Tag Archive | "Know"

Does Influencer Marketing Really Work? Here’s What You Should Know

Companies have to fight tooth and nail to get their message across these days. And while content marketing still has its place, influencer marketing is the new trend, particularly with the ubiquitousness of social media.

The site Relevance likened influencer marketing to “celebrity endorsement advertising,” when Nicole Kidman could plug Chanel #5 or Leonardo di Caprio could extol the virtues of just about any product in commercials and magazines. Influencer marketing is basically the same thing, except that these days, you use “influencers” and social media.

How Does Influencer Marketing Work?

Influencer marketing basically boils down to three things – get in touch with someone with influence, like a popular blogger, get that person to promote your company in some form, and boost your exposure on social media.

Let’s say there’s a lifestyle maven named Party Pat with about 5,000 people following her on her blog and Instagram. You were able to convince Pat to help promote your online bookstore among her followers. She first blogs about her favorite books and mentions your store as her go-to place for ordering books. She later tweets or posts a photo of the latest book that she acquired and mentions how she easily ordered it from your shop and that it arrived in just one day. Her casual mentioning of your store and her experience could prompt her followers to check out your site as well.

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The example might sound simple but it’s actually not. It entails a lot of hard work and preparation. First, you have to find an influencer who’s a good fit for your brand, whether they’re bloggers, YouTubers, writers with regular contributions to popular online sites, or industry experts. Next, you have to reach out and build a rapport with said influencer. Some do this by following the influencer and interacting with him or her while others do it the relatively old-fashioned way and send an email.

If the influencer does respond, you still have to find a way to convince them to promote you. Maybe you can send a sample product or offer to be a guest blogger. Offer compensation is possible but could also be tricky. You have to convince and prove to the influencer that it’s good for them to help you out. This means that if you’re going to guest post, your content should be impeccable. If you’re going to send a sample product, it should be high quality.

3 Tips for Using Influencers

If you are convinced that influencer marketing will help you and your brand, consider the following tips:

  1. Know that the relationship between the brand, the influencer, and the audience must be real.

Image result for real relationship with brandInfluencers have a strong following on social media because they capture their audience’s interest; they have established a relationship with them. Maybe they’re the same age as their audience, have the same interests, or have undergone the same life experiences. This strong relationship with their followers means influencers will only work with a company or brand that they and their audience believe in. For example, an influencer known for her quirky and affordable style of clothes won’t suddenly start campaigning for a high-end shoe brand.

  1. Be ready to play long-term.

Don’t go into influencer marketing thinking that one sponsored post will shore up your business. While a one-time mention by a mega-influencer can make a big difference, it’s a rare, and very expensive, situation. Most of the time, influencer marketing should be looked at as a long-term approach, as you have to slowly build trust among the influencer’s followers.  Followers might have to see his favorite influencer trying or mentioning your product several times before they become curious enough to explore and give your brand a try.

  1. Give creative control over to the influencer.

You might have complete control over your marketing strategy when it comes to traditional advertising, but influencer marketing is far from conventional. The goal is for your brand to have a quality engagement with the influencer’s audience. To achieve that, you have to relinquish creative control to the influencer, as they know their audience. They understand the best way to introduce your brand and make their followers receptive to it.

Does Influencer Marketing Work?

Image result for online influencer effectiveness

There’s some controversy on whether or not influencer marketing really works. Data from a 2016 marketing survey has shown that 94% of those who used this marketing strategy believed it works. However, what the ROI is of influencer marketing is still something of a challenge this year. But there’s no question that this strategy has wide reach, especially with Facebook and Instagram being key platforms for influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing might not be for every company, but there’s no doubting its influence on today’s social media savvy consumers.  

[Image via Pixabay]

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Featured snippets: How much do you really know about them? [QUIZ]

Think you’re an expert on featured snippets? Then put your money where your mouth is and take this quiz, created by columnist Stephan Spencer!

The post Featured snippets: How much do you really know about them? [QUIZ] appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Surviving the Social Web: 7 Things You Need to Know

"I've been online so long, I can remember when virtual community was going to save the world." – Sonia Simone

Oh, those idealistic good old days. Back when we truly believed that the global digital community would fact-check lies, make us smarter, and force our institutions to serve the greater good.

As the man said, “How’s that working out for us?”

It turns out that the social media utopia, like other utopias, didn’t end up as rosy as we’d hoped — mainly because it’s made of human beings.

But the social web is still an extraordinary tool. The ability to instantly communicate with thousands of people isn’t to be scoffed at — if you can do it without losing your mind.

I’ve been using social media since 1989. The remarkable thing for me isn’t what’s changed … it’s what’s stayed the same. Here are some of my survival tips from decades in the digital realm.

#1: Watch out for the ant-shakers

Remember ant farms? These were glass cases filled with sand or gel, where you could watch ants building tunnels and carrying things back and forth.

In grade school we all had that one mean friend who would shake it hard, just to destroy the tunnels and watch the ants scurrying around trying to fix the mess.

Every one of those ant-shakers got a Facebook account when they grew up.

Some people just crave chaos — and if they can’t find it, they create it. There’s always a storm brewing around them, some bitter flame war that pits half the community against the other half. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that the pain and anger they cause are real emotions attached to real people. Either they can’t see it or they don’t care.

Keep an eye out for the ant-shakers. A lot of them are attracted to the web, and spend a disproportionate amount of time there. They’re at the center of endless dust-ups, and it may take you some time to realize they’re engineering them.

Putting distance between yourself and the ant-shakers — even if (especially if) you’re related — will calm your social media experience down considerably.

#2: Realize that digital privacy is a lie

When we socialize over the web, we tend to reveal a lot. It can feel like a small, intimate space. After all, we’re sitting there on the sofa with our laptops, and we recognize those names that fly by, even if we might never have met them face to face.

Every day, I see people starting a post with something like — “I’ve never told anyone this before, not even my family” — and they’re sharing in a Facebook group with four million members.

Digital privacy depends on the goodwill of every person who has access to the material. Anyone can screenshot anything. Once they have, you have very little control over what they do with it.

In the real world, that means that digital privacy is a complete illusion.

If you aren’t willing to make it public, don’t share it on the web. Not in a private group, not on Snapchat, not in email.

Rather than trying to make these decisions on the fly, decide in advance what kinds of material you will — and won’t — share. There’s no one set of rules that will suit everyone — it’s really about your own comfort zone.

But it may clarify your thinking to ask yourself how you’ll feel if your mom, your boss, and a professional identity thief can see a particular type of content you’re sharing. Because chances are, eventually, all three of them will.

#3: If you’re in business, act like it

You may not feel particularly social about social media … maybe you’re there to promote a business or product.

Nothing wrong with that, if you handle it well.

A stream of pitches gets obnoxious fast. Trust me, your friends don’t want to buy your essential oils, nutrition shakes, skincare, or whatever the latest thing is. And they desperately wish you would stop trying to push it onto them.

Quit trying to spam your friends (it isn’t working), and start acting like a business.

Get a business account or page. Be clear about your purpose there — to sell something you believe is valuable. Educate yourself about real marketing — the kind that reaches people you didn’t go to high school with. (We have free resources to help with that.)

Promote content at least 10 times as often as you promote a product. “Content” is the stuff that most people are on the social web to look at and share — useful and interesting images, videos, articles, and audio.

Social media is an amazing way to get business-oriented content shared — either for free or for a very moderate cost. You can focus on organic reach, paid advertising, or a mix, depending on the platform and your resources.

#4: Seek (and create) smaller communities

Remember that four-million strong group I mentioned on Facebook? It’s got great energy … and it’s almost completely unmanageable.

The large common spaces on the web can be fascinating, but they’re also exhausting. For a greater sense of community, more useable information, and better connections, look for smaller groups.

Groups that are too small will run out of steam — there’s definitely a point of critical mass. But smallish online groups can be nurturing, delightful little communities.

If there isn’t a group like that in your topic — maybe you’re the right person to start one. It will be a lot of work (and you’ll probably have to manage a few ant-shakers), but it can also be wonderfully rewarding.

#5: Manage your time

Here’s the great, big, gigantic problem with social media — it will eat every minute of your life if you let it.

There’s always another great conversation. And there’s always another opportunity to explain to someone how wrong they are.

I’ve taken a tip from Cal Newport and I schedule my social media time. And because I have no self-control (and I prefer to use what I do have on other things), I use an app to manage that.

There are quite a few of these out there that will block certain sites at certain times, so you can be a productive member of human society. I’m partial to Freedom — it’s a paid app, but it has a flexibility I find highly useful.

#6: Mind your manners

This seems like it would be obvious, but we all blow it from time to time.

Be a kind, respectful, and polite person when you’re online. (Offline would be great too, of course.)

Don’t say ugly things you don’t mean. Don’t say ugly things you do mean.

Your extensive collection of racist knock-knock jokes isn’t funny. Never was, isn’t now.

Condescension and the attitude that you are entitled to other people’s time are as unpopular on the web as they are in real life.

Good manners are free, and they can open amazing doors … especially as they become rarer.

#7: Know when you need to back away

I’ve been online so long, I can remember when virtual community was going to save the world.

Now we know better. Over the years, I’ve realized that no one has to be on social media. Even social media managers could presumably find a different way to make a living. If it’s diminishing your life, you can change how you use it. You can also decide to go without it.

Sometimes I need to implement what I call the FFS rule. When I find myself muttering, “Oh FFS” (Google it if you need to), it’s time to log off.

People are irritating, and some of them are mean. Those people consistently get meaner and more irritating on the web.

Block and report trolls. Remember that you don’t have to reply to everything.

Dan Kennedy, of all people, had some rather good advice about this years ago. He wasn’t talking about social media, but he could have been.

“If I wake up three mornings thinking about you, and I’m not having sex with you, you’ve got to go.”

Pretty savvy social media advice from a guy who refuses to use email. Because it turns out, what tends to work well in social media … is what works well in real life.

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eBay CEO: We’re Seeing The End of Retail As We Know It

UPDATE: After years of huge losses and store closings, Sears warned investors that it has “substantial doubt” it will stay in business. Sears also owns Kmart.

As noted here recently, the well-established retail giants have seen significant loses the past few years. This downward trend hit a breaking point at the close of the holiday shopping season in a way that will very likely alter the retail industry this year and forever.

“The fourth quarter of last holiday season was a really important moment,” eBay CEO Devin Wenig told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” from the Shoptalk Conference in Las Vegas. “I think it was an inflection point where that was the end of retail as we know it. And I do think the restructuring of this industry is going to happen faster than a lot of people think…. the fourth quarter is the moment that people will look back on and say, ‘That’s when the current structure of the industry was irretrievable.’”

Wening continues, “I’m not sure all the retailers are going to even make it, in a healthy economy, to this holiday season,” Wenig said. “And I do think you are going to see drastic changes in store footprints and what stores do.”

While the eCommerce industry saw another record holiday shopping season with gains over the previous year, retailers including JCPenny, Macy’s, HHGregg and Sears have announced a large number of stores closings.

Wenig said he doesn’t think stores are completely going away, but that stores must be a “mini distribution center” to succeed.

“I think the complete death of stores has been greatly exaggerated,” Wenig said. “The consumer wants stores. The entire world will not be online. But there are both capacity and utility issues in retail. People don’t like poor store experiences.”

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The Smart Step To Make When You Do Not Know What To Sell Yet

The Best Product Test When You Do Not Know If People Will Buy… In the last few years I have paid a lot of attention to the world of startups, in particular technology companies. During this time two concepts popped up as mantras of every new tech entrepreneur –  "Lean"…

The post The Smart Step To Make When You Do Not Know What To Sell Yet appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

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Rainmaker Rewind: Microsoft Just Bought LinkedIn. Here’s Everything You Need to Know

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This week on Rainmaker Rewind, Sean Jackson, Jabez LeBret, and Mica Gadhia have a conversation about the recent acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft for $ 26.2 billion.

In this up-to-the-minute episode, you’ll hear The Missing Link team share their thoughts about this announcement and what it means for you.

And as always, don’t miss out on other great episodes that were featured on Rainmaker FM.

  1. The Missing Link. The Missing Link team explores Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn and how it affects each of us: Microsoft Just Bought LinkedIn. Here’s Everything You Need to Know …
  2. The Digital Entrepreneur. Pamela Wilson joins Jerod Morris to discuss what she’s learned through her extensive experience creating and running successful membership communities: Practical Advice on Turning the Challenges of Building Membership Communities Into Opportunities
  3. Confessions of a Pink-haired Marketer. Sonia Simone answers the age-old question: Is it okay to swear in our content marketing? Should You Swear on Your Blog?
  4. Hack the Entrepreneur Jon Nastor interviews leader, speaker, “Marxist-capitalist,” and smart entrepreneur Simon Biltcliffe: Money is the Outcome of Success (Not the Cause)
  5. The Showrunner. Jerod Morris and Jon Nastor discuss a few simple ways to capture inspiration before it escapes: How to Never (Ever) Forget an Important Idea Again
  6. The Writer Files. Kelton Reid rounds out the second part of last week’s interview with Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney: How Bestselling Debut Novelist Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney Writes: Part Two
  7. Youpreneur. Tune in to this episode to hear Chris Ducker’s batching strategy and his tips on how to be more productive: How ‘Batching’ Your Tasks Can Put Your Productivity on Steroids
  8. Copyblogger FM. Sonia Simone explains the importance of treating your freelance gig as a business … if you really want to make a good living: How to Make a (Really Good) Living as a Freelance Writer
  9. Hack the Entrepreneur. Jon Nastor interviews SEO specialist, marketing consultant, connector, and digital entrepreneur Brandon Lewin: Why You Need to Do Work That Matters
  10. Unemployable. In case you missed it, Brian Clark finished out Season One with a fascinating interview with Henry Rollins: Henry Rollins on Entrepreneurial Art

And, one more thing …

If you want to get Rainmaker Rewind sent straight to your favorite podcast player, subscribe right here on Rainmaker FM.

The post Rainmaker Rewind: Microsoft Just Bought LinkedIn. Here’s Everything You Need to Know appeared first on Copyblogger.


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The “I Know This Already” Trap

Have you ever started studying a course, or reading a blog post, or listening to an audio or webinar and your immediate reaction is… …I know this already. Yes, me too. This is actually a critical mistake. The biggest reason people fail at achieving something they want is believing they…

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All We Ever Need to Know About LED Downlights

Conventional lighting is fast being swopped out for LED options. One of the main reasons for this move is the huge reduction in electricity bills we can experience by switching to LED. Even if we’re not using solar panels to power up, LED cuts our electricity usage by around 80%. As well as being highly energy efficient, LED downlights are the most eco-friendly and clean way to light up our lives and living spaces.

Ecologically Friendly

As we begin to do more to protect our earth’s natural resources, one of the simplest ways to participate in becoming more eco-friendly is to change our lighting to LED. Since LEDs last as much as 20 times longer than other lighting options, LED downlights don’t need replacing as often. Within the wider framework of manufacturing, packaging and shipping processes, the impact on our environment is greatly reduced. LED are also free of toxic materials and recyclable.

Long Life

One of the top reasons why LED downlights are the better choice is the long life of LED. Since this type of lighting doesn’t burn out or stop working in the same manner that conventional lighting does, LED can be left on for extended hours and will still operate consistently for years. When left on for extended periods, the diodes naturally emit less light, creating further energy savings.

Durable Design

Well designed LED downlights are extremely durable. Manufactured using materials that can withstand vibration, shocks and external impacts, LEDs are widely used indoors as well as in rougher outdoor settings where heavy weather conditions like rain, wind, snow or sleet are found. This type of lighting is well safeguarded against external interference like vandalism and is useful in traffic control situations and public areas, walkways, and large buildings.

LED Downlights and Dimmers

While changing out your conventional lighting for LED downlights, it is possible to change dimmer switches to LED compatible dimmers. It’s important to make this change because the load is far less with LED than with conventional lighting, being around 30W compared to 240W.

Low Ultra Violet Emission

Another major difference between conventional lighting and LED downlights is the fact that LED illuminates without producing high infrared light or UV emissions. This makes LED a superior choice for lighting used to highlight sensitive materials or objects. Products that may be affected by too much heat will thrive under LED. Historic artifacts are safer in galleries where LED is used.

Premium Quality LED downlights

In replacing our conventional light fittings with LED downlights, it is worthwhile seeking out the best quality fittings and LED we can find. This represents higher savings in the longer term as the LEDs will last for several years without losing strength and the premium quality ones offer amazing design flexibility. Of the companies at the leading edge of LED manufacture who specialize in breakthrough LED design.


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What You Need to Know About Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) – Whiteboard Friday

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You may have heard the term “AMPs” thrown around lately. What exactly are Accelerated Mobile Pages, what do they mean for search, and how can you prepare for it all? In this week’s British Whiteboard Friday, Will Critchlow and Tom Anthony of Distilled lay out all the important details.

Accelerated Mobile Pages Whiteboard

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Tom: Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to British Whiteboard Friday. We’re filming this in the London HQ of Distilled. This is the founder and CEO, Will Critchlow. I’m Tom Anthony, head of the R&D department, and today we’re going to be talking about Accelerated Mobile Pages.
Will…

What is an Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP for short)?

Will: I’m glad you asked, Tom. So an Accelerated Mobile Page (or AMP, for short) is a project from Google and Twitter designed to make really fast mobile pages. At its essence, it’s basically a stripped-down form of HTML, a diet HTML if you will. Tom will talk a little bit more about the actual details on that.

But fundamentally, it’s an HTML page designed to be super lightweight and critically designs really fast loading. So Google, Twitter, a bunch of other companies have rolled this out — kind of in response to projects like the Facebook Instant Articles project from Facebook and Apple News and so forth. This is designed to be the open response. So it’s open source, and there are all kinds of elements of openness to the project.

What makes AMP so fast?

Tom: Absolutely. So as Will said, it’s like a diet HTML. So certain tags of HTML you just can’t use. Things like forms, that are out. You also need to use a streamlined version of CSS. You can use most of CSS, but some parts are falling under best practice and they’re just not allowed to be used. Then JavaScript is basically not allowed at all. You have to use an off-the-shelf JavaScript library that they provide you with, and that provides things like lazy loading.

So the idea is that the whole platform is designed just for pure readability, pure speed. Things such as images don’t load until they’re scrolled into view, and the JavaScript does all that for you. We anticipate they’re going to be at the point where the JavaScript library is built into certain operating systems so you don’t even need that either. And then all of this is designed to be really heavily cached so that Google can host these pages, host your actual content right there, and so they don’t even need to fetch it from you anymore.

Will, you’re going to tell us how that works?

How this works in your mobile device

Will: Yeah, so that’s the diagram we have in the middle here. So we’re all used to this idea of a regular web page. I’ve called this WWW in the diagram. This is the regular desktop version of the page. In the source code, if you have an AMP version, you would designate that with the rel AMP HTML link, which points over to your, what we call “hosted AMP page.

So this is a page on your own domain constructed of this stripped down form of HTML. So if you want to see this in action, I’ve referenced the Guardian here. They were one of the first reference partners. You can put /amp on the end of any news story on the Guardian website and see the AMP HTML. It’s linked in display with the AMP HTML link in the source code.

So that’s the hosted AMP. That has nothing to do with Google. You can just do that, and it is designed to be faster. But they’ve also rolled out this free hosted cached platform part of the deal as well, which is labeled here with the gstatic.

So when you actually see these things showing up in Google search results, which we’ll talk about in a moment, the version that shows up there will typically be hosted on a gstatic.com, in other words a Google-hosted cached version. And critically both of these, both the one you host yourself and the version that is cached around the Internet potentially even by other people as well, both of those would contain the rel=canonical back to the original. It’s similar. It’s like a rel alternative in a mobile world.

So it’s fast because the HTML is cut down, but it’s also potentially designed that these things are bits of content that can be cached potentially by anyone without rel=canonical pointing back to you.

Tom: I think it’s worth saying that even on the cached version of the pages, Google have said that you’re still going to be able to provide your own adverts. We don’t know the details of it yet, but they’ve built a platform where you can serve adverts from AdSense, Outbrain, most of the major advertising platforms, and you’ll still accrue all the revenue. They don’t take any of that stuff.

Also with the cached versions you can use Analytics. At the moment, the rolled-out version you can just use a tracking pixel. But we know they’re working on a platform where it’s a sort of vendor-neutral platform for things like Google Analytics, Omniture, and all of that stuff. So you can still get all of the analytics. You can still provide ads to your pages and everything, even when you’re served via the cached versions of the pages.

Will: Yeah, that’s very important. That’s part of that JavaScript framework that we were talking about, where you get these limited containers, which are a kind of very limited JavaScript functionality that you can use yourself.

Impact on the SERPs

So let’s talk a little bit about how this might actually show up in search results. So first of all, what we know at the moment is it’s looking like it’s mobile only. It’s right there in the name, Accelerated Mobile Pages, which is why I brought along my mobile whiteboard to demonstrate this for you. This is the AMP version showing up on a mobile device, tablet, phablet, not quite sure what format.

Right now it’s mobile only. It’s talking about being mobile. It’s not even rolled out just yet. But in the demo that we’ve seen, it’s showing up as a carousel above the regular blue links, typically for news-related terms, because most of this is focused on obviously reading contents. The people who’ve rolled this out first have been news publishers typically. So you search for a news-related term. You see this carousel of swipeable images above the blue links. Click on one of those, it opens super fast, that’s the whole point, and then you can swipe to another AMP page across the way.

It is actually also displacing or appearing for some terms where you’d expect to see paid search ads. I wouldn’t read too much into that. This is just in the demo at this point. In the long run, maybe there are paid versions of this, who knows.

We’re expecting this to be rolling out soon. Google’s latest official line is maybe February in 2016. But, one way or another, we expect to see this in the world some time pretty soon.

So it’s not there yet, but it will be soon.

What can we do to prepare, Tom?

Tom: So there’s two things. Firstly, you want to be able to start building AMP pages for your site, and you want to make sure that those pages are valid, because as we said, it’s like a diet version of HTML, but it’s very, very strict on how you build the HTML. The tags have to be in certain orders and certain places. You can’t use certain things. And if you do any of that, your AMP page is invalid and they probably won’t be using it.

So to validate your AMP pages, you actually use a tool that’s built into Chrome. So if you open the developer tools in Chrome, there’s a system there — and you can look it up on the AMP project website — where you can actually go to a page and you can ask it to validate, “Is this an AMP page,” and it will tell you any problems with that page.

So one, build AMP pages and make sure you’re doing it well, and the second bit is working out how to streamline building pages. If you’re on a sort of CMS or anything like that, then obviously you want this to be an integral part of your process moving forward. You want AMP pages to be something that all pages or as many pages as possible have an AMP version of those pages. So there’s already — for the most popular CMSs, things like WordPress already have plugins available — that you can go away, you can download that plugin, and basically for a lot of the pages it will do a lot of the work for you in creating those AMP pages. Also, obviously, if you’re building your own CMS, then you should prioritize trying to get similar functionality into that CMS.

Will: And now is the time to do that, because being there at the launch is the time to get the kind of kick, the benefit from when these things roll out. So that’s a lot of the background on it.

For more detail reading, we’ve got a few resources here you can go and check out. This is an actual demo of what it might look like in search results. You can try out your own searches on that kind of streamlined Google.

Tom: It’s worth saying at the moment you’ll only see the demo results at this page obviously. So you can only…

Will: Yes, and on a mobile device.

Tom: And on a mobile device, yeah.

Will: And then this is the original, the main project web page where you can find the GitHub repository of code and all those kind of validators and so forth, and we’ve written some more here. This is a link to our website.

So yeah, we would recommend you check it out if you’re into publishing. This is an opportunity for publishers to get a mobile head start.

So thanks for joining us on this Whiteboard Friday. Speak to you soon.

Tom: Bye-bye.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Additional Information and Resources

  • g.co/ampdemo – Demo of what AMPs might look like in search results
  • ampproject.org – The main project web page, where you’ll find a technical intro, tutorial, GitHub repository, and more
  • dis.tl/amp-pages – Further information on AMPs and how they work

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Everything You Need to Know About Solar Energy




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The sun beams down enough energy every hour to satisfy the whole planet’s global energy needs for an entire year.

Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun’s energy and make it productive. However, we are only utilizing solar energy to provide only one tenth of one percent of all the global energy demand.

Most people are familiar with solar panels, or photo voltaic cells, used on things like spacecraft, rooftops and handheld devices like calculators. The cells are made up of semiconductor materials like those found in computer chips.

When the sunlight shines on the cells, electrons are knocked loose from their atoms. The electrons then generate energy, as they flow through the cells.

On a much larger scale, solar thermal power plants use various techniques to concentrate the sun’s energy as a heat source. The heat is then used to boil water to drive a steam turbine which generates electricity in much the same way as coal and nuclear power plants, supplying electricity to thousands of people.

One technique uses long troughs of U-shaped mirrors that focus sunlight on a pipe of oil that runs through the middle. The hot oil then boils water to provide electricity generation.

Another technique uses movable mirrors to focus the sun’s rays on a collector tower where a receiver sits. Molten salt, flowing through the receiver, is heated to run a generator.

Solar energy is an inexhaustible source of fuel that is pollution and often noise free. The technology is also very versatile. For example, solar cells are capable of generating energy for out of the way places like satellites in the Earth’s orbit and homes in the middle of nowhere, as easily as they can power buildings in large cities and futuristic vehicles.

However, there are drawbacks to solar energy, it doesn’t work at night without a storage device like a battery. Cloudy weather can also make the technology unreliable during the day. Solar technology is also expensive and requires a lot of space to collect enough of the sun’s energy to be useful to a lot of people.

However, despite these drawbacks, solar energy use has surged roughly 20 percent, year over year, for the past 15 years This is due to the rapidly falling prices of the technology and the gains in efficiency.

Japan, Germany and the United States are currently major markets for solar cells. With tax incentives, solar electricity can often pay for itself in five to ten years.

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