November 1, 2014

Why major retailers are not accepting Apple Pay

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — More major retailers have stopped accepting Apple’s mobile payment system, Apple Pay.

CVS and Rite Aid have stopped accepting Apple Pay, dragging customers into a confusing and annoying fight over payment politics.

The drug stores are part of a consortium of major retailers who oppose mobile payment technology like Apple Pay, mainly for two reasons.

One, they want to escape the 1.5% to 3% fees they pay every time you swipe your credit card. Two, they want to keep collecting data on shoppers.

To do this, the group started the Merchant Customer Exchange to develop their own payment network. The network is called CurrentC, and while it’s only a coupon-and-rewards smartphone app now, it’s designed to one day let you pay at the register without using your credit card.

Wal-Mart led the effort to develop this, and it’s been joined by Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dunkin Donuts, Gap, Publix, Sears, Shell, Wendy’s and many more. And — surprise — no member of this group accepts Apple Pay.

The result? There’s a quiet battle underway over back-end banking systems you largely don’t know or care about.

On one side, there’s MCX, which boasts an impressive army of shops. By its account, there are 110,000-plus locations that process more than $1 trillion in payments a year.

On the other side are Silicon Valley giants, major banks and a few dozen brands that are trying to popularize this wireless technology.

The new iPhone 6 includes a tap-to-pay feature that works at any cash register equipped with something called Near Field Communication technology. It works at McDonald’s, Starbucks and others.

But while CVS and Rite Aid have the radio wave sensors at registers, they recently turned it off. Customers using any NFC technology — Apple Pay, Google Wallet, or Softcard among others — will now get rejected at the register and told to pay another way.

Rite Aid flipped the switch without warning Friday midday, and CVS followed suit late Friday night, according to a payment industry firm that was alerted at the time.

On Monday, both CVS and Rite Aid defended their decision to switch off NFC payments. Representatives at both companies said they are currently “evaluating mobile payment options.”

Meanwhile, MasterCard noted that customers are worse off as a result.

“We believe that people should be able to choose how they want to pay. We are disappointed that both Rite Aid and CVS have decided to block their customers from using the payment method of their choice,” the company said in a statement.

Those familiar with this ongoing behind-the-scenes battle say retailers taking an anti-NFC stance are being shortsighted.

“It’s very self-serving to the merchants. They’re looking at their profits, versus looking at what’s best for the consumer,” said Ralph Dangelmaier, CEO of e-commerce payment software maker BlueSnap.

MCX did not return calls for comment. NFC expert Doug Yeager thinks tap-to-pay technology will win eventually anyway.

“Long term, most MCX merchants will cave in,” Yeager said. “At the end of the day, what’s more important? Selling items or trying to do it your way?”

But until then, expect a nonsense patchwork of payment options.

Microsoft Unvails Windows 10: Nine things you need to know

Windows 8 has had a bit of a tumultuous run, something Microsoft is hoping to turn around with Windows 10. We got a brief glimpse at a Microsoft event on Tuesday, and while it did prove to be a tantalizing look at what’s in store, there are still plenty of questions floating around, and a lot more to figure out before the final product is sitting on our hard drives.

If you’ve got questions, we’ve got some answers on the latest step for Windows.
Professional Website Design Company | Website Development Services

1. When can I upgrade? And how much will it cost?

Microsoft expects to release the OS sometime in 2015, after the company’s Build developer conference in April. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can sign up for the Windows Insider Program on October 1 to get your hands on the early (and likely buggy) preview build. The cost for the retail version has yet to be determined.

2. Windows 10? What happened to Windows 9?

Windows 7 ate 9. (I kid.) Microsoft wants us to think of the latest version as a fundamental change to how Windows works, and the company is skipping a version number to show it.

3. I’ve got a desktop, and a tablet. How will that work?

Windows 10 isn’t just about PCs. The operating system will run on everything from desktops all the way down to smartphones, and the user interface will adjust accordingly.

4. What about apps?

Apps will be coming along for the ride too, though Microsoft hasn’t explained how that’s going to work. We do know that you’ll be able to buy one app from the Windows Store and expect it to run on all your devices. Developers will presumably need to make universal apps that will adjust their look and feel, depending on your devices size and capabilities.

5. Those full-screen “Modern” apps were a pain. Are they still around?

Those touch-friendly, full-screen apps that debuted with Windows 8 were alternately known as the “Metro” or “Modern” design. For Windows 10, full-screen apps will be optional. Let’s say you’re using a convertible 2-in-1 device, like the Surface Pro 3, for example. When the keyboard is docked, you’ll see the standard desktop with Windows 10’s “new” old-school Start menu. Once you take the device off of the keyboard base, the OS will allow you to switch to the finger-friendly full screen mode Windows 8 users are likely familiar with.

6. I actually liked those Modern apps, and bought a few. Are they still around?

It’s too soon to say how Windows 8 developers will react to the changes, but Microsoft did show some of its own full-screen Modern apps operating in a windowed mode.

7. And the Start menu?

If you hated Windows 8’s full-screen Start screen, you’re in luck: the new Start menu harkens back to the good old days, sitting on the left side of the screen and presenting that familiar pop-up column of shortcuts. And if you liked Windows 8’s approach, there’s something here for you too: the new menu will incorporate Live Tiles and can be customized.

8. Never mind the apps — I need to get things done. Any improvements on that front?

Windows 10 beefs up Snap, the function that lets you quickly arrange apps side by side, with a new quadrant layout that lets you split your display up among up to four apps. There’s also support for multiple desktops (finally), so you can keep all your work apps in one place and quickly slide back to the desktop with your blogs and Reddit once your boss walks away. And then there’s the task view button that lives on the taskbar. Click it, and you’ll get a quick look at all of your open files, windows, and desktops.

9. Will Windows 10 run on my machine?

It’s too early to say. Windows 8.1 did introduce 64-bit computing requirements that ruled out some ancient processors, but it otherwise played well with PCs that weren’t too old. Suffice to say, if you’re picking up a newer device any time between now and Windows 10’s release next year, you should be good to go. Once again, if you’re willing to take risks, you can check out the Windows Insider Program for an early look.

Does Your Website Look Right on Mobile Devices?

Is Your Website Responsive and Mobile Ready?

As more and more smartphone and tablet use increases so does the importance of having a mobile-friendly website. If SEO is part of your digital marketing strategy then having a mobile–friendly website is essential. Having one website that works on many devices provides the user a better user experience.

Considering that there is a large range of mobile devices and browsers surfing the Internet now is the time that you should really consider making your website mobile compatible. Mobile website views have increased by more than 100% over the last year and responsive design ensures that visitors have a great experience on whatever platform they are using. Responsive web design is a website that is designed to resize and adjust to fit on any size web browser, smartphones or tablets.

If your website is not prepared then you’re missing a major audience.

Responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).

What is responsive design? Watch the video. Test to see if your website is responsive by entering your website address on this test page.

If you need a responsive website give us a call at (800) 796-3683 or use our contact form.

Topics Not Keywords = The Future of SEO

Over the last three years we have seen a shift in search engine optimization, especially with the release of Google Penguin in early 2012. Now and moving forward into the future of SEO, topics are the focus rather than keywords.

In essence this means that keywords are still here to stay, but as the future of SEO comes into clearer focus we can see that topics instead of keywords is the answer to Google’s push for more content. The new approach is no longer an emphasis on specific keywords, but the broader view that topics will provide. Keywords are limiting and topics provide a wealth of information!

Here’s why.

What Topics Mean For Search

The new Google algorithm is based upon the needs of users and what they are finding to be the most useful to them according to Search Engine Watch. The focus is to create the best possible experience online in the most efficient way possible.

Today’s content marketer must build credibility and establish themselves as an authority as a result of these changes. The best approach is to know what your target audience is seeking then delivering quality content to them as an expert resource. The is where topic become king over keywords.

What is “Theme-Based SEO?”

Theme-based SEO is about delivering topics for users instead of stuffing keywords into content. This strategy creates a “theme,” and optimization means using this approach rather than the old method of only focusing on the keywords.

Organic search is more important than ever, and Google has taken a firm stance against keyword stuffing and the over-use of optimization. This directly affects a website’s ranking, and could result in being removed from search results.

Instead of using too many keywords in your content, focus more on themes through keywords topics in order to create more natural results. This will be more favorable to Google as well.

Know Your Target Audience

Content marketing is all about knowing who your audience is which includes their needs, demographics, the latest trends, ect. This information will show what topics they are interested in, which makes your strategy much more effective than keyword-based SEO.

When the focus is just on keywords your strategy is restricted and will leave out what your audience wants the most. It’s vital to know what is relevant to them in a way that is informative, educational, and inviting. People no longer want a sales pitch, and a landing page can be quickly abandoned as a result leaving a very low ranking.

Topic-Based Content Is Key

Quality content begins with a natural approach that is desirable to your target audience and search engines. Think about this – stuffing a lot of keywords into your blog post is not only a turn-off for readers, but has a very low ROI. Your response is much greater when creating content based on a topic or theme instead.

How to Get Started

There are several strategies to use when creating memorable, organic content that your audience and search engines will love.

1. Research your niche

This might sound simple, and it can be when conducted the right way. When tapping into tools like Google Keyword Planner you will discover the main keywords that identify with a theme. This can include anywhere from 30 – 50 keywords, which can be spread out throughout your theme to create a more natural approach.

2. Create an optimization

The next important step is to focus on your core keywords, which includes long-tail keywords, and use several variations in your content. Don’t worry about being exact, just match these as closely as possible in order to appear less mechanical in your writing.

3. Go through an editing process

After writing your blog post it is a good idea to edit your work to make sure too many of the same keywords are not being used. Sometimes this process can be made easier by reading your article out loud. You will be surprised at how this can help refine and eliminate unnecessary keywords.

4. Focus on your tags

The meta description, H tags, description, and title are still important to SEO. The heading especially should begin in a natural flow without a sales pitch, and it is a good idea to keep your description to a maximum of 160 characters for Google search display.

5. Link building is still okay

Choose references that are relevant to your topic as well as credible. Google prefers anchor text of certain words and need to flow or make sense for your article.

Topics and themes are the next generation for content curation and SEO. This is an exciting time for blogs as we are no longer hindered by focusing on just keywords, but rather create new possibilities in audience reach through this new approach. Variety is the spice of the life, and allows for more creativity and an opportunity to build your brand or business as a leading authority in your niche.

How to Ruin Your Website and Ensure Your Customers Never Return

By Jamin Andrews

Professional Website Design Company | Website Development ServicesIt probably won’t surprise you to know that according to the stats specialists from Marketing Grader, a majority of websites are underperforming when it comes to overall design, content, performance and usability. Resulting in an unpopular, unloved and unvisited website.

There are a few things that can do wrong when creating and maintaining your website, below we mention a few things that you can do to ruin your website. But mostly importantly we focus on how to avoid or fix these.

1. Hide from Google

Search engines can either be your best friend or worst enemy. By being in Google’s good books you will benefit from ranking higher than your competitors in search results for your keywords. The worst thing you can do for your website is completely ignore SEO.

Solution: You don’t always need to hire a SEO specialist to get ahead of the pack. Ensure your content is relevant to what you do, keep your keywords and keyword phrases top of mind when writing your content (don’t ‘stuff’ your page with keywords – you will be penalised for this), have clear headings on each webpage, tag each image and introduce new content on a regular basis (through a blog).

2. Don’t Have a Clear Purpose

We have all visited those websites that try so hard to be everything to everyone. Instead of focussing on a niche or target market they try a extremely broadened approach, where everyone is their target. By doing this you’re no longer viewed as a specialist or expert in a particular field that you’re probably good at.

Solution: Pick what it is you are promoting/selling and choose who your clients are. Target them, tell your story and forget the rest.

3. Annoy Your Visitors

No-one likes constant pop up ads while they’re trying to navigate their way through a website. Don’t work hard to bring people to your site just to irritate them.

Solution: Popups are never required, if you must promote something do so with a top or side banner ad. Avoid anything animated!

4. Don’t Measure Progress

How do you know how your website is going, compared to 6 months or a year ago? If you’re not setting goals and measuring them you’re in the dark about what’s working and what’s not.

Solution: Use a tool like Google Analytics, it’s free and will provide you indepth results on how your website is tracking including, visits, duration, bounce rate, most visited pages, acquisition and loads more.

5. Overload your homepage

When first creating your homepage it can be overwhelming with trying to flesh out exactly what it is you offer, and what you want your visitors to know. A sure way to ensure your visitors don’t stay on your page for long is by jam packing as much information as possible on your homepage.

Solution: Use a highly visible, easy to navigate menu to divide up your story and offerings. Let your customers pick what information they require by clearly titling each web page and keeping your homepage for the important things.
6. Use loads of fluffy, corporate talk

The easiest way to disengage your audience is by talking to them like a corporate robot. When you first write your content for your site, you must answer the question “what does my customer want?”

Solution: Avoid typical industry jargon and the overuse of fluffy marketing words. Talk to your customer as if they were sitting across from you. Answer the questions they have.

7. Outdated Content

Search engines thrive on new, relevant content. By regularly updating your content you’re not only keeping your visitors in the loop with the most relevant information, but you’re also giving search engines reason to visit more often.

Solution: No you don’t need to change the content on your homepage each month. Create a news, blog or support area on your website where new content can be added daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

You don’t have to be a web professional or SEO whiz to create a standout website that encourages visitors to return. Always think like your customer, and create a website that answers the questions they have, not everything you want to tell them.

For SEO services contact CP Communications