All posts by Gretchen Van Benthuysen

When I was 11, I knew I wanted to be a journalist and I grew up to become the Entertainment Editor of the Asbury Park Press when I was 25. Fifteen years later I finally was able to write about theater in NJ and in NYC full-time for another 10 years, plus contribute articles and reviews to Variety, Back Stage and The Drama League. Now I run this website TheaterCues.com for fun. Before I left The Press I was the Web Producer for the Friday and Sunday Entertainment sections of The Press, Home News Tribune, Daily Record and Courier News. I learned a lot about Search Engine Optimization, key words and phrases and other ways to attract Google’s attention. If you have a business — or show business — these days you need a website that shows up on the first page of Google that your customers — or audience — check often to see what’s new on your blog, in your photo galleries, on your video accounts, etc. You want them to be a part of your community, your family, so when it’s time for your service — or opening night — they are there to support you.

Adults are flocking to the web


You think the Internet is just for kids? A recent AARP survey revealed the following:

  • Two out of five (40%) adults age 50 and older consider themselves extremely or very comfortable using the Internet.
  • The majority of those 50+ who access the Internet (57%) do so from a desktop computer.
  • Approximately one-quarter of all those 50+ use social media websites with Facebook being by far the most popular (23%).

So if you think its only your kids or your kids’ kids who are logging on and searching websites and creating Facebook pages, think again. My 20-year-old son barely visits to his Facebook page any more, he says, because “all the old people are on it now.” His new passion is Instagram. If you are a small business owner, you should be looking into Instagram as well.

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Top 10 reasons websites lose sales


Again, I can’t emphasize enough that websites have to be nurtured. Too many small businesses don’t adopt this practice and their online visibility suffers. Then again, small businesses don’t have IT teams like Macy’s or COSTCO so maybe these reasons for customer disgruntlement don’t directly apply to your site.

But there are lessons to be learned as customers have certain expectations — like the product on your site should definitely be in stock.

Mark Knoblaugh on Mashable.com says after collecting user feedback and complaints from 400 websites over three years, Qubit narrowed its findings to 10 main problem areas. The results paint a picture of a consumer with much higher expectations for retail websites and their user-friendliness.

They include Price, Product Range, Size, Site Functionality, Latency, Site Search, Stock Availability, Discounts/Sales and Imagery.

Click here for the details

Swipe-and-sign card transactions to vanish


According to an article in today’s (2/7/13) Wall Street Journal, America is joining the rest of the world next year by

Swipe-and-sign machines may be obsolete in just a few years.
Swipe-and-sign machines may be obsolete in just a few years.

switching to chip-and-pin transactions to reduce fraud. If businesses fail to switch and the card is used for fraudulent activity the merchant will be responsible for the money.

Here’s the article by Tom Gara:

It’s a payment ritual as familiar as handing over a $20 bill, and it’s soon to go extinct: prepare to say farewell to the swipe-and-sign of a credit card transaction.

Beginning later next year, you will stop signing those credit card receipts. Instead, you will insert your card into a slot and enter a PIN number, just like people do in much of the rest of the world. The U.S. is the last major market to still use the old-fashioned signature system, and it’s a big reason why almost half the world’s credit card fraud happens in America, despite the country being home to about a quarter of all credit card transactions.

The recent large-scale theft of credit card data from retailers including Target and Neiman Marcus brought the issue more mainstream attention, leading to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week. Executives told the senators that once the country transitions to the new system — which includes credit cards embedded with a microchip containing security data — these kind of hacking attacks will be much more difficult to pull off.

The shift is coming though: both MasterCard  and Visa have roadmaps for the changeover, and both have set October, 2015 as an important deadline in the switch. But why has it taken this long, and how will the changeover work for card users and businesses?

Want more, click here 

Google dominates mobile search market


With 96 percent of the world’s mobile search market, Google is the dominant search engine, according to StarCounter, which tracks web use. It collects 57 percent of mobile ad revenue in the U.S., while its nearest competitor, Facebook, gets just 9 percent, according to eMarketer.

Google makes more than 500 adjustments per year to the formulas that determine what results are generated when a user enters a search. That’s more than one a day. You can’t just create a web site and forget about it. You’ve got to get to and stay on Google’s first page and that’s not happening unless you nurture your site, just like you would nurture a child.

But you’re not done yet and, quite honestly, you never will be once you jump into the Internet pool. Improvements to your site — such as video — is becoming a must.

Meanwhile, mobile apps development is moving at the speed of light. Yelp and Open Table, for instance, totally bypass Google by taking you directly to a place that can meet your needs, such as booking a table for dinner. Does your business site have a mobile app?

Content is king and SEO its queen


As newspapers shrink and cut staff and coverage, small businesses are finding it harder to get out their message via traditional channels. So they get someone to build the business a web site. Great. But does it look the same today as it did a week, month or year ago? That’s not so great.

If any site isn’t updated regularly, Google gives it a lower rating than a site with new content every day. With 96 percent of the world’s mobile search market, Google is the dominant search engine. One of the many things Google’s spiders like when crawling through the web is search engine optimization (SEO), a process that improves the volume and quality of traffic to web sites. The higher your site ranks in the results, the more visitors it receives. Loyalty is not a given. Everyone has a website and if they don’t find you, they will find a competitor.

Return often to learn how easy it can be to increase content which is just one way to optimize your website and the Google spiders will eat you up — in a good way, of course.