Friday, May 18, 2012

Google, Chicken Fingers, and Marie Curie

Interesting blog from Google, lately...what? What's that? You don't keep up with Google's blog, and how their search engine works? Oh, right. That's why you hired us, right? Well, at any rate, there's a blog that they posted that is interesting to normal people, not just us geeky types that work at Addison Tech. It seems that they are slowly rolling out a new, more intelligent way of gleaning search results for their users, that they are calling the Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph will be able to tell more precisely what you are searching for, when you type “chicken fingers” into Google—ie, that you are wanting nearby restaurants who serve chicken fingers, rather than the origins for the chicken strip being called a “finger.”

That's great, you say. But how do they know what I'll be asking about? Are they spying on me? No, quit being so paranoid. They're looking at what other people are searching for, and clicking on when they search for chicken fingers. By the fact that few are looking at historical origins of chicken fingers, they know that the probability of you wanting that is low, therefore the higher clicked options—restaurants, recipes, etc, will rate higher on your search results. Google also says they're looking at relationships now, as well. So your chicken finger search may result in things that are related-but-not-precisely chicken fingers (the example they used was of Marie Curie and her family...much more effective than the chicken finger thing that we've been using here. No, really. Go read the blog post.) Both factors will influence your search results, therefore giving you—hopefully--a better and more accurate searching experience. Which will in turn help us at Addison Tech give your website a better ranking out in the interwebz.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

QR codes: Great marketing tool or mark of the beast?

Yeah, we get that question quite a bit, actually. Whenever a new technology comes out, and gets popular, people ask “is it the mark of the beast?” It's a modified bar code, people, we're not asking that you tattoo it on your head/hand. But past that, the question of is it a good marketing tool depends on who is asking the question. As with anything, some technologies are a better fit than others. But QR codes are unique in that they can fit with most every business, and most every person, in one way or another.

Ok, ok, I’ll slow down just a moment. QR codes are not from the dark underlord, but what precisely are they? QR is short for "Quick Response" code, which is a two dimensional bar code. Being two dimensional, rather than one (like the traditional bar codes that you all know and love,) means that it can hold much more information. They are a square with smaller dots on it, with three squares within it, one in each corner. Anyone with a smart phone and a free barcode app can then scan the QR code. Great, but then what? Then, the code can do any number of things—it can take the user to a web page, it can automatically add contact information into the user's phone, it can send a SMS, tweet a specific text on twitter, automatically do a location check-in on Foursquare or Facebook; the operations are limitless

Right, then. But who actually are the people who use the QR codes? In easy terms—just about anyone who has a smart phone. Oh, but you want numbers, ok. The digital market research firm comScore found that roughly 20.1 million people scanned QR codes within a three month average period, ending in October 2011. For such a relatively new technology, that is huge. As more and more people become smart phone users, and more businesses offer QR code options, those numbers will continue to increase.

So, pretend you're a business owner (If you already are a business person, then you're doing great! Keep it up. Everyone else, pretend.) As a business owner, you need to be learning now how to creatively and uniquely provide valuable (ie, not spam) information to your customers and clients. However, that does not mean that you should ever use QR codes (or any technology, for that matter, m'kay?) simply because everyone else is, or because it's cool, or because it's the norm. Remember the lectures about peer pressure from school? Well even if all the other kids are doing it, if it's not a good fit for your business, then you shouldn't do it. Period. But if it would be an asset for your company and for your customers, then you should consult with a professional. With their help, you can get it streamlined into your business plan.

Right, so you do think it QR codes would be a bonus for your business? Well, aren't you in luck? You know some qualified professionals at Addison Technologies who can help you out. Contact us and set up a conception consultation (that sounds kinkier than it is, really. We'll brainstorm with you.) and get things lined up to help you apply this technology correctly.