Microsoft Launches New Office Suite

Microsoft Launches New Office Suite
Microsoft has launched a new version of its Office software suite. Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook have been redesigned to work better with touch-screen-controlled computers. They also integrate the firm’s Skype video chat facility. Users can add further functions via a new app store.

The programs account for a major part of Microsoft’s earnings. The firm hopes to keep users loyal by offering more powerful features than cheaper online alternatives. In the last year the firm’s Business Division, which creates the software, generated just under $24bn (£15.2bn), roughly a third of the firm’s revenue. However, a 4% dip in the US company’s most recent quarterly profits was linked to the fact that many consumers had held off buying the older version of the software ahead of the revamp.

If it proves a success it might also drive sales of new Windows 8 or Windows RT-powered computers, which can take advantage of the applications’ improved touch controls. Studies suggest users are switching to the systems at a slower rate than they adopted Windows 7 and Windows Vista. Microsoft confounded rumours by not releasing a version of the Office software for Apple’s iPad tablets. It has also decided not to offer the products on Android devices.

Cloud Storage The retooled software offers a touch mode that makes several of its controls bigger so they are more finger-friendly as well as including the ability to swipe and pinch-and-zoom documents. Files can also be viewed in “read mode”, which displays them in a format that particularly suits tablets. By default, files are saved to the firm’s SkyDrive online cloud storage facility, although users can choose to save them on their hard drive if they wish.

Additional plug-ins are available from a new Office Store. These include the ability to add Twitter functionality to the Outlook email tool and to consult Encyclopaedia Britannica articles from within Word. Many of these are free, although US firm Sensei Project Solutions is among the first to charge a fee, for its “task analyser”, which is designed to identify problems or missing information in users’ documents.

Subscription Bundles Consumers can buy the suite for use on one PC for $140 – £110 in the UK – but Microsoft appears to favour a subscription deal for its Office 365 Home Premium edition, which is the focus of the promotional activity on its site. This charges $100 (£80) for one year’s access on up to five PCs or Macs and bundles in 60 minutes of Skype calls a month as well as more SkyDrive storage. The prices mark a discount on the fees the company used to charge for Office, reflecting the competition it faces from the growing popularity of cheap and free alternative applications offered by Google, Zoho, Apache OpenOffice and others. “Over the past two years Office has been Microsoft’s largest revenue stream,” Colin Gillis, senior tech analyst at BGC Partners, told the BBC. “But it’s more than just sales – it’s the glue that keeps users coming to the Windows operating system. It’s the one thing that the iPad doesn’t have. Microsoft is missing out on revenue by not selling it for Apple’s device and at some point they may have to in order to prevent an alternative blossoming – but for now it gives an edge to Windows and the company’s own Surface devices.”

A version of the online Office 365 apps for businesses is due for release on 27 February.

Cyber Resilience Initiative

UK Government Signs Cyber Resilience Initiative
The UK government has signed up to an initiative to help countries and companies work together to make themselves safer from cyber attacks. It is the latest signatory of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Partnering for Cyber Resilience initiative. Speaking at Davos, UK Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said nations had to work together to tackle what was one of the top four threats to the UK.

Brussels is due to make an announcement on the subject on 7 February.

Mr Maude said protection against cyber crime was currently not as strong as that against things like terrorism or tackling the drugs trade. “Only by working together can we ensure the world can continue to realise the benefits of the internet,” he said.

European Union digital commissioner Neelie Kroes said measures to be introduced in February would require EU member states to cooperate with each other. The WEF principles requite signatories to recognise the importance of cooperation, develop risk management programmes and encourage partners and suppliers to adopt the same commitments.

Mr Maude quoted Ian Livingstone, chief executive of BT as saying, “There are two types of chief executives: those that know they’ve been attacked and those that don’t.” The minister stressed that hacking was already illegal so what was needed was for companies to work together to fight the threats. Earlier this month, a committee of MPs warned that the UK was being complacent about the threat to national security from a cyber attack on the armed forces.

Cyber attacks threaten governments, companies and individuals, which all rely on internet access. Without protection, hackers may be able to prevent any of them using online services or steal sensitive information.

Jolyon Barker from Deloitte, who advises WEF on the subject, said the cyber threat was “like a disease epidemic – if you don’t get inoculated you put everyone at risk”. He said the key was to train employees to act responsibly to stop hackers being able to gain access to networks, plan how you would inform other companies of an attack, and prepare how you would keep the company going under attack. He added that the security work was critical if things like banking services on mobile phones or online voting were to catch on.

John Herring, founder of a mobile app called Lookout, said that the mobile word was crucial to maximising cyber security. “Everything is becoming connected – there are devices you wear that keep track of your heart rate and thermostats that connect through wifi – so cellular infrastructure has become critical infrastructure,” he said. “We’re starting to see bad guys migrating to mobile.”

Lookout uses reports of problems with other apps to warn other users’ mobile devices of a potential threat.

Making a Website Work for your Business

Making a Website Work for your Business
In a perfect world, SEO would be developed while a website is still in infancy. While this ideal situation rarely occurs, the following steps summarise the process as it should occur every time.

Key Phrase Strategy and Website Development Before building your website, you must have a keyword strategy. Select key phrases that are relevant to your business and receive an acceptable level of traffic. It is often appropriate, particularly for smaller / new businesses, to avoid the most competitive phrases where the level of competition you would be up against would be significant. You can always develop to these phrases as your business grows.

Once you have selected your keywords you can begin to develop the website using basic SEO site structure principles. These include the Meta titles, Meta descriptions, linking strategy, clear site navigation, optimised coding and great content.

Web Analytics Try to include some web analytics platform that will allow you to monitor users are coming from and what search terms they are using. One free example is Google Analytics which provides a reasonable level of feedback on the traffic levels and sources to your website. This information will enable you to monitor and update your website to try and achieve the best results possible within your market sector.

Driving Traffic to the Website Obvious really, but look to get your web pages listed in the main search engines as quickly as you can.  You can submit the website, but also look to get your URL linked to from websites already in the search engines. Subscribe to directories and develop a strategy for effective link building. Remember, with links, it’s about quality, not quantity; a handful of links on top-notch sites is worth hundreds of links on irrelevant, insignificant sites.

Incorporate off site and traditional marketing methods. For example, include your web address on your stationary and have it displayed on the side of company vehicles.

Consider employing the services of an Internet Marketing specialist to help with the Search Engine process. At Direct Submit we regularly see clients who have spent thousands on a website assuming, the traffic will just come, only to find their lovely looking website is not SEO friendly and they have no identifiable SEO strategy in place.

Monitor, Evaluate & Refine After you campaign has run for a time, review and look to assess how the project has been working. Are your keywords receiving the most traffic and bringing in the best ROI, is your website listed in the major search engines and do you need to update /refine the website content.

Internet Marketing by Direct Submit

Landing Pages for PPC

Understanding Landing Pages for PPC
Do not invest large sums of money into PPC advertising, such as Google Adwords, without first thinking about landing pages. A landing page, often referred to by PPC systems as the target URL or destination URL, is the page that people are sent to when they click a link to your site. In this context, of course, a landing page is a page that a PPC ad points to.

A good landing page helps sell. It’s the first step in the process of convincing the visitor to your site to buy from you. Thus, when you point a PPC ad to your site, in many cases, you won’t want to simply point to your home page. Why? If you sell 100 products and your ad is pushing a particular product. Pointing to your home page may not effectively promote the product and may result in you losing a lot of potential customers.

For further information on developing a succesful Pay per Click  and online marketing campaign contact Direct Submit Internet Marketing.

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SEO and Link Development

SEO and Link Development
Search engines love links, and so should you in developing your Internet Marketing project.  On page Search Engine Optimisation, whilst important should represent only a part of your SEO strategy, acquiring quality, relevant in-bound links should also be high on your agenda. Examples of good inbound links would include:

A) Links from a website or directory that relates closely to your content or market sector. B) Links located within the body of the content of the source website, using ‘anchor text’ based on your keywords or key phrase in them. c) Direct links not just your homepage but, where appropriate, to the relevant content pages.

We all know that links are a core part of Google’s ranking algorithm, but often achieving these good quality links is more difficult than it looks. In some case you could consider paying for inks from quality directories or upgrading a free link to one that includes a key phrase rich text link to a page within your site.

Make sure you have the type of quality content that makes people want to link to you. That old SEO statement still rings true, ‘Content is King’.  Not only will this approach help generate link popularity, but it will also help you in other ways, too.

Search engines love good quality relevant content, all of which will help you succeed with your ongoing SEO campaign.

How do you find out who’s already linking to you? Go to Yahoo search, type in linkdomain:www. yourcompany.com and it will return a list of sites that are linking to you. Google offers the same thing (type link:www.yoursite.com). Note that in our experience, Yahoo returns more comprehensive results with Google often limiting the results it delivers from these requests.

Our advice would always be to focus on quality and relevance when developing you linking strategy. Low quality links from spam sites or link farms could hurt your rankings and the golden rule should always be ‘quality, not quantity’.

Internet Marketing by Direct Submit