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Apple’s Fixed Layout for Illustrated eBooks

I just participated in a webinar about Apple’s new fixed layout for illustration-type eBooks put on by Aptara. It was really well done and I walked away with a lot of great ideas for a couple of new books that I am producing.

While traditional ePub formatting is perfect for novels and non-fiction titles where text needs to be searchable and re-flow to fit any reading device, Apple’s new fixed layout specs allow you to create more “PDF-like” layouts that stay true to the look-and-feel of a print version (while remaining searchable). This is great for illustrated children’s books, comic strips, etc. where the layout and typography is key to the reader experience.

I’ve published five traditional eBooks on iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon so far, but I have an idea for a cookbook, and fixed layout seems like the perfect fit for this new project since I want beautiful, full-bleed images of the meals to be the highlight of the experience. It’s proprietary to Apple and so it only works on iPads and iPhones, but I can create a simplified version for Kindle.

eBook idea for Contrary Cook

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Blogging for SEO

Consumers are skeptical…now more than ever. They don’t know your company from atom (or is it Adam?). A blog can help you to build trust and to define your reputation and build credibility. The actions (e.g. words) you take now can and will determine the future behavior of your potential customers. With a successful blog, you will be seen as the expert in your field,a trusted advisor, and you will be able to gain a leg up on your competition. As the ‘group’ (group think) opinion of you gets stronger (through blog comments, word-of-mouth, etc.), your reputation will grow, seeds will start sprouting, and things will really start happening with your business.

What an easy way to build trust with complete strangers, eh?

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The Google +1 button for websites is here!

So Google’s been rolling out this “+1” concept for a few of months now, and we’re finally able to integrate the +1 button into our own content to let people recommend it to others on Google search. It just takes two lines of code to add it to your website.

Here’s a live example of the +1 button integrated into this blog post:

Go ahead! If you “like” and recommend this post, click the “1” folder above.

Seriously, here’s why adding a Google’s +1 button to your site is important:

  1. Google is the #1 search engine in the world and people trust them. When people recommend your content, their friends and contacts will also see it and it becomes like a personal recommendation. People trust their friends, so their acquaintances will be more inclined to click your link rather than a competitor. Combine these two trust factors and your have a win-win situation for all party’s involved.
  2. It’s a new feature, so people will notice it more. Your listing will become more visible. +1 recommendations will stick out like sore thumb in the short-term. It’s important now, more than ever, to write great Title tags and META descriptions to entice users to click.
  3. Will it help to improve your organic search rankings? Google will never tell. But my feeling is, when a user clicks your link, Google can tell if you thought that link was relevant (e.g. you didn’t hit the ‘back’ button immediately, how long you stayed on the page, you bookmarked it, etc.). This sends a signal to Google that you thought that the content was relevant. It may be more noticeable for personalized search rather than in the general index, but it will be counted as a ranking factor, both ways.
  4. It’s pretty much like the “Like” button in Facebook. People are now familiar with that concept, and will be more likely to recommend you because of this familiarity. It’s like giving your stamp of approval or endorsement on a page or URL, just like on Facebook. You should start seeing better qualified traffic from Google.
  5. Google is now counting “Social Signals” in their algorithm (So I guess that further clarifies item #3). At the PubCon conference I attended in 2010, Google made it crystal clear they were factoring in Twitter mentions and re-tweets and Facebook ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ as a positive signal of relevance.
  6. It’s stupid simple to implement, Google will appreciate it, so why wouldn’t you do it?


Apparently there is an issue with the +1 Button rendering in IE8. Go figure. Below are some screenshots of the results for those who have crappy browsers. Here is the documentation to implement your own.

google +1 results screenshot

Google +1 update screenshot