Crockett Dunn, LLC

Crockett Dunn, LLC

helping your presence work for your business

Custom Integration Without Compromise

Case Study: Marki Microwave

Success Story: Custom Integration Without Compromise

By integrating three previously separate systems, CDLLC delivered a platform that offers the highest quality experience for Marki Microwave in their drive to offer an uncompromising and secure customer experience while maintaining the flexibility to self-manage custom website aesthetic features bringing together form and function while harnessing performance and usability.

The Client: Marki Microwave

Marki Microwave is a global leader in the RF and Microwave technology field servicing clients in the aerospace, defense, and commercial spheres.

With a long standing history of providing superior quality in technology and thought-leadership to a demanding industry their client services have to be unfaltering.

When searching for a solution to integrate the multiple systems already in place, there was no out of the box solution that met Marki Microwave’s high standards. They reached out for a tailor made platform to retain ease of use of their blogging system while automating advanced catalog features and allowing for custom control without compromising performance and usability.

The Project: Systems Integration

CDLLC set out to create a custom system that prioritizes the B2B client experience. Features include catalog management with real-time stock and price information, and indexing by technical specifications. Accelerated site speed and elegant aesthetics culminated in the best experience for the customer. All while delivering ease of use, design control, security, search presence, and ultimately customer satisfaction, efficiency, and increased growth potential.

The upgraded website needed to integrate an open source PHP blog providing a straightforward platform to customize design elements and publish the latest research, technical data, and custom applications; their secure active server pages (ASP) catalog management system; the back-end enterprise reporting platform (ERP) with custom pricing tables.

Multiple challenges were surmounted when combining the disparate platforms with 3 different operating systems, databases, and API languages.

The sensitive nature of the organization necessitated sandboxing the less secure open source blogging platform and integrating a highly secure e-commerce platform that serves ERP stock/price data to a public-facing website in the face of modern day security threats such as advanced persistent threats from sophisticated hacker organizations and state actors.

Once the unified systems were working together site speed became paramount. When seconds affect the customer experience impacting engagement and sales, page load had to be maximized. Using a cloud-based caching system created a 10,000 percent page load speed increase resulting in a page load speed for the integrated system faster than any of its individual components.

Founder and lead Solutions Architect, Crockett Dunn, “I implement custom solutions. While other software vendors offer pre fixe systems, I am tailoring solutions catering to each client’s unique needs.”


This article was first published to Medium.

How to Find Out What Company Designed a Website

Ever looked at a competitor’s website and wondered, “How can I find out who designed my competitor’s website?”

Well, it happens a lot in my business, and there’s actually a very simple and easy way to find out. It works 90% of the time, and it takes all of 20 seconds.

Ok, ready?  The trade secret of how to find out who designed someone’s website:

Google “portfolio + business name”

This will  return results including any design or development firms who include this business name in their portfolio.

You can also try “case studies  + business name”

Bluetooth Proximity Unlock from Broadcom/Widcomm- Great in Windows 7… Unsupported by Windows 10??

Why isn’t anyone complaining about the lack of full Windows 10 support for Broadcom’s Widcomm Bluetooth software stack, specifically the Proximity Unlock feature that is supported by Windows 7.  Yes I know, lots of super geeky words here, but doesn’t everyone want workstation security without having to type and retype strong passwords to unlock their workstation?

It’s beautiful, man:

Bluetooth Proximity Unlock Sofware

(above, Windows 7 Bluetooth Device Control Panel, showing device used for proximity unlock)

All I have to do is walk away from my workstation with phone in pocket, and my computer locks.

A quick google search on the topic yields results including links to “how to” articles suggesting third party apps, at least one of which is discontinued.

I had hoped Android’s new smart unlock features (GPS, voice, Bluetooth connection) were an indication that the mainstream valued this type of feature.

File this away with my 2003 gripe about the lack of GPS+Camera+MP3 capability in any single mobile device.  Sigh…  Just like then, maybe today the world is just not ready for the awesomeness of proximity awareness.

Insider Secrets of Online Reputation Management, or, Ecclesiastes & Your Internet Presence

“…small businesses have reached a level of sophistication where they want their Total Web Presence created now, rather than starting out obscure with plans to ‘someday’ have a real online presence.”

When I was a kid and started noticing patterns in life, my mom affirmingly said to me, “There’s nothing new under the sun…  That’s in the Bible, Crockett.”

I just looked it up, and here it is:

Ecclesiastes 1:9
What has been is what will be,
   and what has been done is what will be done,
   and there is nothing new under the sun.

Today, I’ve been running a business working with search engines and web sites since 1994.  I’ve observed many of the “hottest newest best things” come and go… and come again… and again- but with new marketing labels each time:  N-Tier Application Development, Application Service Providers, Software as a Service, Web 2.0, working in “The Cloud” – These are a few examples of stuff that’s pretty much the same as it ever was, just relabeled each time we reach a new level of capability with the development and enhancement of new clients/servers/tools/languages.

My point is that most of what is sold by internet consultants (myself included) is the same stuff that has always been good for business, only repackaged and redefined in a context that is more appealing to our current culture and market.  Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun.

“Hey you promised to give me insider secrets of online reputation management!  Where are you going with this?”

Here is the Insider Secret:  Online Reputation Management is no exception to the “nothing new under the sun” rule.  There, I said it.  There is nothing novel about Online Reputation Management.  It’s all part of any thorough, high-quality, “Total Web Presence,” strategy.  As consultants, we differentiate Website Development, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Off-site Link Campaigns, etc. in order to properly set expectations, compartmentalize ideas, and simplify the concepts of the services we offer, all in the service of not totally blowing the minds (or boring to sleep) of our beloved clients.

Today, however, mainstream internet users and small businesses have reached a level of sophistication where they want their Total Web Presence built and managed now, rather than starting out obscure with plans to “someday “have a real online presence.

That’s what we do at CDLLC.

And I’m happy to tell anyone exactly how we do it.

“What?  Why would you tell me how to do what you want me to pay you for???”

I’ll tell you exactly why.  Engineering a Total Web Presence is a lot of work.  A lot of work that requires lot of time.  And a lot of expertise.  And that expertise takes time to gain.
In addition to the benefit of hiring a specialist, there are other economies of scale, and therefore the simple reality is that it is more cost effective to pay my team to take care of engineering and managing your Total Web Presence than trying to directly manage contractors or do it in-house.

If you are the tinkering type and you do want to take this on yourself, here is some information to get you started.

Do it yourself Total Web Presence Engineering and Monitoring:

* Check your presence on Google/Yahoo/Bing.
Not just your Page Rank, or how high you come up in the search engine result pages (SERPs) for targeted key phrases.  Also build a profile** for you or your business (Google Profile, Yahoo Pulse, Bing Community), and create content in as many of the top 3 providers’ services as possible: Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local (be sure to read the terms of service to avoid getting penalized for being too aggressive with your key phrases). The local listings require telephone or mail validation to “claim” your business listing as well as a few days for the listing to be reviewed, so be patient and don’t forget to follow-up.  You will also need to inform a person who is available to enter or receive a special confirmation PIN by phone, or keep an eye out and not trash the confirmation code that comes in the mail.  There is information freely available online about how to create a positive, optimized local listing.

While you’re in Google, make sure you are setup with Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools– these require validation that your webmaster can help you with. As for the other search engines, Yahoo and Bing have Yahoo Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Tools respectively.  Get your site maps submitted to all of these.  You can build our own XML sitemap with plenty of free online tools.  Learn more at sitemaps.org.
It certainly helps to run a Google Adwords campaign.

Get yourself on YouTube (which is a Google service, and shows results inline with Google “everything” search), too, with key phrase rich descriptions, and links to all of your other web properties.  Don’t have any videos?  Consider a slideshow.  And remember to complete all of the fields for each video AND your channel.  Consider building some playlists.  Get involved in the community around similar topics.
Are you selling directly online?  Then you need a presence in another Google service: Google Merchant Center (Google Product Search/Shopping, formerly Froogle).  You can read Google Help about how to structure the XML feed for your product(s).  Depending on the complexity of what you sell, you might create the feed manually, or have your shopping cart software export an updated feed as inventory changes.  IMPORTANT- you have to update your feed before it expires every month.

At this point, you have a handful of “control panels” that require periodic monitoring: Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Google/Yahoo/Bing SERP rank (checkout free or paid rank checker tools), Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer, Bing Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, YouTube, and Adwords if you use that service.  In order to keep track of all of these properties, you will want to create a spreadsheet that contains rows for each web property, and columns for the URL, admin URL, username, password hint, content, and notes (to-do/have-done).

Within a couple weeks, once all of your services are active and listings are confirmed, you should begin pushing out a consistent marketing message to all of these web properties, ensuring  that each web property contains links to all others.  Most importantly, you will see these “local” listings scraping the internet and aggregating mentions and reviews of you, your product(s), and your business on other websites.  These sites, which include Angie’s List, Yelp, CitySearch, Manta, and many more (specific to your industry), have their own procedures for registering and claiming your profile, so be sure to document all that information in your Total Online Presence spreadsheet as well.

Remember, there will be up to two weeks before you are ready for the above item, so what to do in the meantime?

* Google yourself for any negative content you want to have removed or buried.  I say “Google” yourself meaning not just searching Google, but Yahoo and Bing as well.

* Begin your Off-Site Link Campaignget involved in communities related to your industry.  Contribute information, and plug your business and website at every opportunity.  But remember, you must give to get, so don’t spam without offering relevant information.

* Begin your Social Media Campaign – This is really just part of an off-site link campaign.  Build out your profile and contribute to sites like Facebook, Twiiter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Blogging… you can take this as far as you want- Identica, Friendfeed, Plurk, Jaiku, Delicious, Bebo, Plaxo… the list goes on.

* Analyze your website for On-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO) opportunities.  You can read online all about techniques of on-page SEO.

* Check out your top competitor’s presence in ALL of the above web properties for ALL of the above campaigns, and cover at least all of the places they have covered.

* Setup periodic monitoring for new and updated mentions of you/your products & services/your business on the WWW.  You can do this manually, sign up for a free service like Google Alerts, or use a paid service to aggregate information and filter results for you.  Many of the online directories and review sites allow you to be notified via email whenever a comment or review is posted, so be sure to sign up for that option.

* Create a schedule for periodic contributions to social media & blogs.  This scheduled time each day/week/month is also a good time to go back to step one and review your progress as mentioned in the periodic monitoring.

If you have followed the steps above, you now have a clear idea of your online presence.  But what if there is already information out there about you that you don’t like?  This is where Reputation Management and Monitoring comes into play.  Many sites allow you to respond to negative reviews.  Inappropriate reviews can often be removed by request.  It is always possible to suppress negative reviews and comments by implementing a practice of regularly soliciting positive reviews.

In conclusion, there is nothing new under the sun.  This is not rocket science.  All of the information needed to manage your total web presence is available online.  Although some of the websites monitored will vary by industry (for example, with reputation management for doctors we work with Healthgrades, Vitals, UcompareHealthcare, Wellness, and more).  The REAL requirements to manage your total web presence, including your online reputation, are time, patience, discipline, and diligence.

Crockett Dunn
(408) 607-2200

** Important note- ALWAYS READ THE TERMS OF SERVICE wherever you create a profile.  In certain communities, such as Facebook, it is a violation to create a “personal” profile for a business (as opposed to a business page), and the consequences of such a mistake can include deleting of your personal account and business page.  Every web property’s listing has its own set of rules, some of which are stricter than others.

eFax Customer Support Really “Wow’d” me… not in a positive way

Update March 12, 2011:

Thank you for contacting eFax customer support.
The issue that you are experiencing needs a special attention, hence to solve your problem at the earliest we request you to contact one of our Customer Service representatives at 1-323-817-3205. Representatives are available to assist 24/7.
We apologize for the inconvenience, if any.
Michael W
eFax® Customer Support

= = =
Update March 2, 2011:  Today I received the following:  There’s definitely “nobody home” at eFax support.
= = =

Dear Crockett,
Thank you for contacting eFax customer support.
We apologize for the inconvenience caused.
If you have received a “junk fax”, please take the following steps:
1. If the fax contains a phone number, fax number or other contact information to “unsubscribe”, please do so.
2. If you are unable to “unsubscribe,” please submit the offending fax to us online at  http://www.efax.com/privacy?tab=reportSpam . We will investigate your complaint, and attempt to prevent further transmission of junk faxes from the provided source.
We appreciate your patience and look forward to continuing to make the eFax experience a positive one for you.
Michael W
eFax® Customer Support

= = =

eFax customer support… wow!
It’s been a while since I’ve run into this degree of non-service from a household-brand-name dot-com  company (eFax!).  You know, the kind of support inquiry that actually hurts you by taking more value from you in the form of time, than it provides to you in the form of solutions?
Sure, this was common in the late 1990’s when tech companies were growing faster than they could keep up with.  But not so much anymore.
Here’s the story:
1) On my fax “usage,” I have 19 pages of unathorized faxes billed to me (long story short, I had to add QuickBooks Billpay Errors email address to my allowed senders list to email faxes from QB through eFax gateway, and eFax now thinks I’m picking up the tab for every other QB user).
2) I email customer support.
3) I promptly receive a response instructing me to PHONE customer support.
4) Wondering why a support email is even listed, I call the support telephone number.
5) The call is dropped on the receiving end before I reach anything of use within the voicemail choices.
6) On the second attempt, now that I know my way through the voicmail, I reach a support rep quickly.
7) The connection is terrible, and I’m having trouble understanding the representative’s accent.  (I’m an IT professional, so I know my way around heavy Eurasian accents.  This one is exceptional.)  After some struggle, I understand enough to give my name, eFax number, zip, and email address.
8) The eFax customer support representative confidently, almost forcefully, tells me he understands my problem, describing the problem back to me in a way that indicates he definitely does NOT understand my problem, and then he continues on to tell me how he cannot help me.
9) The customer support representative is not receptive to my attempts at clarification.
9) At this point I know the drill- get off phone ASAP to save my time, then find a route to some kind of real support or a complaints departement.
10) Indicating this, I say, “OK it sounds like you can’t help me,” to which the eFax customer support representative responds, “Yes thank you is there anything else I can help you with?”
11) I once again resort to emailing eFax customer service, relating what happened, and asking if there is any real support available, indicating that if not, I plan to cancel my account and find a new vendor.  This is not a silly, hollow threat. Trust me I am not so deluded as to think bluffing about taking away a single business user account will help me.  The fact is if eFax isn’t working for me, and eFax customer service can’t help me, it’s time for a new vendor.
I look forward to seeing if eFax has a real customer support system for non-standard requests.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

SEO Tip: Incoming Links

Incoming links are a heavily weighted factor in establishing your search engine ranking (your Google Page Rank).  However, it is not the QUANTITY of links that is important (in fact, too many links from bad sources can actually hurt you), so much as the QUALITY of incoming links to your site.

OK, so what is this “quality” I am referring to?  To define that, let’s step back for a moment.  To define what are quality in-links for your specific search engine campaign, you have to first have established your objective.  This involves a thorough analysis including:

  1. Defining your competition
  2. Determining how your competition is being found on the internet (Read, in this context: extracting the key phrases your competition is successfully targeting)
  3. Thoroughly analyzing the competition’s targeted key phrases to derive similar key phrases and discover targeted words your competition may be missing
  4. Performing a similar analysis of the competition’s in-links and deriving a strategy including opportunities the competition may be missing

There is obviously a lot more to the above list, but I can stop there and limit the scope of discussion to factors related to in-links.

*Shameless plug: CDLLC can help you through the process of competition analysis and key phase targeting (steps 1-4), as part of an initial, discounted consultation.  Our special tools automate the initial process of checking your key phrases against the reality of how Google sees you and your competition.

Once you have your competition defined and analyzed, it is possible to evaluate the QUALITY of incoming links of your competitors.  Quality factors include:

  • The search engine rank of the linking page/site (#1, #5, #50 in Google results page)
  • The number of key phrases in the linked text of the page/site
  • The Google Page Rank (different from the search engine rank #) of the linking page/site
  • The number of quality links (quality defined by the criteria herein) to the linking page
  • The key phrases in the TITLE of the linking pages
  • The number of relevant incoming links.

At this point, you have a good idea of your competitions in-link situation, and it’s time for the fun part (ok, maybe it’s not everybody’s idea of fun, but I love it): embarking on your link campaign!

-Crockett Dunn

Posted via email from crockettdunn’s posterous

Google Blended Search, Revisited

Sometimes clients look at me sideways when they find out they need to be discussing their products on YouTube or Facebook and Twitter. Why bother?
The short answer is: Google recognizes and rewards “buzz” about your website. 
For the long answer, and an explanation of Google Blended Search Results, a.k.a. Google Universal Search, read on…
Since May 2007, we have been hearing about Universal Search and Blended Search.  Google was the first of the major Search Engines to unveil blended results as part of their main search results in May 2007 with Universal Search.  ASK was second in June of 2007, followed by MSN in July 2007 and Yahoo in October 2007.  Yet here we are two years later and the discussions have died down a little.  When’s the last time you heard someone in your office discuss blended search?  Of course there are exceptions and early adopters, but in discussions that I have with many, they are not yet leveraging blended search optimization.  How is blended search affecting B2B websites?  Should B2B sites be optimizing for blended search? What is Blended Search Optimization?
Blended Search optimization is simply the process of developing relevant content in a format other than a typical web page so that it appears as part of the different types of search results within the major search engines.  There are numerous types of blended search results that are now being featured as part of a search engines main results.  Types of blended search results include videos, shopping results, images, news results etc.
Why is Blended Search Important?
The short answer is that searchers (i.e.. users of Search Engines) are expecting richer experiences.  They are looking to find relevant information that answers their questions and their need for timely, relevant information.  In the past, this need was satisfied by newspapers, print, radio and television.  With the digital age and with the emergence of digital natives (More on Digital Natives here) and millennials, people are looking for dynamic types of content.  Not just a blue link with a somewhat relevant description.  Hence the need for blended results.  Some users relate better to articles and press releases, others to podcasts, images or videos.  The fact of the matter is, depending on the nature of the searcher’s query, the type of results that they are looking for will vary.  This is why blended search is important.  Someone looking for a new CMS solution may be more tuned in with a video demo as opposed to a webpage that describes what a CMS is.  Blended Search results provide a richer experience and search landscape for the user.  Searchers are looking for this.  They are no longer satisfied with ten blue links on a results page.
Does Blended Search Work for B2B?
The short answer is that yes blended search optimization can work for business to business websites.  It depends on your blended search strategy.  For example, we know that unlike a B2C site that may feature a large variety of products, for B2B sites things such as optimizing shopping feeds to improve visibility with shopping results may not be the best avenue to pursue (for the simple facts that a typical B2B site may not have a series of  “products” to submit).  However, things such as video optimization, news release optimization, image and blog optimization can all help increase the visibility of a B2B site on a search results page.  From an SEO perspective, blended search optimization can work well for B2B sites.
The SERP landscape has become hyper-competitive over the past three or four years.  Being found in Google, Yahoo, Live Search or even other vertical search engines is becoming increasingly difficult.  While it is not necessarily about the rankings, it is about the visibility and about the click.  A 2008 study on blended search from iProspect outlines, the continued importance for marketers to ensure that their digital assets are found within the first three pages, if not the first page, of search results. Blended Search provides an opportunity to accomplish this and in some cases effective blended search optimization can allow an organization to dominate the real estate of the Search.  We have clients who actually represent 30-60% of a Google SERP for a given key phrase as a result of strong blended search optimization.
The secret with blended search optimization for B2B sites is that there is no secret.  You simply need to understand your audience and the type of content that they prefer to engage with.  For B2B sites, this means testing the type of content that you feature on your site.  Do users engage with videos better than PDFs?  Or is your audience looking for news updates and articles describing your service/product offering?  Perhaps they are looking for content that is updated frequently such as blog posts or maybe they are simply looking for user reviews and testimonials about your brand.  This is where a social network result such as Facebook or Twitter may prove beneficial.  While technically not a blended search result, social network results for your brand are a different type of result that elicit a specific response (participating in a community setting) from the searcher which is why we classify social network results as a “type of blended result”.  The fact is, the searcher may be looking for a different type of result when searching for your brand or related key phrase.
Past search research dating back to 2004 shows that typically users will not look past the third page of search results, in fact many might not even click through to the second page of results.  As a B2B site, having the ability to “own” multiple results (and multiple types of results) on page one of Google or Yahoo for a non-branded key phrase can provide a great return in terms of intercepting your audience.  This is what blended search optimization can do for a site.  You can have a traditional website result as well as a video result or perhaps a news result to intercept these clicks and gain this traffic.
Three Types of Blended Results That B2B Sites Should Focus On
While the following is not specific to B2B sites, here are three types of blended search optimization that B2B sites should focus on:

  1. News/PR Optimization – optimizing articles and press releases is a great way to find your site within the blended results of Google, Yahoo or MSN.  The Engines (and searchers) tend to treat news results as more relevant due to the timely information that is within them.  Launching a new version of your software or a new strategic partnership can provide useful information to your target demographic.  As a result a well optimized press release can show up in Google News and in the blended search results displayed by Google.  Not to mention that in Google, News results tend to appear above the top organic results of the SERP or after the first one or two organic results meaning that they often occupy prime real estate within the results page.  Furthermore, deeper analysis from the above mentioned iProspect study indicates that search engine users click “news” results more than twice as much (36%) within blended search results as they do when they use the vertical “news search” (17%).
  2. Video Optimization – for whatever reason video results seem to appear more often than other types of blended results such as image results, book results etc.  All B2B sites should feature some video content on their site and/or on a video aggregator site such as YouTube that demos a product, explains their service, communicates their unique competitive advantage etc.  Video may resonate better with certain demographics and as a result create more engagement with your brand from the SERP.  The messaging in the video can be more targeted than say the information that a user receives once they click through the “blue link” result from the results page.  Perform a search in Google for “supply chain management”.  Depending on the data center that you hit you should be returned with a couple of video results (as well as a couple of image results) in addition to the typical blue link text results that would normally appear.
  3. Blog Optimization -blogs, love them or hate them are garnering more trust as a resource than typical web results.  Optimizing your blog posts and posting regularly can be a great way to tap into the blended results for a topic specific keyword query.  Blogs that feature relevant and informative posts about a specific topic have been known to show up in the main search results of Google.  The thing with blog results are that they can appear “blended” in within the normal results, meaning that they look like a typical result, or they can be labeled as a “Blog Result” indicating that they are in fact a blended result.  A search for “online marketing” or “Susan Boyle’ in Google returns both.

Blended Search is all about content and the type of content that you optimize for your audience.  Does it apply to B2B?  Yes of course it does, for blended search optimization is simply another way to gain visibility in the organic/natural search results of a search engine.  So while rankings may be dead, visibility is not.  Blended Search allows you to optimize content and different types of content in order to intercept your audience to begin or build a relationship between the searcher and your brand.  So while they may not convert on this initial visit, they will at least engage with your brand and become more aware of what your organization has to offer.

Originally published at marketing.jive.com: Does Blended Search Optimization Work for B2B?

-Crockett Dunn Owner CDLLC