Wow, it’s been far too long since I updated this blog with a fresh post. Sorry about that! Work has been extremely busy lately. Hopefully most of you have been following my latest updates on my Facebook and Twitter pages!

I figured today I’d write an accomplishment that I’m quite proud to have achieved. That accomplishment is getting my main portfolio site Sebastian Agosta in the top 10 search results for the term “Windsor web design” on both Google and Bing!

Considering the fact that the site is still less than a year old, I consider this type of ranking quite an accomplishment. As you’ll see in the images below, my website will show up in about the 5th or 6th spot for “Windsor web design” on Google and the 2nd or 3rd spot on Bing. Of course this varies depending on your location as well as which browser you’re using, but generally this is where I’ve placed! I’ve also placed for similar terms such as “Windsor web designer” and “Windsor online marketing”.

I achieved these results with a lot of hard work over the last 9 months which included; link trading, proper URL structure and plenty of useful and unique content that other blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts were happy to link to!

Here are a couple of the results I found when searching on Google and Bing earlier today.

“Windsor web design” – Result #5 – Google
seo sucess sebastian agosta

“Windsor web design” – Result #2 – Bing
seo success sebastian

Neither of these results are guaranteed to be there forever, however I feel that the work I put it will help them both stay up in the top 10 for months to come. Of course my work here isn’t done either. My plan is to be in the #1 spot in both search engines within the next year!

*If you test these results yourself, you may see slightly different results. I was using Google Chrome and searching Google.ca and Bing.com without being logged in to either.

It seems like just yesterday the group coupon mega site that started it all offered its first deal of the day. Back in October of 2008, GroupOn offered a half price special on pizza from the restaurant on the ground level of the building they were in. Nearly 3 years later, GroupOn is one of the fastest growing companies ever and saw revenue of $644.7 million in the first quarter of this year. Most of the news on GroupOn is positive however, as the group coupon site has found, with great success comes many, many, many copy-cats.

The surge in the amount of these daily deal sites has forced GroupOn to evolve more quickly than they ever anticipated. Foes such as; LivingSocial, SwarmJam, WagJag and many more have kept GroupOn on its toes and GroupOn hasn’t missed a step.

In the past few months, they’ve gone from offering one deal a day in each city for 24 hours to offering several deals a day in a city and extending the period the deal is available from 24 hours to 48 or even 72. They made a deal with the location based social networking service Foursquare, which now allows them to offer up to the hour deals on locations you may be walking by. They also made a deal with the online travel booking website Expedia to offer what they call “Getaways” to various resorts, hotels and cities outside of your province, state, and even country.

groupon expeida getaways

Many of these new additions seem to working very well in the cities they’re available in. Because GroupOn is expected to have the largest user base of all the daily deals sites, it allows them to try new things and be the trendsetter when it comes to group coupon sites rather than be the follower.

Even with major sites like Facebook, Google and Amazon starting up their own versions of daily deal sites, GroupOn has managed to stay on top. Their ability to evolve with the market and their willingness to try new things has kept them one of the fastest growing companies ever and has stock market analysts drooling over a possible IPO. Stay tuned!

facebook transparent PNG icon When I do web designs for small business clients who have a Facebook page or Twitter account, I always recommend that they add the social networking icons to their website. I always find that it’s best to add the icons or logos as transparent PNGs. For those of you unfamiliar with transparent PNGs, they’re images which have a background that you can see through. For example, the 3 social networking icons at the top of my Sebastian Agosta Web Design site are all transparent PNGs. Adding an image that’s a transparent PNG makes a website look much cleaner and since the backgrounds are transparent they can be added to any site no matter what the color.

Over the last few months, I’ve collected a few transparent PNGs which I’ve had to use on my sites as well as my clients sites. I use the Facebook, Twitter and Linked In icons the most. Since I had some trouble finding some of these when I needed them I figured I’d add them all to my web design blog, that way if you ever need them, you know where to find them!

Rather than make this post extremely long by posting my 10 most used PNGs, I figured I’d put them in a ZIP file for you. Inside this zip file, you’ll find transparent PNG icons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blackberry. You will also find PNG logos for Apple, Windows, GroupOn, Google, Android and WordPress.

If there are any other transparent PNG logos or icons you’re having trouble finding, let me know and I’ll see if I can find it for you!

As if Facebook, Twitter and social coupon buying sites weren’t enough, Google goes ahead and tries to release ANOTHER social networking site! As most tech people on the web know, Google has failed several times trying to release their own social networking site (see Orkut, Wave & Buzz), however this time they may have nailed it. Most of the stories I’ve read on Google’s new social network Google+ (or are we calling it Google Plus), have been positive. Most of the users who were lucky enough to be invited to early trials have also stated mostly positive reviews. About a week ago, I was invited by a friend of mine to try Google Plus for myself and see if I agreed with the early reviews of the new social network.

Now that I’ve had a week or so to use Google+, I figured I could give my early take on the functionality and user interface of the site. Before I go on, I want to mention that the site is still in BETA and most of the functions are very, very raw. I’ve seen a lot of comments on blogs stating the problems with the site already. People seem to forget that it’s barely a month old.

Google+ After a week, my first impression is very similar to most other tech blogs around the world – Google seems to have finally gotten it right. If you already have a Google account, your Google Plus account integrates very smoothly with that. You barely even know it’s there. Once you’re on the inside, you start to understand why Google has been tinkering with a different user interface for their search, it fits in perfectly with Google Plus. Profiles and the “stream” or news feed, function very similarly to Facebook. The major difference in usability comes when you add your friends. Google has called this Circles. You can now add different friends to different circles and when you make a post, you can decide which of those circles gets to see it. This is easily the most talked about and interesting function so far. The other new advancement as far as social networking goes is being able to video chat with your friends. While Facebook is just adding this feature now, Google+ already has it. It’s called Hangouts and you have the option of video chatting with more than one person at a time. Some of the other interesting features include; +1, simple photo upload and Sparks, which takes you to news around the world you may be interested in.

There are plenty of other functions and tidbits about Google+ I could talk about, but since the site is still in BETA, I’d rather post another more full review in the coming months. My initial take on Google Plus is a very positive one. It has a lonnnng way to go before we can ever even speak about it overtaking Facebook or Twitter, but it seems the big G is finally on the right track.

*Anyone who may be interested in giving Google Plus a try, please get in touch with me. I have 8 invites that I have no problem sharing with fellow web designers, social marketers!

As a search engine optimization consultant, I always like to re-visit a project 6-8 months after it’s been completed to see how it’s doing in the search engine rankings. Tony Rauti Luxury Homes was a web design I completed back in January. They also wanted some search engine optimization done because the old version of their website wasn’t achieving the results they desired in the search engine rankings.

Initially they wanted to go after general terms such as; “home builders” and “luxury homes”, but since they target traffic in the Windsor and Essex County area, I explained that they would be better off being a bit more specific. We eventually decided that going for keywords such as; “custom home builders Windsor”, “luxury homes Windsor” and “home builders Windsor” would be much more beneficial.

I focused most of my time doing on-site SEO, making sure my web design was optimized for the search engines. I used my META tags properly and created content that focused on the particular keywords we discussed. I then did a little off-site SEO by changing the text on any link that was pointing to Tony Rauti Luxury Homes to ensure it had our main keywords in it.

After roughly 7 months, I’m happy to report that Tony Rauti Luxury Homes is doing very well in the search engines, in particular on Google.

“custom home builders Windsor” – Result #5
first seo success

“luxury homes Windsor” – Result #2
first seo success Google

Even though these particular keywords don’t have that much competition, I still consider this a great SEO success! The domain/site is less than a year old and it’s already gaining a lot of Google’s respect. Most importantly, in the last 6 months Tony Rauti Luxury Homes has received 159.9% more search engine traffic than it did in the previous 6 months!

*If you test these results yourself, you may see slightly different results. I was using Google Chrome and searching Google.ca without being logged in.

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