Tag Archives: InboundMarketing

SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

SEO Made Simple:
A Step-by-Step Guide

  

Guess how many blog posts are published each day.

Any ideas? Over 2 million. That means 46 people have pressed publish by the time you read these 4 sentences. This makes it kinda tough to stand out. But you have to, if you want to make your blog a successful one, that is. While I often spend 4-5 hours on writing my blog posts, the 10 minutes I spend optimizing each post are easily the most important.

No wonder millions of people google the term “SEO” each month. In a world where over 90% of online experiences start with a search engine, showing up on the front page of Google can be the deciding factor between a business that’s thriving and one that’s, well, bankrupt. But what does SEO even mean? Sure, you know that it stands for search engine optimization, but what gets optimized? Is it the design? Or the writing? The links maybe? Yes, yes and yes. It’s all of them and more. But let’s start this SEO guide at the beginning.

Definition

According to Wikipedia, SEO is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results”  Alright, let’s translate that to English. Here’s my go at it: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content, so that a search engine likes to show it as a top result for searches of a certain keyword.

Let me break that down even further: There’s you, doing the SEO, the search engine and the searcher. If you have an article about how to make vegan lasagna, you want the search engine (which, in 90% of all cases, is Google), to show it as a top result to anyone who searches for the phrase “vegan lasagna.” SEO is the magic you have to work on your article, in order to make Google very likely to include your article as one of the top results whenever someone searches for that keyword.

Overview

Now what does that magic look like and why does it even matter? 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, 68% of which use Google to do so. Combine that with the fact that the first 5 results in Google get 67% of all clicks, and you get an idea of why search engine optimization is so important. There’s a joke going around the web that highlights how crucial it is to hit the first page of Google: If you ever need to hide a dead body, you should place it on the second page of Google search results.

Your blog post, article or product being linked on any other page of the Google search results than the first is equivalent to not being ranked at all.

But to understand how to show up first in the search engine results, you first need to know how search even works. How Search Works: Now that you have an idea of the basics of SEO, I’ll take a look at some of its components in detail. While Google guards their search algorithm pretty well and not all of the over 200 determining factors are known and verified, Backlinko did a great job of compiling as many as possible of them into one big list. But first, I need to get one thing straight. There are 2 sides of the SEO force, and you need to choose yours, right now.

White Hat vs. Black Hat

As you know, I’m playing the long-term entrepreneurial game, instead of just trying to get a quick buck out of it. It’s the same with search engine optimization. Some people are in it to make a few grand really quickly, others are in it for the long haul.

If you want to work SEO like a get-rich-quick scheme, you’ll probably end up doing what’s called black hat SEO.

This type of SEO focuses on optimizing your content only for the search engine, not considering humans at all. Since there are lots of ways to bend and break the rules to get your sites to rank high, these are a welcome way for black hat SEOs to make a few thousand dollars fast. Ultimately this approach results in spammy, crappy pages, which often get banned very fast, often leading to severe punishment for the marketer, ruining their chance of building something sustainable in the future. You might make a few grand this way but will continuously have to be on the lookout for search engine updates and come up with new ways to dodge the rules.

White hat SEO, on the other hand, is the way to build a sustainable online business.

If you do SEO this way, you’ll focus on your human audience, trying to give them the best content possible and making it easily accessible to them, by playing according to the search engine’s rules. (Inbound Marketing Inc. does a great job at explaining the difference) Needless to say, you’ll only hear and see me talking about white hat SEO. Choose your side of the force wisely, young Padawan.

Cleaning inside your house and outside: On-Page SEO vs. Off-Page SEO

There are 2 broader categories of SEO: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.  On-page SEO concerns all of Google’s ranking factors that are determined by directly looking at the page you try to optimize, such as headlines, content and page structure. Off-page SEO refers to all variables Google takes a look at, which are not exclusively in your own hands, but depend on other sources, such as social networks, other blogs in your industry and the personal history of the searcher.

They’re different, but you need to get both right, in order to do well with SEO. To give you a better idea of what that means, here’s an example:

Let’s say you have a house with a garden in the front yard, and a little pathway, that leads through your front yard to your house. Imagine these two scenarios:

Scenario #1: Your house is super clean on the inside, but your front yard is a mess.

What happens in this scenario? Well, even if you have the cleanest Mary Poppins-style looking house on the inside, if your garden looks like the forest from Sleeping Beauty, no one will come in in the first place.It’s the same if your page is super optimized around on-page SEO, has great content and looks stunning, but no one gives you credit for it or points to your page. No one will ever see your beautiful masterpiece, because you won’t get any traffic. What about the other way around?

Scenario #2: Your front lawn is neatly trimmed, but inside your house is a mess.

Turn things around and they look similar: Having a neatly mowed lawn will attract plenty of people to come visit your house, but if your living room reminds your guests of a war zone, they’ll leave quicker than you can pronounce SEO. When a visitor leaves your site after viewing only one page, in Google’s eyes that visitor is considered as a bounce. The higher your bounce rate (=number of visitors who leave your site instantly), the worse your page will rank in Google.

That’s why you need to do both on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

You can do several things on your page to get the former right and then even more things outside of that (off the page if you will) to ace the latter. We’ll take a look at on-page SEO first.

On-Page SEO

There are big categories in on-page SEO, that you’ll need to take a look at. The first and most important, is content.

Content

You’ve probably heard it before: “Content is king.” Bill Gates made this prediction in 1996 and it’s as true as ever today.

(here’s the original article by Bill Gates)

Why? Because a Google search engine customer is happy when he finds the result that serves his needs in the best way.

When you Google “quick and easy homemade mac and cheese,” Google will put all its energy into delivering to you what Google believes is the best recipe for homemade mac and cheese (that takes little time and uses few ingredients) on the entire web. It doesn’t look for the quickest recipe, the easiest recipe, or throw out a bunch of online shops for frozen dinners. Google always tries to give you the best possible experience by directing you to the greatest content it can find.

This means your number one job, to do well with SEO, is to produce great content. Bummer, right? You still have to put in a ton of work. SEO is no different than any other skill – the great results will always come from big effort. Just like the best marketing in the world won’t help you sell a bad product, super advanced SEO will be useless if you’re content plain sucks. Here are the factors that make up great content in Google’s eyes:

Quality

While the times where just delivering the best quality content would make you stand out from the crowd are long gone, it is still the starting point for any successful SEO effort (and online business, really). But coming up with great content is not easy, after all, it means you have to become a teacher and a good one at that. Yet, you don’t have to start from scratch. Okdork has published a great guide on how to create great content by piggybacking on what others have done.

Maybe you have your own ideas already, then it might be worth to brainstorm for a while and then come up with a compelling headline to start out with. Once you start writing, make sure you include all the important ingredients of great content in your blog post. Even if you’re a complete newbie, you can always take a professional approach to great content by simply committing to making writing a daily habit and work your way up in increments from there.

Keyword research

Doing your keyword research up front is a crucial part of great content. Since you ideally want to include your targeted keyword in your post’s headline and throughout the article, you need to choose your keyword before starting to write. I’ve covered keyword research extensively on Quicksprout, but if you’ve never done keyword research before, you might want to take a look at Hubspot’s guide for beginners.

Out of all on-page SEO factors, this is the one you should spend the most time learning. You don’t even need to buy a book, Backlinko’s definitive guide to keyword research will do. When I say don’t sleep on this, I mean it. There’s a reason we took the time to compile the top 40 posts on keyword research on KISSmetrics.

Use of keywords

Google has gotten smarter over the years. While you should, of course, use your keyword throughout your content, jamming your keyword into your text as much as possible will hurt your rankings, rather than improve them. Keyword stuffing is an absolute no-go these days.

In 2015, the use of keywords is much more about semantics. Google has gotten so good at interpreting the meaning of the keywords that searchers use, it’s creepy. It not only looks at your keyword but also synonyms of it, to understand what you mean when you type in, say “five guys nyc”. Google will know that you’re probably not looking for 5 random males, but rather guesses that you’re looking for the fast food chain “Five Guys, Burgers & Fries” by looking at similar searches that may include the keywords “burgers” and “fries.”

As long as you make sure your keyword is present in strategically important places (like headlines, URL and meta description), there is no need to mention it tons of times in your text. Just focus on the reader and seamlessly integrate your keyword a few times.

Freshness of content

Hubspot has done a benchmark this year that showed, once again, that posting more frequently improves Google rankings. However, posting new content is only one way to signal Google freshness. There are plenty of things that you can do with already published content to make it more up-to-date. Brian Dean from Backlinko, for example, has only published around 30 posts in 2 years. Yet, he keeps all of his posts up to date by rewriting them and adding new information as he finds it. While it is important to publish regularly, you can still get great results with posting once a month, as long as your content is thorough and in-depth.

Direct answers

Finally, one of the more recent updates provides searchers with direct answers. If your content is written clearly enough for Google to recognize it as an answer to a particular question, it will show up directly beneath the search bar. Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s spam team and often public voice for the latest in SEO and algorithm changes, announced last year that people who were cutting the jargon would be right on track.

That’s why detailed guides and long how-to’s  have become more and more popular. So make sure you clear up your writing, fancy buzzwords and complex sentence constructions will neither make you sound smart nor help your SEO game. Moz has listed out all critical aspects you have to keep in mind, if you want to do well with direct answers.

HTML

The next big chunk you have to take care of, once you’ve made sure your content is evergreen, is HTML. You don’t have to be a professional coder or get a degree in programming by any means.  But, running an online business without knowing the basics of HTML would be the same as driving without knowing what the colors of traffic lights mean.

Thankfully, with places like Codecademy or Khan Academy, there are more than enough possibilities to learn everything about HTML that you need in the blink of an eye and for free. Heck, you can even learn it on the job, by just using a simple cheat sheet, like this one. Let’s take a look at the 4 parts of HTML you should optimize for each and every single piece of content you produce.

Title tags

Title tags are the online equivalent of newspaper headlines. They are what shows up in the tab of your browser when you open a new page. The HTML tag used for them is called title, but in the case of blogs, it often becomes an h1-tag, which stands for the heading of the first order. Every page should only have one h1-tag to make the title clear to Google. We’ve shown you how to do this at Quicksprout University, but the website First Page Sage has compiled a few more things that you can do to get these right.

Meta description

Meta descriptions are what shows up as an excerpt when Google displays your page as a result to searchers. It’s easy to spot who’s done their SEO homework and who hasn’t by the meta description. Optimized meta description results will never be cut off and end with “…” or seem like they end mid-sentence. They also often mention their keyword up front. You can learn how to come up with great meta tags in Quicksprout University, and should also check out some good examples to get a feel for descriptions. Don’t overthink this 160 character text snippet though. When writing it, you should keep the searchers in mind, much more so than the search engines.

Schema

Schema is the result of a collaboration of several search engines and is basically just a subset of specific HTML tags, which will improve the way your content is displayed on the search engine result pages (also called SERPs). The rating from the above example with Bitcoin was created using Schema, for example. It’s a rather small factor, but definitely good practice. Moz has some good tips on how to get the most out of Schema. When you’re done, don’t forget to test your page to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Subheads

I’ve previously identified subheads as one of the 7 things every great landing page needs. Not only do they help format and structure your content and give your readers easy reference points, but they also affect SEO. Compared to your h1-tags, h2, h3, h4 and further subheads have less SEO power, but still, matter and should therefore, be used. Plus it’s one of the easiest SEO wins you can get in WordPress.

3. Architecture

The third and last part of on-page SEO, that I’ll cover, is site architecture. While this part gets super-techy, super fast, there are a few simple things everyone can and should take care of, to improve SEO rankings. A good website architecture leads to a great experience for the user when he navigates your page, through things such as fast loading times, a safe connection and a mobile-friendly design.

Ideally, you’ll map out the architecture of your site before even buying the domain, which allows you to really get into the head of your user and reverse engineer your way to a great user experience (UX). ConversionXL has published a great guide on how to make sure your UX rocks. You also need to optimize a few things in order for a great “search engine experience.” The more accessible your website is to Google, the better it will rank.

Easy to crawl

Remember the spiders from the introductory video? These are the programs that “crawl” from one page on your site to the next through links. Depending on how well they can index all the pages on your site, they’ll be more likely to report back to Google that you are a good result. The thicker the web of links between pages of your site, the easier it is for the spiders to reach all of them, giving the search engine a better understanding of your site. You can make this job easier for Google by creating a sitemap, using a simple plugin if you’re on WordPress or an online XML sitemap generator.

Duplicate content

There are a lot of myths ranking around duplicate content, and how it hurts your rankings. A common mistake is to think everything on your page should be original. Re-posting your content on other websites or publishing your guest posts again on your own site, doesn’t hurt your SEO, unless you do it the wrong (spammy) way. For example, if you re-post your exact same content to a big outlet like Medium, it might hurt your rankings, because Google indexes your Medium article first, as it’s on the more authoritative domain. In order to make sure you don’t get penalized, educate yourself about 301 redirects, which are a great way to handle duplicate content. I’ve also put together a guide to show you how to address the issue with rel=canonical tags for links on Quicksprout.

Mobile-friendliness

Let’s face it, if your page isn’t mobile-friendly, you lost. Consider this: Over 500 million Facebook users (that’s half a billion, just for clarity) ONLY uses facebook through their mobile phone on a daily basis. While there are several ways to make your page mobile-friendly, I recommend you start by checking with Google’s tool how you hold up right now. Most WordPress themes are mobile-friendly from the get go these days, and if not, you can always install a plugin to take care of it. You can also just implement Google’s suggestions from the tool yourself or hire someone to make the changes.

Page speed

Don’t fool yourself, you know just how important this is. Remember how angry you were the last time the wifi took 20 seconds to load a page? Today, we value our time more than anything, and long loading times can absolutely kill your conversions. Again, Google has a tool to easily test this. Another way to see if you’re doing okay is to use this free test by Pingdom. ConversionXL has identified a few low hanging fruits for increasing your website speed and at Crazy Egg we show you how to squeeze out that extra second to improve your user experience.

Keywords in URLs

Including your targeted keywords in the URLs of your blog posts is a can’t miss. You shouldn’t squander those SEO points. You might have to change the structure of your permalinks on WordPress, and should certainly keep your human users in mind, but including your keyword in your URLs is a no brainer.

HTTPS and SSL

Google announced that security is now considered a ranking signal. There are two common security protocols: HTTPS (a secure version of HTTP) and SSL (Secure Socket Layer). Both of the works and are worth considering, even if they won’t up your SEO game too much. Moving from a non-secure connection to HTTPS or SSL is a bit of work, but worth your time. If you’re starting out with a new domain, consider purchasing it as an option from your domain registrar or web hosting service. Pro tip:  You can save a lot of on-page SEO by using a tool.  For example, if your blog is a WordPress site, Yoast SEO will help you with many of the important on-page elements we just discussed.

Off-Page SEO

Alright, time to step outside your house and take a look at the front yard. I’ll now show you 4 big areas of off-page SEO. If you want a solid overview on one page, consider looking at Shane Barker’s great infographic.

Trust

PageRank, the famous formula invented by the founders of Google is by far not the only measure they take when ranking pages in the top 10 search results. Trust is getting increasingly important and most of the recent Google updates have hit spammy and obscure websites. Trustrank is a way for Google to see whether your site is legit or not. If you look like a big brand, Google is likely to trust you, for example. Quality backlinks from authoritative sites (like .edu or .gov domains), also help. There are 4 parts to building trust.

Authority

The overall authority of your site is determined by a mix of 2 kinds of authority you can build:

  • Domain authority, which has to do with how well known your domain name is (coca-cola.com is very authoritative, for example), and
  • Page authority, which relates to how authoritative the content of a single page (for example a blog post) is.

You can check your authority here, based on a scale of 1 to 100. To improve your authority, use the cheat sheet I that came up with to increase your authority without cheating.

Bounce rate

Your bounce rate is simply a measure of how many people view only one page on your site, before immediately leaving again. Content, loading times, usability and attracting the right readers are all part of decreasing your bounce rate.  The math is simple- the right readers will spend more time on a site that loads fast, looks good and has great content, right? Video is another great way to do so, but you need your video content to stand out and deliver (Buffer’s 5-step process is a great place to get started with video).

Domain age

Remember the times before young entrepreneurs like me were all the hype? Who were the most respected businessmen around?

The old guys. The Jack Welchs and Warren Buffetts of the world.

With domains on the internet,

it’s similar. Domain age matters, if only a little. If you haven’t got your site up and running yet, consider finding an affordable, expired domain and using it.

Identity

As mentioned above, having a brand or personal identity online is a huge trust signal for search engines, but it takes time to build. You know you’re a brand when you google yourself and something like this pops up. You don’t have to have a brand name, creating your personal brand works just as well. What’s more, building brand signals prevents you from future penalties through Google updates.

2. Links

Just by how far you’re into this search engine optimization guide already shows you that the common conception of “backlinks are everything” is just wrong. hey’re only a part of SEO, just like all the other areas I covered already. There are plenty of ways to get backlinks. But, no matter what you do, don’t just wait for people to link to you, that’s a fool’s game, you’re going to have to take initiative and ask for them. Consider these factors when trying to get backlinks:

Quality of links

While links are not everything, when looking at links, their quality is everything. The quality of your links matters much more than the amount of links you have. Building quality backlinks is all about reaching out to the right sources and offering value in exchange for a solid link, and I show you tons of ways in our advanced guide to link building.

Anchor text

The anchor text is the text used when other sites link to you and yes, it matters. Differentiating between the types of anchor text is part of the nitty gritty, but a good rule of thumb is:

The more natural the link text sounds, the better.

Here’s an example: You could either link to a guide on anchor text best practices by linking the word “click here” or just naturally mentioning it in the flow of your writing. The second category is called contextual backlinks, and that’s the one you should strive for.

Number of links

Lastly, the number of total links you have does of course matter as well, and you need to over time build high quality backlinks at scale.

Personal

The third category of off-page SEO, that’s worth taking a look at, is personal factors. While most of these are out of your control, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of reaching a certain audience.

Country

All searchers are shown results relevant to the country they’re in. Open times of recommended stores and restaurants are displayed in your time zone.

(Country – it’s all about where you’re from)

Words are interpreted differently. Someone searching for “comforter” in the US will be displayed blankets for their bed, whereas someone in the UK might see pacifiers because that’s what the term means there. A way to signal Google that you want to target certain countries is of course including them as keywords, but definitely, ask yourself is it worth it to go multinational.

City

The geo-targeting goes even further, down to a city-level. That’s why, when you google any fast food chain, you are usually shown results from right around the block. Again, using city names as keywords helps, but don’t paint yourself into a corner or you’ll end up being considered as a local authority only.

Searcher’s history

If the searcher has been on the same page before or even just visited your site in general, you’re more likely to show up, because Google thinks you’re a relevant result for the searcher.

Socialization

Do you have a YouTube channel or a Google Plus profile for your brand? If so, the more people like you, the better. When google recognizes that you’ve signaled you like a brand on social networks, it’s more likely to show you results from those brands or even personal contacts you have.

Social

Lastly, let’s take a look at the social factors of off-page SEO. Besides social signals directly from the searcher, there are other ways good results on social media will help you rank better. Whether that’s directly through more links, or indirectly through a PR boost, social matters. I’ve done several case studies on Quicksprout, proving social media is well worth your time.

There are 2 main factors of influence.

Quality of shares

As with the quality of backlinks, who shares matters more than how often. Google recognizes influencers and when they share your content that share has more SEO juice than your neighbor’s. A great way to get influencers to share your content is to give them a heads up before you even publish, or still better, include them by quoting or interviewing them. Of course, you should also tell plenty of online celebrities who are already interested in your topic. You can find a similar article (maybe one you fund one during your research), plug it into a tool called Topsy, and find influencers who shared it. Then let them know you published a new piece on the same topic.

Number of shares

The secondary social metric is the number of shares. Landing a viral hit is every marketer’s dream, but it is overrated. Okdork’s guide on what it takes for an article to go viral gives you a few ideas what to optimize, but know that “going viral” is mostly a matter of consistently publishing great content. Oh, and promoting your blog post like crazy.

Conclusion

I hope this guide helped you realize that in 2017, search engine optimization isn’t optional anymore. While it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get a few basics right, it might kill your online presence if you don’t. Don’t worry if you’ve already made some SEO decisions in the past that might not have been the perfect choice. Just commit to getting started today. Do your keyword research before you write your next blog post and optimize the basics, like title tags, using your keywords and adjusting your description. And who knows – maybe the next time you press publish, you’ll stand out. After reading this guide, how will you change your attitude towards SEO?

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Facebook now lets businesses match user IDs across Messenger and their own apps, sites

Facebook now lets businesses
match user IDs across Messenger
and their own apps, sites

Facebook previously gave businesses one ID when someone contacted them on Messenger and another when that person logged into their apps or sites.

   A A boring story made interesting:

If you contact a brand through Facebook Messenger and also log into the brand’s mobile app using your Facebook account, the brand has no idea that you’re the same person. Or it had no idea — until now.

On Tuesday, Facebook made it possible for businesses to match the ID it creates when people interact with a business’s Messenger account with the separate ID it creates when people log into the business’s app or website using their Facebook account. The full details about how businesses can do this matching can be found here on Facebook’s site for developers.

As a result of this matching, a brand can use the information it gathers about a person through its mobile app, such as past purchases, when it communicates with that person on Messenger, such as when deciding to notify someone about a new product. And if a business operates multiple apps and sites or owns multiple Facebook Pages, it can match a person across all those places, assuming the person logged in via Facebook to those other apps and sites or contacted those other Pages on Messenger.

By unifying these IDs, marketers are also able to take into account people’s interactions across Messenger and their own apps and/or sites when targeting ads. Consider the earlier example of someone who contacted a business on Messenger and logged into its app. Now that the brand knows not only that the person purchased a product on its app but had also voiced an issue with it on Messenger, the brand could look for other customers who fit the bill and group the Facebook-related IDs it has for those users into a list to target them with discount-waving, win-you-back ads using Facebook’s Custom Audiences ad targeting option.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

The Evolving Role of Social Media in eCommerce

The Evolving Role of Social Media
in
eCommerce

Private messaging is emerging to reach your market 24/7.

   The Evolving Role of Social Media in Ecommerce

The Evolving Role of Social Media in Ecommerce

As social media and eCommerce become increasingly enmeshed in our lives, the opportunities for them to interact with and bolster each other are innumerable, considering that the average person spends around an hour and 40 minutes browsing social media every day, and the number of internet shoppers in the US will reach 217 million this year.

Back in the old days, a business’s presence would be signified by advertisements in the paper and a physical storefront. Now, in the digital age, business reputations live and die by their social media standing. Right now, social media is used by brands as a way to advertise, increase their online presence, and deliver high-quality customer service. In 2017, we can expect those trends to continue, as some new ones emerge. Let’s take a look at the growing role of social media in eCommerce.

Paid advertisements.

With the almost absurd level of customization you can put on a Facebook ad (age, geography, preferences and more) and the detail with which Facebook can report your results, it’s a no-brainer for brands to keep using Facebook and other social media advertising. It’s also a win for Facebook, which raked in more than $7 billion in advertising in 2016.

The most successful brands in 2017 will be those able to maximize their reach and effectiveness on paid social media advertising. William Harris, an eCommerce growth consultant for elumynt.com, says, “I see eCommerce brands investing a lot more in paid social, and I think that trend will continue into 2017…it’s not enough to simply pay for ads on Google Shopping. You’ve got to find a good audience on Facebook ads, Instagram ads and more and more, on Pinterest and other paid social media accounts. It’s getting easier to set these up and track the return on advertising, which means more brands will start doing it.”

Private messaging.

Over the past few years, analysts have noticed an interesting, unexpected trend. While the use of public social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter is starting to decline, private messaging services are exploding in popularity. WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger are all app juggernauts with colossal engagement numbers running into the billions. Where the people go, the businesses must follow, and brands are edging their way into private messaging through chatbots. Chatbots, AI personalities that can simulate real conversations, can answer questions on products, offer recommendations, and resolve customer complaints.

Consumers are slowly warming to the idea. According to Venturebeat.com, 49.4 percent of customers would rather contact a business through a 24/7 messaging service than through the phone. Brands would be prescient to start looking into catboat services as a supplementary channel to reach customers. Additionally, many private messaging services now offer financial integration. Opening up WeChat, chatting with a brand AI representative, and purchasing a product without closing the app once, is entirely within the realm of possibility in 2017.

In-app purchasing.

The harder it is to buy or access something, the less likely we are to follow through. This explains why eCommerce sites that take a long time to load have higher bounce rates, and online stores with clunky interfaces sell less. One can already buy products through Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Once Apple Pay experiences widespread adoption, it’s almost scary to think about how easy impulse buys will be — if you see something you like on social media, one swipe will get it delivered to your door. Brands should immediately start evaluating how they can sell their products through social networks, coupling a strong advertising presence with an easy purchasing process.

What's coming.?

This year, social media will not only play a big part in eCommerce but also in all aspects of our social life, just as it has been, arguably, for the last several years. Moreover, several new social network technologies, including powerful advertising tools, chatbots, and in-app purchasing, as well as improved design, will make eCommerce easier, and bigger, than ever.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

The Elements of a Strong Inbound Marketing Strategy

The Elements of a Strong
Inbound Marketing Strategy

Are you a huge fan of cold calls? What about the marketing emails – that you never signed up for – invading your inbox? TV commercials in the middle of your favorite show? Unless it’s the Super Bowl, these marketing messages tend to be frowned upon or ignored rather than delightfully consumed.

 Most people that I know record TV programs solely so they can fast forward through the commercials. My TV capabilities are less sophisticated, but I typically use commercials to brush my teeth or clean the kitchen. I’m already on a “do not cold call list” with Verizon, and marketing emails are unsubscribed from more often than read. Non-remarketing display ads (i.e. the banner or sidebar ads we see when scanning websites) are clicked on an average of only 0.2%, according to Double Click. All of these methods fall under the family of “outbound marketing.” Shockingly enough, these disruptive outbound techniques convert at a much lower rate than inbound marketing strategies, where someone chooses to engage with your brand and actively seeks you out.

   

 

Inbound strategies are all about being found naturally rather than aggressively pursuing leads through in-your-face tactics. Which person do you think would be more likely to buy a house? A. The person who received a message saying “Buy this house!” or B. The person who searched for and found the perfect house on their own? We both know the clear winner, which is inbound. “Imagine a popup ad (outbound) vs. a funny infographic you chose to look at (inbound),” says Marketo’s Johnny Cheng. “Data clearly shows that people who choose to interact with your brand naturally convert higher.” Take a look at this conversion rate data by acquisition channel – inbound strategies have one of the highest rates, at almost 4%.

    

Inbound marketing strategy data proving the effectiveness of inbound on conversion rates

Convinced that inbound marketing strategies kick ass for driving targeted leads and sales? Here are the 5 elements of a strong inbound marketing strategy, which you should be using!

SEO

SEO (search engine optimization) is a hard-to-control, waste-of-time tactic, right? Wrong: SEO is the process of optimizing your website’s content and structure for search in order to receive organic placements on the search engine results pages or SERPS. Having a quality website and content optimized for SEO ensures that Google’s web-crawling technology is able to identify and index your site’s content to have it appear for free to people searching. SEO is a critical part of your inbound strategy because if you can’t be found, then you’re not going to get business.

When SEO comes to mind I think keywords, code, website structure, link-building, and then my head starts spinning. SEO can actually get very complicated, quickly, so what should you be focusing on to get started? Start by identifying and utilizing the most important keywords to your leads. Of course you want to ensure these keywords have high enough search volume and user intent to attract the most relevant audience.  “There are many aspects of SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply the matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand,” explains Moz. I’m not an SEO guru by any means. Luckily, there’s a plethora of free resources online so I’d recommend hoping over to Moz and our own SEO basics guide to get started.

PPC

Now we’re speaking my language! You might be thinking, wait – PPC is a paid tactic and aren’t paid strategies against the inbound methodology? Wrong! Paid search is technically still part of the inbound marketing family since search ads appear when a user is actively searching for something, therefore PPC ads are not interrupting another activity. Not all aspects of PPC will quality as inbound (like display ads), but ads on the search network are certainly one of the strongest elements of a strong inbound strategy, because search queries show so much intent.

So, how is PPC different then SEO? With paid ads you’re paying for the placements on the SERPs rather than appearing organically. Why pay when you can appear organically? For multiple reasons… With SEO:

  • You have far less control over when and how you appear on the search results page
  • A tweak in the algorithms can ruin your organic visibility
  • Seeing results often takes a long time (and isn’t guaranteed!)

With paid search you’re able to pay for the top placements where people are more likely to see your ads, and bid on specific keywords to attract qualified visitors. You have the control to adjust your budget, pause your ads during irrelevant times, target mobile searchers, easily measure your ROI, and the list goes on. Moral of the story is that you should be doing both SEO and PPC to get the highest volume and quality of leads.

Content Marketing

You wouldn’t have guests over and not serve a cocktail, right? The same goes for leads! Now that you’ve warmly welcomed them in the door through PPC and/or SEO you need to provide them something to drink, aka content. Oftentimes marketers think of content as the sole component to inbound marketing strategy, and while it’s certainly not the only aspect, it is a very critical one. Without fresh and useful content there is no chance of keeping and converting your leads. Your content should come in multiple forms with the goal of helping your audience answer a question or solve a problem.

The key to content marketing is that your content needs to stand out. “Your content must be remarkable enough to break through the clutter. It’s not enough to just produce content,” says Entrepreneur’s Murray Newlands. “Your content must educate, inspire or entertain your audience.”

So, where to start?

  • Create a blog:
    You should already know this, but a quality blog is one of the most effective ways to market a business. Blogging will help you attract new visitors, gain returning visitors, and convince warmer leads. A blog is a hub to keep your audience informed and prove that you’re a thought-leader in your industry. Here at WordStream, our blog accounts for more than half our total traffic!
    Create guides, e-books, and other downloadable content:
    This will help your nurture your leads with longer-form content where you can sell how your products or services will help them.
    Gather customer testimonials and create case studies:
    Case studies and customer testimonials will help convince leads that are further down the funnel. Hearing from someone like them will instill trust and up the chances of conversion.
    Create a content calendar:
    To ensure you stay on top of publishing fresh content regularly.

Social Media

So you’ve created phenomenal content, published it on your site, and now you’re lounging on your beach chair enjoying a glass of wine? Well, you’re certainly not going to get profitable results with that attitude. You NEED to be attracting new and returning readers by sharing and promoting your content on social media. Creating the content is only a small piece of the puzzle. Ensuring the content reaches relevant people is where social comes in. This is inbound marketing because only people who want to see your content will follow your brand, and it's a great way to "subsidize" your organic traffic if you don't have great rankings yet.

Nowadays, anyone who’s anyone is on social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vine, Instagram, or Periscope; your audience is likely on multiple of these channels. Determining which platforms are most relevant to your buyer personas in a task in itself, but I can guarantee that several of your leads are spending a significant chunk of their time-consuming content through their personal social channels.  Spend time creating a social media promotion plan to distribute your content to the right people, analyzing your top performing content, and paying to promote and gain even more traffic to the content that’s resonating with your audience.

Landing Pages

Your landing page is where your leads land after clicking on your call-to-action (another important element of your inbound marketing strategy). Whether it be a product page, a form fill-out to download a whitepaper, or a subscription service page, you need to ensure your landing page is top-notch unless you’d like to jeopardize potential conversions from coming in. Some important elements to keep in mind…

  • Relevancy:
    You need to make sure that the landing page is relevant to the call-to-action. For example, if your visitor lands on your page from a paid search ad advertising birthday cakes, you wouldn’t send them to a landing page selling Christmas cookies, right?
  • Focus:
    What is the goal of your landing page? Is it to “Sign Up for this E-Newsletter!” or “Download this Guide Today”? Make your landing page’s purpose singular. Ensure the CTA is big, prevalent, and above the fold. Also make sure to restrict the navigation to other pages and keep forms short.
  • Design:
    This is a major component of keeping visitors engaged. Using videos or images, testimonials, and trust signals are all design elements that can help improve the conversion rates of your landing pages. Run A/B tests to decide on the best designs for your landing pages.

Bonus Inbound Marketing Tip: Remarketing

Once a lead has visited your site, expressed interest in your content, products or offerings, you need a strategy in place to keep them engaged. One of the most effective tactics? Remarketing. Tactic cookies your site visitors and follows them around the web with ads reminding them to come back. Remarketing can be set in a variety of ways. For instance, you can remarket to anyone who visited your site, show a specific ad to visitors who went to a certain page (or a set of pages), or even an ad to someone who has placed items in a shopping cart but hasn’t converted.

My older sister called me the other day blown away when she saw an ad on Facebook of the exact dress she was just looking at on Nordstrom’s website. Yes, she is a stay-at-home mom who’s a bit disconnected from the marketing world, but it just proves that this tactic resonates with shoppers. Remarketing says “Hey there, remember us? Are you still interested?,” which is why the tactic is considered a member of the inbound family since the shopper has already expressed interest. Covering these five elements will provide a solid infrastructure for a killer inbound marketing strategy.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Public meetings suggested on future business development

Public meetings suggested on future business development

County Commissioners are asking the Industrial Development Board

to host public meetings to gather citizen input about the county’s industrial/business development future.Meeting Monday, the group postponed a vote on another motion setting a joint meeting on the same issue that would bring together Commission, IDB, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Alliance, and others.The search for a way forward comes in the wake of a failed attempt by the IDB to interest Commission in purchasing industrial land in White Pine.

The motion for public meetings came from Commissioner David Seal, who has been calling for a “bottom-up” approach to industrial/business development. His motion, seconded by Commissioner John McGraw, asks the IDB to hold public meetings to gather input before proposing any other projects. Since projects have an impact on local quality of life and could be paid for by taxpayer funds, citizens “deserve to have direct input,” his resolution states.Commissioner David Gaut told the group that Chamber representatives have indicated they can also help facilitate “town hall” style meetings. Chairman Jimmy Carmichael said he will work with the IDB, Chamber, and EDA to help set them up.

Last month, the IDB’s proposal to spend $2 million for 216 acres in White Pine failed, with only a couple of Commissioners voting in favor. Residents in the area of the proposed commerce park opposed it, calling the proposal a gamble with taxpayer money that would be unlikely to pay off.The Board has been trying to find industrial land Commission will buy for over a decade. Back in 2011, they brought three parcels for consideration but were told to continue working. After that, an ambitious plan for an industrial “megasite the junction of Interstates 81 and 40 fell apart in the face of resident opposition.

The debate over the county’s industrial future continued during Monday’s regular Commission session. A vote on Commissioner Russell Turner’s plan for a joint work session was postponed until June on motions from Commissioners Terry Dockery and John Neal Scarlett. Turner said he believes such a meeting can provide a “frame of reference” along with public input sessions – but Dockery and others said they want public input first in the process.

Turner said he feels public input was included in the White Pine proposal from the beginning. The IDB and Town of White Pine hosted town hall meetings about it, and a White Pine survey in 2014 showed that 80 percent of citizens favor industrial development, he said, adding that the project received support from White Pine Council.

Commissioner Rita Musick said the survey involved city residents only – while the project was to occur partially on county land.Citizens continued to give their input on the industrial issue during the comment section of Monday’s meeting.David Nelson suggested that something is “out of sync” about the process when a project receives only a ten percent vote of Commission. He suggested a “walk before you run” approach using smaller tracts of land for business development.

Shonda Griffin, one of the White Pine residents who opposed the commerce park plan, said she is “thrilled” to hear officials welcoming citizen input and looking in other directions besides heavy industry. Ruth Gerard said she believes the town hall meetings should be held on all sides of the county. David Gerard told the group he believes greater scrutiny of its spending on the Economic Development Alliance is needed.

“Over $1 million has been spent over eight years, yet we have yet to see anything profitable come out of it,”
he said.

• Approved a rezoning request from John Hunt and Charlotte Lynn Morgan for property on Chestnut Hill Road. The zoning will change from A-1 (agricultural) to R-R (rural resort). The owners have plans for a marina and cabins on about 40 acres adjacent to Douglas Lake.

• Approved a resolution requesting the governor and state legislature to uphold an article of the state constitution which recognizes the only legal marital contract as between one man and one woman. The resolution passed 15-2, with Commissioners McGraw and Rob Blevins voting “no,” and Seal abstaining. The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Bob Beeler at the request of Greeneville attorney Jeff Cobble, who told the group last week that he believes the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex should be nullified.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Let’s Want to Close the Knowledge Gap on Crypto Currency

Let's Want to Close the Knowledge Gap on Crypto Currency

Cryptocurrency trading has become a way of life

In Asia, Europe, and the Americas, Cryptocurrency trading has become a way of life, but that is not the case in Nigeria and other African countries. In this interview, the Chief Executive and Principal Consultant, Crypto Plus Certified, Mr. Peter Ayoade Moradeyo tells Ndubuisi Francis that his company is poised to close the knowledge gap with the ultimate goal of enlisting Nigeria on the global cryptocurrency exchange.

What is a good way to concisely explain Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrencies?

The success story of Cryptocurrency dates back to 2009, during the financial breakout, when Bitcoin was formed on blockchain technology. Bitcoin was first introduced in Asian countries and gradually to Europe, US etc. It is needful to clarify however, that the blockchain technology is not the same thing as Bitcoin; the relationship between them is only that Bitcoin is deployed on the blockchain technology. Interestingly, Bitcoin seems to be more popular today than the platform on which it stands. Now, there are two things which distinguish Cryptocurrency from the normal currencies.

The first is that it is finite. It has a fixed number that can be taken off and immediately that happens, its value shoots up and we all know that anything that can finish naturally increases in value as it is being taken up. So, as the world gradually adopts cryptocurrency, the available number reduces and value automatically drives upwards, causing it to grow dynamically in value. That explains why Bitcoin has been able to grow like that since 2009.

The second thing is that cryptocurrency has intrinsic value or what some call store of value. Let me explain it this way: each copy of a coin is an address, a location on the blockchain. When one address belongs to a person, that address cannot belong to another person in any part of the world. This is unlike the fiat counterpart where any money reading on a person’s bank account means that the bank owes the account holder to the tune of the said amount, but not necessarily that money is the account holder’s to cash at any time. This is why sometimes the banks would tell an account holder that they do not have enough cash to complete a transaction. The case of the blockchain is different because the value is intrinsic and better preserved.

What is the function of CryptoPlus Certified?

Since 2009, Bitcoin and several other alt coins have been coming up. Alt coins are referred to as alternative coins to Bitcoin which is the first and most popular of them all. At a point, we realized there was an opportunity where Bitcoin and other coins can relate in value; there is value relativity between them. So, we started by trading Cryptocurrency. I can recall that sometime in 2015, there was an upsurge of certain Ponzis in Nigeria. Nigerians sustained the following of Ponzis until it became almost endemic. Unfortunately, very few Nigerians knew about the very essence of the medium of transfer which Bitcoin was during the transaction of these Ponzis. Bitcoin was only used because it did not need a third party like banks to facilitate a transaction between the Ponzis and their victims. So, the Ponzis took advantage of their patronage, cashing in on the anonymity of transaction which was part of the features of cryptocurrency. What was supposed to have been an advantage became a disadvantage because of the ignorance of Nigerians.

Someone needed to educate Nigerians appropriately as to what cryptocurrency really meant and what disruption it was meant to address. So, we now came up because before now, we had a deep background on its trading. We decided to reappraise the image of Cryptocurrency as it were in Nigeria.

Also, at several conferences we have been all over the world, we realised that Africans are non-existent on several cryptocurrency trading platforms. Just like we have the Nigerian Stock Exchange with several companies trading on its platform, there are also several participating bodies that trade value among us. The sad thing here is that Africans are non-existent on any Cryptocurrency exchange whether in US, Asia or Europe. This is also true when one considers Cryptocurrency graph. The Asians are up there; Europe and America are there too, but Africa is non- existent. Our function at Crypto Plus Certified is basically to close the knowledge gap so that people can take advantage available and then Nigeria can be enlisted on what we call the global Cryptocurrency exchange.

We trace the current state of Cryptocurrency trading to a slowness of adoption. The federal government is yet to adopt a framework for the implementation of blockchain that can give rise to participation. Several countries have done that but for some reasons it has not happened in Nigeria.

You have a dream to raise and establish 1,000 Nigerians on the Poloniex Exchange. What is the implementation plan put in place to achieve this and why the choice of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt?

We need to make it clear that Nigeria is a country with many opportunities. We also need to state that Bitcoin came into Nigeria with a wrongly perceived image, and on the wrong platform. So, our first goal is to take the responsibility to repair that image, and then reappraise the benefits and enlist Nigeria as a participator in the normal trading of Cryptocurrency.
In order to achieve that, we launched what we called, ‘Dream 1000’. It is all about trading on Poloniex which is the largest Crypto exchange in America and we are currently working with them on releasing a mobile platform strictly for Nigerians and it will work as an arbitrage with our own exchange which will come from Germany. We want to work as an arbitrage so that they will trade on our own platform via the mobile interface. Nigerians can be taught on how to trade this currency easily, and our strategy is very unique because the mobile application is actually enhanced to be able to reduce all the variables of a trading system. Since we launched the ‘Dream 1000’ recently in Lagos, we have had some of our students who were able to distinguish themselves with the level of knowledge we passed to them and they are going to show Nigerians that we are serious about what we are here to do.

How has the response been like?

I grew up in Nigeria before I decided to relate with other countries for business reasons. One thing I know about Nigerians is that they respond to results. So, the first thing we want to identify is, we want to be able to have people who have had results and that is why all the events we have done, we have been showcasing people that distinguished themselves, those that we gave the knowledge and they applied it and got results. We want to be inspired by results and not just belief.

Can Bitcoin be regulated? What about Bitcoin and taxes?

Those conversant with information coming out of crypto plus certified would have noticed that Nigeria is currently on a discourse on how to regulate Cryptocurrency trading based on several frameworks. I have several write-ups regarding this. Cryptocurrency trading as it were is decentralized and this is why the banking system cannot operate it. It is decentralized because of its nature. For instance, Bitcoin as it were, does not have a management interface and that is why the regulation has not been somewhat forthcoming. But it is found to be very secured and has an ability to store values. That has been the reason for all the inquiries on how do we have a framework for a kind of currency that has thus kind of features? Sometimes, it takes time, but individuals are working and several people have stored values on it and exchanged it with another. The US is an example where Poloniex is operating. So looking at it more objectively, the regulatory framework and the operational climate go hand in hand but they can be mutually exclusive.

 Bringing it to a layman’s understanding, what are the advantages of Bitcoin and how does Bitcoin work?

In a layman’s way, I would like to use the similitude of changing one currency to another, for instance. If you have some Naira notes and you want to change to Dollar, knowing the exchange rate that relates one to the other will be very helpful. Now to a layman if I bring my Naira and want to buy a Dollar, I will change the Naira to a Dollar based on the foreign exchange rate agreed between the person selling the Dollar and myself. Now imagine where you have the Bureau de Change in the middle and you have the buyer, that is, the demand, on one side and the supplier on the other side; that is the way it works. The person at the middle collects commissions from two persons. The buyer sells at a price based on demand and supply. So, if the demand is higher than supply, the price is likely to go up. If I’m able to read that the demand and price for a thing I bought and own have gone up and I sell it, now the difference between what I bought and what I am selling now that the price has gone up is my own profit. That is the basic analysis of how it works.

Demand for Cryptocurrency…what are your training modules like? The fee, process, and duration?

Training is 30 days and we have a huge demand for it and because of this, we have set up world class training hubs in the three geopolitical zones Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. So, demand is already there. We have a structure that accommodates different levels of trading – the strategic portfolio building and robotics. Our modules cover; Introduction to Cryptocurrency Trading – CPC 101, Cryptocurrency Masterclass – Advanced Trading CPC 102, Trading Engaging Robotics – CPC 103. People are already aware of what Cryptocurrency is; it will be wrong for us to say that people are not aware of it. The only thing is that there is a knowledge gap on how to use it and take advantage of the value in it, and that is what we are trying to close up.

Is there any risk attached to Cryptocurrency… Is Bitcoin legal? And how secure is Bitcoin?

The idea of trading Cryptocurrency and the national legal framework is mutually exclusive. Trading on Cryptocurrency can be done when someone knows how to handle it. The reason for the legal framework is to protect the participators because when there is no third party that puts power in the hands of those that know the ‘Whats’ and ‘Hows’. Bitcoin is safe and this knowledge is out there. You are your own bank. Records are protected by mathematical laws and are irreversible. The Blockchain technology protects its addresses and have histories on an open ledger, and is always available and transparent for anyone to confirm.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

ETHBITS Gets Green Light for New Copy Trading Cryptocurrency Exchange

ETHBITS Gets Green Light for New Copy Trading Cryptocurrency Exchange

   ETHBITS Gets Green Light for New Copy Trading Cryptocurrency Exchange

ETHBITS Gets Green Light for New Copy Trading Cryptocurrency Exchange

Cryptocurrency exchange provider Ethbits has reached its minimum funding goal signaling that development on a new iTrade platform will now begin. The UK-based company has already built a peer to peer  Cryptocurrency exchange, called Ethbits Local, to facilitate secure trades between people from bank accounts to cryptocurrency. Ethbits Local will offer the ability to trade face-to-face across a range of cryptocurrencies, a unique feature that is in high demand.

Given the current success of the crowd sale, Ethbits Local will now start development of Ethbits iTrade, an exciting new cryptocurrency exchange which will not only act as a standard exchange but also has a copy trade feature, where new traders can copy professionals and experienced traders can gain followers to maximize their profits. Ethbits Local will launch in May, immediately after the crowd sale ends followed closely by iTrade.

"Reaching our Minimum goal within the 1st week is super exciting, as a result the copy trading exchange is now in development. We are at the start of something ground breaking in the crypto world and the more support we can get, the faster we can grow and the more rewards we can generate for the token holders. We will now implement provably fair profit sharing to ensure the continued confidence in our company." Monty Singh, CEO, Ethbits LIMITED

Support for the platform has been strong with 300 contributors acquiring Ethbits (ETB) tokens. ETB gives the holder access to up to 40% of gross profit from trading fees, depending on how much is raised by the end of the crowdsale. ETB tokens can also be used to pay for transaction fees on the exchange ensuring the volume of the token remains a high as possible, driving both of the platforms. iTrade will launch with the top 15 cryptocurrencies on offer with plans to diversify further as the exchange grows.

Ethbits has just announced that it will partner with BCB ATM – an expanding Bitcoin ATM service based in the UK. Ethbits iTrade platform will be linked to BCB ATM's to help people find crypto traders in their local area. The crowdfund will run until 13th May at 5pm UTC. To get involved visit a website. Participants will receive 100 ETB for 1 ETH until Saturday 22nd April when the price will increase.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

 

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Cryptocurrency explainer: Everything you need to know

Cryptocurrency explainer:
Everything you need to know

  

Everything you need to know CryptoCurrency Bitcoin Stack

If you’ve ever had a company or friend offer to pay you with Bitcoins or another type of digital money, you’ve encountered cryptocurrency, also called crypto-money or cryptoassets. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that is created through the use of encryption software. This approach is a solution to security and control issues that prevented a purely digital currency from being successfully developed in the past. If you hear someone talking about one of these currencies, it’s almost certainly in a cryptocurrency format. This type of digitally created and secured money is currently in a period of very cool experimentation, so let’s take a look at how it work, why it’s popular, and where cryptocurrency is heading in the future.

How does cryptocurrency work?

DopaMINE Cryptocurrency Mining Case

How does a currency exist in a totally digital format? What is it based on? While the process varies a little between different cryptocurrencies, they all follow the same general system. First, cryptocurrency chooses a base unit and how much that particular unit is worth when compared to other currencies (often, the U.S. dollar is used as a baseline). Some cryptocurrencies are more imaginative than others at this point. They try to represent debt registries, contracts, or the act of currency exchange itself. It can get a little weird, but ultimately the unit in some way relates to the value of other currency, as is true of all currencies in the world.

Units of cryptocurrency are then created, typically when a transaction occurs. The units are carefully formed and preserved through algorithmic encryption, then linked together in vast chains of data, where the currency can be tracked and exchanged. However, at this point, cryptocurrency is still too vulnerable and too easy to fake. The currency units need to be time stamped processed to make them more concrete and harder to copy. A third party developer can do this, but most cryptocurrencies prefer to crowdsource the process to those with the right hardware and software to “mine” the currency.

Mining uses algorithms to go through each transaction, encrypt the cryptocurrency, and add it to a digital ledger, essentially verifying it and cementing its position online. This process may also be referred to as “consensus protocols” or “consensus platforms,” depending on the currency. This process is meant to make the currency impossible to duplicate, though whether it’s successful is up for some debate. Some cryptocurrencies are highly centralized, with someone — usually the organization that created the process/software — making decisions about how much currency is created and how it is used. Other types are very decentralized, controlled only by how and where people are willing to use them.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Weekly Round-Up and Cryptocurrency Markets Update

Weekly Round-Up and
Cryptocurrency Markets Update

   

Last week saw Bitfury striking xxxxxx

a deal with the Ukranian government to put the latter’s data on a Blockchain platform. The deal will ensure blockchain recordings for areas like public health and services, state registers, energy and social security. In a twist, High Tech Private Equity Fund SICAV plc is reported to have acquired nChain, a Blockchain company associated with Wright Craig, the man who once claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto. The company plans to make available their intellectual property assets to the blockchain community via royalty-free licensing and open sourcing.

An initial Coin Offer intended for mining activities to support the signaling of Bitcoin Unlimited has been halted as a result of not reaching its goal. The ICO was allegedly linked to Chinese Angel Investor in Bitcoin and Ethereum Classic, Chandler Guo. On the Bitcoin Network scaling front, the world’s largest Bitcoin mining pool, F2Pool has declared its support for Segwit. Wang Chun, Owner of F2Pool revealed on Friday that 56 percent of his network members are in support of Segwit.

Eventually, the advent toward mainstream adoption of blockchain gets after Mark Carney, Bank of England’s Governor, claimed blockchain technology can save banks tens of billions of dollars a year. The governor was speaking International Fintech Conference last week in London, where he further revealed that the next generation of Britain’s interbank wire system will be blockchain-compatible.

Market Updates (as of Monday)

Bitcoin’s current price recovery

is outstanding despite the fact that the scaling debate is still raging on. Some experts believe it is being driven by mainstream adoption in Japan. As at 22:00 GMT, Bitcoin has appreciated by 0.22 percentage point and its market value was $1180.73 maintaining the number one position on CoinMarketCap. Ethereum is still holding on to the 2nd spot and has kept the velocity from the current altcoin rally although it lost 0.82 percent today. Its market price was $48.49.

After a stratospheric rise that resulted in Ripple ousting Dash from number three, it has slow down to some degree. The cross-border transfer crypto with KYC was selling at $0.033308 with a 1.33 percent downward adjustment. The battle for number four is so titanic. For three days now, Litecoin and Dash has been dislodging each other to take over momentarily. However, at the time of filing this report, Dash was reigning with a 0.21 percent depreciation, posting an exchange rate of $75.23. Litecoin also took a fall of 1.02% and was being sold for $10.71. It must be stated that the decision to implement Segwit has boosted its price and market cap.

Even though Monero was recently indicted in a finding that found out that some of its transactions are traceable, it doesn’t seem to be affected much and is still at the 6th position. It scored a negative 1.76 percentage point and the exchanges listed it for $20.38. Moreso Ethereum didn’t have a good time either. At number seven, it could be bought for $2.65 and dip 0.42 percent. With a market price of $0.024212 and 0.48 percent upward gain, NEM kept its 8th position intact. The consistency for the Smart Contract platform is impressive.

Angur with the selling rate of $11.52 and a 2.55 percent upward adjustment maintained number 9 as well as the biggest gain on top 10. In a surprising move, PIVX has pushed Maidsafecoin to the 11th position and it is now counted among the top 10 Cryptos on CoinMarketCap. This anon digital currency in a few months has established itself among the elites. It bagged a 0.93 percent growth and its price was $2.01.

Gainers And Losers

On the top 20,

Factom rose by a significant 14.37 percent. It is one of the Cryptos below top 10 that must be watched keenly. Sadly Bitconnect which was at top 10 briefly on Wednesday fell negative 26.63 percent to be the biggest loser.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

ICO Report: iEx.ec

ICO Report: iEx.ec

  

The iEx.ec project

is all about connecting Blockchain technology and cloud computing business. It aims to create a decentralized cloud and set up a marketplace for computing resources. Its founders conducted numerous scientific research over the years at prominent research institutions, such as the French INRIA and CNRS. The team has a step-by-step plan for the four years ahead. iEx.ec will rely on a set of its own technological solutions. However, the team has not done a lot of dissemination work till recently. Its track record on Github is quite modest. So the question remains open, whether the iEx.ec technological base is as good as they claim it to be.

Konstantin Lomashuk, CEO of Satoshi.Fund:

“The market of cloud computing is huge and we will see more and more new companies aiming at it. It’s really good for the decentralized ecosystem.”

iEx.ec

iEx.ec stands for “I Execute”. Headquartered in Lyon, France, the project was created in October 2016. It is a spin-off company from INRIA, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science. iEx.ec aims at starting off as a fully distributed Blockchain-based cloud platform. It is designed for distributed Blockchain-based applications (DApps) with plans to evolving into a market network for decentralized computing products and services. In total, their five editions of the project planned within four years from the launch date. The last outlined edition will represent a fully distributed platform for Blockchain computing.

Potential market

The iEx.ec market network will be designed for various participants of the distributed computing ecosystem. It will enable them to do business with each other to better monetize their products and services. Each new version of the network will be updated to host new types of participants:

  • DApps providers (version 1)
  • application and server providers (version 2)
  • data providers (version 3)
  • mining farms, miners, GPU apps providers (version 4)
  • emerging classes of applications (version 5)
  • at this stage, iEx.ec also plans to partner with telecom companies, attracting the latter, among other, with the possibility to halve their infrastructure costs, distributing small data centers along their network point-of-presence

The market network is to provide its users with

  • full traceability and trust
  • a wide range of customers and, consequently, new markets
  • an innovative Blockchain-based environment, tailored for its users’ features and needs

Competitors

The project’s closest challenger is the Golem Network. It is a decentralized economy of computing power, where one can rent it out or develop and sell software. As pointed out in iEx.ec whitepaper, the key difference between the two is that Golem, with its supercomputer, focuses mainly on High-Performance Computing (HPC) users, while iEx.ec, with its decentralized cloud, will first attract DApps and expect Cloud and HPC users to join later when the Network will evolve becoming more competitive. The economy of DApps is on the rise now, and iEx.ec seems to fit perfectly in it.

Main features

  • Desktop Grid Software XtremWeb-HEP, to enable use of any computing resources to execute compute- or data-intensive applications
  • Blockchain, to coordinate the access of computing resources to distributed apps
  • Claim of Proof-of-Contribution consensus protocol, to certify off chain contributions directly on the Blockchain
  • Matchmaking smart contracts, to pair a resource request with a resource offer according to their description
  • Simplified version of a multicriteria scheduler [MulticritSched], to enable customers to define their own preferences based on specific criteria
  • Market management framework, including API to register bids, a set of template contracts, a web user interface and JavaScript code
  • Result checking algorithm, including escrow mechanisms and a reputation system, to choose business partners from the market based on their provable reputation and on the established budget
  • Native RLC token, to pay for Application, Server and Data providers on the market network

Team

The core team members, including Gilles Fedak, Haiwu He, Oleg Lodygensky, and Mircea Moca, have an impressive research and development background in big data, grid and cloud computing. Gilles Fedak alone co-authored over 80 peer-reviewed scientific papers. The core features underlying the iEx.ec are their own developments. They were produced in the scope of their work at INRIA and CNRS. The team is also linked with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The Blockchain part is done by two experts from La Javaness, a French digital innovation accelerator. There are also a data management expert, the Energy Positive Server developer, two PR specialists and a new media expert based in the company’s China office. In the future, the team considers collaborating with several well-known European and Chinese universities in research. It also intends to obtain complementary funding through national and European research agencies.

ICO Details

  • Launch: 19 April, 2017 at 13:00 UTC
  • End: as soon as the max cap of 60.000.000 RLC is reached (otherwise – in 30 days)
  • Max RLC total supply: 87,000,000 RLC
  • Max RLC sold by crowdsale: 60,000,000 RLC
  • RLC minimum objective: 10,000,000 RLC
  • Both BTC and ETH are accepted
  • 1 BTC = 5000 RLC
  • USD/ETH – to be defined at the start of ICO, according to the ETHBTC rate
  • 20% bonus – April 19 to April 29
  • 10% bonus – April 29 to May 9
  • Crowdsale terms and funding URL: http://crowdsale.iex.ec

Token distribution

  • Maximum of 60,000,000 RLC – crowdsale
  • 12,000,000 RLC to 15,000,000 RLC – founders, team and early investors
  • 1,700,000 RLC to 6,000,000 RLC – a fund for developers, to be distributed in the form of bounty grants, marketing actions, and research grants
  • 1,700,000 RLC to 6,000,000 RLC – special contingency reserve (not sold on markets)

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member