advances Online Learning

Leveraging technology is front and center in efforts to improve the quality of education in the United States. A prime example is a company called FlipSwitch. The company has developed one of the world’s foremost online learning platforms for middle and high schools. It was created with a vision of offering students the most comprehensive online education possible to effectively address the needs of today’s teenage learner. Prospective users include charter management companies, education management companies, public school districts, and individual public and charter schools.

The FlipSwitch platform enables schools to create, implement and manage a range of online programs including 100% online, blended learning, summer school, credit recovery, core classes, electives, advanced placement and curriculum enhancement. It accommodates many different learning styles as well as group collaboration and extensive teacher interaction to provide feedback, guidance and encouragement to every student, every step of the way. This advanced online learning technology integrates a Student Information System, Parent Student Portal, Learning Management System and extensive curriculum.

FlipSwitch is the result of more than 10 years of research and development in the online learning industry through collaboration with administrators, teachers and students. Today, FlipSwitch continues to evolve with state-of-the-art products, professional consulting and real-world training services that assist schools in the creation and management of successful online learning programs.

Click here to learn more.

IMPACT13 Keynoters Announced

To be held at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, September 25 – 27, 2013, IMPACT13 will include high-impact addresses as well as breakout session on advertising, mobile, strategy, analytics, search, technology, email, social, and website. You won’t want to miss our two exciting keynote speakers.

Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos
Entrepreneurship and Revitalizing Downtown Las Vegas
In 1999, at the age of 24, Tony Hsieh sold LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million. He then joined Zappos.com (based in Henderson, NV) as an advisor and investor, ultimately becoming CEO. Tony helped grow the company from almost no sales to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually, while making Fortune magazine’s annual Best Companies to Work For list. In November 2009, the firm was acquired by Amazon.com in a deal valued at $1.2 billion on the day of closing.

Bryan Sandoval, Governor, Nevada
How Nevada Uses Internet Marketing to Simulate Economic Growth
Brian Sandoval was elected Governor on November 2, 2010, after serving as United States District Judge for the District of Nevada as appointed by President George W. Bush in October 2005 to become the state’s first Hispanic federal judge. He also served as Nevada Attorney General and on several important state boards and commissions, including the Cyber-Crime Task Force. At the age of 35, he was the youngest person to serve as chairman of the state’s Gaming Commission.

Early-Bird Registration Deadline: July 15, 2013
Awards Entry Deadline: August 17, 2013

Click here for complete details.

Sustainable SEO Strategy

How can you position yourself in a way that would allow your business to be future proof? We all know that what works well for SEO today is going to change tomorrow. Whether it’s being good with Google, managing social signals, getting the right analytics in place, UX design or just plain innovating to ensure that you’re ahead of the curve, you constantly need to be at it so that it’s moving in the right direction.

SEO is about marketing. It’s about marketing online and getting your business to the people who want to use it. The most direct clues you can pick up about your marketing efforts won’t necessarily come from your analytics program. Your sales team will know exactly how your customers are reacting to your choices. And, even better, they will advise you on what they want to see on the website. Go ahead and ask what your clients have on their website, see what their teams are doing, pick the best of their ideas and try to implement them into your strategy.

Make contact lists. You can use email forms, Facebook pages and Twitter followers. Other options like Pinterest and YouTube may not necessarily suite your business requirements. However, keep building your lists. Not only do social building efforts have an effect on your brand image with search engines, they also allow you direct contact with your clients. You will be able to directly learn from them and keep innovating your product line to suit what your demographic needs. In our view, the biggest advantage of building lists is that it allows you to be agnostic to search engine updates and ready for the long run no matter what.

Link maximization. There’s a new animal from Google’s bestiary about to make a walk onto the field. It’s a Penguin with a 2.0 outlook. The new Penguin is designed to clean out link spammers. Google doesn’t like to get fooled by people gaming the algorithm and continually uses new techniques to weed out the bad guys. If you’ve been using software to build links to your website, you need to watch out. Google launched a link disavow tool, and you should use it to remove links that you feel are not in your best interest. These are links from websites that are not naturally in your neighborhood. For example, if you notice that you are getting links from a website that has more posts about medical products or adult themes, you should ask Google to disavow the link. Keep in mind there are a lot of people who continually use the disavow tool, and Google now naturally understands what bad neighborhoods are. If you’re continually getting links from those websites, don’t expect your website to do well.

Clean content. Ensure that the new content you are putting on your website is not just for search engine ranks but has an overview for all the customers that will use your website. For example, if your website is about food, you may naturally have something written about travel even though the two are not necessarily related. Make sure your content is original and that you’re adding regularly. This isn’t just an idea that works for search engines. It also naturally works well for your customers.

Write good content. Ensure that you cover current and relevant trends. Visitors will read your content, stay longer on your website and return. These demographics are easy to track for Google. For example, if the first search result always causes the user to search for the same term again and then not search after he has visited say the tenth website, Google understands that the website at results number one isn’t covering what the users wants to know but the tenth one is and will automatically start pushing the tenth one up in the results.

Most of the tips we have suggested are quite natural in terms of progression for your website and will happen over the course of time for any business. Just as in real life a brand would make a name for itself over varied references and marketing efforts, it’s much the same online. By spending time and effort, you will naturally come out on top!

IndieFlix Launches Anti-Bullying Film

IndieFlix has announced the debut of the award-winning, anti-bullying documentary, “Finding Kind,” running through May 24 on the IndieFlix.com website and on the IndieFlix apps for Xbox and Roku.

The 77-minute documentary, written and directed by filmmakers Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson, addresses female bullying straight on. The film features powerful stories of real girls filmed in the Truth Booth and provides strategies for how to survive being bullied as well as compelling reasons to help stop the bullying epidemic.

In just one year, IndieFlix has enabled “Finding Kind” screenings in over 600 schools and communities around the United States. Schools have shared stories of how much better and compassionate their communities are after seeing the film, and the number of girls who have expressed their gratitude is countless.

“With two daughters of my own, I have made protecting children a priority of mine throughout my career. As attorney general, I appreciate the message of ‘Finding Kind’ and encourage parents and educators to use this documentary as a powerful tool to address this important topic with children. Fundamentally, this is a film that encourages tolerance and promotes kindness, stimulating conversation within families and communities about putting a stop to bullying behavior once and for all.” Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire

“I have been an educator for many years, and I have never witnessed a more transformative assembly.” Janna Jennings, Whitman College

“I just wanted to say, from the perspective of a mother and now grandmother of girls, this is a long time coming. I can still remember the suffering of my teen years from girls being mean. And I have seen my girls go through it with very little I could offer them for relief, as I didn’t have any myself. Women need to be friends and be kind to one another. We should be an asset to one another. It’s universal, of beauty, economic status, or race. BE KIND.” Kathy Beckwith, mother and grandmother

New subscribers to IndieFlix can watch the film free for seven days. Plus, 30% of all subscription fees paid by people who watch the film go to help create Kind Kits for distribution in schools.

Washington DC Advocacy Trip

The first special advocacy trip to Washington, DC, hosted by the Internet Marketing Association (IMA) took place April 23-25. The visit offered an exclusive opportunity for an intimate delegation to participate in a series of seminars and meetings with key decision makers.

Featured participants and speakers included:

» Congressman Bob Latta, Vice Chairman, Communications and Technology Subcommittee
» Congressman Adam Schiff, Member, House Appropriations Committee and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
» Brett DeWitt, Senior Policy Advisor to Mike McCaul, Chairman, Homeland Security Committee
» Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Member, Homeland Security Committee
» Congressman Buck McKeon, Chairman, Armed Services Committee
» Alex Silbey, President, ATS Communications
» Joyce McAllister, USMC/USN Liaison, USA, Meggitt
» Lisbeth Lyons, Vice President, Government Affairs, Printing Industries of America
» Julie Shaffer, Vice President, Digital Technologies, Printing Industries of America

The group also traveled to the Hill for meetings with key members of Congress with influence on matters related to the Internet, Internet marketing, social media policies, cyber security and related issues. In addition, the agenda included discussion on ways that IMA can help drive forward policies in these areas.

Click here for a photo gallery from the event.

Black Hat or White Hat SEO?

You’ve probably heard about search engine optimization being divided into two camps, “white hat” and “black hat.” The distinction between the two changes over time. However, there’s always an approach you can choose based on the target you have in mind and your mind-set. Today, we’ll look at how these camps stand apart and what you need to know to make a better decision on the course you want to take.

While we are going to speak about both black and white hat SEO, when we talk about black hat, we are talking about tactics and rules that are not part of Google’s set – activities like hacking websites and other outright illegal methods. To be clear, while we are putting general ethics aside, we are definitely not endorsing any activities that are illegal.

Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO refers to various methods of rapidly gaming Google into believing that your website is as genuine as the established players. Keep in mind that, while these may work, they are generally short lived and Google is getting far better at catching on to these tactics. Google is on a continued offensive to find people who are trying to con their domains up in the rankings. That being said, here are a few tactics that are in use.

Link farms – These are websites that are programmed to link to each other within the group. They are obviously quite easy for search engines to catch onto.

Blog and forum spam – There are automated programs available that will visit several websites and submit comments while leaving a backlink to other websites. These are generally nonsensical comments which are easily caught and removed manually.

Hidden text – This is the practice of having links within pages and then hiding those links by using color or blocking the block via CSS so human visitors can’t view the links but search engine spiders can.

Cloaked and doorway pages – Cloaking is illegal and is the activity of presenting one version of a web page to search engines while showing completely different text to human visitors. Doorway pages refers to webpages with some text for search engines and some programming for web browsers that will redirect to a different domain. Both these activities will result in domains being kicked out of Google if caught!

White Hat SEO

White hat SEO means using methods that are okay with search engines and avoiding automated pages or any of the methods mentioned above. While some agencies will tell you that they use only white hat methods to ensure your pages never slip in search results, keep in mind that these terms are often changing. For example, it used to be acceptable to have keyword-rich domains, links in the footer or paid links with no penalties until quite recently. Now all these activities are frowned upon.

Guest blogging – The process of writing posts for other websites in return for a link to your website will help your rankings and generate relevant traffic as well.

Viral campaigns – If you have ideas and infographics to share on your website that are of importance to your industry, you can be sure they will be shared, tweeted, bookmarked and passed along.

On-page optimization – Ensure that your pages have the correct titles, are named correctly, have well written HTML and do not employ hidden links.

Well written posts – Make sure your domain has regularly updated and well written content. The more relevant your posts, the more traffic you can get from search engines. A five-page domain can attract only so much traffic.

Sitemaps and internal links – Have a sitemap that search engines can use to link all the pages in your website. The easier you make it for content to be found, the quicker you can get indexed and bring visitors onto those pages.

SEO is an evolving field, and there may never be a clear-cut definition of what is right and ethical. However, following a slow and steady link building practice from relevant domains will never get you into trouble. There are tempting advantages of black hat SEO. It may allow your domain to get ranked quickly, but you may tank just as quickly. At the end of the day, your moral compass allows you to decide on which side you want to be and how much risk you want to take with your marketing campaigns.

Need to Brush Up on Your Internet Marketing Knowledge?

The IMA Certified Internet Marketer (CIM) professional certification program provides participants with the foundational Internet marketing education needed to succeed in today’s fast-changing online business environment.

Participants will learn from experienced Internet marketing practitioners. These practitioners draw from decades of combined Internet marketing experience at pioneering companies such as Microsoft, Omniture, Adobe, Foresee, Ancestry.com and others. The roster of instructors includes both senior marketing leaders as well as a published author on web analytics who share their expertise to provide program participants with highly sought-after information delivered with the ease and convenience of an online learning platform.

Click here for more information on IMA Certified Internet Marketer certification.

Ireland Trip Offers Unique Opportunity

This event is reaching capacity and will sell out. So reserve your spot now.

Ireland will proudly welcome the Internet Marketing Association to its shores in June 2013. This special event will be led by the IMA’s friend, the Honorable M. Finbar Hill, Hon. Consul General of Ireland in Southern California since 2002. During our journey, Finbar will explain the development of a small island on the northwest corner of Europe from its origins in the mists of time to its leading role today in business, digital and social media.

We will share in Ireland’s culture, history and love of sport and meet business, political and cultural leaders at a time when Ireland holds the Presidency of the EU. We will interact with business and political leaders at special receptions and learn about opportunities afforded in Ireland for business development, with tax incentives, throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Whether you come from the Irish diaspora or elsewhere, join us for business, fun and laughter in convivial surroundings with fellow leaders of the IMA.

Click here for more details and to RSVP, contact Deirdre O’Neill Machin at deirdre@the-oneillgroup.com.

Save the Date!

IMA Impact 13
September 25-27, 2013
Aria Resort & Casino
CityCenter, Las Vegas

The 2012 IMA Conference and Awards held this past September at CityCenter in Las Vegas was a landmark for the Internet marketing industry. This year, we’re raising the bar to make the event even more memorable and valuable!

Impact 13 will again be a three-day event in the breathtaking environment of CityCenter, featuring distinguished keynote speakers on vital Internet marketing topics, a series of breakout sessions presented by the industry’s leading experts, and the 2013 Impact Awards dinner.

The Internet Marketing Association is one of the fastest growing professional organizations in the world. Its mission is to provide a unique knowledge-sharing platform where proven Internet marketing strategies are demonstrated and shared in to increase each member’s value to their industry and their organization.

Don’t miss this extraordinary event focused on innovation, education and recognition.

Protecting Your Valuable Brand: The Importance of Trademarks

Benefits of Registration

As an Internet marketer, you know the importance of developing brand recognition. The brand is usually part of a company’s web site address. It is often entered into search engines to find a company, its products and services. Since the brand is vital to how a company’s consumer traffic is generated on the Internet, what should a company do to protect its brand? One of the simplest and best things to do is to use and register your brand as a trademark.

In the U.S., the process for registering a trademark begins with the filing of an application for the mark and the associated goods and/or services with the United States Patent & Trademark Office. The application is examined and assuming no issues approved for publication. The application is then published, allowing time for third parties to object to the registration. Again, assuming no objections, if the mark is in use and a declaration of use has been filed and accepted, a Certificate of Registration is issued. Once a registration is issued, the registrant obtains additional rights in its mark for the goods or services identified in the registration certificate. These additional rights increase the registrant’s ability to deter and/or prevent others from using the mark – which is really what protection is all about.

A trademark owner only has rights in its mark in the areas of the country in which it has used its mark or has an established reputation. Federal registration grants nationwide rights, subject to a limited defense for a user in good faith who can establish use prior to the complaining party’s application filing date. Thus, a registrant has the ability to stop subsequent users of its mark throughout the United States, provided it can establish a likelihood of confusion.

By obtaining a federal registration, a registrant also increases the mechanisms for deterrence against an unauthorized use. First, a registrant is able to use the ® symbol in association with the mark. Use of the ® symbol is in some cases enough to prevent a would-be infringer. Second, as part of the registration process, an applied for mark is compared with already existing registrations and pending applications, and if the applied for mark is likely to cause confusion with an already existing registration, registration of the applied for mark will be refused, which often causes the applicant to decide not to use the applied for mark. Third, a clearance search is often conducted when companies are developing new brands to find bars to use of the proposed mark. A federal registration shows up on such a search, often causing a mark confusingly similar to registrant’s mark to not be chosen. Fourth, if improper use of the mark in a domain name or on a social media site occurs, a federal registration enables the registrant to prove its rights in the mark under the ICANN Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution Policy to stop cyber squatters and under the various social media site policies to stop misuse of the mark. Lastly, a registrant can register its mark registered on the Principal Register with the U.S. Customs Service and have the Service assist in stopping counterfeit goods from entering the United States.

A registrant may also be able to claim the U.S. filing date as a priority date for applications filed in foreign jurisdictions if such applications are filed within six months of the U.S. filing date. Trademark rights are geographically based. In many countries, unlike the United States, trademark rights are only created upon registration of the trademark. The earlier priority dates can often make a difference in obtaining the foreign registration and the resulting trademark rights in a foreign country, an important benefit in the increasingly global marketplace.

Obtaining a federal registration also gives the registrant the automatic right to sue in U.S. federal courts for unauthorized use of the mark and certain evidentiary presumptions which ease registrant’s burden in litigation. A registrant can also make an elective filing after five years of continuous use after registration which limits the grounds of challenge to its mark. These rights may only be needed when faced with litigation, but if litigation does arise, having these rights helps the registrant protect its brand in the litigation.

These rights obtained upon federal registration are why registering a trademark assists a company in protecting its brand. Isn’t your brand worth it?