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Mobile Websites

Mobile Websites

Why You Need a Mobile Website

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The internet is inundated with statistics about the growing importance of mobile websites. If you haven’t gotten the message by now, you haven’t been listening. So, for the benefit of those who’ve yet to grasp the full implication of this trend, we’ll state it one more time: Smartphone usage has exploded. If you want your brand to cut through the clutter, be accessible, and look good to the hundreds of millions of people checking out your company or product on their device, you need a quality mobile website.

Here’s why:

  1. Indianapolis Mobile Website DesignMobile is Immediate: When users hear about your product or service, they don’t have to wait until they park themselves in front of their laptop to get a glimpse. They flip out their phone, tap their browser and get to work. The Will Rogers quote still applies: “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” State your case and make your contact options – email and phone – obvious and easy.
  2. Mobile Removes the Fluff: The average mobile web surf lasts less than a few minutes. Your mobile audience wants you to get to the point. They expect simple, direct, memorable, and concise calls to action. Content is valuable, but make a user wade through the morass of excess copy and large images and you risk ticking them off. They don’t want to have to modify images or tweak resolution. Put yourself in the user’s shoes. Make it easy for them to understand your sales proposition.
  3. Mobile Means Forward Thinking: A potential customer wants reassurance that you’re at least on pace with the industry curve. If they bring your business up on their smart phone and find something archaic – or nothing at all – that leaves a negative impression. A quality mobile website indicates that you’re thinking not just about the current state of your business, but where it’s headed going forward. Perception is critical.

What’s the current state of your company’s mobile website? Would you like to learn more about optimizing your mobile presence? Contact us today to find out more about designing your website and implementing a quality mobile website.

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4 Reasons You Need a Mobile Website

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Mobile Websites from Marketpath CMSA mobile website or mobile ready website is simply an internet site optimized for viewing on mobile devices or smartphones such as the iPhone, Android or Blackberry.  Because mobile gadgets are smaller than computers (with smaller screens), full websites are often difficult to view and navigate via mobile devices. 

Mobile websites provide a better way for consumers to learn about your organization when they’re on-the-go and typically consist of a “stripped down” version of a website, with less information, prioritized or more important to the mobile user.

Visit the Internet Marketing Dictionary for a detailed definition of a mobile website.

 

So why should your organization develop a mobile site?

1) Because your current site doesn’t work well or look correct on mobile devices

I mentioned this briefly above.  And while it may be obvious, it is also the most significant reason you should consider a mobile site.  Maybe the fonts are too small, or the images too large, or the navigation and layout are too complex or awkward.  Roll over menus that work and look great when viewing from a computer, might be tedious or impossible to use via mobile.  Or, possibly, the site downloads painfully slow on a mobile device.  Regardless of the reason, if your prospect or customer can’t easily use your site or find what they’re looking for (without getting frustrated), they may just try your competitor’s easier to use mobile site!

2) The needs & behavior of a mobile web user are different from a traditional Internet user

While it is critical that your site be easy to view and navigate via mobile, it is also important to realize how mobile users are different from traditional computer web users.  Phone or mobile users are often away from their home or office (or at least away from their computers), with less time to spend surfing or looking for information.  Many times, they have a goal in mind and are looking for very specific information such as a location, news or event, contact, map, product, or schedule.  And often, they only have a few minutes to find what they want.

Because of these differences, your mobile design needs to focus on simplicity, presenting prioritized content that is relevant for the mobile user.  The Mobile Marketing Association suggests a less-is-more design philosophy for mobile web sites, focusing on the 3-5 most important reasons someone will visit your mobile site, and making those items visible upon entry, at the top menu level.  Eliminating side-scrolling and reducing down-scrolling also enhances ease-of-use via mobile.

Mobile Websites and Mobile Marketing3) Mobile internet use is growing rapidly!

Whether you like it or not, more and more people will be accessing your website via mobile devices.  In fact, as of last month (July 2011), 50% of all connections to the internet are from phones and mobile devices.

Microsoft Tag recently developed the infographic to the right to summarize the explosion of the mobile web, which is already a large market, but growing more rapidly by the minute.  If you are still skeptical as to the importance of the mobile web, I’ve included a number of interesting statistics.

  • 70% of the world’s population now have a mobile phone; 87% in the U.S. (per Experian)
  • U.S. children are now more likely to own a mobile phone than a book, with 85% of kids owning a phone as to 73% having books! (National Literacy Trust)
  • 55% of US consumers who purchased a new phone in 2011 bought a smartphone, up from the 34% last year (Nielsen)
  • 38% of US consumers owned a smartphone as of May 2011
  • Daily internet usage via handheld devices jumped from 29% in 2009 to 43% in 2010
  • In the last year Google has seen a 400% increase in the number of mobile searches
  • The #1 access method for local information is now the mobile browser

Despite the growing importance of mobile, less than 5% of businesses have mobile enabled websites today.  In fact, 50% of small businesses have never even checked the appearance or functionality of their site on a Smart Phone!

4) It’s fairly easy to create a mobile website

Assuming the functionality and content from your current site are up to snuff (you know what they say about ASS-U-ME), creating a mobile website is reasonably easy.  This is especially true with tools like Marketpath CMS, or other web content management solutions, that allow you to leverage both your existing website content and content management processes, without having to start from scratch or add new processes to update your mobile site.

Marketpath allows you to easily manage your mobile websites within Marketpath CMS, updating content for both your regular and mobile sites at the same time, while delivering to traditional and mobile formats.

So why not give mobile users what they want and enhance your brand equity and reputation at the same time?

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Mobilegeddon Is Here – Are You Still Ignoring It?

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We have been warning clients and prospects for months now that Google’s April “Mobilegeddon” update would seriously impact their position in Google’s search results. See the articles below for details:
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Google to Penalize Non-Mobile Sites Starting in April

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Google announced that effective April 21, 2015, it will update its search algorithm so that mobile sites will rank higher than non-mobile sites in search results. If your site isn't "Responsive" yet - what are you waiting for?
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Responsive Web Design versus Dedicated Mobile Sites: What’s Right for You?

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Nearly 20 percent of web traffic comes through mobile devices. As smart phones become even more ubiquitous, that number will only increase. As a result, companies are compelled to create mobile-friendly versions of their websites. The debate that’s arisen from this growth is whether an organization should use responsive web design – creating a site that works similarly on a PC and a mobile device – or opt to create a dedicated mobile site.

What’s the Difference?

A responsive website is exactly how it sounds: It shifts and scales based on the vehicle the user is employing to see it. Large desktop monitor or small phone – the design is fluid and, well, responsive. A mobile site is built within a mobile framework. It’s a custom development designed to be experienced specifically on a smartphone. So how do you choose the right option for your company’s mobile presence?

The Case for Responsive Design

Responsive Web Design (Marketpath, Inc.)The number one reason to opt for responsive web design is overall simplicity. Regardless of where the customer decides to look at your site, they’ll be able to see it as it was intended. On the developer side, responsive sites, though more complex to create up front, are also easier to maintain down the road because the code doesn’t need to be modified to fit various formats.

Responsive design is also the preferred choice of Google, so that’s a big plus, too.

For a content-heavy site, responsive design may be the best solution.  You create your content once and can publish it everywhere.  You also spend less time on mobile-specific development because the site is built to accommodate large and small screens, and you have more time for content development.

We recently developed a micro-site for KSM Consulting (www.ksmconsulting.com/careers) and wanted the same basic content to be visible on all devices. But we also wanted a positive user experience, where the content was easy to read, regardless of whether you viewed it from a desktop or a mobile phone. Responsive was the perfect approach.

The Case for Dedicated Mobile Sites

Indianapolis Mobile Website DevelopmentConsider your average customer. Do they expect a custom experience when accessing your site via mobile? If so, a dedicated mobile site may be the better option. One example of this would be if the primary function of the site, or portions of the site, is meant to act as an application or connect with separate applications. On Amazon, for example, the primary action is for a user to purchase items while housing secure customer data.  A native app would be able to integrate directly with a user's personal mobile device, which is easier for the end user if they want to securely open the app and buy something.

Another reason you might go with a dedicated mobile site, would be when special custom features or advertising are required. Responsive design sites typically don’t allow for the inclusion of advertising banners or other custom features. If graphic calls to action are a necessary aspect of your marketing plan, a dedicated mobile website is a wise choice.

The biggest reason to go with a dedicated mobile site is the user experience. Are you content with providing visitors the same interactive result no matter how they navigate to your site, or should the mobile experience be different fundamentally because of your brand or a unique service offering? If the latter, the choice is clear.

A final reason (and probably the most common) to go with a dedicated mobile site, might be that your business already has a well-designed website (non-responsive) and isn’t ready for a full site redesign.  In that case, it may make more sense to develop a simple mobile site than trying to fit a responsive approach into a site that wasn’t designed that way.  In some cases, this is a more economical approach, until your next major redesign.

Still Not Sure Which Approach Is Best?

Are you trying to determine the web design strategy that’s right for your business? Contact Marketpath today to learn more about our mobile design capabilities. Click here to see some of our latest responsive web designs and mobile web development projects.

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Credibility is Paramount for Small Business Websites

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When discussing website strategy, everyone likes to discuss visibility and conversion, but for many small business websites, generating credibility may be the most important factor in your online success. Your website is the new yellow pages for any small business – it’s the first place any prospect will go when they want to learn more about your company and what you do.
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What's Your Mobile Website Strategy?

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Mobile SitesThe rise of smartphone usage over the past few years has come at a staggering pace.  There are now over 91.4 million smartphones in the United States alone (this stat is a few months old, and with the release of the iPhone 5 in late September, the number is probably over 100 Million in the US alone).  So, how does your website look to any one of these 100 million people that view your site on the device?  Clunky? Unreadable? Empty white boxes where Flash graphics are located? While we understand designing your site for multiple devices is a difficult trend to keep up with, we also realize that falling behind can be costing you…big time.

According to the Huffington Post, the average smartphone user spends approximately 25 minutes per day browsing the internet.  If you think your website is safe from mobile visitors, you’re probably wrong.  Go check your analytics.  One of our clients has about 20% of their traffic coming from mobile devices!

So, what’s your strategy?  Do you display a different website? Different content?  Well, that decision is likely unique to your business or organization.  However, here are a few tips that probably work for any industry:

  1. Simplify your design – focus on your brand, and easy to navigate content
     
  2. Get rid of drop down menus – If your main website has them, fine, but just make sure that you get rid of them for your mobile site, as they can be difficult to interact with
     
  3. Reorganize content to someone on the go – what are these mobile users looking for?  (Hint: Check analytics!)
     
  4. Make it easy to call you – prominently feature your phone number
     
  5. Give people the option to view the full site – Some phones are better than others, or some users don’t mind interacting with a full website on their phone, so give them the option to do so.

The main takeaway:  Put some thought into mobile.  The market is only going to grow as phones get better.  Aim to truly understand how visitors are interacting with your site, and you’ll be better off for it.

 

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PIPA and SOPA - My Letter to Congress

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I'm really not a big protestor but I do protest this legislation and I hope you will too. This will inevitably affect everyone who uses the Internet. Here's my letter to Senator Dan Coats, Senator Richard Lugar, and Representative Dan Burton. Look up your representatives and senators to send a clear message that you do not want this legislation to pass.

Representative/Senator _______,  I have a small business that provides a good living for many people. We are happy and we work very hard. Our business is not without its risk, though. We provide a system that allows users to create and update content on their website so they too can promote and market their own businesses and organizations. Many are for-profit and many are non-profit. They rely on their websites to help them grow new clients, maintain existing clients, and provide a service to their communities. Without their websites many would go out of business and many people would lose their jobs. 
 
The proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation is not without its merits but it is certainly without complete due diligence and support by most of the Internet community. This legislation does not provide the proper boundaries for large corporations and government regulators and will be abused. It will inevitably squash  many small companies, new companies, and even older established companies. Like I said, my company provides software that allows our users to update and create content on their websites. And since we provide this system we are at risk of being shutdown if one of our customers posts copyright protected content. Additionally, our customers are at risk if we are forced to shut them down because they have been accused of misusing protected content. Companies with large capital reserves could sustain a shutdown while the legalities are worked out but small companies like mine and those of my customers could survive only days or weeks fending off an attack from a well funded legal team. 
 
The legislation is not without its merits. I certainly don't want my copyrighted content and my hard work redistributed for others' gain. But this legislation is not the answer. We already have copyright laws in place. What SOPA and PIPA provide is an "EASY" switch for larger companies and government agencies to flip on and off as they wish, with little to no consideration for the families and lives affected at the other end. It has clear deficiencies and will most certainly be abused.
 
Please vote NO to SOPA and PIPA legislation so we can continue innovating and rebuilding America's new foundation.

More Resources

 from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet

SOPA Bad for the Internet, Bad for America

Wikipedia Blackout

All About PIPA and SOPA, the Bills That Want to Censor Your Internet

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5 Elements of Great Website Design

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A lot of times, before we can implement our content management system, our clients ask us to redesign their website.  While we are always happy to provide this service to our clients, I wanted to cover a few of the aspects of what makes a website design successful.  It goes far beyond pretty pictures and colors and dives into what truly makes your business work, focusing on your business goals, objectives and visitor behavior. Here are five items to take into consideration before and during your website redesign process.

Website Design is a Process
Website Design is a Hands-on Process

1. Clearly Branded and Aligned with Business Goals

All too often a website can become outdated and out of line with the company that it represents.  As your business grows, matures, and inevitably changes, your website should reflect those business goals immediately.  Keep the focus of your website on your primary offerings, which will help clearly communicate your position, your brand, and your value proposition.

Tips:

Your logo should be visible on every page of your site, preferably in the same location (and linked back to your homepage)

Each business goal should have a clearly labeled section of the website

Consistently use the same tag lines that are familiar to your brand

2. Easily Used by First Time Visitor

Using an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, you should be able to see how many of your visitors are new, and how many are return visitors.  Keeping your websites design focus on simplicity and usability will help the first-timer navigate your website and hopefully find what they are looking for (contact info, product info, service offerings, etc).  When in doubt, subscribe to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). 

Tips:

This can be difficult, but try to take yourself out of the day to day mindset of your current schedule.  You know everything about your company, but your visitor (especially first-timer) doesn’t.  Simple language, clearly labeled sections of the website, and easy to navigate menus can all help increase the value of the user experience.  If you can say what you need to say in a sentence rather than a paragraph, it might be helpful to do so.

3. Designed with Conversion in Mind

Today’s websites are more powerful than ever when it comes to increasing sales and leads.  Your website’s design is an integral part in getting people from “website visitor” to “prospective buyer”.  To do this, each page should have its own conversion element that allows a user to interact with your website and take the next step in the business relationship.

Tips:

Keep the conversion elements above the fold.  If they are in plain view, they are more likely to be clicked on.

Use big buttons and bright (complimentary) colors to attract attention

Keep your online forms simple (asking for too much info is intrusive)

4. Search Engine Optimization Kept At Forefront

On-page search engine optimization (SEO) is important, not only for search engines, but for users.  On-page SEO can be looked at as the foundation of organization of your site.  Clearly labeling pages with Title Tags and nicely designed H1 tags can help users flow through to their desired content, increasing the amount of page views and reducing bounce rate at the same time. 

Tips:

Utilize text based menus (not images)

Clearly label each page with Title Tags, H1 Tags, Meta Descriptions, and Alt Text

Don’t rely on Flash, as search engines and mobile devices don’t play well with it

Think of your website in an outline format and mimic that same page structure and hierarchy for your sitemap 

5. Professionalism

This should go without saying, but your website often times crafts the first impression of your company.  If you haven’t looked at redesigning your site in a couple of years, put yourself in a prospective buyer's shoes and visit your site.  Would you buy from you?  Your website should be impressive, clearly state your message, and be up to date with the latest information.  What does your current website say about your company? 

Tips:

Utilize a professional graphic designer, not your brother’s wife’s 2nd cousin that took a class one time.  Just keep in mind that you are going to get what you pay for.

Employ the use of a content management system that allows you to keep your website up to date without relying on a technical person



 

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The Sweet Life of a Website Cookie - Crumbles Revealed

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Most people probably don't know this but every time you visit a website a "cookie" is placed on your computer. Not the type of cookie shown in this picture (which is one of my favorites - white chocolate chip macadamia), but the type of cookie that helps website owners track information related to their visitors and improve the overall user experience.

Here's how they work

A cookie is simply a character string representing a key/value pair (e.g. "visitorID=23498EFDAB323"). These key/value pairs are sent back and forth between your browser and the website's server with every request.

Most cookies contain user preferences (i.e. language, local branch/store, layout, etc) as well as unique identifiers to track a visitor throughout the website.

Marketpath uses cookies frequently for tracking visitors, online customers and current orders, among other things. Upon my visit to marketpath.com the following visitor id cookie was added:

MPVisitorID=ed9f81ea-1d2d-451c-bc4f-f7352ed63ed9

MPVisitorID is the name of the cookie and the long ugly alpha-numeric string is the ID.

Cookies are safe

Since cookies are just bits of text they cannot be executed like a virus and are not considered to be a virus. But they can present other challenges by transmitting personal information in plain text if the connection is not encrypted.  

As is our standard practice, we never store or transmit personal information via cookies. The id shown above is a unique identifier that contains no information outside our system. It is the same as your library giving you an account number of "1232154". Outside of the library's internal database "1232154" means nothing.

Most websites share the same practices because nobody wants to be cited for privacy issues. There are poor developers out there, though, that unknowingly choose to store personal information in cookies which can lead to those cookies being readable by others. Any plain text sent to and from your computer can be intercepted by anyone on the Internet with the tools and know-how.

But most browsers warn you if you are at risk of passing personal information, so you should pay attention to this and let website vendors know if you see these messages. Website developers don't often test for every possible combination of pages, products, and results which may lead to an occasional misidentification of security issues. As long as developers don't store personal information in cookies and only pass that information in secure page requests, you will be ok.

Cookies are also only limited to the domain of the request. If you browse to marketpath.com/home any cookies created or retrieved from that request are limited in scope to marketpath.com. We cannot ask for cookies stored from google.com because the browsers (at least the big dogs - IE, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) will not allow it. If you're still using Mosaic then you're on your own!

Third-party cookies

Third party cookies are cookies created by outside domains, often ad services such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo, but used on your website. These cookies help the ad services recognize the ads you've seen and potentially personalize the ads displayed based on your browsing habits. These adhere to the same safety concerns as regular cookies but aren't controlled by the website including them.

More resources

​Here are several sites where you can learn more about cookies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_cookie

http://www.microsoft.com/info/cookies.mspx

http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Cookies

http://www.allaboutcookies.org/

Although cookies are a fairly simple technology, you may have some questions about them. If so, please post your question(s) in the comment area below.

 

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Is Your Form Killing Your Conversion Rate?

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Simple Web FormThe purpose of most well-crafted business websites is to convert visitors into sales leads (or customers, if your site is ecommerce). There are many aspects that go into engaging your website's visitors and convincing them to give you their information. Some of these aspects are easy to modify and test, like the placement, size and color of call to action buttons. Others are a little more difficult and costly, such as an overall website design change.  However, the element that your site relies on to convert visitors to leads, the form itself, may be hurting your website's ability to do its job.  Is your form actually discouraging visitors from filling it out?  Here are a few elements of your web form to check.

Too Much Required Information

New visitors to your website don't necessarily trust you yet, so don't expect them to give you the keys to the castle.  Chances are you don't need to know all of the information about a potential customer to start a conversation about your product or service.  If you can get away with just learning their name and email address, perhaps a phone number, then go for it. 

Too Many Form Fields

Even if you're not requiring each form field to be filled out to submit the form, seeing a large form can be discouraging.  Does knowing a client's location really help you prior to speaking with them?  If not, eliminate the field all together and see if the amount of submissions increases.  Try this with other fields that may not be necessary (Fax number, address, multiple phone numbers, title, etc.).

Budget/Invasive Questions

Eliminate the "How much is your budget for this project" question.  Yes, qualifying leads is important; however, this goes back to the trust issue of your website and a potential client.  Chances are they don't want to tell you how much money they have until they've at least talked with you.  There is a good chance your budget question has discouraged a qualified lead from contacting you. Check out this case study done by ClickTale that shows a 20% form abandonment rate due to a budget question.

The takeaway from this article should be a desire to test new formats for your web collect forms to increase conversion rates.  Test, analyze, rinse and repeat until you have found the perfect balance for your web form. 

Do you have experience testing your web forms?  If so, what are your favorite tools?  Leave your feedback in the comments below.     



 

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Google +1 Coming to an Algorithm Near You

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Google +1Earlier this week, Wired.com ran a story about Google exploring the integration of the +1 button data into their search ranking algorithm.  While this is something that most of us in the industry have expected since the launch of the +1 button, it is the first time (to my knowledge) that Google has confirmed it.  


This isn't the first time, however, that Google has looked at social signals as ranking influencers.  They have already begun to use the data received from Twitter to help determine rankings for websites.  Facebook, on the other hand, hasn't allowed Google to have access to its data, which may be one of the reasons why the +1 button was created.  

So, is this Google's plan to force everyone to utilize the +1 button?

In a way, yes.  Google's never-ending search for data has led them to the social sphere.  With people constantly tweeting, liking, and +1'ing, Google can gain more insight into the quality of the websites they are ranking.  Hopefully, as the social influences show their importance, Google will begin to tweak the amount of importance they place on links, especially coming from lower PageRank sites that run rampant with link spam.  

Is this a perfect solution?

No.  Google will need to combat the creation of fake profiles used for +1'ing purposes.  They have already shown their intentions for their new social network, Google+, by allowing users to report fake profiles, but this system may need overhauled if the +1 button becomes a major influencer to their rankings.  Black hat SEO's will relentlessly attempt to scam the system, just like some link building services do today.

Lots of Ranking Factors
Keep in mind there are lots of ranking factors, not just the +1

Where does this leave you, the site owner?

Google changes their algorithm all the time.  Most of these changes are minor, but some aren't.  At the end of the day, you always know that Google is trying to rank the highest quality sites for the terms they deserve to rank for.  Add relevant content to your site, interact genuinely through social media, create landing pages for marketing campaigns, and make sure your website can convert visitors to customers.  Remember, you are the expert in your industry, act like it...but in the mean time I'd go ahead and add Google's +1 button to be safe.

Here are the instructions on how to do it: http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button/         

 

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