Dear Sir,

This is regarding your recent attempt to control content posted on the internet. You being one of the very few politicians I have respect and faith in, I am sure your actions were intended for good and comes from the right place. But any attempt to curtail information on the internet will be futile and it will not only cause a major uproar, but also it will cause a major disruption in the daily lives of millions who use the internet for genuine purposes.

Internet, as you might know has been a major boon for information sharing and communication in India over the past decade. It has changed the way we fundamentally live our lives today. The power of the Internet has been causing sea waves of change in every main stream area like education, business, entertainment, health, travel, tourism and every other segment one can imagine. As of November 2011, there are about 100 million active internet users in India, which is growing exponentially thanks to cheaper broadband and mobile internet access made possible by recent reforms.
Even a small medicine like Aspirin  has side effects. The Internet like any other is not without its cons. There are hundreds of negative things one can explore using the internet. There is widespread impersonation, identity theft, information on making homemade bombs and even unnatural sex.

But its benefits, like the little aspirin, far outweigh its disadvantages which include millions of jobs, innovations, aspiring entrepreneurs with amazing ideas on how internet can help India scale new heights and bridging the growing gap between the rich and the poor in terms of information and international exposure.

Youth of India today are better informed thanks to the vast powerhouses of knowledge like the Wikipedia and are able to better understand the issues that confront them, enable them to research from higher education to jobs and even for the right soul mate. The information online not only enables the youth to know about the latest developments in the country, but also gain views from both sides for any issue and take better informed decisions.
There are many instances where internet has helped victims get in touch with their family in times of emergency and breaking news is usually broken online. One can watch inspiring speeches of Steve Jobs at Harvard and pay my telephone bills and taxes from the comfort of my home.

The call for ban mainly comes from not knowing how these technologies work. For example, Google has been able to provide relevant information on every search you throw at it by using secret algorithms which require almost no human intervention. Facebook is a communication tool which allows millions air their personal views and Facebook does not curtail the type of information posted on its portal unless it is deliberately offensive to a group.

A slightly offensive yet apt example for content censoring would be this particular image –

Being “offensive” or “wrong” is a very relative term. One mans views might be wrong for another, isn’t it appropriate that an individual makes the choice  after reading both sides of the coin?

Many countries across the world have tried to beat the internet and have met with major uproar and the attempts have been largely futile. Even in China, which was taken as an example by Justice Kait in his recent comment at Delhi High Court regarding content censorship, it is possible to access information if you know where to look.

As the saying goes, if you cannot beat them, join them. The internet will certainly welcome more transparency in the government and a more accessible Member of Parliament or local representative will not hurt anyone. Many popular celebrities and politicians already use the Internet to their advantage. In technologically advanced countries like the United States, President Obama and his government has openly welcomed the advancements of social media and search engines which is obvious on a visit to the White House website – http://www.whitehouse.gov/

I sincerely request you to recheck your thoughts on a digital censorship and consult with technologists before any decision is taken. And trust me, any initiative to ban or censor the internet will result in a major PR disaster and then there is the fact that, its just not possible to contain free speech!

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.
Regards,
Anand Subramanian,
Digital Entrepreneur
Kerala, India.
P.S: your official website at http://kapilsibalmp.com/ has coding bugs which does not allow me to send an email to you personally.

Wrote an email to our Minister of Communications and Information Technology – Kapil Sibal. But in the end, found that his contact form on his official website was not working. So decided to blog it and hope the power of social media and search engines will allow this email to reach him!

“pre-screen” image from http://kapilsibalprescreens.tumblr.com/

Translation: In Hindi, “kundi” is a latch, in tamil and malayalam (in baby talk atleast) it can mean the bum. Source

After almost three years of development, iteration  and reiteration, our earnest efforts on making English language easier – WordZo, is ready for launch.

WordZo is a language enhancement application which uses the normal reading process along with assisted tools for accelerated learning. This tool is aimed at students who are looking to enrich their vocabulary for better communication and for performing better in language tests such as GRE, GMAT, TOEFL and others.

WordZo application is based on research findings in applied linguistics and reading research  which consistently show a strong correlation between reading proficiency and academic success at all ages, from the primary school right through to university level: students who read a lot and who understand what they read usually attain good grades.

Features of WordZo

  • Massive Online Library – 20,000 books free to read anytime anywhere
  • Ease of Use – Clutter free and intuitive interface for concentration on the learning process.
  • Contextual learning – Get meanings, pronunciation, usage and translation quickly.
  • Multilingual Dictionary – Translate words to your local language and understand them better.
  • AnyPage Access – Use our learning engine on any website and learn more words reading your favorite content.
  • Dashboard – Personalized dashboard with interesting stats on your learning.
  • Social Media – Share your knowledge with the world through Facebook and Twitter.
  • Mobile access – Learn on the go, anywhere, anytime.
  • Revision Engine – Helps you memorize new words on fast track.

Ayruz Web Holdings cordially invites you and solicits the pleasure of your company to the launch of WordZo at the Travancore Hall in Technopark on the 15th November 2011 at 10.00AM. WordZo will be introduced to the world by the Honorable Member of Parliment, Dr. Shashi Tharoor.

The launch will be followed with a session by Mr. Jayesh JL who will be speaking on – “The Gateway to Verbal Intelligence”. Jayesh is a graduate from NIT Raipur with a MBA at Harvard who runs the Management consulting and training company – Vertex HR Management Consultants where he trains thousands of students for IAS, CAT, GRE, and GMAT. RSVP online.

Do take a ride of WordZo and send me your feedback to support my new venture!

Product Introduction

The recent reshuffle of the Google results has severely affected one of my most active websites with traffic falling more than 80%. It was one of my biggest single earners in terms of money and loosing revenue from it is a big time bad news for me.

After almost 3+ years of solid rankings and earnings, the sudden drop on the website was a surprise. The website in question was very genuine, with original content, optimized and valuable content for many keywords. Initially it was curiosity, to know why PANDA update caught my website in its filters and kicked it out of top spots.

After a lot of time spent talking to fellow friends in the industry and reading up as much as I could in the forums, I was even more confused than I ever was. I could not find a single reason why this has happened apart from the fact that the website has not been updated frequently.

Most SEO specialists I talked to are confused about the new ranking factors that has come up with the PANDA update of google and a select smart marketers are using this opportunities to use their own imagination to come up with new “ranking factors” (in finger quotes).

In short, something is changing with the way Google analyzes and ranks website. I am no longer sure about what works and what does not. Websites created in the same way for two different niches with the same quality standards, one ranks well and the other gets the boot. :-X

Today I was talking to one of my friends about his latest venture which was about selling tour and travel packages across India. He had dropped by to know how SEO and SEM can help his business. One led to another and I was soon able to help him out with a lot of marketing options on a low budget which was not rocket science and I was surprised at myself for finding so many ways to market his company without using Google at all!!

After the brainstorming, I was surprised about the world of traffic which exists without Google! Personally, over the last decade, I had been dead straight on with SEO alone so much that I did not bother about anything else other than Google to pull traffic to websites.

In this new marketing which I’d like to call “Marketing to the Islands” is about getting in touch with these small islands of targeted users and promoting your products/services to them. The reach will be much smaller in numbers, but conversions should work better than mass general marketing. It is nothing new, but if you are devastated about being given the boot or do not have enough budget for a SEO campaign here are your choices –

 

  • Guest Blogging – There are many blogs which are maintained by travel bloggers and most of these blogs have a community of readers following updates from the blogger. I am not considering the SEO advantage here in anyway, I am talking about bloggers who have friends following them on facebook, subscribed through RSS, email and any other way. Contacting these bloggers and having a post on their website about destinations along with a link to your website or a phone number should instigate interested travelers to get in touch with you.
  • Forums – There are a lot of travel related forums where frequent travellers hang out such as “India Mike” and others where there are frequently questions on planning itineraries and requests for help on choosing the right accommodation. By genuinely helping (not spamming) these travelers, there is a huge potential in revenue generation. Also, think about forums which are specific to your geography. For example, we own a forum called MyTechnopark which attracts over 100,000 pageviews a month and guess where the major traffic is from? Nope,  Not Google.
  • Group Buying – I don’t know about you, but I keep a tab on almost all the major group buying sites around my location to spot and grab good deals. By giving away your best deal on these websites, you stand to gain a lot of new clients. You can use these websites in the off-season when the rates will be lower and use the collective power of recommendations to build your business.
  • Social Networks – How much ever Google Plus tries to capture my time spent online, I am comfortable with Facebook for now.  I might soon be one of those people who stood out while everyone was busy building “authority” with Google Plus, but I am willing to take that chance for now.
  • Video Networks – I am not referring to YouTube here. I am talking about networks like Tripfilms which many travellers frequent to see places they want to visit, shot by camera wielding travelers is truly a great place to decide your next trip.
  • Other modes of Search – There is a lot of searching that goes on beyond Google, places like Just Dial have a huge number of  local lead generated every day and most of them are hot leads with genuine people looking to purchase your product or service. Thats’ valuable than a “click” from Google Adwords.

You do not really need Google to get your business off the ground. Think it is too much work? Yeah, it is, but with frequent changes in SEO these days and not everyone being sure about what works anymore, I would say “Marketing to the Islands” has a better chance of ROI than SEO at this point of time. Do let me know your thoughts on this regard and contact me if you want to share your experience with Google Algo changes.

As for me and my niche blogging, its another story blog post.

Before I left for the amazing ride to Leh, Ladakh last month, I was looking for ways to keep myself connected while on the move. My trusty Nokia E5 has a amazing battery compared to smartphones in the market today, but when I use the GPS frequently, the power drains a lot quicker. I found the perfect solution on eBay called Ideaforge Rover, a mobile charger for motor bikes.

This charger is affordable (Rs. 250/$5) including shipping and the product has been designed pretty well to protect against the usual suspects like rain, theft etc.

(left to right) Cellphone connecters, removable charging wire and battery connecting wires.

There are three parts to this charger –

  • Connecter from battery
  • Removable charger wire
  • Swappable charging pins for Nokia, Micro-USB and Sony Ericsson.

With the help of Lijo Kuriala, the charger was fixed directly to the battery with a small switch and I was able to use the charger comfortably for the whole journey. It works very well  and is very recommended for anyone looking for a solution to charge a cell phone in the motorcycle. You can find the product on eBay or on the official Ideaforge website.

And finally its official. I have decided to take up the challenge of riding to Leh, Ladakh. The ride to the Himalayas is something which every biker dreams of and it is definitely a entry my must-do-activity-list. I did not expect to ride this year, but as everything came together, I will be able to take  a vacation to one of the most serene and beautiful locations in the world.

The roads to Leh are open only for a few months between June and October and are closed due to snow and inhospitable weather during the rest of the year. Looking forward to the vacation! Do subscribe to the blog if you are looking for travel logs and information on riding to Leh on a motorcycle! Read more about Ladakh from Composed Volcano.

My Bajaj Avenger 220

Bought in 2010, I am extremely happy with its performance as a cruiser.

 

A few pics of the destination taken by fortunate travelers to the amazing place.

This is not breaking news. It is not new and it has definitely been talked about across the internet.But internet marketing consultants I come across rarely do this for their clients.

What is conversion optimization?

Its a fairly straight forward deal. Optimize your website for conversions! Want your visitors to signup to your newsletter? Want your visitor to send you their contact information? Want your visitors to click on your ads?

Simple things to optimize your website to your goal can go a long way in gaining more business leads, more earnings,more list members and anything else you want your visitors to do. “Conversion Optimization”  is a term mostly associated with the search marketing activity as money being spent needed to achieve the maximum ROI for clients.

In SEO, the conversion optimization aspect is hugely ignored and the effort spent on rankings, traffic does not always convert into business, which does not give enough incentive for a client to continue in the longer run.

The amount of business that could be lost just because your website is not optimized for conversion is insane. At ayruz web holdings, I mainly concentrate on the SEO front and my partner – Kenney Jacob takes care of the Search Marketing aspect for our clients. But both of us ensure that there is enough optimization done on the client website and landings to help with conversion.

Does your internet marketing agency do “Conversion Optimization”?

If not, I would strongly recommend that you contact them regarding this and see if there is anything they can do to help.

The changes required are usually simple and just about any web design/development company can do it. But you need to define the term “conversion” as applicable for your website. It can be leads, social media sharing, newsletter signups or  even clicks on ads (if you do niche marketing). If you run a ecommerce website, the importance of  “Conversion Optimizaton” is more urgent as people looking to buy your product might visit your website and then ultimately buy from another website!

To know your goal to set, take a look at your digital strategy and decide what you want your visitors to do the most. In niche marketing,  your goal would be more clicks on your ads. In real estate, it might be to capture leads of interested customers and so forth.

Do feel free to ping me up in the comments section or contact me in person to know if you need any advice on how to further optimize your website for conversion.

PS: When thinking conversions in the offline world done perfectly, all that you can think of are religious conversions and Multi-Level Marketing Programs!

Why do people buy your products or services? What drives them to write a cheque to you?

I believe that perceived value, rather than price is what drives sales of most products and service.

When we first started sending out proposals and financials for our services to clients at ayruz web holdings, our financials were fairly straight forward. In most cased, financials were sent through single line emails such as

SEO: Rs. X / Month (Suggested campaign for 6 months)

But these days, when you ask for a financial from my firm, you will most probably receive a document attachment with detailed information on the work and its cost. such as

SEO

  • Keyword Research
  • Conversion Optimization
  • On-Page SEO
  • Off-Page SEO
  • Reporting and Analysis, etc. etc.

But then work we do is still the same as previous email, but we just realized that perception changes with the second style and it helps clients know the work put into their website.

Perception of value is a funny business. If I showed you two developers who charge $15 / hour and $50 / hour, you would most likely assume that the the second developer charging $50 /  hour offers a higher quality of service. They maybe not be providing a better service, but since they charger higher, it is perceived that they do a better job.

Perceived value can best be explained by the Prussian King who facelifted the value of humble potato. Check this video for more on that

But ultimately, if you cannot match your end product or service to the value perception you provide your prospective clients, you are looking for trouble 😉