Introducing Gmail Priority InBox – Email that Sorts Itself

We all hate email overload. Web-based email programs like Gmail have built-in smart spam filtering and advanced labelling, but you can still miss important emails if you receive hundreds per day.

In an attempt to solve this problem, Gmail software engineers have today launched the Priority InBox.

Basically, this is an advanced sorting tool for your incoming mail. Your new Gmail InBox will be divided into three sections: Priority InBox (unread), Starred Emails and Everything Else. Based on a variety of signals about the importance of an email, Gmail will flag it and move it to the top section of your InBox, giving it priority over all other mail.

For example, if you are in daily email contact with a person, Gmail will determine that emails from that person are important and should always arrive in your Priority InBox.

You can also manually promote or demote emails to/from your Priority InBox by using the “+” and “-” buttons provided. You can use filtering to control your Priority InBox and you can customize the three InBox sections to suit your needs.

The longer you use Gmail, the smarter the Priority InBox gets at sorting your mail. From the official blog post:

“Gmail has always been pretty good at filtering junk mail into the “spam” folder. But today, in addition to spam, people get a lot of mail that isn’t outright junk but isn’t very important ‘bologna’, or ‘bacn’. So we’ve evolved Gmail’s filter to address this problem and extended it to not only classify outright spam, but also to help users separate this “bologna” from the important stuff. In a way, Priority Inbox is like your personal assistant, helping you focus on the messages that matter without requiring you to set up complex rules.”

In a side note, news of Priority InBox was leaked early, despite a strict media embargo that was meant to be in place until this evening. Maybe it’s just me, but a media embargo seem ridiculous in the age of social and real time search. A media embargo from Google, the foremost advocates of social and real time search just seems ludicrous. But anyway, I digress.

While internal Google staff and some BETA testers have been trialling Priority InBox for some months, the feature will begin rolling out to all Gmail and Google Apps users over the next week or so.

You’ll know if you have the new feature if you see the “New! Priority Inbox” link in the top right corner of your Gmail account.

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Facebook Places Takes Geolocation Networking to 500 Million

facebook-places-grabAmid great live streaming fanfare and back slapping, Facebook officially launched their location-based social networking application Facebook Places today.

TechCrunch were keen to point out that they spotted the product before the launch even began, but the fact that Facebook were working on geo-networking functionality has been a poorly kept secret for a while now.

So what exactly IS Facebook Places? Think of it as a combination of Foursquare and Gowalla but available on Facebook. Which is interesting because Facebook have *partnered* with both of these supposedly rival companies. More about that later, but for now, here’s how it works:

How it Works

You need to download the latest version of Facebook’s iPhone application OR if your mobile browser supports HTML 5 and geolocation, you also can access Places from touch.facebook.com.

Open the application of your choice and tap the “Check In” button (sound familiar?). A list of nearby places will show. Choose the place that matches where you are and check in. If it’s not on the list, you can add or search for it. Your check-in will show up in the Recent Activity section for that place and also create a status update from you in your friends’ News Feeds.

Who Else is Here?

Similar to tagging a friend in a photo, you can tag other Facebook friends who happen to be with you during check in and include a status update about what you’re doing at the location.

The “People Here Now” section allows you to stalk check what other Facebook users have checked in recently to the same place. Facebook suggests this is a way for you to meet like minded people, but I can imagine this feature becoming a privacy issue for some. Thankfully, Facebook have provided a way for people to opt-out of being shown in the People Here Now feature.

Does it Make Foursquare and Gowalla Obsolete?

Given that the check-in and recent activity features of Facebook Places are nearly identical to what Foursquare and Gowalla currently offer, there was some talk about whether there was room in the market for all three geolocation services.

However, both companies have worked with Facebook in the past and both were invited to partner with Facebook Places. Staff from each even spoke at today’s launch about their partnership. But let’s face it, what choice did they have?

Apparently, both Foursquare and Gowalla are going to allow users to publish their check-ins to their Facebook feeds and even transfer their pins and badges to Facebook Places. I’m sure the carrot of Facebook’s 500 million members was a tasty one, but you have to wonder if this will mean long term redundancy for Gowalla and Foursquare.

Privacy Issues

Having learned from their mistake with the profile privacy settings, Facebook have given users more privacy control over Places. You can only tag your existing Facebook friends during check-in and your check-ins will only be visible to your friends by default, although you can change this to public.

Just like removing yourself from a photo tag, you can remove any Places tag or check-in or tag. You also have the choice to turn off the ability for friends to check you in at Places. To do this, go to your Privacy Settings and turn off the setting to “Let Friends Check Me In.”

Facebook Places is currently only available within the US but should roll out to more countries within the next few weeks.

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SEO Proposal Template Software

A few  years ago I discovered a terrific new business tool and I was so excited about its potential that I wrote a review article about it to share my discovery with others.

The product was Proposal Kit.  My review was called Close the Sale With Proposal Kit and I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers of that article, thanking me for introducing them to the product.

In case you’re not already familiar with the software, Proposal Kit takes the guesswork out of drafting a proposal or contract. It automates the chore of putting together a complex business proposal. Basically, Proposal Kit provides a comprehensive range of templates to suit any business requirement and helps you build a framework for your proposal to match virtually any product or service offering.

seo proposal template software

You then flesh out the templates with your own data and contact details. Templates are particularly suited to online businesses and include documents for the initial sales pitch, the planning stage, estimating, contracting, project timelines, analysis and even invoicing.

I’ve been using Proposal Kit for over 5 years now and I am still as enthusiastic about it as ever. So when developers of the product (Cyber Sea) told me of their latest upgrade this month, I was very excited.

You see, amongst the 40 new contract templates available in the new versions of Proposal Kit Pro and Contract Kit Pro is a Search Engine Optimization Services Contract, designed for SEOs just like me.

Let’s take a look at what’s been upgraded in the latest versions of the product:

sample business proposal

Proposal Packs 9.0

  • Over 300 pages of new material have been added to Proposal Pack (new templates, checklists, samples, instructional material) adding over 60% more material to this version.
  • Added 61 new proposal templates increasing the total number of templates to over 270. Templates added include: Profile, Client Summary, Abstract, Estimate, Significance, Activities, Design, Planning, Approach, Innovativeness, Project Plan, System Plan, Promotion, Site Planning, Environmental, Public Relations, Community, Coordination, Responsibilities, Documentation, Authority, Measures of Success, Dissemination, Budget Information, Wholesale Price List, Retail Price List, Cost Effectiveness, Resources, Hourly Services Contract, Invoice, Memorandum of Understanding, Credentials, Capabilities, Accreditations, Certifications, Geographic Information, Key Positions, Contractors, Legal Eligibility, Authorization, Board of Directors, Policies, Flow Chart, Board Resolution, Contact Letter, Letter of Transmittal, Support Letter, Commitment Letter, Collaboration Letters, Report, Tab, Worksheet, Supplied Form, Appendix F, Appendix G, Appendix H, Appendix I, Appendix J, Fax Cover Sheet, Bid / No-Bid Checklist, Grant Proposal Development Checklist.
  • Added a proposal bid/no-bid decision checklist.
  • Added a government grant proposal development checklist.
  • Added a complete service level agreement to the Contract and Terms template.
  • Added an additional manual for writing Federal government grant proposals using Proposal Pack.
  • 15 general business sample proposals have been added.
  • 10 Federal government grant sample proposals have been added (USDA, Department of Justice, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Housing and Urban Development).
  • New Title Page graphics have been added for “Resume”, “Contract”, “Plan”, “Submission”, “Presentation”, “Report”, “Study”, “Estimate”, “Response”.
  • The Table of Contents has been updated to add all of the new templates.

Proposal Kit Pro 12.0

Over 500 pages of new material have been added to Proposal Kit Pro (new templates, checklists, samples, instructional material) adding over 50% more material to this version.

Contract Pack:

  • Minor grammar changes made to some documents.
  • Four new categories of contracts have been added: Advertising and Marketing, Graphics and Printing, Computer Systems and Internal Company Plans.
  • 41 new contracts, agreements and related documents have been added (over 144 pages of new material): Authorization to Start Work, Replication Quote Order Form, Email Marketing Creative by Agency Agreement, Email Marketing Creative by Designer Agreement, Pay Per Click (PPC) SEO Campaign Services Contract, Signage and Printing Order Form, Print Quote Form, Colocation Hosting Short Form Contract, Managed Hosting Service Level Agreement, Web Hosting Change Addendum, Pocket Photo Release Agreement, Photo Reprint Rights Agreement, Photo Credit Waiver, General Services Agreement, Repair Estimate Quote, General Contractor Work Order, Right of First Refusal Partnership Agreement, Right of First Refusal with Non-Disclosure Agreement, Works for Hire Agreement, Project Acceptance Partial Signoff, Project Acceptance Simple Signoff, Software Development Plan, Reprint Rights Agreement, SEO Services Reseller Contract, Disaster Recovery Plan, Software Disaster Recovery Plan, Human Resources Guide Update Addendum, PDA Usage Policy, Wireless Networking Usage Policy, Application for Employment, Employment Non-Compete and Non-Disclosure, Drug and Alcohol Testing Consent Form, Employee Promotion Authorization Form, Employee Notice of Salary Increase Form, Employee Injury Report Form, Expense Report, Hourly Services Agreement, Company Equipment Checkout Form, Agency Photo Shoot Model Release Form, Employee Grievance Form, Employee Demotion Form
  • Many existing contracts have been updated with new replaceable tags and consistent usage of terms.
  • Added 20 new standard mail merge tags to many documents.

Sample Proposal Pack Template Styles (sold separately)

Estimate Pack:

  • Updated HTML organizer to help find and open documents easier.
  • Added Customer and Proposal Number tags to all spreadsheets for helping organize estimates by customer and proposal.
  • Updated line items in existing spreadsheets with additional material.
  • Added Help Desk Services Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Added Print Project Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Added Flash Animation Project Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Added Network Server Setup Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Added Software Services Project Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Added Computer Repair and Maintenance Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Project Management Pack:
  • Renamed product from “Web Plan Kit” to “Project Management Pack”.
  • Minor updates to existing documents to update outdated material.Proposal Pack Template Styles (sold separately)
  • Added Web Development Worksheet Overview.
  • Added Describe Your Web Site Worksheet (R01).
  • Added Describe User Controlled Content Worksheet (R02).
  • Added Describe Your Web Site Functions Worksheet (R03).
  • Added Describe Your Web Site Users Worksheet (R04).
  • Added Describe Your Web Site Administration Worksheet (R05).
  • Added Describe Your Web Site Home Page Worksheet (R06).
  • Added Project Plan Worksheet.
  • Added Project Analysis Overview Worksheet.
  • Added SEO Organic Keyword Report.
  • Added SEO Pay Per Click Keyword Report.
  • Added Customer Service Call Log Spreadsheet.
  • Added Disaster Recovery Plan.
  • Added Software Disaster Recovery Plan.
  • Added Expense Report Spreadsheet.

Visit the Proposal Kit website for details on pricing, a product comparison chart and information on how to upgrade.


SEO Proposal Template

Now, about that SEO Services Contract that I’m so excited about. Having run an SEO business for over ten years now, I KNOW how difficult it is to produce a reliable, standard contract to give to SEO clients. Search engine optimization can be such a complex process that it is vitally important your client contract spells out your services, delivery schedule, responsibilities and campaign expectations while addressing all areas of potential client confusion.

Such contracts take time to develop and can be very expensive if drawn up from scratch by a law firm. Many SEOs, especially those just starting out, simply don’t have the time, resources, knowledge or budget to have a high quality, water-tight contract developed for their business. That’s why I see the inclusion of an SEO Services Contract in the latest Proposal Kit upgrade as a boon for SEOs everywhere.

Proposal template designs (sold separately)

Even if your business already has a contract in place, the purchase price of Proposal Kit Pro or Contract Pack Pro, (both which come with the SEO contract included), is well worth the investment to be able to compare your contract with the detailed sample provided. Something important to keep in mind is that legal contracts in the Contract Pack should not be viewed as binding legal documents until they are reviewed by your lawyer. Because every business has different products, services, clients and operates in different geographical environments, legal requirements vary widely. By all means use the contract templates to draft your contract, but make sure you have the document carefully reviewed by your company law firm to ensure it meets your specific legal requirements. This is emphasized within the templates.

Not all sections of the SEO Contract will apply to every SEO business, particularly those listed under “Services Provided”, but the document is so comprehensive that you can mix and match sections and clauses that are specifically relevant to your business, such as “Delivery Dates and Milestones”, “Web Page Creation, Edits and Custom Programming” and “Keyword Selection”. I’ve already spotted three or four important clauses that our existing client contract overlooks. Not to mention the benefits of having access to hundreds of professional proposal templates from which to pick and choose to match your own business requirements.

business proposal templates

For smaller SEOs or those just starting out in the industry, the latest version of Proposal Kit could save you a fortune and give your business a much needed injection of professionalism.

Of course that goes for non-SEO businesses too!

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Q and A: What SEO tools do you recommend?

QuestionHi Kalena

I’ve been looking at purchasing a good SEO tool. Have been looking at WebCeo and Internet Business Promoter. What is your opinion of these, are they worth the price tags? (Looks like they scan entire webpages, spot problems, and suggest solutions).

Or do you have any good suggestions?

Cedric

————————————–

Hi Cedric

No tool will do the SEO for you. But some tools can speed up the SEO process by providing information about a page such as:

- title and meta tags
- keyword density
- backward links
- alt img tags
- anchor text

Some tools can also save you a lot of time by looking up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for a variety of search engines and showing you the keyword rank for a particular page on those SERPs.

I haven’t reviewed WebCEO or IBP for a number of years, so I can’t comment on those. But I recently had the opportunity of reviewing the following tools and can recommend them:

KPMRS
Raven Tools (this one I tend to use almost daily)
SEOmoz Tools
SEOBook Tools

Search Engine Wiki also has a whole category on SEO/SEM tools.

Hope this helps!

————————————–

Like to learn more about SEO? Download my free SEO lesson. No catch.

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Google Takes a “Buzz” Saw to Twitter

We’ve all been expecting it, but today was the day Google decided to roll out their answer to Twitter: Google Buzz.

I haven’t had much of a play with it yet, but the fact that it’s integrated with Gmail will probably make it very popular, very quickly.

From the official Google Blog post:

“Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting. It’s built right into Gmail, so you don’t have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch – it just works. If you think about it, there’s always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most.

We focused on building an easy-to-use sharing experience that richly integrates photos, videos and links, and makes it easy to share publicly or privately (so you don’t have to use different tools to share with different audiences). Plus, Buzz integrates tightly with your existing Gmail inbox, so you’re sure to see the stuff that matters most as it happens in real time.”

I plan to write a detailed article about Google Buzz, but here’s a quick run down of the main features:

  • Runs within Gmail
  • Embeds images
  • Embeds inline video
  • Emails status updates
  • Automatically works on mobiles without 3rd party applications
  • Connects to Picasa, Flickr & Twitter
  • No 140 character limit

It’s interesting that it integrates with Twitter. That suggests a deal has been done behind closed doors to ensure both products don’t compete head to head, but Twitter may still lose some audience now that Gmail offers both chat and a link sharing tool.

In some ways, it’s more like Stumble Upon in that it’s a more powerful tool for sharing links, videos and images than Twitter is. But because it operates within Gmail, I’m concerned that much of the conversation will be lost between email threads. We’ll have to wait and see.

I for one won’t be abandoning Twitter in a hurry.

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