Tag Archives: programmer

Poor Criticism: The Impact of Negative Reviews on SEO

SEO impacts

Back when I was still in high school, I peruse Wikipedia a lot when it comes to school assignments. No matter if it’s a biology project or for a history paper, I would usually check Wikipedia first in one way or another. This attitude persists throughout my early college days until I enrolled in a class where the professor practically outlawed us from using Wikipedia source. The reason? Because Wikipedia, and other similar wiki sites, crowdsource their information.

The basic gist is this, anything you see written in Wikipedia is put there by a dedicated member of community who may or may not be an authoritative figure in their field. Crowdsourced information has been the hallmarks of modern internet, with platforms like Yelp and Trip Advisor allowing members of the public to submit reviews on businesses. How these reviews affect SEO is a question SEO services and marketers have been struggling to answer.

21st century internet and the wisdom of the crowd

For the most part, giving the public more input in how companies are viewed is an excellent idea. Giving center stage to vox populi, the voice of the people, is the foundation of a democracy and customer and/or user reviews are simply another outlet for that idea. Every business these days have to contend with reviews in one way or another, as all anyone needs is an internet connected device to either badmouth or praise your business.

The old marketing adage states that any publicity is good publicity. What this saying means is that bad reviews could still be good for you as long as they spell your name right. In terms of SEO, where the goal is to increase traffic to your business’ website by raising your presence on the internet, that adage would seem to be true. The truth however is slightly more complicated than that and we’ll now discuss just how exactly could negative reviews impact your SEO efforts.

They could actually improve your credibility

This might sound strange but a couple of negative reviews could actually improve how your business is viewed. It’s statistically impossible for your business to garner nothing but glowing praises and people tend to look at businesses like that with a skeptic eye. I look at a restaurant with a rating of let’s say a 4.6 out of 5 and I would usually think to myself that it might be a good idea to eat there at some point.

On the other hand, when I see another restaurant with the same number of reviews but with a rating of 5 out of 5, I would immediately grow skeptical. Nothing could ever be that perfect and when I see something like this, I tend to suspect that there’s some funny business going in the background. The only time that unanimous praise like that is allowed is when you’re at a funeral.

They could give you some ideas on marketing

Here’s one nugget of truth when it comes to reviews, they are rarely, if ever, objective. People tend to judge products and/or services not based on their inherent qualities, but based on how a certain product fulfills their own expectations, no matter how misguided those expectations actually are. And it’s these expectations that you could manipulate, for a lack of a better word, with how you market your products.

For example, let’s say you run an omakase restaurant, the Japanese tradition of letting the chef choose what to serve you, and you received a scathing review from a customer complaining that the food that was served to them was different from what they expected. You could for example write a post explaining just how omakase works and that what the chef serves you is completely up to the chef’s discretion and what ingredients are available on any given day.

It’s not just about the reviews; it’s how you respond to them

A 2017 survey shows that online reviews make up about 13% on how Google handle local search results but Google implies that it’s not just about the reviews themselves, it’s about how you respond to them. If your customers could take time out of their day to perfectly explain to the world where exactly your business is falling short, the least you could do is to reciprocate and respond to their reviews.

If the complaint is something that you could immediately check for yourself and rectify, like if one of your employees is behaving irresponsibly, state what have you or are you going to do to fix this. If it’s something that would need further work behind the scenes, acknowledge that there are things that need improving and that you are working on them. Sometimes, all people want is the simple knowledge that their inputs are being heard.

The impact of reviews on SEO

Reviews are designed to benefit potential users and as can be seen, their direct impact on SEO isn’t especially pronounced, making up only 13% of how Google determines local search results. It’s how they affect potential customers that should be a focus. Instead of thinking of negative reviews as something to combat, you might want to start considering them as opportunity to identify areas in your business that you could improve.

Filling In: 4 Online Form Builders You Could Use for Your Website

web development tips

Back when I was still in college, my university has this thing where in order for students to see their grades online, they are first required to fill out a questionnaire related to that particular class and the teaching professor. The questions are typical but they’re numerous and since we have to do this for every class we take that semester, we pretty much skimmed through all of the questions and went with the default answers.

Forms are inescapable on the internet. Almost every concert tickets I’ve ever bought began with a form. Product giveaways tend to have a survey as a prerequisite. Even now, 5 years since leaving college, the odd questionnaires and surveys still land on my inbox, usually from undergraduate students from my alma mater. A lot of these came through Google Forms, which is functionally decent but for businesses aiming for professionalism, there are other form builders out there you could use that don’t require any web development background.

The landscape for online form builders

For the purpose of lead generation, forms and surveys are still deemed to be one of the most useful tools. Compared to two decades ago when surveys have to be done directly through visits or telephone calls, the internet has made data collecting easier, giving businesses access to a more robust set of data. With the advent of services like PayPal, digital subscriptions have also been made more accessible, enabling people living in Gold Coast to subscribe to the New York Times by filling out a simple form.

It is in light of this that you should start giving forms a proper consideration. The familiarity and ease-of-use associated with Google Forms might be attractive but its blandness and lack of customization options can be crippling. The following is 5 form builder services available across the internet, with a mix of free and premium services, which you should take a look at if you feel Google Forms isn’t enough.


American-based JotForm is one of the most popular form builders. With JotForm, users have the option of using one of the plethoras of templates and themes available within the platform or by building their own form using a selection of several building blocks available within the platform. JotForm also enables the use of conditional logic and branched-out forms for a more complex data gathering.

The service operates using both a freemium and tier scheme. While most of the templates and themes available are free, some of the higher-quality ones are not. Additionally, while it is possible to use the service without a paid subscription, free users are limited to 100 monthly submissions, 5 forms, the addition of JotForm branding on your forms and other restrictions.


For the more artistic types, you should consider using TypeForm. TypeForm realizes that there aren’t a lot of things that could be more mind-numbing than filling out a form and they subvert this idea by turning forms into more of an extended conversation. They do this by focusing only on one question at the time and allowing users to attach multimedia contents into the form itself. The name itself comes from the fact that TypeForm is designed so that users can fill out the entire form by simply typing out their answers.

TypeForm operates using a tiered scheme. The basic version is free to use but comes with a restriction of 100 responses per month and only 10 fields per form. Other restrictions include being limited to basic questions only, the use of conditional logic, payment field and no file uploads. The Pro tier comes with all of those for an extra US$30 per month.

Ninja Forms

Ninja Forms isn’t a full-on form builder in that it is actually a WordPress plugin, which means that this tool is limited to WordPress websites. Since it’s a WordPress plugin, Ninja Forms should be considered one of the default options for WordPress website thanks to its integration capabilities. Ninja Forms comes with support for robust customization options and the ability for more complex fields available out of the gate and the use of drag-and-drop form builder.

Ninja Forms pricing plan is a bit trickier though. While the free version comes with the above features, some customization options like conditional logic, payment options and file uploads are locked behind a paywall. Instead of a tiered subscription though, these features are locked behind add-ons, which you could purchase one at a time to use for a year. Alternatively, some of these add-ons are also bundled together for those looking for a more conventional subscription scheme.


Now working under the analytics company Survey Monkey, WuFoo offers robust collecting and analytics tool on top of the more common features like payment options and conditional logic. On top of that, WuFoo also offers the capability to create a device-responsive form, one that could suit both desktop and mobile devices for a more comprehensive set of data. To add to its analytics capability, WuFoo offers integration with CRM software maker Salesforce for comprehensive reports.

Of course, these features don’t come cheap. The basic free version is limited to 5 forms and 100 submissions with a lack of payment options, confirmation e-mail and feature integration. These features are available with a Professional subscription, which comes with a price tag of US$29 per month.

It should be noted that these are all for forms, which while still can be used for surveys aren’t especially suitable for the cause. For surveys, you might want to look at dedicated survey tools like Survey Monkey which has been mentioned before. Filling out forms can be boring but it doesn’t have to be and all four on this list, with special mention to TypeForm, can be used to inject a certain class to your lead generating tool.

Flat as a Fiddle: 4 Benefits of Flat Web Design in 2018

Flat as a Fiddle- 4 Benefits of Flat Web Design

Just like the world of high fashion, web design has gone through several different trends during its relatively short existence. There was a time that simple flash animation was a pretty common sight on the internet. At the dawn of the 21st century, skeumorphism, a design language in which digital interface is made to closely mimic its real-life counterpart, a digital bookstore made to look like a bookshelf for example, briefly emerged as a leading trend before the world decided that a digital interface being limited to earthly restrictions kind of misses the point.

As a response to skeumorphism, the early 2010s ushered in a design trend that is still prevalent in today’s internet, referred to as flat design. Flat might be an adjective those in the music industry would like to avoid but it is actually one of the more functionally and aesthetically pleasing trend in web design. If you’ve ever used the oft-maligned Windows 8 OS, then you’re already familiar with how flat design looks like.

Flat design as a functional aesthetic

Flat design takes its name from the judicious use of two-dimensional characteristics, employing simple flat shapes as building blocks, contrasting color palette and noticeable typography to ensure a clean and minimalist interface. Flat design put its focus on the user’s experience. It aims to streamline user’s experience in order to provide optimum usability while still maintaining an aesthetically pleasing look.

Now, it’s true that the Windows 8 wasn’t favorably viewed by both the public and critics when it was first released but that’s more because it wasn’t a particularly good fit for mouse & keyboard users. Use it on a tablet or any touch-capable device and its brilliance shines through. Flat design came in part because of the world’s continuous shift into smartphones. With a much reduced screen real estate, web designers have to come up with a way to simplify navigation for users.

To do this, they look at the concept of minimalism and applied that similar line of thinking into the design of a user interface. As a result, flat design is stripped off of any frivolous features, displaying only the necessary elements for navigation to users. Using this approach results in a number of benefits for both the users and designers, functionally and aesthetically as well, which we’ll explore further in the article.

It’s highly flexible and modular

Because flat design relies on simple rectangular shapes and typography, it is highly modifiable by nature. It employs a grid-based design where things can be easily added or resized according to the whims of the designer, so long it doesn’t interfere with the user’s experience. The Windows 8 start menu and the pinned tiles in the Windows 10 is an example of this modular nature.

Content is still the focus on the modern internet and having an interface that allows you to mess with how that content is displayed without wrecking your website is a highly desirable characteristic for designers.

It fits perfectly with responsive design

Like what’s been stated above, Microsoft’s idea with Windows 8 is that it aims to present roughly the same experience to both smartphone users and traditional desktop users. As a result, Windows Phone 8, the mobile OS that was launched concurrently with the desktop OS, has the same interface as you’d find on desktop, only with slightly different layout and placement.

Because the interface is made up of smaller building blocks of rectangular shapes, adapting this interface to a smaller screen and different orientations (portrait and landscape) is simply a matter of resizing and placing these blocks differently, just like Lego pieces. This meshes well with the concept of responsive web design, in which a webpage adapts itself to the size and orientation of the screen it’s being displayed on to present the optimum experience for users.

It utilizes clean and functional design

Since it mostly relies on two main elements, rectangular shapes and typography, flat design won’t be confusing for users. The website for Wyss Institute, a bio-engineering research institute in America, employs a flat design for its main page, with news arranged in blocks akin to Windows 8.

To a lesser extent, the collection of information spread underneath, acting as introductory passages to what exactly the Wyss Institute stands for, employs a grid-based design as well. Each segment is placed within their own rectangular area. Flat design doesn’t always have to conform to the same uniform design language; brands can still build on the same principle of clean and functional design without looking similar to each other.

It is now an industry standard

While the unique applications vary from websites to websites, flat design works using the same underlining example. Using the same basic design saves users time by not having to adapt to another design language when they hop from one website to another. Think of it this way, if traffic lights around the world uses different colors instead of the same combination of red, yellow, and green, motorists would have problem when moving to another city.

Ask anyone who’s had to switch from right-hand drive vehicles to left-hand drive vehicles and I’m pretty sure cases of them opening the door on the passenger’s side instead of the driver’s side is pretty common.

Admittedly, flat design doesn’t give a lot of wiggle room for designers to be creative with their design, limiting customization to little more than colors and layouts. I prefer to consider this a good thing though. Brands should flex their creativity on contents while putting functionality considerations in their interface above all else. Flat web design achieves that goal while still enabling designers to achieve an aesthetically pleasing look, if done correctly.