Why Citations Are Important to Your Local Business Listings


Citations are defined as “mentions” of your business name and address on other webpages, even if there is no link to your website. An example of a citation might be an online yellow pages directory where your business is listed, but not linked to. It can also be a local chamber of commerce, or a local business association where your business information can be found, even if they are not linking at all to your website . You may also see the term “web references” used on other websites—a synonym for “citations”.

Citations are a key component of the ranking algorithms of the major search engines. Other factors being equal, businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.

Citations from well-established and well-indexed portals (like Superpages.com for example) help increase the degree of certainty the search engines have about your business’s contact information and categorization. To paraphrase former Arizona Cardinals’ coach Dennis Green, citations help search engines confirm that businesses “are who we thought they were!”

Citations are particularly important in less-competitive niches (like plumbing or electrical) where many service providers don’t have websites themselves. Without much other information, the search engines rely heavily on whatever information they can find!

Citations also validate that a business is part of a community. It’s hard for someone to fake membership in a chamber of commerce or a city or county business index, or to be written about in a local online newspaper or popular blog. Citations (and links) from these kinds of websites can dramatically improve your Local search engine rankings.

Currently, the ‘More About This Business’ section of your Google Place Page is the most complete list of your citations, though Google probably doesn’t show every single one it knows about.

resource: getlisted.org

Americans Spend 16 Minutes of Every Hour Online on Social Nets


By Sharon Gaudin 

Americans are so fixated on social networks that they spend an average of 16 minutes out of every hour on them, according to a study by Experian Marketing Services.
In the U.S., 27% of users’ time online is spent on forums and social networks, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Experian said.

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Experian included both desktop and mobile users in its study.

It found that the U.S. is a bit more hooked on social networks than Internet users in the United Kingdom, who spend 13 minutes of each hour on social nets, and Australians, who spend 14 minutes per hour.

U.S. social networking numbers have held fairly steady over the last few years. Experian reported that social media took up 30% of Americans’ time in 2011 and 27% last year.

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said he’s not surprised that people are spending so much time on Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr, despite the fact that there’s a treasure trove of information elsewhere online.

“Social networking is essentially flat year-to-year, which I think could be a signal that the social networking wave has crested and that the high growth days are gone, at least in the U.S.,” said Olds. “However, social networking is by far the biggest single task occupying people’s online time, which shows that social nets have become an integral part of people’s lives.”

Over the last several years, sites like Facebook and Twitter have gone from being largely used by people who want to post drunken party pictures or cute stories about their cats to sites where users debate politics, support each other during natural disasters and even gather support for political upheaval.

That kind of involvement has lifted the genre head and shoulders above other online activities.

Experian reported that 9 minutes out of the average hour online is spent on entertainment sites; 5 minutes go to online shopping; and about 3 minutes each go to business sites, email and news sites.

The report also noted that about 3 minutes out of an hour are spent on adult entertainment sites.

The Experian study is based on a survey of more than 50,000 mobile users and 10 million Internet users in the U.S. Everyone surveyed was 18 or older.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Hardest Leadership Skill You’ll Ever Learn


By Les McKeown

Here’s a lesson you won’t learn on the fly. It takes practice and a real control of your ego. Check it out.

Any great leader faces a multitude of challenges every day. Whether it’s communicating strategy, helping people through change, holding on to excellence in the face of compromise, or just navigating the leadership environment, there is no shortage of development opportunities lurking in each days schedule.

I’ve worked over the years with leaders on all of the challenges above–and many, many more. But surprisingly, the skill that I see more leaders struggle with more than any other is relatively mundane (but very important): the ability to work with their team as an equal. To be “merely” a resource, rather than the team leader.

As we’ve seen before, many leaders can only operate in one of two modes–in charge, or not there. In other words, once they join their team (virtually or otherwise), the team instantly defers to them, and they take the lead.

Truly great leaders have a third mode: The ability to sit with their team without needing to be in charge, using their subject matter knowledge just the same way as anyone else around the table would.

If you don’t already have it, here’s how to develop that skill:

1. Start with something small. Pick a topic that’s controllable. Don’t start with something that bets the ranch. It’ll only make you anxious, and you’ll end up grabbing the reins back when things lurch off kilter.

2. Start with something you’re not passionate about. Find a topic that doesn’t fire you up. Maybe new employee onboarding rather than redesigning the entire company’s branding, for example. Again, you want to be able to take part in the discussion dispassionately (at least for now).

3. Nominate a leader (and tell them). Put someone else on charge of leading a session on your selected topic. Tell them–and the other meeting participants–in advance, but don’t lobby them. Or tell them how to lead the session. The goal is that you hand over facilitation to someone else, not that they become your glove puppet.

4. Be there. Sit through the entire meeting. Resist the temptation to absent yourself when things get boring or granular. That’s not being a resource, that’s cherry-picking. Everyone else has to work through the detail, and you should, too.

5. Participate. Sitting in stony silence isn’t being a resource any more than dominating the meeting. Participate– hich means contributing when you have something to share that will be helpful to the rest of the group, and staying quiet when you don’t. Others do it, and with practice you can too.

6. Be comfortable with silence. There is a time for silence, however– the point at which everyone expects you to jump in and take over the meeting. Initially everyone will turn to you when a question is asked, or a decision has to be made. Say nothing–not even an explanation of what you’re doing. Jut be quiet, and get comfortable with silence. Let the person you put in charge of the session tease out participation from the rest of the group. If you do it, you’re back in charge.

7. Take an action point or two. When it comes to mopping up the implementation points and doling out responsibility, take on a few for yourself. And don’t cherry pick the “leadery” stuff. Take some granular, janitor-level action points as well. Everyone else has to, and so should you.

8. Resist the temptation to mop up afterward. When the session is over, let things sit as they are. Resist the temptation to email / call / drop in on others and recalibrate the results to reflect what you would have preferred the outcome to be. Do this once and no-one will trust you in a resource role again. They’ll just conclude (rightly) that you’re only pretending.

9. Rinse and repeat. Try it again after a while, this time with something larger, more strategic. Note what works and what doesn’t. Find your own style, you’re own way of “being there”, not just absent or in charge

YouTube Execs Talk Up Paid-Subscription Channels


By Amir Efrati

Google Inc.’s YouTube, the No. 1 video site, on Wednesday publicly talked up the possibility of allowing people who create videos for the site to charge viewers a subscription fee, something it has been discussing privately with video makers and advertisers.

“It’s incredibly important” as a tool to create “additional revenue streams” for makers of Web videos, said Robert Kyncl, a YouTube vice president, at a media roundtable with reporters in Los Angeles. He said that it won’t be easy for video makers to get people to “take out a credit card” before watching a show, but there will be “a lot of experimentation” and, “over time, a lot of people will figure it out.”

However, he added that YouTube had “nothing to announce” in the way of paid subscription channels.

As the rise of advertising dollars to Web video grows more slowly than some industry executives expected and ad rates drop as more ad space becomes available, video content creators are desperately looking for new revenue streams.

Offering a paid subscription channel could work well even for video makers who have “passionate but very narrow audience segments,” said Lucas Watson, head of global sales at YouTube, which on Wednesday said it was being visited by one billion people every month, up from 800 million in late 2011.

The comments come as more big-name celebrities and movie makers begin shooting video that will land on the site. Director Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Prometheus”) announced earlier this month he will make 12 short Sci-Fi films for Machinima, a network of channels on YouTube. A person familiar with that initiative said Mr. Scott’s work is expected to be part of a YouTube channel that would charge viewers a fee.

This week, Simon Cowell of “American Idol” fame said he is launching a YouTube channel for a show about discovering talented performers.

Meanwhile, some YouTube video creators are finding new revenue streams by selling their content to existing cable networks. Last month Nickelodeon said it would co-develop a half-hour sketch comedy show with AwesomenessTV, a fast-growing YouTube channel run by Brian Robbins, creator of shows such as “Smallville.”

YouTube has been paying cash advances to dozens of video makers to create videos for the site and recently expanded the initiative outside the U.S.

On Wednesday YouTube also brought together advertising agency executives and agency clients to an event at its creative studio in Los Angeles in an attempt to get them excited about spending ad money on the site.

“The presentation was great,” said one attendee, “but we’ll see tomorrow when they give us their prices.”