About the Harvard Digital

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Welcome to the Harvard Digital. I am extremely grateful for my education so far at Harvard, so this blog is my way of giving back to the Harvard community. I created this blog to provide free digital marketing education to Harvard students and organisations based off two years of experience in the digital marketing industry. I apologise in advance for any bad English, as it is not my first language. But I hope you can make use of the tips and tricks in the Harvard Digital. If there is anything that you don’t fully understand from the blog, please feel free to get in touch!

3 Analogies to Understand SEO Better

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SEO can be a confusing and dreaded term if you are not particularly technically oriented. Yet, it’s a term we encounter almost on a daily basis, especially if you run a small business, a marketing campaign or a website. SEO is a commonly used acronym for search engine optimisation. But what exactly is it? The techniques you may have heard about five years ago is not the same as optimisation techniques being in use today. It changes with the times, so it’s not easy to keep up with changing trends. Understandably, this makes SEO sort of a complicated mess everyone is trying to understand.

Though SEO can be sometimes complex and intricate, the overall process is not that difficult to understand. If you have a tech background in how search engine algorithms work, you will probably understand some of the esoteric SEO concepts better. But even if you don’t, there are plenty of easy ways to understand what SEO is and how it works. Read ahead to find simple explanations of SEO with analogies that will make the concept easy to understand for people with non-tech backgrounds:

1.    SEO is the Stereotypical High School

Think of high school here in the manner Hollywood, and countless teen novels, portray it. If you have seen movies like Grease or Mean Girls, you know every high school has a hierarchy. At the top are the popular kids, the ones everyone else is always trying to impress. Everyone wants to hang out with the popular kids, and maybe even be a bit like them. Now, think of Google as the most popular kid in high school. SEO are the things the non-popular kids do to get Google to like them and hang out with them.

Google, however, is not down with hanging out with everyone. Google has certain criteria or requirements that deem someone (a website) worthy of hanging out (getting on top of search engine results). SEO is essentially the things the non-popular kids do to meet the standards of Google. When it comes down to it, SEO is just a big popularity contest.

2.    SEO is a Chess Game

Chess, everyone knows, is a popular game that requires a significant amount of skill. Anyone can play chess, but you can play better if you gain more knowledge of the game and hone your technique. SEO works in a comparably similar manner. Anyone can conduct a simple optimisation, like adding a keyword. But the true masters of SEO have spent time understanding the concepts behind the process and improving the methods.

If you have already heard about “simple” SEO tactics like using keywords, adding tags, and building backlinks, keep in mind that there’s more to it than meets the eye. Using keywords on a blog will not instantly move it to the top of the Google search results. You need to step back and look at the whole board, so to speak, in order for SEO tactics to work as intended.

3.    SEO is Dating

Well, SEO can be a bit like dating. If you have ever dated, you know how the process goes. You are looking for someone who appeals to your preferences, and at the same time you are trying to be appealing to someone else with your looks, personality and so on. This is the sort of relationship Google has with websites. Google is looking for sites that appeal to the algorithm according to a set of standards. And the websites are trying to do their best in terms of looks and content to appeal to Google. There will be a checklist that websites need to tick off before Google accepts them. The checklist is SEO.

Does that make sense now? Hopefully, the analogies helped you understand SEO in easy terms. It’s easy, but also complex. If you spent some time, you will definitely understand the techniques involved without a doubt.

How to Choose the Right App Developer

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Ready to build an app for your small business? First, you will need to find a really good app developer who can deliver exactly what you need. Keep in mind that finding the right app developer could be a lengthy process. So, know the following things about choosing a good developer so you know what to do without wasting time:

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Check Out Precious Work

If you have an app developer in mind, check out the previous work he or she has done before you call. You can go to the app marketplaces for iOS or Android and download the apps to make sure they are any good. If you are hiring from an app development firm, go to the company’s website and check out the portfolio. It should show the type of apps the company has developed. It will give you a good idea whether the app developer is actually a good fit to deliver your expectations for the app.

Call on References

As you would when hiring a regular employee, you must check out the references of an app developer. Most individuals and companies include these in the resume or portfolio. Don’t be impressed by seeing a famous name on the list. Call up the references and get a recommendation before you hire the developer. If you hear much positive feedback from multiple references, then the app developer must be doing something right.

Check Out Online Reviews and Directories

Some app developers are listed on online directories, and some are even rated online. Check out these ratings and read the reviews in addition to calling on references. Do not judge the app developer solely based on online reviews. They could be written by anyone. But do use these reviews in an comprehensive analysis before hiring an app developer.

Ask for Sample Work

Developing an app as a sample is not an easy task. But, if possible, ask the app developer to do a small task for you. This should indicate what working with the person would be like. So, once you have narrowed down your list, sample work could be the defining factor.

Make Sure the Developer with Familiar with the Platform You Want for Your App

The app developer should be very familiar with the type of device and platform you want the app to be on. App developers specialise on android, iOS or crossplatform software. If you want an app for both Android and iOS devices, you need to hire a crossplatform developer who use generic type of coding. On the other hand, if you want the app to be available on Apple Watch you will need a developer who is very familiar with iOS and watchOS platforms. Clarify this before you hire.

Ask about Development Stage Work

There are different ways app developers works. Some only design the user interface for the app to make it appealing to the masses. Other developers do the hard coding that makes the app possible. Some companies or individuals charge additionally for one stage of work. You should probably hire a developer who can give you a single quote for all work involved for the sale of convenience and getting things done on time.

Also, the developers should have the right resources to test the app before launching. Once all this criteria had been met, you will be able to hire the right developer for your company’s app. ht resources to test the app before launching. Once all this criteria had been met, you will be able to hire the right developer for your company’s app.

Use Progressive JPEGs to Keep your Website Lightning Fast

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The JPEG image format is known for rendering vivid and stunning photos, especially on websites. However, many websites experience this downside where using too many JPEGs lead to a slowing of page load speed. Keeping website load time to a minimum is crucial for attracting and retaining traffic. You can significantly improve your page load speed if you choose progressive JPEGs over baseline JPEGs, along with a premium web hosting provider. It’s understandable if you are confused by the two terms. Read ahead to find out more information on this topic and understand why you need to use progressive JPEGs on your website.

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The Difference between Baseline Progressive JPEGs

Baseline JPEGs can be roughly defined as standard JPEGs everyone uses. A progressive JPEG, on the other hand, is created using compressed algorithms. These compression algorithms load the image in successive stages. If you were to watch a progressive JPEG load in slow motion, you notice that large, blurry pixels loading first and then the image gets clearer. On the the other hand, baseline JPEGs load line by line from the top to bottom.

The Advantage of Using Progressive JPEGs

Less Bulk

Obviously the biggest advantage of a progressive JPEG is that there’s less bulk thanks to compressed algorithms. Less bulk means your site can load quite fast without anything slowing it down. Progressive JPEGs are particularly useful for mobile responsive themes. Mobile sites can easily get overwhelmed by bulky images. So, progressive JPEGs are an excellent and speedy solution to slow-loading baseline JPEGs.

Visual Impression of Speed

Not only do progressive JPEGs actually load fast, they give the user the visual impression of loading really fast. Baseline JPEGs load part by part, so if the loading is stuck, the user knows that the web page is not loading as fast as it should. With progressive JPEGs, the image appears in whole, even if blurry, and gets clearer, so the impression is that the image has already loaded.

Reduce White Space when Loading

Baseline JPEGs unceremoniously leave large swaths of white space when loading line by line. Progressive JPEGs do not pose such aesthetic problems so you can definitely improve the overall user experience on your site by switching to progressive JPEGs.

High Browser Compatibility

Progressive JPEGs work well with all popular internet browsers, including Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer. Even less used browsers like Opera have high compatibility with progressive JPEGs. Problematic browser compatibility issues only affect users of Internet Explorer 8 or below. Progressive JPEGs can load even if the browser is not compatible. However, in this scenario the image will only appear after fully loading.

Creating Progressive JPEGs

Image software by default save JPEGs in the baseline format. So you will have to convert the baseline JPEGs to progressive ones using a tool.

If you are using an image editor software like Photoshop, you can choose to save JPEGs in the progressive format. Something similar can be done with Fireworks and ImageMagick. However, with this latter two, you will have to manually load the image on the software program and then resave it.

Until very recently, a program called Smushit was the most popular tool to convert baseline JPEGs to progressive ones. Smushit is no longer in business. The latest and best alternative is Kraken.io, which is a converter tool for JPEGs. You can access it online or through platforms like WordPress.

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