Latest Intelligence From the Field

The API is Coming

If you’ve never heard of an Application Programming Interface, you’re missing out. It powers many of your favorite apps and services that you use every single day. From posting to Facebook, to calling customer service, to seeing who’s talking about what on Twitter, there’s an API for practically everything nowadays.

Put simply, an API is a way to interact with another product or service. Many people might equate it to knocking on your neighbor’s door to ask for information. Here’s what it might look like to ask your neighbor for a cup of sugar, if you were an API:

*Knock Knock*
“Hey! How much sugar do you have?”
“I have 2 cups of sugar.”
“Can I have 1 cup?”
“Sure, here it is.”

Now, imagine all the data you interact with on a daily basis and the number of ways to record and utilize those interactions. Here’s a couple ways you can do it:

  • Pull every Facebook post that involves your girlfriend, find all the pictures that you’re both tagged in, and put them in a slideshow to music; that’s one simple way to make use of an API.
  • Pull every library of congress article.
  • Vuurr recently combined APIs from various startups at Hollywood Hackday where we built TuneClash, the world’s music trivia game with integrated video chat.

That’s just a couple examples. The power of the API will really be unleashed as more and more data becomes available.

In 2012, Barack Obama announced that he’s signing an executive directive to ensure that every government agency has a public facing API, thus making the information available in an effort to increase transparency. The power of this information floating around is sure to change the way we look at government and information in the future.

Here’s a situation you might experience a couple of years from now:

You’re driving down the street and your phone gives directions to the car stereo via its API. While driving, your phone also talks to the “traffic lights'” API and calculates your car’s average speed and its distance to the next light. The API discovers you will reach a red light at the next intersection. So, in order to increase efficiency, the API tells you over the stereo, “You’ll be hitting a red light in 2.1 miles, if you slow down by 3 mph, you can time the next light to be green.”

The limits to what you can do for your business with APIs are only confined by what data is available and by your imagination. The programmers at Vuurr are API specialists and can help your company develop, document, and deploy your API.

Whether you’re turning traffic lights green, or just asking your neighbor how much sugar he has, we’ll help to make sure you’re passing the competition.

How To Create & Apply Retina Graphics To WordPress

Whether you’re a fan of it or not, Apple’s new retina devices have created a new set of opportunities for web-developers to make the internet an even more beautiful place. After spending a few months with an iPad with a retina display (3rd generation) and recently acquiring a MacBook Pro with a retina display, I decided to see how long it would take and how difficult it would be to prepare this site, built on WordPress, to display retina graphics. Turns out, it’s surprisingly easy.

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Political SEO: A Vote For Good Rankings

Photo By Tom Arthur from Orange, CA, United States

The last presidential election had its fair share of scandalous accusations, drama, and “dog and pony” tricks surrounding one of democracy’s cornerstones. However, the election was drastically different from any of the elections that preceded it. Just as the telegraph allowed people to get information faster than ever before, the advent of cable news helped keep people more informed about “headline news.” Now, Google now holds more political clout than ever.

Instead of waiting for updates about the biggest “headlines” to roll across their screens, people today have the ability to find and choose news detailing information about their favorite candidates, and they can find it whenever and wherever they want it. Presidential candidate Barack Obama was both the beneficiary and the victim of this new and exciting power. In 2008, the authenticity of his citizenship came into question. The internet fueled rumors that Obama was born in Kenya. Google maintains it constantly updates its algorithm to always show the most relevant result. And yet, as everyone in politics knows, “relevant” is a moving target in the midst of election season.

How does a candidate implement a solid digital strategy to help their campaign?

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Creating a Marketing Plan So You Don’t Miss The Big Win

At Vuurr, we work really hard. And when we’re done working really hard, we play really hard. So, it should come as no surprise that some of us follow a few high end alcohols on Facebook.

While jamming around, I came across a status update by our favorite French vodka promoting a new cherry variety. The status included a picture of two perfect drinks sitting on top of a post-modern table (See below), garnished with fruit so fresh they likely took the picture at the farm itself.

The caption read, “Try the Cherry Moon — a Shirley Temple, all grown up.”

Up until this point, I considered this vodka’s status to be a prime example of flawless marketing: appealing pictures, specifically targetted to dedicated fans, and highlighting a product the brand already knows these fans enjoy. Unfortunately, even after all the time spent dedicated to product promotion, the vodka completely ignored the equity they could have built into the ad, missing a chance to “nail it.”

Here’s a look at what they could have improved:

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Introducing “Where I Rank” – Free Objective Rank Tracking

Without data, any online marketing effort is doomed to fail. As marketers, we don’t have the luxury of betting on feelings to perform for us, we need data. Now, you’ll be able to check your rankings objectively, in near real time. Introducing “Where I Rank”. (This software is now deprecated and no longer available. We leave this here for all the memories. Read to bottom of post for replacement).

Rank Tracking Tool

What is it?

Where I Rank is a simple web app that takes a keyword, your domain or internal page link, and then emails you minutes later with a simple ranking report telling you what position that keyword ranks in Google and Bing. There are many different ways you can use this:

  • Performance Bonuses – When you rank a clients site to a certain position, you get a bonus. However, you’ll need a trusted and objective third party like Where I Rank.
  • Personalized Results – Sometimes, it’s difficult for people to believe they actually rank in a certain spot when Google’s “Personalized Results” shows them on the first page and they actually rank page 5.
  • Verify your existing rank tracking system’s ranking results – is it accurate?

What Makes it Different from Others?

  • More Accurate Results – Because of our affiliation with industry leading partners Authority Labs we’re able to provide more accurate results by collecting the individual pages of search results in sets of 10 instead of one block of 100. This allows you to see more accurate rankings for your keywords.
  • Full URLs not just Domain – Most tools only allow you to check the domain itself and not subdomains or full links to a blog post or internal page. That’s useful to determine where individual pages and posts rank for your keywords.
  • Fast Results – Accuracy and speed is the name of the game. If a keyword you’re looking for isn’t immediately available, of which tens of thousands are, you can put in your email and get the result sent within a few minutes. You can also keep your browser window open and we’ll refresh the page when your results are ready!
  • Google AND Bing Results – We have the ability to give you the results for Google and Bing with the same speed and accuracy so why wouldn’t we?

WhereIrank has been phased out and is no longer available. For Keyword Rank Tracking look to AuthorityLabs (who provided whereirank data previously).

Impact of Google Adwords Quality Score on Cost-Per-Click

Before Google implemented quality scores for search advertising, Google searches were overrun with irrelevant ads that linked to sites with little content.  Any marketer could bid on nearly any term and show in the paid results and placement was simple: higher CPC bids equalled higher ad rank.  This created an overall poor search experience for the user.  Google eventually improved ad quality by being the first search engine to assign quality scores, which attempt to measure ad relevance.

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Why You Can’t Do Adwords Like Us

The world is full of light sources, and plenty of good uses for various types. You need to search for a wanted person from the helicopter? Spotlight will work just fine. You want to illuminate a room, 100 Watts of incandescence will do you just fine. You want to find your way through the woods, use a flashlight. You want to cut steel? Get your ass a laser.

The difference between a laser and any of the other sources is focus. You get those photons into an aligned focused state and powerful things can happen. You can cut things, read data off a disc, annoy the hell out of everyone in a movie theater, you name it.

Real change, real success, only comes as a product of extreme focused attention. If you are trying to succeed at 7 or 8 different things at once, odds are you’re going to get a handful of flashlights – illuminating some of the things going on, but not really doing anything powerful. Focus everything on one project, give it your entire attention, every waking moment you can sustain. It’s not a 100% guarantee to succeed, but odds are that you’ll get a laser every once in a while that changes your world.

Do one thing, and do it 100%. If it isn’t worth everything you have, then is it worth doing?

Vuurr brings a laser like focus to the way we manage our clients’ accounts to grow their business. It’s what we do, it’s what we breathe. It’s why we say “no” to more clients than we say “yes” to, so that we can keep that focus and make sure that we are able to be focused on the right things.

Learning HTML & CSS with Twitter’s Bootstrap CSS Framework

Twitter Bootstrap CSS Framework

We recently brought on a new employee who expressed interest in beginning front-end development, but only had minimal knowledge of HTML and CSS. They’d been frustrated with the standard tutorials that attempted to explain each single tag, and weren’t interested in continuing. On a whim (but apparently good guess) I suggested they continue working with HTML but immediately include Twitter’s Bootstrap CSS Framework while learning and developing.

The result was astounding. In three weeks we turned a college student into a junior front-end developer.

We found that by simply having something look nice and working from an incredible example page with great documentation, the learning process went much smoother, faster, and resulted in higher-quality work. Now after just three weeks we have a new junior front-end developer who now does all of our prototyping and initial front-end builds with the expected level of incredible Vuurr quality.

Where to Start Learning

To get started with Bootstrap, use their guide here:

Sitepoint has a pretty good walkthrough of Bootstrap 3 as well:

Call Tracking with Twilio & Google Analytics using Twimlbin

Nearly a year ago, I was working on a new feature for an app powered by Twilio when I realized that it would be significantly easier to get started with Twilio’s TwiML if hosting an XML file could be removed from the equation. Several weeks ago, Twimlbin was born. One of the features we needed to implement quickly was the ability to track calls both as a pageview and an event in Google Analytics. After building this feature, we found it more and more useful for many other call tracking instances. With this feature and the TwiML <Redirect> secondary verb, it’s possible to use Twimlbin as a basic analytics proxy – something we find incredibly useful.

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